tv Book Discussion on City of Sedition CSPAN September 11, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
but instead of saying hang in there, that's what i tried to do. it was hard to believe after going through all that criticism and finally we get to the point in late 2007 and the decision is made to president bush when i met with him in crawford that basically said they are going after you again on perjury. i don't want that t want that to you again. honestly i think he was tired of that and just didn't want me to go through that again. >> host: you say in the book one of the storylines in the post-administration people go back and say one of the lessons here is that roberto gonzales as attorney general was too close to president bush and one of the lessons is you can't have somebody in that role that close and strong of a personal tie to the president, and you rejected this. >> guest: i really did. having that kind of relationship gives you freedom and power to tell the president you cannot do
this, this is wrong. i think that puts you in a very powerful place. and also, the other secretaries when they want to do something it makes you a much stronger position to have that relationship, to be so candid you can say that is wrong. you cannot do that. i totally reject that. i think having that relationship made me a more effective general even though my critics used it as an excuse to be critical of my service. >> host: i'm curious it's clear from the book you had a close relationship with the president. what is your relationship with him today, do you still talk to him? you say at the end of the book the president kept up with your move the things you've done since government service, so what is your relationship with him today?
>> guest: when he comes to nashville we see each other and if i'm in dallas i see him. obviously we don't talk and see each other like we used to when he was in office or in dc. i have a great deal of affection and respect for george w. bush the man. he gave me several once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that fundamentally changed the trajectory of my life and i really feel privileged to have played a part in the administration in texas and washington, d.c. and i have the highest regard for him. >> host: thank you so much for talking with us about your book and time in the white house.
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by thright bythe door where you. without further ado, new york city during the civil war is a very inappropriate for revising and reconsidering history with regards to the civil war, we have often encountered a very narrow dialectic perspective of the civil war where the adversaries are pretty much divided among the line between the slaveholders in the south anand the industrialists in the north. but thankfully for the past couple decades, it's been to basically deconstruct this
faulty lens looking at history and city of sedition is one of the books that continues moving us in a better direction. it seems to have taken a new yorker to write a book about new york that reveals how complex the city was during the civil war and of course how different parts of the city were definitely entwined with the cotton industry and because of that, not everybody cited with abraham lincoln as a history buff as they expect us to believe. downtown manhattan history and
editor for the new york press from 1988 through 2002. for "the new york times" he hosted the weekend explorer video podcasts on the new york city history and he has also written for the "washington post" and npr, pbs and his books include reflections on the birth of office, faith, rock till you drop and black like you which is the book and of course the village a former resident of greenwich village on the lower east side in hells kitchen he now lives in brooklyn heights. please welcome john strausbaugh. [applause] >> thank you. can you hear me? i used to do theater so i'm good at that, can you hear me!. i want to thank politics and prose for having me. and thanks to booktv for being here as well.
it's an entirely appropriate i think to come to washington and talk about new york city in the civil war because the two cities have a very high level of interaction of course, and an affect on each other. while washington was the nation's capital, new york city was the capital of just about every other thing that mattered. it had a huge impact in creating the conditions for the war and also the con duct of the war. but it was a hugely confused impact as well. new york was both a great boom and bang to lincoln and no city raised more men, money and material for the war or more hell against it. it's easy enough to explain its influence just starting with its size. it was huge and at this point we are talking about just manhattan
and not even just manhattan, but the southern half from 42nd street' lonesome and enough space, in 1860 u.s. 800,000 people. that was 200,000 more than the nearest biggest city in philadelphia. if you add brooklyn which was then a separate municipality but of course they made a metropolitan area that was another quarter of a million people so they'd worked all the other cities. at that point to d in dc with 70 people, so it was tiny. new york is a huge thing sitting up there. it's the center of banking and commerce. there were more than the entire plantation south and it's the center of merchandising and the biggest manufacturing center in the city. we don't think of new york as a factory town but it was the biggest factory town in the country and not jus just spend a long time afterwards. it had the busiest seaport and it was the media center. new york's papers like the tribune and the herald were
national and people all around the country read them. to say that it was hugely confused because new yorkers were fighting the civil war at the same time the larger civil war was building and it was even in some ways on the north and south conflict which is -- within the city. from the south came cotton. after the spread of the cotton gin in the late 1790s, the cotton trade, the international concentrate exploded. the u.s. exported half a million pounds of cotton in 1800 was exporting 2 billion pounds by 1860. kaufman represented 60% of what the u.s. was exporting to the world, and it was 40% of what was going out of new york's harbor. so it was a huge deal. the next biggest commodities as tobacco and was less than 10%. so, cotton threads tied in new york and the south together i believe in a long and codependent relationship.
