tv Secretary of War Edwin Stanton CSPAN3 January 15, 2017 10:00am-11:11am EST
♪ >> the presidential inauguration of donald trump is friday, c-span will have live coverage of all of the ceremonies. watch on c-span and c-span.org and listen on the c-span radio app. ♪ >> author william marvel talks about edwin stanton. the secretary of war during post of the civil war. >> mr. marvel argues that his loyalties lasted only as long as they were useful to him. he also gives examples of the 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. this,m: with weather like it almost seems a shame we are spending time indoors. what a beautiful afternoon. but thanks for coming back. we have an 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. 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. an outstanding series of books. he has written about appomattox. andersonville.
the alabama. and he is in the process and is almost finished with his next book, already. one book comes out when year and the other is in the pipeline. i think it will be a very interesting book. is the subjectay of his most recent published book about the secretary of war. , edwin stanton. william is a native of stanton. they live 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. [laughter]
[applause] >> so that is very impressive. i have to say that some of you know i been working on this petersburg book. i have written my acknowledgments. the person to whom i am the most grateful for his help is my friend, william marvel. he is an outstanding researcher. he got sources for me in places i couldn't visit. he is an outstanding editor. i sent him the manuscript and he improved it 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. i don't hear such glowing praise 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 so far away from the kicking distance. i am sorry to have to talk to you about politics. especially on this particular stage. i'm sorry to have to talk to you about politics at this particular stage. this stage of our history. politics sometimes intrudes as it will in a couple of weeks.
never beenay, i have so happy to finish a book as i was the biography of stanton. closefour years of association with him, i was happy to turn my back on somebody i found so unredeemed a , someone so two-faced and treacherous. i thought it would start with something positive. during those years when i was neighbors stanton and would ask me what i was working on and i would mention the name, they wouldn't know who those talking about. well, he wasay essentially the dick cheney of the abraham lincoln administration. and that is not an inept description. and both were surly
intolerant of anyone who disagreed with them. and they both grew unbearable arrogant in positions of power. each also appears to have served critically persuasive role in an administration that oversaw an alarming degradation of constitutional right in the name of what we, in our generation, call national security. defenders of such infringements usually justify modern violations of that nature by citing precedents that go back to the lincoln administration. andlincoln's initial limited exercise of extraconstitutional powers before stanton came into office were exasperated after stanton arrived. and stanton seems to have been
responsible for some of the more constitutionally objectionable of federals authorities therefore after and of the constitutional and congressional legislation that was authorized for those violations. stanton's last biographer, harold harmon, came out with this book 54 years ago. a defendant stanton against the aspersions of his more critical associates by saying they didn't like him so they recorded as much damaging information in their diaries and letters as they could. for the historians to find. that they may have disliked him for perfectly justifiable reason seems not to have occurred to him. he was, i think, excessively generous to stanton in numerous instances of questionable conduct. he also was rather supportive of -- in his assessment of
executive excess in general having just come out of world war ii, so perhaps that is understandable. a number ofhave champions among the radical republicans with whom he last cast his fortunes. but his closer colleagues left a course of eerily similar negative observations about him and i would like to give you a good taste of them. starting with gideon welles. who served as secretary of the navy during his retired tenure in the lincoln cabinet. and he confided in his diary that stanton was fond of power and of its exercise. it was more precious to him then to terminate over his fellow man. he later observed that stanton is an intrigue or and is not faithful in friendships, and is
given to secret underhand combinations. havethere was or will meant browning, a senator from illinois. the fellow who replaced stephen douglas when he died, he was a friend of lincoln from the old days. he met stanton soon after stanton became secretary of war and served with him in andrew johnson's cabinet. and he recorded that he had no faith in stanton. character, butof is hypocritical and malicious." james buchanan was not the only person to notice his site offended behavior whenever he occupied a subordinate position. on my side and flattered me ad nauseam. andrew johnson expressed the same impression in 1867.
johnson's personal secretary noted that president johnson, in speaking of stanton referred to his duplicity. he didn't know any man who could be more who suggests as stanton when he chose. bates was the attorney general under lincoln and spent three years in the cabinet with stanton. and he wrote that he believes in the air force so long as he wields it but cowers before it when wielded by any other hand. he really be getting an idea of the sort of person, maybe you have met them in your lifetime, if you have ever been in military service or academia or some form of organized crime. these people are fairly prevalent. exactly. , i should have left him out.
