tv Washington D Cs Lafayette Square CSPAN August 26, 2018 8:55am-10:01am EDT
>> you are watching american history tv, only on c-span3. announcer: lafayette square, a public park across from the white house, is named after frenchman and revolutionary war figure marquis de lafayette. next on american history tv, gil klein talks about his book, "trouble in lafayette square: assassination, protest & murder at the white house." the national press club hosted this event. it is an hour and five minutes. andrea: hello, everyone, good evening. welcome to the national press club. i am andrea endrey, an editor with bloomberg news, and i am the 111th president of the national press club. i would like to take just a moment -- if you have not already, please silence your cell phones. we do not want them ringing during the taping of this event. we are going to be broadcast on c-span as well this evening, so please don't let it be your cell phone that interrupts our proceedings tonight.
if you are tweeting, the hashtag is #npclive. it is with great pleasure that i introduce to you this evening gil klein, our celebrated author this evening. gil is my predecessor as a president of the national press club. he served as president in 1994 when his two children were very young. i believe one of them is in the audience tonight. andrew? raise your hand. with his fiancée chloe, i understand. welcome, thank you for being here tonight. gil at the time was working as a national correspondent for media general, where he served 22 years. he also taught at american university, overseeing the washington semester program that sought to teach journalism to people coming from all over the world, and currently he is creating a new washington journalism program.
if you have not taken a tour of the club with gil, you are missing out. please do this. he tells the best stories, he knows the best stories about the national press club. he has been an avid historian for years and years. prior to this book, he authored, edited, and rewrote the national press club's history for our centennial a few years ago. my understanding is that there may be another book like that in the works. which is fantastic. but we are here tonight to talk about "trouble in lafayette square," this book right here. if you have not purchased a copy, you may do so after our program.
gil will be signing copies just around the corner. gil, would you like to tell us a little bit about your book? gil: thank you very much, andrea. after 30-plus years organizing events at the national press club, it is really strange to be on this side of them. so the idea for this book came -- i have always been interested in american history. i've always been interested in the history of wherever i am living. that's why i wrote the history of the club, because i live at the club. andrea: he does. gil: when i got to washington in 1985, since i had a great interest in american history as the white house and the presidents, i would get off the metro at farragut west and walk-through lafayette park to go to the national press building. over the years, i would start collecting stories about the unusual things that happened in lafayette square.
all of you in this room know exactly where lafayette square is, but since we do have a television audience, i should tell you. it's across the street, across pennsylvania avenue, from the front of the white house. it is seven acres of open parkland, and it is surrounded by buildings that go back to 1818 with the stephen decatur house. in the middle of the park is a in the middle of the park is a statue of jackson. the unusual thing about the statue is that it was built -- sculpted or whatever they do to statues in 1854. it's the first time in history that having a statue of a man on horseback with the horse on two legs. that was an engineering feat for
1854. people say gil, it is andrew jackson. why do they call it lafayette square? the answer to that is, it started out life, pierre l'enfant laid it out as the president's park. the question was whether it would be white house grounds, or open to the public. it was not until thomas jefferson said we need a smaller government, we will put this outside the gates of the white house. it was still kind of a building zoned for the white house and the federal office buildings. in the war of 1812, there were troops there, when the white house was burned, there were questions about whether or not the capital would stay here. finally, in 1818, the first house was built.
first, i should tell you, it is the beautiful victorian era homes, 19th-century homes all around it. during the kennedy administration, people wanted to get rid of all of these old buildings. they wanted to knock them down and put up very ugly looking federal office buildings, courthouses, and jackie kennedy said no, those buildings would be gone forever, and she convinced her husband to stop that project. she brought in new architects and they kept the site of the old buildings and put the new buildings behind them. >> kelly talk about why it is cat -- can wet talk about why it is called lafayette square?
flex that is because in 1824, marquis de lafayette, the great hero of the revolutionary war, came back to america to tour the entire country, every state in existence at the time, 24 of them, and they had parties and parades. it was the greatest thing. it went on for two years. everywhere he went, they named things after him. fayetteville. >> fayetteville, north carolina, is one. >> there is some place in indiana named similarly. >> his estate in france was called lagrange. if you see anything called lagrange, that is also named after lafayette. there is also a lagrange county in kentucky. this guy got a lot of name recognition. he came to washington first to
meet with president munro, a fellow revolutionary war officer. when he came back, he met with the new president, john quincy adams. his father had been a major part of the revolution, to say the least. they said, "we have to name something after him. we have this park." that's how it came to be lafayette park. the statue of jackson wasn't built for lafayette until 1880. -- until the 1880's. that is why it is called lafayette park. most history books follow an event or a person's life from beginning to end. this book follows a place through history.
