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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  November 25, 2016 2:19pm-2:47pm EST

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london and how his novel influenced generations of writers. >> he always looked back to the natural land to his ranch, to the beautiful scenery in california and elsewhere in the south pacific. to center himself and to find release and relief from the rigors and the deppry days of the cities. >> at 6:00 eastern we visit the military aviation museum in virginia beach. >> this airplane among a couple other types basically taught all the military i've yaters how to fly. and in guys never even saw an airplane coming from the farms and anywhere you could think of and the first airplane they saw was the boeing steerman. >> for our complete american history tv schedule go to cspan.org. >> next, american history tv visits chatham manor.
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the only known house in the u.s. visited by both george washington and abraham lincoln, built in 1771 by virginia continental congress delegate it was a union headquarters during the civil war and a field hospital during the battle of fredricksbu fredricksburg. chatham was given to the national park service in 1975 and part of the national military park. >> did you all want a guided tour of the house? at least the downstairs anyhow. i would like to welcome you to chatham. i'm the staff historian here. you have never been here before? >> no. >> no. >> i've been to a chatham, new jersey. >> these a town though. but they are named after the same person. both named after william pitt who was the earl of chatham who was a popular figure about the
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time of the american revolution. he was a member of the parliament and supported america's right to representation and very popular man here in the colonies and william fitshu liked him because he would name his house after him. that's him right there. he's the man who built chatham. the house was constructed between 1768 and 1771. it was not his first house by any means. he had come into a great deal of wealth. when he reached his manhood he had already owned two houses but they were out in the country so he wasn't getting nearly the society that he wanted. in those days you didn't have radios and televisions. you spoke with other people and you wanted to be where other people were. that's why he built a house here because this was the big city at that time and a lot of people
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were passing through and he would get a lot of company, could hear news and he and his wife could get their entertainment that way. he starts construction in 1768 and immediately puts his name up for election. the house of burgess's was the lower house of virginia assembly back when it was a colony. that was the years immediately leading up to the american revolution. you had in that body people like thomas jefferson. patrick henry. george washington. he was sitting amongst those people as one of their equals as they were discussing the issues of taxation and what the virginia's relationship should be to the mother country. fitzhu fits in with the revolution quite perfectly. he is a great supporter of virginia's rights and when virginia breaks away from the mother country, he's involved and supports that as well.
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he's a member of several of the committees of safety, correspondence and be a member of the continental congress. he's a very important man politically as far as the offices he held. he would also be a virginia member of the house of delicates and state senator. he held just about high station as you could hold in the cole any or state at that time. he built his house basically with two things in mind. first of all, he built it where it's at so he could get that society. but he also built it on -- so it could impress people. this house is not simply a dwelling, it's a statement. it's his way of saying i'm wealthy, i'm important, i'm the man in fredricksburg to deal with. he was ready to take control of the reigns of local politics. he built his house overlooking the bluff.
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anybody as they looked east would see this house sitting on the hill. if you have been to europe and seen a castle, everybody in that town knew who the lord of the land was. chatham was the castle for fredricksburg. he built it here for that reason and to impress people in other ways. it's made all of brick. brick was more expensive to use just as it is today. if you made your house in brick that is a statement that i'm a wealthy man. george washington had mt. vernon made out of wood. it's also interested to note this house is built in a unusual fashion. only one room wide throughout its entire width. usually when you walk into these houses you find one room on the left, right, a central stairway and a room in the back and right. usually something like four-room plan on the ground floor. that's the efficient way of building a house.
