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After Mary Payne left Philadelphia in 1793, Dolley's sister Anna Payne moved in with them to help with the children.
In August 1793 a yellow fever epidemic broke out in Philadelphia, killing 5,019 people in four months, Dolley Payne Todd and James Madison, who represented Virginia in the U. House of Representatives (the capital met in Philadelphia from 1790 to 1800), likely encountered each other at social events in the temporary federal capital.
The first girl in her family, Dorothea Dandridge Payne was born on May 20, 1768, in the Quaker settlement of New Garden, North Carolina, in Guilford County (now part of the city of Greensboro), to Mary Coles Payne and John Payne Jr, both Virginians who had moved to North Carolina in 1765.
Mary Coles, a Quaker, had married John Payne, a non-Quaker, in 1761.
As it approached and the White House staff hurriedly prepared to flee, Dolley Madison ordered the Stuart painting, a copy of the Lansdowne portrait, to be saved, as she wrote in a letter to her sister at 3 o'clock in the afternoon of August 23: Our kind friend Mr.
Madison accepted and moved Dolley, her son Payne, her sister Anna, and their domestic slaves to Washington.
When the British set fire to it in 1814, she was credited with saving the classic portrait of George Washington.
In widowhood, she often lived in poverty, partially relieved by the sale of her late husband’s papers.
A brisk courtship followed, and by August, Dolley accepted his marriage proposal.
As he was not a Quaker, she was expelled from the Society of Friends for marrying outside her faith.