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tv   The Presidency Dolley Madison Lucy Hayes Betty Ford  CSPAN  June 24, 2021 11:58pm-12:56am EDT

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>> friday on american history tv, we continue with more from the white house historical association and american universities first ladies initiative symposium on first ladies. the first panel we hear how jacqueline kennedy, ladybird johnson, and pat nixon worked to preserve the historic nature of the white house, and how their work reflected cold war politics, a focus on american art and the needs of the disabled. that starts at 8 pm eastern on american history tv. >> next we hear white scholars and the general public tend to narrowly categorize first ladies. catherine jealous and of ohio university shows they are more complicated that using dolly
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madison, lucy hayes, and betty ford as examples. of the three she believes betty ford to be the most difficult to put into one category. the national archives foundation hosted this event and provided the video. >> our future speaker today is catherine jealous. and she's a professor of history at ohio university where she teaches courses on u.s. women's and gender history. she's published a number of books and authored a biography on jacqueline kennedy. she's a frequent, she frequently appears in print and on television as a commentator, first lady [inaudible] that's why she is here today. catherine, are you with us? >> i am here, patrick. thank you for the nice introduction. >> excellent. how are you doing? >> athens is wet right now, raindrops are falling on my window, but it's not on my head. so, i think i am ready to go,
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whenever you are. >> terrific, you've got a great presentation so i will pass it to you to take it over. >> okay. let's see. here we go, i think. yes. as patrick said, i am a i was very pleased when patrick invited me to give the presentation today that i have entitled celebrated controversial reluctant and political us first. ladies. this is a photograph of the first ladies exhibit at the smithsonian institution the national museum of american history several years ago showcasing first ladies of the gilded age and progressive era. and various first ladies of that period fell into these categories of the celebrity the
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controversial first lady the reluctant first lady the political first lady and these are the four categories that scholars and the general public largely put first ladies into so i'll give you some quick examples of each of these four archetypes and using examples from living human memory the celebrity first lady. i assume this woman needs no introduction jackie kennedy arguably the most famous woman in america during her time is first lady, perhaps the most famous woman in the world. later to be known as jackie o and so when we think of first lady jacqueline kennedy, we usually think of her as a celebrity first lady. um another recent first lady in living human memory at any rate is nancy reagan.
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and she would be considered by most people a controversial first lady. she was criticized while she was in the white house for spending too much money on her wardrobe and the white house china giving advice to freely in terms of appointments to her husband's staff and cabinet and also was controversial for consulting with an astrologer as she was planning her husband's daily schedule. so nancy reagan would be an example of a recent controversial first lady a reluctant first lady would be best. trillman. best truman did not like the white house very well. she would always rather be at her home on delaware street in independence, missouri. i frequently here in the zoom era and youtube era have given several talks about first ladies
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all around the country and i was giving one recently on zoom in rochester minnesota and one of the people in the audience had been a child at the time of the famous whistle stop campaign that harry truman ran during the 1948 presidential campaign, and i had been talking in the presentation about best truman being a reluctant first lady and this member of the audience said, yes, she was so reluctant that when i saw her as a child on the back of that train platform. everyone was trying to get her to speak. her husband was trying to get her to speak the mayor of rochester. minnesota. was trying to get her to speak but she remained reluctant to the end. she just waved at the crowd and never spoke. so best truman would be an example of a reluctant first lady. and then they're the first ladies in living human memory who were the political partners and of course eleanor roosevelt
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was her husband's eyes ears and legs necessarily since he table, but i think even had the president had full use of his legs and could travel easily in the 1930s and 1940s. that eleanor roosevelt still would have been a political partner and would have been out. in that role throughout the country regardless of her husband's physical status or condition. and i might as well tell you right now. she's my favorite first lady eleanor roosevelt, but i talk about eleanor roosevelt very often and she is a first lady that many people know a lot about so when patrick asked me to do this presentation, we thought about maybe talking about first ladies who aren't as well known as eleanor roosevelt
