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tv   The Contenders  CSPAN  August 2, 2016 8:00pm-9:32pm EDT

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not because he was grant, but he wanted to block blaine. he just wanted to make sure blaine didn't get it. yes, ma'am? >> 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. [ laughter ] anyone can be elected to congress as long as they are 25 years of age and a resident of the state they live in 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.
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but certainly since he was a significant general in the civil war, everyone understood he wasn't physically there. [ applause ] 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 shot and killed in dallas. >> when the bullets started flying, the men and women of the dallas police, they did not flinch and they did not react recklessly.
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>> and south carolina republican senator tim scott giving a speech on the senate floor about his own interactions with police. >> but the vast majority of the time i was pulled over for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or some other reason just as trivial. >> our program also includes one family's story about an encounter with police in washington, d.c., followed by a badge the city's police chief, cathy lanier. >> most people get defensive if they feel like you're being offensive. so being very respectful encounters and requests, if it's not a crisis, if it's not a dangerous situation, requests versus demands, those things change the dynamics a little bit. >> watch our issues spotlight on police and race relations saturday at 8:00 eastern on c-span and book tv on c-span2.
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48 hours of nonfiction books and authors every weekend. here are some featured programs this weekend. saturday at 10:00 p.m. eastern, on after words, "wall street journal" political columnist kimberly strassel argues the left is utilizing tactics to userp the political process, in her book "the intimidation game, how the left is silencing free speech." she is joined by the contributor to the daily news foundation. >> government abuse is largely one-sided. and i think there is a couple of reasons for that. look, when i started this, i care about free speech and the first amendment. i'm a bit of a libertarian when it comes to this. i have no allegiance to one party or the other. and i went into this, i had written a lot about the abuses on the left for my column in "the wall street journal." but i assumed going in that i was going to find a whole bunch of stuff on the right too. >> i didn't. >> on sunday, "in depth" live with author and legal analyst
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jeffrey toobin will take your calls and texts from noon eastern. he'll be discussing "american heiress: the wild saga of the kidnapping, crimes of patty hearst." he is also the author of "the oath", and "the nine" inside the secret world of the supreme court. and too close to call. a vast conspiracy, the real story of the sex scandal that nearly brought down a president, the run of his life, the people v o.j. simpson. and opening arguments, a young lawyer's first case, united states v oliver north. joining the conversation with your phone calls and tweets, beginning at noon eastern on c-span2. then at 7:00 eastern, dinesh d'souza looks at the impact a hillary clinton presidency would have on america. go to for the complete weekend schedule.
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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. ♪ ♪ from the length and the
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breadth of columbia's land ♪ ♪ from north and from south and from east and from west, from the lakes and the oceans and sand ♪ ♪ resounding on high in a rallying cry, for victory ♪ 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, home of james blaine, and since 1920, the official residence of maine's governor. we are inside the blaine house with maine's sitting governor, paul lepage. paul, this shouse filled with memorabilia. governor, do you have a sense of the man here? >> first of all, welcome to maine and welcome to the people's house.
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>> thank you. >> mr. blaine is here every day, and we see his spirit every evening because we always say good night 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 very powerhouse, big-time powerhouse on the 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. >> well, as governors go, you probably have the best commute in america because it's right across the street from the capitol building. >> it's great.
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if he was here today, i would ask him to put a tunnel under the road. >> and maybe better air conditioning as well. 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, i'm going to show you a clip from a round table discussion that c-span hosted. richard norton smith talks 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
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the republican nomination and ironically, 1876 it was blaine who prevented ulysses grant from coming back -- or rather, 1880. it was blaine who prevented ulysses grant from making a comeback and winning a third team. >> 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. >> and remember, this was the period after the civil war when congress was more central, much more potent than it had been. the reaction against the strong executive set in. so to be speaker of the house,
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to be a power in congress, in the 1870s, 1880s meant a lot more than perhaps two today. >> mr. cannon, do you have anything to say about mr. blaine? >> well, i'm 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. and if they survive it and they win the office -- i think blaine is somewhat like clay. clay and blaine have a great deal in common. they're both very charismatic, polarizing figures who i think
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in office would have distinguished themselves. >> and as promised, we are in the reception room at the blaine house. let me introduce you to my two special guests who will with us for this program. earle shettleworth is maine's state historian and is 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 was the country like at this 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
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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
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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.
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unsuccessful to getting 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 mugpomps. they were in many cases the intel gensia 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
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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? >> well, he was considered a mugwump, 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.
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in a way we often today don't think 19th century politics were. but they were very personal. starting with andrew jackson, i'd say things get very personal. and it's in many ways a fight about blaine as a corrupt politician, but then perhaps cleveland had a child out of wedlock somewhere in the country and so on. and they're slinging nasty mud at each other. >> there are two phrases that most high school students study in their textbooks 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.
