tv Cities Tour at Presidential Sites CSPAN November 25, 2016 2:46pm-4:01pm EST
walked across the river and play cards with buddies in town. he dressed so shabbily, everybody thought he was a bum. it was explained that's one of the richest men in america. his wife was driving across the bring with her chauffeur and saw mr. pratt from mind and said to the chauffeur who is that poor shabby looking man over there? and the chauffeur said madam that's your husband, should we stop and pick him up? she said drive on. mrs. pratt liked nice things and among the nice things she liked was russian jewelry. she started a collection of very fine russian jewelry. among the things she collected were russian imperial eggs and collected five. today if you were to try to buy one they cost about $30 million apiece.
mrs. pratt had five of them. the largest collection outside of russia, more than the queen of england owns and she had them here in this house. later on she donated them to the virginia state museum. so today you could see them in one of the rooms down there. she predeceased mr. pratt by a number of years. he lived here by himself up until 1975 when well into his 90s he died and at that point he gave the house to the national park service. realizing its historical importance. thanks to the jens rossty of this man that we are able to show the house to you. i hope you enjoy it. if the you have any questions ask me and of course, we have a lot of interesting things going on on the front grounds today as well. so please take advantage of those as well. the gardens were on the front of the house. entirely obliterated.
if you look at pictures, we have one on the fireplace, of that side of the house during the war, you'll see no garden. after the war was over in the 1920's they then moved the garden to this side of the house when they did this major restoration, call ds ed in a fe landscape architect, one of the biggest in american history to design these gardens which were put in by the davores. they hired a photographer to come in and took photographs of the house and of the garden. we have a lot of nice pictures. they were much more luxurious than they are today. we had to strip them back because we couldn't keep up. just a matter of interest, when the davores and the pratts were here, one of the two had some six or eight men who did nothing but mow the grass and take care of the gardens. i mean they literally gotten to
the point where if a rose petal was wilting they would pick it off. they had that much help here. >> you can watch this or other american artifacts programs any time by visiting our website, cspan.org/history. >> to mark the centennial of the national park service american history tv is features natural and historic sites across the country as recorded by cspan staff. the history of the national parks all day today here on cspan3. >> we're located at fort casper museum on the west side of the city of casper in wyoming. it's a reconstructed 1860's cavalry fort. we're standing on the oregon
trail, the california trail, the pony express trail, trans continental telegraph came through here. all these things located on this site plus the u.s.s. one of the important things to remember about this site is there was a lot of activity happened here before the army ever showed up. the first occupation of this site, first time people actually set down here and stayed more than just passing through for the day was 1847. brigham young and the pioneer party are moving west. they get to this location and they need to get across the north platte river. now, the north platte river that we see now doesn't look overly intimidating, but back then, there weren't five dams upstream and you didn't have a regulated channel. when they get here on june the 12th, you have got a big river that you have to contend with. june you've got all the snowmelt coming out of the mountains. the river's as big as it's going
to be all year whenever the pioneers are showing up here. so, we're looking at a river that's almost 1,000 feet across. so, what they had done is they built a ferry operation. prior to that, you forted the river. you found a shallow spot and hoped the river was shallow enough, you could get across. the ferry operations became a safer way to cross. so once they crossed their party, they realized there are a lot of immigrants on the trail, we can help others for a small fee. so they set up a ferry operation during the migration period in the summer. that location was here. the ferry lasts for six years, and there's a bridge built down river from us. the bridge puts the ferries out of business. basically, you can pay your fee and cross on the bridge, and you keep moving. now, for our site, we had a bridge built in 1859. again, these were toll bridges. the fee was based on how high the river was running. purely commercial operation.
in 1860, this is a pony express relay station. now, the pony express had home stations and relay stations. this was a relay station where they would just change horses, but this was a pony express station. that lasts 19 months. pony express goes out of business. this is now a telegraph station. the fort's located here primarily because of the tra transcontinental telegraph. in 1862, early in the civil war, if you'll think about that, the north's not doing so well, but keeping the communication open to the west coast, to california, keeping that tra transcontinental telegraph going was important enough that the u.s. government sent soldiers out here to help maintain the telegraph. now, what they did was not send very many of them. so the units that were located here between 1862 and 1865 was the 11th ohio volunteer cavalry. we had one regiment that was responsive for more than 300
miles of the telegraph and trail. things start to change in 1865 as the war winds down back east. you start to see more military units coming out here. we're reinforced in the spring of 1865 by the 11th kansas volunteer cavalry. there were also a couple of infantry units. the 3rd and the 6th u.s. volunteer infantry came out here also as troops that were stationed out in the west. depending on the year, there were sometimes issues with the various native tribes, and sometimes they were more friendly, other times a little more hostile. but this particular area wasn't really settled. it was a pass-through, but it still created tensions with some of the tribes. 1865 happened to be a particularly bad year for that. the previous winter, in 1864, you had the massacre at sand creek, and that was a colorado
militia that rode out of denver and attacked a village. it was basically nonhostiles, a friendly village, and they really did massacre people. as a result of that, then that following summer, the summer of 1865, you had a lot of skirmishes and fights and problems with the native tribes as a direct result of this sand creek battle, or massacre. one of the locations where problems occurred was here. we had the battle of platt bridge and the battle of red buttes, 1866 and 1865. the goal was to get rid of the bridge. the bridge was a visual symbol, a structure that could be attacked that represented all of the migration and all of these people moving west and coming out here. so their goal was to get rid of this. so, early in the morning, we had the battle of platte bridge. what happens, there is a young lieutenant from the 11th ohio
