Interview with author Pat McNeely - Episode 57

July 19, 2018

Dr. Curtis Rogers discusses a new book about the Petticoat Affair with South Carolina author, Pat McNeely. Patricia G. "Pat" McNeely is Professor Emerita at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina, where she taught writing and reporting for 33 years in the School of Journalism. Before joining the faculty, she was a reporter and editor for three South Carolina newspapers: the State, the Columbia Record and the Greenville News. She is the author of Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, and the Petticoat Affair. She is the author of many other books including Sherman's Flame and Blame Campaign through Georgia and the Carolinas... and the Burning of Columbia and Palmetto Press: the History of South Carolina's Newspapers

Beautiful and vivacious Margaret "Peggy" O'Neil Timberlake had been widowed only four months in 1829 when she married newly elected President Andrew Jackson's best friend and Secretary of War John Eaton. Horrified by rumors about her dubious reputation, the ladies of Washington, including the wife of Vice President John C. Calhoun, refused to socialize with Peggy Eaton. Enraged by their rejection, the President called a Cabinet meeting to official examine Peggy's character and virtue and to order them to include her in their social lives. When they refused, Jackson stunned the nation in 1831by dissolving his official Cabinet and killing Calhoun's almost certain chance to be the next president. Newspapers and magazines dubbed the crisis the Petticoat Affair. Widowed again in 1856, 59-year-old Peggy Eaton married a 19-year-old Italian dancing instructor and music teacher who spent all her money before he ran off with her 17-year-old granddaughter. The woman who destroyed Jackson's Cabinet and derailed Calhoun's political ambitions died penniless at age 79 in a home for destitute women.

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