tv Race for the White House CNN April 16, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
two years earlier, stephen a. douglas. >> stephen a. douglas is the little giant. he's a man of physically short stature but titanic ambition, and douglas desperately wishes to be president of the united states. >> but lincoln has the advantage. after an angry convention in charleston, south carolina, douglas' democratic party has split down the middle over slavery. >> the news that the democratic party had split was an enormous boon to the republican party and to lincoln because now they faced a divided opposition, but he still has an uphill battle. >> the republicans know it's futile to put lincoln up for election in the south. no decent upstanding slave owner is going to vote for him, and
slaves don't vote. now it's a double race between lincoln and douglas in the north and democrat john c. breckinridge and constitutional unionist john bell in the south. >> abraham lincoln has to win without his name even on the ballot in the south. and that's not going to be easy because he has to win new york. if he doesn't win new york, he will not be president. >> new york state has the highest number of electoral votes, but it is also the stomping ground of william seward and thurlow weed, who lincoln has so publicly humiliated. >> they hate lincoln. they feel like they got cheated out of the nomination. >> lincoln has to make peace. he invites weed to his home in springfield.
>> lincoln's attitude is nobody's his enemy. everybody is his friend. >> lincoln's approach here wasn't to stand over a vanquished opponent and rub it in and not just tell weed, hey, you lost, i won, get on the program. >> and the two men spend five hours talking. >> he courted weed and he had to offer weed any number of things to secure the right level of support and endorsement. >> what lincoln and weed talked about has been lost to history. we don't know exactly, but it did not escape anyone's notice that william seward ultimately became lincoln's secretary of state. >> weed gives lincoln his full public support. he proclaims there is no more thorough or bolder republican on the continent, not one of more
sturdy integrity or of more unflinching purpose. >> weed's endorsement comes just in time as the campaign ratchets up. douglas focuses his attack on lincoln. >> if you desire negro citizenship, then support mr. lincoln and the black republican party. >> his weapon -- race hate. >> he accuses lincoln of being in favor of race mixing, in favor of black equality. he calls him a black republican. he calls him things far worse. >> lincoln did a lot of things that today seem unethical, but he never appealed to the darker angels of our nature. and douglas did. and stephen douglas should have been ashamed of himself.
>> the very union itself is coming apart under the pressure of the election. down south the homes of republican sympathizers are attacked. >> the prospect of a lincoln presidency drives southerners to extremes. they prepare politically. they prepare militarily. their state arsenals are opened up, their militia companies begin to drill. >> one newspaper declares, let the boys arm. abolitionism is at your doors with torch and knife in hand. can you pick me up at 6:30? ah... (boy) i'm here! i'm here! (cop) too late. i was gone for five minutes! ugh! move it. you're killing me. you know what, dad? i'm good. (dad) it may be quite a while before he's ready, but our subaru legacy will be waiting for him. (vo) the longest-lasting midsize sedan in its class.
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slavery is breaking the union apart. what is lincoln doing? nothing. it appears he doesn't care. >> lincoln's response to all this is puzzling. silence. lincoln refused to believe that southerners would go to the ultimate extreme of attempting to destroy the union. >> while lincoln stays home, his rival stephen douglas resolves to act.
he heads south. >> douglas is a plantation owner. he's a slave owner. so he understands how deeply embedded slavery is in the south. >> and he knew that they were making preparations. they were getting ready. they were fully prepared to do something dramatic. >> he decides he must plead the case for the union against secession. he's now campaigning for the nation. >> and he does this incredibly bold and brave thing. >> douglas travels a thousand miles from state to state, but
his case for the union makes him a traitor in the eyes of southerners. >> stephen douglas really was putting everything on the line, particularly his own personal safety. >> he has to take the chance that some fanatic may decide that the best way to deal with douglas is assassination. >> and stephen douglas, the most ruthless, partisan, underhanded politician, becomes the patriot. >> with just three days to the election, douglas delivers a forceful defense of the union. >> there's a conspiracy to break up this union. >> he makes it very plain. i'm not here to solicit your votes. i am here for the sake of the union. >> i regard the union as the greatest blessing upon a free people. >> for douglas, the take-home message is clear.
