tv The Presidency CSPAN September 20, 2015 6:45pm-7:50pm EDT
style. this hour-long program was hosted by mount vernon. jeanne and i are delighted to be back here at mount vernon. it's always a delight to come back to the home of george washington which is a monument to him. they have preserved his home and the ground on which he walked. it's always a pleasure to be in the company of good people who are dedicated and diligent and the good people here at mount that admirale trait with a gracious hospitality that makes everyone who comes here feel warm and welcome. has smoothed the logistical edges of our journey here.
in the book, we acknowledge mary thompson, who is one of the historians here on staff for her invaluable insight and great scholarship. set here, whether it is the knowledgeable docents or the master craftsman, or the historians in the abundant johnves have turned kennedy's description of washington, d.c. on its head. mount vernon is a place that has northern efficiency and southern charm. [laughter] that in itself exemplifies the character of george washington which was orderly discipline and benevolent. i think you would be most pleased with what goes on here. now we did actually do a little work in preparation for our caper here. this evening, we would like you the stress with us
that can befall the stress of relationships. our title is from samuel johnson's observation that a gentleman should keep his friendships and constant repair. it seems like good advice. but unfortunately the circumstances, for different reasons and different people, it was washington, the friendships between him and three virginians did not follow this course. so, this evening, we will try to see why. book,: in our "washington's circle," we have attempted -- david: this is the shameless plug part. jeanne: i believe it is my term. [laughter] david: get as back on the beam . book we havee tried to understand george washington and his presidency or the eyes of those doses to him
-- the eyes of those closest to him. his family, his friends, his closest associates. werealize virginians people he would want to bring into his government, the people he was closest to before the presidency, and two of those madison andjames edmund randolph, played crucial roles in first convincing washington to participate in the constitutional convention, and then convince them, or at least hope to convince them to accept the presidency of this new government. we found it was strange then that washington would gradually grow apart from these men. and in breaking with them altogether, which he ultimately it was at first hard to understand why that would happen . as a result of him breaking with
those people, he wound up with an entirely new set of associates toward the end of his presidency, a new circle and affect -- in in effect, by the end of his presidency. his estrangement from these virginians is oftentimes attributed to alexander hamilton , and it was certainly true that some of the people who ended up breaking with alexander -- i mean with george washington attributed it to outside forces. certainly hamilton chief among those. in that view, people whose was diametrically opposed to the one held by james madison , edmund randolph, and thomas jefferson came to command washington's attention. his attendance and eventually something akin to his affection. in this view, hamilton is an evil genius.
an evil genius, a bundle of artifices, and someone who worked his witchcraft over an increasingly befuddled george washington. but as we point out, george washington was not befuddled. fact, in the two and a half years remaining to him after his retirement from the manner,cy, his hearty his obvious acuity demonstrated he was anything but befuddled. as we all know, george washington and 67 did not die of old age. an illnessn with that would have killed a much younger man, especially after the physicians got a hold of him. [laughter] david: how then can we explain driveappened to washington away from these virginians, who should have been with him throughout his
close capacity? let's meet our cast of characters. first of all, there is james madison. edmund randolph, and thomas jefferson. we could have chosen others. but we chose these men because they are notable either for being close to washington or being then he greatly admired and came to rely on. realize theseo people were much more than personalities and egos. they were children of the enlightenment. they were not just of the idea that you had systemized informing policy. they believed in a philosophical belief system that shaped character in its central cents, character as the basis of all honor and integrity. it's what that generation called the genius of a person. by that, they meant something
