Jacqueline Kennedy was born Jacqueline Bouvier on July 28, 1929. Her father always called her Jackie but she was annoyed when other people did. Jacqueline Kennedy's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, was just nominated by President Obama this week to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Japan.
(At left: official White House portrait of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy)
Hi everyone: I am taking a summer break and will resume posting on Sunday, July 28. In the meantime, take the opportunity to check out the archives on the blog. They go back a year so there may be stories you missed especially if you are newcomer to My Year with the First Ladies. And if you are a Pinterest member check out my page on the First Ladies. Donna Brand
Mrs. Obama, like most First Ladies before her, has an office in the East Wing of the White House. When Hillary Clinton was First Lady she broke with tradition and located her office on the second floor of the West Wing.
President John Quincy Adams was very fond of swimming and in warm weather went skinny dipping in the Potomac River not too far from the White House. Theodore Roosevelt also was known to skinny dip in the Potomac but he preferred icy waters. Presidents did not have access to a swimming pool at the White House until Franklin Roosevelt became president and people from all over the country, including school children, donated millions of dimes in 1933 for the construction of a heated indoor pool as therapy for Roosevelt whose legs were paralyzed due to polio. Subsequent presidents enjoyed using the pool and when President John F. Kennedy moved into the White House his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, commissioned a mural of sailing scenes (see photo at left) to illuminate the walls around the pool. When Richard Nixon became president, because the pool was located near the West Wing, he had a floor laid over the pool and the space was turned into a press briefing room to provide more space to accommodate the White House press corps. Again, donors came to the rescue in the form of private donations when Gerald Ford took over the White House and an outdoor pool
was constructed which continues to be used today. It is screened by trees and has a changing cabana and an adjoining spa. First Lady Barbara Bush used the outdoor pool quite frequently even though she once found a rat paddling around in the water.
Why do we need another Dolley Madison in Washington? Dolley Madison understood how to construct a political culture that brought people together which would certainly be beneficial in light of the current polarized politics in Washington. She was no stranger to partisan politics. She came to Washington on the heels of the fractious Adams administration and the contentious 1800 election where the two major parties, the Whigs and the Federalists, had little regard for the other. Because members of Congress tended to group together in the same boarding houses along party lines they were more like-minded politically and generally got together only with their colleagues. During her husband's tenure as Secretary of State and later in her role as First Lady Dolley used her social intelligence in the form of parties and social calls to bring people together and built a model of bipartisan cooperation. What's more, at her gatherings women were present in an age when women were excluded from political life. In the political and social climate of Dolley's day people adhered to thoughts expressed by Samuel Johnson: "Nature has given women so much power that the law has wisely given them very little." Thomas Jefferson seemed to be of like mind when he voiced the opinion that women must remain "behind the domestic line". Fortunately, for the country Dolley Madison paid little heed to such notions. The presence of women at her gatherings softened the harshness of political rhetoric and fostered an aura of civil discussion and mutual consideration.
In a ceremony in the East Room of the White House yesterday President Obama presented the 2012 National Medals of Arts and Humanities to 24 luminaries in American life. In his remarks President Obama said that the recipients "used their talent in the arts and humanities to open up minds and nourish souls, and help us understand what it means tobe human and what it means to be an American. Among those receiving an award were movie director and Star Wars" creator George Lucas, author Joan Didion, and musician Herb Alpert. To view the video of the ceremony and see a complete list of recipients click here.
Today 54 children and their parents came to the White House to attend the second annual Kids State Dinner hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. The dinner was the culmination of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge wherein families were invited to create original, healthy lunchtime recipes. A panel of judges from the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, and Epicurious considered over 1,300 entries to determine the winners from each state and U.S. territories. Check out the video from this afternoon's event.
I am standing in the First Lady's Garden or
the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden as it is often called because First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy approved its restoration but was not able to see the project completed following the assassination of President Kennedy. The garden follows the design of a traditional 18th century American garden and borders the East Colonnade of the White House. The garden has
a row of linden trees, a holly hedge and planting beds filled with flowers, and herbs which are regularly used by the White House chefs.
Today former President George W. Bush observes his 67th birthday while former First Lady Nancy Reagan, who was born Anne Frances Robbins, will be 90years old today, or maybe the number is 92.
Although Nancy Reagan officially lists her birthday as July 6, 1923 earlier records reveal a 1921 birth date.