tv First Ladies Influence Image - Elizabeth Monroe Louisa Catherine Adams CSPAN June 16, 2020 9:33pm-11:09pm EDT
u.s. trade representative robert lighthouse or testifies wednesday before the house ways and means committee about the trump administration's trade policy agenda. watch live at 10 am eastern on c-span 3, online at c-span.org, or listen live on c-span radio app. >> wednesday night on american history tv beginning at 8 pm eastern, a look at the life of rachel jackson. c-span in cooperation with the white house's historical association, produced a series on the first ladies examining their private lives and the public roles they played. first ladies, includes an image
features individual biographies of the women who served in the role of first lady over 44 administrations. watch american history tv, wednesday night and over the weekend on c-span 3. elizabeth monroe is a true partner in her husband's career and was a good sounding board for many policies and decisions that he had to have. all >> they were a love story, if one was ever was an absolutely devoted to each other. >> elizabeth monroe had a very well developed sense of style and image. her jewelry is a reflection of. that >> this is a woman who knew how to carry herself with great eloquence, she always warranted your respects. >> it was one of the most splendid white houses that ever existed, it was called the era of good feeling. >> this is a woman who spoke french, and my goodness what she could talk about.
>> elizabeth was a great beauty, described in one letter as a rose petal beauty, but mrs. monroe received very seldom anything at the white house. she was a recluse. absolutely hated. it >> hospitality, decorum, dignity civility, those are words that come to mind. >> elizabeth monroe served as first lady from 1817 to 1825, during a time known as the heir of good feelings. coming up will explore her life and what we're not always happy times inside the white house for this cosmopolitan woman born into a well-to-do new york family, who married james monroe at the age of 17 and traveled to europe extensively with him before her tenure as first lady, bringing with her to the white house a certain french sensibility. good evening and welcome to cspan and the white house historical association's first lady's influence and image. we're going to be looking at the life of elizabeth monroe and to do that, two guest at our table.
let me introduce them to you. daniel preston is the editor of the james monroe papers at the university of mary washington in virginia and richard, presidential historian and consultant to cspan for this series. gentlemen, welcome. >> dan preston, the last program was dolley madison who perfected or maybe introduced and then perfected the art of power politics, really using a social forum to advance her husband's political agenda. >> what was elizabeth monroe's approach to the white house? >> elizabeth monroe and dolley madison were great friends. they had been for years and years but they have very, very different temperament. >> dolley madison was very social by nature. she loved large reception, she loved dinners, was perfectly happy to get in her carriage go visiting all day long. elizabeth monroe wants to stay home with her family. she was devoted to her daughters, to her
grandchildren. and at the white house, that's what she really enjoy, that's what she wanted to do. she wanted to be with her family. she did not like large crowds. it was very uncomfortable at the large receptions that the president had but was very charming in smaller groups, at small dinners when there was a small circle of friends together, a small group of visitors. everyone praised her charm, her affability, her conversation, said she sparkled. so just a very, very different type of person than dolley madison. >> but richard norton smith, explain washington in this time period and how important social was to political. >> well, it's interesting and of course as you've said that the monroe years are popularly known as the era of good feelings. i think you could probably take issue with that particularly the second term. >> what had happened was by that point we were as close to being a one party state as at anytime in american history.
the old federalist party had basically died off, the war of 1812 had been concluded and a standoff that most americans were willing to consider a victory, we had established once and for all our independence. >> and so it was a period of actually great boom in the country, physical expansion, a number of states came into the union during monroe's day, and yet washington city remained this very raw incomplete place with dirt roads. in some ways, elizabeth monroe like louisa adams suffers for her strengths. they were both seen as somehow alien. elizabeth of course was born in this country but in many ways she had her blossoming oversees in france especially.
and the monroe's became famous for the frenchness i guess, with the way they approached life in the white house. that you can see it in the furniture of that they bought. you can see it in the food that they served. and then as now, there was also a nativist element that took exception to a first lady who somehow didn't seem quite american enough. >> well, to that end, let's take a look at some statistics about america in 1820. it is a booming country. a population of 9.6 million and now 23 states has a 33 percent growth since the 1810 census, slaves in the population numbered about 16 percent about 1.5 million and the largest cities new york city, philadelphia, and baltimore. looks like boston has fallen off that list from earlier times. >> well, and within that, you have the transportation revolution going on as well as in the 1800 there were only three roads over the appalachia mountains. >> during the monroe years, you
have the erie canal that's being dug in new york that will transform the economy. you have the cumberland road under construction from the capital into what is now west virginia. you have this whole debate going on about internal improvements and what the role of the federal government should be and all that. so this is a country poised for an economic take off and monroe presides over it much as dwight eisenhower in the 1950s presided over a period of peace and prosperity. >> dan preston, as you worked your way academically through the monroe papers, how much documentary evidence is there about elizabeth monroe? >> unfortunately, there's not a lot of family lore based upon what monroe's elder daughter reported was that at some point after he left the presidency, monroe burned all personal correspondents. there is one letter that survives that is written by
elizabeth, there is one letter from james to her that survives. what baffles me and drives me nuts is there's only one letter that she wrote to somebody else. she had an extensive correspondence with her sisters, with her friends and these letters don't seem to be anywhere. and i don't understand why not. it seems like somebody would have kept some of these. >> so consequently, having firsthand evidence of what she actually thought about things we don't have. there's a lot filtered of what people wrote about her. there are letters that monroe wrote to his daughters, a few of which survived to his two sons-in-laws who were political advisors, that talk about family matters. there's something, a congressman write letters home
talking about meeting mrs. monroe. other women in washington recorded in their diaries meeting her. >> so there's a fair amount about her but we don't have really anything from her point of view which is very maddening. >> and what do we know from what we have about her relationship with her husband? >> they were absolutely devoted. they were apart for a couple of months here and there throughout their 44-year marriage, but usually they were together. >> there's a wonderful letter speaking of congressman samuel mitchell from new york wrote his wife that he had been at a dinner at the white house or at the president's house when jefferson was president and it was right before monroe left to go to france to negotiate what became the louisiana purchase. and mitchell wrote to his wife saying monroe has a fine conjugal feeling, he can't stand to be separated from his wife so he's taking her with him to go to europe.
