tv First Ladies Series Review CSPAN February 22, 2014 7:00pm-9:01pm EST
reclassification. that is what the fcc should do. >> do you agree with robert mcdonald that it is time to rewrite the telecommunications law for this country? >> the explorations make sense. but i think we should go back and look at that 1990 exact. -- 1996 act. there is a lot of good law there that can solve a lot of these problems. that should be the starting point right larger conversation about green power law up to date. it says that the internet should be unfettered by regulation. >> that is >> c-span, created by america's cable companies 35 years ago and brought to you
today as a public service by your cable provider. >> coming up in a moment, the final program in our first lady series with a look at their role and influence in history. followed by ken ham and bill merits ofating the evolution and creationism. then the bbc first correspondent jane little. she delivered the keynote address on media's coverage of religion. >> the first ladies worked to make the white house a family home. >> tonight, on our series finale, we will look back at the lives of these women from martha washington to michelle obama, how the role of first lady has evolved, and how certain individuals have helped define the job.
good evening and welcome as we spend the next few hours wrapping up our year-long series. what is going to be important about these final two hours is you. we hope that you will be a major part of our program tonight by calling us, sending us tweets, or posting on facebook what you have learned or questions about some of the history we have had on display during the past year. let me introduce the guests. edith mayo, who is responsible for putting together the first ladies exhibit at the smithsonian. nice to see you again. she was also one of four academic advisors for this entire series. also meet anita mcbride. she has become a first lady scholar. she is on the board of the white house historical association who are our partners. a little later on, richard
norton smith will be joining us. he is doing a program on first ladies and as that wraps up, he will be joining us at the table. let me ask both of you about first ladies. why are they interesting? >> i think because they present that window of the past that women could relate to, particularly women. i think women's history has been hidden for so long that this gave women a way in which they could access the past through the lives of the first ladies. i found it fascinating. >> do these women -- because of their high echelon in society, does that reflect them? >> i think there was a portion
of their lives that relate to something that is going on in history. if you can tease that out, you get some very interesting insight. >> you went from a political role to an academic one. what interested you enough to do that? >> i had the opportunity to work alongside laura bush and see that role, a very complicated role through her eyes and how she managed. this very important position is always evolving. what i saw in over three administrations, because i worked in the reagan administration and the first bush administration, just how much, how hard they work and how much they do and the reflection of what is going on in society at the time. >> how much has the role itself evolved? >> i think it has evolved enormously. women were not educated when martha washington was in the white house or at least most of
them were not educated beyond what we call grade school. today, you have someone with a postgraduate degree in the white house and there have been a couple of women in that category. women were not supposed to be involved in or take part in politics and now the first lady is central to the political life and the modern presidency. >> what was interesting along the way was that we are marking all the firsts. the first one to campaign with the president. who has been -- what are the benchmarks? as you look across the history, where are the real turning points for how the job has changed? >> they all have been a partner to the presidency. all of them have influenced our politics, our policy, and our global diplomacy.
i think in the 18th and 19th centuries our first ladies were mostly concerned with a country at war and the safety of their husband. in the 20th century we are so much evolving with social issues and so many movements. the first ladies at those times really represented the changing and evolving country. >> this project has been a lot of serious discussion but it has had some lighter, humorous moments. there has also been some wonderful vignettes through the ages of television and video. we are going to show you two scenes from this series, one from part one and one from part two. martha washington and bess truman. in your biography, you have a very different, very attractive
martha washington. how accurate is this portrayal? >> very accurate. people criticized it and said why do we have to show her young. we all start young. it was important to show what she looked like as a beautiful young woman. >> what was it about george washington that she saw and was attracted to? >> i think it was mostly that he was such a hunk. he was 6'2" at a time where most men were 5'9". a fabulous dancer. very charming. he really liked women. he loved to talk to women always. he had begun to show the kind of leadership that he would later show more of. >> at the national airport, with
wings. ready to be christened by mrs. harry s. truman. by an oversight, the champagne bottle, unlike this one, hasn't been properly prepared. now mrs. truman unaware that her bottle was unprepared -- [laughter] the new first lady joined the crowd's laughter. >> it is hard not to laugh at that now. in fact, the first lady laughed at the time but we understood that she was really not happy. that would be the worst possible thing that could happen. she stopped doing public
appearances. how do you keep the job from having flaws like this? >> you are very prepared, i would imagine. maybe there wasn't the advanced staff that we have today who really walked the movements and do everything before they do it. that might've been discovered ahead of time. none of us want to see our principal put in a position like that. it was good that she could use humor to laugh at it as well in front of everyone that was watching. >> it was in the theaters. i want to talk to you about the age regression of martha washington. one of the things for the older presidents and first ladies is that they become statues or paintings to us. >> very static.
i find that younger people have a great deal of difficulty relating to them because they all look so old. what could they possibly have done or how could their lives have been nearly as exciting as life is now? i think one of the ways of getting at that and making them look young and active and vital is this age regression technique. you can see them when they were younger. i noticed that is true of women in the suffrage movement. the audience can relate a lot better when they see younger pictures of the women. i think the same is true of first ladies. >> that is an important point of relating to young people. that is one of the things that we are trying to do at american university with the conferences we are doing. hitting a lot of university
students because these are at universities. one nontraditional venue that we used this year at american university was a media campaign with national park. i did trivia about first ladies in baseball and it was wildly popular and i hope we can do it again. who was the first lady of baseball? grace coolidge. >> darcel, you are on the air. >> i've enjoyed the entire series the whole year long. i have a couple of questions about michelle obama. i was wondering what do the ladies think that she may be doing after her life in the white house? do you think she will be involved in kind of a social sorority or anything like that and her role with children as well? >> they will be young and have young children when they leave the white house. what does history tell us about first families that have young
children about decisions they make of where to live? >> i think they probably will stay close by while sasha is still in school. i don't know what everybody taking planes at the drop of the hat, maybe that won't be so true in this particular case. your question about what do modern first ladies do after they get out of the white house. most of them continue to campaign the issues they have created while they were first lady so i think we can certainly see michelle obama doing that in some form or other. >> all of them in the modern age have been involved with foundations raising money for the presidential libraries.
>> we are already hearing there is a foundation established already for the obamas and the planning of their library which is early but they can see from past presidents that it takes time and effort and money. >> fundraising is a long process. >> julia is in brooklyn. you are on. >> it seems like every week you had to discuss the death of a child during 19th-century first ladies. how many children died while the parents were in the white house? were there any daughters because it seemed like they were all sons? >> there were quite a few sons who died. >> i can't think of the daughter but i do think for modern people, that is quite a shock. we are so used to modern surgery and modern medication and antibiotics. on another exhibit that i worked on i learned that the first generation of parents that could
expect to see their children outlive them was 1920. that will give you some idea of the death rates, the high birthrate, but also the high death rate of children in the 18th and 19th century. >> the coolidges lost their son to a blister. antibiotics were not widely used. >> you see people like the adamses and jacksons all doing fostering. their relatives had died so they took in the relatives' children so you see lots of nieces and nephews in the early white house because the first family was doing fostering of these children. >> i don't think we can answer the question of a particular number. maybe we can do that on the twitter feed. robert is in austin. >> what a great show. i have been enjoying it all season.
