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tv   The Presidency Cleveland- Mc Kinley Descendant  CSPAN  February 21, 2022 12:24pm-12:45pm EST

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>> weakens on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday american history tv documents america's stories, and on sundays booktv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 come from these television companies and more including cox. >> cox is committed to providing eligible families access to affordable internet through the connect and compete program, bridging -- bridging the digital divide one connected and engage student at a time. >> cox, , along with these television copies, supports c-span2 as a public service. >> massee mckinley we are talking at the white house a stroke association presidential summit cairn washington d.c. and you here because you work with the organization also because you're the dissent of direct prices. tell me or families family story. >> i am related to them on my
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maternal side to grover cleveland who was the 22nd and the 24th united states president, and on my father's side, paternal side, to william mckinley, t i'm great great-nephew of william mckinley and the great-great-grandson of grover cleveland. >> how did those families get together? >> it happen just because my parents married and the two became one. interesting -- >> were your parents aware of their lineage when they married? >> had no clue, no clue. i father was a longtime history professor at you ga and so during the course of time at the breakfast table we talked about presidential politics. we talked about residential descendents and i learned so many stories about both families from those conversations that had withmu them. >> the two are very different. >> they are absolutely. >> let's start with the one who's having a neubert,?
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mckinley. what you want people to know about him? you a steady time of his legacy and his life. what you think is most important thing to know that when mckinley? >> everybody remembers that he was assassinated in buffalo, but the most important thing i think, susan, and i think robert mary's book has brought that to look, if how powerful of an impact his presidency had to the country. revolution, we had expansion around the world. we had tremendous growth and a lot of times sadly enough both grover cleveland and mckinley are often forgotten but through books that are written about both especially about mckinley and, of course, you remember paul rose's book about william mckinley. he's always been revered but in the time's past he's been forgotten and my hope that through the course of time and through the great efforts of the
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white house historical association that jacqueline kennedy found it in 1961, through those efforts with education, preservation and legacy, you know, learning about those presidents that they'll certainly be remembered and i'm trying very hard to do that. >> we have visited the memorial in canton, ohio. what a structure. tell the audience a story of how that came to be? >> the william mckinley memorial way back in the day, people revered him and, of course, you know the significance about the roses that they wore back in the day when he was assassinated. but the citizens of ohio and especially since several assassinated thought that it was befitting to actually come together and actually create a memorial to his legacy and memory and, of course, he's probably in my opinion ohio's most revered united states president because he was not only a house member but also
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susan the last u.s. civil war president. so i think the legacy that that produced and in addition to the fact that he was a assassinated probably contributed to them having this one wonderful memorial and it really truly is. >> it's impressive, the amount of space that it takes and the size of the memorial itself which i understood that the first lady was very much involved. >> that's correct, that's correct. >> the first lady's memorial museum is also on the same campus. >> that's right. >> talk about mrs. mckinley and her legacy and her role in the white house? >> absolutely. wonderful mate and wonderful supportive wife of william. you know the story about her having epilepsy and mckinley was such a wonderful husband that when she had the epilepsy
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seizures and he would place a napkin on her face and they would go on with dinner. that's the reason he has no direct descendants because both young daughters died in infancy. i think she because of the death of both fathers and the death -- you know, the assassination of william mckinley caused her to really want to memorialize mckinley and the white house first lady's home is -- was actually her home. did you know that? >> i didn't. >> the first lady's museum was out of saxton mckinley's home and it is a beautiful, beautiful structure. i think hillary clinton integrated that home back in the day. >> so if one were to look at that period of time it was the time of great disruption and technological change, industrial