>> the south has already launched itself to create something entirely new in the new world, a slave empire. >> the very idea of america is at risk. 81% of the electorate come out to vote. one of the highest turnouts in united states' election history. >> the stakes were so high because it might have been the last election for a united states of america. >> lincoln is waiting on the telegraph to tell them just what the vote count is. >> look, you have to be nervous because you have a brand-new party.
it has never won the presidency. you're only its second candidate. you are up against very powerful forces on the other side. >> and it's not just superstition. you realize that something funky could happen. elections have the capacity to surprise us enormously. >> there's only one result lincoln needs to know. has he won new york? >> message for mr. lincoln. >> he is not taking anything for granted. >> gentlemen, we've taken new jersey, indiana and illinois. >> until he hears about new york. he knows it all rests on new york. >> there's nothing more nerve-racking professionally, i think, than awaiting the results in a presidential election. >> by midnight there's still no
news. >> he took new york. >> we got new york. >> yes. >> the man from the prairies takes new york and, with it, the presidency. however he's done it with less than 40% of the vote. the south has backed john c. breckinridge and john bell. >> lincoln has a narrow victory. for almost half the country, he's illegitimate. he's not accepted as the president. >> no sooner has he won than several states in the south make clear that they are moving toward leaving the union, and so
immediately he's gone from winning the white house into a crisis mode. >> lincoln's victory was probably the first shot in the civil war. it looks like the dye has been cast. , we have low prices and a price match guarantee. scout's honor? low prices. pinky swear? low prices. eskimo kisses? how about a handshake? oh, alright... the lowest price. every time. staples. make more happen. quite like the human foot. introducing the 255 horsepower lexus is 300 all-wheel-drive. with twenty-five percent more base horsepower. once driven, there's no going back. i've heard it all. eat more fiber. flax seeds. yogurt. get moving.
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abraham lincoln, president-elect, sports his distinctive beard for the first time. now he prepares to leave his home town for washington, d.c. >> my friends, here my children have been born and one is buried. >> he asks for their prayers. he wants them to be with him mentally and spiritually as he takes a journey which, in truth, he never will return from alive. >> the 12-day journey will take him right across the western heartland and mid-atlantic states. >> lincoln's train trip is to rally the country to him. >> people during that time were very worried, and he tried to show, above all else, that he could lead the country.
>> so he's actually barnstorming in almost a modern form in order to create a personal bond with the people of the north. >> lincoln arrives at independence hall where the declaration of independence, his revered document, was signed, and he raises himself the american flag over it. >> lincoln speaks about how the declaration of independence must be the guiding principle to save the union, but his speech ends with an ominous remark. >> if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle, i was about to say i would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it. >> the crowd is unaware that lincoln has been told of a plot
to assassinate him. >> there is a group that has plotted to kill him on his route to washington. >> that evening lincoln and his aids discuss their next move. >> so it would be incredibly nerve-racking to think about the debate they had, what to do in that circumstance. do they just leave? does he carry on? >> they actually suggest that he disguise himself, that he wear different kinds of clothing. he doesn't want to do that. >> what president wants to arrive in the national capital for his inauguration as though he was afraid? >> reluctantly, lincoln agrees. for additional security, he travels on an unmarked train. still, he's taking a huge risk. he has to go through baltimore where known confederate sympathizers are lying in wait. >> the threat to his life is
very real at that moment. >> lincoln makes it to the capital. he escapes the assassin's plot, for now. inauguration day dawns on a chilly washington. >> and it's a chill that comes not so much from the weather as from the anxiety that something desperate is going to be attempted. >> the army is lined up along pennsylvania avenue in case of attack. >> lincoln has come from absolutely nothing.
he has become a practiced, consummate politician whose skills will be put to the test in the greatest national crisis of the country. >> waiting for lincoln on the podium is his old rival stephen a. douglas. >> at his inauguration his speech is blown about a bit, and he's trying to hold his hat at the same time, his top hat. douglas is seated there. and douglas takes his hat and holds it. >> the old rivals had come to a meting of the minds, at least on each other, and what they had owed to each other. >> we must not be enemies. the passion may have been strained.
