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This title in other editions

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

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

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“Delightful and discerning . . . In this evocative study a remarkable woman, creator of the ‘first lady role, comes vividly to life.”The New York Times

When the roar of the Revolution had finally died down, a new generation of politicians was summoned to the Potomac to assemble the nations capital. Into that unsteady atmospherewhich would soon enough erupt into another conflict with BritainDolley 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, shes best known for saving a portrait from the burning White House.

Why did her contemporaries so admire a lady so little known today? In A Perfect Union, acclaimed historian Catherine Allgor reveals how Dolley manipulated the contstraints of her gender to construct an American democratic ruling style and to achieve her husbands political goals. By emphasizing cooperation over coercionbuilding bridges instead of bunkersshe left us with not only an important story about our past but a model for a modern form of politics.

Catherine Allgor, a professor of history at the University of California–Riverside, has received the George Washington Egleston Prize from Yale, the Lerner-Scott Prize from the Organization of American Historians, and the James H. Broussard First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic for Parlor Politics. She was awarded a Bunting Fellowship for her work on Dolley Madison. Allgor lives in Riverside, California.
When the roar of the American Revolution has subsided and the British forces had withdrawn, a new generation of American politicians was summoned to a half-built city on the Potomac to establish a national capital and a kind of government never seen beforea modern republic capable of ruling a vast continent. Into this atmosphere of uncertainty, picking their way along Washington City's rutted, muddy streets, entered Dolley Madison and her husband, James. As the wife of the secretary of state, the charismatic, gracious, and ubiquitous Dolley was the primary architect of the social and political intricacies of the city; as the president's wife, she dominated the Washington scene. By her death in 1849, Dolley was the most celebrated person in Washington. And yet, to most Americans, she's best known for saving the portrait of George Washington from a burning White House, or as the namesake for a line of ice cream products.

 

Why did her contemporaries adore and revere a lady so little known today? In A Perfect Union, historian Catherine Allgor explores the mystery of Dolley's fame and examines her subtle yet profound influence on American politics during the volatile era surrounding the War of 1812, when the republic was just taking shape. Allgor reveals that while Dolley's gender prevented her from openly playing politics, the very constraints of womanhood allowed her to construct an American ruling style and to achieve her husband's political goals, And the way that she did soby emphasizing cooperation over coercion, building bridges instead of bunkershas left us with not only an important story about our past but a model for a modern form of politics. 

 

A Perfect Union is both a portrait of an unsung founder of our democracy and an account of a little-explored time in our history.

"When Americans think of Dolley Madison, we tend to recall her legendary response to the British invasion of Washington in 1814: fleeing the White House ahead of the oncoming troops, carting off official papers and a portrait of George Washington. Appropriately, then, Catherine Allgor, who teaches at the University of California, Riverside, begins A Perfect Union, her delightful and discerning biography, with that very scene . . . In this evocative study a remarkable woman, creator of the 'first lady' role, comes vividly to life."Mary Beth Norton, The New York Times Book Review
"When Americans think of Dolley Madison, we tend to recall her legendary response to the British invasion of Washington in 1814: fleeing the White House ahead of the oncoming troops, carting off official papers and a portrait of George Washington. Appropriately, then, Catherine Allgor, who teaches at the University of California, Riverside, begins A Perfect Union, her delightful and discerning biography, with that very scene . . . In this evocative study a remarkable woman, creator of the 'first lady' role, comes vividly to life."Mary Beth Norton, The New York Times

"Allgor . . . is a fine writer and a perceptive historian who easily captures the political landscape of early America. She provides helpful guides to various battles dividing the country . . . Allgor provides revealing anecdotes about everything from interior design to dueling. She's especially adept at exploring how the 'feminine' sphere of parties influenced national politics as leaders tried to shed the shadowy court intrigue of Europe . . . An engrossing historic tale of the power of civility to offset acrimony."Randy Dotinga, The Christian Science Monitor

"Ms. Allgor provides this background to Dolley's triumphs with scholarly aplomb . . . [She is] an astute historian and biographer."Carl Rollyson, The New York Sun

"[Allgor] captures Dolley's charisma and her essential role in the politics of her time."The New Yorker

"Where is Dolley Madison when we need her? Catherine Allgor makes clear that Mrs. Madison's skills as a hostess and politician held the country together when rabid partisanship threatened to tear it apart. This is a well-told biography of a true nineteenth-century celebrity, but a celebrity with substance, savvy and courage."Cokie Roberts, author of Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation

"For some time Dolley Madison has been a beguiling ornament, flashing her femininity in the parlors of the early American republic. Here, at last, Catherine Allgor, with great style and wit, recovers a different Dolley, a full-fledged political partner with James Madison. Now, in addition to John and Abigail, we have James and Dolley."Joseph J. Ellis, author of His Excellency: George Washington

"A lively, clear-eyed account of a master politician. As first 'Presidentess,' Dolley Madison established herself among our earliest female celebrities and left an enduring mark on American culture. Hers is a rousing tale of ambition, gossip, and policy, told with empathy and understanding by Catherine Allgor."Stacy Schiff, author of A Great Improvisation

"Before Jackie Kennedy there was Dolley Madisonelegant, sophisticated and charismatic. Thanks to her inimitable style and determination, the nation's capital became more than just a swampy outpost where pigs and politicians freely roamed. In A Perfect Union Catherine Allgor reveals the warm and fascinating woman who dazzled Americans for more than three decades."Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

"During the administration of President James Madison, his wife was the 'most famous and loved' individual in the country; upon her death in old age, having achieve

Synopsis:

The post-Revolutionary era comes to life in this vivid, incisive portrait of the early American republic--and its master political architect.

Synopsis:

"Delightful and discerning . . . In this evocative study a remarkable woman, creator of the 'first lady' role, comes vividly to life."--The New York Times

When the roar of the Revolution had finally died down, a new generation of politicians was summoned to the Potomac to assemble 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 from the burning White House.

Why did her contemporaries so admire a lady so little known today? In A Perfect Union, acclaimed historian Catherine Allgor reveals how Dolley manipulated the contstraints of her gender to construct an American democratic ruling style and to 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.

About the Author

A professor of history at the University of California-Riverside, Catherine Allgor has received the George Washington Egleston Prize, the Lerner-Scott Prize, and the James H. Broussard First Book Prize for Parlor Politics. She was awarded a Bunting Fellowship for her work on Dolley Madison.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780805083002
Author:
Allgor, Catherine
Publisher:
Owl Books (NY)
Subject:
Historical - U.S.
Subject:
United States - 18th Century
Subject:
First Ladies
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Biography-First Ladies
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Political
Subject:
Biography-Historical
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20070231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
1 16-pg. b, &, w insert; printed endpape
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
8.9 x 6 x 1.3 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
Biography » Women
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
History and Social Science » US History » First Ladies » General
History and Social Science » US History » Presidents » Madison, James

A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation Used Trade Paper
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Product details 512 pages Owl Books (NY) - English 9780805083002 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The post-Revolutionary era comes to life in this vivid, incisive portrait of the early American republic--and its master political architect.
"Synopsis" by ,
"Delightful and discerning . . . In this evocative study a remarkable woman, creator of the 'first lady' role, comes vividly to life."--The New York Times

When the roar of the Revolution had finally died down, a new generation of politicians was summoned to the Potomac to assemble 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 from the burning White House.

Why did her contemporaries so admire a lady so little known today? In A Perfect Union, acclaimed historian Catherine Allgor reveals how Dolley manipulated the contstraints of her gender to construct an American democratic ruling style and to 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.

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