When the roar of the Revolution had finally died down, a new generation of American politicians was summoned to the Potomac to assemble the nation's newly minted capital. Into that unsteady atmosphere, which would soon enough erupt into another conflict with Britain in 1812, Dolley Madison arrived, alongside her husband, James. Within a few years, she had mastered both the social and political intricacies of the city, and by her death in 1849 was the most celebrated person in Washington. And yet, to most Americans, she's best known for saving a portrait from the burning White House, or as the namesake for a line of ice cream.
Why did her contemporaries give so much adulation to a lady so little known today? In A Perfect Union, Catherine Allgor reveals that while Dolley's gender prevented her from openly playing politics, those very constraints of womanhood allowed her to construct an American democratic ruling style, and to achieve her husband's political goals. And the way that she did so—by emphasizing cooperation over coercion, building bridges instead of bunkers—has left us with not only an important story about our past but a model for a modern form of politics.
Introducing a major new American historian, A Perfect Union is both an illuminating portrait of an unsung founder of our democracy, and a vivid account of a little-explored time in our history.
The daughter of one of New York’s most influential families, niece of Theodore Roosevelt, and wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt witnessed some of the most remarkable decades in modern history, as America transitioned from the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, and the Depression to World War II and the Cold War.
A champion of the downtrodden, Eleanor drew on her experience and used her role as First Lady to help those in need. Intimately involved in her husband’s political life, from the governorship of New York to the White House, Eleanor would eventually become a powerful force of her own, heading women’s organizations and youth movements, and battling for consumer rights, civil rights, and improved housing. In the years after FDR’s death, this inspiring, controversial, and outspoken leader would become a U.N. Delegate, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, a newspaper columnist, Democratic party activist, world-traveler, and diplomat devoted to the ideas of liberty and human rights.
This single volume biography brings her into focus through her own words, illuminating the vanished world she grew up, her life with her political husband, and the post-war years when she worked to broaden cooperation and understanding at home and abroad.
The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt includes 16 pages of black-and-white photos.
As an editor and public speaker, Woodhull demanded that women and men be held to the same standards in public life. Her political theatrics brought the topic of women's sexuality into the public arena, shocking critics, galvanizing supporters, and finally locking opposing camps into bitter conflict over sexuality and women's rights in marriage. A woman who surrendered her own privacy, whose life was grist for the mills of a sensation-mongering press, she made the exposure of others' secrets a powerful tool of social change. Woodhull's political ambitions became inseparable from her sexual nonconformity, yet her skill in using contemporary media kept her revolutionary ideas continually before her peers. In this way Woodhull contributed to long-term shifts in attitudes about sexuality and the slow liberation of marriage and other social institutions.
Using contemporary sources such as images from the "sporting news," Frisken takes a fresh look at the heyday of this controversial women's rights activist, discovering Woodhull's previously unrecognized importance in the turbulent climate of Radical Reconstruction and making her a useful lens through which to view the shifting sexual mores of the nineteenth century.