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tv   The Contenders  CSPAN  August 5, 2016 8:00am-10:05am EDT

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. >> it is what we claim we want in the presidential candidates and president. >> and man named charles evan bayh -- charles evans hughes. woodrow wilson thought he was beaten. >> american history goes on in several different directions.
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what is he doing for foreign policy? he is the one you could write novels about. >> he was on the supreme court. he left the supreme court. he ran for president. then he went back to the supreme court. when of the finest minds on the court's. >> why use? >> andrew jackson said that "he looks like god and talks like god." >> charles evans hughes -- the republican presidential nominee soon after the national convention. tonight, we looked at the life and legacy of charles evans hughes who was a two-term
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governor, secretary of state, and twice a supreme court justice. he was perhaps best known as one of the co-authors of the new deal. we're broadcasting live across from the capitol. he inaugurated this building when it first opened in 1935. let me introduce you to our guests this evening were joining us to talk about the life and legacy of charles evans hughes. my first guest is an historian, and bernadette higher -- bernadette tyler is a professor at cornell law school. i want you to set the stage for us. 1916, woodrow wilson wants to be reelected. frame what was going on in the
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country and the presidential campaign. >> president wilson said it would be a tragedy if his administration was defined by foriegn policy. it turned out to be just that. america starts his term focusing on the progressive era, the income tax, lowering the tariffs, the federal reserve system. changes that after 1914. we have the war in europe. america is fighting to stay out. but there is a question of preparedness for the war. are we prepared? are we being tough? are we week? the secretary of state resigns from wilson's cabinet because he thinks we're being too tough. is really a question of war and peace in europe, war and peace in mexico. aside from all the domestic issues. war overshadows everything.
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>> how does he get from the supreme court to the nominating process? >> he gets there somewhat reluctantly because he enjoyed his position as associate justice of the court. but then he felt called by duty after several candidates did not pan out for the republicans. he felt called to accept the nomination for president. in a sense, he was not a particularly gung-ho candidate. >> what was the republican party like? >> it fractured in 1912. there was the great teddy roosevelt/william howard taft split. teddy ran as the bull moose party candidate. there is a real question. are they going to be able to put the republican party back together again? do you take roosevelt?
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roosevelt is still radioactive with the old-guard. if you take someone to progressive, then they will not come back. you have got to pick someone who is respected by both sides. someone who is not some wild man from the prairies or from the west like johnson, someone who was not a conservative like roots, and the man to do it, also the man who has been in politics -- has been out of politics since 1910, he was on the supreme court. he was not part of the 1912 battle. that is mr. hughes. and he is respected by just about everyone in the party. >> what were the politics of the time? >> his politics were mildly progressive. he is not a wild man from the west. but what he is, he had moved
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from the practice of law. he was never interested really in being part of politics. when he first comes to new york and establishes his law practice is -- "would you like to run for judge?" "no." but he is asked to investigate the gas monopoly in new york city. they come to him and they say, do you want to take over this investigation? "no, i really do not. but he does. he asks how much time he has to prepare testimony for the hearings. they say "a week." but with the brilliance this man had, he was able to pull it all together, to go through all the papers, grill the executives on the stand, bring the whole thing down. ultimately what this leads to is of public service commission
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in new york state, and to have the gas bill and electricity rates cut by a third, and then he moves on to fixing the insurance agency in new york state and really becomes a national figure. this is 1906 until just before 1906. he is a progressive-type candidate who is opposed to the machine of the democrats in tammany, because they are protecting these monopolies, but also the massive new york state's political machine. and teddy roosevelt would defer to the bosses to some extent. hughes with through the hole puncher reforms. then he moves on to the core for the first time. >> this would be unimaginable for someone to resign from this position and run for a national elected office. what was the reaction of the
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time? was a surprise? >> i think some were surprised, but i think the office of the supreme court justice was not quite what it has become now. i think part of the reason people would be shocked if a justice resigned as the process is so much more difficult to get through and some much more difficult to confirm any justice. justices are appointed young and expected to stay for the rest of their working career. his first appointment as justice was actually quite an contentious. his second one was almost too beginning of the contentions within the appointment process. in occurred early soon after there were new rules on the senate debate for nominees and garnered a lot of criticism from progressives, actually. >> we are on the plaza of the supreme court. beautiful early october night
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here. we will be here for two hours tonight. 14 men who ran for the presidency and lost but changed political history. charles evans hughes made his mark through many positions, but particularly in his role as chief justice. in the second half of our program, we will focus on at that and be a new deal. he was at the helm during that. we will open up our phone lines for each of these programs that allow you to offer your questions and observations as part of our discussion. where was the republican convention that year? >> i think it was philadelphia. there were two conventions going on within a block of each other. that is the real interest in geography that year. the republicans went through a series of ballots. i think hughes's third on the first ballot. he moved up until he is on the
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first ballot. meanwhile, the progressives are meeting just a short ways away, and what they are doing is debating who they can accept. t.r. is basically saying "i am not going to do it." he throws out a couple names. leonard wood, a big army general. fort henry cabot lodge -- or henry cabot lodge. neither one is accessible -- to the progressives. in the end, the only one they can agree on, a progressive, to any extent is use. but they still are in a great tiff, and they kind of dissolve the party. the party of that operates. they go way. this is one of the great things
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of the legacy of hughes' race. we take the republican for granted as a continuing string -- continuing thing since 1916, since lyndon. maybe the progressives go back and we do not know what happened. maybe the republicans do not go the way of the whigs. maybe the progressives replace it. who can say? the thing is, hughes' take the position. he did not want to do it. he is uncertain what to do. he walks away from the supreme court. what he had said when he had taken it and they were talking in 1912, he would be the compromise candidate. he said no, no, no, i will not do it. the democrats fully criticize
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dominating a judge for the presidency. and there is our reason for that the bank in 1904, they take alton b. parker and run him for the presidency. >> this denomination on the first ballot? -- does he get the nomination on the first ballot? >> parker? no, hughes. be elected candidates would not go to the convention. there was a nominating process. a week later, they have a speech and, surprise, you are our nominee. the fellow doing it that year was warren harding. the chair of the convention. he was really undecided. his family members, his closest associates are not sure what he is going to do. they had people in the early
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days of the republican party. there was a david davis bid to a judicial senate nomination back in illinois. but not since then, and not sent to use. -- and that not since hughes. >> can you tell us -- how was he as a national campaigner? >> that campaign is probably the worst thing he ever does. in his life really. not just his public career. he excelled at everything. that campaign, he got off the mark slowly. he is doing a dance. it is the dance that jack kennedy and richard nixon due in 1960. we have the black vote in the north, the southern white vote. kennedy carries both. the same thing occurs with the
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peace votes and the pro-war people in 1916. wilson runs a campaign "he kept us out of work." and its use is doing this dance. and he ends up losing both sides really. he loses the pro-war people and the people who want to stay neutral. he is branded as being pro- german. you see these editorial cartoons. with the irish nationalists and all those. and the other day, the german- americans vote goes to wilson. it does not elucidates -- he does not elucidate the campaign themes while. is opposed to the terror of. there are labor issues. there are labor issues that are very important. there are two things that prop him up.
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even though as governor of new york, he has an admirable record. he establishes cases, that entire system. there's also labor regulations put in place for the first time. he is really a champion of labor. but then the infamous california trip, which we will get into later, there are two things that happen. the one thing that is never talked about, he blunders into san francisco, and the chamber of commerce tried to do this in the restaurants and wanted to be open shop. in other words, you do not have to join the union. where did they schedule in his appearance? in a restaurant. not only in california, but around the country. union members around the country. also, in september, there is a national rail strike threatened.
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the administration and congress passes the adams map which establishes the eight-hour day, first time nationwide. the constitutionality is threatened later. hughes opposes it. again, this cuts into his labor vote. so he has got problems and he really does not -- he is not able to come out and say what he would do better than wilson. >> here are the phone numbers. we will get calls in a few moments. in addition to labor issues, there were also women's suffrage issues. women did not have the right to vote at the national level. can you tell us about that aspect of the campaign? >> wilson had already changed his position to some extent on women's suffrage. initially he was opposed to the
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notion women would have the vote. both of his wives were actually of this view. one of his daughters though became quite active in the suffrage movements, and his views were gradually shifting. at the time of the election campaign in 1916 he still believe women's suffrage should be decided on a state-by-state level. and use went far beyond that. and far beyond all the republicans. he claimed that there should be a women's suffrage amendment. and this is puzzling because the states where women could vote actually went for wilson rather then hughes, which is somewhat paradoxical. there could be many reasons for that. >> 12 states have given women the right to vote at that time.
