Lucy Hayes and the WCTU Portrait

Presidential History Blog

First Lady Lucy Hayes was considered the embodiment of the “New Woman.” But was she?

Lucy Hayes: The Old Fashioned Girl

Young Lucy Webb

Lucy Ware Webb (1831-79) was Ohio born, and half-orphaned by the time she was two. Her mother, Maria Webb, was left in reasonably comfortable means; Lucy and her brothers had the necessities – plus educations. Mrs. Webb was a strong advocate of education, which included (rare for her time) higher learning for women.

Lucy was a bright, compliant child-to-woman, by and large the example of conventional womanhood. While she attended the Cincinnati Wesleyan Female College, which focused on academics, earning the distinction of being the first FLOTUS with a college education, she married at twenty, and bore eight children. Only five lived to maturity.

If you examine photographic evidence of girl-to-woman Lucy, you will see little change. Her style never wavered from parted in the center…

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