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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  March 16, 2014 9:00am-11:01am EDT

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>> i had to look this up in all honesty. broussard was convicted of two things. espionage was one and income tax evasion was the other. [laughter] she signed as 1040s. she did not know rick was spying until about a year -- and their stories match on this one. until about a year and a half before he was arrested. ..
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>> thank you, guys are coming. >> sandy will be appear. she is happy to sign copies of her book which are for sale if you don't have one at the cash register at the front. thanks again. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> c-span to providing live coverage of the user senate floor proceedings and key public policy events, and every weekend booktv. now for 15 years the only television network devoted to nonfiction books and authors. c-span2 created by the cable tv industry invented by your local cable or satellite provider. watch us in hd, lik like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. >> historian joshua zeitz examines abraham lincoln presidential tenure through the eyes of his secretaries, john a. and john nikolai, next on tv. [applause]
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>> thank you all for braving this weather, low as i understand it last week might have been worse. i probably picked the right week to be here. i might've been delivering this from the airport if we don had e this last week. i want to begin our story a little bit after the civil war. on june 13, 1905, it was less than three weeks before his death that john milton hay a will in his cabin room on the rms baltic, a great ocean liner esteemed from the report -- liverpool back in your. he was a noted poet and historian, former newspaper editor and railroad executive. he had served as u.s. ambassador to the united kingdom. since 1898 he had been the secretarsecretary of state, firr president william mckinley at that after his death under president theodore roosevelt. this point, hay was one of the
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most powerful man in the world. but his bright. was fast burning out a frail body. he reached for his diary and compose what i think he knew was one of its last entries. and he wrote, quote, i dreamed last night i was in washington and that he went to the widest report to the president that the present turned out to be mr. lincoln. he was very kind and considerate and sympathetic about my illness. he gave me two unimportant letters to answer. i was pleased that this order was in my power to abate, i was not in the least bit surprised of lincoln's presence in the white house by the old impression of the dream was one of overwhelming melancholy. we can only imagine at this point how long it'd been since abraham lincoln had faded into john hay's dreams. lincoln turn 10 that a just published through viking part of the penguin family, is the story of john hay and john nicolay, to poor boys who, to poor boys who met in 1851 and forged a close friendship that would endure over the course of a half a
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century. history basically or fortune found about the right place and the right time. springfield, illinois, in 1860. ultimately, it offered them a front row seat to one of the most tumultuous political upheavals in american history then or since. as abraham lincoln's private secretaries, hey and nikolai became literally ethically closer to the president than anyone outside of lincoln's immediate family. at the time they were still young men in their 20s. they live and work on the second floor of the white house, down the hall from the lincoln family and they perform the roles and functions of a modern-day presidential chief of staff, press secretary, political director and presidential body mint. today you can't have to spend 20 is moving up the ladder. because to do all of those jobs in one. above all, they did what one reporter called guarding the last door which opens into the awful presence in quote of the command of she.
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that was no a brooks, a journalist who was one of the many washington insiders who coveted their job, and and certainly thought that they were a little too big for their britches. a fault, john hay said, seem to be blamed on either nature or tellers. it was little wonder that historians consult their ratings critically because they were really sparkling letterwriters and diarists and to provide an eyewitness account of lincoln's why does. and so this reason most scholars of the civil war era know them very well. we rely on them to help us document that period. it's actually their life's work after lincoln died that's the unwritten story. the boys as the president of actually call them became lincoln's official biographers. enjoying exclusive access to newspapers which the lincoln
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family actually closer to the public until 1947 which was the 21st anniversary of robert todd lincoln's death and was well decades pass the time when the principals involved, including hay and nicolay, had passed away. they undertook a quarter-century mission to create a definitive and enduring historical reputation for their slain leader. the culmination of these efforts, and extensive 10 autobiography which which relies widely between 1886 and 1890 in the century magazine which at the time was america's leading mass circulation magazine. that effort constitute one of the most successful exercises in historical revisionism in all of american history. writing against the rising current of southern apology it, hay and nicolay pioneer but some critics call the so-called northern interpretation of the civil war but it was their portrayal of lincoln the became the standard against which every
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writer then and since has had to stake out a position. hay and nicolay actually helped to invent or in many ways they did invent the lincoln who we know today. sh father figure, the military genius, the greatest american orator, the brilliant political tactician, the master of a fractious cabinet who forged a team of rivals so to speak out of erstwhile challengers for the throne. the lincoln memorial, lincoln, these are in every sense the invention or a least the imagination that was left to us of lincoln high hay and nicolay. lincoln was all of these things in some measure that can be no doubt. he certainly was, that it's easy to forget, and we often do, how widely underrated lincoln the president and lincoln the men were at the time of his death, and a successful hay and nicolay or in elevating his place in the national memory. while lincoln prided himself on
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his deep connection to the people, a phrase he used often, he never succeeded during his lifetime and translating that and it's popular with the northern public into a similar sense of regard among the nation's political and intellectual elites who continued to regard them poorly. the profound emotional bond that lincoln shared with union soldiers and with their families, and a stunning electoral successes in two presidential elections back to back never fully inspired the equivalent on an adequate level of esteem. among the influential men who governed the country and guarded its official history. too many of these men, he remained in death what they described as in life, the rail splitter and the country lawyer, good and decent, but ill fated to be responsible of the war times presidency. leading into the 1864 election cycle, many prominent members of lincoln's own party would've agreed with one senator, a republican who said that this administration has been a
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disgrace from the very beginning to everyone who is anything to do with bringing it into power. that was hardly an isolated point of view. from across the political spectrum, influential writers and politicians blamed lincoln in 1864, for four years of military stalemate and setbacks as was races of political blunders that cost the republican party dearly in 1862 off year election. those were his friends. democrats, particularly in the north, forget the south, regarded lincoln as a tyrant, a man introduced the draft and introduced a whole host of taxes in order to fight the war, a man who freed the slaves and want to fight a war to free the slaves. even after his martyrdom, the classes in the north continued to turn up their noses when lincoln's name was mentioned. in 1872, charles francis adams who was a can of a famous massachusetts family, of course he was the grandson and great grandson, our son and grandson
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of presidents, and he also observed in the lincoln administration as minister to great britain and before that as republican congressman, in 1872 he delivered a memorial address after the death of former secretary of state william seward who served under lincoln and he portrayed in this address which was widely serialize, he portrayed seward as the glue that kept the government together in perilous times. reflecting common wisdom among the learned classes of the day, he said i must affirm without hesitation that in history of our government, down to this our no experiment so rash as ever been made as that of the leading to the head of affairs a man with so little previous preparation for the test as mr. lincoln. this might have been a setup whereby he could've said but thank god it worked well and lincoln was a terrific president. he said only by good grace and what did lincoln actually possess the wisdom to the point as first minister seward, the mastermind of the government and savior of the union.
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naturally this speech enraged the lincoln family. enraged lincolns stalwart defenders, particularly gideon welles who had served with seward in the cabinet. he had been secretary of the navy in the issued a dubuque. unfortunate charles francis adams was hardly alone in this position. in his private account of the te warriors, the influential if not erratic newspaper editor horace greeley similarly portrayed lincoln as a bungling leader who exploited multiple opportunities to end the war early eyes on the battlefield or through negotiation. lincolns loyalist rolled her eyes but the problem was that horace greeley sold a lot of books and papers, so his opinion mattered. at the end of the day it was hay and nicolay who are uniquely positioned to help rescue lincolns reputation from the dustbin of history. hay and nicolay first met in 1851 as gifted, inquiring students in a small country school in illinois.
