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tv   Book Discussion on Dead Presidents  CSPAN  March 13, 2016 8:30am-9:31am EDT

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will go along with it at the college level. but, boy, i'll tell you, at the college level it's -- i forget which schools this involved, but i know i was looking at a number of athletes who literally on one day would get 170 letters in their mailbox from -- all signed by the coaches at the schools saying come to our schools. we really want you. you know? one of the schools actually included the zip code in it as a way of trying to recruit the kid. [laughter] and it didn't quite work out. but, you know, the amount of attention that goes to high school athletes these days, look, they're on tv all the time. espn has high school football games on, you know, part of the week. they have all these basketball tournaments and all these potential tournaments for the kids. how can your ego not swell with all of that attention? >> host: could you go back to that zip code reference? >> guest: i forget how it worked. i'd have to go back and read my own book. [laughter] it had something to do with the
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kid that they were recruiting, they thought it would give them an edge. but in the end, he went to another school with a different zip code. >> host: gilbert gaul. here's the book, "billion dollar ball: a journey through the big money culture of college football." thanks for being on booktv, sticking around with us. >> guest: thank you for having me on. it's been great. >> host: live coverage from the tucson festival of books continues tomorrow. now tomorrow, another full day of live coverage. author panels and author call-ins. some of the topics include immigration, race in america, voting rights and t.j. stiles, pulitzer prize-winning historian, will also be talking about his most recent week about george custer -- recent book about george custer: go to our web site, and get the full schedule. or you can follow us on twitter to get schedule updates all day long at twitter -- [laughter]
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>> when i tune into it on the weekends usually as authors sharing their new releases. >> watching the nonfiction authors on booktv is the best television for serious readers. >> they can have a longer conversation and delve into the subject. >> booktv weekends, they bring you author after author after author. >> i love booktv and i c-span fan. >> hello? evening everyone. thank you for joining us here at politics and prose for our monday evening event. before we get started just a few quick things. one, please take a moment to silence your cell phones or pagers if anyone uses so stupid
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or anyone that could possibly make a sound during our event. after his talk, mr. brady carlson has agreed to take question. if you could line up behind this microphone and speak clearly into the microphone because we do have c-span filming today. just make sure both the audience can hear it and it can be recorded for posterity. third, after the event if you could help us out by folding of the chairs and just kind of stacking them, link them up against the sides, that would be great. i don't know how you heard about us but politics and prose, we tried to be more than a bookstore. told about 500 events a year between this location on connecticut avenue and our three busboys and poets location. so we have little fliers, also online if you want to check us
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out, and our recording will be built on our slate podcast and on our youtube channel in a couple of weeks. so today i have the pleasure of introducing mr. brady carlson in his debut book "dead presidents" which is a book pretty much about what it sounds like. mr. brady carlson recounts his quest to visit as many presidents great sites as possible crisscrossing the country from massachusetts to california. his day job is a reporter and host at new hampshire public radio, and his talent for sly humor and economy of words shines through in this book. it's a whole lot of fun to read being part first person travelogue and part history book. at times it feels like you are flying over hundreds of miles and cross hundreds of years to come face-to-face with the living goes up presidents. what i mean to say is that this book is really good and you should all buy it and read it. but i will let brady taken away.
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[applause] >> well, thank you all so much for coming. i don't know if i can add to the. i may just want to sit back down. thank you, jason. that was great. it's wonderful to be with you at politics and prose, which is a dream come true. thank you for the white -- thank you for the nice weather. it's been almost exactly four years ago since i dream this up as a project. for getting to share with all of you now after all this time is really exciting. and it's also, to be frank, i really. there's a period of time, there's a part of time where your manuscript is essentially locked down no matter what happens in the world. it can't be changed into the book comes out and then hopefully get to publish a second edition. we have two presidents who are in their 90s right now.
