Lady First: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk

Lecture Description

Although few people know her name today, the most powerful woman in American in 1848 was First Lady Sarah Childress Polk. This lecture will explain how the Tennessee-born wife and partner to James K. Polk was able to amass and exercise a remarkable level of political power, and help prosecute a war that took half of Mexico’s territory, while maintaining a public image of pious subservience. It will also explore Sarah’s manipulation of Union and Confederate generals during the Civil War, and lasting influence on women’s organizations and Southern political ideology.


Civil War and Reconstruction Women

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