Skip to main content

tv   The Presidency  CSPAN  September 26, 2015 10:45am-11:50am EDT

10:45 am
friends and neighbors. they often ask, where did you find the stories? they are all around you. announcer: find out where c-span cities tourspan's is going next online at c-span.org. next,cer: coming up authors david and jeanne talk about their book, "washington's circle: the creation of the president." explore the roles of politicians, like james madison, alexander hamilton, and edmund
10:46 am
randolph during the 1780's and 1790's. through these relationships, they seek to more clearly understand the first president's leadership style. this hour-long program was hosted by mount vernon. and i arer: jeanne delighted to be here at mount vernon this evening with you all, especially. it is always a treat to come back here. visit the home of george washington, which is a monument to him. and a tribute to the mount vernon ladies association, hoover 162 years have preserved his memory by preserving his home and maintaining the ground on which he walked. it is always a pleasure to be in the company of good people. who are dedicated and diligent. and the good people here at mount vernon combine that admirable trait with gracious hospitality that makes everyone who comes here feel warm and welcome. smoothed theod has
10:47 am
edges, logistical edges, of our journey here. in the book, we acknowledgment thompson, who is one of the historians here on the staff for her invaluable insights and great scholarship. the staff here, whether it is or theowledgeable -- master craftsman or the historians who labor on scene, have turned john kennedy's description of washington, d.c. on its head. mount vernon is the place that has northern efficiency and southern charm. >> [laughter] mr. heidler: that in itself exemplifies the very character of george washington, which was orderly, disciplined, and benevolent. i think you would be most pleased by what goes on here. we actually did do a little work and preparation for our time
10:48 am
here. this evening, we would like for you to consider with us the stress that can befall the best of relationships. our title is from samuel johnson's observation that a gentleman should keep his friendship in constant repair. it seems like good advice, but unfortunately, the circumstances for different reasons and for different people, it was washington -- the friendships between him and three virginians did not follow this course. and so this evening, we will try to see why. mrs. heidler: in our book, "washington's circle," we have attempted -- mr. heidler: this is the shameless plug part. mrs. heidler: i believe it is my turn. >> [laughter] mr. heidler: get it back on the beam. mrs. heidler: [laughter] in the book, we have tried to
10:49 am
understand george washington and his presidency through the eyes of the people closest to him. family, and his associates. and it was natural, as we began working on this book, that virginians would be people that he would want to bring in to his government. the people he was closest to. virginians,hose james madison and edmund randolph, played crucial roles in first convincing washington to participate in the constitutional convention, and then convinced him, or at least helped to convince him, to accept the presidency of this new government. and we found that it was strange and then that washington would gradually grow apart from these men. and in breaking with them altogether, which he ultimately
10:50 am
did, it was at first hard to understand why that would happen. and as a result of him breaking with those people, he wound up with an entirely new set of associates. effect, by then 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 ireaking with alexander -- mean, with george washington, to be viewed it to outside forces. certainly hamilton chief among those. people whose vision was diametrically opposed to the one held by james madison, edmund randolph, and thomas jefferson came to command washington's attention. his dependence and eventually
10:51 am
something akin to affection. in this view, hamilton is an evil genius. ofevil genius, a bundle artifices, and someone who worked his witchcraft over an increasingly befuddled george washington. but as we point out, george washington was not befuddled. in fact, in the 2.5 years remaining to him after his retirement from the presidency, demonstratednner that he was anything but befuddled. as we all know, george 67 and did not die of old age. he came down with an illness that would have killed a much younger man. physiciansafter the got a hold of him. >> [laughter] mr. heidler: how then can we
10:52 am
explain what happened to washington away from these virginians? who should have been with him throughout his presidency. well, in addition to washington, let's meet our cast of characters. 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 for being men that he greatly admired and came to rely on. that important to remember these people were more than just personalities and egos. in fact, they were children of the enlightenment. and in that, they were not just of the idea that you had systemized guides informing policy. they believed in a philosophical belief system that shaped character in its essential sense. character as a
10:53 am
source of all honor and integrity. it is what that generation call the genius of a person. by that they meant something other than highly intellectual gifts. they meant somebody who had the character to -- to -- to embrace integrity as a purpose. truth that, to learn the and formed a sense of proper virtue, which you will see in the language of these men throughout their lives. a virtuous citizen. these were people who carefully considered postulates and combine them with experience to apply the admirable a trade with the enlightened rational thought to make a better world, to improve the world. we were very fortunate, as a country, to have these men in charge of it at its outset to if it all sounds kind of highfalutin, we can take george washington as a practical
10:54 am
example of how this worked. the american revolution was the defining moment in washington's life. more than any other event and experience, it reshaped his political philosophy as a refined his view of what america was and how americans in it behaves. in the book, we know tell everything stems from those eight years in which he was in uniform, fighting for the life of his country. he met people from other parts of the country. he learned how they talked and how they thought. he learned how they farmed and how they build things. and how they could cooperate to a common and prosperous and -- end, or just as easily squabble and impede any sort of purpose to any progress at all. shed overashington those eight years his parochial sense of place is paramount, what might be called localism.
