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Remembering the Ladies

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Ann Covell

WHERE DID INSPIRATION FOR THIS BOOK COME FROM?      During the period of the 2008 American presidential election, when the whole world was held spellbound, I overheard a group of British college students discussing their latest study … see full wiki

Author: Ann Covell
Publisher: Outskirts Press
1 review about Remembering the Ladies

Covers a neglected area of American history, the coverage of the First Ladies

  • May 6, 2010
Rating:
+5
When she was First Lady, Hillary Clinton was pilloried and ridiculed by politicians and certain segments of the news media. Although her entry into the political arena did make her political fair game, a great deal of the criticism was personal, very mean and as is demonstrated in this book not without precedent.
In the early years of the republic, the role of the President's spouse was uncertain. In the first case, the general idea of a republic was new, so there was no tradition to rely on. To that point, the wife of a male leader was the Queen and the people of the United States had no desire for royalty, either in position or in manner. In the second case, women had no rights and they were expected to have children and defer to their husbands on everything. Women were almost totally uneducated and could not personally own or control their own property. Yet, the American people did have high expectations of the wife of the President, she was expected to be the charming and efficient hostess for all White House functions, both personal and governmental. That was a difficult task and in several cases it proved to be beyond the capability of the spouse of the President. Washington society was very snobbish and demanding, a perceived slight, no matter how minor, could be socially devastating.
This book chronicles the lives of the primary women of the White House from George Washington through Grover Cleveland. In several cases, the President had no spouse during his tenure in the White House; so another woman was pressed into service as the official hostess. Each woman that occupied the position brought a different style, some were completely unsuited, both intellectually and temperamentally, yet others were dazzling in the role.
As time moved on, so did the role of women in society, and associated with that, the role of the First Lady changed. In the nineteenth century, it became proper for the First Lady to champion causes, as long as they were in the area of charity and non-political. The most fascinating point of the book is how brutal the treatment of First Ladies has been over time. While some were treated well, the political opponents of their husbands heavily criticized many First Ladies. Many of the women would have preferred to be somewhere other than the White House, yet had very little choice in the matter.
This book covers a neglected aspect of American history, the role and treatment of the spouse of the President. As you can see from this book, heavy and often unjustified criticism of the First Lady in an old political game, it began with the founding of the republic and continues to this day.

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