tv The Contenders CSPAN August 2, 2016 4:19pm-5:52pm EDT
johnson, knowing how to work things through the system. he had been in congress for 18 years. he knew how it worked. and so he might have been able to get more done than someone like rutherford hayes, his predecessor, who antagonized everyone in congress. great question. >> yes. i was wondering if grant would be considered a half-breed or a stalwart? and if the reason that conklin wanted grant was because he felt that grant would be probably someone who could be elected because he still would have been well known and well loved as the general of the union army, o are because he thought he was someone who he could, i guess for lack of a better word, control? >> you just answered your question with the last sentence. grant was not well. conklin felt he would have been his guy. grant did not want to run for president. conklin convinced him to.
grant felt if he ran for president it would have been because of conklin and he could have been the de facto president. grant's presidency, he was not a particularly strong president. and particularly when you look at reconstruction during this period, a lot of problems. when you look at corruption during his period, when people look back on corrupt presidencies, they jump out with grant and harding as the ones that lead the list there. an ill grant weakened by bad health and would not have been a strong figure elected. he wanted to block blaine. he just wanted to make sure blaine didn't get. >> could you explain more about how he could be serving --
>> microphone, please. >> -- how he could be serving in the civil war and being elected to congress but he can't be there? did that happen a lot? how did that work? >> the answer is yes, it did. not a lot, but anyone can be elected to congress if you are a -- hey, just look down the block. anyone can be elected to congress as long as they are 25 years of age and a resident of the state they live in or 30 and a resident of the state in the senate. you don't necessarily have to show up. i mean today they count votes and see what your percentage is of voting. but just -- you get elected. doesn't mean you necessarily have to show up. obviously if you don't show up enough, constituents will not re-elect you. but certainly since he was a significant general in the civil war, everyone understood he wasn't physically there.
so i will hang out. some of you are wanting to go and find out what's happening in the hockey game. next week is mckinley. another set of really fascinating stories. on saturday, c-span's issues spotlight looks at police and race relations. we'll show you president obama at the memorial service for police officers killed in dallas. a speech by senator tim scott about his own interactions with the police. and washington, d.c., police chief kathy lanier describing her agency's community policing. here's a review. >> there are good police officers. there are good police officers. there are good people doing a
very difficult job under very difficult circumstances. we have to make very difficult decisions sometimes. and they deserve our support. because it is a tough job. my contention is that the number of officers that will annwillfu abuse your civil rights are limited in number. there are good officers in the country. >> watch issues spotlight on police and race relations saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. now the contenders, our 14-week series on key political figures who ran for president and lost. but who, nevertheless, changed political history. we feature former speaker of the house, james g. blaine of maine who also served as secretary of
state for three american presidents, and was the republican candidate for president in 1884. this 90-minute program was recorded at the blaine house in augusta, maine. each sunday at this time, through labor day weekend, you can watch the contenders here on american history tv, on c-span3. ♪ you're looking at some of
the images from the 1884 presidential election and listening to a campaign song in support of that year's republican nominee, james g. blaine of maine, and his running mate, john logan. tonight our "contenders" series continues. we're live from the blaine house in augusta, maine, and since 1920 the official residence of maine's governor. we are inside the blaine house with maine's sitting governor, paul la page. governor, do you have a sense of the man here? >> first of all, welcome to maine and welcome to the people's house. mr. blaine is here every day. we see his spirit every evening because we always say goodnight to him. >> what is your sense of living -- the house was built many years ago. many people have lived in it over the years but he really is present in a lot of ways. what have you come to learn about the man by living in his midst? >> he not only was a very strong supporter and founder of the
republican party in maine, but a national leader and started maine on its course to where we are now and very, very influential, both in the press, in state government, federal government. the man was a have powerhouse, big-time powerhouse on a national scale. very proud to be honored, to be allowed to stay here and be a steward of the house for the next four years. >> as governors go, you probably have the best commute in america because it is right across the street from the capitol building. >> it's great. if he was here today, i would ask him to put a tunnel under the road. >> and maybe better air conditioning. well, we're really pleased to be here tonight to learn more about james g. blaine. i know for many people, he's really faded into the pages of history. but tonight we're going to learn more about the man who brought the republican party to the state and about your state and that time period. thanks for hosting us. >> well, thank you so much. again, welcome to the state of
maine and to the people's house. >> thank you. we're going to be live for the next hour and a half learning more about james g. blaine's america and about the republican party that he was so influential in bringing to this state. we're going to be moving into the reception room here at the governor's mansion. two guests are waiting for me and they will be my guests throughout the program. while we are getting set up in there, let's show you a clip from a roundtable discussion that c-span hosted talking about james g. blaine and his times. we'll see you in just a minute or so. >> 1884 against cleveland. before that he was running for the republican nomination and ironically, 1876 it was blaine who prevented ulysses grant from coming back -- or rather, 1880. it was blaine who prevented grant from making a comeback and winning a third time.
>> besides being secretary of state for james garfield and for chester arthur. >> and benjamin harrison. he was secretary of state under three presidents. >> what else? was he elected -- >> he was in congress, he was speaker of the house. he was a very effective iron-willed speaker. >> he changed some of the rules in the house. i'm not sure exactly which rules they are. seems to me speakers of the house are always changing can rules somewhat to their advantage. but a smart, capable guy -- but corrupt. >> remember, this was the period after the civil war when congress was much more central, much more potent, than it had been. the reaction against the strong executive set in. so to be speaker of the house, to be a power in congress, in the 1870s, 1880s meant a lot more than perhaps today. >> i was curious, what do you think would have happened had he won? how would he have changed -- >> i think he would have turned out to be -- put it this way. i think he would be regarded as the best president between
lincoln and t.r. because he was assertive. because he had intellectual heft. because he had -- he had a lot of talent. and i think once he had actually -- people are consumed by -- they lust after the presidents. it is a distorting, warping malignancy that they suffer from. if they win and survive the office -- clay and blaine have a great deal in common. they're both very charismatic, polarizing figures who i think in office would have distinguished themselves. >> as promised, we are in the reception room at the blaine house. my two special guests, earl shuttleworth is maine's state historian, also the director of maine's historic preservation commission.
thanks for being here. elizabeth leonard, chair of the history department at maine's colby college and an expert on the civil war era of history. let me have you set the stage for us, about mid 1880s america, 20 years past the civil war. what's the country like at the time we are going into this election and he is a contender? >> i would start by saying we are a long ways past the civil war in many ways. i think that's indicated by the fact that there is going to be a democratic president that is elected that year, and that would have been unthinkable just a short time before that. that's one thing to say. >> why would it have been unthinkable? >> because the republicans were the winners of the war and they had controlled the government for a long time and they had controlled reconstruction. and it feels to many like a
handoff to the south to let the democrats come in to the white house. >> now i'll stay with you for a second because maine is your expertise. but talk to me about north and south america -- countries. northern and southern states and the difference in the economies. >> well, the civil war had of course crushed the economy in the south and so one of the key goals of reconstruction was to get the economy up and running again. that was largely on the way to success certainly by the middle of the 1880s. but it is on -- i would say, very much northern terms how the south is being rebuilt. >> james g. blaine was a powerhouse by 1884. known internationally, as well as nationally. but maine really hadn't been in the union all that long. >> well, maine had originally been part of massachusetts since the colonial times. became a state in 1820. we went into the union as the 23rd state. we were part of the missouri compromise. missouri was slave, maine was free. and by the post-civil war period, maine had initially suffered a bit of a setback during the civil war which sent about 70,000 men to the war. about 10,000 had been lost and our population in that decade of the 1860s actually did not grow.
