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tv   President James Madisons Life Career  CSPAN  April 30, 2021 2:13pm-3:06pm EDT

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next on american history tv, author lynne cheney discusses president james madison's personality, health problems, and political career. she also talks about the influential women in madison's life. her book on the fourth president first published in 2014 is "james madison: a life reconsidered." the society of the four arts in palm beach, florida, hosted this 50-minute lecture. [ applause ] >> i'll put it down for me, and it has to come down a little bit more for dr. cheney.
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welcome, history lovers. good morning. i am thrilled you're here, and i am particularly happy to welcome students from the palm beach day academy fifth grade and their teachers. [ applause ] and also students from palm beach atlantic university and faculty. thank you for being with us. this, after all, is about the future. [ applause ] dr. cheney has focused much of her life on teaching children american history so that the next generation can learn from the past. but before i introduce her, we had a surprise guest fly in from wyoming last night. and i would like dr. cheney's husband of 52 years, dick cheney, to please stand up. vice president cheney. [ applause ]
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thank you so much for coming. it means a lot to me and a lot to lynne. well, i'm honored to introduce this morning's distinguished speaker. and when i called her last year to invite her, she said gay, am i the only speaker who hasn't won a pulitzer prize? i said yes, but you're the only speaker who is chairman of the national endowment of the humanities for seven years. and you're the only speaker who was second lady of the united states of america for eight years. [ applause ] if you google dr. cheney, you will be blown away by all of her awards and accomplishments. but as always i'm not going to list all of that, i expect you
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to do that. but while she was head of neh, she published "american memory," a report that warned about the failure of schools and institutions of higher learning to transmit accurate knowledge about the past to future generations. she said, quote, a system of education that fails to nurture memory of the past denies students a great deal. one of the most successful series she funded when she was there was the civil war series by ken burns, which we all loved. but she said, neh is a difficult place to be, and some projects were good, and some were not. dr. cheney has authored 15 books. her most recent, "james madison: a life reconsidered," is a masterful insight into one of the physically smallest of the
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founding fathers, but one with the most towering intellect. and certainly the one with the most fun wife. i asked her what she most liked about madison, and she said, gay, i am fascinated by people who work hard. she is an example of that as well. she compared him, and i want to quote, she compared him to mozart. both were geniuses who with their greatest works changed forever the way people think. she's currently working on a book about the virginia dynasty, washington, jefferson, madison, and monroe that will be out in about two years. but what fascinates her is that for the first 36 years of our republic, with the exception of four short years of john adams, the virginia dynasty was in power. of the 15 books she has written, five of them are history books
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for children. and we have bought them for all of our grandchildren, and i've read them over and over with the grandchildren who love them. and i'll just mention a few because you might want to purchase them. "america, a patriotic primer, celebrates the ideas that are our country. and one of my favorites "a is for abigail," tells about the accomplishments of women in america. and, of course, the one that i love the most is "when washington crossed the delaware." and it tells about the general washington leading his rag tag army across the frozen river christmas night and his surprise attack on the enemy in trenton. it teaches children about courage, heroism, and dedication to your dreams. she was also a baton twirler as a child. she required hours of discipline and practice, and she was phone across the state of wyoming as flamboyant because her batons
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were sometimes set aflame at both ends. in 1954, she was wyoming's junior champion. and in 1956, she won the state senior champion medal. i asked her if she'd be willing to show us a few of her tricks. she said, you couldn't pay me enough. [ laughter ] although i've heard that she still might do it for a big charity that's willing to give a lot of money to the charity, lynne vincent met young dick cheney in latrona high school. the vice president told me that his father was choosing between two jobs. one was in casper, wyoming. one was in great falls, montana. he said, you know, gay, if we had gone to great falls, montana, i never would've met lynne. she would have met another fella at high school, fallen in love and married him, and he would have become the vice president. [ laughter ]