>> and that was pretty much their attitude. he was devoted to family as well and as i said before that's really what they wanted to do. they had their choice of how they would spend time. it would be with their family. >> this program is interactive. we invite your phone calls and you can reach us if you live in the eastern half of the united states at 202-585-3880 if you live in the mountain or pacific time zones 202-585-3881. you can tweet us using the hashtage firstladies or you can post on our facebook page, lots of ways to be involved. >> and in fact, let me turn to a facebook poster, r.j wilson who asked, we have heard elizabeth monroe didn't like being first lady. how did the american people of today feel about her? >> now, first of all, did she not like first lady or did she just not like the public parts of it? >> she did not like the public parts. she married james monroe when he was a member of the
continental congress. so through their entire adult life, he was in one public office or another. so she was very much used to him being a public figure, being in the us senate, being governor of virginia, being abroad as a minister of the united states, serving as secretary of state. this was her life. >> so to go to the white house was not anything that unusual. it wasn't anything unexpected. people had talked about monroe being president for years. so, it was assumed that sooner or later this was going to happen. >> as far as what the public thought about her, i don't know what we know what the public thought about her. we know what people in washington thought about her and people who visited washington. but that's a very, very small universe. there were 200 members of the house of representatives about 50 senators, there were a handful, you know, there were some supreme court, and a
handful of cabinet members, a few foreign dignitaries, local people. >> the washington circle, social circle was what? you know, maybe 500 people. and that was the world that we think and we talk about social washington. it's this very small, i don't want to say a fishbowl, but it's a very small group of people and that's who met her and who reflected on her. people didn't know. in fact, when monroe was president, he did two tours around the country and they were phenomenal because no one ever saw the president. no one ever heard the president talk. now, we can't go through a day, hardly, i mean, you really have to be hermetically sealed up to go though a day and not hear or see the president's voice or to see an image of him. >> a man in salem, massachusetts wrote in 1817, several months after monroe
became president that for the first time he had seen a picture, an image of president monroe. people didn't know what - james madison gave three speeches when he was president. thomas jefferson did two. people never saw the president. they never heard the president, let alone the first ladies. >> so say, the public perception, there really isn't a public perception. it's a good question but it's just simply that it's a different time and it's not there. >> richard, as a reminder, the white house has been and the madison's had to leave while it's being reconstructed. the monroe's were able to move back in. how important symbolically was this for the country? >> well, hugely important symbolically, because even by then, the white house had become in effect of america's house. >> and one of the reasons why then and since its occupants have been often targeted for criticism, much of it unfair, is because we all think that it's our house. and mrs. monroe was the first in a long
line of first ladies who would be criticized for alleged obsession with fashion. it was known that she paid up to $1,500 for her gown. it was alleged that she had picked up the french habit of painting her face and applying rouge. and silly as all this sounds now to this rough-hewn, rawboned yankee republic, it takes us back almost to the debates at the very beginning of the republic about, what kind of nation we we're going to be. >> well, the blue room at the white house is one that really reflects to this day that monroe administration. so we're going to show you that next. this is a clip from special documentary suspended a few years back on the white house. we'll show that now. >> the
blue room is the maduro's, and one of the most authentic in the house. in fact if i could go back to one time in the white house i would probably go to the monroe period after the war of 1812 because the wheels of the united states really began to turn. they began to come to life and monroe thought that the era of good feelings as it was called, with last forever and political parties would dissolve. people began moving west in big numbers new orleans developed since and so forth. i think that would be the period that i would like to be listening to what was going on. in furnishing house, james monroe and his wife are very into french everything, they spoke french at home and they lived in france. he wanted all the front nature to come from france. he spent a lot of money bringing these things, like these clocks which fascinate me the most, that have stood on those mantle since 1818. these things are still in use. many of them are still in use,
so you have that that all the presidents have used since. then >> we do see our earliest things, many of them are in the blue room. so we have the wonderful guilt chairs and sofas that are in the room. they were acquired by president monroe from france, he was can criticize for buying french things and not american. in congress in 1826 pass a law saying the furniture of the white house must be of american manufacturers, if practical. this room is much more of a period room in that sense that the wallpaper is much more of the same period as the furniture, as the portrait of president monroe by samuel morris, as the portrait of mrs. munroe by john van dillen that hang together. so it's really a place where the men rose would probably feel the most comfortable today, like teddy roast of bell in the east room. if they were to walk in and say, a, i understand this room. that's the furniture we bought.
that supporters we set for in this is the wallpaper. >> so it sounds as though buying french and speaking french was as controversial then as it might be today. >> yes. as richard was say, it goes really back to the beginning to washington and the first presidency of trying to balance the new standards, the new republican standards of simplicity and openness. but at the same time somehow, maintaining a dignity and majesty for the national government. so, how do you be open but as the same time present the country as being something special particularly for visitors? and for the monroe's and for other presidents, the white house became the tool for doing that. >> monroe was praised, people who met him always commented on what a plain, straight-forward, unostentatious person he was.
but then, you look at how he and mrs. monroe furnished the white house. >> and it's very different and moreover he much understood the importance of symbolism. and for him, the white house a symbol of the united states. and so, it was to present it in a fashion that i think majesty is really, really the best word. >> so how in a republic can you present the majesty of the country? and you do it in the president's house. >> not only majestic but napoleonic. you know, the monroe's had actually befriended napoleon when they lived in paris. and ironically, the president originally had ordered 56 pieces of mahogany furniture from france and he was told by the french that mahogany was not appropriate to a gentleman's house.
and this is what he got in its place. >> well, here's a tweet about the white house from michael who asked, did the monroe's faced any lingering problems in the white house as a result of the british burning the building in 1814? >> what state of repair was it in when they got there? >> it was not ready in march of 1817 when monroe became president. and they lived in another house for several months. and then, in june, monroe left washington and went on a four-month tour around the country. his family went back to virginia. he returns to the president's house in september of 1817. and at that point, it was ready for occupancy. they began moving furniture and the furniture they ordered wasn't ready. he used his own personal furniture. they borrowed furniture from elsewhere and it was really sort of a haphazard system of furnishing the house.
some of the rooms were still empty. the house was in pretty good shape, it wasn't like it was when the adams'has moved in where the plaster was still wet and the rooms were simply not usable. >> so, it was in fairly good shape. there just wasn't any furniture for it. >> we're looking at pictures of the south portico which was one of the monroe's addition to the building right now. i'm going to take a call, richard, from sherry who was watching us in fredericksburg, virginia. hi sherry, you're on. hi, how are you? >> great, you're question, please. >> i had understood that elizabeth monroe suffered from poor health. and i don't know exactly if it's true or what she had but i was wondering how that would have affected her ability to be so public and so social when that was so much a part of the politics versus dolley madison?
is there any information that's been obtained about how she was able to function socially with poor health? >> that's a great question because it does go to the heart of why she was an almost invisible first lady during a lot of those eight years. she had serious health problems. dan probably knows this more than i do. i know she had excruciating headaches. it was thought, she suffered from rheumatism, arthritis, and there are a number of people who believe that she may have had late-onset epilepsy which was known as the falling disease at that point and that's something that would've certainly been kept a secret from the public. >> one of the byproducts of her ill health is that she often had stand in her place, her daughter, eliza, and it is eliza quite frankly who's responsible for a number of these actions that had been blamed on her mother that gave off an aura of snobbery and
exclusivity. for example, the first white house wedding of a president's daughter took place, and eliza took over the preparations and it was eliza who said, this is a family affair, the diplomatic corps is not going to be invited. >> angering all of them. >> well, when you talk about those 500 or 600 people, a disproportionate number of them thought they should've been invited to the monroe wedding and they wrote down their thoughts. and unfortunately, for elizabeth monroe's historical reputation, we have access to that but we don't have her side of the story. >> and to make connections between the first lady's during her second term, somebody was beginning to fill in the social gap in washington, and that was louisa catherine adams who became used to social networking in washington as a way to campaign for the presidency. >> so, were these women friends? >> yes.