the point of the book is to give these great stories that will draw people in and have them say, oh, that's really interesting. i would like to know more about that. i didn't know that. who knows? there is nothing in this book that an eighth grader wouldn't want to read. maybe some of it they shouldn't read. but it teaches them about history. the first story is about stephen decatur. he was one of the great heroes, especially after the revolutionary war, one of the first heroes, military heroes of the country. and what people don't know is we were fighting the barbary states along the mediterranean north coast starting in 1803. jefferson had to send the navy. at 25, decatur made a name for
himself on a brilliant raid. and he was a hero already in 1803. in the war of 1812, he was an even greater hero. after the war of 1812, the barbary states tried to slip back to their old ways of stopping american commerce in the mediterranean. >> there were a lot of pirates. >> maybe we shouldn't call them the barbary pirates, but that's what they were called for a long time. he went back and defeated all three barbary states in one sea battle. this raises the question. my goodness we were fighting , muslims in 1803. decatur said after his defeat, "i got peace at the mouth of a cannon. to preserve it, we will always have to have a fleet in the mediterranean." to this day that fleet is still
, there. he survived all of this. with all of the money he got, back then, naval commanders got money for everything they sank. he built this gracious new house right on the corner of 8th street, now known as jackson place. the decatur house, he built that in 1818, the first private residence on lafayette square after the big construction of the st. john's church, it was the first building except for the white house. and he wanted something that was very lavish, and it was. and he had a lot of political appointments that made him go higher and higher in the navy. it gave him a lot of power over who would get promotions, who would get ships to command. and that caused a lot of turmoil and he was challenged to a duel
el by one of the commanders who was denied an appointment to a ship. they met at bladensburg just across the state line. they were both shot, but decatur's wound was mortal, he was rushed back to his house and he died in the parlor on the first floor. he told everybody, "don't let my wife come down here." he died in agony. after he died, this was the biggest event in washington up to that time. his funeral, they shut down the entire government. everybody came to his funeral, and they had this long parade over to kalorama for his internment.
so, that is the first story -- weirdh things things that happened in lafayette square. there are maybe some seats over there. we have to get -- there's some chairs coming in. quickly. so now, we can go on to our story about this fellow. do you want to do that? >> absolutely we could do that. this was a person who had a very interesting role in our american history. as a chronicler of history. what exactly -- if i recall correctly, he was the first person to write an insider's history of the white house. is that correct? >> that is right. this is paul jennings.
paul jennings as a 15-year-old was brought by president madison as a young slave to the white house. he was there when the british came and he helped take down the portrait of george washington gethelped dolley madison everything out of the house that was invaluable. let's it was burning -->> it was burning? >> it was not burning. it was not quite that dramatic. he set the table for the victorious returning troops. at the end of the madison administration, he was taken back to madison's home in virginia. he became madison's valet, he was there when madison died. still enslaved. he had a family, five children, and wife. dolley madison after james on very hardfell
times. i won't go into all of her problems. but madison had purchased a house on lafayette square and she wanted to come back because she was such a socialite when she was first lady, so she came back to live on lafayette square and she brought paul jennings with them. he had to leave his family. she said, don't worry, on my death, you will get your freedom. her financial situation got worse and worse, so she sold him. across the street lived senator daniel webster from massachusetts. and he was appalled. everything was very close, everybody knew everybody on the square. and so, daniel webster bought paul jennings from the guy who had bought him. he made him work it off a little bit, but then he granted him his freedom. he went on -- there was a large
free black population in washington before the civil war. he helped organize slave escapes. during the civil war, his sons fought for the union. but in 1864, he published a memoir of his life in the white house. and so, he becomes the first tell-all chronicler of the white house. now, we are going to go into the great dan rickles. don rickles -- no. [laughter] >> they look a little similar. so the story here, dan sickles was a man of great appetites, for women, for power,
for money. he was a great in-house -- he knew how to work the political system. he was from new york city. he was part of tammany hall. he was a protege of martin van buren, who actually had lived in the decatur house when he was secretary of state. at one point, he was named the second in charge of the american embassy in london. james buchanan was the ambassador. i'm missing a big point here. he married a 15-year-old at the age of 32. he loved teresa, but he loved everybody else. teresa is about to have a child. it gets this appointment to go to london.
