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Throughout history, nearly 50 women have had the honor of serving as the First Lady. Interestingly, not all individuals who have held the position of first lady were married to the presidents. Throughout history, when the president was unmarried or widowed, or if his wife was unable or unwilling to fulfill the role, other female relatives or friends were asked to step in and fulfill the responsibilities of the first lady. As a result, there have been more first ladies than presidents.

Martha Washington established numerous precedents for American First Ladies, while subsequent women such as Abigail Adams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, and Melania Trump have all made their own unique contributions to the role.

Interesting Facts About The US First Lady

• On the Fourth of July, three presidents passed away: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1826, and James Monroe in 1831. Today also marks the birth of a notable figure: Calvin Coolidge, who was born in 1872.

• Throughout history, a significant number of presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and William Howard Taft, chose to embrace various styles of facial hair. Two individuals who stood out from the rest were Andrew Johnson and William McKinley.

• During her time in the White House, Mary Todd Lincoln conducted seances in the Red Room to connect with departed loved ones.

• During his time in the White House, Rutherford B. Hayes embraced modern technology by having both a telephone and a typewriter installed. The telephone was put in place in May 1879, followed by the arrival of the typewriter in February 1880.

• During one incident, a member of the White House staff by the name of Charles Reeder was able to covertly bring Algonquin, a pony belonging to Theodore Roosevelt's children, up the White House elevator. This was done to bring some joy to Archie Roosevelt, who was confined to bed due to the measles.

• As a gesture of goodwill towards the United States, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev presented First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy with a dog named Pushinka, a Russian word meaning "fluffy." She was the daughter of Strelka, a Russian dog who was sent to space by the Soviets.

• In 1973, President Richard Nixon and First Lady Thelma “Pat” Nixon, who were passionate about bowling, decided to construct a single-lane bowling alley in an underground workspace beneath the North Portico driveway of the White House.

Photo AP
Who Are The First Ladies In The United States? Photo AP

The Full List of American First Ladies in the History

Photo White House
Photo White House

1.Martha Washington

Wife to President George Washington


2.Abigail AdamsAbigail Adams

Wife to President John Adams


3.Martha "Patsy" Jefferson Randolph

Daughter to President Thomas Jefferson


4.Dolley Madison

Wife to President James Madison


5.Elizabeth Monroe

Wife to President James Monroe


6.Louisa Adams

Wife to President John Quincy Adams


7.Emily Donelson

Niece to President Andrew Jackson


8.Sarah Jackson

Daughter-in-law to President Andrew Jackson


9.Angelica Van Buren

Daughter-in-law to President Martin Van Buren


10.Anna Harrison

Wife to President William Henry Harrison


11.Letitia Tyler

Wife to President John Tyler


12.Julia Tyler

Second wife to President John Tyler


13.Sarah Polk

Wife to President James Polk


14.Margaret Taylor

Wife to President Zachary Taylor


15.Abigail FillmoreAbigail Fillmore

Wife to President Millard Fillmore


16.Jane Pierce

Wife to President Franklin Pierce


17.Harriet Lane

Niece to President James Buchanan


18.Mary Lincoln

Wife to President Abraham Lincoln


19.Eliza Johnson

Wife to President Andrew Johnson


20.Julia Dent Grant

Wife to President Ulysses S. Grant


21.Lucy Hayes

Wife to President Rutherford B. Hayes


22.Lucretia Garfield

Wife to President James A. Garfield


23.Ellen Arthur

Wife to President Chester Arthur


24.Rose Cleveland

Sister to President Grover Cleveland


25.Frances Cleveland

Wife to President Grover Cleveland



26.Caroline Harrison

Wife to President Benjamin Harrison


27.Ida McKinley

Wife to President William McKinley


28.Edith RooseveltEdith Roosevelt

Wife to President Theodore Roosevelt


29.Helen Taft

Wife to President William Howard Taft


30.Ellen Wilson

Wife to President Woodrow Wilson


31.Edith Wilson

Second wife to President Woodrow Wilson


32.Florence Harding

Wife to Warren G. Harding


33.Grace Coolidge

Wife to President Calvin Coolidge


34.Lou Hoover

Wife to President Herbert Hoover


35.Eleanor Roosevelt

Wife to President Franklin D. Roosevelt


36.Bess Truman

Wife to President Harry S. Truman


37.Mamie Eisenhower

Wife to President Dwight D. Eisenhower


38.Jacqueline Kennedy

Wife to President John F. Kennedy


39.Lady Bird Johnson

Wife to President Lyndon B. Johnson


40.Pat Nixon

Wife to President Richard Nixon


41.Betty Ford

Wife to President Gerald Ford


42.Rosalynn Carter

Wife to President Jimmy Carter


43.Nancy Reagan

Wife to President Ronald Reagan


44.Barbara Bush

Wife to President George H.W. Bush


45.Hillary Clinton

Wife to President Bill Clinton


46.Laura Bush

Wife to President George W. Bush


47.Michelle Obama

Wife to President Barack Obama


48.Melania Trump

Wife to President Donald Trump

2017- 2021

49.Jill Biden

Wife to President Joe Biden


Martha Washington, 1731-1802

Photo Britannica
Photo Britannica

The press gave the first woman the title "lady," as in "Lady Washington," and George Washington's wife was the first president's spouse to appear on a U.S. postage stamp.

