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tv   First Ladies Influence Image - Sarah Polk Margaret Taylor Abigail...  CSPAN  April 13, 2021 9:50pm-11:23pm EDT

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the presidency an encore presentation from c-span series first ladies influence and image. we'll look back at the life and times of sarah polk who served alongside james k polk from 1845 to 1849 and we'll hear about margaret taylor and abigail fillmore first ladies during the administrations of zachary taylor and millard fillmore. sarah polk was very up on diplomacy and her strong suit happen to be intelligent political discussion. she made no bones about the fact that she really took an interest in politics and that she was her husband's partner. she grew up in a political household in tennessee. her father was a local politician. so she grew up loving politics. she married james after he want to seat in the legislature
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because she would not have married him if he'd be intent to be a clerk unfortunately for james cape hoke. he died just three months after leaving the white house and sarah began a 42 year widowhood hope place became something of a shrine to her husband and she would invite anybody who wanted to to come for a visit to see the objects that they had collected throughout their long and illustrious political career. she lived there for many years on her own and during the civil war generals on both sides would come and visit her to pay their respects to her. that's a very interesting commentary on what a beloved status. she still held. she was you know ernest about her husband's work. she went to every post she could go to with him. she went through that arduous journey the archives terrible. i really were. she was very well liked in the diplomatic community. they had met all kinds of people friends and enemies and others and they had to make things work and things work out.
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they were very experienced people frankly. they were more sophisticated than what was around them. she very much felt that women should develop their minds and cultivate scholarship as much as men pretty path-breaking at that point in our history for first lady to do we know today that first ladies have causes. literacy and reading would have been abigail fillmore's cause this bookshelf was part of the first white house library she much preferred to retired to a room with a good book to standing in a receiving line making mindless chatter. we know that abigail was a very wonderful seamstress. we do have her quilt here a very colorful quilt called the tumbling black pattern. she was one of the true intellectuals. she loved reading she was very caught up on politics and liked very much being a part of all the cultural accoutrements that
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came with living in washington. welcome to c-span series first ladies influence an image and this program will meet three first ladies one. her husband's trusted political advisor the next a steadfast general's wife and the third a teacher who established the first white house library, they served during the 1840s and early 50s as the country continued to grow. and tensions continued to mount over the issue of slavery. to introduce us to sarah polk margaret taylor and abigail fillmore. we have two historians at the table meet conover hunt and author and historian and an expert in historic preservation. and paul. finkelman is a historian and legal scholar based at albany law school. he's the author of a biography of millard fillmore. welcome to both of you. thank you. thank you. well james cape hulk is sometimes described as the least known influential president. would you agree with that? and why well, he certainly not very well known and he certainly important when he was nominated
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for president. he had no public office. he had twice lost the governorship of tennessee before that. he had been a one-term governor and before that. he'd been a member of congress. so he was a lawyer practicing law in tennessee, and he was what is known as the dark horse candidate the first star course candidate. he had hoped to get the vice presidential nomination. that's what he was pushing for and suddenly deadlock convention out of nowhere polk is the presidential nominee. most people don't know who he is. he becomes president and almost immediately puts us in a position to have a war with mexico. he pushes for the war. he is prepared to declare war on mexico and in fact since troops including zachary taylor who will be the next president. he sends zachary taylor to the mexican border in an area of that's completely disputed that all international law says belongs to mexico, but polk says as american land and while
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taylor's troops are there he goes to his cabinet and they vote on a saturday afternoon to ask for a declaration of war against mexico that night. he gets a message because it takes a long time to get information from mexico to washington that night. he gets a message that taylor's troops have been in combat. and so he rewrites his message to congress saying american tro. killed on american soil abraham lincoln would later give a speech down as a spot speech in which he would say show us the spot where it took place because it wasn't on american soil so he gets us into war mexico. we acquire mexico all of this is very important. it also means the complete blow up of all of the sectional compromises and pushes the country had long into what will ultimately be secession civil war, but we don't know who anything about them. well, and his wife is also on frequently when you do modern historical surveys of influential first. ladies, his wife is always in the top tier.
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always why is that she was truly a political partner with her husband. they did not have children at a time when women were expected to be mothers and hearth and home the keepers of the faith, but she was very much her husband's political equal and his partner. she never went too far within the boundaries. of what a proper victorian or early victorian lady should be in the 19th century, but everyone knew that they shared an office in the private apartments. she was active in discussions at the many state dinners. they had and he would ask her to mark newspapers and articles for him to read she was a sounding board franklin pierce before he came president told her that he told up her husband that he would much rather talk politics with sarah polk then with james
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polk. and yet the women of the time accepted her. she was very pious very religious of very strict presbyterian. she did not allow dancing in the white house. she she got rid of hard liquor. but they had wines of course and brandies with the frequent dinners they had and she was not approved. she was very much a woman who knew what she wanted. and set her rules out and everyone had to play according to those rules and she was respected for it. she was very very popular well to introduce you to the polks by video. we're going to take you to the polk ancestral home the house that the polks lived in together no longer exists, but this historic site contains much of the history of the family will take you there next. this is the inaugural fan. it's an incredible piece of history. it was a gift from president
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polk where president-elect polk to his wife sarah. she carried it with her on the day of his inauguration. it's guilt paper with a bone styles ornately carved and it features the lithographic images of the first 11 presidents from washington all the way through james k polk. she carried it with her throughout the festivities of the inauguration in the spring of 1845. the back is this beautiful is the front and features a lithographic image of the signing of the declaration of independence. the pokes came into the white house a young vibrant couple but amidst a democratic party that was widely split it was one of the reasons why james cape hoke said he would run for a single term only and then stepped down. so sarah polk used the white house and her time as the president's wife to enhance. her husband's political prestige dining in the poke white house was a serious affair twice a week on tuesdays and fridays mrs. poke would entertained 50
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to 75 people coming to dinner the china that they used was beautiful. the pope china is considered some of the most beautiful of the white house. china. it features the presidential seal in boston along the side band. the dinner set is white embossed dinner set is white tea set that was blue and green mrs. polk didn't allow alcohol in the white house that are prospering upbringing preclude that from happening. it's not exactly the case. you stop the serving whiskey punches a public levies in the park white house but one was one of their largest bills during their years there. one of the more interesting objects in the collection speaks to surrender ability
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music as well. we have a music book that has had right notations in one of the songs is hail to the chief which she of course is credited with was starting as the official presidential anthem during her time as first lady. >> wanted to ask about that hail to the chief cause a little controversy has erupted between our last program with the tyler's who are also claiming that they introduced hail to the chief in the pokes who as you can see make a part of their history. is there a definitive answer on that? do either of you have? it >> i won't touch it. >> it came about in the 18 forties. it's possible that the tellers used it and the pokes then confirmed its use. it's kind of silliness to worry about something like that. there's so many more important things to worry about. you do the contrast of julia taylor who brought dancing to the white house don't, who ended her brief tenure as eight months as first lady let's run
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whose party as they left the white house. with sarah polk more in touch with the times? >> sarah polk was -- historian william steele calls it an imperial presidency. meaning that the couple thought the office of the presidency and the white house as the official executive residents needed to be highly respected. and so there was more formal protocol and so on. it was a very liberal approach. you could come with an introduction to any other receptions, because polk was a democrat. but at the same time she dressed, he dressed, people were well dressed. there were more formal dinners, there were multiple courses, and it was considered an honor to be at the white house. basically sarah pokes, a dancing at the white house is not dignified. >> -- and she was known for her
