Jacqueline Kennedy

Rating “First Ladies” Since 1933, And Now Dr. Jill Biden!

The position of “First Lady” has become a role of growing significance in the past century since The New Deal years of Franklin D. Roosevelt, with all scholars agreed upon that Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest serving First Lady (1933-1945), was by far the most active and engaged of all First Ladies, and setting a standard for the century since the Great Depression.

We have had 13 First Ladies since Eleanor Roosevelt.

If one were to rank First Ladies in significance after Eleanor Roosevelt, the list, while debatable, would likely be in the following order:

Hillary Clinton
Jacqueline Kennedy
Lady Bird Johnson
Michelle Obama
Betty Ford
Barbara Bush
Rosalynn Carter
Nancy Reagan
Laura Bush
Pat Nixon
Mamie Eisenhower
Bess Truman
Melania Trump

And now, we have Dr. Jill Biden about to become First Lady, and assuredly would be high on the list, based on her past activities as “Second Lady” and her credentials as an educator, and a very supportive wife and mother.

One thing is certain, that the First Lady position, which has been in total collapse under Melania Trump, will be restored with dignity under Dr. Jill Biden, just as Joe Biden will restore the dignity of the Presidency, which has been in total collapse under Donald Trump!

What America Is Losing In 13 Days: The Best, Most Elegant, Most Dignified POTUS And FLOTUS In Modern Times!

In just 13 days, America is losing its best, most elegant, most dignified President of the United States and First Lady of the United States in modern times!

This is not to attack the Presidents and First Ladies who came before Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, as many of them had talents and abilities worthy of commendation, and many contributed in a good way to the nation.

But really, the Obamas are the most glorious couple in the White House since the Kennedys (John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy) in the early 1960s.

There were many times when one had to wonder whether Barack Obama would survive his time in the Presidency, as the number of death threats and plots against the 44th President were the greatest since Abraham Lincoln, and twenty such cases were documented in my chapter on Assassination threats, Chapter 16, of my Assassinations book, which will be out in paperback on March 8, 2017.

The level of hatred and refusal to show respect was greatest under Obama since Lincoln, and many still wish his personal demise, including former NY Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Palladino, as just one example.

The level of hate and disrespect displayed by Donald Trump is unmatched in the relationship between any two Presidents, and yet Obama has done everything possible to cooperate with the transition, or as Michelle Obama has said, “when they go low, we go high!”

Let us wish the Obamas a long, productive, and healthy retirement, and let us hope that they will be with us in their 90s, as four Presidents (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush have reached), along with earlier Presidents John Adams and Herbert Hoover; and also five First Ladies (Bess Truman, Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush), with Rosalynn Carter reaching 90 in August of this year.

The “Power Couples”: Presidents And First Ladies

Only a few of our Presidents and First Ladies can be seen as “power couples” who had an impact on their times and after the Presidential years.

It was difficult for the public to relate to either Presidents or First Ladies before the age of modern communication, so therefore the true “Power Couples” can be seen as five in number:

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt 1933-1945

John and Jacqueline Kennedy 1961-1963

Ronald and Nancy Reagan 1981-1989

Bill and Hillary Clinton 1993-2001

Barack and Michelle Obama 2009-Present

Each of these Presidents had a great impact on their times, but also their wives played a major role in the success and accomplishments of their husbands.

If one were to rank these five “Power Couples”, the order that makes most sense are the Roosevelts first; the Clintons second; the Kennedys third: and then the debate of who is fourth and fifth can be argued between the Reagans and the Obamas!

First Lady Poll On Presidents Day

A Siena College poll has ranked First Ladies and their historic role as we celebrate Presidents Day.

The highest ranking in order are:

Eleanor Roosevelt
Abigail Adams
Jacqueline Kennedy
Dolley Madison
Michelle Obama
Hillary Clinton
Lady Bird Johnson
Betty Ford
Martha Washington
Rosalynn Carter

Laura Bush, Pat Nixon, Mamie Eisenhower, and Bess Truman were all judged to have played an inadequate role as First Lady, although many First Ladies stayed in the background, and only since the 1960s has the role expanded, with the earlier major exception of Eleanor Roosevelt, who stands way above the rest of the list.

Surprisingly, Mary Todd Lincoln, Lucy Hayes, Frances Cleveland, Edith Roosevelt, Helen Taft, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, Grace Coolidge, and Barbara Bush were not listed as among the most influential, while one could argue that at least Edith Bolling Galt WIlson and Barbara Bush belonged in the top ten, more so than Martha Washington and Dolley Madison.

Most Influential First Ladies In American History

The role of First Lady, the wife of the President, has evolved over time, and in recent decades, it has been extremely difficult for a First Lady to conduct herself as Jane Pierce or Bess Truman did, which was, basically, to avoid the public spotlight and any major duties.

First Ladies have had their own causes in recent decades, and a few earlier First Ladies had a major impact on their times and their husbands.

So if we were to list 15 First Ladies who had a major role in American history, we would list the following in a chronological list:

Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams
Dolley Madison, wife of James Madison
Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham :Lincoln
Lucy Webb Hayes, wife of Rutherford B. Hayes
Frances Folsom Cleveland, wife of Grover Cleveland
Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, second wife of Woodrow Wilson
Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of John F. Kennedy
Lady Bird Johnson, wife of Lyndon B. Johnson
Betty Ford, wife of Gerald Ford
Rosalynn Carter, wife of Jimmy Carter
Nancy Reagan, wife of Ronald Reagan
Barbara Bush, wife of George H. W. Bush
Hillary Clinton, wife of Bill Clinton
Michelle Obama, wife of Barack Obama

If one was asked to list the five most powerful and significant First Ladies in ranked order, a good list would be as follows:

Eleanor Roosevelt
Hillary Clinton
Betty Ford
Lady Bird Johnson
Michelle Obama

This author welcomes discussion of the lists mentioned above!