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for his support of women's suffrage, a group of supporters of the charles evans hughes it formed a club, campaigned for him, and they went by the hughesettes. kind of modern if you think about it. one of his nieces had put together a hughesettes website. we are showing new some history of her aunt in the 1916 election. and his law firm where he practiced in private practice to exist today. we went there and spoke to one of the senior partners to talk a little bit about charles evans hughes and his support for women
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voting. >> also very proud and the original edition of the independent weekly magazine that came out the week after justice used to see the republican nomination for the presidency. -- justice hughes got the republican nomination for the presidency. mrs. hughes, she is on here in support of women's suffrage, which she supported as well. with the things we were not aware of -- the republican party platform in 1916 was that each state would have the right to determine whether or not women would have the right to vote. does this hughes -- justice hughes said he would go beyond the republican party platform
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and support the susan b. anthony and in the to the constitution that would give women the right to vote. >> and from not we will move to the election. i read that woodrow wilson went to bed on election night thinking he had lost. >> i would not say he was resigned to it. he was about ready to either give up the presidency nobly or in a huff. is your call. he has a plan where it is like, ok, i have lost. i am getting out. they had to wait until march before they left office. you had a big interregnum. you had a situation or the country was moving towards war. what do you do? his plan was he would appoint hughes as secretary of state
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because secretary of state was second in line to the presidency. once hughes -- or secretary of state lansing was shuffled aside for hughes, then the vice president would resign and then wilson -- it was sort of a three-point plan -- and hughes would become president until he formally took his term. >> what happened was it was incredibly close election. >> oh, yes. >> tells about the electoral vote. >> it was about a quarter of a million popular vote. what it is, it is so close in california. that is the key. it is/13 electoral votes, and that is what the situation was in california. the second incident that occurs in california, and really the nature of the incident is
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overplayed, because again, back to that progressive party convention that kind of dissolved and left the field open to hughes. they're in a bad mood. they are not resolved. one of the people with a bad temper was the senator hiram johnson from california. he is a very ordinary guy. -- or marine -- ornery guy. hughes has to get to the east coast. he swings the california before the prime up -- he swings through california before the primary. johnson is the governor. that cannot make decisions of who will escort who.
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is worse than the palestinians and israelis. the feelings are so bad. finally what happened is, there is an incident in long beach, california where hughes who heads the not met johnson goes in to rest in the hotel, does not know johnson is there. johnson knows hughes is their. they leave the hotel. they never meet. it is claimed that hughes had alienated johnson in this. really johnson could have made the moat. right after that, hughes through an intermediary invites johnson to chair a meeting in sacramento. johnson refuses. and hughes loses the state by about 3000 votes. they do not know until let -- until next friday he lost the state.
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bernadino he lost the election until that private. meanwhile, hiram johnson wins the primary and the state of california by something like 300,000 votes. so, a lot of people blame hiram johnson, the pacific incident, but in fact in the first meeting of the progressives when johnson goes back to california, they endorsed him, but then they split up. they split up and hold separate meetings. he could not have swung all the progressives if he wanted to, but he might have swung more than 1600. >> wilson won nine of the 12 states. what does it say about charles evans hughes, that he was not as much of a political tactician? >> i think he was much more of a principled person and a principled lawyer than a politician in certain respects. i think part of what i mentioned before -- some of the women did
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not vote for him. wilson had promised -- pledged to remain at peace. but one of the things about the that itohnson incident shows about hughes's character is he was not interested in currying favor with other politicians or the party machine. it shows in a very demonstrative way through the gubernatorial career, he tries to oust some people within the administration, and that is met this favorably because people think -- disfavorably because people think they deserve loyalty from the republican party. i think that cost him the election. >> we have our first call of the
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evening from duncan. hello. >> hello. i was curious about any bad things trawls evans hughes might have said about woodrow wilson -- any bad things and charles evans hughes might upset about woodrow wilson. >> any bad things he might have said about woodrow wilson? >> he criticized wilson for preparedness, not having an army ants navy up to speed. he was also very critical of the wilson policy in mexico. or you have the revolutions overthrowing the diaz administration and the country devolves into chaos. you see the movies, "viva via" or "viva zapata."
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one revolution replacing another. hughes is very concerned that general guerta not impose another dictatorship in mexico. he sends marines. there is -- there are these crazy incidents over will they come in? of flag here or not their. but the troops go. mexico gets worse and worse. and then you get the columbus, new mexico into that we're pancho villa -- whereupon trivia killed some american national's. that is another disaster. there is a lot of controversy about mexico. there's a lot of criticism about preparedness and the wilson
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administration. these are things that hughes played on. >> welcome to the conversation. this is curtis. >> thank you. i just wanted to talk about a very important assertion that hughes wrote about. i will get through this quickly. the national recovery act was ruled unconstitutional in 1935 and a year later the national labor relations act was passed and they thought that was going to be ruled unconstitutional, but then it came to the high court in 1937. i think the high court was under pressure to change their position from ruling new deal laws unconstitutional, and hughes wrote that decision. i think the moral to that story is even the high court can be put under political pressure to change their position. thank you very much. >> thank you.
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>> it is a crucial point and a crucial point of contention among historians, the question of what's defeated the court packing scheme that franklin roosevelt had proposed. was this consistent with an evolution of some of the justices, including chief justice hughes. i think we will get into that later. >> louisville, ky, what is your question? >> i am just wondering what did -- what were hughes's views on the new deal? what were his views? and thank you for "the contenders." >> at the beginning of the new deal, there were striking down a lot of new dual registration.
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predict legislation. -- new deal registration. others of the justices, like brandeis, were quite far to the left. others were swing votes. they might strike down various new deal legislation. then there was a fairly radical switch where the new deal programs began to be up held. >> we will talk a little bit more about charles evans hughes the man. he was described as looking and sounding like god. ". he was 5'11 interestingly enough, he was very slight as a young man. he weighed 127 pounds.