the plantation south and new york city grew up together. the explosive growth of the cotton plantations strayed across the deep south and was largely funded by new york banks because that's where the banks were so of course you came to new york. the new york merchants supplied them with everything from the pianopianos in the parlors to tr clothing become their slaves. new york not only should take significant portion of the harbor is where the ships came back filled with european goods and event made new york important to washington, d.c. or washington city as people called it back then. it had a big impact on the federal government because the government drew large portions of its revenue from the customs house. house. there was a period way or the entire budget was coming from the customs house of new york city. it wasn't just the bankers and
the shipping magnets have profited in new york city. thousands and thousands of workers were o rickety or indirectly profiting. but obviously people in the shops and people that worked in hotels and in the gambling houses and restaurants into brothels where lots of plantation owners would come up in the summer and treat new york city as their home away from home during the summer months. everybody was in various ways dependent on maintaining the cotton trade which means they saw it in their best interest to maintain the plantation system and slavery. new york workers also feared that if the 4 million people enslaved in the south were suddenly set free they would all come flooding apart and take their jobs away. the big irony there is that 12,000 free blacks in new york city, the exact opposite was going on. white workers took their jobs
from them, froze been out of the unions so there wasn't really going to be a problem fighting for their jobs. so because of cotton and because of the ties in that long and enormous economic tie to the cotton south, the majority of new yorkers were pro- south and anti-abolition. they were in effect northerners who were sympathetic to the south. it's also worth mentioning that new york is a major northern hub of the transatlantic slave trade. it doesn't have a direct effect on the country anymore because you're not being brought into the united states by that point that there was stilbut there wae international trans-atlantic slave trade dot ships out of new york picking people up from africa and taking them to brazil and places like that. congress has declared this piracy which was a hanging
offense as early as 1820 and then everybody turned a blind eye. it was an open secret that new yorkers were investing in slave ships and profits for enormous. many were fitted out in the new york harbor and singled out right under the eye of the harbor master's. if they were caught, the slave ship captains, which didn't happen very often by the way because the u.s. navy was like a dozen ships into the atlantic is pretty good. but if a slave ship captain got caught which didn't happecaughtn and got brought back to new york to trial, it was very very rare for him to get convicted. more than half the time they never even made it to trial. they were just allowed to slip out of the jail. the judges and juries were notoriously lenient with them if they've convicted and sentenced anything it would be like two months or four months in jail as opposed to being hung.
a new york's involvement in the trans-atlantic slave trade only one the slave ship captain was never hanged for it and that's because he had the bad luck to get caught after lincoln was in the white house and the civil war had started so the politics have shifted and that they were republicans now running things. he was hanging in the tomb in 1862 and believe it or not, the slave trade dried up. so they should have hung somebody a whole lot earlier. that's the lesson there i think. so that is proslavery new york and then on the other side as i said they were fighting among themselves. a small very vocal and influential core of abolitionists, the white abolitionists in new york city tended to be from the north. they were new englanders who
would come to new york city and a founder and editor of the tribune, one of the widely read papers in the country and the referenda at the church in brooklyn heights. he invited abraham lincoln to speak in february of 1860. at that point in february 1860 abraham lincoln isn't even a dark horse coming is the darkest horse candidate for president. he hasn't announced the presidency beneath her candidacy. the papers couldn't figure out his name. several just went with abe lincoln because they didn't know his first name. because of that, the plymouth churches got cold feet and didn't think he would be able to attract a crowd so some of us brought him over to manhattan and brooklyn and switched the venue to cooper union in manhattan. the speech he made there in february of 1860 was the most important of his career because it made his career.