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dr. cheney wrote that natrona high school was the most beautiful building in wyoming and the most beautiful building in casper. the second most beautiful building was the carnegie library which opened in 1910. she said by the time i started going there, some 40 winters of hot water heating had worked to combine the scent of varnished wood with the slightly acidic odor of aging books to create a wonderful smell, one that was unique, in my experience. in the 1950s, it was a haven for kids like lynne vincent who loved books. this was a different time back in the 1940s and '50s. and a lot of us in this audience can relate to it. i remember, too, teens and kids were free to run around, come and go, and their parents didn't even know where they were or
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worry. there was no pervasive fear of computers or cell phones blaring something ugly from around the country or the world. there was a feeling of optimism. when i was the regent at mount vernon, i invited dr. cheney to come as the second lady to talk to 350 students on constitution day september 17th. as you know, it's the day that celebrates the adoption of the american constitution. and her talk captivated the students. she, in turn, invited the entire board to come to the vice president's mansion, and, as you know, it resides on the u.s. naval observatory grounds, and the ladies were deeply appreciative of the talk she gave us, the tour she gave us, and all we learned from her. when i spoke to her a week ago, i said what's something you do we might not know? she said, well, every day i do
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the daily merriam webster vocabulary quizzes on my ipad. i didn't even know they existed. but ever since i've done it every morning. a fascinating fact is that people in their 60s and 70s score higher than those in their 30s and 40s. as our second lady of the united states, dr. cheney lived at the highest level of national life. but she remained what she grew up to be in wyoming, a curious, hardworking scholar, down to earth, a beautiful and brilliant woman. the columnist george will calls her, lynne is the really indispensable cheney. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome dr. lynne cheney. [ applause ]
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you're taller than i am. well, thank you for that nice welcome. and let me thank gay for that terrific introduction. i got to get a printed copy, dick, so you can read it a lot. [ laughter ] and, gay, for all the hard work she has done and for her creative thinking to put this wonderful series of speeches together. so, gay, thank you. and thank all of you for being here today and for loving the idea of listening to stories about the past. it took me five years to write the book about madison. and that's not an excessively long time. i think if you'd ask your other presenters, it's a long process. but when you tell someone who isn't a writer it took you five years, they're stunned.
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and after being stunned about how long i spent on the book, they are stunned that i spent five years on madison. and i completely love the time i spent working on it. and i explain that i like madison because he wasn't a flamboyant character, he was reserved, and he got things done without making a whole lot of fuss about it. and i think that is an achievement to be valued. the folks who aren't pushing toward the microphone today, but the ones who are just quietly moving ahead and getting things done. and, boy, he got a lot done. one of the things you will read often if you read about madison, is that he was reserved. you know, he wasn't a hail fellow that ran around patting people on the back and chatting them up. he was so reserved that he
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sometimes intimidated people on first meeting. and there was a young man named george tucker who described his first meeting with madison this way. the impression made on me was of sternness rather than the mildness and suavity, which i later found to characterize him. madison was visiting james monroe when tucker encountered him. and tucker later wrote, it's possible that he and monroe were discussing something very serious, and that could have accounted for it. but it was also possible that madison reserved a stern look for strangers. tucker said he never perceived madison that way afterward. now, he was not -- tucker wasn't the only one to note how stern madison could be on first meeting. he gave away nothing to
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strangers, nothing. and it was often observed as well that he was very different and private than he was in public. in private, he was witty, known to like madeira, and appreciate jokes that weren't fit for the dining room -- the drawing room, i try to say it fast because the fifth graders. once, it said, his humor left a british ambassador utterly scandalized. he was only 5'6". 5'4" may be a little closer to the mark. he was a nice-looking gentleman, small, compact, nice looking, and he had a receding hair line that he made up for in a very stylish way. he combed his hair forward and to a point like this.
