The Legacies and Personalities that built the White House As a young nation grew into its own, it was not just the presidents who led the way. The remarkable women of the White House, often neglected by history, had a heavy hand in the shaping of America. The earliest First Ladies of the United States left countless untold legacies behind after their role at the White House was over. Decidedly different from their modern day counterparts, the nation's first presidential wives made their impact not in terms of political policy or broad social and civic service, but instead with unique, personal, and often long-lasting accomplishments. Read the unforgettable stories of how: Martha Washington set the tone for First Ladies and walked the fine line between royal pretention and republican accessibility. Sarah Polk worked diligently, constantly giving the high office her utmost attention. Julia Grant not only adapted to the ups and downs of her husband's political career, but flourished wherever she landed. And it was Nellie Taft's ambition that ultimately led her husband to the presidency.