Washington Historian Remembers Harriet Lane, the Greatest First Lady


Washington Historian Remembers Harriet Lane, the Greatest First Lady

WASHINGTON DC: She was the first White House Hostess to be called "First Lady." Enough said.

"Harriet Lane was a century ahead of her time," says Washington Historian and Biographer Milton Stern. "She used her intelligence, political skills, charm and beauty to push legislation through Congress when she was only twenty-seven years old."

She was the niece of America's Bachelor President and his official hostess in Lancaster, London and Washington. Anyone who met her was instantly enamored. Queen Victoria bestowed upon her the title "Honorary Ambassadress." The Washington press corps proclaimed her "Our Democratic Queen," and the Chippewa named her "the Great Mother of the Indians." U.S. Naval and Coast Guard ships were named after her and still are. Songs were written about her, and women dressed like her. She was the most admired woman in the country and established a style of entertaining never before seen in the White House. She was the first of her kind to be an advocate for social causes: hospital and prison reform and the plight of the American Indians. And only she could get away with beating the Prince of Wales at bowling, which she taught him in the first place!

Her world was guided by tragedy and death, yet she lived every day to the fullest. She conducted herself with grace and dignity and dedicated her life to the perpetuation of the memories of those dearest to her heart and the social welfare of all Americans, especially children.

Although no monument has been dedicated in her memory, her legacy and generosity live on in Baltimore and Washington through the establishment of the Johns Hopkins Pediatric and Teaching Hospital, St. Albans School for Boys, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the President James Buchanan Monument in Meridian Hill Park.

No Washington guest list was complete without her, as a society columnist wrote, "There is no more elegant figure in the official and social gatherings during the social season than the niece of President James Buchanan."

More than twenty years after her death, she was named one of the most memorable women in American History, but more than 100 years after her death, few remember America's greatest First Lady.

Milton Stern is the author of "Harriet Lane, America's First Lady" (www.harrietlane.net), the first extensive biography of President James Buchanan's niece. Due to his thorough research of Harriet Lane's life, he has been interviewed on numerous radio programs and is considered the definitive expert on the life of Harriet Lane.

"Unfortunately for Lane, she was the niece of a chief executive who was wrongfully blamed for events that had been unfolding since the drafting of the Constitution," Stern says. "His position as the fifteenth President, who was followed by America's greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, made him the scapegoat. Few realize that Lincoln supported Buchanan's policies in regard to South Carolina's secession from the Union until Fort Sumter was attacked, and Buchanan supported Lincoln's during the entire Civil War."

When asked why he wrote Harriet Lane's biography, Stern said, "She was an inspiration not only to American women, but also all Americans, as she devoted her entire life to social causes and for the betterment of this great country. Americans still benefit from her generosity."

Milton Stern is also the author of "America's Bachelor President and the First Lady" and the Executive Editor of "SelfPublisher News" (www.selfpublishernews.com). He resides in Washington, DC, with his toy parti-poodle, Serena Rose Elizabeth Montgomery. His next book, "On Tuesdays, They Played Mah Jongg" (www.mahjongg.us), will be released in the fall.

Harriet Lane, America's First Lady,
© 2005 ISBN 1411626087,
Milton Stern,
www.harrietlane.net">http://www.harrietlane.net,
miltonstern@harrietlane.net


MORE RESOURCES:
Clive King, who has died aged 94, was the author of several children's books and is best known for Stig of the Dump, the original and imaginative fantasy story of the friendship between Barney, a boy of the modern era, with Stig, a boy from long, long ago who lives in a nearby chalk pit in a home created from things he can creatively and skilfully repurpose from waste, including a chimney from tin cans and windows from glass bottles....

Films based on books might have the intolerable disadvantage of people smugly claiming "the book is so much better", but they also result in a huge boost at the box office.

According to new research from the Publishers Association, films based on books take 44% more at the box office in the UK and 53% more worldwide than original screenplays.

..."In short, published material is the basis of 52% of top UK films in the last 10 years, and accounts for an even higher share of revenue from these leading performers, at 61% of UK box office gross and 65% of worldwide gross," the report reads.

The New York Times has a rare interview with Anne Tyler to coincide with the publication of her latest novel, Clock Dance. Tyler rarely does interviews because she dislikes the way they make her feel the next morning. "I'll go upstairs to my writing room to do my regular stint of work and I'll probably hear myself blathering on about writing and I won't do a very good job that day. I always say that the way you write a novel is for the first 83 drafts you pretend that nobody is ever, ever going to read it."