but like the madison's, the adams's were much more socially oriented and they frequently had weekly soirees of varying sizes. >> the monroe's didn't go. the monroe's felt that it was improper for the president to attend these sorts of private functions. and particularly in his second term, when there was this mad scramble for the presidency including all of his cabinet members. in fact, at one point, he wrote a letter to his attorney-general, william wirt, about something. and at the end, he put a sentence, he's said, i hope you'll come visit us in virginia. you are always welcome. you not being a candidate for a certain office. >> so, in that sense, it feels very modern, doesn't it? >> what happens is we have a one-party state, but instead we now at the politics of faction,
personal faction. and indeed, the second term was beset from the beginning with this jockeying for 1824. >> jane is up next in killeen, texas. jane what's your question? >> thank you. going back to a former series, what was president monroe's relationship with his vice president and who was vice president? >> richard? >> i'll tell you, he's the most obscure vice president in american history and that's saying something i think. >> well, i don't know that he would be the most obscure, i mean, you get in that period. >> daniel d. tompkins. >> daniel d. tompkins who had been a wartime governor of new york and was chosen as a running mate because he had been a strong supporter of the madison administration during the war. and also the new yorkers were unhappy with the luck that virginia had on the presidency. and so it was a bit like today,
you choose a vice president for candidate for political reasons and it was partly to assuage feelings of new york that tompkins was asked to serve. >> tompkins was horribly in debt as governor, he was responsible for borrowing lots of money, and it literally, literally drove him to drink. and he became heavily alcoholic to the point where he could not preside over the senate. and while he and monroe were friends, by 1821, 1822, he was totally incapacitated and he died shortly after his term as vice president ended. but he may have been more prominent on the national scene had he lived a bit longer but he did not. >> on twitter, mccathy asks, how common was it for americans to be french speakers in the time of monroe? she writes, i think of english and german is more common, is that true? >> well, it's a great question. there were lots of americans who were french sympathizers in their politics. remember, from the very early days, in the washington
administration, europe was at war and there were lots of americans remembering frances assistance during the revolution who sympathized with the french revolution. >> in fact, one of the great stories about elizabeth monroe, we probably should ground the time they spent in france. >> we'll do that in the next section. >> ok. then i'll save the story for that. >> ok. why don't we move on to that after this call from mark from los angeles and we'll look at her pre-white house years. mark, you're on the air. welcome. >> please tell us about her relationship with the lafayette's. >> ok. >> and then how did she save mrs. lafayette from the guillotine? >> ok, well, thanks very much. >> that's the story. >> you've led us into this.
>> be careful with this. >> ok. >> ok. so, why were they in france? >> the monroe's were in france in mid-1790s. james had been appointed us minister to france. they arrived in paris a week after robespierre had been guillotined, so it was at the height of the reign of terror. marquis de lafayette had been forced to flee france for not supporting the more radical elements of the revolution. his wife was not able to leave. she and her mother and other family members were arrested, were imprisoned, her mother had been executed. >> gouverneur morris who had been minister before monroe had worked to try to get her out of prison but morris was not popular with the french government at all since he had pretty much condemned revolution and said he supported the monarchy. >> when monroe's came, they picked up this effort to try to get a release and they staged a very dramatic event to draw attention to elizabeth monroe. and that is - excuse me, to madam lafayette, and that is
they hired a very expensive carriage. elizabeth monroe dressed herself in her best and went to the prison where where madam lafayette was being held, asked to see her. the governor of the prison didn't know what to do meanwhile there was this crowd gathering because everyone wants to see who this person was coming in this carriage and words spread that it was the wife of the american minister. and she met with madam lafayette and basically made her case a public one. and some stories say, you know, sort of next day, she was released. well, it wasn't the next day. it was a couple of months. but it pretty much kept her from going to the guillotine and officially did lead to her release. the monroe's became the conduit for money from the us to her to enable her to go to austria and join her husband. and interestingly, her husband was imprisoned in austria and she got out of paris and out of
prison in paris and went to austria and voluntarily went into prison in austria so she could be with her husband. >> well, bringing it back to mrs. monroe, what were americans views of this rescue of madam lafayette? >> i don't know how much americans knew about it at that time. the story really doesn't get told until much later. what we know most about it is what monroe wrote in his autobiography which he wrote in the late 1820s which was not published until much later. so, this story really didn't become current until well after the event. >> as we said in the opening, james monroe met eliza as she was called in new york city when she was just a teenager, 17 years of age and a great love match, but virginia became an important part of their lives in between their various political postings. >> we're going to show you two
places important to them next. >> the james monroe museum has been in existence since 1927 when james monroe's great granddaughter led an effort to preserve the site of his law office that existed here in the city of fredericksburg in the 1780s. we have the largest assemblage of artifacts and other information related to the monroe family that you'll find anywhere in the country. . . >> elizabeth monr e was a true partner n her husband's career and was a good sounding board fo many of the policies and dec sions that he had to evolve she was a very li erate and articulate perso, and someone to whom her h sband could go for a very va uable advice >> with the it ms on the table here, we sort of go through an arc of eli abeth monroe's life mrs monroe had the he itage of very well developed sense of style she had shoes th t she employed that we believ were her mother's that of very fine construction from ondon which she continued o use into her lifetime
>> as the mistr ss of oak hill, the farm th t the monroe's had in l udoun county, she was respo sible for maintaining the hou ehold accounts and she did i on a small ivory memo pad they are ivory pie es of days of the week inscri ed on them and whatever to-d list that she might have co ld be written on here ith a charcoal pencil that co ld be wiped off and you were done it reflects someo e who is organized, who is busy, and who was making us of a very practical item n her life >> the relati nship that mrs mrs. monroe had wi h her sisters was a strong bo d and in very much a style f the time and giving a g ft of sisterly love, she pre ented to one of her sisters n the 1790s jewelry made fr m her own hair, jewelry mad from human hair, again, very common place in the 18 h and especially th 19th centuries later in th 19th century, it's often associated with mourni g and memorializing dead loved
ones but it can also be an expression of a very pe sonal sign of affection, r ally, the essence of a pe sonal gift >> music as an important part of eli abeth monroe's upbringing in life she appreciated music throughout her life a d was trained in playing the pian. we have an astor pianoforte, circa 1 90, a british product we do believe that t may well have been used t the white house during their residency there >> elizabeth monr e had a very well developed sense of style and image she did not have a well developed budget due o the long years of public s rvice that james monroe put in but they were, particularly on their european postings a le to make some pretty good deals on a variety of item, and her jewelry is a refl ction of that >> mrs. monroe saw to c mbine elements of high qualit with
