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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  August 28, 2011 8:00pm-9:00pm EDT

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where they send officers to while away their time, going to bar-b-q's. and very quickly however, he is a defender of an unfolding national crisis. the south -- the southern states begin to succeed and december of 1860, a month or so after lincoln's election as president. ..
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>> these guyings were in a brass band, and they quickly realized they're in the middle of an unfolding crisis. south carolina is sort of the center of the white hop succession fever, and charleston is the center of that. southern militia starts this little fort. anderson realizes this fort is dispensable, should it come to that, as a public park, and they're looking out at the troops that are massing all around them. they feel as written in a letter, he feels like a sheep tied up watching the butcher
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sharpen his knife. not a very pleasant image, and so he does something very bold. he ignores his orders from the war department or lack of definitive orders, and by night, under the cover of darkness, he and his men go to the boats to the center of charleston, and this is seen throughout the south as an act of war. when we talk about the beginning of a civil war today, the story tends to begin with a southern shot being fired. it's a very dramatic moment, a very important moment in american history, but for many people in 1861, this conflict began more when robert anderson and his men crossed charleston harbor and raised their flag above fort sumpter.
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they scream out major anderson inaugurated a war, a civil war in our country, so that's where i start the book, this sort of night escape. we're right there at the fort as the boats are slipping away from the beach and crossing over and major anderson had the flag tucked under his arm that he'll raised on the new fort. >> thank you. that's just one example of adam's techniques. he takes a person we don't know much about who was not a conscious hero in the struggle, but committed some extraordinary acts. >> yeah, he was ambivalent, and i like that about him. he was seen in the army as being this sort of gray bureaucrat. he was lit rally a very -- literally a very gray looking man, very serious, a doer, and he was known in the army for
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having translated certain french artillery books into english. he's the guy whose course you had to pass in order to graduate. no one looked forward to it. he's the guy, major professor anderson in the crisis. he was a southern sympathizer in his heart. he even said that. he had a grievance under how slavery was coming under. this is the spot where war is most likely to begin. he's already fighting a war within himself, and so i see this character in some ways as being a sort of distillation of the war that's being fought with in the heart of america, fought with within his heart. >> adam also adds one of the
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postscripts in his book. the fact that general anderson is brought back at the end of the civil war to raise the union flag once again on fort sumter, and on that day he did so, abraham lincoln was assassinated. one of the many coming togethers of american history. this is bordering on trivia, but my loyalty to the state of pennsylvania requires me to ask a question. only president, the only distinguished james bucanan, adam has a wonderful scene. it's new year's day in 1861 at the bucanan white house, and what was that day like both in the white house and maybe you could give us a brief assessment of president bucanan.
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>> well, bucanan, you know, of course has been vilified by many venn rations starting be his own generation. he was seen as sort of a loser and a misfit and disastrous president before he'd ever left the white house, not that this resinates at all with anything in our own times of course. [laughter] democrats take that as you will. republicans take that as you will. insert face here. [laughter] bucanan, you know, actually, i love these characters from history who were pushed to the margins. for me, they end up being more interesting than the heros. it's easy to celebrate those on the right side of history, but i try to get in the hearts and minds of those that ended up on what we think is the wrong side of history. there's this scene of new year's
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day. bucanan was a total contrast to abraham lincoln in many, many respects where lincoln was sort of the worst qualified man ever to become america's president when you looked at the resumé. he was a one-term congressman from illinois. bucanan was the best qualified man with a long glittering resumé. president bucanan like lincoln was born in a log cabin. no a lot of people remember that. he loved to host parties. he hosts receptions for everyone from visiting japanese ambassadors to sioux indian chiefs. people would partake of the free federally sub subsidized cake and punch and whisky. they drank a whole lot of whisky. there's a scene of the last dismal reception at the bucanan
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white house. it's january 1, 1861, and there was a tradition that some of you may know of in america in washington of the president's throwing open the doors of the white house, quite literally, to sort of any decently washed and modrately sober citizen who wanted to say hello to the president. this lasted until president hoover amazing enough. you could just walk in and wish the president a happy new year. here's this reception, a misrabble affair. the marine band is sawing out hail the chief as best they can. on one side is the pro-southern washingtons glaring across the room against the anti-southerner. it's the last thing of the ill-fated bucanan administration. >> now i'll turn to a big question, a big question that