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they would not write an insurance policy for him. that would give him the physical and say, we cannot find anything wrong with him, but he is just too thin. said it would not give him up a life-insurance policy. so, he was very vigorous, very active. he reaches an adult weight of about 173 pounds. it was measured very carefully. at breakfast he would have a pile of toast in front of him. if he was putting too much weight, he would remove a slice of toast. if he did not win enough, he would put another slice on. but this fellow was so slight and not vigorous, but he was of good mountain climber. when he was selected to the legislature in new york, after the gas inquiry, he goes and
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says "i need a vacation." he is climbing the alps. he loved it public service so much. this is a point that is very important. this guy keeps coming back to public service again and again and again. and after he was knocked out of the presidency, he might have said the hell with you people. i have done my time. i have fixed this and that and it has cost me money again and again and again. when he was governor, he poured his own expenses on so many of the trips. when he was on the supreme court, that did not pay a lot. even before he became the great crusader, he did not take the big cases. one of his great rivals worked for hearst and said at the time he became chief justice, public service at cost $6 million --
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public service had cost hughes $6 million. he gave up so much in time and money to serve the public in job after job, which he did so well. now, his intellect, his brains. he had this first-class brain. robert penn warren said that. it was the same with hughes. 6 years old, goes off to school. he comes on, he says "i am not learning that much there, dad. i can learn more here." "yes, son?" and he lays out his plan of study hour by hour how he is going to do it and he does it. home schooled. a couple years later, he moves around again, maybe he is going
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to go back to school. same thing. he is basically home school for home schooling was cool. it completes high-school studies on his own. he is too young to get into college. he has to run around new york city for a year before he can go in. there are stories where -- i think when he was secretary of state or governor, what ever. it does not matter. he handed a three-page memo of four -- he was handed a three- page memo before going into a meeting. the stenographer transcribes what he says. is off by one word. you see stories like that over and over again. >> at the age of 19, he graduated from cornell law school. >> actually, he taught at cornell law school for two years and he gave up a very lucrative practice in new york which was supervised by his father-in-law
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in order to take by health break and also to become an academic. he ended up leaving cornell law school, partly because his father-in-law thoughts his grandchildren should not be raised in such a remote location. he often said amongst his happiest times were the times at the cornell law school. >> it was the president of columbia. i apologize. we have a clip of him we want to show so you can get a sense of him. he was considered quite a great orator. let's listen to what he sounded like. >> bigotry and racial animosities and intolerance are the deadly enemies of true democracy. there can be no friendly
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cooperation if they exist. they are enemies more dangerous than any external force. they undermine the very foundation of our democratic effort. >> and we're going to go back to telephone calls. your on the air, frederick. >> i would like to ask a question about where charles evans hughes was born. and did he come from a family of money? where was his family reported his family get the money? >> born in 1862 in new york. >> his father was a baptist. they were not particularly affluent. they grew up in humble circumstances. he was quite influenced by the baptist background he enjoyed from going up. in fact, his father hoped to
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become a religious man himself. he was disappointed that he decided to go into law instead of religion. his background did influence his jurisprudence later ron. we can argue that. he was quite favorable to religious liberty claims and several opinions where he upheld a very strong view of religion under the second amendment. >> this is daniel. welcome. >> thank you for taking the time to let us get in on the conversation. i have a question about if the federal reserve would have been created under his administration, and if it had not have been, where might we be today? >> with the federal reserve cut been created under charles evans hughes? but it would not, because it already existed. >> there you go. frank? >> wilson ran on a platform
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against the war, and there was a tremendous explosion in new york harbor, and after the war, the court ruled that german agents had in fact caused the explosion. in the 1970's the german government finally paid the government and indemnity. a wonder if you can comment on the role of the wilson administration in covering up the explosion and its effect on the election. i will hang up and listen on the tv. >> that was a massive explosion of a ship that actually damaged part of the statue of liberty, shattered windows as far north as 42nd street. wilson administration did downplay this, because they were trying to keep us out of the war
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at this point. now it was very difficult for hughes that year. he is fighting two things. the country is very prosperous. there was a slight downturn, but with the war, neutral parties tend to do very well in wartime. there is great prosperity. he is fighting back. he is fighting the fact that we really are at peace. the trouble that had occurred after the sinking of the lusitania, the german government comes to its senses momentarily and ends its policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. is not until after the election that it presumes that. there is tremendous sabotage going on. there is funding of german group's. one of the problems wilson has is they bring up a meeting he
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had with four pro-german people. one of them was named jeremiah o'leary, an irish nationalist. this is one of the issues of the 1916 campaign. why would there be sentiment along the irish population. they were still under the british flag. they wanted independence. he was basing all of these problems. the question is, what is he going to do about it? the trouble arises after that election, particularly in regard to zimmerman though, where germany was plotting to get mexico to attack us and get their lost provinces back. >> can you tell us a little bit more about -- do you know the story? >> i do not.
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>> was the daughter of a senior partner -- >> yes. >> another thing we want to highlight was the importance of wasis used importancejus -- the importance of mrs. hughes in his life. she was the daughter of walter carter, the senior partner in the hughes law firm. he met her at an office holiday party. issue was a very educated woman, influential in his life. he also had three daughters who together with mrs. hughes, i think they have a great effect on his views, including women's
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suffrage among other things. >> the partners were not partners in politics. there were out campaigning all the time. >> getting back to their marriage, their courtship is very slow. they need a few times. like every few months or something. and because she is the boss's daughter, he will not go near her. people say, "you married the boss's daughter?" is really a distortion. is only when he is awful partner that the courtship really . . . . . . partner that the quarter chip really began as. they are really deeply in lot. they go around the country on a train, almost like a pro eleanor
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roosevelt. -- proto-eleanor roosevelt. stuff that was not done then. >> you are on the air, jack. >> my question is about charles evans hughes's perspective on racism at the time. >> he was actually pretty progressive on race. his first term as associate justice, he actually wrote an opinion that suggested it was not valid for railroads to fail to create first-class accommodations for african american passengers coming even if they did not have enough passengers to fill those accommodations. it is actually more egalitarian than a lot of his contemporaries.
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later on he would be a supporter of the separate, but equal doctrine and pave the way for brown vs. the board of education. >> i have a question that may be a little bit off the beaten path. this is about the institution of the personal income tax. which party was against it, and which party was for it, may i ask? >> income tax comes about as part of the revenue act of 1913, i think, and that is important because that is part of the underwood tariff. the democrats lower the tariff. they have to make up the revenue. they passed the 16th amendment. that all folds into the income tax. i would say because the
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republicans are the terror of the party, that the democrats -- the tariff party, that the democrats -- hughes that is opposed to the income tax. he reads it and he is a lawyer. he is always reading every word, no matter where those words go. and he says "all revenue." and he says that means they're going to be able to tax the tax refunds of municipalities and states and destroy the balance of federalism. he opposes the 16th amendment. i believe that new york state's rejects the amendment. >> you're on the air, joseph. >> good evening.
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>> in light of the other television programs this week on prohibition, did he have any attitudes or feelings about that ugly affair? >> great question. is talking about the pbs series about prohibition. >> neither he nor wilson would be regarded as drys. he started to take a step during the insurance investigation. he said it was his nurse. this humanizes him. he was very high strung. he started taking a drink then. he was never a big drinker. there is a story told at the havana conference of latin american nations around 1924 or so. he asked the secretary of state whether he will serve booze or not. he walks over there and takes the first one.
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he is not a prohibitionist. >> it is time for us to dive into more of his supreme court years. we are going to say good bye for now to david. we will see him later on. to begin our discussion, we will show you president franklin roosevelt in 1937, his take on what was commonly called the court packing plant. after that, you will see chief justice john roberts. first, a newsreel from that time introducing us to each of the members of the supreme court in 1937. >> associate justice sutherland. it became a senator from utah. the only supreme court catholic. a democrat who supported
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president harding. from wyoming -- 78. 56 years on the bench. james reynolds of tennessee, 75. confirmed bachelor. has voted against every new deal measure. benjamin nathan -- benjamin nathan cardozo, a 67 -- 67, appointed by president hoover. arlen of new york, a former dean of the university law school. justice brandeis of kentucky.
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wilson dared not appoint him attorney general, but did reported him to the court. -- the did appoint him to the core. and justice roberts. at 61, the youngest justice. long a conservative. and charles evans hughes, 75. chief justice since 1930. sometimes conservative, sometimes liberal. >> president roosevelt goes on the air in an appeal for popular support for his plan to reorganize the federal judiciary. it is his second such appeal within six days. he tells the people that his plan would protect them. >> those opposing the plan have sots to so prejudice and fear
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by saying i am seeking to pack the supreme court. what did they mean by "packing the supreme court"? let me answer this question with a bluntness that will and all honest misunderstanding of my purpose. is by that phrase it is charged -- if by that phrase is charged i wish to place on the bench spineless puppets to disregard the law and decide specific cases as i wish them to be decided, i make this answer. that no president's bid for his office would appoint and no senate of honorable men bid for their office would confirm that kind of appointee to the supreme court of the united states. we what a supreme court that
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will do justice under the constitution and not over it. in our courts, we want a government of laws and not of men. >> the court lacking -- the court packing plan was a very serious threat. it was proposed by an immensely popular presidents. as fdr put it "the people are with me." hughes proceeded cautiously, but with determination. he demolished fdr's efficiency argument. he showed that the court was keeping up with this work. hughes explain that adding more justices would make the court far less efficient. "there would be more judges to
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hear, more judges to confer, more judges to been -- to discuss, more judges to be convinced and to decide." hughes chose not to directly criticize fdr, but to expose the effort for what it was by refuting the efficiency window dressing. and it worked. >> that was a prospectus for anytime and also contemporary perspectives from the fdr era and the court packing history we have learned so much about as we grow up in this country. we are going to learn more about the biography of charles evans hughes, 1916 republican nominee for president. he failed in that big a very narrowly against woodrow wilson. we're learning more about his contributions to society. we're joined by two guests on this beautiful october night in front of the supreme court building.
