First Ladies' Legacies

Studies show that college freshmen are familiar with First Ladies, even if they can name few other women throughout U.S. history who were not celebrities or sports figures. Our First Ladies have left a significant legacy through their advocacy. Match the following First Ladies, each of whom have been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame, with her accomplishment:

____ 1. As a delegate to the United Nations, she regarded the writing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as her greatest achievement.
____ 2. A strong advocate for the mentally ill.
____ 3. Encouraged her husband to "Remember the Ladies" and grant them their civil rights.
____ 4. The only First Lady to date who has served as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.
____ 5. Her courageous public discussion of her breast cancer and addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs has saved countless lives and led many to treatment.

A. Abigail Adams
B. Eleanor Roosevelt
C. Betty Ford
D. Rosalynn Carter
E. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Abigail Adams, wife of our second President John Adams, managed the farm and the family while John traveled around the colonies and the world. In 1776, during the negotiations of the Continental Congress, she wrote John and urged him to "Remember the Ladies" in their negotiations. She said "I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation." John's response was that he had laughed at her saucy letter. It would be almost 150 years until women were enfranchised with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.

In the Twentieth Century, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt set many new precedents for the position. While her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt was President, she gave news conferences, wrote newspaper columns, advocated for human rights, and worked on children's and women's issues. After his death, she served as a delegate to the United Nations. Roosevelt regarded the writing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as her greatest achievement. She was regarded as one of the most esteemed women in the world.

Although her advocacy took a different form than Eleanor Roosevelt's, Betty Ford's courageous public admission of her breast cancer and her addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs saved countless numbers of lives and has led to many people seeking treatment. Ford was also an advocate of women's rights, a supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, and worked to increase the number of women in senior government positions. She is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and, with her husband, President Gerald Ford, the Congressional Gold Medal.

Rosalynn Carter began developing her mental health expertise while First Lady of Georgia. While on the campaign trail, she was the first candidate's spouse to make a campaign promise of her own - to give priority to the welfare of mentally ill within the country. Carter attended cabinet meetings and gave President Jimmy Carter advice on a wide range of political, international and domestic issues. She saw two major pieces of legislation through the Congress - the Mental Health Systems Bill and the Age Discrimination Act. The recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Rosalynn Carter recently recorded an oral history for the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Hillary Rodham Clinton continues to make history as a First Lady and a Presidential Candidate. The third woman to serve as Secretary of State, Clinton was the only First Lady to date to be elected to the U.S. Senate or serve in any national office. The former First Lady of Arkansas, Clinton is an attorney educated at Yale Law School where she met Bill Clinton. Elected to the U.S. Senate from New York in 2001, after she won her Senate re-election in 2006, she announced her decision to run for U.S. President. Barrack Obama received the Democratic Party's nomination and proceeded to win the 2008 election as well. During his Presidency, Clinton served as Secretary of State. She is currently campaigning for the 2016 Democratic Party's Presidential nomination.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. Most of these First Ladies are profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. We thank them for their service to our country and salute their advocacy and activism.

(Answers 1-B, 2-D, 3-A, 4-E, 5-C )

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