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hay was one of six children from a very close knit middle-class family. nikolai on the other hand, was a dirt-poor. emigrated at age six, and by age 14 he was an orphan to his parents had passed away. like lincoln he was a dashing he could count as months of formal schooling probably on two hands. nicolay rose up from being a printer's devil which effectively meant that he did everything from sweeping the floor of a weekly newspaper to setting the print and cleaning the office. he rose within 10 years from doing that to becoming a newspapermen and with an era to after that he bought the newspaper and became the editor when is only in his early '20s. this was in the early 1850s when the whole country was a fire with a debate over slavery and its prospective spread into the western territory. nicolay quickly became a leading
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anti-slavery newspaper editor who increasingly gravitated toward republican party politics. he was appointed in 1855 as an aid in the illinois legislature after the republican party, which was a new party, had won control of both houses. he sold the newspaper and he soon became what i think you could call the de facto executive director of the state republican party when he was in his early '20s. his friend john hay yet known in his teenage years came from a very different background at the a different path to politics. hay have gone to brown university courtesy of this album that what was a fairly prosperous attorney. milton had clerked under abraham lincoln, and despair law partner. after hay came back from brown upon graduating in 1859 announced he is they are said he intended to become a poet. they announced and that this would not actually happen. and they think that the code be familiar to any parent of any
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generation, there was a deputy counsel from his older brothers and sisters and parents sat down with uncle milton and they basically to figure out to get john hay job in getting to the out of house. again somethings change and some things don't so they struck a compromise with their budding poet son. hay to continue his letter interest and enterprises but you have to study for the law with his uncle milton. back and, of course, there were no law schools property became a lawyer, you studied or clerked under an existing law firm. so the deal was he would move to springfield and study and his uncle milton's law firm which happen to be housed in the same building and in an adjacent suite to the law firm of abraham lincoln at its in this way that john hay came to no abraham lincoln. he reacquainted himself with his old friend john nicolay. this was around 1859-1860. that's that is a john hay immediately got interested in
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politics. predictably the law held little a lower for him as we neglected lackstown's commentaries and instead spent the first couple of weeks is supposed to be studying the law researching and writing a history of the jesuit order for presentation of the local historical society and later institute in warsaw illinois where his parents live. they weren't impressed. in the wake of his lecture, a closer and suggested in jest that he might make a career of the pulpit trying to figure out a way to justify the fact they had not progressed in his legal studies, he wrote to his uncle milton i don't think it would do for a methodist preacher brian a poor horseman. i wouldn't sue for the baptist because i dislike water. and i would feel as an episcopalian for i am the latet and. is latest and. his uncle wasn't particularly amused, don't go back to his legal studies. john rawl to his college girlfriend, quote they would spoil firstclass preacher to make a third class lawyer of me. i alternate between weeks of sickness and months of my normal condition of chronic worthless
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does. how it will and does not seem difficult to say to your question is one of time. in the meantime i will read along and john doe and richard wrote esquire showplace the forms are gilded upon my friend. he was not the first president to get a law degree who have no interest whatsoever in practicing law apparently. while hay spend as i'm not reading the law, lincoln to nicolay on as his campaign eight in his campaign eight and 18 agy officials after winning the republican nomination in chicago. during the postelection interlude, he appointed nicolay to become his private secretary when he indicated to nicolay who taken to washington to become his private sector it and it was the undisputed nicolay became somewhat influential. a controlled access to the president-elect as scores, if not hundreds of politicians from around the country came to springfield to confer with lincoln, and he also labored alone answering upwards of a 100 letters a day that would come
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into the president-elect, many of them of a sensitive political nature. he became the gatekeeper to the president-elect. when the mail and divisions became unmanageable, hay began exiting his old friend on an informal basis. they were all working out, working out of the governor's office at the statehouse in springfield, the governor of illinois graciously offered the president-elect use of his office and until he left for washington. it was at this point that the officials offered nicolay three times what he been earning his campaign strategy but not long after this deal was struck, nicolay said to lincoln got a mighty good to bring hay to washington as his assistant secretary, to which lincoln replied we can't take all of illinois down with us to washington. i guess we can let hay come. so john hay went to washington. in to mean in temperament, they could have been marketed to remember these are two young men in their early '20s.
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they had never been to washington to nicolay had only visited it once for three days. hay have never been to the city. they were completely unknown to people in political circles outside implement although angela they were very well-known. they get to washington and there's something taking up residence on the second floor of the white house. they control all access to the president. they are his chief of staff, general's in the army, u.s. senators, cabinet members have to clear it with them before the talk to him, present him with anything. they're able to dictate orders, able to effectively cosign or porcine for him field commissions, send them off. within time they became known as the people who understood what his will was and who could execute it. but they were young. and so they were of course aware of their power and influence but they were very different in terms of demeanor. nicolay was short tempered and a little cost.
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williams stoddard who was another assistant secretary who served under their superstition later remarked nicolay was quote unquote decide which room in his manner of telling people what he thought of them. people who don't like them because they cannot use him to prep say that he is sour and crusty but it's the grandest thing that he is. psych us imagine that he is rahm emanuel. hey was quote a comely young man with a peach blossom face, very witty, bush in his manner, yet deep enough, opened over with a brilliant speech. he was of course a would be poet and he was even well into his tenure as white house staffer skeptical of politics and politicians. he basically took the job because he was happy to be anything but studied along with his uncle. he told his college girlfriend sometime shortly before lincoln was nominated that quote instead has not yet changed its form
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from rhymes of politics but i will occupy myself very pleasantly and thoroughly hating both sides come and abusing the particular company of the tenets of the company that i happened to be an. when the company is divided i will stay with more crucial, a plague on both your houses. this position of dignified because i expect it will too old for quite sometime and let's lincoln is nominate now made in. that said, hay like his new status in washington very much, pretty much from the day he arrived. so did neglect to anybody who's ever met a young house thomas in our white house have would recognize a certain quality in their behavior. days after he moved into the white house, john hay dashed a letter off to his old college girlfriend in providence. he gets on executive mansion stationery and said, if you do choose to write me back, i will catch a letter addressed care of the president, washington, d.c. the envelope was frank. john hay, assistant press secretary and just in case she didn't know.
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at willard hotel where he and nicolay would take their dinner every evening for the most part, and let's be done with the president, hay enjoyed the knowing glances and stairs of the office seekers, wire poles, inventors, artists and poets, clerks, the publicist, mail contractors, railway directors and all of the politicians, and this is a nathaniel hawthorne quote, basically all of the folks who people like hawthorne and hay who admired hawthorne despised. but he enjoyed being the object of their glares. in his first few weeks in washington one of his classmates from brown, frederick mitchell, happened across john hay as the willard hotel where hay was leaning casually against the cigar stand taking in the scene but when mitchell asked him how he was enjoying himself, and congratulated him on his opponent, hay replied, yes, i am keeper of the president's conscience. so that was john hay. john george neglect to win by
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george councils not to confuse the two, george was only slightly less insufferable. around the same time he informed his fiancée that quote in my position i necessarily hear something new almost every day that would certainly be of infinite interest to someone and sometimes to another. but it's my duty to say nothing, so i won't. if you have to impress your fiancée with her job at the white house, and i think you're probably still a little green. to one supplicant who saw just a few minutes of lincoln stein, nicolay replied the president's task here is no child's play. not hard to understanunderstan d why many people viewed him as being a little too big for their britches. but as the war progressed the secretaries lost something of their youth -- use and they could be trusted and close aides to the president. midway through the war, hay was commissioned a cap in any armed with an official detail assignment to the white house. at the same time nicolay effectively became lincoln's de
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facto political director and chief of staff. hay became his direct liaison to the military. but he used an intricate ways at different times. usually i would say for the most part, about a third of you they were both in washington together. at other times one or the other was away. lincoln sent hay unfazed mentions -- nations, to forge try to reconstruct the state unsuccessfully. he sent him to niagara falls to oversee horace greeley's ill-fated negotiations with two confederate commissioners. so you get us into the important they became if he entrusted hay with to oversee peace negotiations. nicolay wa was his political hamburger keys and nicolay to be his eyes and ears at the agency for not naming convention to make she was now made and to oversee the messy business of replacing hannibal hamlin with andrew johnson as vice president. he also counted on nicolay in
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effect to become, to go to new york and sort out a mess of patronage appointments that were bothering the political boss of new york. we'd was the key to reelection because without we'd new york wouldn't have gone for lincoln victory trusted nicolay to go handle this. the relationship between the boys and lincoln whispered into the. frequently sent out for weeks or time in weeks at a time on these kinds of sensitive political military missions, the careful to make sure one of them was always at the what is. they kept in close contact with each other and exchanged frequent humorous, observations about the first couple. the cabinet leading military figures, in private they reverted to link as the tycoon or the ancient. the relationship with mary todd lincoln was less affection. they dubbed her the health care. by the own estimation, hay and nicolay whether daily and nightly witnesses of the incidents in the anxiety of the
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fears and hopes which provided the executive mansion and the national capital during the war. the president gave his secretaries the utmost confidence, the speaker of the house during the first two years of the war went so far as to claim that lincoln saw them as affectionate as he did his own sons. so that is the relationship these two men and joined with abraham lincoln. i would add, needs no adding that john hay was at his bedside when he died. that nike been with robert todd lincoln at the white house and when a form of the assassination attempt, they rushed to the bedside and john hay was there. nicolay was out of town but that so close they were to him. moving back to where we began, by the 1870s with his father's reputation increasingly in shambles, we were certain account must, robert todd lincoln knew that these were precisely the men he needed to turn to in order to repair his father's legacy. hay and nicolay were particularly troubled by the historical amnesia that was quickly taken hold over the