versatility we have here nec laces and their associated other jewelry that re in aquamarine and citrin, and each can be worn w th or without a pendant so, you've got a ouple of different uses there a brooch, a bracele or a choker is possible wi h the amethyst jewelry that's shown here there's a coral tiara and so, it giv s you several options that mrs. monroe could se in creating her j welry combinations >> the monroe's c me up here after purchasin this property, some 3,500 cres, and they made this their permanent home fro 1799 until 1823 mrs. monroe was a sophisticated new yorke, and she moved south to this farm, had to adjust to w at we would call plantatio life here and so far as we know, she adjusted to i very nicely and her day would frequently begin down here >> she would mak sure that all the prepar tions that needed to be ma e for the meals for the da took
place in a corre t and fastidious fashion a d she was in charge of that in charge of the what they called the servant, but they were house slav s and making sure the house laves had made all the prepar tions and then she in turn would make sure that some mea s had put together and sometimes, s me of those meals were quite sophisticated meals for a while, the meals here were much simple than what she would f nd at monticello and the monroe's di like to go to monticello for those extraordinary meals nevertheless, mrs monroe was quite c pable of putting togethe some extraordinary dishes here >> here we are n the dining room the meal would begi some time after 2:00, ma be as late as 3:00 it would be e rlier depending upon the seas n and the light available the table, t's a hepplewhite it can be opened up so that 12 people could it at this table
>> now, the mo roe's had a corner cabine very much like this one the nice thing abou this is that this piece wa made in shenandoah valley j st 70 miles to the west of us inside, w at is particularly signific nt is that you see the monroe white house chinaware the monroe's estab ished that each president would have china of its own before that, pres dents would bring their own china from home the monroe's brough this china to the white house during mo roe's administration betwee 1817 and 1825, and we count ourselves very lucky t at we have what do. >> how importa t was virginia in underst nding elizabeth monroe? >> monroe made joke later in life, a frie d who was a member of congres from tennessee married a woman from pennsylvania an took her home to tenness e and there was a little it of trepidation about wheth r she would adapt or not
and monroe wrote o him and said, "i wasn't s re if mrs. campbell w ll do ok." mrs. monroe was a ittle uneasy about leaving ne york but she has become good virginian so, she seemed t have fit in the lif very e sily. >> something along those lines i think that reall says a lot about her cha acter from very young is - as we mentioned, she wa very young, she was 17 wh n she married monroe, he w s 28, she was from new york, e was a member of conti ental congress in october of 17 6, he finished his t rm in congress, they w nt to virginia she left her famil with whom she was very clos, all of her friends, w nt to fredericksburg, vir inia, went from new york c ty to little dinky frederic sburg which was a river p rt in virginia, didn'know anybody they bounced alo g the bad roads from new y rk to fredericksburg not k owing where she was going, wh t was going to happen when s e got there, she was just s y, at
18 she was seven onths pregnant >> so, it must've een a grueling trip, but i th nk it really indicates the st mina, the strength she had th t she was willing to make tha sort of trip and that she could do i. >> the monroe's have three children, a son who d ed in infancy and two dau hters we've talked about and ne of them in particular >> we have just abou five minutes left in this s orter version because not s much documentary evidence about this first lady and the question comes from someone that calls himself president pon ering so this will kind of w ap up our understanding "how involved in po itics was elizabeth monroe how might she have iewed the monroe doctr ne? " >> i'm sorry, i don'mean to - for years, you know, there's people who sai that it's really john quincy adams who wrote it, but i think it's safe to say eli abeth didn't write it or whatever >> but just about eve ybody else has gotten cred t for it
>> well, she it's interesting monroe did say t one point-there's a letter where simply he refers to er as his partner in all things and one senses, al hough there's an unfortunat lack of documentation tha that would include shari g his political secrets with her but i don't think f her as a - certainly in a odern sense, as a political figur. >> but she was cer ainly aware of what he was doing she - we don't hav - we only have one letter th t she wrote but there are l tters of her handwriting th t she copied for him, he ither made copies to send to thers or to keep so, she was cer ainly aware of what was hap ening in the political war and they were to ether for so long and they w re so close that it's inconce vable that they did not d scuss public matters so, she was cer ainly very much well aware o what was happening >> and having - and lived through the rench revolution, the re gn of terror, she wo ld've certainly had lots of trong
opinions abou him. >> yes >> and this ap roach to europe you would imagine >> yes, yes, yes >> rachel an - or rochelle, excuse e, in pensacola >> rochelle (ph) ro helle (ph): hi yes i was wondering b ck to the blue room, did pre ident or mrs. monroe actually ta e out most o the furniture does anyone know that cr> >> thank you
>> you know, i do't he stipulated - it was mo roe - that was president monr e who set out this order i don't th nk he stipulated specific p ces. >> no >> of furniture they wrote - he wr te to contacts, to merchant that he dealt with in france and some, you kn w, he said, "we need chande iers, we need chairs, " it was - but not real specific esign although he did want am rican symbols he wanted the eagl s and these sorts of things >> which he also share with napoleon >> yes so can you bring us full circle and say what does this woman bring. >> she brought a sense of style, elegance, she was known for her beauty, or her sense of fashion but mostly for her elegance. really a sense of real style. if i was going to compare her
to a modern first lady, not so modern anymore, you know i would think it would be like jacqueline kennedy. that sense of fashion, and style and elegance that she brought to the white house. >> thank you very much for being here. >> richard norton smith, we will have you stay with us because in a few minutes we will move on to our next first lady profile, that of louisa catherine adams will be right back. she was the only first lady born outside the u.s., writing in her diary in 1812 about the loss of her one-year-old daughter, my heart is almost broken in my temper which was never good suffers in proportion to my grief. my heart is buried in my luis is grave and my greatest longings to be laid beside her. and later entry in 1819, the first tuesday and opens my campaign hand they give it a general it imitation for every
tuesday during the. winter this plan make some noise. ome noise and creates ome jealousy but it makes our congress less dependen on the foreign ministers for their amusement. cr> my evenings are ca led sociables. cr> i wish they may p ." and then a le ter to her son in 1825 a out moving into the white ho se, the situation in whic we found the house mad it necessary to furnish al ost entirely anew a large por ion of the apartments. cr> i respect my masters, the sovereign people, with g eat sincerity but i am no so much alarmed that the ide of going out at the end of our years as to desire to ake any sacrifice of ac ual comfort for the sak of prolonging my sojourn an in this would be magnifi ent habitation which after all like everything else in his desolate city is but a alf finished ba n. >> louisa cath rin adams in the white h use almost disappeared, the public side of the j b i don't think ever particul rly provided much pleasure.
