First Ladies Library Blog

Welcome to the National First Ladies Library blog. This replaces the “asked/answered” page and all information from it has been transferred to the blog. Here will be an ongoing public forum on the work of the NFLL and its collections, discussion on new and emerging scholarship and popular publications, news stories, and any other information or discoveries related to directly to the subject of First Ladies. The public is invited to engage here with questions on the subject.

Research, reading and writing on the subject of American First Ladies opens windows into so many fascinating aspects of not just national and international history and culture but contemporary issues as well.

Enjoy our blog and feel free to post your comments.

Frances Cleveland Preston and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the only two presidential widows who remarried, shown shortly before their deaths in 1948 and 1994, respectively. (NFLL, Pinterest)

Frances Cleveland Preston and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the only two presidential widows who remarried, shown shortly before their deaths in 1948 and 1994, respectively. (NFLL, Pinterest)

(This blog article is adapted from a written response to a member of the public who inquired about where the two First Ladies who, as widows, later married a second husband, are buried and under what names)

Frances Folsom Cleveland. (LC)

Frances Folsom Cleveland. (LC)

There were five women who were married to Presidents of the United States, either before, during or after their tenure, who had previously been widowed (Martha Washington, Martha Jefferson, Dolley Madison, Caroline Fillmore , Mary Harrison, Edith Wilson) and three who had been divorced (Jackson, Harding, Ford).

The vast majority of women married to Presidents survived them. Of these, only two presidential widows married a second time.

Former President and First Lady Cleveland with their children on the porch of their Princeton, New Jersey home. (NFLL)

Former President and First Lady Cleveland with their children on the porch of their Princeton, New Jersey home. (NFLL)

Born on July 21, 1864, Frances Folsom famously married at the age of 21 years old to the incumbent President of United States, Grover Cleveland, in the White House on June 2, 1886. He was 28 years her senior.

The former President died on June 24, 1908 in the town of Princeton, New Jersey where he and his family lived after his presidency.

Mrs. Cleveland remarried on February 10, 1913 to a Princeton University professor of archeology, Thomas Jex Preston, Jr.

Frances Preston's free frank. (ebay)

Frances Preston’s free frank. (ebay)

Born on October 26, 1862 in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, he was two years older than the former First Lady, who had also been born in the state of New York.

Frances Cleveland, then with the remarried name of Preston, served as national president of the Needlework Guild. (Buffalo Architecture and History)

Frances Cleveland Preston. (Buffalo Architecture and History)

Although she was had remarried, Mrs. Preston was permitted to continue using the free frank privilege, which enabled her to send mail free of charge by signing her signature where a stamp is usually placed.

She always signed with both of her married names, usually as “Frances F. Cleveland Preston,” and occasionally even as “Frances F.C. Preston.”

She died in 1948. Her second husband survived her by seven years.

Frances Cleveland Preston's burial place. (findagrace.com)

Frances Cleveland Preston’s burial place. (findagrace.com)

Frances Preston chose to be buried in the same Princeton cemetery where her first husband and daughter Ruth had been laid to rest as well.

Her gravestone carries both of her married names.

President Cleveland's grave. (findagrave.com)

President Cleveland’s grave. (findagrave.com)

It also states the names of her parents but does not mention the names of either of her husbands. The burial place of Thomas J. Preston is indeterminable.

Jacqueline Bouvier married John F. Kennedy, the incumbent United States Senator representing the state of Massachusetts on September 12, 1953.

Born on July 28, 1929, she was then 24 years old. Her husband, born in 1917, was twelve years her senior.

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 12.15.43 PM

Four years after his death, Mrs. Kennedy lays flowers on her first husband’s resting place. (JFKL)

The Kennedys were married for just over ten years.

In 1963, Kennedy was assassinated as President of the United States. Against the wishes of some of his family members, she determined that he would be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a prominent spot that overlooked the capital city of Washington.

Jacqueline Kennedy moments after her wedding to Aristotle Onassis. (grreport.info)

Jacqueline Kennedy moments after her wedding to Aristotle Onassis. (grreport.info)

Five years later,  the widowed Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy married a second time, on October 20, 1968 in a Greek Orthodox chapel on Skorpios, Greece, the private island owned by her second husband, Aristotle Onassis.

Aristotle Onassis died on March 15, 1975.

His widow, who always used his name for the rest of her life, signing her name as “Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis,” or just “Jacqueline Onassis,” survived him by nineteen years, dying on May 19, 1994.

The gravestone of Mrs. Onassis. (flicker)

The gravestone of Mrs. Onassis. (flicker)

She is buried beside her first husband in his presidential burial plot, at Arlington National Cemetery.

Her gravestone carries her name as “Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis,” with her second husband’s last name being engraved on a separate, second line.

One other former First Lady is buried in Arlington National Cemetery: Helen “Nellie” Taft, who died in 1943 lays beneath the same obelisk memorial marking the resting place of her husband, former President and former Chief Justice William Howard Taft, who died in 1930.

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Former First Lady Barbara Bush campaigning for her son Jeb a week before the 2016 New Hampshire primary, in his quest for the Republican nomination. (cnn.com)

Former First Lady Barbara Bush campaigning for her son Jeb a week before the 2016 New Hampshire primary, in his quest for the Republican nomination. (cnn.com)

It comes as no surprise at all that last week, in anticipation of today’s New Hampshire primary, former First Lady Barbara Bush braved the bitter winds and frigid air to make appearances on behalf of her choice for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

It was, of course, her son, the former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

Former First Lady Nellie Taft, seen here with her daughter at the 1940 Republican National Convention, worked with her successor Lou Hoover on mobilization of Red Cross volunteers during the Great Depression. (Corbis)

Former First Lady Nellie Taft, seen here with her daughter at the 1940 Republican National Convention. (Corbis)

She’d done the same thing in 2000 on behalf of her eldest son, George W. Bush, who won the nomination and then the general election that year, going on to serve two terms as U.S. President, becoming the only woman to thus be the mother and wife of presidents since Abigail Adams – who did not live to see her son, John Quincy Adams win the presidency in 1824.

She was not the only former First Lady to hit the stump for a son hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps, however.

In 1940, four years before her death, Nellie Taft showed up at the Philadelphia Republican Convention in support of her son, then seeking his party’s nomination. She refrained from making any remarks but did pose for publicity photographs showing off a large “Taft” campaign button on her dress.

In almost every instance of a former presidential spouse deciding to assume a highly partisan public role by choosing one of the candidate’s of her own political party prior to the nomination it has been a matter of family loyalty rather than a determination to return to the often bitter bickering of the primary season trail.

Former First Lady Edith Roosevelt in 1932, the year she publicly endorsed Herbert Hoover for a second term as president over the Democratic fifth cousin of her late husband. (ebay)

Former First Lady Edith Roosevelt in 1932, the year she publicly endorsed Hoover for a second term as president over the Democratic fifth cousin of her late husband. (ebay)

Too, all but Barbara Bush returned to the campaign trail as a widow, so the message suggested by their endorsements was that they were only doing so on behalf of the spirit and principals of their late husbands. In truth, of course, no matter how well they felt they knew their husbands they were doing so by their own political accord.

Surprising all of her family was the emergence in 1932 of Theodore Roosevelt’s widow Edith, at a White House event and a New York rally, to encourage Americans to support the re-election of incumbent Republican President Herbert Hoover.

She was motivated to deliver her unequivocal endorsement also by family loyalty but n this case, it was against her late husband’s fifth cousin, who also happened to be married to her late husband’s niece, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. The Theodore Roosevelt branch were Republicans, and the Franklin Roosevelt branch were Democrats but the public was mistaking the former First Lady, somehow, for being the mother of F.D.R.

This infuriated her and she was just as determined to make it clear she was not as she was to see Hoover win a second term.

Her niece-by-marrage, Eleanor Roosevelt who became First Lady when her husband did win that election against Hoover, was widowed in 1945. Within three years, however, while she was serving in a non-partisan role at the United Nations,  she found herself being given serious consideration as either a vice presidential or presidential candidate. She had a typically modulated response:

“At first I was surprised that anyone should think that I would want to run for office, or that I was fitted to hold office. Then I realized that some people felt that I must have learned something from my husband in all the years that he was in public life! They also knew that I had stressed the fact that women should accept responsibility as citizens. I heard that I was being offered the nomination for governor or for the United States Senate in my own state, and even for Vice President. And some particularly humorous souls wrote in and suggested that I run as the first woman President of the United States! The simple truth is that I have had my fill of public life…”

Mrs. Roosevelt at the 1956 convention, in support of the Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson. (original source unknown)

Eleanor Roosevelt at the 1956 convention, in support of the Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson. (original source unknown)

In the election year of 1948, although she ultimately supported the candidacy of her husband’s successor and then incumbent President, Harry Truman, she rather traditionally deferred to three of her sons who were striving to get World War II Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower to run as the Democratic presidential candidate.

By 1956, however, when she was not serving in any official capacity and had by then emerged as a driving national force within the liberal wing of the national Democratic Party, Eleanor Roosevelt made a strong endorsement on behalf of the candidate who was ultimately nominated, Adlai Stevenson. She did so not as a representative of the late president, but with a voice of her own.

During the 1960 primaries, Eleanor Roosevelt spoke out against U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts as being too inexperienced and for not earlier condemning the tactics of anti-communist investigator, U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin.

Once Kennedy won the nomination, however, Eleanor Roosevelt campaigned for him. In fact, one of her appearances was at a Spanish Harlem rally, in New York City, where she shared the podium with the candidate’s spouse Jacqueline Kennedy, who addressed the voters in Spanish.

