tv Author Discussion on Mary Washington CSPAN August 1, 2020 9:15am-10:31am EDT
edward ball recounts the life of his great-great-grandfather, a ku klux klan member in life of a klansman. find these titles wherever books are sold and watch for many authors in the near future on booktv on c-span2. >> good evening. i'm executive director of the national library for the study of george washington mount vernon commonly known as the washington library. we have events we were set to hold in march before closure forced us to delay, we have the martha washington marcher. some of the most important scholarships on the mother of george washington. that is the name of martha washington, understand the world, time and experiences of
martha washington and other women of the eighteenth century. one of them is mary ball washington. the month of march is women's history month but part of the closure, here we are tonight. mention a couple steps, one important thing the audience probably knows by now. to come to mount vernon, you have an opportunity to stroll the ground and see the museum quite soon. those particular challenges, please come to the mount vernon -- support mount vernon in that way. july 8th coming around the
corner, will feature justice ginsburg, the host and creator of the recent pbs miniseries on the constitution interviewed by someone no less notable, david rubenstein, join us for that conversation so we can learn more about the constitution. three panelists i won't describe to you, doctor karen wolf, historian of early america, and the director of the omaha -- professor of history at william and mary and working on a project when i came, bond lineage in the history of genealogy. welcome. >> thank you. it is cool to be here.
>> where is your dining room? >> just around the beltway. >> i'm not going to intrude any longer. i will not ask you to introduce our panel tonight. looking forward to the talk. >> thanks, appreciate that. hello to all of you. i'm sorry we are not together in person but some of the most important and challenging issues, thank you, mount vernon, for putting this together. my family loved visiting mount vernon for many decades, one of the lasting contributions to the culture mount vernon has been making is in supporting the search. they are not only healthy but
essential to our nation and to press exhibits in books like those we are talking about this evening. in the martha washington lecture series we are grappling with core issues, how do we tell the histories of people who were not super well-documented from this earlier period. all women are difficult to document and enslave men and women who are key presences in the lives of all the washingtons as the washingtons were key in their lives. with the context of mary ball washington in the structure of virginia. mary ball washington is known as the mother of george washington. a woman who lived the whole of the eighteenth century, born in
1708 on the northern neck, she married in 1731 into another wealthy family which in 1743 and 1789. mary ball washington enslaved men, women and children the first of whom she inherited, three men, tom, joe and jack. all the places she and the family lived they were 40 percent-50% enslaved people. she was married for 12 years to george washington's father and she bore 6 children, who lived past infancy and she managed nearly 300 acre estate for three decades and wasn't keen to leave it even when elderly but she did eventually have lived the last 17 years of her long life in fredericksburg,
virginia. that is just the start. for the rich details of the meeting and the opportunities of exploring them for better understanding, we are turning to a distinguished panel. you can guess why i am always in favor of introducing people in medical order. craig shirley had a long career in politics and his other of multiple books focus on the twentieth century including four bestsellers about ronald reagan, political biography of newt gingrich's early career and december of 1941, new york times bestseller about the attack on pearl harbor and most recently she published mary ball washington, the untold story of george washington's mother in 2019. the best century, the 18th-century. martha saxton is professor emeritus at admin college, and co-author of the seventh edition of interpretation of american history. many graduate students in
american history, she held many fellowships most recently was a fellow at the new york public library and just published the widow washington, the life of mary washington, and it is not public knowledge. last but certainly not least, my friend charlene boyer lewis, the author of ladies and gentlemen on display, 1790-1860 and elizabeth patterson bernhardt, american aristocrat in the early republic and is currently writing a book that i promise will be important. and coeditor of the volume of essays, one of the coeditors of the jefferson series at uva caressed. this is the moment -- thank you for joining that this evening. we welcome you back to the best
