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Word Count: 1,136
There is one secret and that is the power we all have in forming our own destinies stated the lady in the elegant scarlet velvet gown of her own design The material was that which had been the curtains in the White House before the British invaded and burned it on August 24 1814 Dolley Madison escaped before the British captured her with the curtains as well as the founding documents of our country including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that her husband James Madison had been responsible for writing She also saved the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington by cutting it from the frame She knew the power she had in forming her own destiny Born to John Payne Jr and Mary Coles Payne both staunch Quakers on May 20 1768 in New Garden North Carolina Dolley Payne was the oldest daughter She had two older brothers Walter and William and was followed in order by Lucy Anna Mary John Isaac and Philadelphia Dolleys parents owned a plantation in Virginia also and later in life they would move to Pennsylvania and open a starch factory which is why Dolley claimed to be from all three states Dolley was groomed by doting and aristocratic parents and grandparents in the fine art of how to treat people She learned well because she became one of the greatest hostesses America has ever known At a time when women were not knowledgeable about politics much less involved in them Dolley became quite adroit at putting people at ease and garnering information for her husband and his colleagues so that they could lead their young country It all started when President Jefferson requested that she hostess his little dinner party At first Dolley was taken aback until she remembered that the president was a widower and his daughters lived in Virginia Then she obliged him Her first worry was about what the women would
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