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tv   First Ladies Influence Image  CSPAN  September 23, 2013 9:00pm-10:31pm EDT

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and edith wilson, the wives of woodrow wilson. and then the resolution that d funds the health care law. -- defunds the health care law. >> this is the woodrow wilson house, the home of edith wilson after they left the white house in 1921. you will be seeing more over the next two hours as we tell the the two wilson first adies, ellen and edith. theirand woodrow met in 20 costs, and their love was reflected in passionate letters. fromelped guide his career
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academia to politics. set an example for future first ladies. year and a half of his term. edithieving president met , and she served as first lady for five years. her unprecedented role in managing affairs is one of the most consequential efforts of any first lady. good evening, and welcome to our continuing series. the wilsonry of first ladies. christine miller is a biographer f the first ladies. mr. cooper is woodrow wilson's biographer. we are going to break precedent. thesee been telling
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stories chronologically, but everyone knows about edith wilson managing the white house after a stroke. so many people want to know what happened. suffer the stroke? 1919.was in october of trying to sell the country on going into the league of nations. aborted the tour and got him back into the white house. five days into the white house he suffered a massive stroke. >> the story of the stroke is very dramatic. can you tell us what happened? conflicting reports about what happened, but i think the most accurate portrayal is edith hadt a warning
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been going to check on him in the middle of the night, and she found him on the floor and could not move his left side. corridor,ut into the used a telephone that did not go through the switchboard. she did not want to have this universally known, and she asked the chief usher to call a doctor, and the doctor came in and helped him into bed, what he was paralyzed on his left side. >> a character that is going to be a big part of the story is kerry grayson. who was he? >> he was a navy doc are. drdoctor. he served during the taft administration. taft introduced him to his successor. during the inauguration. >> his sister fell down, and
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grayson treated her and did a very charmingas a man from virginia, which helped. >> his role with the president's condition was what? >> he was the white house position. theything he did was that. called in various consulting specialists, but grayson was the one who treated him. extent of hise condition? how bad did the stroke affect him? >> he had a blockage in an artery leading to his brain. this is usually not fatal, but it immobilized him for a while. he probably would have recovered fairly rapidly had he not 10 a medical suffered condition. he had prostate trouble and a ainary tract infection with
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very high fever. they didn't have antibiotics at that time. they debated whether to operate, but the specialist felt to operate on a 62-year-old man with high blood pressure and a stroke would have been very try to letthey nature take its course, and eventually he recovered, but it really sapped his mentality, and it really did him in for about a month. effect was the worst really on his emotional balance. his intellect was not impaired. being amore goes into ,eader than just being smart and another thing is partly because of that other illness
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you just talked about, they isolated him. they were supposed to keep him away from stress, and now neurologist think that is the wrong thing to do. what you want to do is get them into social interaction as soon as you can. with the best intentions they were doing exactly the wrong thing. areor grayson's letters part of the collection at the wedrow wilson library, and visited there. we are going to learn a little bit more about some of the history grayson captors in his letters. >> we have a letter in this box. from henry morgenthau, who was later wanting to write write a book about his experiences, so cans asking grayson if he
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use certain information. he wants to use the information he gave me about president wilson, and you have come to the conclusion he should resign and how he was influenced i'm mrs. wilson to give up this -- influenced by mrs. wilson to give up this plan. mrs. wilson was concerned her husband would not get better if he did not have something to would his mind, that he deteriorate if forced out of the presidency. wilson was ill, it has been speculated widely among historians that mrs. wilson essentially became the president. we have one document here that says a little bit about that. it is from henry morgenthau, who ,s the ambassador from turkey and he is asking if the president has any objection to a citizen meeting to object
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against turks being in charge of constantinople. -- morgenthau is asking for advice. at the bottom of the telegram, .here is hand writing we are familiar enough with his handwriting to recognize it, and at the bottom, she writes, speaking on such subjects. what we don't know is did he take it to edith woodrow wilson, ask his opinion, and then write that, or did she come to that conclusion herself? the public was curious to know the condition of wilson's health, and rumors were rampant in the papers. even congressmen didn't know what was going on. they only knew what they read in the papers.
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over, kerry all grayson later wrote a summary of what happened from the time of the stroke to win wilson left and thee house, decision was made to announce wilson was suffering nervous exhaustion. there were no other details given as to what was wrong with him. nobody knew the extent of his illness, but he was not capable of doing anything. dr. grayson thought it wise to issue general statements only. mrs. wilson was opposed to any other course. she did not want it to be known that he was really suffering. she was protecting her husband. she wanted him to be able to fulfill his duties as president. she was worried about his legacy.
