tv History of the Treaty of Ghent CSPAN April 4, 2015 1:25pm-2:01pm EDT
spy sagas in history reaches its climax. ethel and julius rosenberg enter the federal building in new york to hear their doom. mrs. ethel rosenberg was convicted of actually transmitted the secrets -- transmitting the secrets to russia. the ring was uncovered. mrs. rosenberg's brother confessed to the secrets. he later became the government's chief witness in the prosecution of the rosenbergs. it is a stern judge of a face. after administering a tongue lashing in which he charged them with the imminent death of thousands of men, he sentenced both to death in the electric chair. at the time these pictures were made greenblatt still had to hear his fate. it is the first time in peace
time such a death penalty has been hounded out -- handed out. appeals to higher courts are planned. it appears the spies are headed along a one-way street. ♪ the hotel in paris is official headquarters for general dwight d. eisenhower, commander of the atlantic treaty forces. a guard is always on duty outside the door of the commander's office. the defense of the west is formally undertaken by the man already amos in europe for his leadership in world war ii. general eisenhower's first official act in his headquarters is a military formality, and order announcing his assumption of command. his historic task gains new momentum as he issues general order number one with this formal announcement. >> today, another significant step was taken in this process
of ensuring our collective security. this headquarters, formally and officially, assumed operational command of all forces allocated by are several countries to the defense of europe. ♪ >> the big town opens its heart to a visiting chief executive from france. 75,000 new yorkers lined as president auriol is in the parade for visiting celebrities. the warm welcome culminates in the flag-bedecked city hall. the mayor presents him with a distinguished service scroll and receives one of france as high awards, the legion of honor. the visit to the country should help confirm the franco-american solidarity against communism and imperialism.
the families of four soldiers who gave their lives received the medal of honor. one man threw himself on a grenade to save his platoon. on another sacrifice his life in a similar fashion. a private raved enemy fire to help his buddies escape. they went above and beyond the call of duty. part of the indoctrination course -- the island citizens are making a further contribution to the cause of liberty and freedom. they are preparing to take their places in the ranks of america's fighting men. general macarthur has praised the regiment for their valor. in world war ii, they served heroically.
[gunfire] live ammunition whips across just 40 inches over their head. next on the agenda -- this is puerto rico's newest military unit, ready to serve the united nations. ♪ good news to fans of turtle steak or turtle soup. these critters are just in from happy hunting grounds off the floor to his. they comprise one of the biggest and most mouthwatering hauls ever to hit the docks. upside down and helpless, they are lugged unceremoniously to the cannery. a turtle sticks his neck out only once. still unaware of their fate,
they grieve easily. a junior skipper almost turns turtle trying to keep his balance. it seems he recognizes a friend. he will soon be in the soup himself. >> up next it a discussion on naval navigation during the war of 1812. at the outset, the british royal navy was far more sophisticated than the american navy. we will hear about the tools that sailors on both sides of the conflict used to dominate the sea. the octagon house in washington, d.c., where the treaty of ghent was signed 200 years ago, hosted this event. it is about 25 minutes. kyle: welcome. i am kyle dalton, the public programs administrator. i am also the author of a blog.
