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tv   Book Discussion on Capital Dames  CSPAN  September 1, 2015 10:53pm-11:48pm EDT

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whether the so-called myth of the lost cause, the confederacy was a legitimate nation, legitimate cause but never proved wrong. the flag is a noble symbol of that. that canthat can be harmless or harmful depending on the context of the circumstances over the past hundred and 50 years i think it's been both the problem when alexander stephens gave a speech, it becomes a problem tear vision of america post- civil war. not just about symbols such as the confederate flag but about your understanding of
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what the war was over was about the continues to play out in a variety of different ways. >> my real question is on the 1903 world series. to counterfactual's. even if mcclellan had won that election he would not have taken office until march 4, 1865 when the war was virtually over.over. do you really think he would have exceeded to the southern demands that they be aa separate country? and if lincoln had gone on with the radicals have done to him at least a modified form of what they did to johnson? >> let me just say one thing that will connect baseball to lincoln i can do that. there's a wonderful political culture that shows lincoln holding a bat and the other three candidates
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holding balls using baseball is a metaphor for which candidate should be elected. elected. lincoln is talking about striking the ball fair and hitting a home run lincoln wrote a blonde memoranda beforehand saying in the event he lost he felt it would be his duty before the inauguration of the next president to resolve the conflict in some way. thoughts about what would have happened. >> well, it is not only a question of lincoln still president for four months but the election would have been interpreted as a repudiation of lincoln's policy of restoring the union the military victory and it probably would have forced even lincoln during those four months into some kind of negotiation for a
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compromise which would have involved at least a limited recognition of the confederacy. there is no way of knowing what exactly would have happened. butbut we can no is clearly the election would have been interpreted as a repudiation , restoring the union through military victory. >> the 2nd question. >> with the radical republicans have gone after lincoln? >> johnson was the target for a specific defiant. he vetoed every belly fast. she tried to -- and in the pass it over his veto and he tried to undermine it by the executive nonaction. congress finally got fed up with this. that never would have happened if lincoln had been president. they would not have been that kind of confrontation and polarization and therefore not that kind of a showdown
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for impeachment. >> i left an exciting nationals came to hear you. the nationals one in the 9th with a grand slam home run. >> that's pretty good. >> i was wondering if you could give me a more nuanced view of the causes of the demise of the friedman's bureau. was it more than just sort of the rise of the ku klux klan and johnson be telling? >> the freedmen's bureau had actually been created as a temporary bureau. congress extend its life by legislation over johnson's veto in 1866,1866, but it had a fixed term of life to expire in 1868 and continued for limited purposes, that is helping former black soldiers get their bounty money, but it had never been
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intended as a long-term or permanent institution. it institution. it had a fixed term of life by legislation. >> and most argue now it was incredibly successful. when you think about the variety of tasks are performed for not only helping to resettle friedman, resulting contracting disputes school and education may be one of the great achievements of reconstruction, the shift in literacy rates is an astonishing achievement. so all of that also is connected to some of the real accomplishments while it did exist.
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>> did he set it up that way? >> congress did. >> yeah. >> right. >> congress set it up, lincoln signed it in march. it was passed over, but by then there were many other intractable problems facing reconstruction america. >> what a fabulous evening. [applause] >> and just know how our historians pay attention to language. and so that becomes an important part, however the language is used used and when it is used elegantly it becomes incredibly important. just a word on voting rights. i see in the back standing center -- sen. markey of massachusetts to certainly is a champion of voting rights, but just a story. t10
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in her book, "capital dames" will commentator cokie roberts describes washington d.c. during the civil war from the perspective of prominent women who lived and worked at the capitol. at a washington d.c. bookstore, she talks about her book and her family's involvement in politics. this is just under an hour. >> is the personal pleasure for
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me and brett who is unfortunate not here to post cookie roberts tonight. i think this is cokie or sixth or seventh author talk at policies and prose. i know you have been here for three of these books all of which were top sellers. they think we have a couple of not all of them upfront if you missed them on the first go-round and cokie has been here several times with her husband steve roberts. her books they have written together in some of you may know, maybe not all of you that along with many other wards poky was named by the library of congress as a living legend, living, the key living. both them are important. legend is good, living is better and i just want to say here we think of her is one of our own legends because she's an author with such deep roots in our washington community so if you will permit us we will call her living legend at least for this
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event and that does seem particularly appropriate because tonight she will be discussing her new book "capital dames" sub two the civil war and the women of washington, 1848-1868. kofi is best known as one of our nations most prolific broadcast journalists offering critical insight into the world of government in washington and is the case with every campaign season she will undoubtedly be one of the most important voices in the months ahead as the 2016 presidential race unfolds and i know you are going to be trying to cover. [inaudible] >> exactly. you have a cast of candidates that keeps growing forever but i do want to mention that npr and abc are just her day job. you know some of you that cokie grew up in a political family and she has seen political life from inside and out.
