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Second ladies and gentlemen of the United States facts for kids

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Second Gentleman of the
United States
Douglas Emhoff cropped1.jpg
Incumbent
Doug Emhoff

since January 20, 2021
Style Mr. Second Gentleman
Mr. Emhoff
Abbreviation SGOTUS
Residence Number One Observatory Circle
Inaugural holder Abigail Adams
(as second lady)
Douglas Emhoff
(as second gentleman)
Formation April 21, 1789
(235 years ago)
 (1789-04-21)

The second gentleman or second lady of the United States (SGOTUS or SLOTUS) is the informal title held by the spouse of the vice president of the United States, concurrent with the vice president's term of office. Coined in contrast to "first lady" – albeit used less commonly – the title "second lady" was apparently first used by Jennie Tuttle Hobart (wife of Garret Hobart, vice president 1897–1899) to refer to herself. The first second gentleman of the United States is Doug Emhoff, the husband of Kamala Harris, the current Vice President and first female in the position, since January 20, 2021.

Twelve second ladies have gone on to become first ladies during their husbands' terms as president. The first to do this was Abigail Adams, who was married to John Adams, who was the first vice president from 1789 to 1797 and then the second president from 1797 to 1801. Thus, Abigail was the first second lady and the second first lady. The most recent to do this is Jill Biden, who is married to Joe Biden, the 47th vice president from 2009 to 2017 and then the 46th president since 2021.

Since the 1970s, the Vice Presidential official residence is One Observatory Circle.

History

The second spouse's visibility in the public sphere has been a somewhat recent development. Although the role of the first lady as White House hostess dates from the beginning of the republic (and was typically filled by another member of the president's family if the president was unmarried or a widower), with a few exceptions, it was generally not until the late 20th century and early 21st century that vice-presidential wives took on public roles that attracted significant media attention.

In one notable exception, Floride Calhoun, wife of Vice President John C. Calhoun, was a central figure in the Petticoat Affair, a social-political scandal which involved the social ostracism of Secretary of War John H. Eaton and his wife Margaret O'Neill Eaton, further damaging already-strained relations between Vice President Calhoun and President Andrew Jackson.

Nixons in Ghana 1957
Second Lady Pat Nixon, with Vice President Richard Nixon, led a delegation to Ghana in 1957. One historian wrote that Pat Nixon "helped to define this nebulous role for an entire generation of women who would succeed her".

In 1978, Muriel Humphrey, wife of Vice President Hubert Humphrey, became the only former second lady to hold public office; after her husband, who had returned to the U.S. Senate after his term as vice president, died in office, she was appointed by Minnesota governor Rudy Perpich to continue her husband's term.

There have been 17 periods of vacancy in the role, the longest of which continued for 16 years between the service of vice presidential spouses Abigail Adams and Ann Gerry when there were three widower vice presidents and a one-year vacancy in the vice presidency. The most recent second lady vacancy was for 132 days in 1974, between the service of Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller, when the vice presidency was also vacant.

12 second ladies went on to become first lady following their husbands becoming president, the first being Abigail Adams and most recent being Jill Biden.

Role in practice

The role of the second lady is unpaid and not formally defined. The wife of the vice president of the United States was traditionally expected to serve as a hostess and appear at society functions. Jennie Tuttle Hobart, wife of Vice President Garret Hobart (1897–1899) is often cited as the first woman to style herself as "Second Lady". Hobart took over the hostess duties on behalf of First Lady Ida Saxton McKinley, who had chronic health issues including epilepsy. Starting in 1917, the wife of the vice president took on the unofficial role of convener of the Red Cross Senate Wives, presiding over their lunches; the organization later became known as the Senate Spouses Club. The question of the second lady's status became a topic of debate in 1929 when Dolly Curtis Gann, the sister of Vice President Charles Curtis (1929–1933), assumed the role of hostess on his behalf, since he was widowed. Gann had waged a public "battle of precedence" against Alice Roosevelt Longworth, the wife of the late speaker of the House.

Kamala Harris taking oath for vice presidency b
Doug Emhoff (right), the first and only second gentleman of the United States, standing next to his wife, Kamala Harris (left), the first female American vice president, during her inauguration.

Over time, the spouse of the vice president started to become more visible as the Office of the Vice President itself gained power and influence, and assumed additional responsibilities. In 2010, Marie Claire magazine described the role of second ladies as being "relegated to roast-chicken charity dinners and sit-and-smile political functions. They cherry-pick a cause or two...and pretty much stay out of the way." Presidential historian Gil Troy noted that during the Kennedy administration, one of Second Lady Lady Bird Johnson's roles was to replace First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy when she withdrew from public appearances, often at the last minute; Johnson replaced Kennedy on more than 50 occasions.

