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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 7, 2011 7:00am-8:00am EDT

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>> up next david stokes recounts the murder trial of reverend j. frank norris in 1927. considered one of the leading fundamentalist voices of his time, reverend norris preached at the first baptist church of fort worth, texas. on july 17, 1926, he shot and killed an unarmed man in his church office. david stokes reports on the ensuing trial that engaged the nation. this is about 40 minutes. >> back in july 1926, 85 years ago this month, this country was celebrating its
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sesquicentennial, our 150th national birthday. here in texas i imagine it was quite a big deal. but in fort worth, texas, just to waste on here, the festivities were overshadowed somewhat by a local battle, what that include political, religious, business and civic leaders. the catalyst of this battle was a preacher. the issues republican personal, and citizens found themselves polarized. some talk about conspiracies, others about troublemakers. on july 17, 1926, it all came to every successful businessman, someone well connected to the movers and shakers of the town, went to pay a visit on a local pastor. but this was not just any pastor. far from the typical man of the cloth, he was a multifaceted personality ruling over a religious empire. more than just a preacher, he presided over the largest protestant congregation in
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america. in many ways america's first mega church. he was a radio broadcasting pioneer and star, the publisher of bob corker tabloid newspaper there he was viewed by many as the emerging leader of the movement been near its apex, a movement called fundamentalism. as the businessman argued with preacher that they the length became hot and within a few moments a few moments gateway to the founder of four gunshots, three of which struck the business been. he was left for dead. no one in the church office approached to help. police arrived and it angers before the man on a stretcher reached the local hospital breathe his last death. the preacher was the reverend john franklin north, well known as j. frank norris, more of a texas tornado, or too many in
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fort worth simply as batman. the story of what happened that day 85 years ago and for the following six months or so, is likely what i call the most famous story you've never heard. vista we reached all the way here to austin because eventually the trial which is one of the most celebrated trials of the decade, a decade that was known for famous trials like the philips trial and, of course, leopold and loeb, and so forth, this trial was one of the most captivating at the time. it's been lost to history. it's a footnote in a lot of books, a story that is made in some places but it's never received its full treatment i think. the context of course is the 19 twins which i've always found to be fascinating times. it was a time just after the world changed when the soldiers, here we have just this year in march the last living soldier of
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world war i, a man 110 years old. was buried at arlington national cemetery. there are no more from that era. and, of course, fewer we see everyday from the greatest generation world war ii. but in the 1920s people came back from world war i and they had a change to view, i think influence but with this thought in your and but we know about the 1920s issued to things happening at the same time. one is this tremendous revolution in manners and morals in the country. they are surf casting off restraints. you have women voting and shovel a lot of independence. you have a bit of a sexual revolution that goes on. you have all the meaty things that come along, radio of course begins to become a very popular medium, becoming the media of the day. tabloid newspapers are still very strong. movies, the film industry had been around for a few years but
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really reached, got its traction in the 1920s. along with that the cult of celebrity came along. what andy warhol would later describe as 15 minutes of fame. it really existed long before that in the 1920s and sports figures and golfers and baseball players and movie stars became famous. over against that you had this reaction to that revolution. it was described in an odd word that was great at the beginning of the decade by warren harding iran in 1920 when he said we want to get back to what he called normalcy. there's no such word. he wasn't -- he was the first republican to make a port but he said normalcy, getting back to the way things used to be. they saw the country falling apart. a lot of guys they held were changing, and so you had a number of things i came along at the same time that sort of emerge. one was a movement called
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fundamentalism. when we hear about fundamentalism today we usually think of its associated an awful lot with islamic fundamentalists. and terrorism, and, of course, also people with christian fundamentalism, often make the mistake of using evangelicalism and fundamentalism as interchangeable. fundamentalism was a reaction to the modern world, and it began as a theological movement that sort of is reaction to some of the changes taking place in mainstream. but it became also a cultural thing. it was sort of something for people to get involved with. i think it's hard to imagine today that it was such a pervasive movement in the 1920s. that the famous sage of -- the baltimore journalist said in the middle of the 1920s if you were to keep an egg from a pullman car anywhere in america you are bound to hit a fundamentalist in the head.
