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Top 15 Greatest Mothers In American History. Photo KnowInsiders

A mother means so much more than someone who gives birth. She's the one responsible for guiding you to make the right choices. She'll also be the first one to make sure every meal prepared is at least somewhat nutritious. (Even if the nightly vegetable is "ketchup" for a day or two.) Many moms put their children before themselves. It's an honorable trait, especially for women who have so much else going on at the same time.

Mother's Day usually celebrates all of the sweet and loving moms out there. But there's another breed of moms that aren't all fresh-baked cookies and warm milk. These great moms wanted what's best for their kids (and themselves). Some took a tough but fair approach to getting things done -- and others were more than willing to crush rebellions and murder family members to make things happen.

Check More: Top 13 Real-Life Evil Mothers in American History That Horrify You

Top 11 Greatest Mothers In American History

1. Abigail Adams

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Photo history

As the wife of President John Adams, Abigail Adams (1744 —1818) was the second First Lady of the United States. Because her husband was often away from home for work, she often single-handedly ran their farm, wrote letters supporting equal rights for women and the abolition of slavery, and educated their five kids who survived into childhood—including future president John Quincy Adams. Quincy Adams wrote: "My mother was an angel upon earth. She was a minister of blessing to all human beings within her sphere of action. Her heart was the abode of heavenly purity… She was the real personification of female virtue, of piety, of charity, of ever active and never intermitting benevolence."

2. Nancy Edison

The youngest of Nancy Edison’s seven kids was Thomas Alva Edison. Although some stories about his mother’s virtues were most likely exaggerated, we do know that rather than give up on his education, Nancy Edison decided to homeschool her son after his teacher deemed him "addled" (i.e. mentally ill or incompetent). Edison, who may just have been dyslexic in a time before that learning disorder was studied or understood, said of her: “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”

3. Sojourner Truth

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Photo biography

In 1826, Sojourner Truth (circa 1797—1883) and her baby daughter escaped slavery in Ulster County, New York. Soon after her escape, she heard that her 5-year-old son, Peter, was illegally sold to a man in Alabama. Truth raised money for a lawyer, filed a complaint in court, and successfully got Peter out of slavery—a landmark case in which a black woman successfully sued a white man in court. Truth went on to become a Christian preacher in New York City and toured the northeast, speaking about the Bible, abolition, and women’s suffrage.

4. Mary Musgrove

Mary Musgrove was born in 1700 to a Native-American mother and a trapper father. She divided her time as a child between her parents’ two cultures, and after her marriage worked as a translator and began opening outposts. Mary and her husband had four children. Her efforts at connecting settlers and the Native Americans helped establish colonial life in Georgia.

Mary and didn’t give up on either the colonists or the native peoples she had grown up with. Mary’s life was difficult and complicated—all four of her children died, as well as her husband. She spent her life working to bring very different groups of people together, and was not always successful. Mary died in 1767.

5. Michelle Obama

Photo good morning America
Photo good morning America

Michelle Obama will no doubt go down as one of the coolest first ladies in history, thanks to her laid-back style, trademark sense of humor, and penchant for dancing like nobody's watching on Ellen. Before becoming the first African-American first lady in 2009, Michelle graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law and later practiced law in Chicago, where she was born and raised. In the years leading up to her time in the White House, she worked at the University of Chicago Medical Center as the vice president of community and external affairs while also raising her two daughters, Sasha and Malia.

Once in the White House, Michelle championed her Let's Move! campaign, which was geared toward ending childhood obesity in American within a generation, and focused on several other passion projects aimed at helping veterans, military families, and young people interested in seeking higher education.

"Never view your challenges as obstacles," she once told a graduating class at The City College of New York -- a tenet she has always tried to live by herself.

Michelle Obama, leader of the fight against fat

One of the famous stories from President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign is that his wife would only let him run for president if he quit smoking. That demand would foreshadow Michelle Obama's interest in health and her first lady focus on ending childhood obesity.

The Obamas are the first family since the Clintons to have children in the White House, and Michelle Obama is known for protecting her daughters from publicity. Meanwhile, she's focused on her "Let's Move!" campaign, planting the first vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt's era and bringing Beyoncé on board with a music video encouraging kids to get their hearts pumping.

6. Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt was actually born Anna Eleanor Roosevelt in 1884, though she would go on to be known by her middle name for the rest of her life. By all accounts, she was a shy and awkward child who felt starved for both love and affection -- especially after both her parents died during her childhood.

Photo Getty
Photo Getty

In 1903, at just 19 years old, Eleanor became engaged to a distant cousin -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- in a marriage that would prove fateful. Soon after they were wed in 1905, she established herself as more than just FDR's wife, but also as his sort of political right hand. Once her husband was elected president in 1933, Eleanor became a new kind of first lady, holding press conferences, traveling across the globe, giving lectures, and even writing op-eds in a syndicated newspaper column titled "My Day."

As she once famously said, at just the age of 14, " … no matter how plain a woman may be if truth and loyalty are stamped upon her face all will be attracted to her … "

7. Melinda Gates

We all know Bill Gates as the creative genius behind Microsoft, who rose to prominence within the tech world during the 1980s. But few know the story of his wife, Melinda Gates.

Melinda was born in Texas in 1964 to a mother who emphasized education above all else, after being denied the right to attend college herself. Interested in math and science from a young age, Melinda went on to study computer science at Duke University and later earned a master's degree in business administration before she landed a job at Microsoft, where she worked her way up and oversaw such projects as Expedia and Encarta.

