All posts by Sarah Patten

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Children, Courage, and Voting Your Conscience

I work at a school. I evade political conversations but listen to them if students engage in the subject. A student looked me in the eye and said, “Well I don’t want Trump. Trump is bad.” She looked down, made sure her shoe was on all the way, and then looked up. “But Hillary’s done some bad things…”

At that moment, there was a certain peace. I was assured I had done the right thing. The subject changed to something else, but I wonder if this student would be proud of my McMullin vote.

Children remind me of what I stand for. I voted my conscience. Many will say when it comes to voting, it’s more important to vote strategy. But it isn’t about that. Voting is about your choice—not a party’s or majority’s choice. Voting your conscience tells you what you stand for and don’t stand for. What you want to be.

I hope I showed courage like the American heroes today’s children are learning about. Those heroes that took a stand when they were in a minority.

I strive to be honest, true, and virtuous. I’m not perfect, but sometimes when I make choices, I think of my nieces and nephews. What type of example am I setting for them?

I hope posterity will view Sarah Patten as someone who chose to do the right thing even if it wasn’t popular. I hope they see that my beliefs reached to all aspects of my life—including voting.

 

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Whatever Happened to My Vote?

Whatever Happened to My Vote?

(Put together by Sarah Patten—inspired by “Whatever Happened to My Part” from the musical Spamalot and the 2016’s presidential election)

Whatever happened to my vote?
It counted and was worth to note.
Now the election is soon
And I don’t know what to do.
Third parties are stringing me along
As the debates go on and on
This is one unhappy voter
The race is getting grosser
Here’s a soul searching poem in my post
Whatever happened to my vote?

I am sick from what I read
What I see on the TV
What I hear on podcasts and Nancy.
The Democrats are still corrupt
Republicans will self-destruct
Do we think a Ross Perot should lead?
Ross Perot!

Whatever happened to my voice?
Once I could choose
Now there’s no choice
We’re with a pervert and a crook
Who are polluting Facebook
We might as well elect a dog
At least I’d follow Fido’s blog
If you think that sounds bitter
Just go and look at Twitter
The true and lying tweets give me a headache.

Whatever happened to my—
—I’ll get a passport, Sammy!

Whatever happened to my—
Not Trump!
Not Hillary!
But my vote!

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My Angel

Who said angels have to be people?

This post is dedicated to Angel on her birthday.

 An Unexpected Gift

Christmas Eve day in 2004 was a very special day. I was slow getting ready, and I believe I was staring at the Christmas tree when the phone rang. My older brother answered it and then quickly hung up.

“There’s a lab at Save Mart who needs a new home!”

With that, my family and I went from lazy to rushing to meet up with my mom.

When my family met up with Mom, she was with a mother and two little girls holding a black puppy.

A puppy?

I wanted a young adult dog. But my expectations changed as we took turns holding her.

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My family outside of Save Mart with our new “edition.”

We quickly found out she was named after her mother Angel. She was most likely part Labrador Retriever and Australian Shepherd. She had been born September 22. My family had fallen in love. Mom paid the previous owners, and we carried a very scared puppy home.

Angel hardly moved, wouldn’t eat, and ignored us when we got home. We had her rest in my  brothers’ room. I was in the hall trying to get her out. I gently talked to her. She would start approaching me and then go back in the room. Then she finally came and curled up in my lap.

Best Friend

Angel’s eyes show compassion when she knows you’re sad, and so she sits with you. She use to jump around when she could tell you were happy. She prefers sitting down now and wagging her tail. My dogs have always tried to make people happy.

As I mentioned before, Angel was very shy when we were brought her home. Her shyness was one of the probable reasons why she was the last pup of the litter to find a home. I had just returned from school and taking the winter off. Most of my friends were out of town going to college, and my family had their busy lives. I worked some, but I was basically alone. I think that’s why Angel and I became so close.

Angel’s Other Friends

Though socially awkward, Angel had a chance friendship with two dogs behind our yard. People love to see her. She’s come out of her shell. One person who broke through to her was a five-year-old girl. She’s thirteen now and is kind of like a second owner to Angel and my other dog. Angels also loves the girl’s little sister. Angel opens up more quickly to people she senses have gentle souls. She especially adores little children and babies.

Angel has aged quite a bit now. I don’t know how long she has to live. But she has had a good life. One individual that kept Angel going and probably preserved her life is our very energetic Australian Shepherd, Zane. He makes sure she gets plenty of exercise!

