|First Lady of the United States|
|Style||Madam First Lady|
|Inaugural holder||Martha Washington|
|Formation||April 30, 1789|
First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) is the title held by the hostess of the White House, usually the wife of the president of the United States, concurrent with the president's term in office. Although the first lady's role has never been codified or officially defined, she figures prominently in the political and social life of the United States.Since the early 20th century, the first lady has been assisted by official staff, now known as the Office of the First Lady and headquartered in the East Wing of the White House.
Jill Biden is the current first lady of the United States, as wife of the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden.
While the title was not in general use until much later, Martha Washington, the wife of George Washington, the first U.S. president (1789–1797), is considered to be the inaugural first lady of the United States. During her lifetime, she was often referred to as "Lady Washington".
Since the 1790s, the role of first lady has changed considerably. It has come to include involvement in political campaigns, management of the White House, championship of social causes, and representation of the president at official and ceremonial occasions. As first ladies now typically publish their memoirs, which are viewed as potential sources of additional information about their husbands' administrations, and because the public is interested in these increasingly independent women in their own right, first ladies frequently remain a focus of attention long after their husbands' terms of office have ended.Additionally, over the years individual first ladies have held influence in a range of sectors, from fashion to public opinion on policy. Historically, should a president be unmarried, or a widower, the president usually asks a relative or friend to act as White House hostess.
As of 2021 [update] , there are five living former first ladies: Rosalynn Carter (wife of Jimmy Carter), Hillary Clinton (wife of Bill Clinton), Laura Bush (wife of George W. Bush), Michelle Obama (wife of Barack Obama), and Melania Trump (wife of Donald Trump).
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 not a 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 Washington was often referred to as "Lady Washington". One of the earliest uses of the term "First Lady" was applied to her in an 1838 newspaper article that appeared in the St. Johnsbury Caledonian, the author, "Mrs. Sigourney", discussing how Martha Washington had not changed, even after her husband George became president. She wrote that "The first lady of the nation still preserved the habits of early life. Indulging in no indolence, she left the pillow at dawn, and after breakfast, retired to her chamber for an hour for the study of the scriptures and devotion."
Dolley Madison was reportedly 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, nor did any of the newspapers of her day refer to her by that title.Sometime after 1849, the title began being used in Washington, D.C., social circles. One of the earliest known written examples comes from November 3, 1863, diary entry of William Howard Russell, in which he referred to gossip about "the First Lady in the Land", referring to Mary Todd Lincoln. The title first gained nationwide recognition in 1877, when newspaper journalist Mary C. Ames referred to Lucy Webb Hayes as "the First Lady of the Land" while reporting on the inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes. The frequent reporting on Lucy Hayes' activities helped spread use of the title outside Washington. A popular 1911 comedic play about Dolley Madison 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.
When Edith Wilson took control of her husband's schedule in 1919 after he had a debilitating stroke, one Republican senator labeled her "the Presidentress who had fulfilled the dream of the suffragettes by changing her title from First Lady to Acting First Man".
Another acronym used is FLOTUS, or First Lady of the United States. According to the Nexis database, the term (which is pronounced FLOW-tus, to rhyme with POTUS, and not FLOT-tus) was first used in 1983 by Donnie Radcliffe, writing in The Washington Post .
Several women (at least thirteen) 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, such as Jefferson's daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph, Jackson's daughter-in-law Sarah Yorke Jackson and his wife's niece Emily Donelson, Taylor's daughter Mary Elizabeth Bliss, Benjamin Harrison's daughter Mary Harrison McKee, Buchanan's niece Harriet Lane, and Cleveland's sister Rose Cleveland.[ citation needed ]
The position of the first lady is not an elected one and carries only ceremonial duties. Nonetheless, first ladies have held a highly visible position in American society.The role of the first lady has evolved over the centuries. She is, first and foremost, the hostess of the White House. She organizes and attends official ceremonies and functions of state either along with, or in place of, the president. Lisa Burns identifies four successive main themes of the first ladyship: as public woman (1900–1929); as political celebrity (1932–1961); as political activist (1964–1977); and as political interloper (1980–2001).
Martha Washington created the role and hosted many affairs of state at the national capital (New York and Philadelphia). This socializing became known as the Republican Court and provided elite women with opportunities to play backstage political roles.Both Martha Washington and Abigail Adams were treated as if they were "ladies" of the British royal court.
