tv First Ladies Influence Image CSPAN August 10, 2013 7:00pm-8:36pm EDT
♪ >> dolley was socially adept and politically savvy. >> she was his best friend. she compensated. >> james madison wishes to meet her. >> she carved out a space for women where they can wield a great deal of political power. >> dolley madison would sit at the head of the table and erect -- direct the conversation. >> she got these people to the white house and entertained them. got them together and got them talking. >> this was important to her to ande everyone feel welcome. the means or allies. >> she popularized the style of
american style. it was considered her classic look. people noticed it. >> it was a perfect setting for james and dolley madison. as they try to resume government as quickly as possible. >> she sat side by side with james compilingelping him. and arranging his papers. >> she moved back to washington d.c. in her elder years and became very much behind the scenes in a political field again. >> as henry clay famously said, everybody loves mrs. madison. her equally famous response "that's because mrs. madison loves everybody." >> dolley madison came to her service as first lady with experience during thomas jefferson's two terms. the president often called on her to assist him. this sense of the usefulness of diplomacy allowed dolley to hit the ground wanting when she
assumed the role in 1809 as her husband james madison became andpresident.good evening welcome. tonight we will learn about the intriguing dolley madison. we have two guests at our table. let me introduce you to them. catherine allgor, an author and biographer of dolley madison. and a historian. one of her books is called "a perfect union." thank you for being here. edith mayo was the creator of the first lady's exhibit at the smithsonian. so many smithsonian visitors have seen this throughout the years. thank you for being here tonight. >> it is a pleasure. >> any 21st century woman who starts to read about dolley madison can see parallels to their own lives. in the way she seemed to approach her role in washington.
was she, in fact, ahead of her time? a sort of modern person in the early 1800's, or not? >> that is the paradox. she was raised in a certain culture. when she became first lady, she started adopting a path that paved the way for modernity. she also creates the first lady role that we have come to know. so every first lady, everyone from her all the way up, looked to her. so she opened the door for a lot of women. >> we are trying to show the parallels among them, how they handle things. what are some of the things that dolley madison contributed to the role? >> i think in our first segment about martha washington, you saw martha as the person who protected the aspect of the role, which was the social partner to the president, and
hostess for the nation. then when you get to abigail, she becomes a political partner with her husband and pioneers that role. dolley is the one that brings the two of them together. she becomes the social and political partner for her husband. i think that sets all kinds of precedents for the future first lady. she is kind of, still, held up as a standard by which people measure themselves today. >> we will spend the first 35 minutes on those important white house years. it was such an interesting time for the country and we want to make sure you understand the history of it. later on we will go back in time and learn about her biography, how this young quaker woman became an internationally known first lady and we will end up with her legacy. that's what tonight looks like. we welcome your participation. throughout the program, we will have phone lines open. you can send us a tweet and use #firstladies.
and we have a c-span page on facebook. so lots of ways to add your voice to our discussion tonight. now, i have been getting e-mails from people wanting to know more about martha jefferson. they are saying, what happened? we skipped the third presidency? we talked about dolley madison's role. what happened to martha jefferson? >> she was not in the white house because she died very early on. she and jefferson were married for 10 years. then she died in childbirth. so he was a widower when he moved into the white house. and he needed someone to oversee these parties when both sexes present. it was thought to be unseemly to entertain in mixed company if you did not have a partner present.
so he would sometimes ask dolley madison. >> he did not entertain very much. >> he entertained in a private way. he did not have large entertainments like washington or adams or the madison spirit. >> the capital was getting used to that. >> i think there was criticism not because he was not social, but because he did not invite the women as often as he did the men. he preferred to have a lot of male company and conduct actual political conversations. he also did away with all kinds of rank and protocol. which was very criticized at that time. but he wanted everyone to be treated as equals. he thought that's what the nation was all about.
>> how important was the relationship between thomas jefferson and the madisons? >> they were very important. james madison and thomas jefferson were very close political allies. it is natural when jefferson is elected. i want to say something about jefferson's social program. it is not an accident. he was not interested in power sharing. he was interested in securing his own political power. he had dinner parties with men of one party or the other. so he would sit with the republicans, as they were called, and he would rally his supporters. then there would be a dinner party with the opposition, the federalists, and that was all about keeping an eye on the enemy. the idea brought up about the lack of women, which was why her role in the jefferson administration is not the big story of that time, he had seen women, and women at social
events. he was horrified and shocked, especially about their political power, because it fell outside the official power. he cut off all the events and the white house was open only fourth of july and new year's day. that was partly because he wanted to curtail the power of women. there was something else going on at the white house, and that was dolley madison setting up the connection of networked she would bring to the white house. during the first year, the center of social and political life was not the white house, but the house on f street. >> here are a few bullet points about the country in 1810. when thomas jefferson took office. you remember last week, it was a 35% growth.
