We also associate Dolley with her passion for ice cream. Evidently her favorite flavor was, even then, an acquired taste, and as such, the Colonial Dames decided not to offer their guests a taste. Dolley Madison was a big fan of oyster ice cream. And nowadays we think savory ice creams are innovative!
I was rather tickled because the owner of Dumbarton House, which was then called Belle Vue -- the man who offered his hospitality and sanctuary to the fleeing FLOTUS was a man named Charles Carroll! [Full disclosure: no relation--but it was fun to pretend.]
Writing of the parlous event to her sister Lucy Payne Washington Todd, Dolley told her:
"Our kind friend, Mr. Carroll, has come to hasten my departure, and is in a very bad humour with me because I insist on waiting until the large picture of General Washington is secured, and it requires to be unscrewed from the wall. This process was found too tedious for these perilous moments; I have ordered the frame to be broken, and the canvas taken out. It is done! and the precious portrait placed in the hands of two gentlemen from New York, for safekeeping. And now, dear sister, I must leave this house, or the retreating army will make me a prisoner in it by filling up the road I am directed to take. When I shall again write to you, or where I shall be tomorrow, I cannot tell!"
It was rather marvelous to hear about a story that has entered the lexicon of American myths and legends and to learn how much of it was really true. A historical novelist's dream come true!
Are you a Dolley Madison fan?