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she understands where political dynamics fit into american history and for that reason it's perhaps not surprising that along with her commentaries on contemporary politicians she's also a student of american history that's the role of women , women today and in previous eras that captured her attention as a writer and author and i can't emphasize enough at least for my own personal vantage point for the contribution i think she is made billing and some very big legs in the story of this nation specific to the role of women at critical junctures of the last 200 plus years. it's actually infuriating how so many people think the story of america's complete and it's just a matter of interpretation. so not complete and thank you very much for helping in large and rich that story. she has relied on letters and other first-hand accounts about women. her books with that background
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in those resources present an important dimension to our understanding of the colonial experience the american revolution and now with her newest book civil civil war. and so when she introduces readers to a cast of women some known in some long forgotten who wielded great cloud as the perilous -- at a perilous time. one of the fun and perhaps not surprising parts of the book is that when it comes to women's roles some things just never do change much after all but i'm going to let cokie fill you in on the rest. a hugely important story about the impact of women on this country. if you haven't gotten a copy we have plenty of friend. she will be happy to sign them after and please give a warm welcome to cokie roberts. [applause] >> thank you lissa. lis is a neighbor of mine as well. we live very close to each other. i live in the house that i grew
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up in. she is newer to the neighborhood and i probably moved there before she was born. but what a fabulous contribution lists and brad pitt made to this community. really. [applause] in addition to taking on this now legendary store, legend in washington doing the national book fair was really a challenge and one that was well met. my grandsons are here. you have to set sit up and pay attention. [laughter] but really they did a fabulous job. my college roommate is here. and another college classmate, the old gang. and barbara stevens my roommate when i was in college helped me type i papers late at night and
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she couldn't help me finish this book great it was really upsetting to me. [laughter] i was very late in getting it in but it was great fun to do. i appreciate your work on the women. i started women in history as a result the growing up with my mother and many of the knew her lindy boggs. i watched when i was growing up here in post-world war ii washington the women my mother and her cohorts running everything. they ran the political conventions. they ran the voter registration drive. they ran their husband's campaigns. they ran their offices and along with the african-american women in washington they ran all the self of -- social service agencies have been back when my father was killed in a plane crash in my mother ran for
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congress she called lady bird johnson who was one of her closest friends and one of this group of remarkable women and she told her she was going to run for congress. she didn't want her to read it in the paper in lady bird said that's nice lindy but how are you going to do it without a wife? that was a very good question and one that she had a hard time with because she ended up playing both roles of course and making that choice is hard, but it was an experience in which growing up that really did make give me a deeper appreciation for the women in politics now and the women in history. i had gotten particularly interested in the women of the revolutionary period because i had to deal with the founding fathers all the time. i know them all by first name. i'm not crazy about them.
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i admire them but once you start reading their wives the letter's you like them less. [laughter] but that's an area that keep cover politics as long as i have the deal with constantly and they are invoked. the founder said the people who say that mainly in the united states senate have it wrong about 99.9% of the time. i was always going back to see what they did say about religion in the public square or the right to bear arms and why you have to be an american, a child of american citizens to be president. you don't have to be born in america. canada will do but it puts the whole thing to rest.
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so i have gotten to know the men and i started to be very curious about what the women were off to. i really didn't know anything and so i went back to find out in the reason i didn't know anything is because it really hadn't been written with the exception of a couple of good biographies of abigail adams, there really wasn't anything. since then there are two books that come out but it wasn't true at the time. you can't hear? okay, thank you. is that any better? thank you. so that's how i wrote founding mothers taking us through john quincy adams inauguration which is literally the next generation. so there i was invited done it and i was happy with it but the publisher wanted a civil war book. i never intended to write a
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civil war book. first of all, all of my relatives were on the losing side and they would all fight and lost and it's an awful war. 600,000 americans fighting each other that they really didn't want to book so i started puzzling around about what it would be. what i did know is that whatever would be i would love the letters because women's letters are fabulous. they are so much better than men's letters. they really are because the men knew that they were doing something extraordinary. so they wrote that in mind. their letters are studied and edited and focused and all that. the women just wrote letters so they were full of politics but
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they also would talk about the economic situation and who was having an all too often losing babies and passion, all of life is in the letters and they are funny and they are frank and feisty and honest in ways that you don't find with the man. and most of them have never been published before so i'm always on this quest. i don't know what i'm getting so i'm reading along and seeing what i can learn. might personal favorite remains one from ladies of liberty. it was a letter written by louise catherine adams who was the wife of john quincy adams and was here in washington in 1820 and he was secretary of state.
