First ladies are such minutely scrutinized figures that no president’s mate has proved immune to criticism during her time in the White House. From the clothes they wear, to the causes they champion, to the way they interact with their husbands or the citizenry—some people always find fault in the actions they take. Whether she is too demure or too bold, too active or too absent, too fashionable or too dowdy, it seems that no matron of the East Wing has yet been able to personify the ideal American everywoman. The long practice of judging the president’s wife began when Martha Washington joined George after he assumed office. Washington received a mix of praise and condemnation upon her arrival in New York. Some reporters applauded her travel attire and noted that her clothing was manufactured in the United States, but others chided her expensive outfit and argued that her well-appointed coach was too reminiscent of the royal broughams in England. From the very beginning, the president’s spouse was considered a public icon whose every action was open to potential derision by the press and the people. The difficult nature of the position was so evident that, months before becoming the… Read full this story
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