century, the 18th-century. one thing that is interesting to me about your book, the history of mary ball washington's biography not in the 18th-century but talking about the impact in the 18th-century. can you talk about that? >> i want to thank everybody. the place to start, i always wanted to do a biography of george washington. there is always a scholarship on washington coming up. i live in a house built in 1730
in rural virginia and always had a fascination with washington. i had two favorites, ronald reagan and george washington and remain very fascinating to me, multiple careers and interests and talents. the episcopal church in northern virginia where it ended. it can't be - all married. i started to probe my book, the scholarship on mary ball washington, what was out there wasn't very good. after she passed away where she
was treated as if - very delicate and the period after the civil war where realists take hold of the redneck and melville and other things, took much harder cast, joe cleaver to joe crawford and the fact of the matter neither is true, much more nuanced. when i got into the scholarship and the research, a very talented woman. actually, a lettered person,
fine hand, very literate letters, in fredericksburg, a metropolis in 1750-1760s but what emerged for me was a more sophisticated woman that history has not been kind to. the idea she needs to be looked at more closely. as you mentioned, george's father died at 12 years old and it occurred to me he had an older stepbrother who was never around much. he had two tutors but all these
qualities we were associated with and all these things, the correct conclusion is these came from his mother so that is not just because of that. makes -- the most important woman in the history of the american public. >> thanks, that is an interesting reflection. i am sure people in fredericksburg would prefer your booming metropolis to my bustling challenge so certainly it was a lively place in the 18th-century and more dominant in the area than we may have thought. a quick follow-up about mary ball washington and people interpreted her as a mother over time. she goes from being june
cleaver to joan crawford, visual media references there but you are also talking about a much longer period from the nineteenth century into the late twentieth century where i am wondering if you think this is because people are interpreting motherhood differently and popular conceptions of women in women's roles differently as they interpret mary washington. >> i think all of us are historians and scholars, modern sensibilities into a look backward. we are not judging them with moral standards and qualities of today. we are not doing that but we are taking a closer look at the men and women in the past and
trying to seize them. i tried to imagine what it would it be like. my wife and my mother did a lot of research but what was it like to be a single woman raising six children? in a century that was not very hospitable to women and didn't have the vote but her job and all women's jobs was to take -- what was passed along to them, their job was to pass along their eldest son when he reached the age of majority. it is a very difficult century for women. to raise children who were respectable citizens, she had
to have done something right. may be a lot of things to raise children under difficult circumstances. a man who passed away first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen. >> i appreciate that a lot and i want to ask martha a question about widowhood. for everybody watching, martha has experienced laryngitis with her daughter is going to reader responses and martha will catch up with a follow-up so thanks, we appreciate that a lot and this is very suitable. a mother-daughter team, really appropriate. i want to ask martha to tell us a little bit more about
something craig touched on which is mary ball washington's physician, a widow and slaveowner, how that helps us understand her and the world she lived in. give us a little context if you would. >> i should say i live in something so my daughter could read it so it is a little bit formal but if we go on too long just tell us. >> telling the story of mary ball as a member of the gentry and slaveowner opens a discussion of 18th-century virginia including class slavery. sometimes contradictory roles and the way the legal system shaped white male supremacy. the position gives us a view on privilege and lack of fundamental rights.
mary's decision to stay unmarried after the death of her husband, special freedom and special legal and customary liabilities. unlike wives to own property but virginia law in the judiciary to keep women's ownership of land is both exceptional and temporary. in mary's case, the two best plantations to his son by his first marriage and divided the rest of the land among his and mary's sons. he left a small amount of money to his and mary's daughter betty, he left mary the right to use the house and land where she lived only until georgia came of age. augustine left the same number of people she brought to the marriage and stipulated that if she felt the need for more it would come from among people designated for her children. augustine's role was stingy with her.
