tv Book Discussion on George Washingtons Journey CSPAN January 30, 2016 6:30pm-7:31pm EST
>> host: guggenheim fellow and has taught classes at oxford, cambridge, you know, university of chicago, chicago, and also the northwestern university, which he just retired from. he has written several award-winning books on subjects ranging from the tobacco culture to the consumer politics of the american revolution. his new book tells the story about a series of journeys that george washington took to all the original 13 states during his 1st term in office. there is detailed account he demonstrates the vital importance of wheeling the role it played in helping unify scattered nation. in his review renowned historian notes, it is hard to think that anything new could be said about george washington. but it has been done. he has given us new insight
into the acute political skills of our 1st president in the state of the country in the 1790s. please join me in welcoming professor timothy. i'll be happy to answer questions at the end of our mark. the most fun book i have ever written are researched because i followed the road that the president-elect
during his 1st job office, drove the same. washington took a trip to america, all 13 original states, journey of well over 2,000 miles savanna and the guest up and around into the back country on roads that were extremely difficult. heavy coach and took with them 13 horses not because that was the number of states but he was very proud this one? yeah. hello. very proud that not one single animal died which is amazing. what is also equally almost providential is that twice on washington's journey to the american people he
almost had near fatal accidents, both crossing water, once in the chesapeake bay and the river in north virginia command one can only imagine what the country would have been like if the most popular has strongest figure in american history have been killed in the 1st few months of office, as he was not shot during the american revolution he did not die on the journey. my book is not what i would call a founding father book. we have plenty.
the man who knew how to read the political situation as well as lincoln, fdr, great, great presence. interacted on the journey with the american people when no one was certain the future of the republic, usually quite fragile and at the time the washington took these segmented tours 1789 in the long to work to the south it was meant to show the country was stable. he worried a lot about faction and regionalism and states pulling away in the name of slavery or in new england the commercial situation but he thought
that the country was in peril even after the ratification of the constitution command we should see washington as perhaps we see other leaders such as gandhi or mandela is a person who recognized a revolution is not over when the battle is fought but they mostly to stability, security of property and political process. washington as president was trying to fulfill the goals of the american revolution, not looking forward to us for trying to cement what he felt was a wonderful and grandly promising new republic. and i emphasized on the road at this time in order to seal the country's future he
brought a positive message that is so important i think even in these political times which i shall not comment on when you hear so much negativity of our country and people, washington was smart enough to realize the message he had to take to georgia and new hampshire in the middle colonies was one apposite possibility. if the country would simply unite and sporty union it will become more prosperous, prosperous and away that mistake mistake a guarantee because the projects were larger than simple state, a strong union would guarantee security. there were still many countries that would have loved to have taken one of our states and incorporated it into their own empire. the country could stand
strong. and as i argue in the book he had a strong sense of what we might call human rights, maybe stronger than it should be, but he understood people living in small communities are easily marginalized and denied rights and if there is not a four strong enough to guarantee rights, to protect rights, there are no rights at all. and so he saw a large federal union as a guarantor of the basis of art constitutional rights which was the message he took to the people. if you let the revolution go and do not fulfill, if you let the future slide away it is your own fault. and the idea of the trip which was formulated in the
in the the of equal stature, man who did not write multiple documents, a pragmatic figure away saw problem he tried to solve it immediately and the problem was the unity of the new nation. and so on his own he decided that a man elected by the people must be in some way accessible to those very people. this was a republic. we had put down monarchy. the fathers of others have proper broad line -- bloodlines. as washington said, i walk on untrodden ground. everything was a new precedent, experiment and republican government, government of us command he
realized that by taking a trip to places like charleston and savanna and the guster, boston, salem, although little cities in between that he was by his very person bringing a sense of emotional bonding to the country. we might call it patriotism, maybe nationalism, but he was giving a sense of this emotional identity to a larger, new republic. what i also found him what you will see the look at the book, washington was a master of political feet to the political theater in a way that surprised me is not there. he understood how to make the right rules, the right gesture at the time.