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i've been struggling how to ask. there's a tangle of conflicting thoughts in my mind relating to the specific moments of april 12-18, 1861, and they are tangled by more general thoughts about the causes of the civil war and tangled further by my recollections of my own inadequacies of the course i taught at the university of pennsylvania more most of my career there. i should confess that unlike most people who teach the first half of the american history survey course, i actually end the course with the filing on the fort. i do this because my memory about civil war battles and alignments is so terrible that i know i can't get through them. i never make it through the whole civil war or through
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reconstruction. fort sumter is the pivoting moment. i describe that moment as the war of southern, that radical militant southerners lead many more moderate residents of their section into civil war, and that the north very reluctantly responds, half heartedly responds to the charge. it's not a conflict they wish to have. your interpretation is not wholly at odds with that, but you do see northerners even at the moment of this as not merely occupying a defensive posture, but is standing up in an affirmative way for things in
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which they sincerely believe. i wonder if you could talk a little about your sense of what northerners thought they were about tonight for at that moment. >> sure. well, you know, first of all, when you talk about having a hard time tracking the battles, i'm the same way. please, nobody ask me which calvary charged up, i can't remember that stuff at all. that doesn't interest me. i'm interested in what's going on in the hearts and minds of those living through the experience. the hearts and minds of northerners and actually southerners were much more divided i think than what we're often told to think. i do believe that the union cause was ultimately not just a movement to keep the nation together, but it was an anti-slavery cause and a very
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significant way, and i know that that's a very rare thing to hear because we're told, and it's completely true that there were very few abolitionists in the north in 1861 and 1861. abolitionism was seen as this dangerous weird sect. they were people who refused to burn fossil fews in their lives because they believed this would harm the environment, and, yeah, so people accepted in kind of a general philosophical way this is a correct position, but who is crazy enough to actually live this view and believe it would under mind the economy of the that's how people felt about abolitionism. it was an anti-slavery cause in the sense that if millions of northerners had not especially
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with the abe ham lincoln drawn a line in the sand saying slavery shall go no further than this, if they had not done that, the south would have had no reason to leave the union, and northerners while deeply am ambivalent about this union, also in a sense i found surprisingly when you read their words welcomed it to some degree. throughout the north, you find people who in their heart of hearts hated slavery and felt like they couldn't say it because it was going to risk splitting the nation apart. as soon as the nation is split apart, suddenly it's like unstifling for people in the north. suddenly they are able to express these thoughts. not everybody is an
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abolitionist, not even that racism evaporates overnight, even further from the truth, but there is a collective sigh of relief almost on the part of many northerners. >> uh-huh. adam phrases it beautifully. one person at a time, millions of americans decided in 1861 as their grandparents had in 1776 that it was worth risking everything, their lives and fortunes on their country, not just on its present reality either, not on something so solid, but on a vision of what its future could be and what its past had meant. 1861 like 1776 was not just a year, but an idea, so this is all part of the theme of minds and hearts. speaking of a person with a great mind and epg a huge -- eng -- i think a huge heart is abraham
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lincoln. a not so ob cure figure who plays a large part in your narrative. as i'm sure you know, the stories on lincoln is nearly as big as the civil war itself and different portrayals of lincoln so varied, defender of the union when slavery is decidedly a secondary issue for him. on the one hand, the great emancipator. on the other hand, if you live in charleston, south carolina, the chief villain in northern aggression. tell us a little bit about your sense of the evolution of lincoln's thought, particularly in 1861 as he confronts this crisis. >> i feel in the course of writing the book, i discovered a very different lincoln than the one i thought i knew, a lincoln that surprised and startled me. so much of our understanding of
