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United States Senate election in New York, 1797

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The 1797 United States Senate election in New York was held on January 24, 1797, by the New York State Legislature to elect a U.S. Senator (Class 1) to represent the State of New York in the United States Senate.

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  • First Ladies of the Republic
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>> Good afternoon everyone I would like to welcome you to the McGowan Theater located in the National Archives building in Washington, DC. I am Doug Swanson Visitor Services Manager for the National Archives museum and producer for the noontime lecture series. Before we begin today's program, I would like to mention some other programs that will be taking place at this location in the near future. Tuesday, March 13, Professor Jessica Ziparo will be on hand to discuss her latest book This Grand Experiment: When Women Entered the Federal Workforce in Civil War Era Washington, DC. Then Wednesday, March 14, Professor Richard Sylla will present a noon author talk on his new book Alexander Hamilton on Finance, Credit and Debt where he recognizes Hamilton's influence in establishing a financial revolution that still impacts the modern economic system we use today. Please visit our website at You will also find some printed materials about upcoming programs in the theater lobby. Our topic for today is the first in a series of women's history month programs. The First Ladies of the Republic Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison and The Creation of Iconic American Role by Jeanne Abrams, she received her Ph.D. in American History with a specialization in archival management from University of Colorado Boulder, member of the faculty University of Denver since 1983 in 2006 she was promoted to full professor. She has also served as longtime director of the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society and Beck Archives, part of the Center for Judaic studies and the University of Denver's libraries. She is known for her expertise in medical early American and American Jewish history. Dr. Abrams is the author of five books, including Revolutionary Medicine, America's Founding Mothers and Fathers in Sickness and Health, which examines the lives of the founding families thorugh lens of personal encounters with illness and 18th century medicine, which was named one of the top books for docs by Med Scape in 2013. She is also the author of numerous articles and essays in academic and popular journals and magazines, in 2016 she received the University of Denver's lecturer award for out standing scholarship and research which is the highest award in that area. Please join me in welcoming Jeanne Abrams to the National Archives. (APPLAUSE) >> Hello. I really thank you for that lovely introduction. I feel honored to join you here today to share the story of the creation of the pivotal but often undervalued position of first lady of the United States. By training I am both an historian and archivist. So speaking at the National Archives is a very special occasion for me. I fell in love with primary sources many years ago as a college freshman, it's a love affair that has endured until this day. We understand primary sources are the life blood of historical inquiry, so the National Archives serves as a rare treasure indeed. The creation of the United States after the American revolution was in essence a grand experiment, one which transformed the country from a colonial outpost to an independent nation. Abigail Adams later reflected on that historic transformation when she remarked to a friend in 1800: I have lived to witness changes such as I could never have imagined. My new book First Ladies of the Republic examines one of those momentous changes the creation of the role of first lady through the efforts of Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison. Because of time constraints I will focus on the three specific points in my presentation. First, these three spirited first first ladies who in their time could not vote or hold office, exercised intelligence and initiative to transcend boundaries between the public and private arenas. The private sphere of family and local community and the wider public arena of politics. Secondly, the lives of these three extraordinary women intersected on many occasions, they learned from one another, from one another as the brand new position of first lady evolved. Finally, despite the constraints even elite women in their day, rather looking at male and female sociopolitical roles in the era as a part of a binary divide, I believe it's more useful to view the way in which they oparated together with their husbands as members of a family unit. They view themselves as full partners with their presidential husbands, albeit with different roles to play, they all played a substantial part in the nation's early political life. Before we begin exploring the creation of that pioneering position of first lady in more detail, I would like to take a few moments to step back and take a brief look at how heads of government conducted themselves in Europe at the time, in contrast to what unfolded in the newly minted United States. When George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States, on April 30th, 1789, King George III and Queen Charlotte occupied the throne in Great Britain. Queen Charlotte was raised as a princess in a small German Duchy and the proposed royal union was cemented after intense secret negotiations. Charlotte met her future husband just hours before the evening wedding at the Chapel Royal in St. James' Palace in London on September 8, 1761, and she spoke no English at the time. The English-born George was the heir to the Hanovian royal line. In contrast, the