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tv   Secretary of War Edwin Stanton  CSPAN  January 7, 2017 5:59pm-7:10pm EST

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-- and 1955, she made a very epic journey. she went across the length of the atlantic, the indian ocean and entering the pacific from the west. of sanh the cities tour diego. on c-span3. working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. >> the presidential inauguration of donald trump is friday, january 20th. c-span will have live coverage of all of the ceremonies. watch on c-span and and listen on the c-span radio app.
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>> author william marvel talks about edwin stanton mr. marvel argues that his loyalties lasted only as long as they were useful to him. thelso gives examples of wartime powers and suggests they were often applied with disregard for civil liberties. this is in petersburg virginia. it is one hour and 10 minutes. it almost seems a shame that we are spending things and doors. what a beautiful afternoon. but thanks for coming back. excellent program for you for the rest of the afternoon. i mentioned this morning that our first or second speaker are so prolific that that seems to be a theme of our faculty this year.
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with our next speaker being an incredibly prolific writer, many of you know his work. he has written on a variety of topics. his for volume history of the civil war is something you need to do so. he has written about andersonville. he has written about the alabama. he is in the process, almost finished with his next book. it seems like one book comes out one year and the other is in the pipeline. his next book is tentatively titled we can possibly center's. economic motivation among union volunteers. i think that would be a very, very interesting book. is the topic today subject of his most recent
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published book about the secretary of war in the lincoln administration. bill is a native of new hampshire. he and ellen live up in the northern new hampshire area. it is near conway, new hampshire. bill went to keene state university where he received an honorary phd even though they don't issue phd degrees. he got an honorary one. so that is very impressive. that some of you know i been working on this petersburg book. i have written my acknowledgment's. the personal to them i am most grateful -- to who i am most grateful for his help is william marvel. he went and got research remain in place i could visit.
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he is an outstanding editor. he encrypted tremendously. he is just a great writer and a great friend. so please welcome my pal bill marvel. [applause] william: thank you all. if there is one thing we learned this weekend, it is that will green gives good introduction. [laughter] william: i enjoy coming down here primarily because of those introductions. praise hear such glowing elsewhere. especially in my hometown. it is a tribute to his loyalty. if not his judgment. and to his trust that he would allow me to speak to you people
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so far away from the kicking distance. i am sorry to have to talk to you about politics. especially on this particular stage. but politics sometimes intrudes as it will and a couple of weeks. i have to say that i have never been so happy to finish a book as i was the biography of stanton. of closer years association with him i was happy to turn my back on someone i found some -- so on redeeming. two-based and treacherous. i thought i would start with something positive. [applause] william: during those years when
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i was working on stanton and neighbors would ask me what i was working on and i would mention the name, they wouldn't know who i was talking about. and i would say he was essentially the dick cheney of the lincoln administration. that isn't an in-depth description. they were intolerant of people who disagree with them. they both grew and barely -- in positionsrogant of power. each district served a critically persuasive role in an administration that oversaw an degradation of constitutional rights in the name of what we in our generation call national security. defenders of such infringements
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usually justified modern violations of that nature life setting precedents that go backwards to the lincoln administration. initial -- lincoln's initial exercising of constitutional power was stanton camefter in. responsible for some of the more constitutionally objectionable actions. his last by our for harold heiman came out with this book years ago. stantonout and defended by saying that his critics did not like him. so they recorded as much damaging information and are
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barriers and letters as i could. for the historians to find. that they may have disliked them for very justifiable regions seems to not be possible to mr. hyman. there were numerous instances of questionable conduct. he was rather supportive in his assessment of executive excess in general during wartime having just come out of world war ii, perhaps it is understandable. stanton did have a number of champions among the radical republicans with whom he last cast his fortunes. but his closer colleagues that similarrse of the early negative observations about him. i would like to give you a good taste.