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my first guest served as the u.s. solicitor general, and bernadette is with us throughout this program. i am going to start because he had two terms on the court. in 1930, president hoover appointed him. what is the difference between staying as a justice on the court within a 20-year period? >> he had some incredible experiences in the interim. obviously the presidential run, but also serving as secretary of state, serving on the so-called world court in the hague. he comes back to that job as chief justice, as a man who certainly had many more difference experiences.
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>> can you tell us a bit about the court of 1930? >> sure. the core was much less conservative than it became -- the court was much less conservative than it became in 1935 and 1936. the court did not really a strike down that much economic legislation. it up held economic legislation in particular. towards the middle of that decade, it shifted a bit. >> what was he like as a leader in those early days? >> i think he is someone who took to the administrative parts of the chief justice job right away, and that makes sense. you have someone in the modern era becoming chief justice to have mostly served in judicial
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capacities, but here is someone who has run the state of new york. he is a great administrator. he took to that aspect of the job immediately. he also took to the other aspects of the job. after all, he had already been an associate justice. this is only the second time in the nation's history up to this point or someone who has been an associate justice goes on to serve as chief justice. in that respect, he was the ideal to justice and he hits the ground running. >> was he i great broker of opinion? >> i think from the beginning, he was someone harder to typecast than the other justices on the court. he was coming into a court that was not as bitterly divided as it became, but still a divided court. he was essentially near the center of the core. >> this also brings up another point.
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he los to dissent. he wants to create harmony. -- andhe loathes to dissent. he wanted to encourage harmony on the court like marshall, chief justice marshall. >> let's take a couple calls and then we will delve more deeply into this. welcome to the discussion. >> thank you for taking my call. great program. was he not consider the god-like too because he would try to find a medium ground? was he pushed by hughes or did hughes follow along? >> thank you for watching. >> i think hughes was much more
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of the swing vote than roberts was. roberts tended to vote with the conservative bloc. hughes tended to be a little bit more on both sides. at least he signed himself on to more opinions. some people think that was a disingenuous move designed to portray himself as being a more liberal orientation than he was. it was called a jovian presents on the court, and that was about his administrative capability we have been discussing. he held a judicial conference in a pretty authoritarian manner. he he would go around and discuss the case after saying his views first. p kept a pretty tight leash on the discussion -- he kept a pretty tight leash on the discussion. >> what we know about his style?
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>> i think there are a lot of similarities, and not necessarily the point of the way the conferences were conducted on a day-to-day basis. but the chief justice hughes wrote a book on the supreme court's. that was a unique thing to get a window into the supreme court for someone who was already served as an associate justice. we know he is going to be the chief justice. he talks about the role of the chief justice in that book and the limits of what the chief justice can do, because at the end of the day, you are the chief justice of the united states, but you only get one vote and you have to lead in a way that is more subtle than the leadership you have when you're a governor or even secretary of state. he did manage to do a remarkable job of leading the court.
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leading by example. >> let's take a minute and talk about this building. up until this time, the court met across the street at the united states capitol building. have the court come to have the run building? >> they decided they wanted to have their own building. that is symbolic and interesting. if you think about the court, they are in constant contact with the bread centers, and they are passing each other in the halls of congress. there is something important symbolically of having a separate judicial building with a separate presence. there were, of course, criticisms. as you can see, this is an ornate and beautiful building. recollection is it came in -- my recollection is it came in under
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budget, which is remarkable. >> william howard taft who had been president and became chief been president and became chief justice argued that the captioning performed by vitac >> i think that was partially because you're talking about and i think that's partially because you're talking about justices, some of whom are traditionalist. >> the depression. >> it's the depression it's an expensive -- the optics of moving into this beautiful temple have its own political dimension. i think part of it is it was a break with tradition. i think from modern perspective it seems like a terrific break and break that was maybe long overdue. >> the pediment which we're looking at, the architect included a depiction of charles
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evan hughes. maybe we can get a shot of that so you can see how the ar tekts depicted him. we'll listen to mount joy, pennsylvania. this is harry. >> caller: i used to study the supreme court and in 1935, some of the cases, i think three major laws were struck down by unanimous supreme court decisions, they were unanimous, that included the liberals. and what i understand when roosevelt made his court backing speech brandeis was deeply offended by it because he was one of the elderly members of the court, over 80 years old. i used to do work on owen j. roberts, from what i understand the votes on the case of 1937 were taken before -- in secret chambers in 1936 the votes were taken for the case decided in 1937, as for memorandum from
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felix frankfort. thank you for being allowed to be on the show. >> provided a nice segue to get into the era. set the stage for us. >> what happened in the -- and i want to get back to this caller's question, fdr became extremely frustrated with the fact that a lot of the new deal measures are being struck down by this supreme court. and sometimes by a unanimous court. and when -- >> on what grounds? >> the grounds first of all of exceeding congress's powers under the commerce clause. the commerce clause is relevant today and a source for president obama's health care plan and tax -- right now -- basically not as expansive in its
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interpretation of what the congress could do for -- for congress, and the states autonomy and another ground for invalidation, processor liberty of contract which was read into the fourth -- 14th amendment or 5th amendment. the hughes port had been striking down a lot of new deal legislation and after our frustration, after his re-election, basically posed the plan that court's membership had been increased if justices didn't retire in a timely fashion. there would have been up to six new justices placed upon the court. this gets into the question that was asked by the caller about whether justice roberts who was the chief person who supposedly changed his vote had changed his
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vote before the court parking scheme was promoted or not. one argument is that once roosevelt won the election, the court really felt there would be a lot of pressure to uphold and sustain new deal legislation and it would no longer be striking down as many laws. one argument is that the court packing scheme itself was almost irrelevant or wasn't the real catalyst that roberts felt he had to change his vote simply because of roosevelt's re-election and this great democratic consensus behind him. >> give us a sense of how engaged the country was in this? was this hugely controversial or was this a washington story? >> this was definitely not a washington story. i think it helps to kind of understand the stage completely which is you think about fdr at this point, he's been re-elected for a second term and has -- dealing with the great depression, nobody is worried whether it's the great
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recession. he's trying to deal with, dealing with it innovatively and passing the legislation and it's getting struck down by the court. he's also in his second term. by the time he's done with his fourth term, he will have appointed more supreme court justices than anybody other than george washington, any other president but george washington but at this point he's like jimmy carter. he doesn't -- he's been a full term president and hasn't put anybody on the court. very frustrated with the court and the fact they are striking down the legislation and of the view they are out of touch with the whole country and that's part of the reason the country as a whole really focuses on this. i think a lot of that frustration both with what the court is doing and the age of some of the justices, all of that boils over into the court packing plan. it's interesting to debate whether the plan was necessary and really what explains the
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court's change in approach in some of these important areas, but it is fair to say it's a bit of a black eye to fdr's historical legacy that he let his frustrations boil over and made this proposal. >> this is kirk watching from salem, oregon. >> caller: good afternoon. i appreciate your taking my call this is a question for professor myler, what she might know regarding the personal relationship tie-ins between justice hughes and the williams sue ard family from auburn, new york, seward was lincoln's secretary of state. and also part of the reason i'm calling, i'm been puzzling for some time back in that era as the speech by justice hughes was indicating, the anti-racist of
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community were the republicans and that seems to have switched and around the time of wood row wilson's presidency. and when he embraced dubois. what you might know about that. >> that's a great question. i'm not as familiar with the relationship to seward so i'll have to defer to others. he invited booker t. washington to an event and it was somewhat controversial invitation, personally escorted him to a table. hughes pretty much retained a uniform important on race throughout his career where he was in favor of at least greater equality, i'm not sure to what extent full equality. but against the backdrop of this change you're pointing out, where previously republicans had been much more in favor of racial equality and then the
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democrats also sort of took on that mantle. and returning to the court packing plan, charles evans hughes was how involved in lobbying or setting the stage for it be defeated? >> he was integ rally involved. there was a famous missive from the court itself to congress and as i understand the story, that was something that justice brandeis was very much in favor of and suggested and the chief justice was very direct in the same kind of skill set that he brought to bear in investigating the gas companies back in the day. he was good with numbers and used the numbers and looked at the court's docket and case load and as chief justice roberts indicated, took apart a neutral case for what fdr was proposing and laid bear the obvious motivation for the court packing
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plan. >> how common in today's relationship between the court and legislature would it be? >> it does happen. the chief justice and i don't know whether this was the practice back in the day of chief justice hughes, that every year there is a state of the judiciary letter that the chief justice sends over to congress. and sometimes it can be pointed. for a number of years both chief justice rehnquist and roberts made a point of explaining they were less than happy with the current state of judicial pay. there continued to be these kinds of issues between an among the branch. but i also think that probably the way that chief justice hughes handled the court packing scheme probably took court packing off the table as a realistic option going forward. i think that's one of the great contributions. >> so i completely agree with -- i wanted to also add two things.