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openly, she was concerned about his health, and she felt if he left the presidency, left the white house, he would just waste away and died. >> the constitution made no provisions for what would happen . what did washington do? how did they react? couple of different ways. robert lansing, who was the secretary of state would have been fired if there had not been a stroke. the cabinetd to get in on it. i think he even made some with the vice president, who stayed out of it completely. constitution -- this is before the 28th amendment. not talk about
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disability but inability of the president to perform his utes. what does that mean? it usually means the president is dead. time we reallye have had a disabled president. how do you deal with it? sympathy forof edith. she was scared. make it up as you go along. >> on facebook, david says, what part of intellect best prepared her to take over during his ?ecovery what skills did she bring? >> that's a good question, because she had exactly two years of formal schooling in her chosen byshe had been her grandmother to be her caregiver. the grandmother was a very and taught woman
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edith it was good to have opinions. edith had been widowed relatively young and had inherited a jewelers that was like the tiffany's of washington. the jewelry store. she had a manager that made a lot of decisions, but she was used to having everything her way. she brought in a decided personality. in addition, woodrow courted her by showing her a lot of secret papers. henry kissinger used to say power was the ultimate aphrodisiac. i think woodrow wilson would have disagreed, so he was using courtship,t of his and she was susceptible to that, so she shared a great deal of
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what he was doing with her. probablyohn said, she knew as well what he was doing ad thinking, because he was real lone wolf. he did not have a lot of close advisers. edith wilsonom herself. she published her memoirs, and there is controversy about how much power she took upon herself. she said, i never made a single decision -- today we know the gatekeeper to the president is really the most important job. >> he or she who controls access to the president to some extent is president. it is not just who. they pretty much embargoed him
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for well over a month, but also what the president gets to see. she would decide what was best and what was not. putting her public health for the good of the country. i don't think that is entirely why she did what she did. she knew what he wanted. if he couldn't express himself, he would walk to hang onto this. knew his mind better than anyone else. if anyone was going to act as a substitute, she was the one to do it. >> tiffany said, did anyone try to prevent the first lady from acting on behalf of the president? if so, what happened politically? second -- >> the secretary of state got blocked.
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nobody knew how much he was doing. >> there were two senators detailed to come in and assess the condition of wilson. spoken about a volatile situation in mexico. reallynd dr. grayson stage-managed it very well. do not say exactly what they did, but whatever it was it -- enormously all successful, including the republican that would be most anxious said afterwards the president grasp his hand. that was impossible because the
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president couldn't move his left hand, but he was so taken with wilson's apparent animation. he made a lot of jokes. he loved to make puns and tell jokes and stories, and that came back relatively quickly, but the judgment was really put to a. >> we have a timeline of the president incapacitation. was september. it was not until december that the president took his first steps. it was in march of 1920 when he left the house for the first time. about the talk important decisions. his beloved league of nations was rejected by the senate. in april of 1920 the president had his first cabinet meeting.
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it is almost unthinkable. how did the government continue? delegator,as a great except in public affairs. they were used to running things on their own. i think it is somewhat of a tribute that government kept going. >> this is a story of edith. during that time, what was her role? >> i think one aspect that has been overlooked is the extent you which she tried to make woodrow give way on some of his intransigence about the league of nations. in her memoir, which is sensible in places, she says she asked him to compromise with republicans in congress to try to get the treaty passed with
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the league of nations. he said he turned to her and said, don't you desert me. he always called her little girl. she was about five foot nine. she never tried to change his mind again. were at evidence there least two other occasions in which she did try to change his mind. they had discussed some of the places where they hope woodrow could give a little ground and where republicans could give a little ground. he hoped to find some compromise, and she took some of obviously a speech she was going to give to wilson that wound up saying, for the peace of the country and the world, please consider this. it didn't work apparently,
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because he didn't change, but she wasn't a woman to take notes on something and not do something about it. a little bit later she had some , whorsations with baker was very close to wilson and later became his official biographer, and he gave edith some suggestions, talking points to try to get wilson to change his mind, and he didn't, and by the time he refused, republicans were also hardening their lines. they were reeling in the leadership. facebook, iked on would like to know if edith ever spoke out publicly on the league of nations. >> she did not speak out publicly on anything. i do not think she was power- hungry for herself.
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she wanted what her husband wanted. his agenda was her agenda. she used to say to people, i never make speeches. during the time he was in the white house she was asked to present something innocuous like a bouquet of flowers, and she just said, i would like to make a speech, but i never have. of didn't even approve voting for women, of women's suffrage. >> we need to continue with our story. we will come back to this, but we thought you would want to get this out because it is such an interesting aspect and historically important. timee bottom line in this in history? how did it affect how we view the world -- the role of the president, the role of the first lady? the role of the president. woodrow wilson follows theodore roosevelt, and these two
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together acting one after the , made the president the center of the government, and even later president such as common coolly to wanted to retreat retreat to the sidelines such ast do it -- calvin coolidge, who wanted to retreat to the sidelines, could not do it. >> that's a great segue. we are moving into ellen wilson's story. before we do that, let me tell you how you can get involved. tonight is a special two-hour row gram because we have two first ladies to tell you about. our phone line is going to be open. you can be part of the facebook
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conversation. go to c-span on facebook, and finally, you can tweet us. go to #firstladies. involvement, but we are going to roll back the clock and talk about the long marriage to his first wife elin and set the stage for that. we are going to visit a woodrow wilson house. it is available for you to visit if you come to the nation's capital. in the drawing room is my colleague peter. >> that's right. we are in the president woodrow wilson house with the executive director of this house. this is the house where president and edith wilson lived post residency. how did they acquire this house? >> they moved here in 1921. cost $100,000, and they managed to scrape together the
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and also donations from 10 of his wealthy friends. >> edith wilson lived here until her death in 1961. >> both of them expired in this house. >> even though it was edith is thes house, there presence of ellen wilson. >> we try to remember his years, which include both first ladies and of course president wilson's history. i think it's important when considering figures in history to remember they had childhoods and experiences that led them to what they were. this is a painting by ellen wilson, who was a painter of considerable talent, and even as a young girl, she was a good painter and enjoyed it. when he proposed marriage to her
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she said yes, but i would like center in newrts york. i think it is interesting president wilson excepted that and married this woman -- and married this woman. >> and the story behind this painting at president wilson's funeral? >> his last wish was that this tainting by ellen b lays over his casket -- be placed over his casket. -- this painting by ellen be casket.ver his >> edith was born in georgia in 1860. tell me about her early life. >> her early life was very difficult. her father was a presbyterian minister, and he served in the civil war, but he had to leave because of stress related conditions.
