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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 11, 2012 3:00pm-4:15pm EST

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totally offensive to him and told offensive to god. again, the argument has been, never stops. it was between winter ben williams. today we have presidential candidates who wanted a christian nation the writers of the constitution knew what they were doing. the fact they used the word blessing, there were good writers. ..
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>> there was this sort of 20-year whatever. >> yeah, yeah. i mean, was that a failure of those ideas? >> not exactly because they got, rhode island, for example, got a new charter from charles ii after the restoration which endorsed and allowed rhode island, endorsed complete religious freedom in rhode island, did not establish any church in rhode island because one of the arguments williams had used in getting the charter in the first place, well, it's only rhode island. let's use it as an experiment to see what happens. and that same language was actually in the charter charles wrote for rhode island. then when he chartered other colonies like carolina, both north and south carolina were
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initially one colony, he actually lifted the language from the charter from rhode island and made sure that no one and to protect religious freedom. he did establish the church of england in those colonies. they were established churches. but he put right in the charter free, freedom of religion which was not the case in massachusetts and elsewhere. so it was, ironically, charles sort of put the stamp of approval on williams' ideas even though, obviously, the other ideas of the revolution went out the window. yeah. >> what did he maim of cromwellian's suppression? >> the question was, what did he make of cromwellian's suppression? he didn't care much for it. it made him feel quite awkward.
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he needed cromwell's support. as i said, he was the only person in massachusetts he was afraid of. if you know about cromwell's suppression, you know who henry vein was. you know he was the second most powerful person other than cromwell in england. hen rhode island -- henry, every day he stayed in sean's house and, gwen, that's a pretty good -- again, that's a pretty good ally. they bonded in an indian war in american, came to america, government of massachusetts, went back to england. and vane, of course, stood up to cromwell in parliament, and cromwell says sir henry vane god -- wish i remembered the quote. it's a great quote. [laughter] don't have time to look it up in the index. but anyway, vane was imprisoned
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by cromwell. when cromwell's son took pear, vane was the leader of the revolution against cromwell. so that's where williams was. anybody over here? okay. one more question. i thought i saw a hand up. there we go. >> as long as you're looking for one more. [laughter] to what extent did jefferson and madison deliberately and consciously cite williams in their writings? >> they didn't deliberately and consciously -- i don't know about consciously, but they didn't somewhat fight williams. number one, as carrie miller, large harvard figure who's no fan of william, miller said maybe the most important thing
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about williams is that he stood at the beginning of american history. everybody knew who he was. he was america's first rebel. and he was out there as an individualist, as an icon. his influence on locke was enormous. and they all read locke, so they read williams through locke whether knowingly or unknowingly. there were also two biographies that, of williams that came out in 1776, one of them by one of the signers of the declaration of independence. so -- and at least one of those biographies if not both, probably one only actually, was extremely widely read. so his -- and it's one of the best biographies too -- his views were out there. both directly and indirectly. and the charter of rhode island,
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everybody knew what it said. so on that note, i thank you kindly and be happy to sign books. [applause] >> this event was hosted by octavia books in new orleans. for more information visit are >> is there a nonfiction author or book you'd like to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail at or tweet us at up next, historian george daughan examines how the american navy, a fleet of only to 20 ships, outmaneuvered their opponent and sported the u.s. army's ground forces. this is just over an hour.
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>> good evening. my name's dan, and i'm the owner of water street bookstores. thank you all for coming out tonight as we continue the celebration of our 20th anniversary with a reprise of george daughan's first book, "if by sea." it was a revelation to all of us to have someone of george's caliber talking about the birth of the american navy. and now he's gone on to write a book called "1812: the navy's war." basically, it continues the story of the small bore tactics that the navy used to fight off the great britain, the great british navy, the royal navy. george is an eminent historian, he holds a ph.d. in american history and government from harvard university and is a
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recipient of the 2008 samuel elliot morris award for his previous book, "if by sea." he spent time in the vietnam war as an instructor at the air force academy and director of the ma program in international affairs there. subsequently, he taught at the university of colorado, the university of new hampshire, wesleyan university and connecticut college. he resides in portland, maine. we're going to do a question and answer after george's presentation, and if none of you ask him what these tactics that the navy used have to do with today, i'm going to ask, so let's get on it. [laughter] please join me in welcoming george daughan. [applause] >> thank you very much, dan. it's a great pleasure to be back at the water street bookstore, one of the great bookstores, small bookstores in this country
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run by one of the great staffs that -- and i've seen a lot of them. so it's a great pleasure to be here. um, my book is entitled "1812: the navy's war," but it's really a whole history of the war of 1812, not just the history of the navy. not only is it a whole history of the war in all its dimensions, but it's also a complete history of the navy as well. so it's the navy within the war that this book is about. and that's what makes it such a terrific book, if you don't mind my -- [laughter] hi saying so. my saying so. so let me tell you something about the war as a whole. i'm reminded since we're in new
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hampshire that this is a presidential election year. when you drive in here, you see all the signs for the candidates. well, 1812 was also an election year. and president madison -- though he never said so -- in those days people running for high public office pretended that they really weren't running. their acolytes, their assistants and so on ran, but they kept quiet about it. madison dearly wanted to be reelected. this was his second term. and here he is in 1812 involved in a very serious contest. it's not going to be a cake walk like his first election was. in 1808. this is going to be a very tough go for him.