volunteer cavalry named casper collins. he's actually passing through this fort on the day of the battle. he was ordered to lead 11th kansas volunteer cavalry soldiers out to meet an army supply wagons that were coming back from supplying forts farther west than here. so that morning he rides out, takes 20 guys with him. they get across the bridge and not really even a mile away, and they're ambushed by the lakota, cheyenne and arapahoe that are gathered together to get revenge for sand creek. they wheel around and race back to the fort. caspar collins and four other soldiers are killed. amazingly, the other guys made it back. about four hours later, the army supply wagons show up on the horizon. this is called the battle of red buttes. and the army sees the wagons show up, they fire a warning shot with the cannon. the tribes see them as well and
they race out that direction and attack that wagon supply train. at that one, it was led by commissary sergeant amos custard. there were 25 guys with that group. there were five of them in an advanced guard. and they wheel to the right, race down to the river, get rid of their horses. and three of those guys actually made it back to the fort. all of the rest of them that were with the supply wagons were all eventually killed. shortly after that, because of the battles and because we have a young lieutenant, caspar collins, who was a son of the regimental colonel, the army changes the name of this fort. from '62 to 1864, this was called platte bridge station. it's in 1865 that they changed the name of the fort to ft. caspar. the fort, once it becomes ft. caspar in the fall of 1865 really only lasts two more years.
and they add a lot of buildings. there is a massive construction program in 1866 and 1867. so this fort becomes as large as ft. laramie. there are almost 500 soldiers here stationed by the 1867. and what happens is in 1867, the army really determined they had built it in the wrong place. so in the fall of 1867, they issue orders that they are to take all salvageable materials, and they haul it 45 miles east of here and basically use that to put up ft. fedderman. ft. caspar when they closed in 1867 was basically nothing left here. the community started in 1888 and incorporates in 1889, but it was near the location of the old historic fort. and even those early pioneers that formed the community, they knew there used to be a fort here, which is how we end up
with the town of casper, named after ft. caspar. >> to mark the centennial of the national parks service, american history tv is featuring historic sites and national parks from c-span's cities tour. for more information about our travels, check out our website, c-span.org/citiestour. you're watching american history tv, all weekend and on holidays, too, only on c-span3. this year marks the centennial of the national parks service, and we asked members of congress which national parks service site in your state has the most significance to you. >> well, you know, there's quite a number of national parks service sites in georgia, but the one that is probably closest to me and part of it is in my district, is the augusta canal in augusta, georgia. and it's just an amazing historic canal, primarily because it helped usher in the
industrial revolution into the entire south and power mills and factories were built all up and down the canal and really helped to bring forth the most robust economy in our nation's history. so it's just a really cool place to visit and just rich in historical significance. >> why do you think it's important to preserve this site or sites like the augusta site, the canal site? >> well, you know, in this case, it obviously commemorates the deep-rooted history of the industrial revolution as well as, obviously, the national parks service and the state of georgia as a whole. but you know, you have sites like this that are greatly significant to our nation. this particular site shows the resilience of a city, augusta, that used the canals, frankly, to reinvent itself and to define its own destiny.
and it's the type of things that our nation has been built on, and i think it's valuable that we remember those things and that we treasure them and take care of them, preserve them. and with the anniversary of the national parks service, i think this is a great place to remember. >> all day today, american history tv is marking the national parks service centennial. and we talked with members of congress about the national parks and historic sites in their states. this is american history tv, only on c-span3. 100 years ago in august of 1916, president woodrow wilson signed legislation create the national parks service. to mark the centennial, american history tv is featuring national parks service sites throughout the country, and we continue now with another stop on the c-span cities tour. this is american history tv on c-span3.
>> i think it ranks right up with washington's mt. vernon or jefferson's monticello in terms of impressiveness. it speaks of a man of significant wealth. jackson is still considered to be one of our wealthiest presidents. it's an 8,000-square-foot house. so if you were coming here, you would have been very, very impressed by a house of this magnitude. well, andrew jackson and rachel bought this property in 1804. originally, it was about 425 acres in size. and with log buildings on the property. over the next 41 years of jackson's life, he added land to the property, he bought and sold property all around the edges, so by the time he died in 1845, the plantation was about 1,050
acres. jackson understood clearly that part of your power derived from the stage that you were on, and they were building a grand stage set for him and for the family. well, the front of the house is very grand. the style is called greek revival, which was the height of style in the united states in the 1830s. we think of jackson as representing the growing democracy of the country. and greek revival style appealed to americans because of the greek democracies. so as you approach the mansion coming up the driveway that's shaped like a guitar -- very appropriate for nashville -- the front of the mansion, you see a two-story portico that runs across the house with a gallery and wings running off to the side that is clearly very state-of-the-art for 1835 and just a very imposing house that became the model for many of the
plantation houses. they began building the nucleus of this building in 1819, and their financial position had turned around sufficiently that they were ready to build a house of this size. they moved into the house in 1821. it was basically the same building as this but much simpler. rachel died in 1828. and then in the years following her death, the house was expanded. at one point, the house burnt and it was rebuild into what we know today. the plan of the house, the middle part, is called center hall or georgian plan house, where there is center hall and four rooms two on each side of the hallway, and then a stairway in the center hall. again, behind me you see the curved flying stairway that we have today that was constructed
while jackson was here. the intention was that when you walked through the front door, you were supposed to go, wow, or whatever the 1838 version of wow was. but the intention was to impress. the height of the ceilings, they're 14 feet tall, the rich moldings, the crystal chandelier, the wallpaper. today when you go into someone's house, people will often have things sitting out, tell you about them and their style and their taste, and that was the same here. well, the house went through basically three phases to get to how it looks today. the first phase was constructing the original house finished in 1821. jackson, you know, is elected president. rachel dies. the son is grown and married, and the house isn't big enough. so in 1831, they add two wings to the house, to the left and the right. one is a large dining room to accommodate the large dinners that they were having here.
