Columbus: Jeanne Abrams on First Ladies of the Republic

Event date: 
04/03/2018 - 7:00pm

Join Harper's Magazine and Book Culture on Columbus for a reading and discussion with Jeanne Abrams, author of First Ladies of the Republic: Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, and the Creation of an Iconic American RoleRobert Sullivan will join Jeanne in the discussion.

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How the three inaugural First Ladies defined the role for future generations, and carved a space for women in America

America's first First Ladies--Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Dolley Madison--had the challenging task of playing a pivotal role in defining the nature of the American presidency to a fledgling nation and to the world. In First Ladies of the Republic, Jeanne Abrams breaks new ground by examining their lives as a group. From their visions for the future of the burgeoning new nation and its political structure, to ideas about family life and matrimony, these three women had a profound influence on one another's views as they created the new role of presidential spouse.

Martha, Abigail and Dolley walked the fine line between bringing dignity to their lives as presidential wives, and supporting their husbands' presidential agendas, while at the same time, distancing themselves from the behavior, customs and ceremonies that reflected the courtly styles of European royalty that were inimical to the values of the new republic. In the face of personal challenges, public scrutiny, and sometimes vocal criticism, they worked to project a persona that inspired approval and confidence, and helped burnish their husbands' presidential reputations.

The position of First Lady was not officially authorized or defined, and the place of women in society was more restricted than it is today. These capable and path-breaking women not only shaped their own roles as prominent Americans and "First Ladies," but also defined a role for women in public and private life in America.

Jeanne E. Abrams is Professor at the University Libraries and the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver. She is the author of Dr. Charles David Spivak: A Jewish Immigrant and the American Tuberculosis Movement, as well as numerous articles in the fields of American, Jewish, and medical history which have appeared in scholarly journals and popular magazines.

Robert Sullivan is the author of RatsThe MeadowlandsA Whale HuntThe Thoreau You Don't Know and, most recently, My American Revolution. His writing has appeared in Harper'sThe New YorkerThe New York Times, and New York magazine, and he is a contributing editor at A Public Space and Vogue. He was born in Manhattan and now lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Event address: 
450 Columbus Ave.
New York, NY 10024
First Ladies of the Republic: Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, and the Creation of an Iconic American Role By Jeanne E. Abrams Cover Image
ISBN: 9781479886531
Availability: Not In Stock - Usually ships in 3-5 Days
Published: New York University Press - March 6th, 2018