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reunited states that wasn't they were bothered by the way clinton was described as a weak or failed leader. they were concerned in popper literature and journalism the war was being recast as a brothers squabble over abstract political principles like federalism and states' rights rather than a moral struggle over slavery and freedom, which is very much what they viewed the war as. having come out of the republican party, having come of age during the era of the republican party bleeding kansas, john brown and the civil war, they could not help but to use later as the center of the conflict. but they some magazines and newspapers commonly taking to celebrate the military, arguing in effect that bravery rather than rally was the chief quality to be commemorated. this bothered them very much. the authors pointedly emphasized that they were moral and political issues that divided the nation before and in many respects after the war. they viewed the public as having
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been called what they said was the uprising of national conscience against the secular wrong. they could never be blotted out by the romance of union. of course, that wrong with slavery. no hay and nicolay made little effort to mask device they did set out with robert todd lincoln empower them to do it to write a history of lincoln that was grounded in evidence. it was shopping around 1875 the robber told him he would give them exclusive access to the papers and they begin working on this project. by then nicolay had been appointed grand marshal of the u.s. supreme court, and lived in washington work out of the capitol building. hay it served a term as assistant secretary of state which was the number two position in the state department and was at that point, or he was about to do that but he was finishing up his tenure as a top editor at the "new york tribune." ironically under horace greeley. they made little effort to mask device when you begin writing but they did set out to write this history in a professional windows grounded in evidence. in the early days of the project
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nicolay spent several months interviewing dozens of individuals who had known lincoln both in delight in washington. the transcript of these discussions are still an in the library of congress and they are fascinating to read an assortment form their work but they came to cast after a few years a skeptical eye on these recorded memories of old men and women who were remembering things after the fact, and in many times doing so inaccurately. it's a factor, an antidote couldn't be confirmed potential evidence all to my hay and nicolay decided they would distort it which is a methodology that historians today believe that presidents don't apply. we rely a lot on the postdoctoral memories of people. they didn't think that it was particularly useful to do so or they didn't think it was reliable. wing chapters of the work were serialized in the late 1880s come charles dana, a newspaper man who served as assistant secretary of war under edward stanton, public which ousted their assertion that john hay
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have a company the president to the war department telegraph office that evening to receive the 1864 presidential election return. he said flatly that they were lying and hay was not there because he remembered it because even the. hay kept a pretty good diary during the civil war years and said that dana is insisting i wasn't there and there's a page in my diary this as i was. he said to nicolay, you see the big heavy contradictions with to go through on the part of conceited old men with bad memories who have been lying for 20 years. writing to the former vice president, scotto colfax, he observed that people grew self-aggrandizing overtime as their memories increasingly betrayed him. he said it's impossible for any old illinois to talk for five minutes without letting you understand if he made lincoln all that he was. ultimately the secretary stop conducting interviews altogether because quote it places us in a dilemma of either being compelled to report a lot of worthless fiction, or giving
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great offense to our friend i declined the use of but it's worth conceptualizing this for a moment. in the 1860s and '70s, so the most popular biographical information about lincoln was emanating from former friends of his, namely william herndon who had been his law partner in springfield, and a trusted aide in the white house and sometime lawyer on the circuit with them before the. herndon was offended by the apotheosis that lincoln underwent after his death. he wanted to read people that lincoln was, in fact, a human being, a man, not a god as he said. so we spent three or four years scouring kentucky, indiana and southern illinois for people have known lincoln in his youth and as a young man. all of this was great, and most of we know about lincoln's life before he got to spent fuel, or certain before you became as a
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legislator, we know from herndon interviews, so-called informers. unfortunately, he used a lot of us in ways that baffled the lincoln, and irritated them. the lectures and then the articles and openly the biography that he with some others including ward published in late 1860s and early '70s claimed that lincoln, it's impossible to list all of the claims, that he was the son, not the son of thomas lincoln but the son of another man, that he was a so-called illegitimate child and his mother also been born illegitimately as the train went back them. he claimed that lincoln had never loved mary todd lincoln, the fact that love is life had been a young woman named and rutledge died when lincoln was off in springfield or actually the old state capitol force first term in the legislature and that he never got over the loss of her. he claimed lincoln that syphilis becomes operative from and why this was hopeful or helping to set, you, you try to make my very earthy figure and the
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family was furious. hay and nicolay were furious with him as well as it known them for well with a look at these interviews and thought that there's no possible way that people could remember with any precision somebody who had no expectation whatever i said that far. one of his informants, i don't have the exact quote but he said something really time we said i'm really sorry, i wish i could remember more but when a new him it was just for a year and were in our early '20s and i ago i did that he would be president someday i didn't think to remember it. hay and nicolay relied on a vast body of lincoln's papers and on any kind of primary sources to get their hands on. they scoured the country by posting advertisements come by looking at, for secures in bookstores, by talking to old friends. increasingly people ar are findg as the parents of either finding diaries, letters and many scripts in attics, inboxes, under beds.
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and neglected all of this and added it to the lincoln archives. the oversized purse for study and came to a comment one of the largest private collection of civil war documentation and scholarship in the country. and later when hay lived in washington between 1879-1881 wizard as assistant secretary of state, and again after 1885, onward, he and nicolay would walk between each others houses and homes is what materials. at this point hay had married a very wealthy woman and he built a mention. he and his good friend henry adams built side-by-side mansions in washington and that's when hay returned. if you know the hotel, that's on the site where the two mentions actually stood. but it's not the actual mansions. they were torn down sometime in the 1920s. by 1885 hay and nicolay had written some 5000 words of the biography but they were scarcely through the first year of the
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civil war. hay grew concerned by the scope of the undertaking and he felt what he needed was an incentive to bring the project to a close. smith and gilda, the publisher and editor respectively of the century magazine which was the nation's most prominent and widest circulation mags at the point provided that motivation. we want a life of lincoln, smith told hay. if you say so we'll give you all the profit. so soon they had a contract to this entry actually offered an unprecedented terms. $50,000 for the civil rights as most royalties on the sale of the full 10 points it to be issued following the magazine and. i'm sure you've had officer who would've enjoyed that. the long-awaited serialization began in 1886 and almost from the start it was extremely controversial. by virtue of their exhaustive treatment of lincoln's political career, hay and nicolay managed to get into the national consciousness episodes that have largely been unknown to the public, and themes and arguments
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that would influence lincoln scholars and civil war historians for generations and to this day. among the many contributions they made to our shared historical consciousness were revelations that william seward address to the closing lines of lincoln star sonata with the president-elect has been edited those lines and turn them into the work of genius that we know it as. they explained to us what they with first report george mcclellan's course assurance that the quote unquote could do it all when lincoln gave him command o of the union army as well as the army of the potomac. they were the first to reveal lincoln's great distress our early in the war when washington, d.c. was cut off from the north, and the prison was keeping anxious vigil for the troops and she said, why don't they come? the biographers also offered unprecedented light into lincoln's decision-making on anticipation and elizabeth of black soldier soldiers and theyn incentives to of his interaction with the union army highest command. of all, what they did was create a master narrative that continues to commit series of scrutiny more than a century
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after its introduction. populating his cabinet with former opponents for the republican presidential nomination, lincoln demonstrated his discernment and magnanimity in choosing in the quote he didn't know. he recognizes them as governors, senators and statesman, while they yet looked upon him as a symbol frontier lawyer at most, and rival, given chance to transfer the honor they felt due to themselves. effectively they presage the popular argued that lincoln formed the so-called team of rivals and they insisted that the strong personalities and talents who constituted his inner circle cannot always appreciate what they called a stronger well and more delicate tax that inspired and guided them all. i should add that when you think about the argument, historians are always rediscovering things that people wrote. there's nothing wrong with it. that's the way the profession should work. if you want a terrific iteration of the target you'll find in a book far more engaging and
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entertaining which is dated, but it was hay and nicolay to develop this thesis first. hay and nicolay a prominent place to the elephant in the room as well which was slavery. few white americans were interested in discussing that topic by 1885. in this discussion, that form the backdrop of lincoln's political rice, hay stated that it's now universally understood is not conceded that the rebellion of 1861 was begun for the sole purpose of defending and preserving the state institution of african slavery and making them the nucleus and a great site and buy. this is commonsense now but in the context of the 1880 it was a somewhat controversial assertion. breaking their own rule against believing the members of all been long after the fact, hay gave credence to the claims of john hanks, lincoln's cousin recalled a journey he had lincoln had taken when they're hired to escort a barge of goods than the mississippi river in 1831 but it was then that he claimed that lincoln first saw
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african slaves chained, now treated -- maltreated and scored. in his heart he blew. said nothing much, i can say no is that it was understood that he first formed his opinion of slavery. that story largely comes from hay and nicolay but as an antebellum politician, lincoln was not an abolitionist or a radical, what he did boldly affirm that african-americans were human beings and entitled to all the natural rights of human beings. the secretary followed that moral and intellectual lead, even though during the war they had not been as liberal on lincoln. that was something he gave to them posthumouposthumou sly, something they came to believe in pretty strongly by the 1880s. one of the things you gain a sense of when you read their diaries and letters from the civil war against the history of lincoln was that they often missed the significance of events they witness and participate in in real time. they were actors in stirring times, nicolay told his fiancée in the first weeks of the war, though i hardly realize they are
