tv Lectures in History CSPAN September 4, 2016 12:00pm-12:56pm EDT
stay up-to-date on election coverage. c-span's radio app means you always have these been on the go. professor robert was presented ,he 1824 and 1828 elections which resulted in victories for john quincy adams and andrew jackson, who became the sixth and seventh presidents of the u.s. according to robert watson, these two elections were among the most important and scandalous in american history. this class is about 50 minutes. professor watson: the 1800s, most specifically the elections of 1824 and 1828. now, before you roll your eyes and plan to nod off to sleep, know this. these two elections in particular were two of the most important in america's history. and two of the most intriguing in america's history, as we'll
soon find out. three main points i want to discuss. three so whats for today. the first is on the role of presidential character. our history is oftentime made by powerful characters. in the white house, character is king. what we're going to find out today, these two elections and other related elections were influenced in part to a good degree simply by the character of the individuals that we're going to discuss, strong-willed folks, personalities shape history. second point, scandals have shaped history. we don't like to admit this. it's not a source of pride for our country, but more often than not, major scandals have had a significant impact on the course of history. now, for whatever political scandals there are today, know that we've been there, done that. whatever politicians are doing today, there's a long history of that. and in this case with these two
elections, possibly the most important factor in influencing the elections was scandal. the third point, our democracy is a work in progress. democracy is never static. and although the framers of our constitution were brilliant, they were not infallible. and we continue to evolve and at times devolve in terms of how we massage this experiment and government by and for the people. all right, everyone? all right. i want to start by talking just quickly about some context. the 1800 election. the 1800 election was one of the -- one of the most important in history. it featured a clash of the titans, if you will. john adams against thomas jefferson in 1800. adams had been the sitting
president. jefferson was his vice president. back until 1804, the 12th amendment, when you ran for the presidency, you ran separate, president and vice president. so the person that won was the president, adams. jefferson, his opponent, came in second, seheo he was a vice president. no love lost between these guys. i think adams needed a food taster, in other words. it would be similar today having a president in obama and mccain as the vice president. so not a very workable system. it was also an important election because arguably adams and jefferson were two of the most important founding fathers. adams chaired in philadelphia in 1776, adams chaired the committee charged with producing a declaration. jefferson wrote the declaration. so it was a real contest. it was also the first election in this young republic's history without george washington on the
scene. washington died in 1799. so could this young republic endure without the great father around? it was a real bizarre election. now, jefferson beats adams. in the electoral college, it was 73 for jefferson, 68 for adams. so a close victory. but here's the problem. jefferson's intended vice president, aaron burr, tied jefferson. so it was 73-73. jefferson, burr. now, the founding fathers were brilliant. but they didn't foresee what we should do in the case of a tie. now, we're in palm beach county, florida. so we know all about crazy electoral colleges, right? but instead of a recount like we had in 2000, they decided to have a revote. between jefferson and burr to break the tie. they revoted, and it was a tie. they revoted a second time, it was a tie. they had 35 revotes, and all 35 ballots were tied. it wasn't until the 36th ballot that they were able to break the tie. we were in a constitutional crisis. ironically, the tiebreaker on the 36th ballot came in part because of alexander hamilton. the kicker was hamilton and jefferson were archenemies. but hamilton decided to tell others to throw their support behind jefferson, his enemy, because at least jefferson, unlike burr, according to hamilton, was sane. of course, this adds to the feud that hamilton and burr have, which would ultimately be
resolved on the jersey coast where the two of them had a duel, and aaron burr kills alexander hamilton. the vice president had killed the first secretary of the treasury. moving forward, that's the context. as a result of that election, in 1800, the 12th amendment was put in place in 1804. now with the 12th amendment, the president and vice president run on the same ticket, like we see today. and they hoped to avoid further electoral college debacles like in 1800. didn't happen. didn't take long. 1824, lightning strikes a second time.