Twenty years after addressing a Harlem rally in Spanish on behalf of her husband's candidacy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis returned there with her brother-in-law Teddy Kennedy on behalf of his race in the 1980 New York primary. (Getty)

Twenty years after addressing a Harlem rally in Spanish on behalf of her husband’s candidacy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis returned there with her brother-in-law Teddy Kennedy on behalf of his race in the 1980 New York primary. (Getty)

Twenty years later, Mrs. Kennedy was back in Spanish Harlem speaking in Spanish, as Mrs. Onassis, by then widowed a second time.

This time, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was campaigning on behalf of her brother-in-law, U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in the days leading up to the March New York primaries; he was then seeking to win the Democratic Party nomination by challenging the incumbent President Jimmy Carter.

A voter embraces Jackie Kennedy Onassis during her appearance at a Harlem event during the 1980 election. (pinterest)

A voter embraces Jackie Onassis during her appearance at a Harlem event during the 1980 election. (pinterest)

She would also campaign for him in Massachusetts, Missouri and Puerto Rico.

It was another former First Lady who had been widowed by the assassination of her husband who is the first known to have publicly endorsed a candidate. In this case, it was during the election year of 1912 that former First Lady Lucretia Garfield was a guest of honor on the podium at a campaign rally for Theodore Roosevelt, by then a former President. She made the appearance in Los Angeles, coming to the event from her nearby winter home in Pasadena.

A portrait of former First Lady Lucretia Garfield from the early 20th century. (art-then-and-now.blogspot)

A portrait of former First Lady Lucretia Garfield from the early 20th century. (art-then-and-now.blogspot)

Women would not attain the right to vote until 1920, and Mrs. Garfield would die two years before she could share that right but she was by 1912 already a staunch supporter of women’s suffrage.

Former First Lady Edith Wilson and Jesse Jones at the 1928 Houston Democratic National Convention.

Former First Lady Edith Wilson and Jesse Jones at the 1928 Houston Democratic National Convention. (carlanthonyonline.com)

To those who knew her well, however, she had always been keenly political. What was startling was that she came out in support of Roosevelt not as the Republican presidential candidate but the candidate of the third-party, the Progressives. She may well have been influenced by her son “Jim” who served as Roosevelt’s Interior Secretary from 1907 to 1909.

As it turned out, Woodrow Wilson won the election that year and in his second term appointed Lucretia Garfield’s son Harry as director Federal Fuel Administration a year before she died.

Other presidential widows with a public persona strongly linked to the legacy of their late husbands refrained from endorsing a candidate before their respective political parties had settled on a nominee.

Edith Wilson, despite the great support she received from Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt during the Wilson presidency and following the former president’s 1924 death, steadfastly refused to even lend her name to F.D.R.’s four presidential candidacies.

While she was coaxed to the podium of the 1928 Democratic National Convention, she refused to permit the name and memory of her late husband to be used in endorsement of that year’s nominee, New York Governor Al Smith.

Nancy Reagan formally endorsed 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a meeting with him and his wife Anne. (telegraph.co.uk)

Nancy Reagan formally endorsed 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a meeting with him and his wife Anne. (telegraph.co.uk)

While she appeared at the Republican presidential debates hosted at her husband’s presidential library, as well as attending the speeches given there by individual presidential candidates, Nancy Reagan held fast to her husband’s tradition of not officially endorsing a presidential candidate until they were formally nominated, receiving formal visits and posing for campaign photographs in 2008 and 2012, respectively, with U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona and former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

Mamie with Nixon, 1972. (alamy)

Mamie with Nixon, 1972. (alamy)

Certainly one of the most avid and committed of former First Ladies to the candidacy of a particular presidential candidate occurred in 1968 and 1972 when Mamie Eisenhower strongly endorsed Richard Nixon for both of his successful runs, winning his first and second presidential terms.

In 1968, former President Eisenhower was ailing, and would die within months of the November election. While loyal to his former Vice President, Ike remained publicly uncommitted to any one candidate, following Republican Party tradition.

Mamie Eisenhower taping a television campaign commercial for Nixon in 1972. (youtube)

Mamie Eisenhower taping a television campaign commercial for Nixon in 1972. (youtube)

Not so for his wife. Mamie Eisenhower had always felt that Nixon was especially loyal to her husband, despite knowing of internal disagreements between them. She came out vigorously for Nixon in 1968.

In 1972, Mamie Eisenhower went so far as to film a Nixon presidential campaign commercial, making the case that her late husband had believed that a president needed two terms in order to ensure his agenda was permanently integrated into federal policy.

Here is the commercial:

Hillary Clinton, 2016. (cnn)

Hillary Clinton, 2016. (cnn)

Of course, the most unique campaigning conducted by a former First Lady on behalf of a presidential candidate is taking place currently.

Former First Lady Hillary Clinton, also a former U.S. Senator from New York, and former U.S. Secretary of State, is campaigning vigorously for one particular 2016 presidential candidate. Herself.

 

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bill clinton first laddie 2016

A 2008 primary campaign button featuring Hillary Clinton’s husband with the unofficial title he half-jokingly suggested would be an appropriate one for the husband of the first woman who is elected president. (ebay)

(This is the tenth and final in an original ten-part series being run exclusively on the National First Ladies’ Library website blog on the history of presidential candidates’ spouses being used as campaign symbols. If any of this information is used, you must credit the NFLL Blog. If the images are used please credit the NFLL and the original publisher as listed)

While entirely premature, this tongue-in-cheek button again played on the uncertainty of what a male presidential spouse would be called.

While entirely premature, this tongue-in-cheek button again played on the uncertainty of what a male presidential spouse would be called.

This year’s presidential campaign has not yet even officially begun, without any primary or caucus state race yet being completed. While polls are, as always, a general gauge to voter preferences,  everything technically remains a matter of speculation.

A 2016 pin calling for Melania Trump as First Lady despite her relative absence on the campaign trail.

A 2016 pin calling for Melania Trump as First Lady despite her relative absence on the campaign trail.

Both of the parties currently have front-runners and, as of this writing, primary season opponents who are polling close behind them.

If, in fact, either of the presumptive leaders as of this writing, were to win the nomination of their parties both would bring with them spouses that don’t fit preconceived perceptions of presidential spouses.

Melania Trump is a native of Slovenia and a former model. Bill Clinton is a former President.

A "Bill" button, 2016. (ebay)

A “Bill” button, 2016. (ebay)

It’s been nearly two centuries since the only foreign-born First Lady, Louisa Adams, has been in the White House. And there has never been a male presidential spouse, let alone a former President of the United States.

But even among the wide, overall field of potential first spouses there is a marked difference from the past.

Two are foreign-born (Melanie Trump and Columba Bush, a native of Mexico), two are men (Bill Clinton and Frank Fiorina), two have worked as Wall Street investment brokers (Mary Pat Christie and Heidi Kruz), two are Latina (Columba Bush and Jeanette Rubio, daughter of Columbian immigrants).

Four of the 2016 presidential candidates' spouses: Jane Sanders, Katie O'Malley, Hiiedi Cruz, Melania Trump. (wikipedia, getty,   unknown original sources)

Four of the 2016 presidential candidates’ spouses: Jane Sanders, Katie O’Malley, Heidi Cruz, Melania Trump. (wikipedia, getty, unknown original sources)

And, for what it is worth, a preponderance of them were born under the sign of Leo. Some are acknowledged as their spouses’ closest advisers while others are entirely divorced from political and political issues.

Jane Sanders for First Lady button, 2016. (dazzle.com)

Jane Sanders for First Lady button, 2016. (dazzle.com)

With the primary season poised to begin next week and the real sifting and filtering of viable candidates to then rapidly proceed, serious attention is, as it should be, focused on the presidential candidates themselves and the important issues they must address.

A Spanish-language biography of Columba Bush, the only candidate's spouse whose story has been explored in such a format - except for Bill Clinton. theodysseyonline.com)

A Spanish-language biography of Columba Bush, the only candidate’s spouse whose story has been explored in such a format – except for Bill Clinton. theodysseyonline.com)

If history is an accurate gauge, the attitudes and influences, the assets and liabilities that the spouses may present as (and if) they appear on the primary campaign trail are likely to emerge and, depending on the rivalries between the candidates themselves, become secondary matters that can turn voters towards or away from them.

It is simply too early to make a rational prediction on who, if any, of them will become factors.

As this ten-part survey would suggest, however, any of them who do become factors are likely to find their names and faces on badges, posters and yes, campaign buttons.

 

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In 2008, Michelle Obama was used to reference the famous persona of World War II's Rosie the Riveter and a play on her husband's campaign slogan.(democraticstuff.com)

In 2008, Michelle Obama was used to reference the famous persona of World War II’s Rosie the Riveter and a play on her husband’s campaign slogan.(democraticstuff.com)

(This is the ninth in an original ten-part series being run exclusively on the National First Ladies’ Library website blog on the history of presidential candidates’ spouses being used as campaign symbols. If any of this information is used, you must credit the NFLL Blog. If the images are used please credit the NFLL and the original publisher as listed)

A 2004 button referencing Laura Bush's post-911 role. (pinterest)

A 2004 button referencing Laura Bush’s post-911 role. (pinterest)

Laura Bush was perceived by the public as a “traditional” First Lady, due perhaps to the goodwill domestic issues she took on, ranging from support programs for at-risk teens to the building and upgrading of public libraries to historical preservation and protection from exploitation of threatened deep-oceans.

She was also deeply involved in efforts that developed as a result of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. in 2001. She directly worked on programs to help re-establish equal access to education for girls in Afghanistan, encourage the return by Afghan women to professional careers, and protect Iraqi antiquities, among others.

