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Showing posts from January, 2009

Scandalous Book Review: Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly

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"I was born a slave - - was a child of slave parents - - therefore I came upon the earth free in God-like thought, but fettered in action." Elizabeth Keckly While looking through my huge pile of research books while preparing this month's series on Presidential scandals, I discovered that I had an advance reader's coppy of Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly that had been given to me by an old friend who has since passed away. Curiously I picked it up and began reading. While Lincoln has long been one of my favorite presidents, I didn't know a great deal about Mary Lincoln apart from the fact that like Lincoln, she was born in Kentucky, and her son had her committed to an asylum several years after Lincoln's death (dramatized in the play, The Last of Mrs. Lincoln). What intrigued me about the book was that it was a dual biography of Mary Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckly, the freed slave who became Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker and her closest friend. I had never hea

Dusky Sally: The Controversy over Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings

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“The man whom it delighteth the people to honor, keeps, and for many years past kept, as his concubine, one of his own slaves. Her name is SALLY.” James Callendar in 1802 It is the political scandal of all political scandals (yes, bigger even than a certain beret wearing intern). The third president of the United States, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and the founder of the University of Virginia had jungle fever! The intimation that Thomas Jefferson had a long standing sexual relationship with one of his slaves has divided historians ever since James Callendar wrote about it during the election of 1802. Even today, despite DNA evidence linking Sally Hemings’ descendants to Jefferson, there are still people who refuse to believe the story. Fawn Brodie deserves a certain amount of credit for reviving the story with her biography of Thomas Jefferson that was published in 1974. Before this the rumors had been dismissed as just ugly campaign propaganda. One of Sally Hem

The Butterfly Award

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Thanks to Kris Waldherr for passing on this award to me, and I'm very happy to pass it on some deserving blogs. Here are the “rules” of the Butterfly Award: 1. Put the logo on your blog. 2. Add a link to the person who awarded you. 3. Award up to ten other blogs. 4. Add links to those blogs on yours. 5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs What a great way to network with other bloggers. I am happy to pass this award on to: History Undressed Raucous Royals Tudor History Reading the Past Kwana Writes Edwardian Promenade Margaret Evans Porter The Virtual Dime Museum Catherine Delors

Mob Moll: Judith Campbell Exner, JFK and the Mafia

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The Exner Files: Judith Campbell Exner, JFK and the Mob A beautiful woman is introduced to a handsome, charismatic Senator running for President by an Academy Award winning movie star. They fall into an affair. Meanwhile, the beautiful woman is also introduced to the head of the Chicago mob by the same man. The beautiful woman carries messages and arranges meetings between the now President of the United States and the Chicago mobster. Sounds like the plot of a thriller, or a conspiracy theorists wet dream doesn’t it? However in this case, it happens to be true. Allegedly. This much can be proved. Fact #1: Judith Campbell as she was known then was introduced to John F. Kennedy in Las Vegas by Frank Sinatra. Fact #2: Several months later, Judith was introduced to ‘Sam Flood’ in Miami by Frank Sinatra. Later on she learned that he was actually Sam Giancana, the head of the Chicago mob. Fact #3: Judith and JFK carried on an affair for almost three years, meeting in hotel rooms, the

Scandalous Women nominated for Lady Blog Award

I just found out that Scandalous Women has been nominated for a Lady Blog Award in the Pop Culture/Entertainment Category. http://www.culture11.com/article/36557 Please click on the link and vote for me! You have until January 26th to vote.

The Petticoat Affair – the Scandalous Story of Margaret ‘Peggy’ Eaton and Andrew Jackson’s White House

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Monica Lewinsky wasn’t the first woman to almost take down a Presidency. In many ways, Washington DC is a small town where gossip spreads like wildfire. In 1830’s Washington, Margaret O’Neale Timberlake Eaton almost took down the Presidency of Andrew Jackson all because the women of Washington society would not accept her It came to be known as the ‘Petticoat Affair’ and it caused the resignation of Jackson’s entire cabinet, changed the direction of John C. Calhoun’s political career, and led to the rise of Martin van Buren as a serious candidate for the office of President. Margaret’s behavior had excited Washington gossip for years. Born in 1799, Margaret had grown up around the politicians that frequented her family’s boarding house. As a small child, they had dangled her from their knees, as a pretty and vivacious teenager she had flirted with them, practicing her feminine wiles. She would listen to the lively talk of the men at the dinner table and in the tavern, eventually sh

Wild Rose - The Life of Confederate Spy Rose O'Neal Greenhow

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Rose O'Neale Greenhow with her youngest daughter and namesake, "Little" Rose, at the Old Capitol Prison, Washington, D.C., 1862. Taken by Matthew Brady In July 1861, a young woman named Bettie Duval, managed to deliver vital information about Union troop movements to General Pierre Beauregard of the Confederate army, stationed near a little town called Manassas in Virginia. She kept the small piece of paper hidden in a small black silk bag tucked in the heavy coil of her dark hair. Where had she gotten the information from? Rose O’Neal Greenhow, a Washington matron, Southern sympathizer, and confederate spy. When Rose heard of the Confederate victory at the first Battle of Bull Run, she always believed that it was her information that made the difference. What led this widow to take the risk of spying for the Confederacy, and who was Rose O’Neal Greenhow? Rose O'Neale Greenhow's family owned a small plantation in Montgomery County, in Maryland. Her father J

FDR and his Women

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One day in early 1918, a change took place in the marriage of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt. Roosevelt, who was Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson, had just returned from a tour of Europe, inspecting the navy overseas during the Great War. Exhausted and suffering from pneumonia, it was left to Eleanor as the dutiful wife to unpack his belongings. What she found set her into shock. Love letters between her husband and Lucy Mercer, a young woman that she had hired to be her social secretary. Eleanor had long suspected that something was going on between her handsome, vibrant husband, and her vivacious secretary, in fact she had fired Lucy, ostensibly because she no longer needed Lucy’s services during wartime. But now to see the evidence in black and white cut Eleanor to the quick. Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) had long worried that she would never be able to hold onto her husband. As a child, her mother Anna Hall Roosevelt had constantly pointed out her lack of