tv The Presidency CSPAN August 20, 2016 10:30am-11:51am EDT
from adrian harrison. she talks about the george washington she discovered through the books he read and collected throughout his life. how the first commander-in-chief was inspired in -- inspiring to her. the library for the study of george washington at mount burden hosted this hour-long event. host: good evening. i am the founding director here at mount vernon. this is where you are. you are in the library and i would like to welcome c-span here as well tonight. we're thankful to be sponsored by the ford motor company. they have been long time donors.
this goes all the way back to henry ford who provided the first fire engine to keep the mansion from burning down. we like to see that. that is what we see right there. it was built before that by the washington family. it was expanded by george washington. of course, the association has maintained this property so that everyone can learn about the life and lessons of george washington. they are a privately funded institution and it is part of the mission to help people everywhere learn about the principles of the founding. the topic tonight is perfect for what we do. we are really excited to have this special presentation for you.
please welcome adrienne harrison. she is a graduate of west point who later went on to earn her phd degrees from rutgers university. she has been an assistant professor at west point. she served as 12 years as a commissioned officer in the u.s. army including three combat tour is in iraq. she brings a certain amount of experience to this project. she will talk to you a little bit about how personal it is for her to explore the life of george washington in this way. she is here tonight to talk about her great new book. she is doing exactly what we would like to do in mount vernon.
not the person that is just a marble statue although we love the great icon of george washington. we want to recognize that he was a human who lived in the world. it was through his mind. we do have a chance to have questions from the audience. we have made a special effort tonight to bring out some of the items from his library and you will see two tour it in the holy of holies. you will get a chance to get in there behind the scenes. it is a special evening and it is this an exciting one.
everyone give a big hand. [applause] adrienne: good evening everyone. it is a privileged to be here i wasn't expecting that so thank you for having me and for allowing me to indulge you in one of the biggest things i have ever done. i just want to say by info of introduction, why i gave this talk. i was on facebook and when i was on facebook, it was the same day where i received this invitation and saw a suggested ad pop up. like mark zuckerberg's minions
are figuring out what you want to purchase on who you are and what your interests are. as it happens, there was an ad that popped up and have you never heard of it, it is a company that makes military themed clothes. it was this particular ad that got my attention. it had a picture on it of george washington crossing the delaware river. underneath this green printing it said one single phrase, get some. the tagline was what, a attention because it said, if you insult george washington in a dream you had better wake up.
total stud. it struck me when i saw this because this is why i wrote this book. we think of these swaggering g.i. joe type terms. he is the myth. he is the guy that is in a painting. he is at now to us, he is two dimensional and far removed so there has to be a way to make him a real person again. for me, it was something that was intensely personal. i-8 interest in washington going back to my childhood. it was something that had stayed with me all the way up to when i was an undergraduate.
\it was something that i carried with me in the arm. it hit me when i was a brand-new second lieutenant. i was 23 years old and there i was. all army stories start with the quote, there i was. i was in the 82nd airborne division on the first stage of operation iraqi freedom. i had the lives of -- i was in baghdad where we ended up after the invasion and it struck me after one mission that we had that after we got back, we had
barely debated an ambush. the traffic in washington dc does not compare to what you see over there. it was one of those experiences that you are drained afterwards. it hit me, how did washington do this? how did he experienced armed combat for the first time. here i am in the rack and my mind randomly goes back. everyone needs a bit of a mental escape. the days and nights all started to blend together so you needed something that was going to get you through so you could face the next day.
for me, it was reading. i had a steady stream of books sent to me. one of my old thesis advisors who i've actually spoken here as well. he sent me all the latest books on george washington so he kept his example. i was thinking about washington and how did he do it? although we were separated by more than two centuries and vastly different circumstances, there were some similarities. i was a little bit older than he was when he let his first troops that he and i both had very limited or no professional experience at that point. when we were given the opportunity to lead and so fundamentally i thought our
response must have been fundamentally the same in some level. then the comparison had to stop. i had the benefit of west point education behind me. i had extensive military training. i had all of that that could undergird my consequence. he was younger than me and has some fencing lessons. that was it. 's actual execution did not go well. let's just say that.