Dolley Madison popularized the first ladyship by engaging in efforts to assist orphans and women, by dressing in elegant fashions and attracting newspaper coverage, and by risking her life to save iconic treasures during the War of 1812. Madison set the standard for the ladyship and her actions were the model for nearly every first lady until Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1930s.Roosevelt traveled widely and spoke to many groups, often voicing personal opinions to the left of the president's. She authored a weekly newspaper column and hosted a radio show. Jacqueline Kennedy led an effort to redecorate and restore the White House.
Many first ladies became significant fashion trendsetters.Some have exercised a degree of political influence by virtue of being an important adviser to the president.
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. Lady Bird Johnson pioneered environmental protection and beautification.Pat Nixon encouraged volunteerism and traveled extensively abroad; Betty Ford supported women's rights; Rosalynn Carter aided those with mental disabilities; Nancy Reagan founded the Just Say No drug awareness campaign; Barbara Bush promoted literacy; Hillary Clinton sought to reform the healthcare system in the U.S.; Laura Bush supported women's rights groups, and encouraged childhood literacy. Michelle Obama became identified with supporting military families and tackling childhood obesity; and Melania Trump used her position to help children, including prevention of cyberbullying and support for those whose lives are affected by drugs.
Since 1964, the incumbent and all living former first ladies are honorary members of the board of trustees of the National Cultural Center, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Near the end of her husband's presidency, Clinton became the first first lady to seek political office, when she ran for United States Senate. During the campaign, her daughter Chelsea took over much of the first lady's role. Victorious, Clinton served as junior senator from New York from 2001 to 2009, when she resigned to become President Obama's secretary of state. Later, she was the Democratic Party nominee for president in the 2016 election, but lost to Donald Trump.
The Office of the First Lady of the United States is accountable to the first lady 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 a chief of staff, press secretary, White House Social Secretary, and Chief Floral Designer. The Office of the First Lady is an entity of the White House Office, a branch of the Executive Office of the President.When First Lady Hillary Clinton decided to pursue a run for Senator of New York, she set aside her duties as first lady and moved to Chappaqua, New York, to establish state residency. She resumed her duties as first lady after winning her senatorial campaign, and retained her duties as both first lady and a U.S. senator for the seventeen-day overlap before Bill Clinton's term came to an end.
Despite the significant responsibilities usually handled by the first lady, she does not receive a salary.
Established in 1912, the First Ladies Collection has been one of the most popular attractions at the Smithsonian Institution. The original exhibition opened in 1914 and was one of the first at the Smithsonian to prominently feature women. Originally focused largely on fashion, the exhibition now delves deeper into the contributions of first ladies to the presidency and American society. In 2008, "First Ladies at the Smithsonian" opened at the National Museum of American History as part of its reopening year celebration. That exhibition served as a bridge to the museum's expanded exhibition on first ladies' history that opened on November 19, 2011. "The First Ladies" explores the unofficial but important position of first lady and the ways that different women have shaped the role to make their own contributions to the presidential administrations and the nation. The exhibition features 26 dresses and more than 160 other objects, ranging from those of Martha Washington to Michelle Obama, and includes White House china, personal possessions and other objects from the Smithsonian's unique collection of first ladies' materials.
Some first ladies have garnered attention for their dress and style. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, for instance, became a global fashion icon: her style was copied by commercial manufacturers and imitated by many young women, and she was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1965.Mamie Eisenhower was named one of the twelve best-dressed women in the country by the New York Dress Institute every year that she was First Lady. The "Mamie Look" involved a full-skirted dress, charm bracelets, pearls, little hats, and bobbed, banged hair. Michelle Obama also received significant attention for her fashion choices: style writer Robin Givhan praised her in The Daily Beast , arguing that the First Lady's style had helped to enhance the public image of the office.
During the Mid-20th century, it became common for the First ladies to adopt specific causes to frequently speak about. It also became common for the First lady to hire a staff to support her agenda. Recent causes of the First Lady are:
As of January 2021 [update] , there are five living former first ladies, as identified below.
The most recent former first lady to die was Barbara Bush (served 1989–1993), on April 17, 2018, at the age of 92.The greatest number of former first ladies to be alive at one time was ten, which occurred during two occasions:
Laura Lane Welch Bush is an American educator who was the first lady of the United States from 2001 to 2009. Bush previously served as First Lady of Texas from 1995 to 2000. She is married to George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States.