An unusual grouping showing a First Lady not just with her husband but their children, from the 2001 Inauguration. (private collection)

An unusual grouping showing a First Lady not just with her husband but their children,. (private collection)

However, from the perception of the average American, it was her role following the terrorist attack, when she was dubbed “comforter-in-chief” for speaking to the children of the nation about how, even as youngsters, they could learn to determine the fine line between rational fear and necessary caution, with the guidance of their parents and teachers.

Laura Bush and Teresa Kerry appearing on the same button during the 2004 campaign perhaps intended for Independent voters unsure of who they would support - or worn to provoke debate. (ronwade.com)

Laura Bush and Teresa Kerry shown together on a button intended for Independent voters unsure of who they would support – or worn to provoke debate. (ronwade.com)

It was a role that was reflected in at least one campaign button from her husband’s 2004 reelection campaign, in which she was depicted as part of a team with him.

The 2004 Republican National Convention also had the twin daughters of George W. and Laura Bush taking the most public role they ever would, speaking jointly to introduce their mother.

Whether it was sold with foreknowledge that the two “First Daughters” Barbara and Jenna Bush would be speaking is unclear, but there appeared in the convention hall souvenir stands a button showing the family of four, simply titled “America’s First Family.”

Evidence suggests, however, that it was a retreaded item, initially sold during the 2001 Inauguration festivities.

This simple button with a ubiquitous Heinz brand ketchup bottle referenced the wealth of Teresa Kerry, inherited after the death of her first husband, heir to the company and a Republican U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. (pinterest)

This button with aHeinz ketchup bottle referenced the wealth of Teresa Kerry, inherited after the death of her first husband, an heir to the food company and a Republican Senator from Pennsylvania. (liberalvalues.com)

On the Democratic side, 2004 saw the nomination of U.S. Senator from Massachusetts John Kerry as the presidential candidate, with the U.S. Senator John Edwards as his running mate.

A button wryly referencing Teresa Kerry's quip to a reporter. (ebay)

“Another Opinionated Woman” button wryly referencing Teresa Kerry’s quip to a reporter. (ebay)

Kerry’s wife had an interesting political history of her own.

She had already been married to another U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania Republican John Heinz who’d perished in a plane crash, when she married Kerry, a divorcee.

With a vast inheritance from the Heinz  fortune, Mrs. Kerry was promptly symbolized in campaign button by the familiar ketchup bottle.

At the convention, when Teresa Kerry was confronted by several reporters with a hostile question she quipped for them to “shove it,” and the phrase briefly appeared on several novelty items, from buttons to bumper stickers to tee-shirts.

This 2004 pinback paired Teresa Kerry with Democratic vice presidential candidate's spouse Elizabeth Edwareds. (pinterest)

This 2004 pinback paired Teresa Kerry with Democratic vice presidential candidate’s spouse Elizabeth Edwareds. (pinterest)

Another factor raising the profile of spouses in that year’s election was the prominence of the Democratic vice presidential nominee’s wife, Elizabeth Edwards. Outspoken, overtly political and also living with cancer at the time, Mrs. Edwards maintained a high media visibility and was featured on several buttons alone and with Teresa Heinz.

The fact that she had developed her own career as an attorney was a matter that was becoming seemingly routine by 2004, a reflection of the general professional advancement of American women by that time.

One of the official Hillary Clinton for president buttons, 2008. (private collection)

One of the official Hillary Clinton for president buttons, 2008. (private collection)

By 2004, a number of spouses of recent presidential and vice presidential candidates had managed to have their own independent careers while also fulfilling expectations as a political spouse, including Kitty Dukakis, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, and Lynne Cheney.

The year 2008 was a turning point in presidential history for the simple fact that one former presidential candidate’s spouse decided to pursue the presidency herself.

A button confident that the 2008 election would result in Michelle Obama becoming First Lady. (ebay)

A button confident that the 2008 election would make Michelle Obama First Lady. (ebay) 

That year, former First Lady and incumbent U.S. Senator from New York Hillary Clinton entered the Democratic primaries.

A 2008 button made showing Michelle Obama during her convention speech. (groovydude.com)

An official DNC 2008 button of Mrs. Obama during her convention speech. (groovydude.com)

Ultimately, Mrs. Clinton did not win her party’s nomination.

That victory went instead to the husband of another professional woman who had been an attorney, Chicago city official and hospital administrator, Michelle Obama.

On the Republican side, there was another historical precedent shattered. Following his nomination as his party’s presidential candidate, U.S. Senator from Arizona John McCain nominated Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate.

It was only the second time in history that a woman was chosen to be part of the national ticket and the first time it was done so by Republicans.

McCain-Palin, 2008. (zazzle)

McCain-Palin, 2008. (zazzle)

The presence of a woman on that year’s  G.O.P. team may have somewhat mitigated the high level of attention usually focused on the spouse of the presidential candidate.

Cindy McCain was depicted in the context of recent Republican First Ladies on this 2008 button.

Cindy McCain was depicted in the context of recent Republican First Ladies on this 2008 button.

Although Cindy McCain addressed the convention that nominated her husband, successfully managed one of the nation’s largest beer distributorship, acknowledged her earlier addiction and illegal obtaining of painkillers, had an earlier career as a special education teacher, a topic on which she authored a book, and led multiple international relief efforts, she was invariably depicted as a traditional political spouse.

One unusual pin that year placed her in the context of previous Republican First Ladies going back to Pat Nixon.

A 2012 Ann Romney button.

A 2012 Ann Romney button.

In this regard, the next Republican presidential nominee’s spouse, Ann Romney, was similarly perceived – despite the tact that she had led a radically different life, primarily a stay-at-home mother to her five sons.

The many hairstyles of Michelle Obama was celebrated in this 2012 button.

The many hairstyles of Michelle Obama was celebrated in this 2012 button.

Consequently, there were no campaign items, buttons or otherwise, that sought to portray Ann Romney as being anything other than a traditional political spouse, and the slogans of those items that were struck with her image employed the by-now predictable formats.

In dramatic contrast was the persona of incumbent First Lady Michelle Obama.

In 2012, the popular incumbent First Lady Michelle Obama was shown as a Lady Columbia figure, sowing seeds of growth and change of the various social projects she undertook, as highliighted atop the button. (ebay)

In 2012, the popular incumbent First Lady Michelle Obama was shown as a Lady Columbia figure, sowing seeds of growth and change of the various social projects she undertook, as highliighted atop the button. (ebay)

As her husband pursued his 2012 campaign for a second term, Mrs. Obama enjoyed a soaring popularity due to her four years as a highly visible public figure in her own right, a status that was the result of her numerous projects and media focus on her evolving style in appearance.

Of far greater consequence than her clothing and hair styles, were the several public service endeavors she had undertaken as First Lady, one Mrs. Obama’s

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A 1996 anti-Clinton button critical of Hillary Clinton’s overt political role as First Lady. (ebay)

(This is the eighth in an original ten-part series being run exclusively on the National First Ladies’ Library website blog on the history of presidential candidates’ spouses being used as campaign symbols. If any of this information is used, you must credit the NFLL Blog. If the images are used please credit the NFLL and the original publisher as listed)

The 1992 presidential election introduced a person who would come to figure in nearly all of those that would follow.

Pins from the Democratic presidential primaries invariably depicted Hillary Clinton in her headband, symbolic of her busy life as both a political spouse and professional attorney. (private collection)

Pins from the Democratic presidential primaries invariably depicted Hillary Clinton in her headband, symbolic of her busy life as both a political spouse and professional attorney. (private collection)

Hillary Clinton first became known to American voters that year as the wife of the Democratic presidential candidate, former Arkansas governor Bill Clinton.

A quarter of a century later, she would be the leading Democratic candidate during the primary season for the presidential nomination in her own right.

Hillary Clinton’s advocacy for children’s rights was referenced in this 1992 pin showing the Clintons as political partners. (ebay)

Early in the 1992 state primary races, Hillary Clinton was thrust into the election year news when her professional career as an attorney was raised during a debate by former California governor Jerry Brown, one of her husband’s Democratic opponents. Clinton shortly after said a vote for him would give Americans “two for one” serving as president.

Her professional life, seemingly symbolized by her then-ubiquitous headband, made her a very different type of potential presidential spouse for the public.

Barbara Bush pin, 1992 (loriferber.com)

Barbara Bush pin, 1992 (loriferber.com)

The leading cause with which she was already associated was advocacy on behalf of children’s protective rights, a fact reflected in at least one campaign pin depicting her in the “team” style with her spouse, as had been used since the very first use of a spouse – the 1856 envelope cover of John and Jessie Fremont.

The phrase “family values” had come to dominate the political landscape by 1992, and was used most frequently in reference to incumbent President George Bush, then seeking re-election with Clinton as his opponent,  and First Lady Barbara Bush.

In 1992 the Republican motion of "Family Values," dominated the campaign and was used on this joint George and Barbara Bush button. (ebay)

In 1992 the Republican motion of “Family Values,” dominated the campaign and was used on this joint George and Barbara Bush button. (ebay)

It was used on at least one pin back to pointedly differentiate the implication that “family values” were not reflected by the Democratic candidate and his spouse.

Mrs. Bush was to play a central role in counteracting the increasingly narrow definition of “family values” when she delivered her 1992 Republican National Convention speech by giving examples of wider definitions of “family” for both the delegates and the viewing television audience.

Barbara Bush between her husband and Dan Quayle on a regional button. (ebay)

Barbara Bush between her husband and Dan Quayle on a regional button. (ebay)

For the first time, buttons in favor of an incumbent President’s winning of a second term appeared with the exhortation to keep the “First Family” in the White House, depicting the Bushes together.

