Nellie Taft: The Unconventional First Lady of the Ragtime Era

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HarperCollins, Apr 12, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 534 pages
15 Reviews

From critically acclaimed presidential-family historian Carl Sferrazza Anthony comes the first biography of Helen Herron Taft, the unconventional wife of the twenty-seventh President of the United States who, in an era before Eleanor Roosevelt, was overt about her power and saw to it that her husband both aspired to, and won, the highest office in the land.

On the morning of William Howard Taft's inauguration, Nellie Taft publicly expressed that theirs would be a joint administration by shattering precedent and demanding that she ride alongside her husband down Pennsylvania Avenue, a seat previously held for the outgoing President. In addition to her passion for entertaining, this progressive First Lady was an advocate for higher education and partial suffrage for women, initiated legislation to improve working conditions for federal employees, and created Washington's famous grove of blossoming cherry trees. She smoked, drank, and gambled without regard to societal judgment. During Taft's time as the governor general of the Philippines, she broke racial and class boundaries. Nellie Taft's fate was ultimately bound to larger events, including the Titanic sinking and Teddy Roosevelt's creation of the Bull Moose Party.

Drawn from previously unpublished diaries, a lifetime of love letters between Will and Nellie, and detailed family correspondence and recollections, Anthony develops a riveting portrait of Nellie Taft as one of the strongest links in the series of women -- from Abigail Adams to Hillary Rodham Clinton -- often critically declared "co-Presidents."

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Review: Nellie Taft: The Unconventional First Lady of the Ragtime Era

User Review  - Brina G - Goodreads

I read The Bully Pulpit earlier this spring and wanted to follow up on its "cast of characters." Nellie Taft is presented as a modern woman at the turn of the 20th century. Her one ambition is to ... Read full review

Review: Nellie Taft: The Unconventional First Lady of the Ragtime Era

User Review  - Monika - Goodreads

Started off slow, but was really interesting. Connected many random historical facts for me. Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Carl Sferrazza Anthony, the author of nine books, is considered the nation's expert on the subject of presidential wives and families. He has written extensively for publications, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, American Heritage, Smithsonian, and Town & Country, and also writes screenplays. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

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