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and i would start to complicate these four categories. and begin to discuss how it's really not terribly historically accurate to place any one first lady in one category the celebrity the controversial the reluctant or the political that most first ladies were a combination of several of these characteristics. so i want to look specifically at three first ladies who lived in very different periods in us history and talk about the quality of their years as first lady and discuss ways in which they crossed these categorical boundaries. so the first of these first ladies is an early republic first lady that i would like to talk about a little bit and that's darling madison here. she is in a photograph taken very late in her life. she's one of our first first
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ladies to be photographed although she was photographed several years after she was no longer first lady. i'll be showing you another one of these late in life photographs of dolly madison in a minute. most people would categorize her as a celebrity first lady because of her great reputation as a washington hostess. um, and she certainly was a celebrity in her own time and subsequently because of her great fame as a hostess number of of dinner party products have been named after her over the years and i wanted to share some images of those products to show you how renowned dolly madison was and how her fame continued for centuries after her first ladyship. um back in the 1920s for instance this advertisement here
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on the left is for a brand of boston cream pie for dolly madison. a few decades later. there was dolly madison ice cream. i think actually the woman in this ad looks more like marie antoinette and dolly madison, but and actually the add-on the left looks more like bo peep than darling madison come to think of it. there was even a brand of wine in the 1950s that was named for dolly madison and some of you may recognize the young model who modeled for the label for dolly madison wine. it's a young marilyn monroe. and then here in our own time, of course, we know about the dolley madison snack cakes. but darling madison was more than a celebrity hostess. here's another one of those photographs taken of her late in life with one of her nieces here on the right here on the left is
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a statue at the madison estate month montpelier is a statue of dolly and james madison collaborating consulting and i would suggest that this statue presents an accurate presentation of darling madison. she was very much a political player and in fact the reason for her great success as a hostess was in her role as a political partner to her husband. if we think about the situation at the time of madison's presidency, he was only the fourth man to have held that office. and it was at a time when there was a great deal of competition between the executive and the legislative branches of the federal government. and much of dolly madison's
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success as a hostess was based on the idea that if she had great social events. she could bring together all kinds of people merchants legislators political adversaries of her husband's political supporters of her husband and in a social setting get people talking and discussing the great ideas of the day and because of her great parties dinner parties and balls at the white house and always attracting such a diverse clientele of movers and shakers. she was able to establish the white house as the center of power in washington dc the place where everyone wanted to go because everyone wanted and invitation from dolly madison and this helped elevate the executive branch. at least a bit above the
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legislative branch and established the presidency as the center of power in our nation's government. she was also a very critical to the way in which the white house has a building was organized the idea that several of the rooms were public reception rooms, and these were places where people could come in and meet the president and first lady in these social events and the white house wasn't simply a place where the president had his office and he's living quarters, but was a place for people who come and meet the president meet the first lady and come to have important conversations about the nation's business and about the nation's policies.
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so darling madison was the successful host as she was motivated by this idea that she needed to be a political partner to her husband. we of course largely know about dolly madison's dedication to the white house and keeping it as the center of us power and government in the story about her rescue of a copy. actually it wasn't the original a copy of gilbert stewart's portrait of george washington and there have been many artistic representations of her rescue of that portrait. and i must say this is my absolute favorite. it's a child's birthday cake and although some children might request, you know, a birthday cake in the shape of one of the sesame street characters or thomas the train this little boy had become very enamored of this.
