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tv   Call-in with David Mc Cullough The American Spirit  CSPAN  October 9, 2017 2:31am-3:01am EDT

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you for being late: an optimist's guide to thriving in the age of accelerations" is the name of his most recent book. in the meantime we are pleased to be joined at the washington convention center by historian david mccullough whose most recent book is the american spirit, who we are and what we stand for. 202 is area code, 748-8200, east and central time zones, 202-748-8201, for those in the mountain and pacific time zones. you are familiar with his books. john adams, the johnstown flood, the wright brothers. that is a couple books. american in paris.
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there is a few of the books, we are here to facilitate that conversation. jeanette in sarasota, you are on booktv with historian david mccullough. >> caller: hello. >> guest: good afternoon. >> caller: i love your work, in bradenton i want you to autograph my john adams book but i couldn't get a ticket. here is my question, writing about abigail adams and we all know john adams's wife was the most liberal lady in america but when she was in england and went to see a fellow, she said some things had prejudice in her she didn't know was there, talked
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about the blackest man she had ever seen. and a fellow was touching the skin, the moment she called, and held more. hello? >> host: what would you like him to respond to? >> caller: i would like him to respond to that. i don't know -- >> jeanette, david mccullough. >> guest: i'm unaware of the incident you are talking about. i do know abigail adams, passionately convinced, dedicated abolitionists. she and her husband, her husband was the only founding father who
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became a president who never owned a slave and largely because she was so adamant on the subject. the next president who never owned a slave was their son john quincy adams, if she ever did say anything, and her actions as they do speak louder than words. >> host: would you agree with jeanette she was a so-called liberal? >> guest: i don't think she was a liberal, i think she was a puritan. the puritans were adamantly for education, most of them against slavery. and adamantly for freedom of religion and for opportunity and they weren't a bunch of stiffnecked unemotional people as they are often portrayed. in many respects the puritan
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tradition this where a part of the bedrock superstructure of our country and our way of life. abigail adams was one of the bravest women of her time, as an ambassador in europe, her oldest son was also gone. she minded this home, my did the farm and one of the best writers of anybody. her letters are phenomenal, one of the most admirable women not just women, extraordinary formative time. >> host: bob calling from pennsylvania. >> caller: good afternoon, a pleasure to ask you a question.
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i enjoy your writing and your speaking very much. can you describe a typical day when you are at home, you live on the vineyard. your writings, what you do during the course of the day. >> i like to get up early, my favorite part of the day the early morning. when i was working on my book about harry truman. i read how he took a walk every day to get his machinery going so i tried to take a walk every day, usually first thing in the morning and have breakfast, i love breakfast, the most important meal of the day, the most delicious and go to work, try to get to the office and work all morning and come in for lunch, see if there are any phone calls or messages, then go back to work and work every day,
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7 days a week and the time goes by faster that way and anything i do. i love my work, i don't play golf, i don't play tennis. i am not a big sailor. i just enjoy my work. i love to paint, i am often sketching or painting particularly when the weather is good. and in the evening we have dinner and i usually read for a while after dinner and go to bed. a good day. if i have had a particularly productive day, have written two pages, typewritten, doublespaced pages that i consider all right for the time being at least and when i finish a chapter usually around 25, 35 pages, i put all
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those pages together and if it is good whether i find a nice comfortable outdoor chair to sit under a tree and i show that mug who wrote these pages as a brilliant editor i am, how to make it into something more or less acceptable. one of the requirements of being a writer is to be a good editor of your self. i often tell students and others that aspire to write, learn to edit your self and you are almost halfway or more. >> host: do you use a typewriter? >> guest: i work on a typewriter, manual typewriter which i bought when i started my first book, started working on my first book, this was more
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than 50 years ago. the manual typewriter was secondhand when i bought it. i paid $75 for it, it was 25 years old and i have written everything i have written on that typewriter, every article, every speech, every book, and there is nothing wrong with it. full service for over 50 years. i have to change the ribbon once in a wild but other than that they didn't have any notion as yet about obsolescence, there's nothing obsolete about it. it is a marvelous machine. sometimes i think maybe, just maybe, it is writing the books. >> host: next call from hawaii, stu in hawaii, hello. >> caller: aloha, how are you? >> host: go ahead, we are
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listening. >> guest: the question for mister mcculloch was the will of the american voters been thwarted twice in the last 16 years because of the electoral college. in his opinion, in his learned opinion is there any future for the american electoral college and america's future? >> guest: a very good question and as we know, mrs. clinton received almost 3 million votes above who voted for donald trump. that raises a big question. i have learned not to talk about something i don't know as much as i need to to talk about it. my sense is yes, we need to re-examine that process and do
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so seriously. because it is a violation of the will of the people. we have a lot of problems to solve before we get to that one. >> host: david mccullough won pulitzer prize is on his biographies of john adams and harry truman, next call from kevin in hartford, connecticut, you are on booktv. >> caller: i have a question for you. first book i ever bought of yours was 1776. i followed that up with john adams. i loved what hbo did with the miniseries, you put a lot of working on that as well. i can't help but wonder if you ever thought or if had any desire on your part to be involved in a similar project for 1776. that would make a fantastic miniseries or docudrama?