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and in that period were essentially my manuscript was on the dark side of the moon, i lost a lot of sleep. i'm not sure which worried me the most common enough that when jimmy carter said he had brain cancer or when george h. that the bush decided to celebrate his 90th birthday by going skydiving. it was pretty harrying for me. i actually had somebody once said something to the effect of maybe your book could come out and said something that happened to one of them at that's like the extra chapter for your paperback edition. that's incredibly morbid. i've got to be honest, despite the evidence that i spent four years traveling to all the great sites of you as president, i am not a morbid guy. this was for me initially just a chance to go see the president and get as close to them as get into we figure out a way to go back in time and meet them in
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person. i always wanted to be around the presidents as a topic that's been interesting since i was a kid. i would take these stacks of books home and study up on the statistics about the presidents the way that a baseball fan might look up the era for the favorite picture or the home run and rbi total for the favorite cleanup hitter. something i found interesting. the more time i spent at the the sites the more i realized that i these connections not just about the lives of the presidents but after life. there's a great quote from bill clinton who once said that being president is a lot like running a cemetery. there's a lot of people under you and none of them are listening. so about four years ago i decided to make this project, and i said i'll have a look at each of these 39 bracelets. there are actually 38 great sites of u.s. presidents but grover cleveland was president on to nonconsecutive locations.
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i realized like i said the more time i spent at the site, the presidents never really quite leave us. they died. they are buried or they are entombed at the funerals but they have to keep working. so i gave disputed of their lives or afterlives a name. it's the post-post-presidency and it's a very, very busy time. even though they're not about to be part of it because of what we do in their honor and in their names. we are in one of the most obvious examples, washington, d.c. we just had presidents a day earlier this month so there are a lot of obvious things. our money has presidents all over it there's a lot of let's obvious examples, a lot of connections that maybe don't come up in our wallets or are mailing addresses, our highway system is officially named the dwight d. eisenhower system of interstate and defense highways. there's that statue in
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alexandria, virginia, as the ceremonial start. the man who wrote the song this land is your land is woodrow wilson guthrie. my favorite blues singer birth name is chester arthur burnett. there's a baseball pitcher named grover cleveland alexander. interestingly the one person who always comes to mind as a famous person posting for president, george washington carver, was not named for george washington. the oddities of serious connections and then once they're just plain inexplicable. i bring you some news from the world of commerce. there's a whole set of has a disinterested you can open a zachary taylor said and pulled out candy which is cool. there's the teddy bear of course mean for president teddy roosevelt and there's this one which i will submit without comment i saw in cleveland, ohio, from the 19th century. garfield t., laxatives and diuretics or to slogan, flush your bowels with garfield t. but there are some things that
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connect to is even today far beyond what happened 100 or 150 years ago. we saw an egg sample last year when president obama decide to change the name of the highest mountain in alaska from mount mckinley to denali. and my host and actuating sample about a decade ago when we of the presidential range of mountains, not washington, mount adams, matt pierce. some lawmakers want to add a mount reagan. nevada had the same thing happened it was an effort to put mount reagan in nevada as well. these issue to come up from time to time. dead presidents can set trends just in the way life president kim. there's the old story about when john f. kennedy said to stop wearing hats, so did the men of america. that may not actually be true, but this is true. after president kennedy died and was buried at arlington national
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cemetery, the demand for people who wanted to be buried in arlington national cemetery went up so much that you tighten the eligibility because so many people were trying to get in that they were worried they were going to run out of space. you will get the names of dead presidents used to make points. you other sort of in the aftermath of the presidents of death and funeral, if the president were still here today wouldn't things be different? what if we could have a president like that in the white house again today? and not just their names. their bodies are sometimes used to cripple and. two years before the civil war a presidents body was exhumed from a northern state and moved to a southern state. another was paraded around the country just after the civil war to convince northerners to treat the southern states as they tried to rejoin the union. here's a shortlist of some of the other connections you might have thought of the dead presidents show up in space to
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the are asked which man for at least five. dead presidents choke in sports. i went to a town in iowa that has the distinct pleasure of hosting a national hoover ball championships. dead presidents show up in food. there's a sandwich can get an update new called the millard filled me more. account which code state historic site and for its own cheese shop. dead presidents show up in music. there's a song called james polk, johnny cash and julie hatfield both sank about hatfield. lou reed had a song called the day john kennedy died. and begin back to node filmer, buried in the same cemetery as the superfreak himself from rick james. dead presidents are connected to the star wars universe. it's the filing resting place of woodrow wilson. high up on the top at washington national cathedral it is a
