Skip to main content

tv   Tonight From Washington  CSPAN  August 26, 2011 8:00pm-11:00pm EDT

8:00 pm
8:01 pm
>> i am delighted to introduce our panel about her this afternoon. barbara clark smith is our scholar from the smithsonian. she is curator of the division of political hiss or at the national museum of american history. her new book is "the freedoms we lost" consent and resistance in revolutionary america. in this and other publications, clark smith writes about politics and a sharp social historian site for drama and detail. she co-curated a favorite exhibition of mine called jamestown, québec and santa fe, three north american beginning
8:02 pm
in 2006. john ragosta is an historian and lawyer, our second speaker. he teaches at the uva school of law. he has published three field contemporary law, legal history and early america. his new book is called "wellspring of liberty how the religious dissenters hope when the american revolution and secured religious liberty. we can count on the baptists for some good theater. this year, tranter is a research fellow at the selection or at monticello. john fea, our final speakers and associate professor of history and chair of messiah college in grantham, but looking at. his new book is called "was america founded as a christian nation." john fea has written about religion in american history and
8:03 pm
contemporary culture in scholarly articles, news papers and online publications, including a blog called the way to improvement late home. with that, barbara clark smith. >> thank you. the new interpretation of the american revolution. but it does that by looking at the ordinary man who made up the revolution. not much to painting fathers thought it small farmers, small planters, maybe our descendents to own enough tools and enough materials or shopkeepers on the net talk in good and enough credit to qualify to vote. these same men who qualify to vote for their representative or a delegate to their colonial legislature in the colonial. but it never occurs to them that they might themselves run for office, except maybe minor local
8:04 pm
offices. when i say ordinary man, i mean the three white men who for much of their adult life qualify to go, but nobody got them at the social class that could be rulers. the question of my book is, what do these people bring to the petrie at movement that the revolution and what brought them? what ideas of liberty do they bring with them and why did they mobilize? to answer that in a very short time, i'm going to share with you three quotations and they are just a few papers that copies enabled read them for you. to give you an idea of the scope and the arguments i had aching. the first quotation comes from the independent advertiser, which is a newspaper put out by a young female atoms in boston in the late 1740s. he posts a lot of english authorities. he doesn't attribute down. he just runs the article as they tended to do and sometimes they
8:05 pm
say these are from our great authors but didn't tell you which ones. this is a little piece about how great civil government was. it is quote, the most inestimable lesson that mankind can enjoy. and this author in the 17th century englishman, about 1680s the original, that they should think highly of government. they should insist that the dr. rhee for the happiness and security of all. and so they said, if there be any form of government amongst non-with the supreme magistrate is not vested with enough power to protect the people and promote their prosperity or if there be any such constitution as enables the prints to injure an oppressed set date, such constitutions are inconsistent with civil society. well, part of this is familiar that she can't have the prints and pressing the people appeared part is less familiar and in fact, it is worth noting the
8:06 pm
effect comes in second to the danger of being incapable government. [laughter] this was not an endorsement of governments that governs least sm later thinkers but pernod. it's rather endorsement of government that is accountable and the fact is, mindful of its obligations to execute the laws that protect the small people from the excessive ambitions of the great would be great. about that quote, i just want to say the reason english people felt strongly on behalf of government, you know, they could have just gotten entirely rid of the monarchy. they did get rid to two pain. but they stuck with the monarchy because they found the king and his laws extremely useful in dealing with the other oppressors in their lives company with a great lords and the great gentry. the main experience of the
8:07 pm
middling people, the rural population of england in the early modern period was one of the pushed off of the land where they have lived for generations as the great lords and the great gentry at tamora delay and extended the notion of property rights to exclude the use of common fields or the use of forests or rivers halas to reorganize. this is called improvement. a word sort of like development. it is improvement if you are certain person. but for certain people, households were pushed either into becoming a landless wage earners, working on other people's farms or wage earners in the textile mills that were growing up in the wool industry or they went off to london. those who wanted thinking to british north america. so where they hope to gain a firmer hold.
8:08 pm
so what not struggle, some centuries that shipped in the use of land, what was useful to many of the middling and or are people off it was the law. they would pull their money come the smallholders in area and prevent the enclosure or improvement that the lord of the great gentry landlord wanted. so that was the reason daylight government is a sometimes worked for them. monarchy worked partly because you could always say, even the king can do to much and everyone would agree with that appeared once you agree to that, then billboards cannot do much. that is the top level that allows -- there is a concept of too much inherent in the world of monarchy. the second quotation brings us to north america. of course there were people who wanted to be lords of the land in north america, two. in the states, lord baltimore, lord fairfax come and attend family, any number of friends
8:09 pm
and the creditors of the king. but it turned out in the 17th century they couldn't make money off of rent because there's too much land and not enough settlers for them. and so you had to give all these breaks to people to have them settle your land and build farms they are. that balance of power shifts in the 18th century as you have more settlers and as the east coast increasingly is patented and settled up. so what you find in 18th century is a new password on behalf of these proprietors, author now at the children, grandchildren to get rent. one of the places this is going on is the colony of east jersey, where some two dozen proprietors, now i think largely the grandchildren of those sufficiently granted the land are trying to collect rents, backgrounds. they are trying to claim timber on the land of people who settled in the farm.
8:10 pm
and their huge struggles for decades in new jersey through the courts and over the court system. and they are also rights, which break out when the courts do the unpopular thing. so this quotation is from the men in new jersey. this is my reference to religion to fit with my fellow panelists. this is great and jenkins who evangelical christian presbyterian in new jersey. and he writes a brief vindication of the purchasers, the people who bought the land against the proprietors in a christian manner in 1746. and this is what he tells the proprietors. the strictly just thought i'd join the land and think not by self discharge for the duty of righteous as for the neighbor by an extraordinary measure of pretended zeal and piety towards god coveted the beginning of this misrule and mistake that happened among us.
8:11 pm
it is plain cause to augment that it was coveted spot in these proprietors as you call them into the plantations of these poor people. so jenkins reason was as if you had to have a reason to improve your land and make more money, but on the face of it, the obvious logical, patriotic, wonderful thing to do. in fact, he says to the proprietors, if there was not some desirable entertainment through the flesh, you would never seek these improvements. so the notion that there is a morally correct amount of ambition that the small farmers tend to a not, which is what they call a competency, meaning enough for you and your household and maybe set up your kids the same way. and then there is that unacceptable amount of ambition. and that is often called unbounded avarice. so that's a particularly evangelical host, but you can
8:12 pm
find secular voices seem very similar things. even among mike benjamin ragland come a self-made go get them kind of guy will talk about the men who have unbounded avarice and how different that is from wanting a competency. the final quote leads to the resolution and this is the quotation from an almanac written for the year 1767. it is just the beginning of the dispute that has the sugar, the stamp act and other income and nathaniel ames writes an almanac is describing what the movement is about. he says the patriot game is quote, to prevent the execution, but that detestable maxim of european policy amongst us. here is a detestable european idea. but the common people who are three quarters of the world must be kept in ignorance that they may be slaves to the other quarter who live in
8:13 pm
magnificence. and that's a very powerful and lovely quotation and it helps us remember that the way many ordinary men saw the conflict with great 10, what was the sugar act? it was a law passed to favor the british sugar planters, this wealthy group of men who live in london and have not ever surprisingly appeared its an active pass taxes from the rich to the poor, which you always are when you're about to be taxed. but the poor middling columnist. similarly, the t. x. what is it? gives favoritism on behalf of by parliament for the shareholders of the east indian company. so there is the government being a passive, the parliament. i think it is important to understand what the revolution was about for many ordinary peachtree as was this effort to set up governments that they are all, their problem was they are
8:14 pm
government lack the power to protect people and promote prosperity and to understand the movement solely as antigovernment is to understand it really halfway entirely from the point of view of the most well-to-do who are always the ones who can do with that less government and not from the point of view of the many people who actually made the revolution have been. [applause] >> thank you. thank you, barbara clark smith. our next author is john ragosta. >> i thank you all for coming. i got started on this project several years back with president culpepper county, about an hour north of here. and culpepper i became interested in the culpepper minutemen. there is some of barbara's ordinary people. these are the classic woman
8:15 pm
farmers who read about in high school to shoulder their guns, march 200 miles and win the battle of great bridge, the first significant battle in virginia during the war. they looked at the culpepper minutemen, i found william mcclanahan. william mcclanahan is an interesting guy. he's a baptist minister. we still haven't established the church of england. he's a baptist minister, captain of one of one of the battalions of the culpepper minutemen and he was put in jail in 1773 for preaching at the hospital. we have a curious problem here. my research got turned to why he is mcclanahan willing to pick up his gun and march to norfolk? i discovered three things in that process. the first thing i discovered was in fact the persecution of dissenters in colonial virginia was a lot worse than historians have led us to believe. we all know perhaps from college or high school that we still had taxes to pay anglican ministers.
8:16 pm
if you're a baptist or presbyterian, you pay for the work administered. that wasn't half of it. starting in the 1760s, we started as the baptists and presbyterians were growing, they eventually are almost a third of a population by the time the revolution. there's an effort effort to put an ad through physical persecution. what i mean? throwing rocks at ministers, or something ministers, dragging them from the pulpit by their hair or their legs. they really like to -- the baptists really abided things. they take a baptist minister out, taken to the closest body of water and he wants to be baptized. they don't commend the water and hold an underwater can pull them out, do you believe? and then they hold them under water till they almost drowned. there's this one meeting on the nature of hornets nest. another case they are a snake into a meeting of dissenters. i speculate in my book it was a copperhead.
8:17 pm
this is teapot, virginia. these are farmers. he threw a black snake can and they are not going to notice. he was a copperhead. they are mean. it is the kind of things he torn baptists. [laughter] it again, the persecution got worse and i 1768, and they are jailing ministers. as i mentioned, william mcclanahan got jailed. over 50 people had been jailed for preaching or disturbing the peace, which was the same thing if you are not in anglican. and the conditions were quite poor to give you some sense of that, james ireland is jailed and culpepper. where he is jailed in an 18th century became a baptist church. sort of interesting. but the baptist ministers realize this is part of a witness. they could be in jail and preach and get more congress. james ireland goes to his jail cell to preach to the crowd and someone in his face.
8:18 pm
john weatherford is preaching from his jail and chester bird county. he reaches out his arms. he is praying that the signs the windows. men's come with nice and cut designs. any number of cases, people would gather to hear preaching and anglicans presumably on horseback would write to the crowd. if you've ever had a horse cannot you with a horse whip, this is dangerous, frightening and they would particularly beat the living daylights out of the blacks in the crowd. free or slave. so this is the kind of things going on. this heightens the question. why is william mcclanahan willing to go fight for these people? well, that leads to my second discovery, which was really fairly simple. the dissenters made it clear to the establishment leaders and the people leading the resolution. you want us to fight can you give us religious freedom.
8:19 pm
and it was conditional. they said that is going to be the deal. over the course of the revolution, there is a back and forth between the speed will and the new state, patrick henry and edmund pendleton kerry and they eventually get religious freedom. i won't talk about it too much. it's in the book. i want to talk about the third thing. i'm sure many of your interested in the third discovery, which is if you're going to deal for religious freedom come if they will fight come to pick up our guns and march to north slope. we want religious freedom. what are you getting for this deal? how do you do find that freedom? what i discovered was that these evangelicals, 18th century evangelical baptists and presbyterians, sons luther in common method is really coming on the scene in virginia. what they got was a very robust, we might even say almost modern religious freedom in their mind. i'll give you two examples.
