tv Slave Wrecks Project interview CSPAN September 5, 2016 9:10am-10:01am EDT
first presidential debate live from hofstra university in new york. and on tuesday, october 4th, vice presidential candidates, mike pence and tim kaine debate and on sunday, october 9th, washington university in st. louis, hosts the second presidential debate, leading up to the third and final debate between hillary clinton and donald trump, taking place at the university of nevada las vegas on october 19th. live coverage of the presidential and vice presidential debates on c-span. listen live on the free c-span radio app or watch live or any time on demand at c-span.org. >> excavation of a slave ship that wrecked off the south african coast is adding a new chapter to the trans atlantic slave trade story. a global partner in the ship's discovery and recovery and
exhibition. museum director lonnie bunch and paul gar dull lo talk about the saga of the ship called sal jose. >> take us back to december 27th, 1794 camp's bay off south africa and the final hours of the sal jose. >> on december 27th, 1794, a ship that was heading from mozambique island around the cape of good hope heading towards brazil, northeast brazil, came close to capetown, south africa. capetown was often a landing point for ships before they made their way across the long atlantic voyage. this ship came to close to shore and got call in swells in a storm and struck rocks about 100
yards, 350 feet or so from shore. the captain was captaining the ship called the sal jose tried to salvage what he could from the crew. they attempted a rescue from ship to shore. he rescued himself. he rescued along with the crew he rescued about half of the 400 enslaved mozambiquens were all aboard and the other half captured from the interior of africa and brought on board in early december perished in those waves that night. >> lonnie bunch, recently the image of a young syrian boy who drowned became the image of a migrant crisis taking place right now in europe. is humanized this crisis that is happening. is that what you want to do with
the sal jose, does that human size the slave trade in. >> in many way history museums tend to tell the grand story and often forget to humanize them. it struck us when you think of the millions of people who were taken via the middle passage to the new world, many who perished, you realize when you start talking numbers in the millions, it's hard for the public to understand, even care be touched by it. our goal was to say how do we humanize this slave trade by focusing on a single ship, letting people understand what happened on that ship and letting people understand who some of the people were on the ship and most importantly, letting people realize that it's not about the millions, it's about in this case the 412. >> of the slaves who survived that wreck, what happened to them after they came ashore? >> after the wreck, two days later, the ship captain had to
testify in court, it was a dutch court at that time and testify to the loss of property. and that included those human beings who were lost. the other 200 some-odd people were sold back into slavery in the western cape and there they lived out their lives and what remained of them. their loss to us right now but our research is continuing into to see if we can find descendant communities for those people with our partners. >> do we know any of the names of the slaves? >> we don't know the names of anyone but we're very lucky to bring those -- to bring their spirits in some ways back into memory and back into history. so that we can begin to reclaim them. >> lonnie bunch, i've heard you say what you're trying to do at the national mau see up of african american history and culture, find moments of sadness and moments of resiliency.