other George, the other George's wife Martha was still in Virginia at their Mount Vernon plantation home at the time of his far less ostentatious first-term inauguration when Washington took the oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York on April 30th, 1789. It was witnessed by members of congress, marked by the ringing of church bells, and then shared enthusiastically by a crowd of ordinary citizens who had stood respectfully outside the building. President Washington wore a simple but wellmade brown suit of American broad cloth woven at the Harvard woolen mills in Connecticut. The buttons were carved eagles, the symbol of the fledgling republic, and Washington's choice of dress was consciously made to reflect that he was a man of the people. Although the Washingtons had never traveled to England, in his younger years one of George's highest aspirations had been to become a respected Englishman. One who reflected British values, and displayed unwavering loyalty to the crown. Washington had always been an avid reader as a young man he had undoubtedly perused popular accounts about King George's coronation. He was very likely familiar with the ritual surrounding European royalty. And at his election as president, Washington had a new vice president John Adams at his side. Adams had experienced firsthand the European courts earlier in the late 1770s and '80s as the United States emissary first to France and later to the English court of Saint James before returning back to America in 1788. When Martha Washington later joined the newly elected American president in May 1789 in the nation's first capitol  I am going to say it right, capitol of New York City, a month after her husband's inauguration, she arrived in an elegantly simple gown sewn from material made in America rather than a more fashionable European import. It was clearly a symbolic gesture made to convey the egalitarian underpinnings of the new nation. As the Gazette of Federalist newspaper noted, she was clothed in the manufacture of our country. The glittering canopy of Queen Charlotte's coronation was sewn of cloth of gold. As the original first lady of the United States, as the position would become known, Martha Washington had to create her new quasi official role from whole cloth. Despite the fact that it was not an elected position, Martha as well as her two successor first ladies Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison would all come to symbolize the heart and character of their husband's administration. Never officially authorized nevertheless, the position became highly influential in American history. Without a roadmap to follow, these three women were responsible for essentially creating the role of first lady. To do so, they often had to walk a social and political tight rope. None of the three could simply imitate the role of European queens, but instead had to construct the role that was uniquely American in both style and substances as the partner of the young nation's leading political figures, the President. Each of them shaped the role of first lady by placing their own imprint on the position. And at the same time they learned from one another as they sought a path to blend their roles as women wives, mothers and public figures. Again, with no precedent to follow, Martha, Abigail and Dolley began to develop the position of the president spouse often consciously working to make it distinct from that of consorts in the European courts, and aligning it more closely with emerging republican ideals for presidential behavior. As I mentioned above, it is probably most fruitful to look at the key players in the new American political order after the American revolution as family cohorts rather than as individuals. Certainly in the case of the Washingtons, the Adams and Madisons, they operated more visibly as a partnership rather than a simple male female division. Martha, Abigail and Dolley view themselves as wives of prominent leaders of the new American governing class with an important part to play. They astutely understood it was through their traditional domestic roles that they acquired access to the public sphere as members of the political social elite. The three first ladies stood at the center of America's political world through their husbands that was the reality of their time that does not mean that they did not possess significant influence. When Martha Dandridge was born in Virginia in 1731, no one could have imagined that in little more than half a century she would become known as Lady Washington, the wife of the first President of the United States, and a central figure in the momentous events that occurred in revolutionary America and the new republic. At the time of Martha's birth, Virginia was a loyal American colony in the far-flung British empire. English Monarchs, of royal blood ascended to the throne through the historical tradition of divine right. And commoners, even wealthy ones, would no more aspire to be heads of countries than to have contemplated flying to the moon. Yet the revolution had politicized many American men and women as John Adams observed many years later in 1807 to his friend Boston writer Mercy Warner: Was not every fireside indeed a theater of politics? The government of the new United States was created on a virtually blank slate. As the fledgling nation's original first lady, Martha Washington, would have to craft a new role, albeit with strong direction sometimes unwelcome from the President and other members of his administration. And she certainly understood that her activities would serve as a precedent for her successors to follow. Martha undertook her position reluctantly as she notoriously disliked being in the public eye. Which she found constraining. She also confided to her nephew she was saddened by her husband's election and claimed at the old age of 57, it