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tv   The Presidency Cleveland- Mc Kinley Descendant  CSPAN  November 7, 2021 10:30am-10:48am EST

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historic moments, you know? the fate of the war hung in the balance, who's going to be the commander. you see these two hen if realizing that they gave everything for their country. this is the moment that really captures it. >> i know that photograph well, and i love their faces. >> dawn, thank you very much for joining us today the here at home with the roosevelts, and i can't wait for you. >> masse mckinley, you are here because you worked of the organization and descendants of two presidents. tell me your family story. >> i'm related on my too ternal side to grover cleveland who is
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the 42nd and 44th president. and my father's side to william mckinley, i'm the great, great nephew of mckinley and great grandson of grover cleveland. my parents married and the two became one. >> were your parents aware of their lineage when they married? >> had no clue. my father was a long-time history professor at uta and during the course of time at the breakfast table we talked about presidential politics and we talked about precedential descendants and i learned so much about the conversations with him. >> the two are very different? >> they are. >> let's start with mckinley, what do you want people to know since you studied some of his legacy and life. what's the most important thing to neglect about william
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mckinley? >> everybody remember that is he was assassinated in buffalo but the most important thing, i think, susan and robert mary's book brought that to life how powerful of an impact his legacy gave the country because we had industrial revolution, we had expansion around the world. we had tremendous growth and a lot of times sadly enough both grover cleveland and mckinley are often forgotten but through books that are written about both especially about mckinley and, of course, you remember paul rose's book about william mckinley. he's always been revered but in the time's past he's been forgotten and my hope that through the course of time and through the great efforts of the white house historical association that jacqueline kennedy found it in 1961,
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through those efforts with education, preservation and legacy, you know, learning about those presidents that they'll certainly be remembered and i'm trying very hard to do that. >> we have visited the memorial in canton, ohio. what a structure. tell the audience a story of how that came to be? >> the william mckinley memorial way back in the day, people revered him and, of course, you know the significance about the roses that they wore back in the day when he was assassinated. but the citizens of ohio and especially since several assassinated thought that it was befitting to actually come together and actually create a memorial to his legacy and memory and, of course, he's probably in my opinion ohio's most revered united states president because he was not only a house member but also susan the last u.s. civil war president. so i think the legacy that that
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produced and in addition to the fact that he was a assassinated probably contributed to them having this one wonderful memorial and it really truly is. >> it's impressive, the amount of space that it takes and the size of the memorial itself which i understood that the first lady was very much involved. >> that's correct, that's correct. >> the first lady's memorial museum is also on the same campus. >> that's right. >> talk about mrs. mckinley and her legacy and her role in the white house? >> absolutely. wonderful mate and wonderful supportive wife of william. you know the story about her having epilepsy and mckinley was such a wonderful husband that when she had the epilepsy seizures and he would place a
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napkin on her face and they would go on with dinner. that's the reason he has no direct descendants because both young daughters died in infancy. i think she because of the death of both fathers and the death -- you know, the assassination of william mckinley caused her to really want to memorialize mckinley and the white house first lady's home is -- was actually her home. did you know that? >> i didn't. >> the first lady's museum was out of saxton mckinley's home and it is a beautiful, beautiful structure. i think hillary clinton integrated that home back in the day. >> so if one were to look at that period of time it was the time of great disruption and technological change, industrial change, though, parallels to today. so, you know, going through the digital revolution, there's
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challenges with immigration as they were back at that time. the purpose of studying history to understand our time today, what would you takeaway from the mckinley era that people can help to understand the time that we are going through. >> i think like you said, the technological advances and we just were expanding at rapid speeds and money was being poured into the country for industrial expansion and today we can take the strides to make sure that we have the infrastructure to be able to proceed and see these kinds of -- how important it is because they were doing it by half and chance and they were hoping for the best and sometimes that did not work out but i think we can learn from the past, we can learn from those -- those -- you know, those mistakes that were made there in those times, mckinley's time especially during that particular time
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because we radically changed in early 1900's. >> grover cleveland you're more closely related to grover cleveland. >> that's right, surprising. >> he was america's only nonsequential president, what else should they know? >> they should know that he had a beautiful wife and the great story that's been past down from my family for many, many years francis and grover was so saddened that they were defeated after the first election and she told the white house staff who she dearly loved, she said take care of the china because we will be back in 4 years and they were back in 4 years. but i think, you know, the romance that they had prior to them getting married in the white house was just a lot of story that will endure the test of time. she was married in the white house. the beautiful gown, susan, was founded by george cleveland who is actually at this event.