at the same time he got his picture taken by that famous photo of him standing in his wrinkled coat because he just got off the train leaning on some books. books. that photograph and then copies of the speech went out around the country and introduced them to this abe lincoln that they didn't know before and pretty soon he announced his candidacy and gets elected president. it's been said without that speech and without that photograph it's highly unlikely that the abraham lincoln that we know as the historical figure would have happened. for all that even though new york state voted for him, new yorkers did not in fact they voted against him more than 2-1. baseball link and as commander would go to the white house as they would come rushing up to new york and they voted against him again in both new york and brooklyn in 1864. so new york city and brooklyn every elected abraham lincoln.
now the instant that he is elected as you know the southern start start to secede. the business leaders panic and secession would mean the end of their lucrative trade in the south as well as holding $150 million in unpaid debts from th the south. 150 million would be 4.5 billion today. so they are very upset and writing petitions indicating the workers to sign them and writing their congressmen doing everything they can to stop the south from succeeding. when lincoln passed through the city on the way to the white house he got a very cold reception. walt whitman writes of the coldd reception they gave lincoln and he got a lecture from the mayor who famously when all of the southern business partners started seceding they suggested maybe new york city should
secede along with them. people took it as a crazy idea then that i kind of look at some of the presidential candidates now i won't say his name. [laughter] you know, maybe we should rewrite that idea. okay. when lincoln gets to the white house, he's inundated with office seekers, which up until the time. that time. buchanan, the democrats are out, republicans are in. also, we need to remember that washington was at the time a very southern town come into this still a slaveowning town until a year after he was elected and there were many southerners and federal government to quit when he got elected. it would've been stood in line at the first reception for hours just for the satisfaction of refusing to shake his hand when they got to him. but the job seekers still came and one of the most an inept i think it defined a foul from new
york was melville. his years of writing c. adventurers were behind him by 1860, 61. his more recent novels like moby dick had gone unread by the few people who read them. he was writing poetry which nobody read so he came to washington hoping for a diplomatic posting but he didn't get it. so now we are back. for all that the feared and tried to stave off, they all flocked to sign up when the war started in april of 61. part of that is because at the time they were signing up for three months service in the military. a lot of people were convinced that was all it was going to take. you get a uniform to march down south, kick some butt, it would be over.
so it was an adventure for a lot of them. it was also a job and a paycheck. there had been a big depression in 1857, the panic of 185 1857 d it was like 100,000 workers in manhattan lost their jobs and then win the war started others lost their jobs because the trade with the south suddenly disappeared so they were signing up for the work and because they thought they would be home and it didn't work out that way. when they saw the carnage of battle in fredericksburg and chancellorsville and antietam volunteers went. i bring that up because new york doesn't feature much into the history rating so much of that is battled. it's military history and the nearest battlefield was gettysburg which was like 200 miles away.
and yet some remarkable new yorkers played significant roles on the battlefield including one of them who came from the north. i was one of my favorite characters and the greatest scalawags. he was born around 1819, nobody knows for sure. as a young man, i love this, he was mentor to guide lorenzo dante. lorenzo aponte was writing some mozart operas and has creditors on his heels and comes to new york city and his household in the 1830s nobody was using the term bohemian in the 1830s that he may have been the first would certainly was one of the first bohemian households in new york city and as a young man he's hanging out there. he eats spaghetti bear which is a great rarity in new york city in the 1830s.
