Second Lady of the United States

Last updated
Second Lady of the
United States of America
Karen Pence official portrait 2 (cropped).jpg
Karen Pence

since January 20, 2017
Style Mrs. Pence (informal)
Madam Second Lady (formal)
Residence Number One Observatory Circle
Inaugural holder Abigail Adams
FormationApril 21, 1789
(230 years ago)

Second Lady of the United States (SLOTUS) is the informal title held by the wife of the vice president of the United States, concurrent with the vice president's term of office. This title is less commonly used than the title first lady of the United States.

Vice President of the United States Second highest executive office in United States

The vice president of the United States is the second-highest officer in the executive branch of the U.S. federal government, after the president of the United States, and ranks first in the presidential line of succession. The vice president is also an officer in the legislative branch, as President of the Senate. In this capacity, the vice president presides over Senate deliberations, but may not vote except to cast a tie-breaking vote. The vice president also presides over joint sessions of Congress.

First Lady of the United States Hostess of the White House, usually the wife of the President of the United States

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 nation. 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.


The term "Second Lady", coined in contrast to "First Lady" (who is almost always the wife of the president), may have been first used by Jennie Tuttle Hobart (whose husband, Garret Hobart was vice president from 1897 to 1899) to refer to herself.

Second Lady spouse of a vice president or a lieutenant governor

Second Lady or Second Gentleman is a title sometimes used in reference to the spouse of a vice president or a lieutenant governor, and if no office of vice president or lieutenant governor exists, of a prime minister or premier/chief minister of a republic, and to the deputy prime minister or deputy premier/deputy chief minister of a monarchy, styled relative to the title of First Lady, the wife of a president or governor of a republic or of a prime minister or premier/chief minister of a monarchy.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Jennie Tuttle Hobart Second Lady of the United States

Esther Jane "Jennie" Tuttle Hobart was the wife of Vice President Garret Hobart and a philanthropist and community activist in New Jersey.

The title later fell out of favor, but was revived in the 1980s. [1] [2] During the 1990s the title was again abandoned, in favor of "wife of the vice president", but was later resurrected during the presidency of Barack Obama. [2] Its use was continued by the administration of Donald Trump, [3] although Trump said, about six months into his presidency, that he had never heard the term. [4]

Presidency of Barack Obama presidential term

The presidency of Barack Obama began at noon EST on January 20, 2009, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States, and ended on January 20, 2017. Obama, a Democrat, took office following a decisive victory over Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Four years later, in the 2012 election, he defeated Republican Mitt Romney to win re-election. He was the first African American president, the first multiracial president, the first non-white president, and the first president to have been born in Hawaii. Obama was succeeded by Republican Donald Trump, who won the 2016 presidential election.

Presidency of Donald Trump administration beginning 2017

The presidency of Donald Trump began at noon EST on January 20, 2017, when Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, succeeding Barack Obama. A Republican, Trump was a businessman and reality television personality from New York City at the time of his 2016 presidential election victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. While Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, he won the Electoral College vote, 304 to 227, in a presidential contest that American intelligence agencies concluded was targeted by a Russian interference campaign. Trump has made many false or misleading statements during his campaign and presidency. The statements have been documented by fact-checkers, with political scientists and historians widely describing the phenomenon as unprecedented in modern American politics. Trump's approval rating has been stable, hovering in the high-30 percent to mid-40 percent range throughout his presidency.

Fourteen second ladies have gone on to become First Lady of the United States during their husband's terms as president. The first to do this was Abigail Adams, who was married to John Adams, who was the first vice president from 1789 to 1797 and then second president from 1797 to 1801. The last to do this was Barbara Bush, who was married to George H. W. Bush, who was the 43rd vice president from 1981 to 1989 and then 41st president from 1989 to 1993.

Abigail Adams 2nd First Lady of the United States (1797–1801)

Abigail Adams was the wife and closest advisor of John Adams, as well as the mother of John Quincy Adams. She is sometimes considered to have been a Founder of the United States, and is now designated as the first Second Lady and second First Lady of the United States, although these titles were not used at the time.

