First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama

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Oxford University Press, Jun 16, 2010 - History - 496 pages
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Betty Boyd Carolis engrossing and informative First Ladies is both a captivating read and an essential resource for anyone interested in the role of Americas First Ladies. This expanded and updated fourth edition includes Laura Bushs tenure, Hillary Clintons 2008 presidential bid, and an in-depth look at Michelle Obama, one of the most charismatic and appealing First Ladies in recent history. Covering all forty-one women from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama and including the daughters, daughters-in-law, and sisters of presidents who sometimes served as First Ladies, Caroli explores each womans background, marriage, and accomplishments and failures in office. This remarkably diverse lot included Abigail Adams, whose remember the ladies became a twentieth-century feminist refrain; Jane Pierce, who prayed her husband would lose the election; Helen Taft, who insisted on living in the White House, although her husband would have preferred a judgeship; Eleanor Roosevelt, who epitomized the politically involved First Lady; and Pat Nixon, who perfected what some have called the robot image. They ranged in age from early 20s to late 60s; some received superb educations for their time, while others had little or no schooling. Including the courageous and adventurous, the emotionally unstable, the ambitious, and the reserved, these women often did not fit the traditional expectations of a presidential helpmate. Here then is an engaging portrait of how each First Lady changed the role and how the role changed in response to American culture. These women left remarkably complete records, and their stories offer us a window through which to view not only this particular sorority of women, but also American women in general. Impressive...Carolis profiles and observations of American first ladies and their relationship to the media are intelligent and perceptive. --Philadelphia Inquirer
 

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Contents

The First Presidents Wives 17891829
3
2 Young Substitutes for First Ladies 18291869
34
Sarah Childress Polk Mary Todd Lincoln and Julia Dent Grant
60
4 The Limited Promise of the New Woman 18771901
86
Photographs
118
A TwentiethCentury Development
119
6 The Paradoxical 1920s
156
7 Breaking Precedents and Reaffirming Old Ones 19331961
189
8 The Turbulent Sixties
224
9 New Dimensions to the Job of First Lady 19741993
260
10 A New Generation in the White House 19932008
294
11 Turning Points
335
Notes
361
Appendices
411
Index
421
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Betty Boyd Caroli is former Professor of History at City University of New York and the author of The Roosevelt Women, among other books.

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