And of course, my parents. Angel has a harder time being around men, but she loves my dad. Angel really loves my mom.

I’m not there to take care of Angel, but I can rely on my mom to take care of the dogs.

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My mom shows so much love to the dogs.

And that is not always easy. The dogs are mischievous and have a new—and delicious— diet because of Angel’s special needs.

Angel easily makes me happy. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but I believe Angel was sent from above.

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Happy birthday, Angel!

 

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The Princess, the King, and the Tyrant

It’s strange to start out with the moral at the beginning of the story, but that’s exactly what I’m going to tell you. No, Maximilien Robespierre will tell you:

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Maximilien Robespierre was a well-spoken leader who led with terror.

 

“Citizens, take warning; you are being fooled by false notions.”

Those words are taken from an address to justify the execution of Louis XVI.

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King Louis XVI of France wanted peace.

It also sums up what others would feel toward Robespierre as time went on. Basically, it leads to the question: What is truth?

Maximilien Robespierre had pushed for Louis XVI’s execution but wasn’t for Princess Elisabeth’s, the King’s sister.

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Princess Elisabeth of France. The King’s youngest sibling.

Yet, she was executed May 10, 1794. And a couple months later, Robespierre would be executed.

The lives of the Princess, the King, and the Tyrant were connected way before the French Revolution.

Losses

An important place to start is the year of 1764. It was important to both the Robespierre and the Bourbon families.

In May, Maximilien Robespierre turned six, and the royal Bourbons welcomed a baby princess.

In July, Robespierre’s mother gave birth—to a stillborn son. She died soon after. Robespierre’s sister recalled in her memoirs this death changed him. He lost his childhood. In addition to that, his father left the family. The man who was supposed to be one of the most important  role models in a young boy’s life distanced himself from his children. I consider this to be Robespierre’s first major rejection.

The Bourbon children lost their parents to death within three years of Princess Elisabeth’s birth.

Successes

Despite losing parents young, Louis, Elisabeth, and Robespierre were all very intelligent and accomplished individuals. Just to mention some examples: Louis excelled in languages; Elisabeth in mathematics; Robespierre in rhetoric. All three wanted to be models of virtue. The Bourbon children took a religious approach while Robespierre leaned on secular philosophies.

Elisabeth carried a certain charm from her earliest days. Despite being a wild child, Elisabeth grew up to be lovely and known for her piety and wit. There were three proposed marriages, but in the end, she and her brother, now King, agreed that she would stay with the family.

Sometime early in Louis’ reign, he and his wife stopped by the school Robespierre attended. In fact, Robespierre was handpicked to give a speech in Latin at the special ceremony for the King and Queen. It turned out to be a dismal day. It was rainy, the monarchs were running late, and when they did arrive, they stayed in their carriage for the speech and ceremony. They left promptly after the ceremony. Robespierre had just been rejected by high society.

Life’s not fair! Right, Robespierre?

But Robespierre was a bright student and would eventually move up his way into politics after completing school. He started on a small scale during the king’s early reign. Louis and Marie-Antoinette had more of a positive image then.

To someone like Robespierre, it probably seemed as if the King had everything. Besides not agreeing with the King’s politics, I think there were other things that Robespierre  would find bothersome about the King. Louis XVI had obtained power through family deaths. He had a beautiful family, and he had a live sibling born in 1764. The King got a free pass while Robespierre slaved away to get to the top.

Annoying Sister

Elisabeth annoyed her sister-in-law at times. She could surprise her brother. But there was never any doubt that these individuals cared for one another, and that the King and Queen would be eternally grateful to Elisabeth for staying with the family to the very end.

Elisabeth felt she was following God’s plan for her. She was heaven sent in the eyes of Louis and his family.

She was certainly a type of nuisance for Robespierre. If only she had escaped like some of her other family members, he wouldn’t have been caught in a desperate situation.  He fought for her at her trial. But he lost. He just wanted her to be exiled, not guillotined.

People marveled at her poise during her trial and execution.

She had just turned thirty the week before she was executed in May 1794.

Fooled by False Notions

More and more people considered themselves “fooled by false notions.” The new government had stressed equality and virtue— so why were so many being punished and put to death?

