tv American Artifacts CSPAN August 24, 2016 12:09pm-12:45pm EDT
but it's an incredible and touching relic of the mayhem of what happened in this room that night. one interesting thing, even though a photograph was taken in this room shortly after lincoln's body was taken out, for some reason we haven't discovered any period photographs from 1865 taken of the peterson house after the assassination. matthew brady went inside ford's theater and took a number of photographs. people took photographs of the stable where booth kept his horses. they photographed other places associated with the assassination. but for some reason, photographers did not set up their cameras in front of the peterson house and take photos the day lincoln died or the day after, the week after. it's a bit of a historical mystery. i've looked for decades to find period photographs taken of the peterson house shortly after lincoln died. but haven't found any and no one i know has found any. it's just one of the little lingering mysteries of the assassination.
interestingly, private william clark came back the next day, the soldier who lived in this room. he was out all night celebrating the union victory. and that night he slept in the very bed in which abraham lincoln died. he wrote a letter to relatives saying, well, i'm sleeping in the bed where the president died, the same coverlet that covered his body now covers me. strangers come, they beg to see the room, they offer money to come and view the room. if you don't watch them they try to steal things. they try to steal little bits of cloth, the sheets, steal something from the room. and so souvenir hunters were trying to raid this room within hours of the president's death. the coverlet is long gone, stolen at the illinois state fair at the turn of the century. but some of the pillow cases and pillows survive. they're now in the collection of the park service at ford's theater. and the sheets were all divided up into little swatches and all over the country in museums and
private collections, one can find little swatches of the sheets that were on abraham lincoln's bed, many of them stained with his blood. this room looks very much like it did the night abraham lincoln was brought here and died the next morning. the prints are the same ones that were on the walls that night. the carpeting is identical. the wallpaper is identical. in fact, a number of artists came to this room and sketched it and also described it. we also know from the photograph taken by the oakey brothers what this part of the room looked like. and the bed, of course, is no longer here. and that's part of a sad story about the peterson family. in 1871, william peterson was found unconscious on the grounds of the smithsonian institution. the old castle. he had poisoned himself with laudanum. the police revived him and he confessed that he had been
taking laudanum often for several years and he died. so in 1871, in the front parlor of this house, william peterson's body was laid out. four months after he died from laudanum poisoning his wife died, anna died. and her body was brought to this house and she too was laid out in this house. and so only six years after abraham lincoln died in their house, both petersons were dead and both were laid out in this very house. interesting footnote. after anna's death an auction company was brought in to sell the contents. so once again, strangers gathered outside, came into this house, came down the halls, came into the parlors. the auction took place on the site. the two most expensive things at the auction were the sofa in the front room where mary lincoln had spent much of the night. that went for $15. and the bed upon which abraham lincoln died sold for $80, which was eight or ten times what it
should have cost if it was simply a bed. so an early historian and souvenir hunter recognized the value of the materials in this house and bought a number of things including the deathbed and some of the other relics from this back room. that bed later was purchased by a chicago candy millionaire, charles gunther, for $100,000. and it's now in chicago at the old chicago historical society. the peterson house had an interesting history after lincoln died. it was not immediately seized upon as an important national monument. the petersons moved back in after a few days. boarders came back. and it became a boarding house again. then a visionary historian, osborn oldroyd, who loved abraham lincoln and was obsessed with honoring lincoln, occupied this house. and he created a lincoln museum
in the basement and in these rooms. and for a small price, visitors from all over the country could come to the house where lincoln died, which it was known as properly, and come to this room. so over decades, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of americans came and visited this room when it was a privately operated museum. it was not until decades later that the national park service took custody of the peterson house and restored it to its original appearance as it looked on the night abraham lincoln was assassinated. the peterson house is one of my favorite historical sites in washington. partly because it's not gigantic and grand like abraham lincoln's white house. it's not huge like ford's theater where an audience of 1,500 or 1,800 sat and watched the mayhem that happened across the street. what i like about the peterson house is the intimacy. when i was working on my books about the lincoln assassination,
i would often come to the peterson house at hours when i knew there'd be very few visitors. and i've stood in this room many times all by myself and imagined what it must have been like to stand here the night abraham lincoln was brought down that hallway and laid on the bed in this room. and the emotion and sadness of that night and that morning really comes alive for me when i'm in this room. in fact, when i wrote about lincoln coming to the peterson house and dying in this room, i wrote some of my notes from my book "manhunt" while i stood in this room with a notebook and imagined what it must have been like to have been here and stand in this spot when abraham lincoln was lying on a bed in this room and when he died the next morning. i really feel lincoln's presence when i'm in this house and when i'm in this room.
tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the national park service. we're live at the robert e. lee memorial in arlington national cemetery tomorrow for an event on the centennial and to look at some of the current projects the national park service is working on. that's 7:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3's american history tv. recently we talked to some members of congress about the national parks. >> the great smoky mountain national park because i grew up there. because i lived there. and because i really love it. i mean it's the most visited national park in the country. most people don't know that. it has nearly 10 million visitors a year compared to the western parts that sometimes have 2 million, 3 million or 4 million. has more trees, different kinds of trees, than all of europe put together. all sorts of wildlife.
80 years ago when it was formed there were about 100 black bears now. now there's 1,600. there are about 315 wild turkey and i can see two dozen in my front yard. i like the fact that i can walk out of my house, walk about two miles through conservation property and walk in to the great smokey park, which includes the highest mountains in the eastern united states. and i like the stories about the people who live there, because unlike the western parts, which were built out of land the country already owned, the great smokies were created in 1934 from land that north carolina and tennessee gave to the country. people were moved out of the park and the park bought their land. so those of us who live around there feel like we own it. because it used to be ours. so there's a sense of ownership about the smokies, even though people come to the park from all over the country. more than any other park, there is a special sense of ownership
about the park there. >> why is it important to preserve sites like this? >> well, one is the wildlife. to be able to see two dozen turkeys walk through your front yard, to go from having hike 20 wild white-tailed deer which was the way it was 80 years ago, to countless numbers today. that's one. to allow these great trees to grow back. they are mostly all logged in the 19 30s. but now after so much rainfall they're growing back. and then the family stories. people who live there. i remember in the '80s when i was governor, i took a walk through the park on i guess 50th or 60th birthday. and i stopped to see lem owenby, who was then 95 years old. he had been blind for 20 years. he was still allowed to live in the park although it was created in the 1930s. he was the last man who was
allowed to live in the park. when he died, no other people lived in the park. he was very reclusive. a couple of supreme court justices tried to see him and he wouldn't see them and he allowed me to come in and i said something like, well, we haven't had many governors in this part of the state. he said, well, we hadn't had many than didn't steal, either. he said but i ain't hear nothing on you -- yet. one of the highlights for me was at the 50th anniversary of the park, then at the 75th anniversary in 2009. they rolled a piano into cage cove, which is this beautiful area surrounded by 6,000-foot mountains. the knoxville, tennessee symphony came and on a sunday afternoon i played the piano, the symphony played and we played "amazing grace" and the fiddles sounded like the old bagpipes that the scottish people used to bring in to the mountains 200 years ago. so being able to do that on the 50th and the 75th anniversary in
the park with thousands of people there listening was a big thrill for me. 100 years ago, president woodrow wilson signed the bill creating the national park service, and thursday we look back on the past century of these care takers of america's natural and historic treasures. beginning at 10:00 eastern and throughout the day we take you to national park service sites across the country as recorded by c-span. at 7:00 p.m. eastern we are live from the national park service's most visited historic home, arlington house, the robert e. lee memorial at arlington national cemetery. join us with your phone calls as we talk with robert stanton, former national park service director -- and brandon bice, former arlington house site manager who will oversee the upcoming year-long restoration
of the mansion, slave quarters and grounds. thursday the 1 00th anniversary of the park service live from arlington house at 7:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3. tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the national park service. coming up on c-span3's american history tv we'll bring you a number of national park service tours from our american artifacts and reel america programs. some of the sites include congress hall in philadelphia, the battlefield in frederick, maryland and the anticipaanapom courthouse. we travel to the meeting place of the u.s. house and senate between 1790 and 1800.