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lincoln and mental image of lincoln is informed by the sort of ark of his greatness throughout the civil war and, of course, his martyrdom at the very end of the war. in 1861, he's quite a different man. lincoln comes to washington, as i said very on paper at least, unprepared for this high office, and he really bumbles and stumbles his way through the early weeks and months of the crisis. this is where some disagree, and i was on a panel last week where were about to come to blows -- not quite, but you have to hope civil war historians are not carrying a revolver or something. [laughter] in fact, as he makes his way
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slowly to washington, d.c. in february of 1861, on his way to the first inauguration, he gives a series of speeches that he's just pill aried for. he said, well, you know, we are facing a crisis, but at least no one is really suffering yet, at least no one is really hurt, and when we look around us, everything seems fine, and it's all going to be all right, and people are saying, wait a minute, the country is split in half and everything is all right? we're about to plunge into a war and quite likely an economic great depression and no one is suffering? he makes these remarks, gets to washington, and again is sort of paralyzed throughout the first weeks he's confronting this crisis, but then has a bit of an
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epiphany, and in response to the problem of what to do at fort sumter makes the first great master stroke as an american leader when he decides basically that the war is going to start one way or another anyway, and it's in his best interest to be sure that the south is going to fire the first shot rather than the north. this is, again, something that's been debated. you know, southerner sometimes have said that it's a little bit like, you know, you hear these conspiracies saying that fdr invited the japanese attack on pearl harbor or swop was secretly bhien the attacks on 9/11, but i really do think lincoln was sort of thinking several chess moves ahead of jefferson davis in this situation, and may even with that sort of master stroke has ended up -- i won't say winning the war, but keeping the
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confederacy from winning the war in the crucial moment. my lincoln is a lincoln who goes from this sort of uncertain and in some ways bumbling guy to by the end of the book a few months into the presidency becoming well on his way to the great leader, the great president that we think of today. >> and was it unfair question -- was it union or slavery? >> for lincoln? >> yeah. >> i think for lincoln, union and slavery were sort of inseparable causes because the reason that the south was succeeding was because of slavery. it was a stand southerners were taking, welcome g -- willing to yield no further to what they called the slave power. this result was decreed by a
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national election in 1861, and so lincoln recognized that if he were to orchestrate some sort of a compromise, and he played his hands very interesting, candidly and a bit ambivalently during the crisis, but ultimately realized if the south were allowed to blackmail the north, this would not be any kind of a union worth preserving. i do believe lincoln's personal sentiments were very much anti-slavery. there are some documents, you know, when lincoln was writing to close friends really revealing his heart of hearts rather than standing up in front of an audience speaking politically saying what needed to be said. there's a remarkable letter written in 1875 to his friend, joshua speed. he was one of the few people
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that lincoln became close to in the court of his life. it's remarkable that someone like lincoln with such a rich inner emotional life had very few people he became close to and confided in. joshua speed is one of these people, the man of whom lincoln famously shared a bed for four years when he was a young man. he writes about the know nothing movement, the antiimmigrant movement is really catching fire in america, and he says, you know, our country was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and then that became all men except negroes are created equal, and now it seems to become all men except negroes, catholics, and immigrants are created equal, and if this is what our country is going to be, i might as well move to russia where i take this
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attitude unadulterated without hypocrisy. he believed freedom and slavery were imcompatible whatever he found expedient to say as a politician. >> adam, with your interview yesterday, you said, and i'll paraphrasing you, you may not remember saying this, so i hope this question resinates. you said something to the effect of lincoln did not free the slaves. the slaves freed themselves. >> uh-huh. >> if indeed you said that -- >> sounds like something i would say. >> what did you mean? >> well, there were so many surprising things i discovered in researching this book and stories that i hadn't known about or sort of known about the outlines of, and one of them is this moment at the very start of the war when african-americans
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themselves, enslaved african-americans in the south, turned this into a struggle for their liberty. at a moment when the vast majority of white americans in both the north and south are certainly not willing to conceive of the war that way. as it all happens, again, actually sort of like major robert anderson, it's sort of a nighttime crossing. there's two nighttime crossings by book that bookends my story, and this happens when three young african-american slaves in virginia who have been conscripted by the confederacy to work on confederate fortifications. the fed rats expect that in this war we'll be the cavaliers with the shining swords and we'll -- they'll do the dirty work.
