tv Book Discussion on The Presidents War CSPAN September 1, 2014 5:00pm-6:07pm EDT
television for serious readers. you can watch any program you see online at booktv.org. historian and political strategist examines the civil war through five presidents. john tyler, martin v. martin v. in, marking the endearing, millard fillmore, franklin pierce and james buchanan. the author recounts the president's thoughts on the war and the collective criticisms of the successor abraham lincoln. this is a little over an hour. [applause] thanks to all of you for being here tonight. this is the time for the rating
on the president for six american presidents and the civil war that divided them. you need to come back tuesday at 7:30. first of all thanks to changing hands of this is the third events we've been together over the past three years. i did my official book launch for both of my books finding novels and congress and lincoln and thanks so much to c-span book tv i think it's amazing you can turn on the tv on the weekend and watch tv with offers talking about books. that is fantastic and this will be the fourth time i've been on the program through if i manage to get through without saying anything inappropriate cable broadcasting for the fourth time which is exciting to me. this is my third book the president for six american presidents into the civil war that divided them. as a history junkie which is what i was for many years before i became a history author this is the ultimate story that has never been told.
we had a record number of living presidents in the civil war. martin van buren, john tyler, james buchanan, millard fillmore, franklin pierce. a record number of presidents to witness america's national tragedy and to plague, harass and oppose and advise president abraham lincoln. so for me the story began with a conversation with a friend of mine and he mentioned something you don't ordinarily associate with the civil war in the mid-19th century. five of them are still alive and i knew instantly that i had the idea for my next book. so to tell the story of the five presidents in the civil war it's hard to figure out exactly where to start. and so i phoned in on a dinner that was given early in the administration of president
andrew jackson and the first secession crisis the country faced. so the idea of nullification was plaguing andrew jackson and the idea that a state could veto or refuse to be bound by the law with which they disagreed. so in this case we are talking about the terrorist diet is placed on the goods that come into the country or the manufacturing which eliminated the foreign competition but it was a burden on the agriculture that was an exporting economies that rely on the terrace and free trade in order to be successful. so south carolina was threatening to nullify the national terrorist and some decided to make their stand in honor of thomas jefferson the founder of the democratic party so it should have been a big night for celebration.
they had elected the first official president andrew jackson and if they had so much to celebrate. the country was prosperous but the issue was dividing them celebrate protocol the organizers of the events would event would give their toast and then finally people would give toasts in order of their station so on might andrew online andrew jackson is sitting there not willing to suffer through and listen to the organizers cheering on the nullification and the idea that the states could ignore the federal law. finally it came to andrew jackson to show the cause so a tennessee supporter of state rights they expected him to give up and get a favorable toast, which isn't what happened. he got up and said the union must be preserved. no qualifications, if and or but. the union must be preserved and
in the words of one was like an exploded bomb. next was the vice president of the united states john caldwell calhoun from the state of north carolina and the doctrine of the nullification gave the next coast and said the union was dear to the hearts of southerners but only next to the liberty and so given the security definition of liberty that remarkable statement by union next to the liberty was less important. third was martin van buren secretary of the united states who got up and said let's remember this country was founded on compromised. america itself, the constitution compromise and let us always remember it is compromise that kept us together through the various crises in the past. so i thought that was the
perfect place to start because of the ideas the union that must be preserved and let's remember the compromised s. together and those were the three philosophies that clash and that compete that wouldn't be out of the armed conflict that claims to present of the united states of america's population. so, the jackson administration came in with big hopes but also had a congenital defect and it seems like such a ridiculous thing to read a fight the government over. called the petticoat affair. jackson brought some friends with him to tennessee and one of them that he placed in his cabinet buried a woman to closely following the death of her husband for the likes of john calhoun's wife. so this scandalized certain quarters of washington and this woman and her husband were
excluded from the various parties involved in social functions in the national capital. martin van buren at this point is a young widow ware and so he had no wife to put him into the dispute on one side or the other side was easy for him to support the president and support of the family. while this end up dividing them so badly then beer and ends up offering his resignation as the secretary of state to about jackson to pick a new cabinet and start over and realize the promise of the administration so they voted to throw him under the proverbial bus and the minister to england was an important prominent post at the time times of martin van buren goes over to england, finds out the senate rejected his nomination and that two senators henry clay and daniel webster
had conspired to create a vote so that calhoun as vice president could stick the knife in and he was too happy to do it to defeat the van buren nomination. this didn't go precisely as they planned in the words of senator thomas hart who heard him talking about the vote immediately after the fact he said you've broken and advice to the ambassador. he dropped from the national ticket vending beer and is added to the ticket of the running mate and becomes apparent to the presidency so that legacy that andrew jackson leaves for martin van buren is not a great one. stop me if you've heard this before but an abundant availability of credit landed on the speculation that overheated housing market and caused the national economic collapse. fortunately we have learned from the mistakes.
