REVIEW Þ Lady First

REVIEW Lady First

The acclaimed author of A Wicked War now gives us the little known story of Sarah Polk remarkably influential First Lady and brilliant master of the art of high politics a crucial but unrecognized figure in the history of American feminismAt the same time as the Woman's Rights convention was taking place at Seneca Falls in First Lady Sarah Childress Polk was wielding influence unprecedented for a woman Y This is an impressive work on the 11th woman filling the position we know as first lady It shows her an able politician throughout her life The title bows to the culture of the day for a woman to operate on the level of Sarah Childress Polk she had to despite her power and influence present herself as a lady first The first half covers her childhood through her life as first lady the second covers her life as a widow Throughout the issue of slavery is suarely faced Polk The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America and A Country of Vast Designs James K Polk the Mexican War and the Conuest of the American Continent say Sarah is active in her husband s campaignadministration but are not clear on what she did Both show that James has problems with his own party as well as the opposition Amy S Greenberg shows through letters and reports of the time that Sarah has regular communication with powerful politicians judges and generals She is not just a conduit to her husband but a filter like today s communications directors It seems that some of Sarah s power stems from her husband being difficult to work withJames Polk kept his head down on the slavery issue many did not know of his Mississippi plantation Greenberg is clear that he worked behind the scenes to start the Mexican War to add slave territory to the US She shows how he capitalized on it With demand for slaves each of Polk s slaves became valuable He purchased a 12 year old female and there is evidence showing that this was for breeding Sarah is not a conscience for her husband She accepts the slavery system To support the financially strapped former first lady Dolley Madison Sarah hired Madison s White House slave Paul Jennings Of course Jennings had no choice in the matter nor pay Sarah makes no changes in the Mississippi Polk Plantation when she inherited itI found Polk s widowhood even interesting than her early political life She is clearly the Grand Dame of Nashville She built a giant tomb in her backyard and for over 40 years wore black She kept the Polk mansion just as it was when James was alive An provocative caveat regarding this marriage is James desire towards his life s end to be baptized a Methodist while throughout his life he seemed to be as his wife was a Presbyterian His will also has an unexpected twist that is not sympathetic to Sarah s familyIn the Civil War Sarah entertains the Union generals She pulls strings to get her cotton through the Union blockade and get a release of POW relatives held by the Union Army At the same time her private sympathies are with the south she is sewing uniforms for the Confederate Army After the war in addition to her pension from the country her actions defied she appealed for funds for items taken from her Mississippi plantation in the war Like her husband to the general public she appears neutral on the slavery and by inference secession so after the war she is well positioned to be deferred to as a national figure of respect In this time her grand niece married a founder of the Klu Klux Klan who became a governor of TennesseeSarah Childress Polk left few letters and little other writing This book was culled from letters to her contemporary reporting and recollections of others along with research on the issues and society of the day This is uite a story and should be of interest to anyone with interest in this period particularly those who appreciate a straightforward appraisal of the issues of race and gender at this time

FREE DOWNLOAD Ð TOBERMOREDRIVEWAYS.CO.UK ë Amy S. Greenberg

Lady First

Et while history remembers the women of the convention it has all but forgotten Sarah Polk Now Amy Greenberg brings her story into vivid focus We see her father raising her on the frontier to discuss politics and business as an eual with men We see her use savvy and charm to help her brilliant but unlikeable husband ascend to the White House And we see her exercising truly extraordinary power as First La This is a biography of Sarah Childress Polk the wife of the 11th POTUS and something of an historical marvel or an annoyance depending upon one s point of view The marvel is the author s mastery of her material the possible annoyance is how much she spins from such slender records There are many passages like these Sarah probably or perhaps or certainly the Polks must have I confess to leaning a bit toward the annoyance end of the scale especially for the early part of the book The author maintains that Sarah Polk was the most powerful woman in America in 1848 and she shows how this came to pass through native gifts of political insight and intelligence an array of people skills that endeared her to the nation especially when contrasted with her rather taciturn husband a feminine deference that was expected of the fairer sex during the period and a close partnership with her husband acting as his unofficial communications director throughout his political career maintaining correspondence with men completely apart from their relationships with James I believe though that Greenberg may overstate her case when she maintains that Mrs Polk was the first politically effective partisan First Lady what about Dolley Madison The chapters on Sarah s long widowhood and her activities during the Civil War when she was courted by both Union and Confederate make for interesting if somewhat murky reading The epilogue which details the role ChildressPolk relations played in the formation of the Ku Klux Klan is sadly chilling I left the book with a keener appreciation for Sarah Polk as a person curiously I found I did not really like her very much and I am not altogether certain why this should be the case Still this is a volume that helps fill in a period of US history that is perhaps neglected than others