8:20 pm
i'm a christian nation issue, is this a christian nation we are fighting for. the evangelical said absolutely not. if the government has the power to make this a christian nation, they have the power to make it a presbyterian missionary baptist or methodist or god forbid a catholic nation or anglican nation. they said the government does not have this power. government has no power to regulate religion in that manner. and so their petitions to the government would say things like we are fighting religious liberty for, mohammed dantz and christians of every denomination. other tax about infidels and goes on and on. i do they're not not a lot of turks in 18th century virginia. but these people understood we are creating a nation for the long-term and these people have every right to religious freedom in the same we do. they also thought and especially
8:21 pm
john leland, one of the great leaders, one of the most popular preachers in virginia at the time thought it was an oxymoron to talk about a christian nation or maybe an abomination. he then said is vacating tolleson, or even protection because i'm a christian, it is a species of idolatry. i worship god because i worship god. if i get anything from the government for worshiping god, his ideology. so we went about their preaching. jesus said is pushing us is not of this world. the gates of will not prevail. keep government out. now, john fea is going to talk more about this. exchange in the 19th century. for these 18th century evangelicals in virginia who were at the core of the first amendment, no christian nation. the second aspect of religious freedom, separation of church
8:22 pm
and state. they make it clear we want the government out. maybe this is different. thomas jefferson once the church out of the government. these people want the government out of the church, but they come together in their views. presbyterians write no law should pass to connect the church and state in the future. a baptist and a very famous preachers is the unlawful cohabitation between church and state, which i so often been looked upon his holy wedlock must now suffer a separation and be forever put asunder. the notion we hear today from the right wing that secularism is invented in the 20th century, separation of church and state is something made out of. these are 18th century evangelicals say we will have separation of church and state if you want us to fight for the government. i'll conclude. i will just read a short comment from the very end of the book. during the american revolution, virginia's religious dissenters
8:23 pm
demanded religious freedom in return for their full support for mobilization. the resulting negotiations change virginia's quality such that after the war, efforts to reinvigorate the establishment failed and defenders ushered into the jefferson aerobic statute for establishing religious freedom. yet it is clear the current legal and historic literature and judicial decisions failed to adequately listen to the voice of the virginia dissenters and they must be heard. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, john ragosta. and now john fea. >> thank you. was america was founded as a christian nation? john just talked a little bit about this. i speak a lot on this topic and usually when the talk is advertised with this title, most
8:24 pm
people come to the top already with their minds made up. yes or no. and they expect me to sort of confirm their belief. one of the first questions i get asked about the title of my book as well, is the answer yes or no? was america founded as a christian nation? no people look for ammunition i think will be disappointed. i approach this question as an historian. one of the things that bothers me is the way this question is politicized. the founding era has been politicized a think by the right, but also by the last. cherry-picking from the past to try to find something suit their own needs than their own president agenda. i like the quote from the famous historian, bernard yuen, who said all this politicization of history is like indoctrination by historical example. and so often with this question, was america founded as a christian nation, this is what
8:25 pm
happens. as an historian and look at this question. to say i'm completely objective would probably be a myth are probably not be true. i don't think any historian can be. but i am trying to cut through some of the politicization of this idea. so in the end, was america founded as a christian nation? i'm going to a typical academic or professor here, but i think the answer is that depends how you define the question or what the meaning of is is. so what is a christian nation? have you define creation in this? had used a nation? thank you for founded? there's many on the right and the christian nationalist who argue america was founded in 1620 when the pilgrims came over and as a result they try to establish a christian civilization and there does come at a christian nation. we have john's evidence here that suggests in virginia there was clearly no emphasis at least
8:26 pm
from jefferson, madison and all the evangelical but those who supported them that they are trying to create a christian nation. so let me just for the sake of time here, let me throw out four or five very quick conclusions that i have drawn about the role of religion in the american founding, the religion of the founding fathers and so forth. the book is divided into three parts. the first thing i do is try to trace the history of the idea that america was founded as a christian nation or america is a christian nation. i traced this from 1800 other way to the president and the first four chapters. the fourth chapter deals with what i call the christian nationalists. some of you may be familiar with these people. insight david argus, peter marshall and david manual and so forth. i try to, as an historian, give them the benefit of the doubt wherever possible, but i try to lay out their views.
8:27 pm
of course that document of the 19th century, americans have always understood that those as being part of a christian nation. that doesn't necessarily mean they believe the constitution is done with established america as a christian nation, but they often saw themselves as part of a christian nation and this is not even a contested issue. people assume of course are part of a christian nation. for the first point i want to make really if americans have always understood themselves, especially in the 19th century and early portions of the 20th century, the dominant position, whether they're right or wrong for their position represented the views of the founders or not, they clearly believed they were part of a christian nation, especially the early 19th century. second and coming back to the revolution for a second. ministers regularly appeal to the bible's. both the loyalist ministers and the evangelical preacher addict
8:28 pm
ministers use the bible to justify positions for revolution what's really interesting about the pro-petri at ministers of the day as they often had fun playing around with the bible. things like slavery, which throughout the history of the christian church has always been understood as sort of slavery to send for slavery to our sin natures. suddenly slavery takes on political meanings when they interpret verses like this. or things like liberty, which had always been understood in the new testament is liberty or freedom from sin, freedom from the dabblers the quickly becomes liberty and freedom from george the third. so there is a lot if i don't want to call up manipulating because i don't want to get into a debate about how to interpret the bible here because it's out of my pay grade a little bit, but clearly the ways in which they interpret the bible code many of the patriots, often do not conform with the ways in which the christian church for
8:29 pm
millennia before have interpreted these passages. of course anglicans are biblical literalist. romans 13 says we should submit ourselves to government because government comes from god. he says we should pay or attribute or pay our taxes. we should submit to the authority. so there is this huge debate over the meaning of the bible and these passages and his ministers in many ways they are clearly duking it out over the right interpretation of the bible. third point i want to make rna can about. the constitution clearly is a godless document. i said this on a radio interview a couple weeks ago with a conservative talk radio host and he fired back and of your further further 1787. so it does mention god. last night fair enough. actually he made an interesting comment about which i think more about.
8:30 pm
the fact they use the name of the lord when they said that they like it does say something about the culture of the day. nevertheless, nothing about god there. sixth amendment, the religious establishment. freedom of religion. so there's not a lot of things. john mccain in the 2008 elections as it definitely establishes america is a christian nation. you are hard-pressed to make that argument based on the text. however, if you look at 12 of the 13 state constitutions, virginia is the big exception to this because they are the ones as john pointed out the established religious freedom, separation of church and state and so forth. if you look at the state constitutions and i don't have a political ax to grind on this, but as an historian it fascinates me almost all of them have very, very specific religious christian is not protestant qualifications for holding office.
8:31 pm
three of pennsylvania, for example, the most radical democratic constitution of them all. in order to serve the government of pennsylvania, you have to uphold divine inspiration of the old and new testament. you have to believe in a god. vermont is the one i love. as an historian at least. 1776 constitution of the independent state of vermont. today this bashing of secular liberalism upholds the idea that all people serving in government must believe in the inspiration of the divine inspiration of the old and new testament. okay this database and be a protestant. so unbelievers forget about it. they have religious freedom to worship the way they want, but they can't serve in government. it's often referred to as a federalist argument. did the constitution lays religion not because that was what the states were supposed to
8:32 pm
deal with. real quick, just to conclude here, all the founding fathers didn't believe in religious liberty. you could have an established church like you do and doing it or connecticut and allow people to work the way they want without the persecution john was talking about in virginia. here's one that gets into trouble sometimes, especially with those on the left. the founding fathers were not these. as is often heard. i'll be happy to answer questions on the. i'll drop a bomb in the late day we can debate that during the q&a. finally all the founding fathers i would argue believe that religion can't even christianity in some cases was important to producing a virtuous republic in making moral citizens, benevolent citizens of go for it. they clearly were not the briefing that they were -- did not relation to play any role in the government. or at least they should stay in the culture.
8:33 pm
so i'll stop there. [applause] >> i'd like to thank the authors for doing a mag that does the job, allowing much time for questions. a few administrative point. as i too think one of the sponsors. emma reback & co. out of regina and secondly to remind you that the book festival, most events are free and i like to keep it that way. please consider providing a donation. as envelopes in the back or you can donate online. there will be questions and because this will be broadcasted, there are microphones going around. i will point to a question and please wait for the microphone before you answer. so questions. in the fray here.
8:34 pm
>> this is very fascinating to me. i am from maryland, i was wondering whether we treated dissenters and a better and whether our constitution has the labor that one would hope for. >> well, it depends on win. they succeed and 90, maryland had basically from the catholic side to become anglican establishment. during the revolution, maryland, where virginia is no longer persecuting dissenters, maryland starts the jail during the revolution. and in my book, one of the things i talk about his virginia is unique in this regard because of north carolina, maryland, south carolina, the dissenters become loyalists. we have to stick with the king because these people running things you're persecuting us. virginia really is unique.
8:35 pm
it's a different pattern. the fact of the matter is most historians and members of the supreme court point out that virginia is the model for the first amendment. not maryland where they become loyalists. >> during -- after 1776, does collect a tribute or a tax to support -- to support the christian religion. so you know, they still keep wi-fi establishment for a little bit. >> in the front row. >> thank you. this is for ms. smith. the east new jersey proprietorships, was that part of new amsterdam? if there was, did the fort dutchmen saw those back when? last tax >> i wish i knew all the details. no, this is part of new york, the duke of york's ownership
8:36 pm
abutted a new amsterdam, but was also new jersey. and so, there were certainly dutch settlers in the area, but it is largely against english dispute going on about the land. >> sackett rao. >> i am from connecticut and most people may not realize in this that baptist denomination began providence, rhode island and there is a strong bat case in danbury connecticut, to which thomas jefferson would it be misled about the separation of church and state in the whole idea of firewall. how much of that is. the 1200-pound cheese true? because the leader of the danbury but to succumb his name is of all things leeland. >> it's the same fellow. >> john leland. so a sister, the -- thank you.
8:37 pm
>> he makes the big cheese. >> i think jefferson was serving us at state dinners for several years. >> it rotted and i finally had to take it out. it's true. same guy. >> could you comment more fully about the significance of the letter for those who don't know? >> we could be here for a long time. i'm writing another book that will address some of the issues. let me say one thing. but you have to understand is connecticut has an establishment after the revolution and john refers to that. that changes. connecticut eliminates the establishment under the influence of the jeffersonian republicans. so one of the thing that happens to be of 12 states with various forms of establishments. they all are eliminated over the course of the 19th century of people quoting jefferson. and what i could take the statute and put it into their
8:38 pm
constitution never say jefferson gave it to us, but it's worth the statute. the question is, who is influencing the things? part of the new book is about when historians of the print court justices say no, it's about virginia, they are bright. some advocate is influenced in many of these places adopted virginian attitude. but that particular letter is part of that. it is jefferson trying to encourage connecticut people to develop a virginia type separation of church and state. >> just to add to that, i think you're exactly right. some of these causes disappear, some rather quickly. south carolina continues to confirm itself as a protestant state to 1851 is in their constitution. new england remains
8:39 pm
8:40 pm
a word you might use for them and along with documentation of the present, would you find interned for their stand on religion and government. >> is it me? file, we are talking about their certainly honor some groups, some jewish communities who don't count themselves as christian. we are not even beginning to talk about native peoples are african and african-americans. no one is deeply concerned in this time. they're just beginning to be some pain that america is thinking about. and there certainly are people who are rational christian, who are influenced by the lightning,
8:41 pm
who look at the bible as they look at all of are the light of reason and they may have their doubts. on the other hand, they intend to be very quiet about their doubts. you are printed from participation in a variety of things if you are. so part of the things such operation of church and state, millions and mary and extremely enlighten professors there. they have to technically subscribe to the anglican religion. there's not a discussion that's going to take place about rational religion. other reading all of the enlightened world, one knows, jefferson as he becomes part of this world, where people are looking with religion have received institutions of
8:42 pm
government. is this sensible or is this part of a system who won't understand this is too hard for you in basic lee what jefferson would talk about his priestcraft, it took kind of sneaky clergy who are supporting tyrannical regimes and who are supported by those regimes and turn. so that analysis is taking place. presumably there's a lot of people. who knows what they believe. as far as they now, you don't find groups of people organized as free think yours are atheists pricing for rights because they would not gotten them. ms jefferson -- it was interesting because if you want to sort of see the kind of thing that had and, look at jefferson running for president in the year 1800. at the denunciation of an assay supposed atheist ideas, any
8:43 pm
number of things. there is just this unbelievably hysterical criticism, especially in fabulous, new england at but it will be like when we get this president who is not really christian. so the notion setting up in organizing for right but it tonight in a losing proposition >> well, there actually thousands of jews in the country. one of the great financiers of the revolution is jewish. to what people are saying about them in what they are seen as there's two different messages about them. from the virginia people and talking about. people were saying we understand what we are fighting for is going to affect the jews, the mohammed, which is a term they would use. jefferson talks about and is the one point. don't have a lot of hindus and 18th century virginia. but there's a recognition that the were talking about. there are many other people, for
8:44 pm
example, during the constitution ratification process, there's no reference to christianity in here. in fact, the reference john makes about the year of our lord was added by a clerk after the constitution was voted on in the 55 delegates have left. [laughter] some people are complaining, this is not a christian document. we might have a jewish president. and so there is this backlash. my answer to that is they lost. they recognized in fact the constitution says nothing about people's rights, the jewish mohammed and so on. the other question is the jewish people and we do not have a lot of turks. we people who are atheists, but as barbara says, who knows. there's some interesting stuff from the jewish community about religious freedom. the most famous is the surest synagogue in providence burster george washington and since you are the new president.
8:45 pm
what is going to happen to us? washington writes that aired washington's religion is complicated and interest team. washington writes back one of his most aggressive defenses of religious freedom and separation of church and state because washington tends to move -- he moves around depending who is talking to. it's careful about what he says. i don't want to get the wrong impression. washington has a very good attitude towards these things, but he does speak to me speaking to. but his love to go truro baptist, to the jewish community, this back-and-forth where jews say we've got this new constitution. we've got rights. he says absolutely in this country have nothing to fear. >> john. >> just real quick and i agree with everything that's been said. on the other hand, and most of the states with the exception of virginia at least in the first
8:46 pm
25, 30 yearscome i say this as an historian, jews cannot run for officeconcept and could not hold any civil position in the government even know they had the religious freedom. in some ways can the religious freedom to worship, but certainly not participate in government and so a lot of these stipulations are removed in the 19th century. >> thank you. in the front. >> this is for john fea. the founding fathers we are not the mayor. >> iowa summit students, when you talk about the founding fathers religion, don't refer to them as the founding fathers believed as if they had some kind of unified position on their religious states. there's also a fundamental difference between someone's religious convictions, personal
8:47 pm
religious convictions in the way they think about religion and government. surely john's evangelical baptist are devout evangelical christians who argue for separation of church and state. there's this logical fallacy that just because somebody is a christian doesn't necessarily mean they are going to advocate for a christian nation. i think in some cases vice versa. the answers about the ds. all the founding fathers, the major ones i look at in the book, jefferson, franklin, john adams and george washington. and then i look at three more christian orthodox, john jay and samuel adams. all of these men believed in one way or another meeting century doctrine of providence. they believe that there was a god who providentially sort of not only created the world, but also sustain the world. even at times may intervene in that world that is god has
8:48 pm
created. the 18th century, diaz came out of sort of christian churches and so forth. but he has some and providentially sent or dsm and providence in the 18th century are often incompatible turns weird you can't leave in a god who creates the universe and steps back and allows it to run by natural law or laws of morality or politics that rights are so forth. you can't believe that at the same time believe this guide can actively intervene in his or her creation. so the classic example is benjamin franklin. if you read his autobiography, and he reads authors to try to refute them and ultimately is convinced by none and since i became a thoroughgoing deist. most scholarship suggests that later on in his life he actually changes his views slightly.