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they decide they don't feel like being confederates very much, and in the middle of the nightings steal a boat, cross the james river and present themselves at the gate of a fort called fort monroe, a little union outpost in the middle of confederate territory at the start of the war. the next morning, they are brought in to see the commander general, of the fort, and butler is forced to decide what to do with the three men. this is weeks after the attack on the for the. longe said this is not going to be a war about slavery. this is a war about union, but he says can i take these three people and send them back to work on the confederate fortifications? can i take the three people and send them back into slavery? he has very little time to decide this before a confederate rides up on his horse and
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demands this property, this human property back, and butler almost on the spur of the moment thinking of something brilliant. he's a general, but in private life he's a lawyer, a very clever massachusetts attorney, and he realizes that by the laws of war, he's allowed to take any property that's being used to aid the enemy cause, so he says, you know what, confederate officer, major kerry? if you and your people insist these mens are property, i'm going to say they are property too, and i'm going to take them from you like a would muskets or swords. he calls them contrabands of war. not surprisingly, very quickly word spreads to the enslaved population and the next day another half dozen slaves appear
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at the fort and the day after that 40-50 slaves appear at the fort. it's not only men conscripted to work on the fortifications, but also women, children, old people, and soon that becomes hundreds and then eventually thousands, and they force this issue this issue of slavery into the agenda of the war. they force the lincoln administration to make a decision on what to do with the people, and the administration decide not to send them back. they also very quickly in the supporting the union cause in important ways, fighting for the union literally. they are labors in the camps, become scouts and spies for the union. as the union armies penetrate con confederate territory, they are the friendly faces who welcome them and show them the way, and even weeks into the civil war as general benjamin
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butler sends out the force into what becomes the first significant land battle of the war, the battle of big bethel, and at the head of the force alongside the commanding officers is riding one of these escaped slaves whose been helping them as a scout, and butler orders this man be given a gun to use when they go into battle. it's an extraordinary moment. this is about two years before what we think of as the beginning of black americans serving in the union army, of course, the famous glory resident, the 54th massachusetts. to me, it's this moment that emancipation really begins. it's not something lincoln sat down and decreed with a sheet of paper. i close that chapter with a story that i love that has not been told very much, and it's of the day that the emancipation
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proclamation is finally issued, and william seward, many of you read "team of rivals" and then you know william seward was the craftiest member of the administration. he was walking across the square in washington, the emancipation just proclaimed, runs into a union officer and stops him and says congratulations on this great historic act that the administration proclaimed today, and seward snorts and says, great historic agent? what are you talking about? the emancipation proclamation. he says emancipation was proclaimed in the first gunfired and we have been the last to hear it. we have simply let off a puff of wind about an established fact. [laughter] >> very interesting. this will be the last question that i'll ask, and i think then we'll want to throw it open to
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questions from any of you who wish to do so. the south seems to try hard particularly to the political debate leading up to suscession and beyond to have the two documents, the declaration of independence and the constitution. there's a little bit of comfort with the declaration of independence because it's that awkward mention of equality, but nevertheless, they truly convince themselves that they were fighting a second american revolution against an overbearing government, and certainly they were also fighting for their own particular interpretation of the constitution. if i read your book right, and in particular, a very powerful commongrounding chapter that you
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-- concluding chapter that you don't want to let the southerners get away with that political argument, and your conclusion to the 1861 is not december 31st, but july 4th, 1861 in an event i'll confess i knew nothing about, that abraham lincoln delivers his "annual message" to congress on july 4th, and it's a shrunken congress because it's missing delegates. can you talk about that imagine, a message i think that most historians tended to overlook. >> well, yeah, lincoln -- again something about him that surprised me and many people at the time, fort sumter is fired upon, lincoln called up 75,000
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militiamen to defend the nation's capitol and be ready for this war that's going to begin, and then he very quickly seems to sort of disappear from sight during the crisis, and he's in the white house writing draft after draft of a message that he's preparing to deliver. it's actually his special message to congress when congress convenes for special meetings, and people are asking, where's abe? where's the president in the middle of this crisis? at one point with two or three weeks left until he has to present this document, he literally tells his secretaries no more caller to the white house. i'm locked up with the rough draft. even ralph waldo emmerson says this president of ours just
