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tv   Womens Rights Activist Belle La Follette  CSPAN  May 29, 2016 2:00pm-3:01pm EDT

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impeach bill clinton and we got busy quickly and had to do a great deal of history. research. we had not done an impeachment since 1863. they want to follow historical precedent as much as they could. next, santa clara professor nancy unger nancy unger is the author of "belle la follette," which tells the story of this journalist, suffragist, and pacifist. she campaigned alongside her husband and son in their own bids for office. the humanist association of the greater sacramento area hosted this event. it is about an hour.
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>> today's speaker asked me if i could give her only a brief introduction. let's see if i can. her subject is -- and i like to -- but it is belle la follette who lived a very full life from 1859-1931. in doing the research for her new book, nancy discovered the work of previous historians have drastically underestimated this great humanist. she discovered the surprising truths about the radical reformer who was denounced by some as disgraceful to the white race. what? disgraceful? she fought for votes for women, she fought for peace, she fought for civil rights. and for so much more. "the new york times" hailed her
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as the least known but the most influential american women who had to do with public affairs in this country. professor nancy unger will help us know belle la follette for who she really is. a marvelous model of progressive reform. nancy? [applause] ms. unger: hello. thank you for that lovely introduction. i have given 8 talks to the humanist community of silicon valley and they are one of my favorite audiences because they stay awake and they ask great questions. i have been looking forward to this talk. i want to thank you for inviting me to the humanist association of the greater sacramento area. i want to thank bill potts for
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his heroic efforts to publicize this talk and to make me feel welcome. i have written this brand-new biography of belle la follette and i am dying to talk with you about it about her as a representative of the many women who contributed significantly to american politics, even long before women have the vote. hillary clinton may well be the first female president, and if she is, she will deserve the credit for it. but as clinton herself acknowledges, it took a lot of work by previous women and some men to make the case that women are capable of political leadership, even at the highest level. belle la follette was one of those women and as we look forward to the 2016 election, we have a lot to learn from this great american.
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and not only about politics. lesson one -- do not make the mistake of underestimating a woman just because she was first known as a political wife. "the new york times" eulogized belle la follette in 1931 as perhaps "the most influential of all american women who have had to do with public affairs in this country." she faded quickly from popular memory. when she is recalled, it is in relation to her husband and son. i contributed to this approach in my biography of her husband. in my own defense, he started it. [laughter] this minimization of his wife's accomplishments began with this progressive reform giant calling her my wisest and best
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counselor. bob openly deferred to her judgment. as district attorney, three term congressman, three-term governor of wisconsin, and during his 19 years in the u.s. senate. according to their son-in-law, playwright george middleton, except john adams with his abigail, no man in public life was to have so equal a mate. books, articles, essays, a short film, and plays all hail belle la follette as the little woman behind the great man and only a few go so far as to recognize her as an important reformer in her own right. and no account until now reveals the depth and range of her interests, ambition, activism, and the contributions she made to meaningful progressive
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reform. lesson two -- don't believe everything you read or hear. upon her death in 1931, newspapers across the nation hailed belle la follette for her selflessness, her willingness to remain out of the public eye. she had a masculine mind, was one backhanded accolade. it is like the old compliment -- you do not sweat much for a fat girl.
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hers is an interesting career for those women of necessity must remain in the background. famed journalist, lincoln steffens, painted her as a self-sacrificing woman who surrendered her own ambition. "she could act, but she was content to beget actions. she played herself, the woman's part. she sat in the gallery, or home with the children. she did not often make the speeches or do the deeds." although this assessment came to dominate the historical record, in reality, belle la follette exhibited considerable political leadership. although she and her husband worked together to promote the many progressive goals they shared, she was far from being merely his assistant. she held no elected office and could not even cast a ballot
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until she was 61 years old. yet she overcame her natural shyness to wield tremendous influence as a journalist and public speaker. activities she took on not only out of idealism, but because her family needed the money. all those who join lincoln steffens as identifying her as the victorious mother did her a grave disservice. she did make the speeches and do the deeds and the nation improved because she did. lesson three -- don't buy into tired ideas about gender or anything else. in 1859, she grew up in the farming community in wisconsin. in her experience, men and women were both so indispensable to the success of farm life that few couples quibbled over whose work was more important.
