First Ladies: Martha Jefferson Randolph

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Martha Jefferson Randolph, served as First Lady for her father, President Thomas Jefferson. Her mother, also named Martha, died in 1782, years before Thomas Jefferson became President.

Martha Jefferson Randolph

Martha was one of two of Thomas Jefferson‘s children to live into adulthood. However, her sister died when she was in her 20s.

Martha Jefferson was the oldest child of Thomas and Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson. She born at Monticello on September 27, 1772.

According to reports, “Martha was tall and slim with angular features and red hair, and was said to have closely resembled her father. She became devoted to him.”

Her mother died a few weeks before Martha’s tenth birthday. During most of her teen years, Martha lived in Paris, France with her father who was Minister to France at the time.

In 1790, Martha, age 18, married Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr. Thomas Randolph was a planter and politician.

Martha and Thomas had twelve children, eleven of whom reached adulthood. The Randolph children were educated at home by private tutors.

Martha visited her father with her family at the White House, where she served as hostess. However, she did not live at the White House during her father’s entire Presidency. She served as hostess for her father from 1802-03 and 1805-06.

Martha Jefferson Randolph

In 1804, her sister, Patsy, died. She was the only legitimate surviving child of her father.

Her eighth child, James Madison Randolph, became the first child to be born in the White House when he was born in 1806.

Martha and her husband had multiple periods of estrainment. This is said to be due to her husband’s alcoholism and mental instability.

By all accounts Martha was very close to her father. Jefferson describes her as the “cherished companion of his youth and the nurse of his old age”.

Sometime after her father’s death in 1826, she returned to her husband’s home and their estate, named Edgehill.

Her father, Thomas Jefferson, left her with numerous dates and she was forced to eventually sell Monticello to pay them off.

Martha died on October 10, 1836.


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