tv QA CSPAN August 5, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT
>> does. >> you write in your brand new book i decided i would write a second book in 2008 while riding ben senator barack obama the campaign bus we made no we can stop at his home in chicago, illinois. why did you lead with that? >> part of the reason why i got into writing about american history is because the barack obama and his campaign. it brought a lot of interest in african american history with the first african american presidents in the white house and i was a solid hold dash assigned to cover that i literally remember pulling up of a couple of blocks away from
the town house that what book will lie right to next and literally right in the spotted hit me and i got so excited i immediately called my editor in said this is what i will do next. she could not tamped down that enthusiasm just think about it make sure you have a really good idea but i think it sounds great and it took off at that point. >>cspan: what was the idea? >> direct story of the african-american slaves who actually lived inside the white house. we were so excited everybody was talking about how great and american -- a rate would be for an african-american in the white house understand that is repeated not have been the first to live there so that not thought process went on so
who are the first? then at that point we knew there were those of the white house of dollars so we knew there had to be somebody before them so i had to write a book about the african-american slaves and that is how "the invisibles" got its start. >>cspan: we have an artist's rendering of the eric city did you say there were nine slaves working for george washington inside that building? explain how that happened. >> first president didn't actually live at the residence and the eric city and philadelphia when the country for started congress did not provide funds for butler's handmaids or for domestic staff inside the
white house of the first president had to come out of their own pocket to pay the staffers or bring the slaves from their plantations and a majority of the first president or those founding fathers were all slave owners said they would bring slaves from their plantation he brought slaves to new york city and they served as the first domestic staff he brought them to new york city and to philadelphia and in both of those places today we would consider those to be non slaveholders it was allowed in pennsylvania and new york city so washington took advantage. >> you tell a story what type of machinations they went through to keep those
in the president's house. >> one of the rules at this point was any slave owner who brought a slave across the alliance and kept them there after six months had passed they automatically became free. george washington and is no dummy he doesn't want to bring people saying six months and have them walk away with no compensation so what washington did was every five months and a couple of weeks he would decide to take the whole household back to mount vernon then they will a turnaround go back to pennsylvania starting the six month clock over and he would do this over and over, just to insure that the slaves from mount vernon
would not get free. they were not dummies the nizolek they were -- she was doing at this point so one of the slaves took this opportunity to escape from george washington. have she was martha washington's personal maid and was actually born into slavery ended been with them her entire life as a second term was winding down she was told she ever set foot back on mount vernon she would never escapes a while they were packing to go back to is actually packing her own things and one day is there eating dinner she just walked out the back door but
on the wharf and sailed away to a couple of days for washington realized she was packing to escape but she made it to its northeast where she would live out the rest of her life without having to go back to virginia it is and that washington didn't want her back he put advertisements in newspapers and he actually sent a couple of relatives to of the area where he thought she had escaped to see if they could find her and one of the naturally found her however by that point she was enough of that community were the community decided they would let her get away before they catchers' showed up said she would live her life as a free woman.
>> how was it just a fourth of that era? >> it depends on who the slave was. most were bought as children. you can either by a slave as said child or somewhere in between but it depends on exactly how you want that most deaths would serve as a valet so you could train them in one of george washington's slaves there was a young child specifically to serve as a ballet for washington. but today that was $5 but that was very young but a fully grown slave could go
from much, much more or a crook -- a cook like having stanley and jefferson if they were trading in french cuisine, they would be much more but they either inherited their slaves and are they bought their children to work so then they knew what the slave was taught to do because they did it themselves. >>. >> it depends on what the slaves and the presidential households but they didn't really buy them they basically had grown up on the plantation.
but they went out to buy slaves the contract would specifically states this wave is being purchased by the slave owner from a slave owner be. and when we went back to look at the records there were very few presidents that bought slaves while at the white house. and jackson did it openly even extra help inside the white house so he brought them here and in washington d.c. but the interesting thought is that greasy insisted to work inside the white house as a free woman.