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seems to be intraspecting himself and this country to the point of disasterment well, to me, lincoln in writing this document which is not gotten as much attention as what we think of as the great lincoln documents; he was fighting the war intellectually within himself. he was deciding, and he was articulating what it was that was wrong about suscession and how it was an existential threat to the united states and how this threat needed to be countered. rick, as you said, the whole legacy of the american revolution was contested at this moment. i love discovering the moment when in virginia at the fort i was speaking about deep confederacy, the troops woke up and planned to celebrate the holiday by firing off guns and
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then getting wildly drunk, of course, a great american tradition -- [laughter] they start firing off the artillery salutes, and then they hear from the other side of the james river, confederate artillery fire. they said it's a sneak attack. they are opening fire on us. they realized the confederacy is also celebrating july 4th. [laughter] who does this holiday belong to? of course, july 4th was about the establishment of the united states of america. it was also as the southerners saw it about separation from a tear tyranny country and power. what lincoln expresses in his address is that this july 4th idea belongs to us in the union, and the reason it belongs to us in the union rather than the
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confederacy is succession is something different than the revolution. the revolutionaries significantly were not represented directly within the british political system. that was what the revolution was about, taxation without representation. they were not given a voice. they were not participants in the system of majority rule, and the southerners were, and the southerners simply decided to take their cookies and go home. when something came up with the election of lincoln that they were not ready for, and so lincoln realized this was not a revolution for liberty. in fact, the suscession was the opposite. suscession session was a rebellion for anarchy and in a way a kind of tyranny of the minority holding the majority hostage, and so lincoln sends this message to congress. he sort of reviews the history
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of what's happened up to the moment in the country -- crisis. he talks about how it's a people's contest. that's the great phrase that comes out. this is a people's contest and this is ultimately about democratic principles that involve all of us. he uses the phrase that it's about allowing the government to give its citizens an unfedderred start in the race of life. something really extraordinary, and it's very telling when you look at the rough draft of that address. lincoln originally said it's about giving citizens and even start in the race of life, which is a sort of much cleaner metaphor than unfedderred start when talking about a race. he struck out the word "even" and wrote in "unfedderred" which many southerners said, see, he's talking about slavery. you know what? i think they were right. [laughter] >> good, thank you. if people want to start making their way down, i'm going to
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ask -- while you do that, i'll ask adam one more question that i warned him about. this might be a nonsensical question, but it's something on my mind. ken burns was here at the constitution center a couple of weeks ago for a wonderful civility and democracy conference, and because of the anniversary, they'd been rerunning the civil war series, and i think there's so many americans, probably many of you out there whose understanding of the civil war has been shaped by that extraordinary documentary series. i also know you were on a panel with ken burps just a few nights ago. do you see in any senses in which your book has a different every sis from ken burns' civil war? >> yeah, i think ken burn's civil war -- and i hope my book
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does the same thing -- the way ken really uses individual stories to talk about history. he has this wonderful reading of letters, and he makes you hear those people's voices, and live their experiences. i love that, but i think to burn's series, there's a sense of overarch poignant and tragedy that civil war books have, but obscures so much else. it was an awful tragedy, but people didn't know at the time that that's how it was going to turn out. and i think walt whitman says the real war will never make it into the history books. he's talking the wars he'd seen in the union hospitals. the war of suffering and wounded
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and dying men. today we focus more on that war of squaller, more on the shared experience of north and south living through the horrors of battle. i think that's true in the civil war series, and i think that can sort of be -- it's so powerful, so compelling, and so simple that it can mask deeper complexities. >> i think parole also it was that squaller that drew matthew brady and the other photographers to the war. the maim js of stacks -- images of stacks and bodies, and it's hard to capture in a photograph, in a sense, the glory and idealism that motivated people in that. >> there was idealism, but, you know, one of the great pleasures of studying and writing about the civil war era is you have just these incredible letters
