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Following Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, some were
moved to tears, others pushed her to run for President, and even Republicans were bowled
over by its quality.
As the First Lady, Michelle Obama has been called an inspiration for her work fighting
obesity, and supporting education opportunities for disadvantaged girls.
But what ARE the First Lady’s actual duties, and just how powerful and important is the
Well, despite the level of reverence given to the First Lady of the United States, it’s
actually not a “real thing”.
There’s no official position in government for the spouse of a President, no official
duties, and obviously, no salary.
The closest thing to actual duties is that the First Lady is expected to act as a host
to the White House, and organize events and ceremonies.
Of course, most of the time, this role actually falls on the Office of the First Lady of the
United States, which is made up of official and paid positions.
More realistically, the role of First Lady has significantly changed over time, becoming
more and more important to the President’s administration.
Early on, during the time of Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, First Ladies were
elite public figures at the side of their husbands.
Although they had little to no political influence, their presence did embolden other women.
Even still, the fourth First Lady, Dolley Madison, pioneered the practice of championing
social causes, a role which continues today.
She helped orphan children, supported women’s rights, and held her own political opinions,
which she publicly voiced.
Around the 1930s, with the arrival of Eleanor Roosevelt, the role of First Lady was dramatically
Like Madison, Roosevelt was outspoken, and contributed to a newspaper column, sometimes
openly disagreeing with her husband.
She promoted more women in the workplace, civil rights, and also helped displaced World
War Two refugees.
But Roosevelt was also among the first of First Ladies to stay involved in politics
after her husband’s time in office.
She even headed the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Incredibly, although a former First Lady may soon be running the country, in the early
1900s, an active First Lady already assumed that role!
When President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919, his wife, Edith Wilson, took over
a number of important duties that the President would have been in charge of, and for roughly
a year and a half she effectively ran the executive branch herself.
And outside of politics, the role of First Lady has grown as a social position.
Ever since Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat swept the nation, the First Lady has become
a cultural icon for women everywhere.
Some of the more prominent First Ladies since Kennedy, including Michelle Obama, are looked
to not just as role models, but also as fashion plates.
Many have described the importance of looking elegant but fashionable, and the First Lady’s
threads are endlessly ripe for criticism and compliments alike.
One of the two current presidential nominees, Hillary Clinton, served as First Lady, after
which time she entered the Senate, became Secretary of State, and now could be the first
female President ever.
If that happens, former President Bill Clinton will then be the first ever First Gentleman of
the United States, so ultimately he’ll be the one tasked with throwing White House parties.
The female vote has been a big topic of conversation this election season especially with Hillary
Clinton leading the Democratic Party.
We sat down with a group of women to find out if having a female candidate impacts their
view of this year’s race.
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How Powerful Is The First Lady?

1035 Folder Collection
Sh, Gang (Aaron) published on July 31, 2016    Sh, Gang (Aaron) translated    Mandy Lin reviewed
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