after leading his troops bravely he picks the absolute worst on well. how you could put a fortification. worst place ever nothing but trees. that wasn't going to go well. he went well beyond the stress of his orders. he started those seven years war. we were different in that regard and then we had the first lesson that we had. he found himself in a position where he did not have the professional training to set up the fortification. he did not speak the language of
his energy -- enemy. in this first firefight, he had no control when these four frenchmen who have been mortally wounded. when they descended on him, they were pleading for their lives in french. he lost control he vowed at that point that he was not going to make the same mistake again. i won't belabor it. there was nothing about him but said future father of the nation. there was nothing about that. he was charged with leading these officers who also had no
experience. he said something pathetic. having no opportunity to learn from example, let us read. he was exposed in the british army to the professional benefit of reading. he didn't have the benefit of a formal education that he was going to go out there and do the best he could. that was something that stuck with me. that he was lucky as a leader. even though i had more of an education was something that i took to heart. this question of how did he do it. how did he turn into this.
there is a part of the leg and see on -- legacy of the steely eyed charger. there is a reason why we remember him that way. there is more to it than just that he was a tall guy who looks good in a uniform. i got to go back to school and i was going to make my mark on the world. i said that i had an idea. i want to write about how george washington fashioned himself. and he said, that's a terrible idea. [laughter] the challenge there was a grain , of truth in what he was saying. the challenge facing any washington historian is what else is there to say about this man? he is the most talked about in the world.
you're going to go to a bookstore and find something on george washington there. what else is there that's different? i was told to go back to the drawing board and try again. i was undaunted and how i kept this idea. i was going to convince them that this was a viable product. i was set. it it was in a different grad school course but i was exposed readingk called revolutions by kevin sharp. named sir on a guy william drake who was a political operative that learned the art of being a public figure through reading. it was something about what he had argued. in talking about drake, he said
that reading was essentially something that is political and it is specific to time and places. we think about our own reading and that is pretty much true for all of us. our predilections, our beliefs inform how we receive the things that we read, whether you are conservative, liberal, religious. of england formed inform the way you receive things. also, he put forth the idea that reading is useful and practical. i thought about a different book about washington. i thought about another about george washington. in that, i found an opportunity. he included an appended to his book. this is something where he said that washington the reader was practical but not really all that bright. he is not that much of it intellectual.
the appendix talks about the main topics you'll find in washington's library. he sums it by saying he's not much of an intellectual. opportunity to look at his shortfall. taking what sharp what said about reading being political and practical knowledge that you can apply to your civic task force in front of you. there was my opportunity for the dissertation. i wanted to look at washington and how he did this self fashioning and presentations by looking at his reading. that was something you won't find a whole lot of biographies that talk about it to any great extent. many of them tend to be
dismissive of his reading efforts because he is not something that we see. we remember the guy on the charger and here is the books are under the table. it looks like he would rather not in this picture. he has been there and done that. that was my idea and i was able to sell that to my advisor. how you approach that? so what, what he do about it? i started with this 1799 inventory that was her hired by law when he passed away. when he passed away, there were over 900 volumes and 1200 different works that were there. everything ranging from history to military science to religion. political pamphlets and the like.
900 volumes, that is a lot. of that, what did he read? think about that, whether you have real bookshelves. we all have books on our shelves that we've never read it the bethink it looks fascinating and you never get to it. or the book that some well-intentioned person gave you as a gift and you went thanks. you can sign it to the shelf never to be touched again. bearing that in mind about ourselves, it will tell you something about what you are. my shelves are almost all history. i'm a historian. that is what i enjoy so you will find almost all history and not a science fiction title on there.
that's just me. it will tell you something about your priorities. are history because i am trying to make a living out of it. it is less than 1% anything else. if that's true, why would that be different. i looked at what is on his shelf. what is not there is also telling. i have a lot of history, politics, military, agriculture and. maybe it wasn't all that interesting. there is information that can get from that.
