Second Ladies and Gentlemen of the United States

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Second Gentleman of the United States
Doug Emhoff 2020.jpg
Current
Douglas Emhoff

since January 20, 2021
StyleMr. Emhoff
AbbreviationSGOTUS
ResidenceNumber One Observatory Circle
Inaugural holderAbigail Adams
(as second lady)
Douglas Emhoff
(as second gentleman)
FormationApril 21, 1789
(232 years ago)
 (1789-04-21)
WebsiteWhiteHouse.gov

The second lady of the United States (SLOTUS) or second gentleman of the United States (SGOTUS) is the informal title held by the spouse of the vice president of the United States, concurrent with the vice president's term of office. Coined in contrast to "first lady", albeit used less commonly, the title "second lady" was apparently first used by Jennie Tuttle Hobart (wife of Garret Hobart, vice president 1897–1899) to refer to herself. Second gentleman of the United States is the title held by Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris.[1]

Twelve second ladies have gone on to become first ladies during their husbands' terms as president. The first to do this was Abigail Adams, who was married to John Adams, who was the first vice president from 1789 to 1797 and then the second president from 1797 to 1801. The most recent to do this is Jill Biden, who is married to Joe Biden, the 47th vice president from 2009 to 2017 and then the 46th president since 2021.

The current second gentleman is Douglas Emhoff, as his wife Kamala Harris became the 49th vice president of the United States on January 20, 2021. Emhoff is the first second gentleman of the United States.

There are five living former second ladies: Marilyn Quayle (wife of Dan Quayle), Tipper Gore (former wife of Al Gore), Lynne Cheney (wife of Dick Cheney), First Lady Jill Biden (wife of Joe Biden), and Karen Pence (wife of Mike Pence).

History[edit]

The second lady's visibility in the public sphere has been a somewhat recent development. Although the role of the first lady as White House hostess dates from the beginning of the republic (and was typically filled by another member of the president's family if the president was unmarried or a widower), with a few exceptions, it was generally not until the late 20th century and early 21st century that vice-presidential wives took on public roles that attracted significant media attention.

In one notable exception, Floride Calhoun, wife of Vice President John C. Calhoun, was a central figure in the Petticoat Affair, a social-political scandal which involved the social ostracism of Secretary of War John H. Eaton and his wife Margaret O'Neill Eaton, further damaging already-strained relations between Vice President Calhoun and President Andrew Jackson.

Second Lady Pat Nixon, with Vice President Richard Nixon, led a delegation to Ghana in 1957. One historian wrote that Pat Nixon "helped to define this nebulous role for an entire generation of women who would succeed her".

Pat Nixon, wife of Vice President Richard Nixon, was the first second spouse to add a great deal of substance to the role of the vice president's wife. When Nixon assumed the position in 1953, the role's only official function was to preside over the once-annual Senate Ladies Luncheon.[2] Instead, Nixon launched her own initiatives, sensing great opportunities that her role provided. She established a schedule separate from that of her husband, which often consisted of solo activities. As second lady, Nixon traveled more than 125,000 miles around the world to six continents, including a two-month, 42,000-mile journey through Asia in 1953.[2] As she undertook missions of goodwill across the world, she insisted on visiting schools, orphanages, hospitals and village markets rather than attend tea or coffee functions. In this sense, Nixon essentially created the modern role of the second lady; historian Kate Andersen Brower wrote, "she helped to define this nebulous role for an entire generation of women who would succeed her."[2]

In 1978, Muriel Humphrey, wife of Vice President Hubert Humphrey, became the only former second lady to hold public office; after her husband, who had returned to the U.S. Senate after his term as vice president, died in office, she was appointed by Minnesota governor Rudy Perpich to continue her husband's term. Tipper Gore, separated wife of Vice President Al Gore, was active in several campaigns to remove material she found objectionable from popular American entertainment like movies, television shows and music, starting when her husband was a senator. She challenged performers over their use of profane lyrics and often debated with her critics, such as Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra. Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, championed education reform, citing specific failures of the American public education system during her tenure as second lady. She is a particularly outspoken supporter of American history education, having written five bestselling books on this topic for children and their families.[3] Jill Biden, wife of President Joe Biden, works as an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, and is thought to be the first second lady to hold a paying job while her husband was vice president.[4] She has been involved in various causes, including breast cancer awareness and literacy.

