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tv   First Ladies Influence and Image  CSPAN  October 5, 2015 12:01am-1:36am EDT

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have great opportunity and they are buying local products, some farmers looking at doing specialty livestock, or specialty meats, i think there are great opportunities. we live in a great area in sonoma county that has a history of having a diverse agricultural base. i see that continuing and most likely flourishing with the advent of our agricultural tourism that has evolved here in our local county economy. >> throughout the weekend, american history tv is featuring santa rosa, california. the staff recently traveled there to learn about its rich history. learn more about santa rosa and other stops at c-span.org/citiestour. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> american history tv is
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featuring c-span's original series, first ladies influence and image on 8 p.m. eastern time sunday nights throughout the rest of the year. c-span produced the series in cooperation with the white house historical cooperations. through conversations with experts, video tours and questions with the audience, we tell the stories of america's 45 first ladies. mamie eisenhower on first ladies, influence and image. this is about 90 minutes. >> today, it is our pleasure to entertain for the first time, our first lady, at this her belated birthday party. to mamie many happy returns.
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to mamie with music, 160 million join in our chorus. ♪ to mamie with music, to mamie, with love. ♪ susan swain: a birthday tribute to mamie eisenhower, televised nationally by cbs in march of 1956, just a few weeks after her husband, president dwight eisenhower, announced his bid for reelection. tonight, 1950s america and the life and times of first lady mamie eisenhower. good evening and welcome to c-span series, "first ladies: influence and image." tonight is mamie eisenhower's turn. and here to tell us about her life are two people who have spent a lot of time with first ladies, and in particular in marilyn holt's case, mamie eisenhower. she's a historian and author of a biography called, "mamie
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eisenhower, the general's first lady." we also welcome back edith mayo to the table. edie's been one of our guiding forces among academic historians on first ladies for this whole series. it's nice to see you again. edith mayo: nice to be back. susan: well, what should we take away watching that piece of video from the 1950s? [laughter] about her popularity? about the use of television? marilyn irvin holt: the film clip you showed from the birthday celebration in march, '56, this is shown. and obviously, it's an election year. and immediately, the democrats want equal time because this is in their view a campaign ad. and william paley, who was president of cbs, and a very close friend of the eisenhowers, says, "no, no, no, it's not
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equal time because this is nonpolitical entertainment with the first lady." well, obviously, mamie's birthday is in november, we're just a few days away from it right now. and this is in march. so obviously, there was some political background to this. but if you watched the show at the time, what you saw besides the singing and the celebrating were a lot of people talking about mamie, and with real affection, and wanting to get across or reemphasize how really popular she was at the time. susan: edie mayo, what should we know about television and the presidency in the 1950s? edith mayo: well, the eisenhower campaign was the first televised campaign. and so there were a whole range of new techniques that were brought to the fore for that campaign.
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and there were -- there were these wonderfully rehearsed man-in-the-street interviews that were supposed to be spontaneous, but were obviously quite rehearsed. but that was -- that was quite a new feature for a campaign. and then you had all the, you know, the little bouncing balls and bouncing elephants and so forth that were "ike for president" and "we like ike" and "i like ike" and "everyone likes ike." so there were a whole range of new techniques that came to the fore. i think part of the excuse, if you will, about having this celebration for mamie was that she so epitomized the '50s, particularly with american women. that if she hadn't been there to do it, someone would have had to invent her, i think. susan: we'll have 90 minutes to learn more about mamie eisenhower and her full life,
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with the eight years that the eisenhowers spent in the white house. and the one special thing about this program, we have live cameras at the eisenhowers' farm in gettysburg, pennsylvania. that farm is about 90 miles away from washington, d.c. it takes about two hours to drive there and then outside of the very famous historic town of gettysburg. it's about six miles away from town center. the eisenhowers bought this in the 1950s and spent their white house years and also their retirement years there. susan: right now, you're looking at mamie's bedroom. you will learn about mamie's affection for pink during this program, and you can see lots of evidence there in the bedroom that she created for herself in her retreat away from public life. we'll be back to that later on throughout the program. we're going to go back in time and learn a little bit about mamie eisenhower -- mamie geneva doud -- her biography. and to do that, let's go back to that special in 1956 where they talk a bit about her biography as well. [video clip] >> and i hope that you, the members of our organization, and
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our distinguished guests, will enjoy this salute to our first lady. >> ♪ a birthday party is really a party when some of the party (inaudible). >> how do you do? and thank you for inviting me. you know, birthdays almost seem synonymous with memories, like albums. so we've brought along this special album for you. it's filled, we hope, with fond remembrances, musical and pictorial. and now here's a picture of the three doud sisters, circa 1906. and here's a denver debutante visiting in san antonio, texas about 1915. and your wedding dress, and the portrait in your inaugural gown when you became our first lady.