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gargoyle or technically a grotesque of darth vader. you have the main who flock to work in all the wars and the dark lord at the heart of star wars in one place. is what is important to note about these. not just because they are fun or they are important to know about. you are paying for the world of dead presidents. every single president is entitled to a state funeral conducted by the u.s. military, every president isn't up to presidential library run by the national archives and records administration. on each presidents birthday the military hold a ceremony at his grave all of which we pay for through our tax dollars. this whole crazy world starts right in this part of the country. let me just start before i tell you these stories, be kind. if you know some of these stories as washingtonians, just tell all your friends the after party is tonight. there was this adorable guy at the bookstore and have to it was
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he explained all about the washington monument. this story really does begin where all things begin, with george washington. just as he said so many customs and traditions about how a president was to ask them what he was to do and not to do, so too did he become the first dead president ingrid all sorts of presidents about how we are treating our former leaders after they pass on. in george washington's case it was may be bigger than usual because he is someone we couldn't even wait until he was gone to start memorializing him. we wanted to turn it into a legend before he was dead. not long after the revolution was over there was talk in the governmental circles about building a giant statue of george washington on horseback innocent of the new capital city to be large-scale example to the nation. it was supposed to look, if you've ever been to washington circle, that statute of george washington on horseback was like
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that except transformer size. george washington was very, very nervous when he heard this kind of talk because he remembered a time when he was in new york city and if soldiers had heard the declaration of independence for the first time and they reacted so strongly that they went up to statue of the king of england on horseback and they tore it down. if the sole democratic experiment goes south, i don't want people like that tearing down my statue. he pushed as hard as he could to say let's build the country, let's not build statues of me, thank you very much. there with one exception which was when the three commissioners who were in charge of designing the federal city named washington. he left them not because he felt i should get waste when they named after me but because he had hired them to lead construction and he didn't want to micromanage. so he let that one go. if you look through his papers he always refers to this count as a federal city.
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in life george washington fend off all of these attempts to memorializing before he was dead. and then he died on december 14, 1799 and that's when everything started to change. a change for him first of all for obvious reasons. he had a bad throat infection in december and his doctors did him no favors by trying to take something like five of his eight pints of blood while trying to get them to throw out. that did not help them. nor did what happens next, washington was very clear in his will about what he wanted after he died. for example, one of the things he specified was he did not want to be buried for at least three days because he was concerned about being buried alive. he also did that while funeral parades, riderless horses, long speeches. he wanted simple, private funeral services come essentially he wanted to be left alone. is what he said in his will.
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it is not expressed a desire my corpse may be entered in a private matter without prayed for funeral. we don't roll that way in this country. he got a long funeral parade. he wanted zero speakers. he got four at his funeral service at mount vernon. there were riderless horses. there were rumors that country was short on black cloth for months after because there was so much more going on. those couldn't get the actual funeral. they held mock funerals across the country. my favorite is about what they did in boston what do not don't have a mock funeral at the start commemorative coins to remember a mock funeral for said something like the world is in tears but he is in glory. this may sound over the top even by our usual standards but remember this is at a time when the united states of america is still very young and maybe not
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that united. for a lot of people think those holding the country together keeping you from splitting for the part was the force of personality that was george washington. they were scared that now that he was dead they might start to lose that force of personality that was binding them together. they came up with a cool solution, if george washington was a mortal man, you lose him. but if he was more than a man, you can't possibly listen because he will always be with you. if you visit the u.s. capitol and look up the inside of the wc one of the great examples of that, the offices of washington, a portrait of george washington team welcomed into heaven as a demagogue by a group of angels. this excessively over the top. they were trying to hang onto this guy as long as they could. this is also about the time you start to hear stories like the biography where george washington could not tell a lie, that he chopped down the cherry tree.