earlier you had a show where you talked about how jackie kennedy remodeled or restored the white house and i wanted to know if she or any other first ladies -- i know michelle obama did it -- what kind of work did the first ladies do to the landscape of the white house? >> we will do a segment where we talk more about that. does a brief example come to mind about first ladies working on the white house? >> many of them starting with mrs. garfield who in her short time really started the recordkeeping of the white house. mrs. hoover used a lot of her own money. we will talk later about laura bush and everything she did in the white house and mrs. kennedy. >> pat nixon was the one who brought back more art and antiques to the white house than any other first lady. >> we will talk a little more about that. we have divided the program into
many areas. we hope you will be with us later on. the siena college has been for a couple of decades doing a historian survey of first ladies and their influence. we partnered with them this year because of the series and the results have been just released over the weekend. you might've seen reporting about it. we have a clip of the survey, don levy research institution about the poll. let's watch. >> for the fifth time since 1982, the siena research institute has released a survey on the first ladies. here are the results of the top 10. number one, eleanor roosevelt. number two, abigail adams. dolly madison, four.
michelle obama is in fifth place followed by hillary clinton, lady bird johnson. don levy is the director of the siena research institute. dr. levy, what do you see in this top 10 list? >> what is most amazing about this survey is that five times in 32 years, we interviewed historians, political scientists, scholars who study the presidency and the institution of the first lady. what is amazing is the consistency over time. eleanor roosevelt is first every time. she really stands out as the quintessential american first lady. if we were going to put a picture up of first lady in the dictionary, it would be eleanor roosevelt.
>> why is that? >> we look at 10 different categories. we look at the background of the first ladies. their value to the country. how much value they had to their president. whether she is her own women. eleanor roosevelt was truly a trendsetting innovator. she reshaped that institution. she told american women that they mattered and that they were important in political and social life. clearly, eleanor roosevelt not only campaigned for fdr, but she was instrumental in setting policy and the tone of the country during very difficult years.
she is warmly remembered for her entire time as first lady and the work that she did subsequent to being a first lady as well. she really was a modern trendsetter for that office. >> the current first lady michelle obama is on that list. is that a surprise that the current first lady is on the list? >> it is a little surprising. it is the first time she was included. the last time the survey was taken was just before the obamas took office. she enters at a pretty high level for a new first lady at fifth and bumps down hillary clinton. i think that michelle obama stands out on a number of the categories. her value to the country and the president, being her own woman. also, her growing accomplishments in office. we asked about which of the first ladies might these historians and political scientists imagine as actually serving as president. while hillary clinton is clearly the number one choice among them, there was a fair amount of support for michelle obama as at least a hypothetical president
in some future time. michelle obama enters at a very high rank. hillary clinton in 1993, when we took the same survey during the early years of the clinton administration actually entered the survey as number two. it is not unprecedented. >> that interview was about 10 minutes with lots more detail about the survey and you can find it on c-span's first lady website. that website is full of material. all of the programs we have done this year and all of the shorter visits to historic sites are all logged and you can find them. that interview is available. the both of you, how useful are the surveys of this sort? do they have a role to play? is there an academic role? >> i will put my political hat on and just say what we always try to not pay too much attention to polls when we were
working in the white house. i think they do serve a purpose overall for people to get a feel of what, at least a certain subset of what people are thinking about in this particular case. this is just 200 plus people. i was one of them. i do think of this particular one, it is pretty easy to ignore the good work of the women who served alongside presidents who were controversial in their time. >> on twitter and facebook, we live in an age of lists. is it useful beyond that? >> i am not convinced that it is but i think it does provoke a lot of commentary. to the extent that you can get a feel for how important the first ladies position is is quite important.
>> we begin with the several things that i mentioned about the lives of the women who lived in the white house. the first is a compelling personal story. one of the things we learned about the way is how many of the women, even though they were on the top places of society, they had a very interesting life story. we will begin by traveling to massachusetts, the home of abigail adams. >> the story of abigail adams and the revolutionary war is a story of sacrifice, of commitment to country, and she rose to the occasion.
john and abigail lived in this home for 10 years. it is where they raised their four children. this was the birthplace of their second child john quincy adams who went on to become president. it is also an important home because the primary link between she and john adams would be letter writing. it was from this house that she was provided a window to what was happening back here in the colony of massachusetts during the revolutionary war. she would report to john about the militia in boston. during the battle of bunker hill, she took her young son right over to the high point and watched the battle with her son and reported john adams of the fires and the smoke rising from charlestown. she was the eyes of the revolution to john adams and essentially the second continental congress. >> not the only first lady who lived at a time when war was fought on our homeland. the war of 1812, the civil war. we are blessed by not having that today but many of these women lived through very difficult life-threatening
times. who would you put on the list of women who have had the most compelling personal stories? >> beyond wartime, which we saw with abigail adams, she sacrificed so much for our nation. she was so devoted to this democracy and we owe her a great deal. i think the compelling stories -- i am still very moved of the story of mrs. pierce. this deeply religious woman who did everything in her power to discourage her husband from being involved in politics which was his ambition. she never liked washington. she lost three sons, one in front of their eyes on the way to the inauguration. that is a very sad story. their entire tenure was marked by this tragedy. >> she thought that politics was the work of the devil.
because she was religious and did think of this as an evil, she felt that god had taken away their three sons as a punishment for participating in politics which must be a horrible indictment of her life. >> gary robinson has been part of our audience throughout the series. he asked which first lady overcame the most to become a first lady? >> i don't know if you could pick one. there are so many. i think betty ford is certainly one, a modern example. i think she felt that she was a neglected housewife, alone in suburbia raising the children for many years. she comes into the white house and hardly is there and establishes herself before she gets diagnosed with breast
cancer. to her great credit, she decided to be very candid about that. i think that she goes from considering yourself just a housewife to the point where she says we have to take the words just out of just a housewife and value each woman's contributions. i think she brought feminism into the mainstream in the 1970's when it was very much debated. she put such a lovely spin on why she supported women's rights that i think she was extremely important and i think she overcame her own addiction and her own health problems to make a great contribution. >> what about your personal compelling story list? >> i think that betty ford was definitely very high on my list. >> any older, earlier history? >> i think mary lincoln is a story of great personal tragedy
in the midst of a national tragedy. >> louisa catherine adams. her husband, john quincy adams, who was a diplomat and a difficult personality. she took six children across the continent. >> in a carriage with horses in the snow. >> as a diplomat herself trying to promote this new democracy to the russian court and all of the other european countries that were posted there. she did her part. >> calling or visiting was very important as part of her role as a politician's wife in washington. he would drop these lengthy lists of people for her to visit on his behalf.
this was the way that you sort of solidified your political support. she said sometimes she made as many as 26 visits in one day which would be hard to do in the modern era but if you could put yourself back to a time when washington had roads this must've been quite a feat. i think she really entertained him into the white house at a time when it was considered unseemly for a president to campaign for himself. >> linda is watching us in arizona. you are on. >> this has been my absolute favorite show on c-span and c-span is my favorite tv channel
to watch so thank you especially to those of you who have been frequently part of this. i developed an interest in reading about presidential families in grade school so i knew little bits and pieces of most of these first ladies. not nearly as much is what you have done so i really thank you. i just wanted to say my absolute favorite first lady is michelle obama and i believe that mary todd lincoln would get my number one for the most compelling personal life. i think she had more difficulties throughout the entire time. the question i have for edith mayo, if she remembers how old she was when she developed an interest in first ladies and their families. >> how old i was? >> how old she was when she first developed her interest in this kind of history and what paths she took to develop her skills and knowledge.