And, for the first time since the 1888 poster placing Frances Cleveland between her husband and his vice presidential running mate on a poster, the extremely popular Barbara Bush was placed at the center of images of her husband and his vice presidential running mate, Dan Quayle.

A button touting the First Lady's best known policy effort in a bid for her husband's 1996 re-election. (ebay)

A button touting the First Lady’s best known policy effort in a bid for her husband’s 1996 re-election. (ebay)

With Clinton’s victory and first term as President, Hillary Clinton proved to be not only the greatest activist First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt, but highly controversial for her overt role in policy.

A 1996 button favoring the politically outspoken incumbent First Lady for a second term in that position. (ebay)

A 1996 button favoring the politically outspoken incumbent First Lady for a second term in that position. (ebay)

Just days after the 1993 Inauguration, President Clinton had tasked his wife with the responsibility of managing the new Administration’s intention to reform health care coverage.

As the effort ensued, political opponents began to make the most of her taking charge of such an important factor of national life, despite not being elected to any federal position but essentially being “appointed” (without salary or Senate confirmation) by the President.

On the other hand, there were many who would come to especially support Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign because the First Lady was so active and made no apologies for the advice she provided and initiatives she espoused.

A 1996 button touting Hillary Clinton's overt political role. (ebay)

A 1996 button touting Hillary Clinton’s overt political role. (ebay)

Thus, much like the pro- and anti- pinback buttons that were struck in 1984 relating to Nancy Reagan, a range of support and opposition to Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign was reflected in the slogans appearing on Hillary Clinton buttons that year.

1996 dole

This button more overtly suggested Elizabeth Dole’s professional experience as part of a political team. (ebay)

That year’s Republican presidential candidate’s spouse was herself highly political and unprecedented in that she had not only once “ran” as a vice presidential candidate’s spouse (her husband had been on the 1976 Republican ticket with Gerald Ford) but as a Cabinet member.

There were no pinbacks that marked Elizabeth Dole’s unusual status; those buttons using her image were of the type that were now all too predictable.

Bob Dole Eleanor Roosevelt Hillary Clinton 1996. (ebay)

Bob Dole Eleanor Roosevelt Hillary Clinton 1996. (ebay)

One rather convoluted button that year made reference to Hillary Clinton’s disclosure that she had been having “conversations” with the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt about how to conduct herself as First Lady, really just musings on how her legendary predecessor had faced criticism for her activism. It was referenced on a pro-Dole button in 1996.

More interesting were the ones made four years later.

dole 2000

An Elizabeth Dole for President button, from  2000 in a heart-shape that could easily be mistaken for a First Lady button. (ebay)

In four years, Elizabeth Dole went from being the spouse of a presidential candidate to a presidential candidate herself, albeit just in the Republican primaries of 2000.

It was also an unusual year for the woman who was the outgoing First Lady.

A button from the first campaign electing a First Lady to public office. (private collection)

In 2000, Hillary Clinton again appeared on campaign buttons. This time, it wasn’t for a presidential election but for her own race as the Democratic candidate as the U.S. Senator from New York.

Perhaps because Hillary Clinton had become such an unusually high-profile world figure in her own right by that time, her persona and Senate race seems to have overshadowed the spouses of that year’s two presidential nominees’ spouses, Tipper Gore, wife of the incumbent Vice President, and Laura Bush, wife of the Governor of Texas, who was also the son of the former President.

This Laura Bush button had a subtle message suggesting she would be a traditional First Lady after Hillary Clinton having been an activist one. (private collection)

Although Laura Bush had been a teacher and librarian, and even made reference to her previous work in her 2000 Republican National Convention speech, and Tipper Gore had been active in mental health policy and had previously worked on limiting provocative rock lyrics, buttons showing both women made no reference to any of this.

"The Kiss" square button of the Gores. (ebay)

“The Kiss” square button of the Gores. (ebay)

One button that was out of the norm made reference to the famously lengthy kiss between the Gores made on the podium of the National Democratic Convention that year.

"...Put On Your Pearls, Girls for Barbara Bush," button honoring the former First Lady at a campaign event days before her son was elected President. (bonanza.com)

“…Put On Your Pearls, Girls for Barbara Bush,” button honoring the former First Lady at a campaign event days before her son was elected President. (bonanza.com)

The women involved in national politics depicted on campaign buttons that election year was as wide a range as there had ever been: spouses of political leaders who would seek office themselves, spouses who would not, and one of the only two women in history to be the spouse of a successful candidate, and mother to another.

Certainly one of the most amusing buttons to be produced that year was of former First Lady Barbara Bush, made for one of her appearances at an event on behalf of her son George W.’s campaign. It didn’t reference policy but her famous pearls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A 1984 Reaan re-election button referencing the First Lady Nancy Reagan's famous project. (ebay)

A 1984 Reaan re-election button referencing the First Lady Nancy Reagan’s famous “Just Say No!” project. (ebay)

(This is a seventh in an original ten-part series being run exclusively on the National First Ladies’ Library website blog on the history of presidential candidates’ spouses being used as campaign symbols. If any of this information is used, you must credit the NFLL Blog. If the images are used please credit the NFLL and the original publisher as listed)

Perhaps no candidate’s spouse underwent a more dramatic shift in the public perception of their image in a four year period than did Nancy Reagan.

A pro-Reagan button depicting the First Couple (etsy.com)

A pro-Reagan button depicting the First Couple (etsy.com)

When her husband first ran for President in 1980, Mrs. Reagan was perceived as only a devotedly supportive partner to her husband.

Certainly that was one of her roles that did remain consistent and was reflected in at least one known 1984 campaign button, showing them as President and First Lady.

A 1984 Nancy button. (ronwade.freeservers.com)

A 1984 Nancy button. (ronwade.com)

Four years later, however, her overall public persona had radically changed. She had developed her own public image, and appeared more often on buttons by herself.

Among her husband’s supporters, the more popular types of buttons showed her as a smiling First Lady.

There appeared that year for the first time, simple portraits of candidate spouses, framed by vines of flowers on oblong-shaped buttons.

The 1984 oblong portrait button of Nancy Reagan was the first of its kind to appear in an election. year. (ebay)

The 1984 oblong portrait button of Nancy Reagan was the first of its kind to appear in an election. year. (ebay)

Although popular not only with her husband’s supporters as well as a large percentage of the nation that viewed her less through a partisan lens and more as a national symbol, she was also the first candidate’s spouse since Lady Bird Johnson in 1964 to be used against as a symbol in opposition to her husband’s election.

A 1984 anti-Reagan button referencing Nancy Reagan's designer clothing. (ronwade.freeservers.com)

A 1984 anti-Reagan button referencing Nancy Reagan’s designer clothing. (ronwade.freeservers)

Through the 1981 recession, her redecorating of the White House, acceptance of gowns from designers, and return to a formal entertaining style had led to the political caricature of her as “Queen Nancy.”

Although much of that had subsided by the time President Reagan was seeking his second term in 1984, there was enough of the caricature lingering to appear in on least one anti-Reagan campaign button and numerous postcards printed that year.

Beginning in 1982, she worked assiduously on an area of public crisis and of longtime personal interest to her, preventing the initial use and continued experimentation of illicit drugs.

During a visit to a California school, she responded to a student’s question about how to respond to offers of drugs by quipping, “Just say no!”

An anti-Reagan button using the international symbol for "no." (private collection)

An anti-Reagan button using the international symbol for “no.” (private collection)

The phrase was soon adopted as the name for her efforts, and rapidly became a catch-phrase of the mid-1980s.

This 1984 caricature button critical of Nancy Reagan for her White House style. (ebay)

This 1984 caricature button critical of Nancy Reagan for her White House style. (ebay)

While there were recycled versions in 1984 of the ubiquitous “Ron and Nancy” buttons from 1980, there re-emerged in an even more pointedly new genre of presidential spouses on campaign spouses that used them to attack the candidate

At the 1984 Democratic National Convention, speaker Jesse Jackson satirized Mrs. Reagan’s “just say no” expression and soon enough buttons appeared in reference to his remarks. One included a smiling picture of the First Lady with the international sign for “no” across the image.

A negative 1984 button in reference to Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" endeavor. (ebay)

A negative 1984 button in reference to Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” endeavor. (ebay)

At that year’s National Democratic Convention, history was made when the first woman was chosen to headline a ticket.

After former Vice President Walter Mondale won the presidential nomination, former Vice President Walter Mondale chose U.S. Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his vice presidential running mate.

Thus, an entirely new type of woman appeared on presidential  campaign buttons that year – as candidates in their own right.

A solo Ferraro button. (11man.com)

A solo Ferraro button. (11man.com)

Along with the individual facial depictions of Ferraro on buttons, she was often paired with Mondale as part of the political team.

Ferraro was the first woman on a national presidential ticket. (ebay)

Ferraro was the first woman on a national presidential ticket. (ebay)

There was also one that used a derogatory reference to her anatomy as a woman, paired with the rhyming nickname of the presidential candidate.

Whether it was worn by supporters or sarcastic detractors in unclear.

Evidence can only be anecdotal at best as to whether the relative obscurity of campaign buttons that year depicting Joan Mondale, the presidential candidate’s spouse, either in solo or paired with her husband was in reaction to Walter Mondale being paired with a different woman, his running mate Ferraro, on dozens and dozens of different designs with different slogans.

Joan Mondale appeared on only one known button, as a partner to her husband. (amres.com)

Joan Mondale appeared on only one known button, as a partner to her husband. (amres.com)

In fact, it seems that Mrs. Mondale was depicted in campaign pins in partnership with her husband and not alone, a curious development since she had served as Second Lady from 1977 to 1981 and had something of an independent public persona.