8:49 pm
certainly doesn't become a christian. he rejects the trinity, rejects the inspiration of the old and new testament and so forth, and may even reject the resurrection of jesus christ. but he believes god can intervene. one quick example and some of you may be familiar with the story during the constitutional convention in this heated debate, literally and figuratively in july and the doors are locked and boarded up because they want to remain secret. there is this debate going on. some of you remember this from civics class. virginia plan, new jersey plan, connecticut compromise and so forth. they get so heated that benjamin franklin says, you know, we need to pray. when he took on guide to reconcile differences. of all people, benjamin franklin. in his petition is turned down by the committee. there's a great story were alexander hamilton -- i don't think it's true, but alexander
8:50 pm
hamilton said i deny franklin's petition because the united states of america will not be reliant on any foreign power. whether hamilton said that or not, i don't think he did, but it's still a great lie. it turned out not because they reject the idea, they had a minister during the continental congress. so you know, this is -- the point is here sprinkling, a guy who -- deist of the call upon god to intervene in some ways. so that is my argument at least. they were christians by no means. most of them were. at least the major five. i don't think they were deist either. it occupies the middle ground. >> i've largely forgotten education, but i remember mrs. scott in seventh grade at
8:51 pm
franklin city public schools, her discussion about number seven team and those in virginia. my question is, since i've moved to god faker -- that's a quote, is not is how would the virginians delegation able to convince to accept number 17 is the argument for the first amendment. >> again, that is the next book. let me give you a sample answer and i'd be happy to go into it at any length. you have a difference of opinion and most people view it as a compromise in the u.s. to get a middle ground. what i think as you don't have to know. i worked in washington as a lobbyist for 20 years. you need something that both groups get. somebody has to get -- let's just make it simple. we have the madisonian and
8:52 pm
christian tony in. they want chive ration of church and state. they hamiltonian say what we want is to keep the federal government out of the state establishment, which john is referring to. perfect compromise. we get a strong first amendment, which says the federal government is going to have a separation of church and state. the federal government will not have a religious test. with the states get and the christian promoters get is we get to do whatever we want. now that changes after the civil war. i'm sorry virginia this out last. [laughter] i realize that it's a shocker. after the civil war, we get the 14th amendment and these things get incorporated. but my argument is that it's a compromise. the states continue to regulate
8:53 pm
religion and it will have a virginian -esque provision. -- virginianesque provision. >> yellow shirt in the back over there. >> this is for ms. clark smith. you mention at the start of your presentation you type about some of the rural sort of middling pete l., not really taken an interest reason thinking possibly running the government. they just wanted the freedom. how much did money have to do with that? >> well, money had nothing to do with that. [laughter] that's really the ship between the kind of republican ideas of the late pete teens and early 19th century to the democratic
8:54 pm
ideas. certainly during the colonial period, there is a sense of person who was born to lead. that is why you were born into a certain class. if you're in that class you can have the kind of education, the kind of leader. you know, you know enough about the role to go make laws and rules. for the assumption is that ordinary farmers know enough to choose who will go, but they don't know enough to go be a legislator themselves. in some ways there is a notion. if you're an ordinary person you defer to your superior semites and go rule. if you're a farmer come you don't want to go spend six weeks during the time when she's been planting anyway in the capital city they could not relatives important groups of laws.
8:55 pm
bad idea that this is a thin gentleman to gets eroded quite in the run-up to the revolution because of these ordinary men are more active and involved in the kind of negotiations and compromises with their superiors, they become prominent. numbers of them get practice at serving a local committees. local committees than enforcing important decisions to do with the revolution. a large part of my boat is questioning who exactly is leading whom during the course of the revolution because our notion that there are these leaders that have ideas that ordinary people trying to listen to these ideas and agree to join a movement. that may be true in ordinary time. i'm not sure it's true in ordinary time, but it's definitely not true revolutionary time. revolutionary time is precisely when there's ambiguity about who
8:56 pm
is being home and who is joining him. my sense is people like thomas jefferson -- part of what i admire about the famous founders are these are people who can follow, financial representative relationship with large numbers of their fellows. a fair number choose not to follow the ordinary people because they don't want to be in a movement with his baptism backwoods farmers and people who don't know anything and who are the wrong sort. so there is a risk the elite are taking in joining the ordinary. in the course of the revolution, there is an opening that. most of the state constitutions to broaden the suffered somewhat so that more free white men and in my home state of new jersey, kind of by accident, free white women. nonetheless by accident for a brief period of time. in the 19th century, u.k.
8:57 pm
increasing idea that attended jackson an heir of the common man that ordinary man can roll. that is when they start pretending they were born in log cabins and things like that, which in the 18th century -- an 18th century was born in a palace, they're sure i i should rule is the logical thing to conclude. in the 19th century yet to be born in a log cabin. we saw this at the smithsonian. i want to do an exhibit on presidents who pretended to be cowboys. [laughter] that is the assumption that if you can drive a truck -- [laughter] no one ever actually exactly believes it. that is that you have to actually go to jail and you have to have one over the money. obviously. once it's established that ordinary man can serve money and power, then they can be rulers,
8:58 pm
too. >> with the orange shirt here. >> actually, orange shirt next. teal shirt first. >> how did we get to take the oath of office and a court of law push your hand on the bible? [applause] >> i know there is a big debate. we frequently at the smithsonian get letters from people telling us either we are totally right or totally wrong and we never say anything about it. whether george washington had so help me god. and you know, how many people were close enough to hear the time? have you got a record from them? >> to be clear, the constitution constitution -- that language is not in the constitution. george washington almost certainly did not say, so help
8:59 pm
me god. not only is there no evidence, but a minister who is president. he writes about the maturation later becomes the christian defender and argues what a great christian washington is. if anybody was going to say washington said this, this person would've said this and he doesn't. both on the bible, absolutely. twelfth century england. but what the changes and it is also changing the state constitutions, you don't have to. so i don't have problems taking notes on the bible. but a quicker will say don't make me do that. and that is what the changes. >> john fea, which like to add? >> i would agree. there is a guy who e-mails me once a month after me this question if a company were evident to see whether or not washington has sworn -- >> has eastbourne on the bible
9:00 pm
yet? [laughter] >> have you dug up any evidence? .. and they are trying to push this off and that changes over time so what you hear all the
9:01 pm
time our people talking about the 18th century revolutionary patriots, the founders as if there's some single position and the position is every man for himself. everyone's got a different idea, and their notion of what liberty does is probably not something we actually would want or indeed be capable of. there may be aspects of things we want to know about and study and model ourselves on and say there were some good ideas but we don't live in this world where we are all farmers out where we are aiming at a competency and have a generalized notion of how to treat neighbors and we can limit our rulers because those rulers have a farm nearby. if the big corporate donors had a farm in nearby you would have to leverage on those people, and they don't, so we are in a whole
9:02 pm
different world from the people who note this document. >> thank you, barbara. over here in the orange shirt. >> talking about founders and their private faith, can you speak to the relevance of the private face of the founders who say those were at the constitutional convention is their private face relevant to the question with the are a christian nation and if so what is the relevance of it? >> i tried to suggest this in response to a previous question. it's certainly a fascinating historical topic what do these people believe about face and so forth by you need to be careful of again about making the correlation if we can prove that john adams was a christian and they can justify some kind of a
9:03 pm
political position based upon returning to a golden age were looking at the foundations that we lost or something to that effect. again, i will say this again i think that evangelical baptist are the perfect example of someone that is devoutly evangelical but doesn't even not hold any idea of a christian nation in that regard. so i think we need to be careful about that logical fallacy if you will but jumped from personal belief to the role of religion and the government. >> i would add i agree with what a lot of what john says in his book it depends what you mean by christian nation, how do you define it. but what worries me about that argument is let's all say this is a white nation, okay which is what people in this room were saying before hearing from the massive resistance and we know what that means if you aren't one of us, you aren't a real american, you are not a full
9:04 pm
american, you don't get the complete right, and so when people talk, and not john, his book does a good job of looking through but most the people out there were saying this is a christian nation what they mean is if you aren't one of us you don't get full rights. most of these numbers and john is right which founder do you mean, what are you talking about most of them wouldn't have thought in those terms in the ones who were devout christian and those who wanted us to continue to be a christian nation in the sense people would be christians they do not think of it as an officials designation. again, timing is everything. if you have someone like john adams why argue is a unitarian and rejects the trinity and thinks religion and superstition grow up in the congregational home certainly see themselves as a christian based on that cures the flip side of that the author to 1780 massachusetts constitution which keeps the
9:05 pm
religious establishment in place because he believes religion and morality are essentials to the good of massachusetts and this lacks until 1833. so again i think john and i were arguing that would side are doing the opposite side of the korean but we aren't in this agreement at all. >> we've time for one more question. in the back with the red sweater. >> i'm curious we have members of the supreme court today that feel they should rule the decisions of the people were thinking at the time of the constitution being written. [laughter] where you come down on something like that? [applause] >> steven chu the plan to the supreme court i would be happy to set them straight. [laughter] the question of the original
9:06 pm
intent is one that historians by and large reject. i also a lawyer so i don't reject it quite as quickly as historians and with the supreme court said again and again and this is interesting and important and interesting, the one provision of the constitution that should be bound by the history of the first amendment over and over again in the supreme court cases, the members of the court to reject the notion of original intent in most areas really focus on it in the first amendment why in this particular area should be something where we focus on history more than other areas this will be in the next book, too. crothers a partial answer to that and this is so revolutionary that until the american revolution every state had an official religion. every state promoted their own ministers and detains religion
9:07 pm
was a lad, a frigate the term but the people's religion so when that changes in america and becomes the first amendment and i am simplifying and taking a loss of jobs it is so revolutionary that i think it is one of the reasons, one of the justifications for why the supreme court justice rapidly turned to history when we are talking about religious freedom. >> i would like to thank the speakers today. [applause] now from the 2011 "chicago tribune" printer's row literary festival a 19-year-old from chicago who was coerced to confessing to a murder that he had nothing to do with. ms. caldwell and another attorney, kathryn o.d. ingalls, represented him in his effort to clear his name. during the season, mr. mosley
9:08 pm
discussion. [applause] >> in the 1964 case versus a lie the u.s. supreme court wrote we have learned the lesson of history ancient and modern that a system of criminal law enforcement which comes to depend on the confession in end quotes will a long run be less reliable and more subject to abuses in the system which sub depenjed on extreme evidence independently secured throughsk thbook thaul investigations. the book we are going to talk about today long way home life laura caldwell to my right here deals with a case of wrongful ce confession, a case built as they say depended on confession, and this was a great problem for prm jovan mosley who is all away to my right who was the
9:09 pm
defendant/victim in this case of the justice gone awry. i would iclike to start ourawry conversation by giving you star conversation by starting of the case and to tell the story and i'd like to turn to the author just to give us a little tassel summary of what happened and to bring jovan mosley to the conversation as appropriate. >> well, thank you. and thanks for doing this. it's a delight 'cause i've been reading eric's work and he's been doing a lot of work with wrongful confessions, forced confessions, wrongful convictions which is something of a passion of mine as of late. but it's very strong because you would not have thought that. i am a lawyer but i was a medical malpractice attorney. and made partner at a law firm, but i was writing on the side, just as a hobby, just kind of -- i would attend a book class and they would tell you ho to you write a novel and they would tell you how to work on it on
9:10 pm
the side. well, i thought i gave it a shot. nobody was really interested. bridget jones wasn't out yet, "sex and the city" wasn't out yet and it had a little bit of that tone and people were like, i don't know. i just kept writing because it made me happy. and i was fortunate enough at a cocktail party one time to meet a woman who would become my editor. she bought a number of books for me. i met another editor and strangely i went frommun -- unable to be published and then we sold seven novels. it was very abrupt that way, entry into the literary system but i wrote chick lit novels and then i wrote mystery novels and i taught at loyola law school and that was kind of it.
