Feisty First Ladies and Other Unforgettable White House Women

Feisty First Ladies and Other Unforgettable White House Women

by Autumn Stephens

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First ladies are supposed to be dignified background figures, quietly supportive of their husbands' agendas. Above all, they're not supposed to act out or cause even a whiff of scandal. Of course, reality often overrides conventional wisdom, and this book shows how far from the prim ideal many of the Presidents' wives have strayed. Part irreverent portrait gallery, part exuberant expose, Feisty First Ladies and Other Unforgettable White House Women introduces a remarkable array of wild women, from Martha Washington, who opposed her own husband's presidential election; to Abraham Lincoln's eccentric wife, Mary; to rebellious daughters like Patti Davis who were the tabloid fodder of their day. Laugh-out-loud funny and filled with amazing stranger-than-fiction facts from our American history, Feisty First Ladies journeys into the realm of the eclectic sisterhood whose outrageous words and deeds have rocked the fusty old foundations of the White House — and the nation!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781573446044
Publisher: Viva Editions
Publication date: 01/21/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,101,443
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

AUTUMN STEPHENS is the author of the bestselling and groundbreaking Wild Women series. She runs a very popular writing workshop series in the Bay Area and has been featured in Glamour, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times.

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Feisty First Ladies and Other Unforgettable White House Women 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
saabawatkins More than 1 year ago
March 8, 2013 is International Women's Day.  In order to appreciate this book, you will have to understand the history of women.  This book is about American wives, Madeleine Albright, Shirley Chisholm, Condolezza Rice, House of Representatives, mistresses, mothers, and maids but I am only going to share about the positive aspects from this book. This is a good moral, family-friendly book. On pages 40 and 41 this book does have some topics on "occult." I must point out that "occult" is dealing in "sorcerer." I am not going to turn this into a sunday school class, but there are consequences when doing these types of things. Reputedly the richest woman in Virginia was Martha when she wed George in 1759, Martha, a widow of twenty-seven, reentered the state of matrimony with two small children and a reputation attached. In 1789, when George Washington became President, Martha turned her attention to how the Chief executive's wife should act, and what she should be called. After her husband inauguration, she wrote "I'm still determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may be." Martha Jefferson, Rachel Jackson, Hannah Van Buren, Ellen Arthur and Alice Lee Roosevelt never lived in the White House; they didn't survive to see their husband assume the highest office in the land. Lou Hoover was the first woman to graduate from Stanford University with a geology degree. Lou and Herbert Hoover were married in 18 99 and set for sail to Tientsin, China. In the States, she became a passionate advocate of outdoor activities for woman that Girl Scout founder Juliette Low personally recruited her to serve on the organization board. In 1930, the Southern section of the nation became disillusioned with Lou when she dared to invite a black congressman's wife to tea in the White House. Inspired by her example, the president promptly invited a black professor from Tuskegee College to join him at home for lunch. Eleanor Roosevelt was the first presidential spouse to hold her own press conferences, to serve (as co-chair of the Office of Civilian Defense) in an official government position, to write a syndicated column, etc. She was a twelve year term first lady, and she left the pampering of her husband to more willing women. For her, there were other pressing concerns - the elimination of racism, sexism, and poverty. Eleanor told reporters as she left the White House after Franklin's fatal stroke in April of 1945: By the end of the year, she was engaged in myriad new causes, among them her role as delegate to the United Nations. Jacqueline Kennedy was an ex-Republican until she met JFK. Elegant Jacqueline came into the White House in 1961. Like a pretty child, or a movie star, Mrs. Kennedy was admired. After an assassin's bullet fatally terminated Jack Kennedy's life in November 1963, many thought she should run for the Senate, or seek the nomination for vice president. According to a 1964 Gallup poll, American's admired no woman in the world more than Jackie. During two decades while ambitious LBJ was busy blazing his path toward the presidency, Lady Bird Johnson - lauded in 1964 by U. S. News and World Report as a "careful, shrewd and very successful businesswoman" - parlaying her own $21,000 investment on a small Texas radio station into a $6,000,000 broadcasting empire. She prevailed on aides to tutor her on significant political issues, hosted a series of "Women Doer Luncheons" to focus attention on female accomplishments, and lobbied her husband to amplify the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with a clause on women's equality. "What did you do for women today?" was a standard welcome - home greeting to the president from his wife. In 1972, U. S. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, was a forty-eight-old New York politician who became the first black American to make a bid for the presidential nomination of the Democratic party. On the one hand, "the woman thing" presented a major obstacle in gaining the support of black men. Let's do something about the children first, and then worry about the whales wrote Chisholm. "The mere fact that a black woman dared to run for President ... is what it was all about," wrote Chisholm, who would serve another eleven years int eh House of Representatives before retiring in 1983." "My goal was to shake things up a little. I think I made a dent or two." - SC In 1975 Time Magazine's "Man Of The Year" turned out to be eleven women. Thanks to the influence of First Lady Betty Ford, female faces were popping up at an impressive rate in the cabinet, the foreign service, and other high-ranking government positions. Following her mastectomy in 1974, she lectured publicly on the importance of regular breast exams. A 1976 National Enquirer poll revealed that the majority of its readers believed that the first lady would make a better president than her husband. Her much-publicized battle with the bottle led her to found the Betty Ford Center for treatment of chemical dependency in 1982. Rosalynn Carter did not set any fashion trends: she patronized Washington fabric store, and the conservative silk blazers she sported were her own twenty-five-dollar-a-yard creations. In 1977 she sojourn to seven Central and South American countries as stand-in ambassador for her husband. Due in part to her influence, an unprecedented number of high-ranking positions were filled by females during the Carter administration. As honorary chair-person of the President's Commission on Mental Health, she testified before Congress regarding reforms in psychological services, and helped pushed through the liberal Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. It was her strong support that finally convinced the president to proceed with the historic Camp David meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Begin and Egyptian President Sadat that led to the Egyptian Israeli peace treaty of 1979. A 1982 poll of presidential scholars ranked Rosalynn in third place among successful first ladies of the twentieth century - and Jimmy Carter as the least significant president save one. Nancy Reagan spent $900,000 on a deluxe White House makeover while her husband slashed the welfare budget and his administration suggested that catsup would do as a vegetable for the poor. One reason for her unpopularity, she speculated creatively, was that women resented her size - four figure, and her ease in staying slim. By 1985, the first lady was ranked as one of the most popular president's wives of recent times - beating out Jacqueline Kennedy. Barbara Bush wasn't embarrased by her wrinkles, or stating her actual age. Her pet project, literacy. She had dropped out of college to get married and had five children which was her full-time career. Family Circle magazine stated that Yale J. D. Hillary Rodham Clinton mixed up a tastier batch of chocolate cookies than her Republican counter part, career home make Barbara Bush. In 2000, New York voters elected her to represent them in the United States Senate. In 2004, they returned her to office for a second term. And ion 2007, she announced herself as a contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. After a hard-fought race, in which Hillary prevailed in more primaries and caucuses than any woman in U. S. history, sudden superstar Barack Obama nabbed the nomination and his rival reluctantly bowed out. Never one to burn bridges behind her, Hillary managed to put a positive spin on the loss. Born in Czechoslovakia in 1937, Madeleine Albrighht "fell in love iwth Americans in uniform" as a child in war-torn Europe. The first woman ever to head the State Department, Albright had not only studied the lessons of World War II, but also personally experienced them. She kept a vigilant eye out for human rights abuses, and unabashedly advocated the use of "force by force." Albright endorsed Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, but also has served as a foreign policy advisor to Clinton's rival, President Obama, Laura Bush, a former school teacher and librarian, a woman with a deep feeling for Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazor. As first lady, Laura devoted herself to promoting literacy and women's health issues domestically and abroad, and distinguished herself as the first person other than a president to deliver the weekly presidential radio address. The first lady's public approval ratings soared far above the presidents. Condolezza Rice intended to become a concert pianist, not Secretary of State. Her parents named her with Italian opera in mind. She was accepted as a freshman at the University of Denver at the age of fifteen, planning to devote herself to art. By nineteen, Rice had earned at B. A. in political science, and music was an avocation. Swept off her feet by the intellectual poli-sci professor Josef Korbel, father of Madeline Albright, she changed her major to international studies. Rice went on to make a name for herself as a teacher at Stanford University, consult with the Pentagon and George Herbert Bush as a foreign affairs expert, and serve as national security advisor under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. In 2005, at Bush's second term, Rice was named Secretary of State - the second woman, and the only African American woman, ever appointed to the position. "My parents had me absolutely convinced that, well you may not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth's but you can be President of the United States." - CR Michelle LaVaughn Robinson (Obama) , a newly-fledged corporate lawyer at the Chicago law firm of Sidney Austin, she had been assigned as advisor to the twenty-eight-year-old summer associate from Harvard Law School, her own alma mater. Barak, the blushing Beta, fell for his mentor immediately. In 1992, the power couple tied the knot. Over the decade, she gave birth to two daughters, Malia and Sasha, and (a six-figure salary that exceeded her husband's non-insignificant earnings) as Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals, and grudgingly agreed to campaign for Barack during his 2000 run for the U. S. House of Representatives. "You are a good man, but you are still a man." - MO (to her husband) I was sent a review copy of this book by VIVA Editions. Autumn Stephens is the author of the bestselling and groundbreaking Wild Women Series. She has been featured in Glamour, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times. She lives in Berkeley, CA.