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great put it, woman's practical usefulness and highly developed judgment place them, for all practical purposes on equal footing with men. such a perspective was consistent with her family's religious views. when her mother heard anna howard shaw lecture at the family's free congregationalist church promoting the women's right to vote, she was captivated by the words of this pioneering minister and physician. she later told her daughter she felt quite indignant that women did not have the same rights as men and belle's brother agreed. stating, matter-of-factly "i do
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not see any reason why i should cannot." elle lesson number four -- be fearless and challenge authority. she refused to accept the deferential role assigned to girls. a friend recalled that she recently discomfited her teachers by questioning and challenging things that were taught and accepted and was fearless in insisting on things being understood and things being worthwhile before accepting them. her years as a student at the university of wisconsin fueled her fearlessness. one professor recalled, "ms.
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case, with her readiness to pay the price in hard work, profited to the full by the university's opportunities." lesson five -- remain your own person. her classmate bob la follette pursued her avidly. it was at her insistence that their engagement remain a secret. only after she completed two years of teaching that she marry bob on new year's eve in 1881 in a ceremony conducted by a unitarian minister who honored the bride's request that the word "obey" be omitted from the marriage vows. lesson six -- stop wasting your time. eight months and 10 days after their wedding, belle gave birth to the first of their four children. although belle la follette said,
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"the supreme experience in life is motherhood," she also said, "there is no inherent conflict in a mother's taking good care of her children, developing her own talent, and continuing to work." even when her children were small, she refused to waste her time on the activities that most people assumed should take up the day of a middle-class wife and mother. she believed in "simplicity and ease" in dress, furnishings, and what customsking could be more barbarous than a 10-course dinner? she advocated less kinds of food, less courses, less work. lesson seven -- stop apologizing for not wasting your time. belle la follette rejected the expectation that women would cling to outmoded conventions at the same time men flocked to new conveniences that made their
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lives easier and more efficient. at the telephone came into popular use, she found it absurd that women were criticized as both lazy and extravagant for phoning in their grocery orders while men were praised for their efficiency in transacting business over the phone. why is it that those who are most deeply convinced that women's place is in the home are most concerned when women stay at home and telephone for supplies instead of going to the market? following the advent of the typewriter, she complained -- women apologize for a typewritten personal letter as though it were an offense even though the deciphering of their handwriting is the most nerve-racking process. she believed that women should thatce any innovation might spare them from unnecessary labor. and to those who bemoaned the
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loss of women's personal touch, she responded in favor of preserving women's time, health, and energy. "many precious associations with the homemade and the handmade have necessarily been sacrificed for the greater gain." lesson eight -- be comfortable and guard your health. belle la follette defied convention by abandoning corsets for more looser fitting garments and urged other women to do the same. she noted with some disgust, the man who said women ought not to vote as long as they cannot fasten their own gowns made the best anti-suffrage argument i have ever heard. it is certainly humiliating that we submit to the tyrannies of dress as we do.
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she reserved special scorn for the time that women were expected to waste the moaning failing to live up to unrealistic bodily ideals. she strove not to obsess about her weight, but to focus on remaining fit. in case you have let your subscription to the wisconsin se, this of history laps is the cover of the current issue and that is belle la follette briskly walking with the family bulldog. i found the original image on ebay for five dollars. in 1912, she still ran three miles before breakfast every day. in 1914, at the age of 55, the "washington post" celebrating her scaling of a 12,000 foot volcano in costa rica. lesson nine -- involve yourself in the larger world.