the other ends up being jackson's library that's adjacent to his bedroom. so, the two wings make a very symmetrical or balanced facade to the house. the fire took place in october of 1834, and it was a chimney fire. the chimneys evidently had not been properly cleaned over the summer. crea creosote built up, and clearly, you would be use aegt fireplaces all the time. this happened to be in a chimney from the kitchen. it was a windy day, and at that time, the house had a cedar shake roof, so the sparks hit the roof, and the next thing you know, you were off to the races with a fire. they called in the slaves from the fields. they were able to empty some of the second floor, although most of the second floor contents were lost, including rachel's letters, which was i think sad for everyone concerned and for us again today because we know relatively little about rachel.
but the house was badly, badly damaged, to the point where the family, andrew jackson's son and his wife and grandchildren had to move out of the house. so it took almost two years to rebuild the house, but the final result was a far grander, far more impressive, some might call it pretension house, than the one before. even when they lived in the log farm house, if you were a dignitary coming to nashville, you would visit andrew and rachel jackson. you would come out to the hermitage. lafayette came to the hermitage when he was traveling through the united states in 1824-1825. aaron burr came here after he was vice president. martin van buren came here, james k. polk. so, the house, especially during the presidential years and in jackson's retirement years, the house was filled with visitors all the time. if you were a dignitary coming
to visit andrew jackson, let's say in 1838, after the presidency, you would have come to the front door here because you were an important person, so you would come to the front door, and you would have been greeted by a short woman named hannah, who is the head of the house slaves, and she kind of ruled the roost. and she would invite you to come in, and then she would size you up and decide how important you were. clearly, you were already important because you had come to the front door. but if you were very important and you didn't know general jackson, you would have been escorted into the front parlor and allowed to wait for him there. and in the front parlor, he would have had laying out objects that would show you what an important man you are about to meet. and jackson would let you wait in the front parlor long enough so you could absorb this, you could have a sense that, okay, this is a big-deal guy i'm about to meet. and then he would come in and generally tell you about the battle of new orleans, which was
the pivot point in his life, if you will. the story is that he would usually spend longer telling about the battle than it actually took to fight. we have a mantle. it's in the dining room. and it's made out of hickory wood with the bark still on it. and the story, the legend that we were -- that's come to us from the family, is that the mantle was made by a man who had served under jackson at the battle of new orleans and that each year he worked on the mantle only on january 8th, which is the anniversary of the battle. and for the 25th anniversary, he presented it to jackson. so, it's been here since 1840, and it's moved around the house at different times. we think the dining room is the appropriate place. but it was made out of hickory because jackson's nickname was old hickory. to me, the who most significant rooms in the house are jackson's bedroom and his adjoining library. to me, that's the beating heart
of the house. the library was really a political epicenter, if you will, even though we're, what, 800 or 900 miles from washington. in his retirement years, jackson never really wanted to give up being president. so from that room, he's continually firing off letters to subsequent presidents and to people in congress who supported him to make sure that they were following through on policies or laws that he had pushed through while he was president. jackson's popularity was so great that if you had jackson endorsing you to run for president or run for any elected office or to get a bill passed and you had jackson's endorsement, very likely it would pass. so, there were a constant flow of people coming here to see him and to get his support. so, it was a very busy room. and today there's so many of his personal items in that room that
he brought back from washington, things that he was very proud of his library. he had a library of about over 800 volumes and we have 750 of those volumes still today. one of the things that people love are these large bound volumes sitting on the floor, and they're actually bound newspapers that he saved. he was kind of a political junkie. he subscribed to i believe 16 different newspapers and had a number of them bound. and these large, bound volumes that lay on the floor have his marginal notes. adjacent to that room is his bedroom that is very personal. all of the furniture is original. the wallpaper is original. the fabrics are reproductions of what was there the day he died. so even his bedroom slippers and his dressing gown are there in the room. so, it's a very personal space, and it's the room he died in on june 8th of 1845. one of the stories that i think
is quite interesting is that sam houston was very close to jackson, and in their last years was much like a son to him. houston had heard that jackson was dying, and he wanted his young son to meet jackson. and so, they traveled from texas here to nashville, and they arrive just a couple hours after jackson dies. so, the visual of this i think is so great because the family is clustered around the bed, and sam houston is holding this little boy up over the heads of the family so that he could say he had seen the face of andrew jackson. i hope people visit the hermitage and leave having a better understanding of jackson, who is a complicated man, i think far more complicated than say public opinion today
characterized him as. he was a man of great passion, great determination, could be very fierce at times, could be very tender and concerned. it really depended upon the situation. so a better understanding of this man who was really considered in his time second only to george washington. >> 100 years ago this past august, president woodrow wilson signed legislation creating the national parks service. and today we're featuring natural and historic sites around the country visited by our c-span cities tour staff. this is american history tv, only on c-span3. >> i, theodore roosevelt. >> i, theodore roosevelt -- >> do solemnly swear. >> do solemnly swear. >> that i will faithfully execute the office of the president of the united states. >> that i will faithfully execute the office of the
president of the united states. >> and will to the best of my ability -- >> and will to the best of my ability -- >> preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states. >> preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states. and thus i swear. >> we are at 641 delaware avenue. this was the home of ansley wilcox, a prominent buffalo attorney who was friends with theodore roosevelt when roosevelt was in the new york state assembly. roosevelt as vice president didn't have all that much to do. he was actually in buffalo three times. he came to open the pan american exposition on presidents' day.
