Reflections celebrates President's Day with the story of "the lovely" Sara Angelica Singleton. The daughter of Col. Richard Singleton, Sara married Abraham Van Buren, son of President Martin Van Buren.
This marriage elevated a young girl from …
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This marriage elevated a young girl from Wedgefield to the position of "first lady" of the United States, a position which President Van Buren, a widower, asked her to fill. This event brought many of the political royalty to the home of Col. Singleton and gave recognition to this part of the country and its inhabitants. The information used to prepare this article comes from Dr. Anne King Gregorie's History of Sumter County, writings from Cassie Nicholes, articles and photos from The Item archives and Wikipedia.
"In the White House hangs a striking portrait of a polished young lady from the Sumter District. She is dressed in an elegant style of the seventeenth century and stands with a bust of Martin Van Buren in the background. In a televised tour of the White House, Jacqueline Kennedy called this portrait 'the most beautiful one here.' The portrait was done by Henry Alston in 1842, and Angelica remains as the only White House hostess from South Carolina."
Gregorie notes in History of Sumter County that the wedding took place at the "Home plantation in November 1833, where Angelica married Abraham Van Buren, son and secretary of the President of the United States. On their honeymoon, the young couple went abroad and were received in London in the style of visiting royalty by Queen Victoria and at Saint Cloud by King Louis Philippe while in France. They returned in time for Angelica to function as 'first lady' at the New Year's reception at the White House where she became the official hostess for the widower president."
Only a brief formal notice of this wedding appeared in the Charleston newspapers, and there was no mention anywhere that the president had attended as his son's best man. But Martin Van Buren did visit Col. Singleton for several weeks in 1842 according to Gregorie.
Angelica had a distinguished family tree that included Col. Matthew Singleton, Capt. John Singleton and Col. Richard Singleton. Angelica received an excellent education from her private tutors and later attended Mme. Grelaud's French School in Philadelphia. When she was 21, Angelica was invited to visit her famous friend, Dolly Madison. Angelica grew into a beautiful young lady and captivated Mrs. Madison's circle of friends including Abraham Van Buren, a West Point graduate.
Angelica was born the day before Valentine's Day, Feb. 13, 1816, and resided in New York with her husband, while wintering at her family home in Wedgefield. They had four children; however, one died in infancy. She died on Dec. 29, 1878, and is buried in New York.
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