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,
Signature (a Random House website) looks at the many 2018 Golden Globes nominees based on books:
It is officially that time of the year awards season is upon us. As usual, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has kicked things off with the announcement of the 2018 Golden Globe Awards nominees. The literary world is represented in this year's lineup with a smattering of great adaptations leading the charge in both film and TV. While the slate of nominees is populated with a few of the marquee titles you'd expect "Game of Thrones" got it's annual nod, for instance a few surprises cracked the surface as well. It looks to be another interesting year at the Golden Globes. Let's have a look.
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2017 is feminism. The word was a top lookup throughout the year, with several spikes that corresponded to various news reports and events.
In an opinion piece in the Irish Times, John Boyne writes:
So I'm going to make a claim now that will probably get me kicked out of the Fraternity of Underappreciated Male Authors (FUMA) and blacklisted from the annual Christmas football game. Here goes:
I think women are better novelists than men.
There, I've said it. While it's obviously an enormous generalisation, it's no more ludicrous than some half-wit proudly claiming never to read books by women. For the record, purporting to love literature while dismissing the work of female writers is like claiming to be passionate about music while refusing to listen to anything but Ed Sheeran. However, I'm going to try to back up my sweeping statement...
The great Simeon Booker, one of the bravest journalists of our time, faced dangers far worse than a petulant president's social media feed. Booker refused to be cowed--and ultimately helped change the nation. His life's work should be a lesson to us all about the power of truth to vanquish evil.
Booker died Sunday at 99. At the height of his career, few could have imagined he would live so long.
As Washington bureau chief for Chicago-based Johnson Publications, publisher of the newsweekly Jet and the monthly magazine Ebony, Booker went to the Deep South to cover the most tumultuous events of the civil rights movement--life-threatening work for an African American journalist.
William H. Gass, a proudly postmodern author who valued form and language more than literary conventions like plot and character and who had a broad influence on other experimental writers of the 1960s, '70s and beyond, died on Wednesday in St. Louis. He was 93.
Mr. Gass was widely credited with coining the term "metafiction" to describe writing in which the author is part of the story. He himself was one of the form's foremost practitioners.
Barnes & Noble, which posted a wider loss last quarter and sent its shares tumbling, is scaling back ambitions to become more than a bookseller.
The retailer had hoped that toys, games and other items would shore up its results, especially as Amazon ate away at its traditional business. But its non-book sales have flagged the past two quarters, and now the company is putting its focus back firmly on reading.
Shelf Awareness reports on the growing "Cider Monday" movement by indie booksellers in response to the big online shopping day known as Cyber Monday. In this low key but fun event stores offer their customers "a warm welcome and a cup of delicious cider" to thank them for shopping local.
Dictionary.com's choice for its Word of the Year is "complicit." It says online searches for the word spiked three times this year...
On Saturday, hundreds of booksellers across the USA took part in Indies First and Small Business Saturday, organizing all kinds of in-store activities, offering a range of deals, hosting parties and engaging in the staple of Indies First since the event was founded by Sherman Alexie in 2013: having authors work in their favorite indies as booksellers. Shelf Awareness reports on some of the events.
Meanwhile, in the UK, bookstores celebrated the first inaugural Saturday Sanctuary
to "celebrate bookshops as a place of calm and respite from our hectic daily lives."
A New York Times opinion piece by Daniel T. Willingham lays out the argument that American's poor reading skills cannot be blamed on modern technology but on a misunderstanding of how the mind reads - that functional literary is grounded not just in the ability to read words but in having the factual knowledge to put what one is reading into context.