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♪ take one fresh and tender kiss. add one stolen night of bliss. one girl, one boy, some grief, some joy. memories are made of this. you can't beat the memories you ♪ susan: a little bit of a capsule view of mamie eisenhower's biography. but tell us a little bit more. she was born in boone, iowa and it's worth noting that she is the end of a generation, really, the last first lady born in the 19th century. marilyn irvin holt: she was born in 1896, boone, iowa. and she was our very last first lady to be born in the 19th century. her family lived in boone until she was about eight years old.
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and then they moved to colorado and that's where she grew up. and one of the photographs shows here in san antonio. -- her in san antonio. the family would winter in san antonio, partly because of one of her sisters' health problems, rheumatic fever. she was almost an invalid. and so they would winter. and while they were in san antonio, they went to -- well, they went with some friends to fort sam houston and that's where mamie was first introduced to ike. susan: second lieutenant at the time. marilyn irvin holt: second
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lieutenant, very serious. she says he said when they've written about this meeting that he was really not interested in any kind of girl or girlfriend. he was very, you know, duty and his job in the military. and mamie just kind of swept him off his feet. susan: or vice versa. marilyn irvin holt: or vice versa. susan: and whirlwind courtship. edith mayo: absolutely. susan: and they married a short time really after they met. what's interesting is that her -- she was wealthy. she was a debutante. and her father warned her off of military life. marilyn irvin holt: he warned her off. he said -- first of all, his -- mamie's parents really liked ike, going to the phrase of the campaign. they thought he was a wonderful young man. and her father even told her that when he was coming around to visit, that she ought to quit being so flighty and going off with other young men to parties; that they should pay attention -- she should pay attention to ike. but when they got married, he told mamie they absolutely could
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not expect any money from him. they would have to live on ike's military pay. and mamie's response was, "well, i didn't care about that. i just wanted that man." susan: it was probably quite a surprise, even with her father's warning, to go from a debutante's life to a tiny military apartment. marilyn irvin holt: well, living a very comfortable life with plenty of money. i think it was quite a shock for her. but she had learned from her father about budgeting and how to spend money and how to save money. so, though i think it was difficult in the early days of their marriage, she always managed to live on ike's salary. edith mayo: and not only that, but in kind of a atypical role-reversal, mamie is the one that handled the family's finances. marilyn irvin holt: and later, she said that was the secret to a good marriage. if you wanted to keep within your finances was that the
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husband should turn the check over to his wife; that if he started purchasing things and opening accounts that, you know, everything would just go to hell in a hand basket. susan: well, it's interesting because we're going to talk about her as the epitome of the media creation of the 1950s woman, that women lived in all kinds of ways in the 1950s. but there's this stereotype of the '50s woman that she seems to embody. but she was handling the finances. he was domestic. he cooked the meals. marilyn irvin holt: he cooked the meals. edith mayo: yes, he did. edith mayo: mamie, she took a domestic science class when they became engaged, but because they moved their marriage date up to july the 1st, rather than in november after she turned 20, her domestic science classes were cut short. and i'm not sure she was that serious about them anyway.
