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Eleanor Roosevelt is top U.S. first lady, survey says

By Reuters
Sunday, February 16, 2014 9:50 EDT
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Eleanor Roosevelt was named the greatest first lady of the United States in a survey of historians released on Saturday, while Michelle Obama, in fifth place, edged out Hillary Clinton in sixth.

Roosevelt, whose husband, Franklin, served as president from 1933 to 1945, has come up No. 1 each of the five times the survey has been conducted by Siena College Research Institute since 1982.

In the top finishers after Roosevelt were Abigail Adams, Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolly Madison.

Least impressive, according to the survey, was Jane Pierce, the wife of 14th U.S. president, Franklin Pierce.

Although historians disagree over exactly when the title of first lady came into common usage, it has traditionally been given to a president’s wife and is an unofficial, but potentially powerful, role.

Pollsters asked 242 historians and political scientists to rate 38 presidents’ wives in 10 categories such as “courage,” “integrity,” “value to the country” and “accomplishments.”

Current first lady Michelle Obama scored particularly high in the categories of “being her own woman” and “value to the president.” Her weakest area was seen to be in her capacity of “being the White House steward.”

Rounding out the top 10 after Clinton were Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Martha Washington and Rosalynn Carter.

(Reporting By Jonathan Allen; editing by Gunna Dickson)

Reuters
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