is this all a moment of sadness? >> the story of slavery is a story of loss of power, sometimes loss of life, the loss of family. it's very sad in that regard. on the other hand, it's also a story of the resiliency of people to survive. one of the things that strikes me is that often people, african-american sometimes, are embarrassed by their slave ancestors. they want to talk about those who are free or those who struck a blow for freedom. for me, african-americans that survive the middle passage, survive that sort of transition to this new horrible harsh world, really were so strong that in some ways i want people to rethink about what slavery meant, that yes it's not something to celebrate but to celebrate the spirit of those who triumphed and kept family and soul together the best they could. >> the story of the sal josse, what happened before the wreck and after the wreck. can you talk about what like was
life from december 3rd to december 27th? what would it have been like on that ship? >> well, we have very little recorded testimonies of any experiences of people who sur v vifed the middle passage. we do have the records of a variety of ships and the accounts that were given by both traders and the few who wrote about their experiences. this is a long voyage. you're three weeks on a ship in the hold. if you're a man, you're likely shackled the whole time. your feet as well as your hands. you may be taken outside to exercise above deck, maybe once a day, maybe by the light of the moon. right? you're still close to africa so there's going to be a very close
watch on what's going on and on the opportunities for escape or rebellion or in some cases suicide. if you're a woman, you may have a little bit more freedom and we need to remember that at large we don't have the demographic breakdown of this particular ship, but within the slave trade and middle passage at large, nearly 25% of those who are carried across from africa were classified as children. and so they are all below decks, tightly packed with other kinds of cargo, water kasks, iron ballast bars and drunage used for trade and help weigh things down. it was a horrendous experience. >> in many ways the way to think about it is, cargo. that in essence the goal here is to pack as many in and try to
make as many people survive as possible for the profit margins. so on the one hand, when people are taken above deck, it's in part to sort of keep them physically fit, keep them moving, trying to encourage their ability to survive. and i think the thing that is really powerful when you think about what it must have been like, first of all, while you may have many members of tribes that speak similar languages, you had many who didn't. you've got people who don't know each other. shackled together. you have this sense of disorientation, where am i going? what does this mean? who are these people? in some ways, the ability to survive that is really one of the great triumphs of human history. >> the fact this particular ship was coming from east africa is important here because up until that time most of the slave trade coming from the west african coast -- >> you're looking at -- we're
talking about 1794. it's the end of the century. ushered in so many rebellions and revolutions for freedom in the world. it's also at the end of the century that saw the largest single century of the slave trade, right? if historians are estimating that there's around 12 million people who are transported, 7 million, more than 7 million in that 100 years alone. so it's tremendous -- it's -- the end of a huge century in many respects. >> and where was the united states in its slave story in 1794? the president of the united states at that time, george washington, a slave owner. >> what you have is the 18th century, you have about 600,000 enslaved africans between 600 and 800 thousand living in what eventually became the united states of america.
and what you have is many involved in sugar, rice, later cotton. but what you really have is an economy that is built on the slave trade, that so much of what made america work was built on the backs of the enslaved. the labor that was provided, not just to grow the crops but to transform the landscape, to take those swamps in south carolina and turn them into rice fields and kind of labor that was involved. and also what you also have is this amazing sense of creating the african-american. you've got all of these different africans coming together forming an african american culture, beginning to learn a language, wrestling with christianity so that you have this amazing moment of transformation and in some ways, as americans, we know slavery as a 19th century phenomenon.
so much of slavery, the patterns and origins and large numbers of people were really an 18th century phenomenon. that's why the sal josse is important. it helps us focus or attention on the early period that laid the foundation on which so much the rest of the slave environment was built upon. >> what is more i think that you're also looking at this period following the american revolution where all of these principles of liberty are being established, are being struck for. they are not just being struck for by property like men. they are being articulated and forwarded by free blacks and women and by enslaved people's right? a revolution begins in haiti, right? soon after, three years before this -- this voyage in 1791, the enslaved and free blacks of haiti strike for revolution. it's the successful -- only
successful large scale slave revolution in the new world. and if you're a trader and you understand the economic importance of slavery, at large, your understanding that the world is shifting a little bit under you. and the trade from west africa, which has been strong for so long and will continue, may to these people, need to change and so they begin to look for other markets. and that's where mozambique comes in. a place like mozambique which has been oriented towards the indian ocean for almost mill len ya, right, suddenly gets reoriented by the portuguese in the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century back around the cape and over primarily to brazil and caribbean. >> in fact, what happens in mozambique is about a million
people from mozambique are brought mainly to brazil from the late 18th century well into the 19th century. >> that is where the sal josse was on -- >> originally headed to? >> absolutely. part of this that is important it allows us to tell the story of slave trade was much more complicated than just simply west africa to the united states. but also it helps people understand how large the impact of the slave trade was in the caribbean and in latin america and candidly how small it was in the united states compared to that. >> before we leave that history, when did the last slave ship land in the united states? how many years after the sinking of the sal josse did it take for the slave trade to be outlawed? >> here's what happens. you have with the trade being outlawed in 1808 as part of the compromise of creating the constitution, you begin to see the numbers decline, right?