today, i am going to be talking about the united states navy the war of 1812, and navigation. all three of these topics intersect at the octagon house. the eldest son of the owners of the house, john tayloe iv, was enlisted in the navy in 1890 as a midshipman. it was his responsibility to learn the trade of sailors and officers, to learn how to command ships, and how to work them. the united states navy was surprisingly effective in the war of 1812. i say surprisingly because people did not really expected. -- expect this. thomas jefferson famously said that capturing canada would be a mere matter of marching. we never captured canada. he also thought very little of our navy. we could not stand up against the might of the royal navy. this was a popular opinion of the time. the royal navy defeated the
spanish, french, dutch, and even portions of the russian navy. to imagine that such a small country that could not possibly build anything bigger than a frigate, to think that a nation like that could stand up to the royal navy, was beyond the capacity of most americans. we did have an advantage. that advantage was in the super frigate. that is the modern term. they are warships. they were built with incredibly thick hulls and strong wood, white oak, i believe. it is so strong it was known to , repel cannonballs. that is where the uss constitution got its nickname, old ironsides. it was the constitution that john tayloe iv served to the board. he served so effectively, the state of virginia gave him a
sword for his intrepidity and valor. you can see the sword outside as soon as we are done. it is in a nice display case out there. a medal was given to him for his service against a british frigate. what we don't have out there are the more common things, some of the more everyday items that would be used by officers and sailors of the uss constitution. we have reproductions to carry across the idea of what those would have been like and how they would have been used. as a midshipman, it was his responsibility to learn the trade of an officer and chief among those skills was navigation. navigation is, simply put, knowing where you are, where you are going, and how to get there. navigation requires tools any schoolchild would recognize, and tools like a standard compass.
all it is is a floating magnetized needle that points to the magnetic north pole. the north pole moves five miles -- 35 miles a year, but it is up around the arctic circle. this will always point in that direction. as long as you know where north is, you will know which way you are going. very simple. every schoolchild knows how to use one of these. it is a very valuable item nonetheless. it is valuable partly because it indicates where you are going. you can also track that in a method called dead reckoning. dead reckoning was not the only method of finding your way, but it was one used commonly at the time. dead reckoning relies on your direction, your heading. it relies on speed. it relies on time. if you have these three things speed, direction, time, you have
a pretty good idea where you are at. we have already talked about how to find your bearing. to find your speed required a different tool. that is this here. this is a chip log, shaped like a chip. in old times, they would sometimes use a literal log. they would toss it off the back of the ship. this is weighted with a piece of lead. it keeps it up and down, almost like an anchor, behind the ship. this will stay roughly in place as the ship moves. as the ship goes, it unspools. along the line are a number of knots. when the first knot passes by, usually a colorful one, whoever is counting will call out, turn. that is in reference to another fellow helping him out who has a tiny glass.
28-second glass. when the glass is flipped, you start counting the knots. each knot designates one nautical mile per hour. 1.151 miles per hour. each knot that goes by before the sand has emptied is your speed. all you do is count the knots and you know how fast you're going. you have your direction. you have your speed. we have to work in time as well. time relies on another glass, a larger one, a half-hour glass. each time it is emptied, a bell will sound on the ship. this would be familiar to anyone who has worked aboard a naval vessel, for example. the church at the naval academy sounds bell time. it sounds regular time but it also sounds bell time. the day is split into watches. every watch is four hours long. 8-12, 12-4, 4-8.
it goes all day long, so half the crew can be working at half -- and half the crew can rest. it is also a way of keeping track of all this information. every half-hour, every time the bell sounded, you record your speed and your bearing. that is recorded with this, a traverse board. the traverse board is really just a piece of wood with holes carved in it and pegs. the top half you may recognize is a compass rose, a replica of what you have on the face of the compass. every half-hour, you put a peg into the direction you're going. there are eight holes in any given direction. you can keep track of your time. every half-hour, you put one in. by doing so, you track the changes in the bearing of your ship. down here, we keep track of speed. there are eight rows indicating each half-hour in the four-hour
watch. holes designate the knots, your speed. every half-hour you place the , peg to designate your speed. here you have your time, direction, and speed, all three things you need. the navigator would take this board at the end of the watch and record it. he would go to his chart, a map, and find where they were last at, where they were before the start of the watch, and draw lines. for the first half-hour, we were heading north-northwest at four knots. half of that is two. he would draw a line for two miles. from there, it was northwest at two knots. one nautical mile. you draw the line you keep doing -- you draw the line. you keep doing this until you have all these lines and wherever it finishes is where you are, probably. there are a lot of things that go wrong with this. a lot can happen in a half-hour. you could be going four knots,
the wind could die, and then you go nowhere until the wind picks up again at the end of the half-hour. maybe the bearings have changed quite a bit. maybe where you started was not actually where you were. there is no way to correct that with this. this is not a perfect system. even so, it does a pretty good job. this is being used into the 21st -- century by dutch sailors. 20th this is not a completely unreliable system, but it is not the only one you should use. any navigator worth his salt in the day would use more than one method of navigation and you want to come to an aggregate, a mean, an average of a bunch of different systems. dead reckoning is all well and good, but by tayloe's day, they also had latitude and longitude. they had had it for quite a while, but taking readings of it took some time to figure out.