but by the period of the 1884 election, maine was really getting back on its feet. maine has always had wonderful resource-based industries. so we had ice, we had granite, we had lumber. we also had textiles. we had shoes. blaine was really was very much a part and a beneficiary of this very robust economy at the time. >> he contended against the democrat grover cleveland who won first, and then sequentially later -- nonsequentially later on. the republican party that nominated him, this was his third try for the white house. unfortunately to get even the nomination two times earlier. what was the key to his success in securing the nomination in 1884? >> well, persistence always is part of the story, i suppose, and to continue to try, as he did. he was certainly recognized as a
leading, leading figure in the republican party. there's no question. i mean one of his many nicknames was mr. republican. he was certainly a leading figure, and that would be part of the story. >> he also had some great enemies at the time trying to deny him the nomination. explain the split in the republican party, if you will, please. >> yes. well there were a group of moderates. they were called in 1884 the mudwomps. they were in many cases the intelligence from boston, from new york, from philadelphia. these were folks who believed that blaine was a very corrupt individual. you think, for example, of henry adams who wrote "democracy," and the senator in democracy who was a dark figure is james g. blaine, modeled upon him. so he did have very strong enemies even within his own party. >> ultimately this was a very close election. will you tell me about the results? >> i think he only loses by 30 or 40 electoral votes. is that correct? >> yes. and the actual vote itself, 10 million people vote.
and he loses the election by 25,000 votes nationally. and the key to the loss is the loss of new york state. about 1,000 votes. >> new york state was also the place where rising star, young star, theodore roosevelt was beginning to make his presence known. was he an influence in the outcome of the election? >> he was considered a mudwomp, one of the liberals. indeed that is a trend that begins his career in that direction, at least into the 1890s. >> what's interesting about the 1884 election that has some echoes of today is that it was highly personal. >> highly personal. often in a way we don't think today 19th century politics works. but starting with andrew jackson things get very personal and it is in many ways a fight about blaine as a corrupt poll six, but then perhaps cleveland had a child out of wedlock where it in the country and so on. there's slinging, nasty mud, at each other.
>> there's two phrases are most even high school students study in their history books that are from this campaign. first of all is the phrase "rum, romanism and rebellion. who said it, where did it come from and why was it so important in the campaign? >> that was a minister named birschard. about a week before the election he gave a talk that blaine was party to in which he denounced the democratic party as the party of rum, romanism and rebellion. rum, prohibition. romanism, the roman catholic church. and rebellion, the south. and that phrase was carried quickly by the telegraph and newspapers all over the country. and it is one of the phrases that apparently contributed to blaine's loss. >> isn't the problem that blaine didn't denounce it. >> no. no. >> so people believed that that
was -- many people actually thought he had said it, is what i understand. rather, it is just that he didn't denounce it. >> affected the new york catholic vote in the end? >> very much. absolutely. >> there was an anti-catholic mood in the country in some sectors? >> certainly. even still. there had been since the 184s when the irish first were immigrating in such large numbers. some would say that anti-catholic sentiment went back farther than that. yes, think that persisted, too. the prohibitionists, the temperance movement also running up against that as well. the second phrase is ma, ma, where is pa? >> "gone to the white house, ha, ha, ha." what's that all about? >> that's about this acquisition that cleveland had a child out of wedlock somewhere and in fact that he was not the moral upstanding man that could be set up to challenge the corrupt and devious blaine. >> now he chose a tactic, as i read, which was not to deny. >> and apparently to pay child
support and find the child and pay for its orphan -- pay for the child and the orphanage. >> a lesson perhaps for modern politicians. >> just come out and admit it. >> i have a book here. obviously the media, the newspapers were partisan at the time but this is a book that james g. blaine wrote 20 years in congress which helped set the stage for his campaign, i understand. and this was very well received. >> yes. the first volume he began to write it in 1881 i think shortly after he was secretary of state for the first time. and the first volume was published in 1884. maybe just in time for the campaign. the second volume didn't appear until 1886. however, it was highly popular two-volume best seller. apparently sold tens of thousands of copies. and it was his personal account of his personal experiences in washington from the time of the civil war to the early 1880s. >> he made a lot of money from this.
>> he did indeed. >> was it one of the reasons he was able to buy this house, do you know? >> yes, i think it contributed to that. well, not this house though. the house that we're now in actually goes back much earlier. in 1862, which is a critical year for him, he's speaker of the maine house of representatives, and at the same time he's also running for congress for the first time. and it's in 1862 that he buys this house, for $5,000, and he and his wife, harriet, move in with their family. this house had been built just a few years before in the 1830s by a retired sea captain. and this becomes his great political center for the rest of his life. >> in other words, he hosted many dignitaries here, had lots of meetings here. >> bear in mind that in 1859, blaine becomes the chair of the republican party in maine. and it is a post he holds until he becomes secretary of state in 1881. in that 20 or so year period, this house is election central
for the republican party in maine, as well as the springboard for his national campaigns. >> if people could see the state capitol is right outside our windows here. >> yes. the parking lot is across the street from the state capitol building. >> it was a very strategic decision to acquire this house. >> i heard ulysses grant visited here. >> yes. in fact stayed here a couple of days. >> i want to tell our viewers that we're going to invite you in this a little bit in the conversation here in our "contenders" series. we are looking at 14 men -- they are all men, given the presidential election process in this country -- who were candidates for president in their time, did not succeed in the quest for the white house but still had an outsized influence on american history. james g. blaine, someone who was, as i mentioned at the outset, really known internationally, but has really fallen behind in the history books. we'll spend some time tonight digging into what made him so well-known and really why he
ended up failing in his bid for the white house. our phone lines will be open. we'll take calls in probably about 20 minutes past the hour. we welcome your questions, comments or additions to our discussion of the gilded age in america and the burgeoning republican party and its influence on american life. back in 1876, the first time he ran for the white house. he was nominated at the convention by someone who coined the term the plumed knight. do you know any more about ingersoll and that speech? >> my understanding is it is a defense of blaine against accusations of corruption in connection with the railroad industry.
