On October 8, 2010, Cynthia A. Kierner (History, George Mason University) will present her paper, “Martha Jefferson Randolph and the Performance of Patriarchy: Family, Gender, and Presidents in the Early American Republic” at the Newberry Seminar on Women and Gender at the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois. Here is a description of the paper:
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.
Advance copies of the paper are available upon request to those who will attend. Additional information here.
FWIW, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation maintains an educational website called “Monticello Classroom” here. That’s the source for the portrait of Martha Jefferson Randolph, at right.