10:55 am
nationalistbecame a for the practical reason that state obstructionism frequently during the revolutionary war nearly destroyed the american military effort. under the constitutional formula that was adopted in 1787 in philadelphia and ratified over the course of the ensuing months, it established a federal government that was supreme and it's fear, not merely the equal of sovereign states. washington accordingly with careful about preserving that sounds of the constitutional experiment. and in that, he was seemingly obsessed 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 towards monarchy. washington stood quite formally in ceremony and went to congress with an
10:56 am
entourage, or when he insisted that governor john hancock come meet him first when he visited massachusetts. he was establishing the executive as a co-equal branch within the government in terms of congress, and the federal government as preeminent in certain of its relations with the state. like washington, james madison was a nationalist for the same reason. 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 -- were determined to do something about it. and that, of course, credit the movement that led to the
10:57 am
constitutional convention. at this stage, madison -- his nationalism was a match for hamilton. and he believed that this new government should even have a , an idea state actions that took shape in what became known as his virginia plan. at philadelphia, at the constitutional convention, he and hamilton, as well as watching 10, all saw this as a move towards not just a stronger government, but a more secure government. again, his nationalism was going to be extremely important. of course, the sum of the small states, as you all know, were going to insist on changes. changes that weekend the original plan put forth by -- we
10:58 am
plan pute original forth by james madison. but his nationalism also hurt him in virginia. after the ratification of the constitution, governor patrick henry, and anti-federalist within the virginia legislature, block to madison's election to the u.s. senate. and he had a very, very close run against james monroe. he won that election to the house seat primarily by promising to support amendments that would protect states and individual rights. begins,e new government washington and madison are very much on the same page. and they are very compatible, personally and politically. and just as their partnership had been extremely important in and then,he writing
10:59 am
of course, the ratification of the constitution, both expected to continue that partnership in the new government. and initially, both were not disappointed. madison was washington's pen, his liaison, and his advisor. a role that many liked -- likened to that of prime minister. mr. heidler: in less than two years, alexander hamilton was grumbling about madison's obstructionism. it was a remarkable reversal. madison began opposing some of the very measures that he had hardly endorsed years earlier, just months earlier, in some cases. measures that were simple facets of hamilton's plan to restore public credit and order. in other words, make the federal government solvent. the consequences of his change, matt since change, profoundly altered -- madison's change,
11:00 am
profoundly altered his relationship with hamilton, and it gradually did the same with his relationship with george washington. what had been a comfortable direction of affairs with madison act thing -- acting as 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 public credit because he had always seen economic solvency as one of the main objects of the constitutional project. madison, however, had growing concerns. was a likelyow saw consequence of diminishing state influence, and that he believed in unhealthy dynamics between the government and special interests were inviting corruption. rather than hamilton the guy wearing washington as the
11:01 am
outside sources were to presume, the president's growing reliance grew fromer hamilton his deeply held convictions that they could not prosper, let alone survive, without diminishing the states'power in some degree. otherwise, the states doomed the new government in the same way they had nearly doomed the revolutionary war effort. given that reality, it was foreordained heather never been in alexander hamilton that this man, alexander -- thomas jefferson, would find themselves eventually at odds with washington over matters of policy. jefferson fundamentally opposed centralized government, centralized authority. as a matter of principle. he believed that such authority was naturally intrusive and ultimately it would become
11:02 am
dystonic. jefferson's our government as powerful by nature. otherwise it was not government. and it had to be constantly restrained and sometimes checked, otherwise it would naturally whose be on its salutary functions, always under the guise of good intentions. commit an then would incremental march towards increasing its power and its control. at the time, it wasn't clear how much of jefferson's thinking about such matters influenced madison's behavior towards the administration, but the more important point is probably to remember that madison was already at odds before -- with alexander hamilton before thomas jefferson came back into the country, let alone the government. jefferson came into the government and was disturbed by what he saw in new york city as
