tv Book Party for Karl Roves The Triumph of William Mc Kinley CSPAN January 18, 2016 4:00pm-4:46pm EST
>> he leaves money to the servants in the house for 20-30 years. in the census when he is in new jersey, there seems to have been landless labors living close to the estate. >> was he referred to in insulting terms in newspapers? the negro millionaire? >> the prince of darkness is not endearing. he is called nigger hamilton. people like benjamin day, even people who trash him, james gordon bennett is one of the great american writers. he is a fascinating, brilliant,
difficult, difficult man. but even he has to admit there is something more to this guy. benjamin day, as i said before is his best friend, and day is writing more positively about him. how was i getting through the names? the next editor of the sun newspaper, who was benjamin day's brother-in-law, attacked him. that is in part because mo-- sorry? no, the editor of the second proprietor of the sun newspaper. benjamin day is his
brother-in-law and he sells the newspaper to his brother-in-law and day later on said it was the stupidiest thing he did -- stupidest -- and they fall out have a big rival that hinges on jeremiah hamilton because the second editor of the sun gnaws paper says -- warns benjamin day not to hang around with this black man. so benjamin day is forced to sue for libel and it hinges on the character of jeremiah hamilton and also whether he is a negro or not. there is a trial on center street that is the talk of the town. everyone turns out and it hinges on, as i said, whether he is black or not.
and various witnesses get into the box saying he is disreputable and i know he is a black because i saw him with his wig off and that proves he is black because he has the shaved head underneath. and then after one of these justices got out of the witness box, hamilton can no longer takes it and stands up and yells into the courtroom the only reason he testified against me is he came in to borrow money and i would not lend him money. the judge gavels and dismisses for the day at 7 o'clock at night. as that justice who testified and jeremiah hamilton walk out of the court they start yelling at one another and jostling. they get to the steps and the
justice hits hamilton with a cane. hamilton grabs a lump of wood and swings at the justice's head and they end up with an all out brawl in the streets and benjamin day, jeremiah hamilton, and jeremiah hamilton's brother-in-law end up getting arrested. i have been reading new york newspapers and court cases for 35 years and never saw anyone like that occur into courtroom. the whole thing hinged on the testimony as to whether he was black or not and as to his character. he was described as a dark
malato. -- mulatto. i guess it depends if you are defining on skin color, or blood, or whatever you are using. i find americans on race interesting. >> did you find -- obviously you found sources for your book, did he keep any notes himself? >> i would kill to have had -- one of the interesting things about writing this book is if you go to a biography session in barnes and noble, 99% of books there is already a book on the character whether it is an auto autobiography or what have you. when you reach page two, you have the most facts about
hamilton accumulated on a printed page anywhere ever. so now the book is based on, i found something like 65 court cases. so he is a serial litigant. and i also found newspaper stuff. and that means i have to craft a book out of -- someone is writing about virginia woolf and every passing thought going through her head and i cannot do that. it makes the actually writing of the book very difficult. perhaps too difficult from amazon readers who have found it very dry, and written like a textbook. i don't know if amazon readers realize how wounding to the author the only person who ever reads their comments such comments are. but it is actually very
difficult to write and hold your reader's interest when i have a couple words in court cases and he is testifying here and there. i would have loved to have ten minutes to sit down and ask him questions. when he arrives here, an -- in 1835, he saved his head and has a long black flowing wig that was commented on repeatedly by people. so when the name of that
newspaper editor, who i cannot remember, calls him counter fit he is probably talking about a number of things but one thing he is talking about is the wig. the hair is seen as being more important than skin color actually in trying to work out whether someone is black or not. so when he dies in 1875 all of the obitries talk about the high pitched voice and long flowing wig. there are no pictures of him. if you look him up on the internet a few people piggy backed on me and i had a piece in the new york times and there was a wikipedia piece and there are various pieces like that with pictures attached to it. they are pictures of jeremiah jay hamilton who was a black
legislature from texas at the end of the 19th century. there is no image of hamilton that i managed to find in all of my pursuits. >> just as a point of reference, i am a light mulatto. you didn't say how he died. >> of phenumonia. they were packing up to go on a trip, he got sick and laid down and two days later he was dead. he was 67 years old. >> did you find any wedding pictures?
