America's first of First Ladies, born on this day on a plantation near Williamsburg, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (1731-1802) was a wealthy widow and mother of two when she married Colonel George Washington, a hero who had fought Indian wars in the west and was active in Virginia politics.
More concerned with her husband's well-being than her own, Martha followed George from camp to camp during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). Joining him at Valley Forge, she weathered the harsh winter and dangers to offer support.
An angel on the battlefield, she spearheaded relief efforts for soldiers, giving them soup, medicine, and clothes, and was admired for her devotion and patriotism.
"Keep your business affairs in your own hands," she once advised. "It's the only way to be happy."
Mrs. Washington had little formal education and was known for her exquisite needlework. When her husband was elected President in 1789, they moved to the first U.S. capital in New York City where she devoted herself to managing their household.
"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be," said the woman dubbed "Lady Washington." She was not fond of public life, but said she respected her husband for "obeying the voice of his country."
"I am fond of only what comes from the heart," Martha once explained.
Keep your attitude positive.