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tv   [untitled]    June 16, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

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the new americans focused on personalities for affirmation and reassurance. right after the revolution, they used george washington. during the contentious, early republic dolly took his place. dole used her own self to create a republican queen around whom people could rally. a figure who radiated calm goodness. her queen, dressed royally or at least how most americans imagined how royalty would dress with waving peacock feathers attached to her trademark turbans she figuratively dominated any room. her gorgeous dress and lavish entertainments and sense of ease imparted messages of legitimacy and stability and reassurance to new americans and europeans alike. while people praised dole for her ensembles and her entertainments they regarded most highly what they call herd
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good heart so she may have been a queen, but as one senator put it she was also a queen of hearts. dolly was famous for being an extraordinary spirit, generous and kind. she made people feel special and everyone marvelled at dolly's ability to never forget a name, a face or a family pedigree. this warmth and courteous consideration were dolly's own, but she and james turned her personality into a tool of policy. so there we have our three themes. bee have dolly as the custodian of the white house. dolly in the unofficial sphere and dolly as the charismatic figure.
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so let's go back to that june day when war is declared. james madison has resisted the idea of war for as long as he could. so remember his goal as unity by putting off his decision to go to bar he had the partisan flames. james' party, the republicans may have celebrated the declaration with parades and canon fire, but in the northeast federalist territory, flames hung at half-mast and church bells tolled warmth. the federalists most of whom were from new england would feel the brunt -- the declaration of war only increases pressure on james especially when he learned that two days before the declaration the british government had repealed the orders and council that had restricted neutral trade and was one of the main reasons for
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going to war, but it was too late to stop the marshall momentum. it spoke of threats to the president and assassinations by both dagger or poison. disguised as women coming to the white house to steal james' papers. washington city felt even more uneased as the residents worried it might become a target. wartime tension made some a bit deranged. a well known washington woman drove directly to the white house and stood up in her carriage and let down her long hair, celebrated for its length and claimed she would happily cut it. in a rare break from her public demeanor, dolly let it be known
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that it would be difficult to forgive this insult to her husband. the president, in short, was in what we moderns would call a public relations nightmare. though people of the time didn't have the vocabulary they recognized his dilemma as such. william burrwell wrote his wife leticia that, quote, the difficulties of the situation have increased in the great degree. james' only hope lay in, quote, influencing public sentiment by some brilliant achievement. doesn't that sound like a p.r. plan? unfortunately for james, the war went badly from the beginning so the madison's chance for a brilliant achievement lay with dolly. correspondingly dolly's war-time efforts intensified and they were not the dramatic stuff of military victories or battles at sea. their executions were subtler. in the years before the war, the mad sons left washington in the
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spring and spent the summer at the home in virginia and returned to the capitol for the legislative seasons some time in october. in the first congressional season after the declaration, dolly began her social campaign as she called it early, returning to the capitol after only one week according to her in the midst of business and anxiety, anxious for the fate of the war only. throughout the bar she gave more parties than ever before and these parties reflected this increased need for unofficial space as people thronged to the capital city. they also reassured the citizens of the district who kept hearing rumors of invasions and in the agitated political atmosphere the parties provided a neutral ground for members of the government. >> dolly was already standing in
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for james before the war and she took the symbolizing capacity to a new level and during wartime it is crucial to have national unity, with the badly divided nation under his watch and a boisterous congress at his doorstep, james could do little to foster national unity, and he could not be seen in any neutral way, but dole could. she was as partisan as any man in congress. because she was a woman she could not hold any official power so dolly could be seen as politically neutral. men of party his interests, as they say, dictated by their political needs. since men were associated with one party or ago, no male, not
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even the male could represent the united states, but women, excluded from politics could be seen as disinterested, simply patriotic for their own sakes so because she was, in theory, above politics, dolly could appeal to the american public and european observers as a larger than life of disinterested patriotism and the nation. so where as before she was the charismatic figure of james madison, after the war of 1812 she becomes the charismatic figure for the nation and the nation's capitol. she had always brought people together. now her abilities to draw people in had an urgent, larger purpose. her mission was to convey to the capitol and to the country, but the government was working and the war was being conducted well and she presented a picture of calm optimism. dolly was only half joking when
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she wrote to sarah seton who was the wife of one newspaper editor and urged her to make an appearance on a wednesday night and not to desert the standard altogether, and that is the flag. during the war years both the cause and the consequence of dolly's efforts. businesses such as shipping, importing and others could not function during the hostilities and many involved in those industries took a trip to washington to see how the president was doing. locals too, noticed that there were members of congress during the 1812 and 1813 season than ever before. wartime washington was a lively place and many could not keep up with the crush. and on wednesday night everybody ended up in the drawing room. as always, many commented on the brilliant scenes, the colorful and stimulating company further enlivened by men in uniform. dolly kept with the pace, so i