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so even though as i write them. in november 1863 the secretaries that accompany lincoln to gettysburg, pennsylvania, when he delivered the memorial address dedicating the soldiers the cemetery, they didn't remember much of it because they've been out drinking and were severely hung over the next morning. they had done so partly because this was a political event and it was their job to go out drinking with the many governors, politicians, congressmcongressm en, newspaper editors have converged pashtun their goal was to work the crowd in advance of the following year's presidential nomination site. nevertheless, they didn't remember much of the gettysburg address because they had been severely hung over. ended with a dedicated 13 pages two to close it, after the fact to understand that in a tremendously important moment, although in their diaries in the day or two after the actual event back in 1863 it's pretty clear they didn't recognize the significance of the event. part of the project here was to take down lincoln's biggest
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attractors, the biggest of them would have been george mcclellan. he cast himself as a hero of the war. had lincoln listen to in the war would've been over sooner and more like leslie. nicolay and hay by contrast basically wrote him up as an inept general given the so-called dilution of what they called hallucination of a woman forces opposing them. a man who really estimated the force as less than doubled its actual size. it was hay and nicolay who disclosed the famous star, the now famous story about lincoln's call on the general at his house in 1861 when mcclellan refused to come downstairs and see the president. and it was they who disclosed to the public that on the eve of the battle of antietam, a union private had discovered it generally is outlined and given to mcclellan. so as they wrote, mcclellan on new of the division of his -- anywhere its trains, rear guard and calvary were, where they were to march and hold and
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whether they would join the main body. nevertheless, mclovin failed to use this intelligence. the lincoln and introduced to the nation was a political operator. exerted control daily and hourly over the machine and command, they said, incarnation of the cabinet, the army, navy. you effectively get the sense that the introduced to the country the abraham lincoln who we all know today, sort of a stored individual. they are volumes numbered over 10, a million words, and they basically sought to establish lincoln's everlasting greatness. yet they we continue to the end to insist on his fundamental humanity. in lincoln's case, they said, as in that of all heroic personages who occupy great place in history, a certain element of the legend mingled with righteous thing. but they affirmed that lincoln was a man in fact and not a god. in the decades after their death, and hay and nicolay left
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behind a thesis that remained embedded in historical consciousness to this day. their rendering of lincoln is basically the lincoln memorial lincoln, a man who was in bed with uncommon humanity, but it was fundamentally flesh and blood. they could barely have claim to know better than any other men of the time, so it's little wonder they left the rendering tested and withstood the test of the figure would be in the 1940s of the any of the skull was able to touch, look at or consult the papers of the lincoln presidency. and so essentially because of robert todd lincoln's creed, they enjoyed the playing field long after they had died. as for what happened to john hay and john nicolay, nicolay get the better part of this latter like the abraham lincoln. first as a close adviser and then as keeper of the flame. sure before he died, in 1901, he wrote to a former staff member from the lincoln white house here and said i'd don't let any unsatisfied ambitions worry me. he died that year shortly after
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president mckinley was assassinated in september. hay lived until 1905 and went on to achieve considerable wealth and success. and morning after he dreamed of abraham lincoln on that ship back from liverpool shortly before his death he wrote another diary entry in which he said, i say to myself that i should not rebel at the thought of my life ending at this time. i have lived to be old, something that i never expected to do in my youth. i've had many blessings. i've had success beyond all the dreams of my boyhood. i know that death is the common law and what is universal ought not to be deemed a misfortune, and yet instead of confronting it with dignity and philosophy, i cling instinctively to life and the things of life as easily as if i'd not had my chance at happiness and gained nearly all the great prizes. these were two really extraordinary figures. trend is better known than nicolay, but in many ways, particularly today when we think about the business of presidential legacy making an president obama has just
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recently appointed a small committee of its staff members to begin building the presidential library and research center. president bush has just opened his. you have only a mile from one of the great presidential research centers, the carter center, which is in no small measure helped president carter to really a firm and shore up his legacy, particularly after a troubled for years in office. we have always, our presidents have always managed to history's and a legacy. those present who died early, abraham lincoln or franklin roosevelt or john kennedy, they relied on their families and their aides to do so as well. when i think of john hay and john nicolay and relationship with robert todd lincoln, i think of the relationship as a partnership between jacqueline kennedy onassis and arthur schlesinger, and theodore sorenson, teddy white or i think of eleanor roosevelt relationship with joe lasch and a number of other people who helped to define franklin was a legacy. and so my hope for this book, modest as it is, that it will
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help us to remember that abraham lincoln wasn't always remembered as we remember him today, and they were very real vast efforts that went into the enterprise. so thank you. i would love to take some questions, if there are any. [applause] >> what is your opinion of daniel epstein's book, the lincoln's men, which covers some of the same material that you have talked about? and secondly, what do you think about the recent biography of john hay speak was i like them both very much. epstein is really a literary man, a poet, scholar of literature. and i think he was trying to do a different project. it's a very lively account and dozens of other characters as well. we are looking at different questions using the same people. but it's a beautiful read.
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the biography of hay is magnificent. if you're interested in a comprehensive -- i shouldn't say this guy goes into interest in the conference the biography of john hay, don't buy my book, read his. but you want to read both the john hay did a number of other things i don't cover. not only was a presidential aide and then later a great diplomat, which is something i only cover in past through the lens of his relationship to lincoln of the civil war, he was a noted poet. he finally did the comic book but he stopped writing this wretched verse and he became famous for writing in the vernacular of his native illinois. he actually pioneered the practice of writing prose and poetry in that pattern made in southern illinois, missouri vernacular. mark twain later credited john hay is balance for having been the inspiration for the voice of some of his characters. for instance, huckleberry finn.
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so hay, and he has this marvelous, you know, relationship with henry adams and as part of this circle of washington literary insiders called the five of hearts. hay has a tremendous life outside of lincoln that is covered beautifully. so i do admire his book. very different book, a really terrific one. yes? >> given that you said that they had determined that their work would be fact based, not just anecdotal, to what extent is there writing used, was used at the time that is so yesterday for researchers? >> extensively. hay was a beautiful writer, but mostly a short story writer, and essayist. i wouldn't say that their prostyle as historian or biographer's is particularly
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gripping. and large sections of the book they basically just quote letters like the entire letter, not a luxury but the entire letter. if you look at the 10 volumes, i would estimate often that three or four-point is just direct quotation. they had notes on the side of the book that sort of cited the source instead of footnotes or in notes. they would listed back in those days, they listed it to the right of the passage. that was basically until 1937 how most people were able to access the lincoln papers to a had to do it through them. they did in 18 it is was a collective works of lincoln. so they basically put out what they claimed were all of lincoln's personal writings, but that didn't include the vast collection of incoming mail and memoranda that went to lincoln that he wrote margin comments and whatnot which were enormously valuable to know whee got to see thousands of ak-47. but because they generate a collected works of lincoln and because they decided which pieces of his writing were important by including them in the book, they eventually became
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the curators about of the store and would consult it in the decades after the road and after they died, people who looked at lincoln tended to look at is our life because that's where you could scour up additional resources. in the early 1900s, working with the magazine went on a hunt for early lincoln memorably. hay and nicolay thought this was hilarious because, after editor said look at this, they've got a girl editor to go out to try too research linking them as if she could possibly do this. she turned up all kinds of written materials, early speeches, early letters he wrote, things have been long lost to history but this is where scholars up until the 1940s are able to break new ground. you couldn't break new ground on his presidential years or even on the politics of the 1850s because the documents were all shut off, other than what they had written and copied in the book order collective volume.
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>> it sounds like going through their volumes, sort of a slogging experience, very tedious come with any pieces that you could identify for the book that really showed us some gems of? >> that's a good question. i enjoyed their letters and diaries far more than the actual biographies. but i will say that where they broke their own rule and relied on their own and become a tad exciting. so the chapters that deal with the nominating convention in 1860 our tremendous exciting because nicolay was in the room. for all of the descriptions of this moment when the votes shift, the second o ballot occus and lincoln suddenly pulls ahead, if in the third ballot when he surges ahead in wins and everything goes quite and they described the silence that the false the wigwam in chicago, that you could hear the
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reporters pencil scratch on the paper and he described was like to do but he doesn't from a third person sort of voice of god. he's not admitting i remember this but this is how i write a. at a discount to you could do the telegraph operators clicking out the results. that's tremendous exciting as you can feel the moment. and ironically that's when the break with her own convention. when hay described personal recollection or when they use hay's personal election for the conversation he had with lincoln, those are also fastening. if you match up his diary and away the road in the book, his diary is written pretty free-form. it's, he uses, he's basically just taking rough notes. he flushed this out and they kind of on their own will, that that's where it gets truly exciting. they couldn't really help themselves. >> the special field order 15 that was initiated by sherman,
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what is the treatment of that in the volume that they had? and what is your feel of lincoln's position, and were he not assassinated, so what is your assumption from that portrayal? because as you say, his legacy was not seen as a great humanitarian, our savior of blacks at the time, but it has become that. but what's your feel of his actual feeding on the issue of? >> they frame that in the larger context of lincoln's war policies. they followed the logic through and through, which was because they had, they had to describe northern democratic opposition as having been extraconstitutional. so they took care to follow the logic that link to apply during the war to say that although his growing concerned about slavery resulted in his advocacy of the
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13th a minute, his war policy had been to use emancipation and then the tools of emancipation and all the subsequent implications of it in order to bring the south to its knees. and so these orders were perfectly constitutional. that he had the right as did his field generals to ask appropriate property, to reduce sugar property, to liberate slaves where they saw them and what actually took land. a friend and a very constitutional fashion. at the same time the other pieces in the book that friend the whole question of slavery in stark moral terms but even 30 years later i think they were aware that people, people still come one of the raps against lincoln was given a simple country lawyer to a facile overplayed war powers that can exist because he didn't understand them, so they were very careful to make sure to sort of explain he was a master lawyer, politician, military leader who understood the expensive war powers that he enjoyed and who used them.
