tv Chinese Stereotypes in the Late 19th Century CSPAN May 29, 2016 9:05pm-10:01pm EDT
talk about how trade benefits laredo and the country. and the state director for the texas fair trade coalition and day nafta critic looks at how the deal took jobs from the united states to mexico and however hurts mexico as well. herh these wednesday and state june 1 and two from laredo, texas. join the discussion. andrewer: next, author gyory discusses his book on how chinese stereotypes helped shape in history in the late 19th century. it is about 50 minutes. >> thank you. before i go any further, i want to acknowledge the co-direct
dirt who this come -- the -- the co-direct who is here to give us a stability and memory. thank you for joining us. taxicaby there were issues, subway issues, who knows what we'll have. i am a visiting professor at the university of saskatchewan where it was about 25 degrees warmer when i left than it is in washington, and d.c. this proves, in case you don't know, it is about 300 miles north of the montana order, it on the greatre and plains of canada, spectacularly beautiful place, of course since it is 25 degrees warmer than washington, and d.c., which we
know has always been in the south part of the united states, it just shows there is absolutely no global climate change going on whatsoever, that is just so it is going to be. [laughter] >> it is a delight to be here and a delight to be interviewing people on this symposium. when we had our last conference, chuck and i sat down with jillian berkowitz who is also here from ohio university press because she publishes the books that come out of the series, we sat down and talked about what weshould do next year and thought, well, let's go a little bit off of the chronology because we had been doing civil war in reconstruction into the lead up to the war for about a decade and we needed a break. i said, immigration is always interesting. little did we know how interesting emigration would he in the next 12 months.
to thank all of the current political candidates and no longer running political candidates for making this conference into a handmade even more relevant and important conference than we had thought it would be. participants our told us yesterday, immigration as always an important topic. that is the same. from the beginning of the united states, indeed, from the very first settlement of the colonies until this morning or tomorrow morning, immigration is always on the agenda of america as a number of historians have said in various ways, the history of immigration is the history of the united states and i think that is especially true for today and it is also, of course, toentially important
congressional policy because immigration, since the adoption of the constitution, has been an issue that is an entirely in the federal government. before 1808, some dispute will stop congress has been active. hundreds of immigration statutes passed by congress in various ways although most of them are obscure anden and even hard to find in the statute books. our first speaker today is andrew gyory, he has had an interesting career. phd in american history and will be talking about his book, his work on the chinese exclusion act. but in jew has also been a press -- but andrew has also been a press editor and that is a sign of university presses and
academic presses. calls, you editor get the persons named because they rotate in and out. turn the podium over to our first speaker and let andrew come up and talk about the chinese exclusion act. andrew: hello. i way of introduction, i am not sure people are aware, may 6 is the exact anniversary of the chinese exclusion act act. it was signed by president chester arthur 134 years ago today. did when i was writing my dissertation and book, i made a flaws inhe 10 worst american history.
the slave act, alien act, sedition act, chinese exclusion act is up there in the top 10. people do know, the first law of the united states passed banning any group of people from the united states based on race or ethnicity or theonality and it served as president for every anti-immigration law then passed in the early 1900s and 1920's specifically and it set the precedent for that. what i want to talk about is the cultural issues on chinese immigration. chinese immigration began coming cities largely because of the gold rush in california. most living in the west coast in the late 19th century. immigrants, chinese culture, was all over the press.
you could see chinese images and .agazines, in books, in songs i want to talk today about how and what americans saw of chinese immigrants. late 1800s, in the very few of americans, white americans or anglo americans ever came into contact with chinese emigrants. 95-90 --majority, 95-90 8%, lived in california. if you are east of the rockies, with the exception of very small chinatown's in new york and washington, most americans never encounter chinese people or chinese emigrants so it makes the image they received an -- in populare culture that much more significant, because they had no other information to balance it
against. a chief appeared in a single , -- this wasnovel the forerunner of many to follow. a murmur of discussed went to the crowd. boys, who imported him here? we do not want that breed in this states. of course we do not, get rid of those poison cusses. don't you know you china men are inviting -- in fading the paradise never intended for the details. you have got to bounce. no bouncy, the son of fuchsias -- confucius declared. go where he please.