so this country is booming. bursting at the seams. even though the seams were smaller in those days. of those, 16% were slaves. the largest cities were new york city, philadelphia, baltimore, and bosnia.-- boston. what should we know about the most important political events of the madison administration? what was the timelinelike and how important was dolley in helping navigate those times for her husband? >> the first story of two was the union. i think you are getting a sense of the early republic, it was a time of great anxiety. no one was sure this union was going to hold. people at the time would refer to the united states in the plural. they would say, the united states of america are. which signaled that it was not
quite holding together. there was a fear it was holding -- going to fall apart. they called it regionalism, and later they call is sectionalism as they head to the civil war. so we know that nation is going to be a strong nation state, it is a democracy, and a two-party system and a strong president. that was none of the things the founders had intended. we look back and see that time as a time of growing pains. and we see dolley madison not knowing how this would end, was the perfect person to ease into the country and twa it was going to be. >> serving as the chief executive of the nation, he
brought the real concept of how he wanted the role to be carried out. how did he approach it and how did she help him? >> well, you said "concept," and i think that's perfect, because he was the idea guy. he was very theoretical. he and other members of the founding generation understood as a concept "unit." it was their number one job. how do you do it? how do you bring forth unity? what dolley madison did is take that concept and translate them into action. so she was enacting unit on the national stage. >> how? >> the first thing somebody alluded to in the beginning, she brought people together. every wednesday night, it does matter if the vice president has died, there will be a drawing room. she put people in the room together. that sounds nice. this is about more than just nice. the early republic is a time of survival. the feeling of this union is exacerbated in washington
because the all the regionalisms come together with, i would say, the most fractious congress we have ever had. these are people who did not just disagree with each other, but they dueled and fought each other industries and on the floors of congress. that is why bringing people together and treating each other as humans is not just lovely but crucial. >> this concept is exactly the kinds of things martha washington and abigail adams used. >> it is very different from what they had done. theirs is extremely formal. dolley's was much more open. you have everybody in dolley's drawing room able to have access to the chief executive and his lady. that is very important for forging a unity in the united states. also, dolley creates, she starts
out as the wife of the secretary of state. what she is doing is forging a social network on which politics and diplomacy could be conducted in a civilized manner through the ceremonial forms of dinners, receptions, parties, and so forth. some of these tensions and animosities that played themselves out in the halls of congress had a way of being resolved at parties. in an amicable way. she is really forging new networks that will work for both politics and society. >> this concept you write about in several books, the subtitle is, the creation of the american nation. you write about the fact that the women of this class understood their power and their ability to be able to use social skills to build the nation. >> the founders understood the
american revolution was more than a political revolution they were going to build the world anew. that meant everything was under consideration. they were going to score and eliminate everything of the old world. they came from kings and monarchies and courts. they turn to the women, and this is a political theory. it says that, in a culture, laws can come and go. what they call manners stay. manners are the way people treat each other and how they regard each other and how they behave. this is very appealing to the new americans. for one thing, they are inventing a whole bunch of laws they are not sure people will buy, and they need people to behave. the phrase they used was republican virtue. and that is republican with a small "r." that meant people would put the interests of the country before themselves.
how do you get people to do that? they looked to the women of the class to start enforcing national matters. these white women of the cities were very conscious of that. >> here are the phone lines. if you live in the eastern or central time zones, our number is 202-585-3880. mountain time 202-585-3881. please dial carefully. we will take calls and another 10 minutes. this is a facebook question. i will turn to you has a long time curator of first ladies. the early first ladies for excellent writers, writing hundreds of notes in their lifetimes. in what condition are these early letters? we saw thousands of letters last week. but what about dolley madison? what did she preserved? did she have a sense of her
legacy? >> i think she did have a sense of her legacy. i think is he is writing to her sister as the british were coming to burn the white house. she is telling her sister what she is doing and what she is saving so there will be something to put in the history books. she wants it known she is saving the documents, the important pieces of silver, the portrait of george washington for which she is so famous, but she is writing as everything is being packed to be carted off to virginia for safety. so she is very aware of what she is doing, and she writes a number of letters to her family members. >> i want to weigh in. we know as historians, this is the heart of what we do. these are the primary sources. for a long while, to find dolley's actual letters was really hard to do. but in the 1990's holly shulman
at the university of virginia and another person began collecting her papers and published them in a lovely book. but there is now a web master of dolley madison, so these are the papers that are really crucial. we also have writing from her niece. mary writes about her aunt. a lot of those stories, which must have come from dolley herself, which tells us that later in her life, she is getting a sense of her legacy. she cannot intrude upon the public notice as a man would, but she gave her these memoirs, which have now been published for the first time. people can read those. >> we have a video to show you throughout the night of places
that were important to dolley madison. if you go on tour at the white house, you see a room called the red room. it was important to dolley madison. ♪et's watch. >> the portrait of dolley madison hangs in the red room. she sits in a red chair. red fabrics complemented the fabric in her chair. she is an inspiration for that room. the red room was, in fact, wrell yellow under dolley madison. the red color was introduced in 1820's and 1830's. the furniture of the period was from the american empire. it would have been that style in her lifetime. two of the most interesting in the room are the bust of martin van buren, and the portrait of his daughter in law. angelica, that has the white marble bust painted into the back
ground. and the fact that dolley madison is connected to that store years later. when president van buren was inaugurated, president madison had died the year before and she had moved back to washington. she was the most important woman in washington. president van buren was a widower. dolley madison basically introduced angelica to her husband to be, the president's eldest son. she became the hostess for the white house. in the chain of first ladies, she is strictly a wife largely as a result of dolley madison doing matchmaking. >> what condition was the white house? and washington, d.c. as a new capital city? >> well, washington, d.c. was a very muddy place. abigail had written home it was the very dirties hall of a place that she had ever been in her life. the rooms were rutted, the
houses were separated, far apart. it is not like we think of it today at all. it is very rudimentary. so i think part of what she is doing is building a social network among the women so that a lot of this is overlooked for politics and diplomacy and fashion, can carry people over the fact that we are not living in some fantastic capital of the world. >> question on twitter, did dolley know abigail adams? >> yes. she was there. this is one of the stories her niece said when james madison was courting dolley, martha washington confronted her and
asked if it was true what they say. she said, i think it is wonderful. even if he is much older than you. what is interesting about abigail is there is one letter i think 1816, so quite far into abigail's life, and she writes asking for a favor of dolley madison and now though we have not had the opportunity to meet, so you know they did not actually meet. but she was writing to give a job to a relative. sometimes you study women's history. it is a huge patronage network. men will not accept patronage, it is too royal, too corrupt. here we have wives and daughters
playing on patronage the whole time. we have one moment where we have a former first lady and president's wife asking another for patronage. >> that was part of what was thought of as a first lady's role at the time. >> who were some of her biggest congressional allies of the time? >> henry is the famous one. the reason we know about him, it gives you a glimpse of behind the curtain and how politics works. leading up to the war of 1812, james madison was not sure he wanted to go to work. -- war. he was so secretive about it, scholars disagree. some thought he did want to goto war, some thought he did nt. he had to walk a fine line. he needed allies. he had dolley do it. he had famous stories. we have to look at these things as a form of political analysis.
he shared about the snuff box. you have to look -- the people at the time weren't just sayingt dolley madison and henry clay. they were trying to read the energy. she courted people on both sides of the aisle. that was a good thing about her. people knew there was something up in the air. >> our c-span web site is rerobust on the first ladies. there will be a special feature each week you can see only on the web. if you go there tonight, you can see how dolley madison's snuffbox. how important was snuff to her? >> she was addicted, i'm afraid. >> this is one of the modern concepts. the women patriots knew how to use their own power for the sake of our young country. wives wishing to please their husbands.