was quote much too late for George to go into public life again. For she had hoped they would remain at Mount Vernon in solitude and tranquility. Indeed after she joined the President in New York she once famously declared herself a state prisoner. I don't think it's just of course first ladies, many presidents felt the same Truman famously referred to the White House as the great white prison. It's not unusual. She proceeded thoughtfully and mindfully carefully weighing her actions and taking pride in successfully fulfilling her responsibilities. And far from being apolitical as she has often been portrayed she become a fervent federalist and one of the new republic's most faithful citizens. Early in her husband's administration she wrote proudly: I think our country the United States affords everything that can give pleasure or satisfaction to a rational mind. Although Martha's contemporaries recognized the critical role she played in her famous husband's success and she commanded great respect during her lifetime, especially among Washington's troops who refer to her admiringly as Lady Washington, today the stereotypical portrait of Martha portrays her as charming and reticent woman. And many accounts of their lives Martha emerges as a faithful wife who stood loyally but meekly by George Washington's side, attending to his personal needs and supervising mundane social events. During the time that he was viewed as the most famous and revered American of his time. Yet on many levels Martha was central to Washington's military and political success. Born into a modestly prosperous plantation family she was raised to be efficient and capable household manager, responsible member of the larger community, and a welcoming and congenial hostess, who knew how to make guests comfortable, as well as being a dutiful wife and mother. Martha's early training and life experience provided her with the skills to later succeed as America's founding first lady. Moreover, the wealth that she inherited from her first husband Daniel Custis allowed George Washington to realize many of his political goals, such as acquiring more land and becoming a leading member of the Virginia and general wider colonial society, which led to his political prominence. In reality, it was Martha Washington, not the highly sociable charming third first lady Dolley Madison, who launched the first major event for the republican court, as it came to be known, the popular drawing room which served a political as well as social purpose. Those events were supervised and guided by Martha and other elite women who lived alongside power and drawn into the political sphere through husbands, fathers and brothers. For those early members of American's governing elite, the women political life was often a joint cooperative undertaking. An effort in which they participated actively as part of a closeknit family circle. The drawing rooms and attendant levies and dinners played a critical role in defining appropriate style of manners for the new federal government. And it's one which helped to distinguish itself from the old world courts in Europe. Although these American salons reflected some degree of protocol, including prescribed seating arrangements, they were far more open and fluid than that in the European court. A good deal of political power broking occurred there including arrangements for strategic marriages. And as recent scholars have shown, the American salons were more politically intentional than French which were social in nature. Influenced by a combination of her own personal preferences and her new friend Abigail Adams as well as her desire to deflect criticism away from her husband George who increasingly came under attack from the republican party press for allegedly mimicking kingly behavior Martha Washington adopted a more austere style than had been exhibited by European heads of state. It was one which attempted to reflect the dignity of those courts, melded with the new republican ideals of individual liberty, which had fostered the American nation. Elite women like Martha and Abigail who had access to power in the early republic helped mold a new ceremonial protocol. None of the three first ladies became policymakers but they were still able to exercise considerable political cultural influence through today what we would consider unconventional means. They must  mustered behindthescenes support for their presidential husbands. Sometimes exercised the power of patronage and facilitating appointments for family friends and family members. And often even lobbied politicians for support of causes they believed in. For example, Martha's appreciation for the sacrifice that the American soldiers had made during the revolution propelled her to make one of her few overt political gestures when she asked congress to provide benefits for war Veterans. When Abigail later became the second first lady in 1797, she expanded the model created by Martha to support her husband John's administration. Abigail had witnessed the British royal version firsthand when she was in England years earlier in the 1785 when John served as the American minister to Great Britain. She had met both George, III and Queen Charlotte at the court of Saint James and found the two Monarchs polite and civil but uninspiring and England decidedly lacking in what she considered superior American virtues liberty and widespread prosperity. Moreover, Abigail looked with disdain on the drawn out intricate rituals that surrounded the London court where visitors at the carefully orchestrated drawing rooms had to wait for hours before the royal couple briefly greeted them greeted the guests in exchanged social small talk. Abigail described her first visit to the English court to her sister back in American, noting that after meeting the king, I am quoting her now: It was more than two hours after this before