he wanted to demonstrate he was not corrupt as some people had thought he had become. >> why did it stick? >> he seemed to have been the kind of person who really had great admirers and tremendous enemies and detractors. >> i think also it was a label that stuck because in the cartoons of the day, pro and con, the plume knight was a wonderful image to create. there was a lot of interest in romantic literature, old english literature and he was shown in elizabethan costume or a knight in shining armor. it was a perfect kind of image for him. >> we are looking at one of the political cartoons you brought along. how important were political cartoons in affecting the electorate in that age? >> they were tremendously important. this was a period in which
pictorial publications abounded in america for the first time. they were very widespread, very easily produced. in the case of the political journals, you had the judge, which was pro republican and puck which was pro democratic. in the pages of those magazines, this one we see now comes from the judge. it's a pro blaine cartoon which shows blaine as the sort of learned, elder statesman in his plume knight costume, his elizabethan costume. all around him are letters from states all over the country begging him to become president of the united states. it's definitely a pro campaign cartoon. >> you told us about the mudwomps in colorful factions for parties in 1876 include half breeds and stalwarts. >> right. half breeds referring to those republicans who did not support
ulysses grant. >> what happened at the convention he was not successful getting the nomination? >> essentially, a short time before the mullican letters were revealed, and that created a great scandal for him. the mullican letters involved a questionable deal involving one of the railroads and that clouded the picture for him in 1876. >> the nomination went to? >> james a. garfield and blaine recognized this was happening at the convention. he actually was -- i'm sorry, actually in '76 it went to hayes. >> fut rutherford b. hayes. >> that's right. >> '80 was garfield. rutherford. >> that's right. >> '80 was garfield. >> was the faction still the half breeds and stalwarts still active in the party by then? >> i'm not so sure they had those terms anymore, thinking
along the same lines. there were of course divisions within the party. >> that year james garfield did get the nomination. >> thanks to blaine in many ways. >> can you explain why? >> because blaine, although he very much wanted that nomination himself came after many, many ballots, if i understand that was not going to half. >> i think it was 36. >> he threw his votes to garfield in order to make sure he would get the election. >> then what happened to him after that? >> became secretary of state in 1881. >> now james garfield of course was struck by an assassin's bullet in 1881. i read that james blaine was with him in the train station? >> yes. i know he was nearby and they were walking arm and arm and very good friends. although garfield -- i remember reading something that garfield never quite trusted his friend james blaine. they were good friends and they were together at that point. he was sending him off on the train to head north to give some speeches. >> that's right.
>> we're going to spend a little bit of time before we get to calls learning more about blaine's character, we alluded to the corruption and the like. if he were to walk into this room today, what did he look like and sound like? what were some of the things that you know from your study of the man? >> well, i think he was considered very handsome man, very well dressed, extremely well spoken. beginning in the late 1850s, of course he started out his career here in augusta as a newspaper editor, but got bit by the political bug. by the late 1850s was immersed in the emerging republican party. had lots of experience in the late 1850s and 1860s in stump speaking here in maine. that gave him a lot of practice toward being able to articulate his ideas as he emerged as a national figure. charismatic, magnetism was
another word attached to him. >> i know that -- my understanding is that he had a terrific memory for people's names so he was the kind of politician who could really make you feel that he knew who you were, what your particular concerns were and so on and that made him a powerful figure. >> there's a story told for example when he's in the 1884 campaign, he's on a train and he recognizes a man who he met as a wounded soldier in washington 20 years before. that was the kind of memory he had for faces. >> what a gift for a politician. >> right. >> to be able to memorize names and recall them. so he really was able to capitalize that. >> he was a great politician. >> master. >> not just in that but also in his mastery of political tactics. >> mastery of political tactics and mastery of controlling his
party and leading his party i would say. and there is a sense that when he was in congress during those years that he wrote about, which were critical years for the nation, he did have a way of trying to smooth over some of the terrific differences between the sections and as congress was coming back together to include the south. >> some of the references i read about him though mercurial, hypochondriac, prone to bouts of depression. can you verify? >> he was constantly complaining of ill health all his life. ultimately died at 62 in 1893 in the last few months of his life he was truly ill. >> bright's disease. >> he was relentlessly ambitious. someone said there was nobody who yearned or hungered for the presidency more than james blaine. >> throughout his career though, the charges of corruption from
his days promoting the railroad lobby in congress stuck with him. we have another one of these political cartoon, the tattooed james blaine, which refers to many of the charges against him. would you tell us about that episode and why it was so significant? >> this comes from puck in the election in 1884. it's a tremendously powerful image in that election in that it is recognized as maybe one of the factors that helped defeat blaine, blaine is shown as a roman senator in the roman senate and his toga is being lifted from his body. underneath are tattooed his various political sins. and the senators are looking aghast at his political misdeeds being revealed and in the midst of that crowd, are his running made general logan and young
teddy roosevelt as well. >> the mulligan letters, was a successful defense and does history record whether or not he was, in fact, corrupt? >> i think the mullican letters were the accusation as opposed to being his defense. he tried very hard to make them seem as if they had no value. slamming them down on the desk and daring people to read the letters. once he had stolen them from whoever had them in the first place, went to the hotel, let me see the letters and took them with them and disappeared and never returned them. so he tried to use them as the way to protect himself. i don't think there's any clarity that he was not guilty. i think it's pretty clear that he was somebody called him j. gould's handyman or busboy or something to that effect, that he was so tight with the railroad industry, it was unlikely he was innocent. >> they continued to dog him.
in the 1884 campaign someone published what was believed to be a version of the mullican letters and pamphlet and never resolved that in his career. >> we're going involve some of never quite resolve that had in his career. >> we'll involve some of our viewers into the discussion of james g. blaine, 1880s america. first caller from roger who is watching us in atlanta. roger, you're on the air. >> caller: hi. how are you tonight? >> great, thank you. >> caller: i just finished recent biography of speaker reid, and for two people who were really powerful in the republican party, they seemed really -- you know, from the same place. they seemed really distant. is that true, or was that just a feature of the biography? >> no. i think you're correct. you're mentioning thomas bracket reid who was born in portland in 1839 so he's just a little bit
younger than blaine. went to bowdoin college and spent his entire public life as a congressman. he rose to be speaker like blaine was also speaker from 1869 to '75. reid served in the late 19th century, the late 1880s and into the 1890s. i think that corruption was never a question in relation to reid. reid was i think a very totally honest, forthright individual, person of great integrity. i think in addition to that reid is ascribed as a towering figure in the history of the development of the congress, considered by many to one of the threet or four most influential speaker of the house in the history of the house, primarily because of his -- reid's rules. his reform of the house, the recognition that the majority rule had to -- had to be counted and had to be taken into account. >> next caller is jim watching
us in san francisco. hi, jim. >> caller: hi. i think you're right on the major issues here. i mean, it seems to me the country was going through a major transits from the old money having formalized their ethical values and then the transition in the country with the railroads into big industrial corporations and raising money for corporations and very different sets of values, and so the question is, you know, how could someone that was busy making all the deals and representing wall street maintain any kind of public reputation in this situation? >> certainly i think one answer to that would be that there was a great recognition of his sheer power, and so he -- because he was so powerful and could do so much for the party and for its other goals, people would set --
some people at least could set aside his apparent very close relationship with the railroad and the industry. >> next is a call from sharon watching us in portland, new york. hi, sharon. >> caller: hi. i want to thank c-span for bringing this wonderful series, and my question is this. did mr. blaine make any money before he went into politics, or did he come from a family that had money to begin with? thank you. >> good question. blaine came from a modest background. he was born in pennsylvania. he started out as a teacher, and then his -- he married harriet stanwood from augusta, maine in 1850. there was actually some question about the validity of the marriage and they were remarried again in 1851 and by 1853 they were getting word from her relatives in augusta that there was a business opportunity for him to come basketball, and so
they relocated to augusta in 1854, and from '84 to '58 blaine was the editor of the "kennebec journal" which is still being published today and he was also involved editorially in the "portland advertiser," which was a daily paper and they were seeing today's issue of "the kennebec journal" which is the oldest continuous daily newspaper. >> alive and well and still publishing and a difficult newspaper age. we're in the study in the blaine house and looking at his desk in that time period. the newspapers of the time, he was both a newspaper man and very involved in party politics. >> right. >> that was common? >> that would have been very common. i think it was one. primary ways that politicians got the word out about whatever their policies were. certainly there was no television. people were very interested in -- there was no radio, you know. no internet. newspapers and public speaking were the ways that politicians operated. >> i think we also have to
remember that newspapers were very partisan in those days. >> right. >> and shamelessly so. >> and shamelessly so, and self-admitted and that a particular individual, group of individuals would start a newspaper not only just to report the daily news of their community but also to promote a particular political view or particular political party. >> was his interest in the republican party -- how did the newspaper business and the republican interests intersect? >> well, i think it's very interesting. 1854, the year that he comes to augusta and becomes the editor of "the kennebec journal" is the year in which the national republican party is founded. he's involved in that. other famous mainers are, including israel washburn jr. who became the first civil war governor of maine, and the newspaper is very much aligned with that rise of the party in maine. >> we'll take a telephone call from washington, d.c. marvin watching us there.
