tv Book TV After Words CSPAN January 24, 2010 9:00pm-10:30pm EST
century. he has authored more than 40 books, fiction as well as non-fiction. he is to me and many americans america's greatest storyteller particularly of history. he's been enormously successful. the winner of major awards for his books and his lifetime devotion to american history. i think we can spend the entire evening here all the time we have allotted just reviewing the numerous books and articles tom has written works on franklin, washington, jefferson, truman, fdr, american war, the hamilton through culbert toole, the outstanding volume he produced to accompany the major 1997 pbs production liberty. of course the recent perils of peace which deals with but even after the surrender of the british at yorktown in 1781. a great personal memoir of your
upbringing in jersey city which as you know is my home town as well so we have that in common. and so much more on the american revolution, frederic leadership of george washington and his military struggles to achieve american independence. and now the subject of tonight's conversation, the role of women in american history. we see this in the fiction and nonfiction you've produced over the years in her novels such as liberty tavern which came out in 1977 just to remind you of that. the difficulties in that book involving women of life during the american revolution. the officers' lives that came out in 1981 about three request planes and their wives to paraphrase about the resignation of these officers wives whitcomb officers why is that is what we will be the rest of our lives and he has taught a wonderful
story there. the lives of our founding fathers, the intimate lives of our founding fathers, this incredible book that has just been published within the last couple of weeks i guess. >> guest: yes, two weeks ago. >> host: the influence of women and shaping of our history women who were the mothers, wives, daughters, other friends of the founding fathers, washington, franklin, adams, hamilton, jefferson, madison. very different women enormously interesting in themselves providing the material for the refitting stories of the founders as we've mentioned before in our conversations to the it's really six books in one. as a result, i think that now we can conclude with all that you've done in your career we are at a new level of writing about american history and history in general. we are all the products of our
associations. those individuals who have made our history and consequently have reached a level of interest as historical characters for books must be researched and written about within the context of their lives. their marriages, their liaisons', all of their associations. they do not exist in any kind of a vacuum. you say in your introduction far from diminishing these men and women an examination of their intimate lives will enlarge them for all time. so let's get to the first question i have for you this evening. from your perspective, tom, what led up to the book that has now come out? >> guest: what got me going was this idea that i had written a great many books and the revolution will over a dozen but they were mostly concerned with the men and yet in my novels i have always taken a woman's
point of view as often as possible i've always been fascinated by how women react to a vince and individuals involved in these events and it suddenly hit me maybe this could be done because i couldn't have done this but in 1960 when i first started writing books. but now more and more of the papers of these women have become published in the whole feminist movement has become part of our lives so it seemed like a very logical thing to do in many ways and a possible thing to do, and then, barbara, had this marvelous supplies. this book for me has been one surprise after another and the biggest surprise was the opening. i think it is one of the best opening site ever had for a history book. i've discovered by sheer accident as you often do when you are doing research that george washington wrote in a
letter to a woman named sally fairfax in 1759 she was the wife of his good friend in a way not his best friend his good friends neighbor george william fairfax, this letter words was published in the new york herald that was at that time in 1877 when it was published it was the biggest newspaper in america and they called it a washington love letter and nobody could believe that it was real at first and then people who knew a little bit about washington's life and so forth durham been very interesting biography published, they discovered he had written a letter four months after he had become engaged to martha custis who was evidently the richest widow in virginia and this caused consternation in 1877. they couldn't believe that
george washington could possibly have faults for another woman, and so it was like a suspense story as a probe to find out what happened and it turned out the letter had never saw the light of day. it was going to be auctioned off but some mystery man bought it and it disappeared for 60 years and then they found by sheer accident in the files of the harvard library. when i saw all of this i said to myself this is a book i was born too late. i've got to write this book. i've got to explain this and then i began to realize there would be other things to discover and explain about the other founding fathers. >> host: so as a result of the researchers durham over the years and all of the things that kept coming at you about the women's papers which you couldn't have known about in 1960 when your first book came out its at this stage of your 50 year career this is coming out.
>> guest: it seemed to be a perfect right considering the fact i have published a great many novels by now and so i have a reputation and habits on the historian of got to get the facts but in the book there is an ability to think intuitively and different points. >> host: right, at this stage. talking and of george washington, the father of our country, the laconic figure, the gilbert stuart image that we are used to, tom and i both went to grammar school in jersey city and there is every schoolroom had a copy, print of george washington on the wall. this was every school women jersey cities of this is a kind of inspiration and has been for me and i'm sure for you. but he turns out to be much more of human character, don't you think, than in your book in your quote from a letter washington wrote after his marriage to
martha to the english merchant richard washington his name was. that washington is now fixed at the seat, mount vernon with an agreeable consort for life and hope to find more happiness and retirement than i ever experienced in a wide bustling world. sounds like a pretty happy man to me. >> guest: yes, happy but an agreeable consort. it doesn't suggest grand passion or deep, deep love and this was a problem washington had the rest of his life. a lot of people felt his marriage to martha was a marriage of convenience. she was the richest middleware in virginia and she was looking for someone to manage this magnificent estate she had inherited from her late husband and washington of course was a man of affairs he had been a colonel and commander of the virginia troops and french and indian war and he was about perfect in every way and incidentally she was pursued by some of the richest man in
