Here’s Why First Lady Julia Tyler Had A Seriously Scandalous Reputation Before Her Marriage

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Image: Thomas Sully

Over the years, wives haven’t been the only ones to serve as the President’s First Lady. Indeed, in other cases, sometimes daughters, nieces or sisters have stepped into the role instead. Of course, that worked in the past, when a First Lady’s responsibilities were ceremonial more than they were political. In fact, hostessing at the White House was once her top responsibility.

Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Throughout the 20th century though, First Ladies began to establish themselves as more than just their husband’s hostess. That’s because they championed causes from their White House perch, too. For instance, Jackie Kennedy championed the arts and served as a travelling ambassador and Hillary Clinton fought for healthcare reform.

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Image: National First Ladies’ Library

But long before them, Julia Tyler had her term as the nation’s First Lady, although she would make her mark in different ways than through her advocacy. She was born Julia Gardiner on May 4, 1820, on her family’s privately owned island off the coast of Long Island, New York. Indeed, she was born into money – her father, David Gardiner, worked as a lawyer and would eventually become a state senator. And her mother’s family had a thriving real-estate business.

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