[laughter] so far and then beer and was plagued by the national economic crisis to figure out what to do and then he gives far too much credit and blame when the times are good and bad. they are defeated by the famous ticket for the slogan william henry karas and the first nominee of the party. the party didn't agree on much. the agree that they didn't like andrew jackson. they didn't even adopt the platform in the 1839 convention. they knew they had the democrat and they were going to win this race as long as they could stay together so they had come to the party over states rights because andrew jackson had ultimately stared down south carolina and then and an altercation crisis and got them to capitulate in the use of force.
some of them was angry over the national bank where he had withdrawn than a deposit and vetoed the charter. but they came together as the way the party william henry and john tyler the senator from virginia who voted on the issue of the removal of the deposits on the bank. it was a brilliant campaign was the mid-19th century with the length of the 2008 barack obama campaign campaign with new innovations jackson increased suffrage through the united states and more people could vote to ban ever before. more people could read than ever before and there were all these new mechanisms. now he's a party newspapers and letters and rowdies and polls pools and all kinds of events and barbecues to engage the public and elections so they
were excited when they were able to defeat martin van buren but the victory would be short-lived. william henry harrison died 30 days following his inauguration. john tyler houston finds out embodies the role of the vice president. he was on his knees playing marbles with his young children and he's not even in dc and virginia and he has a messenger arrived at the house telling him he's become the president of the united states. he was attracted to the party because of its opposition to jackson over the national bank. he was an opponent of the national bank that objected to the way that jackson had withdrawn the deposits before the charter had expired. he thought it as easily in his pocket as a different deposit location. so he disagreed with his party
on quite a few important issue is one of them being the constitutionality of the national bank. play wanted a job for himself. william henry harrison was the oldest president ever elected. harrison dies and becomes the youngest president in history now he's stuck waiting in line behind tyler who certainly wants to run again and so he has a fight over the national bank rather than try to find some sort of compromise. they will fight the bill in the national bank and then expelled from the whig party and he can look out and see himself in the
white house probably the first president to do so maybe not the last. he could hear people firing outside and chanting. so he finds himself a man without a party. so he starts thinking about how he can get reelected and to start looking at the democratic nomination for the president. he even offers martin van buren who is the front-runner to get his own job back in the supreme court to get out of the way. then beer and of course very close to arriving back at his dream job at the presidency. so he sets his site at texas for an issue that can capture the imagination of the american people. you have this independent republic of texas, all of this land, these young country eager for expansion and westward movement and an ambitious country so he sets his site
maniacally on bringing texas into the union almost single-mindedly. then beer in his defeated for the nomination in 1844. one of the most important rules that affected so much of american history called the two thirds rule at the democratic convention so in those days they required two thirds of the delegates of the convention to improve the nominee in this case the southerners over the choice of the nominee. van buren was reluctant to acquire texas and mexico considered a part of the territory and also it was a slave area that would be brought into the united states. the politics dictated anything america was in the position to acquire territory is the issue whether it would be free or some hybrid and it would always cause a major problem and threatened to drive the country apart and could lead to the civil war.