she is sort of an unsung first lady who deserves much more exploration than she has received. >> the relationship between louisa and john quincy is elusive and in many ways distressing. i don't think he realized what a treasure he had. old john adams was struck to her. abigail never really did, but john did. >> she was born in england and educated in france and remained a foreign personality to many of the adams, but not to henry as a world traveler himself. >> she was very well educated, very sophisticated, socially i would say, and she sort of entertained john quincy's road to the white house. >> she was not happy about returning to washington as the weight of a congressman. we >> p) >> louisa catherine a ams
essentially became the campaign manager for her husband john quincy adams run for the presidency in 182 by dominating the capital ci y's social circuit. cr> following a conte ted election, the adams'our years in the white house ere a turbulent perio in american politic in washington society. cr> >> we'll look at lo isa adams'relationship with ohn quincy adams and his pare ts, abigail and john at a ife that encompassed diplom tic posts in berlin and russi on the road to 1600 pennsylv nia avenue. cr> >> good evening and wel ome very much to our contin ing series and first la y's influencing imag in partnership with the w ite house historical association. cr> >> our next installmen is on louisa catherine ad ms, wife of john quincy ad ms, jqa as people who study him know him. cr> >> we have two guests at the table, richard norton sm th, presidential historian and consultant to cspan and eet amanda mathews. cr> she is at the massachusetts histor cal society where she s a research associate for the adams papers. cr> >> ms. cr> mathews, we learned t ere was not much documen ary evidence about eliza eth monroe, how about lo isa catherine adams, what exist? <
r> >> quite a wealth. cr> she kept dia ies intermittently. cr> she wrote autobiograp ies and memoirs. cr> and there are hundreds and hundred of letters of hers. cr> so quite the contrary we have quite a bit of her thoughts and her feel ngs from her own point of iew both reflective and contemporary as the ev nts were taking place. cr> >> i guest a few weeks b ck, catherine allgor, who has written about the f rst ladies suggested that in her research, she saw lo isa adams as the first mo ern first lady, do you agree ith that contention in sense hat she had developed a sens of self? < r> >> yes, i mean in some w ys, she has her own cause, she works with the washin ton female orphan asylums, s in that sense that's some hat modern having this cause hat she was involved in and she does work politics in her parlor in such a way a to help win the presidency for her husband in her own way. cr>
>> but richard norton sm th, explain to people how the presidency was won in 1820s. cr> i mean, it was a ery different system than we ave today. cr> >> it was. cr> as we said earl er, everyone in monroe's cab net had seemed, among oth rs, wanted to succeed him and that included john qu ncy adams', the secretar of state, the great popular ero was andrew jackson, the ero of the battle of new orl ans and then somewh t a controversial figure in his own right. cr> >> so there w s a multi-candidate field, no one got a majority either of the popular or electoral vote. cr> in both cases, jac son came in first, adams cam in second. so the election went to the house of representatives, the man eliminated by the constitution, or fourth place finisher henry clay ultimately withdrew support adams that was enough to win the presidency which turned out in many ways to be a poisoned chalice.
they hung over the adams presidency. i think it is safe to say, adams himself was nearly apologetic in his address, this was the election of 1828 began but almost before he took the oath of office. >> you mentioned in her own way, she helped him win the presidency. she actually began to refer to it as my campaign, and it was the second half of the monroe administration, where the social etiquette wars were at full force and the adams, you will tell us the story, began to see an opportunity to use social washington as a pathway to the white house. >> yes i mean when they get back to 1817 to washington, they've been gone from washington for quite awhile, john quincy has served in both st. petersburg, in london now he's back at a lot of people in washington don't know him and
the way the etiquette situation works, he really favors people who've been there for a while. they want to shake things up. they are not going to call and all the senators families first. intel you establish a social connection. but on the other hand, they said we can still invite you, we are going to have these parties and you can come, even if we have it connected in these formal visits. that put them in a position of power as a social leader since they were making the rules. trying to take back a little bit of power that congress had, louise as as congress makes and and makes presidents at their win. so they want to pull a little bit of that back to the executive. >> they start pulling these throwing these parties. she has her socials in 1819, some seasons, weekly and other seasons every two weeks where hundreds of people could come and it was a subscription series, they become the kind of center in washington.
>> one of these balls that she threw was for a contender for the white house, andrew jackson. >> what was her thinking in throwing a ball for her husband's chief rival? >> it was very simple, they hope to talk to him out of running and flattered him out of running. >> so many people came to the house that night on f street, that they had to shore up the force it was something like 900 people who attended. -- he had attracted, the favorite in the profession court when her husband who is u.s. envoy there. cr> >> tsar alexander of ru sia made her one of his favo ite dancing partners. so clearly there is a christmas about this woman that had set her apart in the courts of europe. and tragically it very rarely comes through in the american setting, you would know much more about that. >> i think it certainly does in
a sociable's, she complains that even though she has no political power, everybody seems to want to know her and force her to spend time with them. she claims to be quite put out by the imposition. but i think that the same charm, that she exhibits in europe is still exhibited in the united states. there is this wonderful newspaper account of an englishman observing louisa. she's taking the boat and going back to quincy and the englishman talks about how the people are just coming up to her and talking to her. she is the first lady and they realized, were dressed as well as she is and talking to her as if they had known her for ten years. she must have been very affable and made people feel very comfortable. >> you have the benefit of reading her diaries and her letters about these events. and just as her mother-in-law, she had some very candid views of the people that she was meeting. we have one of these maybe you can tell us a little bit about
the context. >> here's what she wrote, i have the happiness of meeting with of of righty of these miss leaders who are not gifted with common sense or have a sort of mine which i've often met with that is utterly incapable of comprehending anything in a plain way. whether this proceeds from an era in the education or from a natural defect in the formation of their brain, i believe philosophers and metaphysics and to decide. >> because campaigning is not allowed, john quincy can't come out and say, i would like you to vote for me for president. candidates can't do that. and you can't ask for office directly. you have to use the settle back channels, and women were good conduit for that. and so people gossiped, they came to louisiana to spread their gossip, to ask for favors, and she doesn't always know that she can't trust these people. she is not naive. a lot of them are spreading
false gossip, false information, they are misleading. they all have their own agendas and she's aware of the political game that's going on. she's not terribly a fan of it. >> we welcome your questions on louise that catherine adams and john quincy adams. cr> if you live in the eastern or central ime zones, 202-585-3880, if you live in the mountai or pacific time zones our nu ber is 202-585-3881. cr> you can post on csp n's facebook page or you can end a tweet using the has tag firstladies. cr> you had something you wanted to say? < you read that quote any realize why there is an instant bond formed between louisa and her father in law old john adams. >> why is that? >> john adams was a band of strong opinions, very reluctant to share them with anyone who had wisdom. a stern new england conscience, a profound sense of right and wrong and you know, he and his
exotic european don juan seem to have hit it off from the first. abigail was a little bit harder to sell. >> is it fair to say that john quincy adams was not the most social? man >> john quincy adams, even people who admire him, and i'm certainly including myself among them, would not suggest that he was a modern figure in terms of outreach to people generally but more in terms of tonight's context. he would have not has been an easy man to be married to. this is a stormy relationship and yet the adams argued over the same things that married couples have been arguing over since there was marriage. there was money, and over their children, one of the small tragedies in louise at catherine's life, a life that was filled with tragedy where
her children were concerned. her husband had been appointed minister to russia, and she learned at the last minute that her elder son's, george washington adams and john adams two are going to stay behind. she can't take her children with her to russia, they're going to stay behind with john an abigail to be raised as americans on american soil. you often get the sense of a woman who is powerless within her marriage to be making fundamental parental decisions that they were reserved as most decisions were for john quincy. >> but she must have had that knee desire, she worked her heart out to get her husband to the white house, then she gets there and how did she enjoy her tenure? >> not very much. the white house years are very
unpleasant years for the adams family. and it was readily apparent, everyone in the family charlie frances adams talks about it, their son, in his own diary about how said the household seems at the time. >> and what made it that way? >> i think the cloud under which the presidency began, it never lifts and because this campaigning for 1828 begins almost instantly, louise out feels very personally that attacks on her husband, on his character, some attacks on her character, he know is she not american enough? and i think that situation really did not -- they finally reached the pinnacle and it's not a happy pinnacle. it's a very stormy four years for them. and the white house is not a very comfortable place to live. people coming in all the time.
