America’s history of petticoat rule

The Western Journal recently published an article about the growing power of Jill Biden, or Aunt Jill, as perhaps we should be calling her.

Keeping in mind the journalistic fervor and bias of WND and The Western Journal, let’s look at the history of First Ladies and their power over their husbands and the federal government. It is, in many ways, not a very pretty picture – unlike the women who held that title.

For title it is, not found in the Constitution, and only recently found in American law, when Congress started massively subsidizing the “office” and creating (and paying for) yet another bureaucracy. It is, sickening to those of us who love liberty (well, most of us) really a title of nobility: the American version of Queen Consort. And like the queen consorts and mistresses of European and Asian royalty, many of them have played a powerful role in the rule (and ruin) of their nations.

“Petticoat rule” is an Old Army term. Tiny military posts on the Western Frontier or coastal fortifications in the 1800s often had very small garrisons; so small that a single company or a battalion was all to be found there, so the commander was often a Major or even a Captain. Some of these officers (and reputedly higher ranking ones) were so dominated by their wives (they couldn’t afford mistresses, as a rule) that the entire post was under her thumb. Duty rosters, construction, contractors, dealing with nearby towns and tribes, might all be influenced by her. The wives (if any) of junior officers and the laundresses (the only way in which an enlisted soldier, including non-commissioned officers could have a wife with them at most posts was for her to hire on as a laundress) were subject to her every whim. It is recorded that at several western forts (Wyoming and Arizona are both claimed), soldiers subject to such a regime alerted inspectors by flying a woman’s petticoat from the flagpole, instead of or below the National Colors!

Rumors were that sometimes more senior officers also allowed this: there were rumors that, at least in garrison, the well-known George Armstrong Custer (actually a Lieutenant Colonel but whom had been breveted (honorary rank) a Major General during the War between the States), was subject to the petticoat rule of the fiery Libby (Elizabeth) Custer, a highly-talented woman. There were others.

This was, of course, an era in which women did not, could not, enlist or be commissioned, except in very rare cases as doctors and later nurses. Such regimes were almost always corrupt and inefficient if not ineffective. It was also an era in which the Army’s usual pattern, for many reasons, was that “captains may marry, majors should marry, and colonels (both LTC and COL) must marry.” And they didn’t forget lieutenants, who were told “If you were supposed to have a wife, the Army would have issued you one!”

But back to the Petticoat Presidency which we are told Uncle Joe is increasingly a part of.

Aunt (or Dr.) Jill has “unparalleled influence” in the White House. She is not only his closest confidante (a role both husbands and wives often have over the years, even in politics) but she apparently has the deciding vote on some major issues, and berates his official staff if they expect too much. And actively protects him from media and others, as well as apparently being the one who will decide if the 80-year-old will run for a second term. Even DC insiders and the mainstream press have noted this. It is pointed out that she is unelected, uneducated in public affairs or management, and inexperienced. And she is an educator, not an attorney or medical specialist.

She is not, of course, the only woman to have undue influence and unwarranted power. The WJ article mentions Edith Wilson, another Democrat, who secretly “ran the nation” for a year and a half while her husband was bedridden and paralyzed from a stroke, pretending to be his go-between and keeping the situation a secret from staff, Congress, and the public. There are also many stories about Florence Harding and her power over her Republican husband, a serial adulterer and in poor health until his death in office. Both Alice Roosevelt (Theodore’s wife) and Eleanor Roosevelt (FDR’s partner-in-crime) are considered by many to have been powerful and even dominating their husbands. And both Hillary and Michelle have been accused, with at least considerable evidence, of significantly influencing policy, enforcement, and government operations.

Many people point out that this generally has not had great results. The same has proved true in more than one State, and a good many countries. There have been many times when women replaced their dead husbands as governors (Ma Ferguson in Texas, for example) or as Senators, or in other nations. (Evita replacing Juan Peron, for example). The results are not, as the pundits note, really all that good.

But it seems to have become a common situation, especially in the 20th and 21st Centuries. Once upon a time, feminist activists were wont to point out that electing women leaders to office would improve society, reduce or end war, and prove far better than men. It is an idea that modern transnational progressives and have had to repudiate. For such reasons as the “hawkishness” of such people as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (and her ill treatment of Argentina), Golda Meyer (Israel neo-colonialism and abuse of Arabs), and even Hillary’s “service” as a Senator and Secretary of State. Women seem as warlike as men, don’t they?

All this reminds us that when we give power to government, when we subject ourselves to any person who claims they have a right to rule us, we are virtually never going to get much good out of it.

Afterword: by no means are women always bad leaders – or bad powers behind the throne. Consider the little pocket revolution in Umatilla, Oregon in 1916. And others. Share with us!

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
This entry was posted in History of Liberty, Nathan's Rants and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s