all right. that's context. our story begins in 1780, ok? with a young woman. here's a likeness of her. named rachel donnellson. her father is a rather adventurous fellow who takes 120 settlers from virginia across the rugged frontier. they travel for four months and they arrive in tennessee. and colonel donnellson literally
hacks out of the woods, fights indians and creates some small settlements in tennessee and founds tennessee. so he's sort of the leading figure and founder of what we today know as nashville, knoxville, so forth. rachel becomes kind of the debutante, if you will, as a glamorous, attractive, smart, opinionated teenager, and a daughter of the most powerful man in the area. rachel, however, does something that she's not supposed to do. when she's 17, she elopes and runs away and marries a much older man, many years her senior. his name is captain lewis robards. her family tried to get her to not do it, but she runs away and marries robards. he turns out to be a nar ne'er-do-well ne'er-do-well. he appears to have been physically abusive to her. he gambled his money away, drank constantly, couldn't hold down a job. even had her move in with him in the mother's house. she then does for a second time what a proper girl out not to
do. she leaves him. divorce was almost unheard of at the time. do you know before the revolutionary war, every state, every colony then, every colony in the state outlawed divorce. so she leaves him and goes back to tennessee. she then goes back to try to make it work again. he apparently is very abusive. she leaves for a second time, swears she's not coming back. around this time, she meets a 6'2'' dashing judge named andrew jackson. and what happened was rachel's mother, the widow by now, there was an indian raid on the community that killed the father, colonel donnellson, what happens is the widow is opening up her large home for boarders. as a way of making money and for
security also. they're in hostile indian territory. one of the boarders is andrew jackson. when andrew jackson is staying at your house, you don't need a home security system or a pitbull. jackson is one of the toughest guys in the area. he's a hellion as a young man. he becomes a fameest dualous duelist. andrew jackson and young rachel fall madly in love. so jackson is an attorney, helps rachel draft a letter and send back to robard. she's now living in kentucky. saying please grant me a divorce. the laws at the time, women could not legally initiate divorce. men could say, they have no-fault divorce. i divorce thee and there you go, but women could not initiate a divorce. so jackson drafts a letter, sents it to robards and rachel thinks she's divorced. so in 1791, they get married. here's a likeness. this is not a real painting. it was done years afterward, of andrew jackson and rachel getting married. the problem for them was two years later in 1793, they find out that she was never actually divorced. robards never got around to finishing the divorce. so rachel becomes the most scandalous woman now in tennessee. she's called the adulterous, the bigamist and the whore of
tennessee. it's a huge scandal. andrew jackson, to say he's thin-skinned is an understatement. andrew jackson has a trigger temper. andrew jackson would end up being perhaps the most famous duelist in american history. we'd like to think that jackson fought all these duels because of high political principle, right? he fought because of what men said about his wife, which was true. and occasionally he fought a duel over his gambling debts, his horse racing debts and his background with prostitutes. we'll leave that there. they find out rachel was married to two men. jackson draft as very famous letter. he sends it to robards. in the letter, jackson says to robards, i demand that you immediately grant my wife a divorce or i'm going to personally come to kentucky, cut off both your ears with my sword, and something else, too. so robards knows that when jackson makes a threat, he always makes good on his threats. so robards grants the divorce. very quietly in january of the following year, 1794, the couple gets married in a quiet civil ceremony. they ended up having one of the best marriages in the history of the white house. but the scandal would always dog
them. this is a copy of the actual divorce statement. robards and the court. the divorce of rachel and lewis robards was one of, if not the first divorce, in the state of kentucky. ok? now, here's the problem for jackson. don't worry, this is all leading to my point. this is all leading up to the 1824 election. remember, the role of scandal and head-strong personality in shaping history. the widow says to andrew jackson in a famous line, she says, would you sacrifice your life to save my child's good name? because rachel was viewed as the whore of tennessee. jackson's line, 10,000 times, madam, if i had them. symbolic of andrew jackson and the close love that these two would share. now, jackson becomes a brawler, a duelist, a tough judge. andrew jackson today would be in the schwartzeneger and rambo stallone movies. the guy was the real deal. it's hard for me to really say what a hero he was to a lot of common folks. as a duelist, jackson fought multiple duels and killed folks. now, duelling back at the time was seen as a proper way for
gentlemen to settle their disagreements. the public would gather, you know. like the ncaa final four. if it was two powerful and famous people, the public would gather. each person brought a second in case somebody chickened out. they served as an official over the duel. there was even official duelling grounds where people would go, which is remarkable. in fact, i think today everybody would get behind bringing back on official duelling ground for the congress, right? maybe get rid of some of the folks from either party. jackson has fought on duelling grounds. he would challenge someone to a duel and then go at it right on the street. one of his famous -- most famous duels -- he's ss was with a fellow named charles dixckinson in 1806. dickinson and jackson had a disagreement over gambling and horse racing. dickinson says something about jackson's wife, which always sets him off. now, the problem for jackson was
dickinson was sort of a sharp shoot artist. dickinson would go to the county fair and do shooting demonstrations, kind of a thichk. in fact, dickinson once shot a spring at 24 paces, shot a spring in half. he carries the string around as a souvenir. he gives the string to his supporters and say, if you see colonel jackson, show him this. this is what's going to happen to him. now, dickinson/jackson duel is not authorized. they sneak across the border of tennessee into kentucky right at the border. the crowds gather. instead of standing at 24 feet and flipping to see who gets first shot, which is how they fought a duel, and, frank, you and i are almost 24 feet. i can see your hours, you can see mine.
