tv Modern First Ladies Part 2 CSPAN August 19, 2015 6:34am-7:17am EDT
they have large dogs. knonorwegiaknornorwegian elk ho. it was either a german shepherd or belgian mel-- no one knows f sure. they had a siamese in their later years. somebody had given lou an irish wolf hound, named patrick. she was very close to her during the white house years. they had a will the of dogs, particularly, and some cats. tragedy for the hoovers was not death of a child or death of a spouse, but the older of their two sons, herbert hoover jr., who came to be known as pete by the family, contracted th eed e
tuberculosis. no cure. second of all, we left track of how severe and prevalent that illness was in a lot of different parts of the country. lou, in her typical take charge, i got this sort of frame of mind, collects information on all the different potential sanitariums where pete with cca. they have tons of letters from well-meaning people telling them how this can be cured. she eventually settles on the sanitarium in ashville, north carolina. they arrange for pete to go there. they thought about having him at
the camp that lou and bert had built in the mountains, but they decided that pete really -- it was very inaccessible do they decided he needed to be where there was more attentive care and somewhere it was easily accessible. pete's wife and two children moved into the white house for the duration. lou, her typical strong management style, take charge style. her mother was a semi-invalid. she was accustomed to dealing with a parent whose health was up and down. this was not something new in her life, and she took charge like she neieded to and carried on. >> i want to leave some time for the audience. then come back to let the first ladies themselves have the last word. i know that, what did they do,
quickly, after the post white house years? can you address that a bit? >> i can start with that because mine is really short. >> yeah. >> florence just lived 15 months after warren died. she didn't have much of a life after that. she was adamant that she really did not want to come back to marion, to her house, and she never came back to her house. it was just not the same place for her without her husband. she wanted to stay in washington. she liked life there. she had spent five years there as a senate wife before the white house. she wanted to travel in europe. she'd been there three times. wanted to write her memoirs. she didn't do any of that because her health failed rapidly after warren's death. her doctor who had been in marion and the white house, he
ran a sanitarium outside of town here, and he basically badgered her to come back to marion, where he could keep an eye on her. she agreed, finally. not happily. to live in a cottage on the sanitarium grounds. doc was accessible to her. she ended her life at the sanitarium. doc, close friend in addition to being her doctor, died in september of '24. he had a heart attack. that seemed to take the life out of her. that was one of her last very, very close comrades. she died in november. had an extremely serious case of nephritis. they were tinkering with the idea of her having surgery. she slips into a coma, and she dies. she didn't get to accomplish what she wanted to afterwards.
i wish she had had that opportunity. i think you would have seen the real florence really take on her own life. >> i think we did -- thank you. i do think that we did see mrs. coolidge. >> yes. grace coolidge decided -- well, her husband encouraged her to write a little bit about the white house years. she did write several articles. he wrote his autobiography. they both had sort of a writing adventure there. but he -- and also, he has a syndicated column. they moved back to north hampton. they go into their two-family house. you tell me how you're going to take all the gifts from the white house that you are given in those days, you were allowed to keep them, and fit them in a two-family house. i read a lot of the letters where she says to one girlfriend, can you please take this? take that? also, the dogs weren't happy. they eventually moved to the beaches, which is a larger
estate in north hampton. they're both happier. calvin does not live long after the white house. he dies in 1933. grace says, well, i've got to move along. i have to figure something out. their son had married in '29, and he and his wife had two daughters. she could take joy in them. also, there was, as we all know, the run up to world war ii. most people don't know this story. grace coolidge was part of a north hampton committee to rescue jewish children in germany. this was in 1939. she very bravely, because this is a woman who didn't get into politics, sends a telegram to the statehouse to encourage them to let the north hampton committee adopt 25 jewish children. here's the first lady, who would have had children in her home but, unfortunately, her theory was rolled into the
wagner-rogers bill, and that was an attempt to rescue 20,000 jewish children, like ann frank. a anne frank did want to leave germany. it was not approved by congress, so we now have the story. they didn't know the holocaust was coming, but it was not done. grace throws herself into helping get ready for world war ii. during world war ii, is a real volunteer, a spotter in north hampton and that kind of thing. she did take a more active role in her post white house years. then even though you have rationing, she doesn't get to plymouth much during the war, she seems the homestead going in plymouth, has an interest where her husband grew up and where he was sworn in. she decides to donate it to the state of vermont, if they will buy the birthplace. she was quite active as a
preservationist, i like to see it that way. she lived until 1957. she did accomplish many of her goals after being first lady. she did, i would say, be brave, coming out with that stand. >> i know we've had a lot to talk about, and i'm afraid we'll have to ask gary if we can get to lou. >> she picked up where she left off pre-white house, which was to get engaged with a lot of the organizations that she had been involved in. she took another stint as the national president of the girl scouts of america. she moved back to a home she built in palo alto as the stanford campus, and there became involved and created friends of music, to bring musical concerts and quality music to that part of the country. she was selected to be on many college boards. the list is very long. just two quickly, a woman's
college, and the alma mater of a subsequent president, richard nixon. she served on the board. she was active in the american -- the aauw, american association of university women. eventually, at some point, she decided she was going to have to start declining requests because she served on quite a number of boards, including the red cross. she also maintained her motoring fun, her camping out, sleeping on the hard ground. took her granddaughters on a camping trip where they road horses into the remote parts of the desert southwest in the early age of the '60s. she said, i don't need a sleeping bag or tent. i'm looking forward to sleeping on the hard ground. she continued to have a very active and vibrant life. >> thank you. we have hit time. are we allowed to do at least one or two questions? >> i think we can take two questions, if they're brief. >> thank you, gary.