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there were millions of people who embraced it is much more of religious, sort of a cultural reaction to the way things have change. another movement that was big at least four times in the 1920s, and here in the state of texas, was the ku klux klan. it had seen a revival. of the many manifestations of the klan it into our time, but the most significant emergence of that particular movement were of course during reconstruction with the original klan. in about 1915 there was a regrouping of the klan image come into 1920s this group very patriotic, very pro-america, very anti-immigrant, anti-foreigners kind of things, really takes hold in the culture. for a moment in time there is a blending together of a lot of the, now here, fundamentalism
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with the ku klux klan. this is something evangelicals have a difficult time acknowledging, one of the reasons i think they've had a difficult time repudiating is because they have a difficult time acknowledging that it was, in fact, part of the past. there was a lot of affinity between the client. the claim is basically about three things in the 1920s. it was a racist organization as it's always been. but it was also anti-somatic as it's always been, but that was very prominent, anti-zionist. the zionist movement was come along at the time. this is where the story comes in, particularly here in texas. it was also anti-catholic. it was sort of a throwback to the old know nothings. it was this anti-catholicism that really i think was part and parcel of its popularity, particularly in the american south. so you have the 1920s. it's sort of the breeding ground
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in the fertile ground for the coming along of demagogues. history tells us, sometimes in the name of religion. along comes this complex character, the shooting salvation is, j. frank norris, is this character john franklin horse or simply known as j. frank. is born in 1877 in alabama but moved with his family at a young age to the hill country of texas where he grew up turkey survived a gunshot wound when he was 13 years of age and almost killed him. his father was a hopeless alcoholic, his mother was extremely devout and the driving force of his life. he was in his late teens, he experienced a religious conversion and felt the call to the ministry. he went off to baylor university which is where all baptist kids went at that particular time and date his undergraduate work, and graduated with honors and then
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went to seminary in kentucky and begin to take his place as one more baptist preacher in america. but he was a gifted person. he was a person who is fiercely ambitious. he was the perpetual or the prototypical i should say young man in a hurry. he caught the notice of some big denominational leaders in the southern baptists world, and at a young age was cast because of his writing skills, of being the editor of a major baptist periodical that is still pushing today called the baptist standard, the texas baptist standard. it's during this particular time that he develops a flair for public controversy. he decides to run a series of articles against racetrack gambling in dallas and in fort worth. and is credited for leading the way to see gambling band in most of texas for the next 20-30
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years. and he likes the crusading kind of stuff. well, he becomes a pastor of a church that was a celebrated church called first baptist church of fort worth, texas, in 1909. it's one of the wealthiest congregations in texas. it's known as the church of the cattle kings. there were 12 million years in the church. and noris was one of the highest paid clergyman in america at the time. one newspaper in south vote him the best dressed pastor in america. and he began a ministry that was the first pretty sedate but eventually he decided he would turn into and morph himself into a composite. i've done a lot of radio interviews last few days am in time to give to feel for what this person was lied. i want you to think about personality we take a little bit
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of billy sunday, maybe a name you know or don't know but he was a famous, take a little bit of billy graham. he's free to grass. and add to that a little dose of william randolph hearst. he was a very famous newspaperman, and also someone who had the poly-on it tendencies -- napoleonic. and add to that p.t. barnum, the sensation, and showmanship. and then because it's the toys and because of norse and some of the things he did, put a little out of the end of because he was there much into winning battles and fighting battles. t-bill first baptist church from a few hundred people in 1909 to a church that would draw sometimes 10,000 people by the middle of the 19 choice. their churches in america bigger than that now, lots of churches, but at that time there were not. this was unheard of back then.
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it really was. before the name was used in the first mega church in america. he didn't do it without controversy. there was an area in order worth back during the days before world war i called hell's half acre, the red light district. it was with the brothels were and where the gambling houses work, all the bars were and so forth. it was a place all the cattlemen that were coming in would stop. so it was infamous. famous picture butch cassidy and the sundance kid was taken in hell's half acre and forth worth. norris decided he would take that on and try to shut it all down, so he got to be this crusading kind of local pastor cleaned up the city. and a longer would he made a few enemies, and one day his church blew up and burned thei. rumors were circulating, how did
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this happen? was it the work of the enemies? eventually many people believe that j. frank norris burned his church down for the notoriety. in fact, he was charged with arson, and he was indicted for perjury, in fact another indictment he was indicted three times, had two trials and was acquitted on all accounts, but it was never fully proven what exactly happened. and a detail that in the book somewhat even though that's not the story i focus on. that in itself is not a fasting story about this guy. he leverages the notoriety and the celebrity and he becomes this big mega church pastor by the middle of the 1920s. let me read a passage. i've got just a couple of quick passes i will rebut one of them illustrates what the media thought about him during this particular period of time. and it is a description from