First of its kind, a 1981 Inauguration button, depicting the victorious candidates spouses - without their husbands.  (pinterest)

First of its kind, a 1981 Inauguration button, depicting the victorious candidates spouses – without their husbands. (pinterest)

During the January 20, 1981 Inauguration, a new type of button had first appeared, this time depicting not the two figures who had been elected as the President and Vice President but rather their spouses, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush.

It was an unusual introduction to being seen on a button for the image of Barbara Bush.

The 1988 presidential election pitted the incumbent Vice President George Bush as the Republican candidates against Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis as the Democratic candidate.

Neither of their spouses, however, appeared on much campaign memorabilia in any context suggesting their individuality.

Mrs. Bush's role as family matriarch was referenced in this 1988 button. (private collection)

Mrs. Bush’s role as family matriarch was referenced in this 1988 button. (private collection)

A cameo pin of Barbara Bush, 1988. (private collection)

A cameo pin of Barbara Bush, 1988. (private collection)

There was a re-appearance of the flower portrait image button, this time with Barbara Bush. And there was also another oblong-shaped one of her, in her formal photo portrait as Vice President’s spouse, almost seeming to have been marketed to be worn as an actual cameo pin.

One Barbara Bush pinback did seem to reference her in a more individual context, using the phrase “First Mama,” perhaps due to the emphasis placed that year on her as matriarch over five adult children and nearly a dozen grandchildren, a conscious bit of advertising devised by husband’s campaign managers, contrasting the Bushes with the Reagans.

It may, however, have simply been a recycled idea from the 1976 one that used the same slogan in reference to Betty Ford.

A straightforward Kitty Dukakis button, 1988. (ebay)

A straightforward Kitty Dukakis button, 1988. (ebay)

Although the Democratic candidate’s spouse Kitty Dukakis had been an activist First Lady of Massachusetts and publicly disclosed her own struggle with prescription painkillers and alcohol, there seems to have been nothing manufactured referencing either aspect in the few items made with her image that year.

There seems to have been no buttons struck depicting either of that year’s vice presidential candidates’ spouses, Marilyn Quayle or Beryl Ann Bentsen.

If the 1988 presidential campaigns seemed to offer a dearth of items referencing the candidates’ spouses, that would radically change during the next two cycles, 1992 and 1996.

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The 1976 campaign of President Ford to win his own full term was supported, in part, by not only liberal Republicans but Independents ands Democrats who were ardent defenders of Betty Ford's political views. (ebay)

The 1976 campaign of President Ford to win his own full term was supported, in part, by not only liberal Republicans but Independents ands Democrats who were ardent defenders of Betty Ford’s political views. (ebay)

(This is a sixth in an original ten-part series being run exclusively on the National First Ladies’ Library website blog on the history of presidential candidates’ spouses being used as campaign symbols. If any of this information is used, you must credit the NFLL Blog. If the images are used please credit the NFLL and the original publisher as listed)The presidential election of 1976 converged with the nation’s Bicentennial celebration as well as a push for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Refreshingly frank Betty Ford was a potent figure in her husband's 1976 campaign. (ebay)

Refreshingly frank Betty Ford was a potent figure in her husband’s 1976 campaign. (ebay)

Abigail Adams 1976 pin. (private collection)

Abigail Adams 1976 pin. (private collection)

In campaign remarks she made that year to help her husband President Gerald Ford (who inherited the presidency upon Nixon’s resignation), win the Republican primaries, incumbent First Lady Betty Ford often made reference to Abigail Adams.

The second First Lady, a fellow feminist and a Bicentennial heroine even appeared on a button sold among those of Mrs. Ford at that summer’s Republican convention – even though her long-dead husband had not run for president in nearly two centuries.

The Ford poster. (GRFL)

The Ford poster. (GRFL)

Still, the spirit of feminism as well as timely women’s issues were a central part of the 1976 election, addressed not only by the candidates of the two major party candidates, but their spouses as well. It was a year where even though they were “just wives,” political spouses regularly began addressing the serious issues of the campaign and were now expected to respond to overt, even sharp political issues.

This button references Betty Ford's CB "handle" (nickname). (ebay)

This button references Betty Ford’s CB “handle” (nickname). (ebay)

A great part of what was advanced by his campaign as a key element of President Ford’s character was his simple honesty.

Her persona became an important part of Ford’s overall campaign and for the first time in a presidential race, a spouse was featured on large campaign posters with the candidate.

Nothing more personally and dramatically illustrated this to the nation than Betty Ford’s disclosing that she had breast cancer. Mrs. Ford’s decision had an astoundingly immediate affect on millions of American families, overnight breaking a taboo on even the open discussion of what could become deadly without early detection and treatment. It created a unique constituency for this wife of a Republican President, reaching across all demographics and political sensibilities.

Matchbooks were made with the slogan "Best Fitted for the Office: Betty for First Lady," in 1976. (pinterest)

Matchbooks with the slogan “Best Fitted for the Office: Betty for First Lady ’76.”(ebay)

An odd Ford button: pro-her, anti-him. (ebay)

An odd Ford button: pro-her, anti-him. (ebay)

Betty Ford also made no apologies for attempting to influence the President to support gender equity issues, even if her views on several specific and controversial matters, such as abortion and couples co-habitating without being married, proved to be more in alignment with Democrats and liberals of both parties. In fact, as the campaign unfolded, it create a curious disconnect among voters.

There were liberals and Democrats who supported Ford because of his wife’s views – and conservatives and Republicans who opposed him because of his wife’s views. Supporters might wear the popular “Vote For Betty’s Husband” buttons (see the lead image), while foes were likely to don the, “Betty Yes! Jerry No!” button.

Mrs. Ford also served as a symbol of a growing schism within her party, representing the more established wing that was liberal on social issues.

Even though the convention had not yet taken place, one rare campaign button from the 1976 Republican primaries declared, "Nancy Reagan for First Lady." (private collection)

Even though the convention had not yet taken place, one rare campaign button from the 1976 Republican primaries declared, “Nancy Reagan for First Lady.” (private collection)

During the primaries, President Ford was seriously challenged by former California Governor Ronald Reagan. His wife Nancy did not hesitate to point out her strikingly different and more conservative social views, mirroring those of her husband and his wing of the party.

Reagan came close but did not take the nomination from Ford, yet perhaps as a sign of how serious a challenge he appeared to be during the primaries, there was an optimistic button made before the convention exhorting voters, “Nancy Reagan for First Lady.”

Like the Republican candidate’s spouse that year, for the first time a Democratic candidate’s spouse was also featured on a piece of campaign ephemera during that year’s primary season, rather than the general election.

A 1976 presidential primary campaign button in favor of LaDonna Harris, a Native American rights activist, and wife of a candidate that year. (pinterest)

A 1976 presidential primary campaign button in favor of LaDonna Harris, a Native American rights activist, and wife of a candidate that year. (pinterest)

During what was his second attempt to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976, former US Senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma, a button was made declaring, “LaDonna Harris for First Lady.”

The spouse of the Democratic presidential candidate that year would prove to be just as liberal on women’s issues as Betty Ford, but was comparatively unknown to the public as a former Georgia governor’s wife – compared to a First Lady who made national headlines for what she said. Consequentially, there was a limited number of items

76

One of several versions of a “Rosalynn Carter for First Lady in ’76″ campaign buttons made in the official colors of the Carter campaign. (ebay)

It’s unclear whether the Carter campaign officially sanctioned the buttons that were created with pictures of Rosalynn.

It does not appear so, but a button that was notable for any of the familiar red-white-and-blue touches, but rather green was issued called for her to be First Lady.

Green and white, rather than any variation on the national tricolors were the official brand colors of the Carter campaign and a dramatic departure from all previous presidential campaigns.

Despite being relatively unfamiliar to the public in 1976, this button made simple use of Rosalyn Carter's facial image to convey support for her husband's presidential bid. (ebay)

This button used Mrs. Carter’s facial image without further identification of her. (ebay)

Judging by the size, font and plain design it appears that a non-partian company manufactured it since a matching one in red was also issued at the same time, with Betty Ford.

There were few other campaign buttons made of Mrs. Carter in 1976, nor were there many with distinct slogans referencing her honest disclosure of how involved she had been in her husband’s gubernatorial career and the early stages of his successful presidential campaign. There were two notable exceptions, however.

1976 Rosalynn Carter and Joan Mondale

1976 Rosalynn Carter and Joan Mondale button. (private collection)

The public had a relative unfamiliarity with Rosalynn Carter at the start of the 1976 presidential primaries and early main campaign.

As her husband’s campaign moved on from the nominating convention, however, her activism and ubiquitous presence in the media and on the road later that summer and all through the fall made her immediately recognizable. So much so that in the weeks before Election Day there appeared a new campaign button, in blue, black and white, that used her image without mentioning her name.

A 1980 Carter reelection campaign button using the First Lady. (private collection)

A 1980 reelection button using the First Lady. (private collection)

One other unusual button appeared that summer, using the rare combination of the spouses of both the presidential and vice-presidential candidates, Rosalynn Carter along with Joan Mondale.

During the 1980 Carter re-election campaign, there were relatively few buttons using the incumbent First Lady. Another one using the Carter campaign’s signature green color appeared, this time.

Unlike 1976, when Ronald Reagan sought the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, he won it handily.