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frugality. does the president still making a 25,000 dollar a year salary with expenses for the white house events have to be paid of that salary? but how is her frugality seen by the washington in american public? >> she really ■s staffing at the white house's >> sarah polk was a very well organized woman. and what she did was she hired a sort of a steward, they brought in their own servants and got rid of some of the paid staff of the white house. she then got her steward to cut deals with the various vendors, groceries and so on in the washington area. and if they give them significant discounts, they would give them the royal seal, as it were. and so chef it's the american version of, the apple kept rather quiet. but if you know if you want us to buy all of your rules for
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all of our white house dinners, which were a lot, then by god, you could have to give us discount, and it worked. and they were very, very frugal in that, way always during the entire time they were married. >> and just to clarify, when you say she brought in her own servants, these were slaves? >> yes they did have slaves. >> that's important to understand that they come the pokes come from very wealthy circumstances and they are slaveowners and they bring a lot of assets with them. so they can afford to be president just as john tyler could afford to be president. >> and we have a quote from her dad like to have you put this into context. she writes, if i should be so fortunate as to reach the white house, i expect to live on 25,000 dollars a year and i will neither keep house nor make butter. a kind of echoes modern first ladies and baking a cookie right? >> it's actually the context's
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if someone had said i think a vote for mr. clay. his opponent in the president, because they say that his wife keeps a good house and makes her own butter. and that was sara's retort. and by god, she did live on the 25,000 dollar a year and she did not keep a, she ran a house, and she did not make butter, but she made sure the butter was made efficiently and that the place was run like a top. >> it looks like you have something to say about that? >> well i'm just gonna say slave mistresses don't make butter unless they choose to make better because they enjoy the handicraft of making butter. and it's important to see this bill for sara polk and for margaret taylor. >> i want to tell folks that this is always an inner active program. you can see we're working facebook comments and tweets in already. we also want to take you telephone calls and will put the phone numbers on the
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screen. and will begin at taking your phone and questions as well throughout our program here on our first three ladies featuring on this part of our series. you know dolly madison has been an element of our series from the very beginning and this is dolly's last hurrah. what was dolly madison's role with the polk white house? >> we'll dollar a madison's role was of course she had come back to washington. and sorry polk and olive became very close. and dolly mary mentored sarah. and sara also fed dolly. she treated her is the grand them and honored her they they were the two war first lady, is the war of 1812, and 30 years later the mexican war. there were many many parallels between dolley madison and
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sarah polk, the sense of self, a sense of fashion, the understanding the role of the first lady in conveying the, you know sort of indirect support for husband's presidency. and by the way it's not only it's not easy to be a first lady during the war. there were many, many detractors as the war went on. but i mean, poke when and, said i'm gonna do the following things in four years and by god, he did. >> this is also in the 18 forties the first time we have had photography. we have a full talk fabulous photograph to show you on screen right now it brings together a number of these characters all in one place. here are the pokes and there is dolley madison, the second from the screen right, with her turban as we've been seeing her so often. we have an opportunity here to see harriet lane who served as a white house hostess later on.
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sarah polk and dolley madison with james kaye poke. photography as a political tool, how to politicians absorb this new technology you really don't get into the 18 fifties and then the 1860 election when photography is everywhere. now it is almost a novelty in 18 forties and it's not all that terrific. first of, all you have to sit for a long time, it's not a single shot click and your pictures there. you have to actually sit there rigidly and not move while the photograph is being taken. so i think they are moving towards photography. what's much more important i think than photography is still the very sophisticated lionel type and the sophisticated art in newspapers so you had a wonderful campaign posters that are being done from what when
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polk polk runs for example. courier, who later becomes korean i've does a campaign poster for the opponent of polk henry clay. justice to harry in the west is the picture of harry henry clay. so, they are using that kind of technology photography i think, it probably want to save for the film oars and beyond. we also have the first known photograph of the white house in this time period which we are going to show next. and we aren't should say working with the white house historical association throughout the series. so as we look at this white house in 1846, i think that's the date in this ford photograph sarah polk brought some innovations to the white house. central heating and gaslighting. >> she didn't actually bring them. let's say they arrived. and central heating and gaslighting, she did hold out when they put in the gaslights and insisted that the overrule
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at the white house be left with candlelight. and when they turned on the gaslights, of course when they shut down the gas for the night, the whole white house during a reception went dark and yet the overrun was still let with the beautiful candle lighting. there were experiments, but it ultimately saved the presidential family a lot of money because they had to heat the white house out of that 25,000 dollar salary. and so these efficiencies did come in starting with the polk 's >> central heating in the white house must to be the joke i don't think. >> why do you say? that i don't >> i don't think it would be very. warm >> i had to be better than the alternative? the i mean. >> yes yes >> well you wonder
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though because a nice warm fireplace in the right room keep that room warm. for every presidency is that technology is going to change the way presidents campaign, the way presidents portray themselves in the way presidential families live. by the way just at a picture of polk up there. he's sitting never stuff like this because as we had to do when you getting a photograph taken at just saw a picture of john kennedy giving a speech with his fist in the air and you can almost see the fish shaking in the photograph you couldn't do that in those days. >> so we have no sense of personality so much in these photographs? >> fact we get a bad sense of personality because what we get is that these people are absolutely stiff and frozen behind have no personality they are dead. >> gary robinson asked on twitter, caught over on what do sarah's educational background a ladder to be so politically
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savvy in any colder famous? isn't >> one of the most events and cases for a woman of her day. her father was a great believer in educating women. she and her older sister were educated academies, in nashville and then he sent them to the salem academy western salem, the famous meridian school which is salem callers today. it's 500 miles away. it took them a month to get there and they were there for two years. but she was unusually well educated for her time. and i think that atmosphere again encouraged her to speak her mind and participate in discussions. she grew up in a political household. >> this next question on twitter is one that we will answer by video. dave murdoch asked, did service frugal ways also prevent her from lavish gowns and fashions, and the american people see her as frugal? let's watch this video, again back at the polk historic site. and then we'll talk with you about this because you've done some work on sara polk po's
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gowns. let's watch. >> sara looked was important to her i think certainly from the standpoint of how she looked and how she was perceived by the public. but i think she sought also his reflection on the presidency itself. she was known for having beautiful dresses and looking incredible in a white house that was equally beautiful. the b dresses called rob dish amara. was purchased in, paris france in 1847 by mrs. polk and worn by her late in the administration. it's basically a. rogue would be the undressed dress costume of a first lady. if she was taking visitors before she's properly dressed, this is a dress that she would wear. the white dresses a ball gown, also made in paris, france, a high-end fashion for the 18 forties v. cut in the center. it was a style that misses polk used again and again. we get the indication that she found a style that she liked and thought she looked good in
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sort of kept with it but it's a beautiful gown and so concern. has a great deal of alas lace attached to it as well. mrs. polk again always a frugal woman that she was, often purchase dressing them would buy a great deal of material to go along with them so she get enhanced in and change the way that they look. so instead of having to buy five or six count, she would buy a single down in the buy extra material to make them look. differently mrs. polk was a master at accessorize-ing. she had a wonderful collection of handbags in radicals. and then of course her jewelry was at the american mold in the 19th century. it was thought to be rather un-american for women to wear precious gems and semi precious stones. instead she would wear gold and silver, french paste in enamel. her hairdresser in usual. they're incredibly rare, so few of these headdresses of survive in this time here because the mater sucks and saddens they tended to get worn out. we have a wonderful collection of. headdresses and then one unusual piece of turban which by the 18 forties would probably fall a little bit out
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of fashion. but of course, dolley madison was still alive during the poking ministration was regular visit to the polk white house. we wonder sarah polk didn't adopt that style after mrs. madison. >> connor hunt is the author of this cover story in the white house history magazine which is published by the white house historical association, showing that you've got a lot of work on sara pokes approach to fashion and what that symbolized for her. what can you tell us about? it >> she had a well-established sense of style from her childhood. she grew up with silks and satins. during the white house, years of course she dressed elegantly for evenings and receptions. but in the summer of 1847, they sent an order to paris for some gowns for the first lady, which was not the usual style, and all of the invoices survived, and so do the gowns, which is amazing. sort of the top designers in paris were asked to make some gowns for the first lady.
