First Ladies: Margaret Smith Taylor

Lead: The wife of Zachary Taylor, hero of the Mexican War and 12th President of the United States, passed most of her marriage moving from one frontier army post to another. Her fifteen months in the White House were spent largely in seclusion.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Born in Calvert County, Maryland, the daughter of a well-to planter and veteran of the Revolutionary War, Margaret Smith met her future husband while visiting relatives in Kentucky. They were married the following year and began the nomadic life that enveloped his nearly four decades of military service. Insisting on going with Zachary to the many wilderness stations to which he was posted, she raised her four surviving children in crude wintertime log cabins and warm weather army tents. Against their wishes, daughter Sarah eloped with young Lt. Jefferson Davis, the future President of the Confederacy. She died of malaria after only three months of marriage. Margaret’s favorite post was Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and from there she received the news of her husband’s exploits in the Mexican War.

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Belle Huntington II

Lead: Born of humble circumstances in Richmond, Arabella Yarrington Huntington in 1900 was considered by many to be the richest woman in the world.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After helping to build the first transcontinental railroad, Collis Potter Huntington went south to explore investment opportunities. During his stays at a Richmond, Virginia boardinghouse, he fell in love with the daughter of the owner who also served as barmaid, Arabella. She was thirty years his junior but a vivacious and beautiful woman. She moved to New York, became his mistress, and bore him a son in 1870.

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Belle Huntington I

Lead: One of America's foremost collectors of art as an adult expended great energy concealing her roots. Belle Huntington spent her youth as a barmaid in Shockoe Bottom.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Collis Potter Huntington was one of the founders of the Central Pacific, the West Coast link of the first Transcontinental Railroad. With the completion of that line in 1869, Huntington began to seek other outlets for his restless energy. One logical place to search was the South. Defeated and demoralized, Southerners were anxious to attract capital investment to help rebuild the region in the years following the Civil War. In 1868 Huntington came to Richmond, Virginia seeking to merge three ailing Virginia railroads into an effective southeastern network that could feed into his transcontinental lines. He secured an endorsement for the merger from Robert E. Lee and in 1870 he reorganized the Chesapeake and Ohio with himself as President..

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First Ladies: Mary Todd Lincoln II

Lead: Already the subject of much public abuse, Mary Lincoln began to come unglued with the death of the couple’s young son, William.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Not until Eleanor Roosevelt did a First Lady have to endure the carping of critics as did Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the 16th President of the United States. She was vilified as being generous, stingy, energetic, retiring, patriotic and treasonous, all at the same time. But it was the death of her middle son, Willie, which set Mary Lincoln on the path to emotional disintegration. Willie contracted typhoid fever, and died in February 1862. Both of the Lincolns were shattered, but Mary seemed close to mental collapse. She had convulsions, stayed in bed for days, and began attending séances in hopes of making contact with him.

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First Ladies: Mary Todd Lincoln I

Lead: Mary Lincoln was the first Presidential wife to be center of ill-deserved, widespread, and sometimes bitter controversy.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: When Mary came with her husband to Washington, the city was gloomy with the prospect of civil war. Lincoln’s election in November had provoked the deep South to secession. She was hopeful that she and her husband might help reduce tension, but she was disappointed. Not until Eleanor Roosevelt was a First Lady subjected to the abuse Mary Lincoln was forced to endure.

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First Ladies: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt III

Lead: After the death of her husband in 1945, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt began a life of vigorous support for those causes that animated the couple during their marriage.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Released from the political restrictions of the White House, Eleanor Roosevelt followed her heart. She served on the board of the NAACP, helped found the liberal social pressure group Americans for Democratic Action, and actively stumped for her friend Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson in two presidential campaigns. She continued to animate the faithful and irritate her enemies with a full schedule of lectures, writing, and activism. Her unconventional approach had made her a controversial First Lady, it didn’t stop after she left the White House.

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First Ladies: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt II

Lead: Beloved by millions and despised by many, in the White House Eleanor Roosevelt evolved into a most unconventional First Lady.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: When she first moved into the Executive Mansion, the wife of Franklin Roosevelt shocked the staff by helping re-arrange furniture in the family quarters and insisting on operating the ancient elevator herself. That was just the beginning. She did the conventional, ceremonial duties, but unlike other First Ladies, she became involved in the administration’s policies, had her own very popular newspaper column, and lectured around the country on a wide variety of topics.

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First Ladies: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt I

Lead: As a young woman Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, daughter of rich and glamorous parents, was painfully shy, insecure and inarticulate. She overcame it all.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Eleanor Roosevelt, the niece of one Roosevelt president, the distant cousin and wife of another, grew up in the privileged society of New York’s elite. She was a disappointment to her handsome mother who considered Eleanor to be rather plain. Her father adored her but was too often absent from the family. She grew into a young woman with profound insecurities that began to dissipate only at the age of 15 when she was sent to a finishing school in a fashionable London suburb. The headmistress, the political and religious liberal Marie Souvestre, took special interested in Eleanor. In addition to strict discipline Mademoiselle Marie conveyed important social lessons. The girl emerged as a thoughtful gentlewoman with an appealing charm.

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