he had a really extraordinary coach. it impressed people. behind the coach as he went around the country was a smaller baggage wagon and when he got to the area outside of the town he would call a halt and go to the baggage wagon and put on his full regalia as commander-in-chief of the continental army, the man who won the revolution. then he would get on the special whitehorse, charger, battle horse and ride into town. can you imagine if you were in a little town and, did you see that? while. and so his sense of the bold
and dramatic moment, brilliantly choreographed. the washington understood andwhat all great leaders and all countries of understood more or less he understood that unless the people and for the government, supported's concepts, possibilities then it was rough sledding. simply to white males, but all people. they were all invited to this conversation man on the trip who came your town and was welcomed by parades and special songs in every window illuminated in the villages. it was a massive outpouring
of the sense that the people responding to their leader, their leader coming with the message of the possibilities if i can't you take imitation. crafting what i call a new republican narrative set of talking about george washington the man about which we come about which i thought i knew a lot until i don't with him, it was a wonderful sense of discovery of meeting a person who i thought i respected and then coming to know that i really admired the gentleman which is not true of the founding fathers when you dig into their personal life.
sometimes you wish you had not looked under the rock. washington, he is what he purported to be, and extraordinary person. i want to talk briefly before we have questions about some of the american people, the ordinary people, men and women who encounter george washington on the road, and their encounters must have transformed there lives in some way. we all have famous people remember some historical moment that punctuates our life. the 1stthe 1st person i want to introduces a young teenage woman who lived on a farm in north carolina a few miles south of salisbury, the road runs up charlotte, the middle of north carolina writing outside of his coach it was odd day command he
decided it would be wonderful to have a drink of water. so he came to this farm and knocked on the door and ms. miss betsey brandon answered and was in a sour mood. all my family has got to salisbury to see the president of the united states. and they left me back you take care of the animals. and i just don't think that's fair. washington was taking back. i am the president. i just can't imagine. but betsey brandon in north carolina, a figure people
still talk about, there was another young girl that was influenced lived in salem massachusetts washington came there and there was a tremendous perception, young women and men, dance and so on. not indicted, but she asked her friends, what was it like, handsome? serve like a rock group. they all told her how washington looked and so on. and she penned a letter that night that i must say i was so worried a misread, i went back to the letter four times to make sure i had not projected modern values onto
the past because nancy fisher said many of my friends say george washington is a god, and angel, something more than us. she said no he isn't. he is just a man because if he wasn't he would not pay any attention to us. but he is a man and there is only one thing that will make me more happy, to discover that he was a woman. this is in 1789. i went back. no. i have misread this document. she could imagine a political situation in which a country return to.
an inventor's nickname was crazy rumsey. lived in virginia until washington he had invented about in late 1780s that without a motor propel itself that bill like one of these boats and worked find unless the current got above a couple of months. nevertheless washington went because he understood that the future of the 13 original states depended upon its ability to incorporate new territories, new states. and if ever treated the way the bread street
massachusetts in virginia who have a problem on our online. so washington spent a great deal talking about rivers and canals. he said he thought he would like to compare washington eisenhower and i said to some extent that is apposite because the washington canals and rivers like interstate highways. our ability to keep ourselves as a union, strong common politic is dependent on our ability to help commerce flow. it's a figure you will meet in our book. he was another. and also in one of the most touching scenes of the journey in the 1780s, they
despise the state of rhode island thinking it was the most irresponsible group people at other call themselves a state and were reluctant to ratify the constitution. in fact, on washington's 1st trip to new england carefully avoided setting foot rhode island as a way of drawing to attention that they had not join the union, but when they did it take a trip but when he was in newport he was very interested the head of the synagogue, one of the oldest
and most beautiful in america. and moses came out and met washington in newport. let me read the words because i think it was his most touching and articulate expression that i ran across. moses, deprived as we heretofore has been going out with a deep sense of gratitude to the almighty elected by the majesty of the people which to bigotry is a sanction, to persecution now assistance but generously affording tall. ..
right. in other words, the jews of newport had their rights simply because they were people. the government response was not to give them toleration but to protect the rights as human beings. 1790. the open, inclusive, sense of our republic. so these men and women in these various places, boston gave one of the largest parades i think more people were in the washington prayed than were spectators. in newberry, oregon, charleston south carolina, people came forward to express their sense of being part of a wonderful new experiment.