>> caller: oh, hi. i find this series very fascinating, and i was wondering how would america be different or how would our country be slightly different, i guess you could say, if mr. blaine had become president and then also in terms of why we don't really care about him in the history books, can you guys elaborate further on that. >> great. thank you for watching. well, how would the country be different if he had been elected? >> i'm not sure the country would be terribly different. i think perhaps mckinley becomes a very pro-business president in what, 1896, and a reap warnings and i think blaine maybe would have brought that earlier, you know, change had he become elected in 1884. what do you think? >> the only thing i would add to that is that some scholars have said that blaine rrsp because of
his personal magnetism would have perhaps been a great sort of figurehead leader for the country. would have projected an image of confidence and power that had really been lacking in recent presidents in that period and that he might have been the most important figure perhaps between lincoln and teddy roosevelt. >> and chicago is up next. dave? you're on the air, dave. dave, are you with us? >> caller: yes, yes, surely am. i just wanted to mention that if i'm correct there was a comment about blaine that thomas nance said that his 20 years in congress was also referred to as 20 years on the make. >> yeah. >> caller: and the second thing -- >> well, there is that. >> caller: had to be a
locomotive engineer and there was some validity in the day. there was a small town in west virginia, a friend of wesley davis who built later the western railroad and then the csx in blaine, west virginia and he endures in the railroad that way and it's one of the things that we get to watch what people say in your favor because did he not lose new york in one of his rounds because he did not repudiate the statement of one reverend birchard. so i guess that's a lesson also. thank you for taking my call. >> thanks for watching. we talked about the rebellion, but 20 years on the make, huh? >> that's a great title. >> well, of course, nast was probably the best civil war and post-war cartoonist. "harper's weekly" was his forum and every week he created a fascinating and challenging
political cartoon and he downright didn't like blaine and excoriated blaine in his cartoons. >> i think there was also another incident in the 1884 campaign where he went out to dinner while he was in new york. >> oh, yes. >> and an incredibly wealthy bunch of millionaires, all the top millionaires in new york despite the fact that new york and the country was in a great depression and struggling greatly and he seemed to be completely blind to the inappropriateness of that. >> well, that was the very day that he also was witness to reverend birchard speech. and in the morning he did the reverend and in the evening he did delmonico's restaurant which was the most fashionable restaurant in new york. >> there you have it. >> that was immediately reported to the press. >> the boodle feast or something. >> before the presidential bid 13 years in the u.s. house of representatives during the period of reconstruction. we're in his study again, and he's got his congressional desk in there, and the period of time
of reconstruction. where was he on the issues regarding reconstruction? >> well, it's interesting. my sense is that he was largely a moderate which would have helped to make him some balm to the nation. y if they say he was quite successful in taking congress in one of its most times in history and moving a lot of feathers, but he was also an early advocate of black suffrage which i find quite interesting that would not have been considered a moderate position, and i think myself, my sense is that that was more opportunistic than anything else, that he was among those who believed that black suffrage was important, not because it was important for blacks but because it was important to give blacks the vote so they would vote republican and vote for him. >> he also had -- we talked about his enemies. he had a very well known enemy with a very publicized fight at that period.
rosco conklin. who is rosco conklin? >> a congressman from new york. >> i can't speak so visibly about him either. i know there was a struggle between the two of them. >> which led to a historic fight on the floor of the house of representatives. congressman from utica. do have a clip from it from the senate historian don ritchie. let's listen. >> at that period the two leading republican politicians were rosco conklin, the u.s. senator from new york and james g. blaine who was a u.s. senator from maine. they were both dynamic. they were both articulate. they were magnetic personalities. you know, just attracted lots of people to them. they could give a speech to the convention and just knock the convention out of its minds. they were so terrific on the stump and in any kind of oratory. they were legislate f-geniuses. they battled out in the congress in the 1870s instead, and they
hated each other with an absolute passion. no two political figures probably hated each other as much as rosco conklin and james g. blaine. partly because they were about the same age, the same ambition. they knew that one or the other of them was going to stand in the way of the other getting to the white house at some point. the rivalry started back when they were in the house of representatives in the 1860s, and -- and rosco conklin was an enormously proud, vain man. very handsome. dressed to the nines, and -- and strutted about in a way that made some of the rest of the members uncomfortable and so it might have sort of kept it out of the way of this man who never had a particularly good word for anyone, but james g. blaine, a young upcoming politician from maine, wasn't afraid to take on anyone, and in the debate at one point in 1866 he launched into
one of the most savage attacks on another member of congress imaginable. today under the rules you really couldn't attack another member that way, but it was full of sarcasm and with illusions to be the curl that rosco conklin had and to the turker gobbler's strut to which he walked around. it was terrific. first off, it made all of conklin's front laugh at him because it was all true and second it gave tremendous ammunition to the editorial cartoonists because from then on they were making conklin no a turkey or into some other figure. >> with senate historian don ritchie and what you're looking at on your screen is here in the blaine house in augusta, maine, and the blaine study. that is actually a chaise lounge from the senate, from the capitol, pre-served in a house that's very much in use.
in listening to the characterization there, i mean, politics we think of as colorful today and turkey gobbler struts and other things that you used to say to one another. why was it reported in the press? how did these stories get passed along to us? >> well, indeed. the press was very lively in those days, as we've already said. >> sit in the galleries of congress. >> oh, very much so. >> and then, of course, the way in which the information was translated to other newspapers around the country was through the telegraph and stories would be written and then they would be telegraphed to other papers, and then copied in some cases from other papers as well. >> politics was entertainment. i think was much about it, not just about the politics but about the entertainment valley and great riding and clever phrasing and before they were a big sports team. >> that's right. >> people followed politics. >> next is helen watching us in cape may, new jersey. helen, you're on. >> caller: hi. this is a wonderful series. thank you so much.