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some people did criticize hughes today for issuing an advisory opinion. one part of his letter that chief justice roberts referred to for the court which importantly was also signed and consulted with brandeis about so there was kind of u.nanimity by the court. and that seems like an advisory opinion and interesting in the book that was referred to about before the supreme court hughes condemned other justices for trying to issue advisory opinions. there was some controversy about that letter i think. >> next call is from st. joseph's missouri. daniel? >> thank you for taking my call. this is kind of a follow-up to the cornell professor's comment, that he aligned himself with the
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four horsemen who were the conservative part of the court and owen roberts was part of the switch in time to save nine. what i read, roberts would never admit that. either one of you know whether he -- why he really did change his voting pattern? >> thanks so much. do you know if he changed his voting pattern after that? >> the only person that knows for sure is justice roberts and he's no longer with us. one of the reasons from an academic standpoint that court packing is so interesting is there are a lot of competing theories and they are supported at a detail level. but we don't really know for sure. i do think it's fair though if you look at justice roberts' voting patterns there seems to be a fork in the road and seem to be a real change that corresponds with the court packing scandal and these three cases that emerge at the
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critical time that go in a very different direction. >> any more to add? >> he definitely did protest that he wasn't influenced by politics at all but it's hard to believe that based on the record. >> we talked about the fact that this court opened in 1935, this beautiful building and i'm wondering -- you spent a lot of time in the courtroom as solicitor general. is the courtroom that he operated in as chief justice essentially the same today? >> you know, there are a couple of minor differences and there have been changes the size -- shape of the bench from time to time over the time period but it is remarkably similar to the courtroom over which he would have presided. >> we also have a historic photograph that's from the supreme court, historic society but it was somewhat illicitly taken. it's a photograph of inside the courtroom while the court is in session with chief justice hughes presiding and we'll show that to you as well. as we're looking at that -- look
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at that from the court in session, you don't see that very often. >> you sure don't. >> we didn't mention it as biography and years in between as first and second service on the court, he was a private practice lawyer, much sought after and argued 50 cases before the court. my question is having had that experience, what was oral argument like in his court? >> it's a very good point and it's similar to the situation we have now with chief justice roberts. we have somebody in chief justice roberts who argued nearly 40 cases when he was -- before he came onto the bench and chief justice hughes had these 50 arguments in his private practice, a very lucrative private practice and that's part of the point that was made about the sacrifices that he made for public service. but he comes to the court as somebody who not only has appreciation for the job of the court because he's previously
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served as an associate justice but he has sympathy and understanding of the role of counsel as well. he's somebody who was certainly willing to ask questions of counsel, but also had a real appreciation that counsel had prepared for the argument and points they wanted to make and also ready and willing to listen to counsel at argument as well. >> pittsburgh, this is tim. welcome to our conversation, tim. >> caller: yes, thank you. i have a question for your guests about the circumstances of justice hughes asending to the court as chief justice in 1930. i don't know if this story is true so i hope your guests would be able to confirm it, that the conventional wisdom after taft had died that charles evans hughes would not agree to serve as chief justice because doing so would mean that his son would have to resign as solicitor general. and then to everyone's surprise,
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charles evans hughes senior decided to take the job and his son had to resign as solicitor general. >> well, you probably know some of the history of your predecessors. what can you tell us? >> i have heard this story and do not know whether it's true. i heard different versions and you may have a perspective as to the truth of it. i will say this though, which is to say i think if somebody -- if the president really thought -- president hoover really thought the charles evans hughes would not take the job and not interested in being chief justice that seems like a very naive assumption. hughes had an interest in the chief justice job going way back. when he was first put on the court as an associate justice he was appointed with some understanding and there's a letter to this effect that he may be elevated very early when there was an opening at that
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point and he wasn't. he was passed over for chief justice white. of course president taft was the one who passed him over and there's some suspicion that president taft may have had an eye on the chief justice job that he ultimately got rather than the young, robust -- then justice hughes. i have definitely heard the story and it certainly had to be a difficult moment around the family dinner table since there's no question that chief justice hughes accepting the job meant his son would have to give up the solicitor general job, which is a very plum job but it's naive to think he was going to turn it down. >> i mean, i think some people did think so at the time but they were probably misled. one more addendum about the fact he may have had aspirations earlier, there was some possibility that he would be appointed as chief justice when
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he was first appointed to the court and being passed over for chief justice might have been one of the reasons he was more willing to take the nomination than not. >> next telephone call is from columbus, ohio. this is mark. hello, mark. >> caller: yes, i'm here. i wanted to talk about is -- the problem with the supreme court judges from being able to stay 80, 90 years old, i think they are way out of touch with the american people. and there's a whole lot of things that go on goes on with them where they've been in different types of groups like the kkk and stuff like that. and they still had the same beliefs than what everybody else have in this country. and there ought -- instead of
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them being appointed by different presidents, we ought to be able to vote them in. i think that would be a little more fair than the way they are in now. and it would be more a part of this country than just like they are gods or something, you know -- >> mark, thanks for your question. >> he talks about supreme court justices not knowing much about the rest of us in society. i'd like to hear from both of you. >> i think actually this is part of what motivated fdr's court packing plan, part of what he was saying, the older judges had an quaited notions and they were too out of touch. and i think that's why all of the justices took offense at his plan. >> i think that's right and ther have been ideas that maybe we need a retirement age, maybe we need term limits or some way
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of either making the justices more responsive or either limiting the length at which they serve. it's interesting, these are topics that then attorney hughes addresses in his book about the supreme court and he talks about the various pros and cons and certainly cognizant there can be difficulties sometimes justices will stay on longer than they should. but he concludes that at the end of the day the current system we have is the best system you could have and especially when it comes to things like vindicating people's individual rights that it's a virtue not a vice that the justices are somewhat removed from every day politics. >> inside this supreme court there are two very large conference rooms, east and west conference rooms used often for public events and there are portraits of each of the chief justices who have served. we're going to show you the portrait of charles evans hughes that is here inside the court. as we look at that. i would like bernie, for you to
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talk about the most significant opinions he offered. >> he did offer a number of significant opinions. one opinion that is significant and is underdiscussed, bailey against alabama. this is an opinion he issued early on when he was associate justice and it involved striking down a peonage law. under the 13th amendment, it wasn't clear whether there could be labor required in response to debt or compensation of debt. he struck down this law that had allowed for peonage and said it wasn't relevant that the party involved was african-american but that anyone shouldn't be subject to this requirement of labor for debt. that was one important decision. of course he had a lot of important decisions that he
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authored during his time as chief justice and the -- among them were decisions on both sides of the spectrum in terms of striking down economic legislation or upholding it. one case that was especially crucial because it signaled his willingness to understand the flexibility that was required by economic legislation pretty early on in his term, was the case of home building and loan association versus blaze dale, involving a mortgage moratorium act where the time was extended and the claim was that this violated the state's responsibility not to impair the obligations of contract. what chief justice holmes -- sorry, hughes said in this case was basically that contracts have to be understood within the
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context. public interest. one of the themes he kept coming back the way individual rights had to be maintained but that had to be within the context of a protection of the public interest more importantly. >> those are great opinions to highlight. the great thing is he was the chief justice for a number of years, he certainly wrote more than his fair share of the opinions so they are opinions we could point to. i would mention a couple. obviously the west coast hotel and steel cases are the ones that essentially are the pivot points for the switch in time. those are certainly very important opinions but i also think there are some what i describe as civil liberty opinions he wrote, near against minnesota, one of the very first important first amendment cases as part of the court's -- now it's hard to imagine the supreme court of the united states without the first amendment.