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so, he really did the cooking. he knew how to do that. susan: i want to invite you, as we do each week, to be participants in our program as we learn more about american history through the lives of the first ladies. we have three ways you can be involved. our phone numbers will be on the screen. you can dial us if you live in the eastern or central time zones at 202-585-3880. if you live out west, mountain/pacific and farther west, 202-585-3881. you can tweet us using the twitter handle at first ladies. or you can post on our facebook page, where there's already a number of comments and a good conversation going on. we've mixed your comments in throughout our 90 minutes together. so they are married. how soon after their married is their first child born? edith mayo: i'm thinking it's three years. susan: and he get the unusual
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nickname of "icky." [laughter] marilyn irvin holt: icky. doud dwight. when i see it spelled, i want to pronounce it "ike-e," because it sounds better than "icky." but doud dwight. and he was just the apple of their eye. and also, everybody on "the post" -- he -- wherever they were, he was like the little mascot that everybody just took to. and he died at the age of three. scarlet fever. and it happened so quickly that -- and in that time period -- it sounds strange to say today, but couples could almost expect to have at least one child die of some childhood disease, because the medical care -- there just weren't the things that you could do about it. and the eisenhowers were absolutely devastated. susan: now, edie, you can verify -- 'cause you've been with us all along the way for this whole series -- that many of the presidents and first ladies lost children. edith mayo: yes, yes. it's a recurring theme in most of the presidential families all the way from the beginning.
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susan: but even though it's commonplace, it's certainly never easy. edith mayo: no. it's -- it's always a horror story, no matter when it happens. and in a -- you know, in an era before antibiotics and modern drugs susan: mm-hmm. edith mayo: you -- you have it happening frequently. susan: they did have another son. excuse me. marilyn irvin holt: yes. then their son, john, is born. and one of the things that john said -- and i think he said in several different venues -- is that his parents never made him feel as if he was a replacement for the child that they lost. that he was his own person, his own special self. and that -- i think that was the way the eisenhowers as a couple were. they took people as they were, but that didn't mean that they totally forgot the first child. they just made another place for
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another child in their lives. and mamie was, i would say, overprotective of john. susan: understandable, huh? marilyn irvin holt: with -- yes. edith mayo: yes, very much. susan: so, though their early years at -- was one of ike being gone a lot. so how often were they together? marilyn irvin holt: there -- there was one year in which they moved three times. so -- and sometimes, when he was posted for a very short time, mamie might go back to denver and live with her family. and there was a period of time when ike was on a transcontinental convoy, which was a military exercise to take military trucks and other transport all the way across the country to test the roads, the bridges. and really, they found out how bad america's transportation road system was. but during that whole time --
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months -- mamie was with her parents because she couldn't live on the post. so, they were back and forth. and that's something that every military wife faced at one time or another. you might live in who knew how many different posts in a very short period of time. you could expect multiple moves, and, really, sometimes long separations. susan: and this would carry to their white house years? they were always entertainers. edith mayo: yes, absolutely. they -- they did a lot of entertaining on their various posts. and many times, the eisenhower home was called "club eisenhower" because of their entertaining of the troops and -- and, you know, the military personnel. marilyn irvin holt: yes. edith mayo: and going back to, you know, how many moves they made over the period of years, i think that's why they -- they, number one, treasured their years in the white house, because it was a permanent home
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for eight years. and then, you know, purchasing the farm in gettysburg. i mean, that was their -- their -- their first home. susan: family home. edith mayo: i have a photograph to show the audience about -- of mamie in a jeep. susan: how -- at what point in their -- in his career did they become popularly known? marilyn irvin holt: i would say at -- well, in the '30s, certainly. susan: that early? marilyn irvin holt: but even -- even when they were first married, and they were at fort sam houston, they very quickly became a couple that invited other military couples into their home. they'd have, like, saturday or sunday night evenings, pot luck, play cards -- very social -- and they had a rented piano that mamie played, and they sang. this photograph was taken in 1944 -- the summer of '44, not too long after d-day. and this is at camp lee in virginia.