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think it's an interesting there's a phrase she's she uses at this time that indicates the work that it took to produce to create the phrase routine gaiety. during wartime it could be up to 500. that first month after the congressional season dolly's butler left for france and said i am acting in his department in that the city more than ever crowded with strangers, my head is dizzy. the public face of dole was always supportive and not questioning. and when she was the wife of the secretary of state. now they marched by the white house in order to be reviewed by her and she did so as a general would. dolly then invited the soldiers in and served them refreshments and giving them liberally of the best of the house and she made much of the victories that came
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the united states' way. in one famous story she contravened harrison to come to the battle to report on successful military action. dolly wanted her to appear on the evening's drawing room. not only did the public want to see him or honor him, but that they needed to. in the 1812 naval campaign, american forces captured the british ships and mass done wrap and the officers presented the captured ships' colors to dolly in very public ceremonies. as the president's ceremony, edward had the first of the presentations. in a culture where news traveled slowly, both informing the public and heartening them. dolly was very conscious of the honor paid to her and sarah gale seton noticed the pride and patriotism that fused dolly's face and said i saw her color come and go. as always, dolly's visibility cut both ways and her position
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as a disinterested patriot did not go unquestioned. political enemies tried to turn events against her. samuel taggert -- thus tarnishing the united states' reputation. according to taggert, an englishman in the city basically observed that charlotte meaning the queen of great britain would not have done so with the american colors. dolly denied making such a gesture and indeed the story seems unlikely. such a public display of negativity seems out of character for a woman of such control and consciousness in addition to the fact that the federalists circulated the story seemed suspicious. according to dolly, when the men were carrying the flag by her, commodore stewart let his end fall and it was another lady who cried out trample on it, trample on it and dolly drew back oh, not so while the lady advanced and put her foot on it. the first full year of the war ended soberly. the early naval victories overshadowed by the british response to them which was to blockade the entire southeastern seaboard further strangling
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business trade and the ports of the city. from the start of the hostilities what dolly called the melancholy business of war had occupied everyone's thoughts and conversations and you can imagine everyone in washington talking about it whenever people got together, but in those first days, washingtonians did not feel the effects of the war directly. the actual fighting on land and sea took place far from the capital. by the second year of the war with the british firmly embargoed in the chesapeake river, they feared that the district might prove an easy and irresistible target. that was grounds for rumors and by the summer of 1813, dole was writing to cousin edward coles, and if i could, i would describe the fears and alarms that circulate around me. all of the city of georgetown except the cabinet had expected a visit from the enemy and were not lacking in their expressions of terror and reproach. with her parenthetical reference to the cabinet dolly was reflecting the dynamic of the situations that the locals were as firmly convinced as a british invasion as the government was not. the reproach that she's talking about was directed to the
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federal and local officials though dolly defended james, informing edward that, quote, we are making considerable effort for defense. the fort is repairing and 500 militia with perhaps as many regulars are and to be stationed near the green near the wind mill. they were already up and they already looked well to dolly. as i have always been an advocate for fighting. and dolly added that though a quaker she always kept a tunisian sailor at reach at her bedside. commander of british naval operations coburn fed the fears of invasion by threatening her. the details of a plot were in british rogues as she called them were to have landed in alexandria under the fire of dance darkness and dole
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confessed i do not tremble at this, but send me affronted that he would send this at my drawing room soon. surely her bravado was a bit of a pose and dolly could be for geffen for what she called a savage style of warfare. the 1813 summer passed and nothing happened. invasion fears died down, but only for a while. the government felt vindicated in the firm stance in the face of civilian panic. as 1813 turned into 1814 the locals dealt with anxiety by joining the officers in denial. the reasons that the british weren't going to attack were numerous. the capital was too far from the coast, baltimore was a more attractive target, all kinds of reasons, however the tide of the war was turning and washington would soon fell its effects. the chesapeake coastline with baltimore and washington nearby was far too tempting a target to ignore. for thinking washington not a likely target, the british had two strong reasons for invading the federal seat. first, they could avenge themselves by american forces
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and second, they perfectly understood the immense psychological value of the president and the nation's wife, but even after the british landed in maryland in 1814, the secretary of war general armstrong insisted no, no, baltimore is the place, sir, that is of so much more consequence. dolly's mission of reassuring all that the government was in control elated as the summer of 1814 moved on and she focused more on the capital residence. in a letter to her son todd she relayed with bravado, the british on our shores are stealing and destroying private property, rarely coming to battle, but when they do they are always beaten.