our guide is park ranger matthew eiffel. we are standing in the old house of representatives in the building we call congress hall. although originally it was built as a county courthouse for philadelphia for most of its history that's exactly what it was, but in the years that the city of washington, d.c. is being built, philadelphia serves as our temporary u.s. capital. this rooms serves for the house of representatives. second floor of the building that we will see in a moment was the united states senate. the united states house of representatives at that point in our history represented 30,000 people. we had a population at our first census of 3.75 million. we had 106 members of the house. and eventually from 16 states. the story of philadelphia as the u.s. cap tap is the story where we are taking a new constitution and actually operating it, doing things like adding new states to the original 13.
also the bill of rights would become a part of our constitution while philadelphia was the capital. in fact, secretary of state thomas jefferson would formally announce the amendments to the constitution in -- by basically coming to congress here in this building and officially announcing that we've changed our constitution which of course the bill of rights is a huge part of our history and will be in the future a continued talking point in our political life. but it is the amendment process itself. we are proving that that part of the constitution works, that we can update and make changes to that constitution without having to start completely over again from the beginning. but really for this building, it is to a large degree sort of creatie ining american politica system, the two-party system that we know today is going to begin here, and begin here with issues much as you would expect,
early issues we face as the united states would be debt. we had debt and spending arguments and debates in this building. it is not any different except for the details as to what we do today in washington, d.c. we argued about debt from the revolutionary war. our early government, zanalexan hamilton, wanted all the debt from the states to come from the federal debt and use that debt paying it off to fund credit for the united states. not everyone agreed with his plans so you start seeing division. then foreign policy questions would arise. britain and france in the 1790s. for george washington, the first president, the notion of neutrality is preferable. we don't really have any money. we don't really have a navy at all and our army was not much to speak of so we certainly weren't in a position to go and fight a
war. certainly not in europe and probably not even fighting our neighbors in british canada in those days. so he's going to present with his cabinet approval a neutrality proclamation which again brings up the question ought we not be doing more for france. george washington will send john jay our first supreme court justice send him to britain to negotiate a new treaty with the british, again with the idea of keeping us out of this european war and settling some of those questions of border around ocean rights and such that we were arguing with the british. john jay had been on the team that negotiated the peace teethy that ended the revolutionary war sew seemed like a good candidate for washington to send. well, the trey that he brought back becomes very controversial and really one of the tipping points in creating these two
parties as sort of leading to what we know today. the treaty is basically starts becoming publicly attacked in the press. the press of what would become the democratic republican party, party of men like thomas jefferson and james madison, would start vilifying this treaty. now what's interesting is nobody's actually read it. it hasn't been published yet, but yet it's going to be pilloried in the press to the point where an awful lot of people hate this treaty that they don't actually know anything about. the federalist side, they want to trade with all sides in europe, not be limited by alliance to france or something like this. so we're really seeing this treaty become kind of a symbolic head point between these two sides. and the senate approves the
treaty. now according to the constitution, senate approves treaties and they're done. now the problem is the house of representatives -- this is our first treaty ever. the house of representatives basically says we want a chance to discuss this treaty as well. and so, they demand of washington to see all the papers and so on. well, he says, no. senate approves it, you guys don't have anything to do with it. so what the house essentially is going to do, they say well, maybe what we'll try to do is take away the funding. we won't pay for this treaty. anything that has to be paid for, we'll just not spend the money. therefore, the treaty will effectually die at this point in time. so that's not necessarily a new strategy that you see with things in washington, d.c. today. so the big fight in the house of representatives in this room is whether or not to pay for this treaty. there's days of debates. and on the last day, there is a big crowd in our public balcony.