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she wrote these chatty letters home to john adams. abigail had died and so she had written at one point saying it was her vocation to get her husband elected president. so it's the year 1820. it's the year of the missouri compromise. congress stayed in session much longer than usual. finally they adjourned. she goes to the meeting of the orphan asylum trustee at dolley madison had found that they were fitted asylum after the british invasion in 1814. so she goes to the trustees and wanted the trustees for a new building. why, what he talking about? she said the sessions have been very long. the fathers of the nation have left 40 cases to be provided for by the public and our
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institution was most likely to be called upon to maintain this illicit project he -- prodigy. 40 pregnant women left behind and there were only 200 members of congress. [laughter] some of them could have been reset of this, i don't know so she says to john adams i recommend a petition to congress next session for that great and moral body to establish a family institution and certainly move that the two additional dollars a day which they have given themselves as an increase in pay they be appropriated as a fund towards the support of the institution. it doesn't get any better than that and when i discovered this i just couldn't believe it. so i knew whatever this book was going to be that i would, upon wonderful letters like that and it turns out her daughter-in-law
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who was married to charles francis adams who was here briefly in congress and then became the union ambassador to the court of st. james and was instrumental in keeping the british from recognizing the confederacy but while they were here in washington it was the infamous 36th congress which was the secession congress and she is writing these unbelievably frank letters to her son henry adams and she says of president buchanan that he is a heavy old toad and the senate babe like children and silly ones at that. we can get behind this but again my favorite, i would bias and a young woman who wishes to have an easy quiet life not to marry and adams. but so i knew whatever i did the letters would be great but i still didn't know what the book was. so i started thinking about
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again my own growing up here after world war ii and the effects of the war were very physically present. the mall was covered with temporary buildings and they had initially gone up in world war i and war had been added in world war ii. i remember asking my parents with temporary mats because they didn't seem to be going anywhere. they were there for a long time. as the buildings were built on independence avenue so you saw physically how the war had increased the government and made the city a bigger more important city. and we knew the story sort least learn the stories of rosie the riveter and the government girls who came into town and large numbers to staff the bureaucracy and i knew because again i covered it and had written about
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it and covered these conventions that i had written about that after the war the women's movement really did come into focus and equal the equal rights amendment was introduced in the first republican convention after the war and the democrats the next time around. so it's spurred on a movement and there was this myth that women had come home after the war but it simply wasn't true. when men were occupying all kinds of positions that they had never occupied before 60,000 women took advantage of the g.i. bill and brought themselves to where they are now where the majority of college graduates are female. i started thinking i wonder if the civil war had a similar impact on the role of women and in the place of women in the role of washington and as i started to do the research i found out absolutely and dramatically so, so that is the
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book. it turned out to be fascinating to learn about and to write. rosie the riveter women came to work in the arsenals and in washington there were couple of dozen very young women who were killed in a horrible arsenal explosion in the news. their stories are just terrific. they uncover the women the next day and their bodies were unrecognizable but the reporters said they were trapped in their hoop skirts. here they were in washington in the middle of july doing this incredibly dangerous work of stopping the ammunition and creating the ammunition and there they were rest is the proper ladies of the 19th century. there was a huge funeral led by the present and the secretary of war and there's a beautiful
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monument in the congressional cemetery but the president giving to to the huge contributions they made to the war effort. women started arriving in washington just as they did in world war ii initially just to make a living because the men were gone. they needed a job but then it was gratuitous for women women. just as they started showing up congress authorized the printing of paper money to pay for the war and the money, to see they made it so much fun. they come off the machines in these huge sheets and now the bills are cut up by machines but it required somebody sitting with a pair of scissors cutting out each and the treasure of the united states said women are just better processors than men are and he also said he could
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pay the women less, something i've had several bosses say along the way and their career. so by the end of the war one of the women journalists documents it. there were women in every department of government and that had not been sure before and they stayed of course. the women journalists was another thing. the women who came to washington to cover the politics and the war. some have been here before. an abolitionist and the suffragist and a bomb tore basically, she was the first woman who had been allowed to report out of the capital press gallery before the war but she was soon kicked out of the capital press gallery because she wrote vicious truths. she actually wrote that daniel webster was drunk and the men were horrified.
