Roles of First Ladies

Roles of the First Lady Kenya Stanford Ashford University HIS 204 American History Since 1865 Instructor: Tara Ross November 15, 2010 Abstract The roles of the First Lady can vary. Several of the authors describes that some of the First Lady’s roles can be from writing invitations , creating an policy, sharing ideas about political rights, to coming up with health care reform. This essay contains some of the old traditional roles that the First Lady was required to do in the 18th century and how it changes over time. Also, it explains how each century First Lady goes about performing her duties.
Roles of the First Lady The roles of the First Lady are really undetermined because it changes due to their interest and the timeframe that they were in. Traditional roles of the First lady The duties of the First Lady vary from time to time. During the 18th century, the traditional roles of the First Lady were being a hostess for our country. White House. Gov states, “The President and the First Lady’s job responsibilities are to entertain both national and international guest that were arriving and staying at the White House (White House. gov). It also goes on stating that the reason for hosting the event was to strengthen any existing ties, to stage for new relationships, to establish new partnerships, or just to extend the hospitality of the White House as the “ home “ of our nation leader and every First lady were responsible for writing every single invitation by hand (FirstLady. org). 18th Century First Ladies: Martha Washington and Abigail Adams Martha Washington was a well-respected and very kind-hearted to all that knew her. However, Martha did not enjoy her roles as being the First Lady.
According to the article, she stated“ I think I am more like a state prisoner than anything else, there is certain bounds set for me which I must not depart from any many younger and gayer women would be extremely pleased in her place; she would be much rather be at home (White House. Gov). ” Just by reading the article on her, it gives me the idea that she was very private about her life with outsiders and she always held her head up. During her time she was called “Lady Washington. ” She had gotten that name during the Revolutionary War era (America. ov). During the war era, Martha Washington was placed into a winter encampment that was the most comfortable to live in (Berkin, Carol). During the war, she and the other general wives served as hostess. The purpose was to lift everyone spirits and giving every solider a reason on what they were fighting for (Berkin, Carol. ) After Martha had moved to the White House, she found out that she was also responsible for managing the presidential household and supervising the domestic affairs at Mount Vernon from a distance (MarthaWashington. us).