>> perhaps a little of each. i think these women were very away of their place in history. particularly if you are a first lady. even early on, you know you are centrally positioned to influence aspects of politics. i think they probably would never have used the term feminism or feminist, but i think they knew exactly what they were doing. and they enjoyed wielding the power that was given to them. >> the first question comes from scotty in tennessee. are you there? >> i am calling in the show for the first time. >> welcome. >> thank you. did she know anything about the affair he had with hemmings?
>> the big story for her is not helping thomas jefferson as a hostess. we do not know anything much about dolley madison. there is a story i read about paul jennings, james madison's body servant. the first person to write a white house memoirs. he was a slave. there was a story that dolley madison asked henry, name one of her sons after james madison. in this rendition of the story, she does not get the gift. >> in a related question from twitter, what was dolley madison's opinion of thomas jefferson and did the madisons ever visit monticello? >> i think they visited back and
forth. they were good friends and knew each other for many years. maybe you have more information on that. what is the distance between their home and monticello? >> it is a little ways. when we talk about retirement years, the few times james madison leaves his beloved is to visit thomas jefferson. i would say we do not know the true opinion of a lot of people of dolley madison because she was very cautious. thomas jefferson seemed to love her, even though she is conducting a social circle under his nose and nobody hated like thomas jefferson. the fact that he adored dolley speaks volumes about her. >> catherine is up next. >> thank you for taking my call. my question is, i know that dolley madison was raised a quaker and her first
husband was a quaker. and was a member of the friends church, and then she left it and married james madison. i read stories about her father freed slaves and testimony to abolition of slavery. i was wondering, how do you think her quaker upbringing influenced her as a first lady. >> i will cut to the chase. we do not know enough about her childhood. my theory on this is one of the central tenets of quakerism is to record people as god. dolley goes on to become -- that is why they do not use titles. dolley became famous for being empathetic and warm. she would talk to people as if
they were the only person in the room, and i think that came from her quakerness. >> and i believe the reason she was able to take on this role so well is because she believed men and women were equal. so you don't get any sense from her of being lesser than. she fits right in and built her name. i think that comes from her quaker background as well. >> the first white house allocated a salary. was it still that much at the time? >> i do not know. >> most presume it was. it was about $1.10 million today. that is a lot. similar to what we pay presidents today. who paid for all these social functions? did they have to pay out of their own salaries for all the events we are talking about? >> yes. this was the time that was part
of the deal going into public service. this is why rich white men were supposed to take on the burden of public serve because it came out of the public pocket. the madisons were not the first presidential couple to leave much poorer than when they came in. there was quite a hefty amount given to her to redo the mansion, which she did very well and spend the money very well. >> a furnishing budget. the previous occupants had brought their own furniture in many instances. then when they left the presidency, they took it home with them. jefferson was one of those who did that. washington when he was in new york and philadelphia. but this was the thing that dolley wanted to do because she thought that it needed a stately, elegant look for the new nation. so they took the decorating
very, very seriously and wanted to make it look as if it could be on what equal terms with the powers of europe so that they could conduct diplomatic negotiations in a proper setting. >> it sounds to me, there is a constant push and pull between wanting to be seen as equal. but at the same time -- >> a real dichotomy. >> it is one of the reasons we look at women, as well. it gets resolved with women. you have the revolution and the fight against everything it stands for, but now you have the nation. how are you going to speak with legitimacy and authority? the only power they have is royalty. we have strange moments and they
go back and forth. john adams is arguing for titles of the presidency. the women of these families took it on. mr. washington is mr. president. martha washington is lady washington. james madison is mr. president. dolley is queen dolley. the men have to travel this very strict line, but the women get to have an aristocratic title. that is one of the messages she is sending out the women at that time, and it was understood a lot at the beginning of that is predicated on loyalty. >> a lot of people called her presidentess. >> who called her queen dolley? >> a lot of people. >> she dressed a queen. she looked every inch a queen. sometimes they say she looked like a bride and a queen.
so her elegance of dress, she bought a lot of her material in paris. so she is very elegantly dressed, and she looks to american eyes as a queen. and that's fine, because she is not the head of state. she is walking a very fine line where she expresses the finer things to which the nation aspires. she is not royalty. she is always walking a very fine line down the middle. >> you provided a wonderful segue to our next video. >> oh, did i? >> it is at mont pilliar which is the restored home of the madisons and open for tours. put it on your list if you ever get to virginia. they have a display that talks about dolley madison's dresses. we will show you that now. >> most of the dresses we have at the visitor's center are
based on descriptions we have of the way she dressed. one dress we own is a recreation of something that we still have. this is typical of the style of the day. classical lines. it was much more simple and elegant than the fashion before or after. this is the style she would have worn while she was first lady. it is the regency style. many of the dresses were more elegant. this represents what she wore at her inaugural. this was james madison's first inaugural. at the ball she wore what was described as a simple bust velvet. she wore pearls. that was something more classically elegant but less ostentatious than the diamonds you would normally find in the courts of europe. dolley was setting a style that was unique to american fashion.