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and this was usually done by a commercial agent that they had, jacob el martin was the agent in paris. and so he got the order and immediately found his good friend, madam molten, quote good friend, who went around the paris shops they found a shop. madam marie mate we gowns wanted to sit smithsonian is another of the pink one and the rogue the shaman, and a blue gown robe de chambre and the blue down at the smithsonian survive. it is very unusual for her. this sort of a close, lots of accessories cost about 450 dollars. dolly madison's order in 1811 costs 2000 dollars. >> wow!
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>> to give you an idea, susan swain 2000 dollars in dollars of those days? yes the pink gown that you saw was had more lace aren't was now but are those cost 100 dollars. the blue being out of the 25 dollars made by seamstresses in washington. but of course the fabric would be an extra. >> so she will try to find that sweet spot between frugality an image? >> she did it so well. everybody said that she was beautifully dressed. she had beautiful department. she carried itself like a lady acted like a lady was very gracious >> at the same, time we're learning about sarah poker sort of modern approach to being a political partner, what's happening to women at large? united states 1848 is the seneca falls convention. >> so what's going on with women? overall the beginning to ask for more presence, power in society? >> well the 20th 30 people of
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seneca falls are. and it's important to have some perspective on what is happening to women at this. time for most american women, not much is changing and not much is being asked. the most important changes for women, the cutting edge of women in politics, is actually coming out of the anti slavery movement. so that in the north you have thousands and thousands of women who are politically active really for the first time in american history. starting in 18 thirties, which is known as the great petition campaign. and literally hundreds of thousands of petitions shown up in washington asking congress to do things like not annex texas because it was seen as a great slave conspiracy, which it it was, to repeal the fugitive state law, but when slavery in the district of columbia. and many of these petitions were gathered by women and many women signed these petitions. so what you get is women actively participating in politics to change america for the better. the other great women's movement is the temperance movement and women are very active in the temperance movement.
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they're actively movements to prevent prostitution. and these are things that are, of course are close to what would be considered thomas to city for women, but it's outside the house. it's out in the public space. and what's fascinating is that someone like sarah polk probably with the exception of temperance would've been appalled i'd won most of these activist women were asking for. eventually of course in about 1848, some of the abolitionist women along with the few men such as frederick douglass who's at the 1848 convention are asking for the right to vote for women. and that of course is a long time in coming, but it's beginning at this time. >> ted is on the phone from jackson, mississippi. i ted, was your question? >> i guess, i'd like to know who ran against james kaye poke when he was running for president, and did sarah polk play a part in getting her husband elected? >> thanks very. much >> will, poke runs against
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henry clay of kentucky and clay had run for president twice before this. clay believes it's his turn to become president, he expects it will be a cakewalk to the presidency because no one's heard of poke. but clay makes a number of mistakes during the campaign and in the end in a very close vote, clay loses to poke. oddly enough, clay carries pokes home state of tennessee, the polk carries new york which has the biggest number of electoral votes. and when he carries new york, that puts him into the white house. >> yes. the issue of a presidential campaign at that time is very different from what we see today. it was considered proper for the candidate to be called to office. the campaigning, active campaigning went for state offices like the governor. but the candidates did not show
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up at the nominating conventions. and afterwards, when they were drafted and they accepted the nominations there were letters sent to the editor but very little stump. >> no stump speech at all yet. >> no stopping at all. sarah was her husband's campaign manager for his congressional campaigns and his gubernatorial campaigns. but during the presidential campaign, it was very much basically a lot of them, said whatever you do, don't say anything. >> when polk ran for congress, he would canvas the district. and when he ran for governor three times, winning once, he went all over the state of tennessee as no other candidate had before. so, one wonders what was going on in pokes mind when nominated for president, he had to sit home and essentially do nothing except right of few letters. >> next is a question from mary in little rock. hi, mary iran. >> hello i heard somewhere that
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barbara bush is related to the pokes and she used their dinner service while her and george bush was in the office. is that true? >> i don't know. >> i'm clueless. >> good question. >> well as our series progresses -- >> yes. >> especially as we get to barbara bush will answer that question for you but we're gonna go back in time now and learn about how the political partnership came together. he told us that sarah polk was from a wealthy family. >> yes. >> how did she and james kaye poke meat? >> they ran in the same circles probably through either through andrew jackson or through her own father's family. polk graduated from the university of north carolina and went into law and studied in nashville and became clerk of the legislature. and they met their or they mentored andrew jackson's because the polk girls were often at the jackson's home. certainly jackson is known or
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we think that he advised poke to marry her. this is who you need as a wife, he would say. and then it is commonly said that she told poke that she wouldn't marry him unless he ran for office. and of course he did anyone, and they were married in 1824. >> so andrew jackson played something of a matchmaker here? >> he and his wife rachel did not have any children of their own and had many, many different young people that they took in. jackson would write to sara and call her, my daughter. >> and patricia on facebook asks, is it true that the nickname for sara polk was the spanish madonna? >> yes. >> and where did that come? from >> that was because she had extremely dark hair and olive skin and they thought that she looked european, exotic. >> now, the jackson's had no children but actually sara and james polk also had no children. what was the impact of being
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freed up from housework and not having to do that and her ability to become a political partner? >> well, i think they breezed into that through the years when they realize they weren't going to have children. by the same token, they spent a lot of time with nieces and nephews, and sarah as first lady brought her nieces into the white house to help her with entertaining and returning calls because she did not return calls. as first lady, she did not do it which was a change in tradition. and then one of course she was a widow, she had a niece and then a great niece who lived with her. >> can i also add of that had they had children, she would've had slaves who would've raised the children, who would've done all of the. diapers she might have had slaves who would've been wet nurses when the children were infants. so the notion of burden of families for someone like sarah polk would be very different
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than, say, when we talk about abigail fillmore, who is a woman of very modest means and in fact has to raise your own children without the help of a house full of slaves to do the work for her. >> so sarah and james come to congress here in washington. what is washington like at that time and how involved was she in listening to congressional debates? >> she was very actively involved. he went for his first term in the congress without her and never try that again, because she didn't like being left at home at all. so she would go and it was often at that time the congressman lived in a boarding house and established what they called a mess, several different elected officials living together and sharing meals and a parlor and so on. and they did that four years until he became speaker and had to have larger apartments. but she attended the sessions of congress. she was very, very, you know,
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attentive to the issues of the day. and the elected members of congress knew who were in the mess with, and she was a very tuned in congressional wife. >> james kaye poke makes it to speaker of the house. how does that? happen >> politicking. i mean he's a very good politician in the house, the first time he runs for the speaker the house, he loses. and he loses to a man who would later run for president in 1860. and then in the next time around, he manages to win. part of it has to do with jacks only in politics. polk is jackson's man in the hands of the representatives. and, so when jackson as a strong majority in the house, poke us to be speaker of the house. >> we have throughout our history seen the ascendancy of the presidency, the ascendancy of congress. at this point in our history, which branch of government has more power? >> i would say congress.