william mckinley was supposed to be here, but his wife, ida, who was in ill health, prevented him from coming, so roosevelt substituted for him in may of 1901. and then, of course, when mckinley was shot on september 6th of 1901, roosevelt was looking for a hotel room and just by chance bumped into ansley wilcox, and mr. wilcox offered him his home to stay while he was in buffalo tending to the wounded president. >> the family is on mt. marcy, the highest peak in new york state, camping, hiking. a runner comes up the mountain -- no small feat in and of itself -- to let roosevelt know that the president has taken a turn for the worse and that he needs to immediately get
back to buffalo, that there is really no hope for the president. so, it's a 30-mile journey to the north creek station, railroad station, and he takes three carriages, three teams of horses to do the 30 miles, going down mountain roads at a breakneck speed. of course, if you can just imagine what it must be like, it was pitch dark, it was rainy. he's holding a lantern in order to see ahead on the road. it's a wonder that he wasn't indeed hurt trying to get down to the railroad station. he got a train at the north creek station, went to albany, new york, got on another train, rode all night long. along the route, he was notified that the president died shortly after 2:00 a.m. on the 14th of september. when he arrived at the house,
several of the cabinet members were here, and of course, the wilcoxes, and they had prepared a light lunch for him. roosevelt was a heavy coffee drinker. he did not sit down in the dining room. he paced back and forth. the cabinet members were very, very keen on him taking the oath of office right away. he didn't do that. he instead decided to take a short carriage ride up delaware avenue to pay his respects to mrs. mckinley, the widow. so, he arrived here at approximately 1:00 in the afternoon, got in the carriage, went up to pay his respects. she was so distraught, he never actually did get to visit with her. came back to the house here approximately 3:00, a little
thereafter, and took the oath of office at just after 3:30 that afternoon. we're actually in the library of the wilcox home. it's not a very big room, but it was filled with approximately 50 people. he stood about in the middle of the room. there's no photographic representation of the actual swearing-in ceremony. there were two camera people in the room at the time. of course, cameras at that time were on tripods, they were very awkward, and so, unfortunately, one of the cameras was knocked into, fell to the ground. roosevelt being, obviously, nervous about all of this basically asked the reporters, the photographs to leave. so, following the ceremony, a table was put into the library
to indicate the place in this room where roosevelt actually stood to take the oath of office. the oath was administered by a federal magistrate by the name of hazel. the western district of new york just became a federal district during mckinley's administration, so mckinley was actually the person who had appointed hazel, who then indeed helped administering the oath of office to roosevelt. there are a number of items in the library that are original to the house. everything in here is certainly original to the period. this room and this house after the wilcoxes died in the '30s, became a restaurant for approximately 20 years, through
the late '50s. having those photos that were taken immediately after the swearing in helped us significantly in terms of recreating this room. unfortunately, when the walls were taken out, the bookcases were taken out. there was one remaining when the house was saved from the wrecker's ball back in the '60s. the one bookcase came back to the house. it was used by artisans in order to create all of the bookcases that you see here. the fireplace was removed. that was, again, put back in to its original look, thanks to those photographs. so there are a number of things in the room that we're very fortunate came back through the generosity of people throughout the community and beyond who
realized the importance of preserving this home for posterity. when people come in here, we play an audio. it's a recreation of the actual swearing-in ceremony. you hear the cameramen jostling and the camera actually falling to the floor, roosevelt's voice recreated in order to basically escort the camera people outside. >> -- to be here -- >> there's plenty of room. >> you should watch out! >> that's it! both of you photographers out of the room now. i mean it. you'll get your shots later. >> it's really trying to capture what the moment must have felt like. it was a very understated inauguration, if you will. most people think of all the pomp and circumstance.