we know that washington did not know any of language other than english. i looked at the volumes and what do we know? we know that washington did not know any of language other than english. anything that was printed in a foreign language i excluded. for things like don quixote, that is a good example. he actually got a copy. english translations are a little bit different in that was easy. this is where it gets hard. washington did not talk about reading. he rarely recommended reading to other people.
he made few literary allusions so how do we know what he read and what he didn't. you approach the idea of book ownership itself. what does that mean? books in the 18th century are luxury items. they are expensive and they are hard to come by especially in virginia. there is a printing press down there but they do not do a lot of book importing. he had to order his books during the colonial. he has to order them from england so if you took the time to order it and specifically order a certain title or addition. that means he intended to use it. i'm just going to make that assumption because he is not going to line the shelves on red -- unread classics. he never invited anyone into his store the study. books were hard to come by.
another assumption i made is that for the books that he had, in 1799, the state counted everything in the house. martha washington's books, it was also counted. if it had the markings of ownership, anything about women's literature, i assumed washington didn't have time for that. for his books, there were 397 volumes that had either his signature or both in them. you look at his signatures and if you go on a tour, you can see an example of this right in front of you. his signatures are meticulous.
even though he wrote with a quill pen everything was , perfectly centered. they were not haphazardly slapped on there with too much haste did it was done deliberately and with care. if you take the time to do that, that was something that was important to him. there are other books in their that the gifted books don't all have marks of ownership on them. we know they are his because they came with a letter. if you didn't bother to do that, he may not have even touched it. i narrowed it down by looking at that. now we have a smaller list and now this is approachable.
when we do with that information? i had a choice to make. i can either take a somatic approach and taking what he had started and go into more depth. i could do that or i could take a chronological approach. for me, i decided that after figuring out when and how he acquired them, i would do the chronological thing. in order to make sense of what washington red, i need to put it in the context of a wider world. there are only a handful of books that have his writing in them. he did not quote things verbatim in his writing.
i had to connect some more of the dots. contextualizing him made the difference and i could see him when he first married martha and took possession of the library. i have that inventory and it was made in his request. i had to compare against that the inventory that was made on his stepson's death. he died at the siege of your town of thai photo. an inventory was done then. i can balance that against the washington collection and see. then i had the inventory done in 1799, that was also a good one. to get further at this i had the
auction catalog from when the washington library went up or sale around the time of the civil war. when those books went for auction, everything to do with washington was worth money. people were good at picking out the fakes. it was in everybody's interest to make sure this was right. the auction catalog shows what specific volume has signatures on them and what had marginal note that. any sort of other notes that might have come with the book if the book was given to him, some of the religious books that came from his mother was given to him. they had notes like that. the guy who compiled it was a
guy named pc griffith. that was my handbook going through this process. it was able to help me find where his books were. i could see them up for myself. i had a framework and i had to go about figuring out, let's put the books with the context of what he was doing. in that i learned something about the practicality of what he was doing. i learned a lot of things. if you want to find his books now besides what is here in this library, some are scattered all over the place. the biggest concentration is in boston. that is a subscription library. they pulled their resources together with a big auction was going to happen. they tried to collect as many of washington's volumes as they could.
they thought it was a shame. i have a catalog and went to boston. i was given after many permissions, and archivist watching me like a hawk. these books were worth a lot of money. i got to handle washington's real books. i will give you a quick example of the relativism. i was reading this one book. page turner. it's a book about how the church of england is organized. it's not a theological book. it's the church structure book. i know when washing and came to possess this book. it was in the early 1760's. i am reading this book and has his signature on it. there is really nothing else there. it's dry. i couldn't find anything that was relevant that he would've
used. i'm trying to approach these books as he read. what is he going to put to immediate use? i'm approaching this book and read it. i am not getting anything. and i'm not getting anything. i made a mistake. i started to have a panic attack. then i turned the page and i am only a third of the way through the book and i turn the page and keep line. i see two big some prints in the margins of the book. much bigger than mine. from hansen clarke much bigger than mine. it was this is somebody was holding the book up to the light , a window, the candle. the oils on your hand, the ink stains, smudges. people didn't wash their hands that much. it was easy to smudge a page of
that old book. i'm looking at these thumbprints and i cannot prove that they are his. somebodywas like thought this page was interesting. i was reading what was on the page and it was about the -- diocesen of the within the church. i put it into context of what washington was doing at the time when he might have read this book. he was in the house of burgess is about paying the salaries of pairs priests -- parish priests. not theether or archbishop should petition for virginia. understanding the organization of the church of english -- my theory seems to be holding way.