a lot of people think she set the fashion of the turban. that is not quite true. it began in persia and moved to france and england. but dolley popularized the style, and that was considered her classic look. she would wear some extravagant turban often topped with feathers on her head. people notice it. sometimes, they thought her fashion was a little too regal. there was one instance where she edgingtl in her turban. people said this was she lookedng things. too regal and too
queenly. they were afraid queen dolley was setting the wrong tone. toward the end of her life, she wore many of the fashions she wore in her earlier day. some of this may have been to evoke that american founding. she was the last living matriarch of the generation. some of it was because of the growing tenury in her life. she did not have the money to where the latest fashions. she had to where many of her old clothes and repurpose them. she had several paintings made of her final days. she is often wearing the same thing. >> one other thing we should mention is for her time, she was quite tall. >> she was. i think she was 5' 7" and a half, and maybe taller than her husband. >> i have an image of the two of them standing next to each other. dolley in her turbans and james madison in the style of the revolution.
it does not work. >> and it became politicized, so a lot of the criticism toward the madisons focused on james madison being so tiny and pygmie-like. this was a time where political authority was male. thomas jefferson, big and tall. washington was described as a hunk. and then this little tiny guy. he probably had his press secretary coming out, saying he is 5' 6," and he is not. size mattered. her heights and good health led to rumors of her sexuality. that she was overtly sexual, and that she was, in their words, too taut, and the reason the -- reason they never had children
was because she was -- he was burning up his energies. you realize things were quite serious. >> she was also during the campaign accused of having an affair with jefferson because she had been his hostess on various occasions. they extrapolated into a personal affair. >> were able to put that to rest? >> i think they were. he would not have been re- elected if people had actually thought that that accusation was the truth. >> there were questions about dolley madisons approach to her image and the way she dressed. was this a conscious decision to stand apart as opposed to personal taste or vanity? she was creating a brand, in other words? >> yes. you have to look at the context. this is a new nation. we know it is very fragile. there is not a lot of
bureaucracy or structure. --at was delivered. deliberate. there was not a lot of structure. people at the time focused on the personalities and on the figure of the person. we have all the descriptions of george washington. they talk about his grandeur and all this stuff. it seems like george washington is posing for statues. in the republic, it becomes dolley and descriptions of her are on the move. it does not sound as much like "fashion police" but a form of political analysis. she deliberately created this. she is not wearing what an actual queen would wear, but would wear an adaptation. what she would imagine america would consider a queen, and she put that on her turban to make her even taller. >> how would americans react to this? the newspapers had reports with descriptions of what she was
wearing? >> and how it was. >> were they proud? >> i think they were mostly proud. the federalists were a little put off by this. they thought it was a little too regal and court like. but there was a lot of talk about creating a republican court with a small "r." that is a group of people who headed up government but with the idea of having a republic instead of a monarchy. that is part of what she was doing. one of the things that is ingenious about dolley is she takes european influences and filters them through a democratic lens. so they give you something to aspire to as a new nation and how elegant and how wonderful it can be, but you don't offend people who dislike the courts and the royalty of europe.
>> i told you i wanted to get this in. she also had a parrot? >> it was a mccaw, actually. i don't want to get a lot of angry letters from parrot lovers. >> yes. apparently it was a terror and would attack people. she played her own part in this last moment when everybody throughout the white house, there is a white french servant, and he takes the bird over to the house where she lived long enough to make it to montpelier and somebody forgot to take it in at night and she was the victim of a nighthawk. >> oh, dear. >> maybe some people in washington secretly cheered. [laughter] >> it is time to talk about the important decision to go to war with great britain. and the eventual seizure of the
capital city, which happened in 1814. there is a dramatic story about dolley madison being in the white house alone and the approaching british troops. we will start with you about telling us that story. and would you fill it in. >> the background of all of this is they had been gone for a couple of years. there were rumors around the city that the capital was a target. the washington city had an inferiority complex. the man in charge would say, they are never coming to washington. baltimore is the place. some of the british did march on washington city. washington is not prepared. she is alone in the white house. she refers to, on the day before what was going to be the last day of the white house, august 14, 1814, i hope i have that day right, and she is waiting for her husband to come home while she is preparing for the worst.
she is writing this letter for her sister and running up to the roof looking for a husband. she is observing how badly the battle is going. she is also packing things, she is packing silver and what she considers the people's possessions, and she sends them away in carts. and finally, the word comes and it is time to go. >> the british were coming. >> how endangered was she? >> if she waited any longer, she might have been captured. that would have been a huge prize of war. she knew she had to leave. she wanted to wait for her husband to come home, but she knew she had to leave. and then they reunited a couple days later. apparently she had the table set for dinner, and the british came in and thought that was wonderful.
but she did save the portrait of washington which was one of the things that endeared her to the entire nation. she knew exactly what she was doing. writing about it, she knew what her place in history was going to be. >> are you worried about the fact that even this is symbolic, because it was a copy of the painting, but she understood the british do not be seen burning a picture -- >> yes, exactly. >> a historian is trying to decide whether she was symbolic as they say. so admiral coburn sent all his threats toward dolley mads son. -- madison. he was going to come and dine at madison's table. he was going to parade her to the streets. he was not attacking james madison with rhetoric, but her. when he got to the white house and she was not there, he took
things of hers because he said he wished to warmly recall mrs. madison's seat. the dinner party was interesting, too. it seems odd to have a dinner party one washington was an exodus. she was trying to hold the capital together even as it was falling apart. she intended to have a dinner party that day. >> here is some of the text she penned to her sister as she was leaving the white house. "now, dear sister, i must leave this house or the retreating army will make me a prisoner in it by filling up the road i am directed to take. when i shall again write you or where i will be tomorrow, i cannot tell!" >> there was a great deal of conversation about should the capital still remain in washington, which was now destroyed? or should they move the capital back to philadelphia? so james and dolley leave
the octagon house was only a few blocks away, and immediately began to entertain in a grand style. this really sent a signal to diplomats in washington and congress and the people, that they were not going to turn tail and run, but stay in the capital. >> next, we will visit that house by video. >> this building is very important to dolley madison in her career as first lady. the octagon is two blocks from the white house. it was a natural fit for james and dolley madison as they tried to resume government as quickly as possible. the majestic, elegant, spacious house was the perfect setting for the events that dolley needed to orchestrate and manage in the life of the president. this is the entry foyer. this is why the house is known as the octagon.