Robespierre and his comrades became distrustful of one another. They too felt they had been fooled. They weren’t as loyal as they professed they would be. He had helped to reform this new society, and now he and former allies were betraying each other. This was  Robespierre’s third and final rejection.

Robespierre was executed in July 1794. Had his stillborn brother lived, he would have turned thirty a few weeks before—the same age as Elisabeth, who had met her death in her birthday month of May for being loyal to family. An eerie coincidence.

While I don’t accept that Robespierre is scapegoat of history, I do feel sorry for him. He had all these ambitions and felt that to fulfill them, he needed to take away life. In the end, the curse he set on so many rebounded on him.

 

Sources:

Maxwell-Scott Mary Moniac. Madame Elizabeth de France, 1764-1794.

Robespierre, Charlotte. Charlotte Robespierre’s Memoirs: Part 1.By   http://revolution-fr.livejournal.com/2370.html  accessed August 16, 2016.

Ten Brink, Jan. Robespierre and the Red Terror. 1899.

Trail and Execution (French): de Beauchesne, Alicide-Hyacint

Images:
Princess Elisabeth of France by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (Public domain in U.S.) 1782

Portrait of Louis XVI by Antoine-Francois Callet. 1788 (Public Domain in U.S.)

Portrait of Maximilien Robespierre. 1790 (Public Domain in U.S.)

 

 

 

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Review of Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars

Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars: Her Life, Her Times, Her Legacy by Elena Maria Vidal left me a lot to think about. 

Elena Maria Vidal is a fantastic writer and researcher. She paints a realistic portrait of Marie-Antoinette with facts to back all of it up. It’s very exciting. This book is spiritual, adventurous, and sweet.

I was especially surprised to learn about two specific pieces of unique artwork. It was fun to find out that Louis XVI kept a certain, flirty picture of Marie-Antoinette on his desk in which she’s dressed like a goddess holding a vase with his profile on it. The other one was a tearjerker sketch of Marie-Antoinette entering heaven to her welcoming husband and her two children who died before her.

One of the most memorable scenes comes from a memoir of a servant who witnessed Louis XVI coming into Marie-Antoinette’s room. While he’s being comforted by his wife, she commands the servant to leave.

From other examples, it’s obvious he suffered from depression, but with all the exterior events and past memories, who could blame him? And shouldn’t Marie-Antoinette get the most dedicated wife award? She stuck with him despite the multiple times he wanted her and their children to go to safety.

The spouses gave each other strength and were concerned parents. After their deaths, their daughter was provided for thanks to Louis’ emergency fund and Marie-Antoinette’s diamonds that had been sneaked out of France.

Thank you, Ms. Vidal, for providing so much information that makes me want to learn more!

 

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The Return of the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast

Being three decades old, I know it’s hard when people give advice freely—especially about marriage. There was a recent meeting/discussion about the topic. I liked what was said, but it made me think of two past posts I wrote. I hope those in the discussion will read this as well as those who contacted me right after I posted those articles! New readers of course are always welcomed.

Last year, I compared myself to the (non-Disney) Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beauty. In the Little Mermaid post I told how I related to the little sea princess mainly because past hopes and heartbreaks. I would also like to add the reason I have a problem with the story is she died after that heartbreak. That’s an easy way out. It’s harder but to live. That’s where my comparisons with her stop.

As for Beauty and for the Beast, it was about how I fell in love with myself by coming to the realization I have surprising accomplishments. (They’re surprising to me anyway.) And how it’s important to live.

The thing is, I still am connected with all these fairy tale characters.

Like the Little Mermaid, I have a fascination with discoveries and sometimes wonder too much. There are times I wish I could be more like her—take risks. Yes, caution is necessary but I think there are situations when it’s appropriate to step into the unknown.

As for Beauty and the Beast, I still see the beauty and ugly in me. I’ll never forget the night when I came to the unexpected conclusion that I loved myself. I’m telling you, it’s a wonderful experience falling in love—even if it is with yourself.

I guess I have no real advice about finding the one—which can be refreshing. Hopefully, though, my story will help others.

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The Extraordinary Mark Twain According to Susy

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I got this from a school book fair. $5 was the final and fair price.

The Extraordinary Mark Twain According to Susy, by Barabar Kerley and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, had a creative narrative and brilliant illustrations with little inserts of what Susy, the real life daughter of Mark Twain had to say about him.

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Funnily enough, a couple years ago, my dad said we should write short biographies of each other! Susy ended up writing over 130 pages about her dad!