virginia before she decided to mary washington. they were the same age and the more you think about the more you watch what happened afterwards. you realize there is a definite attraction there and you're the most surprising thing i found is after more than a decade of happy marriage life george washington was appointed commander in chief of the american army in 1775 and the first person he wrote a letter to when he got this assignment was to martha and the letter began my dearest. >> host: all of them did. >> guest: yes. so then i went back and looked at martha's papers and there were more fun writing to my dearest. now this is a think it's pretty good tribute to each other and a sign there was a very deep love that had taken root between
these two people. and the reason, barbara, that martha washington is totally and appreciate it i have said in the book and elsewhere we think of her as somebody's grandmother. when she married washington she was 27-years-old. she was about 5 feet even and had a wonderful figure and also she had a marvelous disposition. she was a very self possessed woman and she could deal with men and charm of them when she wanted to. she had that marvelous clich southern charm. martha had it in abundance in washington slowly realized marrying her was the best thing he ever done in his life and one of the reasons, you know, as you mentioned the mothers of these people are interesting and they are in the book, too and of course george's mother was
almost as big as he was. ridgely tall and had the most tremendous temper you could possibly imagine and her husband died when george was 11 and spent most of her time trying to get george to be a surrogate husband had to wait to substitute and george was so thrilled he tried to join the british navy at the age of 14. >> host: to get away from her. >> guest: but then intervening was a wonderful man, lawrence washington, his half-brother who was at that time a master of mount vernon and the was miles away from washington and lawrence realized it was time to start in fighting this big tall teenager up to mount vernon and he was about 60 when he started coming and that is where he met sally fairfax, this very flirtatious wife of the man in
the house on the road and for a dozen years sally flirted with him and tormented him and so forth and so after he married -- after he became engaged to martha she wrote him a letter saying are you a patient to see the campaign over to increase mrs. custis? and it triggered this blazing letter because he was about to march into the willingness to fight the french and indians and he thought maybe a bullet out there with my name on it and probably might be and so he couldn't resist. he world displeasing four page letter in which he simply said do you love me as much as i love you? i just want to know that before i marched off to maybe get shot. and it was that letter that sally saved the rest of her life. so she had i think a rather
strong attraction to this tall muscular man. her husband was a when the shrimp i might add. [laughter] martha also was not aware. george had a temper. she may have had his mother stenberg. martha wasn't aware. i think he did everything he could to avoid telling her that and there's a great story when he sits down to have his portrait painted by gilbert stuart the most famous portrait painter of the time and a gilbert stuart fancied himself something of an amateur psychologist and he mentioned about them holding back his temper you might want to share that story. it's a great story. >> guest: he did fancy himself as a sacred psychologist and he was aware and he said general i've studied your features and you have the scenography of a man of violent passion, and in the same room at the time was martha washington and she was
knitting and listening and become offended and said you take a great deal upon yourself, mr. stewart and he said madame, let me finished i was about to say the general has those passions under perfect control. >> host: he really was a good psychologist. >> guest: he got out of a tight spot. but then washington, he looked to washington hoping to get a positive response and a little smile played across washington's face and said he is right. host koza you talk about the 1877 letter which was also interesting about that is nobody seemed to be interested in it. it sold for very little money. >> guest: i suspect that probably was there was a very strong rumor that jpmorgan had bought the literal thinking he was doing something patriotic but we don't know that for sure so that is at best an
interesting rumor but the auctioneer announced it had sold for $13 which was ridiculous so it was a cover-up all the way and the man thought washington's reputation had been damaged by this letter but when we get deeper into the whole story of course you find out that is simply not the case. >> host: his reputation seems to have changed with history. he was an icon right after his death with of the space nation particularly as jackson became president and american shaunna painting became quite popular. washington was shown in these sometimes apocryphal seems of interior as a family after the centennial he was america's patriot. so things have changed. >> guest: he had a slightly sacred or a. there is no doubt about it in this time. but the interesting thing is he
really needed martha all this time and people didn't realize this and he was barely up in boston and commander of the american army when he wrote a letter say what you consider coming up here to join me. now this, barbara, wasn't an easy thing to ask of a woman. she's on the mount vernon, 400 or 500 miles to boston, and the roads were so abominable in those days and to course the river yet to go in a carriage on a flood boat and a couple of guys blows across the river and was a windy day things were going that way in this way and people did drown as they cross rivers quite often and yet she said i'm coming and she went up to join him and she did this every year for the rest of this eight year revolution. she journeyed up there every winter but she played a part not merely as a wife and someone to
whom he could confide and he did trustor and told her things he didn't tell anybody else but also she was a marvelous hostess and washington was basically the leader of the country, only head of congress and they were a bunch, the only guy that really mattered was washington and anybody who came to this country wanted to have dinner with him and washington really needed this charming woman at the head of his table to make the conversation flows through and so forth and she did that strode through the revolution when he was a general and then again when he was president. >> host: very different situation and the case with benjamin franklin. these are at opposite ends washington and franklin where we might question the story of whether washington was a lady's man and there's a lot in the book i don't think we have a lot of time to go into but there was a lot of questioning as to whether he faltered this one or >> guest: can i just say you that one.
know this i have a chapter i tell a sally fairfax started and i have a chapter called the other george washington scandals and there are so many of these people wanted to believe these stories about washington street through the revolution long after he was dead. >> host: but you don't find proof of this. >> guest: it is amazing how many people believe them. there were papers in the midwest in the 1870's who were printing statements for people saying yes she was the father of thomas posey, the son of another neighbor of mount vernon and so forth so why? thomas was 6 feet two and was a soldier in the revolution and people take the argument from resemblance as the weakest argument in that sort of thing and so it was interesting how that traveled with him but we do want to get on.
