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First Lady of the United States

First Lady of the United States is the unofficial title of the hostess of the White House. The position is traditionally filled by the wife of the President of the United States of America, and the title is sometimes taken to apply only to the wife of a sitting president. The current First Lady is Laura Welch Bush. Some of the more notable former First Ladies include Martha Washington, Dolley Madison, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Hillary Clinton.

Several women, other than wives of presidents, have been recognized as being a "First Lady". This situation has arisen due to the President being a bachelor or widower, when the position was then filled by a female relative or friend of the President. Less commonly, the First Lady has delagated her duties to another woman when she is unable or unwilling to fulfill them herself.

The title was used as early as 1849 when Dolley Madison was eulogized as "America's First Lady", but did not gain wider recognition until 1877 when newspaper journalist Mary Clemmer Ames[?] used it while reporting on the inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes.

The First Lady is not an elected position, carries no official duties, and brings no salary. Nonetheless, she attends many official ceremonies and functions of state either along with or in place of the President. Furthermore, many have taken an active role in campaigning for the President they are associated with. Hillary Rodham Clinton took the role one step further when she was, for a time, given a formal job in the Clinton administration to develop reforms to the health care system.

If the United States were to have a female President, it is not clear who would take the position of First Lady. A female president could act as her own First Lady, select a female relative or friend to occupy the role, or have her husband act as an analogous "First Gentleman".

The wife of the president is referred to by her married name - the couple is formally referred to as, for example, "The President and Mrs. Washington."

The term is also used to describe the wife of other government officials, or for a woman who has acted as a leading symbol for some activity (as in "First Lady of California" or "First Lady of Jazz" respectively).

First Ladies of the United States

The following women have been recognized by The National First Ladies' Library as "First Lady".

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington - wife of George Washington
Abigail Smith Adams[?] - wife of John Adams
Martha Jefferson Randolph[?] - daughter of widower Thomas Jefferson
Dolley Payne Todd Madison - friend of widower Thomas Jefferson
Dolley Payne Todd Madison - wife of James Madison
Elizabeth Kortwright Monroe[?] - wife of James Monroe
Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams[?] - wife of John Quincy Adams
Emily Tennessee Donelson[?] - niece of widower Andrew Jackson
Sarah Yorke Jackson[?] - daughter-in-law of widower Andrew Jackson
Angelica Singleton Van Buren[?] - daughter-in-law of widower Martin Van Buren
Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison[?] - absent wife of short-termed William Henry Harrison
Jane Irwin Harrison[?] - daughter-in-law of short-termed William Henry Harrison
Letitia Christian Tyler[?] - wife of John Tyler
Priscilla Cooper Tyler[?] - daughter-in-law of widower John Tyler
Julia Gardiner Tyler[?] - second wife of John Tyler
Sarah Childress Polk[?] - wife of James Knox Polk
Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor[?] - wife of Zachary Taylor
Abigail Powers Fillmore[?] - wife of Millard Fillmore
Jane Means Appleton Pierce[?] - wife of Franklin Pierce
Harriet Rebecca Lane [?] - niece of bachelor James Buchanan
Mary Todd Lincoln[?] - wife of Abraham Lincoln
Eliza McCardle Johnson[?] - wife of Andrew Johnson
Julia Dent Grant[?] - wife of Ulysses S. Grant
Lucy Ware Webb Hayes - wife of Rutherford B. Hayes
Lucretia Rudolph Garfield[?] - wife of James A. Garfield
Mary Arthur McElroy[?] - sister of widower Chester Alan Arthur
Rose Elizabeth Cleveland[?] - sister of bachelor Grover Cleveland
Frances Folsom Cleveland[?] - wife of Grover Cleveland
Caroline Levina Scott Harrison[?] - wife of Benjamin Harrison
Mary Harrison McKee[?] - daughter of widower Benjamin Harrison
Frances Folsom Cleveland[?] - wife of Grover Cleveland
Ida Saxton McKinley[?] - wife of William McKinley
Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt[?] - second wife of Theodore Roosevelt
Helen Herron Taft[?] - wife of William Howard Taft
Ellen Louise Axson Wilson[?] - wife of Woodrow Wilson
Edith Bolling Galt Wilson[?] - second wife of Woodrow Wilson
Florence Kling Harding[?] - wife of Warren G. Harding
Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge[?] - wife of Calvin Coolidge
Lou Henry Hoover[?] - wife of Herbert Hoover
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt - wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Elizabeth Virginia Wallace Truman[?] - wife of Harry S. Truman
Mary "Mamie" Geneva Doud Eisenhower[?] - wife of Dwight D. Eisenhower
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy - wife of John F. Kennedy
Claudia Alta Taylor "Lady Bird" Johnson - wife of Lyndon B. Johnson
Thelma "Patricia" Ryan Nixon[?] - wife of Richard Milhous Nixon
Elizabeth Bloomer Ford[?] - wife of Gerald R. Ford
Rosalynn Smith Carter - wife of Jimmy Carter
Nancy Davis Reagan - second wife of Ronald Reagan
Barbara Pierce Bush - wife of George H. Bush
Hillary Rodham Clinton - wife of Bill Clinton
Laura Welch Bush - wife of George W. Bush

The following women are known to have acted as hostess on behalf of the First Lady when she was otherwise unable or unwilling.

Maria Jefferson Eppes[?] - daughter of widower Thomas Jefferson
Eliza Monroe Hay[?] - daughter of James Monroe
Letitia Tyler Semple[?] - daughter of widower John Tyler
Mary Elizabeth Taylor Bliss[?] - daughter of Zachary Taylor
Mary Abigail Fillmore[?] - daughter of Millard Fillmore
Martha Johnson Patterson[?] - daughter of Andrew Johnson
Helen Taft Manning[?] - daughter of William Howard Taft
Margaret Woodrow Wilson[?] - daughter of widower Woodrow Wilson
Helen Woodrow Bones[?] - cousin of widower Woodrow Wilson
Chelsea Victoria Clinton - daughter of William J. Clinton

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