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What Is a First Lady?

The term First Lady is used to describe a socially prominent woman deserving respect. This woman must possess one of two things to be called a First Lady: a president or Governor as a husband or expertise in the performing arts.

Beginning in the late 1800s, the wife of the President of the United States began being called the First Lady, soon other nations followed suit. This raised the esteem and duties of most President’s wives. Not only is a First Lady the wife of a President, but she is viewed as the official country hostess, she engages in social causes and events and is the symbol for President’s family and social values. She can be the softer side of an otherwise stern and business minded man.

Most First Ladies become prominent public figures and are champions for social reforms in healthcare and education. They are socially engaged and avail themselves to communities in need. The most popular former First Ladies in the United States of America include Mary Todd Lincoln, Dolley Madison, Jacqueline Kennedy (she added beauty, youth, and sincerity to JFK Kennedy), Lady Bird Johnson (she softened Lyndon Johnsons’ image by being a gracious woman against his unsociable character, this helped his political career), Rosalynn Carter, Eleanor Roosevelt (campaigned on behalf of her husband when his health failed him) and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Women at the forefront of their fields, particularly in the performing arts, are referred to as a First Lady, one such woman is Ella Fitzgerald who is called First Lady of American Song.

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