>> host: ben is hilarious, nothing short of hilarious. for stores in areas deborah. deborah does not follow him anywhere. she doesn't go to england when he asks her to come. >> guest: she didn't even go to boston. [laughter] >> host: and she and a very sort of nasty temper and you can almost understand in one aspect of this she lost her own son. his name was frankie therefore he took a dislike to benjamin franklin a legitimate son, william who had been bourn before they married so she really -- where do you think there's a lot to say about franklin's when but in terms of his place as a founding father where does he fit in? where are his women and other historians may not agree he is second only to washington and creating a nation even before
the revolution give americans a sense of themselves as a people, but his achievements of france when he went to france in late 76 and became the ambassador without the aid he procured from the fringe the revolution would have collapsed within another year there is no doubt about it because congress was printing money and hoping for the best and pretty soon this money was worthless. they printed $200 million worth of paper money and the price of a horse which was like $200 before the revolution by the 70 needies the same horse cost $20,000 so without franklin's help the revolution would have collapsed but at the same time on like washington for somewhat similar to washington, but he had someone accusing him of
being a playboy while he was ambassador to france that washington never had a culprit and the was john adams and other founding father. horst cui was extremely nasty about it. >> guest: he was convinced franklin was kissing and having affairs with all of the women in paris and adams wrote violent letters back to the continental congress sinking his houses are a sick of dissipation and so forth and so forth and franklin tried to calm everybody down and say i and understood, i like to kiss ladies and the french ladies liked to be kissed. it's that simple and teacher to assure everybody nothing too much was going on but to the state he is a very bad reputation about what happened in france. >> host: he was the amiable sage and i have to quote this from the book because it is so funny he greeted each one of them, the french women, the french women surrounding him when he was in france securing
aid with a kind of amiable coquettish mess as tom puts it that they loved. occasionally one man or mademoiselle asked if he cared for her more than the other pursuers and with a smile franklin what reply in his limping and french yes when you are closest to me because the power of the attraction which immediately reminded me when i was reading it it may have reminded you, too of a very famous song in the 1947 production of finance rainbow was which was my heart is beating wildly and it's all because you are here when i'm not near the girl i love, i love the girl i'm year and that is exactly what he was saying to her. >> guest: also franklin was playing on his fame as a scientist because he had discovered the power of electricity and all that sort of thing so he was comparing himself to enactment that
attracted and vice versa and they felt this made even more thrilling and he was quite a character. >> guest: we've got to tell the story, barbara, what happened when jefferson came over to france to replace franklin as ambassador. the war had been won by this time and franklin decided he was quite a role man by this time he ought to go home cities and jefferson over. jefferson our lives in paris and goes to franklin's house and there's franklin on the lawn and three or four beautiful french women are not here and they are kissing him and he is kissing them and franklin, excuse me, jefferson finally raises his hand and says dr. franklin and he gets his attention and this would it be possible to transfer these privileges to the new ambassador and franklin says you are too young of a man. [laughter] to me that convinces me of what i've been saying that nothing
was happening. he really didn't do much damage as these ladies. >> host: the was also no evidence in any of the documentation that he found in terms of diaries or any other that anyone else claimed to have been involved in. >> guest: one of my best friends of the franklin peepers and yale told me for 30 years she had read every diary, letter, newspaper story, anything that was evidence that said anything about franklin and france she never found one line the suggested there was a seriously is on. host was accused this amiable person is getting from a wife who was a pleasant. he had a possible second wife, he lived in her house. he was very eccentric and took what he called their baths to sit around the house nude for an hour every morning to take these
aircraft -- air baths. >> guest: he thought that was healthy. >> host: he decides to their madam she should become his confessor and he confesses all of his sins and she then decides she will give him absolution in only if he will tell her he loves god, america and her especially for her. the chapter on franklin is nothing short of byplay. >> guest: madam what his neighbor and was a beautiful woman, wonderful pianist and so on and this she soon was calling him pawpaw but there's a story about her that shows a serious side of franklin. she discovered that her husband was having an affair with her
governor said she rushed to franklin to pour out her broken heart. if anybody was ever ready to be seduced at that point it was the madam and if subduction had been the name of the game as far as franklin was concerned this was his opportunity. he said you must learn to forgive your husband because revenging yourself against him only puts you on his level and he persuaded her that this was a spiritual challenge that because for the sake of her children and marriage is a very moving and touching scene and it shows this side of franklin, too. he knew that there were serious feelings between people. >> host: as you say he was second only to washington as a founding father so there is a very serious side and i guess this is a kind of release for m to get along with all of these
ladies in england and france to relieve the tension of the things he was doing. >> guest: was part of it but also he understood something most people don't appreciate about the french at this time. the french ladies he was dealing with are the upper class almost all, and they were into politics. they have salons where the best people came so when he was charming then he was also a charming their husbands and their husbands had huge influence and that helped things go more smoothly in the alliance between america and france said he was thinking politically as well as having a lot of fun and only franklin could do that. >> host: there's another side to the founding fathers which is almost heartbreaking and when you get into the story of john and abigail adams i know that we've seen many creations of their lives, books, television stories.
you have a very serious side to this in this book. a real heartbreaker, ego, fame, the whole idea really does permeate the lives of all the founding fathers in this book. this could very aware same is what they were earning by founding a country and incidentally that is not the same as you saw in the book. it's not the same as a celebrity. they couldn't imagine tiger woods for instance making fame also he's a wonderful goal for and deserves to win the notices he gets but that isn't seen as they understood. his team had to do with founded the country were defending it from invasion or something like that. really very serious and demanding effort on the part of the men. so that was a part of the things that troubled john adams.