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her belief in the growing desire of women of leisure to employ themselves worthily and to share in the work of the world was reinforced in 1911 by the publication of "woman and labor." she viewed it as an epic poem, majestic, powerful, and thrilling. trying to describe women who lived him to lives -- lived empty lives depended on their husband's income "parasitic." she demanded that women be allowed equal opportunity and useful occupation. early in their marriage, she so enjoyed helping bob with his legal studies that she took up the law course as well, becoming in 1885 the first woman to graduate from the university of wisconsin law school. see if you can pick her out.
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[laughter] one of my friends notes she seems to be the only one who actually earned a diploma. a passion that was not shared by the young couple was life in the nation's capital. once bob was elected to congress in 1888, what do washington women talk about? she complained about the weather. an exceeding graciousness and desire to please pervades every function. like having all of the meals sert.deser she tartly reminded her sisters, we are not supposed to belong to the butterfly and parasitic class. lesson 10 -- recognize the personal is political. she urged all women to recognize that problems they thought of as
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personal were in fact political and therefore required women's political activism. "how much we pay for food and clothing isl, and determined by control of the natural resources. the distribution of tax and the regulation of the great private monopolies. these are women's problems." la follette strenuously opposed her husband's plans to begin a magazine in 1909. once the die was cast, however, she devoted herself to making the magazine a meaningful voice of progressivism. that magazine is published today as "the progressive." in an article entitled "foolishness," she railed against the narrow range of superficial topics others deemed suitable for women's readers. she concluded " let's fool these
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men publishers and put our time on the world events." belle la follette introduced, expanded, celebrated, and promoted progressive reform. women readers responded with gratitude and other journalists celebrated her innovative approach. "one of the cleverest and most readable women's pages in the country is edited by belle case la follette. she is probably the first editor of the women's department to go on strike against the conventional formulas for hair dye and accepted recipes for beauty. la follette is always independent and fearless in her expression of opinion." in 1911, the north american press syndicate engaged her to provide articles for syndication six days a week. her series "thought for the
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topics likeincluded suffrage, dress, women's work, women's health, appeared in more than 20 states. lesson 11 -- fight for what is right, even if it violates timeworn tradition. in addition to the standard slate of progressive goals, including labor protection, natural resource conservation, and tax reform, belle la follette advocated a wide range of less conventional innovation. she supported the right of a woman not to take her husband's name upon marriage. she promoted the montessori school of education, opposed corporal punishment for children, and supported sex education for children. she saved special ire for capital punishment, which she termed a survival of barbarism. whose existence is contrary to
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the best thoughts and practice of modern civilized nation. she also, according to youngest child, became an agnostic. although both of the la follettes peppered their speech with religious terms, they did not attend church, which was quite unusual for a u.s. senator and his family. to protect her husband's reputation, however, in this one area, belle bent the truth. bob delighted in telling family asked point people blank which church they attended. she told them we attended the congregational church. it is technically not a lie. a minister that they had known
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well in madison preached at the congregational church on saturday and they had gone to hear it. belle la follette advocated cleaner railroad cars and depots and schedules designed to shorten layovers. she proposed postponing presidential inaugural ceremonies until april. in 1912, she wrote, must we go on forever suffering the inconveniences of dates so badly adjusted to our present-day life just because they were written into the constitution over 100 years ago? she saw women's lack of political experience as working to their favor. as they were less conditioned to accept outmoded traditions. lesson 12 -- meaningful change almost always requires persistence. in 1930, the national league of women voters honored 71 women, including la follette.