also, is she part of the mayo clinic family? >> don't i wish. no, i am not part of the mayo clinic family. i only wish we had their money. i was quite well along in years, should i put it that way, before i developed an interest in the first ladies. i worked at the smithsonian institution all of my adult life and was always interested in much more radical politics. in fact, the going wisdom was i was probably the person who should not do first lady history. the role series of strange and wonderful circumstances, i was literally dragged ticking and screaming into this area because i was working on a different kind of book on women's radical politics. i did some soul-searching about
whether i should turn this down or accept taking this on and redoing the first ladies exhibition. i decided in the end that there was a wonderful way in which to teach women's history which had been my primary love. through the first lady ladies' lives, one could access what women in the country were doing and other aspects of american history. once i got into it, it was a wonderful world that opened up. >> on twitter, this is a quick test for you, it is asked how many first ladies are still living. >> five, i think. >> we have mrs. bush, both of them. carter, clinton, and nancy reagan.
next is sue in indiana. welcome to our discussion. >> thank you for taking my call. i just wanted to say that your program is absolutely wonderful and very educational. my first question is about jackie kennedy. what was her relationship with her sister-in-law? secondly, during jfk's assassination, was her sister in attendance and was her sister by her side? >> thank you. >> very close relationship with her father-in-law who saw her as a perfect political partner for his son. >> she was very close to her sister until she had an affair and then jackie came along and did likewise.
i think that was a sort of a breaking point in their closeness. >> interesting question about whether she was present at the funeral because now when i think of images of the funeral, i don't remember seeing her there. >> i know that she and her mother were there at the white house after the funeral. >> what was the second mrs. adams relationship to her mother-in-law, abigail adams? >> these are two women who deeply respected and loved each other. they learned a lot from each other. laura bush often says that she was so blessed and grateful to have barbara bush in this position before. it is a terrific position to be prepared. they are a big strong, loving family and they deeply respect each other. >> are there more women that were perhaps not that close?
>> abigail was not too happy with louisa catherine. the only foreign born and that was a terrible strike against according to abigail. plus, she had a very upper-class upbringing and abigail thought she was too much of what you call a fine lady for her son. not enough of a revolutionary. she had not been through this cauldron of the revolution but louisa catherine was a very determined woman. she never stopped writing to her mother telling her what her son was doing and what a wonderful representative of the u.s. he was and how proud she was and what the children were doing. this went on for years. finally, abigail figured out that this woman really had her son's best interest at heart and grew to love her. >> she never got to see her son become president. >> jim from pittsburgh, you are on.
>> hello. this has been a great series. my wife and i have watched every one of these. we very much enjoyed ourselves. i learned how amazing it was that the women who were back when their husbands weren't as and yet, they had no ability to sell or buy things because women had no rights. the second question to both of these ladies is i noticed that barbara bush and her husband really enjoyed laughing at themselves. they did a couple of commercials for baseball and other things with the dog. did they feel that the first ladies have been shown well enough and the libraries they have been to? also, if you can make it to the first ladies in canton, ohio, please do. thank you. >> along with the smithsonian,
the museum in canton, ohio, has been very helpful. i want to stay with the first part of his call. let's do bush first. do they feel that first ladies are well depicted? >> the bush library was the first host of the american university conference on the roads because we went to texas because it is the only state with three presidential libraries. edith was there with us. it is a terrific program. i would say, yes, they are doing their part to help tell the story of first ladies.
>> i would say depends on which presidential library you go to. there have been several libraries now modern residential couples that have redone and updated the segments on the first ladies. as women's history has become more interesting and more well-known, i think there is a bigger demand to see what the first lady did. i think it depends on which library you go to but i would say most of the modern ones do a great job. >> will move onto the second segment.
this is on the relationship of the first lady and the president. it is fun that all of us are very interested in. by this we define how many of them had good political partnerships, what was the romantic relationship like, were there any wonderful love stories? this is a level the two human beings connect on the pathway to power. we will start with the clip and this is the person who has come first in the surveys, eleanor roosevelt talking to the nation after the bombing of pearl harbor. we are putting this under the category of political partnerships. >> for months now, the knowledge of something of this kind might happen has been hanging over our heads.
yet it seems impossible to believe, impossible to drop the everyday things and see the result one thing that was important -- preparation to meet and the matter where he strikes. that is all over now and there is no more uncertainty. we know what we have to face and we know that we are ready to face it. i should like to say just a word to the women in the country tonight. for all i know, my boy may be on his way to the pacific. two of my children are on coast cities on the pacific. many of you all over this country have boys and service will now be called upon to go into action. you have friends and family and what a suddenly become a danger zone. you cannot escape the anxiety. you cannot escape the clutches fear at your heart and yet i hope that the certainty of what we have to meet will make you rise above. we must go about our daily business more determined than that of her to do the ordinary
things as well as we can. when we find a way to do anything more in our communities, to help others, to build morale, give a feeling of security, we must do it. whatever is asked of us, i am sure we can do, should -- i am sure we can accomplish it. we are the free people of the united states of america. >> eleanor roosevelt speaking to the nation sending words of support to the country in a time of enormous stress after the bombing of pearl harbor. this is our series finale. joining us now from the c-span bus which is parked outside the institute is richard norton smith. you have been thinking a lot about first ladies, just having done a lecture series on first ladies and our history. i'll ask you to jump right in -- two of the top political partners among first ladies?
>> i could mention the lincolns and the reagans let me give you an unorthodox response. a paradox of relationship. the hardings. i don't think warren harding would've been president. i'm not sure if the would've been a successful newspaper editor if you remove florence harding from the equation. it is hard imagining her campaigning. they are as mismatched as they could've been in romantic terms. it turns out they were a perfect match in political terms. each filled a need unmet by the other. the fact is -- first of all, mrs. harding was a woman in many ways ahead of her time. she was essential in the success of the business of which harding build his career.
by 1920 when he was nominated, she spent enough time around reporters. she was hurt -- his press secretary. to socialize with them, entertain them. there was a cottage on the grounds of the harding home. the duchess, as she was popularly known. she really was an essential and i think, unappreciated part of harding becoming president. in the white house, she was also part of the transition from the very closed, secured, rather gloomy room in the last days of woodrow wilson's time.
