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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  November 30, 2014 6:00pm-6:29pm EST

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try to convince people on your campuses, work on campaigns. tea party rise was one of the most exciting times to be involved recently. we will have it again. [applause] thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. >> each week american history american artifacts of visits museums and distort places. up next, we take you inside the
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u.s. capital's house where matthew wasniewski and curator use photographs to trace the history of women in congress. >> the story of women in congress begins with jeannette rankin, who is elected to the house in 1916 from montana. she is elected to the house four years before women have the right to vote nationally, and in a way, she is really a bridge from the suffrage movement to women attaining full rights. she was active in the national women's suffrage organization. she helped women get the right to vote not only in montana but a couple of states west of mississippi. runs, in 1916, she is elected to one of two districts. part of her platform is that she is a pacifist or she does one into the house on april 2, 1917.
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in the house chas come special session, externally session because the president that night, woodrow wilson, delivers a message to congress asking for a declaration of war against germany. i. u.s. entry into world war rankin, when that vote is held, is one of a group of 50 members who votes against u.s. intervention in world war i. she served a term in the house. she was on the women's suffrage committee. e public lands committee, which was an important assignment for a woman from montana, with so much of the land being held by the federal government. she serves only a term in the house. it she tries to run for senate from montana. she does not get the republican nomination, but she runs as an independent.
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it is an uphill that appeared she gets 1/5 of the votes. then she goes back to private life and is involved in women's rights issues. she is a driving force behind maternityrd towner and if it's the act which the house passes in 1921. and then she is also involved in international peace organizations. fast-forward to 1940 she runs for congress again. and she runs on a platform to keep the u.s. out of the war in europe. on december 8, 1941, with a tremendous vote. this is the day after pearl harbor, fdr has come to the house chamber. he is addressed a joint session of congress. [video clip] 1941,terday, december 7,
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a date which will live in infamy. >> the senate goes back to its chamber. and very quickly, unanimously passes a wa resolution. and the house begins debating and the house membersr know that jeannette rankin is a pacifist and she is going to vote her conscience. so, we have some oral histories of people who were in the chamber who recall members going up to rankin and asking her to vote present. do not vote no. but she does her conscience and opposes the war. she is the lone vote against u.s. entry into world war ii with the declaration of war against japan. that effectively ended her political career. she goes back into private life. but she's a force in the anti-war movement really for another couple decades. but a remarkable career. >> in 2004, we commissioned a
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new portrait of jeannette rankin. who is soperson important in the history and expansion of rights and representation in congress. so, when we commissioned it, we wanted to sort of show -- we wanted to show what it was like to come into congress is the first woman, when women do not have the right to vote. because it was a 20 century, 1916, 1917 when she is elected and enters congress, she -- there is a lot of newspaper coverage for because she is a woman, and a novelty, there is a lot of newspaper coverage of what she is wearing. so, we know exact what she was wearing. so the portrait shows her in that navy blue dress. and we know she was wearing a big hat. and we know exactly what "th washington poste" said. a hazard in those close holding "the washington post." she is wearing a hat. and is placed just outside the chamber doors.
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if we were to enter into that space with her, she would just -- she would just about turned to her right and enter the chamber. at which point, she would take wereer hat, because hats not warn in the chamber, even though there was much discussion of, as a woman, should she wear a hat because that is formal attire. is she a woman but a member of congress? indeed, it turns out they decide she is a member of congress more than she is her gender millinarily. she takes it off. all of those things he wanted to put in the portrait, as well as the fact she was in the house but much more a creature of her other interests, pacifism, suffrage. all of the issues that were important to her. it was a somewhat lonely spot, to be the only woman. and to be taking the stance of conscience that put her at odds with other people. >> to that rankin was something
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of an outlier for this first generation in congress or she comes from an activist, suffrage background. but if you look at the first two decades of women who were elected, and there are roughly about 20 women who were elected, a good number of these people don't have a political background. they have not held elective office. instead, they are, a large number of them, widows who succeed their late husbands in congress. later, political scientists will describe this as the widows' mandate, which was the route for a lot of the early women into congress. this really persisted through the 1960's and into the 1970's. a large number of women followed their husbands or maybe they had a prominent political father who they followed into congress. there was a real familial connection. that was not rankin's experience. it was, for this woman here that
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we are looking at in this picture, this wonderful picture of edith morris rogers. she was a widow from massachusetts. she succeeded her husband, john rogers, who was a high-ranking member of the foreign affairs committee. the ranking republican. she actually had a lot of experience helping him with administering the committee and administering his personal office. so, she knew what his legislative agenda was. she kind of knew the rhythms and the contours of life on capitol hill. one of the things that happened when a senior member passes away, the house has to have a special election. no one can be appointed to the house. depending on state laws, that has to happen in a fairly short