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and here he is in the middle of this important year declaring war against great britain. the war was declared in june of 1812, and, um, there were a lot of problems with declaring war then. let me just mention a couple of them. number one, the country was politically divided. the you think our country is -- if you think our country is politically divided now, and who doesn't think think so after ret events, it was much more so then. we had two political parties, one called the federalists, the others were the republicans. madison's party were the republicans. the federalists were dead set against the war, dead set against declaring war against great britain. and the republicans themselves
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were somewhat uneasy about it. there were a number of republicans who did not want to declare war either. the vote to declare war was very close, so in both houses, but very close in the senate. not a single federalist voted for the war. so madison was taking a politically-divided country into war, and you know how dangerous that can be. but it was much worse than that. the navy, the american navy in 1812 had 20 ships. six of them were laid up being repaired in uniof 1812 -- in june of 1812, so we were down to maybe 14 ships. the british had a thousand ships , and 6-700 of those were in the water active at any one
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time, and the rest of them were being repaired or being built this their shipyards. so our navy was practically nonexistent. in addition, our army was also in very bad shape, very small, had very old leaders and was less than 10,000 at that time. and, of course, the british were -- army was much, much bigger. why did madison think that he could win the war against, against england? what was his strategy? well, he had a strategy. he was not a stupid man, as you know. this was his strategy. in 1812, there were three prongs
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to this strategy, i should say. in 1812 that napoleon invaded r. and the fact that napoleon was going to invade russia was known by everybody in the whole world for a very long timement the army he was building up on the russian border was enormous. it was the biggest army in the history of the world. and so it could not be hidden. and it looked for all the world that he was going to conquer russia in a very short period of time, and it also looked like he was going to invade russia in june of 1812 which is what he did. if he won in russia, he would then be master of europe. he would then have only two countries left to subdue, actually three. two were in the iberian
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peninsula, portugal and spain. he had alreadyic saided them -- invaded them; portugal in 1807, spain in 1808. he had been fighting a guerrilla war in spain for all of those years. the english had an army there trying to fight him. it was led by the duke of wellington. but everybody figured once he got, once he got done with russia that napoleon himself would come to spain, and he would win the war. his lieutenants had been fighting in spain and portugal prior to this time, and they might not have been doing so well, but when the master himself came, it looked like he would conquer there as well. and then you have the whole continent. and who was next after he did that? it was the british. all right. so madison thought in view of
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this fact that the british would not want to at the same time be carrying on a war with the united states. and, therefore, they'd be willing to negotiate with him about the things that were bothering he and the republican party which were the impressment of american seamen, the british rules on trade and interference with our -- the wholesale interference with our trade and their incitement of the indians in the west. these three were the big complaints that madison had, and he thought that the british who had up to this time were not willing to negotiate with him given the problem with napoleon would be willing to negotiate and not, and not have a war with the united states at the same time they were or trying to fight napoleon. okay. in addition to napoleon, he
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thought that canada was practically defenseless. while the establish were -- had their -- were concentrating on defeating napoleon, they had a very weak defense of canada. and even though our army was very weak, that we could invade canada and conquer at least part of it and use that to negotiate with the english. the third thing that he had going for him were privateers. he was going to unleash, he thought, hundreds of american privateers to prey on english shipping. as had happened in the revolution. in the revolution, the united states had hundreds of privateers. some people think there were over a thousand, some people think there were over 2,000 of them. there were a lot of them. and he thought, and they had a big effect on english commerce, and they had an effect on
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bringing about a victory for the united states, and he thought the same thing would happen in this war. so these three things; napoleon, canada and the privateers, this is what he wanted to rely on even though he had no navy and a very small army, very little navy. madison thought that the american navy such as it was wasn't going to contribute anything to the war because it was so small. he thought it would be quickly defeated, or it would be block candidated just as happened during the revolution. in the revolution the american army, the continental army was -- that's what happened to it, and it was not a factor in the war. okay. now, let me explain to you what, let me briefly give you a capsule version of what actually
