Alexandra Wells


From 1789 to 1817, three ladies---Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Dolley Madison---all contributed to the creation of an American political culture that relied on the participation of women to run smoothly. To help with the establishment of the fledging American government, the Republican Court was created. This social institution allowed for open discussions and cordial relationships between politicians all under the guidance of women. The topic of this paper is the evolution of the Republican Court through four administrations and three First Ladies. This paper looks at the influential political role women played in the early republic, the French influence on American politics and American women, as well as the partisan backlash women involved in politics received and the importance of etiquette to political functions. Ultimately, this thesis examines how the Republican Court was integral to the search for an American political culture after the American Revolution and how the Republican Court became its most successful version under the command of First Lady Dolley Payne Todd Madison. Her skills at politicking and her charming personality allowed the Republican Court to become an essential and settled part of American political culture in the early republic.