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amount of time. what would happen is local party leaders would often turn to the widow and say, will you run for the partial term? you have name recognition. rogers will be on the ballot. the expectation is the wife would serve out this term and then she would retire and the party leaders would find a suitable male candidate to succeed her. rogers had different ideas. she actually ends up staying in the house for 35 years. she is still the longest-serving woman in the house. she was for a very long time the longest-serving woman in congress. she was recently surpassed by barbara mikulski of maryland. she not only had longevity. she was very influential in terms of veterans affairs. prior to her experience in the house, she also had volunteered for the red cross. she had become an advocate for
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servicemen returning from world war i. when republicans in the 1940's briefly regained the majority in the 80th congress, she becomes one of the very first women to chair a major congressional committee. she chairs the veteran affairs committee in the 80th congress and again in the 83rd congress when the control flip-flopped back and forth. she was a republican. her experience, and you see a couple of pictures. in this one, she is having a ofio date with mary norton new jersey. this is in 1926. and these two really become in many respects the deans of women in congress for several decades. a democrat richie came up to politics i jersey
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city, new jersey. nher mentor was frank "i am a law" hague. he promoted her career. as she comes into the house in 1925, the same year as edith norris rogers. the interesting thing about her is that she, like rogers and other women from this generation, really pursued a strategy of gaining power in the house by assimilating. they did not push women's issues per se. they really try to minimize gender differences. and norton was extremely successful moving up the committee leadership ladder. she chaired four congressional committees by the time she retired from the house and nearly 1950's. and one of them was the labor committee during the new deal, which was a major committee. of her signal piece
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legislation was the fair labor setdards act of 1938 which workweek, outlaw child labor and set the minimum wage. she letter said -- she later s aid, i am prouder of getting that bill to the house of any -- than anything i've ever done. she was a no-nonsense legislator. early on in her career, maybe the year this picture was snapped, she was on the house floor and a bill was being debated. a male member turned to her and said, i yield to the gentlelady from new jersey picture cut him off and said, i am no lady. i am a member of congress. and i'm going to proceed on that basis. she did. career was marvelous -- a marvelous example of moving up to the ranks through seniority. >> one of my favorite things gers wasith norris ro how she used her persona up a
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should begins right from the get though. this is early 1926. when she debates mary norton. a radio debate, but clearly they know they are going to be photographed. her norton is wearing fantastic fur santa claus coat. and eidtdith norris rogers is in widow's weed. still officially mourning her husband. but it is politically savvy. she is always very good at that. aflet from her first general election. and overhe says over again, things like, always on the job. reelect mrs. rogers. inside it says some wonderful stuff. gives prompt,es, efficient service." she talks were about what she has done for veterans.
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she is still misses john jacob rogers. this is the primary season in september. she is very much -- very wise in the ways of doing this. later, after she has been reelected a few times, she often is photographed doing things that will be visually interesting and also very much related to the issues important to her. here she and other members of congress are testing out a really riding lawnmower-looking tank. right outside the capitol. she often would do that. she also was photographed cash she was called the most air-m inded female member of congress to she would slide back and toth -- fly black and forth places in open airplanes. there are photographs of her with aviator goggles headed off into the sky. she did some wonderful things,
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but as matt said, she also was an assimilationist in the way of that first generation of women in congress. here is a photo of some of the early women of congress at the start of the 71st congress. there are lots of them. you can see that they are very businesslike in their attire. wearing furs. it looks like edith nourse rogers has some flowers. this represents not all the women in congress but lots of them. they are being photograph and being treated by the press as an entity. how that is going to get played out would change. and over th e next couple of decades, as people try to figure out what do we talk about when we talk about women in congress? >> this is an interesting photo because it points out, you can go through this a look at the way the women were elected to congress.
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pearl front row is oldfield who succeeded her husband who passed away. then edith nourse rogers then who represented the silk stocking district in new york city. then on the far side here is ruth hannah mccormack of illinois. her father was marcus hannah, the republican kingmaker in the early part of the 20th century. d constantly butted heads with what jennings bryan. his daughter is on the side of the picture. we have a press account when these two ruths came down the center aisle together arm in arm. and wowed the members and the press because here are two
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daughters of about political enemies. if we go back into the picture. norton.mary this is another one of the interesting characters. california, who represented a large portion of san francisco. and she is another widow who followed her husband to congress. thehusband julius was chairman of the -- rogers, sheourse was another woman very involved in her husband's political career. when he passed away, she was asked to run for the seat, she was decided she was going to stay on. she stayed on for more of a decade. she is the first jewish woman elected to congress pitches also the first woman to be appointed to the prestigious appropriations committee. responsible for
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steering a lot of funds into the bay area to develop things like the bay bridge connecting san francisco and oakland. air also the alameda naval station. she sat on the military affairs panel. >> we have a wonderful portrait of her. she has standing in her district -- is standing in her district. and right near where she lives in what is now parkland. behind her, the view that you would see if you are standing there today, is of the golden gate bridge. and there's a little bitty, in the painting, but enormous in real life, ship coming through there that was part of the naval air station. so, there's a lot in there. one of the things that is most interesting is i have not mentioned anything about her figure. her figure is very accuratte.