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happened in the war. you know how wars go, they never go the way people think they're going to go. and this war did not go at all in the way madison thought it was going to go. there were -- the war can be divided up into three parts. the first part goes from june of 1812 to the end of that year, those six or seven months, maybe into january of the next year. the second part of the war goes from that point until april of 1814. and the third part of the war goes from april of 1814 to february of 1815. so there are three parts to the war, and just let me run through those very quickly. the rest of 1812 from june to
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december went completely differently from what madison thought. napoleon, got bless him, got beaten. nobody in the world thought that this was possible. and i explain in the book how he got defeated, i go into quite a lot of detail what happened to him. but the bottom line is that by december of 1812 napoleon was racing back, his army having been defeated, he himself -- all alone, with one aide -- is racing back across europe to paris to get to paris to save his regime and to rebuild his army. think of it. just himself. he started out with an army of probably 6, maybe 700,000. we don't know exactly how many there were, there were a lot. and now he is reduced to himself and one aide racing back to get
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to paris. the english were hoping like crazy that the russians would catch him, then somebody else would catch him. he was all alone, it could have happened. it didn't happen. he reached paris, and he reached it just in time, just before the french really understood how badly he had been defeated. he takes up the reins of power again, and he starts to rebuild his army. now, in england from june until december the english are worried. they're worried that napoleon's going to win. they don't really believe as it goes along that he's being defeated. and then in december they finally find out that, my god, we almost caught him, just caught him. and if they caught him, that
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would have been the end of him. but they didn't. he got to paris. and so the english felt exhilarated, they felt they had been given a new life, and they were mad. they were mad at the united states. the united states had stabbed them in the back in june, they had declared war on them when they were in mortal danger from napoleon. so they were mad. that's where the english stood at that time. where did the americans stand? well, the americans had done terrible on the ground. their whole invasion of canada had failed. and the privateers did go out, but it takes a long time to get that all going. the privateers were going quite well, but it would take a very long time before that really came into play. what about the american navy?
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well, my word, the american navy was doing just great. the first defeat of the american army in canada was at detroit in august of -- august 15 of 1812. madison could not believe it. he was horrifyied. here it was an election year, he had told everybody he was going to invade canada and do all this stuff, and here he is, he loses. and this is going to kill him in the election. four days later, four days later the uss constitution, old ironsides, have you been down to see old ironsides? it's all refurbished now. it's in great shape. well, it's in better shape than it was in 1812. finish it is a, the constitution
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wins a victory over an english frigate in august -- not too far off the coast here. about 800 miles out directly east of here. and it's just two ships, right? it's just two ships, what could -- what difference does that make? the english were apoplectic. in a month that news reached, reached london, and london was far more concerned with that defeat than they were about the victory in detroit. why? why would it matter to them, something as haul as this? -- as small as this? it mattered to them because they said it punctured the invincibility, the aura of invincibility of the royal navy. the royal navy was their defense. and anything, anything that
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created the illusion that perhaps they were vulnerable here they took as a blow to their national security. so this asylummingly small -- seemingly small event was a huge event to the english. and then after this the american navy on ship-to-ship battles had a number of victim -- victories this those six months. it wasn't just this one victory. and madison who thought the navy wasn't going to do anything for him all of a sudden perks up, and it becomes an enormous advantage to him politically because the united states is so proud that we beat the english. and so he all of a sudden grapples onto the navy in order to help himself get reelected. well, his election was still close, he barely won, and by
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december he's, he is reelected. but he's in trouble because napoleon has been defeated, the english now don't have to worry too much about napoleon. they now -- well, let me put it this way: his whole strategy has been undermined. he didn't succeed this canada. napoleon has collapsed. and the privateers, they are going to take a while. all right. now, let me go on to the second phase of this war. all through, all through 1813 until april of 1814 napoleon is still a problem. remember, he got back to paris. he raised an army, 300,000 men. he, he's back in business. and so the english have to
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contend with him all, all through that year. and they spend a good part of their time trying to create an alliance of the other european powers to stop napoleon from regaining all his power in europe. that occupies them all throughout 1813. but they still are mad as hell at us. they want to get back at us, and they are just biding their time. they have not forgotten what we did to them. and madison himself, because napoleon is not defeated, he continues on with trying to invade canada, hoping that the privateers will do something, hoping for this, hoping for that. but he knows he's in trouble, and he wants to negotiate an end to the war with the english.
