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Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Coffee Hour on Street Prophets. This is our communities’ open thread where we can talk about what’s happening in our lives, our thoughts on current events, and anything else that strikes your fancy.


I’m impressed with the great poise, grace, graciousness, and beauty that Michelle Obama has brought to the position of First Lady. The question for today is: Who is your favorite First Lady?

Let’s start with some assorted facts about former First Ladies.

Dolly Madison

Dolly Madison (shown above): she saved the original copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution when the British burned the White House in 1812.


Frances Cleveland

Frances Cleveland (shown above): she was only 21 when her husband, Grover Cleveland became President. Their daughter, Esther Cleveland, is the only child to have been born in the White House.

Elizabeth Monroe

Elizabeth Monroe (shown above): she had the servants address her as “Your Majesty.”

Lucy Hayes

Lucy Hayes (shown above): she was the first First Lady to have graduated from college (Wesleyan Women’s College, now known as Ohio Wesleyan University).

Helen Taft


Helen Taft (shown above): she was responsible for having the beautiful cherry trees planted around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.

Florence Harding

Florence Harding (shown above): Many people suspected her of having murdered her husband. She was deeply interested in astrology and prior to her husband’s election she visited a clairvoyant who predicted that her husband would win, but would die in office.

Edith Wilson

Edith Wilson (shown above): she was a descendent of the Powhatten woman commonly known as Pocahontas. While her husband was incapacitated, she was essentially the acting President.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt (shown above): she was the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt and a distant cousin to Franklin. Prior to marriage her name was Eleanor Roosevelt. She kept a loaded handgun in her purse.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Do you have a favorite First Lady? This is an open thread. Feel free to bring up any topic that’s on your mind.

Originally posted to Street Prophets on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 01:06 PM PST.

Also republished by History for Kossacks, Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, and Pink Clubhouse.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Michelle Obama for her grace and beauty. (6+ / 0-)

    Eleanor Roosevelt for her courage.
    Has there been one wife (or husband) of a Republican public figure who has denounced the teabaggers for their openly racist attitude toward this black president?
    Waiting around to see who others will choose.

    Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

    by JoanMar on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 01:39:35 PM PST

  •  Powerful women. (6+ / 0-)

    Amazed you didn't cite Hillary Clinton. :)

    So my powerful Changeling character's going to go through some heck tonight. Not only has she decided to court someone (who, amazingly, hasn't run away screaming yet), but her Freehold is probably going to interrogate her (again) because most of our players were gone last week. Go figure...was there a holiday or something? ;)

    I won't go into detail. I will, however, say that it amazes me how much even Seasonal changelings expect Winter to behave like Summer.

    Oo, and I'll be wearing my new play-pretty ear cuff. :D My character has been wearing a pretty silver pin from the get-go, a dream-catcher with feathers hanging from it, and now she has a dream-catcher ear cuff to match. Pictures will be forthcoming. I have demanded them.

  •  Lady Bird... (7+ / 0-)

    I admit I am a Texan, but I have her autobiographty sitting right next to me, unopened (ready to read).  She was a beautiful soul and is responsible for all the wildflowers you see along Tejas roadsides during the spring.

    "A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by Yo Bubba on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 02:05:14 PM PST

  •  I'm very happy with Michele Obama. (6+ / 0-)

    She's smart, outgoing and is doing what looks to be a fine job of raising their girls. She has grace, always a welcome trait in First Ladies.

    As a child of the depression, I truly admired Eleanor Roosevelt who seemed so down to earth and aware of ways to use her influence for the good. I felt you could sit down and have a real conversation with her about ordinary life.

    I think Jacquie was fun to watch. And she did some marvelous work in WH restoration. I loved that there were youngsters about the same age as mine in the White House. I think a good many young marrieds with children became more interested in life in the White House because they could identify on that level. That's something that I think holds true today.

  •  Happy Tuesday! (7+ / 0-)

    Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Obama, of course, but I also liked Lady Bird Johnson for several reasons, one of them being that she actually tolerated Lyndon and secondly, her beautification of America by having flowers planted along highways.

    Rosalynn Carter is a very dignified lady and she championed mental health and equal rights.

    And for as much as we all feel about George Bush Jr., Laura Bush showed grace and dignity, I thought, and she promoted reading and she worked for HIV and AIDs awareness, I believe.

    I'd say my favorite First Lady would be Betty Ford for being outspoken about birth control, abortion rights, breast cancer awareness, gun control, equal rights, and addiction.

    I had to laugh at Elizabeth Monroe demanding that the staff call her 'Your majesty" - and here I thought Nancy Reagan was bad!

    Great topic, Ojibwa!

  •  My LEAST favorite... (8+ / 0-)

    Is Barbara Bush.  What is there to say about a lady whose ability to carry a grudge was admired by Richard Nixon?  

    Favorite?  Harder to say.  How do you measure a Hillary Clinton against a Jackie Kennedy?  A Michelle Obama against Eleanor Roosevelt?

    Maybe I'll go off the board here and make an inspired about Mary Lincoln?  (No...not just because of Sally Field's performance.)

    She was eccentric...but she had a lot to do with her husband's success and she stood by him through tragedy and triumph.  She was first lady through the four most difficult years in our history.  She endured the loss of a son while in the White House.  Her family, like so many others, was sundered by the war.  

    She was far from perfect but was the victim of unfair attacks even in her own time.  In no small part history has been unkind to her because of the resentment of Lincoln's law partner William Herndon and her troubled relationship with son Robert.