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he later developmental illness and died in a mental institution, possibly a suicide, and ellen was very close to her mother, but her mother died in when sheth -- birth was 43, so ellen had to take over the family. after her mother's death she had .o take over she became a very competent manager. she was very well educated for a woman of her time and place. she would have gone to college if she had had money. when her father died, he had the money to go to the art students league in new york for a year, and she was very unsure she would ever meet the man who could be her intellectual equal, which she felt was necessary or her marriage. -- for her marriage.
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she had plans to open a boarding house and support it with her artwork. she was clearly not going to be satisfied with anyone in the town, but woodrow wilson came to town. he was a lawyer. he had a case. he went to church and met her there. >> how important is it that ellen and thomas woodrow wilson were the children of ministers? >> in some ways that is the world they grew up with. the presbyterian church is a world unto itself. of wilsonis is true as much as it is of ellen. it didn't make them religious zealots. it didn't make them obsessed with religion. ways they can take it
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for granted. it's in the background. it's always there. them, he was more the good, strong believer. she's the one who had religious doubts, especially because depression really ran in the family. who died ineddie the tragic accident as a young man was probably the only one who wasn't touched by depression. ways she was more curious than wilson was. he was more interested in the affairs of the world. he's interested in the affairs of the world, but he so easily smitten by women. it's an important characteristic of his personality that you write about.
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, and womentantly play an important role in his autobiography. what do you know about the role women play with him? >> i wish i could say he was a man with great enlightenment and orward-looking views. he wasn't. by the standards of that time he comes off ricky well as believing strongly when and are very bright and capable. generally i think he still likes the subordinate role. and more sod women than men of that time. he enjoyed the company of men, but he genuinely enjoyed the company of women. >> but he's so passionate. >> he's very passionate, and he's very eloquent, so when you marry those traits and the
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letters he wrote to ellen after they were engaged, it is the most astonishing love letters you will see, and she was quite eloquent. >> some of the love letters are preserved >> here on the shelves are the correspondence between woodrow and eleanor. they are love letters. it has to be the largest collection of love letters exchanged between any present and future first lady. these letters were sealed. when the woodrow wilson family moved, they were sealed. it is a time capsule that sheds extraordinary light onto the wilson's life together. to ellen in 1894, my darling, when you come to my
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study, kiss me as i sit at my desk. mind.the force of my my darling, i trust that it is not wrong to worship you as i do. you are the presiding genius of my mind and heart. he insists the happiness of the strength. which the extent to woodrow wilson loved ellen and a knowledge, and this clear way, his intellectual debt to her. say thatcases can you the president is stepping forward and saying that the first lady is the source of so much of his happiness and intellectual development. you introduce me to nurture and wordsmith. read wordsworth
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together. wordlks about the profound -- role that she plays in his life. he says, how can i thank you for the sweet things that you say. how happy it makes me to think that you think such things of me unworthy ofn i feel it all. i trust that it is not wrong to worship you as i do. both are inevitable, if i am to live at all. for, i am, with every breath, you worse. -- yours. often, she does not respond to him as passionately as he does to her. ellen was so devoted. you can sense how she puts herself second to his needs again and again throughout their life together. she is serving him and helping
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him. that was what her conception of what her role was. 1914, withdying in the world about to enter into a great international convulsion with world war i about to break out. she whispered to dr. grayson, if i go away, promise me that you will take good care of my husband. >> and mighty hard to answer this question -- it might be hard to answer this question, but where would you rank the love of this couple among all presidential couples? >> it would be hard to come up to their level. don cooper pointed out a nice in the collection of
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wilson's letters. link was the greatest wilson scholar that ever lived. he edited the papers of woodrow wilson. , the editors, here the introduction of this monumental and stately scholarly thing. we bid a fond farewell to eleanor wilson. she affected them that much. wilson asked alan to marry him five months after meeting her. they got married when? >> two years later. he had a great strategy. he had a girlfriend before and she refused his offer of marriage.
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he was once burned and twice shy. he was going to propose to ellen and forgetting on the train to go to baltimore. and she refused him, there would be no awkward lingering. they had met each other by chance. they were just passing through. he stated a couple extra days. a couple of extra days. proposed, she blurted out yes. they hardly knew each other and he was going off to study. they had a two-year engagement. they did not know each other very well. it was the marvelous letters that made them intimate. >> mary kay is watching in california.