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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. >> the other -- was there an anti-catholic mood in the country in some sectors? >> oh, certainly, even still. there had been since the 1840s when the irish first were emigrating 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, and you alluded to this on grover cleveland's side is mama, where is my pa? the rejoinder to that is gone to
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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. >> so a lesson perhaps for modern politicians. >> just come out and admit it. >> i also 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
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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.
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>> in other words, he hosted many dignitaries here, had lots of meetings here. >> well, what you have to bear in mind is 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 in the location here. >> i heard ulysses grant visited here. >> he did indeed, yes. stayed here. >> 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
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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 history of the gilded age in america and the burgeoning republican party and its influence on american life. i mentioned we are going to be talking about some is of his other campaigns. i wanted to start with -- go back to 1876, which is the first time he ran for the white house.
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he was nominated at that time at the convention by someone who coined a term, the plumed knight, a gentleman by the name of robert ingersoll. do you know anything more about ingersoll and the speech and why the phrase stuck? >> my understanding of that speech is that it was a defense of blaine against accusations of corruption in connection with the railroad industry, and that that was how ingersoll wanted to introduce him to demonstrate that not everyone believed he was as corrupt as some people had come to think that he was. >> why did the phrase stick? did it speak to something about james g. blaine? >> i suspect it spoke -- it seems to have been the kind of person who really had great admirers and tremendous enemies and detractors. and i think his admirers thought he was a great hero. >> and i think also it was kind of a label that stuck because in the cartoons of the day, both pro and con, the plumed knight was a wonderful image to create. i mean, there was a lot of interest still in romantic literature, in old english literature, and he was often
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shown in either elizabethan costume or in a knight in shining armor. it was a perfect kind of image for him. >> and we are looking at one of the political cartoons you've brought along. how important were political cartoons in affecting the electorate in that age? >> they were tremendously important. this is a period in which pictorial publications abounded in america for the first time. they were very widespread, very easily produced. and in the case of the political journals, you had the judge, which was pro republican and pock which was pro democratic. and in the pages of that magazine, this one that we're seeing now comes from the judge. a pro-blaine cartoon, which shows blaine as the sort of learned elder statesman in his plumed knight costume, his elizabethan costume. and all around him are letters from states all over the country begging him to become president of the united states. so it's definitely a pro
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campaign cartoon. >> now, you told us about the mugwumps in 1884. colorful names for the factions back in 1876 include the half-breeds and the stalwarts. >> right. >> yes. >> the half breeds referring to those republicans who did not support ulysses grant and the stalwarts referring to those who did, if i'm not mistaken. >> exactly. >> and which faction was james j. blaine a part of? >> the half breeds. >> and what happened at the convention that he was not successful in getting the nomination? >> well, essentially, a short time before, the mulligan letters revealed. and that created a big scandal for him. the mullican letters involved a very questionable stock deal involving one of the railroads, and that clouded the picture for him in 1876. >> the nomination went to? >> james a. garfield. blaine recognized this was happening at the convention.
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he actually was -- i'm sorry. actually in '76 it went to hayes. >> rutherford b. hayes. >> that's right. >> '80 was garfield. >> he ran again in 1880. were the factions that we talked about, the half breeds and stalwarts still very active in the party by then? >> i'm not so sure they had those terms anymore, that they were thinking along the same lines. there were still, of course, divisions within the party. >> that year james garfield did get the nomination thanks to blaine in many ways. >> yes. >> and can you explain why. >> blaine, although he very much wanted the nomination himself came after many, many ballots if i do understand that that was not going to happen -- >> i think the 36th ballot. >> something like that. he threw his votes to garfield in order to make sure he would get the election. >> and 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 g. blaine was
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actually with him in the train station. >> right. >> he was. >> do you know the story? >> i know that he was nearby and they were walking arm and arm. they were very good friends, although garfield had -- i remember reading something that garfield never quite trusted his friend james blaine. but they were very good friends and he was sending him off on the train to head north, i believe, to give some speeches. >> that's right, yeah. >> we're going spend a little more time to get to alluding to suggestions about corruption and the like. but before we get to that, if he were to walk into the room today, what did he look like? what did he sound like? what were some things 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, started out as a newspaper editor. got bit by the political bug. by the late 1850s, was very much
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immersed in the emerging republican party, and lots of experience in the late 1850s and late 1860s, and stump speaking here in maine and that really 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. >> right. i know that -- my understanding is he had a terrific memory for people's names. so he was the kind of politician that could really make you feel that he knew who you were, what your particular concerns were and so on. and that made him a very powerful figure. >> there is a story told, for example, when he is in the 1884 campaign, he's on a train, and he recognizes a man who he had met as a wounded soldier in a military hospital in washington 20 years before. so that was the kind of memory he had for faces.
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>> what a gift for a politician, >> right. >> to be able to memorize names and recall them. he really was able to capitalize that in his chosen career. >> he was a great politician. >> yes, a master. >> not just in that, but mastery of political tactics. >> mastery of political tactics, >> 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, mercurial, hypochondriac, prone to depression. bouts of depression. can you verify those sorts of things too? >> absolutely. >> he was constantly complaining of ill health, all through his life, and, of course, ultimately died at -- at 62 in 1893 and the last few months of his life, he was truly ill.