11:03 am
a sort of monarchical centerpiece of tory sentiments and centralized fetishes. washington's nationalist differences were not that far, but they were easily misread. and the limited government ideals that 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 the anglo-french crisis heated up, only exacerbated an already tender situation. mrs. heidler: the affair involving edmund randolph is a bit more complicated. he began his service in the new government as its attorney general, a position that was considered ancillary, certainly not primary and the government, which is to say that it was not
11:04 am
considered to be a cabinet level post even before they use the term "cabinet," and yet, as attorney general, admin randolph was going to provide some extremely important advice to washington, particularly with regard to constitutional interpretation of presidential appointments and senate confirmation of those apartments. for example, and i won't go into a lot of detail here, but the u.s. mint was created. obviously still in session because congress created the institution, but washington cannot determine who he wanted in that position before the senate went out of session. randolph advised washington against a recess appointment.
11:05 am
that could be used as a precedent that would allow future presidents, if they, for instance, 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. after randolphed explain this possibility to him. washington saw this as a very good example of randolph's logical prudence. and many other people who knew him, logical prudence defined admin randolph. now, washington had known the randolph family all of his life.
11:06 am
and even though randolph's toryr had been a staunch during the american revolution, 's uncle had been a staunch patriot. and he himself had briefly staff in washington's 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 -- the drafting of the constitution. however, for all of his talent, randolph could not budget money. he was always in debt. sometimes the alarmingly so. it struck everyone as strange that someone who had such beical prudence would always
11:07 am
needing money. it even struck edmund as somewhat illogical, especially when he entered them were to friends -- inopportune friends for loans. and yet his might have of not damage his reputation for probe into the -- and his reputation as a shrewd, though scrupulously honest, attorney that your clients from all over virginia. in fact, when jefferson left the life, heter public turned over his client list to cousin edmund, who jefferson believed to be the better lawyer. on the other hand, randolph's prudence, which was lacking in financial matters, was honed to in the extraordinary -- to an
11:08 am
extraordinary page in politics. in most men, and excessively deliberate streak can immobilize them. and randolph's case, it was the opposite. oddlyration made him changeable, fluid, in fact. stories about his behavior during the drafting of the constitution would dog kim for days. he was a firm nationalist when the convention met in philadelphia, opened in the spring of 1787. he was chosen by his friend, james madison, to present the virginia plan on the convention floor at the opening point of discussion. yet as the convention progressed, randolph became unhappy with the course of the document, and he, at the end of the convention, refused to sign it. was one of three delegates
11:09 am
who refused to send the constitution. one of the other was a fellow whoinia named george mason, was george washington's neighbor and friend. and randolph's alarm of the constitution was quite similar, and mason was rejoicing and bringing this man into the anti-federalist camp with the hope of blocking ratification in the richmond convention 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. wasrick henry -- dumbfounded. that this man was now going to support the ratification of the document in the spring of 1788
11:10 am
that he had refused to sign in the fall of 1787. mason was so perturbed, and pack, that he was heard to audibly mutter "arnold, poor arnold." now, the comparison of randolph to arnold is a germanic exaggeration. -- dramatic exaggeration. mrs. heidler: admin randolph did not want to join the new administration. partly because he didn't want to move his large family to new york city, which was the temporary capital at that time. his wife had suffered a stillborn birth that had nearly killed her. and again, he had a very large family and he didn't think that he could live off of the meager salary that was allotted to the attorney general in new york
11:11 am
with his large family. plus, he would not be separated from them. he was devoted to his family. only his complete devotion to drugs watching 10 convinced him that he should join the government. but his hesitation to do so bugged washington, just as it would also bug 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 randolph, as i said brother, proved a diligent advisor whose opinions -- as i said earlier, proved a diligence advisor. washington 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.