The term remains an unfamiliar and uncertain one, even when it is used.[5]

There have been 17 periods of vacancy in the role, the longest of which continued for 16 years between the service of vice presidential spouses Abigail Adams and Ann Gerry when there were three widower vice presidents and a one-year vacancy in the vice presidency. The most recent second lady vacancy was for 132 days in 1974, between the service of Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller, when the vice presidency was also vacant.

12 second ladies went on to become first lady following their husbands becoming president, the first being Abigail Adams and most recent being Jill Biden.

List of second ladies and gentlemen of the United States[edit]

Image Second Lady or Gentleman Vice President
Marriage date
Tenure Date of birth Date of death (age) Tenure as First Lady
Abigail Adams.jpg Adams, Abigail Abigail Adams (née Abigail Smith) Adams, John John Adams
October 25, 1764
April 21, 1789 – March 4, 1797 (1744-11-11)November 11, 1744 (1818-10-28)(1818-10-28)October 28, 1818 (73 years, 351 days) 1797–1801
01.1 Vacant; Jefferson, Thomas Thomas Jefferson was a widower. March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
01.2 Vacant; Aaron Burr was a widower. March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1805
01.3 Vacant; George Clinton was a widower. March 4, 1805 – April 20, 1812
01.4 Vacant; no vice president. April 20, 1812 – March 4, 1813
Ann Thompson Gerry.jpg Gerry, Ann Ann Gerry (née Ann Thompson) Gerry, Elbridge Elbridge Gerry
January 12, 1786
March 4, 1813 – November 23, 1814 (1763-08-12)August 12, 1763 (1849-03-17)March 17, 1849(1849-03-17) (aged 85)
02.1 Vacant; no vice president. November 23, 1814 – March 4, 1817
Hannah Tompkins2.jpg Tompkins, Hannah Hannah Tompkins (née Hannah Minthorne) Tompkins, Daniel D Daniel D Tompkins
February 20, 1798
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825 (1781-08-28)August 28, 1781 (1829-02-18)February 18, 1829(1829-02-18) (aged 47)
Floride Calhoun nee Colhoun.jpg Calhoun, Floride Floride Bonneau Calhoun (née Floride Bonneau Colhoun) Calhoun, John C. John C. Calhoun
January 8, 1811
March 4, 1825 – December 28, 1832 (1792-02-15)February 15, 1792 (1866-07-25)July 25, 1866(1866-07-25) (aged 74)
04.1 Vacant; no vice president. December 28, 1832 – March 4, 1833
04.2 Vacant; Buren, Martin Van Martin Van Buren was a widower. March 4, 1833 – March 4, 1837
04.3 Vacant; Johnson, Richard Mentor Richard M. Johnson was a widower via common-law marriage. March 4, 1837 – March 4, 1841
Letitia Tyler2.jpg Tyler, Letitia Christian Letitia Tyler (née Letitia Christian) Tyler, John John Tyler
March 29, 1813
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841 (1790-11-12)November 12, 1790 (1842-09-12)September 12, 1842(1842-09-12) (aged 51) 1841–1842
05.1 Vacant; no vice president. April 4, 1841 – March 4, 1845
Dallas, Sophia Sophia Dallas (née Sophia Chew Nicklin) Dallas, George M. George M. Dallas
May 23, 1816
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849 (1798-06-24)June 24, 1798 (1869-01-11)January 11, 1869(1869-01-11) (aged 70)
Abigail Fillmore (Library of Congress) 2.jpg Fillmore, Abigail Abigail Fillmore (née Abigail Powers) Fillmore, Millard Millard Fillmore
February 5, 1826
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850 (1798-03-13)March 13, 1798 (1853-03-30)March 30, 1853(1853-03-30) (aged 55) 1850–1853
07.1 Vacant; no vice president. July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
07.2 Vacant; King, William R. William R. King was unmarried. March 4, 1853 – April 18, 1853
07.3 Vacant; no vice president. April 18, 1853 – March 4, 1857
Mary-Cyrene-Breckinridge.jpg Breckinridge, Mary Cyrene Burch Mary Cyrene Burch Breckinridge (née Mary Cyrene Burch) Breckinridge, John C. John C. Breckinridge
December 12, 1843
March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1861 (1826-08-16)August 16, 1826 (1907-10-08)October 8, 1907(1907-10-08) (aged 81)
Ellen Hamlin.jpg Hamlin, Ellen Ellen Hamlin (née Ellen Vesta Emery) Hamlin, Hannibal Hannibal Hamlin
September 25, 1856
March 4, 1861 – March 4, 1865 (1835-09-14)September 14, 1835 (1925-02-01)February 1, 1925(1925-02-01) (aged 89)
Mrs-E-Johnson.jpg Johnson, Eliza Eliza McCardle Johnson (née Eliza McCardle) Johnson, Andrew Andrew Johnson
May 17, 1827
March 4, 1865 – April 15, 1865 (1810-10-04)October 4, 1810 (1876-01-15)January 15, 1876(1876-01-15) (aged 65) 1865–1869