it came my turn to be presented to the queen. A circle was so large that the company was four hours standing. The manner in which they make their tour around the room is first the queen, the lady in waiting behind her holding up her train, next to her the princess royal, after her Princess Augusta and their lady in waiting behind them. The princesses were both elaborately dressed in black and silver silk, while the queen was in purple and silver. Clearly through their manner of dress the royal family exuded their privileged status. Back in America in the late 1790s as the wife of the second President of the United States, it is unsurprising that Abigail often consciously sought to distance her own more inclusive but far less opulent court style from its European counterparts. America's two first ladies, Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, both aspire to create person that contrasted with the queenly one, but reflected a formal and dignified style that could command respect without the accoutrements of either a crown or a throne. They each incorporated they are own distinct elements of prescribed ceremonial protocol at the events hosted and their functions were largely aimed at decidedly elite participants, for example at the Washington's drawing rooms guests were formally presented to the President and then to Martha was seated on a raised platform but not throne. Before they were allowed to socialize with one another. Ironically to their chagrin although both two first ladies and presidential couples set out to strike the right tone between open ceremonial style and then one that reflected status gravitas and the dignity of the new government and the new executive position, political detractors accused them of bringing back Monarch practices that would fracture the delicate democratic republic by reversing revolutionary goals such as broader egalitarianism. Abigail chafed any criticism of the style, what she insisted always were mere innocent practices. It's important to note the first ladies and their presidential husbands were sometimes subject to vocal public criticism from the very beginning of the republic as rancorous division between the two parties the federalists and democratic republicans headed by Jefferson evolved. As mentioned earlier, both Martha Washington and Abigail Adams served as apprenticeships, so to speak, before they became first ladies, which provided them with valuable experience that allowed them to play an important role in their husband's political lives. Martha became accustom to deal with people of rank and Abigail served very adeptly as deputy husband when John was away in Philadelphia earlier attending the continental congress during the Revolutionary War and during the years that John was stationed in Europe. She capably managed the family farm, oversaw the family finances and even developed a thriving business selling luxury goods that John sent her from Europe. Later, her own stay in France and England broadened her world and deepened her appreciation for the American republic. As I mentioned, Abigail had the opportunity to view monarchy in France firsthand. And, like Martha, she found the European model inferior. To her sister Elizabeth, she once carefully described her view of the key elements in American society which she felt made it politically and socially superior to what they had encountered in both France and England, I am quoting. When I reflect upon the advantages which the people possess in America she observed, the ease with which property is obtained, the plenty which is so equally distributed, the personal liberty and security of life and property I feel grateful to heaven to mark out my lot in that happy land. While Abigail resided in Europe, contemporary political subjects clearly commanded her attention. As her daughter Nabby reported during their frequent social calls while the family resided in London Abigail proved a lively and popular conversationalist who visibly relished what her daughter called her dish of politics. She continued active correspondence there with many relatives back in Boston, including her uncle Dr. Cotton Tufts. In one letter she pointedly said to him: Excuse me, my being so busy in politics but I am so connected with them that I cannot avoid being much interested. Indeed, from the earliest days of her marriage Abigail was part of a political household. Abigail was also exposed to scientific lectures in London. Education for women was one  an area that had long been particularly important to Abigail. And she took the opportunity to praise the superior education of elite women in England, one of the few aspects of English culture that she admired. She commented to a niece that she was exposed to scientific subjects during those lectures and that it was, quote: Going into a beautiful country where I never saw before, a country which our American females are not permitted to visit or inspect. Abigail supervised her daughter's broad education but reflecting the realities of the time it was their eldest son Johns Quincy Adams, who Abigail and John groomed for political greatness. In my examination of the first three ladies of the United States as a group, I found that their lives intersected on numerous occasions. And they really influenced one another in the nation's formative years both directly and indirectly. Indeed, shortly before Abigail stepped into the role of presidential wife and first lady, she wrote to Martha. And she called her, her most amiable predecessor, asked for guidance. From the moment Abigail Adams met Mrs. Washington she was drawn to Martha's natural dignity, simplicity, as well as her warm, cheerful personally. She found the new first lady superior to the snobbish queens and princesses she encountered in England. After Martha and Abigail first crossed paths in June of 1789 in New York City, Abigail reported to her