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legends and tales about perfect george washington was as a person. they just wanted to keep him as long as they could. the only problem was that they were not always a good at honoring him. the best example of that can be found today at the smithsonian museum of american history. there's a sculpture by horatio who by all accounts was a very good sculpture he drank in italy. congress gave him i think $20,000 to make a massive sculpture in george washington's honor. it sounded like a good concept. he was trying to tie george washington to the greek and roman leaders of old. someone who is granted huge amounts of power, uses that power responsibly and voluntarily and back without any attempt to keep it beyond his mandate. and that was the idea anyway. what he actually ended up creating was george washington in a toga, and he's holding a
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sword, supposed to symbolize how he was handing the sword of power back to the people. what it looks like is a guy who just left a frat party trying to stab himself. it was literally laughed out of the capitol rotunda. they put outside on the capitol grounds at which point people would stick about that looks like george washington is reaching for his role. they had to keep moving it from place to place and it was booked into the smithsonian of one point and they have it now. it is definitely worth seeing if you haven't seen. at the same time this is going on this talk we should of george washington's actual remained at the u.s. capitol. people can come to the capital, look at both runtime and see this great painting but they could also look at and see the sarcophagus that holds his remains. there's only one problem with that. they didn't check with the family when they came to pick
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the bottom up. someone said did you look at the will? the will begins at i would like to be left at mount vernon and basically left alone. so they had to plug the hole they had carved into the capitol rotunda sport where you look down. a few start your tour of u.s. capitol today, you'll start in rome called the crypt. that was supposed to george washington. now it just holds lots of tour groups. while all that was going on through is another group of prominent citizens including chief justice john marshall and former justice james madison was that we need to build a monument. a great monument, a huge monument, the best monument. as designed the original plan would've been the tallest structure in the world. the problem here was that they couldn't get the supplies of marble nor the money to pay for said marble together in any kind of organized fashion. they would build a little bit and then you have to stop, raise
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more money, and biltmore, stop and raise more money. for years and years and years the washington monument was a big stump in the middle of the capital city where you saw not the greatest of george washington reflected in ideas and symbols but is a little cows, pigs and sheep's hundred and -- sheep grazing at the foot of this unfinished marble. it said something like a portrait of george washington in the white house can see that the stump as it sits in the middle of the city and took almost the a tear in his eyes forming, which is just a beautiful thing. in july 1850 they held a fundraiser to try to kick start things yet again and the guest of honor at this fundraiser was the sitting president zachary taylor. it was a very hot day so president taylor decided to cool off by drinking iced milk. health officials have warned people not to consume those
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things because there were diseases around the city. less than a week later he was dead. in other words, we tried to honor one day present and ended up creating another. if you've ever been to washington monument you know that spot where the color changes in the marble. that's where the stump era ended and the is army corps of engineers era began. after a while to realize there's only one organization in the world that can finally finish this thing off. they handed it to the us army corps but you do. it did take them and to 1885 which was more than a century after the idea for them on the support of washington, d.c. was first proposed 86 years after george washington died and there have been 20 presidents after george washington. that's all it took even today it still winds up being under repair. remember the earthquake about five years ago. there is extensive renovation and this is a city that hosts a lot of tour groups, many of which consisted of eight eighthe
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boys the look of something that looks like the washington monument in a way that is just unseemly to our eyes and they will take warbled pictures and say terrible things and snicker to each other over them which is just awful. that's the sort of george washington national myth. i haven't even gotten to the body get. i mentioned he wanted to stay at mount vernon. in his will he ask a gently used please move my relates to the need to get the old is situated right by the potomac river which was produced leading. he was worried his bones would wind up washing down street. it took about 30 years to build about two because my barn was unprofitable you. there were all these people making essentially pilgrimages to mount vernon and invited. by the time they finally did build this new deal to washington's remains, not remains but was holding them, the coffin was deteriorating. so the guys who took charge of
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moving george washington's remains from the old casket to the new sarcophagus did great. they wrote up an account for this, and everything that they wrote about that was in passive voice. so no one picked them up and moved him. he was moved somehow. and in the process of moving them, somehow a hand was laid upon his head and a pair was taken from his head. whose hand? it couldn't have been us. someone did it. someone to his hat. i don't know who did these things. nonetheless, they managed to make a successful transfer with one caveat, that the new tomb was too small for the sarcophagus. they apparently have not measured so that you put in front of the new tomb and build around it. someone along the line someone clipped off part of the eagle design on part of the sarcophagus as a souvenir. but just like with washington
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monument, just like with the u.s. capitol and just like with everything involved with memorializing george washington, they got it all figured out over time. ironed the wrinkles out of the system. mount vernon has had something like 80 million visitors over time, including presidents and queens and kings and all sorts of dignitaries. things are running shipshape over there. you can take a house to work or to consumers like to live in george washington's done. you can sample some of the whiskey that was distilled using his actual recipe. there's a point now where if you know those national treasure movies you can take a nicholas cage tour of george washington's house which is just fascinating. you can also take part in a brief ceremony they have twice a day at mount vernon. if you do that and how to advise you to do, it's really cool, listen closely for the tune because of pressure you can your the son of george washington rolling over in his grave at all of the things we've done to him
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over the years. i said before the washington set precedent with his death. what is it, what other customs that have come up thanks to george washington in a world of dead presidents? first we go big when it comes to presidents whether they want that or not. we make large, expensive monuments that take fo forever d we argued about them for a long, long time. would open a lot of coffins, moved a lot of president bodies. there's thievery, all kinds of bad behavior but we tend to get all right in the end. i wa will say if you look at the timeline of dead presidents, george washington died in 1799 and there is not another dead president into 1826. i have a theory that john adams and thomas jefferson were convinced having seen what had happened to their predecessor that they wanted to avoid becoming dead presidents as long as possible.
