Only the entries for 1800 have been published, although you might find the microfilms of the diaries in your library. It's a shame all her entries are not available in print or on line. One reason may be that official summaries of her papers at the Library of Congress tend to be dismissive:
"Wife of architect William Thornton. Diaries and notebooks primarily describing social life in Washington, D.C., with extensive detail about housekeeping and expense matters."
But her life and records reveal more than the surface. We view the Federal period and England's corresponding Regency era backwards through a Victorian lens, which often renders real life invisible. The story of Anna Maria and her mother is rather long, so to entertain you while you read it I've inserted some shopping tips--- new reproduction prints for period quilts.
Nothing is quite what it seems, beginning with a mysterious birthdate and birthplace. The 1860 census lists Anna Maria's birthplace as "unknown", but she is presumed to have been born in England in 1775. Her mother showed up with a French name in Philadelphia in the 1770s, possibly with this infant in utero or in hand. The American Revolution was just beginning and the first few years of Madame Brodeau's residence were under British military occupation, an exellent place to reinvent oneself.
In late 1775 Robert Morris and Benjamin Franklin placed a public notice in the Pennyslvania Gazette: "Mrs. Brodeau, from England, Takes this Method of acquainting her Friends and the Public in general, that she has opened a Boarding School, in Walnut-street, near the Corner of Fourth-street, where young Ladies will be genteely boarded, and taught to read and speak the French and English Language, the Tambour, Embroidery, and every Kind of useful and ornamental Needle-Work..."
In 1793 George Washington accepted Thornton's design for the nation's new capitol building and the following year the Doctor moved to Washington taking Anna and her mother. Anna's diaries record her husband's architectural career, designing homes for the elite. Among his commissions: John Tayloe's Octagon House and Thomas and Martha Custis Peter's Tudor Place. Yet he never made a living from architecture, an economic need President Jefferson addressed by appointing him superintendent of the Patent Office in 1802.
"I was employed in altering & making circles on a map to shew the distances from the Capitol and President's House after one which Dr T— had done at the Office—In the evening I was netting on a Shawl. —Mr Middleton brought home a little table & Dr T's rulers.—"
Anna Maria's painting of the Madison's Montpelier in Virginia
The Thorntons lively social life included friends and neighbors among the wealthy and the influential, entertained with flair in their home at 1331 F Street NW. The house next door was home to Dolley and James Madison and later John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Adams. Anna Maria's musical talents were in demand at the President's House and elsewhere. Diarist William Dunlap summarized their charms, " His company was a complete antidote to dullness....The Doctor draws very well but he writes abominably. His lady paints very prettily & is an accomplished woman." (Dunlap must have read the Doctor's unpublished romance novels.)
The Doctor bred race horses on their Maryland farm and experimented with steam ships. His reputation as a temperamental eccentric explains feuds with capitol co-designer Benjamin Henry Latrobe and fellow engineer Robert Fulton. He was also remembered as bad with money (no bar to social status at the time.) Despite Tortola plantation income and a federal salary he was always in debt with preferred investments in thoroughbreds, local race tracks and North Carolina gold mines.
Anna and William had no children and shared their home with Mrs. Brodeau and several slaves. In the 1800 census three are listed. Thornton's Quaker upbringing did not prohibit him from keeping slaves and spending the money from slavery's sugar plantations. But he remained interested in the slave's welfare, working for colonization societies that advocated relocation back to Africa.
After William Thornton died in 1828 at about 70 years of age, Anna Marie was shocked to find he had willed his house [legally not their house] to the American Colonization Society. (There is some diagreement as to whether this is true.) While she might live there until her death she could not sell it to pay his debts. During particularly difficult financial stretches she and her mother rented smaller quarters and leased the house or parts of it. At some point she sold it to Dr. Thomas Miller who permitted her to board there.
In 1865 the Sanitary Commission offices were at 1333 F St. NW.
The house to the right may be the Thorntons.
In summer 1835, Anna Maria, her 88-year-old mother, slaves Maria Bowen and 18-year-old John Arthur were among those living at the F Street house. One hot night a drunken Arthur broke into Anna Maria's bedroom with an ax. His mother stopped the attack. Arthur ran away but was soon captured. The assault was national news, exactly the kind of retribution every slave owner feared. A civil disturbance targeted free blacks. Arthur Bowen, sentenced to hang, was spared by Anna Maria Thornton's pleas to President Andrew Jackson. Instead of being imprisoned he was sold in 1836.
One of Dodd's minor crimes was marriage to "the daughter of a servant woman, which was not considered a good match by his friends," according to a biography. Another says, "He hastily united himself on the 15th of April, 1751, with Miss Mary Perkins, daughter of one of the domestics of Sir John Dolben." Friends attributed Dodd's downfall to Mary Perkins Dodd's luxurious tastes but they remained married until his death. At his trial he pleaded for mercy not for himself but for his future widow.
Was Ann Boudreau this same Mary Perkins Dodd? Unlikely, as contemporary biographies say that "Dodd was buried at Cowley, Middlesex. His widow lived in great misery at Ilford in Essex, and died on 24 July 1784."
Perhaps Anna Maria was, as they used to say, a natural daughter of William Dodd.
Gordon S. Brown has used Anna Maria's papers and her husband's to create a portrait of early Washington in Incidental Architect: William Thornton and the Cultural Life of Early Washignton D.C. 1794-1828. See a Google preview here:
Washington's historian Allen C. Clark used the same papers to write a biography of the couple in 1914. Read it here:
Read a biography of William Dodd here