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change, though, parallels to today. so, you know, going through the digital revolution, there's challenges with immigration as they were back at that time. the purpose of studying history to understand our time today, what would you takeaway from the mckinley era that people can help to understand the time that we are going through. >> i think like you said, the technological advances and we just were expanding at rapid speeds and money was being poured into the country for industrial expansion and today we can take the strides to make sure that we have the infrastructure to be able to proceed and see these kinds of -- how important it is because they were doing it by half and chance and they were hoping for the best and sometimes that did not work out but i think we can learn from the past, we can learn from those -- those -- you
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know, those mistakes that were made there in those times, mckinley's time especially during that particular time because we radically changed in early 1900's. >> grover cleveland you're more closely related to grover cleveland. >> that's right, surprising. >> he was america's only nonsequential president, what else should they know? >> they should know that he had a beautiful wife and the great story that's been past down from my family for many, many years francis and grover was so saddened that they were defeated after the first election and she told the white house staff who she dearly loved, she said take care of the china because we will be back in 4 years and they were back in 4 years. but i think, you know, the romance that they had prior to them getting married in the white house was just a lot of story that will endure the test
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of time. she was married in the white house. the beautiful gown, susan, was founded by george cleveland who is actually at this event. he's the grandson of grover. his sister anne and also marian cleveland cohen, they found the actual dress that actually exist, the wedding dress that actually exist in the white house collection at the first ladies smithsonian. a powerful display and how elegant she was and people certainly, you know, learned from history from that. >> but there was an enormous age difference between the two. >> absolutely. >> how does the family process that piece of information. >> you know, i think it was a love story that was kindled by francis' father, he was a dear friend of grover and i think upon his death, i think grover felt the need make sure that
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frances was taken care of and he was a lot older by stretch of 25 to 30 years but i think, you know, at that time she trusted him. i think he was the guardian for many, many years. even prior to mr. fulsome's death and i think she had complete trust and they had a wonderful family, susan. >> they really did not like life inside the white house? >> that's correct. >> they really wanted to protect their family. how did they do that? >> a lot of times, susan, frances would take the children by carriage to sites off campus and unbeknownst to the press, unbeknownst to anyone that was around and they would actually secretly do that. midday or sometimes probably in the evenings when no one would be suspect that they would be around. i think she just -- she was very
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much -- she controlled how her children would be seen. >> they built a house in what's called the cleveland park section in washington and grover cleveland used the white house at the office. >> there's a ton of on the other correspondence and we didn't have presidential archives. when he left office and all documents were taken by him and i was talking to george just yesterday about, you know, how much volume of papers still exists and they are trying to give those to the museum and to institutions like princeton to preserve and -- and to definite i will keep those but it's -- it's a lot of information. >> where are the bulk of his papers now?
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>> they are at princeton. >> what's at princeton connection that brought them to princeton? >> princeton was the actual place that grover and frances retired to. i will never forget the story. it's a great story, susan. i've been told this many, many years. grover did not like woodrow wilson and at the time woodrow wilson was the president at the time and he did not allow his children or woodrow wilson's children to play together because there was a rift so they did not play together but that's the -- that's the connection. he actually retired to princeton. >> while we are talking about the clevelands children they also had a daughter that became very famous who unfortunately also passed away in her youth, baby ruth. we have a candy bar named after baby ruth. tell us what you know about the family stories about baby ruth. >> so the actual candy company contacted the cleveland family
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to actually put the images of the baby and also frances on that and we have actual tons of political memorabilia, tons of souvenirs that have been given away and they actually contacted the family to actually, you know, allow both images on the candy bar. but sadly, like you said, ruth passed away and sadly susan, she was pregnant with a child at the time and both happened almost at the same time. so she did not get a chance to say good-bye to ruth before she passed away. >> i think she was in her very early childhood? >> that's correct. they were afraid that the disease, i think was, the disease would certainly affect the child. >> but she lives on. >> she does.