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>> so being the speaker was? important >> being the speaker, now being the speaker is not as powerful as being president, and we should understand. up but in terms of the politics of america, more i think is happening in congress than in the presidency. i should add however, that andrew jackson is an strong and dynamic president who pushes the envelope of the presidency and really alters the dynamics of the presidency for his presidency. it reverts back to, say when john tyler becomes president. he's a very weak president. and, so being speaker of the house was important just as it's important today. >> well it sounds like from this quote, that sarah polk had a view of this when her husband was in the role. here's what she wrote. the speaker if the proper person and what with the correct idea of his position has even more influence over legislation and directing the policy the parties move the president, says she. >> the pokes when particularly
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when he became president was a powerful president. and in terms of waging war he pulled a lot of power into the executive branch. but henry clay is the one we all think of as >> yes. >> building the job of the speaker of the house and the man arrived for president forever. but, it is through the years, the speaker's job grows, the presidency grows in power. it ebbs and flows. the balance of power is the key to the whole thing, and that nobody ever just completely runs away with it. and it was set up so that that would not happen. >> our next video demonstrates the role of sarah poke at the political wife. >> the trump traveling desk is really indicative of sarah's life with james kaye poke merely as his helpmate. james kaye poke had no stuff
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either as a congressman or even as president of the united states. so sarah took really a hands-on attitude towards being his wife. the traveling density talk with her on a long trips to washington, d.c.. as a congressman they traveled to washington twice a year in trips that would take three days going one way from columbia, tennessee, to washington, d.c.. she is of course communicating with the family and friends back home which meant she wrote tens of thousands of letters during her lifetime. so the traveling desk i think is really indicative of communication in the time for a period. the portraits are painted by ralph earl and james and sarah were in washington as congressman and lady. sarah was very much again helpmate to him throughout his political career. when he was writing speeches, he would get her opinion and she critique them for him. daily she would read the newspapers and underline passages, she thought important for him to re-. she was rightly fixer in the gallery in congress and this is a great time here speeches of politicians like henry clay and
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danya webster, and john calhoun were giving some of the greatest speeches in this time period. and she was right in the middle of all of it very much part of his political career. so 14 years a member of the house of representatives, the last four of those, the speak of the house. and he is twos to this day the only speak of the house to become president, which brings it with a whole new level of social status in washington, d.c., and sarah very much played in the part of one of the official hostesses in washington. typically, congress would enact a memorial to the outgoing speaker of the house officially thanking him for service. when james kaye poke left congress to run for governor of tennessee, the congress was so widely divided. they refused to do that. but it's interesting that in the newspapers, number politicians wrote poems in the honor of sarah at the time she left. instead one of them was, united states supreme court justice joseph story rolling t-bone amending the loss of sarah polk to washington society. >> today, we would be amazed at the speaker of the house stepping down to run for governor. why did he decide to do?
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this >> i think because speaker of the house is something that you didn't do for really long time in those days. congressional careers are often quite short in the 19th century. and three or four terms in washington is probably enough. again think of the rto status of just getting two it is a lot of work. being the governor is a lot easier. it's probably less expensive. you are home. being a governor is a good way to build the political career for the vice presidents, here presidents, you had poke some eyes out as president, he doesn't think he will ever be president. >> well. >> but he thinks he can be vice president. >> next. he can be vice president, next. >> a pathway for the white house. >> the presidency is not a good pathway to the white house. since thomas jefferson, only -- made it as vice president and
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tyler only did because -- >> sandy is watching us from newcastle, delaware. hi sandy. >> my question is i know you are from tennessee, what do you actually think of slavery? and was she a kind slave master. >> james kaye polk as well said that when she died she -- would as it turned out she sold their plantation before the civil war. but the issue of slavery was not really brought to the forefront during either in their marriage or in his administration. with the administrations that
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follow polk. >> in some ways that's not true. the politics of america from the 19 thirties to 18 sixties a swirling around slavery all of the time. >> the opposition to the mexican war which polk starts and which we don't have to have, the opposition to the war in part comes from northerners who see it as a vast conspiracy to steal mexico so that sleeve owners could have someplace to go. and southern's say as much. they say we want mexico because we want the place for slavery to spread to. flavors on the table. the reality is that polks are slaveowners, they like being slaveowners. being slaveowners is very good for the polks. i would guess that she would treat her slaves as kindly or i'm kindly as -- >> your question.