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wells served as secretary of the navy during his entire tenure. he confided in his diary that stanton was fond of the exercise. it was more precious to him than dominating his fellow man. he later observed that stanton is by nature and in trigger, courts favor is not faithful in his projects. he is given to secret underhand combinations. browning, was hitman a senator from illinois. he was the man who replaced stephen douglas when he died. browning was a friend of lincoln from the old days. .e met stanton soon after he recorded that he had no faith in stanton. he has no sincerity of character the road. and luscious.ical
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-- and malicious. on --buchanan was always james buchanan said that he was always on his side. he flattered me and nausea. president johnson, and speaking of mr. stanton often referred to his duplicity. he did not know any man who could be more obsequious that -- then mr. stanton. the afterward wrote that stanton believes in pure force as long as he wields it. you may be getting an idea for the sort of person you may have
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met. you may have met such people in your lifetime. if you ever worked in military service for academia or some form of organized crime, -- [applause] [laughter] william: these people are fairly prevalent. exactly. have thompson, i should left him out, he was just a confederate after all. he served in the canon's cabinet. then he confided to another one of his colleagues in that cabinet that i know no man who has reached eminence in america or anywhere else who has made for himself such a character and the contempt of all good and true man. of course he had some personal reasons for that but i think it was an honest evaluation of the last. -- nonetheless.
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then there was u.s. grant. i'm sure that if you need to see what grant looks like, will has some bills he can show you. he seemed to soften his using language to criticize others. he seems to be pleasant to him. he thought no hesitation in assuming the functions of the executive. or enacting without advising. the secretary was very timid. it was impossible for him to avoid interfering with the armies. he could see our weakness but he could not see that the enemy was in danger. have been inld not danger had mr. stanton been in the field.
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that was no conspiracy, most people to leave disparaging comment and the primary sources for historians to find later, they were all letting independently of each other. they have no access to each other's writings until the memoirs came out, by which time all of the others were finished and most of them dead. with the exception of numerous radical republicans with whom stanton never had the opportunity or the motivation to betray, his associates appear to have recorded mainly scathing indictment of his habits of personal and political treachery. pathologicalngly doubledealing. even hold with him stanton remained in close concluded chip
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-- throughout the rest of the lincoln administration and the accused cabinet, he stanton of infidelity to hold. hopeless trying to rescue his -- holt was trying to rescue his own reputation. until he was confirmed as secretary of war edwin stanton pretended to be the friend of george mcclellan on the left. we are living in 2016. stanton assisted mcclellan and composing the document that he lincoln tosent to
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retired general scott. that document was composed in the privacy of stanton's home. so mcclellan would not be found out. stanton's devotion to mcclellan blessed only so long. he needed enthusiastic endorsement from the general in order to cover all the bases and getting presently to nominate on his very first day in the war department, stanton arranged a meeting with the most powerful and combative republicans who gaining also to political matter any capital. they headed mcclellan and they were turning on most antagonistic toward the president. the radicals included weight of ohio. wade of ohio.
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, they called with chama on their conduct of the war in his office. no minutes of that meeting were taken what messages had passed between stanton and weighed the next day, indicating that the very first discussion that night consisted of how to remove mcclellan as commander of the nation's armies. as i said, the radicals headed mcclellan because he was democrat. he was soft on slavery. stanton disfigured, who was more important to him? now? mcclellan or the radicals? he knew and he immediately undertook a clandestine campaign to reduce his role want and ultimately to remove it altogether. you don't have to harbor a lot
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of admiration for george mcclellan to find it rather contemptible. politicallyrupt and motivated reversal of personal loyalty. as any close student of the history of the world knows, george mcclellan had plenty of feelings of his own. perhaps the worst which was a tendency to hesitate when bold action was most needed. considering how early he hostilitytanton's towards him, it seems logical. it may have been driven by his belief that his immediate superior in the war department could use any disaster that befell his argument -- army as a means of illuminating him. -- illuminating him.
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--eliminating him. his career as a result was unfairly destroyed. stanton would have gladly done the same to mcclellan if he could have avoided the responsibility for it but finding someone house to press the charges. as was the case and shawn porter's court-martial. the first indication of how far stanton would go to gratify his new friends came with joe morris -- charles p stone. eradicated this is a myth in the district of columbia. -- this sentiment in the district of columbia.