other than a highly intellectual gift. they met someone who had the embrace integrity as a purpose, and by that, to truth and form a sense of proper virtue, would you see in the language of these men throughout their lives. a virtuous citizen. these were people who carefully considered postulates and combined them with experience to apply the admirable trait lithium lightens, rational thought to make a better world. we were very fortunate as a country to have these men in charge of it at its outset. now if it all sounds kind of highfalutin, we can take george washington as a practical example of how this works. the american revolution was the defining moment in washington's
othermore than any experience, it reshaped his political philosophy as it refined his view of what america was and how americans behaved. in the book, we note how everything stems from those through which he was in uniform fighting for the life of his country. parts people from other of the country. he learned how they talked and how they thought. he learned how they farmed and how they built things and how a commond cooperate to and prosperous in, or just as easily, squabble and impede any sort of purpose to any progress at all. this last is quite important, because from it washington shed over those eight years his parochial sense of place is paramount. what might be called localism. instead he became a nationalist. for the practical reason state that -- statesm
obstruction imperiled the military effort. it established a federal government that was supreme in his fear, not merely the equal of sovereignty. washington, accordingly was careful about preserving that sense of the constitutional experiment. and in that, he was seemingly assessed with what we might regard as the cosmetic aspects of the presidency. at first this irked people and then it alarmed them, people who were afraid of the drift toward monarchy and centralized authority. when washington stood quite formally on ceremony as when he went to congress with an entourage or when he assisted governor john hancock come meet him first when he visited massachusetts on the first
official presidential journey to new england. he was establishing the executive as a co-week will branch within the government in terms of congress and the federal government as preeminent and certain of its relations with the state in terms of his relations with john hancock. like washington, james madison was a nationalist for the same reasons. by thebeen exasperated actions of the states during the american revolution. he had seen this play out politically as a member of the continental congress during its most sclerotic days. and he and other nationalists within the congress, alexander hamilton among them, determined to do something about it or it and of worse greeted the movement that led to the constitutional convention. at this stage, madison, his nationalism was a match or
hamilton wrote, and he believed this new government should even have a veto over state actions, and ideas that took shape in what became known as his virginia plan. at philadelphia, at the constitutional convention, he and hamilton, as well as washington, all saw this as a move toward -- not just a stronger government, but a more secure government. and again his nationalism was going to be extremely important. of course, in some of the small states, as you all know, they were going to insist on changes, changes that weakened the original plan put forth by james madison and he was sogrined by these changes, he did change these or was willing for them to be changed during the convention itself, but his nationalism also hurt him in virginia. ther the ratification of
constitution, governor patrick henry, and anti-federalist legislature,rginia blocked madison's election to the u.s. senate. and he had a very, very close run when he ran for his house the against young anti-federalist james monroe. he won that election to the house seat, primarily by sromising to support amendment that would protect state and individual lives. as the new government began, washington and madison are very much on the same age and they are very compatible -- same page and they are very compatible personally and politically. just as their partnership had been extremely important in securing the writing and of course the ratification of the cost of tuition, both ask acted
-- the constitution, both expected to continue that partnership in the new government and initially, both were not disappointed. madison was washington's pin, his liaison, and his advisor, a role that any likened to that of prime minister. david: in less than two years, alexander hamilton was rumbling about madison well obstructionism. it was a remarkable reversal. measuresegan opposing that he had heartily approved years earlier, months earlier in some cases. to make public credit, to make the government solvent. the implications of madison's change profoundly altered his relationship with alexander hamilton and it gradually did the same with his relationship with george washington.