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now, is there anybody in this audience who watches "blue bloods"? oh, my gosh, okay, good. well, i got dick for sure. on "blue bloods," there is a player named detective danny reagan. and if you ever watch "blue bloods," danny reagan is the one who jumps over a car at least once an episode. he's played by donny wahlberg who, as those of you who have watched it might guess, combs his hair exactly like james madison. now, if i ever get the opportunity to do casting for someone writing about the founders, i'm going to suggest donny wahlberg. so, madison wasn't physically impressive in the way that the six-footers were, as gay knows,
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six-footers jefferson, monroe, washington in particular. and i am struck time and again when i read about washington how important his physique was to his accomplishments when abigail adams first met him and john had told her about washington, she scolded john for, she said, not preparing her for the phenomenon that the general was. i thought the one half was not told me, she wrote. benjamin rush, dr. benjamin rush, described washington this way. there is not a king in europe that would not look like a valet de chambre by his side. what madison, though, lacked in stature, he more than made up for in brains. his presence as jefferson described it, came from a habit
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of self-possession which placed at ready command the rich resources of his luminous and discriminating mind. in my book, as gay mentioned, i called madison a genius. and this caused some heartburn among some critics. i am happy, however, to stand my ground on that. madison not only saw the world he was born into. he saw how it could be different. and at age 36, he arrived at the philadelphia convention, later known as the constitutional convention, full of this idea intent on creating a nation from the 13 states, such as never have been seen before. just four years before, they had thrown off the rule of great britain and went through a rocky time with the articles of confederation. but along comes madison, and he
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is ready to change things. he is ready to make this totally new kind of nation. he imagined a vast republic where people were sovereign and their fundamental rights respected as nowhere else on earth. now, at that time anyone who was thinking about such matters believed that a vast republic was impossible. a little republic maybe, you know, one where all the citizens were homogenous, a little republic might make it. but one that covered territory as large as the 13 states was sure to be pulled apart by all the interests and ambitions of its many inhabitants. that was the idea. that a vast republic was impossible, and people believed that for a very long time. madison's insight was to perceive that all those
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different interests and ambitions that other people have been afraid about that, in fact, those were crucial to a republic's survival clashing viewpoints would keep any one viewpoint even that of a majority from becoming tyrannical. now, it is so stunning to read about someone who changed the way people think and to read further about how important his insight was, how transformative it was, in part, because it brought the idea of a republic down to earth. it didn't require a citizenry of self-effacing angels to make it work. it wouldn't be a place where everyone had to stifle his or her ideas and aspirations for the sake of unity. ordinary people could live there
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and pursue their dreams. because of madison, a republic was no longer a distant idea, but something to which people around the world could aspire. bringing the idea of the extended republic to bear at a time when a great nation was to be created was madison's first act of creative genius. but by no means his last. he, more than anyone else, would be responsible for the united states of america as we know it today. his time of great achievement came after years of intense focus, deep concentration, and nearly obsessive effort, behavior that describes most lives of genius from sir isaac newton, to mozart, to einstein's. let me just give a few examples of how hard madison worked in the run-up to the convention in
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philadelphia and in the convention itself. first of all, he began an intense study of laws and constitutions. he had been interested in this idea since he was in his 20s. but with books that jefferson shipped him from paris where jefferson was their envoy, he began this really intense study. and a relative staying with the madisons, i'm smiling because virginia is just one big cousinry, i think it was. but he stepped back from this constant socializing that most virginians participated in and started working really hard. a relative who came to see him wrote in his diary that madison came to breakfast at which he ate sparingly, and then would go to his room until a little before dinner. so, while everyone else was riding horses and playing,
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madison was in his room working. now, he knew that washington's presence at the convention could make all the difference. was so admired, so loved by the american people by this time that if he were there, the convention could have a greater chance of success than if he weren't. so
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other delegates as they arrived, and, in particular, the delegates from virginia. because madison was there early, he brought them all together, and all together they produced the virginia plan, which, as you all know, set the agenda for the constitutional convention. during the convention, madison was one of the delegates who spoke most often. and he made crucial, critical interventions. when the convention was about to write into the constitution that congress had the power, quote, to make war. madison stood up and successfully changed it to "declare war." thus making the president commander in chief. now, if you think about it, we would have not ever done so well, i'm sorry to mention this, but if all the congressmen were in charge of our war, of war, it would not have been successful.