as you probably know, they are the individual lines on a map. latitude can be found easily because the earth is shaped like a ball, but not a perfect fear. -- sphere. the widest part of the earth is the equator and because it is the widest part of the earth because it is geographically distinct from anything else north or south of it, you can measure away from it. you can do that through a few means. the earliest mariners might have used something like this. this is a gunther's quadrant. it was invented in the early 17th century. it relies on the north star, polaris. they have to rely on polaris because unlike every other star in the sky, polaris is relatively fixed in place. if you can measure the distance from polaris to the horizon, you can figure out your latitude. it is a very simple system.
all you would do is peer through these two holes until you sight the north star. you see where the bob lead. you take down the bearing. this is also not perfect because the north star is only visible in the northern hemisphere. if you go south of the equator this is just a piece of lead. it does not do you a lot of good. it can be used to measure the angle to the sun. no matter where you are north or south of the equator, with extreme exceptions, you are going to see the sun. if you can measure the distance between the sun and the horizon at solar noon, when the sun is at its highest point, that will give you your latitude. all you have to do is a few calculations. you can get your latitude. you don't want to stare at the sun. that is not a good idea.
they came up with better ways to do it. you could do it with this, but it requires two people. one would stand opposite. you can line it up until the sun shows both of them on the ground. the one across from you would take the reading. it is too small. the larger your quadrant is, the more accurate it is. astronomers have room-sized quadrants. a ship does not allow you to have a room-sized quadrant. especially a warship like the constitution. instead, they would use, eventually, the sextant. you have probably seen this. it is popular in art and that sort of thing. you will see it on certain government logos. this is top-of-the-line. the sextant is the best way to find your latitude. it does measure the angle of the sun to the horizon.
it can be used north or south of the equator. it has the nifty sunshades. you don't burn your eye out. it is also more accurate. there is a lot going on. at the top is a mirror. that mirror is meant to reflect the sun. it reflects the sun from this mirror down to this one. this mirror is paired with a glass, a little window that you peer through. you peer through your spy gatt -- spyglass to the horizon. you move this back-and-forth until the sun is reflected from here to here, thus measuring the angle at the bottom. there are all sorts of little numbers. it is more exact than a gunther's quadrant. it gives you your latitude as accurately as possible. sexton's were used all the way until the invention of the gps. it is a very accurate tool. latitude was easy enough. longitude was a different problem. longitude is the north and south
lines. they go from one pole to the next. part of the problem with the longitude is that there is no geographical area on earth that is different enough for you to measure away from. there is no real point in the earth that you can tell you are east or west of it. we had to settle on a prime meridian, zero degrees. today, it sits over greenwich, england. there are two reasons. there is a great observatory there, the royal observatory. england won all the wars and got to tell people what they were going to use. to be fair, it is not just those reasons. england was the one that eventually solved the longitude problem. by 1773, there was a clock maker, john harrison, who developed a chronometer, an incredibly accurate clock. this clock loses less than one second per day and can withstand the rigors of sea.
it was unthinkable decades before. these chronometers would give you time, but not your time, the time at the prime meridian. it is pretty easy to figure out local time. most of us can get a general idea by looking around us. that was true back then, too. finding time where you are not that is a whole other issue. that is why this clock was so important. if you know what time it is where you are not and where you are, you can measure the distance between the two. think of it as 3:00 in the afternoon here while it is noon in california. that is a fixed distance. that time is always going to be that difference. you know what time it is where you are and where you are not. you have longitude. all that comes together, the sextant, the chronometer, all the math, to tell you where you are. that is kind of a lot of work.