all my students are watching, so they are going to be cast and they hope they are paying attenti attention. >> we have teachers here so glad there's students involved. >> caller: i have a question about the blaine amendment and tried to have an amendment to the constitution and many states adopted the blaine amendments. was there an anti-catholic motivation, or was there some other motivation that went along with this? >> more than 20 states have blaine amendments even though it wasn't successful on the national level. >> even close 40. >> it's 37. >> 37, wow. >> yeah. >> the blaun amendment was an amendment that he propose that had would prevent schools from using federal -- religious institutions from using federal funding if i'm not mistaken. >> and it's still in place today. >> still in place, the separation of church and state conditi
conditi condition. >> we've discussed the separation of church and state so often in this country. >> i'm not sure. >> why do we know about the blaine amendments cnn. >> that's a good question. maybe there's an attempt from not the supreme court side but from individuals that are constantly trying to separate the challenge. >> what motivated him in putting it forward? >> well, i think it was 1875. i think he may well have already had his eye on the 1876 election and may have been opportunistically picking an issue, and i'm not beyond thinking that there's an anti-catholic component to it as well since those were the institutions the could the lick schools that would have been most likely not to pay taxes or use federal funding. >> what was blaine's religion? >> he was a congregationalist? >> did he have a catholic parent? >> yes, his mother. >> but no, he attended the south parish church here in augusta, and in fact they are a beautiful tiffany memorial windows that he
and other members of his family in that church. >> we have a viewer from d.c. calling us next named rahm. you're on the air. >> caller: good evening. susan, hello? >> yes. i can hear you. >> caller: thanks for hosting these series, and i -- i have been watching c-span for many years and all the programs have been so great. i just want to say thank you. >> so my question goes to the chinese exclusion act, and -- and at that time i believe that most new england republicans were against the chinese exclusion act because they tend -- they tend to be more liberal, and they were not on board with that, but blaine started out supporting it with the southern democrats, and i wonder what is, why was he not so liberal in terms of civil rights at that time compared to
the other new england republicans? and i would like to learn about it. thank you. >> well, i think -- i think, again, it's similar to elizabeth's recent answer on another issue and that is that this is a man who always had his eye on the presidency, and in order to win the presidency you needed to do it from a nationwide perspective, and i think he recognized particularly in the west and especially in california that chinese immigration was a major issue and he wanted those votes. >> what i'm taking away from this is this is a man that wanted that presidency desperately, that it was not ideologically driven so much as had his fingers to the political wind. >> i think that that is certainly one way to interpret his political career and when i think about the pro black suffrage policy and think that about the chinese exclusion act policy, i find it hard to bring
those two together. if he was racially progressive, then why would he not be racially progrifs on the other side so that's an indication i think of sort of an opportunistic approach and very ambitious, and whatever will win me the election. >> morristown, new jersey. ed, welcome to the conversation. >> caller: good evening. was blaine so obsessed with the presidency that he considered himself a failure for not having attained it? thank you. >> thank you. >> that's an interesting question. >> yes. i don't think we get that sense. i think what happened, you know, he went through the process three times. 1876, 1880 and 1884. he was also, you know, was kind of dangled in front of him in 1888 and again in 1892 even though he was a very ill man, but i think he felt towards the end of his life that his really great accomplishment was that second term as secretary of
state between 1889 and '92, and there he was able to play out a lot of his ideas, not only on the national scene but on the international scene as well, and so, you know, i don't think he viewed his career as a failure. >> you're watching c-span's contenders series, special series for the fall. we'll take a very short break to tell you more about the series. >> "the contenders" and our look at the life of james g. blaine continues live in a moment. "the contenders" features profiles of key figures who have run for president and lost and changed political history nonetheless. for more information on our sires "the contenders" go to our website at c-span.org. there you'll find a schedule of the series, buying first all the candidates, historians' appraisals and portions of their speeches, when available. that's all at
c-span.org/thecontenders. we now return to maine and our discussion on the life of james g. blaine. >> and you're looking at a live picture of the james g. blaine house in augusta maine, the state capitol and is now the official residence of the maine governor. we're live tonight inside the governor's mansion, guests of the governor and his family and to learn about this house, longtime owner james g. blaine, three-time presidential aspirant three times and won the nomination in 1848, failed to win the presidency and yet made a mark on this country that we're learning more about tonight. our two guests, earle shuttleworth is maine state historian and director of the maine preservation and elaine leonard. we're taking your telephone calls and you're welcome to join in the conversation and getting
great questions. we welcome your involvement in that. tell me about a maine -- a little bit more about maine in this time period. we talked about it earlier on about him coming here as a young man. how difficult would it have been for him to establish himself? how welcoming it was? >> well, i think that he had a very good connection with his wife's family. the stanwoods were a prominent family here in augusta, and actually that connection for him to become the editor of "the kennebec journal" was essentially made by family and friends who wanted his wife back here and also wanted to make that opportunity available to him as well. and he came really at a perfect time in the 1850s, the decade just before the civil war. maine is really at a zenith of prosperity.
there is a recession in the late 1850s but generally speaking maine is really questing in both of its economic and political force at that time. >> last week we were at the home of henry clay. were there connections between james g. blaine and henry clay? >> there were in the sense that he had grown up in a house where clay was absolutely idolized, and it was -- clay was an idol for him as well, and when he was a young man he spent some time in kentucky actually and working as a teacher, and he made the point of seeing clay whenever he could when he was in kentucky. and so he was -- he was a very devout fan of blaine. >> i think this one account at the age of 17 he attended one ofically's major speeches in 1847 and took copious notes on it. >> our next caller in our discussion about james g. blaine from indianapolis. this is edward. hello, edward. >> hi, how are you? >> great, thanks. >> your question? >> caller: what was the role of
blaine as secretary of state under benjamin harrison? >> okay. if you do that briefly because we'll spend a little bit more time later on that, secretary of state. he served under three presidents as secretary of state. is that correct? >> yes, that's correct, garfield, arthur and harrison and harrison was the long period. i mean, garfield was just within less than a year's time, about nine months, but with harrison he was really in a wonderful position because he really had reached the zenith of his career. he was viewed as powerful if not more powerful than the president himself and he had this free reign to be able to develop ideas that he had been working on for years in terms of international relations, and his particular interest during the 1882 to '92 period was central and south america, and he developed, including the idea for the pan-american union and so on. >> that's right. i want to get more involved in
that a little later on. >> let me ask you about in the study here, there's a few memorabilia pieces connected with abraham lincoln. what would his -- obviously with the support of abraham lincoln. did we know him that we know of? >> i didn't know that he knew him personally. he had met him? >> of course he went to congress. he was elected to congress in 1862. >> right. >> and so he would have served in washington from 1863, lincoln, of course, was as knitted on april 14th 1865. there's a very poignant reminder of his connection with lincoln here at the house, and that is that there's a little card, literally seven days before linkson assassinated. blaine went to lincoln to get permission to visit richmond, virginia, which are h just fallen, the capital of the confederacy, and we know from other instances that he would have had opportunities to meet and talk with lincoln.
we also know that he was so -- an admirer of lincoln that when he built the addition to the house in 1872 for the study that he wanted to use the very same wallpaper in his study that lincoln had used in his cabinet room. >> and we're showing that wallpaper to people as you speak on the screen. >> yeah. >> that was the car that you saw, and i believe it's a replica. >> that's right. >> it's a permission slip to travel to richmond. >> exactly. >> which would have been necessary at the time. >> waterville, maine. >> glad to have a maine person involved in the discussion. alexander you're on the air. >> yes. >> i was wondering what kind of other attacks blaine used against cleveland aside from the claim that he had a child born out of wedlock? thanks. >> thank you. >> as far as i know that was his primary, personal attack against him and there would have been political attacks against him as a democrat and a representative of the party that are formented the rebellion and so on. >> how scandalous would it have
been in this time period for someone to have a child out of wedlock? >> oh, i think would have been quite scandalous, yes. >> i would think so, too. >> and -- >> just to answer that question a little more. there were us nuts and bolts issues to the campaign in 1848, and one of the strong issues that the republicans and the democrats differed on in the post-civil war period was the tariff, you know. >> right. >> how much to tax goods coming and going, and the tariff was -- was a major factor. >> and the currency was also going to be a major factor. >> and had been since the civil war and the civil war had proliferated the use of paper currency and the whole issue of greenback currency. >> right. >> was very much in the 1870s and '80s. >> and into the '90s. >> exactly, and then it gives way to the free silver issue. >> houston is up next and our caller's name is james. >> hello, james. >> caller: oh, hello.
