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The splendid Barbara Pierce Bush, the wife of one president and the mother of another, projects a public persona that is opinionated, imperturbable, optimistic, occasionally ferocious and matriarchal. Myra Gutin's 2008 biography "Barbara Bush. Presidential Matriarch" provides a few glimpses into the non-public side of the former first lady. The "Silver...

More than a few presidents have displayed a narcissistic personality (discussed previously in this space). Narcissism is classified as a Personality Disorder in the same category as Antisocial and Borderline Disorders (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Individuals diagnosed with any of the three display dramatic emotional behaviors. Symptoms...

A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science determined the ranking and the implications for leadership by an analysis of the personality characteristics of presidents of the United States. (Presidents George W. Bush and Barak Obama were not included). The article, The Double-Edged Sword of Grandiose Narcissism (Ashley Watts, Scott...

Sixty-one year old Rachel Jackson, the wife of president-elect Andrew Jackson died at the Jackson estate The Hermitage on December 22, 1828. Andrew Jackson had been elected the United States' seventh president the previous month and would leave shortly to travel to Washington D.C. for his inauguration the beginning of...

Popular media have linked Thomas Jefferson romantically with his light-skinned mixed-race slave Sally Hemings, and have ascribed to him many offspring from this alleged union. Such a coupling remains alleged, and is far from proven. Such speculative scandal has the unfortunate consequence of obscuring the wonderful marriage between the third U.S....

Martha Jefferson (1748-1782), Rachel Jackson (1767-1828), Hannah Van Buren (1783-1819), Ellen Arthur (1837-1880) [caption id="attachment_462" align="alignleft" width="300"] Martha Jefferson[/caption] The wives of four future presidents died before their husbands were inaugurated as President of the United States. Two (Rachel Jackson and Ellen Arthur) passed away less than a year before they would...

Lay-offs of non-essential government employees since the October 1st shut-down reached into the White House, although its extent is indeterminate. One estimate (Chris Cilizza: Washington Post "The Fix") stated that only fifteen people would care for the White House and the Obama family, down from the usual ninety. However, this may...

Often alone in her retirement home, Betty Ford's depression worsened. And so did her alcoholism; moreover, her intake of prescription pain medications to assuage her very painful arthritis increased. The results were predictable: listlessness, slurring of speech, absence at scheduled appointments etc. According to Mrs. Ford: "Wherever I went...

Ann Romney is the wife of Mitt Romney who opposed Michelle Obama's husband Barak Obama for the Presidency in 2012. Mrs. Romney's struggles with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) were highlighted during the recent presidential campaign. The disease had afflicted her for fifteen years, but had stabilized with steroids initially, and subsequently with...

Hillary and Bill Clinton have been masters of press manipulation, leaking much favorable information and concealing from view anything negative. Since Ms. Clinton is the far-and-away front runner for the 2016 Democrat presidential nomination, a retrospective scrutiny of her health during the eight year tenure as First Lady is not...

Some of the faithful followers of this blog (now six months old) may recall the occasional posts regarding any progress towards completing my book, The Health of America's First Ladies (temporary title). For anyone interested, the summer solstice may be an appropriate date for an update. My single previous work The...

Harriet Lane, orphaned at a young age, was raised by her uncle James Buchanan. Buchanan, a bachelor of uncertain sexual orientation, became the fifteenth, and, according to presidential scholars, one of the worst, presidents of the United States. Harriet, described as: "Tall, blonde (almost ash colored), with violet-blue eyes, a full...

[caption id="attachment_380" align="alignleft" width="200"] Alice Hathaway Roosevelt[/caption] Edith Roosevelt, the woman who became President Teddy Roosevelt's First Lady in the White House in 1901, was not his first wife. Alice Hathaway Lee married Harvard senior Theodore Roosevelt in Boston on October 27, 1880. The groom was 22 years old on his wedding...

[caption id="attachment_377" align="alignleft" width="197"] Ellen Arthur[/caption] The deceased wife of an obscure president, who ascended to the office, only after the sitting president was assassinated. Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur was an only child, one of seven presidential wives who had no siblings. However her marriage to attorney Chester Alan Arthur was more...

Branded as a bigamist, Rachel Jackson generally shunned the public sphere. Her long marriage to the future president Andrew Jackson bore no conjugal fruit. However, the couple adopted two sons, Andrew, her nephew and Lyncoya, an Indian orphan found during a military campaign. Rachel was busy enough; she raised the...

[caption id="attachment_328" align="alignleft" width="178"] Martha Jefferson[/caption] Martha Wayles married future president Thomas Jefferson on January 1, 1772. Martha was previously wed to Bathurst Skelton, and they had a son, John, who lived for only four years. Bathurst Skelton, the father, lived for a mere two years after the marriage, leaving Martha at...

[caption id="attachment_321" align="alignleft" width="186"] Florence Harding[/caption] The last of the three First Ladies who brought children to their marriage with a future president of the United States was Florence Kling (born 1860). She married Warren G. Harding (born 1865) in 1891. Not only was Florence five years older than her husband...

[caption id="attachment_317" align="alignleft" width="272"]                    Dolley Madison[/caption] Dolley Madison was a widow when she married James Madison, the intellectual giant who fathered the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Dolley Payne married attorney John Todd in a Philadelphia Quaker ceremony in 1790. Two sons were born to the Todds, John...

[caption id="attachment_314" align="alignleft" width="224"] Martha Washington[/caption] Martha Washington brought two children to her marriage with George Washington. She also brought great wealth; the married couple lived on one of her Virginia estates, prophetically called The White House Plantation. Martha Dandridge (18) married Daniel Parke Custis a rich planter twenty years older. They...

[caption id="attachment_309" align="alignleft" width="192"] Dolley Madison[/caption] Three future First Ladies brought children into their marriages with future Presidents of the United States. Two were widows and the other allegedly had borne a bastard son. The widows were Martha Washington, our first First Lady who was called Lady Washington and Dolley Madison,...

Eight Presidents and three First Ladies died during their presidential terms. Of all the presidential couples that departed the White House at the conclusion of their tenures, most, by far, former first ladies outlived their former presidential husbands. Only six women pre-deceased their spouses: Abigail Adams, Elizabeth Monroe, Abigail Fillmore,...