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tv   First Ladies Influence Image  CSPAN  August 19, 2013 9:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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override. i believe strongly that there is a time to shut the government down. it is after the public has seen it. hold the fire until you see the white of their eyes. >> our portraitist finds you leaning to the right. what could be more appropriate? we love you. fax president clinton took a australia, and he sent me home of boomerang, and he said you throw it tilting it 10 degrees to the right.
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[applause] next on c-span, and on core of our series am a first lady's image featuring julia grant. then the group emily's list. then another chance see first ladies julia grant. season two of first ladies monday, the night. we feature programs on every first lady from martha washington. today, julia grant. host: serving as first lady from 1869 to 1877, julia grant relished the role. she once commented that life
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inside the white house was a garden spot of orchids. growing up in a slaveholding family, she ended up as wife of the commanding u.s. general during the civil war. she and ulysses s. grant shared 37 years together that included the hardships of war, the challenges of politics, and eight years in the white house. welcome to our program, "first ladies: influence and image." tonight, julia grant. let me introduce you to our guests. bill seale is a member of our series. he is a longtime white house historian and the author of "the president's house." pam sanfilippo is a historian at the ulysses s. grant national historic site. she is also working on a biography of julia grant. i want to start with you. we last left the series with the
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johnsons after impeachment and the politics with the radical republicans in reconstruction in the south. set the stage for us as the grants come into the white house. guest: well, grant's election started off with the campaign -- "let us have peace." people were really looking to grant to kind of bring some peace and quiet to the white house and to the nation after the war and the years of the johnson administration. so, those were grant's initial efforts as he took office. host: those were the themes -- we were looking at his first inaugural address -- these were the themes he struck when he spoke to the nation for the first time? guest: yes, and he had the added advantage of being a hero, famous even in the south, if he wasn't beloved, but everywhere else, one million young men
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tried to imitate this particular stance he had. he was wildly popular and clean. there was nothing dirty attached to him. i think he was a natural. host: the country was ready for him. so, talk about the first lady herself. she had been the wife of the general. that brings a certain skill set along with it. what did she bring to the role in the white house? guest: she brought an incredibly strong supporting role to the president. their lives had been that way. she ultimately was very supportive of him. she would argue and all, but she was supportive to him. they wanted to represent in the white house the ideal american family. they were not there for a few days when this huge portrait was
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brought in on an oxcart and hung in the red room -- the white house had been open to the public since jefferson's time -- they put this in the red room, a huge picture of the grant family so the public could see it on the tours and see that this was their home, this was where they lived. this whole symbolic home julia grant developed. host: since you are working on a biography, tell us about her personality and what kind of woman she was. guest: she was very outgoing. in some ways, they were opposites. yet they had similarities as well. they both had a fondness of riding horses and reading. she was a very likable person. you get that not only from contemporaries of hers, but from her own memoirs as well. host: would it be fair to say she was the better politician of the two? guest: she could be very politically astute in some of her dealings with cabinet members and their wives and the public, but she would most often defer to her husband first. host: do you have any thoughts
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on her and her personality? guest: she seems to have been very protective of her husband. she was not hesitant to give her opinion on things. she seems to be a woman who cut her cloth, as they used to say, exactly where she wanted it. she knew what she wanted to do, what she wanted to accomplish, and the rest of the stuff could be arranged. host: she was unusual in the fact that she had been educated. she completed something like 15- 16 years of school. guest: yes, she had gone to a neighborhood school as a young child with her siblings, and then to a female academy in the city of st. louis, a boarding school that she attended until about age 18. host: the grant administration is a two-termer. it was full of so many stories, it was hard for us to find a few to put on the screen to give you a sense of what it was like.
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in 1870, president grant was successful in having the 15th amendment to the constitution ratified, giving people the right to vote regardless of race. of course, still not women. in 1871, the force acts were passed -- that was anti-kkk legislation. that was something president grant was much involved in. that was to protect voters in the south against the rising work of the kkk. 1873 -- we will talk more about this later -- the panic of 1873, a big downturn that resulted from some of the policies of the administration. in 1876, the battle little big horn was fought. that is some of the important points during the administration. as he brings on his cabinet, the story of the grant administration is that they were no strangers to political patronage. what kind of advisers did he surround himself with, and how involved was julia in the process? guest: most of the people that grant appointed, at least to his cabinet, he either knew of or
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knew personally. for example, elihu washburn secretary of state washburn. it was kind of a thank you for having supported, for washburn having supported him through the war. others were business people that he thought would do the best job. some of them turned out to be not so press-worthy, as deserving of it. host: tone is often set at the top. what kind of tone do the grants set for his cabinet and administration? guest: first of all, grant made decisions himself, which caused friction with congress, especially those in congress who
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thought he should consult with them. guest: the whole theme of the era was great success. it was before the national panic of 1873. whether it was in business or military or what, he was attracted to those kind of people. they entertained them, they associated with them, and it was certainly a more loose supervision by the government than today over what politicians did. the idea was that grant would be the chief executive over a great company. the white house was called the executive mansion. the executive mansion, this is
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where the executive of the great nation lives, and the congress was the board that ran the country. that is oversimplifying, but that was the idea. grant did not always stick with it. host: you know the insides of the white house like nobody else. we have some video of the white house treaty room. we will show that to people right now. that was the room that grant used for his cabinet. we are looking at the pictures right now. can you tell us about the table in the room? guest: they purchased the table. the grants purchased the table in 1871 in philadelphia. it has been in the white house ever since. it was brought back to use in the kennedy administration, but it was used through the beginning of theodore roosevelt administration. a very elaborate carved table, supposedly made for the same purpose. that room was a sitting room always.
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lincoln made it into a reception room where you took reports, clerks took reports to register them. andrew johnson took it in as a cabinet room. grant refurbished it as a cabinet room. other things you see here, the sofa in the back, and different things, those were in the house at that time. it was a grubbier room than it was today, spittoons, political memorobilia. host: president grant used to smoke cigars each day? guest: yes, he picked up that habit in the civil war. he was sent cigars in appreciation. he had so many, he began smoking them on a very regular basis. host: we invite your participation in our program. that is what makes it work for us this week. you can do it in a number of ways. you can call us. here are the phone lines --
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you can also send us a message on facebook. we already have interesting questions coming in. find c-span's facebook page. you can tweet us. use #firstladies. julia grant, by all accounts, loved life in the white house. here is one quote similar to the one we used at the outset -- guest: she considered herself hostess to the nation. she was going to do her best to ensure that she acted in that manner that the public would have received very well. she did compare her time there to her life, her early life at
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white haven. i think that was more a reflection of the fact that it was the first time in many years that the family spent eight years together without separation. host: because of his war duties? guest: correct. guest: part of her job as she envisioned it was to make this a model house for the nation. other first ladies felt that as well. it was part of grant's program. they entertained very lavishly, and not in a fancy, but an elegant sense. she handled that very well herself. grant brought his own cronies in as much as he could. he brought a cook in from the army as chef at the white house. he would serve big roast beef slices, apple pie with cheese on it, and diplomats were horrified. julia let him go. she hired another chef, a well- known chef in new york. he came there and turned it into a very cosmopolitan table.
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flowers, costumes, she was very stringent about rules. all the white house staff had worn business suits. they were half guard, half staff. they had to be well-dressed. there is a story she tells herself -- women would come to noon receptions, and if you did not wear a hat, you were part of the house party. if you did, you were an outside guest. women from time to time would go into the coat room to take their hats off and come out, and mrs. grant said they never repeated that a second time. host: how was this received by the nation? one other thing happening was there was a burgeoning press corps and lots of coverage of the couple in the white house. guest: people were so interested in him and all the details of what he did. he would appear in public. he and his friends would get in
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races down pennsylvania avenue with their horses. as you know, grant was absolutely a horseman to his soul. his father dealt in horses. he was raised that way. grant knew horses. he had quite a stable. he brought his own coachman to the white house, albert hawkins. hawkins stayed there, until the automobile took over, as head of the stables. he was a black man and wore a special uniform and managed the stables with his staff. grant would spend time in the stables. the public liked it because it looked good, successful, peaceful, and of course, the accumulation of successful friends -- which was one of the sad things, he trusted people that he should not have trusted. guest: while there was this opulence on one level, he was
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very down-to-earth and the fact that there were four children at home. julia grant closed off the backyard so the children could play. host: how people understand the economy of the united states at this point -- was the south still reeling after the events of the war? guest: it depends on where you were. louisiana sugarcane back on its feet, until the hurricane of 1883. you go into mississippi, it was pretty horrible. it was not all blamed on sherman. it was the collapse of the cotton market. the english went to india, egypt for cotton the last few years of the blockade, it broke them. 6000 union soldiers elected to settle in new orleans. it was not all like "gone with the wind."