he, too katibat inheritance from his mother. her problem was probably she was a manic depressive. she used to go into these frenzies housecleaning and then look at the horrible depression from weeks at a time but john adams did this throughout his life. yet frenzied activities which he but the cheap wonderful things like persuading people to vote for independence in 1776 but then the lead down would be portable and start to feel sorry for themselves and when he was depressed to be envious of washington and franklin and all these other problems would swell up so he was fortunate he found a woman who could call him down and get him out of these depressions and her name as you know was abigail adams. >> host: and an amazing woman because she was herself so heart broken as he would go off and spend months or years away from
her. >> guest: he spent almost ten years in europe. it's staggering. that is where you see on the serious sight i shall for awhile we would say the marriage was about to collapse. >> host: in the late 70's of unease, yes. >> guest: because abigail had a farm to run and she was raising three children, he took one channel with him, three children and she was incredibly lonely and there he was over in europe being wined and dined by the heads and so forth and she wrote these wildly angry letters and john being john wrote angry letters right back to hurt and it really was pretty wild for a while for at least a year. >> host: he would write all the others are getting morals. george washington who he helped promote as commander in chief. guess the commander of the army, dak. host kosoff he goes of and fights the war come famous george washington and he's adams
is being ignored. >> guest: i have an explanation that comes in a leader in the book but that might be worth saying now john was a potbellied by about 5-foot seven or so and he had been prepossessing and here he was against these paul virginians like washington, 6 feet two and he just felt i can't compete. >> host: and he didn't compete and as a manic, probably was a manic depression. the description as such. >> guest: i can't be too hard on him because he was such an ardent patriot at the same time that he paid such a price for it. do we want to talk about that, too, barbara? >> host: between the two of them that is the kind of intrigued i found. he called her portion of which is a very 18th-century portia
from the merchant of venice they had these literary names for each other during the time as they would read these letters. he absolutely adored her. >> guest: he really did. >> host: absolutely adored her. if you have to come to me or i have to go to you. >> guest: that letter he wrote when he was vice president. >> host: and yet she could go into these depressions and ignore her. he had a heartbreaking time with children, dying and all sorts of things like that. >> guest: to of the sons, not many people know this but his two young persons, charles and thomas. they both can alcoholics. they couldn't deal -- it was in the family gene i'm afraid. on ethical's side of the marriage as a matter of fact but it was also this feeling that they couldn't compete with their father's fame. it beat down on them and charles
died in a crummy little room in new york as john was in his last year and president. it was so heartbreaking and, as lived a good deal to wonder what he too was an alcoholic and basically left -- >> host: do you think -- there are other famous americans, famous families and often over the years as often shall from can't compete with the famous mothers and fathers -- >> guest: i've studied the president of families to some extent and you see that with the roosevelt family and franklin roosevelt, he had a terrible time with that name. supposedly the people would say are you a clone of your father, he wasn't he was trying to be is on president and was a difficult life he had. >> host: in that case it was similar it was franklin roosevelt and eleanor roosevelt, a mother and father who were
extraordinary and you see this i think you see this clearly and at 11 is was very hard on her children triet she would write these very strong letters to her youngest son, thomas who wasn't doing the things she was pretty much accusing him of the two of because she assumed. >> guest: she assumed he was being bad at harvard and he was working his head off trying to do as well as his brother, john quincy, who was a genius, so there's a lot of fascinating by playback at fourth. >> host: tells the story to the audience we've all heard the letter where he wrote, abigail rights during the independency discussions to remember the ladies of the reply -- >> guest: it was one of the most famous letters. she wanted him to remember the ladies and the government he was putting together. but instead of a sensible answer, john was overworked and day and night struggling to be a country the declared
independence so he wrote back this small the reply. he basically laughed in her face and set my goodness we can do that because we will be completely subject to the tyranny of the petticoat. >> host: the petticoat. and depend on it. he says we are not going to get into the ladies we are subject to the petticoated. well, hamilton is a different kind of a character. one of that is kind of realized in this 21st century of political people who were very powerful and in that having affairs and all of that and he actually goes and admits his affair to the world and that is a kind of unusual thing to happen in the end of the 18th-century. >> guest: it was unique. it was. >> host: what affect do you think that had on the presidency or her? >> guest: he was trying to
defend his fame. healton was born a bastard not totally illegitimate. his mother kicked his father out of bed when he was 8-years-old and then she slept with half the people on the island and he had a rough upbringing but there is opportunity to achieve fame and he did achieve fame as a creator of the nation's financial system, the stock market and federal reserve system pr originally created the bank of the united states which was a forerunner. he had achieved his fame but his enemies led by thomas jefferson broke this story of his adultery and he was in business with the woman and he was slipping tips on the stock market so hamilton in order to prove he was a man of integrity as a financier and secretary of treasury he took the whole story of his adultery
down to every letter that the exchanged and was 95 pages long, this letter was and people laughed at him. looked like he was totally finished but i can't say whether you, will you for the book, barbara, but wait until you people who have read the book, cross t's, it is an amazing surprise and this is one of the, said the book is full of surprises. and this was an enormous surprise to me. as hamilton is a riveting and his publishing and so forth into the house in new york comes a silver service from washington with a letter saying i just want to let you know that might regard for you remains unchanged and i still think you are a man of integrity. >> host: and they had a falling out, too to read this
was an amazing -- >> guest: a relationship because hamilton didn't get along any better with a father's den with wives or women in general and the had a rather rocky relationship but washington was a man who could handle him i guess you could say, could get the best out of him and he did get the best. the things hamilton achieve for absolutely amazing he is the man who created the country we are today, this industrial superpower. >> host: and jefferson of course is another heartbreaker. all of the illness and difficulties of childbearing all come home to you when you read about thomas jefferson and his real life -- for realtors and delete the -- frail daughters
three with all of the children with martha he ended up with one. there were what, six or something? >> guest: they all died when they were very young and the daughter, the second daughter, she died giving birth so he really did have a tremendous amount of heartbreak the didn't have anything to do with a revolutionary war activity you did, your heart windel to the man. >> host: that might have affected some of the things he was doing as a founding father. he was limited by his wife,'s health and certain roles in government. >> guest: yes, i have this point, he was about -- he didn't know what he was about to be asked to write the declaration of independence and he hadn't heard from martha back in virginia and he became frantic. he was writing letters is shiel, please tell me i will come home. he almost packed up everything
and headed home to virginia only a few days before john adams came and said we want you to write this declaration which was his rendezvous with destiny shall it shows how important she was to him and that is another reason why he was so totally destroyed when he died in 72. there was definite fear he was going to commit suicide. he walked up and down the road to the car next to where she died in monticello. three weeks he didn't sleep. he just kept walking and basically pass out. it was a nightmare. and that's how when you see the tremendous emotion you see that's why he promised her he would never marry again. she asked on his deathbed and he promised he would never marry again. >> host: you have an interesting take on that it can across to me as i read it that
she had herself at a stepmother and didn't want her children to have a stepmother. >> guest: she was rather unhappy with her stepmother, yes. >> host: she asks him not to marry again and tom has a little more of a -- >> guest: she didn't ask not to marry until the children grew up which would have been maybe another ten years but instead she asked him never to marry again and i see this as a very angry woman. she did feel she had sacrificed her and her hapapapapapne politics in the revolution and she had to escape from monticello with her children. >> guest: the british call for a can of the road. she had some to defining experiences, and i think to some extent she planted on him. i don't think she screamed like
a fishwife or anything like that but it was something boiling inside her for years. >> host: the notion of bringing up children in the 18th-century childbearing, abigail adams had to bare one of her children alone. she was born dead and home alone. >> guest: negative she had a midwife. but he was done in philadelphia, yes. >> host: and just martha jefferson's children, one after the other were larger and larger, and i think she might have been even diabetic. >> guest: i discussed this with some doctors and when i mentioned it's a family tradition, not anything written down that each child, one doctor was a expert on such matters set that is a very strong sign of diabetes and of course they didn't even know diabetes existed in those days.