Amy S. Greenberg ë 1 REVIEW

Dy uietly manipulating elected officials shaping foreign policy directing a campaign in support of America's expansionist war against Mexico Greenberg makes clear that though the Polk marriage was a partnership of euals Sarah firmly opposed the feminist movement's demands for then far reaching euality A riveting biography and a revelation of Sarah Polk's complicated but essential part in American feminis This is the first biography written about President Polk s wife Sarah Polk was a president that we haven t heard much about He served only one term by his own choice but he was remarkedly modern in taking political advice from his wife At a time when women could not vote and their role in society was to have children and rule the home Sarah held a remarkable place in her husband s presidency She not only was his ears and eyes but helped make policy But the most remarkable job she did was talking to other politicians and helping them to see things as her husband desiredThis was before the Civil War and the Polks had slaves and no children This enabled Sarah to not be tied down as other wives as she had no children to raise and the slaves did her household work Often women at that time before birth control were worn out physically and their health was affected adversely by constantly giving birth to children The author feels that these two factors plus a liberal father who educated her as much as women could be educated at that time allowed her the time physical health and education to speak knowledgably to men about politicsShe had a pleasant and interesting personality which her husband the President did not have and that helped her too Very well researched book I heard the author speak and Amy Greenberg obviously enjoyed her research on a little know subject


10 thoughts on “Lady First

  1. says:

    This is an impressive work on the 11th woman filling the position we know as “first lady” It shows her an able politician throughout her life The title bows to the culture of the day for a woman to operate on the level of Sarah

  2. says:

    Amy Greenberg's assertion that Sarah Polk of all people was responsible for revamping the way Americans conceive of the role and nature of the First Lady seems at first like a bit of a stretch to put it mildly But the author backs up her claims with formidable research and insight and the result is a remarkable addition to First Lady biographies My review

  3. says:

    Although Sarah Childress Polk rose to political power by crossing boundaries skillfully manipulating both men a

  4. says:

    This impressive biography joins a growing list of serious First Lady studies and especially as with Catherine Allgor's study of Dolley Madison A Perfect Union focuses on an American First Lady's not admirable legacy with A

  5. says:

    This is a biography of Sarah Childress Polk the wife of the 11th POTUS and something of an historical marvel or an annoyance depending upon one's point of view The marvel is the author's mastery of her material; t

  6. says:

    I was curious about Mrs James K Polk and didn't know much about her as I hadn't done much reading about this time period my reading tends to include later eras like the Gilded Age or the early 20th century but I'

  7. says:

    When you think of powerful First Ladies chances are that you probably won’t think of Sarah Childress Polk yet this work highlights that she was as influential and powerful as any First Ladies with name recognition Married to one of America’s less well known presidents she and James Polk made a formidable political couple and muc

  8. says:

    This is the first biography written about President Polk's wife Sarah Polk was a president that we haven't heard much about He served only one term by his own choice but he was remarkedly modern in taking political advice from his wife At a time when women could not vote and their role in society was to have children and rule the home Sarah held a remarkable place in her husband's presidency She not only was

  9. says:

    Omg what a fantastic engaging fun book to read Ch 5 is a blast Varina Davis Dolly Madison and especially Catherine Beecher all fascinating to learn about Greenberg writes like she is presenting a story as one peels an onion being slowly peeled revealing succulent bites of personality beliefs and facts about her subject I had no idea Lincoln was an excellent wrestler Polk supported the Mormons and that Sarah bought child

  10. says:

    Although it probably was not the author's intention this book changed my view of the Polk Presidency I had thought that Polk was a first a pure expansionist and second a pro Unionist As such he professed to be neutral with respect to the slavery issue I now think that Polk's expansionism had a pro salvery motive His prof