Martha Washington, formerly America's First Frump, is now being seen as, basically, a hot
chick, in her 20s, fighting off suitors and deeply in love with the man who would raise a violent insurgency against the British :
Our image of the mother of our country, vague and insubstantial as it is, is drawn from portraits painted after her death showing a frumpy, dumpy, plump old lady, a fussy jumble of needlework in her lap, wearing what could pass for a shower cap with pink sponge rollers rolled too tight underneath.
But today, 250 years after Martha and George tied the knot, a handful of historians are seeking to revamp the former first lady's fusty image...
"We always see Martha with a withered face in her old age. But she was quite a beautiful woman in her younger years, and Washington loved her deeply," said Edward Lengel, senior editor at the Papers of George Washington project at the University of Virginia.
Contrary to popular opinion, even among some historians who should know better, Martha was not fat when she married George. Yes, she liked to read the Bible, but she devoured gothic romance novels, too. She capably ran the five plantations left to her when her first husband died, bargaining with London merchants for the best tobacco prices.
Historian Patricia Brady :
"When Martha decided to marry George, she didn't marry him just to be a kind stepfather to her two children. He was a hunk, and I think she decided to make herself happy. People are just starting to see her as a real person."
So why do most Americans only know Martha as a white-haired, haggard-faced old biddy?
Mount Vernon curator, Emily Shapiro :
"The country was still so young," she said. "I think it was reassuring to see its leaders as older, distinguished, stately and gray-haired people."
"So much false information was given out about the stupid cherry tree and the wooden teeth, it's put this sort of a layer of dullness over him, and of course, if he's dull, she has to be dull. Nobody imagines that they were in love and in pain and liked to dance, that what real people go through, they went through."
Seems the movie Daze & Confused was far ahead of the historians :
Darryl Mason is the author of the free online novel ED Day : Dead Sydney. Read it here.