John Adams 2nd president of the United States

John Adams was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Before his presidency, he was a leader of the American Revolution that achieved independence from Great Britain and served as the first vice president of the United States. Adams was a dedicated diarist and regularly corresponded with many important figures in early American history, including his wife and adviser, Abigail. His letters and other papers serve as an important source of historical information about the era.

Barbara Bush Former First Lady 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 founder of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She previously was 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.

The current second lady is Karen Pence, who is married to Mike Pence, who has been the 48th vice president in Donald Trump's administration since January 20, 2017.

Karen Pence First Lady of Indiana, schoolteacher

Karen Sue Pence is an American educator, teacher, and painter, and the current second lady of the United States since 2017. She is married to the 48th and current vice president of the United States, Mike Pence. She was formerly the first lady of Indiana from January 14, 2013 to January 9, 2017.

Mike Pence 48th Vice President of the United States

Michael Richard Pence is an American politician and lawyer serving as the 48th and current vice president of the United States. He previously was the 50th governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017 and a member of the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013. He is the younger brother of U.S. representative Greg Pence.

There are four living former second ladies: Marilyn Quayle, wife of Dan Quayle; Tipper Gore, now separated wife of Al Gore; Lynne Cheney, wife of Dick Cheney; and Jill Biden, wife of Joe Biden.

Marilyn Quayle American politician

Marilyn Tucker Quayle is an American lawyer and novelist. She is the wife of the 44th Vice President of the United States, Dan Quayle, and served as Second Lady of the United States from 1989 until 1993.

Dan Quayle 44th vice president of the United States

James Danforth Quayle is an American politician and lawyer who served as the 44th vice president of the United States from 1989 to 1993. Quayle was also a U.S. representative from 1977 to 1981 and was a U.S. senator from 1981 to 1989 for the state of Indiana.

Tipper Gore American writer and photographer

Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Gore is an American social issues advocate who was Second Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001. She is the former wife of Al Gore, the 45th Vice President of the United States, from whom she separated in 2010.


The second lady's visibility in the public sphere has been a somewhat recent development. Although the role of the first lady as White House hostess dates from the beginning of the republic (and was typically filled by another member of the president's family if the president was unmarried or a widower), with a few exceptions, it was generally not until the late 20th century and early 21st century that vice-presidential wives took on public roles that attracted significant media attention.

In one notable exception, Floride Calhoun, wife of Vice President John C. Calhoun, was a central figure in the Petticoat Affair, a social-political scandal which involved the social ostracism of Secretary of War John H. Eaton and his wife Margaret O'Neill Eaton further damaging already-strained relations between Vice President Calhoun and President Andrew Jackson.

Second Lady Pat Nixon, with Vice President Richard Nixon, led a delegation to Ghana in 1957. One historian wrote that Pat Nixon "helped to define this nebulous role for an entire generation of women who would succeed her." Nixons in Ghana 1957.jpg
Second Lady Pat Nixon, with Vice President Richard Nixon, led a delegation to Ghana in 1957. One historian wrote that Pat Nixon "helped to define this nebulous role for an entire generation of women who would succeed her."

Pat Nixon, wife of Vice President Richard Nixon, was the first second lady to add a great deal of substance to the role of the vice president's wife. When Nixon assumed the position in 1953, the role's only official function was to preside over the once-annual Senate Ladies Luncheon. [5] Instead, Nixon launched her own initiatives, sensing great opportunities that her role provided. She established a schedule separate from that of her husband, which often consisted of solo activities. As second lady, Nixon traveled more than 125,000 miles around the world to six continents, including a two-month, 42,000-mile journey through Asia in 1953. [5] As she undertook missions of goodwill across the world, she insisted on visiting schools, orphanages, hospitals and village markets rather than attend tea or coffee functions. In this sense, Nixon essentially created the modern role of the second lady; historian Kate Andersen Brower wrote, "she helped to define this nebulous role for an entire generation of women who would succeed her." [5]

