tv Book Discussion on Most Blessed of the Patriarchs CSPAN May 30, 2016 10:00am-11:01am EDT
nolan's papers are at university of california-berkeley, and it turns out that he was informed about the incident by william miller. william miller being the young lieutenant who had arranged for the funeral of birch. miller was convinced that birch had been wronged, you know, that there should have been more attention given to his death, that he did deserve recognition, and since that had not happened since the incident had been forgotten, he wrote to nolan, and nolan then -- as a u.s. senator -- was actually able to gain access to the secret files. ..
what kind of sources used. you allude to the fact access in china is difficult these days. what kind of sources did you use? second question, what do you was the most challenging thing about writing the biography? >> putting this book together was a real effective story. you know, there are some of the different pieces to it, different aspects to it. as i mentioned before i was very fortunate to meet three of birches surviving brothers,
papers of william dolan at uc berkeley, papers of the wedemeyer at the hoover institution. the 14th air force archive at montgomery, alabama, maxwell air force base, socially and exciting trip, and exciting find because buried in those materials is a 24, 25 page interview, oral history interview with john birch which was conducted about five months before his death. the army air force historian arranged this interview because of john birch was the first of these field intelligence officers. he had met doolittle. he had led a colorful life, so there's some wonderful detail in that interview. another source that was extremely helpful was a
newspaper called the fundamentalist, which was published by the bible baptist institute in fort worth. i went down there and they too bright, the curator, was extremely helpful in showing the different sources. birch had written letters that went to his parents also to be fundamental for the independent baptists back in texas. they published these letters. so there detailed accounts of how he traveled from -- across the japanese lines, or how we encountered dolittle. so it was really quite a remarkable experience to just be able to identify these different sources and piece them together. i went to new jersey and found information about the marriage of his parents.
made trips to worchester college where ethel birch was a graduate, found alumni information. she and the president of the ywca. and so on and so forth. greatest challenge in putting the book together, aside from trying to find a publisher which took a while because i think there are people, and to the name john birch and it's fascinating to tell people, friends and others, i've written a book about john birch, and the eyes get wide and the eyebrows up and they say, you mean the john birch society? and then i said yes, i.t. is not who you thought he was. so i think public for that reason it was that easy to find a publisher. i was fortunate that oxford press was willing to take it on. i think just getting insights
into who he really was through the literacy had written -- letters -- to these three women and his letters home. i entered this project skeptical. i entered this project be leaving that john birch met with a been a member of the john birch society. by the time i read these letters and read what people who knew him well in china five about him and what you said about the john birch society come i reached the conclusion that he never would have joined. is only interest was to stay in china as a missionary after the war. he had no other purpose. his brother said there was no connection between my brother, john birch, at the john birch society. i think that some of the. birch was interested in religion. welch was interested in politics.
>> roger? >> i had a similar question about the sources of the archives and the birch society itself. at the end of the store you didn't tell us what became of the society and what its significance is? >> the birch society still exists. you can go online and find a. its headquarters now or in appleton, wisconsin, which is coincidentally the home of joseph mccarthy. [laughter] i asked about getting access to the archives, and they are apparently available to members. i did not take out a membership. [laughter] there still are, didn't come i don't know what the numbers are. at the height of the birch society them even as many as 100,000 members paying their dues, meeting on a regular basis. i wanted to see if i could use some extent quotes -- extended
quotes from robert welch, but the birch society was not inclined to give me permission for that unless they review my manuscript, which i declined. fortunately, robert welch, for my purposes, robert welch was prolific. he was actually quite a brilliant man. he graduated from university of north carolina at the age of 17, attended the u.s. naval academy for two years, attended harvard law school for two years and they decided, got married and became a businessman. but welch produced reams of material, had a monthly magazine, still lives, and magazine called new american that the birch society puts a.