Pat Nixon, wife of Vice President Richard Nixon, was the first second spouse to add a great deal of substance to the role of the vice president's wife. When Nixon assumed the position in 1953, the role's only official function was to preside over the once-annual Senate Ladies Luncheon. Instead, Nixon launched her own initiatives, sensing great opportunities that her role provided. She established a schedule separate from that of her husband, which often consisted of solo activities. As second lady, Nixon traveled more than 125,000 miles around the world to six continents, including a two-month, 42,000-mile journey through Asia in 1953. As she undertook missions of goodwill across the world, she insisted on visiting schools, orphanages, hospitals and village markets rather than attend tea or coffee functions. In this sense, Nixon essentially created the modern role of the second lady; historian Kate Andersen Brower wrote, "she helped to define this nebulous role for an entire generation of women who would succeed her." Historian Cormac O'Brien says that Pat Nixon "may have well been the most extraordinary second lady in American history" because of her role in accompanying Vice President Richard Nixon on a tour of the world as a goodwill ambassador. She also traveled independently of the vice president and attended events, including campaign tours, on her own. According to O'Brien, Second Lady Nixon proved popular "as a paragon of graciousness, composure, and elegance", and made a conscious effort to travel to locations where local women were banned, to spread a subtle message for equal rights.

During the Reagan administration, Second Lady Barbara Bush hosted more than one thousand events and traveled over 1.5 million miles at home and abroad over eight years, and championed literacy, a cause she continued to support when she later became First Lady.

Tipper Gore, former wife of Vice President Al Gore, was active in several campaigns to remove material she found objectionable from popular American entertainment like movies, television shows and music, starting when her husband was a senator. Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, championed education reform, citing specific failures of the American public education system during her tenure as second lady. She is a particularly outspoken supporter of American history education, having written five bestselling books on this topic for children and their families. Jill Biden, wife of President Joe Biden, worked as an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, and is thought to be the first second lady to hold a paying job while her husband was vice president. She has been involved in various causes, including breast cancer awareness and literacy.

Douglas Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, became the first Second Gentleman of the United States when his wife was elected the first female vice president. He is the first attorney, the first Jewish person, and the first husband to assume this ceremonial role. Emhoff is a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center; he is thought to be the second person in American history to maintain a paid position while married to a serving vice president. His top priority in office has been to advocate for food security across the United States, fight antisemitism on the international stage, address climate change, and push for equal access to justice. He has traveled to several countries representing the United States, including: France, Germany, Poland, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia among others, having met with heads of state and attended inaugurations and state dinners.

Current living Second Ladies and Gentleman

Living second ladies and gentlemen as of April 2024 (from oldest to youngest):

Causes and initiatives

List of second ladies and gentlemen of the United States

Image Second Lady or Gentleman Vice President
Marriage date
Tenure Date of birth Date of death (age) Tenure as First Lady
Abigail Adams by Gilbert Stuart.jpg Adams, Abigail Abigail Adams (née Abigail Smith) Adams, John John Adams
October 25, 1764
April 21, 1789 – March 4, 1797 (1744-11-22)November 22, 1744 (1818-10-28)October 28, 1818(1818-10-28)

(73 years, 340 days)

