tv First Ladies Influence Image CSPAN April 1, 2013 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT
after the first lady's program three years at midnight, a discussion of plans to close control towers because of sequestration spending cut. >> she was not have been her husband had been elected president. we did not happy -- she was not happy her husband had been elected president. she never made it to washington. >> when he resigned, he and his wife and their family moved here to williamsburg. it was here that letitia tyler suffered a stroke. john tyler learned he was elected as vice president of william perry region william henry harrison. it is here that he became 10th
president of the united states, so she learned she became the first lady. >> she had another terrible stroke, and her husband goes into morning, and then he meets another young lovely in her 20's. her as the madonna of first ladies. timeosed as a model at a that was frowned upon, by all accounts was the witching. -- was bewitching. >> there were 90 slaves, and they were her supervision. husband,bied for her and she supported him tremendously in everything she did. death, a secret
marriage, and outsize e stories ofis ar the women we examined tonight. to theening, and welcome season series of first ladies. was in henry harrison office, and a month later, he dies. to learn about this time comi- have- about this time, we the chair of the history department, and she has been working with us many times on this series. nice to see you again. school children have all grown tippie and phrase, tyler too. he was elected at age of 68, a record no president beat until
ronald reagan. who was this? >> i announce with a bit of pride he was from my home ohio., but he moved to he was a military man initially. he studied medicine for a short time and decided to join the military and shortly thereafter moved to ohio. he became the territorial governor of indiana and was a noted indian fighter. comes fromppecanoe the battle of tippecanoe, where he fought with his brother. as territorial governor, tyler was -- harrison was
instrumental in securing land for white settlers, and that clashed with native american so i've done battle, harrison was considered the victor. -- at that battle, harrison was considered the victor. it carried him into public office. >> his wife was not happy about him being drawn back into politics. we have a quote from her that says, i wish my husband's friends have left him where he was, happy and contented. how was he drawn into politics again? let's talk about what type of political spouse he was. >> it is an interesting time, because it is the time of the second american party system. there are two distinct parties,
the democratic party with andrew jackson as leader and the weak -- the winning party. william henry harrison becomes a member of the weak party after it was founded. he was the first candidate for that party in 1836. -- becomes a member offenba thet party after it was founded. he was the first candidate for that party in 1836. the democrats were divided enough they could win. >> anna harrison had been with him through a long political career. what do we know about her? >> we know she was a religious woman. we know she was a reluctance first lady. she did not get to be first lady and the white house, because the day her husband and other
members of the family left to go to washington, she was too ill to travel. she was all packed up and ready to join him in washington was the day she got notification he died. >> how did he die? >> that is an interesting question. the answer was always that he a top hating to wear and topcoat to his inauguration, and he was exposed to cold weather and caught a cold and died. i think it is more complex than that. he was an older gentleman. he was exhausted by office seekers in the first month of his presidency, and i think all of that compromised his health,
so he did eventually catch a bad cold that turns into pneumonia, and as a consequence, he did die. >> and harrison and anna harrison we know was the -- anna harrison was the first publicly be to have a public -- the first first lady to have a public education. but she certainly did read political journals, but i do not believe she was a political person. i do not believe she would have the role other first ladies would later on, especially the person who follows her. person, john tyler's second wife, but at least during the time, even though she did not come to the white house, she did use her influence to get
appointments for her nephews and sons and grandsons, so she would have been political in that way but not the way he would think of with someone like julia tyler. >> which we will learn more of tonight. she must haveent, had good genes. what was going on in the harrison family that it produced so many political leaders? >> they were one of the first families of virginia, so you would have had them be involved in the revolution. they have a long history of political involvement. i think it is where they are located by the mid 1800's in the northwest territory, in this area that is opening up in the
country, and these men are getting politically involved because of its. >> our facebook page asks, is it true she helped raise her son who became president? any influence she had on her son who became president? >> her home burned, and she went to live with one of the sun's common region one of the sons, -- she went to live with one of the sons. what influence she had, we do not know. grandma's to have an influence. >> there was only a month in the white house, but there were some social things and had to happen. how did that role get fulfilled without first lady? >> there were two other women who carry out her duties. one was jane irving harrison, who was a widow.