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>> had braves disease. >> he was also relentlessly ambitious, and i read somewhere that there was no one who yearned or hungered for the presidency more than james blaine. >> throughout his career, charges of corruption from days promoting the railroad lobbied in congress stuck with him. we have another one of these political cartoons, the tattooed james g. blaine, which refers to on the tattooed man, many of the charges against him. will you tell us more about that episode, why it was so significant? >> yes. this comes from puck. this is from the election in 1884. it's actually a tremendously powerful image in that election in that it is recognized as maybe one of the factors that helped defeat blaine. essentially, blaine is shown -- as a roman senator in the roman senate, and his toga is being lifted from his body, and
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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 mate, john logan, general logan, and also a young teddy roosevelt as well. >> now, the mulligan letters were his defense. was it a successful defense and does history really record whether or not, in fact, he was corrupt? >> well, think i actually the mulligan letters, the accusation, as opposed to being his defense, and he tried very hard to make them seem as if they had no value. i read something about him 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. >> these correct. >> he went to the hotel and said let me see the letters, and he took the letters and disappeared with them, never returned with them. he tried to use them as a way to protect himself.
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i don't think there is any clarity that he was not guilty. it's pretty clear he was -- somebody called him jay gould's handyman or jay gould's busboy or something to that effect. that he was so tight with the railroad industry. that it was unlikely he was innocent. >> and they continued to dog him. in the 1884 campaign, someone published what was believed to be a version of the mulligan letters in a pamphlet, and he never quite resolved that in his career. >> we'll involve some of our viewers in our discussion of james g. blaine, 1880s america. first call from roger, watching us in atlanta. roger, you're on the air. >> caller: hi, how are you tonight? >> great. thank you. >> caller: i finished reading the recent biography of speaker reid. and for two people who were really powerful in the republican party, they seemed really distant, you know, from
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the same place. they seemed really distant. is that true or was that just a feature of the biography? >> no, i think are you correct. you are mentioning thomas brackett reed who was born in portland in 1839 so, he is just a little younger than blaine. went to boden college and spent his entire public life as a congressman. he rose to be speaker, like blaine was also speaker from 1869 to '75. reed served in the 1890s. i think corruption was never a question in relation to reed. reed was i think a very totally honest forthright individual, person of great integrity, and i think in addition to that, reed is ascribed as a towering figure in the history of the
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development of the congress, considered by many to be one of the three or four most influential speakers of the house in the history of the house. primarily because of reed's rules, his reform of the house, the recognition that the majority rule 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 transition from the old money having formalized their ethical values and then they would transition 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 of the deals and representing wall street
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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 could set aside -- some people at least could set aside his apparent -- very close relationship with the railroads and the industry. >> next is the call from sharon, watching us in portland, new york. hi, sharon. >> caller: hi. i want to thank c-span for bringing this wonderful series. 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 -- a modest background, he was born in pennsylvania, he started out as a teacher and then he married harriet stanwood from augusta,
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maine, in 1850, there was actually some question about the validity of the marriage so they were remarried again in 1851. by 1853, they were getting word from her relatives in augusta that there was a business opportunity for him to come back and so they relocated to augusta in 1854. and from '54 to '58 blaine was the editor of the kennebec journal, which is still being published today, and he also was involved editorially in the portland advertiser, which was a daily paper. there we are seeing today's issue of the kennebec journal. which is maine's oldest, continuous daily newspaper. >> alive and well and still publishing in a difficult newspaper age. we're in a study of the blaine house and looking at his desk from that time period. the newspapers of the time, he was both a newspaper man and involved in party politics.
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>> right. >> that was common? >> that would have been very common. it was one of the primary ways that politicians got the word out about whatever their policies were. certainly there was no television. people were very interested in -- no radio. no internet. newspapers and public speaking were the ways politicians operated. >> i think we also have to remember that newspapers were very partisan in those days. >> right. and shamelessly so. >> and shamelessly so. self-admitted. and 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. >> so was his interest in the republican party -- how did the newspaper business and the republican interest intersect? >> well, i think it's very interesting. 1854, the year 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.
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including israel washburn jr. who becomes the first civil war governor of maine. the newspaper is very much alive aligned with that rise of the party in maine. >> i'm going take a telephone call from washington, d.c. marvin watching us there. >> caller: hi. i find it seriously very fascinating. i'm wondering, how would america be different or how would our country be different 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 that perhaps mckinley becomes very pro-business president in 1896.