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1924. earlier in the year of genuine i can put forth by the periodical of the day called the world's work, monthly publication devoted national and international news profiled north as a prospective leader of all fundamentalists in the country. and this is the passage. potential leaders abound and among them the strongest, shrewdest, and most romantically adventurous is j. frank norris of fort worth, texas. in fort worth opinion regarding norris is divided. one faction says he took the gun. the other says he chose to guns. many of frank's former foes, buildings covering a block, test a success and is auditorium when alterations are complete will hold 6000 with a quart of 700. crowds gather and sensations of the first order, he has created a new profession, that a church
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efficiency expert and is its most brilliant practitioner. heralded as the texas cyclone, he will into any city you choose to name, lay hold of some doddering dead-end live downtown church, draw crowds into, galvanize them, get the glorious revitalized institution financed. after witnessing his performance in cleveland, a business or declared the service of a business corporation, nor is his genius would be worth $50,000 a year. he understated the case. so that's what gives you a glimpse of some of the press clippings that around the country of this mean that many of you don't know but who is an emerging figure. the storytelling par three who don't know because the whole story never happen. i think most folks aren't my alley for some of the parameters of the scopes trial that happened in 1925. the issue was evolution. the lawyers pitted against each
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other were clarence darrow and william jennings bryant. waylon jennings bryant had been a democratic candidate for president in 1896. he was an army three times. the first time he was only three seizures of age. he was a gifted orator and he was a year of the little people. they called him the great, or. but by the middle of the 1920s he's in his '60s and he has been sort of relegated to an aside will of democratic party politics and he becomes the leader really of this movement called fundamentalism. the apex is one of a drought took place in tennessee, and, of course, waylon jennings bryant goes down there to work with the prosecution. a footnote to this is one of the preachers in fact the man probably most responsible for getting william jennings bryant to go to dayton was j. frank norris. one of the last things that bryant did before he died just a
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few days after that trial was write a handwritten note to j. frank norris thank him for his help, for his encouragement and going to the trial. and doors open at handwritten note after he'd gotten his that william jennings bryant had died. he printed a note in his newspaper which at that time of 50,000 subscribers. and used this way to link himself and his go very much was to become the heir to william jennings bryan, become the leader of the fundamentals are what we might call conservative christians in america at the time. and everyone might have happened except that within a year he got into a battle with local city leaders in fort worth, texas. he's always fighting about something. the particular issue this time had to give with taxes. is a very interesting little story because first baptist church in fort worth owned a tremendous part of a downtown block on anti-downtown block in the city of fort worth.
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and also a part of another block. and for the buildings they were not using they rated them out. the jcpenney store in downtown fort worth rented space from the first baptist church. the problems the first baptist church was not paying taxes on those part of the properties that were being used or defer income business purposes. and so as a result of that, norris was taxed as were some other churches in fort worth at the time, and j. frank norris resisted this and vowed to fight. he got into heated battle with city leaders, including the mayor. the mayor was henry clay mecham. meacham airport is named after him. gives credit for bringing aviation the fort worth, texas.
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norris what really is his newspaper come is rated and his pulpit for personal attack. he wouldn't be above the sermon where he would accuse the mayor of all sorts of things, including having an affair and other things. you can imagine, this is before the was an fcc. the fcc didn't come along, the first part until 1927. it was sort of wide open. you could say you want to say anything on the radio. things got heated up. this is a period of time 85 years ago in fort worth, and will happen is a friend of the mayor by the name of d. e. chipps, a wealthy businessman, took umbrage and decide i'm going to go speak to this preacher and try to get him to stop and defend my friend. and so we went to see norris on
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july 17, 1926, a sickly they had a heated argument. he said you need to stop criticizing my friends. knorr said he's going to keep on doing it. and what happened in the next moment was debated, was analyze, was testified one way or another, a lot of concert you about what happened. but the facts are that norris picked a gun from his desk, roll top desk, picture william jennings bryan, the pacifist right above the desk, and had a picture of us in the book as well as the gun, shot chipps, and chipps lay dying on his floor. to put in perspective, if you've heard of the mega church preacher rick warren, or if you know of a televangelist like pat robertson, how big a story would it be if one of these guys, for whatever reason, even
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self-defense shot and killed the person in the office, i think in this day of 24/7 this is probably the, people would say casey anthony who? it would make it all go away. that's a big a star it was within the such as it was at the time. i was astounded by the next morning every newspaper in america because of wire services, which is another part of the story that was just coming along, got the paper out of every nook and cranny, every small and large paper had a headline about this minister in texas, this ambitious leaders who wanted to be the heir to william jennings bryan shooting and killing a man in his office. he was indicted and he was charged with first degree murder, which meant that if he was convicted he would have faced the electric chair. in texas. the mayor wanted to make sure that norris was convicted, so decided out of his own pocket, he was a wealthy department store owner, to hire some extra