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so i would just say thank you all so much for coming. it is such a treat to be with you in washington and i will be happy to take any questions that you have without any of the dead presidents, or all of them if you prefer. thank you all again so much for coming. [applause] >> let's start at the other end. do you have a story to tell us about the amazing, beautiful kind of semi circles of columns that marks the demise of warren g. harding speak with my first warren g. harding question. this is fantastic. is the but remember that warren g. harding was a president? good. is one of those guys who just sort of on the list so like at the end of the gilligan's island sal, he is one harding is like
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mary and other presidents. anyway, warren harding has i think one of the most beautiful tombs. it is a circular set of columns, gorgeous. it is in marion, ohio which is a small town. it's funny because warren harding died in 1923, and it took, i didn't get to write whole lot about this in the book but it took a long time to raise the money to put those columns up. because after he died we started to learn more about what been going on in his white house, the drinking, gambling, the father of children with someone who was not his wife, the carousing of all hours and the teapot dome scandal which was at that point the worst possible thing any president had been involved in. and so the more these revelations came out in the wake of his death, the less people wanted to give to make a giant memorial in his honor in his hometown.
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so calvin coolidge, his successor, is one time vice president does some fundraising and then that sort of tapers off and then the next president herbert hoover quietly canceled the event is going to do on the half of the to it takes a long time. we do finally get it built and then there was an article in "life" magazine in the 1940s, which is barely gone and the memorial was almost still brand-new, i remember the caption underneath the picture, they did a photo survey of all the great sites and it says at the bottom, not many people go there now, like it'd been sitting there for decades. ..
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that is what he got. you do miss the exact opposite. he wanted to be buried in his family spot next to the peter and alice river, which is beautiful and quiet. it ebbs and flows. some of the earliest presidents, the washington, jefferson, they have nice been somewhat ornate final resting places. but they are private and that is to be the model that presidents would pass home price private citizens that did not in a locker belonged to the country.
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the final resting places would reflect that did one mr. in the jordan area because not just the facts of life that aesthetics come as a vat of really big to became much more prevalent, especially with the assassinated president. greenstein is the biggest in technical size. it looks like a planetarium at the top of this hill. it's the kind of thing if you were seeking a jedi, he would go up this hill. james and garfield in cleveland, ohio who died at the height of the korean era he has, not making this up, he had a death castle. it is a gigantic castle and on the out side of it, there are released that the difference pages of the site and this time
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as an educator in rural ohio to service in civil war government, too laden in agony because of incompetent that there's a they made a point of putting that up there in showing them in agony for half of the sure presidency. on the inside, this is the worst thing i think i saw. i think it's kind of awesome, but i don't know how many people would want this. there is a maryland the assassination and said garfield's tomb. there is this picture of garfield walking through the train station in d.c. and the secretaries walking with impurities frantically waving the car. look out, look out. the train attendant is there. garfield doesn't see it. so you look on this thing and think jamesa garfield, what did he do to anybody to deserve all of this indignity that is then pressed upon him? i visited there the week after i spent some time in the los angeles area visited the graves
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of president nixon and reagan. i'm getting e-mails all over the place. what now? someone had gotten to talk to influence some of the commemorative and it's like we have reached the garfield and dignity team here. it was worse possible thing to someone -- if he had known what was coming, he would've turned the nomination down. any other questions? >> just refresh me. it's jefferson life in monticello? spam that jefferson's burial places in monticello. interesting piece about that is monticello, the property is run by a nonprofit foundation except for the family burial ground,
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which is controlled a descendent of jefferson's descendents. the reason that matters is because there are a group of people who say we are descendents of thomas jefferson by way of sally hemming, one of the enslaved peoples of the debt the plantation. they are not officially recognized by the family even though they are officially recognized by monticello. so you have a disagreement at the property about two as part of the jefferson family. because the official jefferson family still does not recognize the hemming's descendents, they are eligible to be buried in the family plot. every so often you hear them after to bring that group into the fold so to speak. just one more example of how the issues, appeared something that happened hundreds and hundreds of years ago. great question.