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when her name was inscribed on a bronze tablet housed in the national headquarters, la follette protested that she did not deserve such an honor. her contemporary alys paul called la follette the most consistent supporter of equal rights of all of the women of her time. headlineyork times" declared simply "mrs. la f ollette's leader." during a 12-day tour, she gave 31 speeches in 14 different counties. lesson 13 -- be able to compellingly articulate your
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political goals. la follette marched in the great suffrage parade in new york city in 1912. less than a year later, she testified before the u.s. senate committee on women's suffrage that granting women the vote was a simple matter of common sense. we all know how lincoln defined government at gettysburg. "ours is a government for the people, by the people. are not women people?" sherding to the magazine, gave a remarkable and forceful address and the audience hung upon her word. congress, however, did not grant women the vote. early in the first term of the wilson administration, belle la follette was a member of a contingent of suffrage advocates that met with the president. although wilson listened
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respectfully, they were hurried out of the white house after 10 minutes. having failed to persuade the u.s. senate or the president, la follette took her case back to the american people. she spoke for 63 consecutive days in july and august of 1914 in pennsylvania, ohio, indiana, and michigan. the senate finally approved the suffrage amendment on june 4, 1919, with la follette observing from the visitors gallery. noting thatew tears wisconsin was the first state to ratify the amendment. bob la follette confided to his children that wisconsin beat him to it. she wired representatives to ensure that wisconsin moved as first. soon as the telegram of
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confirmation was received, reported bob, i went on the floor and i read it into the congressional record. "mama and all of us feel good, you bet." lesson 15, black lives matter. belle la follette was acknowledged within the african-american community nationwide, but especially in washington, d.c., as a dedicated and fearless leader in the fight for racial equality. beginning in 1913, she wrote a series of articles decrying the efforts of the wilson administration to racially segregate federal services. she urged action her washington female readers, were visiting -- revisiting her off to -- herd assertion oft-repeated assertion that privileged wives were not supposed to belong to the butterfly and parasitic class. la follette denounced the
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injustice and violation of democratic principles imposed by the new orders. as she did that, she skewered the hypocrisy of whites who supported segregation. it seems strange, she observed caustically, that the very ones who consider it a hardship to sit next to a colored person in a streetcar in trust their entrust their children to colored servants and eat food prepared by colored hands. in 1914, she spoke to the colored ymca on 12th street in washington, d.c. it was an electrifying event. wild cheering by the 1000 people present, almost all of them were black, interrupted her speech many times. according to "the washington post," in a front-page story
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headlined "she defends negroes, wife of senator la follette denounces segregation." la follette advised negroes to keep up their fight and said there would be no constitution of peace until the question is settled and settled in the right way. an ovation of several minutes followed her remarks. an african-american woman noted the tremendous effect on all who heard your stirring speech. it is the topic that overshadows all of the others in the black community. she concluded her message, may god continue to bless you. may he continue to lead you and may he continue to give you courage to do and to dare. la follette delivered the same speech to the annual banquet of the naacp in new york city and offered solutions. the race issue like the sex question or any other disturbing problem should be freely and
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seriously discussed in private conversations, and the public press, and from the pulpit. the situation does not call for violence, that it demands determination, loyalty, courage, persistence, unaltering faith, and well directed efforts. integration was in no way a matter of social privilege. it is a matter of civil right. lesson 16 -- opposition can sting, but support is validating. and provides much-needed encouragement. one anonymous writer warned belle la follette that for a white lady to address a negro audience is out of place, adding "it does not raise you very much in the estimation of decent white people." a correspondent from tennessee denounced la follette for her "idiotic demands." other critics exhibited less
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restraint. one reader termed bella follett real whiteit was signed, "a person with no black stripes down the back like you." follette's -- la efforts also brought support. a white employee of the government printing office addressed la follette directly, "again, i thank you. the black folks needs you to -- black race needs people like you to help them, and the white race needs you to bring it to its senses. an organizer for the national negro business league wrote that she had read her column, "each renewed inspiration
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and renewed courage, because it clearly indicated to me that my race still has good strong and eminently fair white friends in segregation, just as we did during the dark days of subjugation before our emancipation. i thank you for my article, and i know that i voice the sentiment of my race in doing so." in 1914, la follette spoke to a predominately black audience in washington, d.c. and when she was introduced by african-american activist nannie helen burroughs as the successor of harriet beecher stowe, james hayes said amen. he said, "we thank god for such a white woman as you. thank god for sending you to us, and thank you for coming. a few more like you would awaken
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the sleeping conscience of this nation." lesson 17: promote peace, always. at the same time that she was writing for the family magazine, fighting racism, and campaigning for women's suffrage, la follette took up a new cause, becoming one of the most recognized leaders in the crusade for world peace. la follette widely recognized war's futility and the practical possibilities of world through binding arbitration. her impassioned advocacy would reign of denunciation, but she refused to modify or soft-pedal her beliefs. la follette's argument was that quote, "in the struggle for the balance of power, the idea of war is the only way to settle differences is a survivor of the dark ages."
