Skip to main content

tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  January 31, 2016 6:00pm-6:31pm EST

6:00 pm
>> this is an average caucus. it's the third but i've been to. they're all different. >> it is good to be back in iowa. >> thank you for the great sendoff. >> if have a respect for iowans are discerning voters -- >> i want to thank the people of iowa -- >> iowa is the first. >> i love you all. >> if i lose iowa i will never do people again. >> each week, "american artifacts" explores the story of the united states by
6:01 pm
investigating certain objects. next, a 1789 president's record of the first u.s. congress written george washington's hand. christie's ind at new york city. >> we have come to a very proud moment. we are selling george washington's personal coffee of the acts of congress. it is showing in the front of the room for those whom have a chance -- home have not had the chance to peek at it. we'll start the bidding at $1,300,000. $1,400,000,4 --
6:02 pm
$1,700,000 $1,800,000 -- $2 million. 2,204,000. >> my name is carol or do and i service -- carol purdue. it has been my great delight to work with our library and board team to think about the acquisition of this monumental book for the mount vernon collection. george washington is very exacting and we see that he takes great care of his books and hasn't beautiful glass fronted -- he has them in you to .ull glass fronted shelves great care of his volumes.
6:03 pm
on important books, he puts a terrific bookplate. it is ordered from england and engraved in london. before 1771. they have the washington coat of arms with his name and his motto embellished on them and he puts them in the inside cover, just like he does here. so this volume was probably pretty special to him because it had his engraved bookplate, his signature on the title page -- what is more distinctive is that washington makes notes in the margin. we'll most never say washington writing in the margin. there are founding fathers known for their scribbles in the founding documents. as they tinker with the documents or put their comments
6:04 pm
on what they think should be the founding and supposed -- george washington does not do that. is he rising above? or is he trying to preserve the pristine pages of these wonderful and expensive volumes. we don't know, but this particular volume gives us extraordinary insight into washington. in several places he carefully brackets his powers and his role as president. we see him in article one of the next to the duties that he is to follow and how he is to follow the and acting of legislation -- the an enacting of legislation. him --cle to, you see article two, you see him
6:05 pm
bracketing president, but also powers. hashows the powers that he to appoint justices to the supreme court, to ratify treaties, to appoint ambassadors. he is understanding those powers that are his and those he must delegate to the other important branches of congress. $3,200,000on now, lots of paddles. -- 300 -- 3,800,000 back to the lady. $4,200,000. >> hello i am the international head of printed book or manuscript for christie and we washingtonday in
6:06 pm
bringing one of the most significant items we have ever handled, the acts of congress that belonged to george washington from his library come a signed by him and annotated by him. here is washington with his own copy of the constitution outlining his role as president and setting the precedent for the future. something like that is so historically significant. things might be valuable, but there will be another copy of a book. this has meaning beyond compare. >> when i was first asked what i thought of this acquisition, it immediately -- i knew that it was a top priority from mount number onehin our category of trying to return original objects, but in my mind it exceeded that because of the
6:07 pm
fact that it is so crucial to the formation of the early years of government as an american experiment and republican democracy. just in term of george washington's wonderful and remarkable legacy. it really is above a top priority for mount vernon to have a magnificent work like this here at george washington's home where it can be appreciated and enjoyed by millions year. >> i am the 20th regent of the mount vernon ladies association. i represented the ladies at the auction in christie's. you could feel the energy in the room and as it neared the actual suddenlyheightened and the room was filled with people members of the press at the very back.
6:08 pm
you knew that it was a momentous occasion. $4,500,000, $4,800,000 back to hall. >> i have never held up a paddle for anything in a seven digit number, but i have attended auctions before. the reason why i attended is we wanted to have a representative in the room and not someone who was an agent or a go-between. we wanted to be there ourselves because we knew that we would represent our best interests. it was only the night before that we made this decision and i got on the plane and went to new york to be in the room the next day. >> at $5 million, 5,500,000 on the left. -- $5,600,000.
