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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  August 31, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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only built by slave labor but funded by profits earned on the practice of slavery. this program is about an hour. >> host: "ebony and ivy", professor wilder. i guess the first question is, how did you start down the road and we were laughing before you said 10 years ago when he first started you had hair. [laughter] >> guest: not a lot that i had hair. >> host: what started you down the road to actually put "ebony and ivy" together? >> guest: is actually sort of a long story that i can make sure it. i had just moved from one job to another in teaching because i had just finished a book project and i started out and it was going to be a simple book, a simple article actually. i was just going to explain how
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black abolitionists got their education given the fact that they were excluded by race from american colleges and universities. i was going to tell the story read some of them went to europe and some of them went to new england and studied privately. some of them studied privately in the the atlantic and they became ministers and teachers in.years and all the sorts of things. in fact one of the things i got more just and as i started that project was why they were excluded from these colleges and universities. these colleges in fact have a long history with black people on campus as enslaved people but not his students. they also had a long history with native americans and at the very time that students were -- native american students had been on campus for years. >> host: native american students have been on campus doing what? >> guest: as students. >> host: how was it that they
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were able to be on campuses and you write about that. >> guest: if you think about it the first attempt to build a college for native american students is 210 years was the first attempt to -- the first native american graduate graduates 200 years before the first black graduate. the first native minister probably 150 years, ordained 150 years before black history. in fact part of the story i tell in the book is it's precisely the role of the university. it's precisely the role of the university and colonialism that explains the early presence of native students on campus and it's precisely that role that explains how universities use the slave trade to fund their enterprise. >> host: when you say the conquest, from what i was reading part of the conquest was this thing of these are savages.
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these are people that are inferior and we have to educate them or train them or somehow make them undecideds like. i am speaking in reference to the native americans. >> guest: the belief was that the goal, the obligation was to bring the gospel to untutored people and to civilize them in that way. but in fact that civilizing project went hand-in-hand with conquest and territorial expansion and one of the things that was sort of surprising to me as i started the book was the really quite -- roll the colleges played in that early colonial. meant. i'm a great and the fishery of the american college. american colleges and universities helps take me as a kid of a single mother raising three kids by yourself in
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brooklyn new york and turning me into a college professor. >> host: you and your sister who is an m.d.. >> guest: my sister is a pediatrician right here in d.c.. i have always thought of higher education and colleges and universities as these benevolent institutions that you could things if we can get access to them. what the research began to expose was this other role that universities can play. universities can be in my mind weapons of social justice but what shocked me when i started doing the research was that they can also be weapons of social destruction. >> host: in what way? >> guest: they can be a huge opponent and undermining the integrity of david -- native american civilizations. one of the things i write about is the desire to christianize native people and it leads to several attempts to build colleges successful that fail.
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virtually all of the early colonial colleges have as a primary mission the education of native peoples. that has all sorts of impact on native societies. it means there will be generational divisions between parents and children. it means that young students who are brought into the christian education system are going to be tutored in english and only half in fact the remnants of native culture and native language. >> host: in the book "ebony and ivy" do you talk about the type of chasm that might have been created as it relates to intergenerational conflict? >> guest: yeah trade i touch on it in the first chapters of the book and try to show the ways in which the early colleges had a militaristic role. part of their goal or part of their purpose was to help achieve the strategic gains of the colonists and so we often, and this is the right word.