and then to recommend to andrew jackson that he by her and then it turns out she is a bit best seamstress' anybody has seen in that area so she ends up living out her whole life with the jackson family all because her sister wanted her closer to her. they didn't want people to know they were buying slaves. so what tyler would do is you would go out to to hire agents or a middle man and then transfer the slaves and
tithers so adamant they he was refusing any of the money they he was paid as president to buy those glaves he did that of his personal fund that had all kinds of ways so they all had their different ways to make sure of their contacts. >> i want to show you some video of george to view bush at the white house with the unveiling of his portraits -- and with your research? >> in 1814 dolley madison the lease saved this portrait of the first george debbie you -- george w.
[laughter] now machel, if anything happens, here is your man. [laughter] >> i promise i go straight for the first. [laughter] i'm sure i will get it right to that. >>. [laughter] that is one of the great stories that dolly madison saves the portrait of george washington but i don't think that is exactly what happened that one of the great things that i found out paul jennings was one of the first slaves in one of the first people period to write that tell of the more about the white house and
dolley madison's story about a first saving that portrait of george washington said it isn't exactly what happened. it is a great story but according to ms. jennings dolley madison didn't have anything to do with saving the painting she and a couple of others put it in the wagon but now there are some people today who will argue that given his relationship with the madisons and i agree it wasn't the best because there were several promises a lot of people say here is
an account of what has happened with dolley madison's account action believe mr. jennings that is on of the first memoirs written in one of the first written by a slave. >>cspan: you can read that on line. >> you can read data anywhere it is a great book i tend to believe that he did have a reason to hold a grudge because james madison said before he died he would be free and after the he goes to dolly madison and at this point she is running out of money and instead of following her husband's
wishes she started selling them and at the end was paul jennings and he expected her to free them but never did. so they did have a reason to hold a grudge. luckily for him he is sold to deal webster that eventually freeze him. but there were no fan of dolly madison so i could see she got pleasure that she was getting more and more famous. >> a list of presidents that
had slaves that any time you said 12 for 18 had slaves monroe, ed jackson, a tyler and then those who own slaved not in the white house harrison, johnson. but who had the most? >>guest: probably washington and jefferson and maybe taylor. keep in mind monticello add to mount vernon were huge moneymakers. i would tend to bet it is in the hundreds at some point in their lives. i would bet they would be the largest slaveholders. but it is hard to counted
81-point so those numbers would fluctuate up and down so even with that i would expect it would be washington or jefferson. >> you talk about the body or the servants of those can you remember one in particular? the body servant of george washington. >> everywhere he went it is probably safe to say but you probably did not find it george washington during the revolutionary war with washington crossed the delaware or when general
cornwallis surrendered washington was there together. to make sure washington had weather was a horse or telescope basically there is one story that is in the book were a group of southerners than northerners and day got into an argument that the revolutionary war and that is about to break out and washington grabs the right there behind him even with all the major battles
are going on. if something happens to washington's force and then the best he could but when washington woke up in the morning and went to bed at night it was his job to take off of big and take off his clothes a major washington had the food he needed his bible. basically he was washington's number two that everything around him that washington did not have to think about it. it's not like it was easy. we find people of a grandson
but he ends up saying that lee was the second best horsemen in the country but when you start talking about body servants the men that were entrusted with the day-to-day care and keeping of the president got their clothes and bare legs to make sure they got up in the morning most of them lived right in the same room. >> you were telling a story in front of our cameras back in 2010 that black man built the capital is about one minute 20 seconds. >> then the left arlington
house to a really cross the potomac and 1 million generals decided he would never want lee to ever return in the way that he assure this would not have been is he would bury the union and confederate soldiers. that is how it got started. another way they tried to ensure that general lee would never return to some of the free slaves what they did with the land was come up with a town called freedom village. it wasn't exactly small. there were churches and
schools and their own hospitals. with the people love freedman's village in the national archives. >>cspan: now that is read the cemetery to a covert? >>guest: the cemetery is freedom village. >>cspan: what happened to the free blacks? >>guest: with that story and to it brought in people like sorter nurturers -- so did her truce but eventually the truth that freedom village had from that hill from arlington that people discover there.
