Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]    February 20, 2012 4:00pm-4:30pm EST

4:00 pm
all day today, american history tv is featuring america's first ladies. who do you think was our most influential first lady? join the conversation with us on facebook, on american history tv usually shown on the weekends on cspan 3 will start with the new history month, with the new smithsonian -- the museum's founding director takes us through the -- at 8:30, the relationship between martin luther king jr. and his mentors, benjamin mays and howard
4:01 pm
thurmon. and we travel to the jfk museum. professor william foster teaches a class on the history of the n-word. and mark twain's hu huckleber media from facebook, youtube and four square. you're watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on cspan3, the people and the events that tell the american story. on this presidents day weekend,
4:02 pm
we're talking about the nation's first ladies. up next actress holly hunter and liam neeson with the words of abraham lincoln. abraham and mary lincoln. she was short, he, a skbrint. -giant. she went to college, he went to one-room schoolhouses, she spoke french and he spoke indiana. she liked the best clothes, he liked the same old clothes. he grew up admiring henry clay, she knew henry clay. the lincoln family hated
4:03 pm
slavery, the todd family owned slaves, they met in springfield, illinois. >> one d was good enough to spell god, the todds needed two. >> he told me, ms. todd, i want to dance with you in the worst way and that's the way he danced, in the worst way. >> on the issue of poetry and politics, they had nothing in common. whatever you have read or heard before, it was mutual attraction and admiration than never waned. and this in their exact words, their family photos and other period pictures is their story beginning in 1858. >> i have come to the con conversation -- >> in our little country in springfield in the days of my
4:04 pm
girlhood, we had a society of gentlemen who have since been distinguished in the political world. choice choice spirits -- but my greet and glorious husband came first, a world above them all. mr. steven a. douglas is a very little, little giant by the side of my tall kentuckian. >> nothing new her except my marrying, which to me is a matter of profile and wonder. my wife is as handsome as when she was a girl. and i a poor young fellow fell in love with her. >> through triumphs and tragedies that struck both the lincoln family and the national family. and this is the story too of how
4:05 pm
americans of their day came to know them, through the art and photography that captured them individually and as a couple. these are their first portraits. taken around the year he went to congress in 1847. unlike most husbands and wives of the day, especially famous ones, they never posed together, it was said that she would never allow it. the disparity in their heights embarrassed her. now together they would go to washington with their sons. but their second honeymoon does not last long. life in the cramped regimented boarding house where this very building stands, the library of congress does not suit her and soon mary returns home. >> dear mary, in this troublesome world we are never quite satisfied. when you were here i thought you
4:06 pm
hindered me some in terms of business, but now business has grown extremely tasteless to me. i hate to stay in this old room by myself. you are entirely free from headache, that is good. i am afraid you will get -- all the boarding house or rather all of whom you are in good terms sendary love to you, the others say nothing. >> my dear husband, i feel weary and tired enough to know that -- our little eddy has recovered from his spell of sickness. it is growing late and these summer eves are short. i suspect my long scrawl.
4:07 pm
>> my dear wife, you wish to return to this side of the mountains. will you be a good girl in all things i consent? then come along as soon as possible. i will be impatient to see you. i want to see you and our dear, dear boy so much. >> but the reunion is short-lived, lincoln completes his term and returns to -- rimpbing to the law, he traveled six months out of every year, then their beloved son eddie died in 1850, a tragedy of which as serene artists make their home appear, mary never recovers are. >> from the time of the death of my little edward, i believe -- when mr. lincoln became elevated
4:08 pm
to office, with the care of a great nation upon his shoulders, when devastating war was upon us, then indeed did his great heart go up daily, hourly in prayer to god for his sustaining power. >> by 1854, the lincoln home is filled with two more sons, willie and tad. along with 12-year-old robert. then comes the news that will change this family's life forever. congress overturns all restri restrictions on the -- and abraham lincoln is aroused, as he put it, back into politics. a photographer catches his likeness in peoria, just days before he rises in those velvet lapels and extravagant bow tie, to find a new faith, that any man black or white to make himself. >> this deterred indifference of
4:09 pm
covert of real zeal for the spread of slavery, i cannot help but hate. i hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world, enables the leaders of free institutions laugh at us. it causes the real freedom to doubt our sincerity and because it forces so many good men amongst ourselves with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty. >> by 1858, abe ma'am lyraham l the acknowledged leader of the republican party. mary is on hand for many of these debates. along with their son robert. still camera shy herself, though mr. lincoln poses again and
4:10 pm
again before the cameras. mary listening as her husband argues face to face with a democrat who once had courted her in the place she so finally remembered at her sister's house in springfield. >> tlls no way the me grow is not spild to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. i hold that he is as much entitled to these as a whiteman, and the right to eat the whiteman without leave of anybody else. with his own hand earns that he is my equal, the equal of senator douglas and the equal of every living man. >> lincoln loses that election, but in his assent his just beginning. in 1859, he takes mary with him on a speaking tour of ohio, posing for new photographs.