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yes a hero of mine is a nephew of sarah polk. he served with the general patrick cleburne, and he tried to get the confederacy, petitioned the confederate government and slavery and get african americans to fight for the south. he was wounded several times during the war. and at some point, he was sent behind lines. and a lot to stay in columbia,. and he would eventually run the coup clocks klan out of the county. she kept him from going to union camps would any other confederate prisoner would have been sent to a unique camp. i heard that she was afforded
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power because the unions people just respected her so much. >> thank. you amnesty right there because our time is short and it is important to say, james k polk announced his video, sarah polk is a widow. how much time does polk -- what happens to sara polk especially during the civil war? >> she becomes a widow. -- until she died at the age of 88. the house that they fixed up for the retirement became a shrine for her husband. she received people. during the civil war, she did not take sides of the mayor came to her and said you know the union is coming into the city. what should i tell the general,
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the union general she said you may tell him that i am at home. the confederates and the union troops respected her. she did not take sides. she was completely neutral. and she isolated herself into that period prior to the civil war. people put their storage and artifacts to preserve them. she went right on through and she obtained a great deal of respect, on both sides. >> on both. sides >> only that the contrast would be with president, tyler a member of the confederate government once taken and oath to support the constitution of the united states. in that sense, i think the contrast with sara polk is revealing. >> jamie who apparently
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portrays her as a -- in ohio. mrs. polk lived for more than 40 years as a widow. did she continue to be involved in politics? >> no she didn't. she would speak about her husband's teen. any honors that were sent to her she accepted on behalf of his memory. she was conversant with what was going on. but not an active political player. >> we have one more video from the polk era, let's watch. >> james kaye polk was a promised one term president. as, such after four years james and sarah polk were with. retire in the white house as they were outfitting the white house as part of the restoration they took the opportunity to purchase things for polk the home nashville that they were to retire into. they -- threw the alexander stewart
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shop in new york city and they pick some of the finest american furniture at the time. they are rosewood framed with red velvet. gentleman chairs. we have 18 remaining of the original set of 33. they would ring the rooms with the little chairs and as they had guess they would bring them out into the room. we have some interiors of what they looked like. probably taken at the time of her death in 1981 and the room is filled with obvious they collected during their political careers. unfortunately for james k polk he died -- every new year's day she opened polk place and health at levy for the state legislatures a body. polk became something of a shrine for her husband and she would invite anyone who wanted to do come for a visit to see the objects that they collected throughout their long and illustrious political career. >> patricia lin scott on facebook writes when i visited
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national i was amazed the plaque that recognize the sights of mr. polk's sites that were raised. why would they allow those buildings to be torn? >> progress. that's just you know, i've worked in historic preservation for 40 something years. if we don't have a need to preserve buildings i would be in the field. but there are periods. the polk home was torn down in nashville. the great niece put the artifacts together until they could find a home and that is what the museum in columbia is. but montpelier, the medicines, home -- and really not saved until the eighties, the 19 eighties. these things go on and on all the time. the presidents deemed to be the most important but in some cases you have multiple homes
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that one president lived in. >> as we say goodbye to dolly medicines -- sheldon cooper asked as influential as madison was on future first ladies did sarah polk provide guidance to future first ladies? >> yes, for 50 years. she was a lot alive for 90 years. dolly died in 49. so sarah was the embodiment of the elegant proper first lady after dali died. and the respect past deal with her. >> yes. >> building on that, -- >> i will let her answer that since she has written a great deal. >> i think that james k polk may not have been able to achieve his ambitious one term agenda without her help. she certainly kept the white
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house running because he literally worked himself to death. and she handled his legacy well after his unfortunate, early death. we have most of the legacy is his. the first postage stamp. permanent treasury department. almost doubling the size of the united states. many things to be thankful for. the first ladies themselves are not so much innovators as they are, sometimes they embrace those aspects of the american character. the public needs and i think that she did it very, very well. >> the election of 1840 brought the tailors into the white house. as we continue our program tonight we are to learn more about zach retailer. and more importantly for our first lady series tonight his wife, margaret peggy taylor. it's a brief state in the white
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house so it's about ten minutes of exploration here. >> set the stage for the 1848 election. >> polk is leaving office. he decided to be a one term president. which is probably good because he would have probably been defeated. he was not very well like when he left office. it is true that he started in a war that was successfully won but when it was over he fired his envoy to mexico and his envoy mexico -- polk was forced to bring a treaty to congress that he did not actually want to sign or have congress ratify but he was forced to do it. during the war he became very jealous of the very, very successful general zachary taylor so he demoted taylor. and put the general in place of
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him and put in. scott then he got rid of scott because he was getting all the attention. at the end of the war polk is leaving and taylor is the great hero of the war. taylor had never voted in election. he had never done anything political. he had been a career political officer for his entire life. his wife, margaret smith taylor, peggy taylor as she is known, had traveled with her husband to the most remote military bases in the country. she had been a military wife. the wife of a man who started as a lieutenant and then ended up as a major general. and taylor's politics were almost unknown, other than that he said over and over again that he supported henry clay. henry of course lost to polk. he believed it was his time to
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win. it was going to be away. gear clay's party is the whip party. it's going to win. then out of nowhere taylor gets the nomination and clay is absolutely devastated that he doesn't get to be nominated. in addition to taylor getting the nomination, he -- the completely obscure person is nominated, the most obscure person to be nominated as president at the time gets the vice presidential nomination. so he has this strange access of taylor whose eight louisiana sugar planter running with phil moore who is the controller of the state of new york. for me there's a personal thing which i have to say, i currently teach at the albany law school, where phil moore was living. and this year i will be a visitor at lsu university, i am the embodiment of the louisiana
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accent as well. >> let's not discount that the mexican war brought us all of the west and southwest. california, new mexico, etc, he was the commander-in-chief and he acted like it. and if it upset winfield scott who had quite a temper, and zachary taylor, so be it. as it turned out that is wet history have recorded. we greatly spend it the united states during that time and we got those properties for very, very little. in terms of the history of real estate polk rights high. >> only if you think that going to war with a country to steal a country is a appropriate and legitimate thing to do. significant numbers of americans believed that the
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mexican war was purely inland grab and it war of aggression. many americans including -- who was a great defender of slavery believe that the mexican war it was a big mistake because he predicted correctly that once you have the mexican war you would open again the question of slavery and the territories and that would cause a catastrophe, what does. zak retailer already. couple of points about. i'm elected for 64 years into wilson and last president told slate all he was in office in the white house. but his partner all of this was margaret, known as peggy taylor. what do we know about? her >> she was not particularly keen on being first lady. she had gone around to all of his postings with him and innumerable children. actually, it's very interesting that their daughter, knox, married the young jefferson davis who fought with taylor in
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mexico. and unfortunately their daughter died after only three months of marriage. but later, when they were in the white house, the tailors became quite close with jefferson davis and his second wife veranda. and mariah was very close to the first lady. the first lady let her daughter do a lot of the entertaining and it was such a brief amount of time really that they were in office that, what else can we say about? him >> well, he was inaugurated in march of 1849, elected in november of 1848. and taylor dies in july of 1850. so there's essentially a 15 month period when they are in the white house and she doesn't want to be there. >> she retreats to the upstairs of the white house? >> she basically retreats to the upstairs of the white house. now oddly enough, like her
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predecessor she came from a political family. one of her aunts was married to a three term governor of maryland. and one of her cousins was married to senator johnson of maryland. she came from a very, very wealthy family of maryland planters although she grew up most of her early years in washington, d.c. and northern virginia area. among other things, one of her playmates was nellie costa's who was the granddaughter of martha washington. so this is someone who's been around politics as well. but the opposite of sarah polk, she doesn't want to be involved in politics. she didn't want her husband to run for president. >> and here's a snaps not according to the census of america in 1850. as this president is serving, the population was not 0.23 million and then we're now 30