-- wait. when i talk my the organization of the book, how did i approach it? -- i brought the chapters down into. there werere transformational things that happened to him. starting out with his formative years, what with some of the first things he read and why. even though he starts out reading this commentary as along -- young melissa -- military officer, as soon as the war is over he steps aside. his interest to other things. what is it that was going on that contributed to this change of interest? it was an enthralling anymore? it was hugely important and now
it's not? he had moments where things would change. where circumstances in his life would change. new opportunities would open up. thet chapter concludes with end of the seven years war where he knows once and for all there is nobody waiting for him. that will never happen. he is done. he is done with the military at that point. martha, he is now in the top stratosphere. now he is a burgess. politics, history and religion are important to him. he is a leading revolutionary. ideologically, he is more committed to independence earlier on in some of his earlier founding fathers.
when it's clear that he will be the commanding general of the army, he doesn't know anything about running an army much less build one from the ground up. his paper show that he commissioned agents in new york and philadelphia to go by and everything military they could find. he was buying field manuals, things they would get to lieutenant as an sergeant stare. he reads military science on the fly as he is pushing doctrine throughout the war. a politicals problem of the war. how do you get soldiers to join the military and stay in? now we don't worry about their pay anymore. but back then they had to. why would you join the army. , notot doing it for pay
for any sort of immediate benefit. you will not have shoes. please don't up and stay in. how do you do that? -- he starts collecting things. every pulpit in america was politicized out of fear or the war. he required that his troops go .o divine service every sunday they would hear the types of sermons that would reiterate from a different angle the world they should stay in and continue to serve. he starts to leverage these popular medium for lack of a better term to his advantage as a leader. he is starting to learn how to harness the power of the printed word. that some genetic comes into play after the revolution between the confederation and
his presidency where there is an interest in him personally and there's an interest in what will happen to this federation, the government that wasn't going out well. he starts advising people on how to pick up biographers, people to commemorate the war and what that says about the american future. and how the history is told. we have letters where he is saying, he is advising on what he should do. we see that he is starting to use books and media and print in a way that before it was about getting the knowledge but already there on the page. now he is trying to start to control the message. maturationeresting of washington's intellectual use of reading. our president faced a unique challenge. who can imagine being the first president?
you know why people don't want to be president now. look at the current election. whatever your leanings are. in washington you have to be first. how do you do that? how do you establish the legitimacy of this office you are in of this government under the new constitution that not everybody was on board with. how do we do that? it was all on him. if you read the section of the constitution of the presidency it is written with him in mind. he doesn't make that into something that is legitimate, authority of and sustainable. again how did he do it? he chose to use public ceremony. he was cared for lee -- carefully choreographed events. he believed it bridged the gap between the past and great britain and this new american
republican. he is a bridge. he used to ceremony to do it. as any good politician knows, you have to now what the pod -- with the people think about what you're doing. he had to figure that out. you have newspapers. they've proliferated after the war end. some media outlets started to turn against him. they turned against him personally. that was something that was difficult to take. they were attacking his family, i know that was something he couldn't take.
he distrusts and the newspaper. you are doing this thing. you don't how people think and you can't trust the newspapers. where and you look to gauge public opinion. he did what he did in the revolution. printed sermons. they were a way to gauge the way that people were responding and the smaller american communities , away from the newspapers were the stories were being rented over and again. many at the time were voices of the community. the pulpits, even when the cease ton ended they be politicized. they were still talking about politics. you see in washington the collection. he started amassing these sermons. that hisicy administration had anything to do with.