In regards to Susy herself, I think it’s very appropriate and entertaining to write your own family member’s biography—especially in their life time so they can get more of a say. Susy wrote when she was thirteen, “It troubles me to have so few people know Papa, I mean really know him.” She made a good case for her papa and added unknown dimensions of him. From her portrait of him, I still saw a narcissistic man, but I felt more sympathy with how insecure and just how loving he was.

While I like what all the creators of the book did, I found my mind wandering, and it was hard to concentrate. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I recommend that classrooms should get their own copy.

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20 Questions with Sarah

Thank you to all my readers who continue to show interest in Her Storyline. I think it’s time that I answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

  1. What made you want to start up this website?
    Women are often misrepresented in history, but something that really motivated me occurred on one Tuesday night. I came back from a class, and my mom was watching a movie about an extraordinary heroine that took place during World War II. I wondered why I never heard of her. I thought of more stories that get missed in history, and I wanted to help bring them to the surface.
  1. How do you decide who you’re going to write about?
    I decide when knowing that a certain person won’t get out of mind until I write about her.  That’s when I know. There are so many people I want to write about, but there’s so little time!
  1. Are you the only person who works on this site?
    I do a lot of it, but I have my own inspirational support crew. They edit, write, give honest feedback, and are there to make suggestions. A special shout out to Jenny, Brenda, Lynn, Kyle, and Dad.
  1. So you do take suggestions?
    I do, but I can’t take them all unfortunately. However, I do like hearing them. They’re very uplifting.
  1. Where do you find your subjects?
    All over! Like I said, I take suggestions. Lots of times I feel like I’m led to them. I like history in general. Random books, shows, and footnotes make me curious. I’ve made the most discoveries, however, while doing research about someone else.
  1. Who’s been your favorite?
    I can’t say. That’s like picking a favorite child! It sounds cliché, but it’s true.
  1. Who do you like least?
    The majority of the time I love whom I’m writing about or I wouldn’t be writing about that person! However, there are people within their stories that I would like to have a little chat!
  1. Like whom?
    Hmm…the top two are King David and Robespierre. I don’t think they would like to talk to me though!
  1. Out of the women, who would you like to interview most?
    Whoever I’m writing about! If I had to pick one, though, I’d choose Anne Neville, wife of King Richard III. Hopefully, she would tell the truth about herself, her husband, and what really happened to those poor princes in the tower.
  1. Why don’t you post more often?
    It can take a really long time for me to research and write the posts. Sometimes I get too nervous. And I admit that sometimes I don’t make time.

11. Who’s surprised you the most?
        Definitely Marie-Antoinette and the Kennedy clan.

  1. Who would you like to be friends with most?
    I would have to say Michal. It sounds weird, but in a way, I feel like I’m already friends with her. I’ve spent the most time with her. If I met her in real life, I hope she’d let me in.
  1. What’s the biggest lesson you learned since starting this website?
    That extraordinary people exist now and all around us. Everyone really does have a story and contributes so much to society—even if they don’t think they do. As great as it is to learn about people in the past, it’s also good to learn about the people in the present.
  1. What’s the most frustrating thing about keeping up this website?
    Getting sad. Sometimes I can hardly bear the sorrow that these women went though. And to be totally honest, it’s also difficult for me to keep going when those who are near and dear to my heart roll their eyes at my efforts. Thankfully, I’m blessed with more supporters.
  1. What does “remember the ladies” mean?
    It’s what Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John, when he met with the Continental Congress in 1776. She wanted women to have a voice—almost 150 years before American women could actually vote!
  1. Will you write about Mormon pioneer women?
    I hope so! They are very extraordinary!
  1. What’s your favorite time period?
    I enjoy the intrigue surrounding the Wars of the Roses. I also love the Tudor era. Think about it—even if you don’t give a hoot about what was going on at the royal court, there’s something for everyone like religious reformers and martyrs, exciting world discoveries, and odd fashion.
  1. Who would you be most nervous to meet?
    King David because I haven’t been very complimentary toward him. I would still like to meet him, but he’d literally want to kill me! Out of the women, Charlotte Corday. Even though I believe she did the right thing, I wouldn’t want to upset her!
  1. Are you married?
    No.
  1. I didn’t like what you wrote. Can you change it?
    I take these requests seriously. Maybe. Maybe not. I try to be classy as well as honest.