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lawyers, some special prosecutors to help the district attorney. and it was welcomed by the district attorney. and so what you have beginning is this big legal battle that is going to come along with some of the most powerful and influential lawyers of the time. and they have a hearing in fort worth, but it's clear that he can get a fair trial there. because opinion about him was so pronounced, so they vote to move the trial to austin, texas. and the judge sets the date for january 1927. somehow not realizing that by doing this he makes sure that this trial, which will be one of the most celebrate in history of texas takes place the same week the youngest governor of texas is inaccurate as the governor of texas. and by the way, along the campaign trail just a few days after norris killed chipps in the church office, first baptist
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was the biggest auditorium in town, then all sorts of events there, dan moody spoke from norris his pulpit as part of his political campaign. so you have the inauguration, at that time austin, texas, is about 50,000 residents. it sort of a sleepy, quiet university town, state capital. it hasn't seen the boom that, of course, has been seen these years later. and the trial is moved to austin, texas. it draws every media outlet you can possibly imagine. to the trial. and as a result of this trial, norris, his cases brought before the jury. it becomes sort of a duel between lawyers, some the crystal celebrate lawyers, names that are forgotten today for the prosecution of a lawyer by the name of "wild bill" mclean. he had already been sort of like an athlete daly of the day. and ironically and interestingly
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there was a chief lawyer was did moses so he was being led in the wilderness of his trial by did moses. and as a result of all this, this trial took place, and it comes to the point of verdict and just like we sometimes see in triumph, the verdict doesn't turn out the way a lot of people who just seem to know the facts think it should turn out. in other words, does not die in the electric chair. in fact he lived until 1952, and he has, he never reaches the place he wanted to reach, because he's always going to be marred by this story. but he is still a gifted man. he begins to pastor to churches at the same time, one in detroit, michigan, one in texas, commuting back and forth.
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this in the '30s. 25,000 members between the two churches. after world war ii he gets involved in anti-communism. and he realizes that hey, roman catholics adhere on the same page and this man who is against the catholics in the '20s has an audience with pope pius the 12th. in 1947. so he was an interesting pragmatist. a man who could change. one footnote al qaeda and the no take some questions if you have them, as something i didn't hit come is that in the 1940s one of norris his young students, and is always have young people come along. is a very charismatic kind of individual and they want to be like them and learn from him, and he had a reputation for not taking anything from anybody and so forth, was a young man by the name of john birch. that's a name that you may know. john birch became a missionary, sent out by norris his church to china. while he was in china in the
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late '30s, early '40s of course that's when the war was heating up. john birch got involved with military operations. and became an ecologist aid. john birch was asked a very interesting individual himself. when 30 seconds over tokyo and the ditch over china, john birch helped recover several of the pilots and taken to safety. john birch was murdered in china right at the end of the second world war by chinese communist if they shot him to death and norris grey. you change the of the solve of his church to john birchall. why that name is what you is because there's a group called the john birch society. but that group did not start until 1958 by the men -- there's a display that president johnson slider here at the university of
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texas. what robert welch did is to use the name john birch because john birch, he says, was the first casualty of world war iii. he was killed by the communists and used his name to create the john birch society. what's interesting about it is one of the great features of j. frank norris is work, and you see this throughout the book, there was always a conspiracy against him. it was voice this group or that group. in the '20s it was a mayor and the catholic interests of town are against them. and then later of course john birch's name, but a man who died long before there was a john birch society associate with a group that is known for the love of a good conspiracy. so i think it's a fascinating story. it was hiding in plain sight. like i said i called it the most
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famous star you've never heard but it was page one news across america in the 1920s, images grateful that i was able to dig it out and nobody had gotten to be for me. thank you very much. [applause] >> i'll take a few of your questions if you have any. and love to talk with you and i will be over and happy to sign a book for you. raise your hand, and we have one over here. will get the microphone over to you. >> how did you get on to the story? what brought you to the issue itself? >> well, i told you earlier that i administer, my background is baptist. and i'm from detroit, michigan. and my mother grew up in the church that he pastored in detroit, michigan, later on after this happened when he pastored these two churches. so i've heard the name. norris died four years before i was born and so i had heard the name, and norris, what i
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remember my mom sent him he preached long messages. my grandmother said she used to pack a lunch when he was preaching because he would preach to our sermons. but one day and a chance encounter with somebody, i tell someone where i went to church, and even though these things have happened long before, this guy said i wouldn't go to that church because that's where the pastor was who killed that guy. and i thought what in the world is he talking about? i asked my mother and others and heard the story. they didn't really know the story completely because it happened so me decades before and don't we talked about it. he had a fight with somebody back in the '20s and he killed a guy. so that's how i heard about the first time as a teenager. then we went to college i studied baptist history, there is baptist groups, and, of course, came across his name and develop an interest across along the way i had a file folder and put little articles and eventually i got more things, then it comes out, you get more