what before had been a comfortable direction of affairs acting pretty much as a prime minister, this begins to change as madison realizes the clear direction the executive branch is taking. washington was perfectly agreeable with hamilton's plan to restore the public credit, because he'd always seen at comic solvency is one of the main objects of the constitutional project -- economic solvency is one of the main objects of the constitutional logic. madison is growing concern. what he saw was the likely influence of diminishing date influence and he believed an unhealthy dynamic between the government and special interest who were in fighting corruption. rather than hamilton beguiling washington, the presidents reliance on hamilton stemmed
from washington's believe that the federal experience could not foster, let alone survive, without diminishing the states' power in some degree. otherwise, the states assumed -- doomed the new government in the same way they nearly doomed the revolutionary war effort. it was for dane, heather never been in alexander hamilton, that jefferson, thes secretary of state, would find at odds withually washington over matters of policy. jefferson fundamentally opposed centralized government, centralized authority. as a matter of principle, because he believed that such authority was naturally intrusive and ultimately it would become to spot it -- despo tic. saw government as powerful by nature. otherwise it was not government. and it had to be constantly
restrained. and sometimes checked. otherwise, it would naturally ooze beyond its salutary functions always under the guise of good intentions. commit an then would incremental march toward increasing its power and its control. at the time, it was not clear how much of jefferson's thinking about such matters influence madison's behavior toward the administration. the more cogent point probably is to remember that madison was already at odds with alexander hamilton before thomas jefferson even came back into the country, let alone came into the government. jefferson came into the government and was disturbed by what he saw in new york city as a sort of monarchical centerpiece of tory sentiment and centralized fetishes.
washington's nationalist differences were not that far, but they were easily misread and limited government of ideals, the ideals of thomas jefferson would clash with washington over this matter. and it would be a factor, regardless of alexander hamilton's influence. disagreements over how to handle foreign affairs, especially once crisis heatednch up, only exacerbated in already tender situation. jeanne: the affair involving edmund randolph is a bit more, located. he began his service in the new government as its attorney general, a position that was considered ancillary, certainly not primary in the government, which is to say that it was not considered to the a cabinet cabinetst -- to be a level post even before they used the term cabinet. and yet, as attorney general,
admin randolph was going to provide some extremely important advice to washington. particular with regard to constitutional interpretations of presidential appointments and senate confirmation of those appointments. will not go and i into a lot of detail here, but when the u.s. mint was created mintnce the head of the was created, the senate was in session because congress created the institution. but washington could not determine who he wanted in that position before the senate went out of session. randolph advised washington against a recess appointment. and his logic was this. senate had been in session when the position came available, it would not be advisable to do a recess
appointment, because that could be used as a precedent that would allow future presidents if they wanted to nominate someone to a position that they thought they might have trouble with the confirmation to simply wait out the senate's session clock and then appoint the person. washington agreed, after randolph explained this possibility to him. and in fact, washington saw this as a very good example of randolph's logical prudent. -- prudence. to washington and many other people who knew him, logical prudence defined edmund randolph. now, washington had known the randolph family all his life. and even though randolph's father had been a staunch tory during the american revolution, payton hadd's uncle
been equally staunch patriot. randolph himself had frequently -- briefly served on washington staff in the early part of the american revolution. after the revolution, he became a rising star in virginia politics. in fact, he was the governor of virginia at the time of the drafting of the constitution. however, for all of his talents, randolph could not budget money. he was always in debt. sometimes alarmingly so. it struck everyone is strange that someone who had such logical prudence would always be needing money. it even struck edmund as somewhat illogical, especially when he had to importing --
importune friends for loans. yet his money problems did not damage his reputation for probity. d,d his reputation as a shrew though scrupulously honest attorney, that drew clients from all over virginia. in fact, when jefferson left the law to enter public life, he turned over his client list to cousin edmund who jefferson believed to be the better lawyer. on the other hand, randolph's prudence was honed to an extraordinary pitch in political life. sometimes, to the wilderness of his foes and the exasperation of his friend -- to the world of his foes. in most men, a deliberate street