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>> good evening. thank you for the series. wondering with the first lady and president thought of the pickets in front of the white house for suffrage. >> this would go back to edith. they were indignant. especially edith. she thought they were rude. woodrow offered to have them coming to the white house and get warm, have hot coffee. they refused. edith did not believe in suffrage for women. she thought that all of this was quite foolish. there were two suffrage organizations. one of them was trying to go about amending the constitution in a state-by-state way. have suffrage passed through the various states and they get more
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people in congress to support it. received the members of the national association -- national women's -- national american woman suffrage association. someday will believe it was the extremism that allowed the conservative group to make progress. they were seen as less threatening. >> we will go back to the early years. he is the only president to move from the presidency of a university and into the white house. princeton was a central role in his life. how does he get from princeton to the presidency? >> he was a presbyterian minister son. tieseton had severed their
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to the church but were still very presbyterian. were presbyterian, princeton was the place to go. it was a step into the world. he studied law and went to johns hopkins. to bryn mawr. he like teaching there and like more thanat bryn mawr eleanor did. that was in 1890. he became the most popular professor there. he was one of two stars of the faculty. there was an intrigue among the trustees. in 1902.osen president he tried to reform princeton and succeeded a bit and felt quite a bit.
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bit.iled quite a he got stymied when he was offered the governorship. he became a reformer. that made him a front-runner early. he made a remarkable transition into years. he went from being the university president, to governor of new jersey, to president. he was a very effective governor. wilson is one of these people who succeeded at everything he ever did. he was a great scholar. he is a great university president. he was the best-known university president of his time. he ranked among the best governors. he was an effective president. >> we love the interconnections here. --ver cleveland wants to went to princeton.
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is it true that the families knew each other and the children play together? >> i do not know that the children play together but the families knew each other. >> we will show you prospect house, the house that the wilson's lived in. today, it is used for social functions. as we learn about the political partnership, how did that ful?op >> it looks like woodrow wilson's office. visiting people from across the ellen metis here that to confer about faculty business. she gave him advice about what advice to take and what jobs he
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should not take. he's up for a post at arkansas industrial university. the -- very involved in and a tremendous help to him throughout his academic career. this is so evocative. it is where you can see wilson making the transition from academic figure two political figure -- to political figure. she advised him in all this and he decided to run for governor. the reporters descended on his study. they photographed him in the garden. ellen wilson is alarmed. she is concerned that she is that carefully constructed home life that she valued with woodrow. that was going to slip away when
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they climb in politics. a younged out as academic couple who are full of dreams and ambitions. they are driven out by the trustees in 1910. she is bitter and exhausted. what awaits or is this political a tremendousl take toll on her, in terms of her exhaustion and energy. spouse, how did her responsibilities change? she was building on each of the things that she had done. she had been involved in a small way with social outreach. she was a private person. , sheshe was first lady
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became very interested in social welfare. like a home for the insane or a prison, she had an early record of activism among social welfare groups. she did a great deal of entertaining. given afterhat was woodrow wilson's inauguration, she invited ohchr t washington -- booker t washington. she had a great deal of entertainment. and whenesident's wife she moved into the governor's mansion. they were down in the summer's in new summer home jersey.
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and cameboy got lost out. he was asked, did you meet the governor? >> he said, yes, and she gave me a piece of cake. >> i don't think she did an awful lot in the campaign. believe, the first future first lady to go on a campaign before the convention. south,t down through the where she was held as much as she was -- he was. in gettingand woodrow to patch up relations. kind of the leader of the democratic party. he was very key in helping woodrow.
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>> she saw an opportunity. wilson had come from a different wing of the party. he had said some things about williams jennings bryan to make trouble. she saw a chance. she brought them together and they had off -- hit it off. brian and wilson had a good relationship until the unfortunate stuff in world war i. tacticianvery shrewd and a good facilitator. not out in front. not out in public. she did not like that role. challenged roosevelt his own party with the bull moose party. that's what the republicans and put woodrow wilson in the white house. encapsulate his
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political philosophy, what was it? >> he called himself a progressive democrat. he believed in a strong government. that made itrnment possible for people to do things for themselves. do not want a government that will take care of me. to make surent other people take their hands off me so i can take care of myself. it is updated liberalism. happiness, that is the great contract with theodore roosevelt. get is a debate of political philosophies between two men. but lee is calling from durango, colorado. about ellenquestion
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wilson. she did such a wonderful thing for the city of washington, d.c. i like to comment on edith wilson. she was a hindrance. see, a majored advisor to the president, wrote numerous letters. , onthey were discovered opened, after her death. >> we will let her comments about edith stand. >> when they came to the white that as longfelt as she was in the white house, she would use her position to do as much good as she could. she connected with the national civic federation.
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iny were very interested trying to clean up these alleyways between the streets in washington. and they squalor wanted to tear down the buildings. was so interested in this project, she took some the congressman in the car through the alleyways. billobbied them to pass a that would enable this. washington's government was run by congress. lady tothe first first lobby for a cause that was not her husband's outside of the white house. she was very effective at doing this.
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i want to talk about what happened here. hot -- she the arrives at the white house and they decide not have a ball. >> there will be a commercialization. something frivolous. it should be a solemn occasion. she was a thrifty woman. woodrow did not make a lot of money in the early days. she had a habit of frugality. somebody once said that mrs. wilson looks sweeter every year. she never got new clothes. she prided herself on being thrifty. ballsought the inaugural were silly. -- high, william.