    Had Lincoln lived...and she not had the misfortune of being measured against a martyr and found wanting...we might have a very different picture of her.

    "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

    by Notthemayor on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 02:48:19 PM PST

  •  First ladies of all political (5+ / 0-)

    stripes provide an amazing amount of structure for the White House.  A Jacqueline Kennedy who started the tradition of the themed Christmas decorations went so far as to badger donors to animate the White House with its lost treasures and setting as the People's House to rival the great European palaces.  The Jacqueline Kennedy Garden is a wonderful testament to her from the Johnson's, particularly Lady Bird.  Jacqueline Kennedy set up the infrastructure to preserve the house that every First Lady has used since.

    Of course, Nancy Reagan made it possible for every succeeding First Lady after her to entertain properly.  Bravo to her for ordering the China Service (paid for by donors) that launched a thousand derisions.  Nancy redid the entire White House and furnished all of the rooms so that no other First family felt overwhelmed trying to fill it.

    the turbanned Dolley Madison was a Francophile and the French influence is strong throughout the State Rooms due to her and her husband's taste.  Bess Truman spent little time inside the house, but was the love of her husband's life.  He also loved the White House and rebuilt it from the inside out.

    Then there is the awesome decorator, Laura Welch Bush.  Those gorgeous green moire silk walls that the first official Obama Family portrait were taken on were hers.  Laura Welch bush was the first, First Lady to purchase a major piece of multi-million dollar art by an African American for the White House.  The art is in that very same Green room she had done.

    A first lady that did scandalous shopping had very little lasting permanent effect on the White House, but she had a part to play.  Her obsessive shopping produced two sets of Lincoln china, of which only the first is official.  It is purple and used to this day.  I wrote about the White house china here, Michelle Must Do The Dishes and what i wanted for the Obamas.

    Betty Ford had two major medical issues during her time in the White House.  She had an intervention from her family to get her off the booze and pills and as a breast cancer survivor.  Betty has an iconic image of her dancing on Richard Nixon's cabinet table to show her fun side.

    All of the first ladies have interesting contributions so picking a fave would be really hard for me....

    Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up...East Wing Rules

    by Pithy Cherub on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 02:52:34 PM PST

  •  I have a certain fondness for Bess Truman. (5+ / 0-)

    And then there's that gracious woman in the White House right now.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 03:02:54 PM PST

    •  I don't, she was an anti-Semite (5+ / 0-)

      His partner in the haberdashery store, Eddie Jacobson, was Jewish, and Bess Truman would not allow him into their home because he was Jewish.  She would call her husband and make Harry meet his partner on the porch.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 03:13:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Quilt Blessing (7+ / 0-)

    Sara R writes:

    This Friday, January 11, Ojibwa will be doing a pipe ceremony at my house (Portland, OR) and will bless the quilts we are working on for michelewin and Dave in Northridge.  There will also be a healing ceremony for Timaeus.

    We'll meet at 1pm for the ceremony and have a potluck meal afterwards -- party to end at 5pm.

    Here's the link
  •  Grace Coolidge (6+ / 0-)

    Also one of the first First Ladies who was a college graduate, she was determined to devote her life to helping others who were less fortunate than her.  She trained to be a teacher of the deaf, joining the staff of Clark School for the Deaf in Northampton Massachusetts.  Unfortunately, she then married her husband, who was determined to devote his life helping only the rich and powerful and no one else.  Cal demanded she give up teaching - to him no married woman should work - and she did  

    As President, he would forbid her from wearing the short skirts that had become popular in the Jazz Age, and also wouldn't let her take up horseback riding.  However, she did promote education of the deaf, and became a friend of Helen Keller.  As first lady, she was there when their oldest child, Cal Jr., stubbed his toe while playing tennis on the White House tennis court.  The 16 year old boy developed gangrene and died.  

    Cal died in 1933 and Grace lived on for another 24 years.  With Cal out of the way, she became principal of the Clark School for the Deaf, where she had taught before her marriage, and even became a season ticket holder at Fenway Park to cheer on the Boston Red Sox.

    Her husband was a horrible President, but I think Grace would have excelled as the first woman President.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 03:25:43 PM PST

  •  I have an unfavorite (7+ / 0-)

    Babs Bush. Horrible woman.

    I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies. - Kos

    My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

    by pucklady on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 03:29:30 PM PST

  •  Eleanor Roosevelt (6+ / 0-)

    One of the reasons I drifted into the Democratic column. Her unfinished agenda. Great influence on Franklin up until WWII, pushing, reminding, informing, educating. Kept up a newspaper column. "My Day", six days each week from 1935 to her death. Oversaw the writing of oversaw the drafting of the  United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which remains a touchstone document to this day. No other First Lady compares, although Hillary Clinton is a kind of fulfillment of Eleanor by moving beyond influence to  actual political power as Senator & Secretary of State.  Whatever we advocate  that is truly progressive, truly advances human rights, we can be quite certain Eleanor Roosevelt would be on our side.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:26:19 PM PST

  •  Hillary Clinton (7+ / 0-)

    for attempting to get medical care for us ordinary folks.  She lost but she tried before others would consider it.  She was wise to push a bit.  It got the issue on the table.

    Also liked Helen Taft, Dolly Madison, Jackie Kennedy, Rosalyn Carter and Eleanor Roosevelt's work on the UN's Human rights declaration.

    Still home sick...

  •  I'd have to say Helen Taft (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Because I love all things Taft.

    "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." - J.R.R. Tolkien

    by SchuyH on Wed Jan 09, 2013 at 07:59:44 AM PST

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