i will because, it you flats new did soccer. they cried savagely. he sprang forward and seized the avenging -- the on offending chief mercilessly. bring a rope, boys, and we will have a big. it was down in the rough code that a china men was not it for anything else but to hang. gun cattleoming, a driver into the dime novel hero, approach. theo he said as he took in scene. what are you going to do it that there'll china men, old man? hang him. maybe you have something to chip in. maybe i have, they hero declared. what was he doing? nothing. positively nothing. so what are you going to do
about it my young gobbler? i am going to persuade you to drop all notion. he quickly whipped out a pair of revolvers. take your hands off that china men and let him go or i will put semi-colono between your eyes. a murmur of disapproval came fromthe crowd will stop -- the crowd. does it escalate over whether to lynch the chinese immigrant. a pretty mistress approached with a pair of silver mounted revolvers in her hands. by the way, everyone in dime novels carries weapons. approaching with a pair of silver mountain revolvers, the young hero whene says she will
blow the head off whoever shoots . you don't run this here town and ain't got no say in this matter. >> well i do say head and i do mean it. the young stranger is right. you citizens have no more right to lay hands on the celeste deal the solid sam has to rock stagecoach. let the pigtail go, boy, and you will sleep better for not hanging him tonight. these words seem to have an immediate effect for the men mostly restored their weapons to their belts and the chief was permitted to go on his way. exits thee immigrant novel and is never heard from again. in incidental character, he helped introduce a major care there and established conflict between the others. what is remarkable about this scene is not that the chief
speaks in demeaning dialect or as portrayed in stereotyped pigtailed,died and that was par for the course in gilded age popular culture. what is striking is that the chinese immigrant was used as a plot device to separate the good characters, wyoming and knobby nails from the bad characters, black f and his fellow minors. the good care errors defend the minors, the bad ones want to kill them and kick them out of the country. when this dime novel was published in 1880, the united states was on the verge of passing the chinese exclusion act, the first law ever in a dead bird a group of immigrants from race or nationality from entering the united states and begin -- becoming citizens. the rhetoric echoed in the nation's capital in the year of exclusion stands out.
immigrant, declared one congressman in washington, is a love some, revolting when stress of the who sleeps like tax of dogs in kennels. they spread mildew and route through the community remarked at another. these filthy aliens are unfitted by religious superstition and inborn prejudices from assuming any of the duties of american citizenship. senator john jones concluded, we oppose the chinese coming here because our sturdy, area entry route, trunk, and branch, if this be permitted to wend its way around it. this vitriol spewed from both republicans and democrats in the and americans and countered it different and more complicated, even contradict your he image in popular culture.
certain aspects of the chinese ,haracter or could be negative other aspects were consistent and uniform, particularly his visual appearance. flatutive, slender, features. his yellow skin varied from all of two gold to the color of milk. copper colored, pumpkin colored, discolored. more distinctive than skin color or facial features. no cliche appeared more often in physically describing the chinese immigrant. and almond-eyes became an almost invisible phrase. the hairstyle also received attention. immigrant has long black hair, often gaily ornamented with ribbons. like all mint-eyes and skin color, these distinguished
chinese from all other immigrants. where the chinese like good act is, when character jokes will stop because they always make their cues. shut off by hoodlums or in a gunfire, no chinese character ever appears without it. in case of they easy to -- is only terrified, his pigtail stands erect through fright. a book cartoon pictured a misshapen young china men cue ornamented with firecrackers and place of ribbons. john and john china men were ubiquitous terms in the 19th century, pervading popular culture like sambo for a black man or bridget byrne irish woman. for ans shorthand anigrant, suggesting
anonymous, faceless chinese man, each interchangeable with another. what was the john like? above all else, greedy for gold and money and would do any ink for a net goal or quarter. in fact one man said, wherever there is a to make, you can bet your butts the chinese immigrant is on hand to make it. avarice and greed are by no means unusual or negative qualities in chinese culture. the dime novels, what distinguished the chinese or was his single-minded last for money to the exclusion of all else bound by neither conscience nor christ, the chinese would murder, steel, and lie in the
quest for gain. i would not trust one on an oath, these yellow dogs lie in their sleep said one. i do trust my old goat, hambone, said another. these were notorious and gamblers. scene after scene depicted them playing cards and cheating. that is just the way with one of galoot's.nd-eyes he would steal a buzzard's eyes and steal them for toothpicks. new bonus and speed enabled the evade detection. hocus-pocus, silently as a ghost. this theory, supernatural quality makes the reader or suspicious, uncertain, never sure when a chinese character will appear or when is lurking about. as one observes, these chinese thieves would steal the lashes
off a dogs eyes while he sleeps knowhe cover would never he was there. inscrutable, shrewd, cunning. cunning and craftiness, like avarice and need to are portrayed as inborn chinese characteristics. the history of the intercourse of the western nations with the barbarians of the east, a fortuneteller remarks in rocky mountain rod. the east has always beaten the west and wielded to the strong arm of power. the story of the past will be repeated. as portrayedng through one predominant facial expression. the grand. nearly every chinese character
is presented grinning. sometimes he displays basically grin. grin.mes a benevolent some are good-natured, others crafty. characters are introduced as the grinning men go in, the grinning little china men, like the cheshire cat, the grin is almost a fixed feature of the chinese face. the china menns, grins as usual. more than 30 dime novels made sure to note it. the most stage direction for chinese characters in place. authors use the grin to in fanta lies the chinese. he smiled at the table, written in a poem, a smile that was childlike and bland. this phrase entered common usage in the 1870's and frequently was the initial description of any chinese care are.