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states in the united states. that's almost 36% growth since the last census in 1840. slaves in the united states numbered 3 million or 13.8% of the population and the largest cities in the country 1950 were new york city, baltimore and boston. well, washington d.c., we have learned throughout the series, as a capital city, traded on gossip. and it seems as though the gossip about peggy taylor was much like rachel jackson, that she was a pipe smoker and didn't bring any style and substance. that sounds very different than paul just described. so what's the truth about her and how to? this >> i don't think. >> she didn't smoke up. i let start with. at the pipe smoking is utter nonsense. >> yes. >> and in fact, all of her people who are close to her say that she was in fact allergic to smoke and nobody smoked around her. so, the problem is she is a military wife who has traveled from base to base. now she's gone, and she's lived
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in some style even these basis because they were >> nice. house >> the tailors were very wealthy. they had lots of slaves, and a plantation in louisiana. some of the slaves will travel with him when they went to basis. but she was not a high society woman, she was not a woman who wanted to be around a crowd, and this was not a world that she felt little comfortable with. and i'm sure when she got washington and dealt with the gossip and the parties, she simply felt that this is not where she was comfortable and she didn't know how to compete and she didn't know how to operate, and so she retreated to the second story of the white house and let her daughter do most of the entertaining. >> and the gossip continued because she was an enigma? >> and because she wasn't there to defend herself. from the gossip. >> how did zach retailer die? >> cholera doesn't? >> no. >> no zach retailer went to
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july 4th parade, he was a teetotaller and he either spent the day eating cherries and milk, or cucumber and milk, depending on who you talk to. and if one imagines what a bold milk would look like after a hot july day in washington, d.c. without ice to keep it cold, he got some kind of intestinal disease. and he was a very tough man, he had survived winters in michigan in minnesota, he had survived florida >> frontier. >> he had survived the deserts of mexico. he was rough and ready. the one thing-y cannot survive was mid 19th century medicine. so when he got sick, he was blood and they did all sorts of other things including giving him mercury which would have killed him if they gave him enough. and he may have died from an intestinal virus, he may have
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died from a bacterial infection, he may have died because his doctors killed him. what we do know is that he died very suddenly to the great shock of the nation, and perhaps taylor was the last president who could have managed to somehow change the sectional conflict because he was a southern slave holder who did not believe in spreading slavery to the west. he thought that all of the territories that have been taken from mexico out to be free. and he was a man who was willing to stare down and if necessary lead in army to suppress southern anti nationals, southern suggestions of succession at one point. the texans are planning to march into santa fe and sees all of what is today new mexico. and taylor sent troops and one can imagine how he lived if the texas did this again, taylor
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like andrew jackson would've said, i will be happy happy to personally the army to houston personally hang the governor of texas, the way jackson said he would personally hang the governor of south carolina which in part and in the nullification crisis in the 18 thirties. >> so a couple of quick questions. we may have answered them before and margaret taylor before reliever, kelsey o'brien on facebook or reddit mrs. taylor was a devout episcopalian in because of the she promised got to give up the pleasures of society ever has been returned safely for more. if this is to do have an impact on rules? first lady >> i have read that that is true as well and several several different publications. i don't think that she realized that when her husband came back from the war, she was going to end up being first lady. so it's hard to say but -- >> and on twitter, bethany johnson i have two questions about margaret taylor. when did market play any
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instrumental we know of? and how old was she when she died? >> she died just two years after >> she dies two years later in 53. >> 53. yes >> she was born in 1788, so that makes about 65 when she dies. >> and she died in many counts of a broken her because she was so shocked. now we should tell the story of zach retailer. she was convinced that he was poisoned a. >> yes that's. right >> and that was a story that states zach retailer for many years. and in our lifetime, zach retailers body was exhumed. yes is that? right >> to determine he wasn't poisoned. >> because of the cherries in. milk >> and so they brought him up and did a testing. and -- >> no poison. >> no. poison >> by the way when foam or becomes president he gets letters from people saying that taylor was poisoned so that the conspiracy theory, americans love conspiracy theories in this was a conspiracy theory. >> we're problem in the not alone in the. let's listen to sean and columbus, ohio. you're on the. air >> flow, i was wondering if
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it's true that margaret taylor prayed for her husband's defeat for the presidency, she was not much against it. and was she invalid at all when she was in the white house due to having so many children are having the children, difficulties with children? >> i don't know that she actually prayed for his defeat. he was the first to admit that she was not very happy with his victory. with >> you know, many of these stories are written well after the fact and as a historian, we have to question where is the source of the story. so, if you hear a story told in five different places, it turns out it's the same story told. >> yes. >> over and over and over again we don't know if it's true. there is a story that apparently taylor was on a steamboat when the movement was to make tailor the nominee somebody asked him who he was going to vote for, and taylor said, i'm not sure. and the man said, well i am voting for taylor.
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and why won't you vote for taylor? and taylor, he doesn't always talk in detail. earn taylor's, as well i wouldn't vote for taylor, because i personally know his wife doesn't want to run for president. that certainly could've been true. taylor was very unassuming and he often did not appear to be who he is. there is a two story than when he was in mexico, he was sitting in front of his tenth not with his general stars on. and some young officer came up to tailor and said, will you shine my boots? thinking he's just and enlisted man, as phil taylor signed a guys boots, and then the next day, the officer came to meet his commanding general. >> so just quickly here, this is the second time in history, a president dies an office and there's a vice presidential succession. do we do a better time of it the second time around? >> what, succession? >> yes it was a constitutional crisis the first time around. they weren't sure how it should work. >> well quite frankly, they never fixed until after the
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kennedy assassination with the 27th amendment. >> well know we fixed it in this way. >> yes. >> when harrison dies the question is, does john tyler become president of the united states or does he remained vice president of the united states and acting president? and that is something that the constitution doesn't address. john quincy adams, who hated john tyler used to prefer him as his accident seat, rather than his excellency. but by the time phil moore becomes president, there is no question that the president vice president will become the president, he will be inaugurated, he will be sworn in. he is now the president of the united states. so, more by the way very graciously asked margaret taylor to stay on the way house as long as she wishes and she moves out two days later. because she sat enough. >> well you told us earlier about the new york and bad moods access, so we have to learn more about new york and we're gonna do that by video. here's a bit of the mueller
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fell more film that you're going to see now on videotape. >> we are in this most charming little home, small as it is not belong to millard and abigail fillmore. , now millard and abigail did any when they were both teachers they both had this desire and love of reading. abigail actually was brought up in a family that had many books. her father was a baptist preacher and he loved to read. so she was surrounded by books her whole lifetime. now when she moves into this house with millard fillmore, she continues that. they had their own personal library and she wanted to let young people learn extensively about the world as it was. this room they we are in is actually the focus of the entire house. actually, history is made right here. she independently employed
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herself as a teacher, she tutored young students in the evening, namely in the course of history. this room would've been of course the living room, but also served as their kitchen, here in front of the fireplace, millard and abigail would spend hours by the light of the fire. they would do their reading and writing, and yes abigail fillmore cooked in this very room. this was her kitchen. here we are in the fillmore bedroom. the original staircase has quite an angle to it. we do believe the that it was a wooden ladder at that time when abigail and millard lived here. so as a young wife and mother dressed in a long skirt and with a toddler on her hips, she ascended that ladder into the bedroom. within this room, we have the fillmore bed and dresser. we know that abigail was a very wonderful seamstress. we do have her quality or, a
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very colorful quilt called the tumbling block pattern. a house being on main street here in east aurora was a very busy place. east aurora was a very vibrant community. it was frontier but it's developing, and so abigail would've had also had many visitors. she would've had people come in, possibly they would've had tea. we can invention envision abigail having a very full. life her days were full. we do see her as a hospitable, young woman, young wife, young mother, teacher. >> and that house is still available to visit if you're ever in east aurora in new york. the 13th president of the united states was the last whip president. and the other thing in this is picking up on something that paul mentioned earlier, that they came from wasn't modest means. all the presidents before brought personal wealth to the white house and this begins as these, a series of presidents who are more or less middle class.