she was married to one of the harrison men, but he died. now william henry asked her to serve in that capacity, and she was assisted by one of her aunts.-- her she gave her some guidance. she was not the official hostess, but she did give guidance. >> is it true dolley madison also was around to offer advice? >> i think she offered advice whenever she got away with it. she would have been nearby from time to time. >> one last thing legacy was she was the first presidential window to get attention for her service. how did that happen? >> for husband died in office, and she needed the assistance, so congress inappropriate
$35,000 for her. an on substantial amount of money. when he dies in office this is the first time this has happened. did it create a constitutional crisis? >> it certainly did. the constitution does indicate if the president is not air -- is not there, those duties on the vice president, but it did not say what the status of that person would be. would he be carrying out the duties as vice president, as acting president, or as the new president, sir john tyler decided he was not going to let them thing too long about it, so he declared himself president, and he had congress pass
resolutions declaring him president. that,eryone agrees with so occasionally mail came to new the white house addressed to the viceg president or president, and he had those documents returned unopened. >> who was tyler? >> he was born in virginia. he lived only a couple of miles down the road from the harrison a state. he was born in green way. he was an interesting president, because although he was elected on the ticket with william henry harrison, he had been a jacksonian democrats early on in his political career and had joined the whig party, but once
he became president, he abandoned the weak platform and angered them. >> we are going to learn more about the john tyler presidency and the women who served as his first lady. we are going to introduce you to the lives they had not been what we call colonial williamsburg. >> when john tyler resigned from the senate, he and his wife and their families moved here to williamsburg to establish a law practice. reconstructed his law office. the house they live in was no longer here. they were situated in the center of the town. the court house is right across the street. heart ofhe beating
williamsburg, even in the 1830's, so all of the political activity, the social activity, they are living in the center of it in this fantastic 18th- century house. resurrected in his political career. going to be operating out of the house. right here, letitia tyler suffered a stroke in 1839. that partly would paralyse her, although she was able to regain control of the family business while john tyler was getting involved in politics. it was in this space john tyler learned he was elected as vice president to william henry harrison, and it was also here in the spring of 1841 he was informed he became the 10th president of the united states,
and it was here that she learned she became the first lady of the united states. back on set, and joining us is the gentleman you saw on the video. he is a colonial williamsburg historian. he is also an expert on the area where the tylers hail from. give us a sense of what kind of characteristics of a person of public life would bring from the office from having been there. >> i think when you are talking about virginia, you are getting over the american revolution, not letting go of thomas jefferson and the kind of revolutionary principles but are supposed to inform public conduct and public virtue, but by the time you get to john career, thoser --
things start to coalesce into notions about states' rights, notions about what is the proper use of the constitution, notions about the extent of authority. you hear them talk a great deal about the principles of 1798, about the kentucky resolution and the ability of the states to override a unconstitutional actions, so these principles of the american revolution are being fought over, but also the kinds of things that come from the expectation of a public leader. they need to be virtuous. that is the only way you can make a good public policy. >> stephanie johnson wants to know where did they meet. >> they met where almost everybody meets at the time.
in williamsburg. they lived not that far from each other. john tyler is from charleston county in a place called green way, and letitia tyler is from kent county, which is only a and we knoww away, they met in about 1811 or 1812. john tyler went to william and tia's brother. they were the same age. they were 21 and 22 when they met, and they fell in love very quickly. >> we have been incorporating your tweets. can also call us.