11:12 am
rather strange thing, and certainly in inconvenient thing for someone who was always -- an inconvenient thing for someone who was always short of money. his work as attorney general was exemplary, and he increasingly 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 regrettably created its own subset of problems. as tensions mounted in the cabinet over disputes regarding different domestic policy, but also increasingly foreign policy, jefferson contents of increasingly besieged in the cabinet, where henry knox usually sided with hamilton --
11:13 am
and since washington usually took the majority opinion, jefferson came increasingly to see randolph's support as essential to his position. and yet randolph tried to remain impartial. a sort of sense of harmony within the cabinet, but also not to turn to sort of reflexive partisanship when making his decision. jefferson came to see randolph's that helity as weakness thought perhaps was a betting treachery -- abating treachery. hamilton and knox simply sought as weakness. hand,gton, on the other appreciated randolph's attitude. randolph inngly saw
11:14 am
much the same way he had earlier seen madison -- with a great dealf action, not to mention that appreciation. jefferson, on the other hand, bitterly railed against letters to in madison, for instance -- and he either let the liberally slip his feelings in a conversation with washington. in this conversation, in which jefferson told washington that he was now finally, after threatening for quite some time, determined to retire, they began discussing jeffersons possible successor. and washington mentioned to jefferson that randolph was the likely person that he was going to turn to. after hearinged that, and then sort of as a seemingly afterthought said, perhaps randolph's financial
11:15 am
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. and beneath thomas jefferson. seedt probably planted a in the mind of george washington that would eventually bear calamitous fruit. mr. heidler: washington chose edmund randolph as jeffersons successor,r, this -- despite these warnings. and he excepted, very reluctantly, but as a sense of duty to his country and 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 sick elated what can be
11:16 am
described only as a remarkable memorandum. in thecolleagues cabinet, he communicated a desire for harmony. urging that all the misunderstandings and suspicions should be put away, and pledging that he would keep open straightforward channels of communication with everybody so as to avoid a repeat of the problems that had so lately plagued the administration. his colleagues barely concealed their contempt for this communication that they gauged as both insincere and tempering. that was the mood and atmosphere of the administration as it entered the highly charged controversies that stemmed from the united states' negotiations with great weight in. wouldarticulars of -- distract us from our main topic
11:17 am
here. suffice to say that washington exclusively consulted at my rental about jay's work. this does not -- exclusively ay'sulted randolph about j work. worked the members -- irked the members of washington's second cabinet. timothy pickering and oliver wolcott were aware of the cabinet practices of the first term, the first covenant, in which washington consulted everyone about everything, whether it was major or minor, outside of their department or wherever he took all opinions and engage them equally as significant. yet washington business seemed to have wanted to talk to these
11:18 am
men about anything at all. he didn't know them very well. oliver wolcott was hamilton's subordinate and hand-picked successor to the treasury department. timothy pickering was just an unpleasant man. washington had been forced to appoint him because he couldn't find anybody to replace henry knox at the war department, a .hankless task and so the pickering appointment was one that was born out of compulsion. washington did not regard these men as close intimates and he really consulted them. in fact, they didn't meet very often. these were two new englander's and arch federalist, which was also strange because of washington's desire to geographically balance the government. were toarch federalists
11:19 am
be the most telling him everything that happened to edmund randolph afterwards. mrs. heidler: in the overwrought atmosphere of discussions surrounding the controversy over jay's treaty, timothy pickering and oliver wolcott determined to prove that mn randolph was a traitor. they did so with high conviction and seemingly damning the evidence that once it was shown to george washington convinced him that, yes, edmund randolph had betrayed his country. -- who he trusted completely, made an arrangement with the british that very well could have damped the american -- dam ned the american cause.