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and a republican. and i think that if -- 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 i think that some scholars have said that blaine, because of his personal magnetism, would have perhaps been a great sort of figurehead leader for the country, would have projected a kind of image of confidence and of power that was -- 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 are on the air, dave. dave, are you with us? >> caller: yes, surely am. i just wanted to mention that if i'm correct, there was a comment
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about blaine that thomas nance said that his book "20 years in congress" was also referred to as "20 years on the make." [ laughter ] >> well, there is that. >> caller: the second thing had to be a locomotive engineer. the railroad connection was validity in the day. there's a small town in west virginia because his friend, henry davis, who -- central pittsburgh, later the western maryland and currently the csx. name blaine, west virginia. so he endures on the railroad in that way. and if i also remember correctly we get to launch what people say in your favor, because if he did not lose new york in one of those rounds because he did not repeat the statement of one reverend birchard, the people did not support a party of democrats, romans and rebellion. >> right. >> caller: thank you for taking
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my call. >> thanks for watching. we talked about the rum, romans and rebellion. 20 years on the make. that's a great title. >> o. nast was probably the greatest civil war in post-civil war cartoonist. harpers weekly was his forum. every week he created another as fascinating and challenging political cartoon. and he just got -- didn't like blaine. and excoriated blaine in his cartoons. >> i think that there also was another incident in the 1884 campaign where he went out to dinner while he was in new york. >> oh, yes. >> with this incredibly wealthy bunch of millionaire, maybe all the top millionaires in new york. and despite the fact that new york and the country was in a great depression and struggling greatly. he seemed to be completely blind to the inappropriateness. >> well, that was the very day that he also was witness to reverend birchard's speech. in the morning he did reverend
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birchard. in the evening he did del monaco's restaurant in new york. and that was immediately reported to the press as the feast. >> right. i have another name. boodle feast. >> for the presidential bids, 13 years in the house of representatives during the period of reconstruction. we're in his study again. he has 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 provide some ball. balm to the nation. and if they say he was quite successful in taking congress in one of the most difficult times of its history and smoothing 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
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that was more opportunistic than anything else. he was among those who believe that black suffrage was important and not because it was important for blacks but because it was important to give blacks the votes so they would vote republican and vote for him. >> he also -- talking about his enemies. he had a very well-known enemy with a very publicized fight in that period, roscoe conkling. who is roscoe conkling? >> he is a congressman from new york. can you comment on him? >> i can't speak to vividly 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. the congressman from utica. we do have a clip about it from the senate historian don richie. let's listen. >> at that period, the two leading republican politicians were roscoe conklin u.s. senator from new york, and james g. blaine, u.s. senator from maine. they were both dynamic and they were both articulate. her magnetic personalities.
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you know, just attracted lots of people to them. they could give a speech to a convention, just knock the conversation out of its minds, they were so terrific. the stump, and any kind of oratory, they were legislative geniuses. they battled it out in the congress in the 1870s and so. and they hated each other with an absolute passion. no two political figures have probably hated each other as much as roscoe conklin and james g. blaine. partly because they were about the same age, the same ambition. they knew one or the other would 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 roscoe conklin was an enormously proud, vain man, very handsome, dressed to the nines and strutted about in a way that
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made some of the rest of the members uncomfortable. so maybe i 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. in a debate at one point in 1866, he launched into one of the most savage attacks on another member of congress. today under the rules you couldn't attack another member that way. it was full of sarcasm and illusions to the hyperion curl that roscoe conklin had, and to the turkey gobbler's strut in which he walked around. it was terrific. first off, it made all of conklin's opponents laugh at him because it was all true. secondly, it gave a tremendous amount of ammunition to the editorial cartoonists, because from then on they were all of the sudden making poor old
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conklin into a turkey or some other figure. >> senate historian don richie. what you are looking at on your screen is here in the augusta blaine house in augusta, maine. and the blaine study, that is actually chaise lounge. it is preserved here in a house that is very much in use. we listen to the interesting listening to the characterization there. politics we think is colorful today, but turkey gobbler strut and other things people used to say to one another. was it widely reported to the press? how did the stories get passed along to us? >> well, indeed, the press was very lively in those days, as we have already said. >> did they sit in the gal relatives congress and capture this stuff? >> 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.