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fitzu was wealthy and could be inefficiently. so he built it very long and narrow. that has a lot of advantages. first of all, it makes the house look bigger than it really was. this house only had nine rooms all together and looks like many more as you're approaching it from the front or back. second, it allowed light to come in from both sides. it made the house more light and airy than it would have been otherwise. third, you could get a nice cross ventilation going through which is important in a hot summer when you didn't have air conditioning. it was a very nice way to build a house if you could afford it but very few men could but fitzu was one of those men. >> they finished the place in 1771. was classically georgen. in the early 19th century he added porches and walkways facing the river. at least some of the plantation
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slave quarters were beyond the ravine to the south. as many as 100 slaves worked the fields, shops, stables, mill and barns at chatham. the big house was the center piece of the farm. a mixture of feeds and wood lots, barns and workshops. at one time nearly 30 out buildings surrounded chatham. today only two out buildings remain, the itch cannen and the laundry. the precise locations of a few others are known. chatham's fields and the slaves who worked them produced tobacco. by the time of the civil war they yielded mostly grains and sustained some live stock. pigs, sheep and cows. after the civil war, chatham never recovered as an agricultural operation and its land was sold off. by 1920 the estate was reduced to 30 acres. it became home to a cessation of
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wealthy owners. the war time pores were removed. gardens built and chatham took the form it retains today surrounded by 80 acres of open fields. >> so fitzu built this place, at the same time he fits in to a lot of other patterns. very hospitable. you heard of southern ho hospitali hospitality. that was true. people in his class often hosted other people at their house for days or sometimes weeks at a time and we have letters from william to relatives talking about how he's got 25, 26 people staying at his house that week and lists how many cattle he's had to slaughter, complained about how he's had to feed these people but then he goes on and says i had 36 people here last week staying with me. try to imagine if you will putting up with guests, maybe not 36 or 24 at a time but try to imagine putting up half a dozen people day in and out
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throughout your life as people come and go. in addition to having to run the plantation, do all your political activities. it became very wearing. eventually he's going to tire of this and as he gets older he decides he's going to down-size, get rid of his property, consolidating himself up in northern virginia. he's going to sell chatham. move up to northern virginia where he'll be not too distant neighbor from george washington. they knew each pretty well, served together in the house of burge burge burgesses. he would send washington seeds and would also when washington wanted a horse, william was known as a man who knew his horse flesh. he had been a founding member of the jockey club and had stables for a couple dozen horses and raised his own horses which he would run for big wealthy cups. he was known to be a very
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knowledgeable man when it came to horses. when george washington needed a horse he sent a note to william and said can you keep an eye out for one for me. he liked horse racing and gambling. virginians gambled on anything and everything back in those days. he also had a pool table. he actually had a nickname called the shark. when very few people could afford a pool table. he probably beat almost everybody who came to play him here. and won money by doing that. he's owns the house for the first 30 years. when he sells the house it's going to come down to a family named the jones. one of the jones daughters will marry a man who will be the pry pry ter of the house at the time the civil war began. we'll take a look at the owners
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and a picture of james' horse lacy. c'mon and make yourself at home anywhere. feel free to spread out. james' horse lacy married into the family and in doing so became one of the wealthiest man in the area. to show you how wealthy he was, just before the war in 1860 he had this painting done for him. loytz is the man who painted washington crossing the delaware. pretty famous artist. he's looking pretty well fed and eating pretty well, too. lacy also owned about 100 slaves. it's not surprising when the civil war comes that lacy's sympathies are with the south. he views lincoln as threats to
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the institution of slavery and very much for virginia for creating its own country with the other southern states. being in his 30's decides to help out the south by becoming a volunteer aide to some of the generals and later as the war becomes prolonged he's going to formally enlist and become a quarter master in the army arising to the rank of major. he's going to be sent away to virginia and his family will join him there. for most of the war, chatham is not occupied by the family. it's occupied by union troops when they're in this area. the first troops to come here in the bring of 1862 under the command of general mcdowell. he's the man who commanded the army during the battle of first bull run. but you may remember they didn't do well there and he's no longer army commander but is in command of the department. his goal was to protect
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washington, d.c. while the main body of troops under george b. mclelland went to williamsburg. he's going to make sure the confederates don't dash into washington, d.c. they all went south to join mcclellan. they decide to send mcdowell south to join him. just before the movement takes place president abe pam hamlin con comes to chatham. the third president to come into the house. prior to george washington had come here as had thomas jefferson. abraham lincoln is coming to confer with mcdowell about this movement. that's going to make him the third president and this makes chatham the only house with both george washington and abraham lincoln entered during their lifetime. now, just before mcdowell moves