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on belle la follette was one of january 10, 1915, 3000 women who gathered in washington d.c. in a , meeting that formed the women's peace party, which for years later became the women's international league of peace and freedom. this is belle right there. that is jane addams. lesson 18: don't be intimidated by the rich or the powerful or the popular if you believe they are wrong. theodore roosevelt was outraged by such pacifism. on "the chicago herald" april 16, 1916 published a scathing assessment of the women's peace party where the and or mislead popular -- enorm ously popular former president called the platform "silly and base, vain and hysterical,
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foolish and noxious, and ignoble abandonment of national duty containing not one particle of good and which exposes our people to measureless contempt." belle la follette fired back in la follette's magazine, saying that roosevelt assumed quote, "that war is the only means of settling international differences and that war is bound to settle them right. history demonstrates that even imperfect and temporary temporary plans of mediation, reconciliation, and arbitration have been more effective than war in securing justice. that therefore, the more enlightened and progressive thought of the age should be organized to eradicate the madness of war and should be concentrated on the future settlement of international dispute by an international tribunal." roosevelt's charge that the
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party was foolish particularly rankled. "was christ cowardly?" she asked. to roosevelt's assertion that by war alone can we acquire those virile qualities necessary to win in the stern strife of actual life, la follette observed, "the problem with mr. roosevelt is he is intoxicated with a false idea of war." history, la follette said, ofwed people were capable showing how they coped with this agreement. more enlightened forms of resolution replaced dueling, for example, which had been considered an honorable way to settle individual differences. in a speech on peace day in 1915, la follette reminded her listeners about 70% of the national income each year went towards paying for past wars or
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building up arms for future ones. she put this in terms of that she felt would most resonate with her audience. "what would you think of a housekeeper who is afraid of burglars and who, instead of working to get a communal police organization to protect her home with all the other homes let her , obsession destroy her equity and spent 70% of all of the household budget on iron fences and iron doors and high walls which shut out all the lights and then had only 30% of her income left to clothe and feed her children?" when the children of the scenario died because of her mysti misallocation of resources la follette asked, , wouldn't you consider such housekeeping insanity? yet that is the exact kind of housekeeping our great nation is engaged in. "women's call for peace is a
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-- not a sentimental rebellion against the inevitable toll of life. it is calm recognition of the utter futility of this method of solving differences between 80ions, that gives us today and burning determination to contribute all of our powers towards the and of international warfare, to cease the inevitable retardation for the development of humanity and civilization." lesson 19, and we are coming to a close here, we won't go on forever. put your heart for the long run into what you believe. these elicitation -- the vilification endured by her entire family for the chief activism of herself and her husband during the war years did not curb belle la follette's postwar efforts to reject military preparedness which she denounced as "the awful folly of wasting the billions in dollars that should go towards education
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and human betterment." la follette toured 14 cities in 1921, urging voters to reject any candidate not committed to the reduction of preparedness and arms, and when criticized for efforts publicly criticized as futile, if not un-american, la follette took the long view to counsel others against discouragement. every effort of this kind is slow in actual result. democracy, slavery, suffrage. lesson you can make a 20: difference. when la follette learned that the secretary of state opened a the washington naval conference in 1921 by proposing a 50% reduction in the three great navies of the world, it took her breath away. she was also thrilled when idaho senator william borah credited the public opinion that she had
