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Adèle Cutts Douglas (American National Biography)

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Robert W. Johannsen, "Douglas, Adèle Cutts," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/20/20-01275.html.

In November 1856, following Buchanan's election as president, Adèle and Douglas's marriage was solemnized by a Roman Catholic priest in what was widely reported as the social event of the season in the national capital. Their wedding trip to New York (to visit Douglas's mother) and Chicago was marked by public suppers and receptions, at which every detail of Adèle's dress and appearance was recorded in the press. "It is difficult to say," wrote one observer, "whether the genius of the husband or the beauty of the wife attracts the most homage" (Harper's Weekly, 26 Dec. 1857).

To many the couple appeared an unlikely match. A widower with two small sons, Douglas was twenty-two years older than Adèle and lacked the refinement for which she was known. Since his first wife's death in 1853, Douglas had shunned society, allowed his whiskers to grow, and assumed a decidedly shabby appearance. Marriage to Adèle worked a remarkable change. He shaved his whiskers and trimmed his hair, cut down on his drinking, and appeared in a new, neat-fitting suit. From a frequenter of "crossroads taverns and city oyster saloons" Douglas had been transformed "into quite a genial and courtly aristocrat" (New York Herald, 20 Dec. 1856).

How to Cite This Page: "Adèle Cutts Douglas (American National Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/22550.