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south, stonewall jackson will kick up his heels in the shenandoah valley. as a result, union troops will be sent to the shenandoah shally and the military situation changes. in the fall of 1862 it's now under a new commander. a man who is today not known for hi generalship but his whiskers. he had these chops called side burns. they took his name and inverted it. that's what we remember burnside for now. he comes back with men on crossing the river, attacking robert e. lee. when that takes place chatham is going to come under the union army's control and it's going to be used as a headquarters by several different officers. before the battle it was used by orlando wilcox. during the battle itself it's
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going to be the headquarters of general edward sumner. it's sumner's troops crossing the river and attack the confederates at the infamous stone wall where they will be slaughtered. sumner is in this building directing the movement of his troops while they're doing that. after the battle is over, in fact, even before the battle is over they're going to start pouring back over the river and chatham becomes the building used as a field hospital. there were hundreds of soldiers who passed through, so many they couldn't fit them all inside. they had to put some in tents outside because they couldn't fit them into the building but they worked tirelessly day and night doing all sorts of different operations including amputations. they had a professional medical core here. one in particular was clair
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barton. we remember as being the founder of the american red cross. she did that after the civil war. during, she was just kind of starting her humanitarian efforts then and decided that the army needed help taking care of these wounded soldiers at the front. there were other women who became us inurses. but most of them went back to the hospitals. but in this case clair barton decided they needed the help more right here on the battlefield. that makes her unusual. she was one of the few women nurses who came to the front. she came here to chatham and during the course of the battle she was here watching the fighting and as the soldiers came she would treat them here at chatham. she's not specific in what she did here but there's indications is she was a cook. that was a typical role for a woman working at a army hospital at that time. women were seen to be cooks.
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she would have been out on the grounds with a big iron pot making some sort of food for the soldiers being treated and wrbrg it in and talk with the soldiers. she wasn't in the operating room and cutting off the arm. but she was helping out here with the patients, probably dishing out food to them and she would be here for about two weeks. at the same time clair barton was here we have another famous person. walt whitman. his brother was in the army and his brother had crossed the river and been wounded in the battle of fredricksburg. he saw a casualty list which listed his brother as being wounded. he immediately headed down here to see what condition his brother was in and whether he could help him. he got a pass, came to the front. found his brother in pretty good condition. his brother was shot through the cheek but apparently wasn't that
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serious. he thought since i'm down here how many opportunities do you get to be at the front. he said i'll just stay and spend christmas with my brother and go back home. after a couple days gets boring sitting around in a tent and he decided let me look around. see a few other things. he wandered across the fields to see what a hospital was like. he was here for a few hours wandering from room to room talking to the soldiers who seemed to need it and writing letters for those who couldn't write for themselves. he held a great conversation with a prisoner and met with again up in washington, d.c. whitman is here for a brief time but leaves us a wonderful description of what the house was like. specifically as he's leaving he will go out the front door of the building, down the steps on the side facing the river.
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he said the very first thing he saw were fresh graves in the door yard in front of the door. these he believe were officers who had been killed whose bodies were temporarily buried before shipped back home. then right along the path, as he's walking along the front of the house, he saw a line of soldiers with blankets over them. these men had died here either before or after surgery and now been taken out to make room for other soldiers but they didn't have anybody handy to bury them so they laid them out and some private would get to them later on. then down the path further he came to the most gruesome site of all. it was an amputated -- a pile of amputated limbs, enough to fill a one horse cart. presumably a pile shoulder high sitting right there between two old trees which are still there today and the house. we know from other sources that
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that portion of the house he was passing was in fact the surgery. it makes sense that the surgeon, after cutting off a arm, leg, foot, you get rid of it. how? you toss it out the nearest window. in this case it went out the front window, landed at the foot of the trees and that's where it was when whitman found it. a lot of soldiers did not survive. there were at least 135 soldiers buried on the lace is property after the civil war was over. not in any graveyard. just wherever they could find a spot. after the war they were moved to the national cemetery. they're not here today except those they missed. in later years people who were living here doing gardening did find some human remains now and again. today there are still three graves out on the property still out there today which are marked with small stones saying u.s.