9:11 pm
you know, i really felt like i had everything and i did. but strangely when i was writing one particular mystery novel called "the rome affair," i had a couple in the belmont police station and the cops are going back and forth and they're saying to the husband, do you know what your wife husband is saying she said she pushed you down to the edge. do you know what he's saying down there and so they're trying to turn them against each other but i was concerned i was channeling law and order or anything. i didn't really know a lot about forced confessions so i called the cathy o'daniel and i didn't know her well at the time but i knew she was a criminal defense lawyer, a very good one. and i said, hey, do forced confession it is ever happen? and she said, oh, honey, they happen all the time and then she said, here's my recent favorite
9:12 pm
on that, though. i was in 26 and cal, the lockup division, the maximum security. the inmates call it super max. she was there to see a client. on the way out, the client got taken first back to his deck and the guards -- 'cause she was so in there so frequently and walked away for a second and she was by herself and division 11, maximum security, super max jail, and she said there's like this alarm bell went off and all of a sudden she saw some inmates coming down the hall and other people were leaning down the banister now and she kind of thought, wow, maybe this is where it all ends for me, at the super max. and so she wouldn't have thought her life would end there. and then she saw someone pushing a broom, another inmate. and this was scary for her because brooms can be used as weapons. and in cook county jails, we don't rehabilitate. it's just people waiting for
9:13 pm
trial. this is a holding cell, so people don't have jobs. we don't rehabilitate them, so there's no reason that child should have a broom but instead of doing anything, he came up to her, and i will turn this story over to jovan because i want to ask him something -- he came up to her, if you don't mind, if you move over, you'll be fine. they won't see you. you know, the guys. he told the guys to please back away and strangely they all followed his -- like right away followed his instructions. and so he and cathy started talking and i'm going to let jovan tell you how they met a little bit more. but what struck me is -- this is a woman who would take on his case, who would say you've been here for six years. you've been in this -- in that holding cell for six years? and this is a woman who would take his case on and essentially save him. and the only reason he met her
9:14 pm
was because he made one small -- one small act. i mean, a small act can bring about big changes. so that one -- he could have just kept walking by, what did he care? he was in a holding cell for six years. but, you know, the reason eric is talking about forced confessions is because the way they got in that holding cell was having jovan in an interrogation room for two days after he'd seen a fight but i'll let jovan tell that part of the story. >> okay. well, the way that things happen when i was in the county jail, when i met katherine o'daniel, i was -- i had in there maybe four and a half -- a little over four and a half years, and i came out to do my regular work. i used to clean up in the holloways and things like that. so i was cleaning up and i seen -- well, i heard first a lot of noise.
9:15 pm
and when i looked down the hall, i saw this lady in the hallway. she seemed a little nervous, and the guys were on both sides of her asking her a lot of questions and just basically heckling her. so i walked down there casually acting like i was cleaning up and things like that. and i got to her and i told her, you move to the side just a little bit they wouldn't be able to see you. you won't have to worry about them bothering you. so she moved to the side, and she started asking me about -- asking me about my case. so i told her that i had been there almost five years. and she said, what's going on? she said -- i told her that it was nothing. i don't know. what's going on? and she said you don't know? is there any motions? is a trial set or anything like that? i said, no. i don't know. so she said who's your judge? who's your state's attorney and
9:16 pm
we talked and she said she knew both of them. and after a while she was like, you know, it was -- you know, she couldn't believe that i was in there that long. but she wished me the best and i told her i would get an officer to take her down. so i went back down to get an officer and take her down. and when the officer came back up, he said i don't know what you did to her, but she said, you know, get in contact we are. and i was like, okay, so i went to the guy who she came to see. and i asked him about her, and he said that she was charging him $150,000 for one of his cases and like 60,000 for another case. so immediately i was like, okay, well, i can't afford her so -- [laughter] >> so i dismissed that thought. but over time, over maybe three or four months, she had me in contact with my judge, with my public defender and also with my mother. so i still -- i really didn't
9:17 pm
think that she would take the case on. so she took her price down from -- [laughter] >> from as high as it was and said, you know, i came up with $8,000, she would take the case. but i was thinking, wow, my family really doesn't have that either. so like another month went past and it went down to $3500. [laughter] >> this was just for her investigator. so i had -- i went to court, and my public defender asked me about her, and i told him, i said, well, i can't afford her so, you know, you don't have to worry about her taking the case. lo and behold, the next court date, i was in the bullpen just sitting and minding my own business and lady walked in and said, jovan mosley, jovan mosley, and i was like, yes, congratulations, your my first pro bono case. and i was like, wow! mike really? i really didn't remember her but
9:18 pm
i kind of remembered her face a little but that was the first time that she ever did a pro bono case and it was at that time it had been just over five years i had been in there and she moved the process on. >> let's talk a little bit why you were there. what put you into that -- a little bit of the back-story here. and it involves -- well, i would like to you tell the story, for a little bit of background, there's a story in an english language newspaper in chicago recently with the headlines, why -- why do innocents confess to murder? and it points out that 80 exonerations through dna evidence, nearly 54% of those wrongly convicted had falsely confessed to murders they didn't commit according to the innocence project. in a variety of techniques that the police used to get confessions that, unfortunately, at times results in obtaining false confessions. there's some high profile
9:19 pm
examples of recently around here. kevin fox out in will county that was accused of killing his little girl, reilly, if you remember that? and he was interrogated and dna evidence finally cleared him. jerry hobbs up in lake county who was accused of killing his daughter and a friend. and he confessed to that under questioning and they told stories that were strikingly similar to the story that jovan will now tell you and laura will tell you about, how it was that jovan happened to be five years after the fact in cook county jail, pushing a broom at the right time. so tell the story about the murder here that was involved and how they got you involved in that? why you confessed to that. >> i don't know if jovan will brag enough about himself so to introduce what happened, jovan grew up on the south side. and one of his brothers was in jail for arson murder and had
9:20 pm
been in a gang and had told him never get in a gang. do not get in a gang because he will not get out. do not do it. his other brother passed away and he made a concerted effort to stay out of that life, had no arrests, no problems with the law. went to a vocational law school and went to ohio state and got lost in the financial aid process and was 19 when he went walking around with some guys who got in a fight. he walked to the beginning of the fight and realized it was getting out of hand and he walked away. six months later he got picked up. of course, the police -- what happened is a man died in that fire. so the police were doing their job and looking for who had done that. he was with those gentleman that night so he got picked up. he was, however, then -- and i'll let you tell him about that part. he was kept in a room with 48 hours, with no sleep, no water, no bathroom, like nothing. and, you know, having no idea of
9:21 pm
time passing, i'll let jovan tell you about that. >> just like laura said, that was a fight. it happened. in my neighborhood, fights happen a lot. so you could either stay there and watch, participate or walk away. and i wanted to do the smart thing. i walked away when i seen the fight -- the fight was getting out of control because a lot of times if you're around when a fight happens in my neighborhood, they arrest everyone. so i didn't want to be a part of that, so i left and lo and behold six or seven months later, i was arrested for that crime. i remembered that day. i was -- i had moved back in with my grandmother and i was walking down the street to meet her at the store because she went to go get and groceries. when i was walking down the street, a detective's car pulled on the side and hopped out of the car and asked me my name and just put me in handcuffs and put
9:22 pm
me in the car. and while i was in the car, i was nervous and i was scared. i was really scared to ask questions, but i asked anyway. and i asked the officer could he tell me what this was pertaining to and he said we'll let you know when we got there. i was quiet and paying attention to where we were going and i ended up at the police station. while at the police station, the officers put me in this room and left me there. this was for maybe two or three hours. i was just sitting wondering why i was arrested. now, i didn't know there was -- it had anything to do with the fight that happened. so i was just sitting there and concentrating why i was there. and maybe two or three hours, like i said, passed, and an officer walked into the room and said, we investigate violent crimes. is there anything you want to tell us? and i said, no. and he closed the door and walked back out.
9:23 pm
so i was sitting there like violent crimes? why am i here for a violent crime and i was started thinking and i really didn't know what he was talking about. and maybe another hour came, passed again and came back in and asked, you know, is there anything you want to tell us? can you tell us what happened in august of 1999? and this was -- this was march of -- this is march of 2000. and i told the guy, i can barely remember what happened two months ago. [laughter] >> you're asking me about something that happened in august? so he thought i was playing with him or something and he walked back -- he actually said, are you playing with me? and became upset and walked out of the room, him and another officer. so i sat there for a couple of other -- a few more hours, and this process was going back and forth. to move it along, they came -- they started doing the good
9:24 pm
cop/bad cop -- have you ever heard of that? >> have we ever heard of that? [laughter] >> we all watched tv. >> they actually did that with me. there was one cop who was very aggressive. and he would come in and threaten me and say, i'm going to slap you if you don't tell me the truth. i know that you participated in this and then there was another officer that would say, you know, just be calm, everything will be okay. we're just trying to get this process along. but all during this time, i was telling officers -- they eventually told me after maybe 10 or 12 hours after being there they were investigating a fight that happened in august of '99 and the guy died, and they told me that they were -- that they had some people in custody and that they knew that i participated in the fight. so i told the officers constantly that i didn't participate in the fight. and like i said, one cop would always say you're lying to me.
9:25 pm
you're lying. the other cop would say, well, it's okay. you know, you just -- we're trying to get the truth. and so if you stay calm, you know, we're going to get everything out of the way and we're going to get you home. so the bad cop came in and started asking me questions. asking me about some of the defendants that were on the case. and he came up with some strange nicknames that i've never heard before and he thought i was lying when he told me he had never heard those names before. and he came back in with some papers and pointed out my name on -- he didn't show me that my name was on the papers, but he pointed on the paper and said your name is right here, right here, right here. is there anything you want to tell us because they're saying that you participated. and i constantly told him that i didn't participate in this fight. at all. so he -- >> tell them how you -- [inaudible] >> okay. we went through a lineup and everything. they said i was picked out in
9:26 pm
the lineup. they said that one of my codefendants said that i was there and that i didn't hit the guy -- the guy died from being beat with a baseball bat. so they said that i didn't hit the guy with a baseball bat but i did hit him two times in the side with my fists and they were like very specific with the two times on the left side with my fists and i told them i didn't touch this guy. when the fight happened, i left. and one cop didn't believe me. the other one did. but after hours and hours -- i mean, i asked for a lie detector test. it wasn't given to me. i asked to make a phone call. it wasn't given to me. and i was basically getting tired. they brung in a sergeant who scared me. he said that, you know, if i didn't tell them what really
9:27 pm
happened, that i would be charged with a murder, attempted murder, a battery. he named like six or seven charges really fast and i was scared. i was like, you know, no, wait a minute, don't leave. when he left the officers talked to me, well, if you tell us -- that what happened that night, that we're going to -- you know, we can get this process on. you won't get charged and you'll go home. so after a while of them constantly doing this and me constantly telling me that i'm -- i didn't do anything, one officer talked to him and jovan, we know you didn't hit this guy with the baseball bat. we know you only hit him two sides of the face and we think you did if you just say you hit the guy two times in the side with your fist, we're going to let you go home and we'll get the process on. so i sat there and i thought about it for maybe 30 minutes and he said, that's the only
9:28 pm
thing you have to say. and so i said, okay, i'll say it. and that's how the confession happened because, you know, after being in that so long, you know, you really just want to go home and i was just tired, you know, i was constantly telling him that i didn't do anything but they wasn't believing me. so when he said they wanted the guy with the baseball bat and that, you know, hitting the guy in the side with my fist was not murder, and that i'll be able to go home, i took that chance and said, okay, well, i want to go home. >> i don't -- you know, i don't think -- i think -- i don't find it hard to understand why you did what you did. i think, you know, this question you ask, why do innocent confess to murder? a lot of times there's different levels. i mean, i think kevin fox questioning to killing and assaulting his daughter is really different than this situation where essentially he confessed to throwing two
9:29 pm
punches. >> what happens a lot -- the thing about this story is you can get in the story and think, wow, that's an unusual situation. and i would never sign a paper in that kind of situation. but over and over again, you hear these stories and they're books of -- that chronicle numerous wrongful confessions and the story is very similar in a lot of these cases which is exactly what jovan talked about. police officers, look, say it was self-defense. you hit them a couple times and it was self-defense and, you know, we'll let you go home. there's an effort at the end of these interrogation processs to minimize this. you can go home and we're done with this. and then -- all the things that he talked about, the deprivation of food and water and phone calls. the cops playing each other off -- playing off one another. and this idea at the end of minimizing the charges, oh, just sign this and it will be over and, you know, we know you
9:30 pm
didn't mean it. and we'll be able -- i'm sure you'll be able to walk free. this is all a very common thread in these wrongful confession stories. i would say, though, and one of the things is -- that i think people in this room can agree with is that if you use these same sort of techniques with a guilty person and then were able to independently corroborate their confession, this would be a good investigative tool. there's nothing that says we have to -- everything that everybody says to a suspect has to be the truth in an interrogation process. but that process needs to be transparent. and one of the facts that i don't think jovan mentioned all the notes from the interrogation that are supposed to be preserved mysteriously disappeared. the process of this was -- how many hours was it? 20? >> he was in there for two days. on the actual report -- there was one report that was
9:31 pm
manufactured a year and a half after he was interrogated and it was something to the effect -- 38 hours or 36 hours. but from the time he was actually picked up till he actually arrived was days, yeah. >> because i was -- i was arrested where they picked me up on a sunday early in the afternoon and i remember when i got -- when i arrived at the county jail, it was a tuesday at night. >> i wanted to point out something else, which is when i was first made aware of this book and the jovan mosley case and my first thought was who's jovan mosley? how did i miss this story. i'll tell you how i missed this story. the only time before this book came out that jovan mosley's name appeared in any chicago newspaper that i can find was -- and i had to print it out, unfortunately, is an 88-word story in march of headlined
9:32 pm
"teen held in robbery beating death of man." and it contains one paragraph that suggested he might not have done it. saying mosley's mother dolores saying wednesday she believes her mom was not involved in the fight. and this case, again, he was in prison for -- he was in jail for more than five years. his case languishing there. he had a public defender who seems to have been overwhelmed maybe at best and maybe suspicious of that jovan was actually guilty at worst. and he did not have the advantage at that time that some other defendants have being hooked in with a northwestern or depaul or someone who's going to, you know, highlight his case 'cause you look at it and when you take a look at the facts of the case, it was outrageous what happened to him. nobody ever called me and i get a lot of calls. nobody ever called my colleague steve millions who was excellent
9:33 pm
in wrongful confessions. his name was wrong to us. and it was only through this incredible sequence of events that got you this -- katherine the attorney that really pushed this case forward because my reading of the chicago magazine article about this case a couple of years ago was that your public defender thought you were kind of slick and didn't trust you. >> one of them. >> one of them. one of them didn't. so he wasn't going to call the newspapers to get anything going. he wasn't going to bring any pressure. >> and, you know, cathy and i debated that -- cathy is just not the type to self-aggrandize. she is unlike so many criminal defense lawyers in chicago. she will not call a press conference for herself. but weigh debated seriously before we started the trial, we thought should we, you know, call you guys and say, look, this guy has been in here five years and nine months without a trial. for someone who has never had --
9:34 pm
you know, an arrest or anything, no involvement with the criminal justice system but cathy pointed out and i think she was smart to do so, you know, the state's attorney -- they work really, really hard here in cook county, but she's, you know, if we just throw that story up there, they're going to try harder 'cause we'll get them angry. >> make it a high profile case so we just kind of let it slide. >> you and cathy got -- you called her. she told you about this case. >> right. >> and you ended up as co-counsel basically, right? >> yeah. when she told me about him, i was just sort of in awe and thought, wow, i can't believe that happened. and cathy said and do you know what the biggest problem is? and she said what, i believe him. she's like i love this kid. i totally believe him. this is the worst place to be a criminal defense lawyer who adoors and believes her client.
