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First Ladies, Political Communication of

The term first lady is given to the spouse of the president of the United States. The position, although unelected and unpaid, is considered to be a highly influential role with many expectations attached. An important part of any presidency, there are no “official assignments” for this position, though the first lady plays a prominent role in many areas. The position is so important to the presidency that there have been times in history when other women have served as social “stand-ins” when presidents were either divorced or widowed. For many Americans the first lady serves in a royal capacity, not unlike the queen in a monarchy.

The official use of the term first lady emerged in the early part of the 20th century. Some presidential ...

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