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you're basically asking what is reconstruction policy would've been had he lived, and that is a big if, what would've happened. i think it's purely speculation i think it's fair to say he wouldn't have been, it wouldn't have looked like what andrew johnson policies look like. and we left, right? but one point that was the old the photography of of reconstruction, assume that some of andrew johnson was carrying out what everyone would have done and the bad, bad radicals got in way of that women have long since gone past that history. i think it would be fair to say that lincoln axe to grind a lot, that he sort of made stuff up on the flight as you do under those circumstances and it's clear that his growth on these issues was accelerating days before he died. he had a conversation about allowing some african-americans in louisiana oh, the ones who are educated and land on. it's pretty easy thing to imagine that he would result in the way that would have fallen somewhere between the radical and moderate faction of the
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party, but it's a great tragedy that we will never know. >> where were the lincoln pipers when these two guys were working on them? >> they were in their home. it was a terrible thing. they swapped the market when nicolay was working as the grand marshal of the supreme court he had an office in the capital, and so they decided that they would keep the bulk of them there except for the ones they were consulting ago because the theory was that houses burned down equally, but they figured the capital was made out of marble so it would probably not. they had a closest to what that because before they came in possession of them, robert todd lincoln kept them in his offices in chicago. that, of course, didn't work out so well during the great chicago fire when he only barely got out before his office an entire block burned down. they realize they had to put them somewhere more safe. after nicolay died, hay took possession of all the papers. after he died of stomach turned over to robert todd lincoln but
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there's an interesting coda to that story. because for about 10 years the lincoln family was definitely trying to find one of the last -- they knew there were five copies of the gettysburg address. they were missing one of them and they couldn't find it. they had no idea what it was. hay and nicolay were dead so they can be consulted. nicholas daughter help them try to look for them. couldn't find them. sometime around 1914, hay's daughter alice sheepishly told robert that she had found it. apparently her father had kept it somewhere else, but with a larger collection. he basically had pinched it. i think he probably intended to return at some point but he couldn't bear to put with the rest of the collection, which is sort of fun in the context when you remember he can remember when it was delivered to -- he didn't remember when it was delivered. >> all of history, all the opportunities, what made you focus on the secretaries of
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lincoln? >> you know, people have written great books on white house staff. robert dallek just wrote a fine book called camelot scored which looks at the kennedy staff. i think this is agreed that always fascinated me but the last thing in the world needs is yet another book on lincoln, right? and yet i wrote one. i thought that this was a piece that would allow me to look at the development of lincoln's historical legacy but at the same time be attentive to the important role that staff members play in politics but i was more interested in that legacy as a historical question but having worked in politics and a staff position for a number of politicians, i found these to be recognizable and attractive. in all of their importance, arrogance, impetuousness, all of it. it is totally recognizable to my friends, with me, it was fun to live it through their eyes and kind of see it through the eyes. also they were just very, very witty, incisive direst and letterwriters and they are fun to be. you really do get a picture of the lincoln white house that,
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they're the only people who can give you that portrait and they wrote about it in real-time. [inaudible] >> sure. they didn't get along well with her at all but it was a very poisonous relationship, in part because like most men of the generation that didn't take women precisely and didn't appreciate the role she played in his early political career. and influence she had over the president when he was in the white house. a lot of the complex were also of a personal nature. they clash on the use of white house expenditure accounts and so on and so forth. and her decision and there's mixed like water and will so that was a tough relationship. and she didn't like the fact that they live in the white house so that was the custom at
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the time. they fiercely protected or after the fact, and particularly against all of the attacks and innuendo. they were very conscious of the responsibly to robert to try to help fix that can even as he had a difficult relationship with his mother. ..
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>> they had, you know, officers frm both sides write essays remembering the war and sort of theorizing the war and thinking about the war. it's when that famous, you know, oliver wendell holmes quote about honor and valor being a fight, being willing to die for a cause you don't understand. they thought this wasly ridiculs because they remember him as an abolitionist as a kid and as a teenager, and he had almost gotten killed while trying to escort i don't know whether it was wendell phillips or william lloyd garrison there an angry to be in boston. so they thought the way in which the ideological elements of the war were being stripped away in the service of national reunion was bad thing. you know, they, they were accused by their editors of practicing aggressive northernism. and hay would sort of say, well, we've got to watch it, we've got to tone it down, but then his own chapters would be ludicrously northern this their perspectives -- in their
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perspectives. i think it's fair to say while they were very successful in rewriting lincoln, their recasting of the civil war against that kind of revisionism didn't hold up for very long. their interpretation wouldn't come back into vote until the modern civil rights era, the 1950s and '60s. we probably have time for one more if there is one morement of there doesn't need to be, but i think we do have one more. >> [inaudible] they lost their jobs. what did they do immediately after the assassination? >> they, actually, had not intended to stay. they were burnt out, they were exhausted. and so lincoln, shortly before he died, appointed hem to two diplomatic posts. he appointed nicolay to be the consul general in harris and hay also in paris. and they readily jumped at the chance. they were exhausted, they didn't want to do another term.
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at the time they couldn't have foreseen what kinds of events would have occurred that kept them around, and they also wantedded to see some of the world. nicolay had a long-suffering fiancee who he wrote faithfully who was still back in illinois. she visited him, he visited her throughout the war and what not, but through his letters to her that we largely have his recollections of the war. but there was an exchange shortly after the election but before the inauguration in which he sort of writes her. most of her letters have disappeared, but he was sort of not very good at this relationship thing. it was very clear. at one point he spends three pages going into great detail about election returns and then says, by the way, what do you mean when you said you thought we were growing apart? [laughter] and there's a letter to her shortly before the inauguration which says, you know, i think i'm not going to take that
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diplomatic post, i think i'm going to stay here, so i don't think we can get married yetment and then he goes to see her, we know that. and ask by the time he comes back he's writing to hay and telling him where the wedding's going to be. the only way he could have gotten married was to get out the white house because the secretaries were expected to live there, and he couldn't set up a household in there. nicolay stayed there until '68, '69 and came back and did newspaper work for a few years before going to the supreme court. hay did a turn in paris and then came home. this is typical, and kind of mucked about at his parents' house, and he went to see william seward who got him a diplomatic post many in vienna for about ten months, and then he went home. then he went back to madrid and did a year there. by in this point he had done three diplomatic posts and knew everybody in europe. he came back and became a
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foreign affairs correspondent in june. he then married a very, very wealthy woman from cleveland which is how the hay adams mansions got built. it wasn't with money from writing. [laughter] alas. [laughter] but thank you so much, all of you, for coming out. i really appreciate it. [applause] >> [inaudible] more than happy to sign for you. have a safe trip home, we will see you all next time. [inaudible conversations] >> historian harlow unger
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reports that president washington, aware of the precedent he was setting, gained ever-widening executive powers during his tenure despite constitutional limits. this is about 40 minutes. [applause] >> thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. if you've turned off your cell phones, just tell your friend to call me, i'll leave mine on and take messages for you. [laughter] if some of you are upset with our president or some of his predecessors, some of you believe that he or they ignored the law or the constitution, well, the fault, dear brutus -- you don't mind if i call you brutus, do you? -- the fault, dear brutus, is not in the star, but in ourselves. for we elected him and them. but in all fairness to
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ourselves, the fault also is in the constitution. and in our first president, george washington. the constitution says, and i quote, and the executive power shag be invested in a president of the united states, but it fails the define executive power. and it fails to say what the president should do with it other than execute the office of the president. whatever that means. it means nothing. and that's a exactly what the framers intended. the president was to do nothing. the framers wrote a constitution that made him a figurehead. they made him commander in chief of the armed forces, but only when congress called the armed forces into action which left the president commander in chief of no one and nothing. other presidential powers were no greater. he could make treaties, but only
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with the advice and consent of the senate. he could nominate judges and heads of executive departments, but again, he could only seat them, put them into office with the advice and consent of the senate. and once they took office, he had no power to get rid of them. he couldn't fire them. they'd be there forever. and still worse, the constitution ordered the president to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, but it gave him no law enforcement arm or powers to arrest or punish any violaters. so when washington took office, e e really had no powers -- he really had no powers under the constitution. and again, that's exactly what the framers had intended. they had lived for a generation under the tyranny of an absolute monarch, george iii of england, and they were not about to let their new president become another king george. so they created a figurehead,
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and that's all george washington was when he took his oath of office as president of the united states, a figurehead. a beloved old man that other founding fathers had put on the throne hoping he would smile and nod off to sleep. james madison, who helped write the constitution, explained that in our government -- and these are madison's words -- in our government the executive department is not the stronger branch of the system, but the weaker. that's what madison said and what the framers believed. and to the distress of millions over the years, that's exactly what we've often had. but the framers forgot one thing, the name of that first chief executive was george washington. father of his country. commander this chief of the continental army. the man who had galloped into a storm of musket balls at
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monmouth courthouse. the brilliant general who won an eight-year war of independence with a bunch of farmers against the most powerful, well-trained, well-equipped army on earth. this was a man who, on his own, had studied history, law, economics, national and international affairs and literature and become, he had become one of the most widely-read of the founders. this was a man who had transformed a small tobacco plantation into one of america's largest, most diversified agro-industrial enterprises stretching across 20,000 acres. he was ceo of what we call a conglomerate today. it included a fishery, a meat processing plant, textile and manufacturing plant, a distillery, a gristmill, a prick-making kiln, a cargo-carrying schooner and endless fields of tobacco, grain fruits and vegetables.