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story of darling madison rescuing the portrait of george washington, so he begged his mother to have a birthday cake that looked like the burning of the white house in the war of 1812 and dolly madison's rescue of the portrait. so here's the cake decorated to look like a burning white house in dolly. madison is a cookie running away from the white house with the portrait. of george washington, so i just love a kid getting into history and getting into the history of first ladies so much so that he wants to create a birthday party theme around this incident but this artistic representation much more shows a realistic interpretation of of that scene a much more chaotic scene. and darling madison is fleeing the white house not alone with the portrait of washington under her arm, but with the assistance of several other people including enslaved laborers who worked at the white house and in
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fact that portrait of washington was so large. she could not have taken it down herself and carried it away. it had to be unbolted from the wall and then carry to waiting. cart to take it away from the white house and in fact most of our best accounts and there are some conflicting accounts, but our best accounts indicate that it was a young enslaved teenager who unbolted the portrait from the wall and he and other enslaved workers there at the white house then took it out to the waiting cart, so i don't want us as we leave our consideration of darling mattison to forget that enslaved labor. guaranteed her social success as a white house hostess and
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political player. one of her great social successes was an incident that apparently was a hit in the early republic. period but we would find it very questionable today. she had several enslaved men stand with lit torches over their head throughout one of her social events to be sort of a human chandelier. so she relied both in her role as a celebrity hostess and as a political player in washington. on enslaved labor after the burning of the white house, she was very quick to re-establish. the president's temporary residence again as the seat of power in the city of washington dc and again very quickly in the
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madison's temporary living quarters started her series of social events. once again, so dolly madison more than a celebrity hostess and at her passing. in 1849 the then president zachary taylor eulogized her as truly our first lady for a half century. now i'd like to shift to a very different period the gilded age. and to lucy hayes, of course i had to have an ohio first lady since i'm speaking to you from ohio university. i had to have one of our examples of a first lady from ohio. luci webb was born very near to where i'm sitting right now here in southeastern, ohio. and on the left we see her wedding photograph with her husband rutherford b hayes and
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here on the right. we see her official white house portrait. she's someone else that to the extent people think much about lucy hayes. they probably think of her as another celebrity hostess. she was very successful as a washington hostess and she is known as the first lady who began the easter old the easter egg roll annual event at the white house. but again, she was more than a celebrity hostess. lucy webb hayes had some very definite political ideas herself. she was from a very strong abolitionist family and as a younger woman had been very involved in the campaign to abolish slavery. she was also a member of the temperance movement and was well known as a temperance advocate
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in fact the portrait you see here of her her official white house portrait was commissioned by the woman's christian temperance union the largest temperance organization of the period so they commissioned and paid for this portrait of lucy webb hayes. she was very much celebrated by others in the temperance movement, but that then made her not very popular with the nation's liquor manufacturers and we have to remember that the woman's christian temperance union here when lucy hayes was first lady. in the late 1870s and the early 1880s. it was not only the nation's largest temperance organization. it was the nation's largest women's suffrage organization. members of the wctu wanted women
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to gain the ballot because they felt if women were voters they would vote for pro-temperance candidates. they would vote for pro-temperance legislation. so she was not someone who was popular with anti suffragists nor with the liquor industry at the time that she was first lady now this nickname that she has become known by lemonade lucy that was hung on her after her time is first lady to commemorate the fact that this was an alcohol-free white house, but again to show you the kind of political partnership that she actually enjoyed with her husband breath of rutherford b hayes she and he came to this decision together that no alcohol would be served in the haze white house. lucy hayes is our first college educated first lady and the
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first first lady to be regularly referred to by the press by that title of first lady. now certainly as i have indicated she had her own strong political ideas, and she was celebrated for those by temperance advocates, but she was also controversial among those who did not look. favorably on women's suffrage or the temperance crusade so we could say she's political. she's a celebrity, but she's also controversial in some quarters speaking of her reputation as celebrated hostess here on the left you see one of her elaborate gowns. this is what she wore to a white house reception on new year's day in 1879. so she was considered quite fashionable and her gowns were
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were commented upon favorably by fashion critics of the era. she also though is our first post reconstruction first lady coming through that period of division of the civil war and reconstruction something that she attempted to do in the white house in her four years in the white house and her husband had made the vow that he would only be in the white house one term and that is indeed what happened during those four years. she is in the white house as the first post-reconstruction first lady she tries to make the white house a location that celebrates national american unity and she commissions the most unique set of white house china and if i am confessing what my favorites are i've told you my favorite first lady is eleanor roosevelt. well my favorite white house china is the haze china because
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it's celebrates north america flora fauna and the indigenous residence of north america. so here is a piece of the hayes china a couple of more pieces. i just think these are so interesting. and some people found them controversial, so we're back to that characteristic because they certainly were not the standard type of victorian china, but i love the idea that she attempted to celebrate american themes and i think they're beautiful pieces myself. she also served very plain meat and potatoes menus at her social events. no french food in the hayes white house again celebrating american unity during the years that she is first lady.