he says you stay with the baby. i will go. he took his mistress, the madam of a bordello in new york, to london, he introduced her to queen victoria. you can imagine. he comes back and becomes a congressman. [laughter] >> one thing follows another. washington and they move into one of the nicest mansions on lafayette square. people were saying, how could this young guy afford this beautiful mansion and carriage and all the trappings? there was a lot of -- yeah. but he continues his ways. teresa is quite a socialite, even though she is very young. she is well accepted.
she's a favorite of james buchanan, the president. she would drive around in these carriages. she got to meet philip martin key. he was the son of francis scott key. he, like his father, was a stupid attorney of washington. and he became enamored with her. there she is. one thing led to another, and they got into quite a torrid affair. he had a house he rented off of lafayette square. his signal was that he would go next to the monument and he would wave a white handkerchief whenever he wanted to meet. everybody knew about this in washington except dan sickles. [laughter]
he finally got a poison pen letter. he was enraged. everybody thought, of course, he knows about it. he has his own extracurricular activities. he was totally enraged. he forced her to sign a confession. bad timing, he looks out the window and there's philip martin key. and so, he gets a couple of back, andlips out the challenges -- that would be a nice word for it -- he shoots him four times. he dies in broad daylight in front of a men's club that was there at the time. people saw it. >> bystanders. >> bystanders. sorry, i have to keep up. there's philip barton key. good-looking guy. here is the shooting.
who knows? [laughter] >> another day in the park. [laughter] >> so, he goes to trial and he gets off. among his attorneys was edward stanton, who would become president lincoln's secretary of war. and he was the first person in history to get off on the grounds of temporary insanity. he went on to be a general in the civil war. it is hotly debated to this day whether he lost or won the battle of gettysburg because he didn't follow orders. his leg was shot off. it somehow ended up in the military medical museum.
for every year, on the anniversary of it getting shot off, he would go visit it. anyway, that is the dan sickles story. whoid get back with teresa unfortunately died at a very young age of tuberculosis. a lot of blood and guts on beautiful lafayette square with grand trees and shade. i think there's more coming. >> there's always more. now, we get to the civil war. this is william seward, secretary of state in the lincoln administration. when he became secretary of state, he wanted a grand house on lafayette square. he got one which actually was the gentleman's club that had to close down after the shooting. he had that refashioned for his
house. lincoln would walk over there andthey would sit around trade stories, have a grand old time, and talk strategy. giving an idea of how close everything was in the civil war, lincoln could walk over to seward's house. three houses up was general george mcclellan's headquarters, the former dolley madison house. around the corner, there was a confederate spy, rose greenhouse. within sight of each other, these people all operated. the story here is during the lincoln assassination, it was part of a much larger plot than
killing lincoln. john wilkes booth wanted to kill the vice president and secretary seward, and that would decapitate the federal government. at the same time that lincoln -- that booth was in ford's theater, his confederate lincoln , powell was lurking in the shadows in lafayette square. terribled been in a carriage accident. he had broken his jaw, almost died. he was in bed. powell said i have some medicine i have to deliver to the secretary. >> do we have a photo of powell? >> yes, we do. first, we have to get through the assassination.
he finagled his way into the room, plunges the knife repeatedly into seward. assuming he was dead, he ran out and said i'm mad, i'm mad, ran out into the street. he got away temporarily. the only thing that saved seward was he had all these casts. he was very badly injured. i visited the seward house in auburn, new york. s kept everything. they actually still have the bloody sheets. anyway seward did live. ,there is powell, after he was hung.ed and before he was that was within 10 steps of where dan sickles shot philip barton key.
a nice piece of ground there. >> [indiscernible] >> we will get to that, i think. now, we have to get into -- this is important. ok. the women's suffragists invented the white house protest. still going on today. before they launched their campaign, nobody thought of protesting in front of the white house. alice paul, a famous suffragist, her goal was the passage of the 19th amendment. she thought the only way to do that was to somehow shame more -- shame or convince president wilson that he had to support it. he was a real southerner. he had a democrat southern base,
was ironclad. the south did not want this. so, they launched a series of protests that went on for a year and a half. >> what year is this? >> this is 1917 or so. the suffragists would stream out of this house, which happens to be next-door to where seward lived. and they would go across the park and they would have banners that denounced wilson for not supporting women's suffrage. especially at the beginning of the first world war, they would have banners that called him kaiser wilson. this was not a good idea. that caused a lot of turmoil, a lot of fighting. people think of the women's suffrage movement as a lot of ladies walking around in long dresses.