can immobilize them. in randolph's case it was the office of deliberation that made him changeable. fluid, in fact. stories about his behavior during the drafting and ratification of the constitution would dog him for days. he was a nationalist when the convention met in philadelphia in the spring 1787. he was chosen by james madison to present the virginia plan on the convention floor as the opening point of discussion. convention progressed, randolph became unhappy with the course of the document and he, at the end of the convention, refused to sign it. it. he was one of three delegates refused to sign. one of the other was a fellow virginian named george mason , george washington's neighbor
and friend. mason and randolph's alarm over the constitution were similar. mason was rejoicing and bringing this man into the anti-federalist camp with the hope of blocking ratification in the richmond ratification the following spring. when randolph arrived in richmond and went into the convention, he gained the floor and announced he was going to support ratification. this stunned everybody. it stunned mason, especially. patrick henry who is leading the anti-federalist forces was dumbfounded. now going to was support the ratification of the document in the spring of 1788 that he refused to sign in the fall of 1787. mason was so perturbed that he was heard to audibly mutter
"arnold." edmunde comparison of randolph to benedict arnold was an exaggeration, but it is also an uncanny foreshadowing of randolph's career in the federal government. edmund randolph did not want to join the new administration, partly because he did not want to move his large family to new york city which was the temporary capital at that time. his wife had suffered a still born birth that had nearly killed her. and again, he had a very large family. and did not think that he could live off the meager salary that was allotted to the attorney general in new york with this large family. plus, he would not be separated from them. he was devoted to his family. only his complete devotion to george washington convinced him
that he should join a government. but his hesitation to do so rankled washington. rankle it waoould also washington when jefferson hesitated to become secretary of state. but after a time, they were all fairly convivial for at least a short time, and randol ph, as i said earlier, proved a diligent advisor whose opinions were both timely and pertinent. washington soon came to be reminded of why he had always turned over his personal legal matters to edmund randolph, who never charged his hero a penny. a rather strange thing and certainly an inconvenient thing for someone who was always short of money.
work asi said, his attorney general was exemplary, and he proved to be indispensable to washington, as washington increasingly found madison to be distant and jefferson to be disagreeable, particularly in the last year of washington's first term. this created its own subset of problems, as tensions mounted in the cabinet over disputes regarding different domestic policy, but also increasingly foreign policy, jefferson found himself increasingly besieged in the cabinet where secretary of war henry knox usually sided with hamilton and, since washington usually took the majority opinion, washington came increasingly to see randolph's support as essential to his positions. and yet, randolph tried to
remain impartial, partly to ofate sort of a sense harmony within the cabinet, but also not to turn to sort of reflexive partisanship when making his decisions. jefferson came to see randolph's impartiality as weakness that he abettingperhaps was treasury. sickly side asox weakness. -- simply saw it as weakness. washington, on the other hand, appreciated randolph's attitude w randolphreasingly sa in much the same way he had earlier scene madison, with a great deal of affection, not to mention appreciation.
jefferson, on the other hand, bitterly railed against randall's apostasy in letters to madison, for instance. and he finally either deliberately or let slip his feelings in a conversation with washington. in this conversation in which washington told washington that he was now finally, after threatening for quite some time, determined to retire, they began discussing jefferson's possible successor. and washington mentioned to jefferson that randolph was the likely person that he was going to turn to. jefferson paused. after hearing that, and then sort of as a seemingly an afterthought said that perhaps randolph's financial problems could compromise his integrity in such a sensitive position as secretary of state. as we say in the book, it was a
singularly rotten thing to say. jefferson. thomas but it probably planted a seed in the mind of george washington that would eventually bear calamitous fruit. edmundwashington chose randolph as jefferson's successor despite these warnings, and randolph accepted. are reluctantly but from a sense of public duty to his country and a private devotion to his hero. he not only ignore the warnings of friends who warned him that the colleagues in the cabinet would become ferocious enemies, he also circulated what can be described only as a remarkable memorandum. to his colleagues in the cabinet, he communicated a
desire for harmony, urging that all of the misunderstandings and suspicions should be put away and pledging that he would keep ofn straightforward channels communication with everybody so as to avoid a repeat of the problems that had so placed the administration. the lagued administration. his colleagues barely concealed their contempt for this coming occasion date gauged as insincere -- that was the move of the administration as it entered the highly charged controversies that stemmed from the united states negotiations with great britain. jay'srticulars of john mission to london would distract us from our main topic here. suffice it to say that washington exclusively consulted edmund randolph about jay's