11:20 am
the accusation against edmund randolph was no less serious given the time and circumstance of the united states on the verge of war with great britain, and randolph was accused of having bargained with france for money in exchange for information. the document was a communication from trench -- the french minister to the united states to his government. aside from his possible motivations for writing something unflattering about edmund randolph was whom he was angry over the british negotiations, 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, who despised randolph because he thought he was a poet of thomas -- pawn of thomas
11:21 am
jefferson, who hammond also despised. this document was naturally written in french. pickering and wolcott could not read nor write french. translated hisy dispatch, and because washington also could not read french, he had to rely on their amateurish work. and then there was the toxic connection of money, and the security is -- and the [indiscernible] -- randolph. mr. heidler: the resulting series of events did little credit to anyone. actionsg and walcott's obviously disappointed edmund randolph, but washington's behavior irked him. randolph thought washington had
11:22 am
behaved in ways that were most deceitful and then most vicious. imprudently and irrationally. probably for the first time in his life. he resigned in anger, and then comported himself in a way that could not do anything but washington'seal entity. to appoint, all this is understandable. predictor will, but regrettable -- predictable, but regrettable. we all must admit that this is the last rupture with this last virginia strange, an event that the thighs traditional explanations. washington and randolph were quite close. washington's reaction is puzzling. even bearing in mind the normal
11:23 am
inclination to entertain inactivation precisely because -- a accusationnan he did not like him. it was strange that the wife -- it was strange that washington would behave for the better part of two weeks that nothing was wrong. and 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 wolcott. and it resembled in tone and form an interrogation of a man already thought to begin up to you. certainly not the kind of investigation someone could have
11:24 am
expected whose character and service should have guaranteed a presumption of innocence until compelling proof showed otherwise. again, the break with james madison is understandable from the fact that madison gradually retreated from the nationalism that had first brought him -- he and washington together. and the same is really true with jefferson. the break was over specific policies that emphasized nationalism over limited government, though of course it was certainly helped along by jeffersons viewed with alexander hamilton that accelerated and then ultimately sealed the breach. but this last rupture with this particular man, edmund 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
11:25 am
dispatch within the appropriate context of his conversations with randolph demonstrate that the talk of money was purely innocence. in there was something else this dispatch that was not mitigated by a better translation. and that was a section that discussed several conversations that he had had with randolph about the relationship about edmund randolph and george washington and the relationship between george washington and alexander hamilton cared in these conversations, according to this dispatch, at one point randolph described george washington as alexander hamilton's pawn. conversation, as outlined in this dispatch,
11:26 am
randolph was said to say that he was george washington's master. now, whether these were actually exaggerated instances of idle gossip that he included in this dispatch, or whether or not randolph actually said something like that, with strange credulity to a certain extent, george washington could not have helped but be wounded when he read this section of the dispatch. thise believe that it was part of his dispatch that essentially vanished edmund randolph, not only from the presidency, but george washington's affection. mr. heidler: it would be a small flaw of entity in an otherwise
11:27 am
great man. but no less profoundly important in its consequences. randolph's combing influence sustained the administration even keel as it was beginning to tilt into vaguely reactionary postures against forces that it wrongly perceived as seditious. forces that were coalescing around thomas jefferson and james madison. in the end and for reasons other than policy and philosophy, george washington was isolated from the last virginian who could have made a great difference in the closing months of his presidency. a difference that might have discouraged the excesses of the adams' administration that followed that plunged headlong into reactionary measures highlighted by the sedition act of 1798. mrs. heidler: and so ends our story on a cautionary note that reminds us that great man, after
11:28 am
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. i think this is on. i am just very loud. anyway. that was fantastic. i have the first question. mrs. heidler: ok. >> it is 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
11:29 am
essence creating washington. i really like the way have looked at this particular virginian connection because it is intriguing. there are so many others in his life, virginians that he moved away from at different times, of course. our good friend down the road here being an important one. now, towards the end of his life, there is also the strange sort of coming back into his orbit of henry. i would love to get your sense of that relationship. of course, they are going back to the 1760's. they are patriots together. henry is the governor of virginia during the beginning of the revolution. has great opponent and madison's opponent in the ratification debate. but by the end of the 1790's, all of a sudden henry is going to be running as a federalist
11:30 am
against madison. is this a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend? or what is going on with washington and henry coming back together? mr. heidler: mr. heidler: i think that george washington always respected patrick henry as a man of visible, someone who believes what he said at the moment, and was capable of his evolution in opinions and attitudes. it is interesting because washington seems to have never held opposition to the constitution, or personal criticism of him as a public figure. george clinton, for instance, was a committed anti-federalist, but washington remain quite close to him. patrick henry, the same. he offered henry the war department when knox resigned.