you still see people smuggling in enslaved africans. in fact, the last slave ship that we know about was about 1862 and it was near mobile, alabama. so that in essence, while the formal slave trade was outlawed, the kind of smuggling that went on continued to bring in a trickle, no more, no longer a flood but a trickle of new africans into the united states. >> and at the same time, what you see in the u.s. context is the massive buildup of what we -- what historians call the internal slave trade, the domestic slave trade. it's not as if of course slavery doesn't end but the trading in slavery and america and united states ramps up. you have millions of people who are being moved from the upper south, this area, right, washington, d.c., alexandria, maryland, down to louisiana,
mississippi, texas. one of the -- and it's a massive trade. the largest slave trading company in the united states at that time was based in two places, one along nach ez, mississippi was one end and the other was here in alexandria, virginia. >> the sal josse part of the slave wrecks project. what is the slave wrecks project? >> what we have is that we realize that the goal of this initially was to find iconic pieces of a slave ship. we didn't set out to find the sal josse, creating a new museum, you wanted people to understand by humanizing the slave trade. we spent a lot of time in cuba looking at ships and figuring out, this is where we begin to do our exploration. as we got close and wanted to make sure we found something, we began to work with the slave wrecks project, an amazing
collaboration of scholars in the united states and south africa in brazil, people within the united states park service who want to realize that maritime arcology didn't look for ships of the enslaved. we wanted to work with partners to help us map the ocean floors and begin to identify where other ships could be. our goal is pretty sim. . on the one hand we wanted to find a ship for the museum when we opened. on the other hand, we wanted to stimulate a national and international conversation and interest in finding the hundreds of ships on the ocean floor. that people in senegal had the training and interest and resources to look in their waters and people in brazil and
south africa. on the one hand he was confined, find us a ship. on the other hand, if this was the last fron tier of knowledge, if this is something that will help us understand the slave trade more than anything else that we have now, then how do we help countries around the world do this work? so the slave wrecks project in part is also about education. helping to train young people to become under water archeologist and finding resources to identify and bring up their own wrecks. our hope would be that this project would go on for many generations helping us to learn more by bringing up remnants and pieces of these ships. >> not just a slave ship but a slave ship that goes down with human cargo on board. that's the historical significance here. >> that's the historical significance of this particular
wreck. >> that goes back to what we talked about in the beginning, the importance of remembering these people, these people who insurgent vifed and or these horrific journeys and that was one of the most moving kpoen enlts what we experienced when lonnie and i traveled to south africa and mozambique this summer. >> in a way, part of what we wanted to do was to trace the root of the ship, right. from mozambique into south africa. we wanted to meet the people involved. we spent time with the people in the interior where most of the people on the sal jose were
macua people. we had this idea that we wanted to get soil from mozambique and spread it over the ship. that was our idea. we got to mozambique and the chiefs had this amazing ceremony for us and took us to a spot where the enslaved were sold, kind of auction spot. they then began to dig dirt and they put dirt in this amazingly beautiful vessel, this shell vessel. then they said to us in no uncertain terms, basically they said, you thought this was your idea. this is your ancestors telling you what you need to do because once you sprinkle this dirt over the ship, for the first time since 1794, our people will sleep in their own land. you're sitting there crying. oh, my goodness. and you realize this sort of -- that it's more than a research endeavor. it's more than a museum
exhibition. it's really as paul said, it's really about recognizing that the slave trade is not about yesterday. it's as much about today and tomorrow for so many people. and it really gave us new insights into how to help people remember and understand the importance of this. then to finish the story about this soil, so we had planned to have a ceremony in capetown. and overlooking camp's bay, we were hosted by an amazing man named alby sacks involved in the anti-apartheid movement. we thought we would have a ceremony where i would speak and few others would speak. the day of the ceremony it was horrible. it was pouring rain. the sea was angry, the wind was unbelievably strong. and you suddenly realized, this could have been like the day that the ship went down. it was that bad. we couldn't get boats out and
ultimately we had these divers get out as far as they could and then they sprinkled the soil and what happened is as soon as the soil hit the water, the sun came up, rain stopped and wind stopped and suddenly you realized, don't mess with ancestors. you had a real sense that this was a special moment. and we stood there unbelievably connected to people's whose names we'll never know and what topped it off, a woman that was part of the ceremony who was a descendant of mozambique slave, raeld a poem in portuguese and english and talked about how important it was that the work we were doing was allowing people to sleep in their own soil, allowing people to be remembered but most importantly
allowing us living to recognize how connected we are to this story. and those are the things that make all of the work we do special. that's why we feel so lucky to be able to do this. >> long before that day, before the divers even hit the water, can you talk about the research effort and how you originally found the sao jose. >> this in some ways began long ago. it began long before the museum's involvement and began with a desire and initiative to look for wrecks. >> much like the one we were engaged in at the museum. and that took time, right? it takes time to look through a variety of archival sources. you're looking at a combination of archival work and arcology cal work and all sorts of detective work.
