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tv   Women of the White House  CSPAN  August 23, 2017 8:29am-9:35am EDT

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if you don't believe ignorance can be bliss it was so difficult for me because she was an idiot and happy, happy, happy.
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>> i love that. >> i do love that. >> he was constantly finding surrogates. he also had this very interesting relationship with his daughter. anna is living in the white house at the beginning of the roosevelt administration.
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she reports she debts papers that were supposed to go to eleanor roosevelt. she said i took them because i wanted that moment. eleanor was quite upset with her but not as upset as when franklin roosevelt is stricken and dies down in georgia. it turns out he is in the presence of his former lover and anna knew about it and facilitated it. >> ouch.
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when she moved into the white house she brought her little kids. they were beautiful children who lived with f.d.r. they would have their staff meeting every morning in his bedroom. he would be in bed and he would invite his grandchildren to come into the middle of the staff me meeting they would jump up on the bed. he decides he will read the funnies to his grandchildren. he would act them out. so he would play the woman and then play the man. the cabinet would just stand
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there. >> there were some. she thought louisa adams was too foreign. she had been educated in england. abigail thought she is never going to make it. john adams were friends but as time went on abigail came to really respect louisa and they developed a really close friendship. that was both family and two first ladies. i'm trying to think of who some of the others were. >> maybe we can talk more interestingly about feuds between first ladies.
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you mentioned a couple to me. >> she was marvellous in terms of how to handle kids in the white house, which is an important thing to emphasize. one of the things you see with nancy reagan and hillary clinton is they were always take tg negativity and let their wives kind of be the lightning rods.
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that's exploitation of the women but it was a dynamic that occurred. one feud we should talk about would be nancy reagan and barbara bush. it's 1980 and george h.w. bush and nancy -- and ronald reagan run against each other. reconciliation and ronald reagan but nancy reagan is constantly putting her in her place. nancy reagan makes it clear that the event isn't going to start in the barbara bush goes home and changes. >> there's a similar feud.
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mary todd lincoln will get in a boat to go into richmond to sort of over the defeated south. julia gets in the boat and sits down in a seat. mary todd lincoln says you're sitting in my seat. get up. julia got up. she never forgot this. and then when they had a carriage tour to see all of the lights to celebrate the victory of the north she invites her husband to join her in the carriage and just leaves julia sitting there. julia did not forget this. when they were invited to the theater the evening that lip ncn was killed julia says to her husband, i'm not going to be with that woman. thank goodness she didn't because her husband might have
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been killed as well. so there was a feud that turned out well for somebody. >> and holding a grudge too. >> yes. do you have any relationships between first lady? >> they were actually close to one another. they shared a correspondence. she was talking to her sister and talking to martha. she said she didn't want anymore children. she was going to have a baby and she was hoping this was the last one. she had four more after that.
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they were pretty close. >> martha was always there. they grew to be close. she didn't have her mother from the time she was 12 years old. so dolly was somebody who she, you know, bonded with. >> yeah. >> some times you can have a safe family feud. ivanka has shades of anna roosevelt in that she'll have some what of an official role. she also has shades because there's also that celebrity. >> she seems a bit better behaved. >> she would say if you don't have anything good to say come sit next to me. >> and roosevelt says that. >> and she would literally put an attack under the cushion of a dignitary and watch them sit and blow up. she jumped into a pool when she was on a cruise and met her
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second husband that way. >> she is the hand picked successor they discovered in the white house a little voodoo doll. >> let me start with you. was sally hemmings ever freed from slavery? >> she was informally freed.