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stuff and about 2007 by this time it was several boxes. my wife to do something with the stuff or else. so i did. eventually i collected 6000 pages of court records, newspapers. are the complete run of norris his newspaper which published weekly so a lot of the stories in his own words. i think that makes it very interesting from an original source kind of standpoint. but that's how i came to know the story. anyone else? >> what did you find was the most difficult thing about writing the book? >> i think after i'd gotten it done, thinking i was done, that was the most difficult, going through edits and rewrites. it was sort of like when my first daughter was born 34 years ago, i made a mistake of saying boy, i'm glad that's over. and the doctors of reminded me know, you're just getting started. it was sort of that same experience when i thought i finished the manuscript a couple
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years ago, but then what we have here is so much better than the raw footage of what i had written. i think is probably the hardest part. i love the research. i could spend all day long doing that kind of stuff. i like the actual writing of the book, but going through the post-book when you think of it done and editing and all that, probably the most difficult part. who else? >> and what about the last year or two of his life, like how did he die and what was his health like and what was his political involvement, or anything else? >> in 1948, he died in 1952, he was almost 75 years old. in 1948 when the great international debate was going on about israel, and whether or not is going to be a new nation for the jewish people and palestine and eventually in may of 1948 it comes to be. and harry truman 12 minutes after midnight when it happened
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is the first country, with the first country to recognize the state of israel. actually norris by that time had become a lit of an expert on middle east, certainly from a biblical standpoint and he had an exchange of correspondence with president truman on this. interesting little footnote. also in the 1930s, this is a cool story i found out later, it's not in the book. pretty boy floyd was a gangster, and you can see this in public enemies burroughs book about john dillinger that's me into the movie about dillinger a while back, apparently pretty boy floyd mother was a fan of j. frank norris on the radio and took her other son to be baptized i norris. and norris eventually for brief time played intermediary between the floyd fan and j. edgar hoover, trying to get the surrender of pretty boy floyd. i thought that was a good interesting little postscript about norris, he was always find a way to get involved in public events. he had a series of health issues
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in the late '40s, a couple of strokes, and a lot of the stuff he had built, he sort of splintered off, he did a lot of people around him. by the time he died in 1952, several various splinter groups. he is the first one of that particular group and the splintered into a lot of different ways. he died at a youth can't. he was speaking at a youth camp in florida in august of 1952. and his body was flown back to fort worth, texas, and is buried in greed would cemetery not far from where d. e. chipps is buried as well. anybody else with the question? [inaudible] >> carter, a very famous name, people from dallas-fort worth was apologize for worth star-telegram was a present of the fort worth club. the fort worth club was a big
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place for the movers and shakers, what i would call -- he was the president of the club. he was one of the pallbearers at the funeral of d. e. chipps. he was a friend of chipps. he managed county was a pretty wise person who commands that allow himself to get baited and sort of drawn in to j. frank norris well. but i deal with him and awful and the book and he's a fascinating character. after mayor mecham died, mayor meacham's daughter, mimi, married carter. and they were a very big power couple until -- [inaudible] >> early 1930s. they were married when he died in the 1950s. that was his wife and of the daughter of mayor meacham. to this day their papers are together at university of texas at arlington. i research them. >> did he distance himself from
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thing to? >> everyone sort of forgot about it, and the baptist didn't want him, he was and appears to. norris did want to talk about. texans did want to talk about because the whole store brought in the klan and other things were just as in forget about. without any people around to continue telling stories it gets buried under the cells of time. that's where it's been. >> did norris ever talk about the klan and just said later that that was a mistake? >> i never found any evidence where he dealt with that particular issue. certainly the klan went away. certainly norris in later years -- >> he was involved with the klan, was a? >> he spoke of their rallies, the local grand dragon in fort worth was a member of norris his congregation. norris in 1925 ordained him and put them on the staff as an assistant pastor while the man
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remained the grand dragon of the local ku klux klan. but times change in a moderated certain his views as many people do. in fairness you go back and look at major figures in 1920s. there's a lot of people, senator robert byrd who died a few years ago, had a record with a client. and it's unfortunate. those people repudiated. i haven't found where norris had a sermon where he said i'm so sorry for what i do. he expressed regrets about some of the stuff but a lot of it was in the body language. he showed his change by doing things differently. for man to go from anti-catholic to having an audience with the pope and actually getting a blessing is a pretty big paradigm shift. but he was an opportunist is what he was. >> i was going -- >> was he sincere? it's hard, i can't let myself anybody shoes. i certainly think there's some core things he believed in but i
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also think he believed in himself. i think he was an opportunist and seize the moment. and i think the cautionary tale is of the cult of personality. when people take themselves too seriously and other people take them too seriously, you follow people blindly. anything else? >> have you read either of the books about sociopaths? >> no, i haven't. but you could probably build a case. and i can't comment on the. >> do you think norris might've been a sociopaths? >> i don't know. my armchair thing is people don't experience regret. they don't seem to have anything. i do know that i would go that far. i think norris probably did regret thing. people who knew him that he never got over that particular moment. and his public persona, i think he liked that controversial tough guy kind of thing.