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>> susan, everybody thinks that the candy bar does named after baby ruth but that was long past that time. you hear it from the candy company. they will actually say it's named for baby ruth and you see the likeness wrapper. she was a beautiful child and frances was a beautiful woman and why not put on display for sure. >> let's talk about you and interest in politics. you mentioned the family used to talk about family history in the table and when did you take interest in american history? >> susan, i will say not until junior high. my dad always talked about it because i have two other brothers. he always talked about politics and he always talked about the presidency and presidential descendants but i think junior
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high piqued my interest and i had the legacy of both families and i wanted to research and read as much as possible so i think probably my junior high years were probably the time frame that i became really, really interested in it and dad showed a greater interest and we went to the historical sites, the mckinley museum and the lie briar and grover cleveland's grave site in new jersey. but i think, yeah, i would -- i would say i really was not as familiar with it in early years but i think junior high, high school, college and the interest that i had in that probably caused me to become even greater, have a greater interest in that. >> is it a coincidence that your profession is political communication? >> yeah, right. that's exactly right. no, susan, i have been privileged to write for some of the greater people newt
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gringrich and john boehner and then -- and then also the current speaker paul ryan, so very specific speeches. i don't do day-to-day stuff but it's been a thrill to be able to write for them on some policy things and i thoroughly enjoy it but most of our work is corporate communications. >> what is it like being part of the community of presidential descendants? is there interaction among you? >> i hate to say it, susan. years ago we attended the new york mayor's presidential descendants luncheons that they used to have. this is is probably 20, 25 years ago. probably in the last i would say-probably last 5 years people have become more interested and i approached steward, the president of the white house historical association probably six months ago about wanting to do, create an event for the presidential descendants because
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it's something that just kind of not been done but hopefully going forward we will actually have more reunions. i'm in hope that is we have an annual dinner that we actually will have in different locations around the country and -- and i hope that we will because i think it's so important. we learn so much and we share experiences, you share stories about the presidential families and i just love to be around people that are a lot like me. >> if you had to say your perception of being a president or life in the white house is different than folks who don't have the sisterry because of what you know your family stories, how would it be different? do you have a different appreciation for the job, do you think? >> i think i really do. i think, susan, probably the greatest word would be respect. two men gave of themselves, william mckinley and grover
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cleveland to inspire to greater office and i will tell you what a sacrifice and especially during periods of time like you said they were quite strenuous with the country and i think i do have a greater respect for the office. and i think i do have a greater respect for the office. i have greater respect for the people that occupy the office and the sacrifices that they definitely make each and every day. uams family time a lot of time, and i know for a fact that william mckinley, because the way that he traveled back then, lost a lot of that time with his young daughters because he traveled by rail to different events. he was apart from his wife for good bit of time and that was very traumatic because of her illness. >> thank you for visiting with us here. >> absolutely. pleasure. >> did you know all of c-span's american history programs are available to watch online?
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go to and type in your topic of interest in the search box, thousands of programs look at the people in places that shaped our nation all available online at >> c-span has hundreds of programs on first ladies including archival footage, interviews, and book talks. here's a look at one of our programs. >> each of the rooms in the family quarters of the white house has a special personality, a distinctive mood. here, there's a dark green velvety look. it's ornate decor reflects the occupants of a victorian period. right after the civil war this became the cabinet room for president andrew johnson, but it was president grant who introduced this table that so
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many succeeding presidents used to conduct the nation's business until 1902. that was that was when the country outgrew the second floor. president theodore roosevelt who had six children and was not tradition bound built the west wing presidential offices, separating once and for all the family quarters from the day-to-day work of the chief executive. many objects bring to mind earlier presidents. the torture of andrew jackson, this lamp presented to mrs. grover cleveland, at this wastebasket of president grant, guaranteed to attract the young boys who visited us. the . the chandelier has an interesting story behind it. it was designed for the east room in president grants time, i did soon passed room to room until it finally wound up
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gracing president theodore roosevelt new office. every time the door opened, it tinkled, distracting him greatly. he ordered it to be sent to the capital, and he was supposed to have said put it in the vice president's office and it will keep him awake. and there it remained until my husband became vice president in 1961. during mrs. kennedy is renovation, lyndon was instant and returning it to the white house where it hangs today. >> take a closer look at the spouses of our nation's presidents, their private lives, public roles and legacies. watch all of our first ladies programs online at >> our weekly series the president sees highlights the politics, policies and legacies of you was presidents and first ladies. next historians david reynolds


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