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she moved in after jefferson died. if he had freed her a couple of things. she was over 45. she was at this point 53 years old. if you freed them you have to petition the legislature and you also had to say how you were going to take care of that person for the rest of their lives. you sort of imagined her putting that in a document allowing her to stay in the state and then saying here is how -- it was that they had been living together. she moves into charlottesville. she listed on a census in 1830 as a free white woman. in 1833 they do a special census to ask free blacks if they want to go back to africa. she says no. she is listed there as a free
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negro woman at that point. so it was informal freedom. she lives with her sons and dies in 1835. >> i have two question that is are virtually identical. who is good on this? >> i think she was very influenti influential. s he loved her very very much. i think this was a situation. it is a traditional kind of thing. it was not like she was there making policy or anything. his affection and devotion to her certainly made him. >> okay. but here is another one. let me go here. this is a question about women
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who are married to intraverts. the questioner brings up grace coolage and pat nixon. what is the difference when the president is an intravert? from the things i have heard he was not a womanizer. he was -- >> well -- >> what? >> the inflatable doll, does anybody know what i'm talking about? if you were around during nixon time it was close to skand and there was an inflatable mannequin or something.
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>> okay. >> i digress. >> i don't want to picture that. >> he wasn't a womanizer with real women. >> oh, my gosh. >> i wasn't expecting to get to that. >>. >> it gets ruined by his withdrawing further and further. let's jump ahead to 1973 and it's the worst spring of the nixon presidency. it is water gate. day after day revelations are immerging. richard nixon one night is sitting there watching a movie
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and julie nixon turns to her dad. she said you know you're not the only one suffering. mom is suffering too. then julie feels badly she shouldn't have done that. richard nixon says you know, you were right. that's a rare moment of humanity. >> and it's the family that tries to keep nixon together when the president of the united states is falling apart. >> he seemed too crazy. >> at the very end of the nixon presidency, when the pressure was really intense but before anybody realized he was about to leave office and run b run out
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of town it was pat nixon's birthday. i was a relatively young reporter in washington. word got out that he was taking his wife out to dinner for her birthday at trader vicks. i was lead to believe it was a cbs flnews exclusive. there were 10,000 reporters an cameras. pushing, shoving to get a picture. everybody crowds around nixon to ask him watergate questions. i was about 20 layers back. i turned to my right and there is pat nixon also pushed to the side. i was with helen thomas who knew pat nixon quite well. so pat turns to helen.
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tears are streaming down her face. she said helen, can you believe with what's gone on he took time to take me to dinner? i almost burst into tears. i wanted to say it. you mentioned there are invisible trip wires and you mentioned a couple. this person wants more trip wires. difficulties, expectations on first ladies. >> i can give you until about the 1830s. it was the unwritten rule that first lady did not go to visit anyone else. she had to wait until someone came to visit her.
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>> she was called lady washington and there was a concern it was like too grand in a way. for the first couple, the very first first couple they had to think about how to present themselves in a republican way, but it was really just that she
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was from virginia during that time period. it was not so much about wanting to be english. she was very high status person and they didn't really know what to do. >> it was really a fairly folksy woman. she would be knitting socks i
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interviewed erica and never caught about a judge. >> yeah. >> she tracked relentlessly. >> she runs away. they go -- we don't have her letters but george is constantly talking about martha, her wife who is insisting she be found. they never managed to find her.
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>> some people wanted that. there are others who become the supporters and the republican party who were against that. it is to be serious to people ton outside. martha said that the quote, the two worst days of her life when her husband died and when thomas jefferson came to visit. [ laughter ] >> they actually offered and he
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said absolutely not. i think if he had a wife zblsh she would have said put son clothes on.
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>> she turned that into -- it brought that energy to being first lady. very outspoken. i think it was more astonishing. the ideaf a black woman, the notion of being a lady, i mean to much of what slavery was about was to strip african american women from a notion of
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femininity and notion of being a lady. it was something they were not supposed to be. it had presented such a middle class american family to the 1950s almost. >> yes. she came on television and she did comedy routines. she had the job before she did. and then the message again and
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again, this goes to one of those. it is do not up stage the talent. the talent is always the president. i think she navigated that. >> and deliberate. and therefore for instance someone like me tried desperately to get an interview with her. she would only go on those shows where it could be light and talk about family and food and things like that and wouldn't go on any show where policy questions would be asked. >> and there was another for her which was the stereo type.