produced no end of lectures, videos, materials for it. the local members to discuss and review and so forth. he gave some speeches. all of this is pretty widely covered in a meeting at the time so the plan of material, more than enough about the birch society itself, which i do we think you the story to explain how and why the name of birch was used. >> i'm going to slip any question, co-chairs prerogative. i'm surprised about the difficulty in finding a publisher. i find it absolutely engaging story. i mean it held my attention from start to finish and judy recover a john birch very different from the one who was appropriated for in your telling ms. appropriated and put to political use. that's what the question is about. there's another way of reading
this and this is about robert welch's millions inappropriate in this figure john birch and impressing it into political service after his death, with the assistance of a mother. said john birch might not have been a birch are but mom was. so she is as a facilitator providing with material that allows birch to do his version of the biography and seems to competitive the brothers expressed some doubts later on, she's the transmission belt and she gives a golden seal of approval. so this could be read slightly differently as kind of a brilliant political act on welch's part. it takes some raw material, embellish it and you are insisted upon way by family members and even by the independent baptists who were chronicling in an exaggerated
way john birch's own activities earlier. even from the start that it is a fictionalized john birch, kind of accompanying the real one. >> right. i think you put it so well, and the mother, ethel birch, as i mentioned earlier, was frustrated, angry, and bought into this idea that there was conspiracy about her son's death. so she was very much open to welch. welch, i think the other reason that welch last -- latched onto this was simply because the story was not widely known. it was because this figure of birch was so anonymous in a way. it really was, he was not a major symbol. he was not a household name. and so that meant for the
purposes of robert welch that the image of birch was malleable. the image of birch could be appropriated and used for these political cold war anti-communist purposes, and essentially nobody would really know the difference. and so i think that was at least part of the strategy, part of the thinking on the part of robert welch, in addition to the fact that there was the china connection, which loomed large in the american political imagination, as well as the way in which this pointed to evidence of conspiracy. but i think you're saying something very important, and that is why pick somebody who is so unknown? in reality of course it should have been called the robert
welch society, not the john birch society. i think the fact that john birch was an unknown was actually attractive. when welch establishes the society in indianapolis with a small group of business people in 1958, he says to the group i'm not going to talk much about john birch. he says basically go read biography that i've written and you understand why i am using his name. >> the gentleman on the left. >> just a little bit of a postscript speak your name? >> bill brown. retired from the cia. i do consulting work out there every now and then. you have probably seen in the big lobby the star, the memorial hall to people who die from cia. >> speak in the microphone speed up one side of the hall there's
cia people who died in action on the other side of the hall there's one star, one big star for oss people. there's a little book underneath it listing oss people who died in action. something like cold war, the cold war period. after i'd been talking to terry about this project a couple years ago, i asked for storing, well, i looked at the book. it's just one page of oss people and, of course, john birch is not listed. so i asked the cia historian, i said, why isn't john birch on this sheet? and she said, you mean john birch? [laughter] i said, yes, john birch, the oss officer. i don't know anything about, i think you should investigate. so she did. she investigated, e-mailed me back about two weeks later and said, bill, i think you are
right. do you want us to the john birch at the top of our list? after all, the first casualty of the cold war. i said, it's not my business, but yes. she said you should put in the form, and i said i don't think i'm the person to put in the form. you should talk to the family and see if -- this was two years ago. i was there a few weeks ago. still not on the list. [laughter] she said effectively, i said why didn't they put it on? she said, it's political. just a second commentary though. i was in china in october. they were giving me about my grandparents who have lived there for 40 years ago with bob hill following the tv crew and i stopped at this great site and the tv crew says, why are you looking your?
i said this is a great site of john birch. he want to talk about that? no, i don't want to talk about that. they said please, talk about that. i said it's too political. [laughter] spent okay. great story. the job with all the weight in the back. spee-1 if i did write this book. i'm from the state department and everybody of a certain age anyway, boomers grew up am a john birch society was a really big deal. a big piece of folklore. gentleman this on the chad mitchell trio? we are the john birch society, stamping out the reds, we would use our hands and hearts but we must not use our heads. [laughter] it was terrific, but what do you have any interest i kind of love it, i though such a symbol of ultimate right wing. we would they stand now?