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he's the grandson of grover. his sister anne and also marian cleveland cohen, they found the actual dress that actually exist, the wedding dress that actually exist in the white house collection at the first ladies smithsonian. a powerful display and how elegant she was and people certainly, you know, learned from history from that. >> but there was an enormous age difference between the two. >> absolutely. >> how does the family process that piece of information. >> you know, i think it was a love story that was kindled by francis' father, he was a dear friend of grover and i think upon his death, i think grover felt the need make sure that frances was taken care of and he was a lot older by stretch of 25
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to 30 years but i think, you know, at that time she trusted him. i think he was the guardian for many, many years. even prior to mr. fulsome's death and i think she had complete trust and they had a wonderful family, susan. >> they really did not like life inside the white house? >> that's correct. >> they really wanted to protect their family. how did they do that? >> a lot of times, susan, frances would take the children by carriage to sites off campus and unbeknownst to the press, unbeknownst to anyone that was around and they would actually secretly do that. midday or sometimes probably in the evenings when no one would be suspect that they would be around. i think she just -- she was very much -- she controlled how her children would be seen.
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>> they built a house in what's called the cleveland park section in washington and grover cleveland used the white house at the office. >> there's a ton of on the other correspondence and we didn't have presidential archives. when he left office and all documents were taken by him and i was talking to george just yesterday about, you know, how much volume of papers still exists and they are trying to give those to the museum and to institutions like princeton to preserve and -- and to definite i will keep those but it's -- it's a lot of information. >> where are the bulk of his papers now? >> they are at princeton. >> what's at princeton connection that brought them to
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princeton? >> princeton was the actual place that grover and frances retired to. i will never forget the story. it's a great story, susan. i've been told this many, many years. grover did not like woodrow wilson and at the time woodrow wilson was the president at the time and he did not allow his children or woodrow wilson's children to play together because there was a rift so they did not play together but that's the -- that's the connection. he actually retired to princeton. >> while we are talking about the clevelands children they also had a daughter that became very famous who unfortunately also passed away in her youth, baby ruth. we have a candy bar named after baby ruth. tell us what you know about the family stories about baby ruth. >> so the actual candy company contacted the cleveland family to actually put the images of the baby and also frances on that and we have actual tons of
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political memorabilia, tons of souvenirs that have been given away and they actually contacted the family to actually, you know, allow both images on the candy bar. but sadly, like you said, ruth passed away and sadly susan, she was pregnant with a child at the time and both happened almost at the same time. so she did not get a chance to say good-bye to ruth before she passed away. >> i think she was in her very early childhood? >> that's correct. they were afraid that the disease, i think was, the disease would certainly affect the child. >> but she lives on. >> she does. >> susan, everybody thinks that the candy bar does named after baby ruth but that was long past that time. you hear it from the candy
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company. they will actually say it's named for baby ruth and you see the likeness wrapper. she was a beautiful child and frances was a beautiful woman and why not put on display for sure. >> let's talk about you and interest in politics. you mentioned the family used to talk about family history in the table and when did you take interest in american history? >> susan, i will say not until junior high. my dad always talked about it because i have two other brothers. he always talked about politics and he always talked about the presidency and presidential descendants but i think junior high piqued my interest and i had the legacy of both families and i wanted to research and read as much as possible so i think probably my junior high
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years were probably the time frame that i became really, really interested in it and dad showed a greater interest and we went to the historical sites, the mckinley museum and the lie briar and grover cleveland's grave site in new jersey. but i think, yeah, i would -- i would say i really was not as familiar with it in early years but i think junior high, high school, college and the interest that i had in that probably caused me to become even greater, have a greater interest in that. >> is it a coincidence that your profession is political communication? >> yeah, right. that's exactly right. no, susan, i have been privileged to write for some of the greater people newt gringrich and john boehner and then -- and then also the current speaker paul ryan, so
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very specific speeches. i don't do day-to-day stuff but it's been a thrill to be able to write for them on some policy things and i thoroughly enjoy it but most of our work is corporate communications. >> what is it like being part of the community of presidential descendants? is there interaction among you? >> i hate to say it, susan. years ago we attended the new york mayor's presidential descendants luncheons that they used to have. this is is probably 20, 25 years ago. probably in the last i would say-probably last 5 years people have become more interested and i approached steward, the president of the white house historical association probably six months ago about wanting to do, create an event for the presidential descendants because it's something that just kind of not been done but hopefully going forward we will actually have more reunions.
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i'm in hope that is we have an annual dinner that we actually will have in different locations around the country and -- and i hope that we will because i think it's so important. we learn so much and we share experiences, you share stories about the presidential families and i just love to be around people that are a lot like me. >> if you had to say your perception of being a president or life in the white house is different than folks who don't have the sisterry because of what you know your family stories, how would it be different? do you have a different appreciation for the job, do you think? >> i think i really do. i think, susan, probably the greatest word would be respect. two men gave of themselves, william mckinley and grover cleveland to inspire to greater office and i will tell you what a sacrifice and especially during periods of time like you said they were quite strenuous
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with the country and i think i do have a greater respect for the office. i have a greater respect for the people that occupy that office and -- and the sacrifices that they make each and every day. you miss family time, a lot of time and i know for a fact that william mckinley because the way they had to travel back then lost a lot of that time with his young daughters because they traveled by rail and it was a part of his wife for a period of time and that was traumatic because of her illness. >> well, thank you for visiting with us during this white house

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