First Ladies: Sarah Childress Polk

Lead: The wife of the tenth President of the United States was the ideal political spouse: devoted, principled, and ambitious.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1823 James Knox Polk was stuck in what he considered a dead end job as a clerk employed by the Tennessee legislature. He asked Andrew Jackson, just beginning his first run for the Presidency, what advice he would give for success in politics. Jackson told him, "stop this philandering...settle down as a sober married man." "Which lady shall I choose?" asked Polk. "The one who will never give you no trouble," replied Jackson, "you know her well." "You mean Sarah Childress?" Polk asked, thought a minute, went out and asked her to marry him. He never regretted the choice.

 

 

A House Divided: Total War III

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Moving like a plague of locusts, the Union Army of William Tecumseh Sherman chewed its way across Georgia and then South Carolina in an early form of total war. He was determined to smash the Confederacy’s ability to prosecute the rebellion and even more to degrade its will to fight. One soldier wrote, we “destroyed all we could not eat, stole their niggers, burned their cotton and gins, spilled their sorghum, burned and twisted their railroads and raised Hell generally.” Organized into groups of ill-disciplined scroungers known as “bummers,” Yankees ranged over the landscape robbing and pillaging. Primarily intended to feed the Union army, they also tended to take whatever they could lay their hands on. And they were not alone. Georgia had Union sympathizers and many of them pitched in to plunder their rebel neighbors. Freedmen also participated in the destruction as did Confederate deserters and disaffected former rebel soldiers.

 

A House Divided: Total War II

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Having pushed the Confederates under John Bell Hood down into Alabama in Fall 1864, General Sherman abandoned his pursuit of the rebels and returned to Atlanta. He was weary of rehearsing tactics from the Confederate playbook and proposed a new strategy, one that would ignore Hood and go on the offensive not against standing armies or even organized resistance, but against the heart of the South. He secured permission from Grant and Lincoln for a most remarkable experiment in what would come to be called total war. On November 15th he set fire to all that had military value in the city, turned his back on Atlanta and set out for Savannah, nearly 300 miles to the east on the coast. He wrote, “….if I move through Georgia, smashing things…instead of being on the defensive I would be on the offensive…march(ing) a well-appointed army, right through [Jefferson Davis’s] territory, it is a demonstration to the world, foreign and domestic, that we have a power which Davis cannot resist….I can….march, and make Georgia howl!”

A House Divided: Total War I

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: War has never been pretty. Even when armies and nations attempted to regulate the conduct of warfare, for centuries non-combatants were inevitably drawn into the pain and suffering, their livelihoods, farms, homes, children, and the elderly. Long before the 20th century perfection of total war when machines of destruction rained down their devastation on enemy soldiers and their home-bound families alike, a glimpse of such coming horror played itself out in the States of Georgia and South Carolina during the American Civil War. The artist who sketched this gruesome canvas was Major General William Tecumseh Sherman who, if not the author of total war, was certainly one of its most visible early practitioners.

John Locke – Prophet of Political Freedom – II

Lead:  His political philosophy laid the foundation for modern liberal democracy, but in many ways John Locke helped change the way people think. Some have called him the first modern mind.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Not content to simply absorb the classical education he received at 17th century Westminster School and Oxford University, John Locke embarked upon a life of fruitful inquiry into a wide variety of disciplines. He was interested in medicine, experimental science, philosophy, economics, practical politics, education, language, diplomacy, and religion, in a hungry but not Faustian pursuit of knowledge. In most of these fields he was not an expert, but neither was he an amateur floating from one whim to another.

John Locke – Prophet of Political Freedom – I

Lead: Emerging from the political ferment of the English Civil War, John Locke, one of the seminal thinkers of the 17th century, laid the philosophical basis for liberal representative government.

 

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 

Content: John Locke was born in 1632 in Pensford, south of Bristol, England. His father, a country attorney, was of puritan inclination and fought in the Civil War on the side of Parliament. This enabled him to send his son to Westminster School where the boy’s superior performance earned him a scholarship at Christ Church College, Oxford. There he also excelled, but found the traditional curriculum tedious and demonstrated early a lifelong eclectic interest in a wide variety of subjects such as empirical science and medicine.

James Knox Polk and Hail to the Chief II

Lead: The use of the stirring, heroic melody, Hail to the Chief, was ritualized by First Lady Sarah Childress Polk, dealing with her husband’s public relations problems. The story behind the tune, however, is not very good news for a politician.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: James Knox Polk, Eleventh President of the United States, was short, usually unkempt and wore cheap, ill-fitting suits. He and Sarah were not universally popular in Washington society and he could walk into a room and be completely ignored. To call attention to his presence and increase respect, Sarah Polk decreed that he should have a theme song. Whenever he entered the room, the Marine Band was instructed to play Hail to the Chief.

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James Knox Polk and Hail to the Chief I

Lead: Frustrated that her husband was being ignored at social and political events, the First Lady determined that the president needed a theme song. Of such are traditions born.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: James Knox Polk was an unprepossessing man. He was short, he usually sported a bad haircut, and he wore cheap oversized suits. Often the President of the United States was ignored when he entered the room. In short, he was a public relation expert's nightmare. Nevertheless, Polk had a secret political weapon. It was his wife, Sarah.