A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation

SKU: 978-0805083002
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When the roar of the American Revolution died down, a new generation of politicians was summoned to create the nation's capital. Into that unsteady atmosphere which would soon enough erupt into another conflict with Britain, Dolley Madison arrived, alongside her husband, James. Within a few years, she had mastered both the social and political intricacies of the city, and by her death in 1849 was the most celebrated person in Washington. And yet, to most Americans, she's best known for saving a portrait of George Washington from the burning White House. Why did her contemporaries so admire a lady so little known today?

In Perfect Union, acclaimed historian Catherine Allgor reveals how Dolley manipulated the constraints of her gender to construct an American democratic ruling style and achieve her husband's political goals. By emphasizing cooperation over coercion, building bridges instead of bunkers, she left us with not only an important story about our past, but a model for a modern form of politics.

Catherine Allgor, Ph.D., is Nadine and Robert A. Skotheim Director of Education at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.


  • 512 pages
  • 8 9/10 x 6 x 1 1/3"
  • Author Catherine Allgor
  • Published by Holt Paperbacks

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