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it was coming back, but it was a different culture. it would not be agricultural. it would not have that until later in the 19th century. host: the north was in the midst of a great big industrial revolution. the days of the big financiers on wall street. tell us about what was happening there. guest: thanks in part to the machinery of war. guest: it was a continuation of the war and an expansion, and they were getting ready for the centennial of the nation and showing off the advances that had been made in the past 100 years. most of those were technological advances, the old farming equipment to the new modern technology, transcontinental railroad, transportation was bringing people closer together, making it much easier to get cross-country.
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host: here are a few of the big things that happened in the grant presidency. as pam mentioned, the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 as the grants were coming into the white house. 1870, the establishment of the national weather service and the issuance of the first forecast. 1871, the great chicago fire happened. in 1872, the first national park was established in yellowstone. as we just heard, the philadelphia centennial exhibition. how big a deal was it for the nation to celebrate its anniversary? guest: absolutely huge. it was almost like a world fair. people from all over the world attended it. it was really a time for america to shine and to show that it was coming into its own as a world power. guest: mrs. grant loved it. she bought two things for the white house from there -- one was a shield that showed characters from milton's "paradise lost." then she bought a more endearing piece -- she hated the old james monroe centerpiece with mirrors on it -- she bought a hiawatha centerpiece, which was
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about this big, and it shows a canoe in the middle and hiawatha lounging on a bearskin rug. that was the new centerpiece for the white house. she bought it there on exhibit. it is still in the silver closet at the white house. host: on twitter -- who were the first lady's staff at this point in the process? guest: there was no social secretary then. usually the ladies got together and filled out the blanks for invitations. it was president and mrs. grant and the honorable blank and blank. their friends would come over
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for tea party and they would fill out the blanks. she had mary mueller as the housekeeper. is that the one who traveled to europe with her? guest: i think so. guest: they were very close. she called her "most excellent woman." i daresay she helped with some of that. most of the social duties, there might be a clerk from the office who would help, but there was no social secretary until theodore roosevelt. host: here is a question about their days preceding the white house -- guest: i would say yes. guest: yes, actually, because grant was still head of the army
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after the war and for a short while interim secretary of war. she talks about the reception that she held, they held in their home in dc and that it was a natural progression into the white house. guest: don't you think she was one of those women that attracted people too? she was a personable woman and she cared about people. when somebody had a hard time, she went to them. she was a nice person. people were attracted to her. host: one of the interesting stories, it alludes to tensions between mary lincoln and julia grant. julia grant would come during the war years, certainly sometimes with the general, but it seemed as though there were some bit of competition that mary lincoln might have felt. let me read you this little paragraph from a book called "rating the first ladies" by john roberts. he writes, "on another occasion, julia was in a military camp when mary lincoln visited. she imperiously commanded julia to leave the room as is done in royal courts. mary ordered julia to back away from her, so julia would never turn her back on the first lady, as if the first lady were a queen and julia a mere commoner. if the humiliating treatment was intended to provoke an outburst,
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mary lincoln failed. julia later denied she had any ill feeling about her trenat th" guest: i'm not familiar with that particular story. guest: i could've happened during the steamboat days when richmond was being defeated. there were problems there with ms. lincoln. she is very kind in her recollections of ms. lincoln, but when those recollections were dictated, it was years later. ms. lincoln's tragedy had happened, her insanity and all of that. there were problems with mrs. lincoln. mrs. lincoln was very jealous of women and lincoln. i can't think -- there is absolutely no reason for that -- but she was. [laughter] she would be very ugly to people. general love made a remark once there was a feisty horse, and he said, you need a feisty horse like that to keep up with her husband, words to that effect. mrs. lincoln said, what do you mean by that, sir? host: we are going to see videos of a few of the grants preserved sites. how many are there altogether? guest: there are several homes
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that are owned and operated by the national park service or the various states they are located in. then grant's tomb, and each of the battlefields at connecting sites, and then there are some that are no longer there. host: the first one is in galena, illinois. this sounds fairly shocking, but because of his great achievement in the war, when he came home, people built for him a fully furnished house, more than one of them. how was that viewed in the day? was that considered ethically appropriate to do? guest: apparently so. it was welcoming a hero. guest: look at the british at wellington. it was done. houses were given to people in various places. it is unusual to see in american history, but it was certainly done with him. he had to sell most of them. they were fully furnished.
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host: we will visit the galena, illinois house. this was where the grants lived in the years after the war and before coming to the white house. let's take a look. it sets the stage for their presidency. [video clip] >> this home was a gift that 13 businessmen from galena purchased to give to the grant family, in appreciation for his service during the war. julia mentions in her memoirs coming up the hill and being presented this lovely villa that she said was furnished with "everything good taste could offer." this is the parlor which was the entertainment part of the home. of course, we know julia was an avid entertainer. she loved it. the family spent quite a bit of time here in the parlor. we know mrs. grant and their daughter nellie played the piano. you can imagine the family sitting here, the general inhis favorite chair, the other boys
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listening to their sister and mother play songs for them. they entertained in here. julia and maybe nellie played a song for their guests. grant launched his presidential campaign from galena, and his headquarters were located at the desoto hotel in downtown galena. the day after his election, grant and julia opened up their home and the parlor for people, townsfolk, to file through and congratulate both of them on his election and the next step of their lives. this is the general and mrs. grant's bedroom. the bed is the oldest piece we have in the house, probably the most personal. this is the original bed they brought to galena from white haven, putting down roots in galena. they left it here even throughout all their travels this was always here for them when they came back. this has mrs. u.s. grant on it. she probably kept papers, pens, her correspondence in here for when she was either writing letters or receiving them. religion was important for mrs.
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grant. her grandfather was a methodist minister. growing up, it was very important for them. the pew they used at the church is still marked. we have a bible given to mrs. grant by the methodist episcopal church in 1888. this is the dressing room, the most personal space in the house relating to julia grant. this was the room she would come in to get ready in the morning, get ready in the evening, ready for bed, and to come in, maybe to get a little solitude from everybody in the house. we have a lot of personal things that belonged to mrs. grant. we have her sewing kit that she probably would have used to mend socks for the kids or the general, sew a button on.