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his trading operation stretched from the west indies and over to england. he was an immensely successful and powerful chief executive in peace as well as in war. when he took the oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states, he intended doing just that even if it meant ignoring the letter of the constitution at times to preserve the spirit. only a few months after taking office, washington shocked congress and the nation by assuming authority over four centers of government power that congress had hoped to control; foreign affairs, defense, finance and law enforcement. he waged war without congressional consent t. and then borrowed from banks to pay for government expenses. the constitution did not give him power to do those things. only congress could appropriate and authorize spending of
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government funds. only congress could declare war. but congress -- washington did both on his own. now, he knew that everything he did would set precedents for generations of his successors, but he ignored the constitution again and again to create what james madison later called a monarchical presidency. what modern scholars today call the imperial presidency. although largely associated with more recent presidents in the 21st centuries, the imperial presidency was the creation of george washington. washington combined political cunning, daring and sheer genius to seize the powers he needed to deal with the crises that he faced during his eight years in office. often when congress was in recess. members of congress then lived far from the capitol, many days
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away, even weeks over muddy trails and treacherous, dangerous, sometimes impassable dirt roads. washington faced crises the framers of the constitution had not foreseen, and he had to act on his own to protect the nation and its citizens. now, obviously to, not every every president is made of the same stuff as washington. i won't name names, but weaker, indecisive presidents, men without washington's leadership qualities have often let their powers slip away, sometimes to congress, sometimes to the supreme court, sometimes into thin air, just letting the nation drift, leaderless. because they don't know how to steer the ship of state. they say one thing one day, the opposite the next, and the nation just drifts. president carter admitted the nation during his administration
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was drifting in a sea of malaise. well, washington knew how to steer the ship of state. most americans today think he only faced crises during the revolutionary war, but he ran into crisis after crisis from the moment he took office as president. with his life in danger at times. now, i'm not going to tell you about every crisis because i want you to read my book. [laughter] but i will describe a few of them. including a rather curious one about how to address the president. this came up at the beginning of his presidency. during the revolution people addressed him as general or your excellency. but when he was president, they didn't know what to call him. there were no precedents. ours was the first elected president in world history. no other nation had ever elected presidents.
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one senator suggested calling him his elective highness. [laughter] vice president john adams who liked the pomp he had seen this europe suggested calling washington his highness, the president of the united states and protecter of the rights of same. well, the titles got sillier and sillier until one senator got tired of it all and shouted why don't we just call him george iv? [laughter] well, james madison ended the debate. he reminded congress the constitution prohibited titles in the united states. he said they'd have to address the president as they did every other citizen, mr. president. members of congress then tried to decide what to call each other and whether any of them deserved the title of the honorable gentleman. the senate voted no.
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the problems of titles didn't end there because washington had to seek the advice and consent of the senate with a draft of a treaty his war secretary, henri knox, had worked out with the indians. now, in this the senate -- in the senate the presiding officer, as with most conventions, the presiding officer was always addressed as prime mr. president. but when washington entered, the presiding officer in the senate was his own vice president, john adams. so washington was in the position where he'd have to call john adams mr. president. washington was having none of that. he was the only president, and he wasn't going to call anybody else mr. president. senators didn't know what to call either one of them, adams didn't know what to do. he was red-faced with 'em apartment, and washington -- embarrassment, and washington eventually solved the problem in his own inimitable way, he
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walked out. he never again set foot in the senate, nor has any other president to address that body. from that day on the president of the united states has entered the capitol to address only a joint session of congress in the house chamber where the presiding officer is called mr. speaker, and only the president of the united states is called mr. president. now, these may sound like silly little things, but this was what washington had to face in his first months this office as president and also the least threatening issues to his person and to the nation. that first summer congress established, by the way, it was 1789 in case you're wondering, congress established the executive offices of state, treasury and war. department of war we now call the county of defense -- the department of defense. and washington named the men he wanted in those posts. but as i said, the constitution gave him the right only to
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nominate cabinet heads, not to install them. or to fire them. congress hoped to keep control over those three departments as the continental congress had done during the revolutionary war when there was no president. well, not with washington. he told congressional leaderrers he would quit -- leaders he would quit if they refused to give him full control of every executive department, including the right to fire department heads. the constitution gave the president executive power, and he was not about to cede that to congress. congress knew the country was doomed without washington, so it backed off and passed a bill giving him and every future president the right to fire executive appointees without any advice or consent from congress. washington's victory in the dispute over executive appointments ended only one of what would be many conflicts between a president and congress
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over the years, decades and even centuries. since the founding, the three branches of government have been in a constant tug-of-war more power. as we just saw in the budget crisis. and all three branches have violated the constitution almost at will. but fortunately, one or both of the other two branches have usually brought the government back into compliance and into constitutional balance. the supreme court has struck down about 200 federal laws as being unconstitutional since the founding of the republic. congress passed them all, and the president signed them all, but the supreme court ruled hem unconstitutional -- them unconstitutional. now, the president has vetoed more than 2500 laws since the beginning of the republic. sometimes for political reasons, but often for constitutional reasons. and congress has overruled him
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only about a hundred times. and the supreme court, in its turn, has issued quite a few unconstitutional decisions like the dred scott decision. and it has often handed down decisions tantamount to legislation. the president also repeatedly violated the constitution by sending troops to war without congressional consent and issued unconstitutional executive orders that have the effect of legislation. the first conflict between the branches of the new government came up at that same first year of washington's presidency in 1789. unlike the present congress, the congress in 1789 had passed a budget, but it had no money. the international shipping season had ended, and the government derived all its
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revenues from import duties. will weren't any other taxes. -- there weren't any other taxes. so congress recessed without giving washington any money. in effect, it shut down the government. can you imagine congress shutting down the government? [laughter] washington had no choice. he took matters in his own hands. he sent treasury secretary alexander hamilton to borrow money from the bank of new york which hamilton had founded. it was unconstitutional, but the president was george washington, and he did whatever he had to do to keep the government running. he faced another crisis and a conflict with congress with the outbreak of the indian war in the ohio territory the following year. again, congress was out of session, and the indians were considered foreign nations then. the indians had attacked and defeated a force of americans and were attacking settler villages and farms. now, the constitution is quite clear. it gives congress and only
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congress the power -- and these are the words of the constitution -- the power to raise and support armies and to declare war. washington refused to stand by and do nothing while indians slaughtered his countrymen. in a clear violation of the constitution, he drafted troops into the army and sent them to war without congressional knowledge or sanction. when congress finally recon seen screened -- reconvened, its members saved face by passing the militia act which gave the president the legal right to do what he had already done illegally. similar to passage of the patriot act a few years ago which legalized all the illegal actions of the bush administration. many presidents have continued the constitutional conflict with congress over the power to send troops into battle. most recently, early last fall when president obama and congress were at odds over u.s.
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intervention in the syrian civil war. although he denied his obligation to do so, to his credit, mr. obama became the first president since franklin d. roosevelt to recognize the constitutional right of congress and the right of the american people to have a say in whether to send their children to war. more than a dozen wars and untold hundreds of skirmishes overseas involving u.s. troops, of all of these operations congress has issued formal declarations of war only five times in our history. the war of 1812, the mexican war, the spanish-american war and the two world wars. presidents on their own have sent the nation into all the other wars in clear violation of the constitution. and george washington was the first president to do so. unfortunately, he set a precedent that many of his successors have often used
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recklessly. unlike those successors, when washington went to war in the west, the lives of thousands of american citizens were clearly at stake. in all, president washington established what i call in my book seven pillars of presidential power not provided by the constitution. he raised the first four pillars of power relatively easily. they were the powers over executive appointments, foreign affairs, government finances and defense and military affairs. raising the other three pillars, though, almost cost washington his life. again, i don't want to spoil my book for you, but of these three powers, one is the power to issue presidential proclamations or executive orders. the constitution says nothing about proclamations and doesn't give the president the right to issue any for good reason. a presidential proclamation or
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executive order is a new law. ask the constitution -- and the constitution doesn't give the president the power to write laws. that power belongs to congress. that's why congress is called a legislature. nevertheless, washington issued six proclamations, and his successors have issued more than 13,500 proclamations and executive orders. congress in that time has enacted about 20,000 laws, which means the presidents have on their own written and put into effect two-thirds as many laws as congress, too often secretly, recklessly, ignoring the interests of and will of the american people. the imperial presidency run wild. washington only issued six proclamations. lincoln, 48. theodore roosevelt, almost 1100. woodrow wilson, 1800.
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franklin roosevelt, more than 3500. and barack obama is closing in on 200. now, in the case of president washington, he faced a crisis in which he believed he had to act to preserve, protect and defend the nation, the american people and in the end, the constitution itself. and here's why. in 1793 the french revolution had turned ugly. mad men had taken control of the french national assembly and executed king louis xvi. france declared war on britain, and to prevent military supplies from reaching enemy ports, both the british and the french seized hundreds of american ships and impressed or
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imprisoned thousands of american seamen and passengers. riots broke out in american cities. some rioters demanded that we go to war against britain on the side of france, our old revolutionary war ally. but britain was our most important trading partner, and anglo files went into the streets demanding we join england at war with france. it was a mess. and making matters worse, president washington had no way to enforce laws and crush the rioting. to make matters worse, french revolutionary government center a new ambassador to the united states, a citizen. he had secret orders to spread the french revolution in america and overthrow the washington government if necessary. vice president adams said, and this is john adams talking, the terrorism excited drew 10,000 people into the streets of philadelphia. day after day they threatened to
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drag washington out of his house and affect revolution this the government or compel it to declare war in favor of the french revolution and against england. suddenly the french fleet from the antilles sailed into philadelphia's port. french seamen were ordered off the ships to join mobs in the streets. british consul wrote in panic to his foreign minister in london. the town is one continuous scene of riot. the french seamen range the streets by arm -- by day and by night. president washington is unable to enforce any measures in opposition. with his own life in danger along with the lives of his family and thousands of other innocents, washington had to act. he had no law enforcement personnel.