we are jose and newark -- are hoping you texans up, because this administration was responsible for the annexation of texas. the tigers had a lot of children -- tylers have a lot of children. >> it is what kept them apart for a great deal of their married lives. john tyler was constitutionally incapable of being out of public office. he was addicted to it so left her at home to run the family, to run the business, and to continue to manage this incredible group of children they had almost from the very start. >> running their plantation would have been how large an operation? >> one of the issues is a are
always on the very edge of y, so they never live one place more than 10 years. they are always moving around. they own between 30 and 35 slaves, and they are growing wheat and corn for about 600 acres to 900 acres, and that is between plantations. they then moved to the other side of virginia, so they are continuing to try to figure out during these striking economic changes to the country and go into what is going on in 1837, to find a way they can keep their heads above water,
and with john tyler gone for so long and so often, six months out of every year while the is in public office, this leaves a lot of urban resting on -- burden resting on letitia's shoulders. >> this was a tough woman. she had a stroke and was paralyzed and continued to handle operations. >> that is indicative of the kind of life women live, even wealthy women. life was tough for them, but it was made easier for them by enslaved laborers, and they did use those to great advantage for them. >> what is known for their attitude at this point toward slavery? >> we know quite a bit. john tyler is one of the staunchest supporters of slavery
that ever inhabited the white house. he was vocal about it through most of his career, and he said, slavery is the greatest property a southerner can own. he believes it is the backbone of society. about. we know less we know from a story that ends up in abolitionist press in the 19th century of a former enslaved man who had been a member of a christian family who recalled that john taylor may have been less kind to enslave men and women in the field, but when it came to the enslaved men and women in the household he stopped right there. they were under letitia's protection. they were treated well. you could read into a story like
that, but john tyler's views were consistent. letitia was different. >> here is 1840 view of america through the senses. 17 population reached million in 26 states. 30%.nsistently see slaves #2.5 million, which is almost 15% of the population, and new orleans joins the list of the largest cities in the united states. we heard about the tylers and their attitude toward slavery. give us an indication of what was happening in 1840. >> this is a tremendous time of sexual tension. we like to think the country is divided regionally, that everyone in the north is in a tie slavery and everyone in the
south is proslavery. it is not -- everyone in the anti slavery and everyone in the south is proslavery. it is not that simple. people in the north benefited from slavery and the slave trade until it was ended. they now move into a different economic arena. and no longer need slavery, slippery as a threat to them because of the free labor system in the north, and the kinds of the economy that is needed to preserve institutions in the north are different from those in the south, so what is happening in congress is both groups want to control legislation, because if you are in more industrialized regions, we want certain parts of laws
passed to preserve the economy. if you are more agrarian, you will need laws to support that. there is a tremendous amount of concern about the expansion of slavery. it is not so much the northerners are anti slavery because they are humanitarian. it is because of how slavery impacts them or how expansion impact them. fromr first caller michigan. >> and now i love the series. i would like to know what is the duration of both of the president's marriages, and how many children would he have as a result of those marriages? thank you so much. >> i saw one book and referred to john tyler was the father of of our country and now.
>> -- the father of our country. >> i think they have 16 or 17 children. was 15. the total by letitia and8 7 by julia. letitia forrried to 29 years, and he was married to 18.a for >> the tylers learn of the fact they are coming to the white house and he is the 10th president of the united states. her health is precarious. how does she carry out the role as first lady? >> it depends on how you define the role. what is first lady? is it somebody married to the president, or do they have to
fulfill these roles? she is by nature a retired person. she prefers a quiet life. now she does not like the kind of quiet activities of first lady who would normally associate with. even without her illness, i think it would have been a fairly quiet white house. that does not mean there are not other people to fulfill these roles. that means she has to have other people do it for them. it is a close-knit family. they have a lot of daughters living in the white house. she turned that over to them. >> gary robinson asked, what role did priscilla cooper have in the white house and after her
death? >> she served as hostess, and especially with the daughter, letitia, she is an interested person, because she was an actress at a time when it was not a good thing. it was not considered respectable, but the tylers and accepted her. accepted her. she was very close to her. she would have been performing most of the functions. it is not so much that she was not doing anything. even though she was disabled, she is still giving orders from her bedroom. hercannot go out the way daughter karen. . >>- can
do we have any evidence his daughter counseled him? >> yes. she said, stay out of it. as we talk about it, he could not stay out of politics. gave up. as we mentioned over and over again, he respected her prudence that political issues he reserved those for conversations with his male friends. >> there were conversations about whether there should be appropriations for this vice- president but assumed the presidency and whether they should pay for his time in the you ascertainet they pay for so much. how did they do that?