>> -- we would they stand now speak with smh and there's a lot of consistency with today's tea party politics. if you look at their website today you will see that it's still very much about strict interpretation of the constitution, states' rights, opposition to gun control, opposition to abortion, opposition to federal income tax. you know, the litany of conservative issues, and so there is i think an interesting connection even though we live in very different times. what's intriguing is the way the birch society is treated at the time by william buckley in the national review and barry goldwater who felt that because the birch society had become so
notorious, there was the acquisition of eisenhower been a communism is that welch had to be read out of the commonest, out of the conservative movement, echoes of mr. trump, right? the way in which the conservatives today, a national review, for example, has said all trump is not a real conservative, he should not represent the conservative movement. so there's some kind of interesting parallels there. goldwater went to, and buckley as well, went to some pains to say many of my best friends are members of the birch society and they are upstanding citizens, respectable americans to the robert welch should resign as head of the birch society. >> i can't help but be reminded of the use made in a different nation at a different time but i
think it was at least a nazi. >> do you want to come at? >> no. >> i believe that as a comment. any other questions. yes. wait for the mic. >> i stumbled on this lecture so as not in my budget it but i believe that i am here. very fascinating story, thank you. i'm interested, what happened to those three americans that wasn't detained by the chinese group at the time he was killed? >> right. they were taken in. asmh and it took them two months to make the journey. it was very arduous. thursday to report about their experiences and they observed that territory they were passing
through. one of them had some very positive comments about the communists. others were more negative. two of them were officers. one was an enlisted man. when they reached the town, they were apologized for the death of john birch. said we are very sorry this happened to it was an accident, very tragic, we regret this. then they flew directly to chongqing. they were debriefed and then they went to india back to the united states. i'm sure they were told not to talk about this incident. it was too sensitive at the ti time. >> i remember driving across the country when i was quite young and seeing those billboards impeach earl warren your i
wonder if it's a bit more about the society so. you said was popular. i be interested in sort of how large of a membership it had and we are. i mean, welch himself was in massachusetts which, of course, is not a blue state but was it a stronghold for the society? what other parts of the country tended to be areas of interest for the society? >> the epicenter for the birch society and for right wing political movement in general was southern california. the defense industry was growing there after world war ii, aeronautics industry. and there were many people who are moving to southern california from the midwest and they didn't have deep roots in their local communities. so southern california was really what a lot of the action took place at the majority of the membership in the western states, texas, through the
south, but there were ardent members in other parts of the country. a woman named clare connor has written a book about her parents who were devout members of the birch society in chicago. her book is called wrapped in the flag, and she describes how they organize meetings in their home. they would stand up every couple of weeks and start the meeting with the pledge of allegiance to the flag come and they would watch films or discuss articles, events of the day. so it was really quite widespread. >> professor. >> very quick when of that. when i was teaching in 62, our congressmcongressm an was a member of the john birch society. [laughter] they were to congressman that i've been able to identify that
were members. birch didn't believe in institutional politics. he didn't think that was really, he thought it was a part of the establishment part of what he came to skip as the insiders who were conspiratorial, an many of whom in his opinion were communists. and so he did believe the most effective thing was to advocate at the grassroots level to infiltrate, if you would, parent teacher association, pta, to investigate books in public libraries, to operate at the local level. >> i am a trade lawyer but i begin like her as an s. oh oh a
state. you mention the general new fisherman john birch. wasn't his wife angie, weren't they involved with committee, 1 million or something, and they -- did they get involved in any way in supporting the john birch society and this legend of this young man's? >> chennault as you say was very close to birch. it was a mutual admiration society as far as the two of them are concerned, but chennault, even though as you also say, was very close to chang kai-shek and became a strong supporter of a nationalist of taiwan. he never joined the birch society. largely because chennault died of lung cancer right about the
time the birch society was established in 1958. so chennault wasn't around to take part in debt. i'm not sure that he would have in any case. [inaudible] >> and national was very active for many years -- and chennault -- in the so-called china lobby. chose not a member of the birch society, nor to the best of my knowledge was william noland who talked about birch. holbert wedemeyer was on an advisory council for robert welch, but he came to believe that welch had misused or misrepresented the facts about the death of birch and investigation of birch. wedemeyer felt it was no conspiracy, there was a cover-up. so wedemeyer wrote a very testy letter to welch saying i don't