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that is exactly how she dressed and how she presented herself. >> she had this matronly look. but she was so good with the press. one line quips. a reporter was faster, how a few had so much legislative success getting onto these committees? and without missing a beat, she said, sex appeal. when she first came into the house, leadership did not want to put her on the committees that her husband was on. she did not get the military affairs committee assignment right away. instead, she was put onto the indian affairs committee. she represented san francisco, urban district. so, she were now been told the press, she said, the only indians i have are in front of cigar shops. she went after the leadership. publicly. very shortly they came after her and put her on to the committee assignments you wanted. >> one of the artifacts we have related to florence kahn i'm
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fr jof is a letter edgar hoovero. the important part of this is not what he is writing. what is important is, "dear morther kahn." it is an odd phrasing for j edgar hoover. but she was known as the mother of the fbi. so, that was often how he referred to her. this is a fascinating piece of lobbying. and playing up that affiliation and that close tie they had. they the time we get to late 1930's, early 1940's, we begin to see a different -- from that pioneer group of women coming to congress. world war ii reshapes the role of women in society. women hold a lot of jobs that men previously held as men go off to fight in the service. and women who come into congress
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during that era begin to advocate more of a role for women outside the home. mary norton was constantly urging women to be involved in politics, to be involved outside the home. even when the war ended, she feared that my contract again and women would be forced back into a domesticated role. one of the prominent people who serves in the 1940's is helen gahagan douglas. we have a picture of her here. and douglas was well-known. she represented a district that encompassed a part of los angeles, california. but she was known nationally for her she was a star of the stage. she was married to melvyn douglas, the actor. she became involved in california politics and was a progressive and began to speak a
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on behalf of democratic candidates. she won election to the house for a couple of terms of the 1940's. she wasn't really a legislator. she was not introducing a lot of bills. she was not what we would call a entrepreneur.n to prin she would often come onto the floor and talk about improving housing, african-american civil rights. so, she was known as a great speech maker. so, here's a campaign bill or ingter which advertises speak engagement that douglas made in 1948. i happenst in oakland which is far from her district. get the sense that she was on the speaking circuit a lot, speaking for democratic candidates and democratic issues.
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she serves a couple terms in the house, and in the early 1950's she decides to run for the u.s. senate. and she goes to the primary. the democratic primary. and the candidate, one of the candidates she ran against tarred her as being a sympathizer, a red sympathizer which was a very potent attack in the early 1950's in the eara of mccarthy. nomination. that in the general election, she runs against richard nixon, who uses a lot of the same tactics that have been employed against her in the primary. and accuses her of being pink, right down to her underwear. she returned fire because in one eech she labeled nixon as tricky dick. but that campaign tactic, tying and calming aare
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sip of these, was potent because nixon won. she leaves politics. 1941 magazine. which has not survived into the 21st century. but you can see it is a magazine aimed at women. there is a woman posing in a wedding dress. there is something called "the bachelor life." an.article there's on women in congressa one of the things i love about this is thatnd this is a great example of how the press did not know where to have women in congress. these women are all business. jessie sumner here. lots of the women that we know, eidith nourse rogers.
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all of these folks are here. they are businesslike. they are described as fabulously wealthy or 5'3" brunette, things like that that are placing them still -- it is a tricky position for them to figure out. in this transitional generation, 1941, it is going to continue to be a little bit complicated to figure out. once the war ends, it will get more complicated. in this case, it is kind of an interesting contrast. is on the phone taking care of business. over here we have margaret chase smith, who is tending flowers. and she has a wonderful fascinating, long career. pass signed byry margaret chase smith in 1941. gallery passes were often collected as souvenirs of trips to the capitol. and this was perhaps someone from maine visiting and would have been signed by one of the
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few women in congress at the time. >> this is a transitional time. and margaret chase smith embodies that. women in congress in the 1940's group they area serving in apprenticeship. they are slowly working their way into positions of influence and seniority. they are getting better committee assignments. they are serving longer careers. somee end of this period, of them are moving into leadership positions or at least further up the leadership rung. so, margaret chase smith, she shes into the house, succeeds her husband who passes away in the 1940's. she serves in the house for about nine years. she has a very influential career. she manages to get on the naval affairs committee, which was a plum assignment. the reorganization of
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the armed forces in the late 1940's, the house had a naval affairs committee, a military affairs committee. naval affairs, if you are from maine with the shipyards in bath was one of the assignments you would look out for. it gave her a position of influence and allowed her to speak on the topic of women in military service. in 1948, she is a prime mover behind the bill that helps integrate the armed forces and give women a permanent role in the uniformed forces. house the the following year to serve in the u.s. senate, runs for the senate, wins election for she is probably best known in the veryc mind as one of the few, prayed senators who opposed mccarthy, joe mccarthy, and his tactics early on.
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thegave a speech called declaration of conscious in june, 1950, where she opposed his tactics. she goes on to serve a very long career to the early 1970's. b she is one of the women who kind of is pushingu the story of women of congress. if you're interested in this topic, you can learn more by going to our website which is the women in congress publication along with the artifacts we do not have on the table today is available on the site. this was the first of a two-part program. you can view this and all other american artifact programs on our website, >> each week, american history erica" bringsi you archival films that help


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