it must not break our bonds of affection. >> just five weeks after lincoln's inauguration, civil war breaks out. 620,000 americans would lose their lives. but it will be abraham lincoln who saves the nation and abolishes slavery. >> the things lincoln worked toward are the most important things america's ever done. nothing will ever be as important as ending slavery and at least setting us on a course toward full equality.
but that generation was dying out. and the issue was who could be president. >> there's a new contender in the race. he comes all the way to washington from tennessee. he may be an outsider, but he has the people's vote. his name? general andrew jackson. >> up until that time there had never been a candidate really on the public stage in america like andrew jackson. >> general jackson is a national hero. the man who many believe saved his country a decade ago at the battle of new orleans. >> he was regarded as a dangerous man who as a general had more than once exceeded his authority and broke the rules in order to defend his honor. in fact, andrew jackson was willing to kill to get his way. >> the other candidates were
kind of astonished when it became apparent that jackson had a popularity that transcended what they thought were qualifications. >> jackson's rival has a perfect presidential resumé. his name? john quincy adams. >> john quincy adams was probably the most qualified man to be president that the united states has ever produced. he was the son of john adams, the first vice president and then president of the united states. he had served as a congressman, as a senator, as a diplomat. he had then been secretary of state under james monroe. >> as secretary of state adams believes he's set for the top job. the last three men who held the post went on to become the president. his turn next. >> of course john quincy adams
has to be the next president. because, well, his father was the president. he's from massachusetts, and he's secretary of state. and the secretary of state has always been the president. who is jackson to come in here and -- he's just from tennessee. >> the votes are counted, and the man from tennessee surprises everyone. >> jackson had more popular votes than anyone else. and more electoral votes during anyone else. >> but not enough to win an absolute majority. instead, congress will choose america's next president. >> andrew jackson was enraged. >> i have been chosen by the will of the people. >> let me rise or fall on the rule that the majority of the people should decide who their president is. >> but jackson is shouting in the dark. in two months' time the presidency will be decided by
just 213 men. >> things really went into higher gear in washington city to negotiate for the vote that was going to take place. >> adams needs to turn the vote in his favor. fortunately, he has a secret weapon. mrs. adams. >> louise adams was a very accomplished woman. she had learned how to entertain in the courts of europe while adams was a diplomat. >> hundreds of miles from home, andrew and rachel jackson can't compete with the adams family. >> rachel jackson was completely a fish out of water when it came to what was expected of elite women in the cities of the eastern seaboard. the jacksons were living in a
boarding house, and it was very difficult for them to entertain people. louisa adams was often seen having conversation with henry clay. >> henry clay is speaker of the house of representatives. he controls the 213 men tasked with choosing between adams and jackson. >> the most powerful legislator of his time now had an opportunity to be a king-maker. he could swing the vote. >> clay and adams talk. has the kingmaker met his future king? >> clay asked for, as adams put it, assurances on some matters of great public importance. the two of them had a long conversation. clay went away apparently satisfied. >> two months of negotiation and
speculation pass. the house convenes, to announce america's new president. >> gentlemen, i am humbled and delighted with that which you bestow. >> the house of representatives elected adams. >> john quincy adams becomes the sixth president of the united states of america. his secretary of state? henry clay. >> from jackson's point of view, it looks like a corrupt bargain. it's two guys in a back room, making a deal to steal the election away from the people of the united states. >> for jackson this is a betrayal. and it's clear from the very beginning he's never going to forget that betrayal as he sees
it. >> jackson turns to the bible to shame his enemy, henry clay. >> mr. clay is judas taking the 30 pieces of silver to betray jesus. andrew jackson was a passionate man and a killer. >> jackson was certainly capable of physical violence in defense of democracy. so the threat that he might do something was very real. >> after that election there was a reception at the white house hosted by the outgoing president, monroe, to congratulate john quincy adams on his victory. and so jackson walked into that crowded room, in front of this collection of notables.