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[inaudible] >> i didn't look closely enough to be sure. that is certainly possible. i will look for the telltale signs of cheap and i go back. >> you mention zachary taylor's and are there any other strange causes an or presidents? >> strange causes of deaths or presidents? well, other than garfield's doctors said my damage than the bullets every day, the legends have it at harrison died because they stood out in the cold during his inaugural address without a hat and a coat and spoke for two hours. i've read his entire and not to entire and natural address and it didn't kill me, but it certainly did put me to sleep. it was still the records on his eggnog corolla dress. even for that number of words, it goes by very slowly. about a talk about the pros and
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cons of using the veto power and a number of references when it's done charting a course back through the short at that point tale of american history, goes back into roman history. the home state of new hampshire managed to cut about half of the proconsuls of william henry harrison wanted to mention in his address. it still wasn't enough. there's actually been research in recent years this has people should more look at the water system of washington d.c. at the time. there are three presidents. taylor, paul can harrison who died in a tenure. and they could be traded to the terrible conditions in washington d.c. at that time. but you know, even knowing that there is people who talk about william henry, like this is why he put a coat on when you go outside in the winter. do you want to end up like that guy? i didn't realize when time i was in dallas, the 50th
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anniversary of the kennedy assassination. before they had their commemorative, i figured how cold could it possibly can in texas? apparently really cold in texas. so i was very not nearly enough in terms of coats, hats and gloves. i was freezing. i was listening to inaugural address good at turning to william henry harrison. what's going to happen to me in 30 days? not a good feeling. anyway. >> perhaps a birdie answered it. what about warren harding being poisoned? the second question, seems to be presidential libraries now. does that start with johnson or hoover or when did that start? >> the rumors of warren harding being poisoned. we actually have a tradition assuming that every president to guys during office with done by some nefarious means. it goes back to william henry
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harrison. someone tried to murder him because of slavery. that is why he was exhumed in the name in 90s. by the way, he died in 1850 and the brock about a 1991 to check on what had killed him. the story of warren harding, this is one of the best-selling books that came out after he died a suggested that his wife had found out about all of his extramarital dalliances and have poisoned him. that was a best-selling book. it was almost certainly just rumors trying to get book sales. wish i had thought of that. but the public ate it up as if there were real and also some of the harding papers were burned by his widow, which did not help the case of the people saying this is all hogwash. so does have persisted certainly over the years. supposedly there were people after franklin roosevelt died reset well, there are so many
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great different stories about what it actually happened for roosevelt. that meant that the soviets would kill him. others said it was in an a job. some people said franklin roosevelt faked his death it was actually living out in upstate new york very happily. he just didn't want to be president anymore after 12 and a half years. these stories do apparently seem to crop. as to the presidential libraries, the first public presidential library came from franklin roosevelt. he proposed it to if what he was still president, which again going back to this model for the president of the private citizen with great power for a short period of time and returns to being a private citizen, that idea was a little controversial in the 1940s and he proposes that. it is partly for roosevelt the public works project. it is also a way for him to deal with -- he was kind of a hoarder
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and he wanted a place where he could store all of this stuff. he didn't want to put in the national archives. part of that is because presidents tend to have egos and they want to be remembered that want to be remembered fondly and away they would like to be remembered. all of that went into the presidential library. lawmakers did approve a presidential library not only for fdr, but every president since an included herbert hoover who was alive at the time. he has a taxpayer-funded presidential library. this is a big change because more or less up until that point, presidents elected to estimate how the decisions and we were shaped like a season than we would did some of them would write memoirs or make speeches and put their hand up. try characterize their works. but now, they have a partly taxpayer-funded library to get their own part of the message
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out there and get their perspective. and above. not all historians love that. critics say we are underwriting presidents telling us how we should remember that they are not thrilled about that. but we do see at least its over time many of the presidential libraries that are couple generations old seal up our balance. the roosevelt library just went under a large renovation and you see all kinds of exhibits about the japanese internment and some of his extramarital affairs and things like that and the decision about how he handled the war and so forth. you do see these things change over time. the best part of the presidential libraries is that they have a treasure trove of documents and they did not have access, but because they collect everything. they throw nothing happens that throw nothing out and said they