and to dependency. these legal practices created the condition for widespread friction between mothers and firstborn sons. after georgia's coming-of-age because he was and const in mount vernon and failed to find the means to build herself a whole. over the years, to meet her expenses on this relatively infertile property irks them until he finally took the farm from her thinking to improve it and make a profit he believed was due him. we will never know why mary remained single but she had a model for independence in the memory of some others between the time young mary was about 6 until she was 12. and litigate property and make her own decisions. marymac not have wanted more
children. another important factor was augustine's provision in this bill that if she remarried and if her second husband tampered with her children's legacies, experienced guardian fighting over his legacy. it was difficult to be sure any prospect of suitor might not be designed on children's property and would not risk control of children. mary's experience as a slave owner offers glimpses of the unsettling and unsettled instances between slaveholders and enslaved to people and suggesting changes as the institution developed over that time. mary became the owner of two young enslaved boys. the role of slaveowner inevitably blended her empathy and shaped her sense of command
with the necessity of slavery. women her age were playmates but whatever the game she would win. she grew up on a small farm where they lived close together in their step mother and father forced it out but mary's stepfather died, her mother took over hiring an overseer but controlling the firemen enslaved workers. a high number of kidnapped africans entering virginia speaking foreign languages some with ritual scars bewildered, frightened, mary's financial guardian neighbor george average was among the legislators writing laws as complete control over the lives of africans as possible. mary and father's family litigated unborn children and young enslaved women.
and enslaved woman, she would be valuable, she would be more valuable though less costly than in enslaved men because women work in the field as well as the house and children their owners can work with. both mary's early ownership of men in boys and membership of the early eighteenth century generation makes an utterly unrepentant slave owner. a family story has her whipping and reviling in enslaved boy, during the revolution she asked george, not to be separated from her partner but mary persisted and got her way. in her will she separated enslaved family members recklessly. mary had to demonstrate her
authority and strength, perceived weakness could lead to resistance. cases of infractions by enslaved people and by widows showed up more often in the courts. by the time mary was an old woman the myth was developing that women and slaveowners did not use violence was martha washington was protected by george's roulette mount vernon that enslaved people cannot complain to her of an overseer's visit. the prevailing ideological prevailing ideology of sensibility along with the distances wealthy planters could increasingly create with the actual day-to-day extraction of work from laborers left mary is a woman vulnerable to the criticism of unusual cruelty as a slave owning could be anything else. >> thank you.
really helpful context. you put two things to gather. mary ball washington its experience as a widow, the law in virginia disempowered women but also put widows in a slightly more, free and wealthy widows in a more powerful position. and slavery. so mary ball washington is extremely technical in some contexts and not at all powerful in others. i will ask charlene to come in on this next question. when we come back to you in the second round, one of the things i will ask you about is to give us a reminder of what it meant. the law that can find women's property earning is crucial for us to understand, craig mentioned that as well, talking
about a law which constrains enslaved people. we will come back to that in a minute. i want to talk about how hard it is to write a biography of any women in this period and you published a book about one woman, writing another book about another famous woman but even so it is a challenge. why is it so hard to write biographies of women? >> exactly. there are multiple reasons there are challenges and multiple challenges as well. i take the easy way out. i choose men who left a good record behind, less margaret arnold, women who had written about newspapers and other
historians, like mary ball washington who is more even elusive but the challenge is the time period from looking at these women, to really place women with men. in the nineteenth century women are kind of thought of as generalizations, not as individuals themselves. the only known as the mother of somebody, the wife of somebody, the daughter of embodied. because of that, it is a generic general category. they get lost in the record.
they were is written about as much. when you look at the beginning of the country and the census, men's names were on their first, really hard to find women. one of the challenges to do biography of women is you have to start sifting through all the traditional documents and find women where they can. in many archives papers are known by the man's name, benedict arnold's papers. i have to try to find margaret arnold in benedict arnold's papers, they are just put into one folder and family papers and that's where all the women's papers are. you have to sift. same when you are looking through newspapers, you have to sift and search for where these women are and what key terms
you use because they are not always going to be known as margaret arnold. they are much harder to find than men. i like to write biographies about women, we get creative. they are more elusive and difficult to write about. this is why we think about the sources in different ways. not just reading between the lines in traditional sources like letters but thinking about architecture and spaces that women inhabited laundry and kitchens and bedrooms and orchards so how can we bring that in and help us tell our story? a way that you think about material culture when you look at jewelry that a woman owns or dishes that a woman uses or a piece of clothing can tell is
an immense amount and let us write the story in a more full rich way even though the sources that are there are not as rich for somebody like george washington or thomas jefferson. what we need to understand, when you think about the challenges, complex figures, complicit for me to say so, women known by the men in their lives like helge berger get simplified and known as mother and father. somebody's wife and daughter and writers and politicians and shopkeepers, women -- the challenge of the biographer is to bake through traditional thinking busting that open.