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so this was a really important intervention. while he's speaking and understanding how important it is to get the words just right, madison was also taking notes. he sat up at the front of the room and wrote the notes out of who said what in shorthand, and then went back to his room at night and transcribed them. now, i could go on. i could talk about madison's central role in getting the constitution ratified. his working at break-neck speed with hamilton to put out the federalist, a series of essays defending the constitution. madison described this effort as having to get the papers to the printer while the printer's still working on the last ones. he wrote, i think it was 40 essays, in 23 days. i may have those numbers wrong. but it was just an amazing, amazing accomplishment. i can also cite his work as a leader to add the bill of rights
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to the constitution. but i think i have made the point that madison's genius, like most genius, was the product of hard work. it was like mozart's and newton's and einstein's genius. 10% inspiration and 90% pirspiration. he was often ill, leading many historians to say he was sickly. you come across that again and again that he was even a hypochondriac. but when he was well, he was very, very well. traveling a thousand miles through new york with lafayette, traveling through that blizzard to new york. indeed, simply getting from montpelier to philadelphia was quite a challenge. his trips were over roads that
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wouldn't be called roads today. he often traveled in the rain. i'm struck by how often it was muddy on those roads. and one time it was worse than that. he was forced to dismantle his carriage, take the whole carriage apart, make three trips with it in what he called something like a boat over a swollen pond, and then he had to swim his horses across. so, this is an extraordinary amount of energy to spend if you're sickly. now, it's true that madison had the gastrointestinal problems that plagued almost everyone in the 18th century. this was a time, remember, when people believed that illness was caused by bad air, and doctors didn't wash their hands. but, in addition to the common ailments of the day, madison suffered from what he called sudden attacks, which he
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described as somewhat resembling epilepsy and suspending the intellectual functions. madison's most influential biographer described these attacks as epileptoid hysteria. now, he was writing in a time when freud was very intellectual. madison's description fits today's understanding of today's epilepsy. his sudden attacks may well have been complex partial seizures, which leave the affected person conscious but with his or her comprehension and ability to communicate impaired, with the intellectual functions suspended, as madison said. such attacks last just minutes, and may leave the affected person tired and confused for a
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short time after. but they are not necessarily disabling. nor do they prevent exertion. madison was lucky enough when terrible things were described -- were prescribed for epilepsy, mercury, for example. madison was lucky enough to encounter doctors who told him to exercise. what a modern thing to think. it's often recommended today for people who suffer from epilepsy. as he rode and walked over the hills of the virginia piedmont, he became fitter, readier to take a thousand-mile journey with lafayette, or to hold high office. now, i find research like this fascinating. i could happily spend days reading 18th century medical manuals. they make me feel very lucky that we aren't prescribing those same remedies today. but when you're writing a book, you have to ask yourself, is it what you're doing important?
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does it offer insight into the person you're writing about? and in madison's case, i believe it does. a hypochondriac or someone given to hysterical episodes is quite different from someone who has an identifiable ailment and manages to achieve greatly in spite of it. understanding madison's ailment also explains certain things he did and didn't do. he wanted to be a soldier, as the revolution was coming on. he wanted to be a rifleman. and he was a good shot. he told a friend that he could hit an 8-inch target at the distance of a hundred yards, which is the length of a football field. and this is with an 18th century weapon. but, his military career came to a sudden end when during training he suffered what was likely one of his sudden attacks. madison had several chances to go to europe and always turned
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them down. i just realized a day or two ago the first five presidents, he was the only one who never set foot out of the united states. medical manuals of the day recommended that people with epilepsy avoid deep water, presumably, because a seizure could cause you to fall overboard and drown. thus, when jefferson suggested that madison visit him in france, madison declined. writing to jefferson that he had, quote, some reason to suspect that crossing the sea would be unfriendly to a singular disease of my constitution. madison was a lifelong defender of religious freedom. and when we try to answer the question at this lecture series proposes how has the past influenced the present, it's his battle for religious freedom that i always think of, the
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constitution was absolutely essential. that's sort of the ground floor. but despite for religious freedom, was inspired, in part, by the treatment of baptists that he witnessed in virginia when he was a young man. they were arrested, charged with preaching without a license, and thrown in jail by people subscribing to what madison called that diabolic hell conceived principle of persecution. at age 22, in a note as angry as anything he ever wrote, he declared, religious bondage, shackles dehabilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise. he spoke to a man who knew this probably because he had experienced it first hand. the standard religious view of the time was that people with
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epilepsy were lunatics, they were called that. they were, by the most orthodox religious people, that they were unclean, sinful, and even possessed by the devil. it's easy to understand madison being indignant about such notions and determined to free people from having to exceed to them. he worked with his lifelong friend thomas jefferson. they worked together in this cause. and one of their proudest achievements is the virginia statute for religious freedom. if you have been to mont cello, you know, it's one of the three accomplishments that jefferson put on the sinataf over his grave. jefferson was the author of the statute. and he declared that neither religious nor political leaders had any dominion over the faith of others. punishing people for their