want anything more to do with the birch society. i am resigning my position as an advisor. >> we have been talking about birch in a political context or what about a religious context? is he an important figure for them? >> there was a biography of birch britain in the early 1980s by a conservative christian couple. they did have some new material. no footnotes, no documentation, but they did go into some more detail about birch. however, they made virtually no connection between john birch and the john birch society. so i think they were christians, in fact there are conservative christians who do feel that
birch is an important person as a missionary to china, is part of a larger movement. i don't think a lot of people who know this historic but there are some at least they do appreciate his history as a religious figure rather than as a political symbol. >> terry, i wonder if you have any sense of what birch's image in china is? heavy talk to contemporary chinese about it? if the direction is not so much different democrats in the u.s., has a been an interest in rediscovering john birch based on your book and rewriting that history? >> i've been in correspondence with a chinese scholar who is in xuzhou who is extremely curious about the details of the story
but i think up to this point john birch and the name, even the john birch society is even less known in china than it is in the united states, which is not surprising. while the name of mccarthy may be pretty well known in china, a name of the birch society didn't reach that same level. mccarthy was in political office and had a different kind of platform from robert welch and the birch society. i think if the book were to be translated and published in china, then there would obviously be more interest and, of course, it would be extremely interesting to know if there is more information in the archives about the incident. so far as i know the communist
party through the late '50s and '60s, while they followed american politics at a distance in terms of the civil rights movement and quite concerned, quite interested what they viewed as the oppression of african-americans, blacks in your society, and this was evidence of the ills of capitalism, not to mention imperialism, there wasn't much attention given to birch society. partly this is because the birch society was so heavily focused on the common conspiracy within the united states. they were not that interested in the threat from abroad. welch imagined that conspiracies were everywhere. he thought the kennedy administration's invasion of the bay of pigs was, the actual
purpose was to reinforce the power of castro, reinforced the communist regime. he had a way of, you know, alice in wonderland. he called this the principle of reverse. so everything was not exactly what it appeared to be, was actually the opposite. the vietnam war he felt was being fought as a distraction to the real issue of communism at home. so he actually opposed the vietnam war, which led to another falling out with conservatives. >> on that note, we will draw this seminar to a close, but before we exit let me remind you that next week we have a speaker talk about cuba and american history.
there are books for purchase and signing outside his door. please join us for a reception. thank you to her audience. thank you to terry lautz. [applause] >> [inaudible conversations] >> you are watching booktv, television for serious readers. watch any program you see here online at booktv.org. >> welcome to the free libra of philadelphia. i am representative jim roebuck, and i'm certainly very happy to
be here this evening. i'm a native philadelphia. i grew up in philadelphia, graduated from central high school, but my particular interest -- [applause] my particular focus tonight is on the fact that i went to firsr college at virginia's universiti in richmond from which i received a history degree of honors, and then they did my masters and ph.d at the university of virginia in charlottesville. subsequent to that i taught history at drexel university for more years than i like to think about.i hitting all the right points you. i worked briefly in the mayor's office as legislative assistant to mayor wilson goode, and in 1985 was elected to the statethi
legislature where i still serve, and am currently a minority or democratic chair of the house of education committee.advancing the free library is dedicated to advancing literacy, guiding learning and inspiring curiosity, from its award-winning author events series to its thought-provoking programs like the upcoming american presidential series which will present compelling programs through the presidential election season.tou it's now my pleasure and the honor to introduce the preeminent scholars, annette gordon-reed and peter onuf, who will be the presenters for this evening. annette gordon-reed is a professor at harvard, receivedin the 2008 national award and the
2009 pulitzer prize in history for the hemings of monticello. for other multiple honors include the national humanities medal, guggenheim fellowship and arthur genius fellowship. peter onuf is one of america's leading jefferson scholars serving as thomas jefferson memorial professor emeritus at the university of virginia, and the senior research historian at the robert h. smith institutional center for jefferson studies. his books include the mind of thomas jefferson, and jefferson's empire. in their new book, "most blessed of the patriots: thomas jefferson and the empire of the imagination," they present a reviewing character study of a