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in it will stay like maryland, runaway slaves to their loyal honors, at least those plant to be loyal. that is what he was required to do by law. that was enough to make him stand out among the radical republicans. senator charles sumner of massachusetts insulted stone in the senate. stone is spotted with a private note in which he called sumner a for a pity heard took on the floor of the senate from a much smaller man in 1856 without defending himself. there were some other ingredients to that incident aroused stone's ire. but stanton had been secretly colluding with sumner. ,he moment he entered the cabin
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he ratified sumner and weighed in particular. the radicals in general by having stone arrested and locked in fort lafayette. six month with no charges. it literally took an act of congress to get stanton to release stone. he waited until the last possible day under that congressional act. when he did release him finally, he refused as long as he could to give him any further assignment. stone to get a step assignment under banks. grant wanted to use stone in the spring of 64, stanton had summarily mustered him out of service. he was still a kernel in the regular army but that severely
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reduced his role. ultimately, he resigned altogether, realizing he was going nowhere because of this one man. that was not the worst example of stanton's unjust and spiteful nature. it was the one that everybody remembered. it reflects badly on president lincoln. theyom stone appealed in --vein, for vindication. even because of the politics of the day or because he did not want to criticize his secretary of war, he let that injustice stand uncorrected. he may have also been leery criticized from
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the arbitrary arrest he had undertaken so long. over, theks of taking , stanton quietly started consolidating. the executive branch authority under his own personal authority. as much as he dared. at first he persuaded to present to relieve the secretary of state of the authority to make extraordinary arrest. arrests without due process. without evidence in most cases. he had that authority transferred to himself. then as the army was about to take the field, he removed the telegraph equipment from army headquarters and took it across the street into the war department and installed it in april right beside his office. that prevented mcclellan from communicating with anyone else
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in the government and particularly president lincoln without going through stanton first. it also allowed stanton to control the communications of everyone below mcclellan. possessionk military of the private telegraph lines in the country. that enabled him to exert considerable control over the news. he telegraphed major newspapers with what first appeared to be a suggestion that it should not report on the movements and makeup of the army but then soon enough he started calling that suggestion and order. n order. he forced that victim with a partisan bias. it left newspapers of man. stanton as an
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equal pop -- people opportunity sensor. he was shut down a lincoln friendly newspaper as quickly as a democratic one. his evidence seems to be his action. he established a quick precedent for his authority without risking a court challenge. stanton directed the commander of washington's defenses to arrest the editors and publishers of the washington sunday chronicle. mainly for having published the composition and movements of the army of the potomac. we can presumably trust the philadelphia past story about this. of the chronicle was taken into custody but was released as soon as he apologized and swore that this
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would never happen again. they believe that this incident was anything more than a charade. on his misunderstanding that the chronicle was subjected to what holt calls a day of rest silence when no paper was published. as the nameut implies, the washington sunday chronicle was a weekly newspaper published on sunday. the arrest took place on monday, it was back in full operation by tuesday. there was no day of rare silence. ae chronicle didn't become weekly one until november of 1862. but while the incident did no harm to the chronicle, it made stanton but very nonpartisan. this was as close a crony of the administration as there was in the a -- american press. he once pledged his loyalty to the administration, not to the government. he was not too principled to
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engage in a little drama orchestrated to intimidate his rivals. stanton confined his exercise of his presumed power to shut down newspapers also exclusively to the opposition press. friendly publications were allowed stanton to publish miliy information without consequence. robert e. lee said he dishes plans for the gettysburg campaign based on the intelligence from the philadelphia inquirer. another newspaper that was very supportive of lincoln and suffered no repercussions for regular transgressions of that nature. timesr did the new york which revealed general sherman's -- the details of his plan for
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his march to the sea on the eve of his departure. reporters wanted ready access to the army's. they were better off to avoid topics that embarrassed the administration and particularly the war department and secretary stanton. the same lesson applied to the editors as the press buys today, media credibility can be severely compromised by being shut off from official sources of information. students of repression of the press under lincoln blew off and discounted severity. mainly by pointing out some of the minimus editorial criticism --venemousess .ditorial criticism
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pundits like dennis mahoney, the which of the herald seemed to be as persuasive as he was vitriolic. he pose more of a danger that newspaper editorial in smaller towns, operating in a relative vacuum. effective ones who sailed. the tone of dissent tended to crackdownh periodic of those natures. this crackdowns usually happened critical junctures. for example, on august 8, 1862, just before the biennial elections in the western states which were expected to go very deadly and did still go rather
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badly, stanton issued in all the ofminalized expression disagreement with administration policy. samuel mcgarry, he was the editor of the assertively independent prices in cozumel. he could be very nasty. he was not molested during the government oriole election of 1863 in ohio. where union victories and vigorous propaganda gave the republican party their biggest landslide of the war. but with the presidential campaign of 1864 third much in doubt, he was arrested. his editorial voice was effectively sized -- silence for the remainder of his life. not many such arrests were necessary either. not to initiate an epidemic of self-censorship.