perhaps belaying some of george washington's fear of what they knew about the public. i want to close my comments by telling you about the moment of my research that as a historian was most meaningful. a lot of my life has been spent in archives, reading documents that my wife claimed smells of mold, she's probably right i have gotten used to it. but one day i was driving with george washington south of myrtle beach on a road that leads down to georgetown, south carolina when george washington
took this trip he took a diary and a highly recommended. if you don't buy my book them by the diary series, it's a wonderful printed source. he said he was bored out of his mind because the roads were sandy and the woods were tiny and there was not much to see. there is not many houses. so he decided to break the boredom by stopping at a plantation by hampton. that was a huge rice plantation when it had to be huge because there's so much drainage and diking and it is very different than what tobacco plantation. he left the road to go to hampton and he was greeted by three women, very, very strong women, one was elisha pick me, you know your south carolina history she was figured out how to make indigo a commercial prop. her daughter harriet who is a
new widow because her widow had been killed in battle in the american revolution. then harriet's daughter. washington spoke with the women and as i supposed to keep the conversation going they took a little stroll in front of hampton. there is a huge tree, i wish i could show you but if any of you come from the south you know what a live oak tree is, it is a beautiful tree. there was one in the middle of the front of hampton. she said you know mr. president i think i'm going to cut this tree down because it abstracts the view of the house. if you come come up the road you are supposed to see the grandeur of the house and it must speak to the people and here's this tree
in the way. washington looked at her and looked at the tree and said let it stay. that tree can do no harm. it was then 200 years old, it, it is now almost 500 years old. so i invite all of the readers of my book to stop at hampton untouched the tree that is called the washington oak, that connects you with the father of our country. thank you. >> [applause]. were there any concern on
washington's part? any particular concern that you know of, of danger? in fact was there any danger presented to him on his travels? >> yes. the question is about the dangers. it was extremely extremely risky business to travel in those days. he bought a coach in philadelphia for the largest trip to the south. i have part of a chapter in the book about the mystery of the coach, was sort of like the piece of a true cross, in fact the coach at mount vernon if you go down there is a beautiful washington coach but it is not the washington coach. that coach was purchased by the mayor of philadelphia.
to answer your question, it was a very large large vehicle and the roads were terrible. when washington left philadelphia, thomas jefferson warned him and said you're going to have a terrible accident, this is top-heavy. it's like an suv going over in the wind. besides, there is rocks and tree stumps, it's a really bad business. he did not have access to that kind but in crossing the chesapeake bay over to annapolis a terrible storm came up and all of the boats in the washington group went aground. it was a a terrible moment because the governor and everybody in maryland could see from the shore what was happening but they cannot do a thing. washington was crossing the river near here and the horses
got spooked and pulled off the barge and threatened to take the whole paraphernalia into the water. the day was only say because there so many spectators, people had come out in small boats to see the president on his trip that they rescued the situation. it was dangerous. washington he always survived. okay human danger well it is a thought that president of the united states with one secretary and a number of servants probably on armed, with no military or police protection could travel the length and breath of our country and not worry about assassination or terrorism. that is a strange idea.