man from monticello who we thought we knew. presidential historian john that come prices come at a quote with characteristic, insight and intellectual rigor and then annette gordon-reed and peterit onuf produced a powerful and lasting portrait of the mind of thomas jefferson. this is an essential andoremosto brilliant book by two of the nation's foremost scholars, a book that will, like its protagonists and, into her. we are so pleased to have them here with us this evening. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming annetteto gordon-reed and peter onuf to the free library. [applause]
>> thank you verthank you very . it's wonderful to be your ended the year with one of my very best friends, annette gordon-reed. we were just like to start by talking a lot about our for your friendship. the secrets i wouldn't have done this book if it had not been for an inviting me and then an opportunity to spend time with her. that's what a serious scholar id am. >> people ask us how we can to do this, and when this book began, the idea for doing it, and i say that it began sometime at the end of the 1990s when i had written a manuscript about thomas jefferson and sally hemings in american controversial.mi it looke looked looked at the we and have treated the story of jefferson and hemings, and i wanted to find people who' who h been skeptical of the people by thought to be skeptical of the store because i think it's
always better to have people who are quick to tell you what you do wrong as opposed to people going to just agree with you about whatever it is you are saying. so i -- >> i really let her down. >> i called him up and it said i had this major script that i've worked on. i called in because he was a thomas jefferson then memorialnd foundation professor. he was a successor to merrill peterson, and so i figured that he would be hostile to what was i was saying and i wanted to hear what he had to say. and he agreed to look at the manuscript and he read it, and to my surprise he liked it. and actually not on it like it he wanted the university press of virginia, now it's a university of virginia press, to publish the book. i've had an offer from another trade publisher and i decided i wanted to do with virginia because i it was jefferson jennifer tilly and it's an academic press. i because of the nature of what i
was doing i thought it would be better to have academics know that this was a book that had been vetted by other academics. usually when you submit a book to academic press at least two, sometimes we scholars are asked to review it before they decide to publish a. ever since then we've been really good friends. we've been on this journey together. peter has been writing about jefferson from the standpoint of, he's an intellectual historian so he writes about jefferson's writings can what jefferson meant and how it affected and influenced hisorian life. and he writes about politics as well. i am more a social historian.pos i write about jefferson and slavery, his private life, some of the politics as well. so this was an opportunity forge two people have been looking at a person from a different perspective to come together ann see what we could say about jefferson.nt it might be new. i
>> until jefferson came into my life i didn't write about people and i really love people, real people but dead people don't interest me particularly. i'm interested in ideas. and jefferson, because i came to virginia out of self-defense come i to work on jefferson, and a net is all about people. she's a social historian. it was a thrill for me as an old guy to find out that i could do the kind of history that we were doing together. a common ground we have is what kind of figure this guy out. we start with the premise that u you can figure them out. he didn't want us to understand him, and now you are the first graders in world history to understand thomas jefferson. [laughter] spent the other thing is that we've been having these conversations about jeffersonco all these years, and has limited to just then there's this notion he is a this inscrutable person,
that he so contradictory, so mysterious, that he ca can't be figured out and as you said, wem can figure it out to the extent that you can take any human being out of dodger so. sometimes we can't dig ourselves out so we are all very complicated people, the best approach was to look at him as a human being, just as this in the book, went it is at all reasonable, to take him at his word. that caveat when it's reasonable, to take him at his word when he says that what his intentions are, when the police, what he thinks is going to happen. we sort of come to the conclusion that jeffersonlife scholarship, that jefferson personal life and his understand about him as a man had sort of run into a ditch. sort of example five by one word, hypocrisy. even the sort of headline -- >> that's the last time that word will be mentioned. >> even the headlines for writing about the book, a book in which we say that the
hypocrisy is not the proper lens through which to view jefferson. use the word hypocrisy, because it's so common. it rolls off people's dons without thinking about the hypocrisy of other members of the founding generation. he has cornered the market on that and it's a way for people to sort of show they know something about them by saying hypocrite. that sort of gives you two-thirds of the way. we wanted to be on that and say look, there's much more to writing about him and thinking about him than this sort of trope of hypocrisy as a thing that defines them. >> the first clue on jefferson is that he directed a wall around itself a wall around it so. you've heard of this of separation between church and state. we think that metaphor applies to jefferson and the rest of the world. he insisted on his privacy in his house. he would be all alone and nobody would penetrate that space.