and as i said earlier, the quote that ansley wilcox came up with about how it's less about the circumstances around it, it's the significance of this was a peaceful exchange of power. and if you think of other kinds of situations like this in other countri countries, the changeover from mckinley to roosevelt, it was very, very subdued, very respectful of the fact that a president who was wildly popular in the country had just passed away. immediately after taking the oath of office, he called over ella hugh root, who was then secretary of war in the mckinley
administration, and asked root to get the other cabinet members together. and as a group, they met here in our mourning room. the cabinet was called. they talked about putting a message together. the cabinet members shortly thereafter left, and roosevelt sat down at this desk to my right and composed a message to the country. that message, interestingly enough, was not sent from buffalo, new york, but was actually sent to washington, d.c., so that his first proclamation as president didn't show that it emanated from buffalo, but actually from the nation's capital. despite the fact that roosevelt was a prolific writer, he actually composed more than 30
books in his lifetime. he struggled, as many writers do, with how to start this message to the country, both to express sorrow over the death of a very popular president, but at the same time to ease people's concerns and fears relative to this latest in a series of presidential assassinations. and i should also mention the fact that unlike other inaugurations where there would have been an inaugural address by the president, roosevelt had no opportunity to do that, so another dimension of this proclamation to the country was it actually served as his inaugural address to the people of the united states. one can only imagine what theodore roosevelt had on his mind that day, the weight of the country resting upon him as he
entered the presidency in this tragic way. what we've done here in terms of our interpretation is to focus on five issues that surely would have been on his mind that fateful day in september 1901 here in buffalo, issues such as immigration in urban poverty, race and social inequality, environmental conservation, big business and labor, and the u.s. role in global affairs. in the history of this country, we have had 44 presidents. there have only been four times in american history where a president has been inaugurated outside the nation's capital. this is one of those times. i would hazard to say that theodore roosevelt is probably the most consequential president of those four. so, this is really and truly a remarkable place. it's a credit to the community,
who saved it from the wrecker's ball. one of buffalo's first preservation success stories, if you will. and we're very fortunate to have it here. and as we do more in terms of letting the country and letting the world know about it, we're hopeful that more and more people will come and visit us here in buffalo. to mark the centennial of the national parks service, american history service is featuring historic sites and national parks from c-span's cities tour. for more information about our travels, check out our website, c-span.org/citiestour. you're watching american history tv, all weekend and on holidays, too, only on c-span3.
this year marks the centennial of the national parks service, and we asked members of congress which national park service site in your state has the most significance to you. >> the great smoky mountain national park, because i grew up there, because i live there, and because i really love it. i mean, it's the most visited national park in the country. most people don't know that. it has nearly 10 million visitors a year, compared to the western parts that sometimes have 2, 3 or 4 million. it has more trees, different kinds of trees than all of europe put together. all sorts of wildlife. i mean, 80 years ago when it was formed, there were about 100 black bears there. now there's 1,600. there were about 315 wild turkey, and now i can see two dozen in my front yard. i like the fact that i can walk out of my house, walk about two miles to conservation property and walk into the great smokey
park, which includes the highest mountains in the eastern united states. and i like the stories about the people who live there, because unlike the western parts, which were built out of land the country already owned, great smokeys were created in 1964 from land that north carolina and tennessee gave to the country, and people were moved out of the park, and the park bought their land. so, those of us who live around there feel like we own it, because it used to be ours. so there's a sense of ownership about the smokies, even though people come to the park from all over the country, more than any other park. there is a special sense of ownership about the park there. >> and why is it important to preserve sites like this? >> well, one is the wildlife. i mean, to be able to see two dozen turkeys walk through your front yard, to go from having like 20 wild white-tailed deer, which is the way it was 80 years ago, to countless numbers today,
that's one. to allow these great trees to grow back. they're mostly all logged in the 1930s, but now after 80 years, it's such a lush area, so much rainfall, that they're growing back. and then the family stories. i mean, the people who live there. i remember in the '80s when i was governor, i took a walk through the park its, i guess 50th birthday or 60th, and i stopped to see lem owenby, who is then 95 years old. he had been blind for 20 years. he still was allowed to live in the park, although it was created in the 1930s. and he was the last man who was allowed to live in the park. and when he died, no other people lived in the park. he was very reclusive. a couple supreme court justices tried to see him and he wouldn't see them. and he allowed me to come in and i said something like, well, we haven't had many governors from this part of the state. he said, well, we haven't had
many that didn't steal, either. and then he said, but i ain't heared nothing on you yet. one of the highlights for me was that the 50th anniversary of the park, and then at the 75th anniversary in 2009, they rolled a piano into cage cove, which is this beautiful area surrounded by 6,000-foot mountains. and the knoxville, tennessee, symphony came. and on a sunday afternoon, i played the piano, the symphony played, and we played "amazing grace," and the fiddles sounded like the old bagpipes that the scottish people used to bring in to the mountains 200 years ago. so being able to do that on the 50th and the 75th anniversary of the park with thousands of people there listening was a big, big thrill for me. >> all day today, american history tv is marking the national parks service centennial, and we talk with members of congress about the national parks and historic sites in their states. this is american history tv, only on c-span3.
to mark the centennial of the national parks service, american history tv is featuring natural and historic sites across the country as recorded by c-span's cities tour staff. the history of the national parks, all day today here on c-spa c-span3. >> i would like to welcome everyone to william howard taft national historic site on behalf of the park staff here and the parks service. the significance of the house is that this is the birth and boyhood home of our 27th president and 10th chief justice, william howard taft. the house was built around 1840. that's the time that we like to use here. taft's parents were alfonzo taft and also louise taft.