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that tended to produce a cautious editorial ambiguity that must have left many proletarian readers scratching their heads. the opposition papers like the frequentlye press opted for analogies from the french revolution that they thought were apt to the present day in order to avoid being closed down for direct criticism of the lincoln government. interpreting such analogies required a degree of literary sophistication and historical understanding that was probably not very common among those and working-class subscribers. it was more effective as a censoring vehicle then has been recognized.
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only six weeks after he assumed his duties in the war department, in what may have been his most devastating blow to the union war effort, stanton decideddecided to close down ale recruiting stations. at the same juncture, the confederate government was imposing conscription and family comprehensive conscription on its residents. as the spring campaigns of 1862 began, the rebel forces were expanding and the union forces were shrinking, and that deprived union generals of a much more overwhelming force with which they might have helped them to crush rebellion earlier. and the federal armies in both major theaters were on the defensive by the height of summer. i don't think that the two fax .ere on -- facts run related
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that episode reveals a couple of things about stanton, on the one hand his eagerness to satisfy his new radical republican friends, and also his willingness to bend the truth. first, let's consider remarks by senator henry wilson, the chairman of the -- here we are, henry. he is the chairman of the senate military affairs committee, and 28,he u.s. senate on march 1862, when the maine senator complained about the size of the army and how expensive it was, wilson replied with, "i have over and over again been to the war office and urge them to start -- stop recruiting in every part of the country. we have had the promise that it should be done, yet every day different parts, we have accounts of men being raised and willing up the ranks of
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regiments. i believe we have today 150,000 men under the paid government than we need or can use. i think the war department ought to issue peremptory orders forbidding the enlistment of another soldier into the volunteer force of the united states until the time shall come that we need them. we can attain them anytime that we need them." six days later with no evidence that he ever consulted with president lincoln about it, stanton issued the very order that wilson desired. for every kind of being every sign-it bore of being permanent. after a couple months issuing the order to stop recruiting when he, by which time he realized what a blunder it was, stanton claimed he had only meant it to be temporary so he could take a tally of the troops who had been raised and know how many were out there.
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wilson, who claimed to be a tried to be a friend of stanton, later said stanton met with military affairs committee before he stopped recruiting and presented them with a very tally of troops that he was supposedly stopping recruiting to complete. apparently to reassure them that everything was going to be all right. the thing is, they thought the war was over. there had been a number of minor --tories, and on april 2 april 3, 1963, they thought the war was one until three days later. it is worth noting that the july 1862, senator wilson was disavowing his own comments published verbatim in the congressional globe about stopping recruiting. he was criticized for having done so of the new york herald,
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but in a meeting at newton, massachusetts, in july, he said i always maintained the government wanted more men. there is not a shadow on truth on which to lay the shadow of the insertion. i guess dishonesty is perhaps not new in politicians. president lincoln and secretary seward went to unusual lengths to save the administration embarrassment over this mistake of stanton's to the point of staging another charade in which the governor's of the various states were encouraged to offer troops to the president without him having to ask for them, so there wouldn't be an administration contradiction. and as that was going on, senator wilson here was working lawevisions to the militia that would allow the first national draft in the united
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states with some federal supervision. lincoln endorsed that law on july 17, 1862. the language of the bill, the precautionary details of it, and with wilson on later legislation all suggests stanton's hand was heavily involved in the composition of that legislation. three weeks later, stanton used that law as his authority to call for a draft of 300,000 militia. in addition to the 300,000 volunteers the governors had offered, then in conjunction with that draft, he issued another order on his own initiative to arrest and imprison any person or persons who may be engaged by act, -- giving aid or comfort to the enemy or any