he was just a confederate, after all but he served in the cabinet with stanton and after the war he confided in another of his -- i know no man who has reached minutes in america or anywhere else who has made for himself so exempt verbal a character and who of true men.will finally, there is u.s. grant. if any of you need to know what he looks like, i'm sure will has a pocket full of them that he would be able to hand out. grant tended to be softening his vocabulary when criticizing others, perhaps he realized it is more effective, i don't know but of stanton he said that "he
cared nothing of the feelings for others. in fact, it was pleasanter to him to disappoint than to gratify. he felt no hesitations in acting without advising. he also added that 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. the enemy would not be in danger if stanton had been in the field. that was no conspiracy among those people to leave disparaging comments in the primary sources for historians to find later. they were all writing independently of each other. they had no access to each other's writings until the memoirs came out, by which time all the others were finished and often dead. with the exception of numerous
radical republicans with whom never had the opportunity or motivation to his associates appears to have recorded mainly scathing indictments of his habits of personal and political treachery. and his seemingly pathological capacity for doubledealing. even general joseph holt, with whom stanton remained in close partnership with throughout the rest of the lincoln administration and into the johnson cabinet, he implicitly accused skin of infidelity to him. although at that juncture, he was trying to rescue his own levitation from allegations of underhanded behavior that i find perfectly credible. confirmed as
secretary of war, stanton pretended to be the good friend of george mcclellan on the left. we are living in 2016. stanton assisted mcclellan in composing the document that he used to convince president lincoln to retire general scott and put mcclellan and command of all the armies. and that document was composed in the privacy of stanton's home so mcclellan would not be found out. devotion only lasted as long as he needed enthusiastic endorsement from the general in order to cover all the bases in getting lincoln to nominate him. on his first day, in the war
department, stanton arranged a meeting with the most powerful and combative of the radical republicans who were rapidly gaining political momentum in the capital and they hated mcclellan and they were turning almost as antagonistic towards the president as some of the democrats were. those radicals included then weighed from ohio and he is hiding somewhere there. somewhere, chancellor from michigan. careerrst evening of his as secretary of war, stanton called the joint committee on the condit of the war into his office. no minutes of that meeting were taken but messages passed between stanton and weighed the next day which indicated the very first discussion that night consisting of how to remove mcclellan as commander of the nation's armies.
as i said, the radicals hated him because he was a democrat who was soft on slavery. figured, who is more important? now? mcclellan or the radicals? and he knew and he immediately undertook a clandestine like campaign to reduce mcclellan's role and ultimately to remove him altogether. don't have to harbor a lot for george mcclellan to find that contemptible. it is a politically motivated reversal of personal loyalty. of theclose student history of the word nose, george mcclellan had plenty of feelings of his own. perhaps the worst of which was a tendencyo hesitation when a
call to action was needed. but considering how early mcclellan detected his hostility towards him, and how much it surprised him, it seems logical that to some degree, the general's timid behavior on the battlefield may have been driven by his belief that his immediate superior in the war department would use any disaster the bethel's army as a means of eliminating him. i'm in fact, stanton did take preliminary steps to have mcclellan court-martialed, just as he late did have his friend, fitzjohn porter court-martialed. for crimes that could have carried the death penalty. a result waser as unfairly destroyed and stanton would have gladly done the same to mcclellan if he could have avoided the responsibility for it by finding someone else to press the charges as was the case with porter's court-martial.
the first indication of how far stanton would go to gratify his new radical friends came with charles stone. a conscientious officer who had a disloyal sentiment in the district of columbia militia before the war, during the secession crisis. like mcclellan, stone was a democrat. and like mcclellan, he obeyed the law, the federal laws, regarded slavery. he returned runaway slaves to their lower -- to their loyal owners. that was enough to make him -- among the radicals and charles sumner from massachusetts insulted him for it on the floor
of the senate. stone responded with a private note in which he called him a well-known coward for presumably the beating he took on the floor of the senate from a much smaller man in 1856 without defending himself. and there were other ingredients that -- butdent stanton had been colluding with sumner from the moment he entered buchanan's cabinet. and he ratified sumner and and the radicals in general by having stone arrested and locked in fort lafayette in the harbor for six months with no charges. it literally took an act of congress to get stanton to release stone. and he waited until the last possible day under that congressional act.