but there was a lot of turmoil. there were arrests, there was fighting. people tried to storm their way into this house. women would keep coming out every time they would rip down these banners. they would come back with more banners. they were burning wilson's words in urns in front of the white house. they were arrested, they would have hunger strikes. this was a very difficult time. but, they did prevail. and wilson did kind of endorse it. he was afraid the republicans would push it through and get the credit. but that was the beginning of the white house protest which goes on to this day. in the last two years, there were 115 or 116 protest in front
of the white house that required a permit, had more than 25 people. if you go down there now, there is always somebody. >> i think that is an excellent start to a time-honored tradition. >> yes. now we are going to leap forward to 1950. this is a photograph that really caught my attention back in 1986. it was in a book, history of the white house. this is the interior of the white house in 1950. the problem was the white house had been so badly abused that it was falling apart. it was dangerously falling apart. margaret truman's piano was falling through from the second floor to the first floor. they moved them across the street to the truman house.
this idea of a bulldozer, front end loader in the middle of the white house just fascinated me. i am weird that way. we also have to go back to 1898, the united states in the spanish-american war acquired puerto rico. and they were never quite sure what to do with it. they didn't want to give it its independence, but they didn't want to be seen as some sort of colonial empire. so, they gave the puerto ricans american citizenship in 1917. in 1950, they were all set to create the commonwealth that we have now. there was a separatist, nationalist group that didn't want this to happen. they thought they could rise up, throw out the americans, and return puerto rico to some kind of ideal lease in the caribbean, which it probably never was.
so, they were organizing. the leader in puerto rico planned this uprising for october 31, he wanted something dramatic to happen in washington because nobody cared what happened in puerto rico. but if they could have something dramatic in washington like an assassination attempt on the president, that would draw people's attention. so there's two guys living in new york at the time, they came washington on the train. they had never been to washington. one of them really didn't know how to shoot the gun he had been given. he had to have lessons. they didn't know where anything was. the only way they knew where anything was was the map in the phone book. they didn't even know that truman wasn't in the white house. they got in a cab and went down there and the cabbie said truman -- the president is over in the
blair house. -- they case place d out the place. they came back at 2:00 in the afternoon. at this time, truman was there taking a nap. these guys come in from opposite sides. the house is on the corner of lafayette square and pennsylvania avenue. one guy tried to storm in the front door. fired -- shot was misfired, which alerted all the police officers. and there was this gun battle that happened. fired, all the bullets this guy was still alive because of all the ironwork around the door. but then, he ran out of bullets. he sat down and tried to figure out how to reload it. the other guy was coming in from the other side.
and he was actually a very good marksman. he shot at police officers. he was going to try to get in. the first guy finally gets the gun reloaded, stands up, and realizes he was shot in the chest. at this moment, harry truman, a veteran of world war i, sticks his head out the window to see what was going on. it is the contention of the people who wrote the history of this that the guy who knew what he was doing, all he had to have done, if he had looked up from where he was at the time, here is the whole diagram of this if he had looked up
and seen truman, he would have and it would have been the beginning of the berkeley administration. but he did not and it was the end of the attack. he was killed. and the uprising in order rico hours -- inhin 24 puerto rico was over within 24 hours. there wasn't a big push. although nationalists came up in 1927. >> that was the last time that a president resided -- lafayette square? the president-elect always lived there, certainly not for any long amount of time that i'm aware of. do you want to go on, or do you have any other questions? >> at some point, we should also
open it up to the audience for questions. but you can go on. >> this is a story that i really didn't know about, this was lafayette square. , as is senator lester hunt democrat from wyoming. he was elected right at the time of joe mccarthy, when he was at its height. lester huntt -- hated joe mccarthy, and joe mccarthy hated lester hunt. everybody knows that mccarthy was anti-communist and all that. there was also a certain anti-gay movement, part of mccarthyism. at the time, lafayette square, lafayette park was a meeting place for gay men.