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disloyal practice against the united states. with his inclusion of the deliberately vague reference to discouraging volunteer enlistment and especially by inserting the words speech or writing, in that order, he unilaterally expanded the constitutional definition of treason to include the voicing of opinions contrary to effective policy. to be certain, such dissidents could lay claim to know annoying , hetitutional protections added any prisoners taken under the order should be held for trial before military commissions, which may sound familiar to those of you who were alive for years ago which is of course most of you. [laughter] william marvel: critical newspaper editors, them across running for state and federal office and people by the hundreds were rounded up under this order, which required, as
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bill blair pointed out last night, the affidavit of only two people, two people, too personal enemies. maybe i am extrapolating from my own personal experience, but i am sure everybody has two enemies. i must have at least 200. [laughter] william marvel: in iowa, citizens were denounced for such tremendous crimes as being very officials andte marshals, for laughing at the drill practices of amateur militiamen. among the newspaper editors who were arrested and dragged off to washington was dennis mahoney of the new harold was mentioned earlier. he had complained too often that the burden of military service fell disproportionately on immigrant irishman without a draft, and it would only be
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draft. in new hampshire, and elderly doctor was arrested and locked in a damp cell at a fort for almost two months because he interrupted a recruiting rally to declare the recruits are more interested in bounty money than in their country. time since 1800 and only the second time in american history, the federal government actively imprisoned people for the opinions they express. to give his order the appearance of greater legitimacy and perhaps to leave stanton -- relieve stanton of personal liability in case of lawsuits, which ultimately did come, the president reissued that same order a few weeks later under his presumed war powers, making it stand for the duration of the habeas corpusg for those specific crimes that stanton had enumerated and
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objecting them to martial law. logisticcreasingly you atmosphere -- eulogistic atmosphere that affects so much of lincoln scholarship today, it can be risky for one's reputation to offer any new criticism of his administration or even any old criticism. even historians that recognize what mark dealey called the low tide of liberty following stanton's 1862 order after handle the subject with kid gloves since for -- fewer than 20,000 seem to be detained by the administration, and no one really knows how many was. mark neely stopped counting at 14,000. it is usually presumed that stanton's dubious authority was not judicious, but the united states today, population is
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about 10 times what it was during the civil war. and in equivalent --an equivalent round up of citizens would number about 200,000. how killing and effect might be the arbitrary arrest and the definite -- indefinite detention of 200,000 citizens on the expression of political opinion? that would be pretty chilling. and worse yet in terms of the precedence set by the lincoln administration mostly through stanton, even though scholars who find all of those resumes -- arrests at least positions find desperate dishes saw most were not even -- to find all of those arrests pernicious saw most were not. two-part order of august 8,
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1862, which i alerted -- alluded to earlier. arrest andering detention without appeal to habeas corpus by act she or writing. 10-22 of the national authorization act of 2012 is a reiterate of the halves of that order. indefiniterest and confinement without habeas corpus or anyone under the suspected category of catchall terrorism or of aiding and abetting such terrorists while the section 10-22 is the second of stanton's order, those people should be fined and tried by
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military authorities. those conflict with the fifth and sixth amendments, and if they were interpreted as loosely as stanton did, they could be the to support -- subvert first amendment. it is chilling when as temporary's desk stanton's contemporaries found, anyone to be subject to such aggravation. provisions to the militia law included enabling legislation for the new position of judge actor general. and stanton obviously had a specific candidate in mind, his former colleague in the buchanan administration, joseph holt. he called holt into the war department one day in september for an interview and the next holdhe president issued the judge advocate general, something he held with great
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process the rest of his group working life newbie and of the -- his working life until the end near the grant administration. like stanton, he reversed his political tact when the wind turned the ground -- turned against the political machine. congress was the most severely advocate of the new position because they felt the necessity about howdoubts sincere and loyal they are. in that zeal, hopefully hold stanton. he and stanton worked closely together for the next six years. hold was holding authority to approve or disapprove the findings of military commissions and offering the semblance of an appeals process. in reality, he usually exercised dictated byty as