While the legendary romance between Nancy Reagan and her husband was always at the root of their relationship, theirs was also as joint a partnership as Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The Reagans began appearing jointly on campaign pins early on, during the primaries and through the general election. (historyteacher.net, ebay, ronwade, campaignbuttons-etc.com)

The Reagans began appearing jointly on campaign pins early on, during the primaries and through the general election. (historyteacher.net, ebay, ronwade, campaignbuttons-etc.com)

Mrs. Reagan’s presence was an important factor in reassuring him through difficult times, and through much of the winter and spring primary 1980 caucuses and races, they campaigned together.

Still, as a former Hollywood actress and governor’s spouse of a large and politically important state like California, Mrs. Reagan also developed a national profile rather independently from her husband. While she sought to humanize her husband with tender personal stories, she did not shy away from defending his views on any number of issues.

One button showed the Reagans co-starring in their only feature film together. (ebay)

One button showed the Reagans co-starring in their only feature film together. (ebay)

Consequently, there was a figurative avalanche of campaign pins in 1980 that depicted Nancy Reagan as part of a team with her husband, far more so than appearing on those alone.

There was at least one with the indelible image of the Reagans, both of them being film and television actors, their faces pressed affectionately against each other in a publicity still from their only co-starring feature film, Hellcats of the Navy.

While she always emphasized that she was disseminating his views when asked questions on controversial issues of the campaign, the perspective she presented was distinctly conservative, and often at variance with the views expressed four years earlier by the Republican presidential candidate’s spouse, then-incumbent Betty Ford.

In fact, to spell out the specific moral issues that she and her husband believed important to restore to the American culture and values, Nancy Reagan became the first presidential candidates’ spouse to release her memoirs.

The first memoir released during a presidential campaign by a candidate's spouse. (amres.com)

The first memoir released during a presidential campaign by a candidate’s spouse. (amres.com)

A move usually made by the candidates themselves, the book Nancy, also provided a rudimentary biography of her life up to the point of her husband’s 1980 campaign. Although the book was penned by ghostwriter Bill Libby, it was all based on taped interviews with Mrs. Reagan, in preparing for the campaign and she vetted the manuscript carefully before it was published, as did Mike Deaver, an important public relations adviser to the campaign and trusted friend to both of the Reagans.

It was only the second time in history that this was done, the first being the biography written about Ida McKinley in 1896. When the book’s first printing as a hardback, it visibly stood out in bookstores and airport gift shops because of its paper cover in bright green. As soon as a second printing, in paperback form was released, the cover had changed to a large photograph of Mrs. Reagan.

Neither for nor against Reagan, this 1980 button referenced the Republican candidate's first wife, actress Jane Wyman. (ebay)

The Jane Wyman button. (ebay)

Green, of course, was the branded color of the official Carter re-election campaign, as it had been of his first, 1976 campaign.

There were some other unusual pinback buttons struck that year. One of them was a sure seller for both those who supported Reagan against Carter – and those who supported Carter against Reagan.

On the top half of it was the slogan in black letters against a white background, “Jane Wyman Was Right.”

Turned upside down, it read instead in white letters against a black background, “Jane Wyman Was Wrong.”

Jane Wyman had been Ronald Reagan’s Academy Award-winning actress first wife, who had divorced him because she was disinterested in his growing interest in politics and drifting from acting.

The Brown-Ronstadt, button. (ebay)

The Brown-Ronstadt, button. (ebay)

There was one other unusual button from the 1980 campaign, on the Democratic side.

Briefly, the bachelor Governor of California Jerry Brown entered the Democratic presidential primaries, challenging President Carter. The button depicted him with his girlfriend at the time, rock singer Linda Ronstadt.

Living together unmarried, the governor and singer were reflecting a changing nation’s mores – and represented at least one belief shared by those who wore the novelty “Jerry & Linda in 1980″ campaign item.

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A large button handed out along the route through southern states welcoming Lady Bird Johnson's campaign train. (ebay)

A large button handed out along the route through southern states welcoming Lady Bird Johnson’s campaign train. (ebay)

(This is a fifth in an original ten-part series being run exclusively on the National First Ladies’ Library website blog on the history of presidential candidates’ spouses being used as campaign symbols. If any of this information is used, you must credit the NFLL Blog. If the images are used please credit the NFLL and the original publisher as listed)

If the 1952 presidential election had established the public visibility and familiarity with candidates’ spouses by their presence on the gewgaws and souvenirs that mark every one of the quadrennial races, the 1964 one opened up a chance for them to have a voice of political meaning.

A postcard outlining the itinerary schedule of the  1964 Lady Bird Special.

A postcard outlining the itinerary schedule of the 1964 Lady Bird Special. (ebay)

Inheriting her position when her husband succeeded to the presidency following the assassination of President Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson had been the incumbent First Lady for only nine months by the time LBJ was nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate in 1964.

Starting on October 6, 1964, Mrs. Johnson began a journey of over a thousand and a half miles, through eight southern states for four days on an old-fashioned whistle-stop campaign train, with about fifty stops for speeches.

A whistle giveaway from Lady Bird Johnson's solo campaign tour by plane in late October 1964; a smilier one was given away during her train tour. l

A whistle giveaway from Lady Bird Johnson’s solo campaign tour by plane in late October 1964; a smilier one was given away during her train tour.  (ebay)

A matchbook with the color and logo of the Lady Bird Special was also handed out along the journey.

A Lady Bird Special matchbook. (ebay)

It was dubbed “The Lady Bird Special,” and undertaken just four months after her husband had signed the Civil Rights Act, a move that threatened to alienate many white southerners who had traditionally voted Democratic.

A racist anti-LBJ 1964 button, made reference to Lady Bird Johnson's touting the Civil Rights Act during her whistlestop tour of the south. (ebay)

A racist anti-LBJ 1964 button. (ebay)

The entire effort was branded, by her favorite color of yellow, with a cartoon symbol of a train, coordinated with napkins and placemats for food served to guests along the way, matchbooks, even whistles.

A supportive button made and likely worn during Lady Bird Johnson's campaign tour of the south. (ebay)

A supportive button  f Mrs. Johnson using an airline slogan. (ebay)

As expected, the First Lady was confronted by those southerners who opposed the progress of racial equality that the Johnson Administration law sought to enact.

One of the few 1964 presidential campaign buttons referencing Peggy Goldwater, wife of the Republican presidential candidate. (ebay)

One of the few 1964 presidential campaign buttons referencing Peggy Goldwater, wife of the Republican presidential candidate. (ebay)

Alongside campaign buttons playfully using her first name to forge some friendly slogans, there also appeared hostile ones that did likewise, such as “Fly Away Black Bird.”

On the other side of the aisle, there were also the expected campaign buttons promoting Peggy Goldwater for First Lady, the wife of the Republican presidential candidate, United States Senator from Arizona Barry Goldwater.

This campaign also led to the even most unusual version of the familiar First Lady button that had been appearing since the 1940 “race for First Lady” between Edith Wilkie and Eleanor Roosevelt.

This 1964 unusually paired the incumbent LBJs and their dogs.  (ebay)

This 1964 unusually paired the incumbent LBJs and their dogs. (ebay)

While there were those predictable buttons, this campaign year reading “Start Packing Lady Bird, the Goldwaters are Coming,” was the only pictorial version of it.

This one depicted the President and Mrs. Johnson with their two beagle dogs “Him” and “Her,” looking like dead ringers for the popular Charlie Brown cartoon strip dog “Snoopy.”

A Pat Nixon button during the 1968 primaries used her legal first name but proved too unfamiliar to voters. (private collection)

A Pat Nixon button during the 1968 primaries used her legal first name of “Thelma” but proved too unfamiliar to voters. (ebay)

The year 1968 was a watershed in so many aspects of national life, most especially in terms of the women’s movement for equal rights in all aspects of American life.

Certainly, it was a turning point in terms of the public perceptions of the spouses of the two major party presidential candidates that year, Pat Nixon and Muriel Humphrey.

Although both women would be viewed by the general public as the quintessentially traditional political wives, in reality their stories were as much in line with the feminist ideal.

Pat Nixon's appearance had changed from the 1960 campaign (left) to the one in 1968 (right). (private collection)

Pat Nixon’s appearance had changed from the 1960 campaign (left) to the one in 1968 (right). (private collection)

Mrs. Nixon had worked in a series of professions, supporting herself even after her marriage and the first incumbent First Lady to publicly support the Equal Rights Amendment, the pro-choice Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision and a woman on the Supreme Court.

Muriel Humphrey would go on to serve as a United States Senator from Minnesota, completing her late husband’s term.

Pat Nixon was featured as a partner on this 1968 button. (ebay)

Pat Nixon was featured as a partner on this 1968 button. (ebay)

Still nothing better illustrated how traditionally both women were “sold” in the 1968 campaign than the recipes issued by the official campaign publicity departments.

Pat Nixon's meatloaf recipe for "More" was distributed on paper door-hangers. (carlanthonyonline.com)

Pat Nixon’s recipe for was distributed as door-hangers. carlanthonyonline

Pat Nixon’s was a “door-hanger,” a printed recipe on a card with a hole at the top, allowing it to be placed on a front door handle when a Nixon campaign worker came across a home where the resident didn’t answer the door.

Muriel Humphrey’s was a printed card with a soup recipe, as well as a printed booklet of her family’s favorite dishes.

Muriel Humphrey's meatloaf recipe from a campaign booklet of her family favorites. (Duke University)

Muriel Humphrey’s meatloaf recipe from a campaign booklet of her family favorites. (Duke University)

Even the actual recipes of both Mrs. Nixon and Mrs. Humphrey were the sort of economical homey standards that any middle-class housewife managing the grocery budget could afford.

The well-organized “Pat for First Lady” endeavor of the 1960 Nixon campaign was not repeated. Nor were any of the surplus of “Pat For First Lady” buttons used. During the ensuing years Mrs. Nixon had changed her hairstyle into one more reflective of the late Sixties rather than the late Fifties.