4:11 pm
and mesmerizing audiences with his oratory. >> i have again been wandering, mr. l. and myself visited columbus and some beautiful places in ohio. words cannot express what a merry time we have had. >> we must have a national policy as to slavery which deals with it as being a wrong. that our principle, however baffled or delayed with final -- man will pass away, die, politically and naturally, but the principle will live and live forever. february 1860, lincoln comes to new york for his first major address on the east coast. he would later say that his speech at cooper union, together with matthew brady's photograph taken earlier that same day make him president. but as he later confides to
4:12 pm
mary, the long campaign trip takes its toll. >> fellow citizens in new york, neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us nor frightened from it through menaces of destruction to our government nor of dungeons to ourselves. let us have faith that right makes might and let us in the end dare to do our duty as we understand it. >> dear wife, the speech at new york went off passably well, but i have been unable to escape this toil. if i had foreseen it, i think i would not have come east at all. i hope to be home tomorrow week. once started, i shall come home as quick as possible. kiss the dear boys for father.
4:13 pm
>> the brave imagery appears there and everywhere, reproduced again and again in prints like these, on campaign posters, on patriotic envelopes, even in car afternoons, introducing lincoln to voters and in a sen an age in which presidential nominees stayed quietly at home. >> dear sir, your letter requesting my photograph is -- you can easily get there in new york. i suppose they got my shadow and can multiply copy in definitely. >> many may i the white house. now photographers, artists and sculptures appear in springfield to capture the candidate. he endured the painful process
4:14 pm
of a plaster life mask and he caposes from life. >> there is the animal himself. >> back home in springfield, lincoln sits for campaign portraits by two oortists, alvin >> i have seen mr. hicks' picture, the face has a somewhat more pleasing expression than i have. >> these photographs are quickly copied by prince makers, there's reveiling reports that president lincoln is just too ugly to be president. one effort to persuade pennsylvania learning the value of political image making. >> mr. brown's taken a miniature
4:15 pm
likeness of my husband which i think is perfect. i see no fault or defect whatever. allow me to express the great pleasure it has afforded us of seeing so excellent a portrait taken. >> to my unpracticed eye it is without fault. >> i scarcely know how i would bear up under defeat. >> but she does not have. on november 6, 1860 as mary waits nervously at home, abraham lincoln gets the news in the springfield telegraph office that he has swept the north and won the presidency. as the news reaches the thousands of well wishers thronging the streets outside, lincoln for understand refuses to mike a speech and instead hurries home alone. >> i guess i'll go down and tell mary about it, mary, we're elected.
4:16 pm
>> as lincoln prepares for a new administration, he begins featuring a new look as well. a beard, he begins growing at the suggestion of an 11-year-old admirer from upstate new york. born too is the new image of the first lady. eager to per sue her new social responsibilities, she buys lavish new clothes, offending critics who call her displays inappropriate at a country breaking apart during her husband's election. she and her husband board the train that will take them to boston for the ininauguration. >> my friends, here i have lived a quarter of a century and have passed from a young to an old man. i now leave not knowing when or
4:17 pm
if ever i may return. but a task for me greater before me that rested upon washington. trusting in him who can go with me and/or daned for good. let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. to his care which i hope in your prayers you will commend me. i bid you an affection farewell. >> on ininauguration day march force, with mary proudly in the audience, lincoln pleads with the south to remain in the union. that evening, as she dresses for the inaugural ball, mary prepares to leave the social world in which she's dreamt since childhood. the country is disintegrating, war looms, but she is first lady. if there is irony there as her
4:18 pm
husband takes the oath of office, she chooses to pursue her own obligations. >> ladies and gentlemen of the country, we are not enemies, but friends. we must not be enemies. though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. the mystic cords of memory stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearth stone all over this broad land will yet swell the porous of the union, which again touched as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature. >> i am beginning to feel so perfectly home and i enjoy everything so much. we may perhaps at the close of four years be glad to relinquish our claims. >> i have been temporarily to occupy this big white house. i am a living witness that any
4:19 pm
one of your children may look to come here as my father's child has. >> we are having so much bliss. >> we must settle the question now, whether in the free government, the minority has the right to break up in any way we chose. if we fail, we will go -- >> we have the most beautiful flowers and grounds in excitemeh to turn ay own, there are so many lovely drives around and werrias at ou >> ft. sumpter has been assaulted. i appeal to all loyal citizens to maintain the honor, the integrity and the existence of the union. this is essentially a people's in maintaining the substance of the world whose leading object is to lift artificial weights
4:20 pm
from all shoulders, to clear the path of laudable picture suit for all, to afford all an unfettered start with a rare charns in the race of life. >> mary soon discovers that she has precious little to do, same for posing for picturesather. and worst, less time than ever to spend with her beleaguered husband. >> dear sir, at mr. brady's gallery, they told me they sent on some of my photographs. you will certainly oblige me by destroying them all. the one with me standing with a large figured dress, very respectably, mrs. lincoln. >> for a line across immediately