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again i found it so recognizable because the same thing it happened when we women journalists started covering political campaigns. we got on the bus and the boys on the bus had taken a vow of america and we hadn't. we actually wrote on the campaign trail. i remember once coming back after some trip and i was on the brinkley showing i was the only woman. and i said something along the lines we do report everything that the candidate is up to. it's relevant and of course we tell the stories from the trail and a lot of our best friends are the other correspondence wives and his look of total terror. came over the guys faces and a timekeeper for the show said they were 45 solid minutes of silence.
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while they absorbed this piece of information in their work are women you know about but you don't know how remarkable there women like dorothea dix and clara barton. she had come to lobby for a bill and she wanted the government to put aside 12 million acres for the mentally ill and poverty-stricken. and she was already so influential because of her work with the mentally ill that the senate set aside an office in the capital for her from which to lobby. she would get it through one house one session and finally she gets it through both houses of congress and the president vetoes it. before she left she got congress to establish a government hospital for the insane and then she comes back during the war and she goes to the surgeon general and says she will be the
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superintendent of female nurses but there were no female nurses. nursing was not open to women. that was not open field in the surgeon general was terrified of her and basically said yes maam, you could do that. and by the way not only was nursing not open, the field of medicine was barely touched because women had not been allowed. they were basically three or four women.there's. one of them mary walker was a surgeon. she came here to washington to get a job with the union army pushy and up having to volunteer. she dress like a man such they arrested her of the time just on general principles. mary walker is still the only woman to have won the medal of honor. she was a surgeon in the army.
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and then kyle barton is one of those stories where she was from a new england family of suffragist and new abolitionist women. she came to washington to get a job with the government to try to make her money and she did for a while. then the war happened. in fact in the capital they were in the senate chamber and she started bringing supplies and nursing them and reading them newspapers and all of that. so they started writing common saying verses woman here who can do all this. people from all over the country start sending their supplies. she said i've got three warehouses full of supplies so the center where she wanted to
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go which was the front and she was incredibly brave and intrepid to all the wars around the caroly antietam which remains of course the single worst day in american history in terms of casualties. and then after the war one of the last acts that lincoln performed was to allow her to set up a missing persons bureau soshi so she found missing soldiers but she also identified the graves of tens of thousands of soldiers so they were given the respect of mr grave and not left unknown. then she goes to europe and discover something called the red cross and comes back here and establishes the american red cross. this is one of the many things that drives me crazy in history books. this kind of statement and then she established the american red
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cross. really? was it hard? did anything go before that? was there a story there and of course there was and she was able to get a red cross going in the united states but it didn't have the clout of being aligned with the international red cross word he really did the work because the senate first had to ratify the geneva convention in order to be part of the international red cross. for two decades she lobbied the senate and finally got the senate to ratify the geneva treaty. the representative to geneva puts in the american amendment which allows the red cross to go into disaster zones as well as war zones so right now in nepal after the earthquake with a red
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cross there it's the result of the lobbying that clara barton did 130 years ago. so it's really a wonderful story so all of these things were showing me how similar it was to world war ii and also just fascinated me. of course the people that i was the most interested in because of what i do for a living and also how i grew up for the political women. they were just wonderful to read about. before the war society was really ruled by southern women. they referred to themselves as males and there was a certain amount of fine among them but there was also a regular friendship. they had letters that were full of politics but their letters were also very very frank and at
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one point when adele cutts avail love, she was brilliant and she was beautiful and she was kind. although women write about her. they all liked her and she was, they discovered she was going to mary stephen douglas and none of them could standon davis's wifes from her mother and says the dirty speculator trickster broke in and help fight drink with his first wife's money buys an elegant well bred woman because she is four and her father is proud and she said fortunately as washington is getting a new water system so spearing his wife's old factory douglas may wash a little offender. if you don't his acquaintance will build larger rooms with more perfect insulation.
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you know say that stephen douglas bank. he stilled defeated him in the senate but she turned out to be one of the most delight all women and their letters are quite wonderful. she stayed friendly throughout the war even after, mississippi was where he was from. mississippi receded and he became president of the confederacy and she wrote to her mother that there was no way that this is going to work. she said we don't have enough manufacturing and we don't have enough railroads that we can't win this war but i will do my duty she said. off she went to richmond the she stayed friendly with her >> >> and was a confidante.