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we have pairs of her size-4 shoes that she wore and some purses she would've used as they were going out on the town, visiting on a sunday afternoon. a majority of the furnishings we still have in the house belonged to the grant family when they were here. if they walked through the door, they would recognize this house and probably feel at home. this was where he came back after he was a military hero. he started his political career here. this is where he was living when he was elected, when she became first lady, and this was home to them right before then. host: a question on twitter -- guest: they visited there for a while as they did at white haven, but settled in new york in part to be closer to three of the children. their boys were living in new york city, and their daughter was in europe. part of it, we think, was the social life in new york was a little bit more enjoyable for julia than galena or st. louis. host: the grants had five children, four who lived to
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maturity. guest: four. host: one child died -- guest: no. host: that is just bad information? oh my goodness. guest: they only had four children. host: you do find things from book to book that are contradictory. [laughter] guest: then, nellie renounced her citizenship and was english. we haven't talked about nellie's wedding. host: and we shall talk about nellie's wedding. we just saw the family life that they created in galena, illinois. talk about the life they created in the white house. guest: one thing i would like to tell about the family life, that
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makes me want to have been a fly on the wall, general grant -- as you face the white house from pennsylvania avenue, on your right, there were greenhouses built on the top of the wing, the west wing, not the offices, but just a straight wing -- general grant built between that and a house a billiard, which had stained-glass in it and a billiard table, and he would invite his civil war cronies to play billiards and smoke cigars and maybe drink a little, and they would end up going into the red room and reliving the battles, taking an object off the table and putting it on the floor, this is memphis, vicksburg. imagine being able to see that. that is the informality they lived in with their friends. they hayeses were very moralistic. they tore the billiard room down immediately. host: we also had some video from the white house family dining room. it was told that the grants would gather there for breakfast everyday. what is that room like today? guest: it is very dressy today. it doesn't look anything like it
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did. it reflects more theodore roosevelt, what theodore roosevelt did during 1902. there was always a clock on the table. you served through a pantry through those doors on the side. dishes were washed there. the family gathered there at this great big table. not every family did. through the door was then a hall and staircase and a big dining room where state occasions were held. in 1902, this room was turned around and incorporated into a dining room. it is the state dining room of today. host: the grant family had four children. were all of them living at the white house? guest: the oldest son received an appointment to west point under the johnson administration. he was coming and going. the younger children were still there. julia talks about the dining room table, how ulysses sometimes with the kids would play around, play games, and
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take pieces of bread and roll it into a ball of dough and throw it at the kids, the boys. guest: she disapproved. guest: she also recalled upstairs in the private family area, the children and ulysses coming into her room about a half an hour before dinner, and they would all just sit and talk and visit and share their day's comings and goings. she would recall that fondly. guest: they were very lenient parents. i think fred was the most disciplined. then buck, the second one, ulysses, a little less, and jesse, he actually talked back. he could checkmate a lot of the things his father said. they thought it was funny. i don't think it hurt any of them in later life.
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host: here is our first caller. caller: hi, how are you? i would like to know more about julia dent grant. i understand that her family is the dent family. can you talk more about her family, the dent family? host: very briefly, because we will spend more time on that later. give us a quick synopsis. guest: julia's parents came to st. louis in 1816. they established their family in the city of st. louis and then a country home out at white haven where she grew up spending most of her summers and year-round. she had four older brothers and two younger sisters. it was a fairly large family. the consider themselves southerners, her father did. they were a slaveholding family. there were as many as 30 slaves that colonel dent utilized the labor of.
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host: that created tension between the two families? guest: when ulysses and julia were married in the city of st. louis, none of the grants attended the wedding reportedly because they did not approve of ulysses marrying into a slaveholding family. host: did dent live in the white house at some time? how was that received? guest: colonel kent was a jolly old man. he was very heavy, white-headed, and funny. he was very witty. that is probably where she got it. grant's father jesse would come in, who was a horse trader and entrepreneur, and he would go around the departments to try to make them buy horses and hides or whatever from him. the two of them would -- their rapport was unbelievable. the colonel called jesse grant "that old gentleman over there." they teased each other a lot. it was good-natured.
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it would've been stopped if it had not been. host: very different views about the world. guest: the old colonel was very lovable. jesse grant was never around enough. he was always wheeling and dealing. host: on facebook -- guest: i think that is quite fair, a good remark. she brought a real order and organization. she had to manage the money, the people, the servants, and all the payrolls, and she very much interacted with them. there was one named henry harris who had a lot of children. she suggested that he start
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buying washington real estate. he died a wealthy man. she forced him to put part of his salary into that. jerry smith was another favorite of hers, of the members of the staff. she ran the whole thing with the help of the doormen. i think that is a likely remark, the way the military was organized. host: she found the white house in a state of disrepair. bill, who studies the white house, has a bit of a different view, but you and i read about the fact that there were infrastructure problems, and she tackled this and did great refurbishments of this. what do you know if it? guest: i think a lot of it was the perception she wanted to present to the public.
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this was the nation's home, as well as their home. they were only temporary residents. she was concerned in some ways, the fact that she was from the west, as she called it, which missouri was at the time -- that she did not have the social acumen that many of the eastern families would've expected. she wanted to ensure that what she did would meet with the approval of the nation and those social elites. she immediately talks about not even moving into the white house right away, because she is going through and cleaning things up and getting things organized. host: the money for that came from congress, congress appropriated the money? guest: through andrew johnson initially. his daughter, mrs. patterson, she had completely redone the white house inside and repainted and decorated. julia grant says in her memoir that she went in and changed the furniture around. it was very stylish in the 1860s not to have sets. people were reacting to mass production. mrs. patterson had everything
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mixed up and all the rooms so it would look artistic. mrs. grant went in and pulled everything together in sets again. she put tidy bows on the back of the furniture. she did that, and of course, they later redecorated the east room and did some work in 1874 on the house. host: the style was what? guest: they call it neo-greco. sometimes they call it steamboat gothic. host: i cannot get that in my mind. [laughter] were the children educated at home or in school? guest: they did attend school even during the war. the boys were sent to various schools. once the grants moved east, once his responsibilities called him east, the boys went to school in burlington, new jersey. jesse and nellie would have been schooled in washington, d.c. host: we didn't really establish this, but it was implied or inferred -- michael asks on twitter --
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was this something she supported? guest: she did, but she was initially hesitant. she said she always wanted to marry a dashing lieutenant and always thought of herself as the wife of the general. initially, this change into the presidency was a little -- she wasn't sure about it. she wasn't sure if ulysses really wanted it either. she asked him, and he said, no. he really wasn't interested in it, but felt he was the one that the nation could best use at the time. guest: she was happy as an army wife. she loved the army and army people. he was still a famous general. she relished that. however, eight years later, she
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was not so happy about leaving the presidency. host: we should say that in those years in between -- this is the story of their life, so many ups and downs economically, great success and then ruin -- after he left the army, he struggled. he struggled to find something he could do well. guest: he resigned from the military in 1854. he was stationed on the west coast. julia was living at white haven in st. louis. she had made the journey with him two years earlier because she was pregnant with her second child. grant resigns from the military in 1864 to come back to st. louis. rather ironically, he supposedly told somebody, "if anybody hears from me in 10 years, they will know of me as an old missouri farmer." of course, 1864, he was general of all the armies during the war. host: what a turn. guest: he came back to st. louis to farm, just getting started, and those years, it was rather difficult. throughout the country there was economic panic. bad weather. he held a couple of different
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jobs in the city of st. louis and then moved to galena. host: we will show more of that later. i do not want to leave the section of the life and the white house. a lot of people are asking about the daughter, nellie, being married in the white house. guest: it was a sweeping, romantic, dramatic event that happened in the white house. nellie was 17. she met alernon sartoris, an englishman, on a ship and they were engaged to be married. the parents disapproved because she was going to england. she was so young. mrs. grant said, "oh so young." the wedding took place may the 21st, 1874. they redecorated the east room for it, leaving the basic woodwork and adding a lot more, mirrors, all sorts of things, and the nation went wild.
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there weren't a lot of invitations, 200, i think. the streets were mobbed. you could not get near the place. walt whitman -- i brought this walt whitman was there, and wrote, "o bonnie bride! yield thy red cheeks today unto a nation's loving kiss." it was carried in all the papers. it was the most wonderful thing. she married the need two huge wedding bells. stewart would have a table with his name on it. there was a wedding breakfast, and then they left on their honeymoon. they lived in england where she renounced her citizenship, which she later very much regretted. she partitioned congress to get back and did get it back. guest: i think she had to renounce her citizenship by marrying somebody from england
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and moving over there. guest: not very happily. guest: reportedly after the wedding was over, grant went upstairs, fell on the bed, and wept, he was so upset his daughter was leaving. guest: the guy was a womanizer and drank a lot and spent a lot of money. it was not happy. they had four children? guest: one died in infancy. guest: he died in 1890- something. host: we've shown so many photographs of julia grant, and they are often from the side. one of our viewers is asking on twitterbook -- excuse me, facebook -- [laughter] i read that mrs. grant was injured as a child and never saw straight again. was this true and how did she stay so active and involved in the war? guest: i have read one instance where it was supposedly caused
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by an injury. but my understanding is that she was born with what today we would call a lazy eye. one eye turned in. she was very self-conscious about that. she felt she needed to do something about it. on two separate occasions, she attempted to have the surgeon work on her eye to fix it. grant found out about it and told her that he had fallen in love with her the way she was, and he might not like her half as much if she had her eyes surgically corrected. host: marty is watching this in lancaster, ohio. you are on. caller: i have a question. it has been rumored that president grant liked to drink a lot. how did julia handle the situations where he was getting drunk? guest: well, there is not a whole lot of proof that grant was a drunk.