not only were they described as children, but with faces smooth and soft. wretched parodies of men. the infantilism asian and in emasculation of the chinese contributed to their image is physically truncated, not as ugly glee developed, not quite adult.ot quite such irresponsible, childlike people would deserve neither citizenship nor the vote. but the attack went deeper. not only were they denied it and had, but also humanity. he chinese are frequently compared to animals. they are called piggish, wolfish, you'll-like. most insidious are the connections to insects. insects and rodents. in this illustration from mcgee's illustrated weekly in 1881, the chinese are coming across as insects.
they are in the shape of the united states coming across. [indiscernible] -- the chinese are being portrayed as grasshoppers. to aharacter is compared flea. the others are coming out of their hats like caps on a hill. the most peculiar transmogrified of all, they ate cats, rats, and mice. eatingly pictured rodents or felines, playwrights delighted showing them consuming these creatures or having characters attempt to them with ferc's seed rats. rats --s seed
fricaseed rats. of rad-eater and mouse-eater also pervaded the world of advertisement. i chinese man with mouth open wide, poised to consume a rat forared on a poison label rats. another, for an exterminator. after them.e named the good luck liniment company had a product called the chinese rat destroyer. they devour it eagerly, the boasted, confusing and combining rat-eater and rats. one chinese character was even ." ed "rats in one astonishing cartoon, a chinese immigrant ship
approaches america, the chinese jump off, the boat is rats on the far right. men.arrive in america as they are pictured simultaneously as rodent and human, metamorphoses seemingly at will between. graphic images of the chinese as quasi-human reflect the appetite of politicians in washington, perhaps again, in this room, who no doubt lend support to those seeking to exclude them from american shores and deny them citizenship. the picture presented is far from complete will stop americans received other images that prevented the grinning, and grinning, -- cunning, chinese archetype from becoming all-consuming. mixed in with a negative imagery were humans, nobles, and
admirable chinese characters and such care there's challenged the common stereotype. novelists -- dime novelists revealed a split personality. in description, they feared poorly read and action, chinese individuals appeared positive and strong. enviableessed qualities. they could even emerge as he rose and champions. the negative images and shocking or trails would distort the total picture, the total portrait americans encountered. the few historians who have examined the chinese immigrant a popular culture have overlooked them in the dime novel. claiming they rarely appeared as characters, they remained hidden and the archives for over a century. but a careful reading of dime novels reveals a rich trove of
chinese figures. playing a key role in the nation's unfolding history. sometimes they are genuine saviors. in the 1880 novel, the curse of immigrant isinese the center protagonist, appearing on the front cover brandishing a pistol. the novel opens in colorado where a young white woman is traveling to the rocky mountains to live with relatives. accompanying her is her helper and escort, ah sin. to hold up attempts the carriage, and her escort boils the plot. they continue onward to their new home in the rockies where they settle in with edith's , both of whom the
reader learns are fanatic christian religious nuts. befriends their daughter handed one of the most lurid scenes and all of popular culture, he leads her to a cave and teaches her to pray to an idol. when her father discovers this, he emits a yell of insane fury wifeeizes ah sin with his urging him to kill him. he beats him and the whipping continues until it is interpose as her body between them and orders her uncle to stop. he puts the lash down but remains unsatisfied. days later, he concocts a plot to frame the chinese immigrant of murder. he is arrested and tried and due to the strong prejudice against him, is convicted and sentenced
