Dominion of New York


July 13, 2012

Did Other First Ladies Receive Death Threats? Yes.

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Written by: Kelly Virella

Photo Courtesy of Flickr/Lord Mariser


he allegations yesterday that a despicable Washington, D.C. police officer made a death threat against Michelle Obama got me thinking about whether she was the first to receive such threats. She is not.

According to the First Ladies Fact Book, Richard Nixon’s wife Pat received dozens. An excerpt says:

“The world outside her door seemed to be turning into a war zone, with young people protesting the Vietnam War, and Black Militants demonstrating for rights that were still being withheld from them. Both the President and the First Lady received dozens of death threats, and they were constantly criticized  for hanging on to ‘old values’ while the rest of the world seemed to throwing them aside.”  

I also called the National First Ladies Library and asked this question. A receptionist who answered said they didn’t have a historian on staff, but were confident that all first ladies receive death threats.

I also sent an e-mail to historian Patricia Brady, who’s written about and researched First Ladies a lot. As soon as I hear back from her, I’ll update this post.

Maybe Michelle Obama receives more death threats than the others did. But it looks like she isn’t being threatened solely because she’s black — as some Internet commenters have suggested — but because she’s married to a powerful man with a lot of equally powerful enemies.

About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.


Official portrait from his tenure as US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.