of course, there are possibilities of mistake, human error. it is more reliable when you are closer to land. it is preferred to be close to land because you can use other methods. you can combine the dead reckoning, latitude and longitude readings, along with a form of triangulation. that relies on this. it is a corruption of the arabic word for "the ruler." all it is is a telescope atop a compass. you find a fixed point on shore, a lighthouse, a rock, something you can find on a map. you peer through the telescope until you have it nice and centered. you check the compass. see what the bearing is. you go back to the map, find the point, and draw a line through it, across that bearing. you know you are somewhere on that line.
to get more exact, you look at another point. you draw through that the same way. where the lines meet is where you are. the more sightings you take, the more pieces of land you mark down, the more accurate you are going to be. this is a reliable system. another way that is more specific to the chesapeake of getting an idea where you are relies on a lead line. this is the lead line. called so because there is a piece of lead at the end of a line. at the bottom, it is hollow. it is filled with tallow, be ef fat. it is tossed off the ship. knots pass by. when it hits the bottom, the number of knots that have passed by is the depth. that lets you know how deep the water is. when you pull it up, the tallow will have picked up something
off the seafloor, sand, shell, rocks. that sort of thing. this is very useful for the immediate sailing of the ship to make sure you don't run aground. make sure you don't crash. it is also useful for navigation into the chesapeake. that is because the seafloor leading into the chesapeake is a very gradual rise. the content of the soil, the content of the seafloor mud, changes slowly. if you know how deep the water is and you know what soil you are bringing up, you have a pretty good idea how far from shore you are. putting all of these together, and using our aggregate, our average of all the different techniques a sailor could be very confident in his position at sea, in the bay wherever. , these are the skills john had to master. master them he did. by the end of the war, he was lieutenant.
as i said, he was greatly honored for his service aboard the uss constitution. i invite you to look at the presentation sword and medal. if you have any questions, i will open the floor. >> the charts that they had, i thought -- [inaudible] kyle: it is the same thing. it is a different name for it. >> you would look at that and look at the chart -- is that how it works? kyle: you would match this with the chart. you would sight the location on shore, take the bearing, and mark it on the chart itself. getting those different lines on that chart will give you an idea where you are at. all of these rely on charts. i see what you are saying. it can also be used in celestial navigation. i mentioned it for use and land
-- use with land navigation. it can be used to cite stars -- sigh stars -- sight stars the moon, that sort of thing. there is a complex way of finding your location at the base on the location of the moons of jupiter. that competed with the chronometer for some time. it required three or four hours of trigonometry. it failed out. this can be used for that. it can be used for celestial navigation. it also can be used for landmarks and shoreline navigation. >> one more question. gunther is the same 1 -- kyle: i am pretty sure it is the same one. the astronomer in the 17th century. >> how well were they able to
maintain and control speed? kyle: really good at it. this was the height of the age of sail. in the 18th century, they were masters. they have really got it. by the 19th century, they have really got it down. one of the things that benefits them is the wider availability of copper because the bottom of the ship would be fouled. all sorts of plants and barnacles would grab onto it. the more that grew, the slower the ship would get. we see accounts of the 18th century where they could see it coming off the back of the ship. it really dragged it down. by the early 19th century, everybody has copper. that keeps things from growing on it and it keeps the speed up. it keeps a more consistent and faster speed. that is one of the innovations. they had many others. by the early 19th century, they are very good at keeping the speed constant depending on the wind. that is the kicker. there is only so much you can do.