they originally came from the new england states. well, alfonzo taft, when he first left townsend, vermont, which was his hometown area, he comes here to cincinnati, ohio, in 1838, and he actually begins to work with a law firm, nathaniel wright, becoming a lawyer here in cincinnati. this is where he first started to make money. the tafts were prominent individuals who would later leave downtown cincinnati and move up to the top of the hill here in mt. auburn. mt. auburn was once referred to as cincinnati's fifth avenue. the prince of wales, when he came to visit the city, he actually would stay in a home up here in the mt. auburn community. this is where the well-to-do first got established, leaving the downtown cincinnati area, trying to get away from all the pollution, the slaughterhouses, thus getting the name porkopolis
in the downtown area, trying to move to the cleaner, healthier air, so to speak. william was born here in the house september 15th, 1857. he would be the second child to be born from alfonzo and louise taft out of five. the taft children were like most families today. they grew up in a loving home, hard working. education was very important here in the taft household. whenever they were done with their homework, that was when they were granted the opportunity to go out and play with their friends, as a reward. the tafts actually lived very simple lives. they didn't dress lavishly. they would attend a lot of social functions. they also participated -- alfonzo taft would create the house of refuge in 1851 for young, troubled children, with his first wife, fannie. and this was to try to help
young, teenaged children get back on the right track in society. louise taft, his second wife, she's one of the ladies credited for creating the free kindergarten movement for cincinnati, and that's in the 1870s. and that stemmed from where she had taught her son, william howard taft, as much as she could here at home, and then she said it was time for him to now be in a public school system. william howard taft, he saw his family during the time that he's growing up, and he saw that his father was a very hard working man to accomplish everything that he wanted to accomplish in life, as well as his mother being very influential in education. as i said, family life was instrumental not only to william but to his siblings, and that
would follow william howard taft throughout his career, and he also tried to follow in the footsteps of his father, alfonzo taft, becoming a lawyer locally here in cincinnati and also serving as secretary of war under president theodore roosevelt's administration, becoming governor and governor general of the philippines, serving as the 27th president of the united states in 1909 to 1913, getting out of the political arena for a little bit and becomes professor at yale university. then in 1921, that's when he would get appointed to serve as the tenth chief justice of the united states. we're now in the nursery room. this is the room where william howard taft was born september 15th, 1857. he would be the second sibling of five from alfonzo and louise
taft. here in this room, the taft children, they would spend a lot of time growing up here in this space. we know that william had to share this space with several of his siblings. two younger brothers, henry and horace taft, they would also be here in this room. once william is old enough to move over to a larger bed. so, you can imagine a little crib here in the room where his younger brother, horace, would be fighting to try to get out to try to get closer to his older brothers, willie and henry. underneath the main bed would have been a trundle bed. this is where once upon a time a german nanny would have slept. she's the one who would have cared and watched over the children for alfonzo and louise taft. we're now inside of the parlor. here in the parlor, this is where i point out some of the taft family members that's been influential in william howard taft's life.
first i'd like to point out, in the oval portrait here, alfonzo taft. this is william's father, originally born in small townsend, vermont, in 1810 on a farm. grew up, attended yale university. then in the year 1838, that's when he would tell his mom and dad it's time for him to pack up his bags and head out west, so to speak, calling cincinnati home where he would become a lawyer and later a judge on the ohio superior courts. then he advanced on and became secretary of war under president ulysses s. grant's administration for a brief time in 1876. his last appointed position that he would take up was minister and ambassador over russia and austria, hungary in the early 1880s. and then as i move to this portrait here of the taft family members, this is louise taft, the second wife to alfonzo. louise was a very beautiful lady. she was originally born in
boston, massachusetts. at the age of 3, she would later relocate to milbury, massachusetts, her and her family, down in the blackstone river valley area. but she grew up and became a school teacher. and on the back wall we have grandmom, sylvia howard. grandma taft, she, originally her ancestors were of irish and scottish dissent. while living under this roof, she would provide her expertise louise, the daughter-in-law, on how to bake breads and make minced pies just right. so, it sounds like grandma taft doesn't want to let go of who's in charge of calling the shots around here in the taft home. she later was married to this gentlemen here, peter rossen taft i. grandpa taft, even he was a self-taught judge, when they once lived back in townsend, vermont. the parlor room is a room where the tafts would kind of gather whenever they had important guests coming over to visit the taft home. basically, there was a general,
