Harriet Lane served as White House Hostess to her uncle James Buchanan who was a lifelong bachelor. She was a popular hostess and is considered the first modern First Lady. She invited artists and musicians to White House functions and was an advocate for improving the living conditions of Native Americans on reservations. The presidential yacht and several ships were named for her. Harriet eventually married Henry Elliott Johnston, a Baltimore banker and had two children. Tragically within the next 18 years, her two children, husband, and uncle all passed away.
This Harriet Lane mug is part of our history mug series profiling the women who helped their husband, father, uncle or family friend while he served as president of the United States.
Most people assume that all US presidents were assisted in office by their spouse, but that was not always the case. Our series on the women who supported their husband, father, uncle, brother or family friend during his term as US president is filled with many unique individuals. Women who were not married to the president served in the position when the president was a bachelor or widower, or when the wife of the president was unable to perform in the role.
The origin of the phrase First Lady may have developed informally out of cordiality. In the case of Martha Washington, she was referred to as Lady Washington during her lifetime, but that did not mean it was a chosen or official title. A newspaper article published in 1838 using the term first lady of the nation when discussing Mrs. Washington, and maybe the first published use of the term.
Originally the women served as hostesses for the many official gatherings held at the White House. Over the years they have redefined their duties and activities. Edith Roosevelt was the first to hire her own social secretary, Eleanor Roosevelt was the first to have a personal secretary, and Jackie Kennedy decided a press secretary was needed to assist her in her role.
Starting with Rosalynn Carter, there has been an Office of the First Lady of the United States which is made up of four divisions: press and research, social and personal, projects and community liaison, and schedule and advance. She was also the first to have a Chief of Staff.
The biographical History Mugs were created to teach and inspire individuals to learn about our diverse and interesting history. The biographies were researched and written by history enthusiast, Robert Compton. He colorized most of the historic photos and images used on the mugs, which were originally black and white or sepia tone. The images and biographies are imprinted on mugs at his studio in rural Vermont.
- Mugs are food and microwave safe.
- To preserve photographic quality we recommend hand washing.
- Mugs are usually shipped within 3-5 days.
- Shipping charges are lower when buying multiple mugs.