work. this does not seem strange, inasmuch as randolph was the secretary of state, and naturally would consult his chief foreign officer over the activities of his chief diplomat on a sensitive mission abroad. but it irked the members of washington second cap. --second cabinet. secretary of war pickering on secretary of treasury oliver wolcott were aware of the cabinet practices of the first term, the first cabinet in which washington consulted everyone about everything whether it was major or minor outside of their departments or wherever he took all opinions, engage them equally as significant -- and gauged them equally. yet washington does not seem to want to talk to these men at all. he did not know them very well. oliver wolcott was hamilton's
handpicked successor. timothy pickering was just an unpleasant man. washington had been forced to a point because he could not find anyone to replace henry knox at the war department. a thankless task. a place with a lot of threatening wars and no army. so, the pickering appointment was one that was born out of a compulsion. washington did not regard these close intimates and he really consulted them. they did not meet very often. twose were two women went -- new englanders and arch federalist, which was strange because of washington's desire to geographically balance the government during his first term. but the arch federalists attitudes were to be the most telling every thing that happened to edmund randolph afterward. jeanne: in the overwrought atmosphere of discussions
surrounding the controversy over jay's treaty, timothy pickering and oliver wolcott determined to prove that edmund randolph was a traitor. highdid so with conviction and seemingly damning evidence that once it was shown to george washington convinced him that, yes, edmund randolph had betrayed his country. encountered on treachery during the american revolution when benedict arnold whom he trusted completely made an arrangement with the british that could have damned the american cause. the accusation against edmund randolph was no less serious, given the time and circumstance for the united states seemed on greatrge of war with
britain and randolph was accused of having bargained with france for money in exchange for information. the damning document was a communication from french minister to the united states to his government. aside from his possible motivations for writing ofething unflattering randolph, the document itself had a very dubious chain of custody. it came to pickering and wolcott through the british minister to the united states george hammond because hed randolph thought he was a pawn of thomas jefferson who hammond also despised. this document was naturally written in french. pickering and wolcott could not read nor write french.
thehey clumsily translated dispatch, and because washington rench, hed not read f had to rely on their amateurish work. and then there was the toxic connection of money and the impecunious randolph, which was enough to suggest to george washington that this merrited investigation. ofid: the resulting series events gives little credit to anyone. walcott's actions disappointed randolph but washington's behavior nonplussed him. when all was done, randolph thought washington had behaved in ways that were most deceitful and most vicious. andolph reacted imprudently
irrationally, probably for the first time in his life. he resigned in anger, then comported himself in a way that was, that could not do anything but permanently seal washington's enmity.. of this isall understandable, predictable but regrettable, the outcome of a massive misunderstanding compounded by wounded pride. admit, however, that this is the last rupture with his last virginian strange, an event that defied explanations. washington and randolph were close. they were even closer than washington had been with madison , certainly more so than washington ever had been with jefferson. washington's reaction is puzzling. even bearing in mind the normal inclination to entertain an accusation precisely it is so serious that no one would level it, washington accepted
pickering's version of the communication, a man he did not trust and did not keep in his confidence, did not like. it's strange that washington would behave for the better part of two weeks as though nothing were wrong, never providing any indication that he suspected randolph of treachery. when he did begin the investigation, the inquiry that was to determine randolph's innocence or guilt, he did it with an awkward meeting that included randolph's secret accusers -- pickering and will cut. and -- and wolcott. and it resembled an interrogation of a man already thought to be guilty. certainly not the kind of investigation someone could have expected whose character and service should have guaranteed the presumption of innocence until compelling proof showed otherwise. withe: again, the break
james madison is understandable from the fact that madison gradually retreated from the nationalism that had first brought him and washington together. and the same is really true with jefferson as well. the break was over specific policies that emphasized nationalism over limited government, though, of course, it was certainly helped along by jefferson's feud with alexander hamilton that accelerated and then sealed the breach. rupture with this particular man, randolph, becomes even more difficult to understand when we consider that eventually it was clear that randolph had done nothing wrong. the proper translation of the dispatch within the appropriate context of his conversations with randolph demonstrates that