twist rework coming your life was at risk just getting married and having children. >> guest: each birth she became more ill and the sixth child was some people would say 16 pounds. but she never recovered from that birth. >> host: that was the end. >> guest: it was a sad story thomas. whisk with the same time dolley madison who never had any children with james madison maybe we can almost -- her whole life was that of the hostess with the mostest. she was this fabulous early pearl >> guest: character who did so much. >> guest: you can't help but love dolly. she casts like a glow of a feminist achievement in the whole book. she really does. she created the role of the first lady. martha washington was very important to jefferson and abigail but nobody called them
the first lady but dolly was the first crucial player in madison's life that was almost normal to start calling her the first lady and to give another example of that, when he was running for president in 1808 people were putting out the worst most vicious stories that he was supposedly renting a dolly to congressmen so they would vote for him and she had the most marvelous ability to deal with the slanderous stories and would become berserk and dolly just smiled about how they are trying to build my sensibility and they went right on. >> host: she took friends to listen to them carry on about her husband and said this was a great theater of some -- this could there was one guy, john randolph who went against the house of representatives so she
put groups of women that would sit in the gallery and they would leave it at the night at dinner dolley would say it was as good as a show. and that reduced randolph to about that tall. but in the one story i love the most is when he won the presidency the losing candidate was from south carolina. he said if i was campaigning against mr. madison alone against mr. madison and mrs. madison i never had a chance. >> host: it's all true pure get the most wonderful story about her which we know a little bit about is how she rescued the painting of george washington, the gilbert stuart it is utterly the winds down, the big portrait of george washington that hangs in the east room today and she rescued the durham and mr. addison's board of 1812
along with as he told her to rescue his public papers a set of china and a set of silver -- >> guest: is about, barbara with the british marching toward the white house. >> host: and she isn't leaving the white house to read she has ordered the staff to make her dinner. >> guest: the american army ran away but dalia said i would put one in each window of the house and fight to the end. >> host: that is a little more than a hostess. >> guest: she was an extraordinary woman in that respect and would keep her head and situations most people not just a woman but a man would be completely upset and lose all contact with reality but not hurt and also she played such an important role in madison's life in a disaster like this. there was talk after the british durham, the white house and the capitol and other major
buildings there was talk of assassinating madison was bringing him up as he become a rather heated president but when dalia went out on the street people saw her and they cheered. >> host: she really rescued him. he was a rather bland person. >> guest: he wore black of the time and had a soft breeze and was very charming and private with close friends but with the public he became a recluse except when he went to a dinner party and then dolly was the presiding genius of the table at madison, too would open up and he could tell very funny stories, quite a few of them of color i might add. >> host: and she's also responsible as you point out responsible for saving washington, d.c. as the capitol. it might have been right here in philadelphia. custis might be the capitol it wasn't for dolly.
after they burned washington that congress voted 3-1 to move back to philadelphia which had been the tender capital before they came down there and dolly who had literally created this city and she did make it come alive with her party's and marvelous ability to charm everybody, diplomats and newcomers and congressmen so she went to see madison said this is not going to happen so donley started giving dinner parties >> host: at the octagon house. which still exists. >> guest: it's worth taking a look at. so what happens? after three or four months of her party is, congress takes another vote the vote to stay in washington. >> host: survey rebuild. let me see if we can have some fun here and talk about some a
little quiz for you >> guest: i can't guarantee to get 100%. >> host: you get 100% in my book. who do you think was, of the five founders, the women of -- excuse me, the six founders -- the women they were mostly involved with, who was the smallest of these ladies? >> guest: i think the smartest was of adel adams beyond all doubt. she was a true intellectual. she read very serious books and could talk about ideas and a way that most of the other women simply were not interested in. but if it came to who was the smartest politicians, to add another report to that, dalia takes the prize. there is no competition. she was a magnificent politician. >> host: so then my second question who was best increasing her husband's fame?
>> guest: his family have gone down the tubes if it were not for her. he probably would have been impeached after the burning of washington but she was the one that would hold these critics at bay so she did the most but again, again adams also had a lot to do with giving john the stability to achieve things. >> host: the would be the thing he needed the most. madison at the same time was jerry blight. the constitution and -- >> guest: he read the constitution. >> host: right but there's a perfect example of somebody who would be hiding in a corner despite his great talent without the support of his wife so this is a really important context will aspect of medicine. so we give her credit for saving
the george washington -- there were other things biggest saving james madison, too. and very touching the last years of the life she went back to multilayer and missed washington terribly. she loved the social life of washington but she stayed there with him the next what, 25 years at least and helped him edit his papers and they got to the point he couldn't bear for her to be away more than a half hour at a time. his dependents and love for her was so intense it was just very touching. i think we ought to tell the audience dolly did get back to washington and she's almost. went back to washington and was a sensational all over again. every dinner party, he couldn't wait to get her in the white house and talk to her.
she had tea with martha and george washington coming to know why this was now 50 years back. and so she was a sensation for three or four years and then her health started to feel but i liked this when she died the president declared a national, a day of national mourning at. if there was a woman who achieved fame, who was? >> host: also she had eliza hamilton got to get there and campaigned to build the washington monument. >> guest: i almost forgot that. that is another attribute dolly performed. they were not raising any money at dolly took charge of the campaign and elizabeth hamilton came to washington to stay with one of her daughter's. i think she only had one daughter at that time. she was 90 at this time.
