On the whole, modern First Ladies’ reputations matter almost as much as those of their presidential husbands. And as a result, it could be said that the respective spouses of recent U.S. leaders have often strived to cultivate images that are practically blemish-free. By contrast, however, former First Lady Julia Tyler was often held in rather ill repute. In fact, Julia’s notoriety even preceded her time in the White House; it lasted, moreover, until she and her husband retired to their Virginia estate.
The title of First Lady originated in the United States – although, for many years, there was no single term to refer to the wife of the president. For instance, when George Washington served as the nation’s first president, most people called his wife, Martha, simply “Lady Washington.”