lester hunt's son, who was in his early 20's, i think, was over there. and was going to -- you know. police were there people lookingre for a good time. he was arrested. normally, this would not lead to anything. but joe mccarthy and his henchmen found out about it and said this is how we are going to get rid of lester hunt. democrat in a a very republican-leaning state. so let's threaten him, that we were going to expose this throughout wyoming, that his son had been arrested. at first, lester hunt fought
that off. but then he was about to run for we areion, and they said really going to smear this all over the state. he was so distraught that he went into his office in the senate and shot himself, committed suicide with a rifle. that was a story that i had not heard. a bit about the story of gay rights in america before things changed. and here we are getting up to -- even frank knows this guy. bush, george h. w. bush. at the beginning of his administration, the crack cocaine epidemic was sweeping the country. one of the first things he
wanted to do was come up with federal policy to try to stop crack cocaine. he wanted to give an oval office speech. oval office speeches are very rare. he knew the only way he could convince people outside of the inner cities that this was a problem was to show that this crack cocaine was everywhere. so his staff, with his approval, asked the dea to do a crack cocaine buy in lafayette square. and they pulled it off. they found somebody they had been trailing for a while and purchase,ant to do a but you have to come to laugh i have square. -- the lafayette square.
where is that? the white house. where ronald reagan lives? no, no -- so, they make the buy. bush uses this as his prompt for this oval office speech. it is all going good. then the washington post goes, .ait a minute usually, crack cocaine in open markets, there's gunbattles. it's nowhere near the white house. there's more police per square inch than anywhere else in the world. who could that be? a great investigative reporter unraveled the whole thing that this was a set up, which was kind of a black gueye for black eye for -- president bush. and everybody who lives here knows concepcion.
she and a fellow by the name of thomas helen bakker started an 1981.r protest in they were there around-the-clock , and she died in 2016. there's pictures of her with isil over her. hellembeck actually married somebody else, there were three of them in their. on, and protest went was so famous that it had become -- new thisson for thing so much that a washington post columnist said you could out of the park
and no one would notice. -- down, people would notice, because it is such a fixture. you know, there are 168 hours in a week. they do 68 hours and i do 100. -- >> there are many other stories in the book as well. i would like to open it up to .he audience for questions i have questions myself, but i want to open up the opportunity. was awas a mike -- there
microphone around, but it doesn't seem to be -- i will pass mine. very worried about being asked by questions -- about being asked questions by hurricane donna, the catastrophe reporter for the usa today. i wanted to ask about was how you did the research for the book. where did you find all of these archival pictures? there are history organizations for everything, but i have not heard of one for lafayette square. >> this was a 30 year project. this was not something that happened overnight. and i had no intention of writing a book, obviously, in 1986, when i started confronting things. as i would go to the decatur house, i took several tours of the decatur house, there were stories there. i would read a history of civil
war, i could read about seward, there was a whole book on sickles, i read the whole book on sickles. each one of these stories were parts of huge books. i have saved you the necessity of buying and reading 500 pages of wonderful historians but i made sure you know which historian wrote it so you can find those history books. and the illustrations, a lot of them are from the library of congress. you just type in the name you , and it pops up all of these wonderful illustrations. some of them, i had to purchase the rights to. bush -- i hadorge
to go through his library to get that, because everything else was copywritten. jennings, his descendents of that picture, and i had to purchase the rights from them. and the senator from wyoming, i had to go to the wyoming archives, and they were glad to send them to me. there was no trouble finding the illustrations. there were plenty, and most were in the public domain. >> please introduce yourself. aboutave a question demonstrations, and where and how they are permitted. i am prompted to ask this because i was in lafayette park once with the cameraman, and we were stopped by police.
they said you cannot take a picture here in a park. but if you go over here, it is ok. are many there jurisdictions that cover this area. >> did you have a tripod? >> we might have. >> there is a restriction on using a tripod to set up the camera in lafayette square, and also at the lincoln and jefferson memorial. i learned that yesterday. we had to do something there, and it is hard to get those things. fore are permits demonstration for more than 25 people, 115 permits in 2016 or 2017, i think. then there is always something going on. --?to answer your question it is a national park. the other thing i wanted to say ,as that during the gulf war
george h.w. bush, there was this tom-toms theyad day,beating 24 hours a driving him mad. it went all the way to court, and they said, what is the point of the first amendment is not to get the point of your leaders? this guy was so proud, the one pounding on the drum. pounding, when i was going there to cover the white house. who else? lauren. >> you remember that chapter of history that is a little bit forgotten now, in 2011 when equal were camping out in farragut square or mcpherson,
calling it occupied. know the irony of the richest 100% -- the richest 1% in -- that they would be better served at last i had square? >> they weren't living there at that point. hotels,en't living in no more private houses. >> if it is a national park, does it have anything in terms of rangers? see aasionally, you will upger there, and if you set a camera, you will find one quickly, i'm told. i've gone looking and have not been able to find one, and i've ofer seen of -- seen a tour the park by the national park service, but that is for enterprising able to have their own tours.
