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

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

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

Overall customer rating: 5.000
BruceHH

A Woman unites the country

by BruceHH on Sep 27, 2012

The benefit of a woman's sphere in a time of extreme factionalism is exhibited in this work about the woman who essentially established the role of First Lady. With regional interests so diverse as to cause physical fights in the Congress and each thinking the opposing side were 'beasts' it was this woman that united the nation. Beginning with her role as wife of the Secretary of State, a position at the time thought to lead to the Presidency, and later as First Lady, Dolley held frequent 'salons' i.e. social events where numerous issues would be discussed. At these events opposing congressmen would come to understand each other as human beings with logical reasons for their positions. Because the events were hosted by a woman they could not get into physical altercations because it would be ungentlemanly. Jefferson did not have a first lady and consequently Dolley Madison, as wife of the Secretary of State took to herself to create a more congenial atmosphere in the Nation's capitol. Her actions, especially after the British burned Washington during her husband's Presidency, were instrumental in keeping the Nation's capitol in Washington rather than making it mobile or in some other city where government would not be the primary business. Allgor's book is as much about the social history of the times as it is about Dolley herself. Insights into so of the actions of the founding fathers' reveal some of their attitudes, e.g. that regarding religion. On page 176 she notes "Washingtonians attended 'public worship' ... in the Capitol building." With all Christian denominations appearing "even a woman preacher." Variability mattered little. "Church had become a place for socializing and display." This book is an enjoyable read. One that fits into history, politics and women's studies.

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