9:35 pm
i felt so bad for her and i knew she was really busy. [laughter] >> with her kids so i offered, you know, oh, honey, let me do some of your writing and i'll pimp out my law students and make them do some writing, too. so we did that and the more we were looking at motions and his case, i was constantly struck by his records just disappeared and p.s., when someone is in an interrogation room for two days there's like records so the other three defendants stacks of records and jovan had an arrest and a confession. and it was just really -- other things had been manufactured a year and a half, three years later in response to the motions on the case but it was really kind of -- it was so striking to me that, well, the way it happened, the first way that jovan and i met at super max and
9:36 pm
cathy called me one morning and said, look, i'm in such big trouble with this case. i really believe this kid but i have to go to super max today and i got to cross-examine him and i need to cross-examine him like a state's attorney would. i need to rip him apart, and i absolutely can't do it. so you got to do it for me. and i was like writing now and i hadn't been in the courtroom and i was really don't toy with me, seriously? let's go. so we get down -- if you're a trial lawyer, you just -- i know it's a little gross and competitive but it just stays in your blood. [laughter] >> cathy had also gotten her lawyer husband and off we go to super max and i felt a kinship with jovan immediately but i was more excited about practicing my cross-examination skills and so eddie and i -- we beat you up. >> you did. >> you really have to get them ready. >> they did.
9:37 pm
the process was brutal. i mean, they were asking me questions and i would tell them the truth and they would twist everything that i said around. >> uh-huh. [laughter] >> and -- i mean, cathy's husband was the worst of all. [laughter] >> this guy -- he just -- i mean, he broke me down. he actually made me cry. >> that was the first i've seen this kid cry so many times but this is the first time. this guy made me cry and everything he i told him, he twisted it and he had us to the point where i was questioning when i was there or not. [laughter] >> the crazy part is we left that room, and the minute the doors closed behind me and cathy said to me and she said, do you believe him? and i said, yes, you're trying the case with me, yes! and she decided and i sort of followed her out of super max thinking, man, i've defended doctors but i've never defended someone accused of murder. it was a really -- you know, you
9:38 pm
ask sort of our partnership, it was a really strange timing. and it ended being -- she's -- both of these two are two of my best friends. >> also from something i want to read from this english language newspaper that i referred to earlier, was a review that says, i've read hundreds of books and periodical features about wrongful arrests and wrong way convictions it's one of the best because kauffman mixes both well because she writes well she's also a novelist and because o'daniel is such a fascinating heroine, it did not become a wrongful conviction but very close. i did want to talk about something in the news now that there is another case going on in which a high profile defendant has taken the stand. in your case, in your case,
9:39 pm
jovan, you elected not to take the stand and the reason that you didn't was -- had to do -- it's chronicled extremely well in the book but early in this case -- or in the criminal case, a woman was called to the stand who was -- who was a character witness for you, essentially? >> yes. >> and tell the story of what happened to her and how that influenced your decision about testifying. >> well, the person -- anita. >> yeah, the person who was called was my old supervisor -- i worked for geoffrey goldberg & associates for a while and she was my supervisor. so she came as a character witness. and when she -- she's the nicest and sweetest lady in the world. i mean, she really is. and she was put on the stand, and the state's attorney was asking her questions about my character, how i was when i worked at the law firm.
9:40 pm
and she said that i was pleasant and -- she had one particular word. i can't remember it right now. i can't recall -- she had one word and the state's attorney -- peaceful. >> peaceful. the state's attorney used that word to beat her up, basically. he asked her peaceful, how is he peaceful? could you tell me how he was peaceful? was he peaceful every day? really cross-examined her like she was me. and -- i mean, she was like, peaceful. he was a nice person and broke her down on the stand. >> so then -- and then jovan starts crying, cathy's is elbowing don't cry because she already said tears can be interpreted, you know, two different ways. and meanwhile i had put her on direct so it's my job, if we're going to object to do it but cathy wasn't letting me. she realized she was the most intense cross-examination of the trial. they had put no evidence against
9:41 pm
him except his confession. and here this character witness is getting beat up and cathy kept looking at me -- she could tell i wanted to say objection and she said, let it roll. let it roll. let it roll. she said they're sinking themselves. so she let -- oh, my god, it was so painful. >> the woman was reduced to tears, right? >> yes >> this is a character witness. she wasn't a witness to the crime or anything. >> yeah. >> she was like aunt bea. >> the state's attorney all gave him -- they joked with him, she looked like aunt bea. you don't cross-examine someone like that when they look like aunt bea. like you cross-examined her like she was a street corner hustler, like, no! and so after jovan's verdict, the -- and i don't -- you know, i guess you'll have to read the book to hear about the trial part, which was fascinating, but it was a roller coaster. after the verdict, the jury
9:42 pm
asked to see us. we went -- jovan didn't get to see them but cathy and i went back there. they were crying, crying, they were so attached to the case and they were saying, you've got to take care of him. you've got to take care of him. meanwhile, little did we know that the foreperson of the jury would take jovan shopping and buy him things like underwear and like all this stuff. but any estimate have in any event they would like to see the state's attorney and they all started getting on the one young guy who had beaten up this character witness and she's guys are so great, though, they work so hard down in those trenches and they have such a black comedy sense of humor that i ran into ethan is his name. he's a great lawyer, great guy. i ran into him at like the peninsula spa, and he walks up and he says -- and someone like i'm sorry, he said i'm the villain. every story needs a villain. i'm the villain. it's fine, i'm fine. [laughter] >> but those guys are -- they're
9:43 pm
fantastic lawyers. >> you joke about that. but my question is, when -- if you're a prosecutor, your job is to find the truth. your job is not to win a conviction. and i don't understand in reading this entire book and then i urge you to do it and see if you come to a different conclusion, how the prosecutor could have looked at the evidence and actually stood up in front of a jury and asked them to convict jovan mosley of this crime. it was just shocking to the conscience. and another thing that ought to shock people as they see this is that is how obscure this case was. and ask yourself, how many cases like this might be now in cook county? we have a system that misfires often enough and it takes someone coming in, you know -- just about an angel walking into your life to pull you out of this. we're going to run close on time here. i'd like to invite people to come up and ask a couple of questions. and i want to ask jovan, what you're doing now? this exoneration happened six
9:44 pm
years ago, five years ago? >> five. >> so he's been out five years now. and he told me the story already but i'll have him tell you. what are you doing these things and what do you want to do? >> well, i've been out, i received my associate's in criminal justice from daley. i'm currently at loy-ola university of chicago pursuing my undergraduate with management with a paralegal and i plan to go to law school next year. [applause] >> and so i have this like -- this fantasy like my dream would be i'm teaching -- 'cause that's where i teach loyola law school and i work in the innocence project and you can sign up the summer after your first year and so i have this like thing, i'm at the podium getting ready for class and he comes in and he's a student. but he keeps saying he's not going to take my class.
9:45 pm
why? why is that? >> i can imagine her being my teacher like jovan, i expect you to be the best. i want you to be -- >> why? >> it would be brutal. >> darn it. [laughter] >> but i also work for mareville academy in displays and work with troubled youths, those who had a hard life. i worked directly with them, counseled them, teach them life skills. and actually this monday will be my second year anniversary from being married. [applause] >> my wife is actually in the back, andrea mosley. [applause] >> we have a question here. >> in your time in jail, did you meet people that you were absolutely convinced were innocent? >> i actually did. i met a lot of people that i personally felt were -- was innocent, and a lot of people
9:46 pm
actually had me go over their cases with them to help them because i studied law while i was incarcerated. so i will go over their cases and a lot of the evidence pointed to other people, and, you know, like from my point of view, half of the people in there were innocent because it was actually some people -- it would be maybe six or seven people on one case. >> you know, there's an interesting study -- ohio university a couple of years ago studied how often does the criminal justice system get it right? and they got a nice healthy estimate. you can read it to see how they did it. but they got this estimate that 95% of cases, like 95% of guilties are the correct verdict but even if that's the case, there are 10,000 people a year in prison who are innocent. so that's like a tiny amount. >> i'm john kelly. i'm the writer for the boston
9:47 pm
phoenix. i'm sorry, i missed some of the presentation but i wanted to ask jovan, how you kept hope alive when you were incarcerated, falsely incarcerated? how did you get through the days? >> it wasn't easy, but i am a christian. my faith was in god the whole time. and, you know, i would read my bible and pray constantly. and try to stay away from everyone. [laughter] >> you know, jovan told me once and it was really helpful when he was getting out of jail, i was going through a divorce and oddly that made us good friends because we were both sort of starting our lives over. and i was kind of cranky a lot of the time. and i asked jovan, like, why do you not seem bitter? his cheerfulness would just irritate me? [laughter] >> and he said, and it's really something in my mantra, bitterness is a choice. sometimes i make it once a day,
9:48 pm
sometimes i have to make that choice constantly. but i think what i see in him and what i see -- what i've seen in a lot of people in prison who are innocent is that you're angry, then you just kind of hide and then -- at some point, almost everybody decides that this air space is actually -- the air space in their own mind is the only thing they control in their whole life. so if i'm all pissed off, it doesn't hurt the prosecutor who should have known better or the state's attorney or the detective. and so you sort of learn to make choices and so his words to me about choosing not to be bitter has like been very helpful. thank you. [laughter] >> hi, my name is dan. i have a question for you. being someone who has also been involved in that case personally where the prosecutor did a few underhanded things and actually got caught, what happens to the
9:49 pm
prosecutors when they hide evidence or when they manufacturer a case that really doesn't belong in the courts? is there any way of getting back at them? >> they have -- it's nearly impossible because of prosecutorial immunity. and, you know, if you think about it we need to have our state's attorneys not -- you know, able to look into crimes to prosecutor without thinking that every guy who get a not guilty is going to sue them so we have to make it hard to sue those guys or everybody would. however, the standard is so high. so high. it's almost impossible to get over. and a recent supreme court opinion, this case was actually against harry conic, sr., when he was a d.a. in, i guess, new orleans. somebody had sued and said prosecutorial misconduct, somebody that was underhim and they got a $16 million verdict and it was overturned because they said, you know, you have -- it has to be like so high.
9:50 pm
you have to have so much evidence and so it's really, really tough. >> do you know if there's any internal procedures that the state's attorney -- >> i think they're concerned about it. and i know since, you know, that has happened, everybody goes through training and how to spot a forced confession. and i think -- you know, they are running a great office and there are great people over there. . and i think they are more aware. >> we have time for one question. >> yes, my name is david. and before this presentation started today, i needed something to read to kill the time until it began, so i went down and bought -- [laughter] >> i take it at home by the way. but i read an article that absolutely infuriated me and i guess i want your opinion on it. it was about a man in chicago who had about 50 speeding tickets, vehicle infractions.