van buren was against it and clay was against against it and tyler considered running as a third-party candidate but when the democratic party nominated james k. polk as president, the firm supporter of texas annexation heels of the withdrawals from the race at the behest of andrew jackson to leave the field clear for one supporter who is pro- texas and he defeats him and opposes the annexation of texas said he spent eight spends the rest of his administration successfully bringing texas into the union. also speaking of the union, his wife had died while he was in office and he ended up marrying a 24-year-old when he was 54. not bad, right click [laughter] he ends up getting married setting his sights on the life of the presidency so he buys a home in virginia he nicknames
sherwood forest after the outlaw robin hood because they outlawed him from the party. you can't say that he didn't have a sense of humor and speaking of a group of people that have a sense of humor his neighbors decided they would play a joke on him and throw him in as the supervisor it was a thankless job and you don't want to be the roadmaster in virginia and you also have to pay a fine if you don't accept the job so he would have to pay a job find. so the roadmaster had one job in one job only and that was to requisition people you can take the slaves and put them to work on the roads whenever he needed to sushi waited until the harvest was ready. you see where this is going. [laughter] he requisition and everybody so they show up at his house and
say thank you so much for the excellent work you've done. we think it's time for you to hang it up and let someone else try. you worked so hard. he said no i have sworn a solemn responsibility to fulfill my duties and that is what i intended to do. [laughter] so he got the last laugh for his antagonist. so the president had somebody named james buchanan to be the secretary of state and van buren have signed as the ambassador to russia. he served in the congress of the united states as a state legislator in pennsylvania and as a soldier soldier in the war of 1812. together, they would navigate all the aftermath of the annexation of texas. some of the annexation of texas ultimately does mean mexico and during the mexican-american war, you see the large number of past present and future presidents working on different issues and coming together in a really
interesting way. secure of a young illinois and by the name of abraham lincoln elected to congress. and there's an opponent of the mexican-american war. and questioning the motives for initiating the war is a speech that nearly cost him his political career and probably the election so he does not run for a second term. probably might have cost him to read election and helped cost him his former district. you had great weather. and the senator from new hampshire who had seen him on the fast track he was the youngest member of the senate he was a young senator and his wife that he did washington hated politics and convinced him to give up to us his favorite things which were drinking and holding elected office and so he sees it as an opportunity to get back involved in a big way and
he serves to the conclusion of the war with the army of the army of the general scott but he later would see in a landslide for the presidency. yet another fillmore who came into congress with franklin pierce and moves back to buffalo and took time off now serving again in congress and code debate could hold because to the mexican-american war you have things began to is going to be set up pretty nicely to be the successor down the road. so the president were active during the mexican-american war which was leading to the civil war itself. so pull could decide to serve a term in office and works very hard to have the shortest post-presidency of anyone ever serves a little less than three months before he died. first elected in his place.
seven supporters in the congress that called themselves. someone from the north because he was a southern voter and they looked to the former congressman from new york serving as the comptroller millard fillmore is a zachary taylor comes in as president and is one of those great with hits in history if he'd actually been able to serve out his term. he invited to join the union as a free state and you have to give a trade-off. you are free to come in the way you are and we are not going to support the expansion of slavery he ended up supporting the proviso so they started threatening to secede and there was to be a convention in nashville to contemplate the
issue of the secession which they decided to leave the union over the policy and a number of compromised bills come to the floor in congress initiated by henry clay at the finest hour to set up the different disputes from the country. so the territory of arizona and new mexico would come in without addressing the issue of slavery from his perspective it isn't going to work in the desert anyway. why slavery is not going to work here and to fix the boundary committee claimed a wide swath of new mexico's land and threatened to invade mexico over it and will fix the texas boundary but also pay off some of the debt. most controversial in the compromise package is is a new fugitive slave law mechanism for returning them to successfully
returning them to the owners in the south. not very popular in the north they are coming through the single bill threatening to veto it so they look at the confrontation between the president and the states. i needed to pass the legislation i'm going to give it. and we leave the country needs this compromise in order to stay together. so, taylor depending what you think of the become price of 1850 helpful or unhelpful during the height of this crisis henry clay is exhausted the young senator from illinois now that he's gone forever they pick up a new mechanism for getting the past. it's not comprising the truth. you had the proslavery element whose revote was a group of
senators to pass up a stoplight and then you have the anti-slavery senators and members of congress that would team up with the senators to create a majority for the bills so it's not a compromise to pass the bills and send them individually to the president's desk to sign them. he knows he's signing a political death warrant when he's lied to get signed the act something that you will receive a vote of kisses him system on and even contemporarycism on but it prevents the civil war you are just asking for it to be undone which is exactly what happened. so millard fillmore is not a candidate for every election and they nominate winnefeld scot who has destroyed the landslide. they are incredibly divided over
