American Catholic Authors: Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren (1825-1889)

American Catholic Authors: Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren (1825-1889) June 17, 2011

Mrs. Madeleine Vinton Dahlgren was born in Gallipolis, Ohio. She is the only daughter of Samuel F. Vinton, who served a quarter of a century with much distinction as a Whig leader in Congress. Her maternal ancestors were French. At an early age she became the wife of Daniel Convers Goddard, who left her a widow with two children. In August, 1865, she became the wife of Admiral Dahlgren, and has three children by that marriage. Admiral Dahlgren died in 1870. As early as 1859, Mrs. Dahlgren contributed to the press prose articles under the signature “Corinne,” and later, some fugitive poems. She also wrote under the pen-name Cornelia. In 1859, her little volume, “Idealities,” appeared. She has made several translations from the French, Spanish and Italian languages, which brought her many complimentary recognitions, among others, an autograph letter from Pope Plus IX., the thanks from the Queen of Spain and a complimentary notice from President Garfield. Her works are the “Biography of Admiral Dahlgren,” a number of novels, among which are “South Mountain Magic,” “A Washington Winter,” “The Lost Name,” “Lights and Shadows of a Life,” “South Sea Sketches,” and a volume on “Etiquette of Social Life in Washington.” Social questions and the live topics of the day have especially occupied her attention. Her poems have found a place in the authologies of poets. Mrs. Dahlgren’s country seat is on South Mountain, Md., overlooking the battlefield, where she has built a chapel. She is a woman of fine talent and a thorough scholar. She was one of the founders and vice-president of the Literary Society of Washington, also one time president of the Ladies Catholic Missionary Society of Washington. Though not having written what may be called a Catholic novel her stories are pervaded with the true Catholic spirit.

Mother Seraphine Leonard, O.S.U., Immortelles of Catholic Columbian Literature: Compiled from the Works of American Catholic Women Writers (New York: D.H. McBride & Company, 1897), 73.

Two of Mrs. Dahlgren’s sons attended Georgetown University, where a library and a chapel are named in the family’s honor.

"What a great example she was for all of us. Pray for us Dorothy. RIP."

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