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well now closer to our own time betty ford. and i would say that mrs. ford actually fulfilled all four categories. she was ultimately a celebrity. she was controversial. she was definitely political, but she was also reluctant here on the left. we see a picture of the fords at their wedding. and here on the right a screenshot of betty ford during her very famous in some quarters infamous tv interview on 16 minutes in 1975. well, i like to refer to betty ford as our first television era first lady and you might think well that can't be right wasn't there jackie kennedy and her famous televised tour of the white house. yes, but i think betty ford was the first first lady who really recognized the power of television to get out her own
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messages and in a very straightforward way. very soon after she becomes this accidental first lady remember she becomes first lady after richard nixon has in disgrace resigned the presidency and her husband gerald ford becomes president. she had never thought about possibly becoming first lady and now she is and very shortly after the fords come to the white house in 1974 mrs. ford is diagnosed with breast cancer and she had photographs such as this one from her hospital room after her mastectomy had them shown on television and helped. destigmatize breast cancer she was very up front about the medical condition. she was suffering from and its treatment and made sure i remember as a child looking at pictures like on the today show.
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she released photographs of her stay in the hospital for treatment of breast cancer to the public. but it was the following year when she appeared in 1975 on the 60 minutes program that she really became the television era first lady those of you who may remember that interview. she is very much a woman of the 1970s a middle age wife and mother of the 1970s who says to more morally safer. who is the cbs correspondent who's interviewing her? oh, i wouldn't be surprised if my children had tried marijuana. oh, i wouldn't be surprised if my 18 year old daughter has you know experimented sexually and she also endorsed the roby wage decision and said that she
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believed abortion should be legal. well, there were some of the culturally conservative members of her husband's republican party who didn't like what she had to say on 60 minutes and we're among those who the next year 1976 pushed ronald reagan in his challenge to gerald ford for the republican nomination in the 1976 election, but there were others who tuned into 60 minutes. and so this is such a breath of fresh air. um and really liked what betty ford had to say. this not some programmed. you know automaton. this is a first lady who's a real woman and free to speak her mind and is living the kind of life that many of us are living here in the 1970s. so ultimately she became a more popular figure than her husband
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and continued through the remainder of the ford presidency to advocate for political issues that she believed in like the equal rights amendment. but she was also a reluctant first lady. she wondered always that if the stress of suddenly becoming first lady had contributed to the development of breast cancer and it certainly exacerbated her existing dependence on alcohol and painkillers, but after she left the white house she became a champion of especially for women for dealing with substance addiction and confronting it and hopefully um conquering it and as we all know she became the founder of a series of clinics that bear her name.
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and in that way continued to be someone after she was no longer first lady who had a great deal of influence and her celebrity continued, but she was very political first lady a controversial first lady in some quarters. but also she herself said a reluctant first lady in a variety of ways and the ultimate accolade for the celebrity she even had a tv movie made about her with jenna rowland starring as betty ford dealing with her her many causes and her challenges with substance dependence. so i'd say betty ford is someone who fits all four categories now, i am constantly asked what
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kind of first lady will joe biden turn out to be and i can only speculate at this point, but i've often times when i'm asked this question thought she might be a first lady in the betty ford mode someone who has a great deal of candor is very enthusiastic about publicly supporting causes that are near and dear to her like assistance to military families and advocating for community colleges and their students. but whatever pathway dr. biden ultimately follows. i'm sure that she will continue with several of these historic themes and make her way through. all four of these major categories and at various times because no one first lady ever
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fits one. nice neat niche. so with that i will stop sharing my screen and turn things over to patrick to moderate the q&a. terrific. well, that was a wonderful we flew through our nation's history and lots of interesting ways. we got some questions rolling in so thank you. i want to remind the audience that you can use the chat box in youtube to ask your questions and while you're doing that just next to our name. you can hit the subscribe button and help us get our subscriptions and followers up. so please do that while you're watching if you enjoy our programs and want to know more about our future programs. we have a great array of folks joining us from the dmv area arlington fairfax dc kensington are all in the house. we've got in texas austin,
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frisco dallas, greensboro, north carolina my friends in white bear lake minnesota with us along with minneapolis, connecticut, new jersey, you got some folks from riverview and palm beach gardens in florida. asheville is here roanoke dagsboro, delaware. we've got some international in canada toronto vancouver and indonesia, and of course many from the bobcat nation, so we're very pleased to have to say no bobcats now many many bobcat references for sure before we before we jump in to the questions and let folks have a minute to add their questions. let me ask you one that that's come up when we do a series with the presidential library directors, and i've started this series with our first ladies about legacy and and you know, one of the things were as a nation we're looking at changing legacies, especially around our
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founders as you think about first ladies and obviously the arc of history and historians like the let some time pass before they can really evaluate but are there first ladies that you think back on that? you've studied that we might have had one kind of belief or sort of image of a first lady and it's really changed over time as different things of have sort of come out or they're one or two or more. well, i i think that one of the first ladies i i mentioned talked about in some detail darling madison. i think we're at a period where her reputation or her legacy is going to be seen in a more complex way. of course, it's very easy when you have a brand of snack cakes named after you to have a certain kind of image and i think her image has largely. obviously been that of the hostess.
