Mrs. Madison was one of the most popular women of the White
House. It was well indeed that hers
was a heart open
to social life, and that she had that warmth of heart
and that brilliancy and ready wit that made her so
popular and gave such charm to the White House
hospitality during that administration, for Madison
was, though filling nobly his political position, cold,
snarling, hardly courteous in his social life.
"Dolly" was of very common "extraction," as we say, her
father being a simple Quaker.
Madison was forty-three years old when he carried the
brilliant, simple-hearted Dolly to the White House.
In "Presidents of the United States," John Frost,
 gives the following account of this kind-hearted and
much loved lady:
"At Richmond, I first saw Mrs. Madison, and the instant
my eye fell on her I felt that I was looking on a
Queen. A queen she was; one of nature's
queens:—she looked the character; her person,
carriage, manners, language, would have been in place
in any of the most polished Courts of Europe. She was
large and dignified, yet she moved with easy grace.
was a face that seemed to bid you welcome, and to
ask, 'what can I do for you?' Having once seen her, I
could credit what had frequently been told me, that her
husband owed much of the success of his administration
(so far as his popularity was concerned),
influence of his wife. Her power over him was great,
and all who sought favors of any kinds, addressed
themselves, naturally, to her, as the readiest and
surest channel of access to the President. Madison was
cold and shy, and a timid suitor would often have met,
not with repulse, but with a polite refusal; but Mrs.
Madison anybody could approach, and if his request was
reasonable he might count upon at least her good
"Another beautiful trait of her character was her
fondness for the young. No one could have seen her in
company with young ladies, and fail to be struck with
this peculiarity. It became the more remarkable as she
advanced in years.—At an age when to most of
those who reach it the liveliness
 and chatter of young people is a burden, she had still
the same fondness for their company; nor was there a
kinder lady to be found in introducing and encouraging
bashful young girls just entering society. She gained
their confidence at once, and in a large mixed company,
you would always find a group of youthful faces around
her, all whose pleasures seemed to be her own.
"In almost every picture of Mrs. Madison she is drawn
with a turban; and very properly; for it was, I
believe, her constant head dress.
However the fashions might change, and however, in
other respects, she conformed to them, she still
retained this peculiarity. It became her well, nor
could she, probably, have laid it aside for anything
that would have set off her features to better
advantage. So much was the eye accustomed to see it
that it became, in fact, a part of her figure. It was
to her much what Frederick's three cornered hat was to
him. The Prussian army would have been very much
surprised to see their king without his hat; but no
more so than would have been the people of those days
to find Mrs. Madison without her turban.