>> james, you're on the air. go ahead, please. >> caller: well, he said he mentioned the civil war government -- governor, and the first republican governor was actually my great great grandfather hannibal hamlin, and i wonder what his connections were with blaine, and additionally i think the rift with conklin might have cost blaine new york and might have cost him the presidency, so some of his pulling. lines, the tail came back to haunt him i think. >> thanks for your contribution. hannibal hamlin and the relationship. >> hannibal hamlin was quite a bit older than blaine. he was born in '89 on paris hill in oxford county, and he was a highly skilled lawyer who had served as governor of maine briefly and then became a senator and then in 1860 he's chosen as lincoln's running mate for vice president and serves as
the vice president of the united states from 1861 to off65, and then after the war he goes back into political life again as a senator and he would have been very much a part of blaine's world in the republican party in maine. hannibal hamlin was a powerful, a towering figure in that period and he would have interacted constantly with blaine. >> and he was someone who stood against chinese exclusion. he was a republican against blaine on the issue of chinese exclusion. >> i would like to have -- since we're in a period of time when you hear people bring up the question of maybe it's time for a new party, that the two-party system is failing us and the like. this is a period when we saw the evolution of political parties from the whigs to the republicans. take just a minute or so and explain about the demise. whigs and the rise of the republicans. >> i think the demise of the whigs is very much associated with the person you were talking about in your program last week
with henry clay. when dennehy clay died, that was very -- he was so closely linked to the whig party that the whig party really collapsed but it wasn't just about henry clay. it was also about the slavery issue and the anti-immigrant issue and a number of other issues that led to the development of this sort of political chaos which gave way to the republican party but also the split in the democratic party over the course of the 1850s. >> we would love to introduce you to brooks and our guest, elizabeth leonard has just seen today -- >> my new book. >> fifth book and take a minute and tell bus this character you're writing about today. >> joseph holt was lincoln's judged a janet general, very important figure in lincoln's administration. he was the jeff of militant and the prosecutor of the lincoln assassins and anybody who has seen the film, the conspirator.
anybody who was seen the film "the conspirator" has seen a representation of joseph holt which is more than i could say before the film came out. no one knew who he was and now they know who he is. >> we're in an historic house and it's funny. not the top of the top of the hour, a couple of clocks are ringing and you'll hear them at the top hour here as we get into the second half of our program. le me take another telephone call from michael watching us in tampa. >> caller: i think your show well. i appreciate the historical commentary as well as the interviewer's commentary. my question is can we put forth some personal commentary relative to blaine's experience and time as compared to today's political landscape. >> what do you mean? just give me a little more of what you would like. >> caller: i think blaine represents something that's
pretty dominant in the american populace today but is not being representative and i think blaine was very inspiring to hear about this side actually, and i'm just curious of maybe some personal input from all three of you relative to that landscape of then versus today. >> okay. thanks so much. we'll ask both of our ghosts talk about that. >> i have to say i'm not quite sure what he's looking is for. i guess if you're asking whether i think he's a politician perhaps who would be recognizable today, i guess maybe i would say -- i would think that he might be kind of recognizable in his ability to know the political system, to manipulate the political system and to be a real career politician. he's a certain type. >> could he have competed in today's -- let's do -- could a person with his characteristics been successful in today's political world? with his charges of corruption? >> well -- >> what would be different about
that? >> good question. i think though he hadot o a l personal skills that -- that probably would stand him in good stead today. i mean, clearly to be an effective leader you need to have a charismatic personality. you need to be able to get your message across well, and these are things that he did very successfully and also he really understood the behind-the-scenes working of -- of the political scene really from the 1850s right into the 1890s. >> we talk about the media being so supportive of parties. it was someone who had persistent charges against him, there investigations by the media at the time? >> oh, certainly. >> oh, sure. >> they were looking into it. >> but i think even so today we investigate people's corruption all the time, and they still proceed with their careers. >> phoenix up next.
this is josh. >> caller: yes, hi, good evening. great show. >> good evening. i'm almost particularly like i guess they could comment on mr. -- mr. blaine's foreign policy but as secretary of state what were his opinions were, did he go abroad? i'm specifically interested in south central america. i was born in cuba and during towards the end of the 20th century, you know, the cuban revolution was just starting, and i was wondering if mr. blaine ever went to countries outside of the united states and what his opinions were on colonialism, say like by spain or other countries, and if you did anything about or had any feelings about those types of issues. that's a great show, and i'll hang up and listen. thank you. >> thank you, and your question is so timely because it's time
for us to really spend some time learning about his years as secretary of state. we said earlier he served three presidents and some historians suggest that we look at blaine's legacy. it's really in the area of international affairs. so can you speak to his influence? >> surely. >> and then answer his question about whether or not he left the country. >> sure. maybe i'll take the first one first if that's okay. >> sure. >> i don't believe that he went to central or south america. >> but europe, yeah. >> europe, yes. he traveled several times to europe in the period between the time that he ran for president and the time that he became secretary of state in the mid-1880s. he spent quite a bit of time in europe. some that have time was actually with a very close friend of his andrew carnegie in scotland. in terms of his significance as secretary of state, the development of the policies, as we mentioned before. they were really primarily focused on central and south
america, and this was a really very progressive thing to be doing in american foreign policy. those areas had largely been ignored since the days of the monroe doctrine. he was very concerned that britain was having an unusually strong influence on some. countries, particularly argentina, that many of those countries were fighting among each other and he felt that in order to have a strong and safe america you also needed to have a strong and safe neighbors to the south. >> right. >> before your answer, we have another of the political cartoons. >> yes. >> which is titled "the old scout." it's what about? >> this is a pro-blaine cpaign piece. it's from the judge, and it shows blaine as an old western scout on a horse were an old patterned hat, and -- >> look at all the people of the world looking at him. >> yes. >> exactly. >> this is blaine as secretary of state.