anthropology work and talking to fishing communities where they know of wrecks and what they know of the history of wrecks. there's these variety of techniques and tools you use in a tool kit before you find a wreck and then a variety of sort of detective kind of work, diagnostic testing and cross referencing archives after you find something. so you're not having some kind of confirmation bias, right. this wreck -- but even beyond that, when you find a wreck. when we found this wreck and ready to sort of confirm what it was to ourselves and begin to talk about, can this be what we think it is? >> what was the time frame for this this? >> a period of about seven or eight years. and particularly because this site is like -- hanging on --
the divers who can get onto it, have to be very experienced and know what they are doing. and then they'll uncover dredge sand in order to get to some of the material that we found and they'll come back the next day enbe covered over by 6-feet more of sand. >> all of that said, when we began to realize what we had, we realized that we didn't just uncover a ship. what we have uncovered is this story that connected the world, right? our research had taken us to archives in the netherlands. in portugal, in mozambique and capetown itself and over to brazil. and so what had been a story about a single ship has defined you know, something much more. something global. and that clearly depended on the expertise, knowledge and skills
and capacity of the team that lony referenced, this international team, no one person, no one small group of people could have done this work all on their own. that's the power. >> what do we have from the ship? what will we be seeing at the museum? >> i think we're still obviously diving on the ship. one of the things we know we have are these iron ballasts one of the tell-tale signs because the cargo, human cargo is light. so you need ballasts to give that balance to the ship. we're going to bring up a piece -- couple of ballast pieces and pulley that talks about how the sails were used, et cetera. i'm also still looking for a tiny piece of wood from the hull of the ship. in essence, we're still diving because i think that gives us a kind of -- piece of the true cross.
and i want something not a whole ship but i want people to be able to sort of create an ee vok tif moment where they can look at these pieces and begin to think about what this means, who these people were, what their loss was, what did they sacrifice for all of us and that in essence to really say it was not an example -- attempt to do sort of a rather pedestrian exhibit. this is a chance for you to almost revel in and wrestle with this history in an evocative way. >> that's what our museum really strives to do and succeeds in doing so well. you think about the importance of this story, the african-american story and its centrality, not just to the story of america but to the world, and the things we've been finding often are incredible,
iconic, right. sometimes they are incredibly beautiful and iconic. and sometimes they are iconic because they are so -- they've been -- objects that have been cast away. they are wrecks. they are remnants and rags. and with the work that we're doing to showcase them, to put them in a platform, to put them in a new lens, to help people understand these objects that might be as simple as an iron bar or as simple as a piece of wood, and to look at them and in a new light adds a whole new depth. and knowledge to what we're doing. and i think in some ways that's what we do. that's what we do best. >> of the 200 -- more than 200 slaves who didn't make it off the ship, is there any expectation of finding any human
remains or bones in this wreck? >> i think that as the work uncovers over the years to come, i would expect we will probably find human remains and what our commitment is to return those remains to mozambique, to let them sort of lay in their native soil. we haven't found any yet but as paul was saying, one of the real challenges of this site is that if you remove the sand, quickly it's replaced again. so there's a lot of work that has to be done but i think we will probably find human remains. >> what about the chains that held -- >> we will find iron work like that and we'll eventually bring pieces of that back to the museum as well. i think that what we'd like to do is essence say when you walk
into the museum and see this, you'll see the pieces from the sao jose and emulat to protect them from being taken as slaves. and you'll then also see a slave shackle, a shackle that was really designed for children, small shackle. and you'll be in a darkened space and then you'll hear periodically voices describing what the slave trade was like, what the middle passage was like. but really just an evocative space and this will be something the advice tors will always remember. >> is this going to be right at the entrance to the museum. >> near the beginning of the history exhibitions. the museum has basically three floors of galleries. one is a kind of historical narrative that takes you from africa through well into the 21st century, another floor
