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Margaret O. Eaton (1796–1879)

Author of The autobiography of Peggy Eaton

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Short biography
Margaret O’Neale or O'Neill, known as Peggy, was born in Washington, D.C., the eldest daughter of an innkeeper. In 1816, she married John Timberlake, a naval officer more than 20 years her senior, and had three children. Timberlake died at sea, and Peggy married Senator John H. Eaton of Tennessee, a widower and close personal friend of President Andrew Jackson, who gave him the post of Secretary of War in 1829. The beautiful Peggy caused a sensation in Washington social circles due to her lowly origins and suspicions of a premarital relationship with Eaton. She was ostracized by the leading ladies of society, which infuriated President Jackson, no stranger to marital scandal himself. He dismissed his entire Cabinet, an event that became known as the Petticoat Affair. Eventually Sen. Eaton was forced to resign his post, but was given the appointment of Ambassador to Spain in 1836. Peggy accompanied him and finally achieved great social success and acceptance. Following the death of Sen. Eaton in 1856, Peggy married for the third time, at age 59, to Antonio Buchignani, an Italian music and dancing teacher 40 years her junior. A few years later, he deserted her for her young granddaughter. Her Autobiography of Peggy Eaton was published 50 years after her death.
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