Barbara Bush was the first lady of the United States from 1989 to 1993 as the wife of George H. W. Bush, who served as the 41st president of the United States, and the founder of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She previously was the second lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Among her six children are George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, and Jeb Bush, the 43rd governor of Florida. She and Abigail Adams are the only two women to be married to one U.S. president and the mother of another.
"Vast right-wing conspiracy" is a conspiracy theory popularized by a 1995 memo by political opposition researcher Chris Lehane and then referenced in 1998 by the then First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton, in defense of her husband, President Bill Clinton, characterizing the continued allegations of scandal against her and her husband, including the Lewinsky scandal, as part of a long campaign by Clinton's political enemies. The term has been used since, including in a question posed to Bill Clinton in 2009 to describe verbal attacks on Barack Obama during his early presidency. Hillary Clinton mentioned it again during her 2016 presidential campaign.
Melania Trump is a Slovene-American former model and businesswoman. She was the first lady of the United States from 2017 to 2021, during the presidency of her husband, Donald Trump.
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is an American attorney and author who served as the First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She was the first African-American woman to serve in this position. She is married to the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.
This is a list of books and scholarly articles by and about Hillary Clinton, as well as columns by her.
The Red Room is one of three state parlors on the State Floor in the White House, the Washington D.C. home of the President of the United States. The room has served as a parlor and music room, and recent presidents have held small dinner parties in it. It has been traditionally decorated in shades of red. The room is approximately 28 by 22.5 feet. It has six doors, which open into the Cross Hall, Blue Room, South Portico, and State Dining Room.
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is an American politician, diplomat, lawyer, writer, and public speaker who served as the 67th United States secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, as a United States senator from New York from 2001 to 2009, and as First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Clinton became the first woman to be nominated for president of the United States by a major political party when she won the Democratic Party nomination in 2016. She was the first woman to win the popular vote in an American presidential election; however, she failed to win the Electoral College.
Beginning with painter Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington, it has been traditional for the president of the United States to have an official portrait taken during their time in office, most commonly an oil painting. This tradition has continued to modern times, although since the adoption of photography as a widely used and reliable technology, the official portrait may also be a photograph.
Gallup's most admired man and woman poll is an annual poll that Gallup has conducted at the end of most years since 1948. Americans are asked, without prompting, to say what man and woman "living today in any part of the world, do [they] admire most?" The result is published as a top ten list. Most years the most admired man is the sitting President of the United States and the most admired woman is or has been the First Lady of the United States.
United States presidential inaugural balls are large social gatherings, both white tie and black tie, held to celebrate the commencement of a new term of the President of the United States. Planned and sanctioned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the official inaugural balls occur throughout the evening of Inauguration Day in the Washington D.C. area and are invitation-only, attended by guests who are issued pre-paid tickets. The President, First Lady, Vice-President and Second Lady or Second Gentleman, all make personal appearances at each of the inaugural balls held in their honor. Catered food, beverages, and live entertainment performed by national and globally acclaimed musicians are provided at the inaugural balls.
The 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton was announced in a YouTube video, on April 12, 2015. Hillary Clinton was the 67th United States Secretary of State and served during the first term of the Obama administration, 2009 to 2013. She was previously a United States Senator from New York, 2001 to 2009, and is the wife of former President Bill Clinton, serving as First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001.
The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States marked the commencement of the only term of Donald Trump as president and Mike Pence as vice president. An estimated 300,000 to 600,000 people attended the public ceremony held on Friday, January 20, 2017, at the West Front of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Hervé Pierre Braillard, known as Hervé Pierre,, is a French-American fashion and costume designer. In 1987, he received the first Christian Dior award from the Comité Colbert. Pierre has designed fashions for four United States first ladies including Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Melania Trump since the 1990s.
Be Best was a public-awareness campaign promoted by Melania Trump, former first lady of the United States, focusing on well-being for youth and advocating against cyberbullying and drug use.
Portraits of the former President of the United States George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush were painted by the American portrait artist John Howard Sanden in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The paintings were unveiled in 2012 in a ceremony at the White House where they presently hang.
The following is a list of works about the spouses of Presidents of the United States. While this list is mainly about Presidential spouses, administrations with a bachelor or widowed President have a section on the individual that filled the role of First Lady. The list includes books and journal articles written in English after c.1900 as well as primary sources written by the individual themselves.