looks at the role of culture. another floor looks at the role of community. in essence, this will be one of the iconic moments in the mus m museum. >> when does the museum open? >> it will open in the fall of 2016. we promised president obama he will get to cut the ribbon and that's going to be the case. we are probably roughly a year away from opening. >> what will it mean to you that day especially with the first african-american president being there for the opening right across from the white house right near the washington monument? >> in some ways this whole journey for me now more than ten years has been an unbelievably humbly journey. and in some ways it will mean a couple of things. first of all, the national mall is the place where the world comes to learn what it means to be an american. and now we'll have a museum that will enrich and maybe complete the way we begin to understand who we are as americans, to see people engaging with that is
going to be very moving. i guess the other piece is that one of the joys of this process and joys of the smithsonian is that the smithsonian is a place where people will come and wrestle with important questions, that they might not wrestle with in chicago or museum in l.a. or museum in new york. because they are coming to do the smithsonian and trust the smithsonian. this gives us an amazing educational opportunity to engage with maybe thousands and maybe millions of people who might not explore the subject anywhere else. but here we're going to get a chance to educate the world and share the story because it's part of the smithsonian. >> paul, you're the curator of the museum. are all of the exhibits going to be ready that day? >> i'm one of the curators of the museum and that gives me extreme confidence that yes, all of the exhibits will be ready. we have an incredible team of curators and collections people and project managers,
administrat administrators, working to make sure that we not only open on time, and i think that -- i say that with no small sense of pride and a smile -- but i also think that what's crucial to remember is that in addition to the national museum, on the national mall, which is an incredibly important site and will remain an incredibly important site for people to come to from around the world our work exists in communities all across the nation and. and the slave wrecks project gives us an opportunity to talk about our work around the world and the impact that this -- that this museum has on helping to build capacity, on helping to bring these kinds of conversations to people as far flung as mozambique, to
charleston, south carolina, to oakland, california. i think these are the kind of ways that we see our work, curators, to director alike, as engaging in the world, right? we're here, yes, on the national mall but we're also out in a variety of communities and variety of important ways. >> in some ways the goal is pretty simple. the goal is that yes, this will be the first green museum on the national mall and yes, just as you've heard there's amazing collections that people will be amazed at seeing and people will be impressed and educators and engaged by the exhibitions. but the reality is the job of the museum is to make america better and begin to create a safe space where difficult questions around race and around poverty and around the possibility of america are engaged. and allow people to use history
as a wonderfully useful tool to help them live their lives. so on the one hand, it's great to be a good museum. we will be a good museum. but we also want to be a place that matters and that gives people that value, helps them realize that we're still being divided and challenged and hurt by issues of race. and unless we find the safe space to debate, to discuss, to prod, to wrestle with, to understand, will always be divided that way as a nation. >> the sao jose, is it going to be permanent? how long will it be there? >> the sao jose, we're looking at the 10-year period. my hope will be that part of the work we're doing with other entities around the world will allow us to then periodically bring in newer finds, newer discoveries, expanding our notions of these ships and be able to find something that may have left the west coast of
africa or something in brazil or caribbean. what our goal is to use the sao jose as a launching pad for what we hope will be a many-year project that allows us to both showcase the work of other people but also to help people begin to understand maybe one ship at a time how complicated and how large and how essential the slave trade is to our understanding of who we are globally today. >> and i know as you look to some of those other wrecks, the sao josse, the recovery effort was kept under wraps out of fear for treasure hunters or others coming to the site. are there other projects that you're currently working on that are also under wraps right now? >> well, we're working in a number of areas around the world. our partners with the national park service and their submerged resources center.