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we often deplored education in schools and the colonial world to soften the resistance of native people. >> host: lets fast-forward to the whole issue of slavery. because the one thing that catches obviously people's attention and the critics have talked about this is how the slavery funded these college campuses. it funded in delta these campuses and who were these individuals that built the harvard's and the yale's and the browns? many of us may remember the headlines from brown university that started with a studied there. how much of that had an impact on what was in "ebony and ivy"? >> guest: it actually had a great effect. i was four or five years into this project when brown university released it and the
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former president of brown courageously and in the face of great criticism and great criticism often from her on constituents. >> host: the board of trustees. the alumni. >> guest: she courageously articulated the purpose of higher education which is the pursuit of truth. we are sued truth in all of these other arenas. we also have to look at truth in our own history's best institutions. the brown report mattered a lot to me because i was for five years and to this project and this was a massive undertaking and it was about 2006 when i realized just how big this was. how much time i was going to take and how many years it was going to take and there was a good part of me that didn't want to go forward. >> host: why? >> guest: well it just seemed enormous and it wasn't clear
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that you know five years later or 10 years later i would actually be done with a coherent book of what seemed i would have more and more information. at that time the book wasn't clear in my head yet. what i was clear about was the amount of material that there was to go through and the number of places that i would have to go. >> host: such as? >> guest: the project took me from qu├ębec city in canada to the carolinas along the east coast to scotland and to england to holland. >> host: lets start with those that are the farthest away. why scotland? i can understand england but why scotland? bring people to an understanding why a book on race and slavery and the troubled history of american universities why scotland? >> guest: it's in the sections
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that are about the rise of raache -- race and racial thought. scotland has a tremendous influence on the lives of colonial north america and ultimately on the united states as a nation. scottish immigrants are the largest group of free people. >> host: is that where the term redneck came from? >> guest: this is the largest group of free people to cross the atlantic in the decades before the american revolution. they are filling in places like the pennsylvania that country in and the carolinas west towards kentucky. >> host: appalachia. >> guest: right, right with this enormous migration also comes the migration of ideas. the scottish universities played a key role in helping to modernize the colonial american colleges both scottish faculty who come to teach in the americas and scottish ministers at come to govern over some of
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the schools and loads of american students, colonial students who had to scotland to study science and to study medicine and then come back to north america to do things like establish the first medical schools in the north american colonies. actually established by american colonial students in places like philadelphia who had off to scotland. >> host: now the scottish and correct me if i'm wrong time for they are one of the principle players in the slave trade where they? >> guest: they weren't the usual suspects that you look at. there's a trade that comes out of scotland just like there's a trade that comes out of the small towns in bristol. we have to remember small towns like russell and how massive the slave trade is. part of what the book is about in many ways is the africa trade in the 17th and 18th centuries.
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it actually shaped the atlantic world and that trade constituted the economy that connected europe to the americas to africa to south america and created in fact a transoceanic trade. out of which the united states would be born. >> host: so in terms of building these campuses, the who were these founders of these universities? were they slave traders? >> guest: well, they are largely ministers. from the various denominations. these colonial schools are denominational schools and so you now there is pure to 10 harvard and baptist brown and episcopalian columbia which is the king's college. there is the dutch reformed queens college which is no and
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the presbyterian college of new jersey which is now princeton. these are actually denominational schools. they are schools that emerged out of the community. but once they are established and as you establish them you need money to do it and a lot of the money the first source of funds will be england. the colonists will turn to england. >> host: why would they want to fund the school's? >> guest: that is one of the real problems. i've jokingly described to myself as i was working on some of these chapters, why would the english want to give the puritans money to establish a school in massachusetts when in fact actually getting rid of the puritans was a great goal. it's not exactly -- you know so there is not necessarily warm and friendly relations between the puritans and the anglican church but this is where we get back to native american history
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and where native americans become key. to cause the american colonists were really quite skillful at raising money using the evangelization of native people as their goal. and so sending off missionaries and emissaries to england and raising money under the claim that they were evangelizing native people in the americas, the first brick doping at harvard is the indian colony. that is where the donations are coming from. >> host: this goes back to what you were saying earlier. this then allows the expansion of the colonial and therefore the expansion -- >> guest: it facilitates the expansion of the colonies and facilitates economic and territorial expansion and you know it accelerates the crumbling of native society on