1797–1801
01.1 Vacant; Jefferson, Thomas Thomas Jefferson was a widower. March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
01.2 Vacant; Aaron Burr was a widower. March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1805
01.3 Vacant; George Clinton was a widower. March 4, 1805 – April 20, 1812
01.4 Vacant; no vice president after Clinton's death. April 20, 1812 – March 4, 1813
Ann Thompson Gerry.jpg Gerry, Ann Ann Gerry (née Ann Thompson) Gerry, Elbridge Elbridge Gerry
January 12, 1786
March 4, 1813 – November 23, 1814 (1763-08-12)August 12, 1763 (1849-03-17)March 17, 1849(1849-03-17) (aged 85)
02.1 Vacant; no vice president after Gerry's death. November 23, 1814 – March 4, 1817
Mrs. Daniel D. Tompkins (Hannah Minthorne, 1781–1829) 1951 70.jpeg Tompkins, Hannah Hannah Tompkins (née Hannah Minthorne) Tompkins, Daniel D Daniel D Tompkins
February 20, 1798
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825 (1781-08-28)August 28, 1781 (1829-02-18)February 18, 1829(1829-02-18) (aged 47)
Floride Calhoun nee Colhoun.jpg Calhoun, Floride Floride Bonneau Calhoun (née Floride Bonneau Colhoun) Calhoun, John C. John C. Calhoun
January 8, 1811
March 4, 1825 – December 28, 1832 (1792-02-15)February 15, 1792 (1866-07-25)July 25, 1866(1866-07-25) (aged 74)
04.1 Vacant; no vice president after Calhoun's resignation. December 28, 1832 – March 4, 1833
04.2 Vacant; Buren, Martin Van Martin Van Buren was a widower. March 4, 1833 – March 4, 1837
04.3 Vacant; Johnson, Richard Mentor Richard M. Johnson was a widower March 4, 1837 – March 4, 1841
Letitia Tyler2.jpg Tyler, Letitia Christian Letitia Tyler (née Letitia Christian) Tyler, John John Tyler
March 29, 1813
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841 (1790-11-12)November 12, 1790 (1842-09-12)September 12, 1842(1842-09-12) (aged 51) 1841–1842
05.1 Vacant; no vice president after Tyler assumed presidency. April 4, 1841 – March 4, 1845
Dallas, Sophia Sophia Dallas (née Sophia Chew Nicklin) Dallas, George M. George M. Dallas
May 23, 1816
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849 (1798-06-24)June 24, 1798 (1869-01-11)January 11, 1869(1869-01-11) (aged 70)
Abigail Fillmore (Library of Congress) 2.jpg Fillmore, Abigail Abigail Fillmore (née Abigail Powers) Fillmore, Millard Millard Fillmore
February 5, 1826
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850 (1798-03-13)March 13, 1798 (1853-03-30)March 30, 1853(1853-03-30) (aged 55) 1850–1853
07.1 Vacant; no vice president after Fillmore assumed presidency. July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
Vacant; William R. King was unmarried. March 4, 1853 – April 18, 1853
02.1 Vacant; no vice president after King’s death. April 18, 1853 – March 4, 1857
Mary-Cyrene-Breckinridge.jpg Breckinridge, Mary Cyrene Burch Mary Cyrene Burch Breckinridge (née Mary Cyrene Burch) Breckinridge, John C. John C. Breckinridge
December 12, 1843
March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1861 (1826-08-16)August 16, 1826 (1907-10-08)October 8, 1907(1907-10-08) (aged 81)
Ellen Hamlin.jpg Hamlin, Ellen Ellen Hamlin (née Ellen Vesta Emery) Hamlin, Hannibal Hannibal Hamlin
September 25, 1856
March 4, 1861 – March 4, 1865 (1835-09-14)September 14, 1835 (1925-02-01)February 1, 1925(1925-02-01) (aged 89)
Mrs-E-Johnson.jpg Johnson, Eliza Eliza McCardle Johnson (née Eliza McCardle) Johnson, Andrew Andrew Johnson
May 17, 1827
March 4, 1865 – April 15, 1865 (1810-10-04)October 4, 1810 (1876-01-15)January 15, 1876(1876-01-15) (aged 65) 1865–1869
10.1 Vacant; no vice president after Johnson assumed presidency. April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
Ellen Maria Colfax.jpg Colfax, Ellen Maria Ellen Maria Colfax (née Ellen Maria Wade) Colfax, Schuyler Schuyler Colfax
November 18, 1868
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1873 (1836-07-26)July 26, 1836 (1911-03-04)March 4, 1911(1911-03-04) (aged 74)
Vacant; Henry Wilson was a widower. March 4, 1873 – November 22, 1875
11.3 Vacant; Wheeler, William A. William A. Wheeler was a widower. March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881
11.4 Vacant; Arthur, Chester A. Chester A. Arthur was a widower. March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
11.5 Vacant; no vice president after Arthur assumed presidency. September 19, 1881 – March 4, 1885