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it's an important part of their docket but it is one of the building blocks for first amendment free speech jurs pruns and another case where recognizes the freedom of assembly and the problems with laws that try to target people for being members of unpopular groups and the court has kind of waxed and wained but in many respects it was ahead of his time. >> los angeles is the next caller and lon is on the air. >> caller: i would like to ask your panelists with both charles evans hughes and fdr, being part of the new york aris to cratic elite, both were progressive governors and one took the path of highest elected office and other went the judicial report. what kind of rapport was there between them and i was wondering behind closed doors if there's
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any evidence of any cordiality or was fdr regarded by hughes as a trader to his class? also, i was thinking of this while i was listening to your discussion. was there a point at which hughes realized that even though he was an elected governor, that he realized that from his aristocratic background, he couldn't aspire to running for president, either thinking of george thnathanial kersen who h the ability to be prime minister but had no hope of elective office. those two questions and i'll take your questianswer off the >> can you speak to it? >> i think certainly hughes swore in fdr on several
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occasions and so there was an amity between them but the court packing scheme and various tensions over the relation twn the court and president at that point in time didn't really lead to a very amicable friendship between the two men. hughes himself was somewhat reserved in terms of social list within d.c. he and his wife would agree to attend dinner parties on saturday nights because he felt it could con tra veen his aus tear modes if he went out at any other time. he wasn't as much a figure in the washington social scene as one might imagine. >> he wasn't from quite the same aristocratic roots of roosevelt. his upbringing was exceptional and both of his parents were remarkable individuals but i
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don't think it was a youth of great luxury and wealth and i think most of the wealth he accomplished over his career accumulated over his career was from his own law practice and endeavors. i do think there were differences personalitiwise and backgroundwise as well. >> next call is from stockton, california. carol. >> caller: hi, stockton. the question was that the extent that supreme court justice hughes was on -- was he still the chief justice in 1948 or did he retire before his death in 1948? which would have made him around 85 years old at the time. >> that's right. >> well, thank you very much, you've jumped into the last part of his life which we'll spend a little more time. when did he retire? >> 1941. >> he stepped down when he still had a few years left and i think that's something that was not
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unintentional. in his time on the court he had seen some justices get to the end of their time and have difficult issues when they should leave. he was very close when he first came to the court with justice holmes and then came back to the court as chief justice even though had had been away for 20 years, justice holmes was still on the bench. one of the things he had to do was eventually differ the news to justice holmes that his colleagues on the court decided that it might be time for justice holmes to move on. that was one of the most difficult things he had to do as chief justice especially because of the closeness between the two men. i'm sure it was one of the most difficult things justice holmes had to deal with. >> what was his relationship like with brandeis? >> he had a quite amicable relationship personally. i mean one of the indicia of that the fact that brandeis was willing to sign on to this letter or to agree to support this letter that he wrote and
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against the court packing deal. and i think that brandeis objected to basically a lot of hughes' judicial philosophy and was much more liberal than hughes but respected him as an intellect. this goes back to a theme we come upon a lot. his intellect and ability to question various litigants and to reason from cases was really admired by all of the other justices. >> i need to ask. you described his formidable intellect. if you, if you could time travel argue a case in front of the court? >> it would be fascinating, some of the four horsemen were difficult personalities from the bench. i'm not sure it would be all roses but i do think it would be a remarkable experience. and obviously you're talking about not just the opportunity to argue in front of chief
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justice hughes about justice brandeis, there were lions and formidable intellects across the court. >> a couple of mechanics questions about the court. 8,000 petitions to have cased heard. they hear one out of 100, 70 to 80 cases a year. what was it like then? >> it wasn't that much more cases but the petitions for cert were lower. when roosevelt proposed the court packing scheme, 890 petitions in the prior year and only 100 something had been granted. that was one of his grounds for complaint against the court, they didn't have enough energy to hear more cases. we have a much greater disproportion between the number of cases that are petitions and number granted. >> oral arguments generally an hour today. were they at that time? >> i think they were still typically that, more con strained. the early days of the court
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arguments would go on for days. by the time of chief justice hughes, the arguments were more limited. i think just to follow up on the very good point that was made, i think one of the stories of the supreme court as it's developed over history is more and more of its docket has become discretionary. so at the time that chief justice hughes was on the court, one of the things he did was he moved the court more in the direction of having greater discretion over which cases to take and initially that was a source of at least potential controversy that they were exercising their discretion not to hear some cases of course by today's numbers it seems quaint. the court hears 1 in 100 cases they would like them to hear. >> we have a half left to go in our two-hour look at the contender, we're featuring charles evans hughes, unsuccessful in his quest, though it was a close election against wood row wilson. and then charles evans hughes
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went on to serve as chief justice, second term on the supreme court. and was very much at the center of things during fdr's court backed packing scheme. mississippi, hello, anita you're on the air. >> caller: i hope you have a healthy and happy baby and i try to catch it every friday night. my question is, hughes just -- justice hughes sounded like a man who was for progression and i hear you wax and wain how he wanted the -- for i was curious to wonder what would you think of women stepping forward and them on the court now and what he would think about the wrongdoings going on in the court today? >> i think that that's a really interesting question about his attitude towards women. we heard a little bit earlier that he was in favor of female suffrage earlier than other
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people. his attitude about women was ambiguous. he was an advocate for a lot more progressive legislation than he was later. some people argued he sort of had a turn towards the right later in his career. among the legislation he was interested in was to protect women and children laborers, some opposed those kinds of measures because they thought they were paternalistic and even in his later time on the court and as chief justice in a -- the west coast case, in a sense he used a somewhat paternalistic logic about protecting women against unfair labor practices, not just protecting any laborer but that women might need special protection. on the one hand he was in favor of allowing women more ougawuto.
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>> thank you for a wonderful program. i would like to know the opinion from your panelists what you believed charles evans hughes might make of what's going on in wall street right now? >> can you project? >> everyone has their own perspective what's going on at wall street right now. i do think charles evan hughes was in some respects one of the great early reformers. if you think about the trajectory of his career, he didn't seek out public service for sort of its own sake or something he really wanted elective office. he came to public service through his law practice and through an opportunity to kind of investigate industries where there was a lot of corruption and i think this is something that was a hall mark of his career and even in his presidential run, it's probably consistent with the idea that he wasn't necessarily the world's
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best back slapper or knew how to build alliances with people. he was very focused on getting rid of corruption and not caring if that meant a few sacred cows got slaughtered in the process. >> you mentioned his was one of the first controversial appointments as chief justice. i read one of the both sides were concerned he was going to be too pro-business. >> this is a very interesting and somewhat par doxiccal concern, given his time as governor and i think he was quite right that he was very reform minded. i think of him sometimes as combining teddy roosevelt's with wilson's internationalism and seemed to have an early career as a reformer. people were concerned his time as a private attorney and private practice led him into pro-business alliances that would make him indisspoes to
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regulate companies anymore. i think that the main issue was the time he spent in private practice although that concern was not really warranted given his earlier career. >> i'm going to take a call from toledo and we have a clip about charles evans hughes and race. tony, you're on the air. >> thanks for taking my call. this particular question may be probably directed towards the professor clem ent of the georgetown university law school professor. sir, how do you feel mr. hughes would have responded to unelected officials -- international organization scale such as the rockefeller funded united nations, being able to dictate international law as opposed to an elected official who would use the congress to pass particular laws. >> thank you. >> that's a great question and
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it's one where i think that the chief justice hughes would have i think very kind of nuanced views and not something where you would say oh, boy he really would be hostile to the international organizations because this is somebody who came to the chief justiceship after serving on the international court in the hague. he's being sort of internationalist if you will and in his writings he has been let critical of the idea that international is our law. in his book he specifically says international law is our law. on the other handy think he would ultimately say that our own elected officials have the ultimate say over what the scope of our laws are. and i think he would have had had a view that congress had quite a wide scope to embrace international law principles but that if congress wanted to say certain principles of international didn't apply in the united states, that would be the last word. >> can i add?
