Second Lady of the United States

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Second Lady of the
United States of America
Karen Pence official portrait.jpg
Incumbent
Karen Pence

since January 20, 2017
StyleMrs. Pence (informal)
Madam Second Lady (formal)
AbbreviationSLOTUS
ResidenceNumber One Observatory Circle
Inaugural holderAbigail Adams
FormationApril 21, 1789
(229 years ago)
 (1789-04-21)
WebsiteWhiteHouse.gov

The Second Lady of the United States (SLOTUS) is the informal title held by the wife of the Vice President of the United States, concurrent with the vice president's term of office. This title is less commonly used when compared to the title of First Lady of the United States.

The term "Second Lady", coined in contrast to the First Lady (who is almost always the wife of the President), may have been first used by Jennie Tuttle Hobart (whose husband, Garret Hobart was Vice President from 1897 to 1899) to refer to herself.

The title later fell out of favor, but was revived in the 1980s.[1][2] During the 1990s the title was again abandoned, in favor of "wife of the Vice President", but was later resurrected during the administration of Barack Obama.[2] Its use was continued by the administration of Donald Trump,[3], although Donald Trump himself said, during his presidency, that he had never heard the term.[4]

Fourteen Second Ladies have gone on to become First Lady of the United States during their husband's 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 second President from 1797 to 1801. The last to do this was Barbara Bush, who was married to George H. W. Bush, who was the 43rd Vice President from 1981 to 1989 and then 41st President from 1989 to 1993.

The current Second Lady is Karen Pence, who is married to Mike Pence, who has been the 48th Vice President in Donald Trump's administration since January 20, 2017.

There are four living former second ladies: Marilyn Quayle, wife of Dan Quayle; Tipper Gore, wife of Al Gore; Lynne Cheney, wife of Dick Cheney; and Jill Biden, wife of Joe Biden.

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 Lady 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.[5] 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.[5] 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."[5]

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, 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.[6] Jill Biden, wife of Vice 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.[7] She has been involved in various causes, including breast cancer awareness and literacy.

At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Dr. Jill Biden said, "Let me start by thanking you for allowing me to serve as Second Lady of the United States for the past eight years. It has been an honor." This was the first time the informal title was used by an incumbent at a national convention.[citation needed] The term remains an unfamiliar and uncertain one even when it is used.[8]

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. The most recent second lady vacancy was for 132 days in 1974, between the service of Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller.

List of Second Ladies of the United States[edit]