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this was a day and age if before world war ii, people didn't talk about their feelings very much. not very transparent about things. i think he sort of enjoyed that persona, even though deep inside and have troubled him, some of the things that happen. okay, one more over here. you get two-for-one tonight. >> daschle book covers back story of the history of the times of? >> yes. one of the things, that's a great question but i wish i could've asked you get asked that question. when i wrote this, i'm not from fort worth, texas. i'm from detroit, michigan. i'm a yankee. that's even worse, you know? i spent all of my ministry and life in new york city area, now down to washington, d.c., area and east coast. so i knew that i'll be writing a lot about fort worth, texas, and i wanted to make sure i got that right. i wanted to make sure that if
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somebody grew up around there, new people, the to read a book and say this guy did his homework and his research. there's a lot about fort worth. some people have said, maybe i put too much detail. i don't think i have, but there's a lot about the city, something -- that's what true bob schieffer, who wrote the forward, because he said he heard these things when you grew up in fort worth. in fact, he says in the forward that he had grown up in fort worth you would've thought somebody made all this stuff up and he said did. it really happened. he was gracious and kind and i thought that was a nice complement that somebody loved fort worth that much would take this work serious enough to do that. okay again, thank you very much. i appreciate you taking the time to come and listen. i hope you enjoyed the book. [applause] >> david stokes on a murder
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trial of reverend j. frank norris. for more information about the book visit >> here's a look at some upcoming book fairs and festivals over the next few months. >> kate buford, who was jim thorpe? >> probably our greatest multisport athlete ever of all
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time. and a native american. partially why but mostly native american. one of the earliest the greatest athletes, one of the most important things about him i think is he is at the dawn of american organized sports. and he sets a model. he sets up the gold standard that still stands today. >> when did he live? >> he was born in 1887 in oklahoma, died in 1953. so first out of the of the 21st century more or less. >> did he play professional sports? >> yes, yes. he played both nonprofessional and also professional. he played for the new york giants were now december cisco judge, last year's world series when it. he played for the canton bulldogs which is why the professional football hall of fame is in canton, ohio. is because of jim thorpe if you walk in the front door of the hall of fame, the only statue that you see in the center of the hall is jim thorpe.
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>> in his time was he as well known as a michael vick or a brett favre did a? >> more. much, much more because he was this multisport athlete but he did football, baseball, track and field. he won gold medals in the 1912 olympics. he could do all that is one of the reasons he still retains this dad's as chris multisport athlete because they don't allow athletes to play multiple sports like that anymore. so in his day and beyond, one of the main reasons i wrote the book, he loomed so large. people revered him and talked about him long after he stopped plowing spent what was the significance of his native american heritage? >> huge. the playing of games as a young child that i go into that in the book. kind of a crosstraining almost. he sort of ran free and played free on the oklahoma plains. and learned strength, concentration, stamina,
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quickness, agility. and also this respect for physical, and the competitive games that the sac and fox drive would engaging in oklahoma. that was a huge influence i was a spirit who were disparate? >> is parents were hiram thorpe who is half white, his father had been a white, from connecticut. and his mother was a pottawattamie indian, another outcome and woodland drive. gym was mostly pottawattamie for those listeners or viewers who are knowledgeable about indian background. all of these are rich in the great lakes tribes who of course got removed and removed and removed in the euphemism of the time to eventually oklahoma. >> how did he end up in pennsylvania to? >> in sylvania, carlisle, pennsylvania, the carlyle indian industrial school was probably
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the most famous and prominent of a series of indian boarding schools set up to radically select american indians into white society. why reform is at the time, agents have begun aching 80, 1890s. carlisle was closed in 1918, but they saw it american indian race as dying out, as threatened, vanishing was the popular at the time. and in sort of a combination of guilt and policy they decided the best way to save the dying race was to turn them into white. so the -- >> turn them into white? >> to send into these boarding schools which they could not go over five years ago for britain to speak the nato-led which. their hair was cut short a they are put white uniforms and sent out to live with white families for the summers. it was a radical exercise, which
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did incredible damage to at least two generations of native american students. and actually parenthetically right now there's this very interesting movement going on that is building with the internet, facility by the internet by facebook pages of the descendents of these boarding school students trying to retrace the memory of their grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and piece together what they call this hole torn in their culture where they were forbidden to indulge or to express their culture. jim went to the most famous of these schools. >> did he have to apply for a? was he chosen? how did he get there? >> they were recruiting good athletes. the original superintendent felt that sports was away for the american indian dish on the supposedly equal playing field of sport that they could excel and they could do as well as anyone else. like a metaphor for success, and active metaphor.