still rare enough in 1910 people spoke about at the eats spaghetti in greenwich village. [laughter] [laughter] so it still must have been a wild thing to do. but i digress. [laughter] sorry. tammany hall gets him elected. tammany hall was the machine that ran politics. he gets him elected to the state legislature and he takes it up to albany and scandalized as the state legislature than in the 1850s he is elected in congress. so he is down here when he catches his wife dallying with philip barton key wa keith who e son of francis scott key. there is a hilarious scene philip would stand down on the street on lafayette square and d wave a hanky and she would part the curtains of the upstairs window and give him a signal to
let him know it was okay and i guess he would go in. one night he is waving it and its banandit's damned looking te curtains. he runs down, shoots him dead like a dog in the streets in lafayette square. as the biggest murder trial of the century. a lot of people say that he got off because his lawyers used a novel defense of temporary insanity. they didn't need any difference. he had a jury of 12 married men, said hman,said he was going to . [laughter] when the war starts off much longer after that, he raises the excelsior brigade whom one of the chaplains described as the scum of the new york society of the reeking and spreading a malaria around them and still they fought bravely and well. he was a very enthusiastic and reckless leader but then he gets control of gettysburg.
the instantly get engulfed and while the line is scrambling to reform themselves behind, a cannonball shoots his right leg cutter shatters his right leg. the union survived. so now they amputate his right leg and they just through the lens out on a pile. he wasn't going to let this happen to his. he had a boxed up and sent to the army medical museum here in dc and you can still see his bones to this day at the successor to the museum of health and medicine. when he used to come to washington after the war he would always go to visit his leg.
[laughter] another that was just as scurrilous as the excelsior's, they were called the fire swabs recruited by a friend of lincoln named elmer elmsford who modeled them. it's those dashing north african calgary man with the baggy pants. so they were wearing these outfits and by the start of the war, they were all over both the north union and confederate army. they all loved the use at the time. elmer filled the ranks of new york's notoriously undisciplined fire meant. now the war starts into the u.s. army is very small and a lot of the officers are southerners and they will fight for the confederacy and congress is adjourned so lincoln can't officially declare war if he can't raise an army so he appeals to whatever they can.
so among the troops that were the first to arrive were the fires and they instantly made themselves unloved in washington. they were allegedly breaking into shops, getting drunk in the restaurants and a mob of washingtonians were like please just go home but then a fire breaks out in the willard hotel and viggo rushing into the hotel, climbing all over, they put the fire out and reading themselves. not long after that favor among the first union troops sent across the potomac to route to alexandria to route the small rebel force was there. ellsworth is leading them up thf the street and sees a confederate flag flying in the house in alexandria. he rushes in, goes to the roof and he's coming down the stairs holding the flag when they show up at the bottom with a shotgun and kill him.
he was the first union officer to be killed in the war within sight of the white house in the blinandlincoln openly wept whent the news. one of my favorite new yorkers will send an officer or even an adult. his family had immigrated from germany. his dad was a musician and he talked a bunch of instruments. he was 12-years-old shining shoes before starting his father signed up in the mozart brigade. you could get away with not as a 12-year-old in those days. his father gets sick and drops out. by that point if you sign up you are signing up for three years, so he is now in the army the next three years. he serves on the front lines in every battl battled through gettysburg. he's also the forrest gump of
the civil war. he was the bugle boy for the new york general who the confederates knew as the devil. this period was riding in the battle with he kept doing it to the confederates an and add thee point he was always leading his men rushing out into the tilted. new jersey is named for him, t too. when lincoln came to review the troops that he's the same age and they are hanging around together and he spends two weeks in the white house and viggo to
see a play in dc they are invited backstage to meet the star. it's john wilkes booth who is very polite to them. after gettysburg when he is hobbling around on one leg she leans on him to get around. so he's a great character. meanwhile a whole lot is going on in new york city and that is what the book is about. as all the businessmen feared, the war did indeed create havoc with the economy at first. ..