 

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Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI: A Fairly Odd or Fairly Normal Couple?

Thank heavens Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI married!

The marriage of Louis and Marie-Antoinette would affect brought light to future generations.

The marriage of Louis and Marie-Antoinette would bring hope to future generations.

Unfortunately, Louis inherited the last king’s heavy debts. His grandpa and great-grandpa also left the royal court in a disgusting state. It was embarrassing. Fortunately, he had a good companion by him. He was fifteen when he married fourteen-year-old Marie-Antoinette. It was good for the people and for them.

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For The People

American Power Couple

Marie-Antoinette and Louis were not Americans, but let’s face it–none of Americans’ founders were technically born United States citizens.

Louis provided supplies and military forces for the needy Americans and Marie-Antoinette was supportive and involved. I include the power couple among the founders of the United States. When I look at the list of American founders, I am embarrassed with the loose morals of some of them. I’m proud that Louis and Marie-Antoinette held on to their high standards. In a way, they remind me of Abigail and John Adams in the fact that they were  also a power couple that helped America become great.

I believe the marriage of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI was literally a match made in heaven. I’m very serious, and we should sincerely thank heaven for their marriage. Americans would not be enjoying freedom–or perhaps not be Americans at all–if it had not been for Marie-Antoinette and Louis.

The People’s Champions

You can say that the Queen and King were interested in freedom in general. He played tug-a-war with nobility. He wanted them to pay higher taxes to benefit the poor. Some of Marie-Antoinette’s stand out projects included a safe haven for unwed mothers and educating the less fortunate children with her own. The King and Queen were generous with their own personal funds.  Marie-Antoinette and Louis were very aware of France’s needs. They were true Christians who practiced what they preached.

rose-243630_960_720For Them

In the Beginning

They had a beautiful relationship. At first there was none–they were strangers. Plus, like many other in the French royal court, Louis was leery about an Austrian becoming queen of France someday. But gradually over time, they established a friendship, and eventually it went beyond that.

It’s mystified the past and present why Marie-Antoinette and Louis didn’t consummate the marriage right away. Some have thought of legit reasons and some are downright disrespectful and crude.

Whatever it was, here’s a simple fact:
Marie-Antoinette was fourteen and Louis was fifteen years old when they got married.

My conclusion:
Come on! They were much too young!

Forget royal expectations of starting a family right away. Whether or not they were attracted to another, both were still getting to know their own bodies.  I think it’s very probable that it wouldn’t have felt natural for these two individuals at this age. It would have been premature. Meanwhile they were developing a friendship.

Dauphin Louis Auguste in 1769. A year later, he would marry "the Austrian." He would associate that stigma with her the first part of their marriage.

Aw…Dauphin Louis Auguste in 1769. A year later, he would marry Marie-Antoinette. Some negatively used “the Austrian” to describe her.

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King Louis XVI at age 21 around 1776. Tall and well-built, he surely  knew by now that Austria wasn’t that bad.

I think the timing of the intervention by the Emperor of Austria, Marie-Antoinette’s brother, was perfect.

By now–seven years after their wedding– the couple was more ready for his frank talk. The couple soon acted like newlyweds and started a family the next year.

Marie-Antoinette was twenty-three and Louis was twenty-four years old when their first child was born. Much more natural.

In short and in order they were strangers, then friends, and then lovers.

Marie-Antoinette took an interest in hunting, one of her husband's favorite activities. Here she is looking adorable in hunting clothes at 16.

Marie-Antoinette took an interest in hunting, one of her husband’s favorite activities. Here she is looking adorable in hunting clothes at 16.

 

Here Marie-Antoinette is painted in her 1778 hunting garb. She's be a mother by the end of the year.

Here Marie-Antoinette is painted in her 1778 hunting garb. She would be a mother by the end of the year.

Throughout the Marriage

I believe they were faithful to another. Believe it or not, sensational storytellers, couples don’t have to be mushy to love each other. In the royal couple’s jobs and in child-rearing, they showed support one toward another.

I’m amazed the couple stuck by each other despite terrible and bogus rumors constantly surrounding them. Their love was shown through respect. That example of loyalty extended to their children and Louis’ sister. It reminds me of what Jeffrey R. Holland said, “The crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.” That’s what Marie-Antoinette and Louis’ union and legacy are actually about.

