The Presidential Companion: Readings on the First Ladies

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Overview

Bringing together the work of notable historians, political scientists, and sociologists, The Presidential Companion: Readings on the First Ladies offers a collection of essays that demonstrate the political relevance of first ladies throughout U.S. history and the dramatic expansion of their power during the twentieth century. With a foreword by Hillary Clinton's former chief of staff, Melanne Verveer, this anthology fills a gap in scholarship about the position of first lady and reveals the political acumen and activism of a number of the holders of this unofficial executive office.

The contributors reveal how the office has grown in political influence, from Martha Washington's selection of furnishings for the presidential mansion to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s leadership of the President's Task Force on National Health Care Reform. They underscore the notion that an understanding of presidential spouses is central to the study of the American presidency. At the same time the volume dispels the myth that Eleanor Roosevelt and her successors have been the only presidential spouses to make significant public and political contributions to the nation.

Bringing this second edition up to date are two new chapters on the first ladyship of Laura Bush and on analyzing public perceptions of Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“The Presidential Companion . . . centers on the expansion of traditional duties and expectations over the course of the past two centuries. Much significance is also attached to the level of personal and political intimacy shared between both effective and controversial first ladies and their husbands.”
Journal of American History
“The chapters in The Presidential Companion cover either singly or as a group the development of the position [of first lady], its social influence, its political and policy influence, and the modern first ladies of the past two decades.”
Midwest Book Review
“The Presidential Companion is a scholarly and very highly recommended contribution to American political science and women’s studies reading lists.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570034619
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2003
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 348
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword
Preface
Pt. 1 Introduction 1
Pt. 2 Founding and Development of the First Ladyship 17
Overview 19
1 Martha Washington and the Creation of the Role of First Lady 21
2 Political Parties: First Ladies and Social Events in the Formation of the Federal Government 35
3 Betty Ford Transforms the Role of First Lady 54
Pt. 3 Social and Behind-the-Scenes Influence 73
Overview 75
4 True Women: The Roles and Lives of Antebellum Presidential Wives Sarah Polk, Margaret Taylor, Abigail Fillmore, and Jane Pierce 77
5 Edith Bolling Galt Wilson: The Protective Steward 102
6 Bess W. Truman: The Reluctant First Lady 126
Pt. 4 Political and Policy Influence 145
Overview 147
7 Eleanor Roosevelt: An Unlikely Path to Political Activist 150
8 Policy Experts: Congressional Testimony and Influence of First Ladies 169
9 First Ladies and U.S. Foreign Policy 192
10 The Evolution of the Role and Office of the First Lady: The Movement toward Integration with the White House Office 210
Pt.5 Modern First Ladyship 231
Overview 233
11 First Ladies and Policy Making: Crossing the Public/Private Divide 235
12 Copresident or Codependent? The Rise and Rejection of Presidential Couples since World War II 252
13 Hillary's Choices: The First Ladyship of Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Future of the Office 273
14 Sharing the Bully Pulpit: Breast Cancer and First Lady Betty Ford's Leadership 289
Pt. 6 Conclusion 309
App Chronological List of First Ladies 317
Bibliography 319
About the Contributors 333
Name Index 337
Subject Index 345
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