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>> can you tell us a bit about them growing up in entering adulthood? >> three daughters in the white house. >> they were all of marriage age. they went to balls and parties. of sayingn record that she did not approve of the turkey trot. who is a wonderful gossipy wife. she kept a diary. that she had seen turkey trotting with the best of them. she tried to keep a rein on her daughters. two of them got married in the white house. she was only in the white house 17 months. that was quite in a competent. -- an accomplishment.
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she had a small wedding or her who got married in may. >> chad is in baltimore. >> hello. andn wilson passed away isdrow wilson married edith, daughter margaret became the de facto first lady. >> she was the hostess. there has to be a hostess. -- of woodrow's called cousins helped out. she wanted to be a singer. she preferred to go to new york. she thought there were more opportunities to be a singer. i think the two of them try to cope with the duties.
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the social season it was curtailed on the advice of the social secretary. during the harrison a administration, when his wife died, he curtailed. usellen wilson also brought a garden in the white house. willard about that in our next video. >> we are at prospect garden inn fresno new jersey. inwe are at prospect garden fresno, new jersey. here, we see the full expression of ellen's vision. she is a painter and very confident. of aching landscapes
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and lays out this garden here at prospect house. she plans the cedar trees and roses. she loves this garden so much. she hates to leave it. one ellen wilson is in the white house, she brings the white house gardener back here to this garden at prospect house. the white house gardener, let's re-create this garden at the white house. ellen wilson could look out her bedroom window and see the flowers all day. roses.ted to see this becomes the rose garden at the white house. alan does not live to see the rose garden completed. she dies in the summer of 1914.
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is watches as the garden work done, but does not live to see the completion of the garden. it is a vision that begins here at prospect garden. >> so, ellen wilson cannot wait to see the rose garden completed. and as become part of our national lexicon. has become part of our national lexicon. here's what it looks like today. we have her tenure in the white house. we have a list of things that she did during the 17 months. we talked about the rose garden. the fact that she was a broughtonal artist and her profession to the white house. how significant was that? >> they did not set a standard for future first ladies.
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she earned money from selling her paintings. she'd set up a charity for her brother. the only of the first lady to earn money in the white house was eleanor roosevelt. that did not become a first lady tradition and, just as well, i think. >> welcome to our conversation. >> yes. thank you for taking my call. i like to show much. -- i like the show very much. i called her in the first season when you talked about the two wives of john tyler. woodrowan is about wilson's first wife, alan -- alan -- ellen. away, hehusband passed
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was interred in the gc jewel in cathedral in -- washington, d.c. >> thank you. ellen question is, was reinterred with woodrow. the answer is no. died, edith was determined that she would not be buried with him. was, he'd been the president at princeton and the presidents of princeton get buried at a nice cemetery. there were some ill feelings. there still were. bishop of washington, mr. friedman, started to get
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famous people buried at cathedral. washingtonn the cathedral is new. he approached edith about this. idea.kes the gould, told me that william howard taft's granddaughter told him that, when taft heard about this, he not let those bodysnatchers at the cathedral get me. -- presbyteryy in ian president is buried in a digital. -- cathedral. >> she developed kidney trouble
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in 1889. the wilson's decided to have no more children. she had been suffering from kidney disease for some time before she went to the white house. >> the diagnosis was brights disease. >> that is an archaic term for kidney disease. i was impressed that they diagnosed it in 1889. roosevelt's first wife also died of kidney disease and died quite early. woodrow and ellen had been married for quite a while. woodrow wilson became consumed with ellen's illness. >> consumes? not till the very end.
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it was kept secret from him. that was ellen's wish. >> everybody was in denial. i think she was hoping that she would get better. doctors were telling her that she would get better. i think the doctors were in denial. knew thatink doctors she was dying until the day that she really died. >> he was at her sick bed every minute. on the other hand, the world is falling apart. is a terrible thing. -- it is a terrible thing. >> was there a public funeral for eleanor wilson? >> they had the funeral in rome. at the church where woodrow had met her. the townspeople were there.
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>> there was a ceremony in the white house. >> a viewing in the white house. >> and we have finished our first hour. it goes by so quickly. here is our biography of woodrow wilson. what i want to do, as we close sideis open a different and read this paragraph. death dealt in a cruel blow.