11:31 am
the one person that this is not true about is another virginian, mason.bor, george in the book, we talk about george mason and his relationship with george washington that was always somewhat odd. it was a friendship rot with the disagreements that would not ordinarily infringe on a friendship, things that washington seem to overlook with other people. the only thing we can think that caused this is the fact that george mason was something of a didactic personality that tended to lecture, rather than converse. that was fine with certain people, who liked that. washington did not. masonms to us that george 's behavior towards george
11:32 am
washington was always tinged by that, not condescension, but presumption of superior knowledge and in the light. thought, we think, is what happened in philadelphia. ehere must've been som interview between the two of them in terms of mason's opposition to the constitution that turned nasty, that made washington feel stupid. he could be quite touchy about this. mrs. heidler: we all can. [laughter] mr. heidler: yes. not something unique to washington. he said he was too stupid to understand them, yet perfectly capable of understanding what the administration told him. if this could cause him to lose his temper, i think that is what george mason.
11:33 am
he was written out of his life. he did the same thing to randolph, we think, because of the sections of dispatch number 10. mrs. heidler: as far as henry is concerned, there never really was a break between them. washington always respected him. henry, after the ratification oppose ther tried to government. he did not want to go back. in other words, i lost, so we will move forward. they will take questions. one thing to recall is we are recording this, so please wait for the microphone to get to you so we can get the essence of the question as well. >> according to a book, john j was an ally at the
11:34 am
constitutional convention. i wonder about his ongoing betweennship -- washington and jay? mrs. heidler: they had been very close throughout the revolution. , himself was not at the causes regional commission, even though his part was much smaller than that of hamilton and washington in the so-called federalist papers, and getting in particular new york to ratify. people believe that if new york and virginia did not ratify the constitution, it did not matter how many others is ratified because those were key states. because of his efforts with that, and his efforts essentially as the precursor to secretary of state, running foreign affairs for the
11:35 am
confederation congress, washington had tremendous admiration for jay, and very much wanted to keep him in the government. in fact, he consulted him even once he appointed him as chief justice. washington continued to consult jay. that is one of the reasons he trusted him with the british mission that of course resulted in his treaty. yes, he very much trusted and liked john jay. mr. heidler: i'm not sure that he liked them so much after the treaty. mrs. heidler: that's true. mr. heidler: he wanted to talk to him, but jay would not come to philadelphia. he went to new york, where he had been elected governor, while he was overseas -- and irregularity that was mentioned at the time. both randolph and washington wanted very much to sit down with him, and ask how did this
11:36 am
happen? he did not do it. mrs. heidler: yes, sir. criticism does washington deserve for his cabinet junglehe maybe to an extent, henry knox. they were not top-tier people. how much criticism, when we look back on washington? mr. heidler: i would say that oftenknox was misunderstood and wrongly judged as a dimbulb because he was in the room with hamilton and jefferson.
11:37 am
any of us would find ourselves overshadowed by the company. the problem with the second cabinet is washington was simply having difficulty filling these posts. willcox,tely, pickering, and hamilton remain very close. let them go,adams with the exception of will,. -- wilcox. mrs. heidler: he was quite confident. he had been trained by hamilton. he did not have hamilton's creativity, but he knew what he was doing. frankly, i don't see how we can blame washington for a situation that he really had no control over. they saw they --
11:38 am
example, for instance, of alexander hamilton, who nearly went broke as a result of his service to the government, and had to resign in order to support his family. leading in the country would not go down the same road. it was not just the cabinet. it was all sorts of people that had trouble accepting on the lower-levelther positions. increasingly, people fall the government as the quickest way to go broke. he had trouble finding people. mrs. heidler: how things have changed. thatngton got in the habit he would enclose in the postscript, if you don't want it, send it to this person. [laughter]
11:39 am
>> you think that washington's evolution on slavery played any role? that is a very interesting point. i don't think so. hadink -- even though he determined that he was going to here, he could -- by here i mean mount vernon. we point out that about half of the slaves here did not belong to him. they belonged to the state of martha's first husband. he did not make out the will that actually did bring that about until the summer of 1799, just months before he died. he did, during his presidency,
11:40 am
