5 First Ladies Who Won Plaudits From Across the Aisle

Being the First Lady of the United States is a difficult job. If you don’t do anything, there will be critics, but if you try to get involved politically, there are likely going to be a lot of critics saying that you’re overstepping. 

It’s unfortunate, but there have been many First Ladies that have been roasted from both sides of the aisle. However, there have been many others that were almost universally beloved, even more so than their husbands running the country. Here are five First Ladies who won plaudits from across the aisle.

5. Barbara Bush

One of just two women to be First Lady while also the mother of a U.S. President. She was married to George H.W. Bush, and while he only served one term in the White House, Barbara proved to be a very popular First Lady. For eight years, Barbara served as the Second Lady and boosted literacy campaigns in the United States.

This would continue into her years as the First Lady and expand into other divisive topics. Bush was in favor of more rights for the LGBT community and even expanded abortion access, which went against the Republican standard. 

4. Betty Ford

There are certain presidents that didn’t really make a big impact one way or another, leaving the term of Gerald R. Ford rather unremarkable. However, his wife Betty had a lasting impact on the world. Betty Ford was in the White House with Gerald from 1974 until 1977 and set the standard for First Lady political involvement in the modern era.

Ford had struggled with alcoholism early in life and decided to open up a rehabilitation clinic called the Betty Ford Center and helped those with HIV and AIDS when the diseases were taboo. Ford was one of the most admired women of her time, and she received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991. She lived to be 93 years old, passing away in 2011.

3. Abigail Adams

The role of women in the government in the early days of the United States was minimal at best, but that wasn’t the case for trailblazer Abigail Adams. The wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams served as the second First Lady of the United States from 1797 until 1801 and was a mentor to her husband during his presidency.

Abigail didn’t remain silent on a lot of hot-button topics that included slavery and women’s rights. Adams was a staunch abolitionist and wanted it so that women could receive formal education past primary school while getting more rights. Her story has been portrayed in multiple films and television shows in more recent years, including the miniseries John Adams where she was portrayed by Laura Linney. 

2. Eleanor Roosevelt

Ever since 1945, no president has ever been able to serve more than two terms, with Franklin D. Roosevelt holding the office for a dozen years between 1933 and 1945. During that time, the United States was involved in World War II and needed strong leadership. The country got just that in the form of Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor.

Roosevelt was a champion of the Civil Rights Movement and was instrumental in the United States joining the United Nations. Roosevelt also helped to fight for women’s rights and was accessible to the nation through magazine and newspaper columns, as well as a weekly radio show. For most years between the White House and her death in 1962, she was one of the most admired women in the United States.

1. Jackie Kennedy

If you were to ask an American at random to name a First Lady that’s not currently in the White House, there’s a good chance that they’ll say Jackie Kennedy. That’s because Kennedy was one of the most popular both during and after her time in the White House with her husband John F. Kennedy.

Jackie was responsible for redesigning the White House and was a highly educated photographer when she met her husband. Kennedy was just 31 years old when she moved into the White House and her popularity went across both aisles. In fact, she was much more popular than John overall to those that opposed his politics.

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