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had the weirdest stuff. the roosevelt library at the giant franklin roosevelt had in the shape of the sinks. wendy johnson library in texas as a joke telling robot of lbj. there was a cap raccoon that i saw at the richard nixon library sent to him just after he had the stroke that killed him. they thought maybe this stuffed raccoon will pull him out of his stroke. amazing stuff at the nixon library also has the famous picture of when he met elvis at the white house. they have a life-size version of that if you want to stand next to nixon meeting of this, you can do that. so many great things you can do a presidential library. for me, the weird stuff is worried gophers. maybe that is just mean. [inaudible] >> i had always wanted to just visit the sites. i thought it was about as close as i could get to meeting the
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president in person. i didn't know four years ago when i said i'm going to or visiting is exactly how it was going to turn out. what happened was there a convoluted series of e-mails, the stranger who thought the idea sounded interesting contacted an agent in new york could then contact me if that helps me write a proposal that we've had chopped to publishers who think that is together with debbie debbie norton who very kindly that may carry a this kind of goofy adventure. the merrill of the stories always have a contact in your website because you never know who is going to write. the presidents are scattered throughout the country is, but there's a lot in ohio, virginia, quite a few in the northeast and four in the d.c. area. i would take a trip, see all the things that i could be over a three or four day period and then go back home and process
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what i had seen, jason follow-up with interviews and research in research and things like that and corralled together. other than that, a lot of statement nights and weekends because i have a day job and at that point i had one job. it's amazing how much work you can get done when you never sleep. but that was the general idea plug-in away. over time people who knew about what i was doing would get in touch and say did you hear about these people who collect political memorabilia? for here is this event that goes on each year. maybe you should stop by and unfold it like that. >> so sometimes when you are writing, you end up learning something about your topic. even though you've done all the research already. was there any particular president that as you were writing the text, you actually begin to change your opinion
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about that person? >> yes. i changed my opinion about each of them because you know, i read all the same books that everybody else has studied the presidents read. i have the conventional understanding of who george washington was, who abraham lincoln was into all of these people were. jamesa garfield is one that resonated with me because he's almost completely forgotten. i remember one of the kids guides to the presidents were paid their names, party, term in office and notable accomplishments. and this set, this is the only thing listed it assassinated by tourist office seeker. that was his accomplishment which is kind of true. how depressing is it. that book really kind of director that probably four or five times. she did a great job of care are
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rising what any individual she was and how much potential she had to be a good president had he lived and had it not been for he would have lived. if you lived in our time he would've been home from the hospital in a couple days. that was one example. the more popular well-known one is john f. kennedy. i come from a generation who i don't remember my time. i remember my parents telling me about what it was like to live through that in the same imac ready told me what it was like to live through pearl harbor and how people look through what it was like to experience the 9/11 attacks. kennedy was one of the hardest presidents to write about because he is so well documented and there's tens of thousands of books about john f. kennedy. what else is there that could be said? what i have to do is look at him from a completely different angle.
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i went to the 50th anniversary commemorations of the assassination of dallas, which is not a place that has been a lot of commemorating of the assassination of john f. kennedy because why would you? this year they thought always around us maybe for the last time with the people who ask. the assassination first-hand still around to commemorate it. what i found was the reason that it can induce to resume its is for a lot of reasons, but among them was essentially good branding. i do want to say that christ they, but the kennedys did a phenomenal job of creating the idea that these are people that matter to a finisher appeared at time. when they first proposed the idea of creating a funeral for john kennedy modeled after abraham lincoln, that was not the obvious choice. they would've gone back to the last president who died and office. bush is still a large-scale state funeral, but not with the
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abraham lincoln gravitas that he ended up getting. you could have made a case, a convincing one at that point. does this guy merit that? it turned out the public thought he did and that is just fascinating and a lot of that is because the kennedy family included jacqueline kennedy did a really good job of sort of framing his president he and his latest deep in a way that hit home personally for people. not that he was a political figure, but that he was one of the great people of history and he would be a towering figure who could not be quite equal to them and they made a case that most presidential gravesites don't make, which is that his ideals live on. no other president has an eternal flame. most of the grace that look backwards. this is not.