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the frontiers and on the borders. >> host: so they are not quote unquote slaveowners but eventually -- even before they do turn to slaveholding. >> guest: they turned pretty quickly so these are religious schools to begin with and they are religious schools. very quickly they have to figure out the sources of funding. one source is going to be europe , england in particular and raising money often and the claim that one is evangelizing native americans. the others that have money available to them is the rising population of colonial elites, people who actually have money within the colonies and in particular both in england and in the americas that group is made up of slave traders operating out of places like barbados and barbados boasting
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the wealthiest men in british america. many of them actually live our absentee landlords who lived in england and manage their plantations from afar. >> host: or their children. >> guest: children or relatives. >> host: as i read the male children, the oldest might go to military or might go to own the land in the middle child or the next youngest will go off to college. >> guest: i actually point out in the book they will station their children at various points that are key in the operations of family networks. these are family networks. for instance the new york slave trade that i studied for a long time will have their main warehouses in new york city but they will also send a son to the caribbean and establish there and send another son to angle and usually bristol or london
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from most various points they can manage their operations more frankly and move money and goods more efficiently. and it gives them a chance to make strategic plans for these extended shipping voyages. there are all sorts of reasons why they do this but the american schools conduct a colonial schools quickly began to also turn to this population of increasingly wealthy man and families with interest and the americas. they begin to effort ties themselves actually to this class -- these classes as institutions of their own making and of their own design that can serve their children. i use examples and one of the more famous is a scott and a minister from scotland who becomes the president of what is now princeton university. one of the first things he does is he writes a -- to the west
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indies and one of the chapters is named after it in which he says it has come to imply great wealth and then he goes on to promise that if they send their boys depressed and they will be well taken care of and guided in supervised and turned into substantial and responsible young men. but if you send them off to england the british universities are to look large and essential eyes to give them that kind of attention. what they are really selling is the potential of the american colonies to serve themselves and the potential of these educationalists additions to cater to the needs of the colonial elite. that colonial elite is largely the product of the slave trade. slave trading merchants and their large plantation owners in the american south. >> host: now when we read the reviews as most people probably well before without getting into
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the meat of "ebony and ivy" and we are talking with professor craig steven wilder, the subtitle race, slavery and the troubled history of america's universities, the impression is that slaves built these universities not just with the money from the slave trade but was there actually the presence of slaves on the universities of harvard and yale and princeton and brown and in what capacity or every capacity can imagine. >> guest: every capacity you can imagine related to labor. they enslaved people in hotels. they were often called basically the dormitories. they would clean up after the students and they would prepare meals. they would collect wood. they would gather wood for fires and they were in charge of lighting the candles and putting them out in the evening and cleaning up the study rooms and
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recitation rooms and running errands for the student and faculty at harvard and yale and columbia and princeton. many of the college presidents owned enslaved people and arrived on campus with slaves. john witherspoon who i just mentioned and within a couple of years has purchased at least two people one for his main house and one for the campus house. >> host: were these individuals under the ownership of the university incorporated or were they under the ownership of various professors? >> guest: the problem is this is kind of a technical issue that is a little bit harder to decipher. for instance one of the things i looked at as i was exploring this was i looked at a lot of the county records in which -- in the counties where these colleges are and when you look at the colonial records very
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often you will have the name of the president or the name of the professor and they will be listed with their taxable money will be an enslaved person or two or three. >> host: did students bring slaves? students actually brought their slave to school? >> guest: if you think about this what happens if you look at the name of the president part of his taxable property is in enslaved person. what you often have is francis in in the case of princeton or harvard you will actually have the president's name did though the college. well who owns its? in the common knowledge of the local area the president and the college are kind of inseparable anyway. i didn't spend a lot of time trying to decipher that because in fact --. >> host: as they say today it's a college town.