>> this journey was undertaken i suppose in large part to help cement the union. given perhaps the largest fault line in that union was slavery, did you encounter any references in the documents to how the issue of slaves were friedman and any of those colonies became a part of that journey or were addressed in that journey? >> that's a question that should sprint everyone's mind. a larger percentage of the american population at the time of the president were african-americans then, even today, these were not invisible folks. there were two incidents, one
which absolutely surprised me. i wonder if any of the viewers in my book will pick up, the good one first. george washington went to one of his goals was to promote american industry because he thought a great struggling republic should not be dependent on imports from foreign manufacturers. he wanted americans to be self-sufficient especially in textiles which was the largest import at the time. so he went to the hartford wool meals and looked around and praised what was really up pretty pathetic factory, but being a good president he tried to put a good face to it. soon after he left that he received a letter from england, from wales, from a man named mrn
grandson who became a fairly good novelist in america, this man was a quaker and he owned a state of the art mel in wales, 80 employees. he said to the president, he said mr. president i would like to -- i like the freedom and the expansiveness of the republic. i would would like to bring my mill to virginia and start and help you become self-sufficient. he said but i know you are probably not going to get many farm boys to come and work in the factory, so i tell you what we can do, you have a lot of slaves, they are very talented young men and young women, we will bring them into the factory
in an internship. after they they learn the skills necessary to make good cloth, they will be given their freedom. it will be a transitional experience experiment. and when i read that i thought he would throw that out the window there's no way it would sell in virginia. that's not what he did. he took the letter, endorsed the plan, send endorsed the plan, send it to the governor of virginia, and damn on trip a man by the name of beverly said we should think of this. everyone in the the virginia government 1790 that it represented a road to freedom through work. i did not invent this, it is right in washington's letter book. but no historian ever noticed this extraordinary possibility that washington was holding out.
now it happened, someone came to him and said you realize that if this guy howell brings the state-of-the-art mills to america you are going to be breaking every international treaty and law about the import of technology from great britain. he said oh my gosh, as president i can't make the law. so he withdrew from the plan. that's a good story. the bad story is that washington had, and you can see the picture an extraordinary slave, a man of immense charisma by the name of hercules. he was the cook where the president lived. when washington was on his tour he learned from the attorney general, a man randolph from virginia that pennsylvania law allowed any slave brought into the state of pennsylvania after six months he became automatically became free. that went for slaves,
presidents, congressmen or anybody. these guys came up from georgia, south from georgia, south carolina, they thought slavery was forever. here is the slide washington and martha went berserk, he said we are going to lose her greatest cook of the world. world. so they tried to fool hercules by telling him about five months and some days that he was needed back in mount vernon. it was a total hoax but hercules to his credit, realize that they were fooling with him and went to martha and said, i've worked, i am part of your family, why don't don't you trust me? you doubt my integrity to go through all of this conspiracy against me. martha broke down in tears because she was -- in washington was exposed at the
time this was hercules, his cook, his slave, was the only man that we know that forced washington to tell a lie. [laughter] it's really remarkable. so you see both sides. of all the southern founding fathers he was the only one that freed his own slaves on his deathbed in 1799. we nine. we always quote thomas jefferson and all of these others, they wrote the words but they did not do the act. >> president washington has a well-documented reputation as a host in mount vernon, i'm wondering if you learn anything or what you learn from your research about what he was like as a guest? and all of these people's homes are the houses that he stay? >> the guests, especially during the 1780s and then after they would pour in it was like it was
a tourist to people i would just say hi, just passing through i'm from france, was just here let's have dinner. it was quite annoying. he got a little tired of it. let me give you another aspect of washington's great tour. people have compared his tour or asked me to compare it to what kings and queens in europe today, it's call progress is. can queens would go on the road with a 60-80 retainers and drop-in on somebody's castles the lord this or prince that, say kill the ox is in you put the bill. that was a way of basically keeping the queens treasury fall fall. washington announced at the
beginning of his tour that he would only stay at public taverns, and, or ordinaries that he would not take the hospitality of any private individual. he said there were two reasons for this. one is that he was an employee of us, the american people and if he was going to represent us we should pay for us, it was not the business of private people to come forward. second, and brilliantly, he recognized that if you are in georgia or new hampshire and you are the local brandy may be the wealthiest merchants or something and use data at your house the next day that person would say i have a special deal with washington and turn it into a political advantage. he would not want to be a source of causing that he wanted to go on the tour to heal faction. so he stay. now some people say that's good,
however if you read washington's private diary, which i spent many hours doing, you will find that he often hated these taverns. they were terrible. the food was awful, they missed treated his horses, the beds were full of bugs, he was too short, he was a big man and his feet would hang out the end of the bed. so i describe washington's diary is sort of a trip advisor. that was for private consumption. the public was that he was a republican leader doing what you should do if you are an employee of the government. so the gentleman asked the question and he disappeared himself but oh, there you are. you are hiding again.