so that would return with arlington cemetery. so that is part of arlington there is no trace. and since it gave the top one of the churches but one lady came up to me after words to say my church has that bill it moved from the village in to the county. and then moving across the potomac and in these areas.
and then to talk about washington history so the centers are still here but there is no trace of the city left. >>cspan: you also say in the book to have an early draft to your father in this -- he proclaimed this to be a good book. what did that mean to you when he said that? >>guest: i'm originally from a small town are both retired educators with the mississippi area for years and years. and my dad taught science.
and then my parents moved back to mississippi so my family is still there. it is expected to go into the family business but that would never happen with me. and my a parents would encourage me to follow my a dream but my dad's a farmer. i would not call him a voracious reader but if he says it is good it is high grade of the greatest compliments and my life that my father read the early draft and said this is good.
was also named jesse holland who had 1 acre of land and that is still in my family for ago we said we will never sell but that is where we can trace our family that is where we started to keep that acre of land. my parents are from the north mississippi area and my dad is from marshalltown and they met in high school. so i go back as much as i possibly key and -- possibly can became mao in 1994 when i started at oldest is seated next year because i was editor of the daily mississippi which is the county newspaper for the '93 and '94 year.
say he brought the only for - - franchise to the white house. and then kept them at the white house. and was also a politician that the horses were always run under somebody else's name but they belong to him. at the racetracks around the d.c. area while still president and was a stable owner where he was the major sporting franchise owner in washington d.c. if you wanted to run a horse most likely jackson's horse was in the race. and was known as one of the most powerful odours of that
time. and when he became president he brought those forces with them and to keep the horses and we suspect he brought those black jockeys we have been unable to identify but we know his name is jeffrey. but we know that jackson is running a course in his vice president van buren actually wasn't quite the sport as
jackson's so he tries to get one of the of course, is but the jockeyed does it control them the way jackson wants proposal he moves toward the track and van buren is moving towards the track as well as suspect so they finally get the horse under control and jackson backs up. vm during does not what. think about it in front of the starting gates of the race jackson lewis is the enduring back. . .
monkey simon was the greatest black jockey of his time. 4' 6. >> he's a jockey, you have to be small to be on the horses. >> he was the one jockey, along with the horse, maria, that jackson could not beat. he tried, over and over. he sent different horses after him, and, he never could beat him. and, monkey simmons is one of the first people that we know that publicly got into trash talking with andrew jackson and got away with it. andrew jackson was a man known for his temper. he would dual. he would fight, and he was a
rough and ready kind of guy. but, because of his victories over jackson, over and over, monkey simon would publicly tease him. he would talk about how jackson looked, and he wrote ap embarrassing song about jackson that he would sing. but because of his skill, jackson never retaliated. and even going towards the end of his life, one of the things that jackson would say, one of the things that he regretted, he never got beat monkey simon and marie, a which was the horse. he never got to beat them. but we do discover later on, that he and simon become friends. i don't know if he ends up owning -- we don't know if he owned simon, or he rented him.
but we know that they had relations later on and they end up talking once or twice. so, he probably was the only living person who said something bad to jackson, to his face and was able to get away with it. >> from your book, and another slave, who was involved in horses, he have from a ham complained na he was attacked by a white man. jackson had how many slaves did he have? >> up in the hundreds. >> hehe and he liked having slaves. >> it's one of those weird things, he actually owned, people. but, he had affects for the people that he owned. he was not one of the slave owners who was known for mistreating his slaves. and he would stand up for them when someone else attacked them.