>> what were some of the other innovations? kyle: there are extra sails that come out the side. they stick out the side of the ship and add more canvas. that helps to push them along. there are more advanced anchors. if the wind is totally dead and you really need to move, you can use an anchor in front of you. a boat in front of you drops the anchor and you reel yourself to it. the constitution did that to get away from a british fleet. the ship had sailed into a british fleet and they came after them. the constitution carried itself off. even when there is no wind at all, you still have some options available to you. >> [inaudible]
kyle: it does. that is another thing that affects the traverse board. you can have a heading. look at where the bow is pointing. it may not be exactly where you're going. that is why latitude and longitude are so important. you cannot rely on dead reckoning. that does affect it quite a bit. charts are never accurately recorded, accurately traced, all over the world, until the 1850's. this was done by a fellow at the observatory here. in washington, d.c. he tracked all of them. there is a great book called "tracks in the sea." for now they're going by what , they know. they are going by well-known currents like the gulfstream tradewinds, things they had , experience with. that is sort of experience. all right. thank you for joining us today.
as i said, feel free to check out some of the artifacts in just the other room. >> here are some of our featured programs on this holiday weekend. tonight at 8 p.m. eastern former texas state senator wendy davis on the challenges facing women in politics. easter sunday at 6:30 p.m. eastern, golfing legend jack necklace -- niklaus -- nicklaus receives the congressional gold medal. activist and author cornel west on the radical political thinking of martin luther king jr.. sunday at noon, a three-our conversation with a former investigative or order and it new york times best-selling author ronald kessler. he has written 20 books.
on american history tv on c-span3, tonight at 8 p.m. eastern, east carolina university professor emeritus charles calhoun on the optical's phased and it compliments made by ulysses s. grant during his presidency. sunday afternoon at six of rock, -- 6:00, we are taken on a tour of appomattox courthouse in virginia, the site of the confederate surrender in 1865. >> each week, american history tv's reel america brings you archival films that helped told the story of the 20th century. -- that help tell the story of the 20th century. >> 1954. every american president has offered support to the people of south vietnam. we have helped to build and we have helped to defend.
thus over many years we have made a national pledge to help south vietnam defend its independence and i intend to keep that promise. [applause] >> mr. johnson projected america's policy in vietnam saying the united states was ready to begin without conditions diplomatic discussions to end the war in vietnam. he calls it the only path for reasonable men. >> demands and independent south vietnam, secure guarantees, and able to shape its own relationships to all others, free from outside interference, tied to no alliance, a military base or no country.
>> he called on southeast asian nations for economic development and asked the united nations to join in the plan. >> on our part, i will ask the congress to join in a billion-dollar american investment in this effort as soon as it is under way. [applause] i would hope that all other industrialized countries including the soviet union would join in this effort to replace despair with hope and terror with progress. >> the president said the task is to enrich the hopes and existence of more than 100 million people. he pointed out that education and modern agricultural methods are vital. food is ever a problem, as is modern medicine, in countries
where life expectancy is 40 years. mr. johnson further proposes to make u.s. farm surplus available, even to north vietnam, if they desire it. mr. johnson then quotes the bible. >> we may well be living in a time foretold many years ago when it was said, i call heaven and earth to record this day against you that i have set before you life and death blessing and cursing. therefore, choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. well, we will choose life. in so doing, we will prevail over the enemies within man and over the natural enemies of all
mankind. >> for the first time since the red blockade of west berlin, access routes to the city are shut down by the communists. soviet authorities gave a varied reasons for the blockade including the one that traffic would interfere with east german workings. the real reason was communist resentment over meeting of the german parliament in west berlin. they did all in their power to harness this demonstration of democracy in action. russian fighter planes swooped over the city, at times, darting within a few hundred feet of the hall. they buzzed commercial airliners, disrupted air transport, and broke windows on the ground. they shattered every safety regulation.
>> up next, co-authors william leogrande and peter kornbluh discuss their "back channel to cuba: the hidden history of negotiation between havana and washington". on october 19, 1960, following castro's rise to power, the united states imposed a trade embargo banning all exports from u.s. to cuba. this past december, the obama administration announced a move to re-establish diplomatic negotiations. this event from the wilson center is about an hour and a half. >> great honor to be here with you at the woodrow wilson center and always been one of the most wonderful centers to learn in