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>> guest: they were very much more college towns then than they are now she can even believe that. they were much more dominant. >> host: cambridge would be a college town. >> guest: nassau is the tallest building in british america when it is built. these colleges dominate. >> host: one of the things that i also found fascinating about "ebony and ivy" asu talk about the slaves that tilts the campuses and waited on the faculty and the students was the curriculum. this white supremacy that was perpetrated. i mean you as a history teacher, a professor of history at m.i.t. , i don't know how you maintained your intellectual sanity and you obviously knew this before though but to have it supported in the actual
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research of these quote unquote what we now consider institutions teaching white supremacy. i'm not trying to sound as if i am surprised but if you said that now about yale or harvard you know people would think my goodness when did this start? how did it get started but you sort of explain that because of the people who started these universities. >> guest: is in the origins and it's in the funding and remember as the american revolution approaches and the colonies and england increase the capacity of the american columnist to raise money and england decline. the indian college is largely taken down at the end of the 17th century. >> host: they can't finance.
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>> guest: to be perfectly honest and i read it in the book as the native american military threat in new england declines the interest in evangelizing native americans declines with that. those to some extent have always been linked. it means that there is also a strategic interest in evangelizing. absolutely. one of the things that happens that i wrestled with in the book and its related to the question you asked me earlier about did students bring slaves to campus? cs. at william and mary bade house the slaves on campus and at columbia then came college george washington comes to new york city with his step-son and jackie slave and the president
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of colombia kings college at the time miles cooper gives him a suite of rooms that jackie then has painted and suited to his taste. joe was actually in the smaller bedroom. so yes students arrive with slaves to campus and the faculty often had slaves. one of the things i wanted to get across in the book is that enslaved people were inseparable part of the college experience in the colonial world. >> host: which meant that they were exposed to higher education. >> guest: to some extent they were and in fact there are examples of this. that's a soft and who is enslaved by one of the presidents of princeton studies in the library at the presidents house and becomes an extraordinarily gifted biblical
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scholar to where she is being consulted by biblical scholars in parts of the united states. >> host: and she is self-taught? >> guest: she is largely self-taught. the president gave her instruction. he instructed her in the presidents house and she continued to study on her honor she got older. >> host: let me share something i highlighted and had to expound on this and this comes from the chapter cotton comes to harvard. charles fallen -- first off who was he? the reason i bring this up is you right here that this future cotton plant and they were talking about i believe henry watson junior also wrote that the ancient egyptians had curly hair and other features of the african race and that contemporary -- are lighter in
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complexion because of centuries of mixing with europeans and professor fallen did not leave it to his students to infer that black africans -- this refutes all day false theories. often in favor of slavery. expand on that because it seems to be apparently what you are saying is there is this conflict taken. who were the egyptians and how was racism taught? who were africans in who were not africans even to the point, this argument takes place today. >> guest: it sounds very modern. >> host: it does. >> guest: the 1990s when i was in school. >> host: cleopatra. >> guest: a streetside
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bookseller was engaged with the crowd for at least a decade. it does sound very modern and it actually is very modern. henry watson junior is a young man from windsor connecticut who goes to washington college in harvard which is now trinity college and finishes his education at harvard. he graduates in the early 18 1830s from harvard and the introduction to the book is largely he uses henry watson junior story. he heads out to alabama and he is looking to become a tutor on a plantation to make some money that he can save and then go to law school. the reason i find them fascinating is that like a lot of young college men in the 1830s the south represented an extraordinary field of opportunity. it was precisely the wealth of southern slaveholders and the wealth of the plantations but it was also the educational neglect of the south that created