>> let me read what this man is talking about him. jackson, went to remember bon non, and beat up grayson and beat him up with a heavy cane and he was laned up, and warned him if he ever touched him or any other servant he would shoot him on sight. >> he stood up for his people. you knew if you mess we had anybody, that jackson liked, that he would come for you. and that, that includes political alis, and, went to the slaves. jackson called them ser veants but they were his slaves. if you got anywhere close to mistreating someone that belonged to jackson, you had to deal with jackson himself. one of the -- another story about that, one of jackson's
men, one of his slaves got charged with murder because of a fight at christmas part party. there was some alcohol involved and slaves get into an argument. and someone dies. so, some of jackson's political end namies in tennessee, decided they would charge jackson's slave with murder. now, most of the time, you would expect something like that to happen and the slave owner would try to noafght or try to get this, to go. you would not expect them to do what jackson did which was tell them i'm a lawyer and you need to prove to me this case. and if you don't prove this case then you're going to make this go away because you are not going to use my slaves to attack
me for a political reason. so jackson took over that case and made sure that his people were not treated unfairly and they ended up getting off because it was a mail lay. he went above and beyond what you would expect a slave owner to do for his slaves. >> let's go through a bunch of stories quickly because we're running out of time. william andrew johnson, was a slain of andrew johnson. where did he get his name. >> he got his name from the person he was working for. that's an area where we have to be careful because we don't know for a fact. because we don't -- we don't know the gene knee on guy as well, as we should.
we don't know if he is related to andrew johnson. but he was, he was there with andrew johnson, his entire life. johnson, they were also from tennessee. and we could see, from the information we were able too find, he came up to washington, with the johnsons, and, went back to tennessee with them after they were, after he left the white house. he is one of the few slaves that we know, that was actually honored by u.s. presidents. after johnson died, and later on, he actually came, william andrew johnson came back to washington and got a tour of the white house and got a silver tipped cane as a gift from
president roosevelt that he was able to take home with him. we know, pretty well that he is probably the only slain that's been honored by a u.s. president. >> james buchanan, the president, freed a couple of slaves for political reasons? >> well, once we start getting close to the civil war that the -- that the press and the public, especially, up north, are getting a lot more scwiem michigan about slave holders. >> buchanin decided that he needed to get some of his slaves out of his name. so i decides then to his sister
frees them and the presidents are being a lot more careful about publicly being slave owners. they start divesting themselves of any public holding of slavery. >> it surprises a lot of people to learn that u.s. grant had slaves. >> it surprised me as well. you wouldn't think that the man who was put in charge of the u.s. army, during the civil war would be a slave owner himself. but he was. but he actually inherited his slaves through his marriage. he didn't buy them he married a woman whose family owned the slaifers, and grant freed that slave. we have, there's a copy of the letter which he wrote. that shows where he was in his mind about slavery. that doesn't mean that for awhile he was a slave owner because of his marriage.
he took p upon himself to free those slaves. >> the first president to actively suggest, to eliminate slavery. a lot of presidents said they were going to eliminate slavery, or not until they died were they ever freed. >> well, one of the things that i saw throughout this entire timeline is that, most of the founding fathers, knew in their minds that slavery was wrong. they knew it. but they weren't willing to inconvenience their own lives to make that couple true. a lot of them did, when i die, my slaves will be free or when my wife dies, the slaves will become free.
