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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Dorothea Dix I

Lead: She came from a life of wealth and social prominence, but Dorothea Dix devoted her life to good causes, especially helping to improve the treatment of the mentally ill.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Dorothea Dix’s early years were not happy. Her father was the estranged son of a prominent Boston family. An alcoholic who suffered religious delusions, Joseph Dix barely kept his family out of starvation. Dorothy refused to live in such conditions and eventually, at the age of twelve, fled to Boston where she lived with relatives for the next several years.

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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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Dorothea Dix II

Lead: A chance encounter in the East Cambridge Jail in 1841 gave Dorothea Dix a cause to pursue, a focus for her intellect and considerable energy, and a passion which would consume her for the rest of her life.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Dorothea Dix, daughter of an alcoholic itinerant minister, but granddaughter of a prominent and wealthy Boston physician, in her early years was a devout Christian. She believed her affluent, cultured upbringing and her faith placed powerful requirements on her life. She felt compelled into a life of service to those in society less fortunate, less wealthy, less healthy, less indulged than she.

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First Ladies: Jane Pierce

Lead: For Jane Pierce the White House was an ever-present dread.

Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Franklin and Jane Pierce were a study in contrasts. He was a tall, robust, physically vigorous person, addicted to glad handing New Hampshire politics. She was shy, frail, deeply religious and hated politics. They met one day when both were students at Bowdoin College in Maine and Franklin rescued the frightened girl during a powerful thunderstorm. There began a long courtship which ended when she married then Congressman Pierce in 1834.

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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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