we've actively begun to do research work in saint kroix and archival material that document wrecks there. we began a process with them with them in the lead really in terms of beginning that process of survey and the smithsonian is beginning a process of community engagement and research that is connecting to communities there. now not all of these sites may prove to have wrecks like the sao jose does. whether in saint croix or discussions in cuba or in senegal as lonnie mentioned before or other sites, what they all do is contain potential and almost or more importantly, contain those crucial historical and community building elements to have these conversations around these trades, around
these ships, around these vehic vectors and trajectories that shape the whole world. >> we said many times you don't have the names of the individual slaves who lived or died in the sao jose wreck. do you wish you had a name or is the wreck enough? >> you wish you could honor them by calling their name. there's a long tradition in many african-american communities that as long as you can say someone's name, they are never gone, they are never without. i wish we could say the names. since we can't say the names, we can honor their spirits by remembering through the sao jose and remembering through those relics that we're able to find. our hope is that yes, as we do this work, maybe we'll find names but the reality is you're probably not going to in most cases. what you really want people to do is recognize that though they may be nameless, though they may
be faceless, they are alive in our spirits and crucial to our understanding of who we are. and that in a way for us, this is an opportunity to say, the past matters and the way the tribal folks and folks in mozambique reacted to this, helped us realize that what we're doing is more than looking back. what we're really doing is helping people find candidly some healing in issues that have divided us that we haven't talked about candidly and openly. our hope is that by shining the light in all of the dark corners, we can find that reconciliation healing that is so essential to this nation. >> do you think people will find that healing at this exhibit? >> i think they will. i know they will because of what we -- what we experienced this summer, right? i think that what we experienced this summer in terms of africans engaging with this story of
slavery was revela txrevelatorye is going to come to this with their own history, their own sense of personal or ethnic or national sort of understanding or connection or a feeling of lack of connection to this history. but what we're finding when we open this story up to the world to anyone is that we can find a connection for everyone to this story. maybe not personally like through lineage but the story of humanity and the story of the fact and power of the sao jose is something that ought to touch and can touch anyone and how to change that. >> before we go, you said you were told when you were in
mozambique that this is your ancestors telling you what you need to do. what do you think they'll be saying when this exhibit opens at the national museum? >> what i hope is that my ancestors aresmiling, smiling because they're no longer forgotten. smiling because the struggle, the story of their lives is really inspiration. and hopefully smiling because finally they get to fill out the narrative of helping us all understand who we are and how we all have been shaped by the slave trade, and by slavery, because people forget, the slave trade is the first real international global business. so-so many nations of europe make their money, provide the foundations through the slave trade. and slavery itself is the economic engine of the united states, brazil. so what we want people to do is yes, understand the story through the eyes of those
enslaved, but also recognize even if you weren't enslaved, you were shaped in powerful ways by this experience. >> lonnie bunch, director of the national museum of african-american history and culture, paul degarlo, one of the curators there. thank you for joining us on american history tv. >> thank you. >> thank you. american history tv airs on c-span3 every weekend, telling the american story through events, interviews and visiting historic locations. our features include lectures in history, visits to college classrooms across the country to hear lectures by top history professors, american artifacts looks at the treasures the u.s. historic sites, museums and archives, reel america, revealing the 20th century through archival films and newsreels, the civil war, where you hear about the people who shaped the civil war and reconstruction, and the presidency focuses on u.s. presidents and first ladies to learn about their politics, policies and legacies.