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been so central in generating as the motivating factor for hughes's proposal. the conference resulted in three major treaties, and number of smaller agreements. most important to la follette was the five powered treaty, involving the major naval powers , including britain, the united states, and japan. la follette also work to gain the release of americans imprisoned for their criticism of their country's role in the war. after la follette helped obtain the release of socialist and labor leader eugene v. debs on he hailedday of 1921, her as "a gifted woman of extraordinary vision and understanding, superb moral courage, a deep love of humanity, and a profound sense of moral obligation to her fellow beings and to the cause of the common people." lesson 21: after a victory, don't rest on your laurels for long. la follette turned next to
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military recruitment. in 1923, she spoke in washington before the annual meeting of the american section of the women's international league for peace and freedom. she criticized the militarist determination of conflating patriotism with military training. to read the conspicuous posters and to look at the alluring pictures that confront us on the street, she complained, we would think the army and navy offer one long life of gaiety. that same year, she wrote admiringly of some of the changes she witnessed firsthand in the newly created soviet union, and in 1924, she broke precedent as a political life by formally campaigning for her husband's final presidential bid. i want you to take notice at the handbill. i did an initial search for belle la follette in "the new
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york times" and i got 110 hits. i thought, there has to be more. belle course she was not la follette. she was mrs. robert la follette. i put that in and got 700 hits. you have to be thinking in the context of the time. lesson 22: strategic, long-term thinking usually beats knee-jerk reaction. following the death of robert la petitionsn 1925, circulated among members of the wisconsin legislator asking belle to become a candidate to fill her husband's unexpired term. she could easily become the first woman senator. but she chose not to run. a petition signed by hundreds of women asked, dear mrs. la follette, will you, can you turn away from your heritage, your people, your shepherd list block? shepherdless flock?
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but those who knew her thought her refusal to run in favor of her son was a typically shrewd move. she was ambitious for her husband and their sons, and ambitious first of all that their shared ideals of social justice, which were also her ideals, should prevail. according to phil la follette, his mother recognized her term would be granted more as a tribute to her late husband than as a serious political investment. by virtue of his sex as well as his age, robert junior would be far more likely than his mother to be repeatedly reelected and could therefore lead the la follette progressive movement for years to come, further cementing its legacy. with his mother serving his campaign manager, robert la follette junior was indeed elected to the senate seat, which he would occupy for the next 21 years.
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activism: progressive is a lifelong commitment. following her husband's death, belle la follette not only kept the family magazine live, but served as chief advisor to her son robert junior, and also her elected wisconsin governor. she also continued to advise wisconsin governor james freer to remind the folks over and over again of the cost of world war and to give concrete suggestions and ways and means in preventing another war. although writing her husband's biography was her top priority , as the nation sank deeper into the great depression she could not resist continuing to campaign for progressive solutions to problems old and new. she denounced president herbert hoover for doing too little to alleviate growing unemployment, publicly criticizing him for being a friend of the power trust.
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she championed absentee voting, campaigned to save the children's bureau, and wrote admiringly of the efforts of mohandas gandhi, particularly his dedication to women's equality with men. only her death in 1931 brought an end to her activism. so the final lesson, give credit where it is due. belle la follette deserves recognition for contributing significantly for the political achievement of her husband and her son but the determination to provide that recognition has obscured the contributions that she made in her own life to causes of her own choosing, blocking recognition of her full legacy. a closer look reveals an unexpected belle la follette. a passionate feminist dedicated , civil rights, and making her nation a better place through a variety of innovative reforms. her life, i believe, offers a
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valuable lessons for today. thank you. [applause] ms. unger: well, thank you very much. i am so delighted you all stayed awake and that you are all here. this is terrific. i certainly would welcome any questions or comments. >> can you say anything about the la follette orientation toward socialism, and her relationship with eugene v. debs? ms. unger: she did not say she was a socialist, but she was a pacifist and she was certainly far more radical than her her husband, who was pretty radical fray u.s. senator.