it was a round room very popular in those days. this was an important room to welcome guests. as you can see, it is a round room. when you are in this room, no matter where you stand, you are equal. this was very important for dolley to make everybody feel welcome, be they enemiesor allies. the room is a good example of why this house was so good for dolley. she was known for her wednesday drawing room event. they had 200 to 300 people before the war coming, and during the war, up to 500 people were coming. this room, of course, could only fit about 50 to 100 people, but it still served that very important purpose for dolley. the nation was still at war when the madisons were here. dolley was playing an important role. she often had different people
here, and important members of congress would be seated at the table. many discussions took place in this room while she was the hostess. it was important to maintain a sense of decorum for the president and first lady. the business was going to go on and the united states would survive and continue. >> and we have a question on facebook about whether or not it was true that she thought democracy was important to mix people of various social classes at these events. >> that was part of what endeared her to people. that she did have access to just about anyone who was maybe not well dressed, but properly dressed. in other words, you do not have to be elegant or rich. if you are properly dressed, you could have access to the family. >> there was discussion about boots. for some people, she is way too regal and too much.
for other people, they look at this democratic reaching out and they are suspicious of it. they expressed their reservations around the issue of boots. a gentleman would never come on a carpet with boots on. >> washington was a different place at the time. >> she welcome congressman from different areas. they pointed to that as a sign of her dangerous tendencies. >> this is a specific question of local history. is it true she escaped the war on what is now madison boulevard? >> i do not know. he goes to bellevue, now the house you can go and visit.
then they do go across the room and she spends the time at the plantation. she does end at that house which is still standing now, which is valona. i think the road probably reflects that. >> was she safe when she crossed the river? >> she was. i was lucky enough to go there. she said when she was standing on the hill that she could see washington burn. >> barbara is up next in new york city. >> could either of your guests speak to a story i read about dolley madison that she stopped at a store in baltimore owned by a black woman and that it was there that she first tasted ice cream and she loved it and she served it very
frequently at her social gatherings after that. do either of your guests know anything about that? >> ice cream and dolley madison became synonymous later on in 20th-century america. >> i do not know the accuracy of that particular story. i think jefferson was the one who was credited with actually bringing ice-cream back from france. dolley certainly served it in the white house. but where she found it, i don't know. >> i have to think this story sounds frivolous, but it actually has a serious import. the story is probably not true, because i think washington served it, as a matter of fact. it is the association people tell me, she invented ice cream. she did not. what happens is, almost immediately after her death, she became closely associated as a
symbol of american womanhood. her name and image get coopted by everything to ice cream hairpins, a sexy brand of cigars. she becomes a brand so quickly that the association becomes one of those things that people think she invented it. it goes to how important she was --d how large she moved in the loomed in the american imagination. >> and how people wanted to attach whatever their product was to her name and that would recommend it. she foreshadows what francis cleveland does in the late 19th century,where francis's face and name are plastered on all kinds of products for sale. >> today, how has the white house approached that? >> well, i think they try to skirt it as much as possible. >> louie in washington, d.c., welcome.
>> thank you. this is a fascinating program. i have enjoyed being on with you myself, susan. no question she was extraordinarily courageous. here she is, not just worried about getting out herself, but do we know, did she walk? did she ride when she took those valuables and the painting? one of the drawings shows her walking. how did she personally get away? and where did she cross the potomac in order to get into virginia? do we know that? >> why do i get the geography questions? >> i will say this, she said all these papers, including james madison's notes, she takes them and sends them away in these carts. at the last minute, she decided on a painting.
there is some evidence it might even be a copy. but it didn't matter, she understood the psychological import. she got her servant to wrestle it off the wall and she gave it to two gentlemen from york who put it in a car and took it away. something would survive and she herself is taken away by carriage. i do not know where she crossed. >> john is in new york. >> thank you for taking my call i understand dolley madison died in poverty. i was wondering if that is true and if so, how that happened. and i know eliza hamilton lived around the corner from dolley madison in their old age, and i was curious what interaction they had given that they probably had so much to talk about. i was wondering if they had ever
happened. thank you very much. >> how far into american history was it? >> a while. what they had was what they lived on when they retired. the supposition was, if you were wealthy enough to get into politics in the first place, you would be able to support yourself after wards. but dolley had a 'ner-do-well son from her first marriage. he ran through their estate. he ran up enormous debts and ended up in prison twice. each time james and dolley would bail him out. ofe unwisely put him in charge montpelier,v and that was a disaster. she ended up losing mount pilliar and dying in poverty. >> was she not a good judge of character? >> one of the great political guess she brought to a very contentious time in politics, it was a refusal to contend.
she did not fight. she kind of squelcheddissension around her. which is great. but it is not great when you have a son that is being spoiled and needs to be stopped. this was her blind spot. all of that would not work with him. i want to answer the question about elisa hamilton. they did know each other. in 1848, when they laid the cornerstone for the washington monument, the sponsors decided to bring the relics of the republic. widows were called relics. they invited by dolley madison louisa captain john adams and eliza hamilton, because it was understood that these women were representatives of the time. >> we have about 35 minutes left in our portrait of dolley it's time to answer this question, who was this woman?