the slavery over the proviso so you start to see the coalescing of parties along the regional wines which is of course a very dangerous thing for the country to cause the civil war when it's completed in 1860. so, fillmore replaced his colleague who served in congress for the first time franklin pierce had gone back to new hampshire to the practice in the mexican-american war consistent with the wishes and he had been behind the scenes to get the party nomination in 1854 and remember. anyone who's a front-runner for president automatically takes so many swings and arrows but it's a bad position when we get to the conventions of the front-runners for the democrats of james buchanan and stephen douglas and of course they take so many shots at each other so
they select franklin pierce who had been out of office at that point for a very long time and served as a general in the mexican-american war when the messenger showed up to tell pierce he had been nominated, she actually fainted at the news and coming back to the politics in the biggest way possible all the way to the inauguration franklin pierce on the actual train wreck and he's sitting right in front of him and he watches his son son gets ~ the only casualties the train goes off the track and the slide goes over the reading and falls on the rocks and everyone gets that so happy to get back up in one piece. later when abraham lincoln loses his son franklin pierce despite
the differences would write a heartfelt note after abraham lincoln expressing his condolences despite the sharp political disagreements. so the presidency would be characterized as something called the canada nebraska act. they all did altogether the compromise with a line and below that line it was permitted above the line during the territorial phase so when it comes in introduced by stephen douglas to incorporate kansas as a territory he finds he will appeal to get the past and to get the southern support comic is going to have to victory not to make it a territory but to provide a vote. they get to decide whether they would be free or slaves. so they come and approach pearce on the sinking detests
abolitionists and really dislikes did really dislikes the issue despite being someone from the north who is a southerner in his heart. it's not a big deal to him but he realizes that is going to mean if you are going to raise a hell of a storm. he leverages all of the power of the presidency in favor of the kansas nebraska act and the idea to incorporate the territory and to give kansas which is well above the the misery come from his line to vote on whether to be free or slaves. he uses patronage and power of the political newspapers that he controlled. he's barely able to get a pass in the house and the senate. it could have been the end of the story that we would see that the element immediately moved to try the combination of fraud, intimidation and violence in the kansas territory so being
outnumbered they ended up winning all of the elections for the statewide offices and appointed for them to set up offices until the free state state state with the state would be marginalized which would set up a major crisis that would lead to the civil war. there's a series of waves and a smaller third party committed to preventing slavery to the expansion of the west and even former democrats who are were joined together to form the republican party and they were opposed to the act. in illinois by the name who's gone through the midlife crisis determined at that point he probably wasn't going to fulfill
his lifelong dream of being president. abraham lincoln had dreamed of being president his whole life and always thought he could do it but he served his term in congress years ago, failed to get a job i returned to returned to practicing law in a relatively unhappy home life and going through a midlife crisis he wondered the things people wonder. did i make the right decisions, did i marry the right person, i think he probably was the answer to that if he asked deep within his heart. [laughter] abraham lincoln said he was aroused as never before at the slavery issue and to open up tens us to the possibility of slavery and scrap the missouri compromise so when dan was animated and back and active in politics when he was contemplating a career totally apart from government. so obviously it isn't going to work out very well for the democrats and franklin pierce, the youngest president elected at that point had a lot of promise and was an energetic young man to give the inaugural
address with no notes and seeing the presidency destroyed by this kansas nebraska and we start to see the party segregating along the regional wines the democratic party strong in the south and new republican party gaining steam throughout the north. so in 1856 in the irony of ironies, franklin pierce runs for the ricci election. nobody accomplished this since andrew jackson had ran so it's to get the biggest competitor out of the country and that is james buchanan said he sent us off to england and in the book i detailed how pierce's first objective was to try to convince buchanan to take this job and they did the diplomatic dance and he succeeds packing him off to england and with buchanan inning when he has a great shot of getting the second term but nebraska and kansas changes that and the democratic party has to look to the one person the kansas nebraska james buchanan
said he comes back from england the one person who hasn't taken a position on kansas nebraska and he was nominated by the democratic party for president. republican party nominates john c. fremont as the nominee for the president as a general. this is called the last election of the old america. you see the paradigm shift after this. they completely screwed things up and about the possibility into kansas and things are getting violent and kansas. they are murdering each other over the slavery issue. you have these elections that are horrifying in the country has become to life so why would democrats win in 1856? i think they win because the last vote of the status quo the markets were doing great, the business community was happy. they know that nominating the party republicans who were committed to preventing the expansion of slavery might trigger a civil war. they thought that was bad for
business. many of them were to become the country's first billionaires during the war but at the time of course they were very concerned about pitching off this crisis. so, buchanan went and presidency wasn't going to be a happy one. he gets that he's the second oldest president ever to get in at the time and two days later the dred scott decision is reached by the court. don't feel too bad for james buchanan. he lobbied the supreme court to reach a sweeping decision in dred scott and knew we -- ahead of time. we will have the court fined for one of the most extreme sides which is basically the decision that one way could prevent slavery anywhere in the country to bring them anywhere in the country. and people genuinely believe with some reason that a decision turning all of the slaves states