you have men like vice president john adams, supreme court justices sitting in the balcony. and the big -- this is of course an era where we love our speeches. long, political speeches, deep, infused with rhetoric. and the best speaker of the time is a man named fisher ames. he is a federalist. he is definitely wanting this treaty to survive. but he's been ill. he hasn't said anything. of course, this last day everyone's waiting to see if he'll make the last statement about it. and he does. he stands up and he sort of begins by saying, well, if my strength can hold out, i'd like to say a few words on the subject. he proceeds to speak for over an hour. i think it is about 55 pages in the congressional record, his speech. he collapses at the end into his seat. he talks about the last war we fought with the british -- and if people remembered all the devastation and do we really want to do this again, fight another war for years. and apparently some of the men have tears in their eyes. when he finally finishes,
supreme court justice james iridel turns to vice president john adams and says, my god, isn't that man great? he says, yes, he as. so the treaty passes by a couple of votes. the head of the committee was our first speaker of the house, and he breaks the tie. now he is ostensibly on the democratic republican, jefrian side so he should be against the treaty, but he's convinced that maybe not go being to war is a good idea so he ends up voting to pass the bill for the funding of this treaty. and he is vilified. he is vilified that he voted for this treaty against his side to the point where he loses his seat in his next election to congress. but even worse in the short term, he is stabbed on the sidewalks of philadelphia by his brother-in-law because of his vote. he survives but i'm sure family gatherings become a little
awkward after a while. but it tells us how high our political tensions can be in our early days. yet, yet, at the same time, we're also proving that that new constitution, despite these sort of difficulties, works, because probably the best day in this room's history in a lot of ways is the day john adams is inaugurated at the front by the speaker of the house's platform. he will stand on that platform with thomas jefferson, also at the front of the room outgoing president george washington now this is a big deal. thanking presidents for us today is a fairly normal thing. we have big parades and parties and it is a big thing. but this was a really important day because this is where we are proving that the system where we, the voters, elect our leaders and we change them when we vote, we're proving that that system works. because the john adams election is a lot of firsts. it is the first time we're going to not have george washington as our president.
george washington's the only man to be unanimously elected president, which he was twice. he did not particularly run for office. at the end of his first term he didn't even want a second term. he was kind of talked into it. essentially kind of almost guys on both sides talk him into another four years. he doesn't really run. he's unanimously re-elected. at the end of that second term people try to talk him into a third but he is not having it. he just wants to retire at this point in time. it is somebody else's turn. so he will step aside for john adams. now we don't know if this works. we've never done this before. we've never actually changed our president. so will the people accept this? we don't know. the other thing to remember is john adams was contested in his election. he actually had to fight a battle against his opponent who was thomas jefferson. now these two had been friends. obviously they wrote the declaration of independence together, but now opposite sides of the fence -- they don't even want to talk to each other. so the election is very ugly,
it's very nasty, it's very close. it's sort of, for us today, a normal presidential election. john adams wins by three electoral votes. only slightly more than half. we've never had a president who got only half the votes. we've never had a president who had to really fight for an election. and of course the other problem in those early days is if you come in second, you are vice president, which means that the new president is one party, the new vice president is the other party. just pick any modern election you like, put the two opponents together for four years as the executive, and you can see how neither of them would be particularly happy. so john adams and thomas jefferson are not happy to be standing up in the front of the room together. this is a full house that day. balcony, the seats, you've got most of the government here. a lot of curiosity. but you can also figure about half of the men in this room are not very happy to see john adams standing up there. the other half of the men in the room are not very happy to see thomas jefferson standing up there. generally speaking, nobody is