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soldier, 1862. after the battle was over and the generals moved out and the hospitals moved out, this building was used by union soldiers as a picket post. the river outside the front of the house was the dividing line between the armies. for several months they were camping close to one another. but you can't trust your enemy. so they put these men up and down along the river. you can picture these guys in the snow, very cold that winter, doing their beat, three, four hours. you got to have some place to come back to. so they would warm themselves up, catch a nap before it was their turn to go back out again. for several months, not by generals or surgeons, but by privates and corporals. as the winter progressed the army used up all the wood in the area. any tree was pretty much cut down for miles around and used frd firewood or for roads or for
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log cabins. you could imagine you're coming off of duty, you're feet are freezing and your captain says private, it's time for you to get some firewood, it's your turn. nearest tree is a mile that way and hands you a hatchet. haul as much as you can. you don't want to do that. what's the other alternative? the wood of the house. so some soldiers started prying these boards off the wall, throwing them in the fireplaces and using them for wood. in many cases when the lacys returned to their house they found bare plaster walls which the soldiers scrolled graffiti. you'll see an instance of civil war graffiti. if you look close, you can see number one here, number 30 year, some more 3's or 30's over here. somebody wrote number 1 rand
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signatures. jw cook wrote his name there. we have wellington wheaten of the 24th new york volunteers writing his name here. this thing was all around the house. when the lacys returned. they put the boards back up on the walls so you can't see it today. they removed these just to show you. it's probably around many of the walls if we were to remove the boards. so when they came back to the house, they no longer found a mansion with beautiful gardens, nice groves of trees, what they found was the shell of a house. if you seen the movie "gone with the wind." remember scarlett o'hara, she found the house but pretty much just the shell of a building. same thing happened here. the lacys came back and now they had to fix up the house. so they put the remaining resources to try and make the house liveable. what happened to scarlett o'hara when she got home?
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the tax collector came. you still had to pay taxes. if you couldn't pay your taxes you had to raise the money or lose your property. in scarlett's case she married a rich guy. the lacys didn't have that option. they had another house. they would ultimately sell this house and move into their other house and this house would pass down to the hands of many different people, carpet baggers who came in from the outside because they could get a nice plantation cheaply. so for about 50 years the house is going to pass through these various individuals. you can see if you look at the panel, here's kind of a list of all the different people who owned the house at that time. you can see most just own it for five or ten years. one thing you'll notice, the house which sold for $36,000 prior to the war and dropped down to the low 20's after that is not really changing too much in value. after they fix it up, the value is pretty much the same,
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$25,000, $30,000 at the time of world war i. look what happens between world war i and 1931 the house jumps from $30,000 to $150,000. in that very short 15-year period. something must have happened in that time. what happened was the divorce came in. they decide to retire here. mrs. davoer was a wealthy woman. and they decided to pour her fortune into the house and took this house and restored it once again to one of virginia's finest showplaces. there was also that house going from $30,000 to $150,000. notice this. when is that $150,000 price tag? 1931. what happened then? the height of the great depression. that is a price during the great depression. i don't know how many millions that would be in normal times. that was worth a lot of money. there's only very few people in america who could have afforded
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to buy a house for that amount of money in the height of the great depression. and john lee pratt had grown up here in the fredricksburg area, a farm boy, gone off to college, done well for himself and became an executive first in the dupont corporation and in general motors where he became vice chairman of general motors corporation. he would retire in the middle of the 20th century and moved back to fredricksburg and he and his wife decided they needed a place to live. chatham was up for sale. mrs. pratt liked it and john pratt bought it for $150,000 and he would live here up until he gave it to us in 1975. mr. pratt and mrs. pratt were two entirely different personalities one of those things of opposites attracting. john lee pratt was a simple man. he liked to go out in his old clothes. had patches on his coats. in fact, he liked to walk -- he
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walked across the river and play cards with buddies in town. he dressed so shabbily, everybody thought he was a bum. it was explained that's one of the richest men in america. his wife was driving across the bring with her chauffeur and saw mr. pratt from mind and said to the chauffeur who is that poor shabby looking man over there? and the chauffeur said madam that's your husband, should we stop and pick him up? she said drive on. mrs. pratt liked nice things and among the nice things she liked was russian jewelry. she started a collection of very fine russian jewelry. among the things she collected were russian imperial eggs and collected five. today if you were to try to buy one they cost about $30 million

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