into free states was in the offing so this would enslave the country and give great vigor to the new republican party. in 1858 another important senate race that revolves around what happens in kansas and what happens with dred scott and that is illinois. "the new york times" said until this it would be the most interesting place in the union politically speaking. abraham lincoln, the first and only choice of the republicans of illinois versus stephen douglas of the internationally famous u.s. senator. they had known each other for a long time in the illinois politics. lincoln considered douglas's success compared to the relative failure to be the standing offense. he had one series after another
of successfully more important positions in politics that could have served as a state legislator and done one term in congress. so, lincoln is going to run against the senate and now enough time senators are chosen were chosen by state legislators but the thought was if they named the senate nominees and campaigned throughout the state people could be persuaded to vote for one thing or another base of the party and those are very serious debates where they talk about the great issues of today the expansion of slavery, popular sovereignty ando discove can's friends and political allies know that he is a brilliant exponent of the issues that he believes in. and if so in the process of running committee becomes a national celebrity. now, lincoln actually wins the most votes in the senate election. but remember the districts at the time are not drawn according to one man and one vote and there are a number of holdovers
that had been elected in 1856. some lincoln wins a majority of the votes, the majority that show up for the republican but douglas is nonetheless reappointed to the senate. lincoln is convinced that his political career is over. as we know right now to be the case. douglas returns to the senate. douglas is furious that the experiment of the popular sovereignty with sovereignty let people decide has been hijacked by the proslavery forces. the proslavery government that hijacked the state of kansas had submitted a constitution in the city of kansas to congress for its approval. this constitution enshrined the right to slavery contrary to the majority of the residents of kansas. buchanan is determined to force the compton constitution down the throats of congress to read this is one of his finest hours he decides to oppose the president on this. buchanan summonsed douglas to his office in the white house
and reminded remind him of the names of all the different parties dissidents have been crushed over the years by the president and said if you don't get me behind this and going to ruin your career. he named some of the people and projects and had driven out of the party and he said with me remind you general jackson is dead and throws on the gauntlet and goes back to congress determined to uphold the compromise why ultimately the constitution, compton constitution is far from a compromise and represents the wish list of the slavery element in kansas and around the country so douglas is successful in stopping the constitution and the house of representatives and it leads to the democratic party is when they get together in 1862 nominate a president not quite sure what's going to happen, douglas now you have buchanan has no hopes of running again and the democratic party gets together and now we have the two thirds rule so they get together and they can't agree.
you have the forces that are angry for opposing compton and you've got buchanan forces were upset for opposing and you have douglas supporters holding firm so they decide to split up and reconvene later in separate convention once people have cooled off a bit. nobody knew who they were going to nominate. some people wanted to nominate franklin pierce. how bad is that when you want to bring franklin pierce picked to the presidency? franklin pierce for his part favored the secretary of war jefferson davis when the presidential election of his own so ultimately people that walked out of the convention were denied seats by the pro- douglas supporters and there's a southern walkout and they nominate john breckenridge of kentucky the vice president of the united states to carry the
banner so they are looking around saying okay who are we going to get behind? so john bell of tennessee to former house speaker runs the only presidential candidate basically the former whigs and people said that would be the easiest thing if we just pretended that wasn't an issue. the republicans would have a surprise of their own in the convention. abraham lincoln not thought to be a major factor but of course his debates with douglas and the publication of the debate in the national best-selling book would make him a huge celebrity. and he would travel thousands of miles leading up to 18th at -- 1860 and 1862 and pressing many people in the process. so she becomes the leading possibility advocate in the hopes of people that would oppose william seward of the former governor of new york, senator from new york who thought he was extremely
anti-slavery to winning. so lincoln some lincoln is the surprise nominee of the convention in the city of chicago. all four former presidents that arrived including president buchanan would oppose his elections even know where the fillmore for whom he had campaigned in 1848 so the former presidents were concerned that his election opposed to the expansion of slavery would trigger a civil war. they would despite the differences the former president sought the presidency as the chief person who sat and continued the elements hostile to the union that threatened to drive the union apart so regardless they were always going to make concessions to the southern interesting to do what
was necessary to try to prevent a civil war in lincoln they saw a possibility of the civil war and so fillmore would get behind the constitution union party and buchanan would support john breckenridge as what franklin pierce and john tyler who is now in the democratic camp and tyler for his part wanted to get elected president and allow his friends to put their name forward in the names forward in the convention if the opportunity arose but it did not. he ran as a delegate for the electoral college pledged to john breckenridge engaged in the debate. i don't know who had the job from virginia to talk about a thankless task he receives no votes in the south south and very few boats in the border states. in the election of 1860 abraham lincoln was the winner and this is the first election of the