Martha Washington’s faced graced our currency

Mrs. Washington, being the first First Lady, holds the distinction of being the final woman to grace paper currency in the United States. However, this will change in 2020 when Harriet Tubman is set to appear on the $20 bill. In 1886 and 1891, her face graced the $1 banknote, and in 1896, she appeared alongside her husband. Prepare to be amazed by these fascinating tidbits about George Washington.

Abigail Adams, 1744-1818

During the drafting of the nation's Declaration of Independence in 1776, John Adams' wife played a significant role in encouraging her husband to consider the rights and perspectives of women, reminding him to "remember the ladies." Additionally, she holds the distinction of being the first woman to fulfill the roles of both a president's wife and the mother of a president, as well as residing in the White House.

Abigail Adams was a trusted adviser to her husband

It appears that President John Adams faced some formidable contenders for his position. Abigail Adams, the wife of a prominent figure, was known for her sharp wit and extensive understanding of politics. As a result, she earned the nickname "Mrs. President" from those who recognized her intelligence and influence. Discover these fascinating and lesser-known talents of U.S. Presidents for a dose of presidential trivia.

Martha Jefferson, 1748-1782

There is no known portrait of Thomas Jefferson's wife, who passed away 18 years prior to her husband's presidency. Their daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph had the honor of being the White House hostess and was also the first to give birth in the presidential mansion in Washington, D.C.

Martha Jefferson could play it by ear

President Thomas Jefferson purchased a piano for his new bride upon their marriage, which he placed in their home, Monticello. Playing duets in their parlor was a beloved pastime of the couple, with President Jefferson showcasing his musical talent by accompanying his wife on the violin. Would you like to take a guess at which state has produced the highest number of First Ladies?

Dolley Madison, 1768-1849

James Madison’s wife is the only first lady given an honorary seat on the floor of Congress, and was the first American to respond to telegraph message—sent by inventor Samuel Morse.

Dolley Madison rescued one of our nation’s cultural icons

Dolley, a beloved figure in society, introduced the tradition of serving ice cream at the conclusion of White House dinners. However, Mrs. James Madison demonstrated her noble character alongside her pleasant demeanor. This first lady is often remembered for her heroic act of rescuing a valuable painting of George Washington from destruction when British troops set fire to the White House in 1814. Discover fascinating information about the White House.

Elizabeth Monroe, 1768-1830

James Monroe's wife disrupted the tradition of a president's wife initiating the first social visit to the wives of other officials in Washington. As a result, the offended women chose to boycott her White House receptions.

Prior to assuming the role of first lady in 1817, Elizabeth Monroe accompanied her husband, who would later become the nation's fifth president, to France. There, he was appointed as the United States Minister under George Washington.

During the height of the French Revolution, the Monroes resided in France. It is worth noting that Elizabeth played a crucial role in rescuing the wife of the Marquis de Lafayette from the guillotine.

Louisa Adams, 1775-1852

It comes as no surprise that the first lady who was born outside of the country had an extensive travel history.

Louisa Adams was born to a British mother and an American father in London, where she later crossed paths with her future husband, John Quincy Adams. It wasn't until four years after their marriage that she relocated to America.

Louisa dedicated a significant portion of her life accompanying John to various diplomatic assignments, spanning from Berlin to Russia. However, she consistently found solace and a sense of belonging in her spouse's homeland of New England.

Rachel Jackson, 1767-1828

Andrew Jackson’s wife was a bigamist, having married Jackson before she was divorced from her first husband. She died after Jackson was elected president but before his inauguration. Her niece Emily Donelson served as White House hostess during most of the Jackson administration.

Hannah Van Buren, 1783-1819

Martin Van Buren’s wife—his second cousin—died 18 years before her husband was elected president. Their daughter-in-law Angelica Van Buren served as White House hostess during the last two years of the Van Buren administration.

Anna Harrison, 1775-1864

William Henry Harrison’s wife is the only spouse of a president and grandmother of another. She never lived in the White House because her husband died a month after his inauguration. Their daughter-in-law Jane Harrison served as White House hostess for the shortest time—30 days.