very happy that george washington is leaving us in this time. so john adams would kind of look around the room and see a lot of people who weren't very happy. he'd see people with almost tears in their eyes that washington was leaving them, and he kind of would later say this, he looked around, he only saw one person that day who particularly looked happy, which was of course george washington who had a look on his face that said, john adams, you are fairly in and i am fairly out. so now let's find out who is the happier on this day. but washington would quietly go to private life, and i think very happily withdraw from the scene. adams himself would be inaugurated. he would have a difficult presidency because now really we're seeing throes of political fighting going on. but it happened peacefully. we proved that constitution worked and we proved that we could continue in times of difficulty like this, that we could continue forward with the system in place. in 1800 they would leave this building and move to the current
capital in washington, d.c. adams and jefferson would have another difficult election at that time, this time jefferson winning and he would be the first president inaugurated in the new capital of washington, d.c. but these years in philadelphia are setting the tone for the rest of our early history. and all the way up to today. so, the room itself, we'll start out as a courthouse. so this would have been a courtroom. but around the time this building is finished construction, it's actually being built during the constitutional convention. so when they are finished construction is around the time that philadelphia offers it to the u.s. government. i think philadelphia's secret hope is that if we're really nice to them they'll just stay here and not go to that new city down along the potomac. you give them their new courthouse building and they end up actually expanding it a little bit to make more room for congress. we think the setup looks like this. we actually have a seating chart
from one session of congress that shows the design of the desks and all. we don't have any of the desks that have survived. we're fortunate that we do have some of the chairs today. unfortunately, we only have about 30 of them between the two houses of congress, and most of them we don't know necessarily which house they were in. so today all of our original chairs are in the senate. for this room as far as original items goes, the chair on the platform for the speak of the house is an original. we actually have three chairs exactly like that. we don't necessarily know which was which but we have one today that we assume was for the speaker of the house, one for the vice president as president of the senate, and the third for the chief justice of the supreme court. now we don't, again, know which one is which, so what we can fairly say is that somebody important sat in that chair for the speaker of the house, whether it was the speaker of the house or not, we're not sure. but as far as this room went, in the early 1800s when the federal
government moved out, it went to become a courthouse again. in fact this was divided into two rooms for a long number of years. they built a hallway down the middle so they could have two courtrooms instead of one very large one. about the time of the first world war, the city government has left this block and moved to our current city hall in philadelphia. the city, recognizing the historic value of these buildings, has some restoration work done. they kind of want to turn them all into museum space. if you visited this building around years of the first world war, 1920s, you would have seen the building -- or the room, rather, restored back to the big single room that it would have been. but it would have just been a room filled with old stuff, kind of the old-fashioned sort of museum. after world war ii when the national park service comes in to take over the historic buildings here, again the goal is to try to get them back to how they looked in those important days. that's where we try to study how
did they have the seating set up. again, we have one chart that we've been able to find one of the members drew showing who was sitting there. at least for one snapshot of a session of congress. we have enough sketches that show the platform for speaker of the house. we have enough original furniture that we can sort of match up things that we think were here. unfortunately, a lot of items that were here, if the city needed them, like chairs, they kept using them, desks -- not so much so they didn't save. things that the government might have owned, for example the library of congress started in this building. they started buying books for congress here in philadelphia. wasn't the library of congress as we know it today but it does begin here. but a lot of the things that went to washington, d.c. are burned when washington is burned in the war of 1812. we lose a lot of those early things. so that's one of the challenges with a building like this is you don't necessarily have all the things but you try to make do
the best you can to give people that sense when they come in to see them what it looked like when men like james madison or young andrew jackson were sitting in this room as members of the house of representatives. we're in. senate chamber here at congress hall in philadelphia. the room as you can see is quite a bit more grand than the house of representatives would have been. and there is a couple of reasons for that. our roots as a nation go back to when we were british, of course. the british have a parliament with two houses -- an upper house, the house of lords, a lower house, the house of commons. there's definitely parallels with our congress today. the house of representatives is very similarly set up to the house of commons. and then the senate with their floor would be left based on the house of lords. obviously we're not going to have dukes and earls and noble titles like that.