i remember one of the first stories -- she was in the white house and she said people looking to the windows. she said let them look, it is their house. >> who else had a fabulous political partnership? >> i would say lady bird johnson had a great political partnership with her husband and i think ellen wilson did as well. she incurred her husband to invite legislators to the white house for private dinners. and lead to some successes including a deal for president wilson. i think mrs. polk is a big one. great deal of influence in his
success. >> dolly madison. somebody who was the first to bring together the role as social partner with the role of political partner. james was a very shy person. dolly was very outgoing. she was his pr person. she was quite skilled at it. very politically savvy woman. she would use, under the guise of entertaining, she would use that to lobby people for what his policies were and very successfully. >> alaska to think about this and we will take a few calls. among the first ladies and their spouses, which had the greatest love story? let's listen to marry in philadelphia at what you think about that answer. >> thank you for taking my call. my question is for the panel
through the series we have learned so much about the first ladies through their letters. they have given us insight on who the artist people, their lives in the white house, and the role in history. going forward, how would historians write the modern first lady story? would they be talking about their twitter accounts? what challenges will historians face? i have watched the entire series. my favorite first lady was helen taft. >> why? >> she brought in the cherry blossoms. she started the whole first lady dresses. she was worldwide traveler and i
think she gave so much the white house. >> you have been the founding director of a number of presidential libraries so what would your answer be for someone having your job 20 years from now? >> i would say she put her finger on a very real problem. i am a dinosaur when it comes to this. i write books based on old-fashioned research. going through letters, diaries, and you are right when they disappear. even now they alone are not enough to tell the story. i suspect in the future historians will have all that e-mail and twitter and whatever else we come up with to destroy the art of conversation. there will be even more reliance on oral history. in other words, doing interviews with people who were there, who were part of the story, who were onlookers, and who can in their
own words to describe that. all history has imperfections of what it is a substitute, one substitute for the written record. >> i just can't imagine a 130 word to her message having the same as the letters. >> there is no substitute for that. we saw a glimpse into the love stories when the reagan letters "i love you, ronnie" was published and all those letters that ronald reagan wrote to nancy. >> would that be your top love story? >> my top one is the relationship between ellen arthur and chester arthur. she died before he was president, even before he was vice president. of course, president garfield
dies and president arthur comes into the white house and has a beautiful picture of his wife in a silver frame visible in the white house with fresh flowers around it every day. i think the most stunning thing to me and anyone who visits washington and goes to st. john's church and sees it -- a stained-glass window in honor of ellen arthur. i think that is a real love story. >> let me talk to denise in california. what is your comment or question? >> superb series. i just have a suggestion. the guru of c-span did a beautiful series on the presidents. it would be wonderful if you could integrate the presidential series that he did with the first ladies.
do it together on a weekend or something. richard norton smith sort of answered my question which was why do i find the older, basically from tr back, the older stories of the first ladies more interesting than the current? the current ladies, as wonderful as they are, eleanor, hillary, i found that he ford and -- betty ford and pat were beautiful. i don't find the interest like i do with the presidential first ladies before a certain time period. a beautiful job. it is wonderful. thank you so much. >> richard norton smith, why are
the older ones more interesting? >> one reason is because they were not thinking every morning, almost as soon as they open their eyes, what do they need today to satisfy the 20 47 news cycle. they were not political animals even though they might be married to one. it was a totally different culture, a totally different taste of life. these were women, many of them as we talk about, who experienced all kinds of her small tragedies, who found politics not their cup of tea. there is no shortage of individual dramas surrounding all the women in the 18th and 19th century. they somehow seem maybe more real to us because they are not performing as the political advisor and spin doctors and
image makers. beyond that, they are writing letters. letters were the main form of communication. people tended to pour themselves out. they were less guarded. even today, i have concluded this, there is a reason why first lady memoirs tend to outsell their husbands. even now, people think that the first lady is out to be one more in touch with life and less consumed by political calculation. consequently, more inclined to speak openly. >> we are going to run out of time. what is your love story, your great love story? richard.
>> i'm sorry. my love story? forgive me. we don't have enough time. oh, boy. the adames. when an eagle adams died -- when abigail adams died, john was heartbroken. he said something to revealing. he said, as terrible as this is, somehow it is a less painful separation than the earlier ones. when you and that's when he had an ocean between themselves. he said, i know we will be reunited. at that age it wasn't going to
be very long. he couldn't know because of the uncertainties of war and politics. as she laid in her death bed, john who shared her religious beliefs was convinced it was a prologue to something better, to a prominent reunification with the great love of his life. >> will be your great love match? >> i would say james and dolly madison. as mismatched as they seemed, together they were just unbeatable. she always said, our hearts understand one another. >> in the first half, we couldn't do a program without talking about dolly madison. our next segment will be about family life in the white house.
when we think about big families, what comes to mind is theodore roosevelt and his wife. we will take you to a curator and where the roosevelts lived. >> the biggest responsibilities you have had in the white house -- edith had in the white house was to control the family. she had professional portraits taken of the children. the first two batches were by francis johnson. there is a picture of quinton on the pony. he went up to the second floor to visit archie when he was sick. there is kermit with jack, the wonder dog. there's a picture of alice standing in front of the tree. most pictures were taken outside.
>> we turn to richard norton smith about family life and children. the roosevelts come to mind. >> think of the parallels, 60 years apart, between the roosevelts and the kennedys. one reason why the roosevelts became such vivid figures, why they are still imprinted on our historical memory is because there is something called the mass media. tabloid press pictures. people for the first time had an idea of what the president look like and pretty soon what he sounded like. his family became part of the package. 60 years later, a very media savvy kennedy administration understands -- there is this kind of tension, i don't know if it was spoken to run spoken. it was the former between the president and first lady. mrs. kennedy is justifiably admired for following in the footsteps of edith roosevelt and not wanting her children exploited by the press.
yet, when she was out of town -- they were taken when the first lady was there. jfk was the politician of the family. he knew exactly, every one of those pictures was political dynamite. >> this question -- which first family gained or lost the most by entering the white house? were the circumstances changing enormously by him into the white house? -- coming to the white house? >> a number of them change momentarily. certainly the clintons are among them. the reagans were already well-off but they also gained monetarily.
>> one thing about dolly madison again who went on to reign in washington. >> it was poverty-stricken towards the end. the fact that he kept running up these incredible bills and charging them to the madisons. >> all the presidents who died in the white house lost the most. >> there were eight of them who lost her husband in the white house. >> levitate a call from robin in new jersey and ask you both about families and what comes to mind about families either when did it well, or was this functional in their time in the white house. let's listen to robin. are you there? >> yes. i wanted to thank you for the series.
i am really enjoying it. can you hear me? >> yes. >> my favorite is lady bird. what i really like about her is the way that she managed her work as first lady and how she seemed like she was a professional. i wonder if there were other first ladies that learn from her and if you could expand a little bit more on how she managed her work as a first lady. >> thank you. the modern first ladies often referred to lady bird as their own model. what is it that she did in the white house? >> she was in the white house during a very difficult time. she did some very courageous things. she went into the deep south, unpopular civil rights act, and she went down there and help to campaign for her husband.
>> that was a watershed. >> absolutely. she was a businesswoman. she was a very wealthy woman before she came to the white house running all those radio stations. she brought a lot of skill, business skill, medication skills. -- communication skills. she resonated with people and she did write some of the best first lady memoirs, i think. >> well organized woman. very politically savvy. understood the use of the media. one could go on. >> our guests in the series finale. edith, families. >> i was going to mention benjamin harrison.
they have for generations of families living in the white house. because there were so many of them in the white house, she was the one who thought that the white house should be expanded an updated because there was not enough room with all the presidential offices having taken over much of the space. she felt very cramped with her large family. they also allowed photographers in. she was also -- they white house family that used photographers. both their son and their daughter and their children and her father with the -- were there. there were wonderful photographs of the little son of the daughter.
she was quite a china painter. they had a porcelain bathtub for the child and she painted little flowers on the outside of the bathtub. he was always leaning out to try to smell the flowers. i expect he liked spilling the water all over the floor better. she was media savvy. she brought in this woman photographer to have these pictures taken. >> diane is from colorado. hi. >> as a lover of history, i have been thrilled over the last year to hear how many people have called in asking questions. i think all of you should be very proud of teaching our children more of their history. my question, and already touched on, susan, but if you could talk a little more about it is what
have the first lady's been influenced by? you hear about the president being influenced by lincoln or reagan. which first lady have the first ladies learned from? >> diane was interested in the young people who have called. we have put together a bit of a montage of some of the calls over the course of the series. >> thank you so much for this program. i was wondering, how did jacqueline kennedy influence art and fashion in the united states? >> rachel, may i ask how old you are, watching our program tonight? >> i'm 12. >> i have a question about mrs. kennedy. what were her favorite hobbies and what did she like to do in her spare time? >> it sounds like we have another student watching tonight.