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he drank. a lot of people drank. there are stories about him being drunk, secondhand stories and things like that, but when you lay it all on the table, it doesn't go very far. he wasn't a binge drinker type of person that anybody has been able to prove. he went through a lot of trouble in the years before the civil war. he had hard times in business and half the people in the united states had a hard time in business. it was a national depression of the worst kind. it was only ended by production in the civil war. he was trying to do business in those terrible years. there really isn't much documentation for him being drunk all the time. guest: rumors are greatly exaggerated. some of the things i've looked at have indicated that perhaps on the west coast after being separated from his family for
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two years, he was definitely depressed and missing them. there is no evidence that he was forced to resign from the military at that time. later, at times during the civil war when some of these rumors came up again, it seems to have often been when other generals were jealous of grant's success. this was one way to possibly bring him down a step or two. it was not successful. of course, lincoln is rumored to have said -- although it is not a proven story -- that when congressmen came to him saying, remove grant, he is a drunk, he cannot be running the army, he reportedly asked of them, find out what type of alcohol grant was drinking, and he would order barrels for all of his generals. host: because of his success. [laughter] we have so much to cover in so
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little time. often when you see historians' analysis of the grant administration, it ranks very close to the bottom for the many scandals that encompassed the administration. what were the most important ones, and what were the effects on the presidency? guest: historians have been reassessing grant's presidency. i think c-span's own 10-year survey has moved him from 33, 13 years ago, to 23. he is improving in perspective. a lot of that has to do with his actions regarding civil rights for the newly freed african- americans in the country. host: he did do that, but it doesn't take away from the domestic scandals and the corruption and those sort of things. we need to talk about it. guest: they were peripheral to him. i would say all of them had been
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going on before his time, some as far back as lincoln. host: some suggest that julia grant was in the middle of this. do you contest that? guest: yes. she talks about the black friday incident where fisk and gould try to capture the gold market, corner the gold market. julia talks in her memoirs, that the only she knew about was when grant had her write a letter to her sister-in-law who was actually grant's sister virginia who was married to abel corbin, who was reportedly involved in this, trying to persuade grant, and grant has her write to virginia saying, be careful. then he turns around and sells off government gold to bring that to a stop.
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host: martha is watching us in charleston, south carolina. caller: hi, susan. thanks again for another terrific show. you alluded to my question earlier in the show about the possible tension between julia grant and mary lincoln. then you visited the beautiful galena home that was given to the grants. i'm not sure, was it during the same time period that mary lincoln was try to get a pension out of the government, and here grant has a home given to him -- mary lincoln was in germany trying to educate her son tad, and i believe the grants later visited mary lincoln in france. guest: no, they crossed paths, but julia said she did not find out about mary lincoln being in the same town they were in until they were on their way out and could not change their plans.
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host: do you agree with the irony that mary lincoln was struggling and looking for a pension after her husband was chief executive during the war and the grants were just given these homes? guest: it seems extremely unfair to mrs. lincoln. guest: she was seeking pension from the government, and the houses were given by private people. there is a difference. if the congress did not approve of pensions -- and congress -- they are remembered as thugs in a popular way -- they were vigilant. it was not all that bad a congress. they were vigilant. they exposed these three major scandals, the one closest to the white house being orville babcock, and he's almost part of the family. he got involved -- host: through congressional oversight -- guest: yes, he was tried. general grant testified. guest: he submitted testimony. he didn't actually come to st.
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louis. guest: the first time a president had ever done that in a criminal trial. host: next to sherry in independence, missouri. caller: you answered my question about her eyesight. i have another question, being so well educated for the time, did julia speak other languages? i also understand that after the grants left the white house, that they were really party animals. i'll hang up. thank you. guest: she may have learned some french while she was in school, but not on a real conversational basis that i know of. during the world tour, which may be what the caller is referring to, they took a two and a half year world tour and were welcomed by the public and by royalty throughout the world. most of the time, they had to have an interpreter while they were there.
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host: we learned that at least mary lincoln thought washington looked down upon her as a westerner. the question from dave on twitter -- guest: i never found that at all. she was more sure of herself and not insecure like mary lincoln. she went after it. she was one of those people that jumped in the middle. she considered herself the head of woman society in the capital. she was accepted. she was friends with all those kind of people in washington, all the embassies and everywhere. she was a go-getter. mary lincoln sat back and waited for people to come to her. host: we are going to visit another one of the sites associated with the grants. we will learn more about the influence of her early childhood at white haven farm outside of
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st. louis. [video clip] >> this is the front porch of the historic home known as white haven where julia dent grant spent many of her childhood years. she was born in the city of st. louis. she spent all of her summers initially and year-long out here as she grew up, watching boys play out in the yard or her sister playing the guitar and singing on the front porch. it is where she has her earliest memories of father lifting her up in the air, telling her that the trees were waiting and welcoming her back to her childhood home. that was when she was about two years old. a very early memory. they would have ventured through the front door into the foyer. from here, they would've gone up frequently into the former parlor where they would've been welcomed by colonel and mrs. dent, julia at her mother's knee, learning how to be a lady and welcome guests and company to the home. some of julia's fondest memories
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from the dining room here at white haven include the meals that were served here. meals were always served by the dents' enslaved housekeepers. they talked about white china with gold trim. she talks about the slave cook making maryland biscuits and the games that would be played over the dinner table with the children, as well, talking and laughing about the days activities. from here, after dinner, the guests would've -- family and friends would've come into the sitting room, which is really where the family would've spent more of their personal time in the evening, playing games on the game table, checkers or chess, things like that.
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julia would've played with some dolls. lots of reading taking place. on the second floor of white haven were two rooms that served as bedrooms for the family. her parents typically would've had one bedroom. julia and her sisters would've shared most likely this bedroom. in the 19th century, frequently, when you had a nice upstairs porch area, the boys would've slept out there in the summertime. we know much about white haven from her, those memoirs. she is the first first lady to ever write her memoirs. she spent a lot of time talking about her life here at white haven. host: there we saw our guest pam sanfilippo in her day job. [laughter] guest: the grants had the house painted after he had purchased the property from julia's family in 1874. during the civil war they
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purchased it. host: reed williams asks -- guest: he was about 5'8". she was around 5'2". they met at white haven. he had been a roommate of julia's brother fred dent at west point, and after graduation from west point, he was stationed at jefferson barracks, which is five miles south of the city of st. louis. fred invited ulysses to visit his family out at white haven. grant did that in september of 1843. in february of 1844, julia returned home from the boarding school she was attending in the city, and julia says that initially his visits had been about once a week to white haven, but once she returned home, his visits were daily. he proposed to her within three months. host: we learn from you they were slaveholding family. a number of questions about
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their families and personal attitudes towards slavery. here is one -- guest: initially she did. she had been born and raised at white haven with the enslaved individuals providing everything that she needed. in fact, at one point, she says, she thought the house kept itself with all the work that was being done by those individuals. there were as many as 30 slaves, according to the census record. once she met, fell in love with, and married ulysses, it kind of put her in the middle between these two opposing viewpoints. she talks about growing up, some of those enslaved individuals were her playmates, playing in
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the yard with her, carrying her to school, things like that. these are the same individuals who would provide the work on the farm. the older individuals she considered part of the family, aunt, uncle, a typical southern way of addressing these individuals. she would consider them part of the family. they obviously did not. >> they all laseft.
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>> before they were illegally freed. >> is it an untrue story that s to the made trip battlefield she occasionally brought a slave. >> that is a true story. a nurse for her children. >> was the irony not lost on her? >> it did not seem to be. she needed the help, and she talked about how black julia was and did freeed herself.
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did julia have any thoughts on any quality by the time she got to the white house. >> i only know when asked if colored people were to be admitted to the receptions she said yes. i think they were stopped at the gate. i will say in her treatment of it was personal one- on-one in, and i imagine that is how she sought african-americans -- saw african-americans. you are on the air. >> what type of retirement did when he was out of
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the war? >> from the government? >> yes. >> was there a pension for the president? >> there was not. it was only shortly before his rewarded aovernment pension. >> we will talk about how he found a way to make some money. >> do you have a minute for a story. mr. williamson was talking about his size. .
