America's First Ladies: Private Lives of the Presidential Wives

Diana Dixon Healy, Author Atheneum Books $0 (254p) ISBN 978-0-689-11873-9
While the roles played by First Ladies vary, most of them have succeeded in helping their husbands because ""the majority of American presidents married above themselves, either socially, financially, or academically,'' notes Healy. Unpaid and unelected, our First Ladies, from Martha Dandridge Custis Washington to Nancy Davis Reagan, have been subject to the expectations of the public. Although Martha Washington probably had the smoothest tenure, we learn she was ``cheerful as a cricket'' to relinguish office to the Adamses. Julia Gardiner Tyler, second wife of President John Tyler, was responsible for the tradition of the Marine Band playing ``Hail to the Chief.'' Frances Folsom Cleveland, a recent college graduate, was the first bride to be married in the White House; the groom was 27 years older. The wives of Taft and Harding were their husbands' political mentors and molders. The distinctive personality of each presidential wife is amply demonstrated by these anecdotal biographical sketches from the author of America's Vice-Presidents. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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