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Some people have suggested that since the president is the chief executive or the first man, so it stands to reason that they would call his wife the first lady. But the answer is a bit more complicated. Historically, the term "first lady" was not in common use until the late 1800s, and even then, there was a question about who should have this title. Some newspaper reporters and political figures believed it should be the wife of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, since the Chief Justice served for many years, while presidents' wives were not as much of a stable presence, given that they only were around for as little as four years. One of the first times the term was applied to a president's wife was when Zachary Taylor called Dolly Madison the "First Lady" at her funeral. But the term "first lady" was not seen in newspapers very often until the early 1890s, when it was applied to the wife of President Benjamin Harrison-- she was often called the "first lady of the land," and the wife of President Grover Cleveland was also referred to in this same way.

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Q: Why are the first ladies called first ladies?
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