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although she wasn't working for suffrage for women, she did refuse to sign an anti-suffrage petition that was going around, which was duly noted. and she had certainly learned during the war years when she was kind of forced to take on roles that typically the husband would have assumed, she had learned how to become independent and felt that women
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should have some role in decision making. >> now, we're going visit another of the grant sites and we want to ask you to set the stage. it's called hard scrabble farm. what is it, where is it? >> when grant came back, they lived at the main house for a short time, white haven. but living under his father-in-law's roof is not what he wanted for his family. so he built a log cabin for julia and their children. as the family grew and so you're going to see that log cabin. >> now recall that julia was from a very wealthy family. you saw what white haven looked like. so see what kind of house yue slice s. grant built for her as the first married homestead together. take a look. >> we're standing inside hard scrabble which is a two-story log cabin in 1856.
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julia and her memoirs lets us know she does not like it one bit. she's found it crude and homely. but true to her nature, she will make the best of it. farming his own land, having his own home on his land, having their own place to begin their life again, to renew that marriage is what inspires grant to say i want our own house. julia is perfectly comfortable with that. she wants her own home too. as a young woman, she wants to be the mistress of her own home. she felt he could have built something something as nice as white haven and was perturbed her father talked him in to building a log structure. white reflects light. the rooms would have been open and a little more cheery, but still rustic.
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she would have brought with her finer things because as a privileged child, she would have had fine china and fine furniture, comfortable chairs and a broad table because you had at this point she would have five people eating in this dining room. this is not a cook fireplace here. these are not set up for cooking. kitchen out the back with servants. in this particular case, they were enslaved people coming in and serving the children and ulysses and the children here in the dining room. hard scrabble, even though they don't live in it for long, this represents the first home together. she'll gain a great deal of confidence as a wife and mother and it starts here. >> as an army wife, did julia find any location more her home than any other?
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>> no, she always considered white haven her home. in fact, in her memoirs, she, again compares the white house to white haven because of the home that it represented. they travelled so much and have so many different headquarters or homes around the country that it would have been next to impossible to -- but she created home wherever she was for the family. >> as is the purview of army spouses over the years. we have one more video of white haven, the beautiful green structure we showed you earlier. you'll have to go to the website to find it. each week we're putting a special feature on our website, c-span.org/first ladies. we have the video to show you grant's wife together at white haven. it's a little glimpse now. boy, does it look green. >> paris green. >> next, john is watching out in
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washington state. you are on the air. >> my name is dan grant, no relation to ulysses. but my great grand uncle was on general grant's staff. his name was cyrus blue comestock. i have a diary. in it it mentions a number of times while he was in washington he would have lunch with general grant's wife. and i was wondering if anybody could elaborate on that? you know, mostly about general grant and the war escapades. but afterwards, you know, does anybody -- has anybody heard of that. sara blue comestok married to elizabeth blair which her grandfather was the -- i think
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it was her grandfather was the secretary or postmaster general of lincoln? >> they were close to grant. >> julia entertained so comfortably. i recognize the name comestock from julia's years in the white house. frequently congressmen or people who were looking to get in to see grant would try to do that through julia or to gain favor from grant, they would frequently go through julia because she was so easy and accessible to them. >> next is a call from judy watching us in brooklyn. hi, judy. >>. cory: . i have two questions. since general grant smoked so many cigars, i was wondering if julia and the children had any
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respiratory problems. and my other question is since england had leaned so heavily to the confederacy, what were the relations like during the grant administration with england? >> good questions. none of the -- neither julia or the children ended up with respiratory problems. grant ended up with throat cancer from smoking the cigars. it did eventually kill him. as far as england was concerned, one of the first issues that grant had to deal with as president were the claims against england for their support of the confederacy. and he sets up the first ever international arbitration. and is credited with paezfully resolve the dispute with england. >> we'll take another phone call. this is larry in millhall,
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pennsylvania. >> caller: hello, i've been watching all of your series. >> great, thanks. >> caller: i've been reading the book. julia's father did not care for ulysses at first. i wonder if you could comment on that? >> he did say he told grant she would not like the military life. he was very dubious. she had been raised with everything and would have to do without. >> and they had disagreements about slavery. >> yeah. >> initially, it was personal. i think he thought that grant wasn't going to amount to much financially. and would not be able to give her what she took for granted. >> julia was her father's favorite child; the first daughter born after four sons and according to julia, colonel dent actually offered when he
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told ulysses the wife of the army isn't what julia was bent for, he offered her sister, nell, to take her hand. obviously grant turned it down and continued to try to convince colonel dent that no matter what it took, he would be the one to make julia happy. >> is it not fair to say that some of his concerns may have been valid. he was a great warrior, a great general. but most of the other ventures, he had a difficult time making it work. >> of course, at that time, 1843, 1844, nobody knew that grant would become the success. he was in the army. he was -- he didn't intend to stay in the army. he wanted to be out and be a math professor. so -- >> but let's look at the
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postwhite house years. he has all of this experience. he goes on a career in wall street and loses lots of money. >> especially his son who is the -- joins with -- >> fred? >> it was -- >> it was -- >> well -- i know it was -- >> that affected all of his family fortunes. basically ferdinand had everybody fooled. he was basically called a wall street wizard. he was making everybody money. hand over fist. that should have rung some bells, just like today, it doesn't. he ended up, grant lost just about everything. >> well, a similar question on twitter. how is it that grant lost all of the estates and money? was it due to his drinking, was he irresponsible? >> there wasn't a man probably
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like concentrate on finance like people who make money knew. i don't think that was the first thing in his life ever. he would have liked to have had a lot of money. but i think a lot of things interested him. >> was he a bad judge of characterer? >> he talks about when the financial failure happens with ferdinand ward where ward comes to ulysses jr. and then to grant himself and says, you know, the bank is in a little bit of a financial strait. can you borrow some money? we need to get through the next few days and grant accepts that, borrows $150,000 from william vanderbi vanderbilt and ferdinand absconds to canada and the money is lost. grant is unable to trust anybody ever again. >> we talked about the postwhite house years.
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people watching should know this. but at the time, there were no restrictions on running for a third term. did the grants wish to seek a third term? >> no, he didn't. many people wanted him to. she did. when he declined it, he didn't tell her. he gave the letter to him without telling her. and she began to be suspicious. they're upstairs at the hall in the white house. and she said you can't do this. and he said i have to -- she said you can't do this to me. he said, it's done. that's it. she seems to have held up fine until inaugural day when they got on the palace car, they called it, the train car. and then she said she went to the bedroom and fell on the bed and sobbed and cried and wept. she hated to leave the place. >> she said she felt like a waif with no home because she wasn't sure exactly what was going to happen. >> surely she felt that before.
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a rather splendid situation. >> a sign she was loathe to leave. did they plot a comeback? >> once, when they return from the world tour, there were those who thought they should run for office again and especially with all of his foreign relations experience. and he was interested at that point feeling again that he could be of service to the country. julia says they were in chicago when the convention met and she tried to encourage him to go downstairs and meet at the convention and show his face knowing that that would put him over the top with the votes needed but he refused to do that and lost the nomination. >> very specific information because some of the properties we're looking at are near the anheuser-busch family property. from that region of the world. were the grants tied in any way to anyone in the ap hitzer bush
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family? >> not at all. the busch family purchased 280 acres of the white haven estate in 1903. the only only connection is in the early years of the war, adolphus busch served for a short time in the civil war. >> you're on, good evening. >> i always heard the story -- and i know you alluded to the emanity that mrs. lincoln and mrs. grant had between each other, they were the first couple that was offered an invitation to ford's theater the night of the assassination and that mrs. grant sort of politely told mr. grant not to accept. and that's the only reason they were not in the box that night. is that true? >> that's true. but they were going to philadelphia.