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and i think much of the recent scholarship and and i this is one of my favorite books of the last few years. it's entitled ties that bound founding first ladies and slaves by marie jenkins schwartz deals with the first three, virginia presidencies. and so washington jefferson and madison. and in this book as well as some of the other recent scholarship about dolly madison, it's it's becoming more revealed. what a political player she was but also that legacy of being a slave owner and her great dependence on enslaved labor. not only during the years that she is first lady, but subsequently as well even though her husband was willing to recognize before his death that
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slavery needed to be abolished and make provision for his own enslaved laborers to be freed. dolly madison herself remained dependent on not only enslaved labor, but the selling of enslaved labor until her dying day. so i think her reputation and her legacy is undergoing a period of of some recognition of its greater complexity and and it's problematic aspects. so that's one first lady that comes to mind a couple of the more recent first. ladies who i think at the time that they were first lady were seen as involved in these nice, you know pretty projects for a first lady jackie kennedy. restoring the white house with
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historic furniture and and antiques that represented the history of that house and then her successor lady bird johnson had what was called when she was first lady her beautification campaign, which was about preserving wildflowers and making sure that our nation's highways were not cluttered with ugly billboards. but today i think we would recognize that both of those women are very important figures and the field of historical preservation and giving more publicity to that important field. i know you and i patrick would agree. that's an important field and jackie kennedy really brought a lot of attention to that and then later when she was a former first lady in her life in new york continued with with that cause and then lady bird johnson, i think is one of our
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first high-profile environmentalists and we need to recognize that so i think those are two first ladies who's legacy people have recognized the greater importance of their first lady platforms of the 1960s. terrific. well, let me jump we've got a lot of questions flowing in so i've been trying to try to keep up with them on this point one of the questions that came up on in a previous program around first ladies, and i'm sort of getting a flavor of it here is about the politics are there examples of the first lady in the president might have in contradictory messages and specifically a question came in about edith wilson in the later years of the wilson ministration. can you comment on that? well, certainly. edith wilson says that she never. she never took over the role of
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president wilson after he was incapacitated with a stroke. she said instead. she was just trying to save her husband's life and she thought it would kill him if he had to resign because of disability. and so she assisted him in carrying out the duties and that she never carried out any actions or policies that he didn't agree with. a first lady who sometimes was at loggerheads with her husband was eleanor roosevelt. she was certainly much farther out than her husband on the issue of black civil rights. she was probably black america's strongest white ally in the 1930s and her husband didn't feel he could go that far and advocate for black civil rights in the way that mrs. roosevelt did because he wanted to keep of course white southern voters as part of his roosevelt political
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coalition. so eleanor roosevelt also pushed her husband on tried to get him to accept more jewish refugees. before the us entered world war ii she was always there pushing her husband to go farther and faster on various issues that were near and dear to her heart, but he oftentimes resisted. so i see that in that political partnership you very much have two very strong-willed people who sometimes didn't always see eye to eye. specifically okay, a few questions have come in about the different types. is there a most common type on first ladies and then to related to that question. do you see a new arched archives coming maybe? well, i'll answer the second question first. i i hope we're going to see.
