The Women behind the President’s
Last week, we celebrated President's Day by honoring our former Presidents. We would like to also acknowledge the women who gave them the support they needed to help them succeed and make such a great impact on the world we live today.
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, better known as “Lady Washington,” was the wife of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America. She was born on June 12, 1731 and died on May 22, 1802. She became a widow at the age of 25 and was left with four children. Upon marrying Washington, she brought her personal wealth to the marriage which allowed Washington to add land to his personal estate. She was the First Lady of the United States from April 30, 1789- March 4, 1797. Martha is remembered as being fashionably dressed, assertive, and an independent woman of great wealth. She traveled thousands of miles to be with her husband because she supported the cause of freedom as well as to show her loyalty to her husband and inspire the troops. In her honor, the U.S. Navy named transportation systems the USS Lady Washington and the USS Martha Washington. Martha Washington was also honored in history with U.S. postage stamps, paper currency and coins.
Mary Todd Lincoln was the wife of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States of America. She was the First Lady from March 4, 1861 until April 15, 1865. One of seven children from a wealthy family, she grew up to become very well educated. Through her education, she learned to speak French fluently and she studied music, drama, dance, grammar, geography, literature, and social etiquette. During her marriage, she had four children. Mary supported her husband throughout his presidency socially and politically. While he was away, she spent her time raising their children and maintaining their household. When she did spend her time assisting her husband, she was a volunteer nurse in the Union hospitals, offered her knowledge and own personal advice to her husband on military personnel, and toured Union Army camps.
Sharing this information with your troops during a meeting or even during snack time can help to inspire them to grow into leaders and think about what it means to be a leader.
Encourage Discussion with Questions:
- How do you think it would feel to be a First Lady?
- What would be your goals if you were the First Lady of the United States of America?
- Would you rather be the President or his wife?
- When there finally is a woman elected President, what do you think that first husband will be expected to do?
First Lady Biography: Martha Washington. n.d. February 2014.
First Lady Biography: Mary Lincoln. n.d.