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if the war should last six months longer, the u.s. will conquer her enemies, but these brave words were partly for public consumption should the letters fall into the wrong hands as they make way to -- dolly, pressed her real worries and tensions. we have been in a state of degradations and make incessant difficulties for the government and when she's talking about the disaffected she's talking not about the soldier, but about her fellow citizens, not just federalists, but also members of james' party who wanted to make trouble for the president and she worried about them as much as invading soldiers, one worked so hard to verify the various populations of the capital, dolly gave vent to her frustration. i cannot describe it. i wish for my own part we were in philadelphia, but dolly added, the people would never let them leave even if they
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wanted to, among other exclamation and threats, he said they will stop him and that he shall fall with it. i am not the least alarmed with these things, but entirely disgusted and determined to stay with him. the bravado and the declaration to hanna, but it's true that the latest, august 6, 1814, dolly told hannah we are still without an idea of going to hence. the invasion of washington city began in the early morning hours of august 19, 1814, as the british force of 4,000 landed at benedict maryland, the main port of the river. couriers brought the news to the capital including the admiral's birth that he intended to dine in washington in two days and dolly remained the focus as she sent word that unless she left the house would be burned over her head. she doesn't mention james nor does she include the president when he intends to parade dole in the streets of london as a prisoner of war. finally, when the men in charge began to make belated plans in
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protecting state. he left the white house in order to review the troops in the field and the intelligence reported the rumor that 5,000 troop his joined the city in maryland. panic broke out in washington city, beginning a mass exodus. alone in the weiss except for her servants and slaves, dolly did what she always did to try to quell the panic. aware that all eyes were on her, she planned a dinner party. without question, dolly's most famous day was august 24, 1814, the day of the invasion of washington. a close look at the day presents in microcosm all three of our themes. her role as the caretaker of the white house as mistress of the unofficial sphere and as the charismatic figure. all of the divisions that so worried dolly and james had split and instead of coming together washington city was falling apart. in order to pull the local and official folk together to send a message of calm and peace, dolly invited residents and members of the government to dinner, a meal
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held in the middle of the day. she intended to do this precisely in the face of the rumors of the invasion. as the rumors strengthened and the city began to evacuate she continued to prepare for the dinner. scholars left and right criticized the opinion. as much for its concluding tone as for its terse analysis and result. the to significance was overruled in 2003. another passage in the opinion which many critics elect to norm contains justice white's deep-seated anxiety over the breadth of the court's role first expressed in his dissent in robinson verse california. now, almost a quarter century later he was still sounding the alarm. nor are we inclined to take a more expansive view of our authority to discover new fundamental rights embedded in the due process clause. the court is most vulnerable and comes nearest to illegitimacy
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when it deals with judge made constitutional law having little or no cognizable roots in the text or design of the constitution, that this is so as painfully demonstrated by the face-off between the executive and she didn't have much guidance on that. on one hand, the overconfident general armstrong assuring her of no danger. on the other, dr. james h. blakemare of washington made two visits begging her to flee. dolly did not see james all that long day, instead noting with alarm the "military wanderings" of the troops, who seemed to show a lack of arms or of spirit to fight for their own firesides. her reading was correct. that afternoon in blainesburg, maryland, the british would rout the americans so quickly they would go flew flying through the city earning a title of the raceless. her choice, wait for james to return and make that key
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decision about whether they would evacuate. even at the point of invasion when dolly could have worried merely about external enemies, the problems of internal division still embittered her, in her letter to lucy she intones darkly, "disaffection stalks around us." as the day went on, it was apparent the dinner party would have to be cancelled. according to her, her french servant "offer, despite the cannon at the gate to help the train of powder that would blow up the british" should they enter the plan which dolley vetoed thinking an aggressive act would anger troops who might take it out on civilians. meantime, madison's slaves along with others accelerated through evacuation efforts and didn't bother to clear the dinner table. they rushed around, securing hard to find transport and packing and sending the white house silver, cabinet papers and even the famous red velvet curtains that, according to many guests, blazed at her drawing rooms.
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dolley felt keenly the public trust. she knew the white house and its possessions belonged to the american people and felt guilty about possibly having to abon done them. she deliberately sacrificed the madison's personal property to save what she could of the public's. one of the objects dolley saved ensured her place in history. that it did so ratified her judgment made at a moment's notice. by the late afternoon of the 24th it was becoming increasingly clear that she and her staff had to leave. still, she took precious time and against the urging of some madison supporters who had come to escort her to safety to direct them to wrestle the famous gilbert stewart painting of george washington off the wall and out of its frame. she gave it to two passing gentlemen from new york who put it for safe keeping under a humbled safe roof. in many ways, this act became the defining and lasting image of the war of 1812.