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except they're not interested in negotiating. they want, they want revenge. okay. this second period comes to an end when napoleon is finally defeated and abdicates in april of 1814. and he is sent off to the island of elba. he's done. once that happens, the english now are going to deal with the united states. only having dealt with napoleon in april of 1814, they are feeling their oats. they are feeling that they are going to really deal with the united states permanently. they are going to dismember us, they're going to invade us. and so madison, now, who started the war to end impressment, to
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get the english to agree to free trade, to do something about the indians, his problem now becomes to defend the united states against a major invasion that's coming. so the english, the english plan to invade the united states in april of 1814 is a three-pronged strategy. they're going to invade from canada, they're going to invade from new orleans, and they're going to have major raids along the east coast of the united states. they're going to split off louisiana from the united states. they're going to unite louisiana with canada. and they are going to extend their control from louisiana, canada to the west coast of the united states. okay? at the same time, they're going to break off new england from the united states, and they are going to take over, also,
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florida. so they're going to dismember the united states. they sent -- the troops that were fighting napoleon in france in april, after april of 1814 were sent to bermuda, then to quebec to begin the invasion. madison had a feeling that it was going to be coming. it looked like we were not going to be able to prevent this. and from april of 1814 until august of 1814, the english looked very formidable. and on august 24th they burnt our capitol. this was not the major invasion. the major invasion was coming from canada and from new orleans. this was simply a raid. they had 4500 troops alone. we were a country of eight
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million people, almost eight million people. and here we are 4500 tired british soldiers who had been fight anything france -- fighting in france. they land, they fight a battle at bladensberg and they march into washington practically unopposed and burn it. it's unbelievable. imagine how everybody felt. the only thing that stopped them from burning the whole damn town was there was a hurricane the next day. on the 25th. and the hurricane put out the fires. um, and, um, the hurricane killed more british troops than the americans did. so after the hurricane the english troops left, and their next, their next place was going to be ballot -- baltimore, okay? two week later, two weeks later, um, the invasion force from
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canada turns around and goes back because the american navy won a big victory on blake champlain at plattsburg. the american navy. the invasion from canada was dependent on the control of lake champlain. the british had a fleet there. we knew for a long time that they were going to invade, and we built up our fleet there. we had a wonderful commander there named mcdonough. but everybody thought that the english were going to defeat mcdonough, and this invasion army was going to take plattsburg. and how far they would go then south depended on the circumstances and thewet -- the weather and so on. they were going to have an easy time of it, but mcdonough stopped them. he defeated the english, english fleet only two weeks after they
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had burnt, burnt washington. and that invasion army, the general who was leading the invasion army, once he saw that naval battle being lost, he turned around and went back to canada. because he said without lake champlain, we cannot move further south safely. at the very same time that that was happening, the british attacked baltimore. very same time. and they were beaten at baltimore. and the united states navy played a huge part in the battle of baltimore. as well. so the navy in both these battles changes the whole complex of -- complexion of the war because up until this time the english had been doing wonderfully well. but don't forget this: england is tired. their people are tired. they've been fighting the french
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since 1793. they had been fighting napoleon since 1799. and, okay, they thought the strategy this america was fine as long as they were winning. they liked it when they wanted washington. that was wonderful. but to lose and then to think they were going to have to put more troops in and spend more money and more sacrifice in order to split up the united states and gain territory, that was too much. so when news of plattsburg and baltimore got to london, the whole political climate in england changed, and they had a prime minister then, a wonderful guy named liverpool who was, who was a politician who always moved with political opinion. the franchise was very thin in england. didn't matter to liver pool.
