As I reported last week, Siena Research Institute has been ranking the Presidents for the last 25 years or so – they have also been ranking the First Ladies. Their most recent results came out in 2008. They survey a large number of American History professors and ask them to rate the First Ladies in 10 different categories on a scale of 1 to 5. They then weigh these categories to come up with the overall result and compare.
The 10 categories are: Background, Value to the Country, Intelligence, Courage, Accomplishments, Integrity, Leadership, Being Her Own Woman, Public Image, and Value to the President.
Unlike with the Presidents – I cannot find the breakdown for each First Lady in each of the 10 categories. They only provide the Top 5 and Last in each of the categories as well as the overall ranking across the 4 polling years: 1982, 1993, 2003, 2008. So while we cannot get a complete picture of how the overall score was made up, we can get some data.
Before even looking at the results, I knew Dolley Madison would be toward the top of the list. But let’s see how she did:
Value to Country: 4th
Public Image: 5th
Although she doesn’t appear in the top 5 in the rest of the categories – I would hazard a guess that she is within the top 10 for the rest of the categories. Over the last 25 years her position has stayed relatively consistent – only really making a move in 2008. I was very surprised that she dropped 3 positions in 2008 after holding so steady. This longevity goes to show that over time she is still respected among the First Ladies.
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