ELIZA C. MORGAN HENDRICKS A woman of the century (page 382 crop).jpg Hendricks, Eliza Eliza Hendricks (née Eliza Carol Morgan) Hendricks, Thomas A. Thomas A. Hendricks
September 26, 1845
March 4, 1885 – November 25, 1885 (1823-11-23)November 23, 1823 (1903-01-03)November 3, 1903(1903-11-03) (aged 79)
12.1 Vacant; no vice president after Hendricks's death. November 25, 1885 – March 4, 1889
Anna Morton.jpg Morton, Anna Anna Morton (née Anna Livingston Reade Street) Morton, Levi P. Levi P. Morton
February 12, 1873
March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1893 (1846-05-18)May 18, 1846 (1918-08-14)August 14, 1918(1918-08-14) (aged 72)
Letitiastevenson2.jpg Stevenson, Letitia Letitia Stevenson (née Letitia Green) Stevenson, Adlai I Adlai Stevenson I
December 22, 1866
March 4, 1893 – March 4, 1897 (1843-01-08)January 8, 1843 (1913-12-25)December 25, 1913(1913-12-25) (aged 70)
Jennie Tuttle Hobart.jpg Hobart, Jennie Esther Jane "Jennie" Tuttle Hobart (née Esther Jane Tuttle) Hobart, Garret Garret Hobart
July 21, 1869
March 4, 1897 – November 21, 1899 (1849-04-30)April 30, 1849 (1941-01-08)January 8, 1941(1941-01-08) (aged 91)
15.1 Vacant; no vice president after Hobart's death. November 21, 1899 – March 4, 1901
Edith Roosevelt.jpg Roosevelt, Edith Edith Roosevelt (née Edith Kermit Carow) Roosevelt, Theodore Theodore Roosevelt
December 2, 1886
March 4, 1901 – September 14, 1901 (1861-08-06)August 6, 1861 (1948-09-30)September 30, 1948(1948-09-30) (aged 87) 1901–1909
16.1 Vacant; no vice president after Roosevelt assumed presidency. September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1905
Mrs. C.W. Fairbanks (1913).jpg Fairbanks, Cornelia Cornelia "Nellie" Cole Fairbanks (née Cornelia Cole) Fairbanks, Charles W. Charles W. Fairbanks
October 6, 1874
March 4, 1905 – March 4, 1909 (1852-01-14)January 14, 1852 (1913-10-24)October 24, 1913(1913-10-24) (aged 61)
Mrs. Sherman.jpg Sherman, Carrie Carrie Babcock Sherman (née Carrie Babcock) Sherman, James S. James S. Sherman
January 26, 1881
March 4, 1909 – October 30, 1912 (1856-11-16)November 16, 1856 (1931-10-06)October 6, 1931(1931-10-06) (aged 74)
18.1 Vacant; no vice president after Sherman's death. October 30, 1912 – March 4, 1913
Mrs. Thos. R. Marshall.jpg Marshall, Lois Irene Lois Irene Marshall (née Lois Irene Kimsey) Marshall, Thomas R. Thomas R. Marshall
October 2, 1895
March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1921 (1873-05-09)May 9, 1873 (1958-01-06)January 6, 1958(1958-01-06) (aged 84)
Grace Coolidge 1924.jpg Coolidge, Grace Grace Coolidge (née Grace Anna Goodhue) Coolidge, Calvin Calvin Coolidge
October 4, 1905
March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923 (1879-01-03)January 3, 1879 (1957-07-08)July 8, 1957(1957-07-08) (aged 78) 1923–1929
20.1 Vacant; no vice president after Coolidge assumed presidency. August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1925
Caro Dawes 1924.jpg Dawes, Caro Caro Dawes (née Caro Dana Blymyer) Dawes, Charles G. Charles G. Dawes
January 24, 1889
March 4, 1925 – March 4, 1929 (1866-01-06)January 6, 1866 (1957-10-03)October 3, 1957(1957-10-03) (aged 91)
21.1 Vacant; Curtis, Charles Charles Curtis was a widower. March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
Mrs. John Nance Garner.jpg Garner, Mariette Mariette Elizabeth "Ettie" Garner (née Mariette Elizabeth Rheiner) Garner, John Nance John Nance Garner
November 25, 1895
March 4, 1933 – January 20, 1941 (1869-07-17)July 17, 1869 (1948-08-17)August 17, 1948(1948-08-17) (aged 79)
Mrs. Henry Wallace.jpg Wallace, Ilo Ilo Wallace (née Ilo Browne) Wallace, Henry A. Henry A. Wallace
May 20, 1914
January 20, 1941 – January 20, 1945 (1888-03-10)March 10, 1888 (1981-02-22)February 22, 1981(1981-02-22) (aged 92)
Bess Truman cropped.jpg Truman, Bess Bess Truman (née Elizabeth Virginia Wallace) Truman, Harry S. Harry S. Truman
June 28, 1919
January 20, 1945 – April 12, 1945 (1885-02-13)February 13, 1885 (1982-10-18)October 18, 1982(1982-10-18) (aged 97) 1945–1953
24.1 Vacant; no vice president after Truman assumed presidency. April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1949
24.2 Vacant; Barkley, Alben W. Alben W. Barkley was a widower. January 20, 1949 – November 18, 1949
