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The Petticoat Affair

Manners, Mutiny, and Sex in Andrew Jackson's White House

by John F. Marszalek

296 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

American History

  Paperback / 9780807126349 / October 2000

In The Petticoat Affair, prize-winning historian John F. Marszalek offers the first in–depth investigation of the earliest—and perhaps greatest—political sex scandal in American history. During Andrew Jackson’s first term in office, Margaret Eaton, the wife of Secretary of State John Henry Eaton, was branded a “loose woman” for her unconventional public life. The brash, outgoing, and beautiful daughter of a Washington innkeeper, Margaret had socialized with her father’s guests and married Eaton very soon after the death of her first husband, shocking genteel society. Jackson saw attacks on Eaton as part of a conspiracy to topple his administration, and his strong defense of her character dominated the first two years of his term, and led to the resignation of his entire cabinet. 

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Praise for The Petticoat Affair

“John Marszalek’s The Petticoat Affair is a highly readable, fast-paced, and engaging book. . . . [It] deserves a wide readership.”—Journal of American History

“Generations of future historians will thus be indebted to John F. Marszalek for rendering the first book-length study of this important scandal. . . . A welcome volume that chronicles not only an important chapter in Jacksonian politics but the role of women in a turbulent society.”—American Historical Review

“John F. Marszalek's The Petticoat Affair tells a good story thoroughly and engagingly. Those looking for a modern full-length account of the scandal should certainly start here.”—H-SHEAR

“This thoughtfully conceived, carefully researched, and well-written study will stand out as the definitive account of this nineteenth century Washingtonian drama.”—Civil War History

“Marszalek unfolds this complex tale in an admirably clear and straightforward manner. . . . The book is thus at once a solid contribution to the scholarly literature on the Jackson administration and a good read.”—Journal of Southern History

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