to be a fool or enrich or picture, it is harder history to write. and the records almost don't exist. students get angry when they can't find sources they are interested in. to try to resurrect them as complex individuals that they were. >> i love your emphasis on the challenge and creativity and it underscores as we are trying to write about enslaved women known to us primarily by their
relationship to someone who enslaved them and you think about the incredible achievement of someone writing an incredible biography of linda judge and letting her be an individual in her own right, when there are only two points of access to her individual voice, interviews in the nineteenth century describing what happens when she ran away from the washingtons. you make an important point about seeing women as individuals and not just in relationship to other people. so thank you a lot. i want to get back to the question about covert or, ask you to be brief about them but the first, if you could very quickly, giving you a curveball if you could give is a succinct description of what the law of coverture is and how it
disempowers elite women, free women and how it empowers women of property if you could give us that snippet. >> when you marry you lose your legal identity as a woman. you become subsumed in the identity of your husband. nothing you own or produce including your children are yours. if it is not true before marriage, before marriage you are presumably dependent on your father and your father can pass things on to you legally and make you the owner of property. when you are a widow the same thing. you can own things in your own right 'v - your individual legal existence you can testify
in court. to restore many of those abilities that manage it. >> interesting to think about in these challenging times. when she is widowed, we know that also, remarry much more quickly. much more quickly than men 2. we can't assume modern feminist sense. do you think that is fair. >> she saw a difference in her mother's life.
it is not clear to me she enjoyed her mother very much. and it meant you would not have to have more children. would not have wanted to spend life with children and nursing. and what they wrote about, that is a real reason for not wanting to marry again. with the property you still had with a temporary set and she was used to going her own way.
>> i want you to mention, the interesting thing you bring to your book, she reads, things we know about from her books and readings, talk about what we can think about that. >> a page and a half about that - i wrote a page and a half about that. >> yours was blinking but that is fine. >> is the audio okay?
as mary became an adolescent, christian life from the beginning, what she would read and reread, they were almost all written in the late seventeenth century by english protestants all helpful to marry who left her in need of comfort and guidance. how to accept the loss of health, fortune, beloved people for understanding god's will in purposes. complaining challenging god's ongoing plan for the centers of care. they did not manage to comply with. at their marriage, augustine gave mary the book, matthew
hill's contemplation moral and divine and predecessors became a daily companion and parables through herself. >> he later came to own his own copy of it. >> the hierarchies were assigned position, god looked favorably on faithful stewards of property. someone of a lower class could not appreciate the subsidies of christianity. virginia slaveholders, these lessons included being obedient. and rules that helped distress and pain. she did not read novels, novels
written in a friendly egalitarian turn to the reader rather than as a teacher to a student offered lessons in empathy and sympathy, sharing sorrows with others. mary because of her early losses and work loads developed little of these at the 18th-century came to value so highly in the process. >> it amplifies the point about thinking about her role and her place in society that is helpful. it is a significant reader that understanding her as a person of letters was important for your sense of rewriting the biography of mary ball washington. i will ask an unfair question if you don't mind. talking about how important it
is, as individuals, not in the whole book but you mentioned this. the significance of understanding mary ball washington for understanding george washington. it is something you address but can you help us think about it a little bit? >> listening to the scholarship that i followed -- it is the same territory in my book. the same thing is i guess this addresses the larger question on mary ball washington, equated to going to the hobby store and dumping it over the
cable with 300 cases missing and piecing together, you have nowhere to look with mary, a woman of the 18th-century. it is difficult to find out these things. we don't even know -- george washington's mother did not know where she was buried, where she used to go to pray. the fact is nobody knows where she is buried today but in the time she was raised, the values she grew up with, it was a
difficult time and interceded at important times in george's life to follow the straight and narrow. a rich cabin boy, came back very quickly speaking of letters so under no circumstances could george be a rich cabin boy. in the british navy as you can imagine, and some british royalty and british cabin boys. then british subjects and then way at the bottom below jamaican slaves were americans. this was a time, the british
