tv [untitled] June 16, 2012 4:00pm-4:29pm EDT
>> if ben didn't exist, we would have to invent him. he was the perfect man of his times, given his background in boston. didn't have a lot of money but lived the life and went to harvard and i often thought about ben in the summer of 1942, graduating early so he could go off to war. that was the beginning of this quintessential american life of his generation. and he had great instincts as an editor. he was fearless. >> ben was perfectly cast to be the editor of "the washington post" at that time. he came in the door thinking the post is a good paper but it can be better. all of it. he gave a lot of authority to the editors under him. but when there were decisions to
be made on on what ought or not be printed in the paper, ben made those decisions. the crucial moment was the publication of the pentagon papers in 1971. the case went to the supreme court which said that the government couldn't stop us from printing in the papers. we printed them immediately there was a recognition that it was the right thing to do. that was an essential foundation between him and k graham. >> there is nothing like a good story. if it's true and if you got it and you can get some more, you're in business. >> watergate is the biggest challenge of all. and he was just perfect at what he did. >> it was a hel of a story. that's what it was. and it was waiting for somebody to turn the key. and bob called me. >> the key to working on a story like this is editor at the top
and that's bradley. >> he gave you running room. you were an independent reporter. go dig. go look. then you would get information and address stories and that's when the discipline end of bradley took hold. >> it was fabulous because if you ever wanted to know that somebody was relying on you, you want it to be ben. when we and probably myself might disagree with a decision he made and in retrospect i can probably see most of the time that he was right and i wasn't. he put in just the right measure. motivator. you want to please him. >> get some harder information next time. >> when there was a good story. when we had a good get, when we
would really kick somebody's ass, nobody was happier than ben and everybody wanted to make ben happy. one day ben decided the room looked like a pigsty. if we didn't clean it up, he personally was going to start throwing all our papers and junk away. he wasn't bluffing. he actually wheeled in huge dumpster one morning and started throwing things away. i said ben, you just chucked an a-1 story. what did he do? he rolls up the sleeves of his fancy shirt and went right into the dumpster with coffee cups and file folders and saved my note books. ben bradley dumpster diving. now that's an editor. >> pardon the interruption. >> i'm mark wilbon and we're here to talk about ben's drop buys in the sports department. >> he would storm through in the million dollar british shirts. >> ben knows how to dress, tony. >> what a surprise that you would notice. >> you didn't notice did you,
mr. clear and save? it is was fun when ben would come by. he would swoop through the sports department like a hawk, take a couple bites and just woosh he was gone. >> the attention span of a nat. he is already bored with this. >> i guess we're done then. >> we've been done for a whi, pal. love you, ben. >> ben is famous as some of you may know for his colorful language. one day his very sweet secretary was transcribing letters ben dictated into a tape. she nervously approached the post resident with a question. is dickhead one word or two? >> ben got a letter, one of millions from somebody saying i was warrior in the pacific and fought for my country. i think "the washington post" is anti-american and violating the national at security and this and that. and ben wrote back a letter that began dear asshole.
in correspondence, they became great friends. they have seen a lot of the same part of the war and same part of the same people and it was an amazing story. >> i think every now and then it's good to let go steam a little. >> what you see is what you get with ben. he has been known to burn brush in the field so the local fire department has to come by. >> he burnt down in west virginia 40 acres. he's a wild man with a chain saw. he always has to have the biggest chain saw. and so he decided he was going to cut a branch off of a tree. but it was too high to reach. sow put a ladder up and climbed up and then held the branch and took the chain saw like this. he cut off the branch and the chain saw hit him in the arm. he almost killed himself. >> everybody has his own reasons. but people really loved ben.
>> it is one of the great joys of my life that i still get to work with ben. to a lot of people in this business, a lot of people in the newsroom who are professional skeptics and people who by policy won't believe you no matter who you are and what you say and people who have no heroes, ben is our hero. >> well, ben bradley was the editor, the man who showed the courage, stood up to the administration the biggest political story of the 20th century. >> how much fun has there been? >> i just had the most interesting subjects, the most interesting colleagues.
>> one more round after plaus f -- round of applause for ben bradley and our speakers tonight. what a night. what a night it's been and i urge you all to continue to send in your comments to washingtonpo washingtonpost.com. can you see what "the washington post" is doing next. we're doing thing tez convention and other things like cyber security and medical innovation. but very importantly, the bar is open. and i urge you to go to the sixth floor break in rooms and you can see portraits there.
thank you, ben. [ applause ] >> benjamin la troeb worked closely with president james madison to refine the look and function of the early white house. mr. latrobe position is subject of a talk by leslie jones, collection manager at the white house historical association which is headquartered in lafayette square. this program is 45 minutes. >> good evening, folks. if i could urge you to find some seats. we may get more chairs if we need. to i think there are some empty seats around f you'll all try to get a seat, that will be great and we can start.
