Helen “Nellie” Taft was unique among First Ladies.

If you know anything about her, you’ll know the fun trivia bits such as she was the first First Lady to drive a car, she smoked, she drank, she gambled, she had a passion for music, etc. But she was also the driving force behind her husband’s successful political career, convincing “Will” and Theodore Roosevelt that he should be the next President, despite his singular dream of being Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Fiercely ambitious, she also often played the role as unofficial “co-president” in the same way we saw Eleanor Roosevelt or Hillary Clinton. She was progressive in worker’s and women’s rights, and frequently broke down class barriers for someone who was always a highly-connected Washington insider.

All of this seemed to come naturally for Nellie, as she probably didn’t see herself as an activist, but her ability to just exist on the right side of things spoke volumes.