some are favorable, and some were more ballots than what he was getting from the newspapers. to see how people and all different reaches of these new united states were reacting to his presidential performance so to speak. then i moved on and i concerned myself with the physical structure of the library and what does that tell us about washington was his approach to reading. having looked at the reading he had done in his life and how his interest changed over time, well where? and what do we get out of that? we know that after he retired from the presidency and came he wasre to mount vernon concerned about what people would think about him and his legacy after he was gone.
he made an attempt to shape the record. he made plans for the construction of a separate building here at mount vernon. it was going to be the receptacle for his books and his papers and all of the copies of the different acts of congress. any sort of presidential proclamations. everything from the government he led and the army led. he was asking his former capital send him copies of it. he was completing the record. for what i -- posterity that point to say. you see what is there. i returned to the idea of what was not there. those newspapers that he didn't
trust. you won't find those in washington's catalog. he did not keep them. that weree sermons not altogether complimentary, at the newspaper to does not. maybe he got rid of them himself , but somehow they disappeared. that in a fit of rage he tossed them. another fear that i have heard evidence of is that martha couldn't bear to have her husband read this stuff so she burned them. we don't know exactly we just know they are not there. i think this is a telling moment about washington's life and what he expected people to think of him. he had a vested interest. he understood about books and prints of media are powerful things that would informed
notches some people thought about him but also what people inld think about the efforts the country that he helped to establish. 70 he passed away before any of that ever happened. we don't know. it would have come out to be essentially the nation's first presidential library. would have made this place look very different. that's ok. then there's the study within mount vernon that was a part of washington's expansion project of the mansion begun in 1774. you sure most -- most of saw them on the tour. they are located underneath the master bedroom suite with a private staircase that kenexa bedroom with the study below.
martha's was on the second floor. even the location of that library within the house is telling about washington's for confrontation and his need for privacy. he didn't want people to see that he was studying and reading as much as he was. he didn't want to get drawn into conversation.ne he liked to read the founding follows area -- fathers. he did not want to get sucked into this conversation. .here is no hallway you go through a series of doors on the first floor. it was a room that his step grandson said, no one enter without permission. he never step foot in the library.
they would be provided an assortment of newspapers and books and magazines but they were never allowed to go in there and take a book off the shelf and discuss it with him. comething about that room his placement his design of it was something that was for him. if you look at the furnishings it is very sparsely furnished. it wasn you look at him a sparsely furnished workspace for an ordered mine. this is a place for him to work. he would go there everyone before dawn. he would return for several hours in the afternoon and before retiring. he would catch up on his correspondence. that was his private space that meant a great deal to him. between the placement of the room and the way it was
furnished, reading his approach something that was intensely private for him. when you look at his life, he was always conscious of what he thought was his defective education. -- what look great leaders themselves insent a place that magnifies their strength and minimizes their weakness. it does no good for anybody else that was around washington that was working for him and were see what hisim to flaws, the fact that he and was on theer on responsibility. what good would that have done? he needed to give off the air of confidence. the fact thatlay
you read or write in four languages. you don't show that you're trying to catch up on all the latest military doctrine. as the commanding general out there with the book? not what you want to see. this was something that was in his interest to keep private. it was interest personally and professionally. what did we learn from this? and what do i hope you will learn from it. i think it teaches us that washington was a real person. this is a humanizing book. into his way to get mind and a way that other biographers tended to rely on the image of washington, of him being mounted on the charger or standing out there in total
command of himself. a lot of his greatness is assumed. people never looked up at the mention of how he fashioned himself and his legacy. people have talked about his ascendancy through connections and powerful relationships, and in a lot of cases in the right place at the right time or as , he'sin franklin quipped the tallest man in the room. he is bound to lead something. there is that element to it. he had the right qualifications in that he was a native born american. that he had to have done something else. i think reading is that practical, deliberate immediate prepare for and deal with the responsibility
that he had in different parts of his life, whether that was here and my friend and, trying to get out from underneath the dust of tobacco planting to being the military officer, a political reader. reading is how he did that. , weink we see the human have seen him with nerves. we don't think is -- of washington about being nervous of anything. he is ready to take on whatever comes at him. he was a real person with real anxiety, just as we all are area -- are. he was like us. he was real. he had vulnerabilities, but he had strengths and he knew how to play to them. this reading program that he had hoped to play towards his
strength. he gave him the knowledge he which to be able to do wasn't probable. everything about what he accomplished, nothing said father of the country. nothing. but somehow he did it. that is what we learn from it. here's a look at the real person , this thing that have been overlooked, the library that was right here under everybody's nose the whole time. with that i thank you and welcome your questions. [applause] >> we will open it up for questions. we also have a lot of people in the overflow room and we want them to be able to hear your brilliant questions. you're the best audience in the country. i do want to correct one thing on the record.