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and photographs and incredible music that when people talk about the fascination of the civil war era today, we have to give a certain amount of credit just do that stuff, that incredible legacy that we have and the way they write letters, even the ordinary civil war private cases, coming up with phrases in a moment of history where literacy was widespread people people's brains were not filled with mass popular culture, so they were capable of individual expression. [laughter] >> we're glad they wrote letters rather than tweeting home. [laughter] >> we are. >> now the fun starts. i'll turn in this direction because i can tell you're ready to ask a question. [laughter] >> thanks, mr. goodheart. you're just eluding to the tragedy of the civil war, and after not too long ago, i watched the martin movie, "gangs
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of new york" and the horrible tramming di of the draft riots when a kind of possibly the know nothing party went after black people in new york and lynched them in the streets and i was wondering if that happened in any other cities in the u.s.. >> yeah, nowhere was it as terrible as it was during those days in new york in the summer of 1863, but, in fact, there were other terrible episodes of that sort of urban violence, that close quarter slaughter. we think of these ranks of blue and gray soldiers marching against each other on the battle field.
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at gettiesberg there was a -- gettysberg there was a lit up map with neat lines coming this way and that way. it's a 1960s think, high-tech. you know, in many places, the civil war was much more like the civil war that we think of today in a place like benghazi or baghdad, a perm kind of violence. i talk about st. louis, massachusetts in -- missouri in the book that before these battles were going on at all, there was street fighting going on with civilians mowed down in the streets of st. louis, and it involved -- when you mention the know nothings, it involved the immigrants to a certain extent. i won't tell the whole story now, but i tried in the book to
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include these people coming to america who were playing important roles. an image from the movie people remember is the image of the irish immigrants stepping off the boat and handed guns, and before they know where they are -- you remember this in the movie -- and i think that's sort of tarnished irish immigrants' reputation unfairly for a lot of people. in fact, there's a lot of irish immigrants who were ideal lis tick for the union cause. they knew what it was like to live under a tyranny regime, and there were irishmen mash muching in a reg min in the beginning of the civil war down broodway, and all irish regimen with a banner and a shamrock talking about a battle fought against the
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english. there's so many complexities to the relationships. >> okay. yes, sir. >> yes, one of the most controversial aspects of the 1861 was lincoln's suspension of the rid of habeas corpus -- >> yeah. >> especially in the state of maryland. could you comment on just how dire the situation was in that state prior to his rather moe mentous action? >> yeah, well, actually i live in maryland about half the time, so this is very close to home for me, and it's definitely one of those places where people are still fighting the civil war. i actually -- my office is just up the street from our town's civil war monument, and it's interesting because on the north facing side is a list of the names of men killed fighting for the union. on the south side, the men fighting for confederacy, and many many cases the last names
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are the same. i live in a house, an old house on the eastern shore of maryland. i wouldn't say i'm restoring it, just holding up pieces before they crumble off. [laughter] this house actually was the house of a maryland confederate sympathizer who was the judge who was literally dragged off the bench in his courtroom, beaten bloody and uncshes by lincoln's goons for expressing his pro-southern sentiments, thrown into fort mchenry, bun of these people without habeas corpus, writing letters to lincoln begging to know the charges against him and gets no reply at all, so, yeah, suscession presentation did happen in brutal ways, and it happened because lincoln was very aware that the capitol, the city of washington, could not be cut off. if that happened, it might really be game over for the north, and the very beginning of the war in the first weeks of the war, pro-confederate
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marylanders made a very concerted and very nearly successful effort to cut off washington in exactly that way, and i do think that lincoln's -- i don't hold lincoln up as a demagogue, but i think that his suspension of habeas corpus can be argued today, but i think he felt he had good reasons for doing what he did. >> thanks. >> i'll stay on this side and then come back over here. >> thank you. if you look into the heart and minds of the average american, not the studied historian, the average guy or gal who stands at the lincoln memorial admiring longe, do you think the average american admires a love of lincoln because he played a significant role in ending slavery because he played a significant role in keeping the union together or because of this magnificent ora he has in terms of his political,
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spiritual, intellectual gifts and power? >> that's a great question. i think magnificent ora is a wonderful, wonderful phrase, and you feel that when you stand at the lincoln memorial and perhaps part of it is also because of the extraordinary statue that's there, such a preps in that temple. one thing, i don't think every american does revere lincoln. in fact, some of the best selling books on lincoln in the past 10-20 years are books by a guy named thomas delorinzo. his stick is what an evil fascist pig lincoln was. [laughter] it's something i found in writing this series for the new "new york times" there's people who paint lincoln as a an obama, a guy standing for authoritarian use of power to squash individual rights.
