1,200: Number of letters John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, throughout their marriage, often seeking her political insight.
1: Number of months into his presidency that he wrote to her: “I can do nothing without you.” His critics seemed to agree, calling Abigail “Mrs. President.”
Martha “Patsy” Jefferson
29:Age of Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph when she began serving as her father’s unofficial First Lady in 1801. Thomas Jefferson’s wife had died 19 years earlier, and he promised her he would never remarry. Patsy’s son was the first baby born in the White House.2:Number of years Andrew Jackson and his wife, Rachel, accidentally lived as bigamists. (Her first husband apparently had permission to file for divorce in 1790 but didn’t.) The Jacksons quietly remarried when her divorce was final in 1794, but their initial illegal marriage became a scandal leading up to the 1828 presidential campaign.20: Days after her husband’s win that Rachel Jackson died. She was buried on Christmas Eve in the white dress she’d bought for the upcoming 1829 inauguration.
11: Age at which Harriet Lane was orphaned and requested to be left in the custody of her uncle, Senator James Buchanan. When Buchanan, a bachelor, became president in 1857, the then 26-year-old Lane served as his First Lady.2.5:Inches Lane had her seamstress lower the neckline of her gown for Buchanan’s inauguration. Historians compare her fashion influence to that of Jacqueline Kennedy.
1818:Year Mary Ann Todd was born. As a child, she allegedly declared that she would marry a man who would become president.18:Months after Abraham Lincoln broke off his engagement to Todd that the pair reunited and married. His reason for the break: He didn’t think he was worthy of her.$7,000: Amount that Mary Todd Lincoln went over the White House decorating budget in 1861
Frances Folsom Cleveland
22:First Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland’s age when she married President Grover Cleveland at the White House in 1886. Twenty-seven years her senior, Cleveland had been a longtime friend of her father and had purchased a baby carriage for her shortly after she was born.1886: Approximate year Frances’s image was used in ads without her consent and devoted fans began adopting her clothing and hairstyle. One detractor of President Cleveland quipped: “I detest him so much that I don’t even think his wife is beautiful.”
400,000:Approximate number of troops Eleanor Roosevelt visited on bases and in hospitals in the South Pacific during World War II. She famously said: “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.” Both Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton later paraphrased her quote.5′11″: Eleanor Roosevelt’s height; she’s tied with Michelle Obama for tallest First Lady.
Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson
1:Number of dates Claudia “Lady Bird” Taylor and Lyndon Johnson had been on when he proposed to her in 1934. 10: Number of weeks of courtship conducted almost entirely by letter, telegram, and phone later that Lady Bird agreed to marry Johnson.$10,000: Amount of her inheritance that Lady Bird used to fund her husband’s last-minute congressional campaign in 1937, beginning his political career.
1951:Year that Jacqueline Lee Bouvier worked as the “Inquiring Camera Girl” for the Washington Times-Herald newspaper, photographing and interviewing interesting people on the street. One of her subjects was Richard Nixon.9: Years later that as Jacqueline Kennedy, she took another newspaper gig, writing the syndicated column “Campaign Wife.” Kennedy was pregnant and on doctor’s orders to stay home as her husband campaigned. “I decided one way to keep from feeling left out was to talk through this column to the friendly people all over the country,” she wrote.
40: Number of states Pat Nixon traveled to during her husband’s presidency. She also visited an active combat zone in Vietnam.
2:Number of months into her husband’s presidency that Elizabeth “Betty” Ford learned she had breast cancer and had a mastectomy. She invited journalists to photograph her in her hospital bed, saying, “Maybe if I, as First Lady, could talk about it candidly and without embarrassment, many other people would be able to as well.”55,800:Number of thank-you and get-well cards she received.1975: Year that Ford told McCall’s magazine that journalists had asked her just about everything except for how often she and the president had sex. “And if they’d asked me that I would have told them…as often as possible,” she said. Pro-choice, pro-psychiatry, and pro-face-lift, she was referred to as “No Lady” by more-conservative Republicans, but Ford had a 75 percent approval rating.
12:Number of films actress Nancy Davis appeared in. In Hellcats of the Navy in 1957, she costarred with her husband of five years, Ronald Reagan, the former president of the Screen Actors Guild.1981:Year Nancy Reagan hired celebrity decorator Ted Graber to give the White House family quarters an estimated $1 million makeover.$822,000: Amount of that money that came from tax-deductible donations.
1992: Year that a campaign button featuring the faces of First Lady Barbara Bush and Marilyn Quayle read: “Faith, Family, Future.” A Democratic button the same year read: “Washington wants Hillary’s Husband for President.”
20: Estimated number of major news publications that compared Hillary Clinton to Lady Macbeth in 1992.
2009:Year Michelle Obama wore a sleeveless dress to her husband’s first congressional address, sparking some controversy and more praise.1,872: Approximate number of workouts, with a nine-minute arm routine each time, that Obama did between 1997 and 2009, according to her personal trainer.
Photo by: Condé Nast Archive