While most people realize the influence modern First Ladies have on the President, as well as on the presidency, few people today realize the influence, both gentle and overt, that past First Ladies have exerted.
Author Feather Schwartz Foster offers a glimpse of those long-ago women in her newest book, entitled: “The First Ladies: An Intimate Portrait of the Women Who Shaped America.” Rather than a tome of almanac facts, or an attempt to convert day-to-day accomplishments into political impact, Foster has chosen to portray them as the individuals they were, with their personalities and influences as perhaps, the way their husbands saw them. According to Foster, “It is essential to remember that these women, with few exceptions, did not marry Presidents; they married men, and at an age when the concerns of both partners were on building a home, a family and a life.”
Decidedly different from their modern day counterparts, our earliest First Ladies, long neglected by history, made their impact not in terms of political policy or broad social and civic service, but instead with unique, personal and often long-lasting accomplishments. In an age when women were consigned to the background, dedicated to motherhood and providing for their husband’s comfort, these women were thrust into visibility, often against their own desires. They became the role models for their generations. They were what every parent wished for their daughters, and what every little girl wanted to be like when she grew up. That in itself is no small consideration.
Author Feather Schwartz Foster is an independent presidential historian, with a personal library of well over a thousand volumes of presidential and related books. She currently teaches adult education programs for the Christopher Wren Society connected with the College of William and Mary, and also the lifelong learning program at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA.
“The First Ladies” is her fourth book. Published by Sourcebooks (ISBN: 978-1-4022-4272-4, it is available wherever books are sold. For more information contact the author at www.featherfoster.com.