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tv   Nathaniel Philbrick In the Hurricanes Eye  CSPAN  November 26, 2018 1:00am-1:52am EST

1:00 am it's beside the fine american. that means all of us have a role to play it for me the most important part of the cover is the word citizen like how do you practice of citizenship. afor me it never required pieces of paper. the law hasn't been passed but citizenship is claiming my .-full-stop while knowing i'm not the only person in the room. we have a stake in each other's lives. >> host: that is an important lesson to carry away. thank you so much. it's a wonderful book and great to be talking with you today. >> guest: thank you.
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i am a member of the staff and i want to welcome you all tonight politics and prose a couple of quick notes before we get started if you haven't done so take a moment to silence your cell phones. we love to see pictures and whatever you would like to do just make sure you do it silently. we do audio recordings of all of the offense for archive purposes and we also have c-span book tv
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with us tonight so you don't want to be the person whose phone goes off on national television. we do want to hear your questions though when we get to that portion there is a microphone set up in the middle if you have a question which we highly encourage, please step up to the microphone and make sure everybody hears it and it gets picked up on all of our recordings. if you are here tonight that probably means you like interesting books and some fascinating history over the course of the year we have close to a thousand events and politics and prose across the three locations and a lot of them are history themed so just a couple that might pique your interest in the coming weeks october 21 we have been mcintyre for his book and then november 14 we have h. w. brands for his book airs of the
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founders of some stellar american history books that might be worth a return trip but that isn't why we are here tonight tonight we are here for the new book in the hurricane's eye the genius of george washington and the victory at yorktown the battle of chesapeake took place 1781 and assured american victory at yorktown while considered one of the most important engagements in world history it's also been one of the most misunderstood battles of the revolutionary war. standard accounts leave out the fact no americans took part in this. rather thanks to washington's foresight marked earlier that warships have been mobilized to fight against the british and in the new analysis by daniel author of award-winning books including in the heart of the sea follows washington from his realization in the fall of the 1780s that he needed the help into details the subsequent negotiations and logistics that made the plan. please help me welcome nathani
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nathaniel. [applause] thank you. it's great to be here. i was just settling in that i've been writing about the revolution now since 2010 which means i've been working on the revolution writing and researching books as long as it occurred in to begin with bunker hill. it's about groups of people under enormous stress. as a whale ship that's been a member of two programs for the coast they know nothing about.
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they endured the stresses of the revolution and the battle of bunker hill is the obvious climax of this book that i found myself unexpectedly fascinated with a man that appeared a few the reader to take over, george washington. this wasn't the george washington that stared at me ofh a 1 dollar bill for all of my life. this was a guy in his early 40s, fiery and aggressive in a way that surprised me. it's a meter to figur the meters out into what he would ultimately become a leader that realizes the only way we are
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going to hang in here is if we avoid that conflict that might destroy. he was aggressive by temperament and he knew this was best for this country with benedict arnold to tear this country apart and the book ends with the attempt to turn over west point to the british in the fall of 1780. im a water guy and it's great to be here because i live on an island and i grew up in the maritime center of the universe of pittsburgh pennsylvania, but i am realized from an early age
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that before there were multilane highways, before there were railroad that was watered by which things were transported whether it was an army or provisions and rivers were a joe and that's th it's the greatestc point that's being fought over but i have to say not even i have my maritime bias appreciated the extent to which the atlantic ocean would contribute and was determined the ultimate state of the american revolution. i thought of each battle as a stepping stone to ultimate victory. what i've learned in these years of researching and writing is that it wasn't that at all. we lost ouwe've lost our way byl of 1780. he launched into this revolution because we didn't want to pay taxes to the british and we didn't want to pay the taxes
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required to fund washing the army withering on the vine of the recruitment levels that were caressingly low, and washington realized the only hope she have for winning this column like those with an ally, the french thafrenchthat incurred the war 8 soon after the great victory at saratoga. and what's washington realized from the beginning of the alliances that it was the french navy is what he needed. the british navy got the most powerful in the world so far have a stranglehold on the american coast. and that meant any victory washington might have on land would be quickly negated by the fact there were these fleets of powerful warships and it's hard to understand what a ship of the line they were known as a 74 which meant it had 74 canons and
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it took 2,000 oak trees to conduct the 74, 57 acres, 500 to 759 they didn't use any fossil fuels and the used this heat transfer themselves and it just one of these showed up they get more artillerhadmore artillery n just about any of washington's army into these are very powerful and sophisticated technological entities and if washington could use the fringe may be to negate the stranglehold that would create the window that would win the war so he is desperately trying to get the french navy to cooperate with them.
