Clear. 45.1   F New York
AI-Powered News Summarizer
Top Stories

Meet the first ladies of the United States

November 21, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

To be first lady of the United States is to be one of the most famous people in the world, occupying a role that comes with certain expectations and duties and yet isn't an official job. For more on FLOTUS history, watch CNN Original Series "First Ladies" Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

She and her husband also set a precedent for relying on enslaved labor in the presidential home; many of the next 15 presidential households through emancipation in 1863 did the same. Served: 1789 - 1797 From Library of CongressAbigail Adams, the first second lady of the United States -- that is, the vice president's spouse -- was a prolific letter writer who left behind detailed accounts of her era.

She famously encouraged her husband to "remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. "Served: 1797 - 1801 From Library of CongressMartha Wayles Skelton Jefferson was the wife of the third US president, Thomas Jefferson, but she never actually served as first lady during his administration.

During her tenure as first lady, however, poor health and depression from the sour politics of her husband's election took a toll. Served: 1825 - 1829 From Library of CongressDying shortly before husband Andrew Jackson's inauguration, Rachel Jackson's chapter in American history often focuses on how horribly the press treated her for her past.

Thirty years younger than Tyler, Gardiner was a frequent guest at the White House and known for her wit and beauty -- she was called "the rose of Long Island. " She caught the recently widowed president's eye, leading Tyler to become the first president to marry while in office in 1844. Enthusiastically taking up the social aspects of being a first lady, Julia Gardiner Tyler was also known for supporting her husband's political views, including state's rights and slavery.

She was a studied political partner, but when her VP husband moved into the White House following the death of President Taylor, Abigail Fillmore cited poor health and left a lot of the hostess duties to her daughter.

Served: 1850 - 1853 From Library of CongressOverwhelmed by tragedy right as they were to start their presidential term, President Franklin Pierce and First Lady Jane Pierce entered the White House in mourning.

After a series of not-quite-interested first ladies in the White House, Harriet revived the role of the presidential hostess as part social guru and part political wizard.

She loved being a first lady so much she called those years "the happiest period" of her life. Served: 1869 - 1877 From Library of CongressThe first president's wife to earn a college degree, Lucy Hayes was a politically savvy partner to President Rutherford B.

Hayes abstained from alcohol and kept a dry White House -- later leading to the nickname "Lemonade Lucy. "Served: 1877 - 1881 From Library of CongressWell-educated and literary, First Lady Lucretia Garfield was less inclined to the social aspects of her role as she was toward the political.

But during her brief tenure as first lady, she did fill her hostess duties as best she could -- restoring parts of the White House and even reinstating alcohol after the Hayes administration's dry policy. She had a short run as first lady because President James Garfield was shot in July 1881.

From Library of CongressIn poor health throughout her husband's presidency, Ida McKinley struggled to fulfill all the social duties expected of a first lady, but she remained a solid political partner for President William McKinley.

From Library of CongressWhen her husband became POTUS following the death of President McKinley, Edith Roosevelt took on the role of first lady and whipped the White House affairs into shape. Known for running a tight ship, Edith Roosevelt created some of the bureaucracy we see around the role of first lady today, including an official staff with a full-time, salaried social secretary.

Nellie Taft, who suffered a stroke not long after her husband's administration began, devoted herself to improving the cultural competency of Washington, D. C. ; it was Nellie who gave us the city's beloved Japanese cherry trees. Served: 1909 - 1913 From Library of CongressWoodrow Wilson is one of the most influential presidents, and he had two very influential first ladies.

The first was Ellen Wilson, an educated artist and activist who was less interested in the traditional hostess duties of first ladies as she was in using the position to make a tangible difference in others' lives. Before she died of Bright's Disease, Ellen Wilson created the Rose Garden, lobbied for social causes and helped support her husband's political career.

She helped shape her husband's cabinet in addition to advocating for her own causes -- from gender equality to support for wounded veterans -- up until her husband's sudden death in 1923. Served: 1921 - 1923 From Library of CongressStylish and warm, Grace Coolidge made her mark on White House history as a popular first lady who knew that celebrity provided a certain unspoken power.

Her generosity and vivaciousness as first lady was also a huge asset to her shy and reserved husband, helping him to navigate politics with greater ease. Served: 1923 - 1929 From Library of CongressA well-educated, politically active globetrotter before landing at the White House, First Lady Lou Hoover was the first president's spouse to have her own regular, national radio broadcast.

She was President Harry Truman's close adviser and was considered to have influence over his political decisions; he would write to her about political quandaries in what historians have called "Dear Bess" letters. Served: 1945 - 1953 From Library of CongressIn the Eisenhower White House, "Ike runs the country (and) I turn the lamb chops," first lady Mamie Eisenhower would famously say.

Served: 1961 - 1963 Kennedy Library Archives/Getty ImagesBorn Claudia Taylor, the story goes that the first lady was nicknamed "Lady Bird" because of a caretaker who found a young Claudia "as pretty as a lady bird. " But one shouldn't be fooled by the genteel moniker; as a first lady, Lady Bird was a force, operating as an invaluable political partner to her husband, President Lyndon B.

A fierce supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, Ford was unafraid to speak her mind. Served: 1974 - 1977 From Library of CongressWhen Rosalynn Carter entered the White House in the late 1970s, much had begun to change for American women, and some of that was reflected in Carter's approach to being first lady.

In President Bush's term, Barbara Bush became the first first lady to campaign by herself on behalf of congressional candidates from her husband's party. Served: 1989 - 1993 From Library of CongressAn attorney who advocated for child welfare and women's rights prior to becoming first lady, Hillary Clinton was ready to hit the ground running alongside husband President Bill Clinton as he began his term in 1993. She proved herself to be as invested in navigating policy as her husband, who appointed First Lady Clinton to lead the Task Force on National Health Care Reform.

Despite criticism for that decision, among others, throughout her husband's administration, Hillary Clinton remained steadfast in her role as FLOTUS. After her tenure in the White House, Hillary Clinton went on to become the first first lady to run for political office.

She's been a New York Senator as well as the Secretary of State, in addition to becoming the first woman ever to be nominated for president on a major party's ticket in 2016. Served: 1993 - 2001 From Library of CongressSimilar to her mother-in-law, First Lady Laura Bush brought a passion for education to her tenure in the White House.

Served: 2001 - 2009 Krisanne Johnson/The White House/Library of CongressMichelle Obama worked as a lawyer and hospital administration executive prior to her husband President Barack Obama's run for presidential office, which launched them both into history books as the first African American president and first lady.

Summarizer is on Google News. Now you can get the latest AI summarized news on your favorite news platform.

Don't like Google News? We have an RSS Feed for you.