baptismal? did his wife pass after him? >> she died 28-29 years after him. she lived on with their daughters in the east 29th street house. she drops dead at 94, i think it was. one of the obitries said what church she -- they were married in but there was no record of it. they lived together as man and wife for 40 years but there is no actual proof. >> no pictures from the children after? >> in the book you will see there is one picture of the daughter that survived from the marriage today comes from.
philadelphia. they suggested morris who was from the founding fathers which would have been almost too much. but it is impossible. and as far as i can see from looking there is no link to the morris family. they lived in a boarding house. but it was almost like a sleek hotel rather than a boarding house. >> question over here? >> can you tell us what prompted the lynching attempt? and background on how common lynchings were at the time in new york. >> lynching is mostly a southern thing. and during the draft riots,
there were several, i think about ten african-americans were killed, maybe 11, and a couple of them were cut up and hung up on lamp post. the draft riots was this sort of racial issue in new york but it was the occasion on which a local score is being settled and i think that is what is going on. by looking at the court records, i picked up testimony from people that it was about 10 o'clock at night, people heard people knocking on doors and whispered saying let's bring the nigger down. and then this mob comes and they are charging 68. they know where they are going. they are not looking randomly
for african-americans. and the person who spoke to jane hamilton, the wife, on top of the stairs said that jeremiah hamilton had done him wrong and that was never explained anywhere as to what the wrong or the slight was. but there was something that prompted to leader of the mob to want to hang him. if he had been hung it would have been just four or five blocks over the next day an african-american, a disabled african-american, is hauled out of this house and cut up and killed and hung up and the militia comes by saying cut the body down and then they put it
up and drag it around. it was probably new york's worst week ever as i said. so lynching is a fairly unusual event. fairly unusual in the north. it is more associated with the south. >> professor, thank you so much. i am honored, i think we are all honored to do such remarkable work. i am very grateful, very appreciati appreciative. i have two questions. firstly, did jeremiah hamilton try to hide his ethnic identity outside of wall street? or did he embrace it in terms of like a cultural pride kind of like i did this in spite of or... >> again, the lack of evidence is really quite striking. i have a couple bits of evidence
about this. sometimes in the 1840's or 1850's a prominent broker was walking down the street and hamilton confronts him in the street and says i heard you called me nigger and he said yes, that is true. he said yes, you are and this is talked to us and what i tried to do in the book is read it it is
of the time and just blindly walked through them. he is protected by money and that is going to -- some poor black person on the street is going to have a hell of a time doing things he did. i think he often lively ignored it and walks through what many ignored, what many white new yorkers wanted him to do. >> right. he wasn't preoccupied it seemed. secondly, mr. white, i am curious as to the relationship between mr. hamilton and william day who i thought was pretty
interesting gentlemen, the owner of the sun. what bonded these two men? was it hamilton being savvy as a entrepreneur or an achiever as mr. day was? or was it something else? what was the essence? was it hamilton being so disruptive to the status quo. what made that such an endearing friendssh friendship? what was the essence of that? >> the sources are pretty thin. i speculate in the book -- i think they are two young men on the way in new york in the 1830s who came from outside of new york and were banging their heads against an establishment that put them -- a nasty
establishment that was putting both of them down and i think they identified on those grounds. and so day picks up and writes about hamilton. and at least 25 times ben day and another white reporter were seen walking down the street at night, drunk, arm and arm. i try to raise the issue of an interracial friendship between two men. and the way the establishment -- because that libel case is the establishment coming down on benjamin day for having a black man as a friend.
i don't think anyone considered the issue, if they have i haven't noticed, of the difficulty of a black man and a white man being in this particular time period being friends and what happens. and these two were friends. this is where white new york stood out. benjamin day irritated them. the sun newspaper got a lot -- you probably have copies of it.
it is a wonderful newspaper. such wonderful times. you are sitting there reading and everybody is bursting out laughing. some of the word play and the cleverness of the way benjamin day and james gordon bennett were at one another's throat for years. it would be five years in newspaper. the word play and the cleverness of the insults must make we wonder about today's newspapers in comparison. but that is another story. >> no one expected -- can you elaborate on the lawsuit? >> which one? >> vanderbilt. >> vanderbilt. okay. well what -- vanderbilt runs a
steam ship company that runs state ships down to gray town or gray mouth or something in nicur nicuraga. it is before the panama canal as a quick way to san francisco prompted by the gold rush. vanderbilt ran this as his personal system and payments were coming in and out. hamilton had shares in the transit and he sued.