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but he did what he could hoping the american people would rally behind him as they had in the revolutionary war. he issued a presidential proclamation, the neutrality problem proclamation, declaring the country neutral and unaffiliated to either side. it was a law. it prohibited americans from taking sides. unconstitutional, but there were enough washington supporters in congress and among the people to let washington with dodge the issue. congress later passed a neutrality law that converted the problem rah mission -- proclamation into actual legislation. it didn't stop the rioting, of course, but george washington, martha and their grandchildren were still in grave danger, and if i tell you any more, you won't have to buy my book. [laughter] the story of washington is gripping, full of suspense, and
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my book describes how his brilliant strategies combined with some good luck to end the crisis. but it was not the last of the major crises washington faced during his eight years in office. one of the most dangerous came in 1794, a year after the affair. import duties were proving too little and too seasonal to pay for government expenses, and washington asked congress to pass a 25% tax on whiskey stills. the tax affected nearly all americans. whiskey was the most widely consumed beverage in america. so the whiskey tax ran into enormous resistance. the whiskey tax hit grain farmers in western pennsylvania the worst, especially hard. whiskey was fundamental to frontier economics. farmers had no roads to
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transport grain in bulk across the appalachians, so they distilled the grain into whiskey which they could carry in jugs and barrels by mule over the narrow mountain trails to eastern markets. almost all farmers west of the appalachians had a still, and for them the 25% whiskey tax was nothing less than government confiscation that would wipe out their profits and bankrupt them. the philadelphia newspaper asked what was it that caused the revolution if it was not this? so when the first tax collectors crossed the appalachians, farmers met them with pitchforks, tar and feathers and then gunfire. thousands of farmers banned together. some threatened secession and union with canada. others wanted to march to philadelphia and overthrow the washington administration. the president responded with outrage. he squeezed back into his
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revolutionary war uniform and ordered a military strike against the whiskey rebels. it was every american's worst nightmare come true. george washington turned tyrant, sending troops to crush citizen tax protests just as the british had done 30 years earlier when he himself, george washington, had urged similar tax protests. of it was one of the defining events of the washington administration. and the making of the u.s. presidency. washington was determined to preserve the government and the union and the rule of law. if the minority -- and these are washington's words -- if the minority are suffered to dictate to the majority, there can be no security for life, liberty or property. so again, he ignored the letter of the constitution by sending
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troops to put down citizen protests and crush constitutionally-sanctioned demands for redress of grievances. in calling the troops to action, he asserted presidential law enforcement powers for the first time in american history, thus raising another pillar of executive power. when washington left office, he had many critics, and he regretted it deeply. washington had presided over the constitutional convention. he had been first to sign that document, and then as president he ignored its provisions many times. but did he? yes and no. yes, he violated the letter of the constitution a number of times, but he believed the constitution to be like the ten commandments; a magnificent, sacred text to be revered, followed and upheld in spirit
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but impossible to follow literally. thousand shalt not kill -- thou shalt not kill. good and great men can kill all the time with words as well as with weapons. but in doing so, they don't necessarily weaken the greater meaning of that commandment, and by ignoring certain words of the constitution, george washington not only strengthened the american presidency, he averted anarchy and guaranteed the hurts we still enjoy -- the liberties we still enjoy today. washington's original proclamation set the precedent for abraham lincoln's emancipation proclamation to end slavery. in ordering troops to put down the whiskey rebellion, washington set the precedent for dwight eisenhower to send troop into little rock, arkansas, to insure the right of black children to go the school with white children. there's no question that george washington often ignored the letter of the constitution.
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but in doing so, he did so wisely to enhance the spirit of that document and insure this nation's existence be for almost -- existence for almost two and one-half centuries with a single constitution, a single popularly-elected government and a single, continuing goal of liberty and justice for all. washington's achievement in fathering and protecting our free nation, the liberties of its people is unprecedented in the annals of man. thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. prison. [applause] thank you. thank you. i'll be happy to answer your questions if i can and then sign copies of my book for you. yes, sir. >> i really enjoyed -- [inaudible] >> oh, thank you. it's not for sale, but you can get that on amazon.
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>> when general washington -- [inaudible] it had suffered during -- did anyone question his physical and mental health -- [inaudible] >> not really. first of all, there were no other candidates. he was the only man who could hold the nation together. the nation -- at the end of the revolutionary war, this was not a nation, this was a confederation. the 13 former colonies became independent states, each of them. independent countries like the countries of europe after the second world war. so there was no nation. the confederation had a constitution of sorts, but really it created a congress, the confederation congress, that only was a meeting place for representatives of these independent states to come and discuss their problems. but it had no power. it couldn't raise taxes, it
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couldn't raise an army, it was absolutely powerless. and the nation or the confederation really began to deteriorate into anarchy. you had 13 independent states, many of them almost at war with each other and in some cases actual fighting broke out. southern vermont, massachusetts went war claiming territory in vermont. all of them had conflicting territorial claims. and in philadelphia, soldiers shot and killed men from connecticut who tried to settle in the northwestern part of the state. >> yeah. it is interesting, it ma be laudable -- may be laudable, it's certainly sentimental about what the motivations are of mr. washington, okay? we know that he ticked off a bunch of -- he kicked off a bunch of people on his land after he won the war.
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the question is, like they gave the younger bush, is it really all personal? is this just personal, that he wanted to hold on to his plantation and everything else that flowed out of that came here finally and that it was not this whole, like, i'd to listic -- >> things mixed up a little bit. his plantation in virginia, mount vernon, a 20,000-acre plantation, there were -- he kicked nobody off that land. >> [inaudible] >> may i answer your question? or do you want to answer it? >> no, no, you. >> he kicked in one off of his plantation. over the years prior to the revolutionary war, he and many other virginians had gone into the west into the ohio valley and claimed raw land, unused land. during the revolutionary war, many, many squatters began
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settling those lands, and he tried to reclaim them after the war because he had made huge investments, as did most other people with investments out there. he did not really succeed. in fact, he fired his agent was his agent was unable to enforce the laws out there. it was the wild west. and some of the people left, many of them stayed, and he lost a good part of his investments in the west as a result. >> it was not personal, it was really for the nation? >> it was as a private investor trying to claim the land -- >> [inaudible] >> was it personal -- >> i'm sorry, sir, there are other people with questions. yes, sir. >> could you talk about the procedure where the president ignored the war even though
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he -- [inaudible] signing statement whereby he signed the law but then has reservations about it? can you talk about that -- [inaudible] how it got started? >> washington never did that. well, it's -- all three branches of government, the exthetive branch -- executive branch, legislative branch and the judiciary have been for years since the founding of the republic guilty of violating the constitution. as former vice president dick cheney said, one of the few truisms of his career in office, he was asked about the constitution, and he called the constitution a quaint dc unit. and that's -- document. and that's exactly what it is. the government violates the constitution almost at will. fortunately, there are three branches of government, and they
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are constantly vying for power. so when one branch violates the constitution, the other two bring it back into compliance. nothing in the constitution, for example, gives the supreme court the right of judicial review. nothing. yet john marshall, our fourth or fifth chief justice, assumed that power in marbury v. madison and assumed the power to declare a federal law unconstitutional. and although jefferson challenged him, jefferson lost. but clearly the supreme court assumed powers not granted to him. and the president has done the same thing, congress has done the same thing. president does not have the right to send troops to war, period. yes, sir. yeah. >> oh. my question is about the whiskey rebellion. do you think that george washington was ever on any level
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intent on commanding troops in battle, or do you think that he sort of went to western pennsylvania and donned his general's uniform just sort of for the spectacle -- >> the answer is, yes, because he called up 13,500 troops to put down a rebellion by about an estimated 5,000 rebels. >> no, i understand that, but my question is whether or not he himself was intent on mounting a horse and commanding -- >> he tried to, but he was too old to, too fat, and he couldn't get into his uniform. he had to have a new uniform made. [laughter] and he and alexander hamilton rode out to carlisle, pennsylvania, in a carriage and decided that he was, washington decided -- well, and his colleagues decided he was too old to go into battle. they made aler hamilton -- alexander hamilton inspector general which made him,
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essentially, commander of the armed forces. and then general harry lee took command of the force that went out to western pennsylvania. washington turned back from carlisle, went back to philadelphia. the troops did go out there. by the time they got out there, the rebel camp had broken up completely. they found about 20 drunks, and it was rather disgraceful. the troops were so angry, they put the drunks in open carts and carted them back to philadelphia and marched them down the streets of philadelphia. they were tried for treason. all or were acquitted except two -- all were acquitted except two, and washington pardoned the other two. yes, ma'am. >> [inaudible] >> i'm sorry? >> who introduce the law that -- [inaudible] american president to be --
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[inaudible] >> that is in the constitution. it's not a law, it's the constitution. >> yes, i have a question. >> all the questions? >> i have a question. >> all right. >> so in my mind the question is then does the president duly elected in violating the letter of the law usurp the very freedoms which we as citizens are provided by the government just to save the republic? >> usurp is a very strong word. usurp means taking someone else's power, seizing someone else's power. and i think we have to say he assumed or asserted those powers because, after all, congress was not here. here the president is charged with running the government. there's no congress, no one to consult. the cabinet in those days were very, very small.
