Monday, April 08, 2013

First Ladies

I was out of town last week and so it has been crazy here with Easter just passing.  I had made a goal that I wanted one of my questions from Facebook to make the FL CSPAN series and so far I have gotten two of them up!  Hopefully, you have been watching and caught that!  I actually just realized, as I don't usually get to watch live (Mondays are grading days....I should be grading right now actually!) and so have been catching up.  So these are my thoughts on the next two in the series, which were Elizabeth Monroe/Louisa Adams and then Rachael Jackson/Hannah Van Buren

Elizabeth Monroe/Louisa Adams
So I get that someone like Martha Jefferson really doesn't need 90 minutes, but I totally think Louisa Adams did!!!  CSPAN, pick better who you are short-changing!  There wasn't a lot of documentary evidence on Elizabeth Monroe, hence the issue with her (the opposite is true of Louisa, who we have a ton on, as we do on all the Adams').  loved the picture of her heading out – still a teenager – newly married to move to Virginia from New York, 7 months pregnant.  I think that really shows the strength we might not see otherwise!  

To start with, I love Louisa.  I was really glad to see they really highlighted her letters and her wit.  I really think they did a great job of showcasing what a great person she was and so much more than we usually see!  I loved the researcher they brought in from the MHS, Amanda Mathews.   She talks about the Adams the way I do – as if I was sitting next to them!  I thought that was a great addition to this part.  Richard Norton Smith seems to agree with me that JQA would have been a prig to live with, but Amanda Mathews seemed to see more in their relationship. I always enjoy new opinions.  The good news, to me at least, is they are published Louisa's work in a trade edition. 
Rachel Jackson/Hannah Van Buren
The story of Rachel Jackson always plays well because it is such a tragedy/love story.  I did really like how this played up how her being divorced was because she had the backing of her family.  The class issue discussion was also great and really that distinction between the westerners and the easterners, which most of us wouldn't notice today, but was a big deal at the time. I liked the inclusion of Emily Donelson inclusion in Eaton affair and how that was used to really showcase Jackson's personality, but I thought way too much time was on the Eaton affair and not enough on Emily herself or her successor, Sarah Yorke Jackson (who I'm not even sure they mentioned more than in passing!).  So I was a little annoyed at that. 
There was really nothing Hannah Van Buren, which was to expected due to her dying so early (the quote from a son asking his father what his mother's name was sad and revealing!).  I did like all the information on Angelica Van Buren and while I knew a lot, I also learned a lot here as well.  There was much more on  her personal life and background than I knew before, so I was excited about that. 

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