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they slipped out of philadelphia and made their way to new york. they can't get over the sandbar at the entrance to the new york harbor and give up an attempt than a few weeks later off of newport rhode island, it's looking like there's going to be a battle when a storm perhaps a hurricane destroys both and that is in the summer of 78 and 79 and throughout seven e. there is nothing from the french. there is a colonial rebellion that turned into a world war, so france was in the war and the allies spain.
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it's hard for us to understand that in 1780 is where the real money lies and that there was much more, so the french and the british nav navies along with se spanish ships spend those years battling it out for the caribbean and washington. it's looking bad in the fall of 1780. they are pulling the plug and we will have to negotiate and then in october of 1780, something happens to begin a sequence of events that would change
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everything within just a year we all know about the degree of yorktown but what is less appreciated is that is preceded by a naval battle between the british and the french sure that made the battle of the chesapeake just off the entrance between the fleet of each side and for the first and last time there's a little bit of an exaggeration this would mean it was unable to rescue cornwallis who dug into yorktown at the beginning of the peninsula formed in james rivers. washington and general rochambeau who was stationed at
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newport teamed up with washington new york and marched down to williamsburg and then surrounded cornwallis of yorktown. this meant it was a state of complete. the popular narrative ignores the battle because no americans participated in it and i want to put this where it belongs when it comes to the victory of yorktown center stage in the story in october 1780 when a hurricane, one of the biggest that had ever been seen strikes between jamaica and spanish occupied cuba i talk about what happens in phoenix but it driven onto the shores of cuba and then
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comes the second hurricane. october 10 what came to be known as the great storm of 1780 at the island of barbados by the following day they had been leveled to the ground hurled more than 100 feet through the air the extraordinary surge of water and wind. so far onto the shore that it landed on tolanded on top of thd hospital and it stripped the trees of park indicating that the winds of barbados must have exceeded 200 miles an hour. it had occurred at st. vincent
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or the convoy carrying several thousand troops was put out to sea and at 22,000 making it the deadliest hurricane in recorded history. and on october 18, 2 days after a spanish fleet bearing 4,000 soldiers under the command of general departed at pensacola a third hurricane struck down today for the admiral in charge of the fleet ravaged the gulf of mexico and move the remains of the detect cuba with dozens of vessels and soldiers and sailors reluctantly decided to postpone the attack until the following year would take the english, french and spanish h was astound
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by what it saw and 6,000 persons perished in all of the inhabitants grew and it is the best place for the needy in thee summer and fall anywhere but the caribbean and france had viewed a naval expedition to the north on behalf of the united states is a possibility that park the priority after that october a different attitude prevailed and this begins the string of events and it isn't a linear string may think it is kind of a perfect metaphor for the year of yorktown and the forces out of
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anyone's control and random events that have nothing to do with each other all of which have occurred for the victory to happen and there in the center is washington doing his best to hold steady amid the forces threatening to blow the revolution apart along with it. permanently attached to a horse but fact of the matter is he knew the water and he knew it well. it begins with a vignette describing washington in a vessel picking up the french emissary in the fishbowl new york bordering on a boat and sailing down to west point where he was giving a tour of the fortress. if you've never been on the hudson river they would shriek
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out of the mountains and sure enough the school comes out of the mountains and threatens to capsize the boat. he grew up in the tidewater and a long other arbiters here and chesapeake he owned a schooner at mount vernon and as a young man accompanied his brother on a trip to barbados it wasn't necessarily a fun voyage he came down with smallpox but that would inoculate him which would add to the indestructibility but it also meant it as a wilderness that is uncontrollable.
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it meant it was a very difficult thing to have happen. soon after these hurricanes make it clear sending their fleets north the next fall the british decided to send a new brigadier general the traitor who's now a british general decide to the chesapeake. he works his way up to lightning speed and attacks and burns the
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capital of richmond. this infuriated the militia who came out and drove washington sends down lafayette to deal with benedict arnold and defenders of this is happening to the south. more cornwallis is rampaging through the carolinas and washington has sent nathaniel greene down to try to deal with its remains after a great defeat
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but he's one of the older the generals of the revolution raised a quaker in rhode island. he would play a cat and mouse game and there would be the race across north carolina to the river at the border where cornwallis burns the wagon in an attempt to catch up to green. it's one of the battles in a bloody draw but they can claim to dream because the field at the end.