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they had a house there. they were going to see the children in philadelphia. that's where they were when they heard that the president had been shot. >> was it a specific that the assassin made it to the train and the door was lock? >> she talked about it in her memoirs. during that day at lunch, there had been a suspicious group at the other table. >> when they were driving to the train, a man came riding a horse along by the carriage on the way to the station. and that was on the mall in those days and looked in the window at grant and grant remarked that he was sinister. he did it twice. it may be just coincidence. who knows. but she was obviously scared to death. everybody was. they believed he was part of the assassination plot that brought down the lincoln administration. we learned that julia grant was very unhappy to leave the white house and general grant assuaged that grief by taking her on a
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two-year world tour. what should we know about that tour? >> well, it was actually his idea. he said he felt upon leaving the white house that he felt like a boy out of school. and he always loved travelling. and so they embarked on this tour that was just originally supposed to be europe. then extended all the way around the world. she enjoyed every minute of it, mostly because of the praise and acclaim that she saw her husband receiving and the -- the shopping that she did as well of things she wanted to bring back home with her. but she just had a wonderful time on the world tour. >> we're going to return to the home and look at some of the world tour items they have on display there. >> after his eight years in the white house, the grants came here before a little rest and relaxation. for a couple of months.
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then they went on a world tour. they were gone two years visiting close to 40 countries on this tour. the grants were so popular at the time. they were like american celebrities. they were treated like royalty, the countries they went to. they received a lot of gifts on the tour. we're fortunate enough to have some of those in the home. two here in the mantle. the red vases were a gift of the king of bulgaria. after the world tour, they came back here for another couple of months. then they went to mexico and due bah. the paintings on either side of the fireplace, the landscape paintings were given to the grants by the government of mexico. jose, a popular artist in mexico did the paintings for the grants. this is the dining room. this is where the family would have their meals. julia would have done a little light entertaining here. this is not, you know, anything -- anything too elaborate in the home.
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we have some other gifts that were gifb to the grants on that world tour. this piece was given to julia. this is a bronze urn on a teakwood table given to her by the citizens of yokohama, japan. the vase on the table was given to the grants by the emperor of japan. back here on the mantle is probably one of the most personal pieces that julia probably liked the best. the framed leaves in here, she framed it. the leaves were given to her by general grant on their tour, leaves he picked up from the holy city. she kept, had it framed, and wrote the whole story on there. julia probably had a the time of her life on this tour. she devotes a fourth of her memoirs talking about it. she developed a good friendship with queen victoria and a very good friendship with the emperor of japan. stayed in japan longer than they
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planned because they built a great relationship. julia was living in new york and the emperor of japan came to visit julia while she was there. they kept that friendship and had it for the rest of her life. this is a place that the children, the family would come back to. this is always considered home and always welcoming for them. not just this house, but gilena too. she refers to it as her dear, dear galina. >> we have just a short while left. we have to talk about their years after the tour. they come back to the united states and we've lost a lot of money and this -- this event we talked about with the family and the investments in new york city. what's the financial situation and what's the role of the memoirs? >> well, they are -- when word gets out they've lost this money, there are veterans from the war who send grant money to help him to that they loaned to him. but he's been offered to write
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some articles for century magazine. about the war and then encouraged from that to write his memoirs, something he never had been interested in doing. and samuel clemens, mark twain's publishing company ends up publishing the memoirs for grant. he completes them a few short days before he pass i away, he knowles they will bring financial comfort to julia. >> the first royalty check was $200,000. >> $200,000. >> imagine in that day, it was, what, a million, a great book, a great classic. i recommend it to anyone. >> is it still readable? >> very much. >> absolutely. >> even those of us who are not military historians. >> where mark twain and the grants' friends since he published the memoirs. >> he did become good friends.
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it was through twain's efforts that, as i said, grant began diligently writing the memoirs. some claims that twain had actually ghost written. but twain was very adamant that, no, it was grant that had written it word for word. >> how close was mark twain to the grants? i know twain paid for a sculptor and waited for grant to die to have a desk mask made of him. it was at the white house and how did mrs. grant relate to him? >> not at the white house. it was afterwards they developed the closer relationship. but apparently twain had initially years earlier suggested to grant about writing his memoirs but almost as an offhand remark. so when grant says century magazine is going to public the
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memoirs because they were the first to make the offer, twain rep minds him, no, he had made the offer much earlier. >> we want to ask them to bring the picture up of the president in the final days. you can see it, wrapped in his blanket on the porch of the cabin in new york working on the memoirs. >> in horrible pain. >> throat cancer. very painful. how -- how was he able to get these memoirs done? >> he became impassioned to do it. >> sheer determination. >> she became the same way about writing later. he became impassioned. it was so important to secure a comfort for his wife. >> and he died so shortly after. it seemed as though adrenaline was keeping him going until he feels finished. >> yes, and julia talks about that and grant does too that that's what was keeping him going just to be able to finish those. >> i would like to take a call. but i would like to hear about her memoirs because she was the first first lady to write
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memoirs. i have a copy. let's listen to a call and come back to that. kathleen in san francisco, hi, kaet lean. >> thank you very much. i -- i had a quick question. julia had four brothers, and i think i remember during the civil war, thal fought on the south -- for the south. is that true? did they finally reconcile? >> it was her brother, fred, who had been at west point with ulysses did stay in the union army and ends up serving on grant's staff. her brother, john, nonof them joined the confederate army. but they did go south and support the confederacy during the war. at one point, her brother, john, is captured and put in prison. and seeks grant's assistance in getting an exchange, a prisoner exchange and grant refuses, basically, to teach john a lesson. when they're in the white house, the family is always there.
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>> always close. >> another question on twitter with all these complexities during the civil war, asking were the grants friends with robert e. lee or jefferson davis? >> not friends. certainly grant respected robert e. lee during the war and he had known him early in the war. >> afterwards. >> but julia does become after both jefferson davis and ulysses s. grant passed away, julia becomes friends with irina davis. >> here's memoirs, it's available today. this is julia dent grant's memoirs. the first first lady to write her memoirs. this edition was edited by the great john steinman. now deceased. what's the story about how these became made it to the grant papers, most importantly, the editor of the grant papers,
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which is his life's work. how did these memoirs of the first lady come to be published and why so long between her death and their writing. >> she says that it was her children after grant's death encouraged her to begin writing memoirs of her wonderful life with her husband. and she said she just started it to satisfy their request. but then she realized that recalling all of these wonderful times kind of brought new life to her and she did look at them -- i think she was ambivalent about having them publish. initially she thought it was something to record for her children. but then she did try to pursue getting them published several different times and one publisher told her they were so private, the people who were alive at that time said it was too much personal information.
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another time she was told that they would be sold through subscription and she was looking for kind of a lump sum deal. so they -- they remained in the family hands then unpublished until john convinced the family that they should become public. >> she lived a good number of years after. was she -- >> 17. >> was she an active first lady? did she advise other first ladies or did she basically become a private citizen again? >>e she did a lot of entertaining. her son, fred, was appointed ambassador to austria. she joins him over there. and then comes back to the united states she wrote several articles for different magazines, harper's bazaar after the spanish-american war she writes an article that talks about the government's and the nation's responsibility to the
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widows and the orphans of the war. >> norman in new castle, indiana, your question? >> yes, i was wondering about whether or not there was a relationship between julia and ulysses and the confederate general longstreet? >> thank you. >> longstreet was a distant cousin of julia's. and so when grant was first courting julia at white haven, longstreet was stationed at jefferson barracks. there is a possibility although the record is not quite clear that long street serves as one of grant's groomsmen at the wedding. >> how long was it after grant's death that the famous grant's tomb built. >> dedicated april 27, 1897. >> at his passing, how did the country mourn him? >> i believe it was the largest funeral ever held in the
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country. >> larger than lincoln? >> mm-hmm. they brought his body from mt. mcgregor where he passed away to new york city. and then buried his body in a temporary tomb in river side park in new york city and began the fundraising effort we know today. >> julia was alive for the dedication? and attended that. >> what was she -- >> proud widow and pleased to see the nation recognizing her husband. so at the close here, we looked at a long and distinguished military career. a life of many ups and downs for the grants over time. eight years in the white house. a successful world tour, very celebrated. what is the legacy of julia dent grant and how does she fit into the pantheon of first ladies we're studying and learning about this year?