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lyndon johnson said you're no politician if you can't smell a feeling. well, liverpool could smell it, and he knew it was all over. the people in england were not going to support a longer war when they weren't absolutely certain of victory. so in -- he ended the war. he negotiated peace. we already had our peace negotiators there. madison wanted to negotiate from way back. our negotiating team had been there since august of 1814 thinking that it's going to be murder. instead of that, liverpool, liverpool just settled with them, and there was a peace treaty in christmas eve, december 24th, 1814, the war was over. it was an unbelievable change of of the events, and the peace treaty was simply an armistice practically. what the english -- nothing was
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solved. people just -- what it amounted to is we were just going to stop fighting, folks, okay? we were going to go back to the way things were before war was declared. all right. this was in december. now, in january 8th new orleans was fought because that invasion force was already trained, and it just didn't get word in time. so the battle of new orleans was fought. and we, of course, won it. you know what happened there except that what you don't know is the united states navy played a huge part in winning the battle of new orleans. and i outline that in great detail showing how the united states navy played an important role. and andrew jackson himself said that the american navy played a huge role in winning -- and be i maintain a decisive role in
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winning the battle of new orleans. decisive if you accept the fact that without jackson, it never would have happened. jackson was absolutely essential. but so, too, was the american navy. and that's an important part of the story. okay, now, people in washington didn't know anything about what was going on. they did not know that there was a peace treaty. in january and february of 1815 they did not know there was a peace treaty yet, they didn't know that new orleans had been won. they thought there would be no peace treaty. they thought that new orleans was going to be a loser because the english had a much bigger force than we did. and they were afraid the war was just going to continue on. well, first comes news in february in washington that
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jackson has won in new orleans. then a week later comes news last peace treaty. they couldn't believe it. finish -- and february of 1814 is a major, major month in american history because the two political parties -- remember them, the federalists and the republicans that had been fighting all this time? -- they stopped fighting. the federalists who opposed the war all through it and opposed it before it started, they were overjoyed. and they, there was a unity thousand in our -- thousand in our politics -- now in our politics that had not been there really since the very beginning. and in addition or as a consequence of in this, the unid
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states came to the conclusion that not only was unity, political unity important, but they were going to -- it was also important to have an armed force not to be weak as we were when we first declared war. they decided that, the american people decided and the politicians decided that, yes, we did need a strong navy, and, yes, we did need a strong army in order to protect ourselves. so there was a new agreement on the fact that we needed a strong defense force in order to defend the constitution. it was not a threat to the constitution. so we had political unity, we had an agreement on our national security, and we, we decided,
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too, that we were going to pay for it. all through this war the congress who had voted for the war, the republicans and supported the war would not vote the money to pay for it. they wanted to borrow it. only it wasn't like today where they could keep borrowing. in those days we were a small country, and we had to borrow it from somebody. well, we had run out of borrowers. and as a result in february we decided that we were going to pay for the war. so the fiscal underpinnings that would support a strong national defense was agreed on. and we became a completely different entity in the world. we were now a strong country, a country that could be -- not be taken for granted, a country that the european powers had to pay more attention to than they did in the past.
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second thing happened now, the english also decided to the change their policy completely towards the united states. they could see how powerful we were. the battle of new orleans was noter relevant. it was very important. -- not irrelevant. it was very important because we won. the delish were not expecting -- the gish were not expecting us to win. and the englishman who was the key figure in changing all of edge land's whole -- england's whole approach to the united states was a guy named castleray who convinced liverpool and the rest of his cabinet colleagues that a policy of friendship with the united states was much more to england's benefit than continued, continued antagonism, continued fighting. so the importance of the war of 1812 which i maintain is very
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important lies in the fact that the whole relationship between the english-speaking countries changed as a result of the war. the united states became more powerful, the english recognized that, and they decided they were going to be friends with us. now, any historian of the 19th century will tell you that we have plenty to fight about all through the 19th century. and we did. we argued. sometimes we argued very vociferously. sometimes we were very angry with each other. never came to war again. never again. and as they -- the most difficult time was the civil war. but after that these two countries as european complexion of europe changed after the civil war, these two countries actually came together. and after 1895 they really came together, and the great
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alliance. and i'll close here and answer whatever questions you have. [applause] yes, sir. >> how much of the british antagonism of the united states was due to, as you said, the loss of that naval battle as opposed to the geopolitics of the day, we said if you control the mississippi and ohio valley,
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you had a trade route from canada down to the gulf of mexico as well as you having additional bases where the british would be able to protect their tradeouts in the west indies. >> good question. the roots of british antagonism with the united states go back to 1763. we fought a war. they lost the war. the revolution. that starts in 17 95 -- 1775. they had won the war, by the way, the revolutionary war, and, i mean, we had run out of gas by 1781, and what saved us were the french. i mean, the french came into the war in 1778, and, um, it was, it
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was european rivalry that saved our revolution. the english, the english were very angry in 1783 at the treaty of paris. they thought it was very short lived, they thought our, um, political system would not succeed. it was something of a fluke as far as they were concerned. a lot of people thought we were going to request to go back into the empire. when that didn't happen, they continued to be mad at us. i mean, they looked down on us, they didn't like our political system, they didn't like our economic system, they didn't like our culture. they thought we were a bunch of
