The President’s Lady (Jackson) – I

Lead:  Rachel Donelson was quite a catch. In the Tennessee wilderness of 1784 her family was prominent and she a very attractive young lady.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: On a trip to Kentucky from their home in Nashville she met and fell in love with Lewis Robards. Soon they were inseparable and when her family returned home she remained and married him. Their happiness was short-lived. Robards became abusive and promiscuous and soon the marriage was over in reality if not in fact. After four hard years, Rachel's brother came to Kentucky and brought her home.

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First Ladies: Hannah Van Buren

Lead:  Like Jackson before him and Jefferson at the beginning of the century, in 1837 Martin Van Buren came to the White House a widower. Very little is known of Hannah Van Buren.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Born in 1783 she was the first President's wife to be born a United States citizen. They grew up together in Kinderhook, New York, attended the same school and were married in 1807. Martin read for the law and was county attorney, then they moved to Albany, the state capital where he served as state's attorney. The first year the family was in Albany was a very severe one and she developed tuberculosis, became an invalid and this mother of five sons died in 1819 at the age of thirty-six.

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First Ladies: Bess Truman

Lead: She didn’t like politics and thought of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as the “Great White Jail, but she loved Harry Truman and if he wanted to live there she would be his partner in life and service.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Harry Truman first met Elizabeth Virginia Wallace at the Sunday School of the Presbyterian Church in Independence, Missouri. He was six, she was five. Until his death in 1972 at eighty-nine she never was far from his thoughts. Pursuing Bess was not easy. He was from a family of dirt farmers, she from one of the wealthiest in town. It took a long time and a lot of work on his part for Madge Wallace to warm to Harry and for the balance of her life Mother Wallace was a member of the Truman household, part of the price he paid to win Bess.

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First Ladies: Lady Bird Johnson

Lead: Her time in the White House began with the tragic assassination of President Kennedy, but Lady Bird Johnson’s service as First Lady was many decades in the making.

 

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 

Content: Few politicians of his generation could match the white, hot ambition of Lyndon Baines Johnson. He pursued power with a steady and furious determination and at times evidenced a stormy and occasionally abusive personality when dealing with enemies but also colleagues, subordinates, friends and even his family. In the middle of all that sound and fury resided his wife from 1934, Claudia Alta Taylor, whom he always called by her nickname from birth, Lady Bird.

 

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First Ladies: Florence Kling Harding

Lead: Those who knew her considered Florence Harding a strange and rather difficult woman.

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

                Content: The wife of President Harding grew up in Marion, Ohio. She was the daughter of the richest man in town, banker Amos Kling, but she had a wild streak in her and often hung around with boys from the other side of the tracks. In fact, she married one. In 1880 she eloped with Pete DeWolfe, whose laziness and affinity for the bottle drove her out of their marriage and home to Papa. In 1890 she took up with Warren Gamaliel Harding, also from a socially inferior family, a handsome, likable fellow, editor of the local newspaper the Marion Star.  They were married in 1891 thereby incurring her father’s wrath. He would not set foot in the Harding home for 15 years.

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First Ladies: Edith Bolling Wilson

Lead: Arguably the most powerful First Lady in U.S. history was probably Edith Bolling Wilson.

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

                Content: In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson’s first wife died of Bright’s disease. Wilson was distraught, but he threw himself into his work and bit by bit emerged from depression. Seven months after his wife’s death he chanced to meet Edith Galt, a native of Wytheville, Virginia, a widow since 1908. The President was immediately taken with the vivacious Mrs. Galt. He began courting her and in October 1915 announced their engagement.

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First Ladies: Ellen Axson Wilson

Lead: Woodrow Wilson considered the women with whom he shared the White House true partners in life and policy.

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

                Content:  Wilson’s views about women were reflective of the era in which he grew up - progressive for his day, but hardly acceptable to late twentieth century sensibilities. He enjoyed the company of women and did not hesitate to establish strong intellectual relationships with women outside his marriages. In a time when other men would retire for after dinner conversation with their fellows, Wilson preferred the company of cultivated women. He viewed their intellect, while stimulating, as reflective, not quite up to the rigorous standards of the male gender.

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Edith Kermit Roosevelt

Lead: Throughout their marriage Edith Roosevelt provided a calming and centering effect on the exuberant and sometimes adolescent behavior of her husband.

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

                Content: Theodore Roosevelt once said that no first family enjoyed the White House more than his. This was certain in large part due to the serene and determined personality of First Lady Edith Kermit Roosevelt. They had known each other from childhood, but had a parting of the ways in college. After Roosevelt's first wife, Alice, died in 1884 of Bright's disease, Edie and Theodore were reunited and married two years later. She raised his first-born, the future Alice Roosevelt Longworth, dowager empress of Washington society, another girl and four high-spirited boys.

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