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>> they are all women basically supporting what hr husband is trying to achieve. she did it with a certain splendor and a difficult time in the history. and she turned a knob on a period of a dark period with early reconstruction and brightened things for the rest of the century. i think her image in the white house, her public popularity. the featuring of the general, the way she did things, the personal way she was, she was significant first lady in that way, a public first lady. >> coming from just after the victorian first lady, is she the harbinger of the modern first lady in any way? >> that's very difficult to answer. i think they were all opinionated, strong women, most all of them. but perhaps in a way, she had public interest. yes, more so with julia hayes. she attracted a lot of attention
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and public opinion to the family that lived in the white house. >> you're working on a book to establish the thesis. what is your answer to that question? >> i think she would have said that her legacy was that she was a devoted and loving wife, mother to their children, but i think more than that, she tried to represent what her husband was trying to achieve, peace and reconciliation in the nation and in her role as first lady, she was able to accomplish that. >> many thanks to all of the folks at the grant sites around the country who helped with us bringing you video tonight and to the good people of the white house historical association who are the partners for our series. that concludes our discussion. thanks to the two guests for being with us. >> thank you, susan.
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>> tomorrow night on c-span's encore presentation of first ladies. >> one of the more controversial collections the white house china. it was controversial at the time. it remains controversial to this day because of the pattern of the china. people at the time didn't feel this was appropriate formal
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china. even some of the journalists of the day wrote scathing articles about this china. one journalist said the art was absurd. the other wrote and said who wants to finish up a lovely meal and see a duck or a giant frog at the bottom of their plate. the people at the time just thought it was not appropriate china to have add a presidential dinner. she felt it was a way to education dignitaries from the foreign countries who weren't familiar with the united states. >> the encore series continues tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern on c-span. in the program on lucy hayes, join the conversation with the head of the rutherford b. hayes center at facebook.com/c-span. >> tuesday during the encore first ladies, featuring lucy hayes, you can ask questions
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about the wife of our nation's 19th president. christie weininger will be on c-span's facebook page at 9:00 p.m. eastern. join the conversation. tonight on c-span, a town hall meeting with the political action group, emily's list. at midnight, another chance to see first ladies influence featuring julia grant. and later, defense secretary chuck hagel holds a joint news conference with the chinese defense minister. emily's list is a political action committee that endorses democratic women. they held a town hall meeting in iowa to kick off their campaign to elect a female president. participants included democratic senator claire mccaskill, the first woman elected as a u.s. senator missouri and democratic strategists and candidates. from des moines, this is an hour
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and 20 minutes. >> good morning. welcome to iowa and the madam president iowa town hall. let me state the obvious. it's no coincidence why emily's list chose the hawkeye state for the first madam presidential tour. it's to what a successful presidential campaign what ted kennedy was to the first and later flights to the moon. iowa is the launch pad. [ applause ] now, some might say we're awfully ambitious in an aim to elect a woman to the white house in 2016. let's be clear. this is just the beginning of our ambition.
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we are here to build a pipeline of women for the future. and to take their place on the presidential ticket, not only in 2016, but in 2020, 2024, and beyond. [ applause ] you and i want our daughters and our grand daughters to grow up in an america where electing a woman president is as common as electing a woman governor or a woman senator. we want our daughters to aspire not to be america's first woman president. but to be the fifth or the tenth woman's president. that day is going to come sooner than you think.
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and let the record show that the journey began here, today, in iowa. now please join me in watching a wonderful video. >> the future of washington, d.c., january 20. action. >> thank you. thank you. >> i always dreamed of this. standing here, and it's because of you all that i can, the millions who stood up and voted. my mom told me i could be anything i want. it didn't used to be like that. >> a long time ago, women didn't even get to vote. that's crazy. >> my mom told me when she grew up, no one thought there would be a woman president. can you imagen? no women presidents? they were all boys.
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i'm here because of all of the pioneer women who fought 200 years ago. i'm here because of the elected women who have come before me. they paved the path for the first women's president and the next. out of expectation, they brohm all of the kplasz ceilings. i'm here because my friend said i could run for office. when women are first, new ideas are formed, economies thrive and communities grow stronger. that's the america. we don't give up. [ applause ] >> please join me in welcoming okay henderson of iowa radio
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who's going to be our moderator this morning. >> on behalf of my colleagues on radio iowa, welcome to this event. let me introduce the first analyst, the iowa native who has managed successful campaigns for jim webb and minnesota senator amy crobishar. she managed oklahoma and it was the only primary state he won. the most recent campaign gig was in iowa as christie's 2012 campaign manager, please welcome jessica vandenbergh. the next panelist is a former financial consultant running a house hold with six children these days. she won a seat in the iowa senate in 2006 and served one term. she used a youtube video in
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early july to announce she was running for the third congressional seat. please welcome former senator stacy apple. our first analyst was the national finance director for howard dean's presidential campaign in 2004 and 2006. she managed senator john custer's campaign. in 2006, she managed al franken's campaign -- and the rep count. in 2010, she was named president of the group hosting this event. please welcome emily's list president, bethany shriock. our final guest is a former prosecutor and the first woman to give birth while being an active member of the missouri legislature. in 2006, she became the first woman to be elected to the
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united states senate by our neighbor's to the south. in 2012, she won re-election in one of the most watched races in the country. margin of victory was just over 12. please welcome the senior senator from the state of missouri, claire mccaskill. senator mccaskill, let's begin with you. why is it important to start early? >> well, i think we have to realize that in a day of citizens united where there is huge money that can be written behind closed doors and flood air airways with distorted information that the best
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anecdote to that is a movement. it is all of us if we want to confess -- in fact, let's raise our hands if you spent more than $20 on b the internet? okay. so you know how to do it. you click -- you click -- you can put in your credit card. we have to have millions of people engaged and ready for what will be a pivotal race in america's history. and that is about getting everybody excited now about what i hope will be that moment in 2017 when we all get to say madam president to hillary rodham clinton. >> senator, if she doesn't run, would you? >> no.