10.1 Vacant; no vice president. April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
Ellen Maria Colfax.jpg Colfax, Ellen Maria Ellen Maria Colfax (née Ellen Maria Wade) Colfax, Schuyler Schuyler Colfax
November 18, 1868
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1873 (1836-07-26)July 26, 1836 (1911-03-04)March 4, 1911(1911-03-04) (aged 74)
11.1 Vacant; Wilson, Henry Henry Wilson was a widower. March 4, 1873 – November 22, 1875
11.2 Vacant; no vice president. November 22, 1875 – March 4, 1877
11.3 Vacant; Wheeler, William A. William A. Wheeler was a widower. March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881
11.4 Vacant; Arthur, Chester A. Chester A. Arthur was a widower. March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
11.5 Vacant; no vice president. September 19, 1881 – March 4, 1885
ELIZA C. MORGAN HENDRICKS A woman of the century (page 382 crop).jpg Hendricks, Eliza Eliza Hendricks (née Eliza Carol Morgan) Hendricks, Thomas A. Thomas A. Hendricks
September 26, 1845
March 4, 1885 – November 25, 1885 (1823-11-23)November 23, 1823 (1903-01-03)January 3, 1903(1903-01-03) (aged 79)
12.1 Vacant; no vice president. November 25, 1885 – March 4, 1889
Anna Morton.jpg Morton, Anna Anna Morton (née Anna Livingston Reade Street) Morton, Levi P. Levi P. Morton
February 12, 1873
March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1893 (1846-05-18)May 18, 1846 (1918-08-14)August 14, 1918(1918-08-14) (aged 72)
Letitiastevenson2.jpg Stevenson, Letitia Letitia Stevenson (née Letitia Green) Stevenson, Adlai I Adlai Stevenson I
December 22, 1866
March 4, 1893 – March 4, 1897 (1843-01-08)January 8, 1843 (1913-12-25)December 25, 1913(1913-12-25) (aged 70)
Jennie Tuttle Hobart.jpg Hobart, Jennie Esther Jane "Jennie" Tuttle Hobart (née Esther Jane Tuttle) Hobart, Garret Garret Hobart
July 21, 1869
March 4, 1897 – November 21, 1899 (1849-04-30)April 30, 1849 (1941-01-08)January 8, 1941(1941-01-08) (aged 91)
15.1 Vacant; no vice president. November 21, 1899 – March 4, 1901
Edith Roosevelt.jpg Roosevelt, Edith Edith Roosevelt (née Edith Kermit Carow) Roosevelt, Theodore Theodore Roosevelt
December 2, 1886
March 4, 1901 – September 14, 1901 (1861-08-06)August 6, 1861 (1948-09-30)September 30, 1948(1948-09-30) (aged 87) 1901–1909
16.1 Vacant; no vice president. September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1905
Mrs. C.W. Fairbanks (1913).jpg Fairbanks, Cornelia Cornelia "Nellie" Cole Fairbanks (née Cornelia Cole) Fairbanks, Charles W. Charles W. Fairbanks
October 6, 1874
March 4, 1905 – March 4, 1909 (1852-01-14)January 14, 1852 (1913-10-25)October 25, 1913(1913-10-25) (aged 61)
Mrs. Sherman.jpg Sherman, Carrie Carrie Babcock Sherman (née Carrie Babcock) Sherman, James S. James S. Sherman
January 26, 1881
March 4, 1909 – October 30, 1912 (1856-11-16)November 16, 1856 (1931-10-06)October 6, 1931(1931-10-06) (aged 74)
18.1 Vacant; no vice president. October 30, 1912 – March 4, 1913
Mrs. Thos. R. Marshall.jpg Marshall, Lois Irene Lois Irene Marshall (née Lois Irene Kimsey) Marshall, Thomas R. Thomas R. Marshall
October 2, 1895
March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1921 (1873-05-09)May 9, 1873 (1958-01-06)January 6, 1958(1958-01-06) (aged 84)
Grace Coolidge 1924.jpg Coolidge, Grace Grace Coolidge (née Grace Anna Goodhue) Coolidge, Calvin Calvin Coolidge
October 4, 1905
March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923 (1879-01-03)January 3, 1879 (1957-07-08)July 8, 1957(1957-07-08) (aged 78) 1923–1929
20.1 Vacant; no vice president. August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1925
Caro Dawes 1924.jpg Dawes, Caro Caro Dawes (née Caro Dana Blymyer) Dawes, Charles G. Charles G. Dawes
January 24, 1889
March 4, 1925 – March 4, 1929 (1866-01-06)January 6, 1866 (1957-10-03)October 3, 1957(1957-10-03) (aged 91)
21.1 Vacant; Curtis, Charles Charles Curtis was a widower. March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
Mrs. John Nance Garner.jpg Garner, Mariette Mariette Elizabeth "Ettie" Garner (née Mariette Elizabeth Rheiner) Garner, John Nance John Nance Garner
November 25, 1895
March 4, 1933 – January 20, 1941 (1869-07-17)July 17, 1869 (1948-08-17)August 17, 1948(1948-08-17) (aged 79)
Mrs. Henry Wallace.jpg Wallace, Ilo Ilo Wallace (née Ilo Browne) Wallace, Henry A. Henry A. Wallace
May 20, 1914
January 20, 1941 – January 20, 1945 (1888-03-10)March 10, 1888 (1981-02-22)February 22, 1981(1981-02-22) (aged 92)