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opportunities for well-educated northerners who wanted to begin their careers. like a lot of them watson had planned to just go for a year and make money and go back home and become an attorney. >> host: he would be educating the children -- >> guest: he would be working on the plantation is a tutor to the sons and perhaps the daughters. there was always an unequal distribution of time so he is looking for this award. i give examples of the men who make this choice a lot of them become famous like benjamin silliman one of the most important science professors in the history pal and the professor who begins the yale science program. watson had south and he is disappointed. he doesn't get this job that he wants. so he heads back home and his
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father is becoming increasingly self-conscious about getting money from his father when his endeavor has proven for us. he actually does study law and then he goes south again. he heads right back to alabama and establishes himself as a planter. over the next decade he becomes quite wealthy and successful. on the eve of the civil war he owns more than 100 people. he owns thousands of acres of land with more than 100 people and he is a leading voice in defense of southern slaveholders. that young man said sat in the class of an abolitionist at harvard in the early 1830s. he took fallen -- he heard fallen make an antiracist argument to the extent that he had the capacity to do it. fallin was trying to argue that the mountain of myths that were
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being used to defend american slavery were nothing more than that. they were just myths and if one looked at history. >> host: he and he approached this in a scholarly way. >> guest: he chose history and he chose examples from science and the largely used history so they went back to the ancient egyptians and he made the argument the fact that we are often make in on the street corner in the 1990s. it does sound very modern and it sounds very contemporary. he is also an interesting character. this is a young man who had fought to liberalize germany and who was chased out of europe, arrested for his political activism. he comes to the united states. he has a somewhat fortuitous experience of running into the markey d. lafayette in 1825, 1826 when lafayette is brought
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back. >> host: this is during the revolution. >> guest: on the 50th anniversary of the declaration of independence the congressman invites lafayette back to the americas to celebrate. he runs into fallen in philadelphia and contacts his biographer at harvard. i think it's -- and ticknor arranges for an appointment for fallen. fallin then does what he does. he goes back to political activism. he is teaching the young students at harvard about history but also in fact teaching them about the contemporary issues of society and there is none greater than the question of human slavery and would be chased out of harvard for that position. the funds for his professorship will be stripped away. >> host: who chases him out of?
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>> guest: it's the trustees and the officers. >> host: because of his position? >> guest: >> guest: to a few things but it's his position on slavery. that is the accelerant that flames the fire. >> host: at some point be to read in history and you write about it. at some point, former slaves, african-americans are allowed to attend the harvard send the yale's. at what point did that change? >> guest: actually it happens in stages at very different points. you can go all the way back actually to the revolutionary era. the first black people to come to campus as students and what becomes united states is probably right after the revolution and what happens is the number of presidents that these no longer colonial early
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american schools actually do private study. >> host: for what reason? >> guest: it depends. the reasons are very different. some of them are affected by the rhetoric of the revolution itself. the call for liberty and justice actually resonates with them and they begin to question slavery themselves. there is actually in active antislavery debate happening on american campuses in the aftermath of the american revolution. there is an active antislavery discussion happening on southern campuses. >> host: really? >> guest: yeah great college faculty and college students actually would debate the question of slavery quite a bit. >> host: in such universities that we recognized and we have talked about southeastern. >> host: georgia and north carolina the university of georgia and the university of north carolina.