9:51 pm
he killed two people, two british businessmen in orlando florida. drove his porsche or some type of court up on the sidewalk and killed them. he confessed to it but refused to apologize. but he did confess to it. at the urging of the family of the two men who were killed, he was able to pay the families "x" amount of money. apparently in the millions because he's from a very, very wealthy family. and as a consequence of that, he will serve his sentence, my recollection is, i just read it -- i think it was two years home confinement, home confinement and a $600,000 condominium in florida. so my question is, where would be the justice in that? and there is something to be said, i suppose, for weighing the benefits that would accrue
9:52 pm
to the family, all this money they would be getting, but it ticked me off. [laughter] >> wow! >> it's a good issue and, unfortunately, we don't have any time to discuss it because we have -- i will invite you -- invite you all to have the -- buy the tribune and read the story. it's an incredible pleasure to read a book and then meet the main characters and the authors at the same time. you will have i hope the reverse experience of having met the main characters and you can buy this book. there's going to be a signing right after this. just probably down the hallway here and you can say hello to jovan and to laura and to get to meet them. thank you all for coming to this. [applause] >> i think you'll find there's a lot of -- a lot of detail and information in this book that we could not possibly get to today. the story is
9:53 pm
you will hear remarks from stephen trott on historical accounts of the american west. this is a little over an hour. >> the american west and we have a distinguished group of here for you. bang-up let me introduce them beginning on the far left. stevan is an award winning investigative journalist and essayist and columbia graduate adjunct professorsm. at columbia tragedy of supermodel and inspired the award-winning film, gia. he's author of bitter pills, inside the world of illegal drugs. he's won the national magazine award twice, lives in philadelphia with his wife dianne, and the book is called "appetite for america, how
9:54 pm
visionary businessman built a railroad hospitality em bier that civilized the wild west." it's in a review by a great writer himself who wrote "blood and thunder." he wrote, this line makes me hungry. i like that line. would you welcome stephen fried. thank you. [applause] >> michael hilzik worked at the providence bulletin. he now writes a column for the l.a. times. he won an award for distinguished business and financial reporting. with the l.a. times he won a prize for beat reporting and corruption in the music industry. when michael won the pulitzer, i
9:55 pm
read this recently. a friend says at least now you'll know what's in your obit. his books include the plot against social security, he's got one coming out in september called "the new deal of modern history." paperbacked in june, michael? >> that's right. >> paper back in june. would you welcome michael hilzik. [applause] >> jeff guinn is a former editor and senior writer, author of three novels about santa klaus and christmas. his most recent book is "go down together: the true, untold story of bonny and clyde." the book was a finalist for an
9:56 pm
edgar in 2010. it's called intensely readable account of two of america's most notorious outlaws. his detailed history leaves you breathless until the final hail of bullets. the book we're talking about today comes out mai 17 -- may 17, it's called the last gunfight, the real story of the shootout at the ok corral. it's a history book club main selection and starred review from publisher's weekly. jeff, we'll have to find our later loves, the san fransisco finds, would you welcome jeff guinn. [applause] >> i wanted to begin by giving each of the writers an opportunity in brief fashion, which is very difficult to do, to say why they wrote the particular book, and why you should read it. stephen, let's begin. >> thanks.
9:57 pm
you have this experience in arizona, and others have, you go to the grand canyon, walk into the 100-year-old hotel and you see a picture of fred harvey. i had that experience with my wife 20 years who. who the hell is fred harvey? a lot of people have asked that question. it's a great way of asking about the history of america. fred harvey turns out ran the first chain of anything in america. he ran the restaurants and hotels in chicago and los angeles and civilized the american west. his story had never been taken seriously journalistically before, and i was lucky not only to recreate this multigenerational family business, the harvey's were the biggest in the 1880s through the 1940s, but fred's stuff was in the family. it was a very personal book as well, and it gave the insight that most people know fred
9:58 pm
harvey because of the harvey girls. it was a great american journey for me. being from the east, this was my first trip to the west. i recreated the life of the west which easterners don't understand. they think of it as a whole other world. it was interesting telling the story of the west based on what easterners don't know. >> michael? >> well, thank you. basically, all of my book projects start the same way. i get interested in a subject and can't find enough published to satisfy my own curiosity, so i realize i'm going to have to write it myself. in this case, the case of my hoover dam book, i was writing a lot about water in the west for my day job at the "l.a. times" and i had a conversation with the head of one the largest water agencies in southern california, the metropoll tan
9:59 pm
water district, was telling me about where they get their water and some is from northern california and some from the ground, some from the colorado river, and they like getting it from the river because for them it's free. i said why is the water from the river free? well, we built hoover dam. now, i hadn't known that. in fact, he was lying just a liability, but it made it clear there was a connection between the great structure on the colorado which i had seen two or three times, and my wife of southern california, so i resolved to learn more. now, there's a third factor in this, and that was that my last book of history before this had been a history of a place called xerox park research center. it was a research center that xerox created in 1971 and where
10:00 pm
the scientists there invented the personal computer and .. net, and they worked on the internet, developed the windows-style computing, and invented all these great things. when i was working on that, i was dealing with sources that were all alive. i dealt with 300 scientists who worked in this place. i had a feeling they were all looking over my shoulder to make sure i got it right. as a result of that, i resolved that. the next time i read a book of history, it was going to be about a subject in which everybody was dead. [laughter] at least i would have the last word. now, there are still workers from hoover dam who are not dead, but they are very old and hard to find so for the most part, i have the right to say what i think and what i learn, and that's how that book came
10:01 pm
together. >> jeff guinn? >> well, everybody would agree it's a natural segue for a writer to go from santa claus to the bonny and clyde and the ok corral. [laughter] i wanted to devote a couple years of my life to the process. going down together had done pretty well, and my agent and publisher and editor suggested, say, you got another book about people shooting each other? well, you know, everybody's got an area of expertise they try to develop. i think there are three iconic battles in american history that everybody in the general public either identifies with or think they know all about. that's the alamo, customer's -- custear's last stand, and the ok corral. people talk about them a lot.
10:02 pm
a friend of mine wrote a novel called "the gates of the alamo" and i didn't think anybody could write better than he had. there's a best seller about custer's last stand, and i took the third option which has given me the chance to talk to many, many fine people throughout the country. when the book comes out may, half of them will decide i'm evil, stupid, or both. [laughter] the people of this area are worth writing about and knowing more about. i'm glad for that opportunity. >> thanks. what we're going to do now is ask each fellow and why they are unique is because they are journalists writing history, not academics writing history. i wanted to ask them how being a
10:03 pm
journalist helps writing nonfiction and impacts your technique. >> i think journalists have been looking at things they think are more boring than they want to read and want to write a more interesting narrative character-driven version of it. that's what we do in magazines, and that's what's come in fiction book full circle. if you look at the nonfiction books in the magazine articles of the 1800s, they were like this, very narrative, and then it disappeared, but i think it's coming back and focused in america after 9/11 because the truth is that the publishing business was more interested in american history books after 9/11, but what's driving this is one, when you a background in up vest gaitive reporting, you look at primary sources more aggressively than historians do because historian -- history is bouncing back and forth between what one writer wrote and
10:04 pm
another writer wrote. the digitizing of newspapers helps us do what we do. a lot of books you read were based on archives and reading as much as possible something on microfilm. it's different when you read digitized newspaper and take in an enormous amount of information. the difference in the books is the way they are written. we were talking beforehand about hose of us who do this write these books, and a historian gives you four versions of an event and let you choose between them. in narrative nonfiction i refer to it as history-buffed. what we end up doing is do our reporting, figure out what we think really happened, then dramatize what happened based on original reporting, and if there's a debate, we footnote that or end note that. that's why our books have numerous notes. the last 100 pages of my book are end books. not a 500-page books, it's just
10:05 pm
end notes. people want to know how i found out how fred harvey had a second wife. in my story, he has two wives. that's a change in history. i don't want to belabor something like that. these books existed before. they existed in new yorker writing, and i think this kind of style got more popular in magazines and "vanity fair" in the 80s and the 90s and because of the success of books that show what jowrnists can do with the historical stories that are different than what historians have done and the more successful historians, that's why there's an explosion of this. it's what the readers prefer and what we like to do. >> michael? >> sure. i'll underscore what was said. there's two main points. one is technique and the other is a sense of audience. in terms of technique, i think
10:06 pm
we find a lot of profession name historians beginning to use journalistic narrative techniques when they are writing, but journalists, we always particularly in my trade and stephen's newspapers and magazines, we always know that we have to tell a story, that the narrative really is what drives what we are teaching our readerrers, so when i work on my books, what i try to do is tell that story through the eyes of the people who lived there, the people of the ground level and then add on it as stephen eluded to what i construe to be the meaning of the events, the people, the way they acted. now, the second aspect is a sense of audience which is also something that in these newspapers and magazines, we have to have a strong sense of. we have to know who are we
10:07 pm
writing for? what do they need to know? what will they learn the most from? when -- i think all of us when doing our research, we read a lot of works by professional historians. you get a sense that they are writing for each other, the historical record, and there's nothing wrong about that. in fact, it's very valuable, eang i think those of us who write narrative history sort of stand on their shoulders when we do that, but they are -- when you read a journal article from a historical journal or a book that's been published by a university press on some historical issue, you know that they're not -- this article is not really directed at the general public, and it's our job to sort of bring that knowledge and all of those facts to the general public and give you, the reader, a chance to understand
10:08 pm
what we've learned. i know i'm writing for an educated audience and a sophisticated one, but one that doesn't come at the subject with a professional or an academic historian's point of view. as a journalist, i'm translating what's in the historical record into a vie -- vie knack cue lar for an audience. >> i want to go to michael's book and it highlights what he talks about. imagine this written by an academic journalist. he's talking about sim eli, the boss of boulder city, a place of where the people of the dam lived. he was an old man with a on old testament prophet with the grand
10:09 pm
woods american gothic. that's a sentence, and you see the guy. he did something really interesting was he made a character out of the colorado river, describing it as a fire red monster and man's inability to control it and so heavy that dust blew off it. good stuff. >> that's a basic technique. books are described as a biography of nonliving things because part of what we do, and, again, this comes from magazine writing. it comes from a certain kind of book writing, and people are finding they like it better. things like in a history book or article, there's sections in it where people go here's the boring part to get through to get the information to get back to the interesting part, but, you know, we don't get to have a boring part. the idea is to make the boring part not boring because no one lets a journalist be boring.