this is from around 1890, and he's actually leading the people of central and south america into a new world. he's giving them leadership, and in many ways this is reflecting his pioneering work in creating what became the pan-american union, the opportunity for people to meet diplomatically in -- in both helms fears. >> where would he have gotten these ideas from? >> well, i think it goes back to the monroe doctrine. i think he was very much trying to revitalize that older image of sort of hemispheric unity and also hemispheric defense, something that i find something. it's this notion that he did feel that the monroe doctrine extended as far west as a had a. >> yes. >> and he had his eyes on hawaii even though he was talking about perhaps hemispheric integrity. he also had an imperialistic strain to him, wouldn't you say? >> certainly the hawaii episode. this was at the very end of his
life and he didn't even lifelong enough to see who he annexed and steps in place by sending his old friend john l. stevens from augusta who was involved with him in "the kennebec journal" way back in the 1860s and sends back a special diplomatic emissary to hawaii to basically forment revolution. >> one. quotes from an historian that i wrote down that blaine envisioned an influential america based on its increasing wealth. >> right. >> so he mentions that he real he american centric views and even doing this as reaching out. >> he would have been very supportive of the notion of consolidating capital and the growth of american wealth and its expansion around the sglorld now the interesting thing. we had a caller much earlier on ask about thomas b. reid, and there was a very strong difference there between blaine and his world view and thomas b. reid who actually resigned from the house after the spanish war bus he was so concerned about
the imperialistic direction that he perceived america going in, and so there were very differing views in america in the late 19th century about the direction. nation as a world power? >> right. >> serving under president benjamin harrison? >> yes. >> how strong a president was he? >> i think he was generally perceived as a fairly weak president and that blaine was actually the shadow president, and this is certainly reflected in a lot of the popular literature and cartoons again. >> i actually read a similar sort of thing about him when he was secretary of state for garfield. >> yes. >> that he was also -- the author was defending garfield as being powerful in that relationship but he was defending it against a long tradition of people saying it was really blaine who was running the show then also as well. >> wisconsin, rapids wisconsin. hi, david, you're on. >> caller: yes. i was wanting to know with him
being progressive republican, did he have any influence or was there any fingerprint on wisconsin's political party that would become progressive during that time period up into, you know, the 1900s, 1910s and 1930s that there's a lot of policies that we still live by, you know. workers comp and workers rights. did he have anything to do with anything or any influence at all with employing anything in wisconsin? >> not that i'm aware. >> >> caller: thank you. >> i think we're talking there about the next generation of politics. we're talking about the teddy roosevelt era, the progressive era from the early 1900s and indeed the reforms that you're talking about that wisconsin is so noted for and reforms that also extended to other states as well are post-1900 usually. >> yes, and i would think he would have been very
pro-capital, workers rights and at delmonico's with the millionaires. he wasn't meeting with the laborers to see how he felt about things. >> bangor, maine, this is bruce. >> caller: yes. hi. could you give us a basketweave history of the how is that you're in, about how the state of maine was able to acquire that from the blaine donation and also mr. blaine's death in washington, d.c. and his subsequent burial like 20 years later back in augusta? >> all right. i'm going ask you not to talk about his death now because we are going to show a little bit of this at the grave site and about the house, please. >> yes. i think i mentioned a little bit earlier the house was built by a retired sea captain from bath, captain james hall in 1833. our statehouse right across the street had just been finished in 1832 so for hall, for blaine this, was a really strategic location for home. the house was acquired by blaine
and his wife in 1862. he died in 1893. she in 1903, and then the house was really inherited by their surviving children. then in the 19 teens the house went to blaine's grandson, walker blaine beal and walker blaine beal was tragically lost in the last month of world war i in 1918 in france, and so the house went back to harriet blaine beal again, and she in turn gave it to the state of maine in 1919 as our governor's mansion. it was restored and remodeled so that it could be used as the home of maine's governors, and governor and mrs. lepage are the 21st family to live here since 1920. >> let me introduce you to another gentleman we would like to bring into the discussion, and let me show you, as we start
out here, a biography that he's written of james g. blaine. his book is "continental liar from the state of maine," a campaign slogan used against james g. blaine, of course, and neil rolde is joining us from inside blaine house, the governor's mansion. mr. rolde, how did you get interested enough in mr. blaine to write a biography about him? >> well, basically i -- i had been involved in this house since 1966. i was assistant to governor curtis so i knew all about the blaine house and then later on another governor, angus king, asked me to be the co-chair of a group called friends of the blaine house, so i was spending a lot of time here, and i noticed, you know, there was a little bit about blaine here, but there really wasn't very much, and there was no up-to-date biography of him. the previous biographies were about 70 years old.
there had been two of them written in the 1930s, earl e30s so i thought it was high time that this fascinating character who came within a whisker of being president of the united states should have another biography, and that's how i got involved. >> now you said fascinating. what are some. other adjectives, descriptive words that you would use to describe james g. blaine? >> i'm sorry, would you repeat that. >> what are some other words that you would use besides fascinating to describe him? >> well, the one that they used a lot was magnetic, and they called him the magnetic man because he had a magnetic personality, and apparently when he would walk into a room, he would just fill that room everybody sort of flocked to him, and so he was sort of a natural in that regard. >> i know you've been listening to our conversation. do you have a favorite james g. blaine story that we haven't told tonight? >> oh, boy. well, i didn'tear everything
that you said. i was going to start by talking about the first time he was secretary of state, and i don't know how much got into his relationship with garfield. >> well, that's all right. tell us a little bit about it. >> all right. garfield was like a protege of his. in fact, he -- he helped him get through a real tough patch down in congress when garfield was accused of corruption, of taking some stock that he shouldn't have taken. he got him out of that. they were just very close friends, but in 1880 when blaine was running for the second time and he kept ulysses grant from getting the nomination, burks again, he didn't have enough force to get the nomination for himself. so he turned it over -- he turned his votes over to
garfield, hand that's how garfield, who was a very dark horse when the convention started happened to end up as the republican nominee. and the sort of quid prowas that the number one job in the cabinet was to be secretary of state so it was sort of understood between them that he would become secretary of state. >> let's take another telephone call. very less than 20 minutes left in our 90 minutes on james g. blaine. hillsboro, ohio. this is chris. hi, chris. >> caller: hi. i'm curious about blaine's relation with thaddeus stevens and charles sumner, both radical republicans before and during and after the civil war. the relation with sumner might be particularly interesting since sumner was chair. senate foreign relations committee. >> thanks so much. is that something you can take us through? >> well, i can take a shot,
particularly thaldus stevens because blaine made a name for himself when he was first elected to congress by taking on the doughty thaddeus stevens who everybody was afraid of and contradicting him. and i don't know exactly what his relationship with sumner was, but blaine was not a radical republican. he wasn't. he was a moderate in that regard. he still wanted to build the republican party in the south and that's why he was so strongly for suffrage for the -- for the -- for the slaves and for that part of reconstruction, but he was not for, you know, tremendous punishment for the south that some of the radicals were. >> our callers are here for our three guests as we talk about the life and times of james g. blaine. unsuccessful nominee for president in the 1884 election
and grover cleveland was the successful candidate, but we believe that he had an outside influence -- outside influence on american history, and we're learning more about that tonight. woodland hills, california. you are on the air. >> caller: yes, hi. >> hello, eric. >> caller: hello, how are you? continuing on about james g. blaine's personality, i was wondering he's certainly a larger than life character. do you see him embodied in any current politician? thank you. >> well, let me ask neil rolde briefly and i'll ask our two guests if they see him embodied in any current politician. >> give me some time to think about it. >> no, i don't think so. he was considered a very congenial person and, of course, he came from away as we say here in maine and he came up here as a young man and immediately was accepted by the people here
because he was so good with people, and so he was sort of a combination of various people that we have now, but i don't see anyone that has his intellectual depth. he was a very bright guy. very well read. just reading about his going to parties and in washington and being described as being surround by all the women there because he was reading them poetry. >> that gets us all the time, right? have either of you thought of some comparisons to today? >> i thought of bill clinton actually although i don't see -- you know, certainly in some ways that kind of great personable style, larger this life, very commanding. my understanding of that bill clinton when he walks into a room he takes center stage without trying. >> and a great orator too. >> and very bright. >> clearly a very intellectual figure.