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lincoln is still a controversial figure. i think it's hard to say why the average american does love lincoln, if we do love lincoln, but i think that part of it is certainly that he freed the slaves. part he freed the union. part of it is that his story is such a mag any sent story, his words are magnificent words, and those are things we can't discount, those stories. i believe as a historian, the job of the historian is to be a story teller and not somebody who believes as many do in sort of fitting all these people into the neat categories of the blacks, the whites, the northerners, the southerner. that individuality has to be respected to understand how complex we are as individuals in our own times. i think he was a complex individual that he speaks to our own humanities individuals too. >> yes, ma'am?
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>> hi, adam, how are you? >> good, how are you? >> historians believe that the civil war did not actually start in fort sumter but in 1856 in lawrence, kansas. what's your take on that? >> good question. you know, it's great because my cousin is here. i'm looking out, you know, where are my cousins and where the people from the german town fiscal class of 1998? i'm looking for them. [laughter] when the constitutional center folks said the event was booked, i said 99% of the people are related to me. [laughter] anyway, to get back to lawrence, kansas -- yeah, bleeding kansas, as it was known, was really sort of the place where americans learned to kill other americans. it was where the bloodshed began, and i do think it's fair to say that in some ways that the civil war began there, that
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battle literally, a battle over slavery began there, and i think, you know, in our country, one of the reasons i believe that we're fascinated with the civil war is that in our democratic system, we're always doing battle against each other. we even use the metaphors of battle to talk about our politics. political campaigns, you know, and so it feels like we're obviously verge of -- on the verge of warfare, but the civil war is the only time it turned into real shoot em warfare. something happens the moment guns fire. lines are crossed. when we see in our own times when people start to turn guns on their own fellow citizens -- i do believe kansas in 1856 is where that sort of became a credible reality, and without that moment, the war couldn't have eventually happened. >> thank you. >> you know, as a constitutional
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historian, can't resist sticking my oar into this one. 1857, dred scott. >> yes. it's important when the ballots are bullets. that's a big turning point. >> right. yes, sir? >> thank you, sir. my question is about britain's response to the beginning of the civil war. i understand in the early stages of the con flictd, britain was sympathetic, if not supporting the confederacy. i imagine because of the vital importance of the trade to the british economy in the middle of the 19th century. can you tell me when that attitude changed and how and why britain changed later on? >> yeah, i think, you know, when we talk about the british, again, it was a place, and they were people as complicate the and as divided, of course, as americans are, and so there were
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many individual britains -- there were individual britains who were in favor of the confederacy, particularly been the ruling elites in england. people felt challenged by the upstart republic across the waters or challenged philosophically challenged and economically in some ways. they feared what would happen if the cotton exports from the united states were interrupted. there were a great many britains who were strongly anti-slavery. of course, britain had its own strong abolitionist movement for many decades, really got off the ground before the american movement did and inspired the american movement to some degree, and i really think that it would have been very, very politically difficult for the british government to step 234 on the side of a government that stood for slavery. i mean, queen victoria and prince albert themselves were
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strongly anti-slavery, and i think especially as soon as that moment happened when the south fired the first shot rather than the north firing the first shot, i think from that moment on it would have been difficult for great britain to come in on the side of the south. >> okay. thank you. >> thank you. >> yes, sir? >> from all the readings i've done, general pierro bogard from new orleans was in communed of the troops at fort sumter for the confederacy. i also read although he was a rapid corper, he was a gentleman of the first order, but i have never read that he personally tried to make a demand of major anderson to surrender the fort honorably and leave under the