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religious beliefs or declaring them unworthy of public office was depriving them of advantages to which they had a natural right. our civil rights, jefferson wrote, have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry. now, again, madison and jefferson were on the frontier of thought here. it had long been believed that there should be an established church in the anglican church in the case of virginia, and that religious conformity had to be imposed. but madison and jefferson saw it differently. now, the statute failed to pass when they first tried to get it through the virginia assembly. then jefferson went off to paris for five years. and while he was gone, madison, who was the sharpest politician among the founders, he saw an
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opportunity, and he got it passed. he wrote an ex-ultant letter to jefferson in which he declared that the statute had extinguished forever the ambitious hope of making laws for the human mind. madison's high regard for this statute has been shared by generations. martin marty, who was a much admired theologian called the statute an epochal shift in the western world's relations between the civil and religious fears. by dividing them with the state on one hand and the church on the other, the virginia statute is, in martin marty's words, a hinge between the ages. i think sometimes when we're on this side of the change that the founders accomplished, it's hard to realize it because they have become so much a part of our lives. well, madison made many
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decisions. but perhaps the wisest was to marry dolley payne todd. he was out walking on a spring day in 1794 when he caught sight of her and was instantly smitten. this happened regularly to men who saw dolley. she was nearly 5'8", a shapely figure. she had black hair, blue eyes, and a startling pale complexion, which she had learn to shield from the virginia sun. she came from a quaker family, which had not, for her, been a good fit. [ laughter ] she was inclined for the gaeities of the world, one quaker woman wrote. and this is my favorite story. a quaker mate ron recall that during an effort to convince dolley of the seriousness of life, the young girl first smiled and then afterward fell fast asleep. [ laughter ] the 26-year-old dolley was
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recently widowed. her husband john had died in a yellow fever epidemic the year before madison saw her. and so had her 3-month-old baby, leaving her with a son who was 2, and his name was payne todd. madison, who was 43. now, dolley's 26 and madison's 43, turned aaron burr -- this is sort of the one big cousinry thing, even when you're not related in the 18th century united states, everybody knew everybody. he turned to aaron burr because he and burr had gone to princeton together. he arranged an introduction. dolley was thrilled at the prospect. she wrote to a friend, thou must come to see me. aaron burr is bringing -- i love this line, the great little madison, to see me this evening. [ laughter ] dolley wore mulberry satin and
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yellow glass beads to greet james in her parlor. and four months later they were married. now, i am of the conviction that political wives, political spouses, generally, can't really do much to help their husbands or wives' careers. it's a good thing if a political spouse behaves herself or himself and stays out of trouble. but as a general rule, unless they are rich, political spouses don't do much to forward their spouse's ambitions. now, of course, for every rule there is an exception, and in this case, as you'll guess, it was dolley. she had an artless way of entertaining, or it seemed artless. she invited women as well as men to their house on f street in the new city of washington. she included federalists as well as republicans. while james was chatting with one or two guests, dolley was
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talking to everyone. as one guest reported, she was very amiable and exceedingly pleasant in conversation. she also which was an advantage. she particularly liked to serve ham surrounded by mashed cabbage. now, a spouse could entertain this way today, or at least some spouses and dick will be glad to tell you i have not mastered the art of cooking. he likes to say that during the first couple of years of our marriage, i pretended as though i knew how to cook, and he pretended as though he liked it. but entertaining fellow officeholders, which is basically what dolly was doing, is not an effective thing to do today. it's not important in the way it used to be. in madison's day, republican office holders decided who the
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republican nominee for president would be. now generally speaking, the life of a congressman in the 18th century in the new city of washington was pretty miserable. there was nothing to do besides go to your boarding house, where the other congressmen lived. well, there were a few things. there was one place, i puzzled over this for a very long time, where you could go and watch rope dancers. now, i wondered what that could be. i think, i think i have concluded it was people on a tight rope. that's my best thought. but the congressmen as i said ate and slept in boarding houses on capitol hill and one member described it as living like bears. brutalized and stupefied from hearing nothing but politics morning to night. all of this made an evening at the madison house particularly welcome, and it shined a light
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on madison's warmth and personable side. he became the nominee for president in 1808, was sworn into office in 1809, and moved into the white house with the remarkable dolly. she had open house every wednesday, anybody could come, and she seemed to understand that she was part of the entertainment. her choice of dramatic clothes never failed to impress. one outfit that i'm particularly struck by was a robe of pink satin, trimmed with ermen, of white and velvet satin turban with ostrich plumes and a crescent in front, gold chains around the waist and wrists. she was probably two, maybe three inches taller than james, without a turban, but this outfit probably made her a foot taller. and she didn't seem to mind and neither did he.