Letitia Tyler, 1790-1842

Letitia Tyler holds the distinction of being the first first lady to pass away during her husband's presidency. She left this world at the age of 51 in 1842. Her passing also established her as the most youthful first lady to ever pass away.

John Tyler's first wife suffered a stroke and tragically became the first president's wife to pass away while residing in the White House. Their daughter Letty Tyler Semple and daughter-in-law Priscilla Cooper Tyler served as White House hostesses until Tyler eloped with his second wife, Julia (1820-1889), who would later become the first lady to be photographed.

Sarah Polk, 1803-1891

Following President James K. Polk's four-year term in office, he and his wife settled down in their Nashville home, known as "Polk Place," where he passed away in 1849.

Sarah resided at the residence for the remainder of her days, steadfastly holding her position even amidst the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, when conflict reached Tennessee. Polk Place was regarded as a neutral space by both armies, and it is said that the former first lady hosted gatherings for leaders from both the Union and Confederate sides at her residence during this time. She also lived to the impressive age of 88.

Margaret “Peggy” Taylor, 1788-1852

Zachary Taylor’s wife learned to shoot a gun when she lived with her husband on the Western frontier. When she lived in the White House, she refused to serve as hostess, giving that role to their daughter Betty Taylor Bliss.

Abigail Fillmore, 1798-1853

Millard Fillmore’s wife was the first presidential spouse to work and earn a salary before marriage—as a schoolteacher. She died three weeks after leaving the White House, and her husband later married Caroline Fillmore, a widower who was wealthier than he was.

Jane Pierce, 1806-1863

Franklin Pierce's wife was not supportive of her husband's political aspirations. Prior to his inauguration, Mrs. Pierce experienced immense sorrow and despair after witnessing the tragic demise of their sole surviving son in a train accident. She never fully healed from the distress.

Similar to numerous other first ladies, Jane Pierce did not possess a great deal of enthusiasm when it came to assuming the role. Upon learning of her husband's nomination as the Democratic party candidate in 1852, it is rumored that she fainted in response to the news.

Harriet Lane, 1830-1903

James Buchanan’s niece was the White House hostess for the only president to remain a bachelor. An avid art collector, Lane upon her death bequeathed her collection to the Smithsonian Institution, which today includes the National Gallery of Art.

Mary Lincoln, 1818-1882

Abraham Lincoln’s wife was the first to hold séances in the White House, to be attacked in the press for lavish purchases during wartime and to fight for the abolition of slavery.

Eliza Johnson, 1810-1876

Andrew Johnson's wife played a crucial role in helping her husband with his language skills, ensuring he spelled and pronounced words correctly. Unfortunately, her ability to fulfill her responsibilities as first lady was hindered by Tuberculosis. Instead, their daughter Martha Patterson took on the role of White House hostess. Martha, in addition to her other duties, would tend to the cows at the White House each morning.

There is a fascinating local tale in Greeneville, North Carolina, about the arrival of Andrew Johnson in 1826. As the story goes, Eliza, a resident of the town, supposedly remarked to a friend as he walked by, "There goes my beau!" It is said that their relationship blossomed quickly, and they were married within a year.

Julia Grant, 1826-1902

Ulysses S. Grant’s wife was cross-eyed, and owned slaves during the Civil War while her husband served as general of the Union Army.

Lucy Hayes, 1831-1889

Rutherford B. Hayes’ wife was the first to ban all alcoholic beverages from the White House. She also hosted the first Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.

Lucretia Garfield, 1832-1918

James A. Garfield’s wife began efforts to conduct historical research on the White House rooms and served as her husband’s primary caretaker for two months after an assassin shot him.

Ellen Arthur, 1837-1880

Chester A. Arthur’s wife was a contralto singer who developed pneumonia after a concert and died 20 months before her husband took office. Arthur’s sister Mary Arthur McElroy served as White House hostess and later joined the anti-suffrage movement.

Frances Cleveland, 1864-1947

Grover Cleveland’s wife was the youngest first lady—age 21—and the only bride of a president to marry—and give birth—in the White House. Before their marriage, Cleveland’s sister Rose Elizabeth Cleveland served as White House hostess for the bachelor president.

Caroline Harrison, 1832-1892

Benjamin Harrison’s wife was the first to use electricity and have a Christmas tree in the White House. She was the second first lady to die in the White House. After her death, her husband married her social secretary and niece Mary Dimmock Harrison.

Ida McKinley, 1847-1907

William McKinley’s wife was the only first lady to work as a bank teller and manager, and successfully urged her husband to retain the Philippines after the Spanish-American War.

Alice Roosevelt, 1861-1884

Theodore Roosevelt’s first wife died in 1884, 17 years before he was elected president. A year later, he remarried and Edith Roosevelt joined her husband in the White House upon the assassination of President McKinley.