Image Second Lady Date of birth Vice President
Marriage date
Tenure Date of death (age) Tenure as First Lady
Abigail Adams.jpg Adams, Abigail Abigail Smith (1744-11-11)November 11, 1744 Adams, John John Adams
October 25, 1764
April 21, 1789 – March 4, 1797 (1818-10-28)October 28, 1818(1818-10-28) (aged 73) 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 Thompson (1763-08-12)August 12, 1763 Gerry, Elbridge Elbridge Gerry
January 12, 1786
March 4, 1813 – November 23, 1814 (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 Minthorne (1781-08-28)August 28, 1781 Tompkins, Daniel D Daniel D Tompkins
February 20, 1798
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825 (1829-02-18)February 18, 1829(1829-02-18) (aged 47)
Floride Calhoun nee Colhoun.jpg Calhoun, Floride Floride Bonneau Colhoun (1792-02-15)February 15, 1792 Calhoun, John C. John C. Calhoun
January 8, 1811
March 4, 1825 – December 28, 1832 (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 unmarried. March 4, 1837 – March 4, 1841  
Letitia Tyler2.jpg Tyler, Letitia Christian Letitia Christian (1790-11-12)November 12, 1790 Tyler, John John Tyler
March 29, 1813
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841 (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  
Mrs Nicklin etching from Gilbert Stuart painting.jpg Dallas, Sophia Sophia Chew Nicklin (1798-06-24)June 24, 1798 Dallas, George M. George M. Dallas
1816
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849 (1869-01-11)January 11, 1869(1869-01-11) (aged 70)
Abigail Fillmore (Library of Congress).jpg Fillmore, Abigail Abigail Powers (1798-03-13)March 13, 1798 Fillmore, Millard Millard Fillmore
February 5, 1826
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850 (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 (1826-08-16)August 16, 1826 Breckinridge, John C. John C. Breckinridge
December 12, 1843
March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1861 (1907-10-08)October 8, 1907(1907-10-08) (aged 81)
Ellen Hamlin.jpg Hamlin, Ellen Ellen Vesta Emery (1835-09-14)September 14, 1835 Hamlin, Hannibal Hannibal Hamlin
1856
March 4, 1861 – March 4, 1865 (1925-02-01)February 1, 1925(1925-02-01) (aged 89)
Mrs-E-Johnson.jpg Johnson, Eliza Eliza McCardle (1810-10-04)October 4, 1810 Johnson, Andrew Andrew Johnson
May 17, 1827
March 4, 1865 – April 15, 1865 (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 Wade (1836-07-26)(1836-07-26)July 26, 1836 Colfax, Schuyler Schuyler Colfax
November 18, 1868
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1873 (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 Hendricks.jpg Hendricks, Eliza Eliza Carol Morgan (1823-11-23)November 23, 1823 Hendricks, Thomas A. Thomas A. Hendricks
September 26, 1845
March 4, 1885 – November 25, 1885 (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 Livingston Reade Street (1846-05-18)May 18, 1846 Morton, Levi P. Levi P. Morton
1873
March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1893 (1918-08-14)August 14, 1918(1918-08-14) (aged 72)
Letitiastevenson.jpg Stevenson, Letitia Letitia Green (1843-01-08)January 8, 1843 Stevenson, Adlai I Adlai Stevenson I
December 22, 1866
March 4, 1893 – March 4, 1897 (1913-12-25)December 25, 1913(1913-12-25) (aged 70)
JTHobart.gif Hobart, Jennie Esther Jane "Jennie" Tuttle (1849-04-30)April 30, 1849 Hobart, Garret Garret Hobart
July 21, 1869
March 4, 1897 – November 21, 1899 (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 Kermit Carow (1861-08-06)August 6, 1861 Roosevelt, Theodore Theodore Roosevelt
December 2, 1886
March 4, 1901 – September 14, 1901 (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  
Fairbanks 4408868314 de2f1cd85b o.jpg Fairbanks, Cornelia Cornelia "Nellie" Cole January 1852 Fairbanks, Charles W. Charles W. Fairbanks
1874
March 4, 1905 – March 4, 1909 (1913-10-25)October 25, 1913(1913-10-25) (aged 61)
Mrs. Sherman.jpg Sherman, Carrie Carrie Babcock (1856-11-16)November 16, 1856 Sherman, James S. James S. Sherman
January 26, 1881
March 4, 1909 – October 30, 1912 (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 Kimsey (1873-05-09)May 9, 1873 Marshall, Thomas R. Thomas R. Marshall
October 2, 1895
March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1921 (1958-01-06)January 6, 1958(1958-01-06) (aged 84)
Grace Coolidge knitting.jpg Coolidge, Grace Grace Anna Goodhue (1879-01-03)January 3, 1879 Coolidge, Calvin Calvin Coolidge
October 4, 1905
March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923 (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 Dana Blymyer (1866-01-06)January 6, 1866 Dawes, Charles G. Charles G. Dawes
1889
March 4, 1925 – March 4, 1929 (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 Rheiner (1869-07-17)July 17, 1869 Garner, John Nance John Nance Garner
November 25, 1895
March 4, 1933 – January 20, 1941 (1948-08-17)August 17, 1948(1948-08-17) (aged 79)
Mrs. Henry Wallace.jpg Wallace, Ilo Ilo Browne (1888-03-10)March 10, 1888 Wallace, Henry A. Henry A. Wallace
May 20, 1914
January 20, 1941 – January 20, 1945 (1981-02-22)February 22, 1981(1981-02-22) (aged 92)
Bess Truman cropped.jpg Truman, Bess Elizabeth Virginia "Bess" Wallace (1885-02-13)February 13, 1885 Truman, Harry S. Harry S. Truman
June 28, 1919
January 20, 1945 – April 12, 1945 (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 Elizabeth Jane Rucker (1911-09-23)September 23, 1911 Barkley, Alben W. Alben W. Barkley
November 18, 1949
November 18, 1949 – January 20, 1953 (1964-09-06)September 6, 1964(1964-09-06) (aged 52)
PatNixon.jpg Nixon, Pat Thelma Catherine "Pat" Ryan (1912-03-16)March 16, 1912 Nixon, Richard Richard Nixon
June 21, 1940
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961 (1993-06-22)June 22, 1993(1993-06-22) (aged 81) 1969–1974
Lady Bird Johnson 1987.jpg Johnson, Lady Bird Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor (1912-12-22)December 22, 1912 Johnson, Lyndon B. Lyndon B. Johnson
November 17, 1934
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963 (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 Fay Buck (1912-02-20)February 20, 1912 Humphrey, Hubert Hubert Humphrey
September 3, 1936
January 20, 1965 – January 20, 1969 (1998-09-20)September 20, 1998(1998-09-20) (aged 86)
Mrs. Agnew.tif Agnew, Judy Elinor Isabel "Judy" Judefind (1921-04-23)April 23, 1921 Agnew, Spiro Spiro Agnew
May 27, 1942
January 20, 1969 – October 10, 1973 (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 Ann "Betty" Bloomer (1918-04-08)April 8, 1918 Ford, Gerald Gerald Ford
October 15, 1948
December 6, 1973 – August 9, 1974 (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 Large "Happy" Fitler (1926-06-09)June 9, 1926 Rockefeller, Nelson Nelson Rockefeller
May 4, 1963
December 19, 1974 – January 20, 1977 (2015-05-19)May 19, 2015(2015-05-19) (aged 88)
1977JoanMondaleNARA173414crop.jpg Mondale, Joan Joan Adams (1930-08-08)August 8, 1930 Mondale, Walter Walter Mondale
December 27, 1955
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981 (2014-02-03)February 3, 2014(2014-02-03) (aged 83)
Barbara Bush portrait.jpg Bush, Barbara Barbara Pierce (1925-06-08)June 8, 1925 Bush, George H. W. George H. W. Bush
January 6, 1945
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989 (2018-04-17)April 17, 2018(2018-04-17) (aged 92) 1989–1993
Marilyn Quayle.jpg Quayle, Marilyn Marilyn Tucker (1949-07-29)July 29, 1949 Quayle, Dan Dan Quayle
November 18, 1972
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993 2018-11-11 Living
69 years, 105 days
Mary Elizabeth Gore.JPG Gore, Tipper Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Aitcheson (1948-08-19)August 19, 1948 Gore, Al Al Gore
May 19, 1970
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001 2018-11-11 Living
70 years, 84 days
Lynne Cheney official photo.jpg Cheney, Lynne Lynne Ann Vincent (1941-08-14)August 14, 1941 Cheney, Dick Dick Cheney
August 29, 1964
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009 2018-11-11 Living
77 years, 89 days
Jill Biden official portrait crop.jpg Biden, Jill Jill Tracy Jacobs (1951-06-03)June 3, 1951 Biden, Joe Joe Biden
June 17, 1977
January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017 2018-11-11 Living
67 years, 161 days
Karen Pence official portrait.jpg Pence, KarenKaren Sue Batten (1957-01-01)January 1, 1957 Pence, MikeMike Pence
June 8, 1985
January 20, 2017 – present 2018-11-11Living
61 years, 314 days