but we have states and every state is equal in the senate so the states kind of take the place of our house of lords in the british chamber. brit issues the green, but the red is the more house of lords. you'll see red in the senate here in philadelphia. definitely has that kind of look to it that seems a bit on the higher end. now the interesting thing about the senate is they are created with a bit more power. the power they tie to the president that the house of representatives does not. treaties in the united states are with the advice and consent of the senate approved by the advice and consent of the senate. so the senate has to approve all treaties, the house does not. the senate does. so there is one power. also any time the president makes an appointment to his cabinet, ambassador, supreme court, of course, those folks would have to come in front of
the senate and be approved by the senate or reject it. and so here in philadelphia, we have our very first treaty approved by the senate which is the jay treaty. that led to the big fight in the house of representatives over whether or not to pay for it. but over that same issue, we have the first rejection of a presidential nominee by the senate. john rutledge who is actually a signer of the u.s. constitution, actually one of the players in creating that constitution, is one of washington's first choices for the original six justices on the supreme court. he actually accepts, but then resigns the post without ever really having served on the supreme court. he will later become the first justice of the south carolina supreme court when john jay, who is the first united states supreme court chief justice, resigns. he's elected governor of new york. he leaves the post of chief justice. that leaves it empty.
washington will eventually tap john rutledge of south carolina. rutledge will come back to philadelphia this time and serve as chief justice, however, he is appointed during a recess of congress, so technically the senate hasn't confirmed him but he actually serves a session of the court as chief justice, leads them through some cases. when the senate comes back later that year, to return to session, they then take up the question of approving john rutledge. now george washington's never had anyone rejected that he's appointed. so this has never happened in our young history. well, john rutledge has a couple of things going against him. number one, there are guys in the senate that think the guy is a little crazy. he's definitely had some kind of strange things that he's had to say at different times in the years of the 1790s. so he's got a bit of a kind of reputation among some people. but also where he's going to get into trouble if he made some very pointed comments about that jay treaty that was negotiated by his predecessor. he was very critical in some
speeches, and they tended to be a bit sort of rambling speeches. he was very critical, some of the things, he said about the senate itself, which of course senators would read the newspapers and they would read what this south carolina supreme court chief justice had to say about them. when he actually came in front of them, they would remember these sorts of things and then they would decide then that perhaps this guy is not the best choice to be the chief justice in the supreme court so they -- even though he had actually run the court for a little while, he was kind of sent backing and back home. so the very first rejection of a presidential nominee. so again here in philadelphia you are seeing the constitution in a lot of different directions being explored and used for the first time. of course, you go through our history and you see other occurrences where this happens. now the one other power of the supreme court -- or of the senate rather that's not going to get exercised here in philadelphia is the power of impeaching.
if the president is impeached, the house would vote to have an impeachment. senate would be basically the jury in what is essentially a trial to decide whether or not the president should be removed from office. so again, you look at the powers of the senate and you see these things that they can do that tie them to the president in a lot of ways. and so therefore give them that little bit of extra advantage over the house of representatives. plus, they are a smaller body of men with only two senators per state. you represent an entire state which, if you are from a large state, means you represent an awful lot of people. finally, the other thing about the senate that makes it a bit unique is you get that longer term. the longest elected term in the united states with six-year term. but early on senators were not even elected. senators are appointed on the basis of the constitution originally. senators are appointed by their state legislatures. so senators do not have to run
for office. so as a result, senators here in philadelphia met in private. they did not meet in public. the house of representatives always did. so the house was open to the public, the senate was not. now the senate starts getting into their own controversial bills like the jay treaty. one of the early senators that is sent by pennsylvania, man named albert gallotin, probably most famous for being a long-tell secretary of treasury, and he is of the democratic republican side. so the federalist side of the early senate and basically looking at the strict rules would say that albert gallotin, who's swiss, has not lived in the united states the requisite number of years to actually serve in the senate. so the senate actually voted is him out. he is later elected to the house of representatives by pennsylvania, but he is rejected from the senate. so naturally people of pennsylvania want to know why their senator has been kicked out of the