Lot 16: ALS signed "Mary," four pages on two adjoining sheets, 8 x 10.5, Washington, August 29, 1849. Letter reporting the death of her aunt, Dolley Madison, in part: "I was very glad to receive your last 'tho it came at a very mournful time—a week after the departure of my beloved Aunt to a better world!—You have doubtly seen accounts of her death—like her life, it was calm & beautiful—she sank into a quiet sleep Sunday afternoon while I was by her—and as it was the hour she usually sleeps in the hot summer days—nothing was thought of it—until it was prolonged until the next morning when she woke—smiling sweetly on those round her when she was too feeble to speak, putting her arms around the necks of those she loved—she lingered until Thursday with occasional waking up—and all her thoughts were holy—she muttered prayers and gently clasped her hands…Her remains were deposited in a metalic [sic] coffin cemented so closly [sic] that decomposition was prevented—and kept 5 days—at first, we allowed no one to see her, but afterwards as she looked so beautiful, we thought it best to have her removed to the drawing room…On Monday Morning it was removed to St. John's Church…the pallbearers were the highest in the land—but as the coffin was very heavy Genl. [Archibald] Henderson (who was one) brought from the navy yard 10 marines dressed in white—who conveyed it from the hearse to the vault at the Congressional burying ground—where it was deposited previous to its being taken to Montpelier—where Uncle Madison is laid." In fine condition, with a small tear to right edge.
Upon the death of former president James Madison in 1836, Mary Cutts and Annie Payne stepped in to provide support and companionship to their aunt Dolley as she worked to compile her late husband's papers. They relocated from her Montpelier plantation in Virginia to Washington a year later, and remained there until the former first lady's peaceful death in July of 1849. As recounted here by Cutts, who would go on to write an important biography of her aunt, the funeral was a grand public ceremony; many accounts agreed that it went off as smoothly and graciously as if the elegant Dolley herself had arranged it. From 1849 until 1858 her body remained in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, until finally being transferred to Montpelier where she would remain alongside her husband. An interesting and personal letter regarding one of America's most popular first ladies.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs And Artifacts Auction 471
Wednesday, 9th March 2016
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