to death. as the novelist explains, a heathen chinese accused was a heathen chinese in guilt it. jail, --languages and while he languishes in jail, he convinces some friends to rescue them which is easy to do because they believe they are going to lynch him. the next scene finds it is alone in the woods. leaps out,e outlaw seizes her, and threatens to rape her. edith is petrified in the moonlight. at that very moment, coming she knew not whence, little ah sin appeared at her side with a cocked revival leveled at his heart. remembering his words, the outlaw jack jumps back. he had had one taste of little metal, and he had one scare but he believed this one
was business. he runs away. a sobbing edith roeser harms -- .rms around her protector he without fear called all of the hands of the ranch about him, firing off his revolver and as the novel ends, ah sin probably tells everyone healthways, by himself, he had fought off the rocky mountains most notorious outlaw. is an unlikely hero. he possesses many of the common chinese stereotypes. pigtail, demeaning accent, almond-eyed, sickly yellow, forever smiling, with the blandness for which his countrymen are noted. but he is also bold, brave, regularly armed, and handles weapons deftly. despite being quote a heathen chinese who prays to a god of a
wooden image", he had human feelings as keen as any of us. to him his god was as deer and the uncles toas him. contrasted with the rigid fanaticism of the uncle stands whoolerance of ah sin, seem to to have none of this prejudice. edith says, i would put his paganism against their christianity and the day. the novelist clearly wants the audience to commiserate with ah sin. helps tochief, he right wrongs. with the immigrant on the side of justice. amid the background of anti-chinese racism, ah sin
emerges as a hero. a veritable heathen champion. in contrast to the devious, hero, the other is one of the exclusion. the chinese immigrant has redeeming, even enviable qualities. ah sin is not alone. his fellow countrymen play crucial roles in other dime novels. perhaps the most a relic of her phantom." unlike the diminutive ah sin, ch ina is strong, muscular, intimidating. everything is large. great, broad shoulders. blacks in braille. they are in the average of his race by far."
his powerful physique, he carries on his person numerous weapons. of arms. waist, a belt two revolvers, a long-bladed knife. a repeating rifle. he carries another weapon in a manner unique in american literature. hair was worn according to the style of his countrymen, and one long pigtail behind and to the end was tied a revolver which swung to and fro as he moved like a pendulum. china plays a vital role in the novel. from atop a tree he witnesses a holdup will stop three gunmen approach a man and his mother, pioneers from kentucky. the mother is killed instantly, the boy left or debt. thea climbs down and finds boy still breathing. he dresses the wound and applies an ointment and carries the boy
to a nearby cabin and cooks him a hearty meal of venison and rice. under china's steady eye, the way -- the boy recuperates. reappear.bandits chinese shoots two of the outlaws to death and stabs the third one in the heart. hammock ands a rope and his strong arms, carries the boy and search of his family. we certainly have been blessed after all of our sorrows, the novel'sher says at the conclusion and we allow our preservation to our noble chinese friend, who i love as though he were my brother. husk or and more imposing the on than ah sin, china is as the hero's of dime novels.
chineseness is not emphasized. he possesses few of the demeaning qualities normally assigned to his countrymen. he has attributed -- he has assimilated the whiteness. countless stories, the chinese defend themselves. associate with whites and are agents of their own destiny. they carry guns. singng brandishes -- li brandishes iran's. pinhas a massive rolling which he hurls or swings at oncoming of assailants. in that crowd, the author wrote, the china man had his say and no one molested him with his tenpin under his arm.
