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Publisher's Summary

American presidents have shaped the course of global affairs for generations. But as the saying goes, behind every great man there's a great woman. While the first ladies often remain overshadowed by their husbands, some have carved unique niches in their time and left their own lasting legacy. Dolley Madison helped establish the role of the first lady in the early 1800s, Eleanor Roosevelt gave voice to policy issues in a way that made her a forerunner of first ladies like Hillary Clinton, and Jackie Kennedy created glamorous trends that made her more popular than her husband. In Charles River Editors' First Ladies series, listeners can get caught up on the lives and legacies of America's most famous first ladies in the time it takes to finish a commute. And they can do so while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.

After the Constitution was ratified, George Washington went about setting all the precedents for the role of the presidency, establishing traditions like the Cabinet. But the role of being the first lady of the United States was defined by the wife of the 4th president. James Madison may have been the father of the Constitution, but his wife Dolley all but defined the responsibilities and customs of being the president's wife. Dolley had served as an informal first lady for the widowed Thomas Jefferson. But when her husband entered the White House in 1809, Dolley went about furnishing the White House to such an extent that much of the style and items she chose were still in place when Mary Todd Lincoln became the First Lady in 1861. Dolley also became a folk hero of sorts, and the center of a colorful legend that had her saving Gilbert Stuart's priceless painting of George Washington just ahead of the British while her husband was denigrated for fleeing as Washington D.C. was burned.

©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors

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