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i think there was much about it that was not just about the politics, but about the entertainment value that it had. and great writing and clever phrasing. >> before there were big sports teams, people followed politics. >> next is helen watching in cape may, new jersey. helen, you are on. >> caller: hi. this is a wonderful series. thank you so much. all my students are watching. they are going to be tested. i hope they are watch. i hope they are paying attention. >> we have teachers here. glad you have students involved. >> caller: i have a question about the blaine amendments that he tried, an amendment to the constitution. many states adopted the blaine amendment. what -- was there anti-catholic motivation or some other motivation that went along with this? >> more than 20 states have blaine amendments even though it was not successful on the national level. what was his motivation? >> i think it height even be close to 40. >> it's 37. >> 37, wow. >> the blaine amendment was an
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amendment that he proposed that would prevent schools from using federal funds. religious institutions from using federal funding. if i'm not mistaken. >> and it's still in place today. >> separation of church and state. >> do you know if it ever had a supreme court challenge? as it made its way through the courts in these states, as we have discussed the separation of church and state so often in this country? >> i'm not sure. >> why do we still know about the blaine amendments? >> that's an interesting question. maybe because there are attempts not from the supreme court side, but from individuals who are constantly trying to challenge that separation. i can imagine. >> what motivated him in putting it forward? >> well, i think that it -- it was 1875. i think that he may well have already had his eye on that 1876 election and may have been opportunistically picking an issue and i'm not thinking there is an anti-catholic component to it as well since those were the institutions, the catholic
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schools that would have most likely been trying to not pay taxes or use federal funding. >> what was blaine's religion? >> he was congregationalist. >> did he have a catholic parents? >> yes, his mother. yes. no, he attended the south parish church here in augusta. and, in fact, there are beautiful tiffany memorial windows to he and other members of his family in that church. >> we have a viewer from d.c. calling us next named rahm. good evening. you're on the air. >> caller: susan, hello? yes. >> caller: oh, hi. we can hear you. >> caller: thanks for hosting this series. i have been watching c-span for many years and all the programs have been so great. i just want to say thank you first. my question goes to the chinese exclusion act. at that time i believe that most new england republicans were against the chinese exclusion
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act. because they tend to be more liberal, and they were not on board with that. but blaine started out supporting it with southern democrats. i wonder what gives. why was he not so liberal in terms of civil rights at that time compared with the other new england republicans. and i would like to learn about it. thank you. >> well, 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. >> so what i'm taking way from this, this is a man, you said he
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wanted that presidency desperately that was not idea cali driven as much as had his fingerer to the political wind? >> i think that's one way to interpret his political career. and i think when i think about the pro black suffrage policy the pro-black suffrage policy and think at the same time about the chinese exclusion act policy i find it hard to bring those two together. if he was racially progressive, why would he not be racially progressive on the other side. so that's an indication of an opportunistic approach and very ambitio ambitious. >> 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? >> that's an interesting question. >> i don't think we get that sense. i think what happened -- he went through the process lee times,
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1876, 1880, 1884. he was also -- you know, it was kind of dangled in front of him in 1888 and again in 1892 even though he was then a very ill man but i think he felt toward the end of his life that his great accomplish was that second term as secretary of state between' 89 and '92 and there was there he was able to play out a lot of his ideas not only on the national scene but the international scene as well so you know i don't think he viewed his career as a failure. >> you're watching c-span's contender series. we'll take a very short break and tell you more about this 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've run for president and lost but changed political history nevertheless
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for more information on our series "the contenders" go to our web site at there you'll find a schedule of the series, biographies of the candidates, historians apprais l appraisals and portions of their speeches when available, that's at contenders. we now return to maine and our discussion on the life of james g. blaine. >> you're looking at a live picture of the james g. blaine house in augusta, maine. it's now the official residence of maine's governor, has been since 1920. we are live inside the governor's mansion, guest of the governor and his family, to learn more about this house's long time owner, james g. blaine, unsuccessful presidential aspirant three times, won the nomination in 1884, failed to win the presidency yet made a mark on this country that we're learning
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more about tonight. our two guests, earl shuttleworth, maine's state historian and the director of maine's historic preservation commission and elizabeth leonard, history chair at colby college and a specialist in civil war america. you're welcome to join in the conversation. 202-737-0001 for eastern and central time zones. 202-737-0002 for those of you watching in the mountain and pacific time zones. we welcome your involvement in th this. tell me a little bit more about maine in this time period. we talked about him coming here as a young man. how difficult would it have been for him to establish himself? how welcoming was it? >> i think 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
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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, the 1850s, the decade just before the civil war. maine is at a zenith of prosperity. there is a recession in the late 1850s but generally speaking maine is really cresting in both its economic and its 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 a sense that he had grown up in a house where clay was idolized and clay was an idol for him as well and when he was a young man he spent some time in kentucky working as a teacher and he made the point of seeing clay wherever he could when he was in kentucky. he was a very devout fan.
