Women and Gender Seminar: Cynthia A. Kierner, George Mason University

Friday, October 8, 2010

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Women and Gender Seminar

“Martha Jefferson Randolph and the Performance of Patriarchy: Family, Gender, and Presidents in the Early American Republic”
Cynthia A. Kierner, George Mason University

Neither a female politician nor a political innocent, Martha Jefferson Randolph played an array of public roles. Thomas Jefferson’s elder daughter brought an aura of domestic virtue to the presidency at times when partisan attacks on her father were both personal and political. Later, she used her Washington connections and experience to garner political patronage while lending legitimacy to an equally scandal-ridden Andrew Jackson. Never overtly challenging gender conventions that idealized virtuous women as domestic and subordinate, Randolph played a pivotal role in constructing an official culture that highlighted domestic patriarchy as a cardinal feature of an anti-aristocratic American presidency.

Commentator: Lorri Glover, St. Louis University