10:10 pm
you have to bring the river to life, everything to life. in fact, the dam and river are allye. it's a question as whether you see it that way. readerrers share that interest. they want everything in the book to be animated. >> in fact, when i write my columns or articles for the newspaper, as i'm researching them, somebody i'm interviewing will say, this is really technical stuff. your readers will not be interested in that. my response is i understand what you're saying, but my job is to make it interesting, and that's the same way to approach a book like this. >> to highlight what stephen said, there's a famous line by -- it's about fiction and the advice about fiction is to leave out the parts people skip. [laughter] >> which is a hard thing to do. when writing a history book the question is if it should be there -- in a novel you can skip it and move ahead, but if you've
10:11 pm
done a big -- you know, i had to research, you know, basically 80 years over three generations of the family. if you skip parts, that's not good either. a lot of us slept through this in history class, but my goal was to make it come to the with the harvey girls, the restaurants. you have to develop different way of writing things so the boring stuff becomes not boring, and, you know, i love seeing what my colleagues do to try to make that happen. it's also very factual whereas i think when the new journalism began it was the dam and start adjective going crazy, but what's interesting is people are going back to the original sources, the old newspaper stories and trying to bring the thing alive based on the observations of the people at the time and not just wild flights of fancy. >> what i was actually going to
10:12 pm
say -- >> sorry. >> you can tell journalists get to the point quicker, but clearly that's not always true. [laughter] no, these guys are absolutely right. there's two things with journalists that we bring to the table. the first, i think, is because of the nature of our training. we have to discern very quickly what are the most important aspects of the story. what's really going to make a difference? what do the readers need to know most? again, these two fellows particularly shine at it. it's not enough if you're really trying to have a conversation with the reader instead of a lecture to simply be a lister of what happened. you don't just tell what. you find those moments in your story that tell you why and how. i realize that's not quite as detailed as some of the
10:13 pm
explanations, but, again, these guys are better at it than i am. >> why are the earth and holidays celebrities today? >> they are celebrities because they allow people to make their own interpretations of who they are. they are iconic because there's a lot of nighs information about them and things that can be interpreted in different ways. you can always make the holidays and the clintons into what you would like them to be. we hear a lot today about revisionist history. you know, who are the revisionist journalistic historians who will come in here and take something that's been accepted for years and maybe demonstrate it might not have been that way? well, that's not revisionist history, but going back and claims history. the earp and holidays would strangle each other over the
10:14 pm
question of what color their eyes were. there was a lot of mythology, stories not studied thoroughly, and it's accepted as gospel. that's the fun of it. >> tell us, starting with stephen, about selling a book about the west to publishers in the east. [laughter] you mentioned that the easterners thinking of the west as a vast exans of place -- expanse out here. what was it like to sell that book? >> i was lucky because the truth is while today most people don't remember fred harvey unless they are a certain generation. there was a time when fred harvey was the best known brand through america. some of it is a generational thing. i was fortunate that my editor was a little order older and they to write a book of fred
10:15 pm
harvey was something she immediately understood. when you look at the marketing everything is in the east, and you have to explain how to approach that, and when we have been out for the book, it's almost like eastern and western events. when the book came out we took a promotional train ride along the route and stopped in the cities and did big museum things because it's part of the history in the cities. in the east, it's like explaning to somebody before howard johnson, there was a guy who invented this story industry that howard ripped off. if you want to understand how the restaurant business, hotel business, the business of civilizing cities in the country came about along the railroads and plains and trains, because the fred harvey company was on the roads too and the first meals in the air for because of fred harvey too. people already know fred harvey because they have been to the grand canyon. they've been to winslow, but
10:16 pm
it's cool. there's an area where everybody knows the story and to other areas no one had heard it before, but you can show them it's important as an american to understand the stories that you want to understand the history of america which is broken up by different parts of the country, but does have to come together. >> michael, did you have interesting experiences in that regard? >> well, it was a challenge, at least theoretically, to bring a book about a great western monument to east coast publishers. i was fortunate in that everybody across the country knows hoover dam, and, in fact, that was part of the pitch that this is a great national -- it's a great national structure, part of our nation. i didn't have to educate east coast publishers about what it was i was writing about, but what i had to do is draw a
10:17 pm
connection between the building of hoover dam and its role in the west and its role as a national structure and make the connection with public works, with great national endeavors, and with issues of water conservation, and all these things, but that was very educative. i think that is what sold the book to my publishers. now, once you get beyond that, you know, you have the deal and you writing the book, and when it comes to marketing, i find that my approach to speaking about hoover dam is different depending on where i am. if i'm in the east, i try too draw the -- try to draw the connections for the audience. in the west who live with hoover dam much more obviously than the rest of the country, i don't have to do that. i focus on more immediate issues, and those of you who may
10:18 pm
have heard me speak yesterday when i was talking about the book know that certain places like arizona, which had a unique relationship with the dam and with the construction period, it can be even more refined, so, you know, these subjects mean different things to different people in different parts of the country, and that's part of talking about it and selling it. >> jeff, did you have a particular challenge with your book? i know if you approach editors and publishers in the east about the ok corral, they know about it, but what was it like? >> the most enjoyable part about writing about the west perhaps was seeing the amazed looks on faces of editors of eastern publishers when they say, really? [laughter] there's also a great advantage, frankly, to being able to want to write a book about something involving the west in that when
10:19 pm
you're talking in terms of wonderful large sprawling subject matter, i mean, america in its push towards greatness is always moving west throughout our history, and the west is a place where people can go and make their reputations, where they can really over 75 years civilize a whole area and make these contributions or build a dam that is really beyond almost anything else that's been built by map in the entire nation's history. the west has the best stories, period, and that's something that i think a lot of people in this room already know, and ain't it wonderful when we can convince the other folks back east that's it's true? >> i noticed this working on the book. when you look at the period after the civil war and how america reremansed the west is because it was gone after the
10:20 pm
civil war. you count talk about the east because they pushed themselves to the brink of destruction. it's not surprise l after the war people are obsessed with the stories of the west, and they were covered in the newspapers. you know because you've been through the papers. when billy the kid was shot, it was front page stories the next day. this is not long term mess making. the west became what americans could moe man -- faint size about a lot. the flip side of that east-west thing is that i think people in the east are easily sucked into western stories if they can -- if they can come to know that this is a story that matters to them. >> the challenge is to make 2 the story -- is to make it the story of what really happened opposed to what you think happen. the truth is better and more interesting than the mythology, and that's something we all fine
10:21 pm
find. >> i read somewhere that you wrote that some people believe what happened because they want to believe it happened opposed to what really did. why is that? >> one of the things where the tombstone myth took hold is during the days of the cold war when it was clear to a lot of us, a lot of americans that the world was pretty increasingly complex place, westerners on -- westerns on tv was american's favorite form of entertainment. in dodge city, even though he never walked there, matt dylan was just as real to americans. you got situations where there's clear-cut good guys who, with their courage and their willingness to fight with their fists or with a gun, stood up to evil and somehow they always conquered it. it was, it was sort of a national need for that kind of
10:22 pm
western comfort food, and they bought into it. now, all of us here today i bet if we were asked to name every member of the obama cabinet would stop after two or three names, but we could sing that theme song from the wyatt earp tv show. >> can you sing it now, jeff? >> no, because i like the people in this room, and they don't need to suffer. [laughter] >> it's interesting how the tv part came up because there was a movie version of that 20 years before, and one of the things that's interesting is watching the west deal with its own stories, and, i mean, the harvey company was involved with this because they sold books and took people or tours that the indian detours people took in arizona and new mexico was the first time people went to pueblos, and it was a different time politically. the u.s. government was still deciding how to tell the stories
10:23 pm
about what they did to the navajos. they became heroic as teddy roosevelt came to office, the turn the century, this is when the stories were retold to the tourists to came west to hear the stories of the west which then influenced the movies because to get to hollywood, you had to stop in the west at the fred harvey hotel, and they made indian movies there. by the time they were in tv in the 50s, they were well-developed. it's entreing to -- interesting to see how they changed over time. >> i want to ask you since you are experts at telling come plex stories and using characters to do so making your books readable, define key characters briefly. i'll pick a character for stephen and jeff, but mike, you can pick one of your own.
10:24 pm
>> five or six instances, what man was he? >> extremely practical and unsophisticated in a few. he was in no one one dimensional made mistakes and didn't admit them. it had a lot to do with his successes and down falls. .. some facts and some fantasy that doc holliday had done something to save his life and dodge city. we were able for the first time in a long time to have access to the notes john floated took in talking to wyatt earp and were able to reproduce word for word
10:25 pm
the full explanation of what of cha happened. go >> michael, they're a number of characters we could go to in your book. i like the number of yours who n develop. frank crowe with his stetsond wo hat. william mulholland who is famous in l.a. history. talk about as instrumental in the hoover dam and in your book. >> sure. well, i think inescapably the single character of the construction phase of hoover dam and my book goes all the way back to the 1800s and brings the story or pretty close to modern times. but, obviously, the construction of the dam is the centerpiece, and that is frank crowe. he was the superintendent, he worked for six companies which was the private contracting consortium that built the dam, the remnants of which today, bechtel company. crowe was a fascinating character and also the summit of
10:26 pm
a lot of myth -- subject of a lot of myth making earlier on. he was a dam builder extraordinaire. hoover dam was his 14th dam. he built dams in the remote mountains of the north many idaho and montana -- in idaho and montana, he built dams in deserts. hoover dam was built in the most remote and harshest environment that he had ever worked in, but he understood when the planses were coming together, and he knew about these plans because he had worked for the federal government as the plan superintendent. he knew this was going to be his dam. now, he had several aspects of his approach to dam building that were important. one was he was a relentless driver of men. he would -- forest fires, blizzards, nothing would really stop him. he would get these dams built way ahead of schedule, often under budget. he was known for this.
10:27 pm
he was also widely admired by the men who worked for him. he would go from project to project with a team of four men, and they would hire miners and builders wherever they, wherever they landed. but he did have this very loyal cadre of underlings. so the image of frank crowe is that he was a master engineer, he designed a lot of the equipment that was used to build these dams. he was beloved of the men, he loved his men, he would do anything for them. he was an extremely efficient deployer of men and materials at the dam site. the aspect of him that i i wanted to make sure people saw and that i tried to bring out was that, was that there was a dark side to his pace and his relentless approach to the work. and that was that if men got in the way, the project would come first. and building hoover dam there were several episodes where that
10:28 pm
came out. there was a strike by the industrial workers of the world very early on. frank crowe crushed that strike brutally, but he did it from behind the scenes so that he wouldn't be blamed for the consequences of breaking the strike. there were periods in which decisions that were made to save money for the be contractors, and after all, he was an employee of bechtel and henry kaiser and the other contractors. to save money, he would do things like run diesel and gasoline-powered equipment underground, and scores of men died from carbon monoxide poisoning. they didn't get compensation for their -- their families didn't get compensation for their deaths, they didn't get compensation for their injuries because when they were brought out and brought to the clinicsing and hospitals, the doctors who were working for the
10:29 pm
contractors diagnosed them as having suffered from pneumonia which was not a construction injury. well, frank crowe knew about this, he condoned it, he oversaw it. so that's the other aspect of it. he was a three dimensional man, he got this dam built, there's no taking that away from him. his men loved him because they weren't allowed to see his contribution to the conditions that they worked under. >> one final note on that, michael, the first -- there were 112 deaths associate with the the construction of the dam, the first one was a fellow named jay george tyranny who fell from a barge, the last death was his son patrick who fell from an intake tower 13 years later. i think that's fascinating. >> they both died on the same date, a little spookier, the same day of the year. >> now we'll go to fred harvey. he was a brit, he was a nervous nelly, he was a workaholic, and
10:30 pm
stephen will answer this, but there's a story that the grand canyon was formed when fred harvey lost a nickel and went digging for it. [laughter] >> it's -- yeah. people were not always happy when fred harvey came in because the fred harvey establishments were so much better than what existed in all these towns, they could get fresh meat off the trains where everybody else had to deal with what they could. only the passengers were happy about fred harvey. the thing that was fascinating to me, all my books are about families, family dynamics, and what we want in our history books is to get to know the people and their families. and what's cool that i learned and didn't know when i pitched the book is you can't really tell his story without understanding his son ford, who no one knows about, who actually was fred harvey longer than fred harvey. and most of the things we associate with fred harvey, the company, were done by ford harvey who ran the company from the 1890s until his death in
10:31 pm
1928 staying behind his father's name because the idea was the fred harvey name was so powerful that it was better to say you were being taken care of be by fred harvey. i love relationships between fathers and sons. they're what drive almost everything i write in magazines and books, and i was able to really delve into the relationship between these two men. fred harvey was sick. he had what we now call americanitis, american nervousness which is a ridiculous diagnosis of his day. and he spent much of the year in england, and his son ran the business. so the relationship between these two men, and we found be all their letters or back and forth to each other that were incredibly powerful especially when fred was dying and he was going all around the world trying to find a cure to the colon cancer that was killing him. people with aging parents are having the same conversation with their parents, it was
10:32 pm
uncanny. i was able to recreate fred in some ways through his son, and that was the part that was really a surprise to me. the things that surprise you in your research, you pitch a book, it's a historical book, you think you're pitch ago book about a known story, and one of the most amazing parts is when you find something it turns out no one ever knew or appreciated before. you could be going to the editor and the story's more complex, and the editor goes, i like the very simple version of it, and that can happen. but part of what's cool these historical books, when you're an investigative reporter and your goal is to find something no one else can, and many this case, ford harvey was like a sentence in my proposal, and he ended up becoming half of the book because he did all the things that people associate with fred harvey and was a modern businessman based in kansas city that no one ever heard of. >> jeff, were you going to say something? >> i was just going to say probably the best analogy about
10:33 pm
being surprised is that books are very much like children. when you start with one, you think you know exactly what it will grow up to be, but it ends up being whatever it darn well wants to. [laughter] and that's part of the fun, don't you both think? >> yes. >> all of these books deal with places we can visit. mary coulter-designed hotel in winslow, if you haven't been there, you have got to go. there's a wonderful line in stephen's book with the architect of that building, mary coulter, as she was dying, i think? pretty close to it? she was told that la pa sad da was going to be closed, and she said there's such a thing as living too long. tell, briefly, stephen, about la pasada and why everyone should go there today. >> it was one of the last of the harvey buildings built. the built in the 1930s for the tourism industry in the southwest. keep in mind that everything we have here now, these were the
10:34 pm
flyover states to get to california, and the idea of stopping in new mexico or arizona was ri dick house. the railroad and the fred harvey company developed the opinion that people should learn america through that story. it was not part of america before that. la pasada was the last of those hotels, and mary coulter who was fred harvey's in-house architect basically designed a hotel from scratch that didn't match itself so it would have a story so the do sents could tell this story, it was all built at the same time just so they could build the story. that was mary coulter, she was wonderfully wild in that way. the hotel became like a closet for years and years and years. it closed in the '50s, and a coup from los angeles tried to bring wednesday low, arizona, which at that time no one went to except to stand on the corner
10:35 pm
like mention inside the eagles' song. [laughter] they really finished it room from room. thank goodness, the railroad had just boxed it up, and mary coulter's stuff all was still there, and they brought it back to life. it's an incredible jewel of a hotel, it has a four-star restaurant in it, and i'll say my friend who is a chef there is now a finalist for an award announced last week, and it's a place people don't know to stop between santa fe and the grand canyon which is the essential tourist route, but if you're on the way back and forth as many people are as they're traveling, you have to stop at winslow and stop at la pasada. >> michael, when fdr dedicated the hoover dam, he said, i came, i saw, i wuss conquered. what did he meansome. >> i think anybody that goes to the hoover dam feels the same. there are a number of places that i've been or that i've
10:36 pm
experienced that i feel i can never get tired of; niagara falls. i used to visit almost every weekend when i lived in buffalo. i never got tired of it. hoover dam is another one of these places. you can see it again and again, it never really loses its ability to astonish at the very thought of putting the structure many what was then a truly remote, inhospitable place. we now think of hoover dam as down the road from las vegas, but it wasn't that way with then, and when you're standing on it or looking at it, you still get the same sense of majesty and grace. all of this was the product of engineering and design on a scale that we'd never seen before. now you can, of course, you can take the bridge that's just downstream from the bridge, and although you can't see it from your car because i think the
10:37 pm
bridge builders didn't want, didn't want people crashing into each other, you know, as they were staring wide-eyed at thissal paster monument upstream, but you can walk over the bridge and see it there. the thing about a structure like hoover dam is that it sets the benchmark for everything that comes after it. it's no longer the tallest dam in the world, it's no longer the dam with the largest volume of concrete, it certainly isn't the long e dam, it's not even the dam in the most remote or inhospitable place anymore. there have been dams built since then that posed greater engineering challenges for their builders than even hoover dam did for its builders, but everything that comes afterwards is compared to hoover dam. and there's a reason for that, and that's just because of the power of the structure and it's
10:38 pm
saying this really is nothing like it built by man that i've ever encountered. >> stephen and michael both used the word majesty and majestic, jeff, you know what's coming. your challenge is to use that word in describing tombstone. [laughter] >> when my book is published, i think some of the folks who live in tombstone and promote it as authentic will fly into a majestic rage. [laughter] i have to say, very honestly, that after two years of working on this book i have grown to love in this part of arizona very, very much. besides the beauty itself, i think some of the people here are very special. there is a town called bisbee
10:39 pm
that i love of to drive through. it's the last thing i do before i start home just because it feels so special there. tombstone itself, as it exists now, seems to me to be a delap dated movie set meant, hopefully, to appeal to folks who like to take their entertainment in a one-negligencal style. now, i don't know that that was the wrong approach for the town now to have taken. they're trying to survive in tough economic times, and every tourism dollar counts. but the real tombstone, the tombstone i fell in love with when i was writing this book, was such a diverse place. i think i call it an amazing, unique combination of elegance and decadence. and i don't know that that comes through anymore. the courthouse in tombstone was a special place. and the staff that worked there
10:40 pm
did a great job of disseminating information, but i also think hasn't that sort of closed down now because of government cutdowns? or it's being discussed being some changes to it. the city took it over. well, i don't know whether i'm pleased or concerned. [laughter] you don't want, you don't want to mock any community that is doing its best to promote itself. and in the sense that it at least interests people many this area, and maybe if they go there, they're intrigued enough to want to know more and maybe more factual information, that's great. i do not expect when last gunfight is published may 17th and in every other place in the world will be considered the perfect gift for every occasion. [laughter] that they're going to want to do, me to do a book signing in tombstone, or if they do -- >> maybe a gunfight. >> no, not a gunfight.