imagine standing there. this is one of those duels where it was a quick draw duel. with dickinson being such a good shot, this is jackson's thinsh thinking. if i quick shoot, i'm likely to miss. so i'll just stand there when they say draw and let dickinson hit me and i'm going to live, then i'm going to take my time and i'm going to shoot him back. so they gather. imagine making that your strategy. crazy and courageous at the same time. draw. dickinson shoots jackson right in the chest. jackson stumbles backward but doesn't go down. dickinson screams out, by god, i could not have missed him because she's such a good shot. then jackson removes his hand and blood starts filling up. dickinson was screaming and going wild. the officials have to grab him and keep him from running away. jackson then takes his time and pulls out his pistol. and aims it at dickinson and his pistol misfires. the hammer sticks. history is better than anything hollywood does. don't i always say that? you can't write a script. this whole story, you can't write a script like this. jackson gets his second pistol, shoots dickinson and kills him. as jackson is walking off the duelling ground, you can imagine people, just what they had seen.
jackson is ready to collapse. he's been shot. in fact, the bullet lodges right next to his heart, so close to his heart that it's never removed. it carries it to the day of his death, it's so close to his heart. as jackson is walking off to get in a carriage and ride off, jackson turns to the crowd and says, even if he had shot me straight through the brain, by god i would have stood and shot him back. now that's a sound bite. this guy is presidential timber all right in 1806. he was the hero of the war of 1812. the famous battle in january, january 8th of 1815 in new orleans. some 14,000 british soldiers smrk of arrive to take over new orleans and begin a southern invasion. an armada, 60-some ships. jackson has five little gun boats, 5,000-ish soldiers. jackson puts together the most rag-tag, misfit band of soldiers in history. some of the french and spanish of new orleans, who were always bickering bickering. freed slaves and slaved, cajuns from the swamps, and jackson even enlists the famous pirate, lufeet, as well as his two
brothers to join him. jackson holds this rag-tag band together and destroys the british. in the battle, the british, although numerically vastly superior, the british suffer over 2,000 casualties. jackson loses 13 men. so he's -- he's an enormous hero. even dating back to his childhood, when jackson was a little boy, his father had died just days before his birth. his father was a poor farmer from ireland. died just days before the wife gave birth to little andrew. andrew was the third son. they lived in poverty. when andrew was a boy, his oldest brother joined the revolutionary war. jackson was too young to join
the war, so he and robert go and lie about their age and they become irregulars. that is they're not part of george washington's militia, but they run through the woods and do guerilla attacks on british lines. they'd march 40 miles without water, without shoes, to prison. in the prison, disease is breaking out everywhere. smallpox is running wild in the prison. both jackson and his middle brother, robert, contract smallpox. the older brother dies on the battlefield of heat stroke. they actually agree to let her go, but before they do, the prison guard, the man in charge, the british officer, tells jackson to shine his shoes. jackson says no.
the officer pulls a sward. jackson blocks it with his left arm, but it cuts him across the head. what a brave kid. he's 13, 14 years old. jackson and his brother, robert, are released with the mother two days after being released, robert dies from smallpox. the mother feels inspired to help other young boys. she goes back to nurse other young boys. she contracts a disease and dies as well. jackson an orphan is orphaned at this young age. when jackson was president, there was an attempted assassination of jackson. a man approaches jackson with two pistols while jackson is standing in front of the capitol. and the man approaches with both pistols, just a few feet, pulls, squeezes, misfire, misfire. jackson hears the crowd, turns around. as you can see the scene there, turns around. two misfires. what's the likelihood? jackson should have been dead. jackson then pulls his cane and
beats his would-be assassin. what a story. today that would be shown over on cnn all the time, right? if the president was a republican, fox would show it over and over and over. so jackson was a hero. it's hard for me to emphasize just what a hero he was. one quick additional one. law and order judge. when jackson was a judge, a story that spread throughout tennessee and made him a household name in tennessee and beyond was a story that -- there was a fellow named russell beam in one of these outlying towns. jackson would ride from town to town to town. when he'd arrive, the town would have all their important hearings. anybody that had to go to court would wait until he arrived in town. beam was described as the biggest man that anyone -- he was a haas. he was huge. jackson is presiding.
