First Lady

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Most Overrated First Lady:

Lucy Hayes. Hailed by eager reporters in 1877 as a symbol of the “new woman” for being the first college graduate, she refused to publicly support higher education for women. Her White House ban on alcohol was praised by temperance leaders as brave public leadership when it was simply the decision of a woman who had never served liquor in her home.

 
 

Most Overrated First Lady:

Lucy Hayes. Hailed by eager reporters in 1877 as a symbol of the “new woman” for being the first college graduate, she refused to publicly support higher education for women. Her White House ban on alcohol was praised by temperance leaders as brave public leadership when it was simply the decision of a woman who had never served liquor in her home. When she spoke out, it was against immigrants from the “heathen countries” of Southern and Eastern Europe and the threat of a large African-American birthrate. She is credited with popularizing the title First Lady, but the term appeared as early as the 184Os in reference to Sarah Polk.

Most Underrated First Lady:

Florence Harding, a prototype Eleanor Roosevelt. A former newspaper business manager, she publicly advocated women’s equality in sports, education, employment, and politics. She, not Eleanor, was the first First Lady to fly in an airplane and hold press conferences for women reporters. She successfully lobbied for the first rehabilitation penitentiary for women and became a national leader for the rehabilitation of thousands of severely wounded World War I veterans. That she was married to the man consistently voted the worst President dooms her standing.