jacob cox, friend of alfonzo taft and the taft family. he once was invited to come and have dinner here at the family home, and he actually would send a letter to alfonzo asking if he could bring a young brigadier along with him. his name was james a. garfield. so imagine that, another ohioan president coming here to visit the mt. auburn home in cincinnati. we've now moved into the library. here in the library, this is where the taft family would kind of gather and have quiet evenings, spend a lot of family time here in this particular space. this is where i try to imagine seeing grandma and grandpa taft sitting here on an old horse hair sofa couch, possibly reading the cincinnati "daily inquirer" newspaper, like you will find on this table, dated september 1865. some things that's happened in the events of history. the civil war has already ended,
about four months prior to september. also, it was the same year in which president abraham lincoln was assassinated at ford's theatre by john wilkes booth. so people here in cincinnati were devastated to hear this tragic news about their american president. what we have original here inside of the library, just to my right we have the secretary desk. this belonged to alfonzo taft, william's father. this was a desk that he probably worked at while he was an attorney, possibly downtown in cincinnati that we have been fortunate enough to get acquired back here in the taft home. also we have a slate mantle fireplace that's also original. what the national park service has done here, is we put this marble faux finish back on it as it had originally when the tafts had it installed in the house. over in the right-hand corner of the wall, you'll notice a oval portrait here of none other than cute william howard taft at the
age of 3 with the curls, plump cheeks and in a dress. this was very sip taical back i the victorian era days since children had to wear cloth diapers. it was more of a convenience for the parents to put little boys in a dress. whenever they needed to go to the bathroom, all mom had to do was raise up the dress, pop the two safety pins and then the boys could go to the restroom. over in the book case, i always point out the shakespeare's dramatic works. these are original books that belonged to the taft family and which they would take time to read and discuss in here. also, down in the lower book case level, there's two small books that you'll see, black books. that represents the skull and bones. alfonzo taft, he's one of the co-founders of this elite society at yale university. the books over here in the right-hand corner, these are books that william howard taft and his younger brothers would
have used while attending high school, such as the anatomy and physiology book here. we know that the books are original books to the family. alfonzo taft, he would have had many more books that would have covered all the wall space here in the home. however, most of those books he donated to the mercantile library downtown in cincinnati. this is america's house. it belongs to everyone. just learning the history about the tafts. and they cover every political post that you can imagine, over five generations of tafts have served in public service work to try to help not only the local communities here in the city of cincinnati, the state of ohio, but also internationally as well. well, i hope that visitors will come here to visit william howard taft national historic site and get a perspective about the taft family and their
upbringing through family values, education and public service life, and possibly reflect on how things might be in their own very home today to where they might have a child who comes here and they could look at that child and say, you know, you could be the next president or the next chief justice to serve for our country. >> 100 years ago in august of 1916, president woodrow wilson signed legislation creating the national park service. to mark the centennial, american history tv is featuring national park service sites throughout the country, and we continue now with another stop on the c-span cities tour. this is american history tv on c-span3. >> today we are in the boyhood home of president woodrow wilson
in augusta, georgia. president wilson moved to augusta as a child when he was just a year old, lived in another house, and then moved to this house when he was 3. dr. wilson, the father of president wilson, was originally from steubenville, ohio, and had gone into the presbyterian ministry. when he first came to augusta, he was making $2,500 a year and was provided a home on green street. but in 1860, they liked him so much and they wanted him to stay, so they sweetened the pot, so to speak, and raised his salary to $3,000 a year and bought a new house, which is the one we are in today, where the family moved in 1860. to give you an idea of what $3,000 was in those days, most families in the united states, depending on where they lived and their certain circumstances, but most families lived on
between $300 and $800 a year. so he was making first $2,500 and then $3,000 a year, which was a large income. and we today own exactly the same property that the wilsons occupied in the 1860s. this is the pastor study where joseph wilson would have spent a lot of his time doing his congregational work, preparing his sermons, meeting with parishioners, keeping congregational records. but it was remembered by wood window woodrow wilson's younger brother as being lined with books and smelling like tobacco. he smoked pipe and we have a humidor on the table behind us. woodrow wilson as a boy did not learn his letters until he was 9 and he didn't learn to read
until he was 11. they believe he had dlexyslexia but of course in the 1860s, they did not know what dyslexia was, but he did have trouble reading and was a slow, deliberate reader for the rest of his life. when wilson, when young tommy wilson didn't know the meaning of a word, his father would send him to the dictionary to look it up. and he often admonished him to use his properly structured sentence as he could possibly come up with. as a minister, of course, that was an art for him. but he would say, now, when you're framing a sentence and you're picking your words, do it as if you're shooting a rifle. and with the rifle, with that one bullet, you hit straight on with the word that you intend to use. don't do it as if you're shooting a shotgun and you kind of spray all around the word that you mean, but it doesn't exactly hit the mark. and i think that's good advice for us even today when we're trying to write or speak.