who else have we got? yes. elizabeth. >> how were you going to promote your book? are you going to go on a tour, speak to kids around the country? it is a wonderful way to intrigue them. what is your plan? well, here i am. -- >> well, here i am. i've been on a number of book talks already. i've been on a few radio shows on sirius xm, i've been on llewellyn king's show yesterday. -- [laughter] -- i'm wamu onn you -- doing the ninth, invited to the y in
new york city in october. >> you know, a lot of -- >> that's right. [laughter] and i have talked about other ways of getting to them. >> fantastic. do we have anyone else? -- what about the building of the chamber of commerce? is new or old? >> the chamber of commerce was built in the mid-to late 1920's. it took the place of corbyn's -- it is a had beautiful building. i just took a tour of it a couple of weeks ago. it is an amazingly beautiful piece of architecture on the
inside, and they have a great big mineral in lafayette square -- great big mural in lafayette square that i thought that built in 1987. there is some history about the blair house, but it is not complete. house goes way back . i don't think it was built by them, but i'm trying to remember the guy's first name. he was part of andrew jackson's kitchen cabinet. son was probably postmaster general in the lincoln administration. it stays in the blair family from time to time. during world war 2, it was given to the white house to use -- every depots head of state from
europe was coming to live in washington. the white house purchased it. the general services administration. it is 120 rooms or something, but i'm not an expert. another one. in my washington lifetime, lafayette square has always been sort of a high-security zone, and it has only gotten more every year. can you give us a little flavor of, say, what it might have been 150 years ago? maybe 100 years ago? all new, as you and i lived in the same age after the oklahoma city bombing. they opened it up for my son to was ateboarding, and it
y differentholl place. you could walk right into the white house. time, you could just walk in. , you coulds time just walk in and look around the rooms at the first level. at your leisure. hoover, ihrough think, on new year's day, anyone who wanted to could line up and shake the president's hand. the book starts where i'm sitting on a bench in lafayette -- used to sit, a ofancier who was an adviser presidents from wilson to truman. he would have this bench near the jackson statue, and anyone
who would want to talk to him could sit down on the bench. he called it his bench of inspiration. the book starts with a picture of him and the secretary of state, dean attkisson sitting there. can you imagine, the secretary benchte sitting on a park right now, the entourage would be incredible. more and more what i'm seeing, for some reason, the security closes the entire park. just a couple of weeks ago, i was walking through and there were people there with full, .hey, big rifles the kind we would see when we were going toists take over the capital building. and as more and more crazies leap over the fence, they've had to push the perimeter back.
i worry about the future, that this can remain open to the public. -- hi.ht, glenn marcus, national press club. a point of clarification -- i'm a volunteer in the park. the president is part of the entitiesational parks -- all of the circles are also national park service properties. it is a separate entity from the park service portion that takes care of the mall. >> i hope it is not the same bench. do you have anything in there about hush money being paid in lafayette park? would beatest fear saying, walking up and you mean, you didn't know about the hush money? i don't know the hush money story. i know they found wires on
bernard's bench. that led to some speculation that he was being wiretapped. other people thought it was part of the anti-gay thing to collect evidence. >> apparently, cash was paid off during the watergate scandal in lafayette park. >> oh. shew. the next book, next edition -- >> you sure you weren't paid off to not put that in there? [laughter] >> i wish i had known that. it would have been front and center. if anyone else has something, just don't tell me. i spent 36 years. [laughter] >> there is a story about --? about squirrels? >> the forward to this book is
written by john kelly, the great washington post local columnist, central columnist. he has a thing about squirrels. he spends a lot of time in the book talkinghe about squirrels in the park. it is fabulous. it is worth buying the book alone just to read john kelly's foreward to it. once, i went on a really bad date and the guy took me walking through lafayette square. he said there were bodies buried there? is that true? >> i hope not. [laughter] >> were there bodies buried? before it was a square, it was an orchard -- i don't know whether there had ever been a graveyard there in colonial or precolonial times.