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his father had despaired of being able to control jim at this point. he was older. he was in his late teens. he sort of come he tried every other school in the area in oklahoma and his father sent him a pretty famous letter actually now to the superintendent of carlisle in pennsylvania think i can do anything with him. will you please take them. and he already showed signs of athletic promise. not nearly what he would later show but enough that he was then allowed to go to carlisle. put on a train and went off in 1904. >> when did he get back to oklahoma, or did he? >> he went back and forth. he didn't go for so here's because he was in carlisle but he would go back in the summers wanted been there several years. pretty much until he goes professional with the new york giants people go back periodically. but not that much as he goes into an adult man.
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>> what was his reaction to carlisle industrial school? >> berkeley, he loved a sportswriter from the beginning. he really wanted to play football. he showed he could excel at track and field very and this is was put on the track and field team in 1907. but he kept pestering pop warner, glenn scobee wanted was the famous coach, soon to be famous coach who started off at carlisle. and he pestered warner to be put on the football team took of his point he was 5'8" and about 130 pounds, and warner kept putting him off and put it and finally, long story short, he makes a football team. he doesn't start to shine into 1908. and sports really become his thing. and if you were an athlete at carlisle, it's very interesting paradigm that we see now at all the major schools, you are a pampered person. you got a special train table. you didn't have to go to class
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as often as the others. warner had an athletic sheen at play which is very much a model, a template for we take for granted now. >> was the significance or tells about the west point football game. >> we fast-forward to 1912. jim's last season with the carlisle industrial school -- >> was a well-known as a college athlete nationwide? >> at this point he is. 1911, he comes -- a long story and just read the book, but he leaves carlyle in 1909, goes to play minor league baseball in north kellogg never intended to go back to north carolina. baseball was the only organized sport that you could make a living at, or make a career. he doesn't do that well in baseball so he is persuaded to come back to carlisle in 1911. he is bigger, heavier, he's in his 20s now. he hits the ground running, and the football season of 1911 and
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1912, and the track and field season of 1912 which then precedes the olympics in stockholm, the summer of 1912, he's a phenomenon. is all over the newspapers, all over the headlines. so by the time that west point game is scheduled, he is sort of the talk of the nation. west point -- "sports illustrated" would say 2008 that had there been a heisman trophy, for example, in 1911 and 1912, jim would probably have one they both use. so he's a phenomenon when he goes into again. so warner has scheduled the carlisle indians with west point cadets. and it's a highly symbolic game for many, many reasons. obvious at west point is the army. in that team and in that class of cadets are so many future world war ii generals. >> such as? >> eisenhower for example. omar bradley who's watching from the sidelines but he is a reserve player.
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and if carlisle wins that game, and it's a tough, tough game and it's just a phenomenal game. jim thorpe dominates. amazing. >> what did the carlisle coached tell his team before they played? >> according to several accounts, pop warner, and this can be exaggerated, but no doubt what is said to the team as part of his peptalk before the game, you are playing against the descendents of the people who fought against your father's on the so-called indian wars in the west for land. and go out and get them. and they did. >> did politics, to political figures a lot on to jim thorpe cracks and did he get involved in politics at all? >> later in life he did. not at this point that we're talking about. not at all. not in the '20s. by the time he gets a hollywood in the 1930s, he plays his last official game of any kind in 1928, goes to hollywood, as
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did sony sport stars because of the movies and the wonderful climate. he goes to hollywood and he becomes almost in spite of himself a spokesperson for indian causes. this huge gas brought of indians as will sport stars out of out in hollywood. the advent of sound in film triggers the renaissance of the western as hokey and stereotype as it was, the western serial. one episode every week for 12 weeks, the kids would go down on saturday afternoons. he plays in over the 70 movies, maybe double that. because there's this big group of indian actors and step in and players in hollywood, he's the most famous of all of them. he becomes the spokesperson and he begins to speak out on behalf of indian affairs. he also forms a casting company to pressure the studios to hire indians to play indians in these
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westerns. even though it's stereotypical, its job, it's worth. you want someone would want to fall off force, some who can really shoot a bow and arrow while they're riding a horse, not some italian or mexican or whatever because the studios were none too fussy, as long as you look vaguely ethnic your okay. but jim said -- >> did he die a wealthy man's? >> oh, no. he made good money when he went to work for the giants, when he played in the high minors in the 1920s. he made very good money. >> hollywood? >> he made a living. he made a very decent living. this was the depression but never the indians were not paid as much as white extras. he fought for that as well. by the end of his life know, he's got virtually no money. and very important thing to remember looking at the whole life and stepping back is that jim thorpe, as i said, is at the advent, the beginning of american sports.