[laughter] so hospitality -- there were two times when people fooled him and he got very cross outside of georgetown he stayed in the house that he was told wasn't in and when he got up in the morning and presented his visa card, the guy said no, i won't take won't take your money because this is my house. it was not her real good idea to cross george washington. he did not like to be fooled. that was the one time that i know he stayed in a private home. >> i read that george washington specified that his slaves be freed upon the death of his wife martha, subsequently martha not wanting to die at the hands of her slaves, she freed the slaves.
>> you may know something about martha bequest that i don't. when washington became very ill in 1799 he was at the deathbed was his loyal secretary tobias. washington made it clear that his slaves, washington's slaves would be free. most of the of the slaves at mount vernon were owned by martha and brought to the marriage from her former union. martha was not at all happy about freeing slaves. she did not think that was a good idea. so there is some evidence that she was a little grumpy about her dead husband doing this which she had not done. i'm sorry, i don't know that she
freed her slaves later but i can't comment knowledgeably about that. >> professor, i have read your wonderful book. >> thank you. >> there so many things in it in addition to what you've talked to tonight. one thing i don't remember you covering is that he was gone for a significant period of time on these trips, while the pace of government is different than it is today, did anything go wrong or did anything happen that he had to fix when he got back? >> is a question i thought about because it seemed to me that raises a very difficult issue of constitutional law that to mine
knowledge no one has thought about. when washington left on his long tour to the south, the major figures of the government of his cabinet was hamilton and jefferson. so he told these men, i'm going to go away and if anything comes up other than ordinary little crisis, i tell you what, you handle it. when i come i come back i will rubberstamp whatever you did. you just know that i will have your back. i don't think he had the right to do that. but he said if something really big comes up, the british send a gunboat up the potomac or something, then you call me and i will come back and i will handle it. but of course i was a hello gesture because if you are in
savannah, georgia, you're rushing back is not going to mean much even if he caught over to charleston it took about. the crisis would have been long over. so in fact it was a really potentially big problem, but it never came up. >> did he turn anything over to john adams? >> when george washington was not a fan of john adams, i'm sorry he thought he was -- so he wrote this letter to hamilton and jefferson and said you handle it i trust you and then as a footnote to the letter he said, oh by the way if the vice president is still in the capital include him in your conversation. the assumption that adams would be up in braintree tending the apple orchards and not minding
government. washington tried to like adams, he tried to befriend adams but at least in my research adams was a difficult person to get along with. he was was always in a protectress smit about something. washington invited adams to accompanying him on one of the tours. it was a time adams could have shown that he had a sense of the people but he got one of these little pouts and said no i'm going to ride in my own coach. i'm going to go to days before you. therefore he missed a tremendous a tremendous opportunity to make his own reputation. when abigail adams who has the same political astuteness as george washington, when she heard about it she rose and what are you doing? you should be in that coach. so the coach from boston up to
salem adams got over his little pouts and rode briefly with george washington. i was speculating with my wife this morning one of the powerful marriages that do not take place. but george washington had married abigail adams, wow what a political duel that would've been. >> i wonder in i wonder in your research if you were able to connect anything in washington's background that led to his extraordinary powers? platelet trip particularly his political powers. >> i don't know about his background. as a young man he was not one of the great families of virginia. he was extremely close to the man that became a surrogate father and that was his brother
and i think he saw that brother is a model. when he died washington was more or less on his own. he was never close to his mother, in fact they had not a pleasant relationship. washington learned somewhere along the way extraordinary self control of his emotions, of his speech, he was often guarded to the point of seeing aloof. but he had a sense of leadership that came across how pleasant it would be of some of our other political leaders have that. he listened. he took counsel. he reflected on what people said and then made his decision, time and time again. and are you ready for this, he, he had no
problem changing his mind. nobody said washing tin -- you know the thing that's deadly on fox news when you waffle. he sought several times about a gentleman asked about african-american history early on he said you should arm black troops and he said no way. but then he came around and said that's a good idea let's do it. the beginning of the war he said you should inoculate the troops against smallpox and he said no so then he changed his mind because he saw pragmatically that the new answer was better than the old answer. so i think we call that leadership. >> these are great questions, you're bringing out elements of the book that maybe i should have. >> a lot of the conventional
wisdom about the relationship between hamilton and washington relates to your original remarks about your discoveries about washington's strength as a political leader. i wondered whether about the relationship between hamilton and washington in terms of one using the other as a political tool? what they are and whether they were changed by the research you gave in terms of the tools. >> a fair question about hamilton washington. i will try to answer your question sir but i say it's speculation based on my own research and i concentrated on this to her time. so there may be elements that would cause us to moderate those opinions.