admiralty kept perspective and something like one third of all campus boys died at sea, being washed overboard, in with the crews who went to the ruffles and bars and got the worst sort of people to force them to be sailors who might be drunk in a bar and all of a sudden hundreds of miles out at sea in three or four years, in that circumstance, dozens of tough tawdry see men was good. to make sure george did not go into the british navy, she
encouraged him, she got him to become a surveyor. he went to mill valley twice but that was by the time he was a man striking out on his own. many times, not all the time but he did look after her affairs. the idea of responsibility to his mother that he learned from his mother, the responsibility as a citizen and a son, as a human being. all these qualities i mentioned before that we associate with george washington that came from her, still in them. >> i was just bring trying to flip to my book to find a place where i marked it and turned
down too many pages can be wrote about her not wanting to go to see and that was moving. that is not just -- previous biographers, trying to tie to the apron springs, the notion of apron springs is a peculiar notion. you said she has a realistic sense of what that would mean and why she thought that wouldn't have been a positive outcome. i just lost you. now you are back. that was a great point you make in the other thing i want to mention. i wonder if you could say one more word. this was striking your first comment. you talk about her as brave. that she's a brave woman and washington's bravery, we think
of them as a brave person you can source that to her. i think that is quite powerful. >> all women of that century and that time in that era had to be brave but it is difficult circumstances. mortality was very high, tremendously high percentage, everything was dangerous. the disease was all around, infection was a killer, you died of dysentery, died of rheumatic fever, to be a single woman raising 6 children, i think they tocqueville in democracy of america wrote
about the singularity of american women, they were different from european women, far more independence, stood up for themselves, all good attributes and i remember reading that from democracy in america and he didn't have mary ball washington in mind but i did, but it struck me one of the things you don't look into enough is the personal qualities of the people of that time, not just a measure of names and dates and places but real human things with real emotions especially at the end. ..
>> she has kind of commanding presence. george washington also has commanding presence. you can say these are people who are in charge and maybe that's a parallel too. >> yes, i would agree with that. look at conduct during revolutionary war. holding together a rag-tag army for 7 years and moving that from battle to battle losing more
battles than he won but he happened to be the more important battles than he lost and that type of fortitude and bravery truly has to come from some place. >> okay, thank you. i am going to flip over here and ask one last question before we go to questions from the audience. there's been questions. i want to thank you. they are really great. can we draw larger lessons here? mar that will had valuable insights here. >> i think mary ball washington, of course, is extraordinary and she's also ordinary.
i think she's illuminating on a number of points to tell us more about women in the 18th century. first of all, how much she really is the 18th century. a woman pretty much born at the beginning and tide at the end of it. we don't have that many women that are 18th century and mary ball washington is and that's wonderful. she's ordinary as some ordinary elite white women. born into white woman, privilege, she still gets to enjoy privileges that lots of other women plaque or white in virginia or elsewhere did not get to enjoy. she's a faithful, devout christian and i do think we need to pend more time looking at the
centrality of religion in women's lives in 18th century. i don't think that gets enough attention. that's one good way mary ball washington eliminates. while she's a devout faithful christian she is convinced in her right own and control people that she has the right to -- to be in control of other people and she has a right to own them even though she's devout christian and she gets the paradoxes of 18th century in that way. her sufferings are sad, but they are also ordinary, lots of women lots parents and lots of women lost husband. she doesn't remarried in 18th century. a lot of women because of how hard life is, what craig was talking about did not make the choice to go it alone even though there's many reasons to
go it allen. she's extraordinary in that. she also demonstrates to us the limitations that women had. here is a woman, single woman after her husband dies that controls large plantation, owns a lot of people and pays a lot of taxes and yet she does not have the political power, the social power that a man would have in the 18th century. she also helps illuminates the women's lives. when you read martha's book or craig's book you see that this is an elite woman who understood she needed to learn what all young ladies needed to learn. how to write, how to read, to attract a wealthy husband. washington was quite a catch. she's usual in that sense too. i also think she shows some of the choices women made.