>> they did not appropriate money. the white house was and i absolute mess at that time. he must have used his own funds to entertain people, and they did entertain lavishly. >> how did they do that? >> you assume a lot of this is coming out of the salary. one of the people who was most extravagant was john tyler himself. he spends most of his life handing his family, trying to keep them outside of it, yet there are lavish entertainment, so for some they are taking a page out of the book. hold two formal dinner parties every week.
every other week she will do public receptions in the evenings. she will hold public parties every month that will have as many as 1000 people. she opened the white house on new year's eve. she opened the white house on july 4. thestarted the tradition on south lawn. they are finding ways to do that. they might be doing it with mirrors, because congress does not appropriate a cent for the upkeep of the white house during his term as president. marvin in call from los angeles. >> by next question has to do with the constitution. it says, the electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for two persons, for whom a one shall not be and in have been the end of the same
be from theaumont same state. if both of them came from the same county, how can they be president and vice president? my second part is, is it true tyler was called his accidency because of the way he took over as president through because he took over as president? >> thank you for the question. >> first, they were born in charles city county. they were not living there at the time they were elected. harrison was in ohio. john tyler was in virginia but harrison was in ohio. the other question was about -- his accidentcy, which don't think he was called. >> one of the nicer questions. >> absolutely. the accidental president forced his accidentcy because nobody expected john tile wore ascend to the presidency. >> what kind of issues did he
face when he came to office? >> there are personal ones and then there are broader political ones. personal ones are that people didn't trust him. they didn't like him. they didn't expect he would be on in the first place. he wasn't even the first choice of being vice presidental candidate for the wig party. so they were fine with letting had go out and live in waynesburg while william harrison was in the white house. those are personal things he had to live with. political issues, there's certainly the issue over the renewal of the bank of the stutes. major issues also over the tariffs and protective tariffs and any funds, depending upon what part of the country you lived in on what was protected and what wasn't. the biggest one that's comes up to define the presidency is really about the expansion of avery is the an exization of
texas and what that means for the sense of the republic or weakness that you think it has on slavery. >> next, call from harold watching us in sioux city, iowa. >> thank you for taking my call. i really enjoy the program. my question is you had a number of talks about jackson and tyler and they both had slaves. how did those slaves fair after and during the civil war? and were those plantations burnt by the yankees? how did that come out? i will hang up and let you answer it. thank you. >> certainly, the union army is coming through twice actually, as a consequence of mcclelland's peninsula campaign. and each time that the union enslaveds through, the population leaves. they take the opportunity to leave. what's happening in charles city on the tyler plantation, ghoulio forest, is that
has left, he's fled and gone to new york to staten island to live with her mother. so there are enslaved people left behind. and it is reported that some of them take over the plantation. certainly, the house is, there are some things that are done by the union army probably and perhaps by local people as well. the plantation is in a bit of a mess when the war is over, which is not that unusual for plantations in certain areas of the south at that time. they certainly do inflate -- enslaved people certainly do suffer during the war but they get their freedom as a consequence of it as well. so there's an incident where julia writes to president lincoln because one of her notorious o is a
professionist is arrested by the army and it happens to be part of the union army who is under the control of general wilde, who is commander of the african brigade. and some of the people who are attached to that unit had been enslaved by this gentleman, william clockton. and they were allowed to beat him and julia is absolutely enraged at the idea. she is also concerned as well that her niece is left behind so she's concerned about her well being. but she actually writes to president lincoln and complains about it and she signs her letter, mrs. ex-president tyler. she loved to use that. >> we have not even introduced julia into our tale yet. tell us about the death of letitia tyler in the white house. > she died september 10 in 1842. she had a massive stroke. >> did she die instantly? >> there's no evidence that there's any kind of lingering.