Jane Barkley.jpg Barkley, Jane Hadley Jane Hadley Barkley (née Elizabeth Jane Rucker) Barkley, Alben W. Alben W. Barkley
November 18, 1949
November 18, 1949 – January 20, 1953 (1911-09-23)September 23, 1911 (1964-09-06)September 6, 1964(1964-09-06) (aged 52)
PatNixon.jpg Nixon, Pat Pat Nixon (née Thelma Catherine Ryan) Nixon, Richard Richard Nixon
June 21, 1940
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961 (1912-03-16)March 16, 1912 (1993-06-22)June 22, 1993(1993-06-22) (aged 81) 1969–1974
Lady Bird Johnson, bw photo ca1962.jpg Johnson, Lady Bird Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson (née Claudia Alta Taylor) Johnson, Lyndon B. Lyndon B. Johnson
November 17, 1934
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963 (1912-12-22)December 22, 1912 (2011-07-11)July 11, 2007(2007-07-11) (aged 94) 1963–1969
27.1 Vacant; no vice president after Johnson assumed presidency. November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1965
Senator Muriel Humphrey (D-MN).jpg Humphrey, Muriel Muriel Humphrey Brown (née Muriel Fay Buck) Humphrey, Hubert Hubert Humphrey
September 3, 1936
January 20, 1965 – January 20, 1969 (1912-02-20)February 20, 1912 (1998-09-20)September 20, 1998(1998-09-20) (aged 86)
Mrs. Agnew.tif Agnew, Judy Elinor "Judy" Agnew (née Elinor Isabel Judefind) Agnew, Spiro Spiro Agnew
May 27, 1942
January 20, 1969 – October 10, 1973 (1921-04-23)April 23, 1921 (2012-06-20)June 20, 2012(2012-06-20) (aged 91)
30.1 Vacant; no vice president until Ford's confirmation under the 25th Amendment. October 10, 1973 – December 6, 1973
Betty Ford, official White House photo color, 1974.jpg Ford, Betty Elizabeth "Betty" Ford (née Elizabeth Anne Bloomer) Ford, Gerald Gerald Ford
October 15, 1948
December 6, 1973 – August 9, 1974 (1918-04-08)April 8, 1918 (2011-07-08)July 8, 2011(2011-07-08) (aged 93) 1974–1977
30.1 Vacant; no vice president until Rockefeller's confirmation under the 25th Amendment. August 9, 1974 – December 19, 1974
Happy Rockefeller 1973.JPG Rockefeller, Happy Margaretta "Happy" Rockefeller (née Margaretta Large Fitler) Rockefeller, Nelson Nelson Rockefeller
May 4, 1963
December 19, 1974 – January 20, 1977 (1926-06-09)June 9, 1926 (2015-05-19)May 19, 2015(2015-05-19) (aged 88)
1977JoanMondaleNARA173414crop.jpg Mondale, Joan Joan Mondale (née Joan Adams) Mondale, Walter Walter Mondale
December 27, 1955
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981 (1930-08-08)August 8, 1930 (2014-02-03)February 3, 2014(2014-02-03) (aged 83)
Barbara Bush portrait 1992 (cropped).jpg Bush, Barbara Barbara Bush (née Barbara Pierce) Bush, George H. W. George H. W. Bush
January 6, 1945
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989 (1925-06-08)June 8, 1925 (2018-04-17)April 17, 2018(2018-04-17) (aged 92) 1989–1993
Marilyn Quayle.jpg Quayle, Marilyn Marilyn Quayle (née Marilyn Tucker) Quayle, Dan Dan Quayle
November 18, 1972
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993 (1949-07-29)July 29, 1949 2024-07-15 Living
74 years, 352 days
Gore, Tipper Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Gore (née Mary Elizabeth Aitcheson) Gore, Al Al Gore
May 19, 1970
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001 (1948-08-19)August 19, 1948 2024-07-15 Living
75 years, 331 days
Lynne Cheney official photo.jpg Cheney, Lynne Lynne Cheney (née Lynne Ann Vincent) Cheney, Dick Dick Cheney
August 29, 1964
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009 (1941-08-14)August 14, 1941 2024-07-15 Living
82 years, 336 days
Jill Biden official portrait crop.jpg Biden, Jill Jill Biden (née Jill Tracy Jacobs) Biden, Joe Joe Biden
June 17, 1977
January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017 (1951-06-03)June 3, 1951 2024-07-15 Living
73 years, 42 days
2021–present
Pence, KarenKaren Pence (née Karen Sue Batten) Pence, MikeMike Pence
June 8, 1985
January 20, 2017 – January 20, 2021 (1957-01-01)January 1, 1957 2024-07-15Living
67 years, 196 days
Emhoff, DouglasDouglas Craig Emhoff Harris, KamalaKamala Harris
August 22, 2014
January 20, 2021 – present (1964-10-13)October 13, 1964 2024-07-15Living
59 years, 276 days

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Segunda dama o segundo caballero de los Estados Unidos para niños

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