Bess Truman cropped.jpg Truman, Bess Bess Truman (née Elizabeth Virginia Wallace) Truman, Harry S. Harry S. Truman
June 28, 1919
January 20, 1945 – April 12, 1945 (1885-02-13)February 13, 1885 (1982-10-18)October 18, 1982(1982-10-18) (aged 97) 1945–1953
24.1 Vacant; no vice president. April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1949
24.2 Vacant; Barkley, Alben W. Alben W. Barkley was a widower. January 20, 1949 – November 18, 1949
Jane Barkley.jpg Barkley, Jane Hadley Jane Hadley Barkley (née Elizabeth Jane Rucker) Barkley, Alben W. Alben W. Barkley
November 18, 1949
November 18, 1949 – January 20, 1953 (1911-09-23)September 23, 1911 (1964-09-06)September 6, 1964(1964-09-06) (aged 52)
PatNixon.jpg Nixon, Pat Pat Nixon (née Thelma Catherine Ryan) Nixon, Richard Richard Nixon
June 21, 1940
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961 (1912-03-16)March 16, 1912 (1993-06-22)June 22, 1993(1993-06-22) (aged 81) 1969–1974
Lady Bird Johnson, bw photo ca1962.jpg Johnson, Lady Bird Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson (née Claudia Alta Taylor) Johnson, Lyndon B. Lyndon B. Johnson
November 17, 1934
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963 (1912-12-22)December 22, 1912 (2007-07-11)July 11, 2007(2007-07-11) (aged 94) 1963–1969
27.1 Vacant; no vice president. November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1965
Senator Muriel Humphrey (D-MN).jpg Humphrey, Muriel Muriel Humphrey Brown (née Muriel Fay Buck) Humphrey, Hubert Hubert Humphrey
September 3, 1936
January 20, 1965 – January 20, 1969 (1912-02-20)February 20, 1912 (1998-09-20)September 20, 1998(1998-09-20) (aged 86)
Mrs. Agnew.tif Agnew, Judy Elinor "Judy" Agnew (née Elinor Isabel Judefind) Agnew, Spiro Spiro Agnew
May 27, 1942
January 20, 1969 – October 10, 1973 (1921-04-23)April 23, 1921 (2012-06-20)June 20, 2012(2012-06-20) (aged 91)
30.1 Vacant; no vice president. October 10, 1973 – December 6, 1973
Betty Ford, official White House photo color, 1974.jpg Ford, Betty Elizabeth "Betty" Ford (née Elizabeth Anne Bloomer) Ford, Gerald Gerald Ford
October 15, 1948
December 6, 1973 – August 9, 1974 (1918-04-08)April 8, 1918 (2011-07-08)July 8, 2011(2011-07-08) (aged 93) 1974–1977
30.1 Vacant; no vice president. August 9, 1974 – December 19, 1974
Happy Rockefeller 1973.JPG Rockefeller, Happy Margaretta "Happy" Rockefeller (née Margaretta Large Fitler) Rockefeller, Nelson Nelson Rockefeller
May 4, 1963
December 19, 1974 – January 20, 1977 (1926-06-09)June 9, 1926 (2015-05-19)May 19, 2015(2015-05-19) (aged 88)
1977JoanMondaleNARA173414crop.jpg Mondale, Joan Joan Mondale (née Joan Adams) Mondale, Walter Walter Mondale
December 27, 1955
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981 (1930-08-08)August 8, 1930 (2014-02-03)February 3, 2014(2014-02-03) (aged 83)
Barbara Bush 1991.jpg Bush, Barbara Barbara Bush (née Barbara Pierce) Bush, George H. W. George H. W. Bush
January 6, 1945
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989 (1925-06-08)June 8, 1925 (2018-04-17)April 17, 2018(2018-04-17) (aged 92) 1989–1993
Marilyn Quayle.jpg Quayle, Marilyn Marilyn Quayle (née Marilyn Tucker) Quayle, Dan Dan Quayle
November 18, 1972
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993 (1949-07-29)July 29, 1949 2021-08-1 Living
72 years, 3 days
Gore, Tipper Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Gore (née Mary Elizabeth Aitcheson) Gore, Al Al Gore
May 19, 1970
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001 (1948-08-19)August 19, 1948 2021-08-1 Living
72 years, 347 days
Lynne Cheney official photo.jpg Cheney, Lynne Lynne Cheney (née Lynne Ann Vincent) Cheney, Dick Dick Cheney
August 29, 1964
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009 (1941-08-14)August 14, 1941 2021-08-1 Living
79 years, 352 days
Jill Biden official portrait crop.jpg Biden, Jill Jill Biden (née Jill Tracy Jacobs) Biden, Joe Joe Biden
June 17, 1977
January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017 (1951-06-03)June 3, 1951 2021-08-1 Living
70 years, 59 days
2021–present
Pence, KarenKaren Pence (née Karen Sue Batten) Pence, MikeMike Pence
June 8, 1985
January 20, 2017 – January 20, 2021 (1957-01-01)January 1, 1957 2021-08-1Living
64 years, 212 days
Emhoff, DouglasDouglas Craig Emhoff Harris, KamalaKamala Harris
August 22, 2014
January 20, 2021 – present (1964-10-13)October 13, 1964 2021-08-1Living
56 years, 292 days

