'Mrs. President': Sarah Childress Polk and Women's Political Power before the Vote

Project: Research project

Project Details


The first full-length biography of Sarah Childress Polk (1803-1891), wife of United States President James K. Polk. Mrs. President explains how Polk wielded a degree of political authority unprecedented at the time for a woman, and more broadly considers the workings of female political power in nineteenth-century America. In a period when women were both disenfranchised and supposedly 'unfit' for both politics and business, Sarah Childress Polk (1803-1891) exercised an unprecedented degree of political authority as 'Mrs. President,' the wife, political partner, and personal secretary of the eleventh president of the United States. My narrative biography of the first political First Lady, under contract with Alfred A. Knopf Press, is the first full-length biography about a public figure whose experience harnessing the power of submission holds the potential to transform reigning historical narratives about female power before the franchise, and the role of women in American presidential politics.
Effective start/end date9/1/168/31/17


  • National Endowment for the Humanities: $50,400.00


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