in the middle of the -- he was accused during one of his drunken rampages of cutting the ears off of a little kid while he's drunk and terrorizing the town. beam decides during the proceedings that he doesn't want to be there. he gets up and walks out of the courtroom. jackson calls the sheriff and says, put him back in his seat. the sheriff doesn't want to touch beam because beam is so huge and menacing. the sheriff comes back empty-handed and says, i can't bring beam back. jackson authorizes the sheriff to put a posse together, runs around gathering people and they go to beam's home and the posse comes back empty-handed. everyone is afraid to pick -- to pick beam up and bring him back. word comes back in the courtroom that beam is out in front in the street with two guns. jackson disrobes, grabs two pistols and marches out of the courtroom, marches right up to beam and says, quote/unquote,
blasted you infernal villain. he goes surrender now or i'll blow you straight through. beam looked at jackson, put his guns down and went to jail. beam would later say from jail, i looked at jackson and i saw shoot in his eyes. he knew jackson would shoot him. you can't hire a d.c. spin spinmiester to make this up. jackson is dueller, a brawler, a drunk, and someone who runs with prostitutes. he's also a wife thief and the worst kind of person. among the common people, the masses, he's a great hero and brave. in 1824, these are some quotes from newspapers and literature put out against jackson and his wife, rachel, his wife bcomes the adulterous. they said that jackson thought it was ok to take another man's pretty wife.
all you have to do is have a pistol in one hand and a horse whip in the other. when jackson shows up at the presidential mansion, he'd show up with a scalping knife in one hand and a tomahawk in the other. always ready to scalp any person who is different. among the masses, they eat this stuff up. the 1824 campaign was a crowded one. some very famous folks. in the top left there, that's henry clay of kentucky. lower left is john quincy adams of massachusetts. top right is william crawford of georgia. and lower right is the very mean and ornery john c. calhoun from south carolina.
these are four of the most powerful politicians in the country, and andrew jackson. now, the kicker is this. each one of these four folks had a regional base of support. clay had some in the frontier and west. quincy adams in the north. crawford in the south. calhoun realizes in this crowded field with him having to sprit his base of support, he's not going to win. so calhoun withdraws from the race and declares himself for the vizce presidency. he thinks these four will beat one another up, i'll be the vice president and i'll win in the next election and be president. it was a doozy of an election. it was a brawl. a knockdown, dragout with rachel
the whore being one of the main campaign issues, just bitter and ugly. anytime anybody said that to jackson, he was ready to duel and fight with newspaper editors, his opponents and so forth.wins both the popular vote and the electoral college. but in order to win the presidency, you need a majority. jackson had a plurality, but he did not have a majority. in the case, if you don't have a majority, the vote goes to the house of representatives. and the house picks among the three leading folks. each state gets to cast one vote. so if we were virginia back then and let's say there were 20 of us, we'd have to all agree on which one we're going to vote on and virginia cast its one vote for crawford or whomever, ok, everybody? jackson goes back to tennessee and all that winter, he's following the story. fighting and fighting and fighting about who is going to win this particular race.
he then learns that clay, henry clay, travels to massachusetts and visits with john quincy adams. it becomes known as the corrupt bargain, the corrupt bargain. clay, it appears, cuts a deal with john quincy adams. historians are not so sure, but after john quincy adams wins the presidency, he picks clay as his secretary of state. and also picks a lot of the other people that were on board with him for positions. so where there's smoke, there's probably fire. and he gave the appearance -- now, john quincy adams' defense, clay had enormous respect at home. he made a good secretary of state. but it sure gave the appearance of it being improper.
the 12th amendment was unclear. the constitution was unclear about the presidency. we suffered this embarrassing election in 1800. now here we are again in 1824. king caucus. a handful of members of congress and political elites would get together and decide who the candidates were going to be and who is going to be the president of the united states. and the public seemed ok with this. jackson helps raise consciousness and anger over this brouhaha. jackson says that describing how we pick a president, everything is carries by intrigue and management, not the public vote. it is now a contest between a few domemagogues and the people. the people must assume their constitutional rights and put down these demagogues. the people were outraged. jackson lit a fire under them. the problem was the election already occurred and the problem was john quincy adams apparently strikes a deal, wins the presidency. so jackson is furious. he speaks of the deal, the corrupt bargain. he calls it the great whore of babylon. jackson calls it other things, which we can't quote. jackson on clay who goes and strikes the deal, jackson says, using a biblical reference, so you see the judas of the west has closed the contract with the devil and will receive the 30 pieces of silver. his end will be the same. was there ever such a bare-faced corruption in any country? now the people are outraged. what we have is we have a rematch in 1828.
