Jane Hadley Barkley

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Jane Hadley Barkley
Jane Barkley.jpg
Second Lady of the United States
In role
November 18, 1949 – January 20, 1953
President Harry Truman
Preceded by Bess Truman (1945)
Succeeded by Pat Nixon
Personal details
Born Elizabeth Jane Rucker
(1911-09-23)September 23, 1911
Keytesville, Missouri, U.S.
Died September 6, 1964(1964-09-06) (aged 52)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Republican (Formerly)
Spouse(s) Carleton Hadley (1931–1944)
Alben Barkley (1949–1956)
Children 2 (with Hadley)

Elizabeth Jane Rucker Hadley Barkley (September 23, 1911 – September 6, 1964) was Second Lady of the United States, as the second wife of Vice President Alben W. Barkley. She was known as Jane Hadley Barkley.

Early life[edit]

Born in Keytesville, Missouri, her father was a lawyer and her mother a pianist who had studied in Europe. She married her first husband, Carleton Hadley, a lawyer, in 1931. She met Carleton at Washington University in St. Louis. He became a prominent railroad attorney. They had two daughters before his death in 1944 at 42.

Marriage to Alben Barkley[edit]

She married Vice President Alben Barkley, a widower, on November 18, 1949. She was his second wife, and he was her second husband.[1][2] At the time of marriage Barkley was 33 years her senior. He was 71 and she was 38. Barkley's first wife Dorothy had died in 1947. Until her courtship with Barkley, Jane Rucker Hadley had been a devoted Republican. In 1940, Mrs. Hadley was working in the St. Louis office of GOP presidential nominee Wendell Willkie. When her milkman expressed fondness for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, she left a note saying, "No Willkie, no milkie".

Jane Barkley (far left), next to Alben Barkley

After meeting the young widow in May 1949 at a party in Washington, the Vice President courted her ardently. He was not deterred by her politics or a long-distance relationship. The Vice President began making regular commercial airline stops in St. Louis. Their courtship captured national attention. She resided in a seven-room apartment in the prestigious Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, which is near both Washington University and the renowned Forest Park. She additionally owned a country estate in nearby St. Charles County near St. Louis. On October 30, 1949, they announced their engagement.[citation needed]

They married at St. John's Methodist Church in St. Louis on November 18. The ceremony was attended by 33 family members and one vice presidential aide, along with about 60 reporters. Outside, an estimated 5,000 people cheered the couple as they departed in a black convertible the groom gave as a wedding gift.[3] When asked about his wife's politics, the vice president said, "She got swept off her feet by Willkie, but now she's back in the fold."

Her husband retired from the Vice Presidency in January 1953. He was elected for another term in the U. S. Senate in 1954, serving until his death in 1956.[citation needed]


After Barkley's death, Jane Barkley accepted a position as a secretary at George Washington University. Mrs. Barkley published a memoir in 1958 with Vanguard publishers of New York, named I Married the Veep. At the time of her death in 1964 from a heart attack, she was still employed at the aforementioned university in Washington, D.C.[4]


  1. ^ "The Merry Widower", Time, August 22, 1949
  2. ^ "The Veep Yields", Time, November 7, 1949
  3. ^ William M. Blair. "Barkley Weds Mrs. Hadley; Couple Cheered by Throngs". New York Times. 
  4. ^ "Milestones", Time, September 18, 1964
Honorary titles
Title last held by
Bess Truman
Second Lady of the United States
Succeeded by
Pat Nixon