the talk of money was purely innocent. yet, there was something else in this dispatch that it was not mitigated by a better translation. a section that discussed several conversations that fouchet had had with randolph about the relationship of edmund randolph and george washington and the relationship between george washington and alexander hamilton. in these conversations, according to this dispatch, at one point, randolph described george washington as alexander hamilton's pawn. asanother conversation, outlined in this dispatch, randolph was said to say that he was george washington's master. whether these were
actually exaggerated instances of idle gossip that fouchet included in this dispatch, or whether or not randolph actually said something like that, which strains credulity to a certain extent, george washington could not have helped but be wounded when he read this section of fouchet's dispatch. and we believe that it was this part of the dispatch that mundntially banished ed randolph, not only from the presidency but george washington's affections. david: it would be a small flaw of vanity and an otherwise great man. no less profoundly important and its consequences. lph's of's -- rando
influence sustains the administration's even keel is it was beginning to tilt into reactionary postures against forces that it wrong perceived that wereus, forces coalescing around thomas jefferson and james madison. reasonsnd, and for other than policy or philosophy, george washington was isolated from the last virginian who could've made a great difference in the closing months of his presidency, a difference that might've discouraged the excesses of the adams administrations that follow that did not tilt but plunged headlong into reactionary measures highlighted by this addition act -- the sedition act of 1798. jeanne: so ends our story on a cautionary note that reminds us that great man, after all, are mortals and that the titanic affairs of state oftentimes turn on the smallest of pivots.
whether time and coincidence or pride and place. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you very much. is it on? i'm just very loud anyways. but that was fantastic. i'm -- it's really intriguing the way you framed this. their book is the general study of all the different people, large and small, virginian and otherwise, who helped create washington's presidency and in essence are creating washington. i really liked the way you looked at this particular virginian connection, because it is intriguing that so many others as well in his life that
virginians he moved away from at different times. our good friend down the road gunston hall being an important one. now, towards the end of his life, there is also some strange coming back into his orbit of patrick henry. and now i would love to get your sense of that relationship, because, of course, going back the house0's in of burgesses, patriots, henry is the governor of virginia. a governor a few other times as well. his great opponent and madison's opponent in the ratification debates, but then by the end of the 1790's all of a sudden henry is going to be running as a federalist against madison. the enemy ofe of my enemy is my friend? what is going on with washington
and henry coming back together think george washington always respected patrick henry as a man of principle, someone who believed what he said at the moment and was capable of evolution in his opinions and attitudes. it's interesting because washington never seems to have held a position to the constitution or personal criticism as a public figure as a personal affront. a committedon was anti-federalist but washington remained quite close to him. patrick cadre the same. h-- patrick henry the same. he offered henry the war department. that this is not true about is another virginian, a neighbored at gunston hall george mason. talk about, we
george mason and his relationship with george washington that was always somewhat odd, because the was a friendship frequently rocked by disagreement that would not ordinarily impinge on a friendship. things that washington seems to have taken exception to that he overlooked and other people. and the only thing that we can think cause this is the fact george mason was something of a c personality who tended to lecture, rather than converse. that was fine with people like thomas jefferson, who liked that dialogue. washington did not. it seems to us that george mason's behavior towards george washington was hinged by that sort of -- not open condensation -- condescension, but assumption
of intellect. that is what we think happened in philadelphia. there must have been an interview between the two of them, in terms of mason's opposition to the constitution, that turned nasty. that washington was made to feel stupid. he can be touchy about that. jeanne: we all can. [laughter] jefferson hee told could not understand hamilton's notions, was too stupid to understand them. that was one of the rare times he lost his temper. it was telling. that caused him to lose his temper, i think that is what happened with george mason and the reason he never had another contact with him. he was written out of his life. he did the same thing to edmund randolph, we think, because of
those sections. >> anything? jeanne: as far as henry is concerned, there was never a break between them. washington always respected him. henry, after the ratification debate, he never tried to oppose the government, did not want to go back once it happened. in other words, i lost, so we will move forward. >> they are going to take questions. we are recording this, so please wait for the microphone to get to you so we can get the essence of the question. why don't we start here? >> according to joseph ellis's new book, john jay was an ally hamilton inn and the constitutional convention. i wonder about the ongoing relationship between washington and jay.