>> i'm 12 years old. >> we're doing wonderful with 12-year-olds tonight. thank you for calling. >> i love history and i love watching channels like this, learning new things every time i turn on the tv. >> what is your question for us? >> i have two. the first is, what were lady bird johnson's hobbies? what was her relationship with the kids? >> how old are you? >> i'm nine years old. >> i just want to say i've really enjoyed this show. i have watched almost every episode so far. my question was that mr. reagan made mrs. reagan famous --
sorry, not reagan, nixon, made her a republican, which if she married someone else would she be a democrat, or did she make the decision on her own? >> abigail, how old are you? >> i'm 12. >> do you have a favorite first lady century have watched them all? >> i don't know, maybe mrs. hoover. >> i hope you make it with us all the way till the end. >> a very discerning 12-year-old. >> why did she establish the betty ford center?
>> it sounds like you're one of our younger viewers. how old are you? >> i'm eight years old. >> why are you watching our program tonight? >> my family is really interested in presidents and first ladies. >> are you interested too? do you have a favor president our favorite first lady? >> my favorite president is abraham lincoln and my favorite first lady is michelle obama. >> our three guests spent their lives hoping people would be interested in american history, and that warms everybody's heart to hear young people involved in that. it's time for us to move on to our next segment, and that is on white house stewardship. all of the first ladies we learned from the program have had some role in preserving the place in which they live.
some expanded it. we will learn a little more about those who had major impacts on the building itself. one of those who'd did it in the age of television was jacqueline kennedy. those of you who were alive remember well remember her live tour after restoration. we will show you little bit of that. >> i think so strongly the white house should have as fine a collection of american pictures as possible. so important in which the president -- the setting in which the president is presented to the world. the american people should be proud of it. we have such a great civilization, some don't realize it. >> what happens when the next president's wife comes into the white house? >> if they don't want it, in the
past, you see, they could sell it, throw it out, do anything with it they wanted. in a law was passed last spring which we asked to have passed, whereby everything that's given to or bought by the white house becomes part of its collection. if the future first family doesn't want it, goes to the smithsonian, where it will be taken care of and display. >> that was kennedy doing her live tour of the white house. we told you earlier that -- in addition to jacqueline kennedy, what other first ladies had major impacts on the building of the white house itself? >> we talked about pat nixon already and how much that she continued the restoration and refurbishing of the white house and more than 600 artifacts, furnishings and paintings were acquired under her time.
we talked about caroline harrison, she helped to modernize the white house by bringing plumbing and electricity to the building. that was an enormous contribution. let's not forget one widowed president, martin van buren was a man of means, and he was able to use his personal money to also refurbish the white house after the jackson's had lived there with all these cousins and nieces and nephews and lots of people. i was looking at the walk and talk with mrs. kennedy. it does remind me of when c-span came into the white house in 2008 and did a similar walk and talk with laura bush and went through all the restoration she
did, including a very extensive one to the lincoln bedroom, which was so important. almost every room in the white house was touched by laura bush. beyond the white house she had an enormous impact on the presidential retreat at camp david. >> i don't want to leave out edith roosevelt, teddy roosevelt wife, who had an enormous impact in redoing the physical space of the white house. she was the one who can be credited with building the west wing, which has become so famous in the 20th century. she also had a large and active family, and the living quarters had been so crowded, the same as caroline harrison. it hadn't change since harrison's time. she didn't really feel she had
enough room for her family, and she wanted all the presidential offices out of the white house, and oversaw the restoration that was done. a lot of it was based on the ideas that caroline harrison had put forward at the centennial of the presidency. but edith and teddy were at the centennial of the white house. they were able to get more congressional backing. >> we have the plans that caroline harrison had proposed for the expansion of the white house. were going to put those on the screen. which you be on your list of people who were good conservatives of the white house itself? >> in an ironical way, thank god her ideas were not accepted. can you imagine an uglier building than what she envisioned? [laughter] in effect, she had the last laugh.
she was absolutely ahead of her time. she recognized that the white house was going to perform all the functions and that form should follow function. that led to the east wing and the west wing, but thank god -- the one i would mention is lou hoover. if the depression had not occurred, what additional work mrs. hoover might have done. as it was, when jackie kennedy embarked upon her restoration, she had in effect a bible to work from, because mrs. hoover was the first first lady to systematically organize and get on paper photographs in a curatorial sense on the history of all the white house furnishings. she also had a particular fondness for the monroe era, and she gathered the monroe furniture together and created a monroe room, which is a vision of what she might have done it for attention had not been focused elsewhere.
>> and grace coolidge was responsible for turning the third floor base into -- which is well used by presidents and their families today, the solarium. >> you mentioned laura bush, she restore the lincoln bedroom. can you tell us about that effort? >> that was an effort she worked in a very collaborative way with the committee for the preservation of the white house and the white house historical association, and a very detailed plan that was historically accurate. she was interested in making sure this was done to what it look like in president lincoln's time.
it was not only the bedroom but also the sitting room that was adjacent, and it was a labor of love and one that she worked with the white house curator very closely. and it didn't stop there. >> a question on twitter on our discussion of political partnerships. much of the early part of the history of the role, the women could not vote. he wants to know which first lady was the first to be able to vote? >> florence harding. >> in 1920, there were states that of course had extended suffrage, but 1920 was the first presidential election in which women voted. of course the one result was we got warren harding, so they may want to reconsider the constitutional amendment at that point. james cox would have been the first divorced man to be president.
who knows how much of a factor that was in the outcome. a distressingly small number of women apparently turned out to vote in 1920. it took a while to get into the habit. >> for that particular generation to get with it. >> steve is watching in orlando, florida. what is your question or comment? >> what was the treatment in those times, she was very flamboyant and all that, but a month or two into his presidency, she got a stroke. >> i know that he was very instrumental, the president himself, in her rehabilitation and the rehabilitation of her speech. he would practice with her for hours. i don't know what the prescribed treatment for a stroke was in those days, but he was very
attentive to her and help her relearn her speech. >> do you know more of that story to tell us? richard norton smith, can you hear us? >> i would just echo that. i think it was absolutely instrumental. let's face it, taft did not fare very well in the shadow of colorful theodore roosevelt. in some ways he was best in the domestic sphere. he was -- at some level he probably knew how instrumental she had been in his success. >> cathy is in rockville, maryland. >> i have really enjoyed this series, thank you so much for putting this on.
i was wondering about mary todd's relationship with her family, even when she had depression. >> thank you very much. >> well, it was a serious issue, and it became much worse after the death of willie, understandably. in 1862, they had lost a child. mary had always been mercurial. she was called high strong as a child. i will leave it to the experts to discern whether there were foreshadowing of the later emotional problems. but even a much cheerier sword than her, i think if they had gone through what she went through come the death of her
mother and their children, the assassination of her husband, it would have been almost a miracle if she had not suffered emotional difficulties. but i think the war broke her tenuous hold perhaps on sanity. in a curious way, the war use the disparate elements of his personality. it strengthened him. it in bold and him and elevated him. it's almost as if he took the suffering of the nation up onto his shoulders, whereas in her case i think it tended to break her down. quick she had that horrible accident where she is thrown out of the carriage. barbara henderson wants to know other than mary lincoln, were there other first ladies suffering with depression?