but that their insistence the distinction between private and public, between his life within his family, among his friends with his slaves, and his life as a statesman and leader, hisue of insistence that they are distinct domains is the first clue in understanding them. why does he insist so much on this? this is what i think we get to the title of the book, because the keyboard, you get it right there in the title, and you can tell this book by its title but not because of the beautiful art, the picture of jefferson, but because of that one word, patriarch. so help these people. this is an astonishing concept. this is an astonishing idea that the great icon of democracy, a man who wrote the words that can leathen led to the creation of s neck time that i am now wearing.
>> it is a declaration on his necktie. >> i do this audiovisual stuff. that he could call himself a patriarch, which has sort of a ring of the archaic, the pre-democratic, you might even say the anti-democratic. >> absolutely. h he uses the phrase in a letter he writes to angelica church, angelica schuyler church, if people have seen the play hamilton, the woman is looking for work. jefferson and she knew each other, met each other when you was in france and they have something of a flirtation. people mainly think of jefferson relationship to moriah causeway when he is in france but angelica church was another married woman with whom he flirted and had sort of a highly charged relationship.y of and in 1793 he writes to her at the end of his tenure as secretary of state in
washington's cabinet. he's been so beaten up by alexander hamilton, angelica's brother-in-law who he is sort of in competition with hamilton for the favor of george washington. hamilton wins this battle of jefferson going home.t of war wt he writes to her and says come he doesn't mention sort of wars with hamilton but he knows, she knew all about this because they were very close. so he writes to her and says, i'm going back to monticello, and one of the lines is he talked about having to go home to his fields and disarm and his books to watch for the happiness of those who labor for mine. in other words, the enslaved people on this plantation. he talks of his daughters and he says if they come live next to me and they are married and do well but i will be the most blessed of the patriarchs. i look at myself as blessed as
the most blessed of the picture at.erho as peter said, that sort of a strange word to use to describe a person who saw himself as a republican with a small art, and aquatic republican, a champion of the common man, a person believe in the power of people, of the people, of the common people. a patriarch is an autocrat. patriarch is someone who rules over his domain, his family, sometimes enslaved people. you think about ancient times. another letter he describes himself as living like an his antediluvian patriarch among his farm and his family. so what we wanted to do is to think how can these things exist together. we see these as a contradiction that made sense to jefferson. >> much more of a contradiction. think of jefferson association with rights. rights. he is a president who defines the rights. he's the one who articulates natural rights. one of the rights that seems
most natural to him is to have complete control over his domestic domain. if anybody else is exercising influence in his household economy, and a little the sight of his mountaintop plantation, then his control would be subverted. his dominion would be subverted. and if he is not secure in his dominion then he can't be truly independent, that board independence is a resident both for the country as a whole and for thomas jefferson and other american men. their independence so that they can form a government based on consent with each other. .. ly should be equal, and that is what he says and he means they are equal in some fundamental human sense. but the family unit itself is natural. and that is the key to understanding this length that
we are exploring between the public and private. the family isn't just a refuge, a way to get away. you can understand that. thomas jefferson says he hates politics, but he is lying. we do call them out occasionally. that's not hypocrisy. particularly in the revolutionary.y.ha and the founding. because if you were in the politics or the sake of power and self-aggrandizement, you would be the enemy of democracy. we are not supposed to have little parties. people don't run for office. they stand. you understand the distinction. you are an upright man. you are standing, people see you and say we want you to represent us. so we think as we begin to ask where the connection between how jefferson lives and what he thinks, that both dimensions of his life become clearer to us.