jackson runs against john quincy adams. and the 1828 election, everyone, is potentially the most important in america's history. i would argue that it was the ugliest election in american history. this fall might give it a run for the money and i think the 2012 presidential election may be the second worst, but this was the ugliest election. jackson's supporters viewed john quincy adams as his fraudulent fraudulentcy. the son of a president being elected president, king john ii they called him. and jackson was the wife thief. they also called jackson's mother a common prostitute, and jackson's wife was lady adulterous or the whore. rachel jackson, here's a picture of jackson's wife. rachel jackson had aged very poorly. she gained an unhealthy amount of weight. she became very judgmental and bitter. she was extremely religiously devout, so the idea of her being
a whore, you know, grated on her nerves more than we would expect. she says that the enemies and the general have dipped their arrows in poison and sped them at me. she was just a source of being beaten up during the election. jackson wins in 1828. a huge outpouring of the public. jackson takes out john quincy adams. he wins. it's significant for many reasons, which i'll touch on in just a moment. one of the big issues was this. rachel jackson had wished and prayed that her husband would not win. she said, for mr. jackson's sake, i'm glad that he won, but for my part, i never wished it. she wished her husband would lose. she did not want to go to the president's mansion because the scandals on her would be even a larger issue. be careful what you wish for and
pray super.for. sometimes it comes true. just before the inauguration, weeks before, she dies of a heart attack. she's buried on christmas eve. she's buried in the gown she had just purchased that she was going to wear to the inauguration. now, jackson says may god almighty forgive her and her murderers as i know she forgave them. i never can. and he never did. remember i said jackson and rachel had a good marriage. jackson was a monster, but rachel soothed the beast and with grachrachel around, jackson was less of a wild man. with her dead and jackson blaming her enemies on her
death, he said she died of a broken heart. jackson enters the white house furious. the stubborn side of him returns. that youthful hellion and duelist returns. so jackson's hell-bent for revenge in the white house. the irony is this. jackson's enemies said there will be a whore in the white house. with rachel dead, it appears that wasn't the case, but it was the case. there was, after all, a whore in the white house. jackson takes off his bitter and anshry -- and for all the scandals, that was nothing compared to what he accounts -- what he deals with in 1829 when he's inaugurated. one of jackson's best friends was a fellow named john eaten. he and jacken with were the two senators from tennessee. eaten was jackson's most trusted ally. the person on the left is pegogy o'neal o'neal. she was the first monica lewinsky. she was this mae west character. her father opened up a little tavern and a little boarding house called franklin house on "i" street in the capital city. franklin house was where all the
bachelor members of congress would stay when they came to washington or folks like jackson whose wife would stay home, they would all stay there. it was kind of a respectable brothel. it was a popular drinking establishment. peg was the most popular little girl in washington. jackson called her the most amazing little lady in america. she would sit on their laps and sing. when she turned into a teenager, little peg grew to be a vuluptuous, green-eyed, dark-herodair dark-haired beauty. the most beautiful woman. she had multiple affairs, multiple attempted elopements. now she's sitting on the laps of members of congress for other reasons. they all go to the
establishment. she's good for business. every one, everyone in washington, including jackson and senator eaten, have the hots for little peg. when little peg's 15, she elopes with an older man. she knocks over a boughted flower, her father had put it there for that purpose, it wakes him up, he drags her kicking and screaming back into the house. she has so many attempted elopements. one man is said to have committed suicide when she turned him down. this is how beautiful she was. the father and mother throw their hands up and they send her to a finishing school. she promises if they let her come back to the tavern, she'll not misbehave. what she does, she just uses what she learned in the finishing school in her already formidable arsenal. now, to go along with her beauty, she's an even better sinsh singer, now she can speak french. one of the great founders, so many men are -- are after peg. peg marries a fellow by the name
of john timberlake. he's about 20 years her senior when she's 17. and they move next door into a house that her father, the tavern owner, owns. here's the problem. timberlake is a drunk, can't hold down a job. they go in debt. it's andrew jackson and his tennessee senator friend, john eaten, who pay off all their debts. timberlake is finally forced to go out to sea. serves on the u.s.s. constitution for four years. while he's out at sea, little peg has three kids and multiple miscarriages. it's a huge scandal. if you do the math, timberlake only comes back for brief visits. timberlake after several years of service dies at sea. the official cause, pulmonary disease. however, it appears that he either drank himself to death or committed suicide. he writes peg a letter saying if anything happens to me, you can trust senator john eaten. well, she did more than trust him. within days of timberlake's death, eaten is courting her. she's, you know, the monica
lewinsky of washington, d.c. it's a huge scandal. now, jackson wants eaten in his cabinet. eaten says, you know, we can't do it because of this scandal. jackson says, by darn y, i want you in my cabinet. so eaten is secretary of war. secondly, they get married on january 1st, 1829, shortly before the inauguration. and thirdly, peg is the hostess. he's a widower. so now we have a whore in the white house. the problem was the public -- the public boycotts jackson's inaugural. the wives of washington, whose husbands were interested in peg, boycott the inaugural. jackson tries to have a cabinet dinner. none of the cabinet wives would let their husbands go to the dinner. it took jackson nine months before he was able to have a cabinet dinner. at the dinner, the wives sat there quietly. it was a common practice to visit ladies of washington and leave your calling card. nobody would return the visits from peg.