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the career woman archetype that's being launched with jill biden our first first lady to be first lady and simultaneously continue with her professional identity as an educator. so i i think maybe that'll be a new archetype that is developing before very eyes. um, you know, i think it's it's poignant, but i think of those four main archives probably the reluctant first lady is the most common especially there's a long period in the 19th century where we have several first. ladies who were quite reluctant and rarely made public appearance as and most of those are tragic stories. actually andrew johnson's wife suffered from tuberculosis made only two appearances during her husband's presidency public appearances, jane pierce, one of
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the antebellum first ladies had tragically seen her little boy benny die right in front of her eyes in a train wreck. in the interim between her husband's election and his inauguration and so she was in mourning the entire. period of the franklin pierce presidency um item mckinley had several tragedies in her life that affected her physically including the mckinley's children had all died. before they came to the white house and she had seizures. that would you know immobilize her so she didn't make many public appearances and even best truman. it wasn't just that she was shy and preferred. preferred life in independence, missouri, but she had had her father had committed suicide when she's only 18 years old and she was very very devoted to her
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mother whose house was there on delaware street. in fact the house that best and harry truman lived in was actually mrs. wallace's house best truman's mother's house. and so that was a lot of her devotion to always going back to independence, missouri very protective of her mother. and out of this tragedy in her young years, so you know, it's sad to say but i really think that the category that has had the most first lady membership is the reluctant? okay, so we're gonna go back in time to the founding period two questions. i'll let you answer them in whichever order makes sense for you a question about abigail adams and her her interest obviously in women's rights in the new country. we have any comments on that and then who stood as first lady for
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thomas jefferson, okay. all right, so in terms of abigail adams she is another one of my favorite first ladies and i think in those polls among professional historians that are done every few years. she usually is ranked. number two behind eleanor roosevelt of greatest first ladies. and abigail adams and her famous letter of 1776. she's back in massachusetts and rights to her husband john adams in philadelphia. i remember the duties, and she was talking a lot of people think what she was talking about. there was a soft was suffrage women's right to vote. she was talking about an issue larger than that actually temperature which is the idea that we inherited from british common law that a married woman took on her husband's civil
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identity upon marriage. so a married woman couldn't own her own property was not the legal guardian of her own children. couldn't own her own business in her own name couldn't sue or be sued, so she was hoping that in the new laws that those declaring independence in july 1776. she was hoping that in the new laws that were being declared there would be a rejection of that old british common law idea and there was not we don't have state laws being passed to overturn covature until the decades leading up to the civil war. 1839 is the first one but most famously the most far-reaching of the they were called married women property acts is the new york law of 1848. so it was a long time after
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abigail adams was no longer on the scene that coventure was overturned and then by state by state but boy, she was um way ahead of her time in some ways, but also a product of her time of the enlightenment and she had very active correspondence with other well-educated women of her time place in class. so she she was a remarkable woman a republican mother small r. meaning that she since she couldn't be a political player. couldn't be a voter. she couldn't be an office holder. she exercised her political influence through her role as wife and mother and of course we know she was the wife of one president and the mother of another and she saw her political role as urging them to
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embrace republican ideals and always be active. players in the life of the republic ah, so who was first lady for thomas jefferson? yes, he was a widower several different women would fill in to be his hostess one was his daughter martha named for her mother she would sometimes be his hostess, but also his good friend james madison's wife dolly was sometimes the jefferson white house hostess, so she had already started dolley madison this reputation as the washington hostess par excellence even before she was first lady because she had sometimes played the role of effective white house hostess for thomas jefferson. and i would remind our viewers
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if you're in washington when the museum opens back up. we have a terrific exhibition on women's rights called rightfully hers and it's up in conjunction with the university of the 19th amendment but a permanent exhibit called remember the ladies and our records of rights gallery on the first floor of the national archives. so two teasers there for folks. yeah and washington. luckily, i i got to see the rightfully hers exhibit before covid hit and it's a wonderful exhibit excellent and we will be keeping it up even though the university is coming on we'll because of covid will be keeping it up for a number of months after after the building reopens a lot of time to come and come and see us. well, i know we have a little bit more time, so i'm a little bit of a lightning round here for you. we have a number of questions first ladies you didn't mention so i'll let you give give the cliff notes version of what your take is and of course or the the modern of the modern presence so
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pat nixon hillary clinton michelle obama and melania trump if you want to just run the tables for us. okay. well one reason i think that betty ford was ultimately a popular first lady as i said, she had her critics and those who considered her controversial, but she ended up being a popular first lady because a lot of people embraced her warmth and her candor and seeming genuineness because she was a contrast to pat nixon who definitely was the beautiful political wife, but remember some of you may remember that her detractors called her plastic pat because she had been at this game a long time, you know since the 1940s when she had married richard nixon and she was very much a product of of that time and when the political wife's role was to stand and smile and look adoringly at her. husband and so i would if i had
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to choose one category for mrs. nixon, it would probably be reluctant. she said although i'm was such a trooper and everyone thought i was the most loyal political life wife. this is the last kind of life. i would have ever chosen. she did say that but she also played her her role well for her generation and in that way one could say she was a political partner and a political asset. let's see who was the next person who was asked about so hillary clinton hillary clinton. well, definitely a political partner, but i i you know, she certainly became a celebrity too and in fact speaking at bobcats she and her daughter just did a q&a over zoom here on the oh you campus. well, they were in new york the rest of us were here, you know.