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someone -- mamie's behind the wheel of the jeep as if she can actually drive it. by her own accounts, she had not driven an automobile since 1936. susan: oh, my. marilyn irvin holt: but they wanted a photo opportunity. and the two women who are in the jeep with her are also friends of hers, longtime military wives who had had the same kind of moving experiences, long susan: separations? marilyn irvin holt: separations from their husbands. susan: so, the war comes, and dwight eisenhower, of course, as all of our viewers know, was tasked with leading marilyn irvin holt: mm-hmm.
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susan: the allies in europe. where was mamie during the war? edith mayo: for the -- for most of the time, she lived in washington, d.c. in an apartment. she wanted to be in washington, hoping that there would be times that ike would be allowed to come back home, which he did a couple of times. and also, their son, john, was at west point. so, any opportunity that he had for time off -- vacation time, like in thanksgiving or christmas -- she wanted to be close at hand in order to see john. and it was only later in the war that for a period of time, she went to stay with a sister. susan: let's take our first phone calls from mark watching us in indianapolis. susan: hi, mark. you're on the air. mark: yeah, hi. how are you doing? i just have a question for your -- your guests. i'm just wondering if any one of them could tell me what life was like in the philippines or panama for mamie eisenhower. and also, i just can't wait until next week when you guys finally talk about jackie kennedy. thanks for your call.
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thank you. susan: life in the philippines? marilyn irvin holt: life in the philippines and life in panama -- both of them were extremely uncomfortable for mamie. the heat and the humidity. particularly in panama, it was somewhat primitive. the philippines physically where they lived was much more comfortable. they had a very nice apartment. it was air-conditioned after a period of time. she really had a difficult time in terms of just the environment. she did not do well in the heat. and there were periods of time, especially in the philippines, that she suffered some health problems. susan: in -- earlier in our history, there were a number of generals who were elected to the white house. in more modern times, how did the world prepare the first couple for life in the white house? edith mayo: well, i think
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particularly for mamie -- of course, with ike, there were all kinds of executive and administrative decisions that he was used to making as a general. but for mamie, the entertaining of heads of state while he was commander of nato really, you know, according to her own testimony, was -- was something that really prepared her for entertaining in the white house. i mean, she knew how to do it. she was confident about doing it. she actually loved that part of the first lady's role. susan: jeffrey is in milledgeville, georgia. hi, jeffrey, you're on. jeffrey: hey, there. good evening. my question was about how politically involved mamie was before she was -- entered the white house. because i know i've read that the general dwight eisenhower was not political before he was elected president. and that, you know, before he was even elected in 1952, he didn't know which party he was a member of. so i was wondering if mamie was any more political than her husband. susan: did she ever express much interest in politics? marilyn irvin holt: no. actually, she once said that she and ike were probably two people
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that knew less about politics than anybody else. now, mamie did make comments about politics in terms of party, but that was with her father and letters back and forth. and her father was a pretty strong republican. and so mamie i think just out of politeness would sometimes commiserate with him in a letter that roosevelt had done something that her father didn't approve of. but mamie was not political in the least. susan: we're at the world war ii years, and we've gotten questions from both facebook and twitter. and we knew we were going to get them. and that's about kay summersby. brandon mccall asked on twitter: did ike have an affair with kay summersby? and if so, did mamie know and how did she handle it? who was kay summersby? marilyn irvin holt: kay summersby was often referred to as eisenhower's driver, but
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there were several people that drove ike around. her primary job was to keep his appointments calendar, to make sure that the right people got in and out and to meetings. and she was at eisenhower's headquarters. she was engaged to an american officer who was tragically killed in the fighting in north africa. and she stayed on at the headquarters and rumors began that they were having an affair. the research i did and i think what other people are beginning to look at -- for example, the letter that truman said he had that eisenhower was going to ask mamie for a divorce. i think there have been a number of historians that have debunked that now. i don' believe that there was an affair because it's hard, for one thing, i mean, there's other proof, but it's hard to imagine that eisenhower, the allied