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but the idyllic time did not last. the british were at war with france and decided it would help them if they shut down u.s. trade with france, and they needed more sailors. so they started stopping american ships and taking off board, putting into their navy anybody they suspected of not being an american. now, because of course, many people in the united states had come from england, they were often taking american citizens. i heard that, i read some place that one of the devices for deciding whether you were an american or not was to ask you to say the word peas. and if anyone said "pays," they took them right away. now the idea of citizening being seized was of course very very objectionable and in june of 1812, congress declared war.
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and madison became the first president to carry the nation into war under the constitution. now, we often hear about the glorious victories at sea in that war. such as the constrict victory of the sus constitution, the 18 pound ball that the british ship gurier fired at the constitution seemed to bounce off its side, which would lead to the ship being called old ironsides. within 30 minutes of trying to take down the constitution, the british surrendered. but there were humiliating losses on land. and then the biggest humiliation of all, the british marched on washington and burned it. now, you can still see the burn marks in the capitol of the united states, as well as in the white house. but i happen to be in the capitol with queen elizabeth when she was visiting the united states, and we were being toured
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around by really excellent guides, and this guide pointed out, right here, you can see where the evidence of the british having burned the white house, here were some big, big pieces of wood and they had ash on them. and queen elizabeth, i'll never forget, said, well, you did the same thing to york. now, york is toronto today. and indeed, we had set some fires in york, so the british have not quite gotten over this. is john here? so there were these humiliating losses on land, but that's not where the war ended. madison sent a peace mission to gent and it succeeded to bringing the war it a close. and then andrew jackson won a great victory over the british at the battle of new orleans. it is sometimes said that jackson's victory didn't mean anything since the treaty had
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been signed but to the contrary, it showed that the united states could be as powerful on land as well as at sea. the war also showed that free speech could survive in war time. despite being sorely tried by americans who condemned the war and even talked of secession, madison never wavered in his commitment to free speech. he proved that a republic could defend itself and remain a republic still. perhaps the highest praise that madison received came from john adams, who had not admired virginia. madison's administration, adams wrote, acquired more glory and established more union than all three of his predecessors, washington, adams, and jefferson put together. what a wonderful compliment.