she devoted her whole life to making sure hamilton was part of the major funding fathers so she collect all the papers and so forth and i think she felt this deep gratitude to washington for that silver service and his public forgiveness of hamilton and so she pitched in with dolly and these to grand old ladies legacy could say, they presided at the re-dedication of the washington monument that to a few more years to finish but it was their doing and i like that touch. everything coming full circle. >> host: it does and it shows she was a great hostess' but was also interested but deeply interested in american history and in the founding and in washington and the monument and all that. >> guest: she appreciate all that. >> host: rate of the marriages. >> guest: rate of the marriages. that's a good one. well i like to say i think
washington's marriage was probably the happiest of them all in the since it was a serene most of the time. it was wonderful keeping this man, and content and happy and he loved the dinner parties and all that sort of thing. and i think as i've already had said he didn't expect to have a happy marriage, washington so she was like a gift from heaven to him and i think that he appreciated her more than the other founders, too. >> host: even more than madison. >> guest: may be equal but washington i don't think he certainly -- martha played an essential role in his life. we have to tell one more story and that is the letter he wrote to sally fairfax the end of his life. don't you think that is worth telling? because it initials' tom martha plays a part. he found out after he left the
white house a relative of sally's was going back to england where she was living. she left america in 77 e3. so he wanted to write three letters he wrote and the man said i will be glad to take it. washington wrote this letter saying all sorts of things have happened but it's too complicated to get into. i just want to tell you one thing. the moments i spend with you were the happiest of my life. and then in the same letter he put in from martha. >> host: also coming full circle. >> guest >> host: well, this has been fun. i enjoy -- >> guest: delighted to talk with you, barbara. >> host: we would like to open up for some questions. we would like to entertain some of you would like to step up to the microphone and present. >> my question is did any of the
wives have strong relationships between them? did they know each other? >> guest: very good question. did the lives of their relationship between them. yes, dolley madison and martha washington were quite different in ages but they were very friendly and in fact there is a story which again is not truly documented which drives historians crazy but is a probable story she told dolly that she ought to marry the man dolly was calling the great little madison. he was famous when he started to woo dolly. so they were friendly. and abigail adams was also a very friendly with are the while she was the wife of the vice president and if anybody knows about it looks like she was thin as a real and was charmed by martha and rode back to what
resistors and she said her figure is much better than mine. [laughter] to >> guest: that was a very strong friendship there, too. and the other wives, deborah, franklin and these people needed jefferson's wife eliza hamilton was a rather favorite when washington was president they had dinner quite often at the executive mansion in philadelphia and martha was nice to her and washington was fond of her so there was some back-and-forth fear between the women. >> host: and certainly the case with eliza hamilton and dolly madison with the washington monument. >> guest: yes, that showed another. yes. >> host: are there any other
questions? >> i'm the author of a book of the valley forge encampment called following the drum and wanted to make a couple comments about the relationship between general washington and mrs. washington because lafayette says of martha washington she is mad about the general which it is a wonderful comment. >> guest: she is what? >> mad, m-a-d. and also the general nathanael greene comments that they are very happy in each other. >> guest: yes, i'm very familiar with general green's comment. ..
>> it was quite a difference. you know, he was quite a spectacular looking fellow. marriage was a convenience and so forth at that time. but for martha, people think it was already a love affair. because to the end of her life, she saved the white gloves that washington had worn to the wedding. >> yeah? >> first of all, i'd like to commend you on yet another very readable and enjoyable book. >> thank you. thank you. >> i think you did a very good job talking about william
franklin and his relationship. >> we didn't have time to get into that. >> yes. i hadn't realized the part that his wife's influence played upon him in remaining loyal to the king. could you comment on that? >> yes, this is something we haven't mentioned yet. but elizabeth -- william franklin was married to a british woman. and she was very dependent, sweet woman. and he really did love her. and that had no children. she persuaded him to remain loyal to the king. this really broke franklin's heart. he loved this young man so much. and he saw him as possibly becoming a man second only to george washington in the history of the american revolution. and he could have been. william was a terrific speaker, he had presence. and he was a loyal governor of new jersey for 15 years before the revolution. he had a reputation.
if he resigned and said i am joining the men of the 1766, he would have walked to the top. but he didn't. he just remained -- he let his wife persuade him to remain loyal to the king. i show -- this, i'm sorry, is the only woman in franklin's whole life that he hated. he couldn't forgive her for taking his son away from him like that. so when -- he went to france. william was arrested -- not long after that by the pais -- patriots of new jersey. before that he was arrested. and he was thrown in jail up in connecticut. his wife had to retreat to new york. about a year later, she died there. friendless and alone, i'm quoting from the book really. it was a very, very sad and tragic thing. and nobody in the franklin
family tried to help her. it was -- i have a -- it's a chapter, not in this book but another one called revolution breaks heart. this was one of the example of how the revolution broke franklin's heart and then it broke william franklin's heart when his wife died that way. >> this is such a great example of how this whole relationship of the women in their live made such a difference in how they were operating. >> yes. yes. >> the whole context of their lives. >> when you finish reading this book, you can never -- i don't think you'll ever be able to think about the founding fathers as solo operators. they weren't. that's all there was to it. when they were coursing through their lives constantly from beginning to end. >> not to mention their daughters -- >> yes. >> instead, heartbreaking stories of the daughter that
died after a very difficult marriage, a husband that was constantly having financial problems. and he made for himself. and then he -- she gets a terrible case of breast cancer. >> yes, she died from breast cancer. >> and she died miserably. jefferson's daughter broke him up. she was adorable. she went to live with abigail adams for a while. >> she was on her way to see her father in paris. >> she carries on, i don't want to go to him. i was just beginning to love you. she must have been a real -- >> 9 years old. yes. >> she was an adorable little girl. >> it's a very interesting clue to the life of the jefferson family. somebody said that maria was the identical clone, exactly like her mother. boy, we know very little about martha washington and her
relationship. we do know a lot about maria. she was temperamental. jefferson loved to give maria her own way. he wrote about -- maria got a letter from abigail who was in london with john. he was the ambassador of london. and maria poly, they call her sometimes. she opened the letter and jefferson wrote she ripped in the complexion. because it was abigail, the woman that she had grown to love. the face reddened as she read the words. jefferson was just adoring the whole thing. the femininity of it all. he liked feminine women. >> yeah. are there some other questions? sure. >> i have one. in your book you mention an officer fleming, an older man, teaching alexander hamilton all
