The 20 Most Important First Ladies In Presidential History

Louisa Adams
Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

18. Louisa Adams

Raised in the U.K. capital of London, Adams was the sole First Lady to be born outside of America until Melania Trump. Her four-year tenure as First Lady, moreover, was fraught with difficulties, including health problems and a divisive political election. However, the wife of John Quincy Adams still made an impact as an ardent abolitionist and women’s rights campaigner.

Sarah Polk
Image: via White House Historical Association

17. Sarah Polk

Sarah Polk has been described as charismatic, energetic and a raconteur. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that she hosted the White House’s first annual Thanksgiving dinner during her stint as First Lady. She also helped her husband, 11th President James Polk, with speeches and advised him on political issues from 1845 to 1849.


Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower and Raoul Vernoux
Image: AFP/Getty Images

16. Mamie Eisenhower

As the First Lady from 1953 until 1961, Mamie Eisenhower was renowned for her immaculate fashion sense. There was also substance to her style, however. After all, the wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower strongly advocated to raise the welfare of retired veterans. Furthermore, she challenged segregation by welcoming African-American youngsters to the traditional White House Easter Egg Roll.