that she dies fairly quickly. and it's -- it hits the family like a ton of bricks. >> what there a white house funeral for her? >> not that we know of. they kept things very private. in fact, she was buried at her home, the place in new kent county, rather then at greenway quarter, rather then anyplace else that they may have lived. she was buried at home with her parents. stoffs a very, very quiet, very quiet event but it was mostly manifested in the kind of impact that it had on her children. they were devastated. >> what about the president himself? what was his reaction to losing his wife? >> at the time from his letters, we know that he was obviously emotionally attached to letitia. she had been a huge part of his life for a very long time and he loved her dearly. however, we also have evidence that he seen julia gardner tyler
probably four months after her death. >> who is julia gardner? >> who is julia gardner, richard norton-smith called madonna of the period. julia gardner is a -- she's a young woman from long island, new york, from east happenpton from where in fact ania harrison ad gone to school. she is from a very well-known, longstanding new york family, deep in the 17th century they owned gardner's island and family still owns gardner's island and her father was a new york state senator. they were in washington frequently for the social seasons. and she was well known at the white house and was well known to the daughters of the tylers was even known to come over not just for the parties but do things like quiet games of whisk. so the family knew her quite well.
she was quite beautiful and quite rambunctious and was very well educated both here and in europe. so it made her quite -- quite a troubling woman to be around. >> and she quickly caught the widow president's eye. >> she quickly caught the widow president's eyes. this moved shockingly quickly. >> when we have to establish the difference in age between the two. >> yes. julia gardner is 30 years almost exactly younger -- was 30 years younger then john tyler and so when they got married, she was 24 and he was 54. >> one of the amazing things we told you how many children john tyler had. one of his grandchildren is still alive, and inhabits sherwood forest, which is the tylers' home in the virginia area. you're looking at a picture of
it now. he and his wife are residents of the house but make it available for tourists. harrison tyler is his name. he's 84. we visited him recently in sherwood forest, tilers' home, where told us the story of the fateful events that brought julia and john tyler together. >> so in march of 1844, the ship came to the anacostia naval yard in washington and sailed down the potomac. when they got to the ft. belvedere to put a barge out into the bay. fired a cannon at the barge. doesn't report whether they hit it or not but everyone was pleased. the ship turned around and headed back to washington. the hard-core said let's fire it again. they sent a request, let's stop the ship and fire the gun. but it was turned down. at that point somebody looked over and they're passing mt. vernon. so the request was changed to stop the ship and fire the gun
in honor of our first president. they couldn't turn that down. but when the ship did face downstream the gunner fired the cannon. the gun instead of firing, the right ditch blew out and killed seven people. among them son of gardner, secretary of state, thomas gilner, secretary of the navy. everybody downstairs felt the ship when the gun exploded the ship jerked. so handsome young officers that were surrounding my grandmother, who was 23 years old at the time but very beautiful, my grandfather, he had been trying to get to her and talk to her and couldn't because of all of the handsome young male officers around. when the explosion occurred and ship shook, they rushed to go upstairs and do what it is they're trained to do and left her standing there. she knew her father was up there so she followed behind them. my grandfather nellp in behind her to go up the steps of the deck. they came running back calling out, don't let miss gardner follow. her father is dead.
