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  Martha Randolph

By John T. Marck

First Lady: 1802 to 1803 & 1805 to 1806

Daughter of President Thomas Jefferson

Born: September 27, 1772 Died: October 10, 1836

Martha Randolph was the eldest daughter of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was married to Martha Wales Skelton, who died September 6, 1782. Martha Randolph, being almost ten at the time of her mother's death, became the almost constant companion to her father. Upon entering the White House, Jefferson, wanted to simplify the so called courtly mannerisms, and thus abolished all state dinners and public receptions, except for holiday celebrations on July 4, and New Year's Day. Jefferson's daughter Martha, nicknamed "Patsy," received her education in Europe, traveling with her father. At the age of seventeen, Patsy married Thomas Mann Randolph, who was the victim of depression and uncontrollable rages of anger. Unable to handle his affairs, he became bankrupt. This marriage was quite an unhappy one. However, following her father's advice, she remained married to Thomas, bearing twelve children, of whom eleven lived to maturity.

Jefferson urged his daughter to stay with him at the White House, but she was not interested as she had no interest in his being President. Patsy was more concerned with her home at Edgehill Plantation, near Monticello, or her Varina Plantation on the James River. For six weeks she acted as her father's hostess at the White House in the winter of 1802 to 1803. Once again she returned to the White House to act as hostess in 1805 to 1806, as her husband was in Congress, both living at the White House. One of her children, James Madison Randolph, was born while she was her father's hostess. This child was the first White House baby.

Martha Randolph spent much of her later years at Monticello, helping her father with the many mounting debts. During this time, Jefferson had a great number of visitors at Monticello, which distressed Martha very much. She did however outlive her father by ten years, dying on October 10, 1836.

Copyright 1990-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. From The First Ladies of the United States by John T. Marck.