president wilson's very first memory was in november of 1860 before he was 4 years old. he was standing on the front gauge out in front of the house, and two men came by in a hurry with very excited tones of voice, and they said abraham lincoln has just been elected president, and there is going to be a war. so, young tommy ran inside to ask his father what was war, what did that mean, why were they so excited. we think it's remarkable that his very first memory was about another president, abraham lincoln, and about another war, the civil war. and of course, wilson would have to lead the country through world war i. this family is representative of what we often hear about the house divided, because the wilsons were from ohio, the woodrows, the mother's family, were also living in ohio,
although they had emigrated from england and scotland. but the wilsons that lived here in augusta, joseph wilson and his family, were the only ones on his side of the family who were in the south and took the southern side of the conflict. all of his brothers and sisters and his father's dad, his mother, were all up north at the time, and so it created a bit of a division. the civil war affected the wilsons like it did most people. we often hear during the latter part of the civil war, the south was subject to huge inflationary situation with money because, of course, the confederate currency was getting more and more worthless. and we see that demonstrated in the church records. president wilson's father's salary, i said, was $3,000 a
year when the war started, and that was given to him quarterly in, $750 installments. the latter part of 1864, the first part of 1865, they paid him his regular installment and then they just started shoving money at him in the thousands of dollars at a time, $5,000 here, $3,000 there, $10,000 there. but of course, it was practically worthless. and then when the war's over, there's really no payment for a time, until the u.s. currency started coming into play in the south, and they kind of got back on their feet. as he grew older, president wilson certainly remembered the war and reflected back on it from time to time. his father's church was turned into a stockade of sorts with union and confederate wounded that came here after the battle of chiccamaga, so he would have
seen the wounded soldiers in his father's church and surrounding it in the yard, so that would have had a profound impact. he thought of war as truly as hell and not a good thing. so when world war i began to escalate and there was an effort to get america allied with one side or the other, wilson being president resisted because he remembered war and he knew of its misery and what misery it could bring to the american people, and he wanted to avoid that, if at all possible, and all that goes right back to his experiences as a child during the civil war. this is the best room. the best room was the best space in the house reserved for your guest, and therefore, you have a bed and a bed chamber in here. but it would also double as a sitting room for more of the informal visits that the family might have had with more
intimate neighbors and friends that they did not need to take them to the formal parlor for. one of the things in this room that's really interesting is this thing that's interesting this glass pane which includes a scratch of the word tom that was done by the president himself as a child. he must have gotten his mother's diamond ring and scratched his name in the glass, which you often find in many old houses. so we're very certain that is him. his name was thomas woodrow wilson. he only dropped his first name after he started law school at the university of virginia because he felt one day he would become an important political
figure. he thought at that time he would be a senator. but he didn't think tommy wilson sounded dignified enough. so with his father's permission, he dropped thomas and just went by woodrow wilson, his mother's maiden name. top the as woodrow his grandfather and his grandmother mary. he was a great reformer. he was president of princeton. he was always examining the rules and trying to improve it. as president some of the first things he did the had economic
impact. he established, under his administration, the federal reserve act was established setting up a system of national banking. clayton trust act which took the anti-trust laws farther than they had gone in previous acts. there were child labor laws. and also railroad worker laws. eight hour days established. the child labor laws had to do with age limits on children working in fact,ryes which previously had almost no effect. there was no checks and balances on that. it actually had been coming along before. but the amendment that made senators elected directly by the
person rather than state legislature was ratified by wilson in 1913. one thing that is important to us in historic preservation is he established the national park service in 1916. the park existed before that. but he established what is now known as the national parks service to organize it all and a systemic way of administering the parks. one thing that people probably don't appreciate that he did the in the financial realm was the act that led to the establishment of the federal income tax, which is still with us. so many things that we take for granted and we off don't connect them to the wilson administration and his time
period. in november 1911 when president wilson was still running for new jersey, he was going around talk to go politically well connected including newspaper editors and press folk. so he came to augusta, spent a weekend here, had tours of the city, actually watched ty cobb downtown. there was a reception on so forth. sunday he went to church at his father's old church, as he always did. as he was sitting down and said this is the very table i sat at
at a child. and you showed me some of the scuff marks he made with his feet. he had a photograph taken in the yard. and this is taken during that visit. this is ms. severe and her daughter virginia and son john. it's the only one we have here taken at our site. a boy never gets over his boyhood and the subtle influences were formed in hip when he was a child. when people come to visit the
wilson house in augusta, we hope they leave with a number of ideas about the man woodrow wilson. how the federal government played an important role in people's lives as he experienced as a child. his easy, his religion all started here in august. his leadership. his leadership abilities started here in augusta with the lightfoot baseball club and eventually led to more and more organizations with more approximate more responsibility and grander and grander ideas until he was organizing the
entire world. we think that started here in this house. >> 100 years ago this past august, president wilson signed legislation creating the national park service. this is american history tv only on c-span3. ♪ >> the little white house got its name partly through accident, partly through just the fact that franklin roosevelt
had had a little white house. in our particular case, president truman was at everglades city dedicating the everglades national park in december 1947. and the press corps.started yelling, are you going to return to florida, mr. president? and he said, of course. i have a little white house. at that time it was painted gray. navy took this as a clear indication they were returning. so they painted it all white. it is no longer navy gray. it is all white for the little white house. i would like to welcome you to the harry s. truman's little white house. it has been used by seven american presidents. the little white house was built
as the navy commander's home back in 1890. it served a number of various commanders that were almost 100 year span. but it was slightly interrupted by presidents tafts, frankly roosevelt, dwight eisenhower, jimmy carter, bill clinton. and the department of defense. so we seem to have a continuum through american history. this building was the largest building on the naval base. this was 9,000 square feet. consequently, it was built as the pay master is and commander's home. by 1911 our new base realized it was getting a little snug. at that time key west was the command headquarters for the 7th naval district which covered
everything from key west to charleston. admiral nimitz is here. he find base has moved to smaller quarters. he doesn't want to bounce around. so he selected this large home sitting vacant. nimitz is here, sees the large house sitting empty, is impressed by all the top research by the u.s. navy. so he gets home to washington to learn the president of the united states has a hacking cough that he can't seem to shake. he immediately speaks up and says i have the perfect vacation venue. it's warm. i'm sure, mr. president, you would like key west. he came strictly for a week of r and r. he's relaxing with his friends. they are