>> here's one quote from louisa catherine adams that really captures this. she wrote, there is something in this great and social house which dresses me beyond expression. well, . well, she was acc sed of bizarrely of extravag nce in furnishing the great u social hous. one of the contro ersies that marred the adam years concerned a billiar table which supposedly th first lady had purchased, yo know, using the tax dol ars of honest working me. somehow th s very un-american quali y that people wanted to re d into he. >> on the other hand there are these wonderful izarre letters confirm ng her addiction to chocolat.
louisa catherin adams was a chocoholi. i often sai being married to the sourest man in washingto. she took her sweet where she could find t em but apparently she had h r sons and others by ch colate shells by the barrel ul and she writes ab ut the medicinal qualities of fud e. i mean it was as f, you know, she took her lunges where she could find t em and that's pretty patheti. >> well, i would s y that the shells are proba ly not bonbons in the way tha we're thinking she's not sit ing on her sofa munchin i think there is an affection between the two of them. and if she could have stayed in quincy. after they lost the daughter, is it true he gave her a book
on diseases of the mind. >> so to modernize the insensitivity. he is certainly not a modern husband. louise ahead by one count, nine miscarriages. >> at least a minimum five and a still berth. potentially more you know sometimes it's hard to read in because they are so discreet in their languages. but at least five. plus a stillbirth so she had a lot of tragedy. >> and three sons who live to maturity. >> if you could call maturity. >> and speaking of their family, brian watkins asks on twitter did having a former first ladies mother-in-law help or hinder her. >> well of course abigail had passed by the time john quincy, obtains the presidency so she can't ask the mother-in-law about handling the roles. and the roles has somewhat shifted. louisa generally follows the
presidents the murrow set, with a formal reserved white house not attending the public functions. but i think that it did help she was familiar with her mother-in-law's opinions in the way she carried herself, and i think but she wanted in some way to keep that in mind and honor that. >> did she continue the entertaining that she done to get him into the white house once they were in the white house. >> no not to that degree, the socials were informal there is music off and dancing. once they get into the white house, the entertainments are much more restricted. they are open to a lot of people, especially the drawing rooms. but they are not that kind of dancing, until actually the end of their term as they are on their way out. the last great drawing room she holds, they actually have music and dancing and people stay until 2:00 in the morning and
talk about how gracious, the adams is our knowing that they are you know they have failed in the reelection and it's probably one of the greatest entertainments that they had in the four years. >> next is a question from the, roy in monte carlo. >> highly. roy >> yes ma'am, i'm really enjoying this this is great. >> were the adams family john quincy and his wife where they god fearing and devoted, there tension in church and teach their children the thanks of the lord? >> i'm a minister so i'm concerned about this >> yes louis says religious use evolved over time. it's very interesting. her father was unitarian, but she was raised in england where she was not an acceptable religion.
n. they had lived i france during the revolutio so she was first exposed to rome catholici m. and then spends most of her life in the e iscopal chur h. >> although du ing her years, the early year of her life with john quin y, they attend a numerous d fferent types of churches es ecially whoever the rotating reacher was in the capitol du ing the secretary of tate in presidency years ould be presbyterian or unitari in her later years, she spends a lot of time reflecting on the role of religion and it is very much an important piece for her. >> next up is nick imprints frederick maryland. >> thank you c-span for this great programming and i am very excited you know i think your work is great, and i'm glad to be part of the series as well. i have two things that i hope to get you to comment on, i was in calgary county and we have links to louisa catherine here her uncle i believe was thomas
johnson, one of maryland's first governors if not the first governor. but there is not a lot of primary stories linking her to hear. in one of our small town centers there is a placard talking about her hereditary to the area. and then secondly cookie roberts has a book ladies of liberty, and in that book you get the impression of luis catherine that she is very much involved with the politics of washington but you know you don't get a sense of whether it's just on the surface or whether she works are contributing to the compromises are made during the time. >> okay thank you. it's >> so her family was from maryland, and her father was born in maryland, so it's very important because that is how she makes a claim that no i am an american, and i was born in
london but my father's un-american and i'm very much an american. and so, she has an important connection with maryland, and actually she could use those when campaigning to get maryland to vote for quincy in the 1824 election. >> how about the second question, which is how involved she really in the politics of the time. >> you know, it's always been murky. there is no clear line between social politics, and the process leading to which number how many you don't number of votes being cast. in the city that has always overlapped. one of the great skills you know and it always begin with dolly madison, who understood that more could be achieved out of a committee room, off the floor of the house in a social sitting. and in that sense, louisa
catherine, is a politically attuned figure. i don't think you would find her dictating a platform, or like betty ford, campaigning for equal rights amendment. >> so what was the quincy adams presidency all about what was it known for? >> well he was a person who was ahead of his time, which makes them look better to historians as he did to his contemporary. famously, in his first message to congress, remember this was a man who had been questioned, and yet he introduced this breathtaking program that in some way makes the new deal by 100 years, saying that the federal government should be in their own building, and it should be a national university here in washington, and he even proposed a national astronomical observatory. what he called a white house of the sky. so for this he was ridiculed by the jeffersonian, and small government crowd. it did nothing to enhance, his
popularity at the time. it may have contributed to his defeat of the election, but 100 years later it's quite prophetic. >> hi i'm enjoying the series, i watch every week. >> thank you. >> my question is, and it may have been shown during the program, i'm sorry if i haven't noticed. but the portraits that you have been showing, the two of them louise a catherine and john quincy adams, was there a big age difference between them? >> well thank you for asking the question, and what we explain about how the to the mid and what each difference was. >> so there is an eight year, age difference between john quincy and louisa. they meet in london, john quincy adams, is the resident
minister to the hague, in the netherlands. and he is sent from there to london, to exchange the ratification, for the treaty. by the time he gets to london, business has been concluded, so he didn't have a lot to do. so he spends his time, doing is visiting the house of the johnson's, joshua johnson, lisa's father was the u.s. counsel at london, and he entertained all the americans who came through to london. prominent merchants, in london and americans would common socialized and enjoy evenings of entertainment with his many daughters. who are all talented. louis supplied the harp. and he would come and enjoy the company, and after a little bit of time he made his attentions known, that it was louisa and not her older sister, that he
was interested in. and they began their courtship engagement. >> after they married, did they return to the united states? >> not immediately, john quincy is appointed, from the netherlands as the minister to pressure in berlin. they go straight to berlin, and they spent the first four years of their marriage, in berlin. she doesn't actually see the united states until 1801. their first four years of marriage are, somewhat difficult. she experiences for miscarriages in that time, before finally giving birth to her first son, which is george washington adams. and that was quite a controversy naming him after george washington and not john. >> when she arrived in the united states it was a first time she had ever seen the country of her nationality. and she went to the adams home, and outside of boston and their place, which we met during the
john autumns program we are going to show you that next. >> when lisa and john quincy first came to the old house, they just journey back from europe. they had landed in washington d.c. and then made the journey up to quincy. the journey was arduous for louisa, her health was not good at the time. she was brought to this house to meet her father, and her mother in law and of that moment, she would write have i stepped on to know is arc, i could've not being more utterly astonished. louisa catherine had a challenge, in winning over abigail adams. john adams was easy, he took to her right away, and she always felt very comfortable with him and very well liked by him. abigail was more skeptical. perhaps due to john quincy's, teasing. he only gave abigail a bit of information about lisa catherine, and wasn't forthright with his intentions. it was in many ways a surprise that he married louisa catherine so quickly and
abigail did not get a chance to know her. she was quite concerned, and although she was an american citizen she had never stepped foot on american soil. this was not what she intended for her son john quincy adams the statesman. over time she learned to grow and understand louisa catherine, and three years they forged a strong and loving relationship. louisa catherine, describing abigail adams at the end of her life as the planet in which all rolled around. sometimes they would return over the summer months, to get a relief from the politics of washington. the engine cajun of henry adams, he describes louisa catherine, and her role in this house and her relationship with the family. he always felt that she was the odd man out if you will.