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. >> it's extraordinary. he's either writing these letters to her, long involved wonderful letters and writing his first book. it's amazing. all along, as christi said, the advice to him and how to handle it. any academic would love to have
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helen as wife and i think conversely a male with a husband. she's such a help, support, such a terribly shrewd advisor. again, such an emotional support to him. it really is extraordinary. >> we have a debate raging about woodrow wilson's legacy among detractors. whether you love him or hated him, ellen wilson's base contribution was getting that man to the white house? >> absolutely. >> time to move on to chapter two of our story. what happened after our death. >> we're going to talk a little bit more about the -- >> sure. >> part of the closing days of her life. >> so as she's dying, the day she's die, she tells you to congress and say she's dying. the senate takes action in time for her to learn about it before she loses consciousness for the
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last time. the house passes it later but never implemented because of world war i breaking out. they don't have the money. the whole issue is dropped in the 1933. there was a young woman whose husband was in the wilson administration. the assistant secretary of the navy, franklin delano roosevelt. roosevelt went to the white house many times and met ellen wilson. it was said no one could move in polite society unless they could talk to her. she made the whole issue fashionable. the first week she was in the white house, she went back to the national civic federation of women, the same women that had worked well len wilson. and she began to lobby for an alley bill. she lobbied for a great many different causes. but i firmly believe that ellen
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set an example to eleanor and ellen set an example for many first ladies who came after her. >> one of the interesting debates about it is wood row wilson seeking out african-americans. >> much as i can tell, i loved ellen as much as the editors did. she was a southern woman. i don't think we could honestly say she believed in equality in african-americans. that's just -- she was a wonderful warm loving person. but i think african-americans
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occupied her place. this is in a maternalistic way she does want to help there and also to beautify washington too. that's not just to be -- not just to be helpful. it's all news -- i think his having grown up in the south really has less to do with his views there. the wilson administration record on race is bad, simply bad. he allowed his southern cabinet secretaries to attempt to introduce segregation to the federal work place. they made stabs at it. the n -- newly formed naacp protesting id. they backed off. they did it informally. that's bad. there's also that very unfortunate incident of showing the birth of the nation, the movie in the white house which blew way out of proportion of what happened there. >> that's the time for edith.
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>> that's in the -- that's shortly before he met -- he met edith. that's the worst time in wilson's life except for the the stroke. because he was absolutely devastated by ellen's death. he was in bad, bad shape emotionally. >> when gary robinson asked on twitter did they get any bump or passes on it, was he thinking of the affairs of state or the month out there? >> he had to. yes, he was. that's what -- he said that's what held it together. he had do this, he had to be president. he had to pay attention to these things. otherwise, i think the man could have really deteriorated badly there. if he had just been on his own. the presidency is his crutch at this point.
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his attitude to me, he's like a white northerner. he wants the race go away. oh, yeah, that's the problem down to the south. booker t. washington, we'll make progress, a bit of benign neglect. . >> before we leave, we want to tell you we have a well populated website. it's filled with all of the video and the programs we've done so far in the series. each week, we have a special feature attached to the first lady we're looking at. and this week, it's on ellen's artwork. so if you go to the website and you want to learn more about her work, the' sell, one of her paintings on display at the
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white house while she was there, this is the featured item this week on first lady, the c-span.org website. i'm talking about research. i want to tell you about one other. our partners of this series, the white house historical association. they have for many years published the biography series of first ladies. it's a special version of it. we worked with them to publish it and make it available to you. that same website has the link. we show this hard cover book at 12:95, our cost, so you can learn about the women. there's a short biography and we'll get them to you so you can learn more about the women in the programs and the rest of the series. this is lleyton in rome, georgia. is that her birthplace? >> and her burial place. >> hello, how are you? >> fine. >> i would like to say that rome, georgia is watching
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tonight. and, of course, we are the hometown of ellen wilson and we're very excited that you're doing a program tonight especially on ellen. christie miller has graciously accepted our invitation to come to rome as we celebrate not only the life but also the art of ellen wilson beginning in august of 2014. and you know, it's kind of interesting that in 1914, rome, georgia raised $10,000 in 2014, we'll mark the anniversary of the homecoming that never occurred. >> any final thoughts on ellen before we move on? no? okay. so let's do that. he was devastated. but we've talked about his
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connection with women and his love of having women in his life. he was a widowed president. so lots of women were probably interested in him. how did he approach this period of his life when he was a widower? >> i don't think there was a great rush of women to meet him. but his doctor was very concerned about it. and he thought that a friend of his is goal might be somebody that might cheer him up. so he arranged for helen, the woman who was serving as his official host just after ellen's death to go walking with edith because helen herself was having some health problems. he thought it would benefit her to go walking with this nice hearty vision rowels woman. they took a number of walks together. that led to a meeting in the white house between edith and woodrow. and they were immediately drawn
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to each other. just like well len. he very quickly fell in love and quickly proposed to her. >> edith bowling goff was found in virginia. there's a map of virginia. you can see where it is in the southwest part of the state. there's 300 miles way from washington, d.c. we visited there in preparation for the series. you'll see that next. >> this is the birthplace and childhood home of edith bowling wilson. today it looks very much like it did when the bowlings lived here from 1866 to 1899. originally, in the 1840s, this was two houses, they were joined together, which connected the upstairs bowling home, the downstairs was used as retail space. the upstairs was the home of the bollings. this is the original front door to the bolling home. this is where the bolling family would have entered.
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let me take you inside. this is the birth room. this is the bedroom of her parents. she was one of 20 family members who lived upstairs in the boling home. this is the cradle that the children would have slept in. this is a child's chair that was up here in the bolling home. we can imagine the children sitting in the chairs. the cover is original and we're so pleased it hasn't been recovered over the years. this is the bedroom of grandmother bolling. and we know that edith bolling as a little girl slept in the room with her grandmother. her grandmother was an invalid
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and had back problems. and she was quite spoiled by her grandmother. she was her grandmother's favorite. but along with that came the responsibility of being her care giver. this is the back sleeping porch. this is where edith would gather with her family where they would enjoy evenings together. i think one of my favorite pictures is the picture of young edith at age 13. she's actually sitting on a stool and in this corner, she has her books in her lap and very fortunate to have this picture of her. we see what she's dressed like, we see her books, we see how her hair is fixed. we see her in a place where she was very comfortable and spent a lot of time as a young girl. this is the library of her father, judge bolling. they sent her to washington,
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d.c. to keep her away from a gentleman who was courting her. they sent her to washington, d.c. she met and married her first husband. it really changed her life. >> we learn more about the life of edith billioning goff wilson. on facebook, a question -- what did his daughter who served as hostess before the marriage think of his new wife and what did his other daughters think. i think the daughters were very happy to see their father married again. because as don said, he was in deep despair. they were very worried about him. they were happy. they were among the happiest people in washington about the marriage. >> what about the press? what about his cabinet? they tried to keep it out of the cabinet as long as they could.