in new york, hamilton sues the accessory transit company. and he is imploring the judge to declare, to have a receiver put in, and have everything solved. he loses the case. as it happens, it is one of those -- like trying to read what happens from the bear bones of a court document down in a new york county office is often very difficult. it seems that something else is going on. and in fact, there is suggestion that vanderbilt and hamilton were actually -- this was a great lawsuit going on and something funny was going on. i said there were four mentions of hamilton. three of them are wrong. one of them said that hamilton
was in a history of steam ships in california. there is this suggestion of links that come through the two in the obituary. i mentioned the 28 counter fit coin was founded in haiti and hamilton knows who they are but never names them. but he is threatening as this was going on in new york city. my suggestion, and it is scandalous what i do, because i have absolutely no proof this is the case, but i think vanderbilt was one of them. i think there is a link that goes back and they are playing funny beggars and i cannot get at it. the whole box -- the whole book
is a book about writing a book about someone when the sources are so very thin. and a couple of times you will see me, if you happen to read the book, i will say a novelist or filmmaker would cease on this. or i say a bad idea about vanderbilt having funded that conspiracy in 1828. i say if i was a filmmaker this would be my rose bud as referring to citizen cane. this is the thing i would use to dry the film through. i have no proof. and the guy who won the pulitzer prize for the book about vanderbilt. and in all of the books about
vanderbilt, they never mention hamilton. vanderbilt, i contacted them and they sort of -- well, there is a mixture of embarrassment they had not seen him and they dismissed that out of hand anything i say at that possible vanderbilt being involved in this. it could be write. but the touchiness of authors when someone finds the things wronged or forgotten it is interesting. >> just another question. i know that his granddaughter, i believe, recently had something on youtube where, his grand daughter was talking about jeremiah hamilton.
>> jeremiah hamilton's granddaughter? >> one of his relatives wrote a book and she was endorsing it. i was wondering -- >> i don't know what you are referring to. >> i was wondering if you have knowledge of that. or if any decendanents in the family supported this? >> there is a grand son who has a very, very hard life and is buried in greenwood. >> and one last thing. you mentioned something i thought was incredible. this gentlemen was a black pioneer and he was most black pioneers, jacky robinson, and a
few were more polite and defere deferential to society. he seems to be the complete opposite. i am wondering if that attitude was picked up -- i know jack johnson, the first black heavy weight champion had some of the same behavioral tendencies. >> i don't think jack johnson and jeremiah hamilton paths or knowledge of one another would have come close to one another. jack johnson became heavyweight cham of the world in sydney -- champion -- australia. i used to pass by it on the way to school as a child; the site where he did it. jacky robinson was made to be
differential. he was championing at the beat and every now and a again there is no restraint on jeremiah hamilton. the guy i was talking about, he jumps in front of him on the street and says i hear you have been calling me nigger. and he confronts him. and i have been working in african-american history for 35 years. and like martin luther king is a saint but he is beyond my understanding. turning the other cheek is not part of my make-up. that is why i found hamilton appealing. he wasn't going to turn the other cheek. if someone hit him he would go straight for the throat. in 1836, two white business men, who are in a dispute with
hamilton, arrange to have hamilton arrested at 11 o'clock at night in blooming dale so he cannot raise bail and spend the night in prison. two weeks later, those two white guys are taken out of jail at 5 o'clock in the morning and their bail is so high they cannot make it. you hit him and he comes straight back at your throat. i find that appealing cheering from the sidelines. >> 1845, brokers at the new york stock exchange are knout not allowed to sell or buy for hamilton. what specifically did that have to do with the new york stock x
exchan exchange? >> this resolution was passed. it was personal. i have walked through the stock exchange. i have looked through newspapers and i cannot find any more details than the ones i pieced together from believe it or not from new orleans pickny was one of the perishes with a little bit of story. they passed a resolution but quote unquote the hebrew faction arrange arrangeed -- arranged the passage of this and put it to the side and they seem to have passed it. the chairman of the stock exchange thought we cannot do that. and the hebrew faction arranged