numerous chinese display skill at hand-two half in hand combat. sing could fight as well as a white man. another new boxing and challenged a white man to combat, raining blows upon his face. silverplated soul, muscles of iron, fighting like a full-blown cyclone. accomplished wrestler, the chinese immigrant turned on another like a tiger and grabbed his throat to crush everything between his fingers. , he is thrown up over a cliff into a rushing river. dime noveles, as heroes always does and seeks revenge. he and another man go at it
again and a long, tough, drawnout fight. ahoe pounds hank brutally. childrent scorn on the of the orient and considered himself capable of whipping their best man with one hand someoneoahu, hank found with his own skill. he stops fighting only when his own bones are broken. you heathen, you will knock the rag right off the american flag and make the british lion roar in the key of g. in the language the american respects, braun and muscle. on their terms in their country with his fist and firearms. the chinese immigrant challenges the white protagonist and participates in the rock 'em
sock 'em western drama. are often treated with respect in the dime novel and become the confidants and companions if not the true equals of whites. reded richard, man from dog, or brand of the crimson attaches himself to dig talbot. on the bottom left, described as the only christian who had ever done him an act of kindness. he is part of the inner circle. together, they gamble, fight, and defend one another from out ciders. the novels cover picture presents him, a little dark, but you can see him in the top right in a confident, determined, even manley pose staring straight
forthrightly ahead. chip, the golden idol of mount rosa, tlp is part eat is part of a similar gang will stop the roaring equinox all thunderstorm of china. the bowling pin wielding batman develops a close relationship with gentle john, who refers to the western immigrant as his western partner. he calls them the square's stephen in nevada. nobody can for him. after the two heroes fight the forces of evil, the novel concludes with them both attending a friends of wedding will stop reappearing in another story, the two are separated in colorado. during the course of their adventures. at the end, gentle john announces he is heading to
nevada to find hisk "darnatin little chinaman, who waits for me." similarly, pistol p declares he will never leave his chinese companion. solidarity air of and companionship. the chinese come across as good, decent individuals capable of forming alliances and friendships with white characters. more significant was the length to which dime novelist went to sympathize with and defend the chinese or let chinese defend themselves. although for bed and in most western states from testifying in court, the chinese appear in various trials in action. in rocky mount mountain rob, a plots to steal from a gang of minor. one says, they have no business
taking the bread out of the mouths of honest white man. they torched the camp, killed the chinese, and killed the chinese leader. because this is too much for decent white men to stand, a posse forms to track down the outlaws. the novel climaxes with their trial. to chinese were asked testify but were reluctant. one finally comes forward "very -- verygly account -- nevertheless, the chinese immigrant testifies and so does another. both presenting income at aiding evidence. outlaws appear increasingly guilty, their attorney rises. i protest against this testimony! it is the right of a white man to be sworn away by a china
man. the readers are with the chinese. the simple, hard-working sons of the flowery land. their testimony stands and the outlaws are convicted. dime novels portrayed the chinese is positive, sympathetic characters. those who dislike them were portrayed as mean, rascally creatures. in apollo bill, the trail is a goodhin chin person who comforts passengers after a robbery on a stagecoach and he is later vilified and threatened with death by modest mike. condemning such bullies who abuse the chinese as woodlands, and story after story the chinese-hating characters are the bad guys. the chinese and those who defend them, the good guys. after ae white heroine
white mob attacks a group of chinese models, she says, this is shameful, can't those file ruffians be driven out and these poor fellows people tech did in their rights. protect did the in their rights. what rights are we talking about here? the right to emigrate to the united states, find work, steak a claim? in the real world of late 19th century america, most chinese people were barred from ever obtaining citizenship. were restricted from testifying against whites in court and widely discriminated against. but in the fictional world of the dime novel, the chinese individual was a human being, a man, and in agent pursuing his own destiny. in examining the image of the chinese in the popular culture it is easy to highlight and make a stock description of how they
were per trade as wretched verities of men. but to fully understand the chinese image it is essential to the e.on these negative stereotypes and analyze the actual role these chinese figures played in storylines and dramas. novels, the characters are legitimate individuals as developed or undeveloped as their white protagonist. fully participating in the breathless, thro-a have a minute genre.that defined the in these cartoonish tales of daring do, they fight, they die. but white male characters, and they defend white women, drink whiskey, defend the law. they make friends, were cards, rely on their wits and muscles to survive. like white characters, they might not be respectable. they might begin players,
conmen, or thieves. but there seldom evil. novelist w j hamilton remarks in 1867, people in the states are apt to form a wrong up in of these men. they trampled on and abused by whites, there in the most part quiet and inoffensive to the last degree. in the vibrant world of the dime novel, the chinese neither threaten or undermine american society. of it. they are part in presenting the chinese, the purveyors of the culture drew unpopular stereotypes. dime novelist invented ief e. sing, ah china, and others. they never asked that our noble
chinese friends beloved but in humanizing and defending them, they did ultimately call for some measure of acceptance. they constantly presented the chinese as victims of problems, not the cause. nor were the chinese themselves problems. chinese were fellow actors in the epic drama of civilization and violence playing itself out on the vast scale of the american west. not, the chinese were good. in analyzing the image of chinese immigrants in popular culture and especially in dime novels in the late 19th century, one finds a rich and varied constellation of care there's, attributes, and features. but one does not find a cause for chinese exclusion and second-class citizenship. for that, we must examine not culture but politics.
[applause] >> what is the procedure? do we take questions? >> you call on them. questions? what -- excuse me i have laryngitis -- what is the primary audience for the dime novels? >> historians love to dispute that. it was mostly a working-class audience. was -- the images that appear in upper-class magazines have similar -- the same stereotypes appear everywhere but the ones that are and middle-class oriented
in children's magazines as well, they usually compare the chinese often, whod it is makes the better servant or the better lower-class is how they are portrayed. in dime novels, that aspect is not included and the most recent account was a historian who wrote and emphasizes this was the working people. the mechanic in the factory in the north. the honest working girl in the city. this was the proletarian literature of the time. it is hard to really know but they were by far the biggest selling pieces of literature of the time. >> can you remind me, i forgot when was the chinese exclusion act and when did it come off?