this design for the building is success we want george washington had in mind. >> do you have any clues about what the for book he read in his teen years? books fromorder overseas? you can't buy all the books available on how do you doubt somebody read books for him? >> as far as a first book that he purchased, we all know about the copied out the rules, committing them to memory. the duke ofd schaumburg. guy who eulogy of this
was a huguenot military leader who had some acclaim over in europe. -- it's interesting because it describes a lot of qualities that frederick had that washington forged himself into being, emerging as a leader of character, someone who took duty seriously. it seems like washington want this book when he was about 14 years old. it took to heart. in terms of the second part of the question about how he went about trying certain titles, some of that we can discern through his letters that he exchanged with friends and neighbors about certain things like performing.
there is a book -- one of the few having marginal notes called animal husbandry. washington heard of this book from someone. there is no written document about that i have ever seen. he writes to his agent in london and asks for that title and a certain addition. he heard about this from somewhere. if you are in a city like new york or boston or philadelphia, there are lists of what is out of what you can order. in a place like this where you are removed from that it relies on word-of-mouth or written recommendations. you will find him asking for certain titles because it is something he felt comfortable talking about. >> he did attend school until
his father died until he was about 11. did you find anything interesting in the schooling that he did read up to that point? mathematics or surveying or whatever. >> it was. we know that washington was lateted up to like elementary school or middle school level. private tutor at one point. he was educated in the fundamentals of the three r's. we know from looking at his school board -- boy books he had a clear did for mathematics. he tended to take to it well. outad neat sums written that you can see him learning and applying.
knowledge with regard to math he learned on the proxy level when he continued as survey -- a career in surveying. surveying father's in instruments and he started surveying. you can see him getting better and better as he applied himself. it was self-taught after that. >> in your research, was the ridiculous topic of areas that george washington seemed most focused on? >> i would say the agriculture the mostyou see him
focused on. it is where he is the most happiness as a reader. you see him applying himself that way in a student. -- as a student. he enters into a correspondent was some english agricultural reformers. hisakes -- what we have in nose is his efforts to take these books that are written .verseas and do the conversion americans have always rejected european measurements. even back then. you see him making that effort. you can match that with his journals. whereps a farmers journal he does agricultural experiments. besides the farming, it was all
ideas that he puts together. the evidence of these different books he has where he is taking notes. he makes himself field manuals. he will not take the expensive book into the field. he makes himself copies of the passages that are applicable and he takes on these ideas from these lots the way that students would now if they are pursuing a project. i think that's where you see the passion come through the mouse. are going to do the tours afterward. there are no set washington made and borrow on husbandry. gentleman up? if you go to the bookstore in front of ford's theater you will
see this -- they stack up all the books on lincoln. several floors. you mentioned how washington has also been studied. a want to thank you for your perseverance. you mentioned the importance that washington placed on relationships. it seems they were important to him. and he read for military and and basicallyons to persevere. you also mentioned he never shared what he read. did he ever inquire, did you ever and find any evidence of him inquiring what jefferson read or what adams read or what
others read? does that influence this? one last question, such two-minute mention the political election, what with all the candidates need to know about washington today? i think they need to know who you he is for starters. i think that's a little iffy depending on which candidate we are talking about. whether or not he corresponded with any other founders, cause you don't find that. you do not find him asking. especially like jefferson or adams -- these guys are inversely trained scholars, attorneys. for them, reading is something they were trained to do. they are classically educated, men who are their way of going
about things has on a different level. you don't find washington soliciting advice from them. where you do see them asking for advice about the military mentor he was asking his . he would have talked to general braddock, and he was exposed to that. wasn't asking the question he was hearing the conversations. i think he tended to steer clear of the conversations and state with those he felt very come durable wing and on. what do you think about -- can you recommend a book about political philosophy over terror?