Families Are Forever

The Bourbons’  writings in prison are touching and revealing of their deepest beliefs. Marie-Antoinette’s last letter is written to her sister-in-law, Elisabeth, and it is heart wrenching, but also full of hope. In regards to her late husband, she writes:

“I have just been condemned, not to a shameful death, for such is only for criminals but to go and rejoin your brother. Innocent like him, I hope to show the same firmness in my last moments.”

There’s tremendous comfort in Marie-Antoinette’s belief of being reunited with loved ones and family. She continues, “Where can one find friends more tender and more united than in one’s own family?”

Marie-Antoinette and Louis’ daughter, Marie-Therese, wrote her thoughts on the walls of the Temple prison, and you can feel her emotion and know she believes that she’s being watched over. The following tells how she feels about the afterlife, her parents’, and God:

“Live, my good mother! whom I love well, but of whom I can hear no tidings. O my father! watch over me from heaven above, O my God, forgive those who made my parents suffer!”

Marie-Antoinette and Louis believed and also instructed their children to forgive. One could argue the couple wasn’t always on the same page but they were always in the same book in the sense they shared the same faith and spiritual beliefs as well as doing all they could to better children and country.

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Fitting In

It’s hard to categorize the couple into one group. They weren’t your typical American patriots and they didn’t agree with all the royals’ lifestyles either. In that way they are odd. But you chip away their positions, though, and you’ll find they’re not so weird.

It’s time accept Marie-Antoinette and Louis were a good fit for each other, and they were a a very normal couple.

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Sources:

Holland, Jeffrey R. “The First Great Commandment.” Www.lds.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Oct. 2012. Web. 9 Aug. 2016. <https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/the-first-great-commandment?lang=eng>.

“Louis XVI of France” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 7 Aug 2016. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.

 

“Marie Antoinette.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 8 Aug. 2016. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.

“Marie-Therese” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 12 July 2016. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.

Vidal, Elena Maria. “Last Letter of Marie-Antoinette.” Tea at Trianon. N.p., 26 May 2007. Web. 9 Aug. 2016. <http%3A%2F%2Fteaattrianon.blogspot.com%2F2007%2F05%2Flast-letter-of-marie-antoinette.html>.

 

 

Images:
Featured image: Coronations commemorative medallions  of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Pd-Old.

Engraving of the wedding of Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette. {{PD-1923}}

Portrait of Louis XVI of France by Joseph Duplessis. 1776.{{PD-1923}}

Picture of Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette talking to her brother  by Joseph Hauzinger.

Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria, the later Queen Marie Antoinette of France, at the age of 16 years by Joseph Kreutzinger, 1771.  {{PD-1923}}

Queen Marie Antoinette of France, 1778 either by Antoine Vestier or Jean-Baptiste André Gautier-Dagoty.  {{PD-1923}}

 

Portrait_of_Mrs._McKinley another one

Meet the McKinleys

You know what couple I absolutely love?

Ida and William McKinley.

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Behind Ida is a portrait of her daughter, Katie, who died at three years old. William’s portrait is on the table.

While reading about Ida, there are times when I think she is the unluckiest and feel so bad for her. Then there are times when I think, oh the lucky diva!  Read on and see if you can understand where I’m coming from. (Also why I think hers and William’s story is so beautiful.)

Bring them back!

Ok, what I mean is bring a loving couple to the White House–a couple who is strong in politics and has integrity.

Hmm…perhaps that’s hard to find in the world of politics. But there are some exceptions.

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When the former Union major William McKinley set his eyes on Ida Saxton at a picnic, he was smitten. The bank manager didn’t seriously notice him till one of his speeches.  She admired his integrity. He would just happen to be passing by the bank to make small deposits–and give Miss Saxton bouquets of flowers.

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There’s a legend that shortly before or after they were married, Ida knew William was going to be President of the United States someday. What’s obvious is that William would always treat Ida like the First Lady.

The couple had two daughters who both died young. One died after a few months of being born. The other didn’t reach four years old.

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Ida and William’s daughter Katherine

Around these deaths, Ida’s health became more fragile, and she developed a seizure disorder. Both Ida and William went through depression. I still can’t go over the pleasantly surprising outcome of their marriage.

William was very attentive to her. She was as active as she could be and encouraged him in his law career and then when he was elected into Congress and became governor of Ohio. When William was in the running for president,  people had doubts if she could be First Lady. To show the doubters they were wrong, she threw a party for her and William’s 25th wedding anniversary which accumulated 600 guests.

