The Petticoat Affair: Manners, Mutiny, and Sex in Andrew Jackson's White House

1180 Words Apr 25th, 2005 5 Pages
History 217: U.S. History to 1865
Dr. Fuller
November 30, 2003
Cynthia Mihay
The Petticoat Affair: Manners, Mutiny, and Sex in Andrew Jackson's White House. By John F. Marszalek. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997. viii, 296 pp.)

John F. Marszalek, author of The Petticoat Affair argues in his book that the Margaret Eaton affair, which plagued the first Jackson administration, was a social situation that had political ramifications. The thesis is that the Jacksonian Presidency brought a change to the office. Bringing much more democracy than most would have thought and at the same time a woman who did not fit the mold of the normal submissive political wife in Washington or in Tennessee came to the forefront
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I am amazed at the correspondence the author has retrieved when other topics like the nullification crises was pending yet the President was writing and calling meetings to get acceptance of a lady by Washington society. As the scandal grew it took on Jackson's idea that it had all been created to hurt Jackson politically. His cabinet was eliminated and his government did little during this scandal. He concentrated on very little else in his first term. He went against his Vice President, against Duff Green, against half of his cabinet and still did not get her accepted by society. She had been free with her attentions toward men. Almost eloped twice, married twice, and was somewhat outrageous in her self-promotion in the early 1830's. She was ahead of her time and not complacent to wait while society changed. Her husband continually backed her and the media made it a political struggle especially as Jackson labeled it a conspiracy against his democracy. This was social and political history. Accounts are given from many personal diaries, memoirs, papers, and other minute historical sources. The reader almost sickens as the government comes to a stalemate over whether this lady is accepted or not accepted into society. It appears to be trivial until one remembers the

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