is there anyone else besides jane pierce? >> barbara bush talked about it very candidly. and frankly help to clear away this dickman, much as mrs. ford did with alcohol and chemical dependency. i suspect pat nixon's life was probably not a laugh riot. >> louisa catherine adams, when her husband was going through impeachment, she was a reluctant warrior into politics. i think that was a very difficult and depressing time for her. >> when louisa lost an infant, her intellectual husband, acting utterly in character, responded by giving her a book on diseases of the mind.
so if she wasn't depressed, she had every reason to be. remember, she discovered chocolate. she became a chocoholic, which afforded some relief at least. >> chocolate is a great thing. [laughter] i'm curious who the panel thinks is the most intelligent first lady. i know mrs. obama is one of our most educated first ladies through the series, i now know and i am oppressed with how smart lou hoover was an mrs. kennedy.
who do you think is the brainiest? thank you, susan, and everyone at c-span, this has been a phenomenal series. i don't know what i'm going to watch next sunday. >> thank you very much. richard norton smith, who is the brainiac in the group? >> that's hard, because they are all highly intelligent. there is raw iq, they correspond differently to different women. i would say lucy hayes was one of the more impressively educated -- i believe the first first lady to have a college degree. she had eight children in 20 years, and yet while her husband was governor of ohio, she was his eyes and ears. she would go visit state prisons and hospitals and other facilities, much as we think of eleanor roosevelt 70 or 80 years later. i think ellen wilson, although she may have lacked degrees, held her own with perhaps the most cerebral president in american history. read her letters.
they are just extraordinary love letters and sentence for sentence, they are every bit the equal of his. >> do you have another name you would put on the list of most intelligent? >> mrs. obama is one of three first ladies to have advanced degrees. hillary clinton had a law degree and laura bush had a masters in library science. by that measure, but i agree with richard, i think there could be first ladies who didn't get beyond any formal education and could still be very powerful and intelligent. this kennedy was exceedingly bright, and there were number of women who did not have an education at all. that wasn't something that women did. i think dolly madison was quite brilliant in her own way. >> we have 40 minutes left to go in our two-hour season finale of first ladies, influence and image.
our three special guests are all experts in the role of first lady, presidential history, and we are very much enjoying taking your calls and questions. it is our next segment that is -- using the white house as a place of diplomacy. presidents can suggest a direction for the country, but they have to get a sometimes recalcitrant congress to go along. dolly madison gets the credit for being the early mistress of politics. we learn more about how she did that next.
>> if you were part of the intimate circle of family or friends, you would be invited into the dining room from the drawing room. here, dolly madison would, in an unusual setting for the period, would sit at the head of the table. her husband, james, would sit at the center of the table. dolly would direct the conversation and james was able to engage in intimate our lively conversation with the people to his immediate right and left. this table today is set for eight people, but there could be as many as 20 people served in the dining room. that would not be unusual. indeed, dolly madison considered dining at montpelier to be so much more relaxing than entertaining in washington. she said she was less worried serving 100 people at montpelier than 25 in washington. many important historical
figures would be seeded with james and dolly madison. thomas jefferson, a close family friend, was frequently here. james monroe was here. general lafayette, henry clay, margaret dare smith, dolly madison's good friend, a writer from washington. the vice president offered to do the honors for her and she responded, oh no, watch with what ease i do it. and indeed, he had to admit that she did it with unparalleled ease. it was as if, he said, she had been born and educated in versailles. >> i will give you another unorthodox response. i would say harriet lane, in terms of the sheer challenge that confronted her. first of all, her uncle was the only bachelor president.
secondly, she filled in the role of the first lady and served as white house hostess at a time of maximum polarization, distrust. the nation was coming apart at the seams. remember on the eve of the civil war, somehow borrowing a page from dolly madison, harriet lane's job was to bring people from opposing sides not only politically but increasingly morally into mutual slavery and the prospect of a confederacy, to bring them together and have them at least pretend to enjoy each other's company. she also struck a chord by her great triumph of welcoming the prince of wales, which was the first time that had happened.
she became a celebrity. in some ways she's our first celebrity first lady. in the end, you have to say she did a much better diplomatic job than her uncle did. >> how has hosting these events changed in the last 20 plus years? >> there are only five rooms at the white house where you can have dinners. in recent times we are seeing so many of them out on the south lawn under big tents. i would like to echo what richard just said about harriet lane. i think the research on her, i'm so fascinated by the fact that she supported her uncle when he was ambassador to the court of st. james. she had this opportunity to see the way entertaining was done in grand style. when she came to the white house, she brought such joy and happiness back after the sadness of the pierce administration.
>> i would like to say a little bit about how the dinners have changed. if you look at the presidential services of china, you see rather small, comparatively, services of china in the early days. washington, madison, etc., and then you also see that they are holding their dinners at 4:00 in the afternoon. that's because there was no electricity, no electric lights. if you wanted to have a nice dinner and go home, you would have to have your dinner at 4:00. now it's 8:00 or 8:30, and that has to do with electricity. also, the amount of food that was served, particularly in the
mid-19th century, was absolutely mind boggling for instance, 48 courses under the polks. i don't know how anyone could eat that much food. and 52 under the grant administration. they might have counted each separate thing that was served, but there were four or five different wines. so you had this proliferation of china that fit each one of these separate courses. then by the time you get to jacqueline kennedy, she has cut it down to five courses at 7:30 or 8:00 in the evening. so it's very interesting how the food consumption and electricity in the white house have this huge impact on state dinners.
>> richard, a quick question, if the grant administration had 52-course meals, how effective were they? >> i doubt they were passing legislation about nutrition. making it worse of course in the polk white house, there was no wine to wash it down. they drank a lot of water with those 48 courses. >> johnny is watching in el paso. >> a very interesting program. i'm going to miss it, too. i noticed you touched on some families who had multiple members of the family and so forth. i'm just wondering with the partisan attitude today, if someone tried to bring in more than save for members of the family, you would probably have all type of arguments.
more importantly, michelle obama, i know she had some issues with her alma mater, and i know she has never gone back to do any of those graduations. i will hang up and listen. >> i was thinking about the roosevelt administration, with all the various -- could something like that happened today, richard? >> no, i don't think so, because -- you think of the guests, lyndon johnson hid his brother, by most accounts, he'd secreted him somewhere in the white house because they did not dare to have him out and about, talking to the press.