what do you think about this passage where do you read thomas hobbes instead? what does he think about it? that's where washington doesn't feel comfortable about going. >> you talked about his political books. booksre a trek of those that led to the ability that he gained to find the right people in the right organization to run the government? >> in terms of setting up a presidential candidate? no. there isn't. finding a good team of advisors was something that washington learned how to do the experience.
he has what he calls his military family. hisearned that through experiences in the previous war and his inexperience and this one he was not good at personal command. 7076 he personally takes over the defense of new york and that is a disaster. value thatthe something he had applied before but straight but having the opinion of those around him whether they were his supporter or his cabinet officers during his presidency. he would listen to what they had to say, respecting the fact that he was -- they were more qualified often than he was. time to wait and for decision. that's something that jefferson would deride washington, had a
powerful mind but it was not of the first order. he was slow in making decisions. this is why. coming a reading example, that's from experience. history would show him that kings owes the councils. washington has nearly every other american was well in english history and was proud of it. that was something -- the head .f state he was tapping into the british example. >> in your research did you find he had lot of books on british and military tactics?
of hedid he get the idea didn't have to win the revolution he just had to outlast the british and make them spend a lot of money and he could win it that way. it certainly is unusual in -- unusual. .e have experience british.is reading was the english and french army were the most powerful in the world. he had some stuff by frederick the great as well. he is using all of that. what he learns immediately from his reading is how unprepared he is for this and did the he had twon he led, officers with experience. that's it.
he did talk about people with potential but he didn't have experience. he read british manuals. he knows from the practical experience of being with the british army listening to those officers talk about the reading of grand strategy of how to go .bout winning the wars what is expected of him or any general is a decisive win. you don't want to have the long, protected -- protracted war. you want to have one battle that decides everything and then you surrender and everybody goes home. capital,re the enemy's if you don't have that. they tried the big battle in new york and it failed.
not only was he not prepared for that task he is nothing to work with. you have manhattan, brooklyn heights long island, staten island that is out there that doesn't need to be defended. you have to reverse in two harbors. how do defendant? he has no navy to speak of. he is not dealt a good deck to play with. he tries the battle and he failed. he's smart enough politically toof british don't want this to go on forever. he doesn't want it to go on forever either. the british will have less of a stomach for it. they also have a massive war debt left from the seven years war.
they are not going to want this to go on. the british people are indifferent or not in favor of waging an expensive war. it is not in their british interests. he figures out he has to do is survive. he goes against the grain of what is expected of a commander to do this. i think what the reading does is it shows him where he shortfalls are and his lack of an education keeps him humble enough that he wants to be seen as a big commanding general worthy of the title. he can't do it. he has to do what is necessary in order to survive. he has no choice to if he had that big military education that ,ll his british counterpart had he is aggressive by nature. he wants to do a big battle. if he had that education behind
him it would have potentially blinded him as to what his army weaknesses are. it was kind of a weakness and they strengthen the end. >> as a military commander yourself i wonder if you could say more about the tactical he is are that you read virgin and that is going up north. -- virginian that is going up north. him, he called new englanders a dirty and nasty
people. that the by the fact elected their own officers. that's different from the world he came from. he has to restructure it. directed atind of lieutenants and sergeants to read, he starts writing for the first time the doctrine about how to do fundamental things, how you keep accountability of your soldiers and equipment, how youeep the camp clean, don't want to have open latrines here. things like that are the immediate application of that knowledge. in terms of his strategy, he is ideas. -- he has big he would have gotten his knowledge of kurdish history -- treatise onory,
military discipline. that is a blend of his reading and his goal in knowing what the expectations were on both sides. he is always aware of the fact that he needs -- for this beolution to work-he has to -- have a legitimate fighting force. this is about getting liberties back. is making ask professional force. for regularting things that are not a commander general's problem. he is making a big deal out of
this, because it is about legitimacy. to win for the sake of the americans. the british need to recognize -- these are not just a band of criminals that need to be crossed. strategy.rt of the we think a strategy is good campaigning. >> i would like to thank you for service. it's kind of a psychological question. in your research, do your you --n ever strike [indiscernible] >> i will return to the agriculture because that is where you see him putting things together.