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hicks. they didn't like the way we treated the indians. they didn't like our slavery. they didn't like anything about us. and this, they treated us as a third class country all during this, all during this time which is, which is why we were so angry with them. and when they got into the war with napoleon, they impressed our seamen, just took them off our boats boats and put them ine royal navy for the whole duration of the war. and you know what life was like in the royal navy. it was no picnic. they treated our trade as if it was their own, they did whatever they felt like. and they were very anxious to expand canada and very anxious to have access to the
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mississippi river open to them. and the whole big continent of the united states they were interested in. and these are imperialists who thought large. keep in mind this thing which americans don't know much about, don't pay attention to. in 1808 when napoleon invaded spain, the whole spanish empire in america, which was enormous enormous -- all of latin america, all of south america except for brazil which was portuguese, all of central america, a number of islands, important islands in the caribbean -- and then big parts of north america -- florida, what's now texas, all of the
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southwestern part of the united states, california. all of this was spanish. mexico, of course. and all of this was collapsing because napoleon had invaded spain, and that war went on for a number of years, and the colonies were breaking free. and england was interest inside acquiring them -- interested in acquiring them or at least having an expanded trade there. so it was all the things that you mentioned that they're interested in, but all of this as well. so they were bound to come in conflict with the united states because we didn't want them to have control of these areas because we were next. we were not going to be able to
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withstand a power that had this much control all around us. so, yeah, absolutely, very interested in that. yeah. >> would you say that the u.s. navy's success in the war of 1812 was due to a overall command strategy, or was it the individual actions and individual initiatives of captains acting more or less on their own? >> it was both. when the war started, madison didn't know what to do with the navy. and what he wound up doing after the victory of the constitution in august 19 -- 1812, what he wound up doing was splitting up the navy so it would be difficult for the english, impossible for the english to defeat it all at once and very
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difficult to find our warships if they were split up, even though there were very few. our navy commanders of those individual warships were outstanding. they're outstanding for a number of reasons, but they were very experienced. they had been fighting for a long time. they fought as midshipmen and lieutenants in the quasi-war with france for two years, 1798-1800. that's where they started their naval careers. they then fought in the war with tripoli from 1801 to 1805. very credibly in both wars, learning great deal. so they were very experienced people. they were very patriotic. they were very interested in achieving fame. they were motivated. their crews were better than the english crews. they were not impressed men, they were people who had
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volunteered. our crews served for two years enlistments. the english served for the entire duration of the war, if you can imagine. and the war had been going on since 1793, just think of it. there were, there were people onboard the english ships who were impressed men, and if their officers didn't think they weren't trustworthy, that they might desert, they didn't get off the ship. they were not allowed off the ship. also -- so you can imagine that that -- any officer knows a happy ship is a much better fighting instrument, a happy unit than an unhappy one. that's another reason that we had, that we did so well. the english did not have the gunnery practice that we did. and there's a lot of reasons for that. but our gunnery was vastly
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superior to theirs. another reason was that our ships, the designs of our ships were much better than theirs. now, you would say, well, the english were the greatest sea power in the world for centuries. how could their ships possibly be a lesser design than ours? but they were, and it showed when these individual ship battles occurred. so for all of those reasons, that's why we did, that's why we did so well. it was an extraordinary group of leaders, an extraordinary group of crews too. >> go ahead. >> yeah. >> how much of an impact did the war of 1812 and in particular the conduct of our navy have on the development of what ultimately became known as the monroe doctrine and the concept
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of manifest destiny? >> it was, well, there are two things you mentioned here. one is the monroe doctrine, two is manifest destiny. it was huge. here we are in 1815 when the english and the americans decide that they're going to stop fighting each other. now, the english decided first, and we didn't believe it at first. they had to prove it to us. and don't forget, right at that time napoleon comes back into power for a little time. and that's kind of interesting. and we really didn't know if english were being nice to us at that time because they had to deal with him first and whether or not that was going to continue. but after the battle of water hoo, it did continue --
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waterloo, it did continue. and castleray was foreign minister until 1822, so all during that time he kept showing the united states in negotiation after negotiation that he wanted a new policy, and he wanted friendship with us. at the same time, if you remember, the spanish empire in this world over here was collapsing. and the english had to decide, or let me put it this way, the imperial countries in europe -- russia, prussia and austria -- were very interested in expanding themselves and very interested in helping the spanish king, ferdinand vii, reestablish his control over the colonies over here which would have meant big european armies coming over here. now, the english, the english
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didn't want that to happen. they wanted to be over here, not them. but they had learned an important lesson because they had tried, actually, to occupy what is now argentina back in 1806 and 1807 and got defeated. there's a long story about how that happened. so the establish decided that -- english decided that they were not going to try to colonize the old spanish colonies, they were going to try for privileged trade positions over here. so they wanted to block the other imperialist european countries from coming over here, and they wanted to have their trade be privileged in those areas, and they wanted to work with the united states in order to bring that about. and that's why the monroe doctrine was something that both countries could agree on. it was not an alliance between
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them, it was not even an agreement between them it was simply an understanding that it was in both of our interests not to have anymore european colonization of america. both americas. now, manifest destiny is very important also because what the english were doing, in effect, was conceding the fact that the united states was going to turn its attention away from europe west. and if you have the royal navy interceding and preventing european politics from interfering with the united states and you have the english not -- english wanting to have friendship with us, america for the first time in its history doesn't have to be bothered with european politics.
