In this special episode, we take a closer look at Martha Washington, the woman who would serve as the nation’s first First Lady before the term was even crafted for the role. To help us better understand her life and her role in American history, I am joined in this episode by Presidential and First Ladies historian Feather Schwartz Foster who shares her knowledge and insights about Martha’s strengths and shortcomings, the Washingtons’ marriage, how Martha approached her public and household duties after her husband took the oath of office in 1789, and what impact Martha had on crafting the role of the First Lady.
Audio editing by Andrew Pfannkuche, and special thanks to Toyin, Kato, Barbara, Mark, and Alex for providing the intro quotes.
This episode is dedicated to the memory of my mother, Betty Landry, and is being released on what would have been her 68th birthday.
The music between sections are selections from Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto 1st Movement (Allegro), performed by Markus Krumpöck and the Merkur Orchester Wiener Neustadt conducted by Willibald Zwittkovits.
Though well known in his own day, Thomas Jefferson’s successor at the State Department is little known to modern audiences. Thus, I present this special episode in order to help you understand our second Secretary of State. His name has been brought up in the podcast previously as he was the first Attorney General, but there are a few key points that you’ll want to pay attention to about this Virginian’s story as they might just come to play in the not too distant future.
Content Note: Though not going into graphic detail, I did want to let everyone know upfront that this episode, in discussing slavery, does touch upon the violence associated with slavery including that perpetrated against female enslaved people.
Year(s) Discussed: 1490s-1792
European settlers in the Western Hemisphere began practicing slavery in the lands that they found on the other side of the Atlantic in the late 15th century. In this episode, we examine the institution of slavery in what would become the United States as it developed up to the end of Washington’s first term in office. From its beginnings to its codification, we also look at some of the living conditions of enslaved peoples and early efforts to end the practice of slavery. The episode finishes off with bringing the focus back to Washington and how he approached slavery as he participated in the Constitutional Convention and then took office as president. Source information for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
Our examination of George Washington begins with his early life in Virginia. Washington has to cope with personal loss and self-improvement as he works to make his way in the world. The coming of the French and Indian War takes his life in a new direction and sets the stage for the Revolution to come. We also look at his marriage to Martha Dandridge Custis and his establishment of industries based on slavery at Mount Vernon. Source notes for this episode can be found at http://presidencies.blubrry.com.