4:21 pm
above the eyebrow is downward, it a -- >> my hands are always too large in photographs and i look too stern, the drapery of the dress is not significantly flowing and hair should not be so doup down on my forehead and not so much dress. >> determined to make the executive mansion a symbol of national pride, mary now turns to redecorate it. >> to the commissioner of public buildings, please, tell the president that it is tell him how much it costs to refer refer beneficiary. >> it could never have my approval, i'll pay for it out of my pocket first, it will stink in the nostrils of the american
4:22 pm
people to have it said that the president of the united states had approved a bill running an appropriate of $20,000 for this damned old house when the troops have no blanket. >> my own nature is very sensitive. my inoffensive little so little desirous of newspaper notoriety. >> you the press is galvanized by the first family. subject to relentless criticism, even as artists'llize the first family. mary begins to realize that her husband has given himself over to his job, not to her. the living in the same house where he works, they become increasingly isolated. >> the struggle of today is not a vast future also. if i fail, it will be for lack
4:23 pm
of ability and not ofose. work, work, work is the main thing. >> i consider myself fortunate if at 11:00 i once more myself in my pleasant high school if my tired husband is there, resting in the lounge to receive me, to chat over the occurrences of the day. >> but mary's isolation only in. rare hometomoments with her huso rarer. she finds her husband's loyalty to the -- sophisticated by western standards, she is dismissed by washington ladies as an ariveste. in 1862, their beloved willie, catches typhoid fever and dies.
4:24 pm
for lincoln, the loss is devastating. for mary, losing willie is the worst tragedy of her life. a blow that sends her into such protracted grief, the president warns her he might have to commit her to an asylum. in her desperation, why is sessions yield to white seances. mary even begs the president to attend one, in a sad, vain search to reach willie, worry she will go mad, she goes. >> we have met with so overwhelming an affliction in the dleath of our beloved willi that i can scarcely get myself to right. my home is beautiful t grounds around us are enchanting. yet the charge is dispelled and everything appears a mockery. the idolized one is not with us. he has fulfilled his mission and
4:25 pm
we are left desolate, can life be endured? ? >> in this world of ours, sadness comes to all, and to the i don't think it comes with the -- >> i have become so wrapped up in the world, so devoted to our own political advancement that i thought of little else besides, our heavenly father sees fit to visit us for our unworldliness, how insignificant all worldly leaders are all, i am not prepared to pass through this fiery furnace of affliction. >> perfect relief is not possible except with time. you are sure to be happy again, to know this which is certainly true will make you somewhat less miserable now. i have had experience enough to know what i say. the memory will yet be a sad, sweet feeling in your heart of a
4:26 pm
purer and holy her sort than i have known before. >> marion harris, i am in need of a mourning bonnet. i want the crepe to be the finest jet black english lace. exceedingly plain and rich, unless they of the best and most stylish, i do not want them. please send them by wednesday. >> their only solace they find at the soldier's home, a summer's retreat where they are free from critics, from washington's torrid heat and from the memory of willie's death. >> we expect to go out to the soldiers home, a very beautiful place two and a half miles from this. we will ride in the city every day and be as secluded as we please. when we are in sorrow, quiet is
4:27 pm
very necessary to us. >> here lincoln's thoughts now turn to emancipation and though few contemporaries know it, even mary's she suns writes to him on the subject. >> my dear husband, the immense number of contrabands in washington are suffering intensely, many without bed covering and having to use bits of carpeting to cover themselves. many dying of want. i have promised $200 and in this sum, i'm sure you will not object to be used in this way. please send a check for $200. >> i have been shaking hands this new year's day since 9:00 this morning and my right arm is almost paralyzed. if my name goes down in history, it's because my whole soul is in it. all who examine the document
4:28 pm
here after will say he hesitated. upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the constitution upon military necessity, i invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of almighty god. >> inspired to portray the first reading of the proclamation to the congress, is the photographer he commissioned like this one, and these -- carpenter's final painting, however static, immortalizes an historic moment long before the age of the photo tumpbt, inspiring a best selling engraveme engravement.
4:29 pm
the picture portrays the president and mrs. lincoln. >> i must go? and take one more look at the picture. >> i have always regarded the original painting as very perfect. there after all, is the president's happy family. >> responding to the emancipation proclamation, americans now flock to the military to fight for their own freedom. but the war still rages and hundreds of thousands more die. overwhelmed by the crisicrisis, day and night, lincoln is hardly object when his wife travels, but invariably he misses her when she's away and at first quietly and then overtly, he urgings her to come home. >> new york, the air so clear and cool and apparently health you that i would be glad for you toe.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on