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he is pre-radio, free sports agents, pre-hollywood newsreels. so none of these media amplifications of them exist. all there is is newspaper coverage which makes him loom even larger because he sort of, he becomes a folk hero whose exploits are handed down from father to son as it were. and in this contra of sportswriters who have seen them play. but he doesn't get the money, someone like jack dempsey, red grange, just changes later. another pro football player or collegiate who turns pro. these people make typos sums of money for the time and he never hit that level. nobody did when he was playing at his peak. >> who was mrs. thorpe? >> they were three mrs. thorpe's. one of his classmates in carlisle, either miller we married. >> white woman's? >> she claimed to be, you had to
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a certain blood quantum and it would measure it all. this is a government instituted thing. because as a school for image was supposed the american indian. she fudged the records and got in but was not really indian at all. they divorced about 1924, 25, and he married freda kirkpatrick who was much younger than he was. he had four children with his first wife. the first son died at about age three which was a horrible, horrible tragedy and i think affected and for the rest of his life. three daughters survived of that. the second life he has four sons. two of those sons survive today. they were divorced. he and freda in 1939, and he married in 1945 patsy thorpe who is the woman he is married to when he dies. and she was quite a difficult person. >> why? >> she was fierce on the good sigh, she felt she had gotten a bum deal and he wasn't charging
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after speaking engagement. he wasn't using his image well enough. he had been taken advantage of. so she thought like a lioness to give him a better deal depression also spent a lot of it. she almost scotched the deal with warner bros. for making the biopic starring burt lancaster, jim thorpe all-america. she hassled the studio so relentless that they almost pulled the plug on it but only when she was driven for that movie to go on, when he dies she goes to find the best birthplace. and shoves the body around which was bizarre, bizarre story. >> you telecom is this where the town of jim thorpe pennsylvania comes from? >> there were two small towns facing each other across the lake river, a total population of maybe 5000, and they were dying, they had no jobs. this was post-world war ii. and they need to consolidate and
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long story short, patsy hears about these little towns trying to save himself. she's already tried oklahoma, she's tried shawnee, she's tried also. the body keeps moving around and she finally says to a newspaper publisher, if you change your name to jim thorpe, consolidate, get their service together, change her name to jim thorpe, you can have the body. so they sign a contract. i seen a copy of it for the body. and it goes to jim thorpe, pennsylvania,. >> is it still there? >> yes. and the town has dutifully honored jim thorpe all these years as jim thorpe high school in the honor him every year. they have done well by what they promised to do. but the surviving children, jack thorpe, sadly, the youngest son just died a few weeks ago. that leaves two sons left. whether they carry on this battle, the lawsuit that was filed last spring almost a year
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ago, under the native american graves protection repatriation act, tickets remains exhumed and returned to oklahoma and buried next to his father, hiram thorpe's. what is the status of that case? where do you see it going? >> the status is with jack dying, they got as i understand a 30 day extension, because he was the only one technically who filed the suit. to add on more surviving descendents, the two remaining sons, and some tribal members. they were told by the court they needed to be on the suit to read submitted. that's where it stood the last i talked to the descendents. where i stand on a, if the end result was for jim to come back to oklahoma, i would like to thank there's a win-win solution, that the town, jim thorpe, which has done so well by him, could keep the name obviously, and be the good guys in this and bring the remains back to oklahoma. whether that will happen or not
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i don't know. >> were you able to talk with a lot of mr. thorpe's descended? >> yes. all his children. >> what are they doing? >> there's only two left now. they are quite old, aged by this point. they've had varied careers. jacko just had a couple of weeks ago was chief of the sac and who is the one the most reclaimed his indian identity. he lives in shawnee. bill worked as an engineer for many years, has retired now. dick worked for the government of oklahoma. he lives in oklahoma. grace thorpe, one of the daughters come was a passionate indian rights advocate and just in the fabric all her life. the other daughter work for the american girl scouts and was also quite an advocate for ending issues. charlotte, the third daughter, worked very, very hard for the supposedly an statemef


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