In 1978, Muriel Humphrey, wife of Vice President Hubert Humphrey, became the only former second lady to hold public office; after her husband, who had returned to the U.S. Senate after his term as vice president, died in office, she was appointed by Minnesota governor Rudy Perpich to continue her husband's term. Tipper Gore, wife of Vice President Al Gore, was active in several campaigns to remove material she found objectionable from popular American entertainment like movies, television shows and music, starting when her husband was a senator. She challenged performers over their use of profane lyrics and often debated with her critics, such as Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra. Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, championed education reform, citing specific failures of the American public education system during her tenure as second lady. She is a particularly outspoken supporter of American history education, having written five bestselling books on this topic for children and their families. [6] Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, works as an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, and is thought to be the first second lady to hold a paying job while her husband was vice president. [7] She has been involved in various causes, including breast cancer awareness and literacy.

The term remains an unfamiliar and uncertain one even when it is used. [8]

There have been 17 periods of vacancy in the role, the longest of which continued for 16 years between the service of vice presidential spouses Abigail Adams and Ann Gerry. The most recent second lady vacancy was for 132 days in 1974, between the service of Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller.

List of second ladies of the United States

ImageSecond LadyDate of birthVice President
Marriage date
TenureDate of death (age)Tenure as First Lady
Abigail Adams.jpg Abigail Smith November 11, 1744 John Adams
October 25, 1764
April 21, 1789 – March 4, 1797October 28, 1818(1818-10-28) (aged 73)1797–1801
Vacant; Thomas Jefferson was a widower.March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801 
Vacant; Aaron Burr was a widower.March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1805 
Vacant; George Clinton was a widower.March 4, 1805 – April 20, 1812 
Vacant; no Vice President.April 20, 1812 – March 4, 1813 
Ann Thompson Gerry.jpg Ann Thompson August 12, 1763 Elbridge Gerry
January 12, 1786
March 4, 1813 – November 23, 1814March 17, 1849(1849-03-17) (aged 85)
Vacant; no Vice President.November 23, 1814 – March 4, 1817 
Hannah Tompkins2.jpg Hannah Minthorne August 28, 1781 Daniel D Tompkins
February 20, 1798
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825February 18, 1829(1829-02-18) (aged 47)
Floride Calhoun nee Colhoun.jpg Floride Bonneau Calhoun February 15, 1792 John C. Calhoun
January 8, 1811
March 4, 1825 – December 28, 1832July 25, 1866(1866-07-25) (aged 74)
Vacant; no Vice President.December 28, 1832 – March 4, 1833 
Vacant; Martin Van Buren was a widower.March 4, 1833 – March 4, 1837 
Vacant; Richard M. Johnson was a widower via common-law marriage.March 4, 1837 – March 4, 1841 
Letitia Tyler2.jpg Letitia Christian November 12, 1790 John Tyler
March 29, 1813
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841September 12, 1842(1842-09-12) (aged 51)1841–1842
Vacant; no Vice President.April 4, 1841 – March 4, 1845 
Sophia Chew Nicklin June 24, 1798 George M. Dallas
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849January 11, 1869(1869-01-11) (aged 70)
Abigail Fillmore (Library of Congress).jpg Abigail Powers March 13, 1798 Millard Fillmore
February 5, 1826
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850March 30, 1853(1853-03-30) (aged 55)1850–1853
Vacant; no Vice President.July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853 