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>> i think there's one account that at the age of 17 he attended one of clay's major speeches in 1847 and took copious notes on it. our next caller in our discussion is from indianapolis. this is edward. hello, edward. >> caller: 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're going to spend more time later on on secretary of state. he served under three presidents as secretary of state, is that correct? >> yes, garfield, arthur, then harrison. and harrison was the long period. the garfield was 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
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president himself and he had this free rein to be able to develop ideas he had been working on for years in terms of international relations and his particular interest during the 1889 to 1992 period was central and south america. and he developed including the idea for the pan american union and so on. >> we'll get more involved in that later on. let me ask you about in the study here there are few memorabilia pieces connected with abraham lincoln. he was obviously a supporter. did he know him that we know of? >> i don't know that he knew him personally. he had met him? >> yes,. of course he went to congress -- he was elected to congress in 1862 so he would have served in washington from 1863, lincoln, of course, was assassinated on april 14, 185. there's a very poignant
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connection with lincoln at the house and that is that there's a little card seven days before lincoln is assassinated blaine went to lincoln to get permission to visit richmond, virginia, which had 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 he wanted to use the very same wall paper in his study that lincoln had used in his cabinet room. >> and we're showing that wall paper to people as you speak on the screen. that was the card that you saw. i believe it's a replica? >> yes, that's right. >> it's a permission slip to travel to richmond 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. >> caller: i was wondering what kind of other attacks blaine
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used against cleveland aside from the fact that he claimed he had a child born out of wedlock. >> as far as i know that was his primary personal attack against him but of course there would have been political attacks against him as a democrat and a representative of the party that fomented the rebellion. >> how scandalous was it for someone to have a child out of wedlock? >> oh, i think it would have been quite scandalous, yes. >> i would think so, too. >> just to answer that question a little more. there were nuts-and-bolts issues to the campaign of 1884. one of the strong issues that the remembers and democrats differed on in the post-civil war period was the tariff, how much to tax goods coming and going and the tariff was a major factor. >> and i believe currency was also getting to be a major factor. >> very much and had been since the civil war because, of
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course, the civil war proliferate it had use of paper currency so the whole issue of greenback currency was very much in the 1870s andand '80s a political issue. >> houston is up next, our caller's name is james. hello, james. >> caller: hello? >> james, you're on the air. >> caller: well, he mentioned the civil war governor and i just -- the first reap governpus my great grand grandfather hannibal hamlin and i wonder what connection he has with him 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 of the lion's tail came back to haunt him, i think. >> thanks for your contribution. so hannibal hamlin and their relationship? >> hannibal hamlin was quite a bit older than blaine.
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he was born in 1809 on paris hill in oxford county. he was a highly skilled lawyer who has 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 '65 and then after the war he goes back into political life again as a senator so 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 who stood against blaine on the issue. >> elizabeth leonard, since we here in a period of time where you hear peaople bring up the
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question of maybe it's time for a new party, that the two-party system is failing us and the like. this was a period when we saw the evolution of political parties from the whigs to the republicans. would you take just a minute or so and explain about the demise of the whigs and the rise of the republicans? >> i think the demise of the wigs is very much associated with the person you were talking about in your program last week with henry clay. when henry 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'd love to introduce you to books and our guest elizabeth leonard has just seen today the first copy -- >> the first copy of my new
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book. >> her fifth book, take a minute and tell us about this character you're writing about here. >> joseph holt was lincoln's judge advocate general. he was a very important figure in lincoln's administration, he was the chief of military justice after lincoln was assassinated, he was the prosecutor of the lincoln assassins and anybody who's seen the film the -- >> conspirators. >> anybody who's seen the film "the conspirator" has seen a representation of holt. nobody know who he was. now some people knew who he was. >> congratulations. it will be available. we here in a historic house and it is -- funny, because it's not the top of the hour, it's a couple minutes early but the clocks are ringing and you will hear a couple of them at the top hour as we get into the second half of our program. let me take another telephone call. it's from michael watching us in tampa. >> caller: i think your show is wonderful. appreciate the historical
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commentary as well as the interviewer's commentary. can we put forth personal commentary relative to blaine's experience and time as compare to today's political landscape? >> what do you mean? give me a little more of what you'd like. >> i think blaine represents something that's pretty dominant in the american populous today that's not being representative and i think blaine was -- it was very inspiring to hear about this and i'm curious of maybe personal input from all three of you relative to that landscape of then versus today. >> thanks so much. i'll ask both of our guests to talk about that. >> i'm not quite sure what he's looking 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 he might be kind of recognizable in
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his ability to know the political system, to manipulate the political system, to be a real clear politician. >> could he have competed in today's -- let's do a then and now. could a person with his characteristics have been successful in today's political world? with his charges of corruption? >> well -- >> what would be different about that? >> right. good question. i think, though, he had a lot of personal skills that probably would stand him in good said the 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 he did very successfully and also he really understood the behind-the-scenes working of the political scene really from the 1850s into the 1890s. >> we talked about the media
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being so supportive of parties. someone who had persistent charges against him, were there investigations by the media at the time or -- >> oh, certainly. they were looking into it but i think even sew 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, i was particularly -- i'd like to ask your guests if they could comment on mr. blaine's foreign policy thoughts as secretary of state. what his opinions were. did he go abroad? i'm specifically in south and 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
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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 he did anything about -- or had any feelings about those types of issues. it's a great show. i'll hang up and listen. thank you. >> thank you. your question is so timely because it's time to spend time learning about his years as secretary of state. we said he served three presidents and some historians suggest that if we look at blaine's legacy it's really in the area of international affairs so can you speak to his influence and answer the question about whether or not he left the country? >> sure, well, maybe i'll take the first one first if that's okay. i don't believe he went to central or south america. >> but europe. >> but europe yes. he traveled several times to europe. in the period between the time he ran for president and the time he became secretary of state in the mid-1880s he spent
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quite a bit of time in europe. some of that was with a close friend of his, andrew carnegie, in scotland. in terms of his significance as secretary of state, the development of the policies, as we've mentioned before, they were really primarily focused on central and south america and this was a really 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 of the country, 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. >> before you answer, we have another of the political cartoons that you brought which is titled "the old scout."
