Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
Asker clickmybic Asks:
Has there been any president(s) WITHOUT first ladies. Why do you think voters place so much emphasize on seeing a nuclear family in the White House when the dynamics of American are all across the board?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

James Buchanan was a lifelong bachelor (there are rumors that he may have been our first gay President) and didn’t have a First Lady and Grover Cleveland entered the White House as a bachelor — he was married a year after he took office.  There have also been Presidents who didn’t have First Ladies because they were widowers whose wives died before they entered the White House:  Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and Chester Arthur.

Your question about why voters place such an emphasis on having a traditional nuclear family in the White House is a good one.  I would assume that part of the reason is that Americans are somewhat addicted to tradition, despite the fact that most American families that I know or have met aren’t “traditional”.  I don’t think that there is such a thing anymore as an “average American family”.  We are far too diverse in so many categories to call anything average anymore — and I personally believe that’s a good thing.

Another reason is that, politically, image is everything and the image of a husband, wife, two kids, and a dog promotes stability.  We don’t elect playboys and we’ve only elected one President who had been divorced (Mr. Conservative himself — Ronald Reagan).  The political reality is that the television sitcom family gives voters comfort, so a photogenic, happy family is an asset in campaigns — if you don’t believe that, think about how many candidates use photos of their family in their campaign ads.  I don’t think it represents what American families are, necessarily, but it probably is designed to represent what image-makers think American families all wish to be.

  1. clickmybic said: Thanks for answering.
  2. deadpresidents posted this