they didn't do it during their lifetimes. but since they knew, it's pretty clear most of them knew it was wrong they didn't want to per pitch wait it to another generation. put their wives in a bad situation. the president dies first and you tell all of the slaves, that i will be free once my wife dies and the president is gone and the only thing standing between those slaves and their freedom is one woman's wife and this is a woman that you're cooking and cleaning for, a simple accident gives your freedom. so a lot of the first ladies, after finding out the situation they were in, they started moving toward the, making them free quicker than letting them
wait until they die. >> the story of john tyler, his fiance, i think she was about 24-years-old on the ship princeton, and, secretary of the navy, and secretary of state died, her father died. but there's a slave, explain that story. >> well, the princeton at that time was supposed to be one of the navy's crowning achievements. it had aboard one of the two biggest cannons. so to show off this ship they're sailing it up-and-down, and they're inviting members of congress and the president and people aboard the ship to let them see this great creation of the u.s. armed forces. so, they're coming back down the potomac and they get near mount
vernon and tyler is aboard the ship and his slave is as well. and they're going past mount vernon and they decide, to honor the nation's first president they're going to fire the cannon. now tyler is below deck. a song is being sang, that tyler wants to hear. so, they tell people, they're going to fire the cannon. and tyler wants to hear this song. but armas steadies to go upstairs to see them fire the cannon. >> tyler is spared but the people around the cannon, are most of them are immediately killed. because the cannon actually
exploded. so, shrapnel is being shot. several members of the administration are killed during this accident. including the personal servant. >> you tell what happened when the the herses went back to the white house. >> the people are taken off the boat and they're put in these beautiful heirs and, he gets a pine box. and there's a theme described in the nip of all these heirs. and at the end there's this heir with the pine box, that you see veer off. he doesn't get to lie in state,
in the government buildings in washington. he gets sent home to his family in a pine box. everyone else gets honored. once again he gets a pine box with no fanfare at all. that's an example of how little the slaves were regards, even if you worked for the most powerful man, by the power structure in washington. >> i don't want to overcharacterize it. you seem to be a positive person. smile on your face. but, i want to show you a guy that we have had here several times, and, was so angry about what happened in this country and he talked about something that you wrote about. this is randle robinson, and he moved he moved. and let's watch. >> you walk into the capital and you see all of these paintings, and all of this stuff describing
the stages of american history. nothing, no douglas, no tugman. nothing. but who built the capitol? who put atop the statue of freedom? who cast it? slaves did. but america, has wiped it from its memory. >> how angry has this made you? >> there were some times during the writing where i had to sit back and say okay, this is what happened. you have to deal with t. you have to tell the story. but that, the important part, just as he said that's the important part here. these stories are now being told. anyone who doesn't know their history is doomed to repeat t. by getting these slaves names out into the public eye and having people read these
stories, it is reclaim of that respect that we were just talking about. he he gets sent off, and no one cares about his name and maybe by talking, we get respect back for these men and women that was denied them. >> how much did the slaves at the time build the white house? >> oh, the construction crew for the white house was a large portion of it was built by slaves. that's what they did. keep in mind back then, washington was a swamp. there was no workforce here. the only major workforce in the washington area comes from the plantations and virginia and maryland. so they went out and they rented slaves to help build the white house. james hob been, slave owner,
from south carolina he brought some up to help build the white house. i mean, this is what, there's no way to sugarcoat it. this is how washington got built before the civil war. the slaves were easley accessible cheap labor and unlike freedman, the slaves continue complain. they also weren't getting money for their actual work. their owners did so they could not go anywhere because they could not afford to. so, when you look at the white house and the capitol, a lot of work was done, the manual labor that was done, a good portion was down by slaves. part of the reason for writing books like this is to make sure that these stories get told. a lot of times when we taking about history, in washington,
dc, we talk about the founding fathers, we talk about the great politicians and we don't talk about the people who make the city work the first group who made it work were slaves. but a lot of us don't know their names. by writing a book like this, we begin to take back some of that dignity that was taken away by people knowing who they were and how they lived. >> as you say, 10-12 presidents did not have slaves, ad dams. but you dropped a little nugget about the fact when the white house was first construngted, in. 1,800, when john adams, was in the white house there was no bathroom in there. [laughter] >> the white house wasn't exactly the best place to live when it first opened.