6:09 pm
i was able to join the bidding after the first round of fast and furious bidding but that was already at $5 million when i got in. it continued on until there were two bidders in the room. >> $5,800,000. $6 million. >> ladies association did not know that the book was going to auction until after the catalog had already gone to print. in that. of time we worked very hard to find a donor or an angel who would help bring this book home to mount vernon because we are a nonprofit institution and we rely on no government money so we are very dependent on the generosity of individuals and corporations to help us. and when for a donor we realized that that was not going to happen, we decided as a
6:10 pm
muster our resources and to go to the auction to be as competitive as we could .ossibly be >> as an auctioneer, it seems like it takes forever, what might take minutes feels like ours. it is hydrometer when you get into that stratosphere of value -- it is high drama when you get into that stratosphere of value. .> $6,000,500,000 >> it's the connected of the first section of congress which not -- itnded so it's could not have been printed before the legislation was enacted so the fact that it had the text of the constitution at the beginning was the key. i think that washington used it at some point to refresh his
6:11 pm
memory as to his own duties and responsibilities as president. uniformlynot mark everything that he was supposed to do as president, but what is interesting is that in one bracket he does note required and this is very telling because it's washington noting what he absolutely must not forget to do and that addresses what would call today the state of the union address. the reports to congress on the state of the nation. what is so interesting about the book in terms of it is printing is that it is printed here in washington copy was bound by a gentleman by the name of thomas allen who also bound books very beautifully for other distinguished gentlemen in the early republic like john jay, and thomas jefferson. we see that washington and his colleagues are really putting into printed form those concepts
6:12 pm
that they had been struggling with over the constitutional convention where they have been laboring for many hot days trying to figure out exactly the shape of the new nation. they all realized that they were setting precedent to be followed. alls incredible to think of of those thoughts being printed here, bound here in america for circulation for those who not only contributed but for those who became big proponents of how to exact a form of government like one they were envisioning. >> this is the first page of the constitution right at the beginning of the book. you can see the bracketing here is very pale, very light. this particular passage is contained in that bracket. "the president shall be
6:13 pm
commander and chief of the army nd navy." further down, he noted that the president has the power to an -- enact >> to me it struck me almost as though he were looking at manual and this is the roadmap of what were his responsibilities. aware of he was keenly the use of presidential power to further the public good. they also knew that the world was looking at america to see how this new nation would be governed. so to see it in person is chilling. >> $6,500,000. bid, $6,800,000. $7 million.
6:14 pm
constitutionve the at the front of the book, at the back we have the draft bill of rights which had been proposed but not yet ratified by the states. you can tell this is very early. there are 12 amendments here. were enacted and became law. >> it is extraordinary that these two documents were seen together as part of the founding documents of this country. the constitution but its coupling with the bill of rights and how that impacted the freedom and liberty's of an 18th-century american in washington state and how that influenced them today. >> $7 million, the bid is on my
6:15 pm
right. 7,000,002 hundred thousand dollars, $7,500,000. the bid is with the lady. >> my eyes were locked onto the auctioneer, but there was apparently a group on the other side and every time the did went to them, they would lean in and confer with each other and come up with the next bit, which to me seemed like an eternity because i knew where my limit was. the board had given me strong marching orders and i knew where we were going to stop so i was just ready to go to the next bid . $7,500,000. $7,600,000, i will take.
6:16 pm
$7,700,000. >> the most serendipitous thing about preceding the auction is when i arrived that morning at i went into the room and chris cooper took the acts of congress out of the case and we sat there and looked at it and i realized that this was wouldly the only time i see it in such an intimate setting. after that i went upstairs to a room to wait until closer to the sale and paul johnson, who works in the office of the president asked me if i was registered and i said of course. he said do you have your paddle number? i said no i do not. so he disappeared and came back in a few minutes. he handed me the paddle and i looked at it -- i took one glance and said paul, do you realize what this is?
6:17 pm
this is washington's birthday. he said, on my goodness. signk that as a very good that it was going to be a good day. >> we do not know if he ordered the bindings or if it was done for him. ,here are three similar books one is john jay's copy. a similar layout and binding in a private collection. thomas jefferson had a copy. that copy is at the university of indiana so this is one of three, but it's the only one that belongs to washington himself. you can see it's a very fine anding classical style with morocco label. $7,700,000.--
6:18 pm
$7,900,000. >> he had a lot to do with the adoption of the constitution. he served as president of the constitutional convention in 1787 and afterward he exerted himself behind the scenes to make sure it was ratified behind. meeting in its first section which was several months long. enacted at least 90 pieces of legislation. it was this session that created the department of state, the department of treasury and established the judiciary. it were formulating a government based on the constitution. million, a million $100,000 -- $8,100,000.
6:19 pm
a million crosses dollars, were you getting nervous? crosses $8-- when it million, were you getting nervous? >> there was a letter written that sold for $2 million to a frenchman. we knew that the interest in this -- this is a unique and rare book, we knew that that was low. we decided what we thought it might go for, and we decided to go up to that point. we were not surprised. >> why not? $8,400,000, $8,500,000. acts of congress has had a remarkable journey. it is truly inspiring to think
6:20 pm
that it is today in pristine condition and still so beautifully bound, just as it was in the 18th century despite its remarkable journey. george and martha washington did not have any children of their own. at the time of her death, many of the objects of mount vernon were either dispersed to her direct descendents or members of george washington's family. washington's nephew who was also a supreme court justice emptied the contents of the library and many other articles. many of these pieces at mount vernon, later handed down through the family, came up for auction. certainly we know that it was very hard for washington family members to part with the material reminders, but keep in mind that these were troubled times in america, especially
6:21 pm
during the 19th century with the up evil of the civil war -- with the upheaval of the civil war. home -- theygton's were also not able to preserve these remarkable objects themselves. bey thought that they might best cared for in the hands of a greater american public. at that time we see a lot of different objects coming up for sale throughout the 19th century. interestingly this volume the scene is so important that it was purchased by a series of well known american philanthropists and benefactors and collectors. it was purchased by phoebe hearst of california, who vernon'sy became mount first vice regent for the state of california. she was enormously influential here at mount vernon, also as a
6:22 pm
collector in the field. wasson, randolph hearst also a tremendous collector and i think that mrs. hearst passed on her love of collecting as well as her passion for american history to her son william randolph hearst. it's not surprising that he held onto the volume for so many years before it again appeared up for sale in a public realm. at that time, it returned to private ownership by another collector who held on to it for many years. beenve known where it has for some time and we were always hoping it would have the opportunity to return to mount vernon. >> $8,500,000. $8,600,000.