>> as to florence harding, i just wondered if sherry would have any comments about mrs. harding being involved with the media. she got involved with a medium. >> she was interested in specialism, as a lot of people were during the time period in which she lived. i know famously, she's always -- made a big thing of she consulted madame marcy in washington, d.c. all of washington society women were going to madame marcy's, as well. madame marcy later claimed she predicted boom for the president, which is really easy to do after the fact. you know, it was done as a recreation. it was something kind of fun to
do, like going somewhere and having someone read cards for you. it was a fun thing to do for a lot of women in society. >> it was the thing of the time, too. it really was. another question? >> one more. >> i would like to know if harding would have won the electi election, if women would have been allowed to vote. >> we did a symposium about this a couple years ago. we investigated very closely, both the harding campaign and the cox campaign, his opponent. we asked a couple political scientists that very question. did, as a rumor, always has said, did women vote for him because he was a good looking guy? is that why, you know, all these women swarmed to him? they found there was really justification for that. there was no swell to the republican party.
they tended to vote as their husbands did. a lot of women, even though many could vote in the 1920 election, some could not, particularly in the south, because of the registration requirements. often they said, you have to register six months before the election. they didn't get the vote until august. that wasn't going to work. so there wasn't -- there's no real evidence that the women particularly made the difference in that election. they certainly added to the vote total. if that makes sense. >> thank you all very much. >> thank you. [ applause ]
our coverage of presidential candidates of the iowa state fair continues all week. former texas governor rick perry is running for the 2016 republican nomination and will take the traditional "des moines register" soapbox stage. later, a couple candidates visit the first of the nation primary state of new jersey. john kasich calls a town call meeting in se lalem. chris christie also answers questions at a town hall meeting in salem, live at 7:p.00 p.m. o wednesday. >> more history tv and the erence on modern first ladies. the ohio state university at mare yo marion and the national first
ladies co-hosted the event. >> this is bridging the gap. it's my honor to present the executive director of the national first ladies library, patricia krider. [ applause ] >> thank you very much. i'm very happy to be here today, and be here in marion this weekend. on behalf of the national first ladies library and the first ladies national historic site, we're thrilled to be part of this symposium. my job here this afternoon is to talk to you about some of these first ladies that followed lou and grace. they paved the way for future things to come. i'm going to be talking about eleanor roosevelt through pat nixon. the evolution of the role of the first ladies has never taken a straight upward path. it's always been kind of two
step poor waforward, one step b. the reason for that is because not all first ladies served the role in the same way. there is no defined role, so they can do with the role whatever they choose, which is a good thing. because they can do whatever fits their personality. whatever fits their interests. you have to remember that first ladies come from very, very different backgrounds. very different lifestyles. they come from all over the country. so they don't all have the same interests, and they don't have the same causes. they don't have the same way of doing the role. some first ladies served much longer than others. we have eleanor roosevelt, who served a little over 12 years. she had a lot of time to do a lot of things. then we have other first ladies who get not even four years. really, when we look at first ladies, we have to remember that
we're only seeing a small sn snippit of their lives, generally four to eight years. that's what people focus on. many of these first ladies, women, had an active role before they become first lady and then after. what i'm going to do is i am going to give you brief facts on each of the first ladies before i start getting into their history. eleanor roosevelt, anna eleanor roosevelt roosevelt was born in new york city, and she was born to wealthy parents. they died within two years of each other when eleanor was just under 10. she was raised by her maternal grandmother. theodore roosevelt was her uncle. as far as education, she had private tutors. she went to a convent school. she went to a girls academy in
london. but she had no college. having no college was a regret that she had her entire life. she marmarri married her fifth . she had five sons and one daughter. she became first lady at 48 years old, and she served, like i mentioned, a little more than 12 years. unprecedented, never happened before, will never happen again. and she died at age 78. she's buried in hyde park, new york. eleanor roosevelt was a phenomenal woman. difficult for any first lady to live up to eleanor's accomplishments. she was the eyes, ears and legs of fdr. she took full advantage of the way that was paved by florence and by grace and by lou.
