Eleanor Roosevelt is top U.S. first lady, survey says

Sat Feb 15, 2014 4:36pm EST

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(Reuters) - Eleanor Roosevelt was named the greatest first lady of the United States in a survey of historians released on Saturday, while Michelle Obama, in fifth place, edged out Hillary Clinton in sixth.

Roosevelt, whose husband, Franklin, served as president from 1933 to 1945, has come up No. 1 each of the five times the survey has been conducted by Siena College Research Institute since 1982.

In the top finishers after Roosevelt were Abigail Adams, Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolly Madison.

Least impressive, according to the survey, was Jane Pierce, the wife of 14th U.S. president, Franklin Pierce.

Although historians disagree over exactly when the title of first lady came into common usage, it has traditionally been given to a president's wife and is an unofficial, but potentially powerful, role.

Pollsters asked 242 historians and political scientists to rate 38 presidents' wives in 10 categories such as "courage," "integrity," "value to the country" and "accomplishments."

Current first lady Michelle Obama scored particularly high in the categories of "being her own woman" and "value to the president." Her weakest area was seen to be in her capacity of "being the White House steward."

Rounding out the top 10 after Clinton were Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Martha Washington and Rosalynn Carter.

(Reporting By Jonathan Allen; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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Comments (5)
MarkMulligan wrote:
Let’s not forget poor, long-suffering, Pat Nixon! Pat wore her Republican cloth coat with cachet! And talk about suffering in silence! And standing by her man! Poor old Pat deserves recognition in the First Lady field! She didn’t waste tons of money, as I recall. Come on, how about something, anything, for Pat Nixon?

Feb 15, 2014 5:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
choirboy wrote:
Did any body think that Mooochell Obamer would be close to #1 ? ,,, First you must have Grace , Walk like a Lady and above all Look like a Lady

Feb 15, 2014 6:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
sabrefencer wrote:
she earned that with honor..now, the press creates their honor, bought and paid for, with access privileges to the Obama white house…

Feb 15, 2014 11:10pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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