because she was born in england, and educated in france and she remained a foreign personality to many of the adams is, but not to henry as a world traveler himself. his fondest recollections of her, was sitting in her paneled room at your table, using her silver teapot set that she brought with her from her home in england. to the old house. and she entertained both herself and many of her guests in this room. john quincy adams, and luis up would inherit this home from john adams. john quincy thought about selling this house, but after discussion he thought with lisa catherine, they decided that this was important to the family story. to hold on to this house for future generations. >> and you can visit there to. this is that correct. >> and where the papers? >> the papers are at the massachusetts historical society in boston. they used to be at the old house in the stone library, but
they were transferred for safekeeping. >> i have a question on facebook, from jeanie webber, i have read excerpts from her autobiography of louise adams, and her version that the historical society was going to publish this, is this true? >> yes, a two volume set of her autobiography i ethical writings, including a record of my life, and a narrative of a journey from st. petersburg, to france and all her diaries have already been published. next year, a trade addition of these writings will be available and called travel first lady with a forward by former first lady laura bush >> we must talk a little bit about their posting in saint petersburg and her incredible journey back to her husband. can you tell us what's
important about that story? >> they're years and st. petersburg are difficult in some ways, st. peter's book is a hardship outpost. it is cold. it is for voting. they're not a lot of other women there. most of the diplomats wives don't travel with their husbands when they get sent to say petersburg. they have a baby girl, louise and catherine adams and the child dies just after about a year. that really devastates her mother louisa. it's very painful. and for john quincy, he is also very much torn apart by this. but the war of 1812 here is broken out. john quincy sent to negotiate a treaty and he leaves louisa with her youngest son charles francis in st. petersburg. and eventually when piece is resolved and he is sure that hill either be returning home or be sent to london, he asked
her to join him. so she makes this arduous in perilous journey from st. petersburg, in the winter to paris with her son, and he's only about seven at the time. a couple of servants that she had just met that day. she was no if she can trust them. as she is crossing europe, she encounters dangerous travel conditions but all season napoleon has escaped from alabama and is coming back to france and she encounters resurgent armies to greet him. she is crossing some very parallels territory in europe at this time. >> and her life was in danger. >> here's another quote from her diaries, it was 4:00 in the evening and the ice was in so critical a state i could with
difficulty procurement and horses to go over. they informed me that i should have to make a long and tedious detour that if i could not cross that the passage would be attended with great risk if not danger. >> absolutely, it's when she went through the alps. >> in a carriage. >> in a carriage with her seven year old. >> i mean again, the resourcefulness of this woman is just extraordinary. >> and why don't we know more about her, her really interesting life story. why should not better known among the first ladies? >> i think that is partly because john quincy's presidency has been so obscure for so long that i think it diminished interest in her. what makes john quincy interesting to historian today is his post white house years, for which people did not seem to think that louisa was really a part of, somewhat mistakenly.
i think that that really helped her from being a prominent -- and abigail just kind of outshines when you're talking about the adams. i think it keeps her from getting her do a little bit. >> carol is watching from sound of a. you are on. >> hello, this is a fantastic series. i love it. you keep referring to the white house, and i understand it was called the presidents house for sometime. do you know when it changed its name to the white house? >> teddy roosevelt at the beginning of the 20th century, formally change the name to be more informal, white house. at the very same time that his wife taking the house back to its more formal federal style inside. >> but is it true that some of the externalize exterior was painted white after the fire from the british to cover some of the scorch marks. so that's when it began to look
like this? >> yes it was a before we refer to. the man on the street, i think then referred to as the executive mansion, but tea are made it official. >> let's go to a next call from catlin in brockville, maryland. >> hi. i was just wondering was louisa ever violated or were her rights ever violated and what did she do about it? >> we're her rights ever violated? what are you thinking of? >> like you know social or things like you know, her speaking out for what she believed in. >> okay, this is a great question to talk about what role, analysts both of you, women really had in society at this point of time in america. >> she not political. she's not speaking out politically the way perhaps
abigail did with her husband. she is not a public political figure speaking out on these things. but she has her own private views on them, something's although, her view on politics or more about how people behave. she is much more interested in everyone conducting themselves properly. even people on her own side, even people who are supporting the policies that her husband are supporting have crossed the lines in terms of decorum. i think that it's, she's not trying to get get out and she's not an activist. i wouldn't want to say that. >> nearly 100 years until women have the right to vote in society, we should point that out for a younger viewers who may not know that. and what role could they play? where did their power come from? >> there is a touching quote to
the story in her regular years just as john quincy became more and more outspoken in his opposition to slavery and of course famously played the role in that al-assad case. there is this wonderful correspondents, and you have a dyson, between lisa catherine and the grim key sisters, angelina and sarah. they were pioneering feminists, abolitionists, activists of their. day and i think she comes probably as close there as anywhere else to spelling out and evolving scents on women's roles. >> and this is an interesting time, her mother in law had passed as you said, but we think of abigail adams and her favorite exhortation to john, remember the ladies. it's written that abigail's letters were becoming more visible, more published, and louisiana began to see an affinity between her
mother-in-law and herself on the women's issues. >> toward the end of louise as life, when she is corresponding with sara grumpy, there is the sense that she seeks inequality of the mind for women, but not so that women can run for office, it's not that type of feminism. it's not that women can play the front role. it's so that women can better fulfill their primary function as mother, wife and daughter. and that they had this god gavin, this is where her religion comes in, that god had created men and women equal in this way and that is how she could, that they could be equals and be partners. but complimentary partners, not for women to become more like men. abigail's feminism, as it were, is somewhere along the same band of allowing women to
become better republican mothers, better republican wives, in order to ennoble men to fill their calling with honor and dignity. >> we should get a little bit of presidential history in here. did john quincy adams seek reelection? >> he did. and it was a lot of people think to this today the most scurrilous campaign in american history. both sides through plenty of mud at the other. it wasn't close at the end. andrew jackson denied the presidency for years earlier, and overwhelmed john quincy adams. and like his father, he didn't stick around to his successors inauguration. but he did come back to washington a couple of years later. and in a unique role, the only american president to this day who came back as a member of the house of representatives. >> there are a few first here, the first father and son to serve in the white house, the
first and only foreign born first lady and the first and only president come back in an elective role in the legislator. >> but history repeat itself in one other tragic way. >> some people remember john and abigail lost a son during his defeat and the inauguration. >> and he committed suicide? >> and george washington adams who i suspect just the pressure that name would probably drive anyone up the wall. but anyway george washington adams almost definitely committed suicide. >> and just around the time his father is losing the election. >> yes, he stepped off a boat. >> it was may 18 29th, the power had already shifted to andrew jackson. they had asked george to come back to washington discord family quincy. and it was on that trip that either fell or jumped off the