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it can face west which it did. , and the united states then grew, as you know, into the great continue innocental country we became -- continental country we became. and all during that time, this occurred from 1815 until 1850, okay? that was the high water mark, really the 1840s are the high water mark of manifest destiny. just think how many times the united states and england could have fought during that time. over and over again, there were so many issues there. they did not. they allowed the united states to expand. so the war of 1812 was huge in both of those things that you mention. it's a very good question. long-winded answers, right? used to be a professor. [laughter] yeah. >> you mentioned the impact of
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the war on domestic politics and geopolitical, um, events that transpired afterwards such as monroe doctrine and so on. to what extent, if any, did the way the war was fought have an impact on the future of military history and the way wars were fought in the future? >> um, it had a, it had a huge impact in this sense. the united states navy came of age in the war. up until that time, the country was not decided on whether or not it needed any kind of navy at all other than a coast guard. um, the -- the two political parties had fought, the federalists and the republicans had fought since washington's day on whether or not we ought to have a navy at all.
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and the success of the navy in 1812 and the country was divided on this issue, and the success of the navy in the war of 1812 settled that issue. and the leadership of the navy during that time became the leaders of the navy after the war. and that group of officers and their and often their children, the people just under them ran the navy up to the civil war. and i could go at length into that, but, so it shaped the entire u.s. navy. the same thing happened with the army. the u.s. army was a disaster for the first couple of years. it was then reformed by madison.
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madison got new leadership, he brought the age of the leadership of the army down 20 years. our generals were 36 years old instead of late 50s and early 60s. and one of them was named winfield scott, and it was, it was these army generals who ran the army after the war, another one, another famous leader was named brown, general brown. and they are the ones who trained the people who fought in the civil war. so it had a huge impact on them. the united states army right at the end did quite well against the british. they redeemed themselves for the
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earlier defeats under this new leadership. >> when did this war become known as the war of 1812? >> well, i think right from the beginning. it was called, also, the second war of independence. and a lot of, a lot of historians have pooh-poohed it in the sense that we for the first time fought a war, the first big war under the institutions that had been created in, under the new constitution and did it successfully and did it under that constitution without us
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becoming a military dictatorship. and we changed our whole relationship with the english. in that sense it really was a war of independence. it really solidified america's independence in the world. we were now in control of our own destiny. nobody was going to threaten us after this. >> i'm going to try to make the parallel. it sounds like what the british decided to do after the war of 1812 was embrace soft power rather than hard power. >> yeah. >> they tried for a politics and a diplomacy and a power of influence rather than control. can you draw some of the parallels with what the current administration is doing in terms of shifting the war on terror and other diplomatic ventures? >> um, not really because i'm very reluctant to draw these parallels. i mean, there are so many
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differences that, um, it's really not the same situation. in the sense that today the united states is the greatest power in the world. but, and we have done marvelous things for the world. just think of the fact there's never been a world war since world war ii. do you know how many people were kill inside world war ii? about 50 million. think of it, 50 million. and millions more after the war. in world war i, 10 million. the united states has decided after world war ii to take an active hand in preserving the peace. we did it because of the threat of stalin but we did it, and we have maintained that ever since. and now we're at the point where we have overwhelming power, and
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the world doesn't understand how, how good things have been with the united states being as powerful as it is. throughout history whenever you had a power as dominant as the united states, everyone else was worried that they were going to take them over. and so you would have coalitions of other countries forming together to oppose us, to balance our power. have you seen the chinese coming together with the russians? have you seen the japanese and the chinese and the russians joining together to counter the united states? no. because we have -- our power has been viewed differently than any other power in the history of the world in the sense that it has been benign. our goals are democracy and economic development.
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so it's a quite different situation than it was back then when the goal was -- there was no major power. but if napoleon had succeeded, he would have been the equivalent of of where we are today, and what was he going to do? he was going to take over the world. i mean, he literally wanted to take over the world. he was, he never would have done it, but that's what he wanted to do. so you don't have that parallel. now, how you deal with in our situation, how you deal with individual disputes or small, relatively -- not, relatively small matters will depend on the skill of the, of the, whoever's in the white house and the degree to, of political support he has in the country and all of that sort of thing, and that's going to go up and down.