we are excited to celebrate the bicentennial or war of 1812. this is the first program in that long celebration. this evening's talk, oh, the terrible velvet curtains and the madisons decorate the president's house is being presented by leslie jones of the white house historical association. before i introduce our speaker, i want to point out the items we have pulled for tonight's presentation. in the library cases you can see the bound letters to mrs. madison dating to 1809 regarding the decoration as well as another letter dated the following year to the finley brother who is made the painted furniture for the madisons. he shows the sketch of a chair indicating the area where they tended to break. reproductions of the furniture that was burned in 1814 are on view here this evening. i would like to announce that c-span is filming tonight's presentation so we would appreciate if you would turn off your cell phones in case they ring in the middle of the
lecture. on to our speaker. leslie jones serves as the executive assistant to the president and the david m rubenstein center for white house history at decatur hose. he acts as curator and collects manager for the design decatur house located in lafayette square owned by the trust for historic preservation and works in developing the public programming redesign of the white house visitor's center and oversees relations among many other tasks. he received a ba from miami university ohio in the history of architecture and completed her ma from the smithsonian associates and corcoran college of art designs history of masters program in 2010 with a thesis entitled pierre antoine seating furniture for the white house, evolution within the interior. miss jones is the curator of the washington winter shows exhibition. treasures of the first families and will be curating the 2013 exhibit as well. she is an independent lecturure on topics related to early 19th century american in white house history. institutions she has spoken for
>> good evening. thank you for choosing to spend your thursday night here with us at the maryland historical society. that was a very generous introduction. thank you, mark. we are going to go ahead and get started. i believe i'm queueing to you for slides. thank you. oh, the terrible velvet curtains. the madisons decorate the white house. this image right here on the very front is actually the earliest known published image
of the white house from a travel book. at this time when the madisons came into the white house, only part of the white house was finished. before the british came marched into washington and ended up burning the city to the ground. next slide. its original architect james hobin won the competition set forth by washington and jefferson in 1792 to build what washington envisioned for the president's house, i would design a building that should look forward and execute no more of it at present than night suit
the circumstances that shall be first wanted. a plan more than executed in a future president when the wealth, population, importance of it shall stand upon a higher ground than they do present. washington really understood that the white house may evolve just as the united states may. the city's commissioners went to france looking for builders. they are commissioned to the city looking for mason men. they said "we wish to exhibit a grandeur of conception, a republican simplicity and true elegance of proportion that corresponds to a tempered freedom the good of little
minds. contemporary counts describe the building as a palazzo. with no extraordinary features in a classed class simple as you can see. washington never lived in the white house, he lived a cornerstone before he passed away in 1799. subsequent presidents moved in and made it their own. the third president of the united states and second to live in the white house, thomas jefferson in office from 1801 to 1809 appointed benjamin as the first surveyor of public buildings to expedite the completion of the federal city. it was just taverns and hotels and the white house and the upcoming capital building. jefferson having his own interests in architecture as seen through his many renovations at the university of virginia and virginia state capital and his own ideas for the white house. he had a personal goal of developing public buildings and creating a city in his life town rather than the unpaid landscape that was washington in the early 19th century. his first duties were to finish the south wing of the capital and work on the president's house and develop what is known as navy yard. his work with jefferson was a collaborative effort and the two in six years helped to make the president's house structurally habitable to supply the missing conveniences and the appearances of the building. he added low single story wings. go back, sorry. on the east and west to provide for storage and other necessities and relanscaped the grounds. most of the work that -- excuse
me. i skipped a page. let's go back. so i will improvise. this is samuel who was the architect with which benjamin letrobe is trained. the next slide. this is the engineer that he trained with in england. this is what we like to call a renaissance man. he was an artist and participator and sculptor and a designer. he had a great mind for various tasks that made him one of the most well-known people in the united states in terms of architecture, granting him the title, father of american architecture is retained. he has retained for well over 200 years. okay. this is his first grand building. he immigrated by way of virginia, but was commissioned to come to philadelphia and
build buildings there. he orchestrated the nrnling of their waterworks and this is the first grecian building in the united states, the bank of pennsylvania that does not exist anymore unfortunately. getting back to where i was. with his work on the white house, he added low single story wings that you can see right here that were not previously in the design. they were part of what jefferson really had implemented in his influence in the designs. this is a north or south-facing fasat that you can see by the colonade. that would go into the blue room, about you in this day and age it was. this is the east facade. seeing a profile of the house. . >> jefferson isolated himself as president, but coming into the white house and the reputation as extraordinary hosts, they were surely to be lively again as one of two public attractions
existing at the time and he was very much counting on the greater opportunity as an architect. he went beside the boundaries of being an architect and an emergency. they dated march 17th, 1809 and reflect the additions to the duties from being just the surveyor of public buildings. he was mrs. madison's retriever. a bit of an exaggeration, but he searched high and low up and down the eastern seaboard for guitars, furniture, rugs, carriages, books, candlestick, snuffers and lace and even -- one more slide.