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andrew jackson has just lost the election he thought was his. he now approaches its victor, john quincy adams. >> adams looked uncomfortable. he thought that there might be an explosion of temper from jackson. >> but he could be very controlled when it fit his motivations. >> i hope you are well, sir. >> but it was all play-acting. jackson even made a kindf disarming remark. he had his wife with him and he said, "i give you my left hand." >> because as you can see -- my right is devoted to the fair. >> you don't want to seem like a sore loser, but behind the scenes, his advisers were already thinking about the next election four years away and how to position andrew jackson to crush this man.
>> humiliated, jackson heads home. >> jackson's fury over being deprived and the american people being deprived of the presidency drove him for the next four years. >> rachel jackson was hoping that now he would give up that public ambition and simply be her husband. >> but jackson has no plans to retire. he believes that a dangerously divided america needs him. >> jackson represented people who are dispossessed, all of those people who had gone west to make a better life for
themselves and they found they couldn't have a better life, because all the resources were strangled by the wealthy class that was emerging in the eastern establishment. >> once again andrew jackson plans to try for the presidency. he has just four years to turn america against john quincy adams. but he can't do it alone. >> in these campaigns of outsiders and populists you need a fixer, you need an insider. >> new york senator martin van buren is as popular as he is smart. and he's very smart. >> van buren had the interesting nickname the little magician. it perfectly represented what he was famous for. and that is, procuring political marvels. >> van buren agrees with jackson -- john quincy adams stole the election of 1824. >> van buren believed deeply in democracy, the rule of the majority.
the rule of the people. >> van buren wants to bring down the stale, old elite by creating a new political party. >> who better to run a national party than andrew jackson? a war hero, a man who ached for the presidency and was fueled by resentment at the outcome of the 1824 election. martin van buren said that's how we're going to beat john quincy adams. and of course the man we're going to beat him with is jackson. >> it would take several more years before that organization became known as the democratic party. but this was the heart of it. >> once more jackson will face adams for the presidency, but this time van buren is on board
and he has a powerful new weapon. >> you had an increasing number of newspapers, which were being carried across the country by an expanding transportation network to an expanding population. >> wherever he goes, martin van buren tells the same story -- democracy is in danger and the only man who can save it is andrew jackson. >> the editorial boards would be flattered of course to have someone like van buren going to meet with them. would write something positive and suddenly there would be this boom, oh my god, jackson could win. >> martin van buren is the first politico to understand that american presidential candidates to be successful have to be part celebrity. >> jackson is already famous, but now he has to become legendary.
♪ nesting in the white house, president adams has no time for the modern world. >> adams doesn't take advantage of the fact that he's in the white house. to use the white house as a way of gaining popular support. he remains aloof. and he thinks that's okay. his vision, his understanding of politics was the old politics. he would not stoop to do things to get re-elected, even if they were perhaps absolutely
necessary. >> meanwhile, for secretary of state henry clay, the political just got personal. >> clay was mad at jackson for him spreading the idea of the corrupt bargain. these men hated each other. >> clay realizes that jackson mania will hamper his plans. something must be done. >> in politics it's no holds barred. whatever is found as a weakness can be and will be exploited. >> clay goes for jackson's achilles' heel and in doing so changes presidential campaigning forever.