jeanne: they had been close since the revolution, when jay was supportive of the army. himself was not at the constitutional convention but was important, even though his part was much smaller than the part of madison and hamilton in the so-called federalist papers, particularly in getting new york to ratify. it new york and virginia did not ratify the constitution, it did not matter how many other states ratified. those were key states. efforts were a precursor to secretary of state, running foreign affairs for the confederation congress. washington had tremendous admiration for jay and very much wanted to keep him in the government.
he consulted him. even appointed him as chief justice. washington continue to consult jay, and that is one of the reasons he trusted him with the british mission that resulted in jay's treaty. the very much trusted and liked john jay. david: i am not sure he liked him so much after the treaty. jeanne: that is true. david: you wanted to talk to him, and jay would not come to philadelphia. irregularity that was mentioned that time. both randolph and washington wanted to sit down with jay and ask, how did this happen? ashink washington was peeved a result. jeanne: yes, sir?
>> wait for the microphone. criticism does washington deserve for his selection of the cabinet of pickering and woolcock and henry dobbs? they were not exactly top-tier people. i know there were some refusals to take the positions. i would say henry knox was a leading light in the cabinet. he is often misunderstood and wrongly charged -- judged as a dim bulb because he was in a room with a pyrotechnic hamilton and jefferson. any of us would find ourselves overshadowed by the company. washington had incredible
difficulty filling the post. hamilton picked walcott. unfortunately, they remained in close correspondence throughout the closing months of the presidency, washington presidency. very much so during adams. so much so that adams ultimately fired these men, let them go with the exception of walcott. jeanne: he had been trained by hamilton. he certainly did not have hamilton's creativity, but he knew what he was doing. , i do not see how we could possibly blame washington for a situation he really had no control over. ofple saw the example alexander hamilton, who nearly went broke as a result of his service to the government. hamilton resigned to support his
family. the other leading like -- lights were not going to go down that road. it was not just the cabinet. it was all sorts of people he had get in to accept positions of lower-level positions. increasingly, people saw the government as the quickest way to go broke. so he had trouble finding people. david: how things have changed. habitgton got into the when he offered somebody a post that he would enclose a postscript saying, if you do not want it, send it to this person. [laughter] yes?: you say that washington's evolution on slavery play a role
? jeanne: i do not think so. he did not -- even though he had determined that he was going to free the slaves here at mount out that we do point half of the slaves here did not belong to him. they belonged to the estate of martha's first husband. he did not make out a will that actually did bring that about until the summer of 1799, just months before he died. he did, during his presidency, keep slaves at the executive house, primarily in philadelphia.
when one of those slaves ran away, we have a pretty lengthy judge, on this -- onie when she ran away, he may not only strong efforts to find her, but have her brought back. he failed in that, and he was probably trying so hard because she was one of those slaves that belonged to martha's first means he estate, which would have to reimburse the estate for her. but he made a strong effort. so he was -- i will not say on the fence -- he was certainly against slavery by that point, but he still utilized slavery. there is no evidence in the correspondence i have seen that inows it was a source of stra between him and particularly jefferson.
jefferson was the person in the cabinet who owned the largest number of slaves. virginians were not a part of this conversation at all. there were others who were anti-slavery to the extent they were neo-abolitionists. the problem is it was breaking him, he was going bankrupt over the slavery issue. he could not figure out what to do, because he was hemorrhaging money. he transformed mount vernon from the tobacco culture into a wheat -producing operation on five farms close to 10,000 acres. they were not growing tobacco. very minimally. it was too labor intensive.