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commander of the european theater, is acting like a school boy, puppy love kind of, you know, following kay around, which is what she alleges in her book "past forgetting." did mamie know? well, there wasn't anything for mamie to know except the rumors were extremely hurtful to her. and it was the kind of thing that went on and on, especially after summersby's book and there was the made-for-tv movie. and that was very hurtful for mamie. susan: edie, what do you have to say about the affair? edith mayo: i have not -- i have not done that kind of research in any kind of primary sources. i, like everyone else, have heard the rumor. i know the family denies it very
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vehemently. but it's interesting to hear somebody who's actually looked at the primary sources. marilyn irvin holt: and it's not just the family. when summersby's book came out, and several people who were still alive and had been at the eisenhower headquarters, including one of summersby's roommates, just came out and said, "no, this never happened." it was, like, the person who was saying this happened, they didn't even recognize. they couldn't explain why she would have decided to say this. susan: jane is watching us in killeen, texas. jane: thank you. a lot of military wives and wives of retirees are watching tonight. thank you so much for the show. much of this is still true. my question, were mrs. eisenhower and mrs. nixon friendly? did they play bridge together? their children were of different ages. how did that work out? edith mayo: they were friendly. and i think the friendship continued after the eisenhowers were out of the white house.
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but there was always a friendly relationship. the story goes that mamie liked pat immediately when she first met her. she said, "oh, you're just the cutest little thing, the prettiest little thing." and i think it took off from there and the friendship continued. susan: bernard in albany, georgia. you're on. bernard: hello, how are you doing this evening? susan: good evening. bernard: yes, oh how are you doing this evening? susan: yes, sir. we're fine. what's your question for us? bernard: ok. i understand that during the inauguration ball, i can't remember if it was in '53 or '57, she wore a pink gown. and from that point on, that gown -- that color was named "mamie pink." do you all know anything about that? does that color still exist, "mamie pink"? susan: well, thanks. we're going to see a lot of it during this program, as a matter of fact. [laughter] you asked the right question of our guests. our guest, edie mayo, has
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actually in her role at the smithsonian, was responsible for creating the very popular, still popular first ladies' gowns exhibit. so what about her gown? edith mayo: yes, it's "mamie pink." it was a pastel peau de soie. and she decided that she wanted to have a little extra flair, is the way she put it. so she had nettie rosenstein, who was the designer, put 2,000 rhinestones, pink rhinestones on the gown so that it would sparkle and glitter. and "mamie pink" was a color that was very, very popular in the '50s, part of not only a wardrobe color scheme, but also a household color scheme. and she had, you know, charcoal gray and pink was also a big color combination in the '50s. and she had a number of gowns, formal gowns that were charcoal gray and pink. so i don't know whether the --
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that particular shade still exists, but it certainly -- it certainly was popular in the '50s. susan: dwight eisenhower's career continued to be successful. here's just a look at some of the important positions he held before the white house: supreme allied commander during world war ii. after the war, he came back to washington and served in d.c. as the army chief of staff at the pentagon. he left the military and went to columbia university in new york, where he served as president. and then president truman appointed him as supreme nato commander. susan: it was around this time as he was at columbia university in that late 1940s, 1950, where the two of them began to consider their retreat in gettysburg, pennsylvania. we're going to take you there in just a moment, but first of all we're going to hear from mamie herself many years later as she -- at the farm and talking about how important it was for the eisenhowers. [video clip]
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>> i like having you on the porch with me where ike and i spent so many hours. the cattle still appear on the field. >> on your screen is the formal living room at the eisenhower farm in gettysburg, pennsylvania. joining us is a park ranger. alice evans, how is it they came to gettysburg and why this property? >> gettysburg was a natural choice. they actually lived here before during the first world war. he was a civil war buff from childhood. that told him here. he was very interested in farming. he wanted to find a farm that would keep him busy in retirement.