>> the same as natural as he said and asserted natural order with the male end of the family, his understanding born in 1743. understanding of what natural was that the man as the patriarch and the head of the family. and over whom he exercised power, but also had responsibility. there is this notion that n jefferson has of himself as something we think is problematic and the patriarch from a benevolent figure and that's how he thought people were supposed to rule in the family. the family been the basic unit of the community, of the nation, start with the family and the community at-large locally ander on to the national government. the covenant itself was a model of families, which causes -- it made sense to him, but gave him
a particular view about who could be in the nation, who could be a part of the people t and that is what led him to believe that there should be an end to slavery, but but african-americans have defined their own country because he did not believe that there could be a conflict for a multiracial, the way we say we aspire to multiracial society with lack than whites living together. wife would never give up their prejudices against blacks. blacks would never forgive whites for what they had done. there's no way he could not a that time argue for intermixture and that that was not something, not a plan that could be adopted. so what had to happen is african-americans, you know, black people would find their own country. they did not come voluntarily. they were brought here in chains. they would have to find their place so they could have their own country and their own full rights.
jefferson could not have conceived of a society withd large numbers of people who are second-class citizens. the republican nation would have to have first-class citizenship for everybody. it's not the kind of world wee had after the civil war, where laws were passed, and where blacks were treated as second-class citizens. you had to fight for citizenship yet it's funny to think about jefferson and malcolm x. malcolm x says he's sort of king and other civil rights demonstrators saying why do you have to fight for your freedom? if you're a citizen, why should you have to fight for freedom? that telling you something if you have to do it. people condemn jefferson a great deal for that statement. but it's the truth. we have had sort of conflict and serious conflict among the races from the very beginning. this is not to say we can't
overcome them. i've always thought it's a bit s naïve to suggest he was being crazy and he suggested that was a possibility. when you look at history and see what happened. >> it's very easy to moralize about jefferson and easy to use the word hypocrisy. for a of morally compelling issue of that era was the definition of the american people and for us that it did not include all of us then it's very disturbing. it is the best way to understand it is to not start whacking our finger and condemning jefferson as if he falls short of a standard he should have had. the best way to get a jeffersonh slavery is to work through his mind. this is one of the ways we develop our complementarity and that has beautifully retold the story retort for the first time the story of some of the people
who lived at monticello and that is a story we need to hear and it's very compelling to us. what this jefferson thinking? here it is important to bring up what might seem like an old origin story to you. that is jefferson and his fellow revolutionaries thought they were changing the world by attacking monarchy aristocracy privilege established churches, all these forms of inequality in second-class citizenship.y they were struggling against the tyranny of george the third. they were killing the king. his rule had become unnatural because he was making war on his own subject. people who in america revered him until the imperial crisis that led to independent. in other words, king george was a bad father.er we get back to the notion of the
fatherhood and a simple way to understand what localized a lott of men comment the very independent men of virginia who thought well of themselves and still do in the first families, to think of george third is somebody who challenged their own patriarchate, their father on their plantations and in their families, their fatherhood was incompatible with the wicked fatherhood of george the third. this is all about men and we have to understand the spirit for jefferson, the difference in gender, which we take to be a social construction as the fashionable way to put it because we are all basically alike. we keep discovering we are not. it's very upsetting to me. we don't sense that this difference should matter very much and we are struggling with it. for jefferson, its nature. it's supposed to be like this. we can think about race in this
way because think of the idea of race. it means the same thing as people. it means the same thing as nation. thomas jefferson and his colleague were nation builders. it was on the basis of these natural connections among republican families who came together to govern themselves because they had reject did the governess of a bad father of a vaccine. and this was the ugly side that we are contemplating and families to come together in a democracy are held together by love. but what is the boundary of the great family of families? it is those people who are not part of your family, who were not here in america voluntarily, who are a captive nation in chains, how would you solve that problem? how would you do justice to the