even jackson's niece, emily, who was helping the hostess said that peg was, you know, an adulterous. jackson told his niece to pick between himself and the scandal. when the niece said that she still felt peg was scandalous, jackson throws his own niece and nephew out of the president's mansion. one commentator wrote that senator eaten just married his mistress and the mistress of 11 dozen others. jackson is furious. of course, his nemesis would turn out to be calhoun. remember i said calhoun ran for vice president. talk about politics makes for strange bed fellows. it's calhoun as vice president to jackson. and the two of them are enemies. calhoun wants to win the presidency in 1832. so what he does is he decides to make the peggy scandal, called
petty coat government, a huge scandal. then calhoun resigns, moves back to south carolina to let jackson be destroyed by the scandal and calhoun says, i'll come back in four and be the next president. they have a huge fight. jackson calls a meeting with his cabinet, calls a meeting with reserve rnds in town, preachers who have been critical of her. he announces he's taking affidavits. there's no scandal involving peg. she's never misbehaved. jackson screams, she's as chaste as a virgin. calhoun says, age cannot wither her. when jackson hears of calhoun's comment, he blows up. jackson and eaten both want to duel with calhoun.
calhoun resigns. goes home, he's going to sink andrew jackson. the postscript here, the kicker is this is what happened. in 1832, probably one member of the cabinet stood with little peg and treated her well and treated her nicely, and that was martin van buren, known as the little magician of new york. why did van buren stand with little peg? he was the cabinet member who was a widower. he didn't have a wife at home to prevent him from going to the cabinet meetings. after jackson cans -- after calhoun resigns, jackson picks van buren, who was the secretary of state, to be his minister to britain. calhoun used his influence in the senate to get that defeated. so jackson makes van buren his vice president and announces van buren will be my successor, the next president. jackson is still so beloved from the public d spite, despite the scandals, that jackson backs van buren and van buren beats calhoun and becomes president. the main reason martin van buren won the presidency was because of the whore, peggy, because jackson backed van buren because van buren was nice to peg. all right. jackson brought in coonskin democracy. his election changed the country. before jackson, only the elites governered.