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>> this was a working farm? >> yes, it was. charlotte after they purchased the farm he was sent overseas to work with nato. the house begins renovations in 1953. it was not inhabitable until 1955. >> how many days did they stay at the farm? a full year. after the presidency. >> this is the only home they ever owned. this was their primary residence. >> after the jfk inauguration, what happened? >> they got in the car and drove up in a turbo snowstorm. they get to the front gate and
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president eisenhower did the driving. >> we have been hearing about the color pink. there is a very pink room. >> this shows mamie's love of color. typical of mamie. this is typical of the sentimentality. she loved having her friends and family together. >> how original is everything in here? >> we have very few reproductions. >> you have the place settings. you see mamie on the right. and you have dick and mrs. nixon. >> yes.
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especially after it was apparent their families would be united in marriage. and then the engagement announcement. they were close to the nixons. >> how much of the decorating did mamie do? >> this is her taste. she had a decorator. she was here to consult. >> about the conversation in washington. did mamie eisenhower ever meet kay summersby? >> mamie was not affected by the meeting. she was aware of the rumors. she met her and went on with her
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life. >> we will be back to gettysburg later. >> it was around that time the eisenhowers began to be drafted i both local parties. they were not partisan. tell us the story of how the republicans were successful. >> what you find is there is a grassroots movement, citizens for eisenhower. groups of people all over the country pushing for eisenhower to run for president and to run as a republican. when they were in europe, there
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were people flying to see ike. and he is -- he doesn't say what he will will not do because of his position and one of the stories mamie tells his they are in france before sending process packages and the open this one package and they're all of these hats and ties and pins. while ike is in the library, mamie gets this box of paraphernalia.
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he took one look and his face went red. then he burst out laughing. >> he was appointed to the nato position. eisenhower was thought to be a democrat. what was the tension between the trumans and the eisenhowers? >> i don't know much about that. >> obviously, there has been a great deal said and written about how badly truman and eisenhower came to dislike each other and how cold they were. and, mamie and mrs. truman were good friends. they went to spanish classes. there is a photograph of bess showing mamie around the white house and they look like two girlfriends. giggling in a corner.
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irregardless of what somebody's political affiliation is, she could get along with them. that was the case. if their husbands were having problems, that did not affect them. >> once the decision was made, how wholeheartedly did she push -- throw herself into the campaign? >> she threw herself into it and it turned out to be a watershed for presidential wives and for political campaigning. i think she was a great boon to the republican party. they, uh, like the fact that she
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connected with the women of america. they started asking for on the campaign train and they did a whistlestop across the country. they would say, "we want mamie." there was a lot of clapping. she would come out on the rear of the train. he would say, would you like to meet my mamie? she was a tremendous hit. she would give local interviews and turned out to be quite an asset. >> we were at the eisenhower presidential library in kansas. it is in the hometown of
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eisenhower. you can see pictures of it on the screen right now. they showed us campaign memorabilia that they have in the collection that is related to mamie eisenhower. >> the campaign is significant because women outnumbered men in the electorate. the campaign catered to this new demographic with fashion accessories, including the official campaign hats. it was designed by one of mamie's favorite hat designers. all kinds of rhinestones and jewelries. including earrings and i like ike buttons. notice that mamie's name comes first in the mamie charm bracelet.
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"we want mamie" and "i like mamie" buttons. no lady is complete without a corsage. all these accessories would be worn with this dress, often worn at campaign rallies and conventions.