>> there is a lot of investing on wall street one speculating on the price of gold it is old new class of millionaires in this call the shoddy aristocracy. and new money everywhere. in the newspaper guys are commenting on it. but after that initial flurry of signing on be in not signing up for battle anymore the unanswered among dash "emancipation proclamation" it was a war
to preserve the union but now it was to end slavery. they saw that as a good thing. because of that volunteerism but the draft allows a man to buy his way out. they would pull the names out of a drum. if your name was picked you could buy your way out with $300 that was a new wages back and. it was a rich man's war before men were dying. meanwhile the wages were steady but then they doubled
the price and then it cost twice as much and that is building up by the time of the draft uneasy that first-run not as the names of misfortune to start to ride all over the city the draft was the immediate spark they had had it by that point. it was the deadliest riots in american history everybody was convinced it was a very low number but nobody knows of course. after words it is put under
martial law. and at the same time tammany hall comes up with a system that they would pay $300 for any man whose name was drawn . so after all that, very, very few new yorkers were putting money in a form anyway. but i love that they crank up the entire bureaucracy in new york to keep the matter of lincoln park. and they were not the only anti-war class. benjamin would going tv
hyenas of four. war also believed to be only anti-war novelist. lincoln had many newspapers shut down under treason and if you were arrested one was arrested briefly named to john fiercely anti-war he went from opposing link into law right sedition but eight confederate saboteurs had an idea they would burn them down and what they thought were hundreds of thousands of copperheads would rise up and end the war when they got to new york the industry to the office and he says yes we have 20,000
copperheads armed and ready. on the night of friday november 26 when two hotels and other public places in the city and tried to set them ablaze except it's not smouldered in smoke but it did not burn so a momentary panic then everybody thought nothing is happening me one of them was caught and hanged but by no coincidence that was the title of his novel. but nothing happens to mcmaster. he said i has never heard of them i have never seen them
so there were no repercussions for him one of the hotels feed tried to burn down rednecks to the theater or john wilkes booth onstage that night for the first and only time they were together in their lives performing julius caesar. john wilkes booth original plan was not to assassinate lincoln pet call them as ransom and then released him. he share the plymouth if you yorkers who didn't tell anybody also had rifles and handguns and that copperhead owned the violin shop in greenwich village and the
net is another new yorker committing treason at that point did and actress with had a big hit of her own. natalie a great actors but said to be the first woman in the country to be independent theater producer. in 1858 she had a giant hit in 1865 she did one night revival here in washington and so did john wilkes booth. after john wilkes booth shot him the adjust graduated from the medical center six weeks earlier.
and i could just keep rattling-- off. but in the end with all the resisting and complaining and the vicious activities activities, the war was off-balance to use the opportunities it presented to a mass capital and diversified the west was not one but the cowboys but the new york money. with the railroads. they laid the foundation input your city on the course to become the capital of the 20th century. so now i will shut up laugh laugh. [applause]
>> now we can do q&a if you don't have any questions? >> again not sure of the armed forces medical museum but it was fun to go out there when it was walter reed selected and they have grover cleveland's brain there? >> i am from upstate new york but could you talk about the abolitionist? >> the reason i write so much about the history it is so deep and messy and so much pdf just one subject
out of it so actually the book was longer when i wrote it ahead to cut it i am most don't do any brooklyn almost all new york city. >> but back then frantically were in upstate new york. >> absolutely. it was democratic and liberal. >> i have two questions. how do go about doing the research for this? and the atmosphere around
abraham lincoln? whenever give a clear picture during these early years. but there is nothing in the constitution that states they can if they don't want to but that is to be said to the state so it could have been handled differently so there are other strategies. going into this great commitment, where does this come from? are the bankers coming downtown or communicating plaques? >> let them see and let them
go. i am not lincoln scholar as you say he didn't write it down by have allotted people but my approach is pretty clear to me he did not engage the civil war for the south. but asked if i can win and not freed once labeled do what if all the slaves i will do that. so people have a lot of different motives to him but i just go with what was there. over the years and has become forgotten is not about slavery in the south. with all of that new
