Sarah Polk was the first First Lady since Abigail Adams to become deeply involved in politics. Her in-laws found her “display[ing] a great deal of spice and more independence of judgment than was fitting in one woman.” When Polk won the presidency, Henry Dilwood Gilpin, a good friend of Martin Van Buren’s, wrote he was impressed “with the good lady who is to preside at the [White House]….really a very superior person. Time has dealt kindly with her personal charms and if she is not handsome she is at least very prepossessing and graceful – dresses with taste – and is extremely affable as well as perfect self-possessed. If I am not mistaken she has both sagacity and decision that will make her a good counselor in some emergencies.” She applied her intellect throughout her husband’s political career, writing letters to supporters and reading papers for her husband, marking the important sections to save him time. Surviving her husband by forty-two years, she continued to be well-liked, respected and consulted following his death.
Facts from First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama by Betty Boyd Caroli. C-SPAN is exploring the influence of First Ladies in its new series
Image: Mrs. J.K. Polk / lithograph & published by N. Currier. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Sarah Polk was the first First Lady since Abigail Adams to become deeply involved in politics. Her in-laws found her “display[ing] a great deal of spice and more independence of judgment than was fitting in one woman.” When Polk won the presidency, Henry Dilwood Gilpin, a good friend of Martin Van Buren’s, wrote he was impressed “with the good lady who is to preside at the [White House]….really a very superior person. Time has dealt kindly with her personal charms and if she is not handsome she is at least very prepossessing and graceful – dresses with taste – and is extremely affable as well as perfect self-possessed. If I am not mistaken she has both sagacity and decision that will make her a good counselor in some emergencies.” She applied her intellect throughout her husband’s political career, writing letters to supporters and reading papers for her husband, marking the important sections to save him time. Surviving her husband by forty-two years, she continued to be well-liked, respected and consulted following his death.

Facts from First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama by Betty Boyd Caroli. C-SPAN is exploring the influence of First Ladies in its new series

Image: Mrs. J.K. Polk / lithograph & published by N. Currier. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.