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the reactions were mixed. we're getting the beyond the generation that widowed people shouldn't marry. well, they shouldn't remarry soon. and clearly for the president to be courting and want to marry again so quickly, a lot of them worried about it. several of them tried to hatch something to warn him off there. that backfired very badly. by the way, edith took an instant dislike to colonel house, this advisor of wilson's. and wilson patched it up or had them get together. but i don't think house realized what an enemy he made of edith wilson. he had something to do with this
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too. >> back to carl from georgia. hi, carl. >> good evening. thank you for taking my call. i heard the gentleman say there was a bit of dissension between colonel house and edith. was this personal differences, colonel house had live-in quarters in the white house. was he commanding too much of the president's time as far as edith was concerned or were there political difference s? >> well, actually house did not have living quarters in the white house. he spent a lot of time there. but he didn't have living quarters there. it's a bit of both. edith as christie pointed out very well, wilson courted the widow gault with the presidency and the secrets of state and she ate it up. there's no question about it. and she admits frankly admits in her memoir later that this was a good bit of her attraction to wilson. and attracted to him too
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personally. that's the way -- this may be a much more glamorous figure to her. so she's okay, she's going to be the advisor. a lot of it at the beginning is to resent house. resent house. there's just enough to get him out of the way. house was concerned -- house saw wilson as a very valuable property to manage and to keep, you know, to keep healthy and to keep in power. and i think he was worried about the effect on this. now, he very quickly backed off when he saw how determined wilson was to marry edith. he turned tail very quickly and then he tries to make up to her a lot. but she never -- no, she never -- she masked her dislike of house up until the time of the conference. >> so he proposes very soon after. she says no, saying you hardly know me. there's a wonderful quote that most biographers refer to talking about how time is compress in the white house. what did he say?
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>> i don't remember the exact words. but he said time is much quicker here than it was on the outside. her at a it to call it a ploy. one fact that he ployed it out to all three of the women he was involved with was that he needed them so much. and it was a real genuine need as john has pointed out. he often said he couldn't do his work unless he was assured of their love. so that was definitely one of the things that she said to edith. to know you would have need of me is very sweet. that's a successful courtship tactic. although she refused him the first time, two months later, he proposed again and she accepted. >> as i recall, the refusal, that's what they're supposed to
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do anyway? she got taken unawares really. that was the convention. >> i think it was. >> turn it down and, you know, of course the guy comes back and -- >> she had every right to turn him down convention or no convention. they've known each other about six weeks when he proposed the first time. >> i must say, we both read all of that correspondence there. i'm impressed that edith's refusal looked to be pretty pro forma. she's going to accept this guy. >> one of my favorite quotes is from the secret serviceman, colonel starling who said the lady was retreating. how fast and what intention, we don't know. >> he would go over to her house, you know, he would spend the evening there. >> icing, jack a completely
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different air. a fanaticism about baseball in this town, the first public date was a baseball game. >> wilson was a great baseball fan. he played -- never played on a college -- he played on a college team at davidson. the first college he went to. that's something. he's a great fan of princeton and wesley and prince ton, he's a tremendous baseball fan. go to that and that is the first public appearance together. just beaming there. i think she turns into a political asset. >> we have to move on, the time is going to evaporate. very quickly. what did the general population think of wilson remarrying so quickly. >> fortunately, not as his advisors feared. the public loved it. they went on a tour about six weeks after they were married.