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greegreen and the beaufort a devastating blow to cornwallis and retires to north carolina to pull himself together but goes on the offensive once again into virginia antiques over the army that arnold had got into virginia and another cat and mouse game with lafayette until finally he is at yorktown and it's now the forces are beginning to swirl in the caribbean so it is a frustrating time for washington. i was surprised in writing this book the emotional mood swings. he was attempting to work with the french to get the fleet there and the effort would fall apart and if that happened they had plans to evacuate from
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newport and just abandon north america can you imagine if that had happened so the government to not share. this drove washington crazy. he read the activities in the caribbean newsletters and confines rochambeau with what's going on. washington was hopeful. but he needed was a victory to force them to the table to end this and only in new york were there that many gradually however cornwallis with an army of british troops would end up there in yorktown.
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you can transfer the army down into good understanding with the naval superiority they completely shift gears and they know he's headed to the chesapeake. they are in philadelphia get out of the hudson for new york and new jersey and henry, the british commander in new york just realized they are not attacking me, they are going after cornwallis washington and rochambeau are on their way that they had no word. he is on his first purchase or pennsylvania when he hears that they've arrived in chesapeake. he turns around, goes back to the waterfront just as
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rochambeau has been coming down the delaware river by both with the revenue and he sees a man on the waterfront jumping up and down washington has been a very unemotional man could food is good to be -- who could this be. he stops at mount vernon for the first time in six years. no one knows what has happened.
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but zero my goodness in the history of naval warfare the british always seem to win. given the consequences this is the most important battle in the history of the world the french are victorious. washington and rochambeau arrive and thus begins the siege that force is cornwallis to surrend
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surrender. soon after the battle of the siege of yorktown washingtons son comes out with a fever and washington is at his bedside this means the country is celebrating. for two more years the negotiations are going on and washington is fearful that he will lose his officers. they didn't have the ability to tax the american people and the states are showing no interest they are stationed on the hudson river at newar newburgh and he's forced to put down the conspiracy which is officers pretending to march on philadelphia and force congress to pay them by gunpoint. this would have been a military coup that would have destroyed the revolution.
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he gets through that and his army is dispersed as the british approach and most of his officers are a rate of selling him out without getting some kind of deal and he has a farewell with the officers that have remained loyal to him in a very emotional farewell makes his plea to annapolis. i would like to read a short few paragraphs of washington's drive
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it into the white house and the galleries were packed with people from when washington stood to make the speech his right hand trembled so that he's yet to hold it and getting a farewell to the orders that have so long a i hear from my commission to make my leave of all of the employment and public life. by the end of 1783 it was a fa├žade of the country a collection of squabbling states they might have looked at the assembly of the second and third rate politicians now in control of the country convinced of itself he must do something about it but he had enough he
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wanted to go home when told by the painter benjamin west washington planned to retire, king george 3 said that he does that he will be the greatest man in the world. washington had long since learned greatness was obtained up by insisting on what was right but doing what was right for others as he had written for the general good this required a leader to attend. to harmonize so many parts washington could be forbidding but there was a gentleness about him but had a sense of loyalty to just about anyone.
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to make the best of the misfortune and not to suffer or interfere with their interest in the public good he was acting on what he called in the summer of 1781 the great scale. now it was time as the military commander to step aside for the hesitant steps must be made without him. but this time he was headed ho
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home. they tried to convince them despite all evidence to the contrary the future was theirs and now there was no place he would rather be than here overlooking from the sea. thank you very much. [applause] if you have questions i would be happy to try to answer them.
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who were they fighting? the spaniards joined with the friend because we think of bands and their main motivation was to take it to spain or to britain because they had been humiliated in the previous decade there navy was large but they needed the spanish to help them and so they had their own agenda and what they wanted was the possession they lost which was primarily florida.
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so they had to help them get to pensacola. this would allow them to sail north there would be other complications caused while. this was before the wire transfers and atm, and the french navy needed money. they need gold coins to pay for this war effort. they tried to get the money he needed from the planters, but they refused to come up with it. one of the unheralded heroes of this year is a spanish envoy named francisco. he suggested saying i just can't go with this, i'm going to have to give up on this attempt so he says no if you go to cuba the
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spanish gold and silver mines kept the aisle stacked with gold you can probably get a loan you need. sure enough before they sailed north they sailed to havana where they secured 500,000 spanish pesos from the citizens of cuba. so, a loan from the people of cuba with absolutely essential to our winning of independence. once again this shows you the international nature of this conflict. >> around the turn of the 20th century there was a book by the admirable that the power -- i think my timeline is right. i just wonder if he was influenced by the ideas put on by the sea power.
