Martha Wayles Jefferson was the daughter of John Wayles who was an attorney and slave trader. At 18 she married Bathurst Skelton who died two years later. In 1772, Martha married Thomas Jefferson her third cousin. During their marriage she gave birth to six children, only two of whom survived to adulthood. When Martha’s father died in 1772, she and her husband inherited his many slaves, as well as, the debts of his estate. These debts burdened Jefferson for the rest of his life. Martha died in 1782, eleven years before Jefferson was elected president. Before her death, she asked her husband not to marry again and he never did. For the remainder of his life, Jefferson kept a locket of Martha’s hair in a secret drawer beside his bed.
This Martha Wayles Jefferson mug is part of our history mug series profiling the women who helped their husband, father, uncle, or family friend while he served as president of the United States.
Most people assume that all US presidents were assisted in the office by their spouse, but that was not always the case. Our series on the women who supported their husband, father, uncle, brother, or family friend during his term as US president is filled with many unique individuals. Women who were not married to the president served in the position when the president was a bachelor or widower, or when the wife of the president was unable to perform in the role.
The origin of the phrase First Lady may have developed informally out of cordiality. In the case of Martha Washington, she was referred to as Lady Washington during her lifetime, but that did not mean it was a chosen or official title. A newspaper article published in 1838 using the term first lady of the nation when discussing Mrs. Washington, and maybe the first published use of the term.
Originally the women served as hostesses for the many official gatherings held at the White House. Over the years they have redefined their duties and activities. Edith Roosevelt was the first to hire her own social secretary, Eleanor Roosevelt was the first to have a personal secretary, and Jackie Kennedy decided a press secretary was needed to assist her in her role.
Starting with Rosalynn Carter, there has been an Office of the First Lady of the United States which is made up of four divisions: press and research, social and personal, projects and community liaison, and schedule and advance. She was also the first to have a Chief of Staff.
The biographical History Mugs were created to teach and inspire individuals to learn about our diverse and interesting history. The biographies were researched and written by history enthusiast, Robert Compton. He colorized most of the historic photos and images used on the mugs, which were originally black and white or sepia-tone. The images and biographies are imprinted on mugs at his studio in rural Vermont.
- Mugs are food and microwave safe.
- To preserve photographic quality we recommend hand washing.
- Mugs are usually shipped within 3-5 days.