sister Mary, quote: I took the earliest opportunity the morning after my arrival to go and pay my respects to Mrs. Washington. She received me with great ease and politeness. She is plain in her dress but that plainness is the best of every article. Her manners are modest and unassuming, dignified and feminine, not the (inaudible) of haute about her stark contrast what she thought about Queen Charlotte. Abigail not only admired Martha but looked to her as a role model. In early 1797, as Abigail prepared to assume the first ladyship, she wrote a letter to Martha in which she insisted she would have far preferred that Martha remained in the position. Abigail insisted that the former first lady's conduct had reflected so exemplary a character, it was irreproachable, so it cannot excite an emulation in your successor. She implored Martha to give her advice and give her rules prescribed as practiced, as respected receiving and returning visits to strangers and citizens with public or private nature. Obviously Abigail was concerned about following proper social and political protocol an area in which she felt Martha had excelled. She maintained this again, quoting: Your experience and knowledge must render your advice particularly acceptable to me. From a desire to do the right thing and to give occasion to no one. Occasion would be to no offense to anyone. Abigail certainly understood the importance of her new position as first lady for support for her husband John deflecting criticism and the central role positive social interactions played in developing the political culture of the new republic. She clearly realized that the President's wife held the unofficial power to help build or sabotage vital political alliances. In the early republic the relations between the emerging federalists and democratic republican parties were as fractious as today's political physician sures. Abigail Adams was the most intellectual of the three first ladies. One political commentator later maintained Abigail was unquestionably the most brilliant conversationalist among the ladies of her day and an extremely intelligent and fascinating woman. She possessed a deep grasp of political theory, often used by her husband, John, who realized his wife was an exceptional woman, used her as a political sounding board. He frequently discussed her political theories with her and enlisted her assistance and feedback on drafts of his speeches. And soon after he was elected president, John declared, quite dramatically, he could be histrionic at times, quote: I never wanted your advice and assistance more in my life. Abigail even ventured into the wider emerging print culture in the United States, she kept her finger on the pulse of the leading newspapers of her days and provided what she called corrections and comments when she felt editors had erred in their judgment. I went briefly to look at the exhibit on the Declaration of Independence there was a little section on Abigail Adams it emphasized, again, that she was widely quoted during her days as first lady and she was able to help shape public opinion. So it was not an insignificant position. Abigail was especially sensitive about editorial criticism of her husband during the presidency. That led her to urge John to support the unwise and ill fated (inaudible) on which in the end played a significant role in his defeat for a second term. But at the same time it may also reflect the first instance that a first lady had influence on actual legislation. If Martha Washington launched the first American political salon Abigail Adams transformed it into an intellectual hub in which she participated fully and could hold her own in the most important political conversations of the day. In 1790, the Nation's Capitol was moved to Philadelphia for an agreed upon 10 year period. At that time future first lady Dolley Madison was married to her first husband Philadelphia John Todd. Dolley was aware at times from newspaper report and correspondence with family and friends of the significant public efforts undertaken by both Martha and Abigail when they each respectively resided in Philadelphia during their husband's terms in Philadelphia. She became personally involved in the political life of Philadelphia after her second marriage to Congressman James Madison in 1794. James later served as Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson, who served two terms beginning 1801. It was during that period that Dolley actively began building her own robust political social power base at the welcoming Madison home on F Street, the nation's permanent capitol in Washington, not far from here. At times she served as Jefferson's unofficial hostess gaining experience as her formal stint as first lady. Dolley appreciated the earlier efforts to shape the respective courts through hosting of drawing rooms and salons all three women understood the power of those social occasions to inform public manners to display presidential husband's characters in the best light, and thereby even influencing the direction of politics. Although, on one level social events operated as a venue for entertainment. They were fundamentally political as practical manner for many alliances between politicians were built or broken there. The events also helped smooth over regional personal fissures in formal civil manner and drawing rooms afforded politicians the opportunity to test their ideas. Yet Dolley found her predecessors events to have been formal and too stayed, elitist and limited in reach, in 1809 after her husband's election, Dolley doctored her more accessible, flamboyant style, welcoming the nickname of Queen Dolley she was dubbed a title that Martha and Abigail would have likely disdained. Prominent Washingtonians, Dolley's friend and architect who designed the new White House were not always pleased with the results of Dolley's more open