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fitzjohn porter and william hammond. also cooperated with stanton in continuing trying prisoners in military commission long after these have been restored, -- peace had been restored. civil courts would have dismissed all the charges. enough of thehad chameleon about him to serve in the administrations of three successive presidents a very differing ideologies. his colleagues in the administration of james buchanan knew him as a very conservative democrat who supported john c breckenridge, the slave power candidate in the 1860 election. about 14 months later,
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he was describing himself as -- to radical republicans as a lifelong opponent of slavery. the 1860 election and the departure of southern --gressman\ signals ten congressmen signaled the end. a few months later, his fellow cabinet members in the lincoln administration found him migrating between the moderate republican perspective of william seward and the more radical viewpoint represented by salmon p chase who is somewhere here, there he is. he was going to be the subject of my baccalaureate thesis, which i never finished at that college that give me the degree that they don't give. [laughter]
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william marvel: department heads under andrew johnson in the next administration, including even stanton's friend stuart eventually --seward, eventually learned to mistrust stanton as a more radical republican with him he has been subsequently unequivocally identified. . stanton treat all -- betrayed all three of the president he served. as attorney general under you can and, he ingratiated himself to the incoming lincoln administration by carrying embellished tales of cabinet discussion to seward, who took them to lincoln. and as lincoln secretary of war, he's really allied -- secretly allied among the radicals. when chase allowed himself to be considered as a calendar to lincoln for the 1864 nomination,
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stanton play both sides of the fence. he gave chase's new supporter advertising, and he met with a classmate from kenyon college and also the davis manifesto author that challenged lincoln on his reconstruction policy. she seriously threatened the reelection prospects. after that schism had been quelled, stanton reverted to our support of the president and cabinet. after the assassination led to lincoln's political apotheosis, he became the principal architect of his own image as lincoln's beloved war minister. after andrew johnson came in, he was the radical spy and tried to get him out of office. he hoped to serve next in the
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cabinet of you grant, but he was -- ulysses grant, and probably because grant you him too well, he wasn't. some of stanton's earlier correspondence documents his habit of inflicting passions as means of winning widespread favor and keeping his options open. his reputation for candor has no longer -- nevertheless been sustained by a number of biographers who see too quick to accept stanton's own word without digging deep or harshly. he has become a fixture in a myth of serendipitous political combination in the lincoln white house when instead he sees responsible -- seems as possible for some of the more troubling actions of lincoln's presidency. even his involvement on the radical side of reconstruction
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which is more today more critical than it would have been viewed as a century ago, appears to have been guided by more cynical motives of preservation. stanton is widely recognized for his duplicity, which helps cya it is credible to future itestors he had a -- see why is credible to future investors he had a part with lincoln. he is described as sly, dishonest, and treacherous. that is how he survived in public life and by pursuing strategies that were sometimes not good for the public life. there was desire in order to maintain his own position. i cannot tell you that stanton was without redeeming quality. i can tell you evidence of those qualities is very difficult all right. [laughter] william marvel: it was good to
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his mother. [laughter] william marvel: i am pretty sure he never be his wife -- beat his wife. but in the realm of public service, his motives seemed more often selfish and benevolent, and his actions more pernicious than beneficial. he may well have cowed in the lincoln administration, but not enough to make a difference in the outcome of the war, but certainly enough to leave us with a greater legacy of wartime repression that is comfortable today or was even necessary then. there, and to end i am going to digress just a little bit, because i think rob gerard's lecture today, while it was the most entertaining, was probably the most important of
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any given here today. he feels -- he is a cop he really feels evidence. too many historians do not use evidence. i am guilty of this myself sometimes too. i succumb to the same sort of image that i learned as a child from bruce or other people, and ultimately other historians do the same thing. i wrote a four volume history of the civil war based entirely on primary sources, contemporary primary sources, diaries, documents of the day. it did not get much press, as i figured out later, because the academics who would normally review your book only like to review books that their books appear in. someone actually, a reader of a manuscript, actually said that. if you don't site their book, they will not give you the time of day. for many, that is true.