keep going. even wallpaper. one more slide. this is a very famous depiction actually of the boston museum of fine arts, the tea party. later in date than what we are looking at with the madisons, but it explains what you would have seen in a very elegant entertainment situation of the time period. one of the things that he picked up was mrs. madison's iconic turbin. it was a younger look, but she pulled it off quite well. in addition, he picked up her wigs. in one sense, he picked that was a little too small. not sure if that means something if he thought she had a big head or didn't measure it correctly. in march he wrote to
mrs. madison to consider what we refer to as the red room and specifies he placed an order for chairs that referred to a suite he commissioned by baltimore cabinet makers to make the e liptic or oval-shaped salon on the first floor of the white house. he took to rearranging the use of certain rooms. they outlined three rooms for entertaining. they should receive the most attention and therefore most of the budget. previously jefferson used a large room on the west end as his office. what we know as the state dining room. when they came into the white house, they too made it into the dining room and remained ever since, past the reconstruction. the northwest corner room that jefferson used became two partitioned rooms, acting as
offices for his secretary. what we now call the family dining room. the east room which formerly acted as the office. we refer to that as a green room. that was a small dining room and they kept that function the same. as well as the salon that was the most formal entertaining position for the white house because it holes the most people. above the e liptic room on the second floor, the family's quarters was the lady's room. these were the only rooms that we have a lot of information surviving on. so much was lost with the burning of the capital. over 200 years and fortunately enough, documents do survive. his provisions for decoration for mrs. madison followed a few unavoidable trends. most often he looks only to the
major cities for materials and services and styles. more often than not, his styles are solely english as he was english. however despite the constant travel to philadelphia and new york, and baltimore as well, he did not look very closely at washington, georgetown or al zand ray businesses and this displeased a great many people. she had one of the best upholstery shops. he did not call upon her and she felt her duty to spread gossip. it happened then too. he was type faced as an eager and aggressive and loud-mouthed designer and this affected him so much he ended up having to confront miss madison on the matter. in september he writes as far as i could proceed boldly as surveyor of the basketball buildings and in my capacity so i'm called in the papers which obviously he didn't agree with,
i found i could not be as useful as i wished. he goes on to write having however received two anonymous letters to the same effect, i have not presumed to interfere as surveyor of the public buildings and refrained from entering into the house more than duty requires. in a ps, he continues personally to say i cannot possibly suppose the information i received to be correct. you have reason to be dissatisfied with your carriage which they designed and broke the first time she used it. i'm more than punished by misfortune of employing a man who deceived me. this i had to design an even lay out and frame the furniture for the drawing room. i leave my cause in your hands and it is humiliating to defend it, but it is a good one. a true artist and right-brained. mrs. madison assures him he was not being held in low regard by herself and the president for
the time being. the work continued. more than just a home for the president to live in, the white house was ment to rifle the most exquisite residences in america which at that time were in philadelphia and new york which is why he frequented the destination so often. additionally if objects needed to be imported he would come to those cities and to landlock washington. america was by no means a richly developed nation. urban cities like new york, boston, philadelphia, charleston and now baltimore were hubs for industry. many luxuries for upper class americans had to be brought in from foreign lands like textiles, food, and even natural resources like furniture production. what is difficult to understand
in this day and age, design sources were largely imported. there were american craftsmen, but craftsmen relied about publications set forth in england and france and italy to develop the furniture they were going to make. even furniture designs as well. clothing designs. he used his english design sources and specifications that he englished to produce and his furniture designs reflected thomas hope's which were made famous for household furniture published in london in 1807 and this is out of hope's book. does this look familiar? we will see that later as well. the design source was appropriate as they based so much style, governing and taste on reflections of ancient greece and rome.
this was the site right here and rooms that were focused right around an tick witty and the collection of vases whether they were reproducts or originals from the ruins in the mediterranean. by 1809, the united states and great britain had signed the peace for now. there was a tendency for many to choose the decor and men are dressing from the homes of french and english. it is generalized, but you see from the costume and ceramic styles, most americans chose french. both countries were taking their design from antiquity. where they got the design resources and students that came back from mom way on the grand tours. mrs. madison was a lover of the french style.
this was later, but from pierre pursier and fontaine's design book. it shows you the difference when you look at the thomas hope versus what the french came out with. latrobe purchased two massive stone eagles from james draquare, a sculptor in philadelphia, which you see here, and mounted them on the pier gates on the north side of the house. additional four marble mantles were ordered. two were installed. he had a budget in mind and sold two to the u.s. capitol building. as for the furniture, the most iconic pieces were ordered from a pair of brothers in baltimore. of the 50 cabinet makers in baltimore listed at this time, john and hugh finlay were considered the best in what had