Helen “Nellie” Taft, 1861-1943

According to the History Channel, it is noted that when William Howard Taft assumed the presidency in 1909, his wife made a departure from tradition by accompanying him in the inaugural parade. This act has since been emulated by subsequent first ladies, reflecting a more contemporary approach.

Helen Taft achieved a remarkable feat by becoming the spouse of both a president and a chief justice of the Supreme Court. Her husband's nomination to the highest court in the country, eight years after their time in the White House, solidified her unique position in history.

Ellen Wilson, 1860-1914

Woodrow Wilson’s first wife was the only professional artist to become first lady. After her death in the White House, her husband married Edith Wilson, a direct descendant of American Indian princess Pocahontas.

Florence Harding, 1860-1924

President Warren G. Harding became Florence Kling's second husband, following the departure of her first spouse, whom she married at a young age. Unfortunately, he left her after she gave birth to their son.

Despite her privileged upbringing as the daughter of Marion, Ohio's wealthiest man, Florence chose to forge her own path and work hard to support herself.

Grace Coolidge, 1879-1957

In 1927, First lady Grace Coolidge made quite a stir at the White House Easter Egg Roll by bringing along the family's pet raccoon, Rebecca.

As per the account from the History Channel, it is reported that Rebecca engaged in a physical altercation with the first lady and a few children, necessitating her removal to her quarters for their safety.

The Coolidges welcomed Rebecca into their home when a kind-hearted individual from Mississippi sent the animal to the White House as a generous gesture for Thanksgiving. The president made the compassionate choice to spare the raccoon's life, and it soon became one of his dearest companions.

Lou Hoover, 1874-1944

Herbert Hoover’s wife was the first woman to graduate from Stanford University with a geology degree. She also spoke Chinese fluently.

Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wife was the first first lady to hold regular press conferences, write a daily newspaper column and a monthly magazine column, and host a weekly radio show.

Bess Truman, 1885-1982

Harry S. Truman’s wife worked as her husband's salaried Senate aide and never gave an interview as first lady.

Mamie Eisenhower, 1896-1979

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s wife appeared in television commercials when her husband ran for president, and enjoyed watching TV soap operas in the White House.

Jacqueline Kennedy, 1929-1994

John F. Kennedy’s wife was the first first lady to hire a press secretary and a White House curator. She also won an Emmy Award for her television tour of the White House.

Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, 1912-2007

Nicknamed Lady Bird as a child, Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife conducted her own campaign for her husband's election and lobbied for environmental protection.

Pat Nixon, 1912-1993

Richard Nixon’s wife created White House tours for the blind and deaf, and was the first first lady to wear pants in public.

Betty Ford, 1918-2011

Gerald Ford’s wife once worked as a professional dancer with the Martha Graham Company. She also founded an alcohol and drug treatment center in California that bears her name.

Rosalynn Carter, 1927

Jimmy Carter’s wife was the first to have a VCR in the White House, and to keep her own office in the East Wing.

Nancy Reagan, 1921-2016

Ronald Reagan’s wife worked as a professional actress, appearing in movies and in a music video— to give an anti-drug abuse message.

Barbara Bush, 1989-1993

George H.W. Bush’s wife is the second first lady to be both the wife and mother of a president, and the only one to write a memoir from her dog's perspective.

Hillary Clinton, 1993-2001

Photo Getty
Photo Getty

Bill Clinton’s wife hosted the first White House webcast, and is the only first lady elected to public office—the U.S. Senate, and to seek the presidency.

Laura Bush, 2001-2009

George W. Bush’s wife is the only first lady to give birth to twins, to work as a librarian and to substitute for a president in his weekly radio address.

Michelle Obama, 2009-2017

Photo White House
Photo White House

Barack Obama's wife is the first African American First lady. Her causes included Let's Move, Which targeted childhood obesity, and aid for military families.

Melania Trump

Originating from Slovenia, Melania Trump pursued a career in modeling in Europe before finding herself in New York, where she crossed paths with the prominent real estate tycoon, Donald Trump. The couple tied the knot in 2005 and welcomed their son, Barron, the following year. When Donald was elected as the U.S. president in 2016, Melania made history by becoming the first foreign-born U.S. first lady since Louisa Adams in the 1820s. She became a strong advocate for the "Be Best" initiative, focusing on the importance of children's emotional and physical well-being.

Jill Biden

Photo White House
Photo White House

Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden was born on June 3, 1951, in Hammonton, New Jersey, to Bonny Jean Godfrey Jacobs and Donald Carl Jacobs. She grew up in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia, being the oldest of five daughters. She completed her high school education at Upper Moreland High School in 1969, and later obtained a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Delaware in 1975.

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