The good news for fans is that Tyler has no plans to retire: "What happens is six months go by after I finish a book," she said "and I start to go out of my mind. I have no hobbies, I don't garden, I hate travel. The impetus is not inspiration, just a feeling that I better do this. There's something addictive about leading another life at the same time you're living your own." She paused and added: "If you think about it, it's a very strange way to make a living."

The New York Times reports on the changing face of the romance novel genre:

...The landscape is slowly starting to change, as more diverse writers break into the genre, and publishers take chances on love stories that reflect a broader range of experiences and don't always fit the stereotypical girl-meets-boy mold. Forever Yours, an imprint at Grand Central, publishes Karelia Stetz-Waters, who writes romances about lesbian couples. Uzma Jalaluddin's debut novel, Ayesha at Last, takes place in a close-knit immigrant Muslim community in Canada, and features an outspoken Muslim heroine who falls for a more conservative Muslim man, a Darcy to her Lizzie Bennett...

...."Readers want books that reflect the world they live in, and they won't settle for a book about a small town where every single person is white," said Leah Koch, co-owner of the romance bookstore the Ripped Bodice in Culver City, Calif. Last year, six of her store's top 10 best-selling novels were written by authors of color, Ms. Koch said.

Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient (Bloomsbury), the story of an injured, anonymous English WWII pilot and his Italian nurse, has been named the winner of the Golden Man Booker Prize, awarded to the best work of fiction previously awarded the Man Booker Prize over the last 50 years.

In a brief statement released late Tuesday afternoon, Barnes & Noble said CEO Demos Parneros (who had been named CEO in April 2017) had been terminated for "violations of the Company's policies." While not saying what policies Parneros violated, B&N said his termination "is not due to any disagreement with the Company regarding its financial reporting, policies, or practices or any potential fraud relating thereto." In addition to being fired immediately, Parneros will not receive any severance, B&N said. B&N said Parneros's removal was undertaken by its board of directors, who were advised by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

In his first interview since being accused of inappropriate behavior with women, celebrated novelist Junot Díaz adamantly denied the allegations, including a claim he once "forcibly kissed" writer Zinzi Clemmons.

Díaz, who was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, said he was "distressed," "confused," and "panicked" by the accusations, but insisted he had not bullied the women or been sexually inappropriate.

Harlan Ellison, a major figure in the New Wave of science fiction writers in the 1960s who became a legend in science fiction and fantasy circles for his award-winning stories and notoriously outspoken and combative persona, died this week 84. During his life, he wrote more than 1,700 stories, film and TV scripts. The Guardian recommends five of his best...

Donald Hall, a prolific and award-winning poet and man of letters who was widely admired for his sharp humor and painful candor about nature, mortality, baseball and the distant past, has died. He was 89.

Atlas Obscura explains the history behind the, arguably nonsensical, grammar rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition which, "all goes back to 17th-century England and a fusspot named John Dryden":

There are thousands of individual rules for proper grammatical use of any given language; mostly, these are created, and then taught, in order to maximize understanding and minimize confusion. But the English language prohibition against "preposition stranding"--ending a sentence with a preposition like with, at, or of--is not like this. It is a fantastically stupid rule that when followed often has the effect of mangling a sentence. And yet for hundreds of years, schoolchildren have been taught to create disastrously awkward sentences like "With whom did you go?"

...Born in 1631, John Dryden was the most important figure throughout the entire Restoration period of the late 17th century... Dryden twice stated an opposition to preposition stranding. In an afterword for one of his own plays, he criticized Ben Jonson for doing this, saying: "The preposition in the end of the sentence; a common fault with him, and which I have but lately observed in my own writing." Later, in a letter to a young writer who had asked for advice, he wrote: "In the correctness of the English I remember I hinted somewhat of concludding [sic] your sentences with prepositions or conjunctions sometimes, which is not elegant, as in your first sentence."

Dryden does not state why he finds this to be "not elegant." And yet somehow this completely unexplained, tiny criticism, buried in his mountain of works, lodged itself in the grammarian mind, and continued to be taught for hundreds of years later. This casual little comment would arguably be Dryden's most enduring creation.


thatware.org ©