brand-new america. though our slavery -- no more slavery. lincoln embodies the policy was tremendous pressure to compromise and in the run-up to the civil war there is multiple states considering secession the most popular compromise that emerges is named after the sponsor senator clinton in kentucky and it's a pretty simple measure that would extend to the pacific and then a slavery from places like arizona and mexico. california is now a free state and so humbling can lincoln speak that perspective he said it has to come we give the the southerners this day will come back for more they will want to reopen the slave trade had been closed at the plate for half a century. they want to acquire more territory to increase the number
of slave states so this is where we are standing. i ran on the iran on the issue of preventing slavery in the territory. it's better now than any other time so in the midst of this crisis south carolina leaving the union president james buchanan who had assembled one of the most experienced cabinet had a number of southerners that supported the idea of secession and told the president give up the country is finished they don't even need to have a civil war about this. so this young lawyer that led the political to the political loss 12 years earlier is going to say goodbye to springfield in february of 1861 and heads towards a very uncertain future as president telling his friends and family who gathered to see him off not knowing when i would return upon that but this did on washington so someone who who
knew a lot about the predecessors of the office knowing that he had the biggest task ahead of him out of all of them suing ken becomes president of the united states and he's sworn in the assassination the city of washington resembling something like the economic camp that he and james buchanan headed to the capital to be sworn in and they tell the inaudible address in your issue not line you have no register to destroy the union whereas i have the most solemn sacred oath to protect and defend the union. throughout the presidency lincoln of course will not enjoy the benefit of successors had. the successors knew they followed washington policies. you let the predecessor. the formal presidency the issue of the day as too important to stay on the lines. he was so strong they were not
even supposed to return to the city of washington in the post-presidency. franklin pierce said after the white house what are you going to do but drink? when they fired on fort sumter in the south and initiate hostilities against the united states presidents react very differently. fillmore who supported the compromise, he encourages people to join the union army so it doesn't matter who started it the flag has been fired and we need to get behind the president. martin van buren would do the same. the van buren played close attention to the movement as they were then unfolding and he encouraged young then to join. even james buchanan who had watched the states secede he was
following the policies and if he had been in the position he would be doing the same thing as lincoln. it was an ultimate vindication in the success and triumph thinking that it would vindicate his own course of action and we know that this would not be the case. james buchanan would give an important op-ed talking about the oath of the army officers who had resigned to join the south. franklin pierce seven or opposes the war effort and gives a speech in the balcony of the hotel in concord saying if they can't be convinced to stay on their the road we cannot pursue them militarily. so he completed this and he will give speeches denouncing lincoln's policy on habeas corpus and suspension of civil liberties. he will campaign throughout the war even in their hands her
state legislatures were going to oppose the senator opposed to lincoln. in fact franklin pierce would give a speech and a very important day talking about how it cannot be won and how lincoln needs to be defeated for reelection at the policy needs to be discontinued. or as we know july 4 robert e. lee is retreating from the pennsylvania battlefield where his army has dressed off its offensive capability heading back towards virginia giving control of the mississippi river dividing the confederate states in the american east and west. very old time speech. i call it a political run after the initial major conflict of the civil war in civil war in which the union doesn't exactly
shine. so franklin pierce at one point would be accused of treason in the administration added there would be a series of letters that he has published. at that moment he gets the better of the administration because the administration is acting on faulty intelligence but it was very short-lived. after jefferson davis that correspondence between pierce and davis where were they telling the south could live peacefully without having a civil war on their hands are discovered in the published nationally much to the credit of the former president. in fact his best friend from college is a gentle man that you have heard of few have heard of by the name of nathaniel hawthorne and when he dedicates his latest book the president appears actually becomes quite a big controversy. ralph waldo emerson compromised buying the book in the dedication. of course with a very unpopular
figure. fillmore starts out as a strong supporter of president pierce would totally end up opposing him after emancipation no one was more willing to fight the union as it had been but no one was less willing to fight for the distraction of slavery and abraham lincoln when he issues the emancipation proclamation preliminary in the fall of 1862 and january 11863 now broadens the union war effort from the unification of the country to the unification and the destruction of slavery which would culminate in the amendment that abraham lincoln runs on and those that have seen the movie lincoln to know it is incredibly focused on his efforts in order to get the 13th amendment passed he turns fillmore against him and pierce against him. john tyler probably is the most interesting course though he
dies first out out of all the president. john tyler would serve in the third debate coke secession and try to drive for virginia out of the union despite the attempt to keep virginia and he would find himself opposed by the president who uses all of his influence in all implementing all of his persuasive ability to drive virginia out of the union. tyler actually serves in the congress and urge as the confederate capture of dc after the defeat at the bull run. taylor's wife of course left behind a woman 30 years his junior left behind at the forest in virginia and eventually would run the blockade and returned to live with her mother reluctantly in the city of new york. after the assassination, a crowd of people show up at the residency and demanded the confederate flag that hangs over the mantle. it looks a lot like a confederate flag but it was actually designed to ten years