when she heard that, my grandmother fainted right back into the arms of the president. he caught her tenderly and gently. so the ship did go and dock and when it docked, he picked her up and carried her down the gang plank. as she was going down the gang plank, she came to. later she told her mother the first thing she remembered was going down the plank in the arms of the president and she struggled and her head, it felt into the quick of his arm and she could look up into his eyes and she wrote her mother saying, i realized for the first time that the president loved me dearly. >> we told you at the outset there would be a tale of the secret marriage. so tell the story. >> june 26, 1844. it's only four months after the disaster of the uss princeton. so julia's father only been dead four months. so there's still a period of mourning that should be publicly and appropriately observed but
he has -- john tyler had secured even in that rough period of time, secured the permission of her mother for them to get married. she was worried about his financial situation, whether or not he would be able to continue her into the manner that she was accustom and when he was able to do that sufficiently, she gave her permission. so they had a very, very small, private, secret wedding. at an episcopal church in new york city. only a handful of people there. one of his sons, a couple of his political friends and a few members of her family. but the public didn't know about it until the next day. >> the president disappears from washington, checks himself into a hotel in new york city and gets married. >> uh-huh. yeah. he's just going off to basically, he's going to take a little bit of a location and pops up in new york city. and then it's in the new york city next day. by the way, the president has
just gotten married to one of new york's most prominent families. >> what was the reaction at the time? >> people goss gyp -- gossips about it. stoffs soon after his wife's death even though it was not so soon after the death. but they were very much concerned of the age difference. many people thinking it was unfair to julia that she was married to this man who was so much old 0er then she was. so a lot of people didn't like it. his daughters certainly did not. >> they thought it was too soon after. >> they were very loyal to their mother understandably. but there was one daughter who never got over it, letitia. and the other daughters made their peace. and the sons never seemed to have a problem with it. but that one daughter never reconciled with her stepmother. >> here is julia tile was quite a letter writer. here's one letter she wrote to her mother, secrecy of the affair is on the tongue and the admiration of everyone.
everyone says it was the best-managed thing they ever heard of. >> the secret was, yeah. >> let's go on to this because this could be rather self-revealing. the president says, i am the best of the diplomattists. i have commenced my auspicious reign and am in the quiet possession of the presidential mansion. this is a 24-year-old woman. what should we learn from this quote about her? >> she sees herself as queen of the land. she had spent some time in europe. after she had very notoriously posed for an engraving where she was advertising a product, a store actually. and that is something that respectable woman did not do during that period. so her parents had taken -- she and her sister to europe where they were introduced at the
court of louis philip of france. and she admired how the queen received her guests. and it was on -- she was seated, of course, and on a bit of a pedestal. so julia decided to do the same thing for a time. but she saw it very much as she was the first lady of the land and she was going to make the most of it. >> from a family perspective, president asked, he had children older then his second wife. >> yes, his oldest daughter was several years older then julia. >> what was the family reaction? >> the family reaction, it was, at first, among the daughters, --was very negative and very that it took, letitia never reconciled to it. libby, it was three months before she even acknowledged that the marriage had taken place. for the youngest daughter that
she -- she eventually came around. oldest daughter came around. but the sons were already familiar enough with julia that they were -- they were ok with it by then. >> reading that quote, do we have the sense that this was a young woman with great aspirations or was this really a love match? >> i think that there's probably a little bit of both in that. tough for us to divide it out. mainly because the correspondence that exists between them and whatever happened in terms of their courtship, we know that john is head over heels for her. and we know that he's writing shakespearean sonnets to her. we know he's engaging in that kind of -- in that kind of very cavalieresque way of -- way of courting her. with her, the -- it depends hon who you believe in terms of what were her goals are. in the end, she ends up being biggest supporter and biggest
defender. and thanks to very timely advice from her mother, was able to really put that -- was reallyable to put that into action. >> next is the question from claire in owings mills, maryland. hi, claire. >> hi, i just wanted to say a few years ago a couple of us went to the sherwood plantation and tyler's grandson was there and he spoke to us for about an hour he was very gracious. i wonder if you can just discuss a little bit about their connection with william and mary. thank you. >> their connection with william and mary goes back to the very beginninging. you cannot separate william and mary from the tyler family at all, even to the present day of the tylers go there. harrison's father, lionel gardner tyler was president of william and mary. his father john tyler had obviously -- the president had bonn to william and mary and had bns chancellor at william and mary. his father john had go to william and mary and the place is as tied with the tylers as
the university of virginia is tied with thomas jefferson. >> another quote, which may give some indication of the match between the tylers. this is julia writing about the president again, alert to her mother. really, do you think there was ever a man so equal to any emergency? it was a sort of inspiration, for his ideas are expressed at the moment of any emergency with perfect flunesy and effect. question from rachel davidson -- how did julia gardner, a northerner, feel about becoming a slave owner upon her marriage to john tyler. >> that's an easy one. she comes from a family of slave owners. new york does not abolish slavery until 1813. there are slaves at gardner island earned by her family she's born 1820, she's as much born into the slaving culture as nyone living in the time time.
