The Best And Worst Portraits Of First Ladies

The role of the First Lady has been around since Martha Washington’s husband, George Washington was sworn into office. Although the title was not yet established, the role was largely the same. They are the hostess of the White House and typically the wife of the president. But over the centuries, the position has grown and evolved. Today, the First Lady has much more power than ever before — and much more responsibility. Take a look back to see the women who have held the position of First Lady, how they influenced the role, and how others depicted them.

Martha Jefferson Never Saw Her Husband Become President

Photo: The White House Historical Association
Photo: The White House Historical Association

Born October 30, 1748, Martha Jefferson was the wife to Thomas Jefferson, which would have made her the third First Lady of the United States. Together, the two shared six children although only two daughters made it to adulthood and one surviving until 25. Weakened from the childbirth of their last child, she passed away in 1782, decades before her husband took office.

Although she was never officially the First Lady, she is still considered to be one since Jefferson kept his promise that he would never remarry. Although this portrait may seem appropriate in a contemporary art museum, it’s unlikely that you’ll find it in the White House.