boat. again, devastating the family. >> two years later his brother john died of alcoholism. >> it was 1834, so was a little bit later. >> so only one child survived and what about their grandchildren and errors? >> there are a number of grandchildren, john adams the second of the children, he had to, he had married his cousin and they had two children. john quincy and louise i became the guardians of those children. the younger one, fanny dies in 1839, so another tragedy upon tragedy. charles frances adams marries abigail brooks and they have a number of children. but they are in quincy in boston so john quincy and
louisa only seen them during their breaks because they spend most of their time in washington. >> cheryl is in santa barbara. hi. >> thank you so much for having this program, i am really enjoying it. i was wondering if you know what's louise catherine's size was. she looks very petite in her pictures. >> do we know? >> she was definitely slender. i couldn't tell you how tall she was, i don't think particularly. she was very slender throughout her life. >> i think a heard somewhere that shows about five six. >> are there dresses of hers preserved anywhere? >> that i don't know. there may be at the old house in quincy >> after the defeat in for reelection they go back to boston and stay there for how long? >> well not long because at 1830 this election from what
was called the public district and john quincy accepts the nomination and spends the rest of his life. in fact literally, will die with his boots on suffering a stroke on the floor of the house of representatives. >> they come back to the house on f street, the one that they had built for all the social entering entertaining that got john quincy adams to the white house. when -- >> they don't come back to f street initially. that house had been rented out during the presidency. but they're years here, are much better after about 1834. the first few years are just so much tragedy. i think things really improved. they're able to socialize and entertain and have these dinner parties, but there is no more striving. they've already reached all that can happen. i think that these are years more of peace, there's
certainly a lot of political struggle and louisa talks about that, but between her and john quincy, there is somewhat of an understanding. she always knew that he needed politics in order to live. even though she had been very angry at his insistence on going back to washington, she threatened to stay in quincy and not come to washington. eventually she cooled off and followed him after all. i think that they are mostly between good years, even with all the political fights over the gag rule and his century in congress. >> just some mellowing, i think on both of their parts. >> it was a 50 year marriage. >> they have been through the worst. the ways white house was a thing of the past. i think she was actually more politically aligned with him in his congressional career because the old charges about the corrupt deal had, in some ways, can between them. all that was in the past. and i think they grew closer in
the last years. >> did she begin to influence him on issues such as slavery and human women's rights. >> i wouldn't use influence in that way. on women's rights i certainly don't think that something that they would have really discussed in that way. it wasn't something that was being put forward in congress. slavery, they actually saw pretty near eye to eye. it is hard to say who influenced who or if they both got their on their own. of course, he grew up in massachusetts family that it always somewhat opposed to slavery and perhaps he felt freer in congress to be active about it. >> she has family members who are slave holders being from maryland. both of them don't like slavery, but neither of them want immediate abolition which causes some other tensions for them. >> jennifer sherman offers this, that adams women represented a
different type of feminism as women, as mothers, as wives in this daughters. let's take a call from jeffrey. >> hi, thank you for taking my call, i'm enjoying the show immensely. i'm a history teacher who grew up in connecticut but i am now living in florida. i'm interested in the adams family. you just brought up a question i had, whether or not louisa had difficulty with her father's family. being from a slave holding area in maryland. that was one question i had, how difficult was that for her. on a personal level. and the other one is, just curiosity. did she live long enough to have her photograph taken and if she did, do you have a photograph of her. thank you. >> thank you for the question. >> are there any photograph portraits of her? >> i do not know if there are any photographs, i know john
quincy had his, but i want to say that there might be but i am not 100% sure on that. you should check the portraits volumes of the adams paper, if there is one it would probably be in there. >> our producer is telling us there are no photos. and they spent a lot of time looking for the series. we have just about three minutes left, john quincy adams dies a dramatic death tells the story. >> first of all, life was better for them at the end, because the public attitude towards john quincy had changed. admirers called him, old men eloquent. south carolinians called him the mad men from massachusetts. but it was really an expression of that dogged commitment to principle. even at the risk of unpopularity. and in the end he won some of his battles. he repeal the gag rule, of
slavery forces had imposed on congress. he became an immensely respected elder statesman. so on the floor of the house, one member of congress, looked over in his direction and said look mr. adams. look at him he is dying. and his forehead, had flushed to not a normal color, and he tried to stay and he fell over. and i think he was carried to the speaker's office, just off the floor of the house. and then they came to visit him, and louisa came as well and he did not recognize her. but supposedly, his last words were, this is the last of earth, but i am content. but i never believed, because i don't think that john quincy adams was ever contented for a moment. but he died in the capital, doing his duty. >> do you think it was a stroke?
is that it. >> yes yes. >> how old was he? >> 80. one >> how long did she live after his death. >> another four years, she stays in washington and she had her son's wife, mary catherine helen adams. her health faded, she has a stroke the following year. and is somewhat and invalid for the rest of her life. but charles francis adams, meets with her about a year before she dies, and says he records in his diary, how not that she was looking forward to death, but she had resigned herself to it, and could face the end with great courage and faith. >> you are looking at some footage, of the presidential burial place, if you can get to massachusetts and quincy, it is quite a resting spot of both
presidential couples buried side by side at the church. the church of the presidents. and the two memorials, with flags under the two grace of the presidents themselves. we invite you to put that on your list,. we have one more call you left, and this is william for north carolina. >> yes, i remember seeing a few years ago, david mccullough, talking about the adams women, and the strength of them, and their inner strength, and he mentioned something i think about one of them, having had breast cancer, and having had surgery, and it was in the days before anesthesia or anything. >> okay our time is short so let's see, yes i think it was at abigail adams daughter who
had that. >> and i think she's succumb to this disease is that correct. >> yes that's correct. >> so in closing here, we want to bring all of these conversations back full circle, what should louisa catherine adams be known for, or remembered for. for both of you. >> i think that, she is a fascinating figure, who's the interest in her should be every bit as much in her as for her mother in law. she saw more of the governments of the world, then women of that day, in london, and in berlin, and st. petersburg and washington. and she truly, experiences and reflects upon these experiences through her letters and her diaries and her memoirs in a way that really brought a richness to our understanding of the world that she lived in. >> quite a dramatic life if you look at it. >> so what's your comment.
>> and plenty of strategy, tragedy i think that's what sticks with me. she lived through extraordinary events, and crossed paths with remarkable historical figures. but she suffered a loss after loss after a loss. and even, inherent issue of their lives together. and that's not these note on which the story ends,. >> richard norton smith thank you as always, and amanda thank you for helping us learn more about louisa catherine adams, through your extensive work on her papers. and thanked due to being with us and the historical association for putting together the series.
IN COLLECTIONSCSPAN3 Television Archive Television Archive News Search Service
Uploaded by TV Archive on