First ladies book coverFirst ladies reading challenge

First Ladies : Presidential Historians on the Lives of 45 Iconic American Women

Oh man, this book opened a time sink for me that I have just recently crawled out of. First Ladies:Presidential Historians on the Lives of 45 Iconic Women is the companion book to the C-SPAN…wait! Don’t leave because I said the c-word. C-SPAN is not just for nerds. It’s for citizens interested in finding out what is happening in Washington without the lens of FOX News or MSNBC distorting what people do and say.

Granted, it can get boring if you don’t know what to watch.

Luckily, a few years ago, C-SPAN produced a series of programs about First Ladies and it is fascinating. The people who call in can get a little weird but skip that part if you want.

Also, if you don’t want to watch the series, you can get the book I picked through for this week’s reading challenge. I did not read the whole thing, it is very long but fascinating.

Before picking through this book and watching nearly every episode of the series, I could name maybe a dozen First Ladies and most of them from the 20-21st century.

Not anymore!

Does it matter, knowing facts and figures about women we only know about because they married a man who eventually became President?

Yes. Many of these women were the drivers behind their husbands’ success in their professions before the Presidency and even after. Was Martha Washington a supporter of slavery until the day she died? Yes. Was President Washington? No. He freed the slaves he owned where she didn’t. There must have been some interesting conversations about slavery between these two. Martha burned their letters when Washington died, which was common at the time, so we can’t know the details of their personal exchanges.

But two letters turned up in the 20th century!
Want to know more? Watch the series or read the book or both!


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