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>> sure. >> that's exactly right. he says that congress has the last word but international law can fill in the gaps in certain respects but i also think he was kind of ahead of his time in promoting u.s. involvement in the court of international justice. he was not only a judge on that court but also advocated the u.s. assuming -- adopting jurisdiction or being under the jurisdiction of the permanent court. >> we had a few callers who asked about charles evans hughes and race. we're going to turn to the law firm still existing in new york city for a story that hughes tells in his auto biography. >> in the charles evans hughes conference center we try to select things which reflect important stages in justice hughes' life and we collected a number of things including original books that justice hughes authored. most notably the autobiography which we find to be especially
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interesting. my favorite story is one justice hughes of tells of a visit he scheduled when he was the president of the baptist society in new york city. he asked booker t. washington the notable civil rights activist at that time and religious person himself to come and speak to the assembly. and when booker t. washington and his wife arrived, justice hughes escorted mr. washington and his wife to his own table and sat him there, which at that time unfortunately was a very controversial thing to do. justice hughes took advantage of that, to speak to the assembly about the importance of diversity and tolerance. he was very disappointed that a group of religious people would be intolerant to having booker t. washington at his table. >> we have about 22 minutes left to go in our two-hour look at the life and legacy of charles evans hughes, the contender, a man who sought the presidency and lost but changed american history. we've brought back one of our
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first guests joining us still on the plaza of the supreme court. and david, one aspect of his life we didn't spend time on and we should, his term of secretary of state and pivotal post world war i years. would you tell us what contributions he made in that role? >> absolutely. he's regarded not only as one of the great chief justices. he's regarded as one the great secretaries of state when he leaves he's regarded as one of the top three, john quincy adams and secretary seward and himself. what he does, inherits really a great mess where because of the failure of the league of nations and talking about him in international affairs and law, he was for the league of nations and for the american united states of america too enter the league but he was not about to cede sovereignty to the league of nations and opposed to article 10 in the league of nations which committed the united states basically to go to
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war if the league decided we were going to define boundaries, of the mess of the map created in europe after the treaty of versailles. he thought the league could be fixed and planned to submit a clean bill sort of treaty which could get through the senate when he became secretary of state. that was impossible, warren harding saw this quicker than he did but hughes recognized the truth of that that it was really a fool's era to go back there. thought about resigning and stays and has really -- he pioneers an international disarmament and ground breaking navy treaty which caps the ratio of 10, 10 and 6 by the united states, united kingdom and japan. scraps a lot of heavy tonnage battleships and this is a good deal for the united states because with our congress we
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were not about to spend the money on the military. we would have lost ground to japan in that decade. also, he moves on to other treaties in the far east. he gets japan to give the province of chantung back to china. and it's a thing people wouldn't believe but going into that decade, the united kingdom, britain was united in treaty and that is if they were attacked or the other party was attacked they would go to war and the other party was with japan. there was a fear actually in the united states if we got embroiled in a controversy with japan, we might have to go to war with britain on that. he broke that treaty very smoothly, four power pact and one thing he was not successful in, the immigration treaty with japan which was in 1924 and was the japanese exclusion act. he tried quite hard to get that
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ameal yor ated and he was not able to do that. the senate was a great problem to him in foreign affairs. it would be a toss-up between that and france. >> next telephone call from greensboro, north carolina. hi, charlie, you're on the air. >> caller: a wonderful series and thank goodness for c-span. who was the person in the 1916 election on the republican side that ran against hughes? i had heard that had the other person been the nominee they would have beaten wilson. >> well, am i supposed to take that one? if i am, really the contenders that year were senate fairbanks who had been a vice president under theodore roosevelt. there was a senator burton of ohio, root, was the outright
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conservative candidate. i would hesitate to say that any one of those would have run a better race than hughes. i think that really the deck was kind of stacked -- it being so close, if you change any one thing, if maybe you don't have the railroad strike which impacted the voting in ohio as opposed -- service johnson did in california, you don't know. i don't know you can say there was any one stronger candidate. if he had been so strong, he would have won the nomination. >> for all three of our guests and we're to go one at a time, it's time to wrap this conversation up and think about charles evan hughes' legacy, how the world might have been different if he hadn't been here. what our country might have been like if he hadn't served. i'm going to take a call and start with you. so give you a little chance to think about that. puerto rico.
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this is gerald. >> caller: good evening. i would like to ask the panelists to please explain why the hughes court decided to disregard the judicial precedents, specifically the ruling in shek ter and carter in order to recognize for the first time a fundamental right to organize unions and the case of national labor relations board versus jones and steel corporation. >> could you answer that? >> harm onize justice hughes judicial reasoning. >> thank you very much. >> i'll give it a try. i do think that there is a way to reconcile those opinions because another caller pointed this out earlier. it's easy to think about these decisions on both sides of the famous switch in time as being 5-4 one way and 5-4 the other. but the story is much more complicated than that. a unanimous decision, every member of the court said that
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there was something wrong with the statute at issue there. still on the books as a precedent. it leaves lawyers kind of scratching their head. it's the birth of the none delegation doctrine and from time to time lawyers try to fit time in because it's still on the books but that really was a different doctrine than was at issue when the wagner act, nlra comes before the court. what i think is really precedent setting and does break from the prior decisions in that decision is really the court in the previous decisions had distinguished commerce from production or other forms of economic activity. and it's something that i think had always bedevilled the court, these were difficult distinctions to draw. if you look at the pre1937 commerce clause, it is a cat gorical approach and did require
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thin and difficult distinctions. i do think in that sense those decisions were not so satisfying that they were decisions that were not that easy -- i think the court essentially ultimately became persuaded that that way of looking at the commerce laws wouldn't work. >> first shot at the legacy question. >> basically, the hughes court wound up creating the modern commerce power or allowing for the commerce power to be construed broadly. so much of the regulatory system that we're under right now or that we can enjoy really derives from congress's power under the commerce clause. so i think that that's one of the things that hughes shepherded the court through a very difficult time and allowed
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for this outcome to emerge where the commerce power could sort of be much more -- much more expansive than previously. >> philadelphia. charles. hello. >> caller: hi. professor clement, i want to thank you for your record of professional service but i wanted to ask about chief justice hughes' attitude towards oral argument. did he believe they should be like they are today largely focused on questions? >> he had a more balanced view of oral argument, i think in the sense that i think he understood both the virtues of asking questions and also the virtues of having lawyers have an a.mpl. opportunity to explain questions, we've moved to a different place where supreme court is dominated by the questions. it's funny at that time justices
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and in his book, almost like they femt t they felt the need why it was appropriate to ask the questions at all. some believed it is their time and they got to give a nice prose and they're with the government. it was important to have the opportunity to ask questions and good for the lawyer to have an understanding of what was bothering the justices about their side of the case. >> fred in washington, d.c. welcome to our discussion. >> fred, are you there? >> yes. >> your question. >> my question is i would like to know if any of the members of the panel can make a comment about -- at that time about the justice view about separation of church and state or at that time any of their colleagues, what was their view? >> thanks very much.
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>> members of the panel can answer this then. >> you want to take that? >> this was a moment in time when the notion of a wall of separation was coming into common parlance, or becoming much more prevalent. the hughes court was quite important in terms of religious liberty more generally. under the hughes court both the free exercise clause and establishment clause of the first amendment were incorporated against the states through the due process clause of the 14th amendment. they were held to apply to the state to state action. that allowed for a lot more suits based on violation of religious liberty than had previously occurred. >> how about you take your crack at charles evans hughes' legacy. >> it's important that he -- of how he stopped the court packing scheme and how the decisions
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changed and he helped put the republican party back together again. his legacy is one of service of a man time after time after again leaves his normal state of life country and does it with remarkable intelligence and integrity. and at the time of so much fractiousness on the nation, i think it is good to look back on positive examples and to take hope from them. >> i read in one biographer who said he had felt the constant tug between the legal and political spheres. did you have that same sense of him? >> yes. but i think -- one of -- i think after he left the secretary of stateship, someone said to him -- of him he was our first citizen. and i think that is such a wonderful thing to say, and certainly such a true thing to say about him. but, again, he made amazing sacrifices, amazing sacrifices
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when he left the state department, he was able to earn a peak of $400,000 a year. and some of the jobs he had prior to that were in the range of $12,000 a year. so part of the fact of his leaving was simply he knew he had to take care of his family, but in between all those times, and even when he was off the court, if you take a look at all of the organizations he was involved in, including the foundation of the national conversation of christians and jews, to advocate tolerance in the mid1920s, the time when often it was in short supply, the man was a powerhouse, tireless, whether he was in public service officially or not, he was always doing the public's work. >> and we have ten minutes left in our program, we have time for just a couple of more calls. let me ask the same question of you, the legacy. >> i would say there is really two aspects of it.