However, her successor Abigail Adams was a very interesting woman of her time. People viewed her as a very patriot woman. Abigail’s letter talked about current politics and how she expressed her opinions. During the time of when the famous “shots heard around the world” started, Abigail was writing John letters to express her concern and her longing to be with him. According to Carol Berkin, ‘Soon I will be in continual arms. Rumors have spread that the British has spread. We know not what a day will bring forth, nor what distress one hour may throw us into (Berkin, Carol). During her husband’s presidential, she would write letters that was expressing her ideas about women’s right. For example, one of her famous letters was when she wrote John telling him to remember the ladies when it came down to the new law (New World Encyclopedia). Basically, she was trying to gives the women more rights that they were entitled to but during the American Revolution that was proving to be was very impossible task. According to New World Encyclopedia, “Highly conscious of her role as the president’s wife, Abigail Adams saw her role largely as a hostess for the public and partisan symbol of the Federalist Party.
Her entertainments were confined to a relatively small home in Philadelphia, turned into a hotel after the capital was moved from Philadelphia to Washington, D. C. (New World Encyclopedia). ”. She also attempted to influence fashion, believing that the more revealing Napoleonic-style clothing then popular were too indecorous. Since presidential families were responsible for covering the costs of their entertainments and the Adamses were enduring financial difficulties at the time of his presidency, Abigail Adams’s receptions were somewhat Spartan (New World Encyclopedia). 19th Century: Mary Lincoln and Ida McKinley Mary Lincoln was a woman who wanted the public to like her. She was getting to point where she was tired of the public talking about her fashion so she decides to do a makeover for herself and for the White House.
At the beginning through the end of the article, the author discusses how Mary Lincoln was very careless with money and how she would act out if she didn’t get her way (Lincoln White House. org). The Lincoln Institute only notes that Mrs. Mary Lincoln visited the wounded from the Civil War and remodeled the White House (Lincoln White House. rg). Ida McKinley was a very ill person who suffered from being epilepsy. Her conditions were affecting her and her husband job performance. According to Miller Center Public Affairs, “Although she occasionally appeared at state dinners and in receiving lines, her attendance at these functions was sporadic due to the unpredictability of her seizures (Miller Center, 2010). ” It also goes on stating that the president had to ask the vice president’s wife to help her with her duties due to her being sick.
Even though she was very sick, she manages to crochet bedroom room slippers for fundraisers and charities. After reading the article, she proves that she was able to show her husband that she cared about how he felt about politics and that she would dedicate herself to it through the end. She was the first to have her spouse to reschedule everything around her instead of the President reschedule everything around him. 20th Century: Edith Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy Following President McKinley’s assassination came about very sudden to Edith.
So Edith had to fill in that position as First Lady. Not being a stranger to Washington and to the public, Edith was able to perform her job really well. Edith was very good at managing books and being able to keep up the home. But just like Martha Washington, she kept her life private from everybody including T. R’s extended family. According to the Theodore Roosevelt Association, “Under Edith’s careful eye the White House collection of china and the portraits of First Ladies were begun.
The task of restoring the house to its classic and simple federal style, inside and out, while accommodating a large family and executive branch of government for a growing nation came to the Roosevelt’s. First Lady Edith Roosevelt played the major role in overseeing the largest renovation of the White House into the stately and practical government center it is today (theodoreroosevelt. org). ” Just like Martha Washington, Mary Lincoln, Edith Roosevelt, and Abigail Adams, the next First Lady named Jacqueline Kennedy tends to follow in some of their steps.
Her first big role as First Lady was the historical restoration of the White House (JFK Presidential Library and Museum. ). The article stated that she created a White House Guide and authenticates the artwork. She also created the White House Historical society; posts White House curator, oversaw to creating a publication of a guidebook for the visitors, and finally established the White House Library and the Rose Garden (JFK Presidential Library and Museum. ).
Later on, Jacqueline Kennedy becomes a host for the television tour by CBS in 1962 (JFK Presidential Library and Museum. ). 21st Century: Laura Bush and Michelle Obama Unlike the other former First Lady, Laura Bush manages to go to the extremes with her duties as First Lady. According to National First Ladies Library, “Education has been the primary focus of Laura Bush’s tenure as First Lady and the issue that has bound all the various efforts she has spearheaded.
When she eventually was able to deliver testimony before the Senate Education Committee on January 23, 2002, Laura Bush called for higher teacher salaries and better training for Head Start and day care workers. In the nine month of her tenure introduced a National Book Festival in Washington, D. C. based on the model of the one she had created in Texas. Within two years, this festival had inspired the Russian First Lady Ludmilla Putin to host an October 1, 2003 book festival in her nation that Laura Bush attended in Moscow, along with several American authors (National First Ladies Library, 2010).
She also went to Afghani to met the women and to hear how miserable their lives have been since the war, and she created a public-forum to help with the techniques to comfort children that were traumatized during and after 9/11(National First Ladies Library, 2010). Again, every First Lady’s ideas about how to perform her job is different just as Michelle Obama have stated. Michelle states that “This new administration doesn’t view service as separate from our national priorities, or in addition to our national priorities.
We see it as the key to achieving our national priorities,” she continued. “We believe that the only way to build that new foundation for our economy is to establish a new role for service in this country (America. Gov). ” The article continues to talks about how Michelle talks about how you can volunteer to make differences. Michelle’s second role as First Lady was to reconstruct a playground and packed over 15,000 backpacks for the children of America’s service members to take with them to summer camp (America. Gov).
White House. Gov states that as First Lady, Mrs. Obama looks forward to continuing her work on the issues close to her heart — supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family,  encouraging national service, promoting the arts and arts education, and fostering healthy eating and healthy living for children and families across the country (America. Gov) As I stated earlier, every First Lady’s role is undetermined because it changes due to their interest and the timeframe that they were in.
Every First Lady has their ways on how they would like to do things. Some of them may not have a lot of experiences when it comes to politics and some may. Whether it is making sockets or reconstructing a playground, these women are using their talents in helping others. Like Michelle stated, ““There’s a feeling that you get when you help someone achieve their goals: the fulfillment of putting your faith into action and feeling that you’re a part of something that’s bigger than yourself and doing your part for the greater good.
Bibliography America. Gov. (2009, June 29). Retrieved from America. Gov-Engaging the world: michelle Obama defines own Rosle as First Lady: http://www. america. gov/st/usg-english/2009/June/20090629092010degrebsginek0. 475445. html Berkin, C. (2005, February 01). Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for Americans’ Independence. United States, United States: Alfred A. Knopf Incorporated. Institute, T. L. (2010). Mr. Linclon’s White

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