Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty / Edition 1

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New York 2002 Hardcover First edition Very Good in Near Fine DJ First Lady of Liberty. 417 pp., 8vo. Hardcover in dj. First edition. Light flexing to boards. Creasing to joints. ... Some cocking & shaking to spine but binding very sturdy. Slight foxing to textblock top edge. Pgs clean & crisp. Slight shelfwear to dj. Read more Show Less

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Overview

A contempary anecdote not only confirms that Martha commanded respect in her own right during her lifetime, but also suggests an awkward truth later historians have preferred to ignore-that without Martha and her fortune, George might never have risen to social, military, and political prominence.Toward the end of his life, George Washington, war hero, retired president, and object of universal fame and veneration, was negotiating to purchase a plot of land in the new capital city, to be named in his honor. The seller, an aged veteran of the Revolution, was reluctant to part with the plot, even to so distinguished a purchaser. Washington persisted until the veteran's patience snapped: 'You think people take every grist that comes from you as the pure grain. What would you have been if you hadn't married the Widow Custis!'
-from the Introduction to
Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty

From the glittering social life of Virginia's wealthiest plantations to the rigors of winter camps during the American Revolution, Martha Washington was a central figure in some of the most important events in American history. Her story is a saga of social conflict, forbidden love affairs, ambiguous wills, mysterious death, heartbreaking loss, and personal and political triumph. Every detail is brought to vivid life in this engaging and astonishing biography of one of the best known, least understood figures in early American life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* "...tells Martha's story with a seductive mix of relish, insight and scholarship..." (Camden New Journal, 15 August 2002)

"Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was at the center of attention her whole life; mistress of large plantations, married to two of the most influential and wealthy Virginians, and as Lady Washington, the General's wife and First Lady. Unfortunately, with only a few of her actual letters extant, much of what we know about Martha Washington is from inference. Bryan mines the whole spectrum of the social, economic, and political world in which Martha moved, and even analyzes a few skeletons in the closet, not the least being the mysterious death of Martha's brother-in-law, Mulatto Jack, a slave who had been designated to inherit the fortune that went to Martha's first husband. The book is one of the best treatments anywhere of the early Virginia aristocracy; indeed, this comes in for so much emphasis that one half of the book covers the period before 1775. The author touches lightly on Martha's sojourns with her husband during the military campaigns and as First Lady. Nevertheless, this book is a singular accomplishment, beautifully written and most enlightening about both Martha and George. Recommended for general and academic collections. Copyright 2002 American Library Association"

Booknews
Currently a barrister in London, Bryan was born and raised in Virginia, and traces her ancestry to the Revolutionary period when Martha Washington resided there. As an adult, a general curiosity about Martha Washington led Bryan to conduct the research resulting in this book, which reveals "a complex picture of a woman who was very much a product of an earlier period in American history, and who simply cannot be understood in terms of twentieth-century attitudes." Includes 23 b&w illustrations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471158929
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 4/5/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 633,920
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

HELEN BRYAN was born and has spent much of her life in Virginia; she traces her ancestry to the Revolutionary period, when Martha Washington lived there. She is currently a barrister in London and a member of the Inner Temple.
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Table of Contents

Illustrations.

Preface.

Introduction.

Twenty-Five Miles as the Crow Flies from Williamsburg.

"Joh Dandridge's Daughter".

A Young Matron and Her Family.

The Widow Custis.

George Washington, His Family and Friends.

A Twelfth Night Wedding.

Halcyon Days.

Uneasy Times.

Sudden Changes and Milestones.

"Mrs. Washington, a Warm Loyalist".

"I Doe My Dear Sister Most Religiously Wish There Was an End to the Matter".

"General Washington's Lady, an Example of Persistent Industry".

"A Dreary Kind of Place".

Middlebrook and Morristown.

"We Look Upon the Americans as Already at Our Feet".

A Long Time Going Home.

"Under Their Own Vine and Fig Tree".

"The General Is Gone to New York".

"A State Prisoner".

Philadelphia.

"Duty and Inclination".

Transitions.

"Once More, Under Our Own Vine and Fig Tree".

"No More Trials to Pass Through".

Epilogue.

A Culinary Lagniappe: Recipes from Martha Washington's Books of Cookery and Book of Sweetmeats.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Index.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2002

    Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty

    " WITHOUT MARTHA WASHINGTON, GEORGE , THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, MIGHT HAVE REMAINED AN OBSCURE EX-SOLDIER... A VERY FINE LIFE OF MARTHA WASHINGTON...SURELY THE FULLEST BIOGRAPHY OF MARTHA TO DATE, IT'S ALSO A COLORFUL AND EVOCATIVE HISTORY OF THE PERIOD. IT TRACES MARTHA'S RISE FROM PROVINCIAL OBSCURITY IN VIRGINIA TO BECOME THE MOST FAMOUS WOMAN IN 18TH CENTURY USA, YET NEVER SHIES FROM PORTRAYING THE UGLINESS AMIDST THE ROMANCE- THE PRESENCE OF DEATH AND DISEASE , THE DEPENDENCY ON THE SLAVE TRADE." 19TH JULY 2002

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2002

    Martha, our forgotten first lady!!!!!

    I had often wondered why so few books have been written about Martha Washington. While traveling through out Virginia and especially while visiting Mount Vernon, I was disappointed to find so very little information on her. I had even thought about reasearching and trying to write a book about our first "first lady" myself! This book is wonderfully written and gives great insight into Martha and George's life together. It paints a more realistic picture of the two. Neither of them were the saints or stuffy off-limits personalities that so many history books have portrayed them to be. They were flesh and blood human beings,with good and bad qualities. My hat is off to the author for such sterling research and captivating writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2002

    Martha Washington: First Lady of Liberty

    Why has nobody written about Martha Washington's role in history this way before? Most books on the Revolution feature men, but for anyone interested in American history , this book is the first I've read to see the Revolution from a female perspective. Besides Martha's story it covers a variety of subjects from slavery to the causes of the Revolution, and really illuminates the whole colonial period . Anyone interested in the history of the United States ouught to read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2002

    Quiet strength in revolutionary times.

    A stunning book! Helen Bryan has done for Martha Washington what David McCullough did for John Adams in this thoroughly researched and well written biography. She has brought a lawyer's skills to bear in analyzing a vast body of information and piecing together a compelling and lively book about one of the most deserving but least known characters in American history, as well as an altogether convincing picture of our country in its early days. The book is full of new, surprising and intriguing information. Bryan has clearly been at pains to track down: a possible murder plot, George Washington's alleged sons, a number of complicated wills which caused upheaval in the family, and especially some little known accounts of the Washingtons' relationship with their slaves. Further, Bryan airs Martha's family secrets, including Martha's part-African half-sister, historically invisible till now, and her mixed race great granddaughter who once owned the land now occupied by Arlington National Cemetery and who was the sister-in-law of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee. I couldn't put it down.

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