washington had great admiration for hamilton brilliance is an economist. frankly i don't think washington understood half of what hamilton said about the various reports about industry and finance. but he trusted hamilton and that's another sign of leadership. he knew how to delegate responsibility in this case to hamilton. hamilton had been a difficult person in washington's life. outside the book and newbern at the end of the war when the officer in the continental army had not been paid and were very restless, it was suggested that there would be a coup of the officers. it was a sad moment.
washington save the day in one of his famous speeches. you probably heard it in school, i've got an old serving my country and i've grown blind and he fiddled with his glasses in this soldier said no way, whatever, will do it. but hamilton had tried to use this potential army coup to gain more power for the confederation government washington wrote some very strong letters to hamilton in the mid- 1780s. one line i do remember he said this like an older, very successful military officer talking to a headstrong guide. he says remember, an an army is a dangerous thing to play with. in other words in a republican government this is out of bounds. several other times hamilton the
pet you are city became a problem. i believe in the later years when when there is a rising at people in western pennsylvania he many plated washington from coming out of retirement taking command briefly. it was an ugly moment. there there were no rioters in washington was embarrassed. frankly i see the relation of these two men as tension filled and not altogether glorious story. my reading was that there was a man that washington really regarded as a son that he didn't have. that came across the research is his closeness and love of lafayette. lafayette was in france but their letters, you can feel the
>> book tv is on twitter, follow us to get publishing move scheduling updates, other information and to talk directly with authors during our live program. twitter.com/book tv. it's often known as martin luther king's march on washington. that's really a name that it acquired in hindsight. at the time everyone knew and recognized what as the principal leader of the march. >> so what was martin luther king's role role in 1963 march. >> by 1963 mlk had established himself as an important leader. he was very well known for his leadership in the montgomery bus boycott, and the previous decade he had formed the southern christian leadership conference. he was widely known as the leader of the southern to the rights movement. this movement that was based on nonviolent civil disobedience aimed at jim crow and the south,
he was a tremendous speaker. everyone knew everyone knew that he was a phenomenal speaker. but he was not the only in many ways the principal leader of what we know as the civil rights movement. the civil rights movement is important to remember was a national movement. it was not just focused on jim crow in the south, it went back to this effort to the second world war to win equal access to jobs and he had retained that effort to try to build a national movement that could end racial inequality. by 1963, martin luther king was very well known as a speaker, as a leader and in some ways part of the movement. so when randolph went to reorganize this march that he had called off back in 1941, everyone said that you better get martin luther king. you need to get his support. he went he went to martin luther king and king said i will support you but
let's expand the goals of the march. the march is not just about winning equal access to jobs, it's also about winning the rights to vote in the south, which with randolph in new york city he had the right to vote, so that was not primary on his mind. but someone living in montgomery or atlantic, this was the primary goal, to an the segregation and lunch counters. the things i often associate with the civil rights movement more broadly. that's where the slogan for the 1963 march came from. this was a march for jobs and freedom. >> you can watch this and other programs online at book tv.org. james lindsay, director of studies that on the council of foreign relations recently released a list of five foreign-policy books he thinks the next president of the united states should read.
his recommendations begin with passion for leadership by robert jake's period in which the former cia director and defense secretary explain the lessons he learned during his time serving under eight presidents. also on the list is a council on foreign relations, gordon goldstein's exploration of americans involvement in the vietnam war, called lessons in disaster. bureaucratic politics and for policy written by three veterans of the federal government argue career employees of bureaucracy work for their own preference in lieu of the president. another title is perception and misperception in international politics by columbia university international relations professor, robert service and it looks at how heads of state misread the intentions of other world leaders.