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so i would say that in many ways she was a socialist but she did not claim that title. she and her husband though did argue about it and they were pretty open about it so i would say that she did not go so far to claim herself as a socialist, however, so i can't go that far, if that answers your questions, it is a little iffy. >> are girls in today's schools finding out about people like belle la follette? ms. unger: our girls today learning about belle la follette in today's school system? it obviously depends on who is teaching. i think you have a much better chance if you are in wisconsin. but if you go online and put in
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video, there is a herle four-minute video of that is terrific. my son is a vice principal at east palo alto, so when i guest lecture to his sixth-graders, i lecture about her. anybody who knows me is stuck hearing about her. i know political history is not really an fashion right now. it is much more social history. but because she does women's issues and so forth, she can bridge that divide. i would say even in wisconsin, most people don't know who the la follettes are. she is a hidden gem who i'm trying to get more attention for. >> i am wondering how you were introduced to her. was that an excerpt from your book? ms. unger: so how did i first come to find belle la follette and was this an excerpt from my book?
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i took some quotes from my book but i put together this just for you. but i wrote a biography of robert la follette first when i was in graduate school. i had never heard of him and i read this little paragraph about this man who did all of these things politically that i really approved of. he is very liberal and he was able to achieve meaningful reform. direct election of senators. protection of workers. stuff that really changed people's lives on a daily basis, for the good. i was interested in why someone who had been such a successful senator and who really what -- wanted to be president was not able to parlay that into the presidency. i got interested in him, and once you got interested in him, the la follettes wrote to each other every day and saved every scrap of paper, so you have so much information, and you can't really do him without her, because he loved her so much,
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and all of the things she is saying got a lot of criticism, and he doesn't care. he never says to her once, could you tone it down? this stuff about peace? hard to votem against u.s. entry into world war i, and he was really struggling. he said, you know, in fact la follette junior said, you have to be with him. he can't take the strain. he was very dependent upon her. once you get to him, you get into her, then you get into the children, because they are right to each other every five minutes. it is a package deal. you can't just do one la follette. >> robert la follette junior, what was his career in the u.s. senate like? i presume he was one of the
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so-called isolationist senators. ms. unger: junior, what was robert la follette like as a senator? i would first say, la follette junior did not want to be a senator. this was not his passion. this was his obligation as a member of the family. his younger brother wanted desperately to be a senator, but he was too young. only junior had reached the age requirement. so he was a dutiful senator. he opposed u.s. entry into world war i. but once it was in, he lined up in support of the war. he was a solid senator, who did good work all these years. but he hates campaigning. at one point, he is campaigning and somebody brays from the audience, you're not as good as your pa and you will never be. and he said, no one knows that better than i, my friend. but he does his duty and he
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stays in the senate for 21 and then he supposed to go back to wisconsin and do some campaigning, but he doesn't and he is defeated by joe mccarthy. which, as you can imagine, is pretty devastating for our great progressives. his health is impaired, and he talks about how he let his father down, and he's very upset. he struggles for a few years, and in the end he is a suicide. it's a very sad story. i used to live in washington, d c. the supreme court is near the house which president obama just the belmontdicated, paul house there. i just wondered, and i also used to live in wisconsin for a couple years, so i'm curious, do you have any tidbits to add about the relationship between
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alice paul and her efforts and ms. la follette? ms. unger: i am delighted to comment on the relationship between belle la follette and alice paul. alice paul, she was an american but she got her suffrage training in britain, shouting out at politicians and getting arrested. they were force-feeding her, and so forth. she really believed this was the way to go. you had to get attention. you have to get headlines. and belle is so polite. she doesn't approve of this message. but she said, every day she's going to congress to sit in the galleries and listen. she walks by what are called the silent sentinels. i showed you that one side of the women standing in front of the white house with the sashes indicating where they got their university degrees. she starts thinking, maybe alice paul is on to something. and she, she admires them, and
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her writing goes from sort of a scolding tone of, this is going to put people off and don't do it, tomorrow they, perhaps -- two more of a, perhaps we do need to be more aggressive. so she does come to admire paul. after women get the vote, they have a bit of a break. alice paul wants only the equal rights amendment, and nothing else. tole says, we still need campaign for the rights of our working sisters, to improve conditions. alice paul says, equal rights amendment and that is it. so they start off, they come back together, and then they separate again. >> i am wondering if there was a meaningful relationship between [indiscernible] and being a secularist -- [indiscernible]
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ms. unger: so what kind of a relationship did belle la follette have with elizabeth cady stanton. i cannot trace any real relationship. she cannot say anything about the feminist bible that i ever saw. i know that belle la follette got very impatient with women like elizabeth caddy stanton who were willing to throw other races under the bus to get women's rights. patience forlittle that. she talks about other women's leaders, but nothing about stanton in particular. a couple of them speaking in wisconsin on tours and so forth. she was aware of them, and so did not tendeally to spend a lot of time focusing on the past.