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let's go to a museum to see more campaign memorabilia. we have a number of drawers filled with campaign memorabilia, including these wonderful gloves, mamie on campaign buttons and stockings. this leads to eisenhower winning the 1952 election. she becomes first lady and wears the suit to the inauguration. it was designed by carnegie. she wears a pillbox hat by her favorite designer. >> this is your area of specialty. >> we have a wonderful collection of ike memorabilia. >> has there been an election since? >> not to that extent. the republican party went wild with putting out materials promoting the campaign and mamie herself. i think that this resonated with people because, as the curator was saying, this is the first time that the women's vote had caught up with men voting. they had gotten the vote in 1920, but participation has lagged behind until 1952. ivy baker priest, the head of the women's division of the republican party had come with three areas that would appeal to women in the campaign.
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they emphasized bringing the boys home from korea. that was imaged in bringing your husband, son, and relative home. ike was the great military hero that was going to do that. there was also the mess in washington. the scandals inside the truman administration. this was imaged, in the sense that any housewife could clean up a mess in her home. there are all kinds of cleaning pails and scrub brushes. there are brooms and lapel pins in the shape of brooms. they were put out by the eisenhower campaign. the third thing was the economy.
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that was imaged as every woman having to stay within her budget and why shouldn't the government do the same? they put out enormous grocery bags that said, ike and dick. that was supposed to indicate that any woman could balance her home budget and therefore the government should do the same. the grocery bags were going to be extra large. this was how much more your budget was going to go if you elected ike and dick. >> 53% of american homes had television and they were growing and growing. there was also the rise of public relations professions in the united states. >> yes. there were a lot of advertising men who migrated into the campaign.
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it imaged ike and mamie as a commodity that can be sold to the consumer. >> on the other side, stevenson was divorced. >> yes. >> he was also a unitarian, which many think as something like an atheist. >> they were in midst as -- they were imaged as god- fearing man. >> it was a war hero against a cerebral candidate. >> exactly. also with mamie, even though you had these image makers, she is someone who the image makers are not making her who she is. she is being herself. >> that is what i said earlier. if she had not come along and done what she did, she would've
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had to have been invented. >> exactly. she is so natural in that situation. >> how much influence did mamie have on ike? do we know? >> we do not know for sure. i have wondered. i do not think there is any discussion that they made public about how they decided or he decided. i'm not sure if her father, being a republican, and ike being on good terms had any influence. i just don't know. it has more to do with who would have been running for president in the republican slot if not
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eisenhower. eisenhower agreed to run because he looked at the other candidates and could not see them, especially if they're going to be isolationist in the world, post-world war ii -- it was almost as if he said, if it has to be me, i can handle it better than these people can. >> david, go ahead with your question. >> hi. >> we're listening. >> i am curious about what eisenhower's stance or position was on the civil rights issues of the 1950s. >> thank you so much. we will talk about that more later. but briefly -- >> eisenhower is being recognized by historians for his
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contributions in the civil rights era, not only for what happened with little rock and sending troops in. eisenhower integrated washington, d.c. >> in what way? >> every way. washington had been a segregated city. going back to wilson. eisenhower integrated the city. >> how do you integrate the city in washington? >> they were inviting blacks to attend white house functions. i don't know how they dismantled the segregation in the -- of the
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government positions. that was also something that went on during the eisenhower administration. a desegregation of the workforce. >> that is notable. there were african-americans wearing the "ike" dresses. >> until recently, he never got the credit for the very strong stand that he took in little rock, with sending the federal troops. that was a shocking thing. by the time you get to the 1960s, everybody knows about johnson. in the 1950s, this was a shocking move. >> the incredible entertainers that the couple -- both military, and through the white
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house. one of the things that changed was the rise of air travel and post-war diplomacy. we will return to gettysburg and the farm. let's look at how the eisenhowers entertained there. much of it translated to the time in the white house. >> alice evans, what are we seeing? >> we are seeing mamie and her iconic inaugural gown. this is a copy of the white house portrait. >> below that is a piano. >> she was a big piano player. you see the photographs and friends. family members.