keep slaves at the executive house, primarily in philadelphia. when one of those slaves ran away, and we have a pretty this -- hetion on made very strong efforts to not only find her, but have her brought back. failed in that. one of the reasons he was trying so hard is because she was one of those slaves that belong to martha's first husband's estate, which means he was going to have to pay for her. he did make a very strong effort. he was still -- i would not say on the fence -- he was certainly against slavery, but don't utilized slavery. there was no evidence and any of
11:41 am
the correspondence that i have seen, and we have read most of it, that shows that was a source of strain between him, and particularly, jefferson. jefferson was the presented cabinet that owned the largest amount of slaves. mr. heidler: those virginians were not part of the conversation at all. there were others who were anti-slavery to the extent that abolitionist-. the problem here is he was going bankrupt over the slavery issue. he could not figure out what to do. this was the way that slavery operated here. he transformed mount vernon heate early into a w producing operation. they were not going to tobacco
11:42 am
minimally. it was very labor intensive. he had to any slaves to grow the cops that he was going. he would not sell them because he would not break up families. times theprobably 3-4 number of slaves to run the place efficiently. farms with the the idea of abolishing slavery on the plantation as a whole. he could not do this when he was president because he knew it .ould be such a political issue >> you sort of talked about what
11:43 am
kind of government we would have, but how is the average man looking at this. how involved were they in this dialog? mr. heidler: i think the average american could go months at a time not thinking about washington, madison, or jefferson. the government was so far , exceptfrom their lives for when they loaded up there guns -- their guns. the government did not have a reach into the households on a daily, monthly, or weekly basis. there was no tax, no direct taxes that would bring people into contact with the federal resident, unless you work importing something, smuggling something, or trying to avoid
11:44 am
the tax on the whiskey. mrs. heidler: i would say that by washington second term, there ,ere efforts, as we mentioned there were forces coalescing around jefferson and madison the date produce those groups that were called the democratic society. those were largely urban areas, where it was easier to communicate, where you had newspapers that told you about what was going on in the national government. people were starting to pay more attention, especially in washington second term, but again, it was largely in the urban areas. mr. heidler: and they did not .ike it wait until the audio aids appear.
11:45 am
>> you mention that washington's thinking is always going back to the revolution. this idea ofg -- federalism, you did not spell it out exactly, but 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'm wondering if you see that as ux of hishe cr thinking about needing a strong federal government? mr. heidler: yes. very much so. there was this plot that was ostensibly formed by his senior officer and official family to overthrow congress, and install washington, or someone like him, as a military dictator. the army had not been paid for quite some time. they tried to impose a tax on the state to raise money to do
11:46 am
this. it would not work. they would not do it. an state had been impediment, not only in that, but in the supply of men and material. governor morris went up from philadelphia to valley forge. wit, whos a sarcastic always had something funny to say about any situation. he arrived in that winter, and got out of his carriage and cried. he had never seen anything like these bleeding in the snow because they did not have shoes. he went back to philadelphia and argued at the continental congress incessantly. washington loved him for it. the most unlikely pairing -- this sort of pirate.
11:47 am
.orris had a peg leg he injured himself in odd ways. a burned his arm, so he had scar. .ashington adored him governor morris, no relation to robert. morris's.rk to branch offed ranhoff? mr. heidler: he worked as an attorney. he never really lived down the implication that he had done something wrong, something very wrong. virginians embraced him. he did right, as david alluded
11:48 am
to, a vindication of himself, in which he attacked george washington, as thomas jefferson privately told anyone who would listen. attack george to washington. that certainly heard him -- hurt him. he was on the defense team for aaron burr during his treason trial because he was such a good attorney. his wife, betsy, who he absolutely adored, predeceased him, and that devastated him. he died -- i was going to say in bad health, but who does not die in bad health? he suffered from a stroke, and never really recovered. mr. heidler: he became a champion of lost an unpopular --
11:49 am
and unpopular causes. witt'snded george murder. the lad who poisoned the family, he defended him. >> lets give them a big round of applause. [applause] >> the c-span networks feature weekends filled with politics, and american history. 's visit continues today as he travels from new york to philadelphia. coverage starts at 4:30, as he speaks at independence hall. then, he's beset the

7 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on