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the university of north carolina has an abolitionist speaker at one of its graduations. this is in the early 19th century and the trustees actually published the speech. it has actually circulated around the united states. >> host: are these individuals who live in slaveholding states and again in "ebony and ivy" you write about it. are they abolitionist's? or is this a free exchange of intellectual debate and discussion? >> guest: to free exchange of intellectual debate and discussion and it's also often driven by abolitionist or at least by people who are uncomfortable with the continuation of slavery as it is. the new york society which is actually made up largely of slaveholders and is established at the end of the revolution begins to fund an award at columbia for the best speech against slavery that actually exposes the immorality of
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slavery and the slave trade. this is actually given at graduation and it's based on something that happened in england. they borrow that model of incentivizing this discussion by offering a metal. these are debates that are happening across the campuses and in the aftermath of the american revolution it's because some of the presidents are affected by the rhetoric of the revolution itself. they are exposed to the british anti-slave trade campaign and the extraordinary political force that represents on both sides of the atlantic and some of them have been swayed by those arguments particularly on the question of the slave trade. there is another group who actually begin to see black americans as potentially a tool for christianizing africa. so they began to take on black
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students with the hope of preparing them as missionaries to send back to africa although most of these people have never been to africa but to send back to africa as christian missionaries let's like native americans. >> host: i was just going to say it goes back to the earlier part of our discussion. >> guest: you remember 200 years earlier having christianized our native nation. >> host: christianize the children and they become a second-generation. i follow you. >> guest: the swiftest way to evangelize native nations would be with people of their own as one minister puts it people in of their own collar and tongue. you take native children and turn them into missionaries and return them as adolescents or late teenagers or early 20s. >> host: does this create and
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once again i will use the term a chasm between older blacks and younger educated blacks who are being educated for other purposes? you understand where i'm trying to go with this. we often have this argument and even today, go well you were just a tool. that is really what i'm getting at. you discuss that in sub pour. were these educated african-americans tools? did they know they were being tools or do they have some other other -- >> guest: i try to be -- who receive these educations in the way that i talk about them. i try to be cautious because in fact actually prints -- for instance with the native americans during king phillips
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phillips -- the indian resistance campaign for the english call king philip and the combination of native nation against the puritans. it comes very close to conquering christian england. without external help and some good luck christian new england might have fallen.
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you can find loads of examples of people who took those educations and turn them to radical emancipatory purposes within their own communities. >> host: what in your research , no 10 years you worked on this.
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10 years. when you first started with this concept that has turned into "ebony and ivy" and again dr. craig steven wilder a fascinating read on this. i'm just curious if this will be a required reading for your students at m.i.t.? >> guest: i never asked it is to buy my book or any folks that i've written. >> host: you are very unique. >> guest: asking them to buy the book makes no sense. i can tell them what is in it. >> host: was there anything as a historian, was there anything that just surprised you as you were researching and writing "ebony and ivy"? just to this day if i were a student in your class and i would ask that question mr. wilder what really caught your attention by x. what really
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stuck with you and surprised you? >> guest: honestly the thing that i wrestled with the most as i was writing the book and this is rooted in my own experiences as a black man growing up in the united states in the era that i did was how to balance these historical narratives of different groups of people. once you take up the topic of colleges and slavery it seems to me that it would be a less than honest telling of the story but didn't actually explain the relationship between these colleges and native americans. that story for instance in the colonial period you can't tell the story of how these colleges got involved in the slave trade and how the trustees ended up becoming slave traders and now they have created these cozy
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relationships to planters in the south and the west indies and the slave traders in the northeast and europe. why they cultivated these people so aggressively for so long. that story doesn't ultimately make full sense unless you actually look west and you think about the ambitions of the colonial project. >> host: when you say west's? >> guest: west of the east coast on the the atlantic seaboard and you think about the native american nations aligned along the boundary between the colonies and indian country. so i had to bring -- to tell the story well i actually had to become a student. >> host: when we think dr. wilder of native americans and again what you were telling us the common historical thought
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that we are often taught is that native americans did not make good slaves but you do talk about them being enslaved. so is that a myth? is that a myth and the fallacy? >> guest: we have all sorts of myths about native people. there is an enormous trade in the native people in the colonial lands and in the carolinas as one historian has pointed out. the south carolina north carolina created by two slave trades. if enslaved -- being sold out -. >> host: being sold out of the carolinas? >> guest: into the caribbean. from the 17th century on
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eastern canada had been a healthy and receptive market for native people enslaved in the wars throughout the americas. native people are often enslaved and sold. so these are largely, we have a lot of mythmaking about slavery but it when it comes to the thing that surprises you the most. >> host: that is the thing that surprised me in the book and i'm so glad we have had a chance to discuss that because it's the common thought often expressed in casual historical conversation. the reason africans were brought here is because the native americans simply did not make good slaves. they ran away and disappeared into the western wilderness. >> host: >> guest: the other part is the extraordinary mortality rates against native american people to the new diseases in the first 100 years of contact but in fact actually none of them stops that from enslaving
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native people. that is less than we should take away. not a single one of those factors stops us from capturing, enslaving and selling native people into bondage and other parts of the americas. trading enslaved people there are native american slaves owned by faculty of college and met with some of them in the book. >> host: the reason i want to make sure we emphasize that is because as people get into "ebony and ivy" they might start saying when are we getting to the african slave part of it that you spend a great deal of time as you say prefacing the relationship of africans and slavery with what happened prior to africans being in essence brought into slavery. this is the other question as we start to wrap up.