was not a real union. >> but the people and then the other part of research have undue right? to make it is easy to do research you can sit at home. i still have a pile but there are whole university libraries that are online you can sit at home they have made their books available. . in newspapers and magazines they are all on line and then when i couldn't as you can see from the bibliography. so i just read. i learn as much as i can and then i write a book file is assume the west coast of
africa did a good job to knock down the slave trade. and as you get slaves out of africa. >> pdf but you know the story they're roughly in them on their own there were taking them as indentured workers. so the british to pat themselves on the back but they still take them someplace else to work in their own colonies. >> so the british were much better. they did do a much better job. i have the numbers in the book in one year they would capture 50. >> my understanding of the
irish at the time the vatican was leaning pretty heavily toward the confederacy quick. >> guess. there are tons in the book. the irish and the germans all came to be with the political upheaval and there is a tsunami and it changes everything about new york city. and those that drive the new workers absolutely nuts. and by a large gb protestant because they thought they but takeover bid and end democracy and hence the
united states over. so no the church is in a curious position. because catholicism is so hot button issue to walk a very fine line, the church said owning slaves is not us then if it is somewhere where it is legal. not mistreating but owning. did tremendous finish the book underground river road do have a comment quick. >> i have not read it. but there are a lot of books that planned historical novels for history books. i guess it a little and see
id derided as big shin or -- nonfiction resin novel. >> so talked-about the violence and the conflict, what role of the irish germans play in that? in the overwhelmingly terms of the experience of massive immigration. that they played a huge role. >> absolutely. the german had a different experience but they don't
speak english the irish did not speak english they would speak gaelic. there were peasants thrown into the biggest city in the dirtiest and the most urban area in the country. and they are preyed upon. they wanted to naturalize them to have their votes sola would put their hand on the bible. [laughter] and of course, there were also the way of tammany hall. i do get more into which in the book is called the draft riots it is much more complex it was a race riot
and economic private and -- riots. but the irish. it was a workers' revolt. so was as confusing as mostly york city history slavery was ended in 1827 however they bring the slaves with them and not local slaves. beyond them being freed the situation is not measurably better. >> but not after 1827. one of the reasons they started, in 1798 to lead ago
partly to give the owners enough time to find buyers. that is my interpretation of it actually. but i think it is true. [laughter] >> hiv-2 imagine the geography of the city at the time. with republicans to occupy those identified able neighborhoods. >> very good question. the white abolitionists tended to be from new england, have money, the fifth ward, the area around washington square
park, greenwich village the only one that voted for abraham lincoln. bear were others that is called the east village now but it was relative upscale. i did not mention this before but there is definitely a class divide but remember almost everybody in new york city was below 42nd in many were below 23rd in. 13,000 people crammed into a tiny area and they were in each other's hair. >> with the irish with a copperhead's. >> definitely with the democrats against the war. they had a very complicated relationship with the blacks
partly they're the two lowest rungs of the economic ladder living with each other and fighting with each other and making love with each other. uc that pinhead in early movies when they sing songs of the plantation south it is really the urban pour in a lot are irish. and there really isn't that hateful form that it became later and then people were cranking that out with a song titles and the song ideas. but in the early days it is between the young irish and the blacks because they are all together. the riots were to end that.
is non-partisan you should run for mayor. i thought about it went around the country 18 months and. there was a fellow named chris gates at the time and engineered all two were down the eastern seaboard to read a bunch of mayors. if i would be any good or if i would like it. and then to put your toe in the water even then why would anybody do that? i never run out with officials may be standing council as a kid but. >> when you say coke bottle glasses. >> a geek. [laughter] >> togo over it too much. [laughter] but thank you.
and the tipping point on the decision that i would toy with the idea of all the traditional political types made-for-tv movies. the councilwoman, latino auditor loggerhead as the mayor, but they all didn't seem and all my customers that all they cared about was their own circle but that there should be more people from business going into government. several people at the remaining said not only will we not do any negative ads
some people got up and left a room and said he will have a chance to. but there was an appetite for somebody who wasn't just like everybody else. to do the attack ads. it was an epiphany. the general election have been denied double than anybody else. at of six candidates i got 28 percent. and remember my first chief of staff as questions said to we'll pick? i said i don't know what does a chief of staff to? we don't have those in the restaurant business. [laughter]