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>> washington's understanding of sea power has been appreciated by others. one of the things i wanted to get at in this research is washington's ability. the name of his home is named for the british admiral, so there's an element that i think is unappreciated when it comes to washington's abilities. and yes it has been a part of the naval historians, but one of the things i wanted to get a is many of those histories tend to rely largely on the british account because they were on english. the french accounts exist early in the 20th century and i can read french so i enlisted a wonderful translator and
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together we learned french naval terminology and every book has these moments but it's been reading the translations and the letters of the various captains that gave me a new appreciation for this battle. they see this fleet and the problem is the tide is coming in which meant they can't sail out again and it's rushing towards them.
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for the second time in the history by french pronunciations are terrible but a line of speed they would create a line of battle with the arrangement was understood to put it in its proper place and each knew where to go for this meant it's how the ships brought out so it becomes a race to get out there and i am an old racer in 73 i sailed at fort monroe virginia about 20 miles north of yorkto
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yorktown. they are moving back and forth as they struggled to get out and ramming into each other as they move as far in the lead as possible and so the french sources gave been a fun perspective on the battle. it's kind of surprising that
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there's this new body of work coming out you've done to works and david has done. is it because it is a fascinating time that the authors keep looking back at it? >> my books organically evolved and i have never seen myself launching into the revolution particularly as deep-sea dive as i've done but this is genesis where it all began and what i found fascinating is watching the progression of the revolution.
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the experiences of its revolution in the ideas and constitution gets reinterpreted for the generation. these were people who understood where they were going. they had all sorts of motivations among trusted and some very selfish. the more you look at the more it iit the moreit is a miracle butl together.
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thethey're going for temper tantrums and always calming down and always okay i've expressed myself and now i will continue in a professional manner because we need to accomplish a goal. but i've enjoyed is i live on nantucket and i began by writing a local book in the heart of the sea and offshore which is my first book about nantucket.
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i guess i'm in the process of chronicling america but not necessarily in any kind of order. what i really enjoy is going to different regions. i went us to this the battle of little big horn and what i've enjoyed about this process is coming from new england to the middle states and now for the south. it's what the union will become in itand that's where you see te beginnings of america.
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it's such a powerful thing to work with ron howard and he really is just terrific. some of the best i've seen and it totally and emotionally involving and very accurate when it comes to the specifics, those scenes are amazing and they have a usefulness in the brutality and excitement. i'm in it very briefly. you won't recognize me.
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i look like my mother dressed like a pilgrim. [laughter] but it was a wonderful experience. is there an evil thing sends with the scholarship of john adams and those that are educated and throwing it and in many ways flawed but is less well-educated but more humility than any of them? >> in the subtitle and referred to the genius of george washington that he was a very different kind of genius from someone like hamilton. he could just dive into things and washington had that ability
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to sort through the static of life and figure out what was the most important thing to do in the early years of the revolution it was hard for them but he came to the understanding that laid it all out in the interest of this country he would have to put his tendencies aside and write a defensive war. they realized the naval superiority it is the only way we can win this thing. particularly when it came to the chesapeake and new york it was that strategic understanding
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that would be realized in a situation in which no one had control. they would look back and say he didn't understand we have it all figured out. if he decided with the arrival to retrieve to the carolinas he would have escaped and that's what made it work. that was the way to anticipate all the senshow this is so the s his. this was one of those things that have to happen.
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he would come to realize the union was everything. they were not subjecting themselves to a federal government so he went on a road trip visiting the states through the force of the hispanic personality.
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by then he's beginning to realize the greatest threat to the union. at the end of his life they would free and thereby providing an example. he's a fascinating individual and is overheard during the second term saying he could see the issue could ultimately decide the country which by second term was fracturing into two parties.
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this is someone who was willing to turn his back on his own state of the union and so washington is the founding father whose example is important and worthy of continued study. >> thank you for coming out the line will go back towards the register.
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[applause] good evening and welcome to the center for thought and culture. i'm the program associate here at the center. i'm excited to be at the event with juan williams. as a college student eyes on the price america's civil rights years 1954 to 65ng


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