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you had five men, two of whom were really not cabinet members -- the postmaster general and the attorney general. the attorney general was not, as today, the chief law enforcement officer. he was simply a legal adviser to the president. but he had no law enforcement powers -- >> [inaudible] >> pardon? >> just one follow up. usurp is a strong word. isn't a president in any case your sur -- usurping the power of congress by violating the letter of the law by not following the letter of the constitution? >> well, this makes for many decision discussions. should president obama have allowed congress to shut down the government? i don't think so. i think he should have declared a state of emergency instead of letting millions of americans suffer. to me, he was as cruel to the american people as governor christie was to the people in fort lee, new jersey -- [laughter] by -- enter thank you very much. >> you're very welcome.
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thank you very much. i'll be glad to sign books for you. thank you. [applause] >> for more information, visit the author's web site, harlow harlowgilesunger.com. >> you're watching booktv on c-span2. here's our prime time lineup for tonight: ..
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>> on booktv with the help of our comcast cable partners for the next 90 minutes we will explore the history and literary scene of florida's capital city as we talk with local authors and visit special collections. we begin our future with a trip to florida state university and ththe book of their rare books from the french revolution. >> special collections room at the fsu library. this is our main reading room. where researchers, interact with the materials. we maintain an extensive rare book collection dating back to manuscript from the 1400s through 20th century publications. manuscript collections like some of the material we see some of the napoleon collection as the southern business history, scientific you, the collection of the papers of a nobel
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prize-winning physicist was one of our core collections. as well as university history. the long history of florida state university, and its predecessor institutions. by the early 1960s, the institute for napoleon and the french revolution was established here at fsu as an institute in the history department for the study of the french revolution, and particularly the napoleonic wars. one of the first associate with that program, gentlemen by the name of doctor donald horwood. he is now professor emeritus. is a military historian, his specialty is the napoleonic era, and through his research, his travels around the world, his connections with collectors, rare book dealers but also with scholars, the french government, he began to work with the
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longtime director of fsu library, charles miller. and than his predecessors, to acquire books and other material through this collection to help support the graduate research. and through this collaboration, not only through purchases arranged by dr. horwood the library pursue but also through donations, dr. horwood has been a great donator of materials over the course of the last 50 years we have amassed this collection of about $20,000. we continue to collect. the first example i brought out from the collection, this is the description -- my french is terrible. it's one of several volumes. these volumes were rebound, published later in the 19th
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century, but what they document is napoleon's campaign in egypt, and artist renderings of the landscape of egypt, pyramids, architecture, architectural elements, elements of the hieroglyphs, egyptian pottery, maps and diagrams of the layouts of pyramids, of different historical sites around egypt to this is an area where there was no photography. this is a way to document in detail the things the polls in and his army were encountering. they were also a way to account for the riches of egypt that napoleon was hoping to bring back into france to the empire. and also used as points of study for french architects and
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artists. this piece is another in a set from 1792, published during the french republic era about the history of louis the 16th. so the official french publication talk about the history of king louis and the start of the revolution. this kind of material again gives us the perspective on how the contemporary or how the people who lived during the period of the revolution were writing their own history, particularly in the pit of the republic for the purposes of perhaps justifying the revolution and explaining to the people what occurred. we have many examples of contemporary newspaper publications. this is a set from 1807. they are important representation, again, of what the activities of if i were, the kinds of things that were being
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reported. not only do they tell you about napoleon's activities are what was happening in the battlefield, but the kinds of things in terms of expansion of empire, news that was occurring at the day, and you've got the imperial seal on the top of this one. i have another example of newspapers here. this particular volume comes from 1800. we have a run of this newspaper through i believe 1812, 1813. this is one of the primary newspapers during napoleon's time. i think one of the interesting things about this particular newspaper at how researchers are using this today, not only does the document to the activities of the army, what was occurring in the empire, but you get a lot of reports from the colonies on trade.
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so what commodities were worth at the various points in time. so people are using this kind of newspaper to look at not just what was occurring in france, but was happening in the caribbean and in other colonial spaces. what i'm about to show you comes from general clouseau newspapers. general tilelli was an officer in napoleon's army. he worked closely with napoleon in the field, and one of the duties of a field officer would be to transcribe correspondence that was sent back and forth on the battlefield from napoleon to this general and vice versa. this volume is a journal. it's a set of transcriptions from european battlefield beginning in 1806 going through 1811. thank you can see you've got a table of contents, and
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transcribed documenting what each of the letters was about, it was from, who is due, the location. and then as you move further in, you have the actual transcriptions of the letters. again, documenting what the history of the correspondence is common the battlefield correspondence itself and then a signature from napoleon or from his general to confirm how this indeed was the official correspondence to some of your viewers may notice i'm not wearing white gloves today. as i can assure them that my hands are quite clean. as a part of our practice through the evolution in handling paper, historical paper materials, while white cotton gloves have been used in a shortly important to use with artifacts and photographs, if you lose tactile sensation in
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your hands, it is easier to tear pages. so nice, clean hands and careful maneuvering of the pages are the recommendations. as a part of the collection of the napoleon and french ablution collection, we have the published materia materials. web original manuscript materials. we also have a number of artifacts that relate to napoleon and to his military campaigns and biographies. one of our most popular objects, and many people just come to see us for the novelty of this is our copy of a napoleon -- at the time it was customary to create a death mask after someone
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famous or powerful passed away, even if they were in xo. it's a bit of a controversy over the napoleon death mask. they were accurately two masks created. the promenade's of those masks and the arguments over which one is truly authentic continue today. this is amassed, a copy of a mask that was said to be done by the doctor at napoleon's bedside, and then lost or stolen for a period of time and recovered in the 19th century. we've looked at some representative pieces from later publications, drawings of egypt of contemporary publications from the time, manuscript materials as well as artifacts. special questions and archives at florida state university library are open to everyone. you don't need any special permission to come interact with
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these materials or to do research. and we welcome students of all ages and all levels of experience. >> while visiting tallahassee, florida with help of local cable partner comcast we talk with richard and about his book "somali piracy and terrorism in the horn of africa" spent i write this because i write this because i felt this was to the needs to be told that at the time to bring people to talk about similar but in particular known talked about the connection between piracy and terrorist so that's why decide to write the book. piracy and terrorism are two totally separate act of piracy is people going out and hijacking ships and bringing them in. terrorism is more land-based and more political base. at the time al-shabaab is a major factor within somalia. what it is the suicide attacks. assessing politicians and basically they're preventing the government from being informed in somalia.
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with pirates cannot miss are involved in politics. there more so doing for economic reasons. both of the big differences. where they can to get is a both stem from the same province. that is, somalia has now together for 20 years. what they have is a power-sharing agreement. they don't have a government is elected by the people. it's basically a group of elders, a group of influence people to think somali somali can together and have selected, putting people together and that's the government. if you look at the report does all types of corruption. a lot of people who are involved in government have ties with pirate groups. they're not a legitimate government to its the way to kind of watch excellence and to do the violence but the majority is not involved in piracy or in terrorism. the overall majority of the population is affected by. nothing about terrorism come you never know who's in it. no one walks with a t-shirt that says i'm a terrorist. you never know. thatcher to live in constant fear, you never know when the guys were, with a suicide bomb.
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i member when i went to somalia for a visit one of the guys said look, you've heard a situation where someone was listening to music and some from al-shabaab kimmit unstabbed in the neck. just listen to what they call western music. it's that constant fear and the constant not knowing that makes the society very unstable the basic all these organizations are internationally enacted. they're connected to al-qaeda and some of the opposition's. they not only make attacks within somalia, they plan attacks on the united states in europe and other places. in addition to that many people from america left america and travel to somalia and got involved in al-shabaab. so what makes everyone nervous is that there's a possibility that at some point that people are training in these training camps in somalia could come back and launch attacks within america. that has to be concerned. that's what is the global threat. piracies only viable in certain regions of the country that are
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close to the coast so that everyone can get involved. in addition, terrorism is money in the southern part of the country so it's pretty much more, it's not strictly regional, so this, in the northeastern part of the country, in the area you see that's where the majority of the piracy i would not because there's a big port. in the southern part that's we see a lot of al-shabaab going on because it's closer to the capital. terrorism, terrorists have political goals so they want to be close to the capital. pirates of economic goals so they want to close to the poor. that's pretty much a geographical thing the virus can be different people but you were speaking just young men who have very little options but not all of them. not all of them are poor people are just doing something to get by. this is a way to make money. some people sell drugs, some people commit acts of crime. piracy is a viable way to make money because if you go out and launch an attack that cost maybe three or $4000 to launch

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