Other spouses of U.S. vice presidents[edit]

Various other spouses of vice presidents of the United States are not considered as second ladies of the United States because their marriages were not during the vice presidential terms of their husbands.

Nine U.S. vice presidents were widowed prior to their vice presidencies:

One U.S. vice president was divorced and remarried prior to his vice presidency:

Three U.S. vice presidents remarried after their vice presidencies:

Five U.S. vice presidents were widowed and remarried prior to their vice presidencies:

One U.S. vice president was widowed before his vice presidency and remarried during his vice presidency:

Living former second ladies[edit]

As of January 2021, there are five living former second ladies, as identified below.

The most recent second lady to die, and most recent serving (1981–1989) who died, was Barbara Bush (1925–2018), wife of George H. W. Bush, on April 17, 2018.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Johnson, Ted (January 15, 2021). "Twitter Will Offer @SecondGentleman Account For Doug Emhoff; Outlines Plans For Transfer To Joe Biden's Administration". Deadline.
  2. ^ a b c Brower, Kate Andersen (June 24, 2018). "Remembering Pat Nixon: A fearless first and second lady". The Hill. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  3. ^ "Mrs. Lynne Cheney". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved October 13, 2008 – via National Archives.
  4. ^ Abcarian, Robin Abcarian (February 2, 2009). "Hi, I'm Jill. Jill Biden. But please, call me Dr. Biden". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  5. ^ Hannity & Colmes (September 16, 2008). "Second Lady Lynne Cheney on Her New Book, Media's Treatment of Sarah Palin". Fox News. Retrieved February 9, 2017.

External links[edit]