think about it. jackson was a brand new type of president. our first six presidents, washington, adams, jefferson, madison, monroe and adams again, the adams family, our first six presidents were the most elite, privileged men. washington married into money. jackson is an orphan brawler, duelist who runs around with prostitutes from the frontier. so it brings in a new kind of coonskin democracy. they called it that because -- if you can see the picture at the bottom -- because at jackson's inaugural l of the, there were more men wearing buckskin with knives and pistols, so they called it coonskin democracy. jackson brings in the average people. 800,000 people over the 1824 election voted in 1828. an increase of 800,000 people. the 1828 reactionelection marks the first time in our country's
history when a viable number of people came out and voted. democracy was probably dealt a real blow in 1824 with the corrupt bargain. if you can imagine such a thing in a presidential election, but we reaffirmed democracy in 1828. the people came out, jackson won, and made it good. ok? made it -- made it right. one final postscript, as an ending to all of this, what ever happened to little peg, the whore? well, she presided during jackson's -- part of his presidency. jackson then names her husband as governor of florida. she was down here. it's always florida, right? my wife and i, whenever we're watching tv and it announces a scandal, we look at each other and say, florida. and then later they say florida. and then they went to spain. she loved madrid. the scandal followed her across the atlantic. peg lives a long life. when her husband dies during the civil war, he leaves her a fortune. she's a prominent figure around
washington, but the women never make up with her, of course, around washington. ultimately, when she's 59 years old, the widower, her granddaughter, emily, is taking dance lessons from a very famous 19-year-old italian dancer named antonio buccinani. romeo was probably his middle name. he was a famous womanizer. peg asked him to marry her. she's 40 years his senior. they get bearmarried. peg wakes up one morning, and he robbed her of everything she had. him her fortune. goes back and gets her granddaughter and saleils away with the granddaughter. peg lived into her 80s. and late in life, she lived in a -- what's called an old woman's
home. she was basically homeless, lived with her son -- her grandson, john. when peg died, the "new york times" had a funny op-ed. it says, doubt they are now her neighbors forever. she was buried in the oak hill, the famous cemetery. so the 1824 and '28 elections so that us democracy is a work in progress. i would say democracy dissolved but then evolved. it was dealt a blow, but it was reaffirmed. it's constantly evolving and changing. the role of character and personality, jackson's suborness, jackson's strong will, literally shapes those elections and ends up shaping because he was so darn ornery. the role of scandal, all three
elections, '24, '28, '32 burr shaped by scandal, sex scandals. we got just a few minutes. let me take a question or two or three. rob? >> thanks. you spoke about the electoral college during the talk. i just ask you a question. we saw this in two or three previous elections before that. when is it going to be time to get rid of the electoral college and move on to what the people really, you know, think with the popular vote. >> good question. we've seen the electoral college misfire a few times. 2000 being just the most recent. when are we going to move beyond it, get rid of the electoral college. the framers of the constitution were brilliant, but not
infallible. they did not deal effectively with the issue of slavery. they allowed it to continue. i don't think they really dealt effectively with how do we pick a president. they picked the least harmful, the least of the bad options available to them, the electoral college. the electoral college has not worked properly. you could argue five times in our history. 1800 we saw and 1824, remember? it also misfired in 1876 when the person who won the popular vote lost the electoral cleeng colleges. one of the three states involved was florida. an eerie repeat. in 1888, same thing. cleveland won the popular vote. just as hayes won the electoral college in 1876 but not the popular vote. and in 2000, gore won the popular vote, but george w. bush won the electoral college. will we get rid of it? don't hold your breath. there have been more attempted constitutional amendments to get rid of the electoral college than probably any other issue, including slavery. or women getting the right to
vote. at last count, about two, three years ago, there were 740 attempted efforts. we have never come close to doing it. so even though the electoral college may be a flawed mechanism, we need to amend the constitution and thus far we've been unsuccessful. questions? what else? frank? [indiscernible] >> yeah, good points. calhoun was one of the giants on the american political landscape, as was clay. those two rivals in 1824. both men were giants on the political landscape. today we don't have a lot of members of congress that are national household names that are just giant figures that loom over the congress and what clay wanted, he got. what calhoun wanted, he got.
calhoun and clay would never become president. and ironically, it was because of andrew jackson. in the case of john c. calhoun, it was because of calhuge's opposition with jackson. calhoun picked the wrong fight. calhoun was popular but jackson was even more popular. by calhoun going back to south carolina, remember, and saying i'm going to let jackson burn because of the peggy eaten scandal, he picked the wraunsh one. even though the elites were offended by the scandal, the masses loved it all. newspapers back then read like tabloids today, everybody. with stories about peg and stories aout eaten and jackson. put but the folks ate it up. jackson's heroic image from the revolution, the orphan boy standing up to a british officer, the duels, the attempted assassination on the steps of the capitol, that stuff, you can't buy that kind of press. calhoun misjudged it. and would never fulfill his destiny. if you looked back at american history and looked at ten of the most influential members of
congress in history, in modern times you might tinkhink of ted kenly, clearly you put clay and calhoun. questions? we're all good? follow-up? ok. >> this is about andrew jackson. is it true that he went on to bankrupt the first national bank or was clearly against it? >> jackson had many feuds. when jackson picked a fight, he was in it to win it. jackson -- negotiate was not a part of jackson's vocabulary. one of the many feuds was with the u.s. bank. ironically, here's a little tidbit of history. jackson was fure wsious with the way the bank was run. over the same way today we might see the role of the government. republicans might say the debt
and deficit are too big. democrats might have to say we need to build more infrastructure, we need more education or energy funding and support from the government. is the bank a proper role for government or improper role for the government? it was a huge argument at the time. jackson's -- the president before jackson, john quincy adams, was the first president to really give us what we might call infrastructure and public works projects. he built canals and roads. they weren't paved, but they were roads. today we'd see it as building sewage plants, water treatment plants, hospitals, putting technology in schools and the like. one of the unique side bars, even though jackson was furious with the bank and the way it was run, the man who ran the bank, his wife said some really negative and critical things about peg. so part of jackson's war was over principle with the bank. but a good part of his frustration ozpersonal. we get back to the role of penalties, everybody, like my slide at the beginning. we get back to the role of character.
