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Abigail Adams, the first president's wife to live in the White House, famously hung the family's laundry in the East Room. Even in modern times, White House staff members have reported smelling wet laundry and lavender there. And some have even claimed to have seen her ghost.Massachusetts Historical Society
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Thomas Jefferson was married to his wife, Martha, for a decade. After she died in 1782, Jefferson began a well-known affair with Sally Hemings, an enslaved woman. But what few people know is that Hemings was actually Martha's half sister — they shared the same father.John Hutton for the White House Historical Association
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During the War of 1812, Dolley Madison, the wife of James Madison, helped preserve a life-size portrait of George Washington as the British approached Washington, D.C.
"Save that picture, if possible," she instructed an enslaved teenager named Paul Jennings. "If not possible, destroy it: under no circumstance allow it to fall into the hands of the British."Public Domain
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The United States has only had two foreign-born first ladies: Louisa Adams, who was born in England, and Melania Trump, who was born in present-day Slovenia. Public Domain/Twitter
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When Rachel Donelson left her abusive first husband to marry Andrew Jackson, she thought her ex would file for divorce. But he didn't, and the Jacksons faced accusations of being bigamists.
Rachel Jackson took the allegations hard. When her husband ran for president in 1828, some of his enemies labeled her as an "adulteress." And when she died of a heart attack shortly after his victory, Jackson forever blamed his political foes. White House Historical Association
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Anna Harrison never had the opportunity to move into the White House. Just a month after her husband, William Henry Harrison, began his term, he passed away in 1841. Public Domain
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In 1842, Letitia Tyler became the first president's wife to die at the White House at the age of 51 following a stroke.
Two other first ladies have died at the White House as well: Caroline Harrison of tuberculosis in 1892 and Ellen Wilson of Bright's Disease in 1914.Public Domain
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Sarah Polk was dubbed "Sahara Sarah" because of her stance against hard liquor. She also banned dancing and card games at the White House.Public Domain
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When her husband Zachary Taylor went off to fight in the Mexican War, Peggy Taylor allegedly made a promise to God that if he survived, she'd remove herself from society. He did — and so Peggy Taylor remained firmly behind the scenes as first lady, instructing her daughter to take on all of her hostessing duties.National First Ladies' Library
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A former teacher, Abigail Fillmore noticed that the White House lacked a proper library when she arrived alongside her husband, Millard, after he became president in 1850.
The first lady suggested that her husband secure Congressional approval to fund the library. He did, and Abigail furnished the White House library with hundreds of books.National Portrait Gallery
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Jane Pierce was not an enthusiastic first lady due to her general hatred of politics. When her husband, Franklin, ran for president in 1852, Jane allegedly prayed that he would lose. Public Domain
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Mary Todd Lincoln forever mourned the death of her husband, Abraham. In 1872, she even sat for a "spirit photographer" in order to capture her husband's "ghost."
Though Abraham appears in the photo, it's merely a photographer's trick, likely double exposure.Massachusetts Historical Society
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The wife of Ulysses S. Grant, Julia Grant almost always posed in profile — and she had a personal reason for doing so. She had been born with an eye condition called strabismus, more commonly referred to as "crossed eyes."Library of Congress
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But Julia Grant's larger claim to fame is the role she played in American history. When President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary invited the Grants to Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, Julia "objected strenuously to accompanying Mrs. Lincoln," who she did not like. And she successfully convinced Ulysses not to go.
That night, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Because of this, Julia Grant may have saved her husband's life.Missouri Encyclopedia
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Though informal Easter egg rolls had taken place before, Lucy Hayes is credited with starting the tradition at the White House in 1878.Public Domain
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Frances Folsom met her future husband, Grover Cleveland, when she was just a baby. The then-27-year-old Grover was her father's law partner, and he even bought her her first baby carriage.
They married more than two decades later, when Frances was 21 and Grover was 49. Public Domain
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Although her husband, Theodore Roosevelt, loved attention, Edith Roosevelt preferred to stay firmly behind the scenes.
She allegedly once said that "a woman's name should appear in print but twice — when she is married and when she is buried."Public Domain
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Nellie Taft helped bring Washington, D.C.'s famous cherry trees to the nation's capital.
As first lady, Taft wholeheartedly supported a proposal by Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore to beautify the city with cherry trees. Taft was familiar with Japanese cherry trees and their beauty, having spent time in Asia with her husband. Bettmann/Getty Images
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In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a severe stroke. And some accounts state that it was his wife, Edith, who oversaw his duties until the end of his presidency.