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but i think relying on primary, contemporary evidence is singularly important, and that is the difference between the lincoln that i found and the other stuff that was called stanton in 1962. there just wasn't a lot of primary source material. i will quit now. it will only go downhill from now. [laughter] [applause] william marvel: have i been spitting? [laughter] >> fascinated by stanton. in some of my research, i have looked at the rest of civilians for no apparent reason. i wondered how stanton and seward could even exist in the
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same room, how they could stand each other. it seems like they were many times stepping over each other when it comes, when it came to issuing orders and dealing with arresting prisoners and all. well, ok, repeat the present -- question. i was going to base my answer on which the question were. [laughter] william marvel: can't get away with it, no. the question is, how did stanton and seward avoid tripping over each other, and that is because they fit together very well. was sort of like a convex, concave roofing on your roof. glass, andsmooth as stanton was as sly as could be. so they slipped around each other all the time, but seward,
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seward was actually loyal to stanton even when you no longer trusted him later in the johnson cabinet. stanton, he didn't, he didn't care who he was dealing with. he would just mold his personality or his face to fit whatever he needed at the time. seward is making the arrest in 1861 and 1862. when stanton stepped in, he took over the same authority, took it away from seward, and then started doing it. the first thing he did was let a lot of prisoners go. it seemed to be a benevolent by august 1862, he was arresting more people in a year then seward had in a -- than seward had in a year as a man holding that authority. their authority did not conflict their attitude because stanton had -- and they tended to be, because seward could compromise
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and because stanton could act we or or somehow -- acquiesce somehow get around things he didn't care for, they managed to be somewhat compatible. 1862en they were in releasing all of these political prisoners, say let them go, within a month they were arresting them again it seemed like. ok.iam marvel: the question again is, how is it that they let the prisoners go in march or april of 1862 and then turned around and arrested them again? stanton really started to pick up prisoners in august 1862 because there were elections going on. you have the first draft in american history. he knew that civil service rest -- civil unrest, that was going
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to be a potential drains are -- potential danger. he crossed that as quickly as he could. there were at least one former union officer who had been discharged i think for one's and was in jail because he criticized the administration in perfectly legitimate faction, and then there were the western elections to worry about. kentucky was in august, and from september to october you had indiana and illinois and ohio to worry about. they were very worried about those. they did not do very well. they lost a lot of seats. it would have been worse if people said moore had been allowed to or felt free to express their own opinions. yes, sir. >> well, what was lincoln's perspective of stanton? william marvel: the principal
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evidence we have for lincoln's impression of stanton is stanton. i am not getting. -- getting. -- kidding. he started to put himself in the position of lincoln's beloved think,ister in 1866, i with a letter to senator james ashley of ohio, the radical of radicals, in which he described himself -- he had this cockamamie story of pretending to want to resign. he did not want to resign. he wanted as much power as he could get and as much salary as he could live on as long as he could. --fable,is weak , lincoln put his hand on stanton's shoulders and said no, stanton, you have been what has held this administration
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together. i cannot let you go. it was pure -- what is the word? poppycock. i knew it began with a consonant. [laughter] william marvel: so that is what we know. there are a lot of stories about lincoln. one of the few that i credit, i think it was john hey, was at the meeting at the war department in september 1863 when stanton did one of the few good things he did. he got everyone together and -- the president and some generals -- he brought in railroad presidents on his own initiative before ever asking the president about it and said, we need to send a couple of core troops from the army that is coming to rosencrantz at chattanooga.