i don't know about that, but harry truman's mother-in-law came to stay at the white house, and truman threatened to make her sleep in the lincoln bedroom. she said she would sleep on the floor first. she was an unreconstructed southerner. there are all the stories about extended families. for example, remember the controversy in the clinton presidency about the lincoln bedroom? i think that instinct of the media to keep an eagle's eye on who is going in and out of the white house, if nothing out -- remember who was in the roosevelt white house. it had the makings of a great
sitcom. francis from greece -- harriet hopkins who was deputy president at times. if you are mirror the old play, the hotel baltimore, it was a re-creation. i don't think it's going to happen again. >> even in wartime when you had restrictions on the media. >> we have a two-hour program tonight to wrap up our year-long first ladies series. this program, as you can tell if you have been watching it, is a collaboration of probably hundreds of people across the country who are involved in the work of preserving american history. we have a list of many of the organizations on our website. we also visited a number of these places that preserve first lady's history with our cameras. we will show you a montage of some of those locations, next. >> it is clear that after martha
arrived in april of 1779, there is a lot of management that she has to do. when she marries george washington, she brings with her to mount vernon 12 house slaves. that is all most and unimaginable luxury. >> if you are visitor to montpelier, you would be shown immediately into the madison's great drawing room. mrs. madison had many lady friends that she would invite here. margaret bayard smith was a favorite of hers. and the daughters of thomas jefferson were also frequent visitors. >> she said the hand of god and nature, but i can't improve upon it. next they were about a mile outside of andover and it slid down an embankment. this was within five minutes of
the train ride beginning and he was hit in the back of his head, very severely. he did not survive the crash. >> mary help to showcase what her husband had done, how far he had come from that log cabin in the middle of nowhere in kentucky to this beautiful house, very comfortable house. >> they would have hosted a number of political figures here. >> always when he conducted business, the door stayed open to the women's quarters. she could hear what was going on. >> this is where it is an tr slept. this would be the master bedroom, as it were where edith and t.r. slept. it was no better appointed than the other rooms. >> this is the bedroom of her parents. >> war and would stand here in the middle on the top step with florence right beside him. they would wave to the crowds who were parading down mount vernon avenue. >> we are standing in a
courtyard area that would have been a flower garden. grace would have attended to this in her free time. this is where calvin coolidge lived as a border. >> the first time the hoover's came was by horse back. there were no roads into the mountains. they just came in on horseback on a horse trail. >> this is eleanor roosevelt's sleeping porch. it's a very important area here. >> my grandfather moved with what my mother once described as something approaching the speed of light and grabbed the cake plate and ran over here and rang the bell on the front door, in the hope that my grandmother would answer the door, and she did. she invited them in, and that is
the beginning of their formal or courtship in 1910. >> after lyndon johnson became president, the rent was dubbed the texas white house. the johnsons returned home 74 times during johnson's five years as president. mrs. johnson love the texas hill country in her home. >> the president and mrs. corder grew up. in the 20's and 30's. if we were to take away this asphalt street in front of the doors and have a dirt road in front of them, it would look similar to a photograph of planes in 1925. >> a look back at some of the many dozens of places we have visited with our cameras during our first lady's and image series, and again, all of those individuals are on our website. a special thanks to the many people at these institutions who have opened up their doors and
their archives to us to let you have a first-hand look at some of the american history they have collected. later we will meet some the people involved in the series. there are lots of people behind the scenes. almost all of those visits in the series were done by one person, who is our first ladies videographer, who spent much of the year on the road with the camera, taking all those vignettes for us. we appreciate very much the work he has done. the core of the program is style, image, and public influence. during the frances cleveland program, we talked about the use of her image and about her most publicized wedding to grover cleveland. she was 21, he was 49. we will learn more about that marriage and how her image was used by a burgeoning commercial society to help sell products.
>> francis polson kleven was a celebrity first lady unlike almost any before her. the mass production of her image to sell a variety of goods by the american consumer industry and the mid-80's angered both overt and her husband, president grover cleveland. to help us understand the francis cleveland sensation sweeping the country, we begin our story inside 1600 pennsylvania avenue, awaiting the details of a 49-year-old bachelor president marrying a 21-year-old bride inside the white house, for the first and only time in our countries history, pushing francis cleveland into instant celebrity. >> is the same basic layout as it would have been on june 2, 1886, when president grover cleveland and his bride to be, francis polson, came down what was then the large staircase to the family quarters at the west end of this corridor.
they were preceded down the hallway, the music started up at the east side behind us here where the united states marine band was assembled at the time. they played the wedding march and the happy couple came down the hallway. they would have passed through these doors, the same mahogany doors and would have come into the room. they stood under the center of the chandelier and did their wedding vows to the assembled group. it was an enormous amount of flowers in the room that had been brought from the white house conservatory. there was a large table where the sofa is now and there were potted plants underneath. flowers were suspended from the moldings, the mantelpiece was covered with flowers. the fireplace was filled with red begonias to give the feeling of flames. it was a very reef ceremony, 7:00 p.m., an evening ceremony.
the assembled throng then went down to what they call the promenade, which was a chance for the bride to show off her dress with greater ease than possible in this room. then they went down to the state dinner in the dining room. >> the white house wedding of grover cleveland. it was enhanced because it was the dawn of publications, people were selling everything from soap flakes to what have you. which first ladies have had the most significant image, and i would also ask, use that image to advance -- >> i would say in the early era, dolly madison, who was known as the queen of the republic. in almost all the descriptions of her in her dress, she was
referred to as queenly, which is kind of interesting for this young republic. that is the leadership, the self possession that she projected. she did james madison a great deal of good. she absolutely used parlor politics. she was a celebrity. the most important woman in the early republic for at least 16 years. >> she also introduced the turban. >> she did. i would say in the 20th century, one of the people who i think is not thought of in that way as mamie eisenhower. but of course we remember she epitomized the art of dressing well. it was a very different style in the 1950's from jacqueline kennedy in the 1960's, but she epitomized what i would term an old-school style.
elizabeth arden and that kind of self image, and just epitomizes the 50's. and pop culture as well. she had all these team parties in the white house. there were spring parties and st. patrick's day parties and fourth of july parties, halloween parties, and that was such a big thing. they were all covered in excruciating detail. so stylewise in her close, but also in her entertaining, she just epitomized the 50's.
>> maria in philadelphia is up next. >> i would just like to say, if someone could mention about carol line harrison passing away during the administration. thank you so much for the program. it has been wonderful every week >> thank you for watching it. we will come back to caroline harrison as we wrap up here. who would be on your list, the public image and also able to use that? >> betty ford is someone in modern times. she worked in a department store, and a clothing store. she was very conscious of fashion. she was always beautifully put together. she was graceful. she was a dancer. i think her movements exuded that kind of elegance. i think that made her very attractive, but also the powerful messages that she used. >> in the modern age, we learned that nancy reagan was criticized for the close she wore at white house events, and then turned it around when she parodied herself as a secondhand rose.
who else would you put on the lists of using their image effectively? >> i would say as a forerunner to mrs. reagan being criticized, we are talking about the political payoff. americans are just as likely to criticize first ladies for apparent extravagance. coming right after dolly madison you have in liza munro, who had spent a lot of time in paris when her husband was ambassador there. she was criticized for having picked up the french custom of painting her face, using cosmetics. being extravagant in her clothing. her daughter was married in the white house and they did not invite the diplomatic corps, which caused a hughes row. it is actually a double-edged sword. she did not have a gridiron dinner of media advisers who
were shrewd enough to do this wonderful self-parody. .wonderfu self-parody. it was about demonstrating that mrs. reagan had a sense of humor and can laugh at herself. it is remarkable, it tells you something about the tribal customs of washington dc that almost overnight her press turned around. >> and eliza munro was no dolly madison, either. >> richard norton smith joining us from kansas. one of our for this series. dave is in albuquerque, new mexico. >> the series has been just great. i know you have spent a year, as all of us has, looking back. could you look forward just a little bit and what do you think would happen to the first
ladyship if the first lady is actually a man? >> i think the white house makes transitions very well. i think our country is very resilient and we will change. we came close to it, obviously, about six years ago. i think there will be a question as to who manages the social duties, and that's not to be undermined or diminished in any way because it is extremely important. i don't think it is as useful or effective to turn all that over to the state department to do. i think we would have to determine who manages that in the white house. >> we thank our academic advisors to the series for their many contributions. when did it become popular or actually required for first ladies to choose a cause when they were in the role?