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was that a consideration on your part? >> guest: not only is it under consideration, we have a number of people who have already done important work on the idea. tom hanks is the one who is interested in it and as you know, is the one who produced and had a very important role in the creation of the john adams miniseries on hbo. the answer is yes and i hope it will happen. >> host: who was running the country between the constitutional convention of 87 and george washington's presidency? >> guest: congress. congress had issues to settle. for once we were in the midst of a terrible depression. people don't understand that. the depression lasted as long as the war and most people don't
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understand how long the war lasted, 81/2 years which except for vietnam the longest war we have been involved in. flight of people particularly in new england was really serious. people were going to jail for debt, which was not what they had fought that war for for and it led to what was known as share's rebellion. it was a very unsettled and unsettling time. there was the northwest ordinance passed by that congress. one of the most far-reaching decisions any congress ever made that provided the opportunity of inexpensive land for veterans of the revolution in lieu of the money they had been paid which was called scrip which was only
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worth $.10 on the dollar. it was the opening up of the west as it was then known, the northwest, north and west of the ohio river, which ultimately became immensely important states of ohio, illinois, indiana, michigan and wisconsin. that was among the most important decisions that congress and that came just before the decision on the constitution which happened that same year, 1787. >> host: there is a new book on the northwest territory coming out. >> guest: it is in the books. i'm deep into it and enjoying it greatly. >> host: next call for david
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mccullough from maryland. are you with us? we are going to move on. let's hear from ron calling in from valencia, california. we are listening, go ahead. >> caller: i own and have read several of your books, but one of my most fond memories and thoughts of you is you did a political roundtable with david halvorson and george will. i wonder if you could talk about that for a minute. >> guest: both david and george are wonderful men, david no longer living. the honor of sharing innermost thoughts, feelings and interpretation this, and good
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spirited men, one of the delights of my professional life. david was always full of good cheer and he spent his summers on the island of nantucket. i went over to give a talk on nantucket which i don't often go to and my wife and i before the event took place were taking a stroll on the main street and a car came along, window rolled down, a voice shouted out get off this island, there is not room enough for two of us! and i thought there is a truly good guy, never let his fame or his importance go to his head. he maintained a sense of humanity which is what we all
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need to maintain, don't get too filled up with ourselves no matter who we are or what we do. >> how anonymous can you be these days? >> not as much as it once was but i enjoy it. i don't mind people talking, i like it. i have always liked being with people, i have always been raised to be open to everybody and i try when i am teaching or lecturing at colleges or universities to encourage students to talk to people, ask them questions with the idea that you will never meet anyone who doesn't know something you don't know irrespective of how much education or opportunity they have had so don't turn your back from keeping in touch with
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everybody as your experiences progress. >> host: if you have been watching live coverage of the national book festival you saw david mccullough earlier in conversation with david rubenstein, 2500 people in a packed room waiting in line as you can see around the set, cried ground gathered to see david mccullough. raymond in delaware please go ahead. >> caller: an honor to speak with you, i have many of your books. can you comment on the most recent elevated efforts to take down our national statues, those that have withstood time for over 150 years, thank you. >> guest: i find that a complicated and emotionally charged issue. i when the statue was built, when the edifice was created in memory of someone, has a great
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deal to do with whether or not it is something that ought to come down. the statues to the heroes of the confederacy's that were put up in the 1890s were being put up at a time when racism was rampant in the south, black people were being handed by mobs. it was an ugly awful comment on the notion, the ideal of equality in our country. if it was a monument erected as per george washington who owned slaves, and begun before the civil war then i say no, that is not how they felt about the subject zen was very different, keep in mind the civil war was far on the principle that slavery had to stop.
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slavery was evil. those who fought against that were saying no, slavery is all right. that is very very different and we lost more human beings in that war than any war we have ever been involved in and to ignore that as one side was right and the other was wrong is to live in a kind of haze of romanticism. having said that i am more concerned about stages we haven't raised. we are in our nations capital and there is no monument, no building in the memory of john adams, one of the most important figures in all of our history so we ought to be thinking more about people for whom we should be honoring. i think there ought to be statues to the most gifted and devoted and important and influential teachers in our country in every city we have
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and every town because they are doing the most important work of any of us and they have been doing it all along and they don't get enough credit. it isn't that they are not paid enough, we don't celebrate them enough for what they do for all of us, our children, grandchildren and us. >> host: last call for david mccullough comes from big l in corpus christi, hour conditions? >> good afternoon, thank you for asking. things are good. we were fortunate, the storm went 30 miles west, north of us, we got some of it but unfortunately for the surrounding communities, we see houston, they got the brunt of it but thank you for asking.
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>> guest: the whole country is thinking about texas and will be for long time and all of us should chip in and contribute to help people who are in desperate need and we will, we do, that is the way we are as americans. >> caller: i also lived in houston for a while and houston is ethnically diverse city, and amazing city. my question is, his opinion regarding the electorate and how we select national candidates. much has been written about the candidate nixon debate, how television changed how we vote for people and now we are in a situation where social media, television, generations of grown up with that and i wonder if the future, current president, when people vote in the future, has something changed in the electorate where what is valued in a candidate based on this --
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>> host: we are getting close on time. i we got enough to work with. david mccullough. >> guest: we will never understand the impact of television on all of us. it is here to stay, part of our life and i for one think the first amendment is among the most important bedrock foundations of our way of life and system and the journalists who have been covering this presidency and the election that led to the presidency, journalists in print and on television and electronic means of communication have with some exceptions done a superb job and are doing a superb job and they are to get far more credit than they do. they are brave, they are professional and we have to remember that having that kind
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of coverage is essential to our way of life. >> host:
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