i think people who read about mary ball washington will be surprised at that independence, will be surprised that she chose to not remarry and she chose to kind of control the legacy of her children to protect that so she could pass it onto them. she shows the importance of motherhood, what we were mentioning before. she becomes known as the mother, right, so she really emphasizes that too, but i also think she shows us how complicated and complex women's lives are. she's been simplified to the mother of george washington. this is what i was saying earlier, she's a much more complex figure than that and she brings to me more questions too about the 18th century. she makes me think, how would she have characterized herself, we can characterize her as much as we would want but how would she have done that, what did
motherhood mean to her? we can kind of guess what it might have meant. maybe it wasn't being george washington's mother that mattered more to her. she's eliminating and gives us lots of answers of women's lives in 18th century and i also think she leaves us with questions too simply because the evidence isn't there and we just don't always know what these women were thinking and i know you said there are good questions out there and i will leave it at that and we can hear more -- [laughter] >> great, thank thank you so mu. so, yeah, thank you, everyone, such good questions. i can't read them fast enough. here is this one, i'm going to toss to craig first. okay, so many good questions here. craig, this is i know that you addressed, someone asked it and now i'm not going to be able to find it. all right, the first who asked
this will know that i'm -- this is your question. someone asked about her feelings about the american revolution, so she is born at -- as british subject and lives a lot longer as a subject of british. do we have any hint about that? >> i addressed that in the book and martha does too. there are hints that she was sympathizer. she had to be conflicted. she grew up a british subject. she grew up in divine king george the second and king george the third. she attended the church of england and read english literature, she dressed in english fashion in every way
from childhood up until 1776. she's a british subject and i was thinking, trying to personal myself in that time period. everything that you've learned is wrong. you don't have a king. you're not a british subject and you don't have to do this, you don't have to go distinct church. we have new government. for a subject to make that lifestyle change, psychological, you know, to rip it up by the roots, it rips by the roots of what their culture has been, had
to have been very difficult for her but there's no evidence that she -- she supported george either. no evidence that she -- there was reference of french troops and several french took place, at least one of them made reference to her being a sympathizer. again, it's really -- she was probably fairly agnostic about the whole thing and she did -- one other thing too. i think martha talked about this too. there was a time when she was working in her garden and a horseman comes up with a message to tell her that george has won an important battle and she's counterdismissive and she said that's what he's supposed to do. there was no joy of her son's
success or success of the american revolutionary against the british empire. nothing like that whatsoever. i think that -- i don't think she -- she thought about that deeply, nothing in her levels, anything in any biographies or anything that subjects that she really took a position one way or the other. >> i guess to be fair, you know, even if we go by john adams old quantitification of support for the revolution, maybe one-third were patriots and one-third were, you know, sort of we will see how things go. we would expect the mother of washington to be ardent patriot. to be fair she lived as british subject. >> absolutely. maybe more than a third of americans were loyal to the british crowd.
benjamin franklin's own son was imprisoned as a tory spy. very we have at least 3 people, two dozen questions have asked about how -- what mary thought about martha. i want to ask you, martha. if you have something to tell us about what mary ball washington thought about her daughter-in-law. >> well, it's complicated and i think at mount vernon they think they didn't get along at all and that -- and that martha didn't really like each other. they were both very powerful women, was pleased that george
mary martha and if there was discomfort it was probably martha and george's side. mary nearly grew up much less elite -- >> she's elite but not in the super elite. she's well connected. >> right. she wasn't polished. she didn't make conversation necessarily to be amusing and charming. she has things to say and she was a very utilitarian kind of person i imagine and i think that she represented many values that martha had trouble with like frugality, for example, martha was lavish and so was george and they spent money and
went debt up to their eyeballs. mary asked little bits of money, did not do that and did not dress up or and did not worship and martha didn't enjoy whatever remaining control mary had over her son. >> thank you. it's different generations. okay. so here is -- here is a question, do we know if shad -- a lot of people asked questions about why she didn't remarry. people ask questions did she have any other suitors, do we know anything about that, craig, what do you think? >> no evidence of any suiters whatsoever.