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full honors, full bits, bands playing and all of that. i was wondering if you could shed some light on that? >> see, we finally got around to that moment. [laughter] >> no, this is good. >> this is a point in all questions in american history, and in all my readings -- i've never found anything to this effect that they tried to settle it. >> well, pierre -- was a marvelous character. it was an era of great facial hair, and he had great facial hair even by the standards of the time. much better than mine. the confederate, this man who becomes the confederate commander of the forces in charleston is a close friend and former student of anderson, and
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he arrives 20 take command of the besieging forces. he sends a case of brandy and a box of cigars across the harbor to the old professor to express his continued esteem and affection, and you read that, and you think, gosh, what a different era. [laughter] different kind of warfare. anderson being an officer promptly sends them back unopen as much as he could have used them at that moment. he, in fact, does sort of offer anderson these terms of surrender, and anderson, the language that's used is wonderful in these missives. it's my dear general -- my dear major -- i have the honor to inform you our batteries shall open fire upon you within one
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hour's time. i remain your loyal servant, yours truly -- they still openly fire, so the politeness didn't matter, but cool to read about. >> there was no parly of any kind? >> no, there was. they attempted to negotiate terms with anderson by which he would withdrawal peacefully, but anderson and he couldn't not come to terms >> he fired himself vault. you better watch yourself, doctor. [laughter] >> good evening, i have one -- two questions. i was watching news hour and professor agree that in the 1960s where people -- where american people have started the
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necessary steps, the american people started reinterpreting the civil war, and it just happened in the 1960s where existentialism had spread like fire in europe as well and in the united states. i wonder if we'll ever come to a conclusion on history? >> can we take that first? that sounds like a heavy duty enough question. >> that's heavy duty. to begin with. >> the second question is actually we start disagreement about history because we are existential and became existentialists. what's the effect? >> wow. i would disagree with that. i think that arguments about history have existed as long as history has existed. disagreements about the path of history existed as long as history has. i don't think that's a bad thing.
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i think we sort of grope towards an understanding of the past through that disagreement. we see the past through the preoccupation of our own times. we write the past according to the preoccupations of our own times. it's right to do that. we'll never arrive. the past is a complicated place as the present. we'll never arrive at one understanding of that. maybe it's history that teaches us to be good post modernists, you know, good existentialists perhaps. rick? >> i think we have one more question, and is that a union army hat you're wearing? >> you bet ya. [laughter] i know this has been brought up, but chief justice tommy declared it was unconstitution thal. my question is, sir, how did the
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legislative overrule the judicial? many my readings, it said that justice tommy said it was illegal, the highest court in the land saying you didn't have a right to do it, and i want to know how lincoln got away with it? >> simply by ignoring them. [laughter] >> that's what the reading said. he ignored them. >> yeah, exactly, and, you know, our constitutional -- this is something doctor can address at another time, but they were still in the process of working out the kinks in 1861. which was not clear where the jury diction where the -- jurisdiction of the supreme court began and ended. lincoln decideed to ignore that ruling. >> in the same vain in an
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earlier era, the cherokee indians case, justice marshall rendered the disirks now let's see him enforce it. >> yeah. >> one quick question. you made a remark almost in casual before you opened the floor to question, and i'm just curious. it was something to the effect of the majority being held hostage by the minority and i wonder if you can elaborate on that. >> yeah, surement i. i think within the democratic system, there's a vote of one sort or another that ultimately the majority wins even if it's just by one vote, even, you know, as we've seen in our own times, presidential elections that can be extremely, extremely close, and ultimately, the en


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