we visited the house where she grew up and was a quaker. we will show you that now. >> this is her house in philadelphia. here, she becomes wife, mother, and a widow. this room was a kitchen of the house. you would probably find her with her two sisters. she would often have her younger sister living here with her. as quakers, they did not believe in slavery. her husband gave free legal advice to the abolitionists society here. this is a dining room. in the todd house. this room was a multiuse room. not only did their family dine here, but they also used it for educational purposes. the quakers believed that both men and women should be educated. so as you can see, on the table there are books here and a place for educating her sisters
and later her son. in august of 1793, a french ship arrived in philadelphia it was carrying passengers suffering from yellow fever. anyone who had money sent their family outside the city and the todd who had a successful lawyer did that. he will die of yellow fever on october 24, 1793. the same day john dies of yellow fever, dolley's baby will die, as well. not only has she lost her husband, her protector, but also she has the quaker community watching her. within six months she has gentleman who are interested. even as she walked down the the street, her friends would tease her that all the men were
stopping to stare at her. the quakers watched her closely. her friends warned her she needs to be aware they are watching her and she needs to be right by her son. this property is partly his property, too, even though he's only 2 years old at the time. dolley has to contend with the scrutiny of the community and have to go to court to petition the court to be guardian of her own son because that was the situation in those days for women in terms of rights. also, even though dolley's husband had mate her the executor of his will, her brother-in-law has kept the property so she has to hire a lawyer to protect her interests from her own brother-in-law. this is on the second floor of the house. this is where you would entertain your friends. one of the men interested in meeting her was james madison. he was a congressman here in capital city. philadelphia was the
contemporary capital of the united states at the time.it was an exciting place to be. and james madison was friends with aaron burr. aaron burr had been living in his mother's boarding house. it is aaron burr who let's her know that james madison wishes to meet her. james madison would meet dolley in this parlor for the first meeting. in the quaker community, they expected at least a year of mourning before they get married again. it really raised eyebrows in the community that she was married within less than a year. she was very scrutinized by the quakers for that. the fact that he is not a quaker and she would be put out of the community as well. >> that's a little bit of a where was shel.
born? she want to be virginia born and bred. her mother's folks are from virginia and probably her father's as well. >> john converts to quakerism and they go off and live in north carolina in a quaker community. as far as we know dolley was born there so she is north carolina's only first lady. what is sad about that she spends most of her life denying it. we think it has to do with her father's shady business practices and they move back to virginia. so she's raised in the world of slave holding. >> her father released his
slaves as a quaker. is that the cause of his inability to continue his business? >> i think he had other problems besides that. he couldn't farm so they moved to that chilly northern city of philadelphia. >> i'm not sure if you know so much about her thoughts of slavery. how is it that she reconciled herself to actually having slaves in the white house? >> i think that's a good question. i'm not sure i know the answer to that. but she did not free any of her slaves as her father had. and she didn't speak out against slavery so the quaker background there did not affect her slave holding. >> this is why historians have a hard job. >> it's a real dichotomy.
>> her father frees slaves and go to philadelphia. for ten years things are terrible for the pains in philadelphia. children die. her mother has to open up a boarding house. she's pushed into marrying john todd. she has two children, one of them dies. then she's this beautiful 25- year-old widow. and you could argue she could have had her pick of any man but she picks james madison. turns out to be a great pick. but why does she do that? it's one of those moments she said i could go back to the world i lived in but we don't have anything from her at the. what we do know is by the time she's a woman in middle age and old she has exactly the same kind of attitude toward enslaved americans that southerners had which is the inability to understand them as humans.
>> when james madison dies and doesn't free slaves, everyone begins to blame dolley. part of that is fine because she starts selling slaves as soon as some of that as a reflection. >> what about her quaker roots affected the kind of woman she became if this aspect did not? >> i think we're back to the empathy thing. >> the peacemaking. the idea you don't make war. >> do we know if she counseled her husband against going to war since quakers don't believe in fighting wars? >> we don't know. if you read her letters, she's as partisan as anybody. she has the white house defensiveness. i think she probably supported him 100% in what he decided to do but her own nature was always
to conciliate. >> how did dolley feel about women's education? >> what we know about her was she was a very well educated woman for her day, any class. we're not sure how she got there because she was a southerner and southerners did not educate she spent time in philadelphia. we know from her handwriting that she was very well educated. she never had a daughter so we don't know what she would have done but i'm sure she would have given her daughter a good education. >> the quakers believed in educating women as well as men so she benefited from that. she takes that background with her into the first ladies role. >> what qualities did she see in james madison when he was so much her opposite?
>> well, i think opposites attract many times. i think she was very impressed with his intellect understand private he was thought to be very amusing and very entertaining. and so i think that's the side of him that she saw while they were courting. >> and it's interesting that aaron burr provided the link between the two. you get the sense of these people who were part of the american cannon were a small community. >> it's a small world. and james madison fell in love with her and was very romantic. he was in his mid 40's and had never married which was odd. marriage is a very pragmatic business in this age and love isn't necessarily part of it. so dolley's approach to the marriage was pragmatic. he would be a protector of her
son. as the marriage went on, she fell deeply in love with james. marriage was a pragmatic business and she had a son to protect and property to be managed. >> and someone who would do that honestly and well. >> and had a reputation for running his own family plantation in virginia. >> rick is up next in kansas. >> hello. good evening. you ladies are good. >> thanks, rick. >> two questions if you would. first, did ms. madison travel abroad, if , so when and who did she visit? and among modern time first ladies who might she compare i will listen while i enjoyed my cigar. >> did dolley madison travel
abroad? >> i don't think she ever travel abroad. >> diplomats were amazed by that because she was so converse nt and she was a diplomatic wife so they did marvel that she had that quality. >> and how did she get her knowledge of french fashions for example? >> if you were dolley madison, you could not go anywhere whether it was a city in america or france without having to shop for her. also very early on she became the protege of the french minister's wife and she schooled her as well. >> she hired a master of ceremonies in the white house who was french and familiar with all of the diplomatic niceties shall we say so that he would explain to her what kind of food
was served and what the french taste was and what french cuisine was about so she had a number of people who helped school her in this type of thing. >> the white house staff is large and all of this come from the money that they were paid or from their personal wealth, all these extra staff and advisors that you talk about? >> probably most of them did. for instance, one of the things she hired as they called him french john away from the minister from great britain which was a huge flap to hire somebody away from somebody else's household particularly when that person was in the diplomatic community was an insult on the one hand or a great coup on the other.