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all right. next question is about laura bush and what kind of impact she had on that presidency. >> it is at the george bush library. she is a lovely person. a librarian. i mean she has the -- >> and her substance. >> and just as beautiful, very kind after gracious person. i think remembering sort of made him -- she softened him. she was the person that you wanted to see. she started the national book. she was very involved in the
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national book festival, reading and i think she -- she was sort of the pleasant part. she was not pleasant but you were -- i was glad for her presence there. >> we forget how angry people were at george w. bush. somebody from the audience said she is also going to stop you from drinking. he sobered up. he was a party boy and was really quite out of control. and i think it was her influence and presence. >> that is a very sly role for a woman to be the moral influence on her. >> yes. >> i have a very sly question. i know you'll remain anonymous, but i like this question because it kind of relates to what's happening right now. was there ever a first lady who
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did not live in the white house with the president besides right now? >> eliza johnson didn't go at first. >> she came at some point but for long stretches of time. >> what about truman? >> first i was going to say martha washington because there was no white house. >> trick question. >> but truman hated being in the white house. she wanted to be back home in missouri as often as possible. she sent her laundry back to missouri to show she really was not buying this whole president thing. >> he put up with her. >> right. she burned all othe letters she had written to himver the years. she said what about history? she said that's what i'm thinking about. she felt he had joined history and he didn't want to. there was a lot of back and
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forth. the nice thing is they wrote. he is often in the dog house. you're trying to manage being president and the cold war and worrying about her being unhappy that she is there. >> okay. i think we are getting the hook pretty soon. let me ask my question that i care a lot about. grandmother first ladies, there have been several, right? do we know anything? >> yeah. they are more in their 50s at least in the 19th century many of them became first ladies at 52, 56 and so they did have grandchildren. >> besides what i told you, did they live in the white house? >> it was something i always wanted to write about. >> the first child born until
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half way house was jefferson's grandson, james mad son. the first child born in the white house was the child from a slave he had brought. jefferson's grandchildren did live for a time in the president's house. >> okay. a famous picture of them in the bed with all of the grandchildren scamping around. he is having trouble saying the word i. it is showing they are human. >> and those -- barbara bush once gave a group of supporters a tour. i was in the group and i wentd
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into the lincoln bedroom, i'm not making this up, toys everywhere. they really had their grandchildren around. my story is about eleanor roosevelt. everybody knows she and her mother-in-law had a very tense relationship. i picked up a book by one of the grandchildren and i discovered eleanor was a very cold grandmother and sarah, the great grandmother, was the great grandmother. they loved her. she was a trip kal grandmother. over inall j them and just to make sure everybody knew what was happening. guess what they called eleanor?
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>> mrs. roosevelt? >> nand fact i told that story here one night and one of the grandchildren stood up and told -- >> yes. i remember. >> we are always thrill today have you. you're a great audience. i want to give a special thanks to leslie. i don't know how many years we have been doing women in the white house panel. she shows up every time and she does many other programs with us. keep your eye out for leslie. she is always coming back. [ applause ] >> thank you.
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>> thank you so much. [ applause ] and just another announcement for another program. i think louis was talking about the program in may. we also have one coming sunday, march 19th to be interviewed and his to y'all david ruben stein. come to that as well. come back for more. thank you all so much. [ applause ]
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the u.n. warned of a possible humanitarian crisis of the congo. they have asked for elections by the rest of the year. this morning the human rights commission will host a discussion on the political and human rights situations in the drc. live coverage beginning at 11:00 a.m. eastern on cspan and you can also follow on and with the cspan radio app. sunday night on q and a, the lives of winston churchhill and george orwell. we talk with thomas rigs about
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the fight for freedom. interestingly he admired church hill and wrote really he was the only conservative he admired. >> sunday night on q and a. now a conversation on first lady forrens harding and the influence she had advocating for veterans assistance and animal rights. we'll hear from cakatherine sinally. behind the tragedy and controversy, the center for presidential history at southern methodist hosted this


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