>> it was passed on may 6, 1882, for 10 years. it was repassed in 1892 for 10 years, again in 19 02, made permanent in 1904 and repealed in 1930 three during world war iii largely because chinese was our ally and when it was read 105 per set a quote of years old it was really not appealed and it was really not till the 1960's that immigration opens up again for china. 1882. were sympathetic class.mong the working so the people who excluded, wanted them excluded, were not working-class or not voters. was there anyone in china who had any voice, any power at all
to respond? andrew: china at this point was an extremely weak country and was on the verge of being dominated by japan. this was when japan's rise over asia was just emerging. china wants united states friendship as a bulwark against lot ofanese and a japanese countries are going into china, not to colonize it per se but to get trade on them. so china is looking for united states friendship to keep this open door policy. so they do not like it but they are sort of forced accepted. of chinese couple ministers to the united states that fight against it but they have virtually no power or authority to change.
>> [indiscernible] andrew: it passed. the house of representatives, it was something like two hundred 50-37. there is a lively debate and several commas men and senators inc. eloquently against it. one senator from massachusetts but forgotten today, one of the most remarkable senators of the late 19 century, leads the fight against it. he is in the senate for the next years, his whole life. every time it comes up for a vote, it has fewer and fewer's defenders and it becomes national policy. the dichotomy a kindercultural which is to the chinese and the politics. can you talk about how that was
so different? you would think the one would influence the other. complicated is a and. many chinese are coming to america in late 1800s and white workers accuse them of working for lower wages. of being imported here. carried in on contracts. american workers and unions protest that the importation of latese workers in the 1800s, they go out of the way to say they are not against chinese emigration, they are against them being brought here on contracts. politicians in this time, it is like an era today in terms of the democratic and republican parties virtually equal in
numbers. are the last 20 years or so, there been exceptions but we have had some of the closest elections in american history thisow we're going to see sure, there are like a half dozen battleground states and whoever wins ohio, florida, and a few others will likely win the election. it was similar then. republicans and democrats were nearly evenly divided and anything that could gain u-boats could change an election. what politicians do is they of fudge overnd the arguments of importation and say, if we keep the chinese out it will be good for the american economy, good for the working man and it will help the united states and even the workers have never really been asking for this except for -- in california east offferent -- but
the rockies workers could care less. but politicians see emigration as a way to demagogue votes. there is no more visceral issue in american history then race and immigration and when you combine the two, and this is the first simon is really done. against the irish in the 1850's, specifically the first time in gains weight, and it works. >> the mark of a great talk is when we have to interrupt the questioning for the next speaker. take you, andrew. andrew: my pleasure. [applause] you're watching american history tv, all weekend every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history.
>> this week on the visit and see, former aides discuss the roles of lyndon b. johnson and richard nixon during the vietnam war era. here is a preview. >> johnson understood. nixon understood. gerald ford understood. that the american people were willing to devote only so much in the way of resources and time to vietnam. the basic problem was it was difficult to make a case that vietnam was intrinsically important to american security. thead some importance, but impotence late and its relation to american credibility. had said itd states was going to defend south vietnam and chooses not to or fails to do that, what are the germans going to think? what are americans other allies going to think? allies more important to the united states. those promises were made by harry truman and by dwight
eisenhower and followed up by john kennedy. he was the inheritor of those promises but because this premises had been eight he did not think he could ignore them. it would've been politically impossible for johnson to say, this is a bad place to american to be involved we have to pull them. >> do you all agree with that? impossibilityical just to say very early on, we're going to pull out and let this remain a local issue essentially? a civil war? >> that is clearly the way president johnson saw it. that is the way most of those who trusted the most in congress and around him in his cabinet felt in the early stages. i should emphasize, however, that as the situation escalated, as the casualties mounted, as hey,houts of "hey,
l.b.j., how many kids digital today? -- kids did you kill today?" could be heard in the white house. and i remember being out with him as protests were shouted very loudly at the limousine. he leaned over and said i just wish they knew that i want peace as much as they do, too. >> watch the entire program sunday at 8:00 and midnight eastern time here on american history tv, only on cspan3. each week, american artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums, and historic sites around the country.