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there will be those then who will read "ebony and ivy" and i also have the sense and correct me if i'm wrong professor, this is almost two books in one and what i mean by that and i mentioned that earlier it's the glossary in the footnotes. i mean i tend to turn to how people come up with a narratives that they write about. it's just amazing and you have done that on purpose so again researchers historians can see where you got this information and then expand upon it. >> guest: my goal was to take a difficult topic and make it accessible. to make it readable and approachable. there is also another public that i write for which are academics and people doing research in this field and i want to provide them with as
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accurate and clear a map to the sources as i could could to have blown their projects and the work they have been publishing has certainly helped me in this project. >> host: i would be remiss if i didn't ask you about the institution of m.i.t.. >> guest: we show up at the very end of the book. the rise of the technical and engineering colleges and universities in the decades before the civil war which is very much influenced by the expansion of the cotton culture of the united states. it gets cotton textile manufacturing that produces a whole wave of new wealth but in order to get those factories running you need qualified engineers. the investors and those mill towns began investing in engineering and science education at the existing universities. >> host: the southern pantagion owners that have -- >> guest: it gets financed
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through new york. >> host: the raw materials in the south. >> guest: produced by slaves. >> host: produced by slaves and finance by new york anchors and insurers and then the industrialization. >> guest: manufactured in new england and into textiles. in order to produce those scientists and engineers and to continue to invest is one historian put it in raising whole towns along the sort of riverbanks where we can actually do this large-scale manufacturing. >> host: there will also be those who may finish reading "ebony and ivy" and say our ask the question to these universities, do i dare mention the word zero us reparations and so i don't know if that is your next book.
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i don't know how that discussion comes about. how it comes up in your classroom. that might be the thought process that some people may end up with. what are your thoughts behind that? >> guest: i would have to be be -- back to what we are talking about a few minutes ago about the most surprising thing. one of the things i learned in doing this book is history is not a race to see who is worse off and who is most oppressed. part of the reason i wanted to blend together the stories and histories of native americans with african-americans with european christians was to actually get to the truth and the facts in the details what happened and explain them as accurately and carefully as i could. i see my job as a historian is not to avoid difficult topics but to choose difficult topics. my task is to take readers through that to help them and to
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guide them through difficult moments in our history. now there are consequences. there consequences for these universities. >> host: such as? >> guest: brown has begun to implement the recommendations from the brown committee in 2006 and weighs in which brown can actually reconcile its current reality with its history. >> host: and to bring people up to date what were some of them? >> guest: they established -- there was a new center's tempest on campus and there was the decision to make more aggressive investment in financial aid and scholarship money and to just be proactive and to recommit to the diverse campus and a campus that recognize that education could be a tool of social justice. at william and mary there has been movement in the same
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direction here there is an exhibit on campus. the university of alexander -- alabama there was a faculty statement about the status additional slavery. i don't have a -- all these universities that i write about in this book. i've do think that universities have to engage with their own histories and i recognize there are consequences to that. >> host: the book again is "ebony and ivy" race, slavery and the troubled history of america's universities, engage them and deal with their own consequences is what i think i wanted to say. that should be left up to the university's? >> guest: is actually about the students. it's about the alumni. it's a conversation on campus
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but it's also about the surrounding areas. >> host: the surrounding areas meaning? >> guest: the cities and towns in which they lived. in other words i think the solution for yale is different than the solution for william and mary. >> host: or for cambridge. >> guest: or for cambridge. it's also recognizing the troubled history for american universities doesn't and when this book ends. one of the things i did in this book was i stopped the book in the 1830s that the highpoint of scientific racism because i wanted to get the reader to the point where they could see it emerging without necessarily spending another 10 years telling the story. >> host: you being a professor of m.i.t., just quickly what do
