Nellie Taft: The Uncoventional First Lady of the Ragtime Era
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On the morning of William Howard Taft's inauguration, Nellie Taft publicly expressed that theirs would be a joint presidency by shattering precedent and demanding that she ride alongside her husband down Pennsylvania Avenue, a tradition previously held for the outgoing president. In an era before Eleanor Roosevelt, this progressive First Lady was an advocate for higher education and partial suffrage for women, and initiated legislation to improve working conditions for federal employees. She smoked, drank, and gambled without regard to societal judgment, and she freely broke racial and class boundaries. Drawing from previously unpublished diaries, a lifetime of love letters between Will and Nellie, and detailed family correspondence and recollections, Carl Sferrazza Anthony develops a riveting portrait of Nellie Taft as one of the strongest links in the series of women - from Abigail Adams to Hillary Rodham Clinton - often critically declared "co-presidents."