and what most people don't realize is that the social activism of eleanor started well before she married fdr. because of her position in life, she had the ability to be a volunteer, to be involved in activities. when she was a young woman, she volunteered at settlement houses in new york city. she was involved in various organizations. she became an inspector. she'd go into the homes of the garment workers, to see what their living conditions were. she promoted exercise for particularly the women that were in the industry, because they lived in cramped quarters and worked in cramped quarters. she put together programs of dance and cal sthet ithet -- ca stettics. they worked on bettering the
living conditions, of particularly the workers in the garment industries. in 1920, when fdr was the vice presidential candidate, eleanor went on a 1920 whistle stop campaign tour with him. but interestingly enough, she never made any speeches at that time. it's 1920. women are just getting the right to vote. she considered this to be a social boundary not yet to be crossed. by the 1940s, all of this had changed. eleanor was out there, she was a tireless come pain leless camp. she was everywhere, doing everything. 1940, she's the first first lady to address a national convention, when fdr is nominated for his third term. eleanor supported so many
causes. just a numerous number of causes. she didn't go into the white house saying, this is going to be my cause. she went into the white house and said, i'm going to do as many things as possible by word and by deed. she was involved with the red cross. both during world war i and world war ii. she became active in democratic party politics. she was involved with a lot of women organizations. the women union trade league, and the league of women voters. organizations that encouraged women to become interested and involved in politics, and know what was going on politically. she was an early champion for civil rights for african-americans, and she was always an advocate for women. she was always an advocate for american workers. for poor and young people. she supported government-funded programs for artists and
writers. and she encouraged her husband to put for women in federal positions. she was always interested in global peace. during world war ii, she worked extensively in war efforts. she continued her work with the red cross. she wanted to bring european refugees to the united states. she promoted issues that were helpful to the american troops. she encouraged volunteerism on the home front, and she championed women who were employed in the defense industry. eleanor, she took advantage of all the media that was available out there. she was a writer. she was a public speaker. she was a media figure.
she held press conferences. she had 348 press conferences in total. she would have press conferences for women reporters only. men reporters were banned. and the effect of this was that the newspapers and the radio stations and the magazines, who wanted to cover her press conferences, they were forced to continue to employ women reporters. eleanor actually was instrumental in pushing that role of women reporters to the professional level. she was a magazine columnist. she did many, many weekly and monthly magazine columns. she was a radio host. the evening of december 7th, 1941, the attack on pearl harbor, she went on the radio and she made a personal call for all the mothers, like herself, who had children who would now
be called into active service. she was a lecturer and a public speaker. in her 12 years as first lady, she gave an estimated 1400 speeches. no other first lady published more books while first lady than eleanor roosevelt. she permitted all of her public appearances to be filmed by newsreel companies. and she got tons and tons and tons of public correspondence. surprisingly, she answered personally a lot of those. those that she couldn't answer, she had outlets by which she would transfer those, so those people would get some kind of a personal response. her activism continued after -- sorry. her activism continued after fdr died. she was appointed by president
truman for a position at the united nations. she was the only woman among the five american delegates. she continued to be very active in the democratic party, but she resisted all efforts to get her to run for herself. she was continuing to be a very, very strong supporter of civil rights. our next first lady is bess truman. or be poor bess, has to follow eleanor. bess isn't born in new york city. she's born in independence, missouri. her father dies when bess is about 18. her mother's family was wealthy but independence, missouri, standards. she attended high school and finished high school. bess married harry at age 34,
and they had one daughter, margaret. bess was a worker. she worked in harry's business. she worked in his senate office. she became first lady at 60 years old. then she died at age 97. she is, to date, the first lady who has lived the longest. she's buried at the truman presidential library in independence. bess truman didn't want to be first lady. when harry accepted the nomination on the vice president ticket, she asked him, she said, harry, what are you going to do if the president dies? then you'll be president. was not happy. he accepted that nomination as vice president without consulting her. you can see here in the photo that, you know, bess doesn't look real happy. bess couldn't compete with
eleanor roosevelt, and she didn't want to. when she becomes first lady, she asks, do i have to give press conferences? when she found out that she didn't have to, she cancelled the one that was already scheduled. she never gave one. never gave a press conference. she'd answer written questions. sometimes, when she was asked spontaneously, a question, she would answer that. again, bess is a very different woman than eleanor roosevelt. even though she kind of has a wealthy family, she's a working woman. her husband has a business, and she works there unpaid. she's the manager, accountant, a salesclerk when she needs to be. she didn't have the luxury of volunteering for causes. when harry is in the senate, she
actually works in his office. she's a clerk, and she answers mail and she answers the phone. she edits committee reports. she's very active in that way. finally, during the senate years, she starts becoming in some organizations, like the congressional club. during world war ii, she becomes involved with the uso. she doesn't want this to be an honorary membership. she's there at the uso working in washington, d.c., very, very frequently. family meant everything to bess. bess and harry and margaret were known as the three plus ka timu. they were always together. barbara bush at one time said bess took care of harry.