american history tv, every weekend on c-span3. all weekend, american history tv features denver, colorado. c-span cities tour staff recently visited the site showcasing the city's history. the city of denver has more than 200 park and 14,000 acres of park land in the nearby mountains. learn more about denver all weekend here on american history tv. i think what is so unique and interesting about this refuge is much of this refuge is tall grass prairie. this is globally significant as it has over 600 species of
plants. this is unique to north america as well as colorado. much of the front range has experienced disturbance of some level and so just to have some in tact zaric tall grass prairie is a pretty amazing feature that we're really looking forward to help people learn about. and it really is a story of transformation, how this land has been used in so many different ways, and now to be into a prairie environment, and a national wildlife refuge, i think this is a really amazing opportunity to help people learn what our conservation future is here in this place. we do have porcupines out here. i think a lot of people are surprised that porcupines are on the prairie. they do eat yucca. so we do have elk that use this
area. they use the drainages for calving. we also have mule deer. so there may be some mule deer fawns out here. coyotes are other common mammals. occasionally there is a bear in this area. and it really -- the connectivity of this open space, i think really helps that -- some of those larger mammals, especially elk, because they do move from summer to winter range. so kind of in the distance you can see lindsey ranch. and so the house was constructed in 1949. and so basically the site history we had native americans used this site intermittently, prehistoriwise, in the 1800s, it was homesteading activity. and which continued up until the
property was taken over in 1951. we can go out and look at the edge of the property where the department of energy still retains that interior core, where the plant used to be. rocky flats plant was basically in operation from 1952 until roughly 1992. and they -- it was a plutonium trigger production site, so this was one piece of the nuclear weapon production. so then those triggers were shipped to other locations for assembly. and the final product was at that other site. it was one of 13 sites across the country that was supporting the arms race, so it was a national security priority to
build these facilities, and over time there was roughly 800 buildings on this site. and most of the activity was in the central part of the refuge, which it is now maintained by department of energy. for national security, these plant sites were located inland because the missile technology at that time was inadequate. it really wouldn't reach places inland. so this was based on a national security selection is why this site was chosen. i think initially in the '50s there was a lot of support, it was very, like, we talked about a very -- a national security issue, people were very concerned about safety and our country's protection and security. so as time evolved, i think there was a larger movement, more in the '70s and '80s that
there was environmental interest and concern about what these materials based plutonium has a very long life span, so there was a lot of concern about the community of proper disposal of whatever materials were used in production of these weapons. in 1989, there was an fbi raid out at the plant, based on concerns about the health and safety of workers as well as contamination. and so basically production ceased at that time. in 1992, i believe that was the final year of production. and then from that point on, it was a large effort was directed at cleaning up the site. the cleanup started roughly in 1992 and it was an extensive effort with many people. it was a super fund site. and a very -- i think very
organized and systematic way. it was the site was the buildings were taken down, the materials were transported off site. and in 1999 is when senator wayne allard and senator mark udall introduced the idea of creating a reserve out here. in 2000, they continued that effort, and in 2001 they drafted and finalized the legislation to create this as a national wildlife refuge, the rocky flats act. cleanup was completed in 2007. we, as fish and wildlife service, that's when we began to manage this as a national wildlife refuge. so as we talked about, the department of energy still retains roughly 1300 acres of this site and they have ongoing monitoring of this site. i think that's one of the great
stories of this particular site is that this is a former production site that is now a national wildlife refuge and it really truly is a story of transformation of how just, i think amazing diversity of how a land can recover after there has been disturbance and landscape and vegetation continue to evolve. this weekend, we're featuring the history of denver, colorado, together with our come k comcast cable partners. learn about denver and other cities at c-span.org/cities tour. you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. the c-span radio app makes it easy to continue to follow the 2016 election wherever you are. it is free to download from the
apple app store or google play. get audio coverage and up to the minute schedule information for c-span radio and television and podcast times for our popular public affairs, book and history programs. stay up to date on all of the election coverage. c-span's radio app means you always have c-span on the go. next, author richard brookhiser discusses the life and legacy of founding fatherer alexander hamilton. he argues that hamilton's economic achievements including his support for building domestic factories and debt reconciliation were key components to making the fledgling american democracy self-sufficient and prosperous. the alexander hamilton awareness society hosted this event. it is about 45 minutes. >> welcome, everybody, to the celebrate hamilton 2016 events on the 2012th anniversary of