he had too many slaves to grow the crops he was growing. he would not sell them because he would not break up families. that were probably three or four times as many slaves as he needed to run the place efficiently. he entertained ideas of bringing to split upusbandry the farms and have them rent or purchase with the idea of abolishing slavery on the plantation as a whole. he could not do this when he was president because he knew it would be such a political issue that it would likely doom the democratic experiment at its outset. yes, ma'am? >> you sort of talked about all these people being giants, talking about what kind of government we were going to have. but how is the average man
looking at this? how engaged are they in this dialogue? david: the average american could go months at a time without thinking about george washington or thomas jefferson. lovely idea, but the government was so far removed from daily lives except for the times when e men showed up, then they broke out their guns and the tar and feathers. they did not have a region to household on a daily, weekly, or es.thly bas there were no direct taxes to bring people into contact with a federal presence unless you are importing something or smuggling something. or trying to avoid the tax on whiskey. jeanne: i would say that, by term, there second
were forces coalescing around jefferson and madison that did produce groups called the democratic societies. areas,ere largely urban where it was easier to communicate, where you had newspapers that told you more about what was going on within the national government. people were starting to pay more attention in washington's second term. largely in the urban areas. david: and they did not like it. they did not like it. [laughter] david: i will wait for the various audio aids. >> you mentioned that washington's thinking always went back to the revolution. this idea of federalism, i guess
a lot of it has to do with the fact that washington's army had a hard time getting supplies by the continental congress. i wonder if you see that as the crux of his thinking. david: very much so. , asend of the revolution you know, there was a plot that was ostensibly formed by his senior officers to overthrow congress. and install washington or someone like him as a military dictator. arrangement,ellian because they were not being paid. the army had not been paid in some time. they tried to impose a tax to raise money, and it did not work. the states had been an impediment in the supply of men and material.
men like washington -- governor morris went up from philadelphia to valley forge. wit whoas a sarcastic always had something funny to say about any situation. derived in midwinter at valley forge and got out of his carriage and cried. never seen anything like the bleeding in the snow because they did not have shoes. he went back to philadelphia and argued in congress to supply washington. the most unlikely pairing -- this pirate, morris had a peg
leg, his leg was missing. he was a rake. and washington adored him. governor morris. no relation to robert. they are the new york morrises. >> one more quick question? jeanne: yes? >> what happened to randolph? jeanne: well, he worked as an attorney for the rest of his life because he was a very good attorney. never really lived down the implication that he had done something wrong, something very wrong. but virginians embraced him. he did write a vindication of himself in which he attacked george washington.
as thomas jefferson told anyone who would listen, it did not pay to attacked george washington. that certainly hurt him. but he was able to largely support himself. he was on the defense team for aaron burr, ironically during his treason trial, because he was such a good attorney. , she predeceased him. that devastated him. he died in bad health. who doesn't die in bad health? he suffered a stroke towards the end of his life. never really recovered. ofid: he became a champion unpopular causes. something that no one else would touch, he would go to. wit'sended george
murderer. randolph defended him. >> let's give them a big round of applause. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> i'm speaking to you tonight at a very serious moment in our history. the cabinet is convening and the leaders in congress are meeting with the president. the state department and army and navy officials have been with the president all afternoon. in fact, the japanese ambassador was talking to the president at the very time that japan's airships were bombing our citizens in hawaii and the philippines and sinking one of our transports, loaded with lumber on its way to hawaii. by tomorrow morning, the members of congress will have a full
report and be ready for action. >> eleanor roosevelt is the longest-serving first lady, for an unprecedented 12 years. her husband, unknown to the public, was disabled from the effects of polio. , aslegacy continues today she is discussed as a possible face of the $10 bill. eleanor roosevelt, tonight, at 8:00 eastern on "first ladies: examiningand image," the lives of first ladies and their influence on the presidency. tonight at 8:00 eastern on american history tv on c-span3. all weekend, american history tv is featuring cincinnati, ohio.