By Mark K. Upde­grove

Albuquerque Journal - Parade - - Parade Picks -

be­ing a gra­cious host­ess.

Abi­gail Adams, who fol­lowed Martha Wash­ing­ton into the role, be­came the first first lady to re­side in the White House (1797–1801). An in­tel­lec­tual peer to her brood­ing hus­band, the two ex­changed myr­iad let­ters dur­ing their long sep­a­ra­tions, in which she of­ten ap­pealed to his con­science and took care to re­mind him of the im­por­tance of rec­og­niz­ing the con­tri­bu­tions of women to the na­tion’s cause.

James Madi­son, the fourth pres­i­dent, was de­scribed as a “with­ered lit­tle ap­ple­john.” His wife, the charm­ing Dol­ley Madi­son (1809–1817), com­pen­sated for her hus­band’s short­com­ings, mak­ing their home the cen­ter of Wash­ing­ton so­cial ac­tiv­ity not only dur­ing her hus­band’s time in the White House but dur­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of wid­ower Thomas Jef­fer­son, for whom her hus­band served as sec­re­tary of state.

Mary Todd Lin­coln (1861– 1865), in many ways a tragic fig­ure, em­bod­ied the coun­try’s di­vi­sions dur­ing the Civil War. She ac­tively sup­ported Union troops, some of which were quar­tered in the White House East Room for a time. But the Ken­tucky na­tive was con­sid­ered a traitor by mem­bers of her family who fought on the side of the

Con­fed­er­ates.

Af­ter the death of her son

Wil­lie in 1862, likely from ty­phoid fever, Mrs. Lin­coln’s ac­tiv­ity in the White House as first lady di­min­ished sig­nif­i­cantly.

Wid­owed in 1914, shortly into his first term in of­fice, Woodrow Wil­son mar­ried

Edith Wil­son the fol­low­ing year. In

1919, af­ter her hus­band suf­fered a stroke that ren­dered

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