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later in her life, dolley explained why she took valuable time to secure this portrait as testimony, "for my respect to general washington." evidence exists that the portrait that dolley saved might not even have been the original steward, but a copy, and that dolley knew that. but copy or not, it did not matter. dolley knew what it would mean to the american public if this portrait was burned, destroyed or worse, captured as a pride of war, and paraded through the london streets as the admiral threatened to do with her, and she was correct. throughout her career as james' political partner, dolley had shown herself master of psychological politics and this was her crowning stroke. finally, dolley's decision was made for her. as paul jeng rejenning recounts, james smith, an african-american freeman sent by the president to the battlefield galloped up crying, clear out. the general has ordered a retreat. dolley took her small draw-string purse and she
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and suki climbed aboard a carriage with her sister anna, and driven by an impant charles carroll. as she later told henry latrobe's wife mary, "i left the house where mr. latrobe's elegant taste had been justly admired and where you and i had so often wandered together." they took off. stopping that day first at navy secretary jones' house and then carroll's own bellevue, now dumb barton house and finally spending the night across the river in virginia. paul jennings and john were the last to leave, poignantly french jean locked the front door and carried polly, the beloved mackaw, over to the octagon house. james madison finally arrived at the white house in the latest afternoon. james set out to the catch up with his wife and not before he ordered jean to give up the brandy to the weary troops. it was almost the last party the house would see. paul jennings hung about the
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city curious to see what would happen. he was dismayed to observe as the shadows of evening fell what he calmed the ravel came looting the executive mansion, stealing silver and anything else they could carry. over the next days, dolley and james wandered the countryside missing each other at designated places. the city they had built, the house in which henry latrobe and dolley had lavished so much care and labor all came to ashes. at sundown on august 24th, vice admiral sir george coburn and major general robert ross led the british troops into washington city. they burned the senate, the house of representatives including the library of congress. by the time they got to the white house they were tired and hungry. in a sad parody of dolley's work, the british soldiers sat down to the last white house dinner party, par taking of the elegant and substantial rapast set out. the soldiers toasted the king
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with james' wine. deprived of the human prize, coburn captured her portrait, to keep dolley safe and exhibit her in london. he also took her seat cushion and among some of the pleasantries too vulgar to repeat, remarks he wished to warmly recall mrs. madison's seat. four days after leaving, when dolley and james returned, they found their capital city in ruins and of course it was the sight at the white house that most effectively affected the pair. nothing was left of the executive mansion but its cracked and blackened walls. dolley could never speak of that first sight without emotion, and in that moment spying a passing american soldier, dolley wished "that we had 10,000 such men, to sink our enemy to the bottomless pit." friends described the president as miserably shattered, and woebegon, heartbroken and dolley inconsolable, much
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depressed she could barely speak without tears. dolley later confessed to mary latrobe she was so angry she wished she had stayed and fired on the troops. i confess i was so unfeminine to be free of fear and willing to remain in the castle with a cannon. i love that picture of dolley in the window with the cannon. it seems dreadfully sad and unfair to stop our story with the james and dolley weeping amongst the smoking rune, but what i'd like to do, sum it up a little add type the rest of the story of what happened to our themes of dolley's roles regarding the white house, the unofficial sphere and charismatic figure. first the white house. what did the burning of the white house mean? the invasion and destruction of the capital city galvanized the american people. all opposition in america to the war vanished and i argue that it was dolley's work in making the capital city and in particular the white house a place in the american mind. that was both real to people who had never seen it and also a
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symbol. so when it was attacked the americans took it personally. second, the role of the unofficial sphere in the relocation debates. so when james and dolley come back to this crisis, they actually have a new crisis waiting for them. the capital city is in ruins and there's a movement to relocate the capital to new york or philadelphia or a number of places, which could have in hindsight been disastrous. i would need another speech to discuss the relocation debates, but in the end the congress vote to stay and it is my theory that dolley with her unofficial sphere made this town such a town for politics that even though everybody complained about the weather and the roads and they still do, politicians recognize it might be in their advantage to stay in a place where they had established connections, where they had networks, and also in a town where unlike philadelphia or new york, it was completely about politics. finally and fittingly, the role of the charismatic figure.
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dolley's symbolized capacity made her flight from the white house after securing the portrait of george washington the most enduring image of the war equalled only to the firing on fort mchenry and creation of the "star-spangled banner" and when it was time for peace, dolley continued to be the charismatic stand-in for james. on february 14th, 1815, the treaty of ghent arrived in washington. the terms of peace could have only been disappointing. regarding all the issues, territory, boundaries, impressment of sailors, the two nations were exactly in the same place as before. well, james and his cabinet were upstairs looking over a document that only conceded what had been conceded before, dolley was gathering a party downstairs in the octagon house. by early evening, everyone was at dolley's dry room and according to one reporter what a happy scene it was. political enemies who had been against each other in continual conflict and fierce debate now


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