entertainment approach although Latrobe observed that Dolley drew a crowd of respectable people. By the third round, it was attracting what he termed, quote, a perfect rabble in beards and boots rather an elitist himself. It is important to note that Dolley Madison did not create her political public persona in a vacuum. She built her enlarged presence as first lady as what some people have termed a republican queen on the foundations that Martha and Abigail had initiated. Dolley retained some of their practices, her predecessor's drawing rooms and discarded others, like remaining to be seated when greeted by visitors. Dolley mingled with guests instead. She found the latter useful in her sincere but pragmatic campaign to build unity in a nascent republic, which hadn't developed a path for working with competing fragmented political parties and interests. Dolley did not originate the position of first lady or as suggested, she introduced the popular custom of hosting, drawing rooms and serving ice cream at those events because they were so crowded and popular, nicknamed "squeezes" because the crowds were pushed together so carefully. From Dolley's 1797 correspondence written over a decade before James became president, while the two of them were at the Madison plantation in Montpelier we learn she actually sought information about Abigail's drawing rooms from a friend of hers. But arguably Dolley went on to enthusiastically expand the position of first lady in a manner that was at once more visible, more intentional and more, quote, what we consider democratic. Despite public criticism, it was a role which ultimately earned her the admiration of many of her contemporaries and future generations as one of the most popular acclaimed in the nation's first ladies. Mrs. Madison moved well beyond cultivating a select group of the nation's early elite to include male and female guests from virtually all classes at social gathering. Although, even at the time they realized most real power was in the hands of the governing elite. Her efforts not only aided in promoting national unity in a highly contentious political environment but also represented the United States move forward as a budding democratic republic as Dolley's biographer maintains. Certainly like Martha Washington and Abigail Adams before her, Dolley served as a model republican wife but at the same time was able to use that image to her advantage to support her husband James' political goals. Dolley was known for her fondness for French styles in furnishings and fashions, but able to use that traditionally feminine era of interest to foster unique American consciousness. As historian contends, Mrs. Madison, quote: Interpreted European dress, manners and food through a purely American filter. An approach which melded the federalist desire for high style, and the republican emphasis on simplicity. During the entire eight years of her husband's administration Dolley managed to combine regal presence with downtoearth accessibility that excluded that wellknown southern hospitality. Dolley's influence was recognized not only by contemporary female figures who pronouned Dolley fit for the station of first lady but prominent male politicians of her time. The eldest John of  John Quincy Adams, senator of Massachusetts, observed Dolley was overtly involved in political elections on behalf of her husband. Senator Mitchell of New York, one of the astute political observers of the day dubbed her, quote, the Queen of Hearts and noted Dolley's potential impact on Madison's election against his rival federalist candidate Charles Pinckney. Mitchell declared: The Secretary of State has a wife to aid him in his pretensions and because of that advantage, Mr. Adams is going greatly ahead of Pinckney. Pinckney himself was reputed to have observed ruefully, she was, quote: Beaten by Mr. and Mrs. Madison, I might have had a better chance if I had faced Mr. Madison alone. Although she had her critics, some considered her a political meddler and reminiscence of European queens, Dolley's easy, welcoming demeanor and French inspired fashion style made her popular with many Americans who longed for more elegance in their first lady. Certainly, the often sparkly and courtly clothing she donned on social occasions conveyed the importance of her privileged position to the public. Writer Margaret Baird Smith noted that: At Madison's first inauguration ball, quote, Dolley looked like a queen one who exuded dignity and grace. She maintained, quote, it would be absolutely impossible for anyone to behave with more perfect propriety than she did. It seems to me that such manners would disarm and conciliate even enemies. Dolley was able to combine the talents Martha's as a skillful and highly congenial hostess with Abigail's keen understanding of politics both excelled at social and political force on behalf of her husband James Madison. Far more than many male politicians of her day, Dolley understood the central importance of compromise, accommodation, and the need to build consensus in a republican form of government. Dolley became a celebrity even in her own day, viewed as heroine for rescuing documents and Washington's portrait, which was a symbolic copy, just before the British set fire to the White House. In essence, Dolley became the nation's symbolic cheerleader during the war, raising public morale with her positive attitude. After President Madison died when Dolley moved back to Washington, she remained an influential figure and entertained politicians who sought her advice. She really had become had been a friend or knew seven presidents, which is quite remarkable. Dolley Madison was only a child in 1776. She may have understood that it was the beginning of a momentous era, but she could not have imagined to what extent the revolution would change her world and the lives of future generations of men