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but the greatest danger that i see that we have is we might lose faith in ourselves x the world might d -- and the world might forget how much they have benefited from america being as strong as we are. i think we'll, if we, if we lose this position and it becomes -- if we go back to a place where there is no dominant power, i think we'll look with great nostalgia to the period when we have, and we will -- anyway, that's my view of it. yes, sir. >> had madison declared war in 1812 which there's a lot of things about it that sound pretty rash, had he declared that war and lost, what would history be saying about him today? how would he be judged? >> well, it would have been, it
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would have been, um, interesting how all of that would have, would have worked itself out. i have no idea. the english would have broken up the country, it would have been -- all of world history would be different. there would be no united states of america. remember, the united states of america saved the world in the 20th century. it wouldn't exist. >> [inaudible] >> but if they, if if the english succeeded, you'd have to have constant warfare, again, as they could not rule. they could not rule as big an area as they wanted to. they were going to have the same trouble they had in 1775. so there'd be constant turmoil, i would say.
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>> like what i just can't get away, you have a country with 14 warships declares war on a country that has thousand -- sounds pretty insane though you explained why maybe this is a great opportunity if you saw things for inevitable, but it still sounds like the act of a madman. >> well, his critics thought so. the federalist party who voted against it was in new england. they controlled state governments, and they were very powerful in new england. they thought he was on the wrong side. they thought, they said what if that pole onsucceeds, and what if he's strutting in london? we're next. and they were right. [laughter] so, yeah, it was, it was, it was a gamble, a big gamble.
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and he was lucky. got to be lucky sometimes. [laughter] yeah. >> i lived in -- [inaudible] for a couple of decades, and i wonder if you could answer once and for all, is the birthplace of the american navy marblehead or beverly? [laughter] >> well, when i'm in marblehead -- [laughter] >> well put. >> it's marblehead. and when i'm in beverly, t beverly. when i'm in montana -- no. [laughter] i would say if you really want my opinion on it, it's philadelphia. and i'm going to be in philadelphia -- [laughter] shortly. yeah, go ahead. >> i think dan's question was a very good question, so i've got
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something a little bit more -- >> you were going to ask his question? >> no, my question is really quite trivial compared to that. did the british really want to enter into a war? they were impressing, i thought, just british subjects, not american subjects. in other words, irish and british. when the leopard fired, all they were doing was trying to impress british subjects. were they pursuing war? was -- how did, how interested was great britain in a war? when it started? >> they had trouble enough in europe. they were not interested in the war. but at the same time they had so little regard for the united states, they were doing as they pleased. but to answer your question specifically, the royal navy to man these ships needed 145,000 -- these are admiralty figures -- 145,000 men.
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and 25,000 of them had deserted. they were deserting in droves from their ships. whywhy were they deserting in droves from their ships? because conditions on their ships were so awful. and you'd have to, if you didn't know anything about the subject, you'd say, oh, this can't be, how could it be? you're exaggerating. but if you read the accounts, and even on some of their own good officers would tell you the same thing, their ships were so tyrannical and their men were treated so badly, they were deserting in droves. and so they had to, they had to man the ships. they were in a life and death struggle with napoleon, and that's why they were pulling men off of our ships and claiming they were british nationals.
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and they would do -- some of them were, but they didn't care. a hell of a lot of them were not. they had to man their ships, and they were going to do it come what may and, yes, they were taking a race welcome the united states, but they thought -- a race welcome the united states but they thought we were so weak militarily, we weren't going to do anything about it. they never solved their manning problem. they pulling off of our ships between six and nine thousand. nobody's ever known the exact number. i think the figure's around 6,000. so they never solved their manning problem. and they refused to change the way they treated their seamen. every time this subject came
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upvery few times in parliament. i have read all the parliamentary debates for the whole, entire war, and this subject came up very, very infrequently. and when it did, whoever dared mention that maybe they should treat their seamen better got shouted down. so it's -- that was, that was the actual situation. i should add that my english colleagues, english historians who are writing on the same period have the exact opposite view from what i just told you. [laughter] they think, they think that life aboard the ships was just dandy. and i gave a talk to a group in new york the other day, and i thought it was all american officers, all retired guys, and the first guy who came up to sign a book in this thick english accent says to me, make
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it out to those who made in this all possible. [laughter] okay. how we doing on time, dan? one more question. okay. >> one simple question. how much of an influence did the new england states have on the success and development of the 1812 navy? >> um, that's another good question. you've asked three good questions. >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> the federalists always supported a strong navy. the federalists were believed with george washington and john adams that the united states ought to have a respectable navy. and they went out of power in 1800. okay? the federalists. and into power came the


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