and political pissing matches. we get back to the roll of personality, personality disagreements. the head of the bank and i forget his name. his wife said some really nasty thinshs about peg, so it was personal. with jackson, everything was personal. ok? and today, we see the role of scandal, whether it's john edwards or mark foley here in south florida and the list goes on, continuing to play a role ask in influencing voter turnout, policy and elections. just not quite so obvious as we saw then. ok? all right. thanks, everybody. have a good day. thanks. [applause] >> saturday, september 20 fourth, join american history tv. we will be live from the national museum of african american history and culture. president obama is expected to join the opening ceremony for the smithsonian's newest museum on the national mall.
c-span is in the city of denver to learn more of its history. you may know her as a titanic survivor, but molly brown actually made her mark on the silver industry and local politics. we visit the molly brown house to learn more. >> a typical visit for visitors to the molly brown house takes you on a tour of the first two floors of the home. you are greeted in the entryway and take a tour of the first floor and head up to the residential floor on the second floor. you learn all about her humble beginnings in missouri. found love, and a millionaire, eventually. her story is much bigger and better than what hollywood could come up with. oftell you the legacy margaret brown. margaret brown, as we call her here -- we never called her
molly. missouri.rn in she had five other siblings. she was born in a very small home. her parents were irish immigrants. she came to colorado because her brother sent a ticket for her to come. at the age of 18, a female of her age should be married. she was not. she came to a catholic parish, and that is where she would meet her husband, jj brown. she was 19 at the time, he was 32. they were living in that battle toledbetter, but then came denver. he was working on a new way to keep the walls up in the mind so they don't collapse on the minus. while he was doing that, he found the largest amount of gold in north america. they became overnight
millionaires. margaret decided they no longer wanted to live in leadville, colorado. they purchased this home for $35,000. right now, we are standing in the library. this is my personal favorite room in the entire house. the shows how margaret loves education. her and her siblings all had an eighth grade education, but margaret continued to learn throughout her life. besides english, she spoke five different languages. when she passed away, she was learning greek. she truly had an ear for languages. after the massacre of 1914 in southern colorado, margaret head down and joined the picket line with the striking miners.
she actually went up against the head of the company, john d , to change the lights of these minors. boy, did she do it. she also worked with the judge here in denver to create the first juvenile justice system. work homes were established so that children could work their way back into society. she also helped to build the immaculate conception cathedral, just two blocks from us. it was completed in 1914. she worked with her mother every sunday. her and her mother would walk down together. titanic fits into margaret's life as one of the largest event that would happen to her throughout her life. she was never supposed to be on titanic. she was traveling in europe and
.sia with her daughter she received a telegram from her son, larry, saying that her one and only grandson was terribly ill. she had to jump on the first ship that was leaving, which was the titanic. she jumps on in france. her daughter stayed behind in europe. as they were traveling, everything was going along fine, and then we know what happened. the night that the iceberg struck, margaret was relaxing in her room with a book. we have a few things -- all replicas of the time -- that correlate to margaret on the titanic. broughte, "titanic" titanic back into the spotlight. very few people know that
margaret ran for senate early in the 20th century. she ran three times for the office. unfortunately, she never did win. we have markets campaign photo. she is standing there, very eloquently, next to a chair as a strong western woman. she always believed that western women have the spirit to hold an office, and have the ability to vote. colorado gave women the right to toe in 1893, the first state do it. when visitors leave the museum, we hope they walk away with the true story of market and her legacy. this weekend, we are featuring the history of denver, colorado, together with our comcast cable cartons -- partners. c-span.org.t you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every
weekend, on c-span 3. >> in 2015, the abraham lincoln presidential live a foundation published a book of music on theicans responding to gettysburg address. each entry corresponded to the same number of words used in the speech. up next, the editor of "gettysburg reply" reads passages from the book, including writings from former president jimmy carter, colin powell, and julian bond. >> is my great pleasure to .ntroduce tonight's speaker carla and i met a couple of times before, most recently at