The Youngest First Ladies in American History

Being the first lady is no easy job. You’re in one of the most public roles in the world, and you and your family need to adjust to a new level of stress previously not experienced. Some of the first ladies in American history were surprisingly young when they were thrust into the title. Read on for a look at the youngest first ladies in America.

15. Pat Nixon

Portrait of former First Lady Pat Nixon wife of American President Richard Nixon
Pat Nixon | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Pat Nixon, Richard Nixon‘s wife, is the 15th youngest first lady in American history. At the time of Richard’s inauguration, she was 56 years old.

14. Betty Ford

President Gerald Ford and his wife Betty congratulating new Vice President Nelson Rockefeller in a ceremony at the White House
Gerald Ford | Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Betty Ford was Gerald Ford’s wife, the 38th president of the United States. When Gerald was elected into office she was 56 years old. Betty was best known for establishing the Betty Ford Center, an addiction treatment facility, in 1982 after battling alcoholism and substance abuse herself.

13. Mamie Eisenhower

Mamie Eisenhower looks on, at the White House
Mamie Eisenhower | Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Mamie Eisenhower was the wife if Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States. She was also 56 years old when her husband got elected. Mamie was passionate about civil rights and invited African American children to join the White House Easter Egg Roll during a time of intense racial segregation.

12. Lou Henry Hoover

Lou Henry Hoover
Lou Henry Hoover | Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

Lou Henry Hoover was President Herbert Hoover’s wife. When Herbert was elected, Lou was 54 years old. Lou was the only first lady who spoke an Asian language–she was proficient in Chinese. She passed away on Jan. 7, 1944.

11. Laura Bush

laura bush with christmas trees 2013
Laura Bush | Alex Wong/Getty Images

Laura Bush was the first lady to George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States. At the time of George’s inauguration, she was 54 years old. Laura was the first non-president to give the weekly presidential address over the radio–she spoke about the oppression Afghan women underwent under the Taliban regime.

10. Lady Bird Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Lady Bird was the wife of Lyndon Johnson, the 36th president of the United States. At the time of her husband’s inauguration she was 50 years old.

Fun fact: Lady Bird was the first first lady to receive the Congressional Gold Medal–the highest of civilian honors, according to Chron.

9. Rosalynn Smith Carter

Former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter
Rosalynn Carter | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Rosalynn Smith Carter was the 39th president’s, Jimmy Carter’s, wife. At the time of Jimmy’s inauguration she was 49 years old. Rosalynn was very involved in her husband’s presidency, which was a little unheard of at the time. She’d help him with his speeches and even attend cabinet meetings.

8. Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt | J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images

The niece of Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin D. roosevelt, was also one of the younger first ladies in American history. At the time of Franklin’s inauguration she was 48 years old. When her husband passed away she served as a chair to the United Nation’s Human Rights Commission.

7. Melania Trump

US First Lady Melania Trump attends a roundtbale
Melania Trump | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Our current first lady, Melania Trump, is the seventh youngest first lady in American history. When Donald was elected, she was 47 years old. Melania was born in Novo Mesto, and grew up in Sevnica, in the Yugoslav republic of Slovenia. So far, she’s been one of the more private, inconspicuous first ladies. Her big focus thus far is tackling the issue of cyberbullying, especially among children.

6. Hillary Clinton

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives for a rally
Hillary Clinton | Win McNamee/Getty Images

Though incredibly involved in politics on her own, one of the bullet points on Hillary Clinton’s resume is also ‘first lady.’ At the time of Bill’s inauguration she was 45 years old. After serving as first lady, Hillary went on to become the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate by the state of New York.

5. Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama | Jim Young/AFP/Getty Images

One of our more recent first ladies, Michelle Obama, was also one of the youngest. Some of the things she’s known for are The School Lunch program, which helps to ensure low-income children have access to school lunch, MyPlate, a program that helps parents make healthier choices for their families, and the Let’s Move! initiative that promoted a more active lifestyle for kids. She was 45 when Obama was inaugurated.

4. Grace Coolidge

Grace Coolidge
Grace Coolidge | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Grace Coolidge was 44 years old when her husband, Calvin Coolidge, became president. Calvin was the 30th president of the United States and earned the nickname “Silent Cal” because of his quiet, stoic demeanor. Grace was a “lip-reading” teacher, and even worked with Helen Keller.

3. Edith Bolling Galt Wilson

Mrs Woodrow Wilson, Edith Galt
Edith Bolling Galt Wilson | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Edith Bolling Galt Wilson was the wife of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States. She was born on Oct. 15, 1872 and passed away on Dec. 28, 1961. At the time of Woodrow’s inaugurations she was 43 years old.

Fun fact: According to Chron, when the president suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed, Mrs. Wilson served as a “secret president,” deciding what was and was not important to bring to the bedridden president’s attention.

2. Jacqueline Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy seated at a table
President John F. Kennedy and first lady Jackie Kennedy | National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Jacqueline Kennedy is one of the most, if not the most, famously young first ladies. Upon her husband’s election, the American people were captivated by her beauty, charm, and youth. At the time of John’s inauguration she was 31 years old.

1. Frances Folsom

Frances Folsom Cleveland portrait
Frances Folsom | White House Historical Association

Frances Folsom, married to President Grover Cleveland on June 2, 1886, was the youngest first lady in American history. She was only 21 years old when she married Cleveland in the Blue Room of the White House. Folsom was so young that it was rumored that Cleveland was going to ask her mother to marry him. Instead, he asked the young Frances to be his wife by letter, according to History.

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