First Ladies Ruler
12" Wooden Ruler made in U.S.A. of American-grown basswood.
The role of the First Lady of the United States has never been officially codified or defined. We tend to think if her as the wife of the president. But in the past, the term was also commonly used to describe the role of White House hostess. And that is not always the same thing.
For example, Rachel Donelson Jackson died just days after her husband Andrew Jackson was elected president, and before Jackson was inaugurated in 1829. The role of First Lady was assumed by Rachel’s niece Emily Donelson (1829). The president’s daughter-in-law, Sarah Yorke Jackson (1834), later became co-hostess, and this was the only time in American history when there were two women acting simultaneously as White House hostess. When Emily died in 1836, Sarah took over the sole duties. Both Emily and Sarah are listed on our ruler, but Rachel is not.
Hannah Hoes Van Buren died 17 years before her husband Martin Van Buren became president. He never remarried. For almost two years President Van Buren managed without a White House hostess, but eventually he asked his 20-year-old daughter-in-law, Angelica Singleton Van Buren (1838) to fulfill the role. She is the youngest women ever to have acted as White House hostess.
James Buchanan was the only president to remain a bachelor for his entire life. During his presidency his young niece Harriet Lane (1857) was the acting First Lady.
Elected when a bachelor, Grover Cleveland married 14 months into his first term as president. Before his marriage, it was his sister Rose Cleveland (1885) who acted as First Lady. Once married, the President’s new bride Frances Folsom Cleveland (1886) assumed the duties. Frances became First Lady once again in 1893 when Cleveland was reelected to a second term, after having been defeated in 1888. She is on the ruler twice!
President Benjamin Harrison’s wife Caroline Scott Harrison (1889) died while she was First Lady. The couple’s only daughter Mary Harrison McKee (1892) served as her father’s First Lady for the remainder of his term.
For each First Lady we have listed first name, maiden name, and married name. The year is the year in which they assumed the function of First Lady as White House hostess, and they are listed in that order.
The “head” is that of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (1960), noted for her style and elegance, who was in the limousine with her husband President John F. Kennedy when he was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. Jackie Kennedy was one of the most photographed people of her time, and our image is not based on any one picture of her, but is something of a composite created from multiple photographs.
If you like this ruler, you might also be interested in United States Rulers, Rulers and Patriots, African American Women Rulers or Great Women Rulers.