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you say in the book? what is scientific racism? >> guest: there are a few chapters in the book where i read about the emergence of race in science and within science and one of the things that i argue is that not only does science become one of the key ways for establishing the legitimacy of racial flood and the racial defense of slavery. >> host: would i be incorrect in saying white supremacy? >> guest: yeah. you know it's the racial defense of slavery, the idea that african people are inherently inferior and created and prepared by nature for a certain level of humanity. and for a certain level of -- prepared by nature for that existence. that idea preexisted the rise of
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the scientific academy in america but it gets co-opted by science and in many ways science becomes one of the key areas for defending race and for defending the injustices of modern slavery. and i write about in the book for a few reasons. one of the key ones is actually that is the path that allows universities to emerge by the 1830s as independent actors on the political scene. it's actually precisely the ability of university faculty and officers to argue in defense of slavery that creates the space in the public sphere. >> host: i assume because it is a university. they are the center of learning so therefore what more appropriate way to take place and validate this racist science
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or race science you're talking about. >> guest: the student of the university rises with race with the prestige of the university so race ultimately unfettered universities and remember at the beginning of her our conversation we said these are church schools. they are denominational schools and they break free of the church of the 19th century. the universities break free of the church in the 19th century because they have the capacity through science to make a secular argument you. >> host: so they start with nonsecular funding support and then as they progress they become more influential and they break free of that outline themselves with the pseudo-science. am i fair to say pseudo-science? >> guest: absolutely in one of the key elements in the 19 centuries the rise rise of racial science that creates a public prestige in the universities. the modern university is founded
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exactly that moment. one of the things i would argue about the question of reparations and social justice is we have to remember that the troubled history of the american university doesn't and when the book ends. it continues into the 20th century is the same racial concepts actually come to justify all sorts of new brutalities in the modern world and we shouldn't forget that a lot of those ideas didn't have their origin on campus but they got their legitimacy on campus. they got refined on campus. they got validated on campus. they got modernized on campus and they got their political and social prestige on campus. >> host: is there another 10 years and you? [laughter] to go from 1830s forward? >> guest: whoever wants to i will help them every step of the way. the young person with a full head of hair who wants that
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project i will help them every step of the way. >> host: amazing. i mean to say it's a page-turner doesn't do it justice and i want want -- i encourage everyone to please read this book and i started off making sure that people understood that this is not a textbook. this is not a textbook. this is an excellent chronological experience that you have taken our universities that we hear so much about and it is really their history. it is their history from beginning to where they are now. i do hope you will spend another 10 years doing it because you did this one justice. >> guest: thank you very much. i appreciated. >> host: . >> host: the book is "ebony and ivy" and we are with professor craig steven wilder. you have my most admiration that
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this is required buying. >> guest: hopefully my colleagues will have their students by it. >> host: thank you for such a great book, "ebony and ivy." >> when you write a book a lot can go wrong. that's the way i approach the world. i am somewhat neurotic in my writing. a lot can go wrong.
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i have been pretty shocked by i guess if there has been criticism from inside it's been mostly in the bane of how dare he. how dare an insider to the way the secret handshake. how dare an insider talk about other insiders in a way that perhaps might not be in keeping with the codes that we have in washington. people keep asking me why are people uncomfortable and i welcome discomfort but i also think this is journalism. this is what we do. we should invite discomfort.
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