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Early Maine Photography

Famous People

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Dolley Madison, ca. 1840
Dolley Madison, ca. 1840Item Contributed by
Maine Historical Society

Dolly Madison

Remembered as one of America’s great first ladies, Dolly Madison (1768-1849) was raised in rural Virginia and educated in Philadelphia. After the death of her first husband, she married Congressman James Madison in 1794. A brilliant lawyer and politician, Madison served as Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of State from 1801 to 1809, succeeding him in the presidency from 1809 to 1817. During both the Jefferson and Madison administrations, Dolly Madison conducted the social life of the White House. When the British burned Washington in 1814, she rescued the full-length portrait of George Washington from the East Room.

In 1817 the Madisons returned to Montpelier, their Virginia country estate, where James Madison died in 1836. The following year Dolly Madison returned to Washington to resume her role as the social leader of the city. Senator John Fairfield of Saco described Mrs. Madison in 1847 much as she appears in this daguerreotype:

Mrs. Madison is still residing at Washington and is the center of nearly as much attraction as the White House itself. All foreigners and gentlemen of distinction from all parts of our country visiting Washington make it one of their first pleasures to pay their respects to Mrs. Madison. Although far advanced in life, she retains much of the freshness and beauty of her early years, and all of the dignity and even majesty of her appearance and deportment. She still wears the turban and much of her costume of the olden time, which is in admirable keeping with her courtly manners.

Dolly Madison’s sister Anna was married to Richard Cutts of Saco, and the Maine Historical Society probably acquired this daguerreotype from the Cutts family.


Tintype portrait of Abraham Lincoln, ca. 1864
Tintype portrait of Abraham Lincoln, ca. 1864Item Contributed by
Maine Historical Society

Abraham Lincoln

This tintype of a print of Abraham Lincoln by an unknown maker may date from his reelection campaign in the fall of 1864 or from his assassination in April, 1865. Born in Kentucky in 1809, Lincoln rose to fame as an Illinois lawyer and politician. Nominated for president by the new Republican Party in 1860, he won a four way race and immediately faced the dissolution of the union over the question of slavery.

Between his inauguration on March 4, 1861 and his death on April 15, 1865, Lincoln focused on preserving the union and abolishing slavery by waging war with Confederate States of America and issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. In achieving both these goals, he is considered one of America’s great presidents.