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what's it about? >> this is a pro-blaine campaign piece, it's from the judge and it shows blaine as an old western scout on a horse with an old tattered hat. >> but look at the peoples of the world looking at him. >> yes, exactly. this is blaine as secretary of state. this dates 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 theman american union. the opportunity for people to meet diplomatically in both helms fea hemispheres. >> where did he get his ideas from? >> well, he was trying to rev revitalize the idea of hemispheric unity and defense, something i find interesting is
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this notion that he did feel the monroe doctrine extended as far west as hawaii 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? >> well, certainly hawaii episode. this was at the very end of his life and he doesn't even live long enough to see hawaii annexed but he sets it 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 1850s and he sends him as his special diplomatic emissary to hawaii to basically foment revolution. >> one of the quotes from a historian i wrote down "blaine envisioned an influential america based on its increasing wealth." so you mentioned that he really had an americancentric view even as he was reaching out. >> and he would have been very supportive of the notion of the consolidation of capital and the
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growth of american wealth and its expansion around the world. >> 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 because he was so concerned about the imperialistic direction he perceived america going in. so there were very differing views in america in the late 19th century in views about america as a world power. >> he was serving under benjamin harrison. >> yes. >> how strong a president was he? >> i think he was perceived as a 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
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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 running the show as well. >> wisconsin rapids, wisconsin, this is david. 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 fingerprints that he put on wisconsin's political party that would become progressive at that time period up into the 1900s, 1910s, even the 1930s there's a lot of policies that we still live by, worker's comp and workers' rights. did he have anything do with anything or any influence at all with influencing anybody in wisconsin? thank you. >> not that i'm aware of. >> no, i think we're talking
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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 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-catchalist. if we're talking about workers' rights and so on. he was at delmon co-s with the millionaires. he wasn't meeting with the laborers to see how they felt about thing. >> bangor, maine, this is bruce. >> caller: could you give us just a brief history of that house 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 went burial 20 years later back in augusta. >> i'm going to ask you not to talk about the death now because we'll show a little bit of his grave site but about this house,
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please. >> yes, well i think i mentioned earlier the house was built by a retired sea captain from bath, campaign james hall in 1833. our statehouse right across the street had just been finished in 1832 so for hall as for blaine this was a really strategic location for a 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 so the house went back to harriet blaine beal again and she in turn gave it to the state of maine 1919 as our
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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. la page are the 21st family to live here since 1920. >> let me introduce you to another gentleman we'd like to bring into the discussion and let me show you a biography he's written. this book is called "continental liar from the state of maine." a campaign slogan used against james g. blaine, of course. and he's joining us from inside the blaine house, the governor's mansion. how did you get interested enough in james blaine to write a biography about him? >> well, basically, i've been involved in this house since 1966. i was assistant to the governor curtis so i knew all about the blaine house and then later on another governor, angus king,
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asked me to be the co-chair of a group called friends of the blaine house so i was sending a lot of time here and i noticed, you know, there was a little bit about blaun 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 then there had been two of them written in the 1930s, early '30s 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? >> you said "fascinating." what are other adjectives, distributive words you used to describe james g. blaine? >> would you repeat that. >> what are other words you would use besides fascinating to describe him? >> well, the one they used a lot was magnetic. they called him the magnetic man because he had a magnetic
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personality and apparently when he would walk into a room he would just fill that room everybody flocked to him so he was a and a half federal that zblard i know you've been throng our conversation do you have a favorite james g. blaine story we haven't told tonight? >> oh, boy, well i didn't hear 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 you got into his relationship with garfield. >> well, that's all right, tell us a bit about it. >> well, garfield was like a protege of his, in fact he helped him get through a real tough patch down in congress when garfield was accused of corruption and 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
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was running for the second time and he kept ulysses grant from getting the nomination but, again, he didn't have enough force to get the nomination for himself so he turned it other -- he turned his votes over to garfield and 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 pro quo was that the number-one job in the cabinet was to be secretary of state and so it was sort of understood between them that he would become secretary of state. >> let's take another telephone call. we have 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
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republicans before and during and after the civil war. the relation with sumner might be particularly interesting since sumner was chair of the senate foreign relations committee. >> thanks very much. is that something you can take a stroll? >> well, i could take a shot, particularly thaddeus stevens because blaine made a name for himself when he first was elected to congress by taking on the dowdy 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
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freed slaves and that part of reconstruction but he was not for 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 in the the 1884 election and grover cleveland was the successful candidate but we believe he had an outside influence -- outsized influence on american history and we're learning more about that tonight. woodland hills, california, you are on the air. hello, eric. >> caller: hello, how are you? continuing on about james g. blaine's personalty, 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 rold briefly and then i'll ask the
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two guests if they see anything embodies. >> no, i don't think so. he was considered a very congenial person and, of course, he came from a wway, as we say here in maine, and he came up here as a young man and was immediately accepted by 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. i was just reading about his going to parties in washington and being described as being surrounded by all the women there because he was reading them poetry. >> that gets us all the time, right, elizabeth? [ laughter ] vice preside have either of you thought of
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comparisons to today? >> i thought of bill clinton. certainly in some ways that great personable style, larger than life, very commanding, my understanding of bill clinton is that when he walks in a room he takes center stage without even 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 live inside the governor's mansion in augusta, main maine. falls church, virginia. you're on. >> caller: good evening. was there a residence in washington, d.c. on dupont circle and was there any connection between mr. blaine
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and the southern railroad? >> we'll take in the here, neil, thanks. >> what was that? >> we'll take in the this room, neil. residence in washington, d.c. >> yes, in 1881 when blaine became secretary of state he decided to build a large builded 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 that same time after giving up the washington residence that they built another big building 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.