way people held against their will and working for you? you don't have to agree with jefferson and we don't in his solution talking about emancipation and expatriation, a country of your own. but at least the beginning of understanding is to see where it comes from. it comes from these ideas about what is natural and that's another way of saying what is right, -- >> it's doubly confusing because we think of the enlightenment as you are enlightened, you learn things. but the racial hierarchy classification, the tendency to put the system that the way the world works. i wonder what he would make of particle physics. you could explain to him at the model that works this way, but at the microscopic level, all the things you think are rightan
and natural don't fly at all. i won't go off into that. but the enlightenment buyer's jefferson's imagination and he wants desperately to think that clear and i hope it comes through in the book, once desperately to be seen as a progressive person. the funny thing is now he is seen as this reactionary conservative person. during his lifetime, he was seen as this wide-eyed revolutionary. there were people in south carolina -- don't laugh at that, but who thought it is to slave result. it was the craziness. the image that he had at the time was somebody far out there, largely because of his religious views on the things he said about slavery. he was afraid of how people would react to the words in virginia where he criticizedt slavery and this tells you how
you just never know what people are going to be looking not inin later generations. he said disparaging things about black people. that is what we fixate on. those are not throwaway lines for him. that's not the core of what he is talking about. he's making grand pronouncements about slavery and he is concerned fellow virginians, who has tested out by trying to be an outcome of as a young man wants to have been emancipation to introduce the legislationon amends the paintings by his and totally rejected in 1796, later on st. george tucker does arg similar thing. he knows there's not going to be a republican solution to the end of slavery. in other words, they are not going to voted out. he gives up on all of that.effen >> there is a pathos to this. we can sympathize with jefferson because the standard he held was
that it takes an enlightened people to do the right thing. but this new form of self-government will enable comg people to see the light. as they see the light, they will act against slavery.la it won't happen now.ay maybe the next generation. it may take several generations. this is a nice way to turn towards jefferson's religion because this is a prayerfulng a. attitude. he prays that his children and children's children will see the light and do the right thing about slavery. the pathos of it as it gets harder and harder to do the right thing because slaves are worth too much. they are too valuable. just check the price of slaves. if jefferson could actually any his own portfolio to use the modern term, he would feed -- that's another thing about
jefferson. that was his capital. that was whatever legacy he left to his children and he had hoped and thought and many enlightened thinkers did, that slavery was an archaic form and it would disappear as this buy that kind of magic that brought the light to the enlightenment because after all, free labor is more good, isn't it? if people have incentives, if they are using their body to serve the interest of the people that love, their labor posters and good they can recognize. it's not true, unfortunately. this is one of the things that is important to note when we talk about jefferson slavery and among historians of slavery and enormously profitable institution. the fact that thomas jefferson never became an apologist for slavery, never said slavery was a positive good is it tells a
remarkable thing because it was so easy to move in that direction. >> that is the thing that we also say in the book that if he had said that, if he had just said the generation that comes after him, that slavery is not a necessary evil, but the generation after him says that not a necessary evil. in fact, is a positive good. he would be understandable because you could die no hypocrisy there. it's good. the african race was meant to be a way that we man and his nickhu gray. he would be consistent and not. the difficulty is that this is a person who for whatever reason -- not for whatever reason, but he thought there presets of enlightenment.gs science would get better, the world would get better. he sort of believed that people are basically good and they could be trained to become better. he believed those things and it's difficult for us and are
much more cynical age to actually take that seriously. people ask us was there anything we disagreed about because it seems we are on the page about everything. we were not on the same page initially about jefferson and religion. i grew up in the united methodist tradition. and jefferson calls himself a christian, i sort of think he is saying that, sort of always assumed he was saying that. to sort of cover himself. >> you not think unitarians are christians, do you? >> when they finished the story. i had difficulty with that, but the person