>> i think that is certainly one of the ways in which mrs. roosevelt transformed the office -- eleanor roosevelt. to be sure, best truman in many ways was a throwback to the pre-roosevelt era, but it's almost impossible in the modern television age, where the presidency and presidential families come into our homes with a frequency and ubiquity that they do. can you imagine if a first lady and announced on january 20, i'm not going to have a cause? it would generate shock. it's interesting, though,
because mrs. kennedy's cause, certainly of historic preservation, might be thought of as traditional. lady bird johnson is a turning point, i think, precisely because she combined the traditional roles of wife and mother and white house hostess with the role of activist. she was an environmentalist before that term really caught on. that is what beautification was all about. we jump in right there because we have a short clip from a white house produced film about lady bird's environmental beautification project. let's watch. >> beautification, to my mind, is far more than a matter of cosmetics. to me, it describes the whole effort to bring the natural world and the man-made world in harmony, to bring order, usefulness, delight to our whole
environment. obviously, the great need for our effective environment exist in our urban centers, where most americans spend most of their lives. you are the doers. you do not dream idly or give up in despair. you are showing all of us have each person can contribute something of positive value. your accomplishments are important to your families and neighbors who are real proud of you, and very important to me. this is a time when we recognize the power for good that each citizen has. >> the white house produced film that helped the projects selected by lady bird johnson. we thank her every year when the flowers bloom. david is watching in chicago as our two-hour program begins winding down.
hi david, you are on. >> thank you. mike personal favorite first lady is florence harding. i want to ask the panel why do you think that the american public tends to forget some of our first ladies who have been extremely accomplished, and we remember others? we can say dolly madison, mrs. kennedy onassis, etc., and instantly know. we can say mrs. taft and mrs. harding, and people forget. did all of first ladies get along with each other? >> i have some of the women we have discovered in the series that were really quite accomplished: by the wayside historically? >> quite friendly, the same thing can be said of presidents. we tend to remember those first ladies who are associated with the most dramatic events in our history, and or who have the most vivid personalities.
those personalities are translated in different ways for different media. television has been a transforming instrument over the last 50 years. anyone who lived through that weekend in november 1963, will never forget the images of jackie kennedy. >> anyone who lived through 9/11 will remember hearing that voice of comfort from laura bush on the airwaves, one of the first official voices that we heard. i think this is a challenge for us at the white house historical association, at schools and universities, at the presidential libraries that all have very active, educational programs, is to really shine a light on these women, because they have been women leaders or our history. >> i also think some of the women who have historically fallen by the wayside were
married to presidents who have historically fallen by the wayside. or are not well remembered in american history. >> we have five or six minutes left in our conversation with you tonight about first ladies. what if it things we really wanted to do was show you some of the people behind the scenes who have been really instrumental in this whole year-long project. let me introduce you to a couple of them right now. hearst of all, the gentleman responsible for all the pictures you see on your screen, the director of our program, and the redhead immediately next to him is the assistant director for the series. there at the end of the line is ken, who had a big job as graphics operator. there were lots of graphics to show. we will introduce you to more of our staff as we continue along here. james is in oakland, california. >> thank you for taking my call. i have loved this show and am actually grieving a little bit that it's over because i've
enjoyed it so much. i have more of a comment, i watched every episode and look forward to it every week when it came on. there was one episode i almost didn't watch, and that's pat nixon. i was a young person when she was first lady, and my memory of her was just kind of bland or a cardboard cutout as first lady. i have to say after i watched the episode with pat nixon, i just had this respect and admiration come out for her, the way you are able to portray her and tell her story, that she was actually much more than a cardboard cutout of a first lady lady. so i appreciated that very much. my favorite first lady is eleanor roosevelt. >> what do you think about her new view of pat nixon? >> well, it's about time. i remember asking one of her
friends if she was as shy as she appeared. they said she was not shy, she was self-effacing. think of the sacrifice that she made. we talk about sacrifices throughout the series. remember, back to the checkers speech in 1952, which everyone regarded as a great time for her husband. the first use of television to persuade rallying to his side. she hated every minute of it. she was a prop. she said, do we have to talk so much about how little we have? that humanizes in some ways the sacrifices of every political wife. in some ways she is the patron saint of all political wives.
>> the white house image makers did not do well by mrs. nixon. you just had to look at how she completed and continued jacqueline kennedy's white house restoration, and everyone knows about jacqueline kennedy, and very few people know anything about what pat nixon did. >> she opened the white house to the death and the blind on the tours, something that people should know. >> we have more people to introduce you to as we returned to our control room. i mentioned our videographer, and we have the reduction assistant, andrew was responsible for producing the entire second half of the series and will be returning to his job in our programming operations department after we end here.
continuing down the line, let me introduce you to the gentleman who has put the whole thing together, he is the executive producer for all of the series. mark has been with us for about 30 years now are pretty close. he has helped us all learn a lot of history through his work. shannon rice is next to him. for this have to series shannon has been the production assistant, taking your phone calls as you call in to ask questions. let's take another call right now, robert is watching us in manhattan. you are on the air. >> good evening. i have enjoyed the show tremendously and i'm most impressed with your panel of historians working with you as well. my question is, given the structural rebuilding of the white house between 1948 and 1952, to what extent did first lady's best truman and 90 eisenhower have a role in that structural rebuilding?
given its symbolic postwar image of u.s. determination. >> in the case of the trumans, was at best are harry who was responsible? >> i think best truman appreciated not living in the white house those years. >> she spent a lot of her time back in independence. >> the other question was about the structural -- about mamie eisenhower. >> i think she came in after it was completed. >> let me introduce you to someone else here as we are running out of time pretty quickly. he's sitting behind glass because his job is making sure the audio works. rick rose is the audio operator for our first lady series. we have a few minutes left and this is the time for wrap up questions. we had a caller that ask about caroline harrison dying in the
white house. can you tell us more about that story? >> she was in for most of the last year. the harrison presidency, there was only one term. lots of people died. it was a pretty gloomy white house. members of the cabinet and others who passed away. then the first lady fell ill. i invite my colleagues to correct me, i think it was tuberculosis, but i'm not sure. it was in the middle of the campaign, less than a month before the election. there was a sympathy factor, he did not translate into votes on election day because harrison lost convincingly to the cleveland's. the story goes that on the day frances left to make way for caroline harrison, she told the white house staff on her way literally out the door, will be
back in four years. it may be one of those stories that's too good to investigate, but she knew what she wanted to do. >> let me introduce you to a couple of people here as we wrap up our introductions to staff members involved in this. you would think she would be standing behind the camera, but these days they use things that look remarkably like ipads. johnnie has been much of the series behind me, giving me qs, telling me to move along. he has the role of floor director and he has done it for both season one and season two. one person who declined to be on camera, terry murphy is the vice president of programming. none of us would be doing this if we didn't have terry's involvement.
thank you, mr. murphy, for that. as we end our project here, i will turn to each of the three of you and ask, as we look across this long history of first ladies, who are the ones in changing the role as we know it today? let's wrap that way. richard, can you think of how you would answer that? >> i would just point out the obvious. if martha washington had not been as successful in the garden of eden in which she found herself, defining what a presidency and the first lady was, distinguishing it from the monarchy against which we had rebelled, finding the right mix of democracy and authority, if she had not succee w
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