i agree with martha, i don't think she didn't seek another man after lawrence, but also it made -- there's evidence that she did have a reputation, whatever it was after lawrence -- >> go ahead, martha. >> discussion of a doctor who may or may not. he visited a lot but had professional reasons to do that. i think this is something that freeman suggests in book, but nobody knows, nobody actually knows. >> charlene, someone asked the question about women as slave holders and what is the dynamic there when -- when a man is
enslaving people he has a certain level of authority. what is the situation of women? the question is actually about would she have had to be harsher or tougher or something? we have white women as slave holders which is pretty powerful. >> right, and the recent scholarship opens up a picture of slave-holding women which i think goes against what the 19th century gone with the wind sense of slave holding women were. it's increasingly clear that slave-holding white women were more violent often. not in terms of whipping but kind of personal one-on-one violence. you know, you being an implement or just hitting someone for in head or using kitchen implement, right, and so i don't -- you know, we probably don't know a
lot about how mary ball washington was as a slave mistress but we know of other slave-holding women that violence was a day-to-day occurrence in the household because women didn't have as much of authority. they also have a harder time interacting with overseers and keeping authority over oversee ers and that makeses a more frustrating, tense, more violent environment. >> yeah, thank you, that's helpful. >> so there's -- i have another question here which i just love. this is directly for you, martha. this goes straight to historians ' happy heart. this this is a question -- [laughter] >> about documents, are you aware that mary ball washington's papers will be included in the washington papers project which george washington paper's project and
support more mount vernon? >> i'm not aware of that. i wouldn't be surprised many notes went that. what are left are 5 or 6, there's one at the morgan library in new york. i'm -- i don't know what's going to happen other than that but to speak of mary's papers is a beautiful dream. >> yeah. [laughter] >> there's another wonderful question but we lost craig's connection. we had a challenge with that. i was going to ask both of you. someone also asked do you think there's cash of papers out there
somewhere like we all dream about that? do you think there's a cash of paper somewhere? >> i have no idea. [laughter] >> maybe craig -- >> yeah, yeah. it would be amazing. craig, my favorite line of question here which is about whether there are more papers to be found. the question is if there's cash of papers yet to be found? no. you don't think so. oh, i think craig is muted. >> yeah. >> okay. i think you're muted still. janet, can you unmute him or he has a mute there? he says he can't unmute. i think craig you have to hit your unmute button because janet can't do it for you. maybe. all right.
no, this is sad because this is such a great question, maybe you can, you know, give us hand gestures there. there you go. now i can hear you. >> i will use smoke signal. >> do you think there's a cash of papers waiting to be found? >> well, we all know that -- that martha destroyed her letters or at least that was the story that george wrote her. i think that scholarship is is always available. somebody is going through the library, they poke on a book and they found a lock of hair of george washington and it's just astonishing the amount of scholarship that is still unfound out there that you discover. when i was on my book in 1941 we did a lot of research obviously.
my son who is my principal researcher was going through declassified documents from world war ii and he found a memo from the office naval intelligence that was marked top secret that was for the president of the united states and senior at the white house and had been declassified by the 70's and nobody came across it and we came across it. it was written 3 days before december 7, 1941, japanese possible attacks would be including the panamá canal, the philippines, guam, in the memo pearl harbor. >> oh, my gosh. >> i'm not suggesting there was any conspiracy but this memo had
layed down the roosevelt library for years in the 70's and nobody ever came across it. i think there's always new scholarship out there to be discovered and uncovered. >> i think that's great and it's so important. i think what your work shows all 3 of you really is the power of locating more information, bringing fresh perspective, new interpretations. sometimes we talk about revision history it's a bad thing, we all like revisionist medicine, you know. you get new information, new perspective and that's what we are doing here, we fully understand the critical period and craig i hope that you recognize that the 18th century is the most significant in american history.
