The Mothers of American Presidents Author:Doris Faber Jacket flaps: — ' — No U.S. President has ever been born in a hospital. All Presidential mothers have been deeply religious women. Every major tenant of the White House has been his mother's firstborn male child. Without exception American Presidents could be described as mama's boys. A startling number of the Presidents' younger brothers have... more » been serious drinkers.
What kind of woman becomes the mother of a U.S. President? What are the common traits that have carried them to such maternal glory? Doris Faber has combined massive research, meticulous adherence to historical detail, and a lively, caustic style to produce a unique and entertaining study of mothers of American Presidents. Mrs. Faber does not believe that thirty-six women could have given the a united States chief executives through sheer accident, and she proves it in a delightful book that offers many insights and quite a few surprises.
The twelve women studied in depth here, and the twenty-three others more briefly sketched, have tended to be extremely intelligent and intensely religious. Most were better educated than the average female of her time, and married later than usual. They were obsessively interested in the lives, educations, and careers of their sons. Some of these sons accepted maternal domination meekly, some fought it all their lives, but all were profoundly influenced by it. President Johnson said at the graveside of his mother, Rebekah Baines Johnson, "She was quiet and shy. But she was the strongest person I ever knew."
Abigail Smith Adams, wife of the second President of the United States and mother of the sixth, had something close to genius. She carried on a lifetime correspondence with her famous husband and son, as well as with outstanding Americans of her day such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Her brilliant letters prove that this First Lady and Presidential mother could have made a good President herself.
Lincoln's mother, on the other hand, was illiterate and probably illegitimate. She never learned to write her name or lived anywhere but in a mud-chinked log cabin. Yet Lincoln said of her, "All that I am or ever hope to be, I get from my mother, God bless her."
Mary Ball Washington was a vexatious, nagging mother, right up to her death at age eighty-two. Washington stayed away from her as much as possible. In contrast, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a devoted son. He stayed at his mother's side until he left for Groton, and even there Sara Delano Roosevelt followed him. Mrs. Faber describes a hilarious incident concerning Sara's devotion. Franklin was in the infirmary with scarlet fever and under strict quarantine. Forbidden to his room, his dauntless mother hoisted herself up a ladder and peered inside his window to inspect him daily.
Here is an entertaining, authoritative volume of Americana--a lively study of the women who profoundly influenced the men who influenced the course of American history.
Doris Faber was a reporter for The New York Times until she married one of her colleagues, who has since become an editor at the Times. While raising two daughters, Mrs. Faber has written more than a dozen books for children and teen-agers. She lives with her family outside of New York City.« less