>> war their slaves then? >> there must have been. tylers would have brought slaves with them. we know when the peacemaker, the gun blew up on the princeton, one of the enslaved men owned by tyler was killed. so clearly he had some of his enslaved people there in the white house with him. >> now, talked earlier about julia's daughter doing this advertisement, she earned the moniker the rose of long island. she brought the sense and sensibility to her job, eight month as first lady. it is written in some books that she actually had the services of what would be thought of a press agent. >> she's the hanna august. >> the president himself didn't have a press tie to publicity. >> not at all. >> the more notorious, the better. she made it a point of
cultivating the friendship of a reporter and she would report what was happening in the white house, news of social events and he gave her a lot of personal attention in the articles that he wrote about her. so she was out there in a way that, as i indicated before, respectable women did not do. but this is a new era. this is a time when the women's movement is under way and interestingly enough, you know, someone like julia tyler sort of fits in to a certain extent. she's very conservative in some ways but in terms of breaking through the traditional way that a woman should behave, she's doing it in a way that other women are not at that time. >> well, this seers is called influence and image. so let's spend a few minutes on this image question with julia tyler. noigs having loving publicity as you describe her and having someone help her with her press, she had these young women who
traveled with her. they became known as the vestal virgins. who were they? how is she using them? >> well, it seem what's she did was develop her own court. and perhaps was not alone but the notion that a first lady could not possibly be seen alone, that there is -- she is representing and this is an interesting point by the development of the institution, that she's representing something much bigger and so she had these young women who were joining her. called them the vestal virgins and a number of different things depending upon which newspaper you were reading but that she really believed that she was representing something much bigger then just being the wife of the president. and to do that t. requires display. it requires a very conscience shaping of image as an element of political communication. which gets back to the point you just made.
>> she receives her guests surrounded by these women all dressed in white. >> what was the public reaction to this? did they love it or criticize it? >> she seemed to be able to do no wrong. she had her critics but a lot of people loved her. especially men. she also brought dancing to the white house. >> right. she brought the waltz. she brought the polka. she brought a number of things to the white house. but i think that when you're starting -- you're starting to get into the perceptions of that. it does work both ways, that -- especially with the growth of the abolitionist press. that the abolitionist press starts to see these kinds of things julia's doing in the white house, level of extravagance as being yet another example of the corruption of the slave party. how particularly it's been a distressed economic period, how can they possibly be doing that? the only way they could be doing that is they're gathering wealth and benefits from the fact they
own other people. so in terms of the growth of that abolitionist press and the abolitionists send people just to keep an eye on the tyler white house and report back on things like this. that what julia is doing is in fact in some quarters very different to that broader image while in other quarters, it's very beneficial to supporting the idea of the impeer presidency. >> here's what to an certain extent she redeems herself when she responds to the duchess of southerland, who criticized slavery in america. she writes a letter back and says pretty much, you need to take care of business at home. you've got people from the lower classes there are who starving. so she doesn't say slavery is right. but she does imply that slavery is not as bad as what's happening. >> joe in pennsylvania, you're on for our panel. go on, please. >> hi, i love your series. >> what's your question? >> i read somewhere john tyler