A 1968 Humphrey campaign button made play on a popular TV commercial slogan for Muriel cigars. (private collection)

A 1968 Humphrey campaign button made play on a popular TV commercial slogan for Muriel cigars. (private collection)

During the early primary campaign, there were even some buttons released using her legal first name of “Thelma” but these were discontinued, the public being familiar with her “brand” as half of the well-touted “Dick and Pat” team.

A Muriel Humphrey pictorial button made by the same company that made one of Pat Nixon (see above). (ebay)

A Muriel Humphrey button made by the same company that made one of Pat Nixon (see above). (ebay)

Much like 1964′s “Fly With Lady Bird” played on an airline television commercial slogan, a 1968 button in support of Vice President Hubert Humphrey as the Democratic presidential candidate was issued by referencing Mrs. Humphrey with a play on words of a popular television commercial at the time for cigars with a brand name that was the same as her first name.

Four years later, when President Richard Nixon was seeking re-election, polls showed an overwhelming support for him over his Democratic rival United States Senator George McGovern, despite the growing Watergate scandal and a massing anger about the United States’s lingering presence in the Vietnam conflict.

In 1972, as usual, there were far less buttons issued for an incumbent First Lady whose husband was seeking a second term and there were few made of Pat Nixon.

A 1972 anti-Nixon  utton used a play on words of Mrs. Nixon’s first name (ebay)

Eleanor McGovern's name was put to good use by referencing the legendary Democratic First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. (ronwade.com)

Eleanor McGovern’s name was put to good use by referencing the legendary Democratic First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. (ronwade.com)

Like the 1940 anger at President Roosevelt’s seeking a third term and his New Deal policies being vented at Eleanor Roosevelt on buttons, and the 1964 resentment of President Johnson in the south for his signing the Civil Rights Act being expressed at buttons disparaging Lady Bird Johnson, there appeared a similar one expressing anger at President Nixon for his Vietnam policy that made play with the First Lady’s name.

However small a percentage there were of those who thought Nixon should not be renominated as the Republican’s candidate, seemingly for his failure to end US involvement in Vietnam, one of his 1968 campaign promises, was a button showing a nuclear mushroom cloud that read, “The Nation Can’t Stand Pat! Dump Nixon!

Democratic candidate McGovern represented the more liberal wing of his party, and the first name of his wife proved too irresistible for supporters who also held former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt up as a legendary heroine of the party. It led to the amusing 1972 campaign button that read, “Another Eleanor in the White House.”

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The 1952 Republican presidential ticket featured a button that, for the first time, showed the spouses of both the presidential and vice-presidential candidates together, Mamie Eisenhower and Pat Nixon. (ebay)

The 1952 Republican presidential ticket featured a button that, for the first time, showed the spouses of both the presidential and vice-presidential candidates together, Mamie Eisenhower and Pat Nixon. (ebay)

(This is a fourth in an original ten-part series being run exclusively on the National First Ladies’ Library website blog on the history of presidential candidates’ spouses being used as campaign symbols. If any of this information is used, you must credit the NFLL Blog. If the images are used please credit the NFLL and the original publisher as listed)

The 1952 presidential campaign of Republican candidate and legendary four-star general who had led Allied Forces to victory, Dwight D. Eisenhower occurred in the postwar era when women were encouraged to “return to the home” after participating in the wartime workforce.

The 1952 Eisenhower campaign created the first systematic effort to draw women into the party (original source unknown)

The 1952 Eisenhower campaign created the first systematic effort to draw women into the party (original source unknown)

The candidate himself was married to a woman who, publicly at least, strictly confined her role to managing their home life rather than be a partner in his political life. Despite these facts, the 1952 Eisenhower campaign was the turning point in terms of identifying and targeting American women as a powerful voting bloc and coaxing them out of their homes to organize local, volunteer Republican clubs and get out to the polls on Election Day.

One of the few Mamie Eisenhower buttons that used her face. (ebay)

One of the few Mamie Eisenhower buttons that used her face. (ebay)

Political strategists working with a strong sense of marketing came to early on identify the 1950s housewife as an important but neglected demographic in terms of potential political and economic power. Whether or not married American women were working or supported by their husbands, did or didn’t have children, owned or rented their home, the fact was that they made most of the financial decisions of their households. A specific and, as the election proved, successful appeal made by the Eisenhower campaign was the cost of living, which had risen under the Democratic presidency of Harry Truman. Further, President Truman’s commitment of American troops in the Korean conflict was identified as an issue of especially personal importance to most women voters.

The simple design of this 1952 button simply swapped her name for her husband's popular nickname but used the familiar slogan of his campaign. (pinterest)

The simple design of this 1952 button simply swapped her name for her husband’s popular nickname but used the familiar slogan of his campaign. (pinterest)

Essentially the Eisenhower campaign took on general issues then facing the nation and presenting them through a lens that spoke more directly to the perspective of American women than had any other previous presidential campaign. And it did so with Mamie Eisenhower as the friendly, smiling, eager face of target marketing.

For the first time, a presidential campaign officially sanctioned buttons using the name and face of the candidate’s spouse, even offering a slight but matching variation on its primary slogan of “I Like Ike,” with “We Want Mamie.” There would even be a sub-genre button made especially for those women with sons in the Korean War or who identified with Mrs. Eisenhower, who’s son John was fighting in the conflict, and was the doting grandmother to his three small children (a fourth was born during the Eisenhower Administration).

The largest button to that date supporting a candidate by touting his wife as First Lady. (Smithsonian)

The largest button to that date supporting a candidate by touting his wife as First Lady. (Smithsonian)

Two other factors favored the campaign’s effort to make Mamie Eisenhower a leading symbol.

In contrast to the warm and close Eisenhower family was the Democratic presidential candidate, Adlai Stevenson, who had been divorced some years earlier by his wife.

Ellen Stevenson did not help matters by telling the press that her husband’s devotion to his political career was the root of their problems and that she was going to be voting for Eisenhower.

Even Ike wore an "I Like Mamie" button, jumbo size. (carlanthonyonline.com)

Even Ike wore an “I Like Mamie” button, jumbo size. (carlanthonyonline.com)

Mrs. Stevenson claimed not to hold any grudge towards her ex-husband, nor did she believe there was any lingering resentment towards him that she felt, but she certainly only hurt his public image during the campaign.

Stevenson had a daughter-in-law who often appeared with him, telegraphing for the 1950s public the visual cue of an all-American family, but it did nothing to make up for him having no wife.

The other factor which boosted “Operation Mamie,” was the spouse of the Republican vice presidential candidate, Pat Nixon.

A wordless image of the popular First Lady was used in Eisenhower's 1956 re-election campaign. (ebay)

A wordless image of the popular First Lady was used in Eisenhower’s 1956 re-election campaign. (ebay)

Unlike Mrs. Eisenhower, Mrs. Nixon had come from a working-class background, worked to not only earn her own income when she was single, but also to obtain a college education. After earning her own income in a series of professions that included being a teacher, model, actress, hospital aide, and economist, she had been a volunteer who worked on all of her husband’s campaigns while also raising two small daughters.

A 1960 Pat Nixon pin and ribbon. (Smithsonian)

A 1960 Pat Nixon pin and ribbon. (Smithsonian)

Despite an age difference of nearly two decades, Mamie and Pat became friends almost immediately upon meeting, and with extraordinary vitality, the younger Mrs. Nixon maintained a grueling schedule of campaign appearances, giving women voters the face-t0-face experience of meeting and speaking with her personally.

A 1960 Pat Nixon car antenna flag. (ecrater.com)

A 1960 Pat Nixon car antenna flag. (ecrater.com)

Thus, her image was also appropriated for use, not only the first time a vice presidential candidate’s spouse was depicted on a campaign button (the lead image of this article), but the first time a woman in that position was paired with the presidential candidate’s spouse.

The 1956 Eisenhower-Nixon reelection campaign repeated some of the methods used to attract women voters but to a dramatically less degree, the power of incumbency carrying the victory – especially since Stevenson was again the Democratic presidential candidate.

Pat Nixon for First Lady nail files. (ebay)

Pat Nixon for First Lady nail files. (ebay)

Having been through the two preceding presidential elections, when Pat Nixon’s husband became the Republican nominee, she was perhaps better prepared than had any other previous presidential spouse for what to expect in a national campaign.

The 1960 Nixon campaign for the presidency not only used the 1952 strategy of appealing to women through the candidate’s spouse, but did so with greater organization and marketing tools.

The only known Jacqueline Kennedy campaign button. (ebay)

The only known Jacqueline Kennedy campaign button. (ebay)

There were “Pat for First Lady” car flags, emory boards, and buttons of every size and color. The campaign even organized a “Pat for First Lady Week,” set aside to focus on issues identified as being of especial concern to women voters.

A lapel pin of Jacqueline Kennedy made in Holland during the 1960 campaign but selling better during Kennedy state visits to Europe. (loriferber)

Jackie Kennedy lapel pin made in Holland during the campaign but selling best during Kennedy state visits to Europe. (loriferber)

On the Democratic side, despite the tremendous amount of media coverage given to Jacqueline Kennedy, there appeared only one campaign pin issued, it appears, from the official campaign advertisers.

Somewhat optimistically, it was labeled “America’s First Lady.”

Kennedy campaign advisers were especially sensitive about the candidate’s spouse. Starting with the primaries, the media had fixated on the unusually young woman’s elite life style, from her taste for expensive and sleek couture, favorite sport of fox hunting, the mansions of her mother and stepfather, and affinity for European vacations, as opposed to having travelled extensively through the United States as had Pat Nixon.