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what's the impact of that on the institution? >> long term, i think that what we see with the fillmore's is something of a change that will fall through in the 20th century as looking forward. but the economy, we're still prior to the civil war. that's going to be a giant hiatus in that's going to be terms of business a giant hiatus in terms of i, and who business. are the others who are the that are not others who are wealthy -- >> well. not wealthy >> who come along? ? >> >> there are there are four presidents before four presidents before the scouting fillmore who are not this. wealthy. the two adams is who are very middle class and in fact john quincy adams it's probably close to being wealthy at the time. martin van buren comes from a middle class family. mueller fillmore grows up in abject poverty.
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>> big. difference >> millard fillmore, is found it is not only land in an aerial our former's farmers owner. let illegal film, or audio powers grows off. her father dies when she's too they don't have very much after she's married for the first few years he works as a schoolteacher. these are people who experienced poverty. and would not have achieved anything other than middle class -- >> here is his biography if you are interested in reading more about our 13th president. it is still available where you shop for books. we have about 20 minutes to
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learn about the film or presidency. most importantly, about half began. abigail brings the sensibility to the role of first lady. how did she approach the job? >> actually, what she is known for, her legacy, is that the she created the first white house library. what her father left to her mother when she died was just books. they kept those books and they became the core of her education, and obviously instilled in her a love of educating others. so the congress appropriated 200 dollars for the -- to establish a white house library but it was clear that she would be the one to establish it. and she really preferred to read and engage in intellectual pursuits. but she did her duty. and helped her husband.
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and she had a bad ankle as i recall. >> she has an injury shortly before she -- she can't get to the reception so she applied things as much as possible. and her daughter at this time is a young woman in her twenties does much of the role as the 1920s hostess. >> the introduction of the white house library became a controversy, i read that abigail feel more successfully lobbied key committee members. >> she was at the dinner parties talking to them. it was the standing that she could not do. but she obviously convinced them. here comes 2000 dollars to set up a white house library. >> a lot of money in those. >> which was a lot of money. of course it had to be for the president by the books.
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the president was being the president. apparently, she did a very good job of selecting a broad category of volumes for the library. he was interested in the music. >> wasn't she paul? >> she was interested in music. there were also very interested in geography. they are very interested in the world in that respect. and the little film about the film or house. there was one slight error. they were not school teachers. she was older. >> she was 21 years old. she was teaching at a private academy and she had been a apprentice at a textile factory to learn how to make cloth -- this is in the panic of the 18 thirties, and the factory laid off everybody for a while.
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it closed down for a well so feel more use this time to go back to school and fell in love with his teacher. and she fell in love with him. now it is hard to tell from the pictures that we see both of them are described as being very, very attractive people. queen victoria would later say when she meets film where after he leaves the presidency that he was that most handsome man she ever met. that could be a exaggeration but here you have these two, young handsome people and feel more is well over six feet at a time when most men don't grow up to be that call. she glimpse of the. him sheet he glooms on to. her avalon courted because her family does not want her to marry. and they ultimately don't marry. until about five or six years later, he moved to east aurora and then goes to buffalo where he becomes a lawyer. >> ron is watching us in far go,
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north dakota. you are on. ron thanks for waiting. >> thanks. i was kind of wondering, did mrs. film, or what did she do after set up at the white house? >> let's deal with -- and they will come back to your question in just a little bit. >> there'll is in alabama. i daryl. you're on. >> the white house had plumbing? if so, if they didn't have public -- plumbing when did they get plummeting? are they still in use today? >> thanks very much. we learned about glass gloves coming into the white house and heating. what about plumbing? >> oh my. moore is credited with having the first bathtub in the white house but it is not clear that it is true. and this is the problem whenever you say what is the first in the white house.
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we know that fell more installed the first bat of or new bathtub in the white house. >> a question from gary robertson. did religion play a big part in the film or's life and the presidency? >> let me take that because it is important to understand how it works. abigail is the daughter of a baptist and she is raised in a baptist community in rural upstate new york. they are raised in the middle of nowhere in central new york, no lured has various religious training growing up. but when they get married, they are married by a if pistol priest because in the town that abigail lives in, the most prestigious churches that political church then they move to buffalo and become unitarian's because all the smart, people the successful people are becoming unitarian. so in fact religion i think for
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the fillmore's reflects what i would recall is there journey from poverty to middle class status, to ultimately, a secure position in society, and they changed churches as they go up social otter. >> we are going to learn more about her love of books and her stopped front of the white house library and this next video. >> when abigail came to the white house, she was appalled that there were no bucks. so this bookshelf was part of the first white house library that her and millard were able to give congress to give her money to start the first white house library, which still exists today. we know today that first ladies have causes, literacy and reading would have been abigail phil morris cause. it was very important to her as a teacher. and she carried that love and passion for books right with
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her into the white house. abby l suffered from illness throughout her time as first lady, and mary abigail would have been the hostess for many of the events. so this punchbowl would have been one of the many items used during the entertaining and the white house. mary abigail followed and her mother's footsteps and was very educated herself. she spoke five languages. and there are stories of her playing the piano or on the harp for guests, congressman who would come and visit the white house. we have mary abigail's piano. we also have her music books that she would have played from. and we also have her herb, that was in the white house. when we say that you entertain in the white house she literally entertained. >> the room in the white house that feel more as established as their library was a oval room. you are seeing a picture as it exists today. you're seeing the yellow oval
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room and this is from the white house documentary from when we visited. that room during film worst time filled with but and musical instruments became somewhat of a salon. how did they use it? >> exactly. as a salon. >> so was it useful in their legislative goals? >> it was. >> she participated in the formal dinners downstairs. but there was receiving always going on. the white house had very little privacy. yeah and she was known for her interest. >> she had charles dickens come into the white house. >> she was way ahead of jackie kennedy. bringing some of these leaving lights into the white house. she was entrusted in the more intellectual literary pursuits. and with her bad angle i don't think that anyone understands with those receptions were like when they threw up in the white house for 5000 people.