he is reading different sources and has his own ideas and then putting them into action. he is a tactile leader. crops, heenting with is learning surveying by doing it. he is the book in one hand and the stakes in other. his skills get better over time. operation is so diverse and complicated he is trying to innovate ahead of what a lot of his peers are doing. he is very much a tactile leader it i think he was cap -- happiest that way. >> one more question. >> the 19th century literary
, thehold on the book side bible and --. can you talk about washington's reading of either one? sure i'll talk about washington and the bible. washington's relationship with the bible goes back to his childhood. mary washington, his mother, read to her children from the bible and from english religious books. that was a part of his earliest education. , weas important for them will redefine the question of space. for someone like him a young man who wants to make it in virginian society, he needs to grow up a good anglican. , the church of
england, is something that your place in society dictates when you enter where you sit and how you leave it. and how you perform throughout the service. there is an act of worship that goes on. there is kneeling, reciting. they are in the common prayer book. there is ritual that goes along with it that reminds that requires people to participate. going for him it was important for him to learn how to behave the right way. from a person socially ranking it are some to a leader but society wise was on display.
that would be noted. i think that was something that was practical for him. as a young man and politically church and state were tied together. referencese book throughout his life, his public life. prayers that are attributed to washington. he is familiar with it. he looks forward to retiring. that is biblical allusion. it is clearly something that is an important book throughout his life, his religious life throughout mount vernon. and marthaated in it
was very to thought as well. devout >> as well. [applause] applause that was wonderful. we really love what you are doing particularly here in washington's library. some logistical concerns, with books for sale. that should inspire you all. it is good for you to get them purchased. , and we willsigned not let her leave until she has find them all. the other logistical point is because we will offer to a result washington's birth and we have 102 of his original vibes
here. michelle lee, special collection right there. you want to meet in the book house and then you can tell them what to do. it is at the end of the hallway here. with that let's give another big round of applause. [applause] >> coming up this weekend on american history tv on c-span3. as the park service celebrates
its birthday, we will look at the development of california's landscape parks. i'm railamerica. the 1935 u.s. interior department sell the land of the documents the efforts of the civilian conservation corps and the daily lives and the work camp's. >> clearing dense undergrowth for freer growth provides lumbar for any kind of construction job which may be desirable. the conservation corps boys make everything from heavy bridge timbers to signs. >> sunday morning at 8:00 the history that is depicted in the musical. at 10:00 on road to the white house incumbent president bill clinton and former kansas senator bob dole face off in their first debate of the 1996 presidential campaign. >> the bottom line we is we are
the strongest nation in the world. we provide the leadership. we will have to continue to provide leadership. terms and notour when somebody blows a was like the united nations. >> the evidence is our deployments will be successful in haiti, and boys -- bosnia. i sent the fleet into the -- straits. i believe the u.s. is at peace tonight in part because of the discipline, careful deployment of our military resources. >> at six on american artifacts we will take a tour of arlington house with ranger matthew penrod. leeas the home of robert e. that married into the family. >> he declared this also federalist house, to represent
all the beliefs of george washington and that included once again, the idea that this nation would exist forever. no state had a right to leave it. it that his man's daughter would marry robert e lee who became the great confederate general and the man who can closest than any other man in history to destroying the nation that was created. complete schedule go to c-span.org. each week american history tv's real america brings you archival films that provide context for today's public affairs issues. the last bomb is a 1945 war department's own document in the final months of the b-29 air