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PRESIDENTIAL PERSPECTIVES: Through the Eyes of the Women Who Knew Them Best

A Wife

A Private First Lady: Edith Roosevelt
- By her husband Teddy’s own admission, Edith was an asset to his life as president. She began her eight years in the White House as a busy mother with six children ranging in age 4 to 17. Still, she renovated the Executive Mansion and quietly instituted several different events into office protocol that are still followed today. Theodore Roosevelt's larger than life presence in the White House as the 26th president overshadowed the accomplishments of his intelligent, levelheaded wife. There are many books and articles written about Teddy Roosevelt's presidency. This program tells of the White House years from Edith's perspective.

Their Mothers

What were Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter like as children? Was there something special about their upbringing that pushed them toward the presidency? Accent On History brings you the lives of the presidents through the eyes of the women who knew them best—their mothers. How much did Sara Delano Roosevelt, Nelle Reagan or Lillian Carter, three very different women, influence their sons lives on the way to becoming president?

Sara Delano Roosevelt - Sara doted on her only child, Franklin, and she had a clear role in shaping the 32nd president of the United States. The close mother/son relationship had its first real test in 1903 when Franklin announced, much to Sara's surprise, that he was going to marry his distant cousin, Eleanor. Sara was not happy, but she found a way to adjust; just as she did when Franklin announced he was going to run for political office. Sara found politics unsuitable, but when she realized how important it was to Franklin, she backed him one hundred percent. Sara was a strong woman, who, at the time of FDR's presidency, was well respected by the public. However, after her death, her daughter-in-law Eleanor endeavored to change the public's perspective.

Nelle Reagan: An Optimistic Woman - Ronald Reagan's wife, Nancy, once said that, "The place to begin in understanding Ronald Reagan, is with his past. Ronnie is a great deal like his mother." Reagan moved to six different towns before he was ten years old. Time after time, his mother, Nelle, a clever seamstress, made and remade curtains for windows that were never the size of those in the last place, and if she started a little flower garden, she realistically planted only annuals. For young Dutch Reagan, this nomadic life meant four schools in his first four years of education; it meant pulling up stakes again just as he was beginning to make friends. They finally settled down in Dixon, IL, where Reagan was able to have a somewhat normal childhood. in Dixon, his smother wrote plays and she and Reagan appeared on stage together. People believe that Nelle's advice to Ron to follow his dreams was the foundation of his courage to pursue the presidency.

Lillian Carter -  “Miz Lillian” was the mother of our 39th president. She was one of the oldest women to join the Peace Corp (67 years old) and she worked tirelessly in India for two years. Known for her sass and vinegar, Carter prized individualism and raised her four children to think the same way. This program highlights the early years of Jimmy Carter during which his ideas were formed by his family and the culture of Plains, Georgia. Lillian Carter’s outspoken and outgoing personality added a great deal of color to her son’s presidency.