before by her sister. they nonetheless go to the house, take the flag away from her. the other presidents would face some challenges after the assassination for their opposition to him during the war. fillmore's house was analyzed because it did not display warning signs for the president. there was no reason behind it. it was president because a terrible murder but he was actually on vacation. franklin pierce displayed no signs and he had an angry mob come to his house so he comes out and gives the speech and talks about how it matched despite the political disagreement with lincoln that he joined them in sympathizing with the murder of the president on the eve of the triumph of the civil war as he appeared able to reunite and reconstruct the country to bring it back together may be the only person who could have done so be taken
away. i should probably stop for questions. ten minutes of questions. let's do it. can you tell us looking at the modern trend of the presidency and how they conduct themselves and how the research you've done during the civil war talk little bit about what is the best way to conduct yourself and anything that stuck out and surprised he went out of five former presidents conducted themselves. >> great question. wrote an article about the nature of the post-presidency. so today take for example george h. w. bush writing about the colorful socks he's 90-years-old jumping out of airplanes whereas george h. w. bush has been sent to the persian persian gulf in response to the possibility of another war in iraq were
increased american military involvement in iraq. george w. bush who initiated in iraq says i am not going to criticize my success. so the model for the presidency is to only be available for advice. during the civil war there was actually a great deal to talk about coming together to have a meeting where five former presidents would get together and shortly they can come up with a solution to the crisis. franklin pierce would try to initiate the meeting and martin van buren and undermining the meeting because he knew pierce was trying to subvert abraham lincoln and in the policy as a result of the meeting. so being able to confidentially give advice they know enough to have been president present and have enough credits to have served in the role they have a standing but theoretically they were out of politics and they seek no more political office for themselves so they are in
the best position to offer candid advice and confidential advice to the president, to the countries waiting to presidency to support the successors with modest exceptions during election times in 2012. exceptions go to the partisan corners and then they come back and stay out of politics largely unless the president or successor needs them. other question? >> franklyn piercy mentioned as a northeasterner. are they ideological in terms of the station of the constitution, or the race-based? >> all of these things i think pierce just has absolutely zero personal qualms about slavery. he doesn't care. in fact he was upset when they would prevent them from coming into new hampshire. so he had many friends in the
south and i think that it was that he didn't care about slavery. he writes the letter after the proclamation is issued reflecting the view has a white supremacist into the danger of having a biracial country. he believed was the worst violation of the constitution and history when abraham lincoln needed the commander-in-chief power to free the slaves in the territory rebellion. so i think it is a number of different things that motivate him in and all of the things you mentioned. >> he is elected in november but in those days they took office in march so for six months buchanan is president of the seven states in the union and he does nothing about the problem for lincoln what is going on here? >> buchanan gets a lot of grief but not for the things he deserves to get grease on.
it is the issue of of secession you succession you got 16,000 troops under command. that's it. three fourths or west of the mississippi in places like arizona protecting the frontier. sweden if you get all 16,000 together you can't get south carolina with that number much less the south said he tries to come from eyes his way out of it with the help of john tyler as i called him him and about tyler is credentialed by the state of virginia after serving as the emissary to the president and between the president and confederate states of america. so they try to work it out and if you think about buchanan and the compromise is that the compromise that ended the first secession standoff in 1833 and the compromise of 1850 and the final settlement. you have all these compromises when are we going to compromise our way out of it this time. and i think legitimately so. there'd always been a specter that just happened on his watch. so that's sitting and waiting he actually did a great service in
some ways and not others if he issued a call for troops he would have driven himself out of the union so one of the most important things he did was to preserve the border states. he said i would love to have god on my side but i need kentucky. he could win the fight without the workers laid states of maryland and delaware opted to secede it would have been too big to accomplish and so by a waiting for the south to initiate hostilities he was able to preserve the borders states. so buchanan really didn't have much he could do. it wasn't helpful when he kept to the secessionist secessionist cabinet following them or when he announced he had no authority to go after the state versus eating even though he called the secession illegal those things were not helpful and by the end of the presidency he's demonstrating a backbone and has people around him including
willingness to stand up for compromise unpopular legislation in order to prevent a civil war from happening 10 years earlier. if it happened in 1850 the south probably wins and that decade of 1850 to 1860 with a population and industrial industrial advantage of the north increases to the point where they are nearly guaranteed to win any civil war. pearce i will come back to you on something good but the guy was a general who served with distinction. he served his country more or less capably in office. john tyler opened up trade with china for the first time come are pretty important issue to us today, pretty important part of our economy trading with china. they'll had things he did had things they did right and they did wrong and their solutions didn't stand a test of time but you can't understand united states without understanding the civil war. dividing families including lincoln's own family.