6:23 pm
$8,700,000. she is bidding all by herself. ok. $8,700,000. is there any advance? for $8,700,000. [applause] that goes to mount vernon. 222. you very much paddle erupted in the room and i think there was a sense of joy that this piece of history would not go back to a drawer for 50 years. it was coming home to mount
6:24 pm
vernon where it can be shared with scholars who can see it for themselves and research and write about the legacy of george washington and the founding of this nation. we were delighted to be able to welcome it home after so many years. mclaurin andtuart i'm the vice president at mount vernon for the national library of george washington. the x of congress was an extraordinary toll. of congress was an extraordinary pull. it george washington's owners manual of the presidency. occasionally in life, there are opportunities you cannot miss. as we are planning to build this extraordinary new library, we want to have the best resources available.
6:25 pm
fall, the public will have an opportunity to see this book in our museum at mount vernon. it's a wonderful display that will show the story of the book but also where you can see this wonderful margin writing were george washington indicated where he saw the role of responsibility to the president. the book would later be the cornerstone of our special collection in this library. we will have primary books that belonged to george washington in his library, papers, letters, manuscripts that he did as a young boy. also in this extraordinary new facility, we would have an education program where we would continue to reach out to teachers across america to engage them in training to teach young people about the life, leadership, legacy of general washington. library heref this
6:26 pm
at mount vernon, george washington's home, where scholars from around the road can come for serious time and focused study in the context of mount vernon. the mount vernon ladies association has given leadership to this extraordinary state for a century and a half. during this time, they have been extraordinary stewards of this place as a destination for students, families, visitors or an event, but the library is the next evolution of that great vision of theirs. this will be a place where scholars can come for weeks or months and submersed themselves in these wonderful resources that we have and do so right here in the shadow of mount vernon or george washington's home. >> it is a presidential library and george washington wrote to a friend two years before he died, he said i have not houses to build except one to house my manuscripts, papers and books
6:27 pm
which are of a luminous and may be of interest. after 200 years we are building homelibrary and bringing the acts of congress where it belongs. the beautiese of of having the book at mount vernon is not only do you understand the book as a physical object, what you understand it was in context. there is no better way to understand mount vernon -- george washington then to an -- then to come to mount vernon. americastand not only during george washington's lifetime but also his private residence which is his window into the world. you understand how each item listed in the x of congress whether it is presidential duties the duties of the state or congress, the duties of the justice system, how all of those relate to issues that were very important and very close to washington and certainly
6:28 pm
influenced the development of his farm and estate. to lookmore powerful is at that volume in the context of those others that george washington read, used and his notes. to understand how he and others were really struggling with what should be the founding and governing principles of our nation in those early years. i think the scholar who comes to mount vernon to try to understand the volume will be fortunate enough to receive a insightader window of into washington through everything that is here at mount vernon. >> in recent years we have been asked about the prices being realized for george washington objects. record is that a new set, it does not surprise me. it's more americans and more people around the world understanding what we already know.
6:29 pm
george washington is a remarkable figure that provides us with not only a tangible reminder of all of the hard-won battles of the american revolution, and the attempt to set up our unique form of government here in the united states but he also touches us in a way that is truly inspirational. although sometimes we at mount vernon are always chagrined to see a new price realized, we realize we will have to build up bigger war chests to the future, it is a terrific validation of what we already know. george washington is truly our founding father. this program was recorded in 2012. the national library for the study of george washington opened september 27, 2013. you can view the opening ceremony and all other american
6:30 pm
history tv programs on our >> during campaign 2016, c-span takes you on the road to the white house. as we follow the candidates on c-span, c-span radio, and ♪ in july, 1962, martin luther king, jr. was the first african-american to speak at the national press club in washington. recently, members of the club located 53-year-old recordings of the speech and organized a panel of civil rights leaders and journalists to discuss its importance. this event includes portions of king's remarks. it is about 90 minutes. here is little background on the speech. dr. king was the first african-american to ever


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on