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>> we are in the formal living room. it is a rather large room. how much entertaining was done? >> not much. you would think they would want to use it. president eisenhower was not a fan of this room and the decor. it shows mamie as first lady. her understanding of etiquette and rules and regulations. >> how did they furnish this room? >> with gifts given to them throughout the years by friends. there are five objects they purchase for themselves. >> how were they able to keep their gifts? >> president eisenhower was the last president who is allowed to keep all of his gifts. >> we are looking at a lot of tchotchkes. >> mamie let it slip that she
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likes porcelain. >> we are looking at a portrait of mamie eisenhower. >> that portrait was done before she was first lady. it was painted in 1948, while ike was still at columbia university. this captures her spirit and her vitality and femininity. >> before we leave this room, the table in front of the couch. is the upholstery on the couch original? >> yes. the coffee table is one the most important pieces in the home. this was a gift from the president of south korea and it came near the anniversary of the cease-fire at the end of the war. it is a gift to mamie.
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it is from the wife of the president of south korea. ike may have found a solution, but mamie got a table. this piece was in the white house at one point and it was installed while franklin pierce was our president. >> how did it end up in the house? >> this goes back to julia grant. she was decorating the white house and marble had fallen out of fashion. she had the marble fireplace removed and they were auctioned off and sold into private hands. the white house staff was able to track down this piece and presented it to the eisenhowers. lincoln was important to president eisenhower. >> how would the eisenhowers
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used this room? when was it use? >> it was used during christmas. they with the christmas tree in front of the fireplace and mamie would be at the piano, playing christmas carols. >> we will see the porch the next time we come back to gettysburg. >> thanks to our colleague, peter slen. the entertaining at the white house, the queen of england. how important was that? >> the eisenhowers entertained more foreign dignitaries and more state dinners then any previous administration.
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part of that has to do with the change in transportation. >> and his position of leadership in europe. >> yes. he had met all these people. and mamie had, in nato. so, when queen elizabeth and thought come to the united states, eisenhower says that we have just reacquainted ourselves with old friends. they knew queen elizabeth when she was princess. they felt that so many people had met, they were just re- meeting and entertaining in a different place. >> that is mamie eisenhower, who returns large-scale and elegance entertainment to the white house.
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most people think of jackie kennedy as the person who did that. it is her entertaining in the white house. with the depression and world war ii ii and the truman renovation of the white house meant that they could not entertain in the white house. it is mamie who brings back entertaining to the white house. >> she is a curator of exhibitions. how significant of a decision was it? >> i think they were afraid that it would look like bribery or some kind of, you know, prompting of return for political favor for the gift.
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that was made illegal. >> presidents still get lots of gifts. >> they usually go to the state department or the national archives. through the archives, they often turn up at presidential libraries. they are not owned by the president or first lady. >> one statement that the president and first lady can make is by who they did not invite. one person they did not invite was joe mccarthy. >> actually, mrs. mccarthy was invited to tea and receptions. she did not attend. >> what is a significance of that? >> she was making a political statement on her husband's behalf to not cross the door into the white house. >> some people do not know who joe mccarthy is. a quick snapshot of who he is.
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>> he was -- he was the senator that went after so-called communists in government positions. it was a salem witch-hunt. they saw communists under every desk. he went after all kinds of people. people who were supposed to have had some kind of affiliation with the communist party or a communist party front. he went after all kinds of people that were supposed to have had some affiliation with the communist party or a communist party front or someone who leaned through the communists in the 1930's and 1940's and did a great deal of harm to a great number of people's careers and personal lives. and the reason that mamie would
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not invite him to the house entertainment is that she disagreed with the methodology that he used and the ruining of people's reputations and careers. >> this question is connected. she was a big fan of "i love lucy." did she try to help lucy in any way when she was being investigated? >> yes. lucy had been brought before the committee and of course she and desi arnaz are terrified that their careers and it's ike's birthday. it's ike's birthday and mamie invites lucy, desi and vivian vance and william fawley to the white house and she says to
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entertain. they do a bit of entertaining for ike's birthday but then mamie makes a point of having lucy and desi sit with her and ike for the dinner portion of the evening.
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