people will say that bess truman didn't do anything as first lady, and that wasn't true. she just took a more traditional role. she reinstituted the white house social season that had been interrupted during the war. she helped in planning all these social events, from state receptions to teas to musicals. she was very, very interested in the history of the white house. she was the honorary president or chairwoman or member in many, many, many organizations like the girl scouts, the women national democratic club, the washington animal rescue leagues. she was also the honorary chairman of the american red cross. she also continued fund raising efforts that had been started by the roosevelts for the march of dimes. she would willingly greet leaders of all different
organizations and pose for photos, and let those photos be published. she would attend charity lunch ons, because she knew her presence would increase ticket sales. the end of world war ii, she signed a housewives pledge of voluntary food rationing for the white house. she did this as an example for americans to do the same, so food donations could be sent to europe, where they were so short of even the simple staples. bess, somewhat unwillingly, accompanied truman on his whistle stop tour in 1948. again, no speeches, but she would stand out at the end of the train, and she would wave, just content to be by harry's side. in 1948, it was found that the white house was in bad shape. structurally unsound, to the point that something had to be
done. there were a lot of support -- supporters that said the white house should be just torn down and then a replica should be rebuilt. bess strongly believed that at least the four original outer walls should be saved, and then that could be used as the shell for rebuilding the white house. that's what happened. during the time the trumans lived at the blare houir house, across the street from the white house. bess was visibly thrilled to leave the white house and return to missouri. jonathan daniels, a former press secretary to president roosevelt, said bess truman is a lady unchanged by the white house and determined always to remain always what she is. next, we have mamie eisenhower.
she was born in boone, iowa. her father was a successful businessman. he moved around a lot. her mother was a housewife. the family moved frequently because of her dad's business. he had a high school and finishing school education. mamie married ike eisenhower when she was 19. he was already in the service. the couple moved 33 times in 37 years. they had two sons, one died under age 4. she was 56 years old when she became first lady. she was first lady for about eight years. she died at age 82, and she is buried in abilene, kansas. mamie wasn't interested in politics, but she would do anything to help her husband get i elected. so if the politics of the people said, mamie, will you pose?