Living Second Ladies[edit]

As of November 2018, there are four living former Second Ladies, as identified below.

The most recent second lady to die, and most recent serving (1981–89) who died, was Barbara Bush on April 17, 2018.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Purcell, Edward (2010). Vice Presidents: A Biographical Dictionary. InfoBase. p. 237. ISBN 1438130716.
  2. ^ a b Safire, William (2008). Safire's Political Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 249. ISBN 0195343344.
  3. ^ "Mrs. Karen Pence". whitehouse.gov. 24 December 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  4. ^ Hartmann, Margaret (July 2017). "Trump Reveals That He's Never Heard the Term 'Second Lady'". New York magazine. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Brower, Kate Andersen (June 24, 2018). "Remembering Pat Nixon: A fearless first and second lady". The Hill. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  6. ^ "Mrs. Lynne Cheney". whitehouse.gov. The White House. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
  7. ^ Abcarian, Robin Abcarian (2 February 2009). "Hi, I'm Jill. Jill Biden. But please, call me Dr. Biden". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  8. ^ Hannity & Colmes (16 September 2008). "Second Lady Lynne Cheney on Her New Book, Media's Treatment of Sarah Palin". Fox News. Retrieved 9 February 2017.

External links[edit]

  • "Karen Pence". Retrieved March 21, 2018. – The Official White House site for the Second Lady
  • "Wives of Vice Presidents". Vice Presidents.com. Archived from the original on September 1, 2005. Retrieved October 7, 2005. – List of the wives of Vice Presidents