Because Thomas Jefferson —09 was a widower during his presidency, he often turned to the wife of Secretary of State James Madison to serve as hostess.
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Her egalitarian mix of guests increased her popularity. Although she helped her husband select furnishings for the presidential mansion, newly rebuilt after the British assault in this furniture became prized possessions of later tenants , she entertained much less than Dolley Madison, and Washingtonians reacted by boycotting some of her parties. Their husbands, as well as other presidents who were widowers or bachelors, often turned over hostess duties to young female relatives daughters, daughters-in-law, or nieces , whose youth gained them admirers and excused their lapses in etiquette or lack of sophistication.
Among the handful of 19th-century presidential wives who did seek a public role, Sarah Polk —49 , the wife of James Polk , was well versed in the political issues of the day and was considered a major influence on her husband. Mary Todd Lincoln —65 , the wife of Abraham Lincoln , though insecure in a visible role, prevailed on her husband to grant favours to friends and hangers-on.
Julia Grant —77 , the wife of Ulysses S.
The First, First Lady · George Washington's Mount Vernon
Magazines carried articles about her and the presidential family. With the completion of the transcontinental railroad in , travel across the country became easier, and Lucy Hayes —81 , the wife of Rutherford B. This exposure, plus her association with the popular temperance movement and her own simplicity in matters of dress and decoration, contributed to her immense popularity.
You are using an outdated browser. Some wives became major players in their husbands' administrations. In , a major newspaper described Nancy Reagan as having achieved something like an "associate presidency"; in , one magazine outlined a First Lady's accomplishments in an article titled "One Hundred Days of Hillary.
New York, — , covers the topic from Martha Washington to Nancy Reagan, with the entire second volume devoted to the post years. Rather than writing about each woman separately, Anthony focuses on the relationships among them and the many instances in which their lives intersected. Written from a feminist perspective, it connects changes in the role of First Lady to changes in the lives of all American women.
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Margaret Truman, First Ladies New York, , is a personal history of the subject, including anecdotes and observations of a president's daughter. Lewis L. Gould, ed. The entries, each written by an outstanding scholar in the field, conclude with bibliographies listing writings by and about the subject.
Paul Boller, Jr. Myra G. The book divides twentieth-century First Ladies into several categories: "social hostesses and ceremonial presences," "emerging spokeswomen," "political surrogates and independent advocates," and "a First Lady in transition.
Nearly half of Presidential Studies Quarterly 20 fall is devoted to articles on the role of First Ladies and recent scholarship on the topic. Ten essays focus on twentieth-century incumbents and their effect on the presidency.
The First First Lady
Nancy Kegan Smith and Mary C. Ryan, eds. Martha Washington, the wife of first U. She was raised and educated with an emphasis on skills seen as integral to running a household, though also taught reading, writing and mathematics.
At 18 years old, Dandridge wed Daniel Parke Custis, a rich plantation owner, in The couple would have four children, though only two, Jack and Patsy, lived past childhood. Custis himself died in the summer of , and Martha became the inheritor of his 15,acre estate.
First Ladies didn't get that title for a long time
She later met Colonel George Washington at a Williamsburg, Virginia cotillion, and the two wed in Martha and her two children moved to Washington's Mount Vernon, Virginia plantation, where the family became known for their social events and upscale lifestyle, though they suffered financial setbacks as well. By , George had become the leader of U. She experienced tremendous loss with the deaths of her two surviving children: Patsy died from epilepsy during her teens and Jack succumbed to "camp fever" while enlisted as a soldier. With the colonies achieving their independence and the U.
Constitution ratified, George Washington was elected to become the country's first president, having his inauguration in April of