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that just struck me at how much went into that i thought was really fascinating because it seems when you think about it now, you did while all this was just a natural thing. it was all done on purpose. it felt so natural and that was the true genius of everything when the funeral and has gone into the memorializing with that of john kennedy is that it was all assault and ultimately put it all but it all feels so natural. not everybody can say that. yes. >> are there any washington monument with the story of the rivalry between two -- [inaudible] spin that there's a rivalry over the washington monument here? >> know, bravery between two high schools. they had the idea of taking out
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two of the spotlight and the colors are purple and white. put in purple bulbs, which would have been fine. he decided to go further and some friends went up the washington monument up through the window. it got us back into the monument and holland. >> if you're going to go big on something like that, if you want to stick it to st. john's, you're not going to go over to the james buchanan memorial, are you? it's not funny how these days, these connotations built up over time. all of a sudden the washington monument which was built for one big huge purpose once have been part of the high school reverie. that is fantastic.
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>> i just wanted to add a little bit about kennedys singer. there's a big irish festival coming up at the kennedy center this may. it will be 100 years on kennedy's berth next year and 100 years deriving this year. but he apparently stayed in touch with the number of the people over in ireland after he took a trip they are only months before he died. a number of them amount to almost immediately that they would be coming to washington. and when the french president saw that he had to do something good for jackie, that kind of seal the deal that it would be a grand event. >> yeah -- and again i don't want to make this sound crass, but they made it so it was some big i don't want to call a tv friendly, but something who people watching on tv could feel personally tested were watching.
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the fascinating part of a kennedy federal for me as even the things that went wrong with great. for example, the famous playing of taps were one of the fifth or sixth note rag, the bugler didn't quite landed no. they were all of these commenters who said it was the year in donations greased. when somebody gives a speech or sings the song, that's what it sounded like. where the writer was out of control. the source is clearly wound up because he feels -- piling up on a happier note just given what this book is about. there's a few stories about animals. blackjack is a great kennedy funeral. but come back to warren g harding at the end. when he died, he was best known perhaps at the time for having the first celebrity presidential
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log, matty boy. when warren harding died, this is about the saddest thing he could think of in regards to a presidential dust. there were all these newspaper articles about there was one member of the white house contingent that couldn't understand what the president's car was then driving back to pat had and give him dog treats. poor batty boy could not understand where president harding was and why he wasn't coming back to the white house. someone who heard about this horrible situation about the dog wrote a song trying to explain to the president's dog when it happened. it was called laddie boy he's gone and it talks about he's president and have been. you just have to understand. presidential briefing monuments and memorializing goes even into the world of pat, which was just against the beautiful is so american. we connect these things in every possible way and bless us for
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it. i'm not, bless all of you for coming out. thank you again. this is so great. [applause] [inaudible] if anyone would like their books signed, if you could start here and go that way. [inaudible conversations] >> here's a look at some authors recently featured on the tvs afterwards. our weekly author interview program.
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>> when we look at what happened in ferguson with my go ground being killed by the policemen, darren wilson when we look at what happened in south carolina, where the armed white racist and white supremacist murdered nine innocents told.
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so both from the state that obama represents through the police and their violence towards unarmed black people, men and women and in the broader society where racial violence had a resurgence ironically and paradoxically enough under the first bite residency barack obama had to contend with the advent of race, how he would address that, how he would acknowledge it, how he would push down the period
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[inaudible conversations] john stuart mill and the responsibility to protect. i would also like to welcome those of you watching online at and for those of you on twitter, you can bite to eat this event called hash tag cato events. i'd also like to thank our amazing event staff here is done so much work behind the scenes to make this happen. the question of intervention is as important now as it is or has been. 25 years ago many observers anticipated the end of the cold war presaged a new era of peace and stability in international politics. can send committeemen state has intervened in the succession of foreign conflicts. iraq, somalia, bosnia, haiti,
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kos about, dan, iraq again, libya. in addition, the united states has opted also not to intervene in a number of other contracts, most notably rwanda appeared as we all know over the past couple years the obama administration has resisted intense pressure both domestically and internationally to intervene in seville were serious. that seems likely in the midst of ongoing stability -- and stability, the united states is bound to intervene in foreign conflicts. the likelihood is problematic primarily because the international system is founded on the comp that of sovereignty. msn misstates refrain from interfering in each other's domestic affairs. over the past century, however, international law standards have emerged to delineate circumstances in which these men are be,


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