it was somebody just trying to scare a sweet, young girl into cuddling closer. i know how this works. i was there. [laughter] >> i'm a member of the press club. i'm sorry, i came a few minutes late. did you talk about the statute in the northeast corner of the square? >> i did not. remind me -- there are four statues. each one is a revolutionary war hero. >> there is from belarus -- oneisn't there? >> i think von steuben might be in the northeast corner. a prussian general who whipped the revolutionary troops into shape at valley forge.
somebody wouldd get me on those statues. i should have written down exactly-- >> i can safely say you probably know more about the statues than any of us here. idea aboutave any any of the secret basements or belowground spaces been need the white house? how many floors it is? >> i've heard about them, but i don't have any information that i couldn't give you without-- i hear rumors, and people who know the white house better than me, i have once, when i was whereng the white house, the press room is, there was a swimming pool in john kennedys time.
on, soasn't much going my friend says, do you want to see the pool? the deep end is where the podium is. and this is where john kennedy was swimming with who knows. >> jackie. [laughter] >> that's as close to underground as i've ever gotten. -- either a district or corner of the field in the square? lafayette is right on the southeast corner, correct? me that it-- telling shows lafayette with the sword and a partially clad woman on the front, and he said, she's saying "i'll give you my cloak
if you give me your sword." >> the women's suffragists used that statue, and i'm thinking of the northeast corner with von steuben. that's exactly who is there, i got the wrong corner. i couldn't pronounce his name anyway. i'm a print reporter. i don't pronounce names. [laughter] >> the anti-nuclear peace vigil -- and i'm not sure if that's what it was, it looked in the slide before like it was anti-israel or anti-palestine. womanxactly was that saying? you said she was an intersection. did she ever make it onto any news clips? was she in textbooks? people would walk by and see her. did she have any notoriety? >> yes, there were several
articles about her. there was a cover story about her in the washington post magazine where i got a lot of my information. she was a very strange woman. she wore a helmet over her wig -- a helmet under her wig because she said they are out there. people would stop and talk to her all the time. there's a couple of stories in the book about people making fun of her and she would say, well, you know, if you would get active and stop all these wars, i wouldn't have to be here. so get to work. don't mock me. -- yeah. vince? ini worked at peace corps
the 70's, right on the corner of the park. there was an older gentleman who wore a football helmet, actually it was a motorcycle helmet. we used to call him tight end. he pretty much was part of the park for many years. you see him, and then all of a sudden, you don't really remember not seeing him. and many years later, you remember, what happened to tight end? >> we don't want to make fun of people suffering from mental disabilities -- there were a lot of people in the park. wasn those years, this 1971, 1972. >> madame president, do you think we should wrap it up here? anyone who wants to talk later, i will be here. >> first of all, i would like to
thank you, and everybody here for coming. if you have not purchased this book, it is such a lovely read, you really should get it. get it here, have gil sign it for you. right? thank you all for being here. thank you so much for spending time with us today. [applause] before everybody leaves, gil, i know you probably have something already -- you don't have one of them for this, for speaking here today about your lafayette square book. so, thank you so much for being here with us, for being such a wonderful fixture of the club, being the official historian and sharing all of these stories. say, ast want to president, giving these out
every lunch -- bill bennett was speaking and i noted this was his sixth time this when i presented him with the mug, i said you can use this for brunch. you have a complete set. [laughter] >> thank you. thank you so much. announcer: you're watching tv.ican history 48 hours of american programming on american history every weekend on he spent three. follow us on twitter@c-span history. and keep up with the latest schedule. from a maryland congresswoman helen delich bentley
served in the u.s. house of representatives. from 1985 to 1995. she was a member of the merchant marine and fisheries & appropriations committees. she talks about her career as a reporter for the baltimore sun, covering maritime issues and her appointment as chairwoman of the federal maritime commission which made her the highest ranking woman in the nixon administration. she also discussed her run for congress. much of the winning election to interview focused on her career before the house. a second conversation was planned, but the former congresswoman died in august 2016, just months after this was recorded by the u.s. house of office of thetives' historian conducted this interview. it is about one hour and 20 minutes. >> my name is kathleen johnson, i'm here with the house his taurean. the date is much 21 2016. we are in the house recording studio and we're with helen