that's what we should all focus. i'm not even going let you guys have leisure and end right there. thank you so much for joining us this evening, i really appreciate your questions and so on. there's a few questions that i will ask the folks at mount vernon to get us contact information and i don't want them to go unanswered. so thank you all so much, thanks to kevin, thanks to janet and jim, folks at the back end at mount vernon. don't forget how craig said mount vernon is open for visit ing. thanks so much for, everyone. >> television for serious readers, programs to watch out, tonight on afterwords founder
michael shellengerger on what he calls apocalypse never and moore, he will discuss issues that african americans in inner cities are facing and uprising in baltimore following the death of freddie gray, find out more information about these and all other programs airing this weekend at booktv.org or on your program guide. >> during virtual institute for public knowledge, journalist reported on rise of homelessness across america. here is a portion of her talk. >> so there's one food stamp office currently open in each borough, most of them are closed. over half of the welfare offices are closed and, of course, they
need to be for social distancing right now. >> right. >> at the same time as we know, 1.5 million newly unemployed people. >> right. >> new york city 22 million nationally just in the past month and that's something that's completely overloaded. you can file online the website crashes, you do something over the phone, there's, you know, no way that you can get through. and this is where we are headed. i mean, when i think about how entirely overloaded and dysfunctional our social service system and unprecedented prosperity which ended sharply 6 weeks ago but lasted quite a long time that was a time in which we could have strengthen our safety net and instead we shredded it, we shredded systemically and i know when
waiting rooms aren't full. i can only imagine how entirely devastating screwed we are considering what is about to come and what has already begun. >> all right. and i was wondering actually because the way that this book is narrated, i mean, it's exactly what you talk about at the beginning of this conversation which is is it really does, you know, you really are telling her stories through her experience, through her eyes. you comment a little bit and we can get to it into a second because i think it's important, but i was wondering if -- i did get the sense just from reading it that there was a lot of invisible research too that took place in terms of you were familiarity with policy and did you talk to a lot of people who were actually, you know, on the other side of it who, you know, on the government side of the system, i guess, in terms of how they see it, where they see it
going, you know, whether it's the case that this is -- i mean, is it the face that it's deliberate, you know, starving of resources in order to make it just difficult for people to access, so people who are really trying to strengthen it in some way. >> i have to out myself, i didn't really, i did talk to some people certainly but i did not do an enormous amount of background interviewing in that sense. i read a lot of policy papers. i read a lot of studies, there is a huge amount of scholarship about how all of this functions and i think it's got to be maddening and heartbreaking to be a scholar who has devoted a lifetime of research to trying shake people about this and say these are the problems and here is how we fix them. i don't think there's a university in america that doesn't have at least, i don't
know, 2 or 3 people working on these issues at all times not the mention the people who had been thinking about this in our government for years so i did a lot of research in that way. i certainly before i started reporting at the shutter was doing a lot more general research but but i honestly in addition to really drilling down into her experience and supplementing that with my own reading and some conversations, i didn't want to flag that i was in these offices doing this reporting. you know, i would show up in pretty much any office, child support offices, welfare centers, family court, the wic offices, you name it and always almost the white person there if not always and almost always the middle-aged person there if not always. and i think because of, you
know, because camila is pale and people called it the grandmother in my early 40's it really threw me for a loop. i wasn't considered to be the grandmother. [laughter] office often considered to be the social worker. people wouldn't say are you the grandmother or are you the worker but sometimes a -- i would be recording from my iphone or taking notes on the notes app. but it wasn't often that i would take out one of my reporter's
notebooks and a pen because my goal was to see what could be shown to me. >> this is all i've got. >> hello, everyone, welcome and thank you for joining us from around the world. we've got people from st. louis and harlem and chicago, from albuquerque, from dallas, from the bronx and melbourne. we are pleased to have you here, my name is maya marshal, editor of haymarket books. before i introduce