and women throughout America. All three first ladies witnessed really cataclasmic changes during their lifetimes. While some of the founders outlooks about what constituted the appropriate bonds of marriage, wifely duties, and women's roles, may offend modern ears we need to take a step back and examine their stories in the context of their time. Their experience focuses a lens on the development of the role of the presidential first lady as it would become known over time. As well as evolving views of marriage and women's place in the new republic. During the presidential years, indeed throughout their marriages, each of the presidential wives develop robust skills as presidential spouses, operating as a part of a tight family union of their own. Perhaps John, Abigail Adams' daughter Nabby, summed it up best when she wrote brother John Quincy, the happiness of our family, the Adams seems to have so interwoven with the politics of our country as to be in a great degree dependent upon them. The involvement of Martha, Abigail and Dolley in the public spheres stemmed from their attachment from the wives of the most prominent political players in the United States. But that does not diminish the importance of their own contributions. Certainly, all three first ladies use their sociopolitical positions to advance the interests of their family, and through their elite places in official society, they helped perpetuate a class of national political leaders. Abigail Adams was not only the mother of a future American president, but politics permeated family discourse. Her daughter Nabby became known as what was called a female politician at the time a politically astute woman, as did her daughter in law Louisa Catherine Adams, a highly accomplished woman and first lady in her own right. The number of Madison and Washington's close relatives were elected politicians or prominent and political circles. The experiences of our nation's original first lady demonstrates that the public role world of men the domestic world of women of their era intersected and overlapped. They capably managed their complicated households and carried out the normal duties of women of their status. Dealt with hard breaking personal losses of children. And other close relatives and life threatening illnesses and at the same time, they engaged in the political current of the day. The trio helped develop the tone and whether always consciously or not, as first ladies, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison each constructed a public identity for themselves and in the process they played an influential role in nation building. And helped to shape the contours of the future of the new United States of America. Martha, Abigail and Dolley became political partners at times their husband's political press agents worked to facilitate relationships with other key politicians for them. All three, in tandem with their own husbands, were motivated by their underlying commitment to the public good at the same time they desire to advance the personal representations of their spouses and influence of their family members and protect their own interests. Moreover, all three first ladies worked alongside their husbands to help create a viable republic as part of a partnership that was political in nature. They could not have realized that in the process, they were also laying the foundations for a broader democratic state that would take shape later in the Jacksonian era of the 1830s and evolve in the 19th Century they played a critical role in shaping a new American identity at a critical juncture in the birth of the United States Republic. When George and Martha Washington, John and Abigail Adams and James and Dolley Madison were born the American colonies were part of the far flung British empire as observed by the mid 1700's, even on the eve of the revolution Americans with become more British than ever. All three couples considered themselves English by birth culture and social orientation, they were unified by their allegiance to Great Britain and the crown. But from the beginning of their husband's presidencies, Martha, Abigail and Dolley demonstrated their deep commitment to the principles of independence and liberty, which had first emerged in the revolutionary period and continued to develop in the early national period. The prominent American political families of the modern times such as Roosevelt, Kennedys and Clintons are not a new phenomenon. Family political influence took root at the dawn of our national history. And the story of our initial first ladies provide insight into the nature of political power in the early United States both at the center and at the margins. In each of their own ways, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison succeeded in putting her own distinctive stamp on the role of first lady. That complicated position pioneered by the trio often served as a lightning rod for real influence as well as controversy. A phenomenon which endures even to the present. Thank you very much, and now we have I think a little time for some questions. (APPLAUSE) >> Any questions or comments? >> Hello. The three first ladies were obviously aware of gossip that was concerning Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson's mistress, did they have personal experience with Sally Hemings and did you find evidence of how they reacted to the story? >> Well, first of all, certainly Martha and Dolley were part of slave holding families. So, they would have not criticized people and never find any evidence that either of them were unhappy about their role as slave holders. But Abigail and John Adams were abolitionists, their son John Quincy was one of the leaders. The only thing I found about Abigail was a reference to praising her own husband for never having given their family any cause for embarrassment as was the case for his