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obviously i'm approaching this from more the legal perspective. one is what has already been touched on is the commerce clause jurisprudence, and i think what makes that legacy so interesting is that we're still dealing with this issue. chief justice hughes rejected what i would call the categorical approach to the commerce clause, but even he was very quick to add that the commerce clause was not unlimited. and that it was a limited power, and the framers had enumerated the various powers in the constitution including the commerce clause and none of them gave the federal government an absolute plenary power. he laid out the basic framework we're still wrestling with and we still have this idea that the commerce clause is broad, but not unlimited. and where those limits are, something we continue to struggle with. that's a real part of his legacy. the other thing i would emphasize is the legacy of judicial independence. because i do think that the court packing idea was probably
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the single greatest challenge to judicial independence, at least in the 20th century. and i think the way that he sort of fought that off, i think it is something that, like i said, i don't think we'll see another court packing effort and i think that's a great legacy. i add to that in his book about the supreme court, he addressed what he thought were the three worst supreme court decisions that the court had made up to that point, what he called self-inflicted wounds. and one of them was a decision in the 1870s called the legal tender decision and what is interesting about it is it is a case where the court struck down a statute and after a change in its membership ended up upholding the statute and in commenting on that, he said it is the court's fault for the way they handled it and specifically pointed out to wasn't president grant's fault and uses the word doctor -- he uses the word court packing. so this is something that was in the back of his mind, even
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before he was a chief justice, he sees this threat to the court, a real threat, and fends it off and i think that is a very worthy legacy. >> south massachusetts, this is greg. >> caller: hello. >> hi, greg, you're on. >> caller: yes, when does chief justice hughes get done being on the court? >> 1941. what is your follow-up? >> caller: so was he the chief justice when camatsu versus camatsu was written? >> no, he was off the court by that point. >> david, patricia, let's ask have you explain about his final years. he resigns from the court as we just said in 1941 and lives until the next five or six years, dies at the age of 86. what were his final years like? >> well, he's very old on the
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court and very old when he gets off the court. two years before he gets off the court he gets a real scare, sounds like a stroke. in fact, it is a ulcer, but he recovers his health. so when he leaves the court in 41, he's actually fairly vigorous. what does happen, however, he remains -- he doesn't return to new york. his children are up there. but he remains in washington, d.c. he had been, you know, his marriage was really a very close one, very wonderful. but at this point he decided i'm going to make up for lost time, the time which i had been away from my wife all this time. but she takes ill fairly quickly. i think by the end of the war she has passed away. and it is a very tragic time for him. it is one of the few times which ever is recorded of him losing control of his emotions when she has passed. and then -- and it is so painful for him. his health continues fairly strongly until 1948, he goes up,
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i believe, to cape cod, and there he takes a sudden turn for the worse, passes away. he had a fear of, i think it was to be, like, not to be like justice cardozo who had been helpless toward the end of his life. and in this -- his wish was granted, his time of infirmity was a matter of almost just days if not hours. so he passed away with all the dignity, which he had lived. >> we have just about four minutes left. we have a clip of -- we talked about the fact he swore in fdr three times evenly though they had this epic battle over court packing. we have a clip. >> you franklin delano roosevelt do solemnly swear you will faithfully execute the office of president of the united states to the best of your ability,
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protect and defend the constitution of the united states so help you god? >> franklin delano roosevelt do solemnly swear that i will faithfully execute the office of president of the united states, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states so help me god. >> charles evans hughes, swearing in franklin delano roosevelt. and his legacy as chief justice, especially during the court packing area, something we discussed during this edition of the contenders. we have a couple of minutes left. i'd like to go back where i started, paul, and that's to talk about the 1916 election. if he had won that and woodrow wilson had not won a second term, specifically there, how would the world have been
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different? >> well, i think, you know, it is -- that's a very consequential question in the sense that it is always hard to try to reconstruct what would have been so different if some critical factor had not taken place. you know, wilson obviously was a president who led us through the entry into world war i, and moved us forward and so i think he's somebody that history regards very well. i have to say personally, though, understanding the character of person that charles evans hughes was, it is hard for me to think that we would be poorly served, even during that critical time by somebody who had done so exceptionally well in so many different ways and certainly as his later service as secretary of state showed he is somebody who would have, i think, would have been very comfortable in leading us in our foreign affairs. >> david, what are your thoughts on that with regard to entry to world war i. >> i think it is exit from world war i where the change would
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have been made. because what we're talking about is the peace process. woodrow wilson botches that spectacularly. we see how hughes handles the treaty making process as secretary of state, brings all parties in, gets the treaties in and submits to the senate, passed almost overwhelmingly, and also what i neglected to mention in his post justice -- chief justiceship years, he's called in to consult on the structure for the new united nations. at this advanced age. he strikes some things regarding the structure of the security council, puts some things in and makes it far more workable. he's a very practical guy. and i think -- he had been interested in world justice and rule of law, internationally, from an early point, if he had proposed a league of nations, there is a good chance it would have been approved by the united states of america. >> other than your own book, if people are interested in hearing more what is one of best books
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in on this era that you can recommend. >> certainly on hughes, the merlot peucy volume 2 book. >> you brought a book of his letters, i understand. >> yes, it is this book he wrote, it is a collection of six different lectures he gave at columbia university. and as i say, it is really a unique insight because here is ruminations about the supreme court of the united states from somebody who had been an associate justice and would soon be the chief justice of the united states. but it is a candid look on what at this point a lawyer really thinks about the supreme court. >> still highly readable today? >> very highly readable and fascinating actually how contemporary a lot of the discussion is. >> last question for you quickly, when first year law students come in and you teach them about this, what is the one thing you want them to know about it? >> i want them to know about the switch in time and the fact that
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it may have been political or may not have been and also what the consequences were. >> i want to say thank you to our three guests who have been with us tonight on our charles evans hughes program from outside the united states supreme court. we appreciate your time with us as we learn more about this period of american history, people who sought the presidency and even though that bid was not successful, still had important impact on american history. we're going to close now as we started with some archival footage from the 1916 campaign. ♪
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♪ coming up this weekend on american history tv on c-span3, the life and legacy of alexander hamilton. >> hamilton's argument was that the war had been a common struggle, all the states were fighting together for the liberty of all, for the whole country. so he assumed the debts of the 13 states along with the federal debt, they would all be treated as one debt, they would be paid off at the same time. >> saturday evening, a little after 7:00 eastern, author and national review senior editor richard brookhyzer on the economic achievements of alexander hamilton. on reel america, the war department film the last bomb documents the final months of the b-29 super fortress air campaign against japan, including the august 1945 atomic bombings of hiroshima and
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nagasaki. and sunday morning at 10:00, the third and final 2000 presidential debate between democratic vice president al gore and republican texas governor george w. bush. >> law abiding citizens ought to be allowed to protect themselves and their families. i believe that we ought to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them, that's why i'm for instant background checks at gun shows. >> i think some common sense gun safety measures are certainly needed with the flood of cheap handguns that have sometimes been working their way into the hands of the wrong people. but all of my proposals are focused on that problem, gun safety. >> also this weekend at 8:00 eastern, c-span series the contenders, key figures who ran for the presidency and lost, but changed political history. saturday night, the 1928 democratic nominee and former new york governor al smith and sunday the 1940 republican presidential nominee wendel
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wilke. >> as he was driving up the streets of hoboken, practically every store window, vacant store window, had pictures of my opponent and his associates on the new deal ticket. i don't know of any more appropriate place to put those pictures. >> for our complete american history tv schedule, go to c-span.org. this year marks the 130th annual meeting of the american historical association. these meetings include panels of historians and scholars discussing a variety of topics. up next on american history tv, a panel of i had storians debate the 1916 re-election of president woodrow wilson and u.s. foreign policy in a session titled turning point 1916, u.s. foreign relations before and after they kept us out of war election. the observations in this hour and 45 minute program include

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