chapter  7
15 Pages

The “Queen of Hearts”

Dolley’s Public Persona
WithAllgor Catherine

This chapter discusses the life of Dolley Madison. For every description of a Dolley Madison drawing room, there is a description of Dolley herself. People were fascinated by her, drawn by a combination of her physicality, personality, and political power. In the parlance of the time, they lauded Dolley for her "desire to please, and a willingness to be pleased", but that assessment is too passive. Dolley put her persona to political use, to provide unity within a system that worked against it. In the early republic, people transferred this evaluative capacity to Dolley. To them, Dolley symbolized the "heart" of the real Madison administration, but also its true character. Dolley's sincerity saved her, even for people who thought her manners excessively charming or her dress gaudy. She was a queen, but as many proclaimed, she was also a Queen of Hearts, as Samuel Latham Mitchill dubbed her.