10:41 pm
they would want to reenact the dramatic hanging that took place. [laughter] they'd think a bullet was too good for me. >> jeff, one quick thing. did you have an initial reaction when you went to tombstone, and you saw the reenactments and the folks walking on the boardwalks, did that repel you or did you come to accept it? >> when i was a kid working my way through college, i had o work at six flags, and i wore a big blue frog costume. the effect there was, first of all, i was kind of surprised that it was pretty one-dimensional. the folks there were very earnest, but when they would give information, it would be completely at odds with the actual records of things that i had seen. >> right. >> and that is a cause of great concern. the gunfight reenactment, though it draws crowds and i'm sure it's very sincere, again, there are elements of that story that
10:42 pm
have been long since disproven, particularly one of why the nieces -- wyatt's nieces was interested in a boy when, in fact, that girl had been married to a rancher some months before the gunfight, and it never could have been an issue. so was i disappointed? i realized it was going to be a little more of a challenge than i might previously have realized. [laughter] >> all right. we've gone through the books and the characters in the books, i want to hear from the audience. i'm sure there are questions, so bring them forth. hi, jane. >> hi. i would like each of you, the term creative nonfiction, tell us what it means to you. >> well, it doesn't mean making things up, if that's what you're asking. telling a story is a creative act. when you're dealing with subjects as large as the ones
10:43 pm
that each of the three of us has dealt with, telling a story involves a lot of selection. there are thing we all -- i'm sure there are things we all have left out that we are dying to put back in the directer's cut of our books. [laughter] i know that's been the case with me. there are stories we have to truncate, there are issues we have to come press. if -- come rest. if you are writing academic history, most of those things would be referred to because your task isn't to put all the -- is to put all the facts on the table. creative nonfiction you have to structure the story in a way that gives it pacing and drive and keeps the reader or's interest. reader's interest. and as i said, that's a creative act. and it's very important, i'm sure to all of us, in writing
10:44 pm
books like these. >> i don't think that the goal is to write creative nonfiction. i think the goal is to write engaging nonfiction. >> i agree. i think, you know, i teach at columbia graduate school of journalism, and terms like creative nonfiction, actually, get writers into big arguments. some people think that's a compliment, other people think it's sort of in a way not an insult, but a thing to debate. creative nonfiction, literary nonfiction, you know, is one thing one or another? >> i think among people who are trained as journalists who become authors, their biggest concern is whether people are cutting corners in their historical recreations because the readers won't know any better, nor will their editors. and that's always a danger when people start writing long form and getting into the heads of dead people who are putting themselves in situations they couldn't have been in. a lot of us go to the footnotes and go, where's the factual basis of this? where'd you get this?
10:45 pm
creative nonfiction is not always a compliment to us. but the term is used to sort of differentiate nonfiction that is more narrative and character driven. >> i think it's a good, distribute i have term at least as far as i'm concerned because it does describe the task. the problems that we with all have solve when we're writing these books and writing books is a problem-solving exercise as is writing any form of journalism or nonfiction or, indeed, fiction. >> i'm curious, is creative nonfiction a term that makes you want the read a book? the i'm kind of curious. >> no. >> so it sounds bad? >> you hi it's insulting, right? >> yeah. >> that's really interesting. most writers would think the same thing, but since you asked it, we thought you meant it was a good thing. >> i disagree. [laughter] >> my question is for jeff. several years ago i taught a class in great american trials, and one of the trials we talked about was the trial of wyatt
10:46 pm
earp. and one of the things i learned that when i talk about with people today, they find it very surprising, is the gun laws that a town like tombstone had. and i wonder if you would care to comment on those and how they operated or didn't operate. >> it was interesting how the gun laws in tombstone, the laws in any mining town would gradually become refined. a lot of people, if only from watching tv, would talk about how, well, so people weren't allowed to carry guns in tombstone? well, of course they were. you could get special permits all the time. and these were given quite often to civilians, to gamblers and so forth. if you had the right connections, you could, in fact, carry a gun, and that was one of the things that surprised people. one of the things that i was amazed to learn as i was writing the book, i had thought that maybe the first time that don't carry your bun guns to town -- guns to town thing, that wichita
10:47 pm
was one of the first cattle towns and all the causes and effects beyond that. that, again, is part of untangling the web a little bit. if we, as we are writing our books, don't learn things ourselves, then maybe we're not bringing the right objectivity to it. i would think the worst thing you could do is decide i'm going to write a book because i already know everything in it, and i can just sit down and put it down that way. i mean, if you don't get surprised as you go along -- including the fact that doc holiday had a license to be carrying a gun instead of sneaking one into the gunfight -- well, maybe you were the wrong person to try to tell the story to the rest of the world. >> we have another question here. >> this is also for jeff, and it's not about tombstone. >> you're a nice man, and i like you. [laughter] >> a few years ago i found myself in prim, nevada, looking at a car. and i have not read all of your book, but does your book confirm
10:48 pm
for me that that is the real car. but one thick i noted -- one thing i noticed, they had on display this shirt that clyde was supposedly wearing when he was killed, and it looked to me something no adult man i had ever seen would be able to wear. was he really that -- >> frank was a shrimp. he was 5-5 and a half and weighed about 125 pounds. that really was his shirt. when clyde and bonnie were ambushed, murdered outside gibbsland, their bloody clothing was returned to their families as keepsakes. clyde's family fell on hard times, and they sold the shirt intact, but they took the pants he had been wearing during the gunfight and cut small swatches of them which on the criminal memorabilia market can still be purchased if you're looking for that special stocking gift --
10:49 pm
[laughter] for a loves one. for a loved one. yeah, the market for this kind of memorabilia, that includes tombstone, is substantial, and that was clyde's shirt, that was the so-called death car. there were four of them being toured around the country at one point. one fellow actually threw scrambled eggs on the windshield before he let the public in and said, there, see, the brains are still attached. you saw the real one. >> the memorabilia thing is interesting because these history books do set off sales. i did some research on ebay because sometimes the only way to see the things that existed in the places is to see the people who were selling them on ebay. so my wife is so happy the fred harvey book is over because she doesn't have to write any more checks for $17.52 for me buying fred harvey stuff. you have to do research on them.
10:50 pm
>> i have one tombstone question that could be answered -- >> i don't know if i said i liked you before or not, i may have to rethink this. [laughter] >> is it true or not true that the place that people pay to see where the gunfight took place is not where the gunfight took place actualliesome. >> -- actually? >> let's be kind and say it's in the general vicinity. >> okay. [laughter] >> over here. >> i'm aspiring to do a little book on the black hills gold rush, and as you said sometimes you find out there's a lot you don't know, and it takes a life of its own. one wyatt earp question. did he ever get to the black hills? because i find references that he was supposed to have been a stagecoach of guard or driver -- which i doubt -- but that takes a life because that was written pack 100 years ago, and people were embellishing history. but the real question is how do you know when to quit writing or when to quit researching?
10:51 pm
is. >> yes. >> i think maybe these other two guys should join in answer to that one because you always worry that there's one more important thing you haven't found, or the day that your book comes out -- [laughter] somebody else will find something new. the best way i can answer that is i do not belief -- believe there will ever be a definitive work of nonfiction published. someone's always going to think of something we haven't thought of or look in a place where we did not. the best you can hope for in writing a book is that when you sit down to start writing, you feel you've answered the major questions, and as more come up while you're working, you do your darnedest to try to find that as well. >> i find in my book that's absolutely -- in fact, the preface of research really never ends. generally, i start writing before i know i'm done, and in
10:52 pm
many part writing helps me identify what it is i actually need to know to fill in the gaps. but in writing colossus, after it's been published, i still run into people who have stories, family stories or even family artifacts, and all i can say is i wish i had known this a year and a half ago. my new book which is about the new deal, that's, that's a subject that's really just bottomless. and i know that like anybody who's written about it and no matter how many volumes you write, there's going to be more to say and more to learn. so this actually goes back to, you know, my point of view about creative nonfiction. the preface of creating tells you that you cannot, as jeff said, tell the entire story start to finish and know that it's definitive. you just can't know. >> the shortest answer to me
10:53 pm
about when you stop is when your wife tells you to. [laughter] no, you know, my wife has more influence. my wife is my editor, and she knows more about this. one of the things i think people forget about researching and one of the things we try to teach students at columbia is a lot of the best research you do is after you've started writing. and when you realize you need to know something because you start writing about something, and it made you realize you wanted to write about it, and then you go back and research from writing. which is a really underestimated aspect of writing, but, in fact, the only way to stop researching is to start writing, and the only way to do more direct research -- because you will research these things forever -- is to be researching things that come from your writing that need to be better, you need to find out more about. the longer you put off a process of writing a rough draft -- >> i've had colleagues in this journalism and newspapers who, whose professional flaw is they cannot stop reporting or
10:54 pm
researching and start writing. and, you know, one of the things we learn just being in this profession is you have to meet a deadline, and you have to push in your work so that you get where you need to be at the time you've promised. >> the flip side, though s you do live in fear that something will pop up on a database at the last minute that will undermine what you recreated in a big way. and you can rub the same search -- run the same search and other stories will come up. i don't know about you, but up to the point that fred was out, i was still running the same searches to see if there was something that was going to inform or uninform something i'd written. >> well, that's true. and in my ace, you probably run into this too, there are cases where i know there is information that i know i need and that i've been looking for and that i simply have not been able to run down. and it's out there somewhere, but it can't be part of the book because i can't, we can't find it. >> i think we're down -- are we out of time?
10:55 pm
we have time for one more question? no, we are out of time. jim, you're going to come up and ask, okay? is we want to hear what you have to say. i want to thank these three writers. it's been exciting, and it's been interesting. give 'em a round of applause. [applause]
10:56 pm
10:57 pm
>> i am delighted to introduce our panel about her this afternoon. barbara clark smith is our scholar from the smithsonian. she is curator of the division of political hiss or at the national museum of american history. her new book is "the freedoms we lost" consent and resistance in revolutionary america. in this and other publications, clark smith writes about politics and a sharp social historian site for drama and detail. she co-curated a favorite exhibition of mine called jamestown, québec and santa fe, three north american beginning in 2006. john ragosta is an historian and lawyer, our second speaker.
10:58 pm
he teaches at the uva school of law. he has published three field contemporary law, legal history and early america. his new book is called "wellspring of liberty how the religious dissenters hope when the american revolution and secured religious liberty. we can count on the baptists for some good theater. this year, tranter is a research fellow at the selection or at monticello. john fea, our final speakers and associate professor of history and chair of messiah college in grantham, but looking at. his new book is called "was america founded as a christian nation." john fea has written about religion in american history and contemporary culture in scholarly articles, news papers and online publications, including a blog called the way
10:59 pm
to improvement late home. with that, barbara clark smith. >> thank you. the new interpretation of the american revolution. but it does that by looking at the ordinary man who made up the revolution. not much to painting fathers thought it small farmers, small planters, maybe our descendents to own enough tools and enough materials or shopkeepers on the net talk in good and enough credit to qualify to vote. these same men who qualify to vote for their representative or a delegate to their colonial legislature in the colonial. but it never occurs to them that they might themselves run for office, except maybe minor local offices. when i say ordinary man, i mean


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on