Vacant; William R. King was unmarried.March 4, 1853 – April 18, 1853 
Vacant; no Vice President.April 18, 1853 – March 4, 1857 
Mary-Cyrene-Breckinridge.jpg Mary Cyrene Burch August 16, 1826 John C. Breckinridge
December 12, 1843
March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1861October 8, 1907(1907-10-08) (aged 81)
Ellen Hamlin.jpg Ellen Vesta Emery September 14, 1835 Hannibal Hamlin
March 4, 1861 – March 4, 1865February 1, 1925(1925-02-01) (aged 89)
Mrs-E-Johnson.jpg Eliza McCardle October 4, 1810 Andrew Johnson
May 17, 1827
March 4, 1865 – April 15, 1865January 15, 1876(1876-01-15) (aged 65)1865–1869
Vacant; no Vice President.April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869 
Ellen Maria Colfax.jpg Ellen Maria Wade July 26, 1836 Schuyler Colfax
November 18, 1868
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1873March 4, 1911(1911-03-04) (aged 74)
Vacant; Henry Wilson was a widower.March 4, 1873 – November 22, 1875 
Vacant; no Vice President.November 22, 1875 – March 4, 1877 
Vacant; William A. Wheeler was a widower.March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881 
Vacant; Chester A. Arthur was a widower.March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881 
Vacant; no Vice President.September 19, 1881 – March 4, 1885 
Eliza Hendricks.jpg Eliza Carol Morgan November 23, 1823 Thomas A. Hendricks
September 26, 1845
March 4, 1885 – November 25, 1885January 3, 1903(1903-01-03) (aged 79)
Vacant; no Vice President.November 25, 1885 – March 4, 1889 
Anna Morton.jpg Anna Livingston Reade Street May 18, 1846 Levi P. Morton
March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1893August 14, 1918(1918-08-14) (aged 72)
Letitiastevenson.jpg Letitia Green January 8, 1843 Adlai Stevenson I
December 22, 1866
March 4, 1893 – March 4, 1897December 25, 1913(1913-12-25) (aged 70)
JTHobart.gif Esther Jane "Jennie" Tuttle April 30, 1849 Garret Hobart
July 21, 1869
March 4, 1897 – November 21, 1899January 8, 1941(1941-01-08) (aged 91)
Vacant; no Vice President.November 21, 1899 – March 4, 1901 
Edith Roosevelt.jpg Edith Kermit Carow August 6, 1861 Theodore Roosevelt
December 2, 1886
March 4, 1901 – September 14, 1901September 30, 1948(1948-09-30) (aged 87)1901–1909
Vacant; no Vice President.September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1905 
Fairbanks 4408868314 de2f1cd85b o.jpg Cornelia "Nellie" Cole January 14, 1852 Charles W. Fairbanks
March 4, 1905 – March 4, 1909October 25, 1913(1913-10-25) (aged 61)
Mrs. Sherman.jpg Carrie Babcock November 16, 1856 James S. Sherman
January 26, 1881
March 4, 1909 – October 30, 1912October 6, 1931(1931-10-06) (aged 74)
Vacant; no Vice President.October 30, 1912 – March 4, 1913 
Mrs. Thos. R. Marshall.jpg Lois Irene Kimsey May 9, 1873 Thomas R. Marshall
October 2, 1895
March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1921January 6, 1958(1958-01-06) (aged 84)
Grace Coolidge knitting.jpg Grace Anna Goodhue January 3, 1879 Calvin Coolidge
October 4, 1905
March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923July 8, 1957(1957-07-08) (aged 78)1923–1929
Vacant; no Vice President.August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1925 
Caro Dawes 1924.jpg Caro Dana Blymyer January 6, 1866 Charles G. Dawes
March 4, 1925 – March 4, 1929October 3, 1957(1957-10-03) (aged 91)
Vacant; Charles Curtis was a widower.March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933 
Mrs. John Nance Garner.jpg Mariette Elizabeth Rheiner July 17, 1869 John Nance Garner
November 25, 1895
March 4, 1933 – January 20, 1941August 17, 1948(1948-08-17) (aged 79)
Mrs. Henry Wallace.jpg Ilo Browne March 10, 1888 Henry A. Wallace
May 20, 1914
January 20, 1941 – January 20, 1945February 22, 1981(1981-02-22) (aged 92)
Bess Truman cropped.jpg Elizabeth Virginia "Bess" Wallace February 13, 1885 Harry S. Truman
June 28, 1919
January 20, 1945 – April 12, 1945October 18, 1982(1982-10-18) (aged 97)1945–1953