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>> he had sold the dupont circle house at that point? >> yes, that's correct. >> 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 mom moth and it's still standing on massachusetts avenue. >> 2000 massachusetts a northwest if you're in washington, d.c., interested in james g. blaine. just 125b9 minutes left and pittsfield maine is up next. this is stanley. hi, stanley. >> hi, yes i'd like to know are there any books that either elizabeth or earl may recommend for reading in regards to mr. blaine? >> i would suggest the book that you're holding right there. >> and if you want to know about the time period or state, any other books you can recommend? >> i would agree.
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neil's book is the most recent, the most up to date, the most comprehensi comprehensive understanding of blaine. you have to go back to 1930s to find two biographies of him. as to state history, actually, neil also is an author to turn to there, he's done a couple wonderful overview histories of the state of maine. >> mr. rolde, you're getting a lot of valentines in this room here. >> well, good! keep it up! >> while we're talking about houses, in your book the continental liar from the state of maine you describe the scene when james g. blaine learns 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
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by the ken bek river around the post office post offices, his biggest crony was the postmaster and they were putting up signs how blaine was doing, how he was 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 of the first in the nation to have a telephone so the phone rang and his daughter maggie picked it up and learned he had won and she ran out to the front lawn where blaine was lying in a hammock and she told him "you've won, father, you've won." and 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 huge crowd gathered and then it
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started to rain and one of the -- you heard a voice yell out from the crowd "we've been waiting 11 years for this rain to come." and so blaine -- 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 to the chicago convention all plastered with blaine stuff and people started coming from all over the state of maine and the united states and then john logan eventually they called him blackjack logan. he came and spent a few days with blaine. >> i want to thank you for adding to our rich knowledge of james g. blaine. one more plug for our book as we say good-bye. "continental liar from the state of maine." it is available wherever you buy
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bo books. neil rolde is one of our guests as we learn about this very colorful and influential man from the 19th century. topsail beach, north carolina, douglas watching us there, you're on the air. >> caller: yes, i would like to ask your historians what blaine's relationship was to joshua chamberlin who was civil war general and governor. he was a republican; what was their relationship? >> well, of course as you mentioned, chamberlain was a very independent individual and he was not comfortable with blaun's brand of politics. there's fairly ample evidence they didn't get along that well,
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they were not close compatriots in the party and, in fact chamberlain did not go further in blixt after the governorship, he rather became president of bowdoin college and later on collector of the port of portland. >> we had a caller that mentioned the town named for james g. blaine. we did a little research and there might be more but we found a number of counties and towns around the united states named for james. >> blaine, mostly in the time period after his death it seemed to be. can you talk more about honoring people, especially james g. blaine through naming the communities growing up around the country? >> one of the things i thought of when i learned about that is that i thought about the fact that several of them are out west 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 r l
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really did win favors out west. i don't know if there was a coection but it was interesting this republican figure from maine, well known in the united states but out west, there was some sport. >> washington state and idaho. san francisco up next. jim, 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'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 radicals were really holding it back and, of course, the radicals were in favor of funnishing the white southerners, the rebels, as best
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they could and i don't think it would have been in any way good politics for him to have stood up for white southerners but i don't think that 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 for jefferson davis. >> in 1876 when he was throwing his hat in the ring for the presidency he sponsored this bill that said that all of the remaining confederates, former confederates who had not yet been given amnesty should be given amnesty except jefferson davis which was interesting. >> and how did the politics of that reswound the nation? >> it provoked a great fight in congress and people felt -- some people thought it was great because they believed that he should, in fact -- you know, this idea that you would still hold jefferson davis accountable
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was great. others thought 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 dispute again? >> we have about five minutes left. independence, iowa, this is joe. hi, joe. >> caller: hi. unlike joshua chamberlain, ulysses s. grant, william mckinley, blaine had no military record in the civil war but his running mate general john a. logan had one and was the first president of the grand army of the republic, that great republican organization throughout the states and logan gave us memorial day, decoration day. can you speak to the fact was thaw a ticket-balancing move in some sense or did it cover the fact that blaine had not served? >> i think there's no question but what that was a political


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