and she was able to do that. >> a lot of resources went to creating the out fits. she got the bills and she was like don't tell my husband. between buying the stuff and paying the duties on it, it was quite a lot. >> i wanted to ask you about the maryland component of this fleeing of the white house during the war. my understanding is that there is a house in brookville maryland that is called white house for a day and my understanding is that madison arrived at that house and conducted business from there and i wondered whether dolley madison was part of that or whether there was some kind of a transition from virginia to maryland? >> i do not know the answer to that question. >> that gives us another stop in this. stump the panel. >> another place to check out, the white house for a day you
tell us about. >> i was going to go back and answer or give my opinion about the second part of the question was who would she compare to in the present. and i would say jacqueline kennedy. i think she looked at imagining her husband's administration and recreating the white house for the stage for diplomacy through her renovation of the white house in the same way dolley looked at the white house as a stage and imagined her husband's presidency. so i see a lot of comparable activity and things that she was trying to achieve as was jacqueline kennedy. >> and jacqueline kennedy referenced dolley. she was a fan and definitely referenced her in the re dog of
the white house. >> and she had to love the french furniture. >> with regard to the renovation of the white house, if you go to the white house today, can you see evidence of the torching by the british? >> there are places in the basement where you can see burned timbers. i know when they did the restoration of the white house, they found a lot of charred wood and charred bricks and so forth that were taken out and saved as remnants from the fire. >> we're showing some pictures of some of the charring right now. >> you can see it on the trim of the balcony too. laura bush told me president bush showed the prime minister. >> how complete it was destruction? it hadtty complete inside.
to be almost totally rebuilt. >> how long did it take to rebuild it? >> the madisons didn't move back in. it wasn't until the monroe's administration that they were able to move back in the white house so i would say a couple of years. >> about 18 minutes and it's time to move. a complex part of our history and long life to the retirement after the madison administration. james and dolley return to their beloved montpelier in virginia and we're going to visit that place next. >> if you were a visitor, you would enter here and be shown into the madison's great drawing room. mrs. madison had many lady friends she would invite here.
margaret baird smith and the daughters of thomas jefferson were also frequent visitors. her most intimate circle included her families, her sisters especially were always welcome guests as well as many nieces she had who often stayed for extended visits here. the drawing room combined many different themes into one. you see many of the faces of the great american statesman, but you see figures of classical antiquity. you have a reproduction of the declaration of independence. have you a miniature of homer, the writer of the great epics of greece. then you have a painting of pan and youths. this was 200 years old when they purchased it. in the way of blending the classical and american they were trying to place the events in world history. this is a room where all the guests would assemble before dinner and have a chance to meet
one another and converse socially and casually and then they might be invited to dine in the dining room. after supper, the ladies would adjourn back into the drawing room and maybe play a game and be served coffee and tea. this was a social center of the house. if you were a part of the intimate circle of friend you would be invited into the dining room from the drawing room. here dolley madison in an unusual setting for the period would sit at the head of the table and her husband would is it at the middle of the table. dolley would direct the conversation and james could engage in conversation with the people to his right or left. this table today is set for eight people but there could be as many people as 20 served in the dining room. that would not be unusual.
she considered dining here to be more relaxing than entertaining in washington. she was less worried serving 100 people here than 20 in washington. many important figures would be seated with them. thomas jefferson was frequently here. james monroe was here. henry clay. margaret smith. once while mrs. madison was serving at the head of the table the vice president offered to do the honors for her and she responded oh no, watch with what ease i do it. and he had to admit she did it with unparalleled ease. >> and looking at their life when they returned there, how
was it compared to when they lived in the white house? >> i think they were besieged by people who wanted to associate themselves with the madisons. many visitors in addition to -- political visitors in addition to family and friends. sort of like the washingtons and the jeffersons. everybody wanted to meet the great parsonages. so they had people in the house with them. not only relatives but many political visitors as well. >> she was devoted to him and getting his papers together in that role. was she happy doing that? >> yes, at the point she loved her husband very much. that is where he wanted to stay and so she stayed as well. the descriptions of her at this time weren't the same.
she's described as content, adam and eve in paradise. she definitely missed washington. she would write and say tell me all the news and she would complain a little bit i haven't been out. keep me up to date and let me know what is happening. for her own self, she probably would have wanted to go back to washington for a visit but james madison was going to stay put. >> she was 49 years old when she left the white house. he was 17 years her senior. she worked to involve him when he was in the last days of his final illness. before we talk about her years back in washington because she lived until the age of 81 and was very much involved in the
washington scene. >> i have a couple of comments about dolley madison's clothing and fashion and then i have a question. i used to be a dozen at the north carolina historical museum and we happen to have some of her belongings which includes the original of that red velvet dress we saw. also we own a pink silk dress she wore while she was first lady. and what was interesting about that piece of clothing was when we had it conserved by the people of williamsburg, virginia. they found that the tiny buttons on the front of the dress were filled with dried peas. so that's what her dress maker did for her with french fashion also as she grew older and her hair became very very thin, she did have some real human hair curls sewed into her turbins and
put that on in the morning with her curls showing and she looked younger she thought. the way the greensboro historical museum came into possession of these wonderful items including beautiful silk shoes and carved ivory calling cases is they received it from some folks who brought a trunk at auction that was sort of a hidden treasure. and i want to know what these ladies know about the finding of that trunk that was hidden behind a wall. and i want to say it was in philadelphia. but i want to know how the person that had that hidden behind the wall got those very important things and had them? >> i'll answer quickly because i
want to say this is happening in the 1950's and 1960's so not that long ago. the story of ladies historical society found and financed this deserves a television program of it was fascinating. they raised money one chicken dinner at a time paid the sum of $25,000 to get this stuff. >> is that close to where she was born, is that where the connection was? >> the ladies felt like she was north carolina's only born first lady. you can go there now and see part of that. >> dolley madison returns to washington after the death of her beloved james. how does she spend her years here?