played the violin and did any of his wives play any musical instrument? >> thank you. do we know. >> i haven't the faintest clue. he certainly played the vial anne and if you go to sherwood forest, you can see the violin. >> and julia played the guitar. >> she played the guitar. >> speaking of music and image making, it said she was the one to have the idea "hail to the chief" being played whenever he entered the room. >> it may have been mrs. polk. >> no evidence? >> yes. >> we will get to that next. advance here. she was obviously from the photographs of her just rather fashion conscience and wore beautiful outfits. did she become a trend setter for women at the time? >> i don't know. >> had it become the point, do we know, women were beginning to watch what the first lady were and imitate these things? >> i think this gets into the development of mass
communication of the period and really what your able to do in terms of emulating dress. that while engravings are certainly appearing in more and more newspapers, you're still relying mainly on the written word in order to get across the impression of any kinds of any kind of clothing. and in a particular way you might be able to set the trend if she's wearing a veil or dolly madison or something like that. but for the most part, it's not until much later when there are many more images that are able to show up in a more sophisticated, technologically speaking american press that you're able to get to the point where you have trends that can be identified in order to -- in order to move on. >> julia tyler was also very political and interested in her husband's political career. we move on to the influence part of her role as first lady. again, each short month she was in this role, she was very much involved in a major policy issue that we've talked about or referenced already and that's the annexation of texas. we turn to sherwood forest,
where the spouse of the president's grandson, talks about julia's lobbying for this policy. let's listen. >> she loved him politically, phenomenally, my dear, for her husband. she had soirees at the white house to lobby. tyler was immensely dedicated to the concept of the annexation of texas to the union. and during that period she was c. calhoun, a hn kinsman of my mother's, from carolina and able to sway john c. calhoun to vote for the annexation of texas and she worked on him but don't know if she was successful or not but she took henry clay out to dinner. this is a woman without a chap rhone, a president's wife, alone having dinner with him and she didn't mind at all. she wrote her mother a letter, which i think is priceless. she says, mother, mr. clay was a
little insulting. when i told him that my husband wanted him to vote for the to xation of texas, he said me, i am right, texas should not be annexed to the union, and mrs. tyler, i want you to know that i would rather be right then be president. and i replied, my dear sir, my husband is both. i truly think that the reply is almost better then the statement from clay which we hear so frequently. >> how significant was julia tyler's role in the ultimate decision to annex texas? >> well, she's keeping tabs of where people stand because she's going to congress. she's listening to the debates. she's trying to twist the arms. i don't think she's that important to it. she's representing her husband's interests certainly. she's supports that.
but whether or not she has influence over any particular congressman, i'm not so sure about that. >> do you have an opinion about that? >> she certainly believes she has a lot of influence. i'm with dr. medford, there are were much more complicated in the political area of the texas annexation issue that julia tyler would solve, especially the months after the election. people know james polk will be the next president. the treaty to annex -- the treaty to annex texas had already been defeated by the senate. and they have come up with a new, not terribly constitutional way to accomplish it if they're going to accomplish it at all so they have to go through the machinations of the joint revolutions through december 1844. but that involves much broader political questions and in terms of where people are from -- in this political realignment and
of america that's going on at the time. wigs are breaking down. obviously, the republicans have long broken down. anti-jacksonians. but she firmly believes that she's responsible. john tyler believes that she's responsible, when on march 1, 1845, he signs the joint resolution to annex texas. he gives her the pen, the pen that he sign it's with. and she put it around her neck and wore it as a trophy. >> let's take our next question. it is from haren in greenfield, california. >> hello. >> you're on. welcome. >> my question is about john tyler's second wife julia. in the years after he left the presidency, about the time when the civil war began, he was trying to stop virginia from seceding but he was unsuccessful. later he supported the succession movement in virginia and because of that he was considered a tra
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