During the presidential campaign, her face appeared on promoting badges. Her husband gets praised for his “front porch” campaign in which people from all over the country came and gathered to hear his speeches he gave from his front porch of the McKinleys’ house in Canton, Ohio. That was partially so he could be close to his wife. When she had the strength, she would join him outside. One time a boy asked why there were so many people at the house and why William McKinley’s picture was all over town. Ida said, “Because he’s a dear good man and I love him!”

CPortrait_of_Mrs._McKinley (1)

Ida absolutely loved it when William became president and she was the official First Lady.

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William made sure she sat by him at dinners; if she had a seizure, he would cover her face with a handkerchief and after it was done she would resume where she left off in the conversation. For more serious seizures, Ida was slipped away with the help of aides.

The public knew she could get sick easily, but very few knew she had epilepsy. Ida made sure she was by her husband’s side when he received guests or any public event when she was able. If she was looking unwell people applauded her for going on. Harper’s Bazaar reported that Ida was “an inspiration for women who for one reason or another are hindered from playing a brilliant individual role in life.”

William McKinley’s presidency dealt with money issues, the Spanish-American War, and making the United States a world power. He would travel a lot, but he would cut tours short if something plagued his wife.  He constantly worried about her well being. In Washington, William and Ida would take daily carriage rides. She was always on his daily agenda. The majority of his free time was spent with her. William’s adviser, Mark Hanna, said, “President McKinley has made it pretty hard for the rest of us husbands here in Washington!”

Pretty extraordinary, huh? Some didn’t approve how she was such a top priority for William McKinley. But William said to them that Ida was “the most beautiful girl you ever saw…She is beautiful to me now.”

Wow.

I don’t usually get sentimental like this, but to someone like me who can relate to Ida at a certain level, William McKinley is beyond impressive. This is where I get jealous of Ida a lot. The snot. Just kidding–but seriously, I think she was the luckiest girl in the world.

Ida was also concerned with her husband’s health and thought he overworked. Supposedly on their carriage rides, they talked about retirement after William’s second term and how they would live the rest of their lives back in Ohio.

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Their visit to Buffalo, New York in 1901, made Ida one of the unluckiest. She wasn’t feeling well enough to attend the Pan-Expo with her husband on September 6. Her husband was shot there.   He told people assisting him, “My wife–be careful how you tell her–oh be careful!”

Temple_of_Music_postcard

Ida showed strength. It looked like he would get well She would sit by his bed, but when it became apparent he would die, she said, “I want to go too.” He responded, “We are all going.”

He died on September 14. She said, “He is gone and life to me is dark now.”

Understandably, she was in a funk for a while. She went back to Ohio and found certain things to live for like being involved in the building of the McKinley Monument. She died four months before its completion. She, her husband, and two daughters are interred there.

McKinley Memorial

Ida and William McKinley died in the early twentieth century; yet I feel like they lived and died much closer to today. I’d like to imagine they got a chance to retire and danced to “The Way You Look Tonight.” I feel a sort of a kinship with them when learning how they took care of each other.

I’ve covered many people who didn’t really have the best of marriages, and it still leaves me heartbroken. In contrast, the McKinley marriage–though they had heartbreaks along the way–is heartwarming and uplifting. Even if you’re no romantic, you have to admit the McKinleys are good examples of caring for people.

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Sources:
Boller, Paul F. Presidential Wives. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1988. Print.

“Ida Saxton McKinley.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 03 June 2016.

“William McKinley.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 03 June 2016.

 

Images:

President and Mrs. McKinley on reviewing stand at Plattsburgh Barracks, N.Y. / Woodward, Plattsburgh, N.Y. 1899. Library of Congress.

Ida S. McKinley, full-length portrait, standing, facing front. Picture of President McKinley on table beside her, and picture of daughter behind her. Circa 1897.  Library of Congress. Photographed by Frances Benjamin Johnston

“Temple of Music, Buffalo, NY (Where Pres. McKinley was shot) [on 6 September 1901]”- historical postcard; CARTHALIA – Theatres on Postcards: Buffalo, NY: Temple of Music http://www.andreas-praefcke.de/carthalia//usa/usa_buffalo_temple.htm

MikeTwekesbury. https://www.flickr.com/photos/7687126@N06/7411108344. “McKinley Memorial” Photo taken 6-19-12.