>> she becomes the grand dame of washington society once again. because people know about her poverty but don't want to confront her with it, people in the white house, the tylers invite her to come to dinner on many occasions. the younger first ladies always ask her advice on entertaining and handling large crowd of people. so she becomes sort of an ex- first lady advisor. and that's how she happened to do the match making between angelica singleton and van buren's son. she's in the mix again and very much a behind the scenes player again. >> this is not a tragic ending. she manages to live a well known involved life. >> i think it was lonely without
james. eventually she sold. you remember this is her town. she worked for 16 years to build this town and the president's mansion as a symbol. it was under her tenure that the president's mansion got a nickname the white house. she can be credited with the nationalism around the end of the war of 1812. when she comes back to washington, it is like the past came to light. she wore many of the same clothes. she was poor. but of coursed the this expect of making her seem like a relic from an era. >> was that her real name? >> it was indeed. though again her niece tried to
perpetuate this idea that she was named dorothy. but she was dolley and trying to figure out why her family tried back to the scandalous rumors about her sexual fair with thomas jefferson and they thought that was too common a name for her but she was dolley and her birth is recorded that way. >> with or without the e. >> you see it spelled sometimes without. >> that's advertising. now the icon. >> john is in pennsylvania. >> yes, i was wondering if dolley madison's first husband john todd was related to abraham lincoln's wife mary todd. >> i have no idea. >> i'm going to say what is
important about that is marry todd brooded that about.todd is a very common name. >> when mary todd comes to down decade later and dolley madison set the example. mary todd tries to ride on her coat tails. but she does not have dolley's sense of tone. she's tone death when it comes to that. >> is it true dolley's son from her first marriage gambled away much of her money? >> that and drinking. >> that will do it. >> yes. >> did he continue his relationship with his mother in later years? >> no, she did not. >> robert, your question about dolley madison? >> i'm questioning what's the relationship between ms. madison
and mrs. polk and harrison. >> and harrin. >> i think the polks became friends. people wanted to associate themselves with dolley after she came back to the capitol city and it was cache by association so the polks often invited her to dine with them and take part in parties and so forth in the we should tell people about congress awarding her a seat. >> i call this her iconic phase when she becomes a symbol. she's awarded a seat on the floor of congress with escorts. she's the only woman to do it and for a woman to do it. there is a lot of attention being paid to her and she starts
to become a symbol even as she's living. >> did she avail herself in the debates of the congress? >> one of the things she did for other women is that she would go to the debates and go and watch the supreme court argue and that allowed other women to do that as well. >> that was a way of bringing the women into a knowledge of what was going on politically so while they were part of this social network that she was setting up in washington, they could also be part of the political networks as well. she would get the women together and they would go up to capitol hill. ite called them dove parties. was the women cited to what was going on in politics.
>> debbie on facebook, didn't paul jennings give her money at the end of her life when she was so poor? >> money and groceries, yes. >> you spoke about how she was writing a letter to her sister in the midst of evacuating the white house. how did it get posted or did she hold on to it? >> we only have this letter in her fair hand. so in 1830's when she's thinking about her legacy. her friend wants stuff from dolley madison. she's cautious. and she mentioned this letter, in aon't have the original. great magazine, there's an article. she may have altered that for history's sake. >> that is a great pr move.
>> pam, you're our last caller. >> i wanted to ask whether dolley madison had any kind of relationship with james monroe's wife who i know travelled in europe and i believe was born in england and whether she had any grandchildren through her son? >> thank you very much. that helps us set the stage for a future conversation d. they have a relationship? -- not terribly much new york not terribly much. they knew each other as plantation owners in the same area but they were not friendly and there were no children. >> we would say no legitimate issue as they would say. >> as we close here, here is a quote from dolley madison, we all have a hand in the formation of our own destiny. we must press on that intricate path leading to perfection and happiness by doing all that is good and hand some before we can
be taken under the silver wing our closingel. thoughts. >> she's important for several reasons which she does set the role of first lady. for historians we look at her and she let's us know the role of aristocracy in this great democracy, why does this matter? and i think for dolley madison what she's offered suss a model of governance that stresses civility and empathy. she's modeling this for us. she's not going to win. we need examples and role models and her way of conducting politics, stressing building bridges and not bunkers is a
model we can use for the future. >> i think she's very important as katherine says for bringing those models but also for bringing women into the political mix at a very early time period. and her conciliation or her abilities to bring people together. wouldn't it be nice if we had her back in washington now. >> we only skimmed the surface in 90 minutes of 81 entering years of life. hereou want to learn more. is our guests' as a book. i thank the white house historical association for their help in this series. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013]
>> i were presentation -- our presentation continues on monday at 9:00 p.m. with a look back at mrs. harrison and mrs. tyler. join us for season two. we are offering a special edition of the book first ladies of the united states of america. a biography of each first lady. comments from noted historians.
it is available for the .95 plused price of $12 shipping. you can learn more on our website including a section called upon to the white house produced by our partners. it chronicles life in the executive mansion during the tenure of each first lady. find out more on www.c-span.org. >> remarks from wendy davis. followed by architecture for humanity cofounder and codirector cameron sinclair later, michael kimber talks about lessons he learnt. that is all coming up on c-span. with congress on his five-week summer recess, members hold town hall meetings.
cole will speak. he is followed by democratic senator white house. here is a preview. >> this is a challenging time to be in washington. the economic recovery is still very slow area is particularly slow here in rhode island. we are trying to do things to get the economy moving more quickly. we are trying to do so in a time where there is enormous conflicts. and dissension in washington. and the one thing i want to tell you about because it's my job to report back to you on what i see and what is going on around me is that what i see is not actually a lot of conflict between democrats and republicans. what i see is admits conflict,
bitter conflict within the republican party. contingenttea party that has one set of use. you have more monitor -- moderate republicans that a different set. they are almost at each other's throats right now. you have flat out conflict on the floor of the senate between republicans. you have within the caucus among republicans. you have one group raising money against the other group. it is really very, very contentious. we are kind of bystanders to that fight. we have felt the effects of it because when one party is that divided and there is that much anger and conflict, it is very hard for them to help with getting legislation passed. watch the town hollowed with senator whitehouse
at 10:35 a.m. eastern. >> also chairman this is great face each other and with the most contentious and expensive elections in bc history. a race nearly $5,000. visit a great race almost 1.2 minute dollars. -- $1.2 million. who had ran for mayor was paid and promised a job in federal -- investigators soon discovered that much of his story was true. they also uncovered a bigger secret. the shadow campaign. >> basically you had a campaign that was going