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to drum up interest and preparedness in case america got in the war. she was seen as a great asset. the press loved her. the crowds loved her. they loved the idea of the two of them being on their honeymoon. it was a great public relations. >> throughout this program, we have been taking you to the wilson house, the place where the first couple met after they left the white house. we're going to return there right now. >> we're current will i in the dining room of the president wood row wilson house in northwest dc about a mile from the white house. standing guard over the dining room is an official poit rate of edith wilson painted and finished in 1920. 93 years old. bob inholm is the executive director of the house. what can you tell us about this dress she's wearing in this
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portrait. >> president wilson in his second term presented a provision of the world of peace, a plan in this provision. he couldn't have found a better help mate, dynamic and strong, edith wilson. this is not a 19th century portrait. she's wearing a dress that's fashion forward in the 1920s. at her waist is a broach, a gift to her from france. >> some of the other artifacts from the white house years set here at the table. you have the place setting? >> this is the wilson china. edith had a hand in designing this. so while some of the china relied on designs, patriotic symbols consistent with the nation at war. there's a funny story. the historians can tell about this. when edith was learning how to ride a bicycle in the basement of the white house, the china
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was stacked there. one of the reasons they created the china room was so she would have room to ride the bicycle without crashing into the china. >> this is lennox. you have an outfit she wore as first lady. >> we remember president wilson was the first president to go to europe at president but we need to remember as well edith wilson was the first lady to go to europe as the first lady. it was important for her to figure out how she should comport herself in meeting kings and queens of europe and heads of state. she bought this suit at the house of worth in paris. let me pull this back and show some of the detail. the lining spectacular. gives you some sense of the level of detail and attention of the clothing that she purchased there. >> bob -- president wilson left here three years after she left the white house. was there a purposeful effort to make this house like the white house? >> very much so. that's part of edith's doing as
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well. she realized the president would be more comfortable in a settle in which he understand where things were. so when they put together this bedroom here, it emulated the white house bedroom he'd been in down to the detail of getting the lincoln bed that he had enjoyed and building a replica of the room here. >> the next time you come back to us, susan,er with eel be in the library. >> thank you very much. a reminder, the wilson house is available for public tour. make it part of yourself when you do a history tour of washington, d.c. the wilson presidency, the two terms were very momentous years. for the country and for the world. it's hard to boil down important things that went on in a couple of places but we're going try to do it. in the wilson presidency, the 17th amendment to the constitution which called for direct election for the senators was passed. major tariff bill that was so much an important debate in this country, the federal reserve act, i can tell you our facebook community is talking a lot about the federal reserve.
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the role of the federal trade commission. then the war. the u.s. declaring war on germany. after the war, wood row wilson winning the nobel peace prize. the 18th amendment bringing prohibition. the 19th amendment calling finally for women suffrage in this country. what was edith's role in this period of time, legislateively, public affairswise. how involved was she in the substance of what he was doing. >> very little. she didn't have ellen's acumen for understanding these things. he liked to show her the papers but she would get fired up and would say you need to put this note to germany more strongly or to the secretary of state
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william brennan to be stronger. he encouraged her to be fiery. she didn't have understanding. a lot of people thought she had influenced him to lobby as he finally did for woman's suffrage. that wasn't the case at all. she didn't approve. so i wouldn't say she had any effect on his legislative -- >> he did not support the 18th amendment. he did not like prohibition. he vetoed the act which passed over the veto. >> how difficult was it for him to make a decision to bring the u.s. into world war i. >> very, very. we went to the war after the zinging of the lcitania, almost two years. the zinging is a great wakeup call on how we might be involved in the war. it's not comparable to pearl harbor and 9/11. it was this shocking event. two years to struggle to try to
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get the germans not to sink ships and kill people on the seas. yet, not to get involved in the war. he got the germans to back down for a while. so the election of 1916 in the lull in foreign affairs and this notion he kept us out of war with this great cry. well, yeah. but it was -- he kept us out of war with mexico because the threat of war in europe had receded at that point. then the germans reopened and it was a very, very difficult struggle. he actually unburdened himself confidentially to a newspaper editor, frank cobb of the new york world. and he predicted all of the terrible consequences that happen in this country if we went to the war. that's the most eloquent case of coming from the war. >> how would you answer sheldon
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cooper when asked which wife provided political clout for woodrow. >> i think it was ellen. ellen was involved. she lobbied. you spoke with the tariff bill. she read it. she lobbied for having reduced duty on books and art supplies. and when it was actually tasked, she celebrated. it meant a lot to her. and i don't think either of them had a great deal to do with it. but i think ellen had more than edith. >> david is in her hometown. >> thank you for the segment. i want to invite your viewers to visit and join us in our efforts to restore a birthplace and childhood home. but my question is when mrs. wilson visited during europe, how was she received by the royalty of europe and how can you tell us about her
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relationship to pocahontas and other families? >> she's a direct descendent to pocahontas. it was played up a great deal by the newspapers in europe when she went over there. i forgot, what was the other part of the question? how she was received in europe? >> they were received joyously over there. they looked to wilson to be a savior. edith drove home and said they felt like cinderella. they were received by the king of italy. there were thousands and thousands of people reading them in paris. it was a magical time for her. >> here's a question of a similar ilk between edith and ellen, which has the greatest influence on america today? i'd say ellen, although edith
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had the handle the country in the crisis of presidential disability. and i think she set a pattern for how not do it. it was a cover-up. so i think it was one of the segments that said that grayson -- we're not going to admit he had a stroke. they never -- the white house never admitted that, one of his consulting physicians let it slip out of the bag later. but they never admitted that. and in some ways this uncertainty about -- about what the president's condition was really contributed to the political downfall that comes. >> justin, plainfield, indiana, you're on. go ahead. >> hi, thank you for taking my call. thank you for doing this. my question is, how would edith received in the time leading up to her marriage to president wilson by the media? did she kind of get the princess
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diana reception or more from rachael jackson reception? >> thanks so much. >> dave really as don said tried to keep it very quiet. and the announcement was made at the beginning of october. they got marry in the middle of december. so they really only had to endure the -- the attention of the press for about two months. and again it was a very, very different time and nobody was expected to get out there diana style and be father christmas. >> wouldn't you say the caller talked about rachael jackson. there was an undercurrent of a little bit of scandal or whatever that he was involve in this woman. >> there were several scandals, one of which and we haven't really addressed it. but woodrow wilson was involved with another woman during the time he was married to ellen. he met mary allen

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