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orleans. his name is edward day and his purpose is to dig up dirt on jackson's wife, rachel. >> this fellow day was traveling around in kentucky, had gone to harrodsburg and other places where rachel had lived. >> the results of day's snooping are delivered to the liberty hall and "cincinnati gazette." loyal to president adams, the gazette runs day's story on the front page. >> the newspaper reports that rachel had knowingly run away from her husband, lewis roberts, with andrew jackson and that andrew jackson had lived with her in bigamy. >> it is our way as americans to assume that every presidential campaign is the very worst, that somehow we have lost the decorum, the etiquette of the past. 1828 is a reminder that we've
had bitter presidential campaigns for centuries. >> the story gets picked up by newspapers all over the united states. they were outraged that someone had so overturned the laws of society. >> henry clay's supporters have turned rachel jackson into the scarlet woman of the hour. >> rachel is despondent. she writes a letter to the friend of hers, "the general's enemies have dipped their arrows in wormwood and gall and sped them at me." >> but clay's real target isn't rachel jackson. it's her husband. >> jackson and rachel were deeply in love with each other. he thought the people who made these attacks ought to be thrashed. >> their hope was that jackson
would react so violently that it would put him beyond the pale as far as the american electorate was concerned. >> andrew jackson was a man with a ferocious temper who was willing to challenge people to duels and actually fight duels in order to win. >> 20 years before, a local horse breeder had made a fatal mistake of insulting jackson's wife. the fatal mistake. >> andrew jackson went to the dueling ground with charles dickinson. >> dickinson fired first and hit jackson in the chest. >> jackson stood and took it.
it was a kind of discipline that an andrew jackson had, a sort of iron control. and then took his time and calmly killed the man who had fired. >> the message was clear -- insult rachel jackson and andrew jackson will shoot you dead. jackson carried the bullet with him all his life as a reminder to himself and everyone else of what he would do for love. >> jackson found himself having to defend rachel's honor or at least her virtue. >> there is just one tiny flaw in jackson's rage. >> the accusation that jackson was a bigamist, a wife stealer, was actually true. >> 30 years before, rachel had
fled an abusive husband and eloped with jackson before getting a divorce. >> it became clear that this was going to become an issue in the campaign. many people commented, are an adulterer and her husband really the proper leaders of a christian nation. >> in washington president adams has no time for gossip. >> adams himself was a very self-disciplined man. he got up before dawn every morning. took a little swim in the potomac. privately he conceded that probably 2/3 of americans did not want him to be president. >> adams needs to prove himself if he's going to modernize america. >> the adams administration was in favor of broadly popular programs which were called
internal improvements such as new roads, new bridges, lighthouses and so forth. aids to the economy. >> he said we should lead the world in economic development. not only to make us richer, but to enable us to accomplish all the great things that man was put on earth to accomplish. >> while president adams gets to work building the new republic, andrew jackson is offered a lifeline that could resurrect his election campaign. [alarm beeps] ♪
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andrew jackson is now seen as america's most famous wife stealer. he needs a new image, and he needs it now. >> on january 8th, 1828, there was a huge commemoration of the battle of new orleans planned. and jackson was invited to it. >> jackson was the personal victor in that battlefield. so obviously when it comes time to celebrate the battle of new orleans, it's about andrew jackson. >> the jackson people thought there was a sense of opportunity here. let's make it a big campaign event.
>> in the war of 1812, america had been in danger of becoming a british colony again. vastly outnumbered, andrew jackson was ordered to halt the redcoat menace. >> jackson's army, they weren't trained to stand in a european battlefield and duke it out at 100 meters with muskets. so jackson put them behind barricades. >> the british lost about 2,000 casualties. and jackson lost not many more men than you could count on the fingers of both hands. >> what a personality. what a strength of character. and what generalship he showed.
>> jackson's team have a year to prepare for the anniversary. >> the battle commemoration at new orleans was extensively planned. and it was very carefully choreographed and stage-managed. >> rachel jackson, she has to go and support her husband, it's important for her to be seen by his side and she loves andrew jackson. but she comforts herself throughout it, thinking of how empty these honors are in this world. the jacksons travel 1100 miles by steamboat down river from nashville to new orleans. >> there were advantages to doing that. one of them was that you could meet crowds along the
wa way. >> it's a fundamentally different approach to politics and it lays the foundation for what we would consider modern politics, driven by personality and adventure and theater. >> it could then be extensively reported in the newspapers and that was really the point of it, it's not just to have this celebration but to have news of this celebration spread around the country. >> andrew jackson learns a lesson that politicals around the world would learn, a lot of people vote based on their dput, on -- gut, a sense of i like this person, i trust this person. >> having a sense of this person, that they like you, they will joke with you. if y