Pioneering Women and Early Government Leaders

Martha Washington

refer to caption
The 8-cent Martha Washington stamp, issued in 1902, was the first stamp issue featuring an American woman.
refer to caption
The 4-cent Martha Washington stamp was issued on May 1, 1929.

Martha Custis (1731-1802) married George Washington on January 6, 1759. Although a private person, she bravely followed her husband to war and the Presidency. During the Revolutionary War Martha was instrumental in maintaining troop morale, even spending the hard winter in Valley Forge with her husband. She helped organize supplies, rolled bandages, and led women in their work around camp.

Martha and George Washington entertained lavishly at their Mount Vernon estate, hosting over 2,000 guests in seven years. When Washington was elected as the first president of the newly formed United States, Martha accompanied him to his post. As the first hostess for the nation, her welcoming nature helped others view the presidential couple not as royalty but just like other Americans. Her warm hospitality set the standard for future First Ladies as a generous hostess and public figure.