it. i am afraid -- i think i have uncovered a lot through almost herclean research and people ask this question and all i can do is guess. that, too, was part of the difficulty as i mentioned in writing the book. >> so you talk about new york city inventing at that time jim crow and segregation. can you talk about on public transportation specifically? i think thinking of the trial of downy, the oyster business man. >> new york goes from being a walking city to being a city that is falling all over the place and you can no longer walk around. public transport becomes more important. as segregation is being
invented, the british or english travlers couldn't understand class was not a factor here. you could be a rich black man but you are treated like ordinary black men. they thought this was insane. the fact a barber couldn't shave a black man if he wanted his white business struck most of these travellers insane. hamilton is the european's picture boy in a way. he is a wealthy black man who can't be treated like a white on public transport. so the trains and the most important one is the one that runs up, god, hope i don't get it wrong, but the ones that run to harlem. below 27th street, it was horse and above 27th street it is
steam engines. it is segregated. but the segregation isn't that enforced. so blacks travel on it. and mostly the train company doesn't worry about it but every now and again they do. thomas downing -- the two richest black men in new york, thomas downing and jeremiah hamilton. downing is paying taxes on $90,000 in real estate which is a fortunate in 1835. he gets on a train in 1840 on church business and he is coming down and gets on the train and the white conductor, several white conductors, end up beating him up and tossing him off the back of the train. he then, downing, goes to the train company and he sues.
he goes to the train company to identify the people there. the guy, the chairman of the harlem railroad comes down, and he is a friend of downing. and he is horrified. he hears the story of what his employees did and fires him straight away. downing sues. and when they tossed him off they busted his hat. and so downing says to the chairman when he is standing there they stuck my head up san the mareman said -- chairman this is going to go forward. and the case goes forward and it is fascinating. the right executive of the railroad company are embarrassed
by the segregation and the imposition of it and the violence that has to be used. they are squirming. but the audience watching it is for segregation. so when the actual conductor and driver come on they say not only will we write but i will do it again. we have to segregate these people or the world is coming to an end. the jury is out for 27 seconds and comes back in and it goes against thomas downing and the court erupts into cheers. this was 1841. it was one of those things where an optimist can see the future and the embarrassment of the white elite at the way segregation is going. but for those poor bastards who are black and living in new york
in the 1840s they will have to deal with the crowd cheering and it will carry on like that till the 1850s. there is another case with downing 17 years later where the drivers refuse to drive the car on. a white crowd ends up saying three years for downing and pushing for this. things are really are beginning to change. >> dr. white, thank you so much. thanks everybody for coming. [applause] we have books for sale and i am sure our speaker
1972? >> the nixon administration in 1972 was geared around nixon's desire to win a re-election landslide. the american people had no way of knowing the extent to which nixon based decisions about the vietnam war, life or death decisions, on how they would affect his shot at winning a second term. he learned in his first year in office from the cia, the joint chiefs, his general in vietnam, the pentagon, that south vietnam could not survive without american troops defending it. so, he knew he was not going to be able to fulfill his campaign promise from '68. instead he decided to fake it. he timed his withdrawl. the military withdraw to his
re-election campaign. by the time he started taping the conversations in the oval office in '71 he knew he was going to bring the troops home shortly before or after the election and chose that to keep saigon from falling before election day and taking his shot at a second term down with him. so it is startling to hear an american president base such profoundly important decisions that affect literally the lives of american troop primarily on how they affect his own political well-being. this extended to this negotiati negotiations with the vietn vietnamese. he sealed a deal by assuring them if they waited a year or
two after he brought the last american troops home they could take oversight -- over the south vietnam area without fear of him intervening. that is another shocking fact people can learn from the nixon tapes and documents that have been declassified. >> this information is from the tapes that have been recently declassified? >> yes, it is from the bulk of the richard nixon tapes. most of the tapes people heard came out decades ago during the watergate trials and deal with nixon's domestic abuse of power. in more recent decades, the national archives declassified the bulk of the nixon case. more than 2500 hours of them. they deal with everything including foreign policy. we are used to thinking of nixon