lincoln had a number brothers and mother were killed in the war. dividing families. this enormous death toll. the civil wars with us to this day. you can understand america without it. you can understand the civil war with understanding the former presidents. they all have their good and they're bad. my favorite review i've gotten so far on this book has said that you know i have no ax to grind with these presidents. i present them as they are and they let you guys be the judge so you guys are certainly welcome to be the decision-makers. other questions? >> can you discuss just briefly you mentioned tyler. his role within the confederate government and just how that may have differentiated from franklin pearce's role being outside the south and devising davis are being supportive? >> both franklin pearce and john tyler both proved nettlesome.
pearce politically so. i make a case in the book, war is a continuation of politics by other means that politics is a continuation of war by other means. if you think about the objectives of the war the length of the war, are determined by politics. it's a political question can the minister should have enough votes in congress to appropriate money for the war war so pearce to drop the word will work hard to elect opponents to lincoln including george mcclellan his opponent in 1864. tyler on the other hand as lincoln is struggling to compromise even offers to give fort sumter back to south carolina in order to give virginia to stay in the union and get the secession could mention to go home. tyler of course would have none of this. tyler brings all his wit to bear in getting them to leave the union so both of them proved to be really problematic for lincoln. one of the inside the tent and one outside the tent. other questions? yeah. >> hi. you mentioned history and
politics seem to repeat itself and the antics that preceded lincoln's term. it seems like there's a lot of similar activity going on nowadays especially how it relates to the economy and the budget and how much we are spending on entitlements. and with the introduction of the tea party, you draw any more parallels and is this kind of a foreshadowing of another civil war? >> no, thankfully but here's the thing. i was a history junkie, very active in politics and that i have a great opportunity because of people like you, people watching c-span at home to write three books now. history will be worth it to me to read just because it's a great story. some of the most amazing stories ever found in history. you wouldn't believe that
somebody wrote it in a novel but it's too good to be real. but that's not a good enough reason for me to write history. i write history because the messages from the past resonate with us today and are applicable to us today. we can learn from these things today so we can remember no matter how vitriolic our politics no matter how divisive and combat of our politics remember there was a point when our country went to war with each other. we lost 2% of our population and in a war, two out of every 100 americans in a war that destroyed broad sections of the country. 10,000 armed battles fought throughout the united states so however bad you think it is and i love watching tv and this is the most divisive election ever, the most combative negative campaign ever. people's memory goes back about 10 years. [laughter] if you look at the politics at the time so that's the good news. remember we have a whole host of serious problems in this country we need to address. you touched on one of them. we have $17 trillion of debt we
are passing on to the next generation. the first generation in american history that's not going to be better off than their grandparents and parents were. so these are serious issues but remember america has always found a way out of these problems before. the other realization from the president swore we see the solutions do not stand the test of time. from matt. matt comes abraham lincoln who from my perspective is the most amazing person this american civilization has produced so america has freely been harassed at the leadership. congress and the president are at all-time lows in popularity regardless of your party. independents increasing its share of the electorate. people are frustrated that congress and the president are in addressing these major problems we have. so america has regularly been without the leadership that reflected the inherent wisdom goodness and integrity of the american people.
that has often been the case but remember whatever the republic was in danger is our crisis in 1861. we turned abraham lincoln so it's an absolutely optimistic note for the future even as i write about their previous bid of lackluster leadership. other questions? that's time. thank you so much for coming. [applause] [applause] >> thank you sir. two things everybody. first and foremost. this is sitting over the table and i have a couple of boxes underneath the table in case of iraq. we ask that you please take the book to the register first to pay for it and you for it and you can line up your interest will sign up on the state. last but not least carefully fold the chair that you are seated upon and place them up against the