Despite her role as an influential first Lady, Dolley Madison left no autobiographical record of her experiences as a woman or as a socio-political figure. In The Queen of America, acclaimed author Catherine Allgor along with other Madison historians offer the annotated memoir of Dolley from her niece, Mary Cutts. Revealing much about public women in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Allgor also offers an example of the ways in which historians can recover the lives of these "vanishing ladies."
Granting considerable insight into the figures of both Madison and her ambitious niece, whose memoir touches upon nineteenth-century femininity and historical relevancy as well as Dolley’s own life and times, The Queen of America assesses, contextualizes, and comments upon the two drafts of Cutts’s biography. Including a newly annotated transcription, the book evaluates the adequacy, accuracy, and general utility of Cutts’s memoir as a historical and biographical source.
As noted by Cokie Roberts in the book’s foreword, in the midst of a “detective story” of this historical puzzle, Allgor acts as both guide and investigator into the information that was provided—and withheld—by Cutts.
Catherine Allgor, Professor of History and Presidential Chair at the University of California, Riverside, is the author of A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation and Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government.