Edith herself called it a "stewardship." Though she denied making any big decisions on the president's behalf, she did have a heavy hand in deciding what her husband needed to see, and what could be delegated to others.Stock Montage/Getty Images
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When Warren G. Harding died in 1923, his official cause of death was listed as a heart attack. However, some conspiracy theorists believe that he may have been killed by his long-suffering wife, Florence, who may have had enough of his extramarital affairs.PhotoQuest/Getty Images
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As first lady, Grace Coolidge had a strange pet — a raccoon named Rebecca. Even stranger, Rebecca was supposed to be Thanksgiving dinner before President Calvin Coolidge "pardoned" her and adopted her into the family.Library of Congress
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While living in China with her husband, Herbert, Lou Hoover had a front-row seat to the start of the Boxer Rebellion.
Instead of evacuating the country, the fearless future first lady allegedly carried a .38 pistol to protect herself.Public Domain
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Indeed, Lou Hoover was a remarkable woman in many ways. She also spoke five languages and was the first woman in American history to earn a degree in geology.White House Historical Association
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In 1918, Eleanor Roosevelt found evidence of her husband's infidelity while she was unpacking his suitcase. “The bottom dropped out of my own particular world, and I faced myself, my surroundings, my world, honestly for the first time," she later wrote.
Because Franklin Roosevelt feared that divorce would ruin his political prospects, he agreed to stop the affair and promised his wife that they could have separate bedrooms moving forward.Fotosearch/Stringer/Getty Images
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Before she became a Kennedy, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier's first job was as an "Inquiring Camera Girl" for the Washington Times-Herald.
She interviewed Richard Nixon and covered big stories like the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images
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They have one of the most famous political marriages in U.S. history, but Bill and Hillary Clinton almost didn't marry. Hillary later recounted that she'd turned her future husband down twice.
"I was terrified about losing my identity and getting lost in the kind of wake of Bill's force-of-nature personality," she said. "I actually turned him down twice when he asked me to marry him."Wellesley College/Sygma via Getty Images
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Born Claudia Alta Taylor, Lady Bird Johnson got her nickname in childhood after a nursemaid allegedly declared that she was as "purty as a lady bird."
Her future husband, Lyndon Baines Johnson, had matching initials. So did their daughters, Lynda Bird and Luci Baines Johnson.National Park Service
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No one bats an eye today when female politicians wear pants, but Pat Nixon was the first first lady to wear pants during a public appearance, the 1972 centennial of Yellowstone National Park.Richard Nixon Foundation
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In 1972, Pat Nixon accompanied her husband on his historic trip to China. While there, she saw pandas at the Peking Zoo.
At a state banquet later, she noticed pandas on a cigarette box and remarked to Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai that they were cute. He replied that he would give her some — and just months later, pandas arrived at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. Richard Nixon Foundation
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Just before she and her husband, Gerald, left the White House in 1977, Betty Ford said: "I always wanted to dance on the Cabinet Room table!"
And then she did. White House Historical Association
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But Betty Ford did more than just dance. She also shined a light on important issues.
Shortly after her husband became president, Betty Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. She shared her diagnosis with the public, and was equally as honest about her struggles years later when she went to rehab for her alcohol and pill addiction.
By sharing her experience with these "taboo" subjects, she brought awareness to each.Bettmann/Getty Images
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Like her husband, Nancy Reagan was a movie star before she entered the White House. From 1949 to 1962, Nancy acted in a number of films.National First Ladies' Library
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Barbara Bush became known for her white hair, but there's a tragic story behind her famous style.
When she was 28 years old, Bush's hair started to go gray after the death of her three-year-old daughter, Robin, from leukemia. Barbara Bush Foundation
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Like Lou Hoover, Melania Trump is a polyglot.
She speaks her native Slovenian, as well as English, French, Serbian, German, and Italian.Alex Wong/Getty Images
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The tallest first ladies in U.S. history are Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Obama. Both measured five feet, eleven inches tall.Library of Congress/White House
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Michelle Obama is the only first lady to have attended an Ivy League school for her undergraduate degree. She graduated from Princeton in 1985.Penguin Random House
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Though first ladies have traditionally stepped back from their full-time jobs, Jill Biden has held onto hers. She teaches English and writing at Northern Virginia Community College.Department of Defense
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