she would pose. mamie, how about posing in pink pajamas? she'd do it. in anything to get him elected. she was always very, very willing. she loved the thrills and the trials of the campaign. she always went along with ike on his campaign trips. she would wear the ike jewelry happily. she was energetic, and she was enthusiastic on the campaign trips. ike would finish his speeches by saying, how would you like to meet my mamie? that was her cue to come out and smile and wave. mamie viewed her role as first lady as being simply the wife of the president and the hostess of the white house. she was very, very popular. she had firsthand knowledge of women's struggles during the war, since she was a military
wife. in the 1950s, she represented what most middle-aged, middle class women liked. home, family, entertaining, a good personal appearance. mamie was a very good organizer. she had all those years as a military wife. she had all those moves that she had to choreograph. so she looked at the household of the white house and she kind of took control of that. she managed it and improved white house operations. she said, of course, being mistress of the white house is a terrific responsibility, and i am truly grateful for my army wife training. she knee how to manage a large staff, and she could be very demanding. she kept a real friendly approach and treated everyone like family. mamie loved to entertain at the
white house. the eisenhowers entertained a record number of heads of state. even the president had to get her approval if he wanted to use any of the rooms of the mansion, because she controlled the schedule. they hosted -- or mamie hosted the first white house performance of musical theater music. selections from hit shows then on broadway. that was one of her favorites. then there was another side of mamie. when the president had his heart attack in 1955, she took charge. she took over the flow of work to the president. everything had to go through her to be reviewed. visitors, meetings. she limited his schedule based on medical advice. she strictly managed his diet. she played a similar role when he had an operation in 1956, and
then in 1957, he had a mild stroke. he was supposed to attend a state dinner, and she wouldn't let him do it. she convinced vice president nixon he had to attend in his place. because of the president's health issues, his heart issues, mamie became very aware of heart disease. she became very, very actively involved in the american heart association. she became chairman, both on a local and national level. she remained involved with the american heart association for a number of years. she was credited by the head of the american heart association with drastically increasing the monies that came into that organization, and also drastically increasing the number of volunteers that they had. because of her years with the military, she understood all the problems that they had, and she liked to help with causes
related to the military. she worked with hundreds and hundreds of army wives across the country to raise funds for a military retirement community in washington, d.c. originally, it was called the army dis-staff home. when it was dedicated in 1962, it was renamed and called knollwood. jackie kennedy. jackie was born in southampton, new york. society parents who were divorced. she had a wealthy stepfather. she had a very good education. in addition to her high school, she went to college. vassar. she went to france. george washington university. she got a b.a. in french literature. before marriage, she was the washington time herald inquiring camera girl.
she was the first first lady to be born in a hospital. she married jfk at age 24. her second marriage at age 39. one daughter and three sons. one son died at two days old. she was 31 when she became first lady. she was first lady less than three years. she died at age 64, and she is the only first lady to date that's buried in arlington national cemetery. jackie kennedy really wasn't appreciated for the things that she did. maybe that's because of her age. 31 years old. she was much younger than any of the first ladies that we've talked about so far today. those first ladies became first ladies mid-40s, late 40s, 50, 60. jackie was 31 years old. she was young. she was beautiful.
she was raising and burying children. what could she possibly know? but she was very well educated, and she was very, very intellige intelligent. she spoke spanish, italian and french fluently. she wasn't really interested in politics, but she was willing to help with the campaign. what people need to realize is that when the campaign of 1960 was going on, she was pregnant and it made her active role kind of limited. but she did make calls for kennedy, and she did give speeches in spanish and italian. she recorded campaign spots in spanish, encouraging votes for jfk. there's jackie doing some speeches in spanish. about the 1960 election, jackie said, i cast only one vote, for jack. it is a rare thing to be able to vote for one's husband for president, and i didn't want to
dilute it by voting for anyone else. she went on many foreign trips. some with jfk, some by herself. she was always very, very popular. when she went with jfk to france, jfk said, i'm the man who accompanied jacqueline kennedy to paris. she dazzled with her knowledge of french history, literature and art. it was said, i have more confidence in your country. she met khrushchev. they wanted people to shake jfk's hand. he said, i want to shake her hand first. on her own, she went to goodwill ambassador trips to pakistan and india. the prime minister was
captivated by jackie. he broke protocol and went to the airport to meet her. the president of pakistan gave her solder. on the motorcade from the airport, over 100,000 people lined the streets, waving american flags and showering the cars with rose petals. one of her biggest projects, of course, was the white house renovation project. she wanted to redecorate the family rooms. she also wanted to historically restore the public rooms. after the huge renovation during the trumans' time period, bess truman actually didn't do a lot to redecorate the white house. they were on their way out, and she said, i'm going to leave that up to someone else. jackie kennedy took this on. she went all over washington, all the government warehouses, trying to find pieces of furniture that had been stuck there over the years.
each family could come in and decorate the way they wanted. they needed to raise funds because there was no government funds for this. she came up with the idea of the guidebook, that was sold. it was very, very successful, to raise funds for this redecoration. she solicited all over the nation for people to donate historical furniture and artistic items. then she worked to make sure there was a law passed, that those donated items became a permanent part of the white house collection. then she also succeeded in getting a new position created, the white house curatocurator. she was a proponent of the arts. she used the white house to showcase the arts. she hosted performances of opera, ballet, shakespeare and modern jazz, all performed by
american performers. she was instrumental in the creation of what was the natural -- national cultural center, which is now the kennedy center for the performing arts. of course, the whole country watched and mourned after the assassination. she impressed the nation with the way she held up after that assassination. president johnson said, i shall never forget her bravery, her lady bird johnson, born claudia, born in karnak, texas. her fil father was a wealthy landowner. she had a high school education. she went to the university of ba inat austin and has a history and ba in journalism. she married lyndon johnson