of the ways of being successful in the military. so i'm wondering whether if you're dna were examined how would that compare with that fleming? [laughter] >> i wish i was related, but i'm not. and -- but he -- now i'm sorry to say, i may be getting a little confused here at the end. but what role did you say he played in hamilton's life? >> your book you mention the british officer by the name of fleming in your young alexander hamilton was shown the ways of how to be successful in the militia. >> oh, yes. he was an officer in the army. yes. right. right. i remember him now. yes. he's only on one page. [laughter] >> yes. well, no, he's no relation of mine. but then jefferson's closest
friend in virginia, he went to college, the college of william and mary was john fleming. but unfortunately, my fleamings came over on a boat from ireland in 1880. so i can't claim either one of these. [laughter] >> some others? well, we'd like to thank you all very much. especially tom for giving us a wonderful were rivetting story. and stories that we really can't forget. so. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> every year the national press club host an author evening. this evening we are with frank, former president of the national press club and journalist for 40 years. frank, you have a new book entitled "never a slow day:
adventures a 20th century new reporter." what has it been like? >> it's been as much fun as with your pants off. there's never a day that i watched the clock or wanted to be some place else. sometimes it dramatic, sometimes it's frightening. occasionally we just sat and read the paper. but i always learned something every day. >> you are, of course, with the milwaukee journal; correct? and you covered -- you were here in d.c. during the 1960s. are there any stories that you remember from that period? >> well, i covered civil rights back in the 1960s when i was in milwaukee. and that was the best story i ever covered. the reason for that was that it was -- the issue was so right. and you didn't have to compromise any journalistic principals. you basically had to tell the story. you felt like you were part of
the movement. after i came to washington, i covered a lot of other big stories. including the impeachment proceedings against president nixon and clinton, covered those all the way through, went to war in desert seal. >> we're here, i think our viewers want to know what is the national press club. >> it's 90 authors or something like that. i don't know how many authors. it's the most active, biggest club of anybody in the world. plus it's all journalism. it's all about the press and the things that we do that's really good stuff. a lot of people on the left and right don't think we do well. but we do extremely well. >> for newspapers, they are shrinking. it's changing.
where do you see newspapers in 10 years? >> we're going to be around for a long time. we're also going to find other ways to deliver the news from people. you're not going to take us away. i think there's an increasing realizization on the part of the public that the only place that you get solid good reporting and original information is out of newspapers. the rest of them just talk about what we do. >> authors frank and his "never" thank you. >> thank you. >> dr. wallace shawn talked about his new book of essays in which he covered 9/11, the iraq war, and the american economic and political syste barnes and noble book sellers in new york city host this hour-long event.
[applause] >> so i've brought a clock. and for people who are in charge of the event. it's 7:39, and by 8:39, aisle -- i'm going to move from here to over there. as planned. [laughter] >> so we don't need to worry about it. that's going to happen. so can you -- you can hear me; right? this is quite. >> yup. >> but can you see me? because -- i feel obscured by
these microphones. [laughter] >> but. all right. i'm trying to stand up straight. so i'm going to read -- this is a collection of -- well, i mean. you could quarrel are they really essays? a pointless exercise. but i'm going to read the first one and maybe another one too. this first one is called the quest for superiority. when i was five years old, i had a small room of my own, with the record player and records and
shelfs full of books. i listened to music. i thought of different kinds of stories, and i played with paper and crayons and paint. now i've grown up. and thank god things have moseley gone on as before. the paper, the stories, it's pretty much the same. i've been allowed to become a professional maker of art. i've become a writer. and i dwell in the mansion of arts and letters. when i was a child, i didn't know that the pieces of paper i used had been made by anybody. i certainly didn't know that almost everything i touched had been made by people who were poor. people who worked in factories, or on farms, or places like that. in fact, i had never met anyone who worked at a factory or on a farm. i frequently met people who owned factories and farms.
because they lived in the huge houses outside of my window. although, i wasn't aware then that the houses were huge, because the people who lived in them paid very low salaries to their employees while paying themselves enormous sums. our wealthy neighbors were really like the giants in a fantastic tale. giants who were superior to others because they could spin gold out of human suffering. well, it turns out that i still live in the same neighborhood. because that's where the mansion of arts and letters are located. i still can see giants when i look out my window. the funny thing is is all of us in the mansion of arts and letter actually live off of the money that we get from these giants. isn't that funny?
you know they buy the tickets to our shows, they buy our books and paintings. they support the universities where we teach their kids and grants. it all comes out of the gold they've spun. and we live with them. we share the streets with them. and we're all protected by the same cops. but you see, some of the people who don't live in the neighborhood, the ones our neighbors don't pay well obvious treat well, some of these people are out of control. they are so miserable, so desperate, they are out of their minds. they are very threatening. so it turns out we need more than cops. we actually have a large army as well. and a navy and air force, plus the cia, coast guard, fbi, and
marines. boy. it turned out that simply in order to be secure and protect our neighborhood, we needed an empire. i wonder what -- is someone here playing office music? it's terribly loud. but maybe it's only in my mind. i don't know. [laughter] >> i hear an awful lot of music. oh, well. [laughter] >> some of us who live in the mansion of arts and letters are a bit touchy about our relationship to our wealthy neighbors. bob, for example, he's a painter who lived down the hall from me. he refuses to bow to them when they pass him in the street. [laughter] >> but, you know, they buy his paintings just the same. for me though, it's my relationship with the poor people outside the neighborhood that i sometimes brew about in
the middle of the night. so many of them are in agony that's a bit thought provoking. one evening last week, a friend and i went to a somewhere inexpensive restaurant. the waiters who served us was in such a state of agitation or anxiety about god knows what that he didn't even look at us. i was thinking about the fact that in more expensive restaurants, the staff is usually trained to focus their attention on the pleasure of the diners. not on their own problems. in fact, the waiters in more expensive restaurants are invited to be friendly, amusing, to make funny remarks about their lives to let us diners get to know them a little. but in the most expensive restaurants, the really fancy ones, we don't get to know the waiters at all. the waiters in those restaurants
don't make funny remarks. they do their work with such discretion that they with barely noticed. and people compliment them by saying that they're unintrusive. actually, that's quite a good word for all of those people whom we don't know and don't think about much. but who serve us and make the things we need, and who's lives we actually dominate. the unobtrusives. and the interesting things i've noticed, is in those very expensive restaurants, we don't talk with the waiters. but we enjoy their presence enormously. we certainly wouldn't want them to be replaced by robots or by conveyor belts that would carry our food to us while we sat in the dining room completely alone. no, we want them there. these silent waiters.
