Today is Martha Washington’s birthday. She was born on the Chestnut Grove Plantation in the British colony of Virginia in 1731, she is considered the first First Lady, and she was a lot wealthier than George Washington when they married.
Here are five other things you should about Martha Washington:
• She officially had three brothers and four sisters, though like many planter’s children, she also likely had an illegitimate sister born into slavery named Ann Dandridge Costin.
• She had four children by her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis (a very wealthy planter two decades older than her) before Custis died. Two of the children survived to adulthood. She did not have any children with Washington.
• She wore purple shoes at her wedding.
• She does not appear to have enjoyed being First Lady in Philadelphia. She wrote in a letter to a niece, “I think I am more like a state prisoner than anything else . . .”
• She emancipated George Washington’s slaves a year after his death, in accordance with his will. However, she did not free any of the 153 slaves that she herself owned, instead bequeathing them to heirs when she died in 1802.