Photo Forbes
Photo Forbes

There, she met her new boss and future husband, Bill, and after marrying in 1994 after six years of dating, the pair launched the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to address global poverty and health issues. Today, the foundation is her main focus, and her work there has led to a variety of amazing achievements, including funding the studies of disadvantaged youth and improving access to birth control for women in third-world countries.

She created an online community of optimists to create a better world

Melinda doesn't want the conversation around global innovation to end with her.

To get people from all walks of life involved in improving the world, she created the online platform Evoke.

"I like to think of us as a community of possibilists--people who believe the world can get better and are committed to doing our part to improve it," says Melinda on the company's website.

Melinda is No. 6 on Forbes' list of most powerful women

Melinda has graced Forbes' list of the World's Most Powerful Women for years.

In 2018, she ranked sixth, following world leaders such as Angela Merkel and Theresa May.

In the past, Forbes said Melinda has made huge strides in women's health across the globe, using her foundation to push maternal deaths down 57 percent in Ethiopia over the past 30 years.

8. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis may still be best known for her marriage to John F. Kennedy and for creating such iconic fashion style as first lady, that we're still drooling over it some 50 years later. But the truth is, there was so much more to Jackie O. than just her fashion.

Born into New England society in 1929, the Newport debutante married JFK in 1953 after working as a photo-journalist. After her husband's assassination in 1963, Jackie became a national symbol of strength as she bravely walked behind his casket, just days after he was shot while siting beside her. And despite never needing to earn a paycheck, the 49-year-old returned to work in 1978, working as a book editor in Manhattan until her death in 1994. But despite the many titles Jackie earned in her lifetime, none were more important than being a mother to her two children, Caroline and John Jr. In fact, she once famously said, "If you bungle raising your children, I'm not sure whatever else you do matters much."

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis opened a school in the White House.

Despite her own background as a reporter, Onassis strived to shield her two children from the media during her time in the White House. When press scrutiny and security concerns made it difficult for her young daughter Caroline to travel into the city, Onassis turned the White House’s third floor solarium into a nursery school and invited other kids—some of them children of Kennedy administration staff—to attend. The school later grew into a fully operational kindergarten complete with around ten students, professional teachers and even a small collection of rabbits, guinea pigs and other animals.

Not only a great mom, she was also a successful book editor.

Onassis had literary ambitions from an early age, and following Aristotle Onassis’s death in 1975, she moved to New York to pursue a career as a book editor. The former first lady started out as a consulting editor at Viking Press before moving to Doubleday, where she worked as a senior editor until her death in 1994. During her time in the publishing world she had a hand in several popular books including the Michael Jackson autobiography “Moonwalk,” Larry Gonick’s “The Cartoon History of the Universe” and translations of Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz’s “Cairo Trilogy.”

9. Betty Friedan

What would the women's revolution have been like without Betty Friedan? It's kind of impossible to imagine. The writer, feminist, and women's rights activist is perhaps best known for authoring The Feminine Mystique in 1963, which argued that American women were suffering from an identity crisis due to the idealized image of domestic "bliss" mothers were supposed to feel. As a result, the book urged women to find personal success and growth outside of their households.

Much of Friedan's inspiration for the book came straight from her own life -- after the birth of her first child, she went back to work but was let go after becoming pregnant again. She found herself restless and unfulfilled by staying at home, and she set out to see if other women felt the same, interviewing graduates of her alma mater, Smith College. It turned out, she was far from alone -- and so, the basis for The Feminine Mystique was born.

In the years that followed, Friedan became a force for change within the women's movement, co-founding the National Organization for Women (NOW), NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the National Women's Political Caucus.

"Men are not the enemy, but the fellow victims," she once famously said. "The real enemy is women's denigration of themselves."

10. Grandma Moses

Anna Mary Robertson Moses, or Grandma Moses, was a beloved and prolific folk artist in America. She was the mother of ten children, five of whom died as infants. Anna was passionate about art her whole life, but it wasn’t until she was older that she began her art career in earnest. She was 78 years old when she started seriously painting. Her paintings were wildly popular, and she enjoyed showcasing seasons and simple, everyday life.

Photo wikiart
Photo wikiart

Despite never going to college she was awarded two honorary doctoral degrees. Initially her works sold for less than $5; in 2006, one of her paintings sold for $1.2 million. Grandma Moses was born in 1860 and lived to the age of 101.

She became ''Young Woman of the Year'' at the age of 88

In 1948 Grandma Moses was listed as one of Mademoiselle magazine's ''Young Woman of the Year.'' She received the title alongside interior decorator Dorothy Q. Noyes and economist Barbara Ward. The accolade was awarded to ten women annually, with Grandmas Moses winning it for her "flourishing young career and the youth of her spirit."

11. Josephine Baker

Many remember Josephine Baker as the popular singer and dancer who warmed her way into the public's heart during the 1920s and '30s. She did, in fact, rise to fame in France during the jazz age, and became one of the most popular female performers in Europe during that time. (Believe it or not, it's said that her wild popularity even led to a whopping 1,000 marriage proposals.)

But when she came back to the United States -- her home country -- and performed in the famed Ziegfield Follies, she was shocked by the blatant racism she was met with as an African-American entertainer. Baker returned to France soon after, married several times and had children, and by the 1950s, began adopting 12 different children from around the world in what she called her "rainbow tribe."

She spent the last two decades of her life fiercely devoted to civil rights, walking with Martin Luther King Jr. in the March on Washington and even appearing as one of the event's noteworthy speakers. Baker was later honored for her efforts when the NAACP named May 20 "Josephine Baker Day."

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