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has become a celebrity a household name, but yeah, obviously i would put her in the category of political player michelle obama what first comes to mind is celebrity again. it's interesting last year. i had my michelle obama calendar here in the background right now. i have the scenes of ohio calendar because i've been teaching ohio history this semester, but you know if you can sell calendars, i guess you're a celebrity. also, of course she became well known for her fashion sense wrote a best selling memoir, which i signed to my graduate students a couple of years ago because i think her memoir becoming really tells the story of the second half of the 20th century and what it is to be a woman and to be a black woman. in the second half of the 20th century and now early in the 21st century. so in that way, you know, she
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has a politics too and but i think primarily celebrity melania, you know, i've done several of these talks as i was saying. each one's a little bit different. in some of the talks i have given this winter and spring i've ended with slides not just of jill biden, but also melania trump and asked the audience how they think those two women will ultimately be remembered and hands down even with the rotary club of waukesha, wisconsin, which is a pretty conservative group a pretty conservative audience. i think they agree. they thought that melania would be considered a reluctant first lady and that same group and others have had said if we're staying with the old categories and not yet inventing new ones. they think jill biden will be considered a political partner.
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okay, so i have i'm gonna try and sneak two more in here because one's really interesting and one is for all of our national archives nerds that are that are on here. um, so what about relationships between first ladies and the questioner asked about dolly madison and sarah polk and lucy hates and nelly taft. i don't know if there's some some well known ones. you might want to reference. well, you know who ended asked friends. and on a campaign trail for the era was roseland carter and betty ford. they ended up being a very dynamic duo and i have a current phd student who's routing her dissertation on this topic about their campaign together rosencarter and and betty ford for the era, you know. hillary clinton and jackie kennedy became very good friends. of course, john f. kennedy was one bill clinton's
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political idols and mrs. clinton looked to jackie kennedy, although unfortunately, jackie kennedy died just a couple of years into the clinton presidency as someone to to provide guidance to to her in her role as first lady and jackie kennedy also had known betty ford when they were, you know, congressional wives together and she also was gave advice to to mrs. ford. i'm trying to think of some other good relationships are friendships. i don't know of any. bad, you know downright hostile relationships that they're apparently i guess. some people have wondered if melania trump is upset that jill biden is getting such good. oh, you know for the most part
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good press in these first months is as first lady, but mrs. trump hasn't called me up to give me what her true opinion is so i can't comment on that. um but historians will say at a time will tell on time. well, certainly say that mrs. kennedy was very very helpful to lady bird. johnson as well, so if jackie kennedy was our third youngest first lady. she's only in her early 30s. she became so identified with the white house and how to run the white house and how to present the white house that she was someone that several subsequent first ladies. consulted sure. and our last question because this has come up in a number of programs. so should we talk about the presidential libraries first ladies materials? so before the national archives and i i might challenge i'd say before the presidential libraries where where does one
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find first lady the actual primary source materials. well my library to give ohio in can't know ohio is gaining more actual research materials. it's a relatively new institution. and i think there is definitely a push to acquire more document holdings there. unfortunately some of the early first ladies, you know, their papers have been scattered hither hither and yawn some were sold, you know at auction to private holders, so i'm going to turn that back around on the national archives and say time there is a garage sale of first ladies documents out there patrick. you need to be first in line. i'll have to talk to the
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arguments the united. it's a good it's a good mission to have we're katherine. this has been terrific i have to acknowledge besides having bobcat nation and support that. you've done something that no other speaker or panelist has done in all this time of doing virtual programs the last 14 months you have shown us the best birthday cake that i think that we've ever had on on camera. so thank you for doing that. okay, that's really inviting me. this was a lot of fun. absolutely. well, we're happy to celebrate the first ladies and hopefully soon enough. we might have to change just to be the first spouse or first gentleman series. we'll have to see or easing our way there with a second gentleman, but soon enough. i'm sure well. thanks again
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