Vacant; no Vice President.April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1949 
Vacant; Alben W. Barkley was a widower.January 20, 1949 – November 18, 1949 
Jane Barkley.jpg Elizabeth Jane Rucker September 23, 1911 Alben W. Barkley
November 18, 1949
November 18, 1949 – January 20, 1953September 6, 1964(1964-09-06) (aged 52)
PatNixon.jpg Thelma Catherine "Pat" Ryan March 16, 1912 Richard Nixon
June 21, 1940
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961June 22, 1993(1993-06-22) (aged 81)1969–1974
Lady Bird Johnson 1987.jpg Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor December 22, 1912 Lyndon B. Johnson
November 17, 1934
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963July 11, 2007(2007-07-11) (aged 94)1963–1969
Vacant; no Vice President.November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1965 
Senator Muriel Humphrey (D-MN).jpg Muriel Fay Buck February 20, 1912 Hubert Humphrey
September 3, 1936
January 20, 1965 – January 20, 1969September 20, 1998(1998-09-20) (aged 86)
Mrs. Agnew.tif Elinor Isabel "Judy" Judefind April 23, 1921 Spiro Agnew
May 27, 1942
January 20, 1969 – October 10, 1973June 20, 2012(2012-06-20) (aged 91)
Vacant; no Vice President.October 10, 1973 – December 6, 1973 
Betty Ford, official White House photo color, 1974.jpg Elizabeth Ann "Betty" Bloomer April 8, 1918 Gerald Ford
October 15, 1948
December 6, 1973 – August 9, 1974July 8, 2011(2011-07-08) (aged 93)1974–1977
Vacant; no Vice President.August 9, 1974 – December 19, 1974 
Happy Rockefeller 1973.JPG Margaretta Large "Happy" Fitler June 9, 1926 Nelson Rockefeller
May 4, 1963
December 19, 1974 – January 20, 1977May 19, 2015(2015-05-19) (aged 88)
1977JoanMondaleNARA173414crop.jpg Joan Adams August 8, 1930 Walter Mondale
December 27, 1955
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981February 3, 2014(2014-02-03) (aged 83)
Barbara Bush portrait.jpg Barbara Pierce June 8, 1925 George H. W. Bush
January 6, 1945
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989April 17, 2018(2018-04-17) (aged 92)1989–1993
Marilyn Quayle.jpg Marilyn Tucker July 29, 1949 Dan Quayle
November 18, 1972
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993 Living
69 years, 321 days
Mary Elizabeth Gore.JPG Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Aitcheson August 19, 1948 Al Gore
May 19, 1970
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001 Living
70 years, 300 days
Lynne Cheney official photo.jpg Lynne Ann Vincent August 14, 1941 Dick Cheney
August 29, 1964
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009 Living
77 years, 305 days
Jill Biden official portrait crop.jpg Jill Tracy Jacobs June 3, 1951 Joe Biden
June 17, 1977
January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017 Living
68 years, 12 days
Karen Pence official portrait.jpg Karen Sue Batten January 1, 1957 Mike Pence
June 8, 1985
January 20, 2017 – presentLiving
62 years, 165 days

Other spouses of U.S. vice presidents

Various other spouses of vice presidents of the United States are not considered as second ladies of the United States because their marriages were not during the vice presidential terms of their husbands.

Nine U.S. vice presidents were widowed prior to their vice presidencies:

One U.S. vice president was divorced prior to his vice presidency:

Three U.S. vice presidents remarried after their vice presidencies:

Five U.S. vice presidents were widowed and remarried prior to their vice presidencies:

One U.S. vice president was widowed before his vice presidency and remarried during his vice presidency:

Living second ladies

As of June 2019, there are four living former second ladies, as identified below.

The most recent second lady to die, and most recent serving (1981–89) who died, was Barbara Bush on April 17, 2018.

See also

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