rival for the presidency, Thomas Jefferson. The only reference  the only reference was a little discrete but it was certain she had heard the rumors, and she was very negative about the possibility of Thomas fathering children outside of his marriage. You should also know that in Europe in particular, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams and Abigail Adams became fast friends. They were in France together for a while, and Thomas Jefferson, who could often have a rather idealized vision of women's role in society, greatly admired Abigail, and thought she was highly intellectual as a master at managing the family finances. And Abigail in turn would say she would be very unhappy to leave France because she found that Thomas one of the most estimable characters on earth. Again, I mention to you before she was highly critical of any critics of her husband, and particularly, after Thomas Jefferson became a political rival, she became very angry with him. John and Thomas reconciled in old age, Abigail never kind of put down that  that division. And she wrote him politely when he had sent her a letter of condolences when her daughter died of breast cancer but she never took up that close friendship again. Round about way of answering your question. >> Thank you Dr. Abrams, I took forward to reading your book. >> Thank you. >> I was wondering if there is any  in your research, did you read anything that maybe in Martha's diaries, did she keep diaries about her  her sadness of the loss of her children? And perhaps anything about the fact that they met when they were 27 years old. She didn't have a child with George Washington. I know that also with when we are looking at all of these ladies they had personal sadness we talk of John Quincy Adams and that was great, but what about the other son he suffered so. And what about Dolley Madison's son, do they talk about that? Those are real definitely, as a woman, as a mother, I know those would be difficult for any woman. >> So those are all subjects that I really dealt with much more in depth in the previous book revolutionary medicine, the America's founding fathers and mothers in sickness and in health. So, in terms of Martha, Martha Washington had four children with her first husband, all four predeceased her. I found a letter  they were all quite stoic one of the points of the other book not today that Americans don't deal with health issues and sickness and death obviously we still do but not on the very almost daily basis that the founders did. I think it's incredible they were able to accomplish so much considering what their personal lives were like. I did find a letter from Martha to a niece when a child of a friend passed away. She said, all parents who have many children should expect to lose them. So, it was  it was common for their time. Abigail Adams  Abigail and John actually had six children. Only two survived them. And as you  as I mentioned briefly Nabby Adams died in her mid 40s of breast cancer. One of the point of the other book is how different modern medicine is today. There was no anesthesia, antiseptic. She had only a little laudanum like a shot of whiskey and ultimately the cancer metastasized and she died really quite painfully. They lost a son, the Adams, to alcoholism. She had a stillborn baby while John was away in congress. And she wrote to tell him the news. What was the most poignant letter I ever read from John Adams, he was a marvelous writer, he wrote her and said something to the effect, I am paraphrasing, isn't it a wonder how much one can miss someone they have never met. And he was referring to the baby. Dolley Madison actually came on the national stage during the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, she lost her be loved first husband. Their baby. She was left with only one child. She and Madison never had any children together, that one child was a ne'erdowell young man. The Adams were similarly challenged. The Washingtons didn't have children together. They adapted, so to speak, to grandchildren who lived with them. They were very close to them. I forgot the original, back to the question. They dealt with tremendous personal losses. They are all extremely stoic and they all were people of faith, I would say, particularly Abigail. And so she kind of met every challenge with the feeling she wrote to, I think, a niece saying that she felt that even, you know, a sparrow doesn't fall without God watching over that, so whatever was meant to be was meant to be. Any other questions? Okay. If not, thank you very much for being such an attentive audience. (APPLAUSE) >> And, also, for coming out in this cold, rainy weather. Thank you. >> Reminder, there is a book signing up one level at the book store. We will meet you up there in just a few minutes. (End of event.)



Democratic-Republican Aaron Burr had been elected in 1791, defeating the incumbent Federalist Philip Schuyler.

At the State election in April 1796, Federalist majorities were elected to both houses of the 20th New York State Legislature which met from November 1 to 11, 1796, at New York City, and from January 3 to April 3, 1797, at Albany, New York.


Aaron Burr ran for re-election as the Democratic-Republican candidate.

Ex-U.S. Senator (in office 1789-1791) Philip Schuyler, now a State Senator, ran again as the candidate of the Federalist Party.


Schuyler was the choice of both the State Senate and the State Assembly, and was declared elected.

1797 United States Senator election result
Office House Federalist candidate Democratic-Republican candidate
U.S. Senator State Senate (42 members) Philip Schuyler Aaron Burr
State Assembly (96 members) Philip Schuyler Aaron Burr


Schuyler resigned on January 3, 1798 because of ill health, and a special election to fill the vacancy was held on January 11, 1798.


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