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thought this was just ridiculous. he thought, you are never, you can't get 20,000 men there in six days you can't get them to washington in six days to start them off there. he tells them a story. stanton says, this is no time for stories. i believe he said that. that was hey describing it. lincoln shot him. i think lincoln was perhaps a little bit afraid of stanton's temper which i think was histrionic in many ways. that was not andrew jackson. but stanton got away with a lot more flippancy toward lincoln and he did with buchanan or johnson. they would not put up with it. he is the one that bullies the little guy and sucks up to the big one. lincoln was, i think reagan's character was -- lincoln's character was fairly accurately described as a gentle, kindly
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person. i think he did not do well with a snarly bugger like stanton. yes, sir. stanton was on the defense team for sickle. they maintain a friendship through the war and? -- through the war? william marvel: i thought you said the expanse team. stanton was on dan sickle's defense team, yes. they did maintain a relationship thereafter. sickle sort of followed the .ead of reconstruction radicals he was not unlike stanton in many ways. i would like to point out though that stanton's role in his
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defense team, sickle's defense had murdered his wife's lover in 1829 and got off in a technicality. supposedly the insanity defense and supposedly the first insanity defense in american history, which was not true. there was a similar case decided a year previously in the same courtroom on that same issue. stanton was basically the guy who was there to bully the witnesses and confuse the witnesses when necessary and to act as drama coach for sickles . i am serious about that to. sickles was left in the bar, which in many courtrooms with the back of the room, well the reporters were in the front. -- while the reporters were in the front. stanton argued he had wanted, or
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he had one of his colleagues argue, they wanted to have him at the table. no, he has got to be at the dock. the uprooted the dock and brought it to the middle of the room stanton stood there and to crytly cued sickles when it was necessary, which he did. they had to stop the trial because he was in tears over the disgrace to his daughter that this brought. and i think stanton also played a part in keeping the baltimore trial,eeper out of the the one who had the hotel register with dan sickles' name name on it. they kept that out of the trial. stanton was only one of eight lawyers there, and i am not sure he was even considered one of the top ones. but he, they did remain
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associated thereafter. anyone else? just, sir. >> i think they all wanted to be president of the united states, didn't they? william marvel: i don't think seward -- stanton did. >> seward did. william marvel: yeah. stanton was very shy of political office. in order to run for political office, you have to stay where you stand for. he only liked to do that in private so that he could tell as many different people as many different things as possible. [laughter] i think that is the literal truth. anyone else? i think i am free. oh god, i was afraid of this. >> no, this is legitimate. stanton's abuse of civil rights is outlined here in the course
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a work and highlights traditional american conflict in our culture, the conflict between security and freedom, something we experienced in world war ii with the internment of japanese, something which is tossed around today in political discussions with security versus the freedom of people. is there any defense of stanton, his actions on the basis of sincere desire to keep the united states secure in a time of war? william marvel: there are certainly defenses like that. i just don't find them valid. i think harold heiman in particular gave stanton a past on far too many issues. i will say that i could make a defense of stanton on that, in that manner, but i would have to
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be -- i would have to violate my own principles to do that. me ae not seen what is to convincing argument. i think i could make one, but it would not satisfy me. i think it would satisfy many others. is, ifthe issues for me we are a free and democratic amendmentnd the first is the foundation of that, then if during wartime the only way we can survive is to abolish that were restrict it itnificantly -- or restrict significantly, what does that say about underlying principles? >> abraham lincoln wrote himself that during times of peace, the constitution and the bill of rights protected our freedoms, but under the war powers act,
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those things were suspended. william marvel: but abraham lincoln was a single individual and not the congress of the united states, not the constitution of the united states. i guess i would go on to say, well, how long are you going to suspend them for if you are under a state of perpetual war, which we seem to be toying with? >> [indiscernible] exist.would , you say thatnow was lincoln as an individual, yet he suspended the writ of habeas corpus which he did not have the constitutional power to do, so how is one to separate what he did as an individual acting himself versus an
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individual -- i don't think that was just his personal opinion when he presented that saying that under a war powers act, he had the power to do this. william marvel: does anybody need me to repeat that? did you all. ? -- did you all here it? obviously it was not his total opinion because he maintained the support of plurality and majority of the united states. but personally i, i consider it a failure if your system cannot survive warfare. is all it really takes someone who can convince you you are always at war to convince you to suspend all of your principles forever. i am also -- [applause]
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] announcer 1: this weekend, c-span cities tour along with spectrum and cox communications cable partners will explore the literary life of san diego. hear about how the u.s. navy built its presence in san diego from the u.s. midway museum historian. ship of a a brand-new very large and brand-new design, so the navy put her through the paces even though the war had just concluded. she made numerous deployments to the mediterranean for the first 10 years of her career. in 1954, it was decided she needed to transfer to the pacific. in 1955 she made an epic avoided because she was too large to pass through the panama canal from norfolk, virginia across the atlantic, indian, and entering the pacific from the west. announcer 1: watch c-span cities
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tour of san diego, california sunday on c-span3 working with cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. ♪ >> the presidential inauguration of donald trump is friday, january 20. c-span will have live coverage. watch live on c-span at and listen live on the free c-span radio app. on "american history tv, annessa stagner discusses shellshocked


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