If you’ve ever visited our Hall of Presidents and First Ladies you’ve seen the Gettysburg area’s only complete wax collection of American Presidents and First Ladies. You’re likely more familiar with the great Presidents in these halls, but the strong women in the Hall of First Ladies were just as vital to the heritage and prosperity of this nation. We thought we would pay homage to these women in a new series here at Gettysburg Tour Center that highlights the First Ladies featured in our amazing display.
Our second feature in the series is arguably one of the most famous First Ladies the White House has ever seen, even though her and husband John F. Kennedy’s time was cut short due to the tragic assassination of our nation’s President.
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born in Southampton, New York. Much like Mamie Eisenhower, Jackie was born into a wealthy family since Jackie’s father John was a successful stockbroker on Wall Street. Jackie made a name for herself though, quickly becoming successful horseback rider, following in the footsteps of her mother.
Nearly marrying a stockbroker herself, Jackie and John Husted Jr. broke their engagement off after three months. Soon after she met John F. Kennedy at a dinner party and they later married in Rhode Island. Jackie Kennedy played a pivotal role in John’s campaign, where after becoming pregnant and told by doctors to stay home, she answered campaign letters, gave interviews, wrote a weekly column in the newspaper, and taped commercials in an effort to help John defeat Richard Nixon.
Jackie, being the strong willed woman that she was, didn’t take a backseat once John was elected either. Much like Mamie Eisenhower, Jackie made a mark as the first lady. Some of the outstanding achievements she accomplished during her time as First Lady include:
- Restoring the White House to make it more historical and homey, bringing in American art and furniture that belonged to former presidents
- Acted as one of the most popular Ambassadors for the United States, aided in part by her ability to speak several languages
- Became a fashion icon for women with the help of her fashion designer friend Oleg Cassini
- Following John’s death, she began the ground work on the creation of John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
- She was the youngest First Lady at the age of 31
Jackie carved out her own unique role in history and the list of her accomplishments is quite extensive in her own regard. There are numerous honors and memorials you can still find today that were dedicated in her honor, which you can find anywhere from the White House’s East Garden which bears her name, to a white gazebo in Middleburg, Virginia, a town the two frequented by the Kennedy’s during their time together. Be sure to check out the Hall of Presidents and First Ladies on your next visit to Gettysburg to learn more about these fascinating First Ladies, as well as their presidential counterparts.