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she was dedicated on getting things done today. >> i am just discovering and enjoying learning about mother jones. date belle la follette know or appreciate? i know the style is so but i hopedifferent, she appreciated what mother jones did. ms. unger: i have never read any -- i have never found anything in belle la follette's writings about mother jones, which doesn't mean that they are not there, it just means i haven't found them, i haven't seen that. but when she gives her speeches, she rarely harkens back to the past, you know? >> [indiscernible] ms. unger: yes, she was very supportive of labor and towards
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the end of her papers, there's some wonderful tributes from big unions and so forth writing not , to her husband, but to her, thanking her on her support of organized labor and the stance that she took for them, yeah. >> on behalf of everybody, thank you for this brilliant presentation today. ms. unger: well, thank you all, very much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] ms. unger: thank you. oh yes, let's talk about the book. >> [indiscernible] ms. unger: well, just to give you a little incentive, they are cheaper here than they are on
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amazon. [laughter] ms. unger: so if you are ever going to buy them, this is the time to do so. and this is cheaper than the amazon discount. i am giving you my author's price. >> [indiscernible] ms. unger: my husband says the unsigned ones are rarer and more valuable. [laughter] can you hand me that? this is beyond nature's housekeepers, this is women in environmental history with the oxford university press. i got very impatient with some feminist issues and i got tired of hearing about how women were more environmentally attuned than men, which i think is not true genetically, so talking about why do men and women respond differently to the environment over time? from the beginning of the precolonial period right up to the present, i talk about what
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it means to be man and woman and how men are naturally this way and women are naturally that way. how did that get constructed? where did that idea come from? i have one quick example. i have some boy scout manuals and girl scout manuals and the boys are told that the campfire represents camaraderie and the battlefield and the girls are told it represents hearth and home. it is a fire for crying out loud! [laughter] ms. unger: but the best thing about this book that i wanted to tell you is that my mother-in-law when she was 16 .ears old at ranch camp just for the cover alone, i adore this cover. i think it is so fabulous. i was talking to the editor about what i wanted on the cover and we were talking about what i wanted on the cover and we were talking on the phone and he says, "look, you may suggest,
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but the cover is the most important marketing tool we have. so you can suggest and we will decide." so i said, "well, i want the cowgirl." and he said, "i think that is pretty good." we will go with that. [laughter] that's how i got the cover. there is a biography of bob, one of belle. >> ok. [indiscernible] >> you're watching american history tv. 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter at @cspanhistory where you can keep up with the latest history news.
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>> on lectures in history, talks about the reforms that tried to combat discontent. he describes did -- between the governor him -- tensions between the government and workers. he also discusses how all levels of society sought to alleviate fears about rapid societal changes of the gilded age. return to nature movement as evidenced by the creation of urban park. begins with aes brief example of music. his class is about 50 minutes . ♪


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