and, i mean, both john adams was not very happy to be in washington. he was happy to be president but when he moved into the white house it was not exactly -- it was finished. but it wasn't quite done. it was where he could live in it. but, keep in mind he didn't have the slaves, that everyone else had, that, to finish the work on the white house. so he, i think his wife called this huge drafty mansion and bathe in the potomac. but, it got there. >> you also talk about some kind after structure being built where i think slaves lived right in the spot where andrew jackson's statue is across from the white house. >> when they were constructing the white house, the slaves who had to build the building, had
to live somewhere. so they built shandies, over around lafayette park. i think this would be interesting, maybe i can give somebody else the idea. there were quite a few other buildings, around the white house that aren't there now. i would love to see a map where -- there was as ice house. there were stables. and, shandies for slaves, to live in. there were houses for freedman and, all on the white house campus, and we look around they're all gone. what the white house looks like today and back then, that whole area is different. it would be great to see somebody map out all the places. >> the presidents hid the fact, james polk bought 19 slaves.
>> bought all of these slaves while he was inside the white house. he was one of the few people that decided that he didn't -- that he needed the extra help while he was here in washington. he had slave he is back in tennessee. and he needed help while he was here in washington. so he decided he was going to buy more and bring them, and train them to work inside the white house. >> the story of ally as polk, but he was a conservative wanting to run for office. >> when polk, he was one of the faithful slaves. and when he goes back to tennessee, polk becomes a political figure. he decides that he wants to run for office as a conservative. now, even today there are not as many conservatives in the
african-american community running for office as there are liberals. polk was one of the first conservatives that ran for office, as a african-american. and as you might expect that wasn't very popular back in tennessee at that time. because a lot of people saw him as standing on the side of the slave owners, the former slave owners instead of being with the people. so, while he was a big person, in politics, it doesn't seem like he was very popular among his own people and regular people. >> is there anybody -- well, gold star out to somebody that had slaves, that lived up to what you would call a human -- let him go, making him free. who would get the gold star and who would not. >> i would have to say, andrew
jackson a gold star not because he freed as many of the slaves as he should of. but he was willing to put himself on the line for his slaves. and he actually made sure that slaves like gracie, that he bought here in washington, he have a died, she and her husband were able to stay on and become parts of that community. and jackson, time-and-time again stood up for the slaves who worked for him and the freed men who worked for him. even during the snow ride there was a freedman working in the white house and the mobs came for him and the jackson said no. >> the snow riot was after beverly snow. >> he owned an eating establishment here and there -- different talks about how that riot started.
one discussion is that, the riot began because after drunk slave who took an axe and went after him and snowballed from there. a lot of african american establishments in washington, dc, ended up being destroyed. and a lot of african americans, were killed. and one of the people they went after worked for andrew jackson in the white house. but jackson said no, you won't take him. >> we're almost out of time and before the last question to you, if i had to put your finger on one source of information that helped you the most, in trying to find these stories what would that be? >> the library of congress. stories like these are always found within the margins. very few of these slaves got tell their own stories.
so, to find their stories, you have to go back and read the owners' stories. you have to read the information that their owners left behind. for me, the greatest came from the library of congress. i don't want to short change people that gave me help. i was surprised at how willing they were to work with me to find this information. but, everyone i came across at any of the presidential plantations, they were all willing to open up their records and let me look at them. but the majority of my work came from the library of congress, the best people in the world ever librarians. they want you there to work with them. they will give you whatever help in the world that you need, i can say this, because my mom retired as a librarian.
name of the book is the investables, the untold story of the african american slaves in the white house. thank you. >> thank you. >> for free tran scripteds or comments visit us at "q and a".org. programs are also available at c. span podcasts >> "q and a" continues, monday, with, washington post book
critic he talks about the books written by the presidential candidates. monday and all next week at 7 p.m. on c-span 2. we're showing you book t.v. in prime-time. tonight the focus is global health issues. vincent skullses his book the death of cancer, and then karen, and sonia, take part in a panel. after that, kaun looks at the next pandemic. right now we talk about david kesler.