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i was thinking that you might like to know a little bit about some of the people that i fell obliged to leave out of this speech, since it would have gone on and on forever. and one of the people, these are women for the most part, though not always, they do tend to get pushed a little bit aside in the history of the early republic, but one of the women was madison's grandmother. her name was francis madison. and i first became interested in her because of a note she wrote when madison was a child, and they were all living together. her note looked like a shopping list, and at the top of it, it said for an epilepsy. the 18th century medical books that i so much enjoy taught me that some of the items on her list, gin geng root, saffron, camphor were thought to be good for breaking a fever which suggests that madison may have had fever-related seizures as a
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child. they are not regarded as epilepsy today, but can be part of a syndrome, febrile seizures as a child, epileptic seizures as an adult. frances was quite a woman. and the more i learned about her, the more interesting i found her. she and her husband were the first to move, the first of their family to move to the virginia piedmont. and not long after they moved there, it was the frontier, he died, poisoned by a slave, the records say, and running the plantation fell to her. she had to learn the details of growing tobacco. when the plant, to seed, when to move the plant, when to top them, when to remove the leave, how long to cure them and when the time came to pack the tobacco into hog's heads for transport to market, frances carved her name on each one of the barrels. this is a remarkable instance of
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a woman forwarding herself, and she should have. she had made the tobacco in those barrels. her orders from london merchants were what might be expected from a tobacco grower, she ordered axes, a high barometer, a pair of boots, but while she did the work of a man on the virginia frontier, she also upheld herera's standards of womanhood. fabric for dresses was among her orders, as were two good stays, that means corsets, size small. now, i may be more interested in grandmothers than i be, but as i say, frances was quite a woman. another woman, i'm not sure i would call her quite a woman, but she was important to history, her name is kitty foy. now, kitty was 15 years old, a
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round-faced young woman, she lived with her family, in the same boarding house that madison and jefferson did. and madison, 31, now notice that, 31, fell in love. now i shouldn't make too much of the age difference, because in the 18th century, 15 or 16, as kitty was about to be, was considered a perfect age to marry. so madison, 31, fell in love with her. this was 1783. when 15 was considered quite a marriageable age. and madison wanted to marry her. jefferson took up his cause. and i love the idea of these two friends interacting this way, he went to talk to kitty, and to play up madison's case, and he wrote to madison and said, i think i've got it fixed. well, it turned out not. you know, jefferson was always the optimist. kitty had seemed amenable but then she and her family traveled to new jersey, and madison waited to hear from her, about the upcoming wedding, and he
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didn't hear, and he didn't hear, until finally he got a dear john letter. he poured his hurt and his heart out to jefferson, who gave him great advice. he told him, the world will present many other resources of happiness. and you possess many within yourself. then this is my favorite. firmness of mind and unintermittenting occupations will not long leave new pain. in other words, throw yourself into your work and that is exactly what madison did. kitty went on to marry a medical student. his name was william clarkson and he later became a clerg iman, and kitty was a spendthrift. in a will, her father wrote, that he had given kitty and her husband considerable sums of money, and a tract of land, but the father complained, all is spent and gone.
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he ordered his son nicholas, having cut her out of his will, he ordered his son nicholas to give her $70 a month. now, it's quite possible to think that as disappointed as madison was, posterity was the better offer the breakup. he was about to enter the most consequential years of his life and they were lonelier without kitty and they were probably more productive. and if you will pardon me, for reading history backwards, i would also like to observe that had madison married kitty floyd, there would have been no dolly madison. so i've done my best to get the women into the story. and they have fascinating stories as well. but i just want to thank all of you for being here today. thank guy again. cat emhoff, who is the president of montpelier is here with us
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today and i appreciate all of the great things that have been done to montpelier and i would recommend you visit it and see the evolution, marrian scott dupont, or maybe it is marian due spont spot, in any case, a very wealthy woman, married to randolph scott for a while, but montpelier and enlarged it and covered it with pink stucco, so the challenge that montpelier has been to get it back to what it might have looked like, to what it looked like when the madisons were here and the effort has been remarkable. so thank you, montpelier. thank you gay, for arranging this, and thank you all for being here. [ applause ] weeknights this month, we're featuring american history tv
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programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. former vice president and u.s. senator walter mondale died on april 19th at the age of 93. tonight, we start a night of programs featuring mr. mondale, with a conversation from 2015, with former president jimmy carter. this was part of a tribute to mr. mondale, hosted by the university of minnesota's humphrey school of public affairs. watch tonight, beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern. and enjoy american history tv every weekend, on c-span3.
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the constitutional convention began in 1787, in philadelphia. virginians james madison and george mason found themselves on opposing sides regarding key components of the document. next, a re-enactment of a debate between the two men, as they argue about issues from the bill of rights, to slavery. hosted by the colonial williamsburg foundation, this is an hour. well, hello. and welcome to the great constitutional debate, right here at colonial williamsburg. my name is stuart harris and i teach constitutional law at lincoln memorial university in knoxville, tennessee. today we have a real treat for you. we are going back to the time when the constitution was ratified and we're going to talk


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