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but her husband and was robert e. lee's cousin but because he was in the navy she wrote to him almost every day so there are thousands of letters in her wartime letters are actually published so her letters really give a sense of what is happening here all through the war and how much danger of washington especially at the beginning of of morehouse with every expectation and it was
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unsafe and i founded unpublished diary the first year of the farmer at rosedale so she talks about house period is and as a confederate sympathizer she is telling her children just keep quiet for god's sakes. loose lips sink ships she was afraid there would say something so you get a sense of that. and as one of the people to friend mary lincoln she was very difficult she was
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certain the mercurial and was let it known to everybody that was pretty much the cabinet and kept making enemies ashley press was all over her following her every where all of her shopping and she was accused of the "state of the union" message to the new york herald in exchange for good publicity your money congress launches the investigation some of the president went to to help -- to the hill because a was a republican congress. please tell that would be
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very embarrassing but the women of washington but her best friend and to cut here she was a very talented dressmaker especially with a profitable business and all the people went to her to make their dresses and she became very good friends and to begin the conversations she helps to take care of mary linkedin after the president was shot she was in the white house two months and then they took care of her then and then to
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go back to illinois then she wrote a tell-all book. [laughter] it is remarkable. that severed the relationship and then other people were worried she may do the same. so that social service as a formerly enslaved person what the situation was and then after emancipation with a job or housing or anything so she started a relief organization and had such
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prominence could raise money and awareness of the issue that after her business fell apart as many other women as well. and as a result of the experience they did move out front. and to be very involved your very influential now on to the public stage themselves. after she got her husband died in jail to assassinate
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lincoln and called upon johnson to get him out of jail but how these women are in and out of the white house all the tired but i am so jealous. to have complete access. and then she decides to move to york to get a job as a journalist. with the first lady of the confederacy in moving to air new york city and people offered hearses -- housing but never to be fully accepted with the perfect southern bell she writes to
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her daughter to say i can do whatever i want to do. then she got there and was a journalist but it was page number one neumes and then she went through the devastation of grant memorial because she was engaged in a very public series of acts of reconciliation and she was doing this she was doing it herself with her own voice very publicly and there is a wonderful delightful woman who wrote a book about
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herself and after the war she became a a suffragist and frisson platforms and her husband to was the senator from alabama and now was with them again but also was the cause she felt she could use her voice to promote and one of the great things now is they are on line because it is so much fun to read. and it was always said as a proper they is when she was born or very or died. there were written about constantly so very much out
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in front who went to new york and created several importuned relief organizations. and then to stay true to the union in the act of reconciliation and had a common cause. they really didn't stand there on their own 2 feet and to clara barton looking back on the memorial day address that the woman was at least 50 years from the normal position i loved
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getting to know the women and i am sure you will to. i am happy to take your questions. [applause] >> why does it seem the only seem to be deleted from history? >> be coz the men don't care [laughter] it is also inaccurate you cannot leave out half of the human race to have an accurate history but also it
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is so much more fun. they are more interesting. [laughter] >> the wonderful program. you watch in passing can you talk some more about that some american operation all through the war to always accept girls of every faith and all regions and remarkably through the war the hotels and everything were taken over with 1 degree stinking hospital
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with a everybody coming from all around because winfield scott his daughter was visitation and it continued to operate all through the war. >> let's get some girls to ask questions. [laughter] >> did you have been unexpected favorite source for mary todd? >> i did not spend much time delving into very tied because she has been written about a great deal. i obviously had to deal with her as the first lady. but the parts that i found interesting were other
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people that were contemporaries who wrote about her. but also heard these toward the end of the war with the half sister came to stay in the white house about one week her husband was in the confederate army and was killed. but very tied half-brother sam brothers and all were all in in the confederate army making her suspect so this half-sister came to stay in that woman's daughter to defend and to marry but it was very clear
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how crazy she was out at that point. is she did have a seance. >>. >> but stephen douglass did lose very tied she was looking for a president. [laughter] to know zero of presidential material that was a love match they absolutely loved each other but it was
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torture spanish u.s. march the she had a difficult time. >> details that you tell so far are so interesting. but is there any chance evade documentary of these fantastic recommended? >> a documentary producer would have to decide that. >> the women that you're interested in writing about? >> i wanted tuesday in washington and. also i do washington well.
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to one of the things i've learned is quite interesting is academic historians get the politics wrong and it is helpful to know how to analyze politics so i wanted to have been reading the 19th century books so that i did go searching for their papers. but i never found any i found the university of chicago had letters to her after stephen douglass died and a few others. and


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