the other person that i thought of was lyndon johnson in terms of his being a party man and knowing everybody and knowing how to gather people together to do what he wanted. >> and also how to work the system. >> and how to work the system and a little corruption here and there. a little gulf of tonkin. >> we are alive inside the governor's mansion in augusta, maine. we have about 15 more minutes on james g. blaine. falls church, virginia. sean, you're on. >> caller: hello. good evening. i was wondering was there a residence in washington, d.c. on dupont circle, and was there any connection between mr. blaine and the southern railroad? >> we'll take it in here, neil. >> what was that? >> we'll take in this room, neil, residence in washington, d.c. >> yes. in 1818 when blaine became secretary of state, he decided
to build a large gilded age mansion on dupont circle, and that house is still standing today, and it was a house that he only kept for a few years and then, of course, in the post-1884 election he and his wife traveled a lot. it was alternate same time after giving up the washington residence that they built another big gilded age victorian summer cottage here in bar harbor, maine. then when he became secretary of state for the last time he actually acquired secretary of state william seward's house near the white house, near lafayette square, and that's the house he died in in 1893. >> and he had sold the dupont circle at that point. >> yes, that's correct. >> i mean, he -- he was there for a very short time. he had one of his daughters was married there. his wife hated the place. it's absolutely ma'am molt, and it's still standing on massachusetts avenue.
>> 2000 massachusetts avenue. those in washington, d.c. interested in james g. blaine in a would like to see that period of history. 12 minutes left and pittsfield, maine is up next. hi, stanley. >> caller: hi. i would like to know are there any books that either elizabeth or earle may recommend for reading in regards to mr. blaine? >> i would suggest the book you're holding right there, and if you want to know about the time period or about the state in addition to this. some other books you can recommend. >> well, yes. i would agree neil's book is the most recent, the most up to date, the most comprehensive, understanding of blaine. you have to go back to the 1930s to find two biographies of him previous to that. as to state history, neil also is an author to turn to there. he's done a couple of wonderful
overview histories of the state of maine. >> mr. rolde, you're getting a lot of valentines in this room here. >> yeah, i bet. >> keep it up. >> while we're talk about houses, in your book "the continental lie from the state of maine" you describe the scene when james g. blaine learns that he is successful in attaining the republican nomination in 1884, and he goes to the front door of this house to greet his supporters. will you tell us about that time. >> well, actually he was -- when the news first came the people were gathered down on water street which is right down by the kennebec river. around the post office his biggest crony joe manley was the postmaster down there and they are putting up signs, you know, how blaine was doing, how he's doing and finally they put up, you know, that he had gotten the nomination. also, the blaines had a
telephone and they were probably one. first in the nation to have a telephone so the phone rang and his daughter maggie picked it up and learned that he had won, and she ran out into the front lawn where blaine was lying in a hammock, and she told him, you've won, father. you've won, so that was how he learned the news, and then everybody marched up the hill from water street to come up to greet their hero and a huge crowd gathered and then it started to rain and -- and you heard a voice yell out from the crowd we each been waiting 11 years for this rain to come, and so blaine said, you know, they were all getting soaked, but he gave a speech then. and then everybody started
pouring in here from all over the country and they had a train come from california which had the california delegates for the chicago convention all plaflterred with blaine's stuff and people started coming from all over the state of maine and all over the united states, and so -- and then john logan eventually, they called him blackjack logan, and he came and spent a few days here with blaine. >> i want to thing you for adding to our rich knowledge of james g. blaine and one more plug for your book as we say good-bye to you because our program is running out pretty quickly here. "continental liar from the state of maine." it is available whenever you buy books. neil rolde is part of our program as we learn more about this very colorful and very influential man from the 19th century, known not only across the united states but around the world. topsail beach, north carolina. douglas watching us there.
you're on the air. >> caller: yes. i would like to ask historians what blaine's relationship was with joshua chamberlain who was a civil war general and governor of maine after the give war. he was a republican. what was their relationship? >> well, of course, as you mention, chamberlain served four terms right after the civil war, and chamberlain was a very independent individual, and he was not comfortable with blaine's brand of politics. there was i think fairly ample evidence that they did not get along that well. they were not close compatriots in the party and, in fact, chamberlain did not go further in politics after the governorship. he rather became president of bowdoin college and then later on collector of the port of poverty land. >> we had a caller that mentioned the town that was named for james g. blaine off the railroad. we did a little bit of research
and there might be more but we found a number of cities and towns -- counties and towns around the united states named for james g. blaine, mostly in the time period after his death. can you talk a little bit more about honoring people, especially james g. blaine through name the communities that were growing up around the country. >> one of the things that i thought of when i heard that or when i learned about that is that i -- i thought about the fact that several of them are out west, and -- and i thought about his whole push for the western vote in the 1879-1880 hoping to build that through chinese exclusion, and i thought, well, maybe he did win some favors out west because -- i don't know if there's any connection, but it was interesting, this republican figure from maine, well known in the united states and nevertheless out west. clearly there was some support. >> washington state and idaho in particular. san francisco up next. hello, jim. >> caller: hi, thanks. most of blaine's history was during reconstruction. he was a moderate republican,
but can you nuance a little bit to what degree he negotiated or supported the reassertion of power by southern whites? >> well, i -- i'm sure that he would have said that he stood firmly against the reassertion of power by southern whites, but he was a moderate and he was in line with those who believed that the nation should move forward and that the rad californias were reradicals were really holding it back and the rad calls were really in favor of punishing the white southern rebels as best as they could, and thing it would have been in any way good politics for him to have stood up for white southerners, but i don't think he was really strongly going to take the position that they should be punished. >> in that regard, elizabeth, could i ask you what's the incident with his sponsoring the bill that would exclude
citizenship? >> right, right. in 1876 when he was throwing his hat in the ring for the presidency, he sponsored this bill that said that all of the -- the remaining confederates, former confederates who were -- who had not yet been given amnesty should be given amnesty except jefferson davis which was interesting. >> how have the politics of that resounded with the nation? >> well, it's provoked a great fight in congress and people felt -- some people thought it was great because they believed that he should in fact -- this idea that you would still hold jefferson davis accountable was really great and others thought that blaine was doing what they called waving the bloody shirt again and here the nation was moving away from the war and reconciliation seemed to be moving forward and why was he provoking this kind of dispute again? >> we have about five minutes left. independen independence, iowa. this is joe. hi, joe. >> caller: hi. unlike joshua chamberlain,
ely'ses s. grant, william mckinley, blaine had no military record in the civil war but his running mate, general john a. logan, had one and army of the republic, that great republican organization throughout the states and logan gave us memorial day declaration -- decoration day. can you speak to the fact, was that a ticket balancing move in some sense or did it in part cover the fact that blaine had not served? >> well, i think there's no question but that that was a political balance on the ticket. logan was very well known. the veterans vote was a very powerful force in the post-civil war period in america. blaine, because he was very much involved in an emerging political career, when the civil war broke out he was speaker of the house here in maine in our maine house of representatives
and he was about to run for congress. so he did what many men did at the time and he actually bought a substitute. it cost about $300 to have someone else go in your stead. cleveland actually had done the same thing. it was a very interesting situation that prior to the 1884 campaign, you always had someone in office in the presidency, grant, and hayes and garfield, who had been civil war officers but blaine and cleveland were not. >> so whichever one of them had won, it would have been the break in the generation. >> yes. >> we had a viewer who asked about his death so will you now tell us the story of his death? >> yes. as has been mentioned, he was a man who was prone to illness all through his life.