these unobtrusives. it's obviously the characteristic of human beings that we like to feel superior to others. but our problem is that we're not superior. we'd like the sensation of being served by others and feeling superior to them. but if we're forced to get the know the people who serve us, we quickly see they are, in fact, just like us. then we become uncomfortable. uncomfortable and scared. because if we can say we are just the same, well, they might too. and if they did, they might become terribly, terribly angry. why should they be serving us? so that's why we prefer not to talk to waiters. a king feels the very same way, i'd imagine. he doesn't really want to get to know his subjects. but he nonetheless enjoys the
fact that he has them. he finds it enjoyable to be told your majesty, you have 10,000 subjects, and in fact, he finds it even more enjoyable to be told your majesty, you have a million subjects. even though he may never see them. the subjects are in the background of his life. they are in the background of his life, and yet, they provide the meaning of his life. without his subjects, he wouldn't be king. some people like to feel superior, because once they were made to feel inferiors. others, including myself, were fold constantly in their early days that they were superior. and now find themselves to be hopelessly addicted. [laughter] >> so if i get into a conversation, for example, with
the personal who knows nothing about me, i immediately start to experience a sort of horrible tension as if my head were being squashed. because the person i'm talking to is unaware of my superiority. [laughter] >> well, i have at any disposal, an arsenal of indicators of superiority that i can potentially deploy. i can casually elude to certain schools i attended, to my arttistic work, to the elegance street on which i grew up. but if my analogy to some of those exercises one reads about, i attempt to follow the counterintuitive path of not revealing any of these clues, well, it's simply interesting to observe that i can rarely manage to hold on for as long as 10 minutes, before forcing my new
friend to learn the truth about me. weirdly, it turns out to be impossible for a person to feel inferiors because someone somehow connected to them has been raised up, a friend, an acquaintance, the parent, the child. the connection can be even bigger than that. i had to admitter, i take a certain pride in symphony. and emily dickinson was born in the united states, just like me. one unmistakable way is to beat them up. and just as i feel rather well that the write from the united states wins the noble prize, i also feel stronger and more important because my country's
par me happens to dominate the world. the king doesn't need to meet his subject in order to enjoy his dominion over them. i don't need to go to a rock to know there are a great number of people around the world, quiet unobtrusive, who experience stomach-turning terror when they see soldiers wearing the uniform of my country approaching their door in the middle of the night. now let's admit that some of the rougher people who seem to thrive in our country, people like dick cheney, for example, may practice and take actual pleasure from the thought of our country's soldiers smashing in the door of some modest house in some god forsaken region of the planet, forcing a family to huddle on the floor, administering kicks to anyone they like. perhaps, that may even be a modest clerk in the bank in
kansas or a quiet housewife on a farm in ohio who feels a bit of enjoyable at a thought like that. but what bothers me more is that although i have nothing but contempt for imperial adventures, i've marched at the streets to demonstrate for peace. and i don't make it a practice to wink or joke about the brutal actions of brutal men. i can't deny that in spite of myself, i derive some sense of superiority from being a citizen of a country that can act brutality and can't be stopped. i feel quite different from the way i know i would feel if i were a citizen of grenada. my sense of well being increases
with the number of poor people on the planet who's lived are dominated by me or my proxies, whom i nonetheless, can completely ignore. i like to be reminded of the poor people, the unobtrusives. and then i like to be reminded of my lack of interest in them. for example, while i eat my breakfast each morning, i absolutely love to read my morning newspaper. because in the first few pages, the newspaper tells me how my country treated all of the you believe obtrusives on the day before. deaths, beatings, torture, what have you, and then as i keep turning the pages, the newspaper reminds me how unimportant the unobtrusives are to me. and it tries to tempt me in it's article on shirts to different shirts that i might want to wear, and then it goes on as i
turn the pages to coax me into sampling different forms of cooking. then to experience different plays or films, different types of vacations. it's become second nature to me to use the quiet crushing of the unobtrusives as the inaudible background music to my daily life. like those people who grow nervous if they don't have a recording of something or other quietly playing on their sound system at dinner time. we've become dependent over the course of decades on hearing the faint murmur of cries and groves as we eat, shop, and live. how will the world's change? believe me, those who are now unobtrusive have their own ideas about how the situation might
improve. but in the middle of the night, i wonder can we in the mansion of arts and letters play a part? could we reduce the destrictiveness of the people we know. could we look at the dreams we create to lure the other direction? because it's valuable to remember the feeling of superiority is not the only source of human satisfaction. imperial dreams are not the ultimate dreams. i've known people, for example, who derive satisfaction from collecting seashells. sometimes i think of a woman i knew a long time ago who seemed to be terribly happy. although her life consistented of not much more than getting up eat day, playing with the cat, reading a mystery, eating a sandwich for lunch, then taking
a walk in the afternoon. no wealthy giant eating dishes costing hundreds of dollars could ever have enjoyed a meal more than this woman seems to enjoy her simple sandwiches. what was her secret? and what about edgar that gets a pleasure out of working as a nurse? or tom who finds nourishment of teaching children in school? jane's need for superiority seems satisfying if your friend admire's one of her drawing. edna is overjoyed if she wins out of cards. people can make a life out of love, gardening, sex, friendship, the company of animals, the search for enlightenment, the enjoyment of beauty. wait --