“The First Ladies” Features Presidents’ Wives With North Carolina Connections

Reviewed by Jessica Stafford

It is said “behind every great man, there stands a great woman,” a statement no less true when it comes to the first office of the country. In “The First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Mamie Eisenhower, An Intimate Portrait of the Women Who Shaped America,” Feather Schwartz Foster gives readers a taste of the impact that the First Ladies have had throughout the years. From Martha Washington to Mamie Eisenhower, we discover details that affected the presidency for better or for worse.

Among these influential women, are the North Carolina educated Sarah Polk as well as North Carolina native Dolley Madison (in photo), who was known not only for her charm and charisma, but also for her leadership during the presidency and her bravery during the War of 1812.

By highlighting personality traits and the activities of these women leading up to, during, and post their White House days, Foster gives a perspective of the first ladies not often seen in the press or history books. Her audiences like her because she has a light style of writing that is full of information and you learn what the First Ladies are like as people and not just a series of facts.

Foster has been an independent historian of the presidents for nearly 4 decades with a clear passion for the subject with the personal library to prove it. She states that her goal in “The First Ladies” was to make these remarkable women “readable” and to inspire readers to want to learn more about these incomparable ladies. When asked about her favorite First Lady, Foster lists Ellen Axson Wilson as the one she would like to have living down the street. Foster describers her as having a very generous nature and as being a talented artist, the type of person she gravitates to.

With Independence Day upon us, “The First Ladies” draws our attention to the top office of the government and how it would be so different without these remarkable women. It is the perfect time to pick up this book and learn about these women as more than just high profile wives, but as fellow Americans.

“The First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Mamie Eisenhower, An Intimate Portrait of the Women Who Shaped America” (Sourcebooks; $12.99; February 2011)

Available at bookstores, online, Kindle, and Nook