A special perfume was created for 1960 Democratic women voters named "Jacqueline." (ebay)

A special perfume was created for 1960 Democratic women voters named “Jacqueline.” (ebay)

None of it was especially promising in making her seem accessible to the average American voter. Thus, there was a conscious effort not to promote Jackie Kennedy as a campaign emblem.

Nevertheless, acting without the official sanction of the campaign, merchandisers supporting Kennedy for President produced a number of items for the women voters market, including a perfume named “Jacqueline,” and some jewelry pennants.

There was even a Dutch company that created stickpins with her name and picture that were sold in the United States during the campaign and enjoyed even greater sales once she became First Lady and made her first state visit with JFK to several European nations in the spring of 1961.

A homemade sign depicting Jackie Kennedy at a rally where her husband was speaking. (Life)

A homemade sign depicting Jackie Kennedy at a rally where her husband was speaking. (Life)

There was also no refraining the exuberant crowds who came out to see and hear the candidate at rallies across the country from expressing the appeal, rather than the aversion, that was beginning to develop for his wife,

Since she was pregnant, Jackie Kennedy was strongly advised not to undergo the physical rigor of getting out by train, car and plane where she would jostled by crowds.

Her absence, however, only seemed to increase a fascination with her.

The button slogan that would become a regular feature of presidential campaigns to come, simply with a changing of an incumbent First Lady's first name and the last name of the presidential candidate of the opposition party. (ebay)

The button slogan that would become a regular feature of presidential campaigns to come, simply with a changing of an incumbent First Lady’s first name and the last name of the presidential candidate of the opposition party. (ebay)

At several rallies, photographs show that the most enthusiastic of her admirers crafted homemade signs with her image, waving them as the appreciative JFK acknowledged the signs.

And, for the second time, the prompt for the incumbent First Lady of one political party to begin vacating the White House for the spouse of the presidential candidate of the opposition was issued: “Mamie Start Packing. The Kennedys Are Coming.”

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This 1940 pin was the first to use a quip that would reappear - with different names - in decades of campaigns ahead. (westward.com)

This 1940 pin was the first to use a quip that would reappear – with different names – in decades of campaigns ahead. (westward.com)

(This is a third in an original ten-part series being run exclusively on the National First Ladies’ Library website blog on the history of presidential candidates’ spouses being used as campaign symbols. If any of this information is used, you must credit the NFLL Blog. If the images are used please credit the NFLL and the original publisher as listed)

From the day Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated, on March 4, 1913, until the final half of his last of eight years in office, he and his family never entered or left the White House gates without seeing women in yellow, purple and white sashes holding up banners demanding that he support their right to vote.

A souvenir postcard made at the time of the Wilson marriage.

A souvenir postcard made at the time of the Wilson marriage.

Suffrage remained a dominant issue, even as Wilson sought a second term in 1916. That year, his wife was a subject of curiosity to crowds that gathered to hear his campaign speeches at his summer home, the estate Shadow Lawn, in New Jersey. Edith Bolling Galt Wilson was still considered the president’s bride, having just married him in December of 1915, when he was left widowed by the death of his first wife Ellen. The Wilson romance was a maturer one, between two adults who had both lost spouses. There was far less frenzy than there had been when Cleveland married the 21 year old college girl Frances in the White House in 1886. A souvenir postcard of their first appearance together after the engagement was announced, was printed to commemorate the wedding. Whatever degree of interest the public may have continued to have in the second Mrs. Wilson a year after the wedding, during the re-election, it did not loom long and large enough for her to figure prominently on any of the campaign items. None are known to have been made with the Republican candidate’s spouse, Antoinette (Mrs. Charles Evans) Hughes.

One Wilson 1916 re-election campaign item was made using the image of Edith Wilson, walking with her husband.

One Wilson 1916 re-election campaign item was made using the image of Edith Wilson, walking with her husband.

There was one button, using a photo showing the Wilsons walking together out of a conference, that was manufactured for the campaign, but it was not produced in large numbers and remains a rarity today. In August of 1920, as the husbands of Margaretta Cox and Florence Harding were running for president as the Democratic and Republican candidates,, the 19th Amendment was finally passed giving women the right to vote. The two women represented entirely different demographics, Mrs. Cox being an attractive young mother and Mrs. Harding, a grandmother and businesswoman, yet neither of them warranted enough public interest to find themselves used on campaign items. This was somewhat surprising in the case of Florence Harding, given that she was an overt feminist and had long declared her support of women’s suffrage.

One of the surviving paper parachutes dropped with the small sandbag, declaring "

One of the surviving paper parachutes dropped with the small sandbag, declaring “Richland County Wants America to Make Mrs. Warren G. Harding The First Lady of the Land.”

Until the final weeks of the election, the Harding campaign was conducted largely from the candidate’s own rambling front porch, in small-town Marion, Ohio. Delegations came to hear him speak, as well as any number of entertainment, political and other celebrities. Both Hardings were especially receptive to women’s groups, the passage of suffrage an inevitability by then. Curiously, none of the professional public relations directors of the campaign sought to make the natural connection between the millions of new American voters and Mrs. Harding. There was one unusual 1920 campaign item was made referencing Florence Harding.

Rickenbacker. (US Air Force)

Rickenbacker. (US Air Force)

During his visit to Marion that summer, the famous World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacher, a native of Columbus, Ohio, came to visit the Hardings. He did his part for the campaign by flying through several adjoining counties and dropping small red paper parachutes with small sandbags that carried a printed slogan that each of the counties wanted voters to “make Mrs. Warren G. Harding [t]he First Lady of the Land.”

Eleanor Roosevelt and Kate Smith at the 1924 Democratic National Convention. New York Daily News)

Eleanor Roosevelt and Kate Smith at the 1924 Democratic National Convention. New York Daily News)

Then came the longest stretch in presidential campaign history since the decades preceding the 1856 campaign images of Jessie Fremont with no references on amy items to any of the wives of the presidential candidates from either party: no Grace Coolidge or Ellen Davis in 1924, no Lou Hoover or Kate Smith in 1928, no Lou Hoover or Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932, no Eleanor Roosevelt or Theo Landon in 1936. Why there was a disappearance entirely of any campaign items featuring the spouses of presidential candidates for the next four election cycles is difficult to determine. It wasn’t hard to figure out why suddenly there was a return of candidates’ spouses on campaign items in 1940.

This 1940 anti-FDR pin replied to a rhetoric consideration of Eleanor Roosevelt with a saying that meant, "no way." learntoquestion.com)

This 1940 anti-FDR pin replied to a rhetoric consideration of Eleanor Roosevelt with a saying that meant, “no way.” learntoquestion.com)

In making is unapologetic bid for a third term as President, Franklin D. Roosevelt enraged those voters who had opposed his New Deal policies all through his first two terms. Seeking to quell disquiet within his own party and have convention delegates agree on his choice of Henry Wallace as his running mate, the President asked the First Lady to make the case for him at the Chicago convention.

Due to her own unprecedented words and deeds as a social activist First Lady, however, Mrs. Roosevelt had just as many political enemies, as her husband. The 1940 election led not only to an anomolous return to the use of candidates’ spouses on campaign items, but the first instance of the items cynically derisive.

The most popular of the anti-Eleanor Roosevelt 1940 campaign buttons. (ebay)

The most popular of the anti-Eleanor Roosevelt 1940 campaign buttons. (ebay)

From the same company that crystallized in a few words some sarcastic anti-third term quips, as well as swipes at the Roosevelt sons on charges of military favoritism also came the “Eleanor? No Soap!” campaign pin, and the more famous “We Don’t Want Eleanor Either!” one.

An ant-FDR 1940 campaign button critical of Eleanor Roosevelt's social policy work. (ebay)

An ant-FDR 1940 campaign button critical of Eleanor Roosevelt’s social policy work. (ebay)

A third campaign button critical of Mrs. Roosevelt, referencing the First Lady’s penchant for social reform projects funded by the federal government was simply titled “Project #UMP-000.” It pictured a simple wood outhouse, the implication being that she wasted taxpayer’s money on ridiculously simple “reforms” that were made unnecessarily expensive.

A 1940 button promoting Wendell Wilkie by using his wife Edith. (ebay)

A 1940 button promoting Wendell Wilkie by using his wife Edith. (ebay)

More simple and direct were the Republican Party campaign buttons that year using their candidate’s wife, Edith Wilkie. There were also postcards of Mrs. Wilkie distributed at the Republican Convention and also sold afterwards, until Election Day.

Postcards again appeared using a presidential campaign wives, with Edith Wilkie (antiquesnavigator.com)

Postcards again appeared using a presidential campaign wives, with Edith Wilkie (antiquesnavigator.com)

After 1940, however, there was again a period of no spouses being used as campaign symbols.

This 1940 pin was the first to use a quip that would reappear - with different names - in decades of campaigns ahead. (westward.com)

This 1940 pin was the first to use a quip that would reappear – with different names – in decades of campaigns ahead. (westward.com)

In 1944, with President Roosevelt leading the United States through the thick of World War II at the time of his unprecedented bid for a fourth term, and with Eleanor Roosevelt, a wartime role model more popular than she had been during the depression and especially beloved as an advocate of the nation’s serviceman, came a feeling of it being almost unpatriotic to attack him through her

.Nor did Frances Dewey, wife of that year’s Republican candidate, New York Governor Thomas Dewey, appear on any buttons or badges.

The same held true in 1948, when Frances Dewey “ran” against Bess Truman, wife of the incumbent Democratic president, seeking a term of his own.

 

 

 

 

 

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