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>> several hours of standing. >> hours and hours and hours of finding your feet. >> this will launch accredited seems like a very intimate place to be able to bring key members of congress and others. so was it in fact a way to be in the inner sank them of the president and advances goals? >> i am not sure. i don't think so. for one thing i think that fewer congressman in those days were interested in talking to a novelist or talking to a cultural figure like that. she brought what would be known as the swedish nightingale came to essentially brought her to the white house. now that would have been a celebrity. perhaps the members would have wanted to see this. there is a bifurcation here between abigail them or creating a cultural setting. by the way as a mother and she's always a schoolteacher.
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she writes letters to her children because they are separated from their children at various times. correcting their spelling in the previous letters, and giving them a list of spelling words to learn. and she may also be well educated. her husband, not as educated, at least in the early part of the times. >> gary asks what kinds of titles and office were in the white house library? do we know? >> a mixture of the classics. shakespeare. shakespeare. >> probably lots of histories. >> histories. >> i know a lot of geography bucks. >> they were very interested in foreign countries. as president fell more sense -- to japan to open up japan, and this is in part because phil moore has this kind of personal interest in things foreign and exotic. it's so important.
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we have to talk about the major legislative piece because -- and miller fillmore picks up the debate over the legislation and in as brief a ways possible what is the significance of the compromise of 1850? within more do? >> the compromise of 1850 is introduced by henry clay. the disappointed guy couldn't get to be president. the goal is to solve the nations problems. and as it emerges in congress, the compromise of 18 fifties, as hurries of separate bills, it's not one. bill it will among other things organize the new mexico territory which they include arizona, the utah territory, which was nevada and utah and parts of colorado. it was a good admit california into the union as a free state. it also would prevent the open
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auction of slaves in washington d.c.. but it would also give millions of dollars to texas. it would sub divided portion of new mexico and give would is today west texas to texas which previously no one believed belong to texas. and most importantly created the fugitive slave law in 1980 which creates the -- in the united states. it's a outrageously under feared law in which slaves are not allowed to testify on hearings and their own behalf so that if a free black is free to new york the man can't say no, you've got the wrong person. it created draconian punishments for anyone who interfered in slave law and feel more pushes the fugitive slave law. signs it almost immediately after this passed by congress. and then very, very aggressively enforces wherever he can.
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>> amy erickson asked some facebook added the compromise of 1850 work -- how do we know about abigail fillmore's position in slavery and how it could have complemented or differed from her husband's? >> i don't. and what is odd about notice the burned over district feel more and abigail is that they come from it's called the district of burnt over district new york called -- because it said that the the district. it's called that because fires of revivalism have been burned over so often the visible's burn over district. the most anti slavery part of the united states. it was a center of the anti slavery movement. just south of werfel moore is kyk is one of the most anti slavery senators in the senate, is starting his political career. just on the road, frederick douglass will live in rochester, new york. and with all of this anti-slavery activity going on neither of the fillmore's ever lift a finger to fight slavery.
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they never show any hostility to slavery at all, and they show no sympathy whatsoever to free blocks. it's really quite shocking that they are completely clueless about this. when he's running for vice president, somebody accuses him in helping fugitive slaves escape. in a letter that is so shocking that i wouldn't say it on the air, he simply says incredibly horrible things about black people and says, why would i ever lift my finger to help them? >> back to her love of books. did abigail's love of books and sheldon cooper and libraries cause any national trends in education or any library expansions? >> to my knowledge, no. but you have to look for the long term. we don't they didn't have the instantaneous communications. her books, we're not going to set off a trend for bangs in a way that modern communications do. i think that what we are beginning to see as we go in
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the second half of the 19th century is more and more work for middle class women teaching and so on and so forth. and obviously they would be aware that they had a first lady who did who, was a teacher honorable profession. and having that library certainly was known. >> marley, dodge ville, wisconsin. thanks for, waiting your on. >> hi. i was just wondering, how many children did the fillmore's have? >> they had two children. >> to? >> and one of them served as the official hostess in the white house. >> yes. >> time is short, let's hear from ben next. and then as watching us in los angeles. ben, you are on, what's your question? >> yes i'd like to know what was the foreign relations policy life back then? >> thanks very much, what was the foreign relations policy? >> well phil morris, foreign
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relations were in part to enhance trade with europe and enhanced trade with other countries, so he sensed perry to japan. at that time, japan was completely close to the outside world, and feel more sense some united states naval vessels and says, we're here and you go to trade with us whether you like it or not. the japanese refer to this as the dark ships and i saw an exhibit in japan of japanese cartoons in which perry is portrayed as a monster. they thought this was horrible. phil moore also negotiate a treatment treatment treaty with switzerland to a lot of trade on equal terms for swiss citizens and american citizens and american citizens but the treaty has a clause which says that this can only happen if the people in america would be eligible to have own land or have businesses in switzerland and many swiss cancers did not allow jews to own land or even enter those canton's. and when phil moore was told
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about this, he said well there should really be a problem. so he doesn't seem to be interested in issues that would involve minorities. he later became the no nothing, and anti catholic activist. >> that leaves us a short amount of time left. elizabeth is from pacifica, california. you're the last question, elizabeth what is it? >> yes, i just had some comments. thank you for the series on the first ladies but the film or,'s one correction. phil morris met charles dickens in washington in 1842. they did not host him at the white house. also they did entertain washington irving and william make these factory. additionally, abigail reportedly advise millard not to sign a fugitive slave law. and one of her best friends in buffalo was the most prominent abolitionists there, george washington johnson. >> oh, thank you so much. we have only 30 seconds. left to want to use that as a way to ask both of you abigail fillmore's legacy? do you like to start? >> books, live learning
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literacy. >> and the fact that she may have influenced people by being of working first lady to your point earlier? >> yes, yes careers for. women >> yes i would say that, that's the same sadly she died very shortly. all >> tragic. >> after they leave washington and then her daughter dies two years later. i can only say that there's no documentary evidence whatsoever that she advised saltville more not to sign a fugitive slave law and this is again the apocryphal things that people like to throw out there because they want to enhance peoples reputations without any evidence whatsoever. >> and actually abigail fillmore died of the famous willard hotel which continually plays a role in presidential history just very shortly after the inauguration of their successor, franklin peers. and by the, way we've gotten a number of people tweeting about that earlier call about the barbara bush connection and telling us that it was actually pierce her name. >> yes it is barbara peirce bush.
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>> and so we will try to answer that question for sure next week. yes >> when we deal with the pearson ministration. thanks to both targets for being here in our thanks to the white house historical association for the continuing help throughout the series.
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weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. wednesday night we look at asian american history. declared a national historic landmark district in 1995 a little tokyo near downtown los angeles has been the center of japanese american culture in southern california since the early 1900s. we went on a tour with bill at the japanese american museum. he was born and little tokyo and 1930 entering world war ii was incarcerated by government order with other japanese americans at wyoming's heart


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