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>> why not? >> well, first -- >> because she's too qualified to do it. >>. [ applause ] >> thank you, thank you. thanks. i -- for a lot of complicated reasons. some of which are personal. my daughter, lilly is here. lilly, stand up so everybody can see how proud i am of you. i -- i -- somef it is family. some of it is i was blessed to be very close to a presidential campaign. so i've seen it up close and ugly. i know what it really is about and how hard it is. and i am really fortunate to be in the united states senate representing the state that is not even as blue as you. and i know you all struggle in iowa with extreme elements of the republican party having more muscle than they deserve. my state is that way. so i feel a particular
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obligation to stay in this office and do the best i can for all of the values that we hold dear. >> stephanie, folks in the audience may have read some stories about you recently. you decided not to go back to your hometown of montana and run for u.s. senate. why not? >> well, truth flirks there are really two reasons. one of which is that, well, i'm not currently living in the state of montana, so it seems like a hard jump to make. though my home is, there it's been a while. but the other reason is right here before us. on the emily's list madam president campaign. we're so close here to making history that i wanted to be a part of that. and i wanted to really help build this -- this movement as a senator was just talking about, again, engaging women and men
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into finding the right candidate, the beth candidate. and we know there are great women in the pipeline ready to be the next president. whether it is hillary clinton or if it's amy of minnesota. i know they love when i throw their names out. we have a great bunch of women we need to be looking at for 2016, 2020, 2024. we want to build that movement. >> is this hillary clinton's first campaign event in iowa? >> is she here? that would be huge. that's -- that's exactly right. no, the honest -- the honest to god truth here is the madam president campaign is really to initiate a discussion about the importance of women's leadership in this country, whether it is in the white house which we would truly like to see. in the senate, right here in iowa where i believe we're going to make history in 2014 by
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electing one, maybe two women congress -- women to congress for the first time. this is so critically important to what is happening every day in our families and in our communities to have women's voices there from congress to our governorship to the white house. we just got to keep on building that momentum. >> senator apple, earlier this year, you said family obligations would keep you from running. what changed your mind? >> well i took a look and i said with can do better than what we're doing right now. and i -- so the people asked me if -- iowa asked me to make a -- take a second look at it. and my family agreed with it. and so here we are. >> in 2012, one of the most well known women in iowa failed at her bid for congress, christie
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vilsak was unsuccessful in ke feeting king. what did you learn about that contest? >> it's a very different race than that race. we have an experienced woman running against a long-term incumbent that is up there being part of nonpart of the solution, but part of the problem. i come with a wealth of experience being a state senator that took part and led the charge in -- in wonderful pieces of legislation that impacted the people of iowa, the statewide smoking ban. equal pay for equal work. votes like that that he -- my opponent has voted against. the reorganization of state government that saved hundreds of millions of dollars, i think taking that experience and putting it against tom latham is
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a huge contrast. we can make a huge difference there. >> what are the lessons on the christie vilsak campaign? >> first of all -- -- [. >> you want to use mine? >> do that. >> we' get it. >> one of the great things we learned first of all i wanted to -- >> still want hear you. there we go. a woman can't win in iowa. there are a lot of women here who have run and tried and a lot of great women who are going to win next year. but first of all i want to say that christie was a great candidate. she raised more money in iowa than tom harkin did in all of his races. she was formidable. the district was too difficult. had she run in the district, she
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would have been a congresswoman today. i truly believe that. so from a political operative stand pointed, time to stop saying that women can't win in iowa. it's just not the case. i did learn there are women in this conservative district that she ran in that do have a difficult time voting for women, becky knows, she ran in that area. there are many more that make up for those people. for anyone to come in and say hillary or anyone else will have a hard time winning in iowa, it's just not true. >> may i add a little bit to that? >> sure. >> i think what is really interesting in some of the polling that we've done in emily's list recently, we did polling in iowa. we know women can win here. they're winning in the legislature. we know this could be. it is clear, 96% of caucus goers said they were ready to vote for
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a woman in the white house. 96%. 70% think there's going be a woman in the white house after 2016. this state is more than ready. in fact, it's a little more ready in that polling than some of our other battleground states around the country. so i think because of christi's race and the 2012 historic election we had where so many great women fought and won their elections that there is is a momentum building and we have to keep that going. >> you alluded to two women who announced their candidacies. monica vernon and view vandicar. she was thinking about it. what does your data tell you about the success a woman might have in that particular district? >> i think we have a great opportunity here. this is where we go after 28 years of work, we have three women running in one district.
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this is not a problem 20 years ago. that is a good thing. i expect to see a lot more of these races in the future. truthfully we should have two women running in every race. this is a really good thing. we have a great opportunity and it's possible that iowa sends two women to the house of representatives. >> you've seen the voter registration numbers in the district, what does it tell you about the potential there for a democrat? >> i think this is working now, actually. >> in stacy's district? >> the first. >> the first is very interesting. i see her here. so a lot of people in that district from the same area and how it will break down, obviously the person who wins the primary will win the general election. if we have three strong women, it gives us a great shot to actually elect a woman there and obviously in stacy's district, we had a few conversations about this.
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that's a 50-50 district. there's no reason why stacy shouldn't win and become the next congresswoman. show there's so many opportunities and if anybody comes away from this today is that we are going to elect women in iowa and before the presidential race starts so nobody can come in here and say that iowians don't elect women. >> what about the prospect that's been raised that having three women in a primary will split the female vote? >> i don't think. >> i think one of the things we have to remember is that this is progress. sometimes progress is painful. but, you know, there was a time when i first running 30 years ago, there were no role models out there. barbara jordan and geraldine ferreira and there were a few -- but not like today. not where you turn on c-span,
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you look on the senate floor, you see splashes of color everywhere. by the way, we're having to -- we have to have a bigger bathroom because we have so many women. so when you have women in the pipeline, which is what this is all about. it's not just about madam president. madam president is a metaphor for enabling young women to see that that city council race is worth it, that school board race is worth it. the state legislative seat is worth it. the city council seat is worth it and repopulate all of those places with more and more women, you know what's going to happen? they're going to bump heads. we can't get depressed about that. that's the sign of strength. the more women we have out there running, yes, there are going be a few times we're going have to arm wrestle. there will be a few disagreements. at the end of the day, we'll be role modelling millions of young
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women, that this is a career that's exciting, challenging, rewarding, and worth it. >> if you have multiple men, they say how are the men going to split up the male vote. >> exactly right. women are going to vote for the best candidate. it's about the campaign and the debate. the senator is so right. the concept of there's one woman and she's going to carry the water for all of the women in the country? who is that woman. i want meet the one man who carries all of the water for all of the men in the country. it's not what's going to work. what's going to work is when we have an equal number of women and men silting at the decision making table and having policies moving forward and having the debates that we're having. they're important. senator mccaskill is in the middle of one of the debates on
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the senate armed services committee about what to do relating to what's happening in the sexual assault of the military. here's the thing about that debate -- something's going to get done. and 20 years ago when there was the tailhook scandal, you remember, the awful situation, nothing happened. now we've got women, a number of women coming up with solutions. we'rele going get to the right solution on this and something is going to happen. that's what it means to have women's voices there and i'm thankful to see the numbers we're seeing. >> the discussion here to forhas been about congress. there are only 23 states in the country that are female. >> i wish that were 23 right now. great. >> 23 have been elected governor. there is no female candidate in iowa. >> anybody want to run for -- >> i feel like in this audience. >> come talk to me afterwards. >> it would be wonderful.
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>> we just keep on building the pipeline, though, and as i look forward, you know, i'm sure there are folks thinking about -- they're thinking talk to me afterward. but the truth is we've got women running for congress. this is how we build the pipeline this, has been the success in states around the country. the governorships are really important. i'm glad you brought it up. right now, there's only one democratic woman governor in the country. she's in new hampshire. governor maggie. we've got to change that. we're recruiting very, very hard. we're going to have a lot of women, hopefully, if all goes well, the great state senator wendy davis of texas will think about running for governor of texas. but if we want to see a woman in the white house, which we do, we also need to see and support women running in governorships. these are executive leader
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positions and in the united states, 24 states have not ever in their history elected a woman governor. they're not alone. we have to do this, this is another piece of the puzzle. as the senator says, once you see it, you get it. it's not an issue anymore. but we've got to keep pushing state-by-state. once we break that biggest and final glass ceiling towards the white house, it's going to open up so many doors across the country, governor's mayor -- governors' races, mayors' races, others. >> senator mccaskill, is she why you ran? >> i think that a simple way of putting it, i think both my mother and father gave me permission to be bossy and opinionated. my dad reassured me that even
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though no one wanted to date me in college, it would get better. i can't even believe that's true. >> bossy and opinionated. and my mother was a masterful politician in every good sense of that word. and what she taught me was that there was never anybody in the room that you needed to look past and that the values that we hold dear in this room, the reason that you're here is not because you want anything from anybody. you just want your government to reflect your values and fighting for those values is an honorable thing to do. my parents didn't believe people who ran for elected office were sleaze balls. they didn't believe government is the enemy. not necessarily government is the answer, but government is not the enemy. i had an upbringing that many
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elected officials did not have. they're busy selling a lot of cynicism and negativity that we have to destroy government to be free. that's not the kind of house hold i was raised in. so my mom -- it was terribly embarrassing for me when mother ran. i'll tell you this quick true story. my mother was the first woman elected to the city council in columbia, missouri. i was like a freshman in high school. we go to her swearing in and she was very -- like a cheshire cat smile because she was carrying a big brown grocery sack with her. she took the oath and opened the brown grocery sack being the first woman elected. she took out first a vase of flowers and set them at her desk. she took out a picture of us and sat them on the desk and she took out an apron and tied it on. i was like, oh, my god. i'm so embarrassed.
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the children were like we don't know her, we have no idea who she is. she was that kind of flamboyant -- she grabbed life by the jugular and shook it and i never met a stranger and i am no question in my mind sitting here because of her. >> stephanie that story speaks to the way women make decisions about running. if they don't have a role model, how difficult is it for you to convince a woman that she should run for office? >> i don't think there's a woman in this country who doesn't have a role model now. may not be -- they're either in their life directly or they're serving in the united states senate. i remember talking to a woman who was thinking about running for congress. this will probably sound familiar. we should ask stacy her story of deciding. we were trying to recruit a woman to run

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