- First Lady of the United States
First Lady of the United States is the unofficial title of the hostess of the
White House. Because this position is traditionally filled by the wife of the President of the United States, the title is sometimes taken to apply only to the wife of a sitting President. However, several women who were not Presidents' wives have served as First Lady, as when the President was a bachelor or widower, or when the wife of the President was unable to fulfill the duties of the First Lady herself. In these cases, the position has been filled by a female relative or friend of the President.
To date, no woman has served as President. While a female President could theoretically serve as her own official hostess, it is not known what title would be applied to a President's husband, who might also serve as the host of the White House. There have been many female governors of
U.S. states over the years; their spouses are typically referred to as the First Gentleman. [citation |last=Clift |first=Eleanor |title=On Being a First Gentleman |url=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17422966/site/newsweek/ |accessdate=2007-09-15]
Hillary Rodham Clintonof New York, wife of former president Bill Clinton, is the only spouse of a president to be elected to the United States Senateand become a leading Presidential contender. The current First Lady is Laura Bush. In addition, there are currently five former First Ladies still living: Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bushand Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Origins of the title
The use of the title "
first lady" to describe the spouse or hostess of an executive began in the United States.
In the early days of the republic, there was no generally accepted title for the wife of the President. Many early first ladies expressed their own preference for how they were addressed, including the use of such titles as "Lady", "Mrs. President", and "Mrs. Presidentress,"
Martha Washingtonwas often referred to as "Lady Washington."
According to legend,
Dolley Madisonwas referred to as "first lady" in 1849 at her funeral in a eulogy delivered by President Zachary Taylor. However, no written record of this eulogy exists. [ [http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=4 http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=4] "Firstladies.org" ]
Sometime after 1849, the title began being used in
Washington, D.C.social circles. The earliest known written evidence of the title is from the November 3, 1863diary entry of William Howard Russell, in which he referred to gossip about "the First Lady in the Land."
The title first gained nationwide recognition in 1877, when newspaper journalist
Mary C. Amesreferred to Lucy Webb Hayesas "the First Lady of the land" while reporting on the inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes. Mrs. Hayes was a tremendously popular First Lady, and the frequent reporting on her activities helped spread use of the title outside Washington.
A popular 1911 comedic play by playwright Charles Nirdlinger titled "The First Lady in the Land" popularized the title further. By the 1930s it was in wide use. Use of the title later spread from the United States to other nations.
The acronym FLOTUS is sometimes used for "First Lady of the United States," by analogy to the more well-known acronym "POTUS" for "President of the United States."
The wife of the
Vice President of the United Statesis sometimes referred to as the Second Lady of the United States, but this title is much less common. The term "first lady" is also used to describe the wife of other government chief executives or a woman who has acted as a leading symbol for some activity, for example, Aretha Franklinhas been called "the First Lady of Soul." The next First Lady will likely be either Cindy McCainor Michelle Obama, the wives of the Republican and Democratic nominees, respectively.
=Role of the First Lady= "First Lady" is not an elected position, carries no official duties, and receives no salary. Nonetheless, she attends many official ceremonies and functions of state either along with, or in place of, the President. There is a strong tradition against the First Lady holding outside employment while occupying the office. [cite book |last=Caroli |first=Betty Boyd |title=First Ladies from Martha Washington to Laura Bush |publisher=Oxford University Press |date=2003 |pages=200] The first lady frequently participates in
humanitarianand charitable work; over the course of the 20th century it became increasingly common for first ladies to select specific causes to promote, usually ones that are not politically divisive. It is common for the first lady to hire a staff to support these activities. Additionally, many have taken an active role in campaigning for the President with whom they are associated. Hillary Rodham Clinton took the role one step further when she was, for a time, given a formal job in the Clinton administration to develop reforms to the health care system.
If the United States were to have a female President, it is commonly presumed that the husband of a female President would act as an analogous "First Gentleman". This was the situation portrayed in the fictitious television series "Commander In Chief", in which President
Mackenzie Allen's husband Rod Calloway was titled as "First Gentleman", but President Allen's mother ultimately joined the First Familyand acted as the official hostess at the White House.
Office of the First Lady
The Office of the First Lady of the United States is accountable to the First Lady of the United States for her to carry out her duties as hostess of the White House, and is also in charge of all social and ceremonial events of the White House. The First Lady has her own staff that includes the
White House Social Secretary, a Chief of Staff, Press Secretary, Chief Floral Designer, Executive Chef, etc. The Office of the First Lady is a branch of the Executive Office of the President(EOP).
First Ladies of the United States
:"For a complete list of the first ladies, see
List of First Ladies of the United States"
First Lady- Use of the title outside the United States.
Second Lady of the United States- Wife of the Vice President of the United States.
First Ladies National Historic Site- In Canton, Ohio.
List of United States First Ladies by Longevity
* cite web
title=Office of the First Lady
* cite web
title=First Lady's Gallery
work=The White House
* cite web
title=The National First Ladies' Library
* [http://www.dadashopping.net/work.php?code=behind_every_great_man_stands_a_great_woman Paper on the role of the first lady and the influence she holds over the President]
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