him, he he did release to give him any further assignments. he did finally get a staff under banks in louisiana. but when general grant wanted to use stone, knowing his capacity, stanton had him soon merrily mustered out of service as brigadier general. that severely reduced his role. and ultimately, he resigned altogether, realizing he was going nowhere because of the personal spite of one man. was not the worst example of stanton's unjust and spiteful nature but it was the one that everyone remembered. and it reflects badly on president lincoln, to whom stone appealed in vain for some word of indication.
lincoln's half finished reply to stone, which he never sent, indicates there was considerable injustice involved. but either because of the politics of the day or because he didn't want to criticize his secretary of war, he let that injustice stand uncorrected. he may also have been leery about seeming to criticize the arbitrary arrests that he had allowed stanton to undertake for so long. over theeks of taking war department, stanton quietly started consolidating as much of the cut as the executive branch authority under his own personal authority. as much as he dared. first, he persuaded the president to relieve secretary of state william seward of the
authority to make extraordinary arrests. arrests without due process. without evidence in most cases. had that authority transferred to himself. ton, as the army was about take the field, he removes the telegraph equipment from army headquarters and took it across the state into the war department right next to his office. that prevented mcclellan from communicating with anyone else in the government and particularly with president lincoln without going through stanton first. it also allowed stanton to control the communications of everyone below mcclellan. took military possession of the private telegraph lines in the country. and that enabled him to observe theiderable control over
news. he telegraphed major newspapers what first appeared to be a suggestion that they should not report on the movements and makeup of the army but soon enough, he started calling that suggestion and order. his motive lay more in propaganda and insecurity. because he enforced that with a bipartisan bias which left supportive newspapers altogether immune. himld holt's are per trade as an equal opportunity sensor who would shut down a lincoln friendly newspaper as rapidly as he would one of democratic sentiment. and his evidence for that seems to be stanton's first such action with which he established a quick precedent for sensory authority without risking a court challenge. on march 17, 1862, he directed washington's of
defenses to arrest the editors and publishers of the washington sunday chronicle. for having published the composition and movements of the army on the potomac. the chronicle was owned by the man who owned the philadelphia press. trust thepresumably philadelphia press story about this, in which the editor of the chronicle was ostensibly taken into custody but was released as soon as he apologized and swore this would never happen again. holtz are believed that this incident was anything more than a charade seems based on his misunderstanding that the daynicle was subjected to a of rare silence, when no paper was published. i'm sorry, but as the name implies, the sunday chronicle was a weekly newspaper published on sunday. the arrest took place on monday and it was back in full
operation by tuesday so there was no day of rare silence. the chronicle didn't become a weekly until november 1862. did, while itnt did no harm to the chronicle, it made stanton look nonpartisan. -- was as close a crony of the administration as he was of the press. he once pledged his loyal to the administration. and he was not too principal to have engaged in a little drama orchestrated to intimidate his rival. thereafter, stanton confined his exercise of his presumed power to shut down newspapers almost exclusively to the opposition press while friendlier publications were allowed to publish militarily damning
information without consequence. heert e lee said that arranged his plans for the gettysburg campaign based on information he got from the philadelphia inquirer, another newspaper that was supportive of lincoln and who supported no consequences for regular transgressions of that nature. neither did the new york times, which revealed general sherman's -- the details of general sherman's plan for his march to the sea on the eve of his departure. reporters who wanted ready access to the army's learned that they were better off to avoid topics that embarrassed the administration, particularly the war department and secretary stanton. apply to their
editors. as the press finds today, media credibility can be compromised by being shut off from official sources of information. students of the repression of the press under lincoln will often discount the severity by pointing out some of the venomous editorial criticism that the lincoln administration was subjected to. but the administration was not criticismed about the as they were about the effectiveness of it. pundits like dennis mahoney, the editor of the herald, who seems to have been as persuasive as he was vitriolic posed more of a newspapern a editorial in small towns, theating in the world of
vacuum. and so it was the effective ones who were assailed. softenedone of dissent with periodic crackdowns of that nature. and those crackdowns usually happened at critical political junctures. for example, on august 8, just before the biannual elections in the western states, which were expected to go very badly and did go rather badly, just before that, stanton issued an order that all but criminalized any expression of disagreement with the administration policy. , the next year who was the independent -- of ohio, he could be very nasty but he was not molested during the gubernatorial election in 1863
where doing in victories and vigorous propaganda gave the republican party the biggest landslide of the war. but with the presidential campaign of 1864 just beginning and in doubt, he was arrested. and his editorial voice was silenced for the brief remainder of his life. not many such arrests were necessary. to initiate an epidemic of self-censorship. and that tended to produce a cautious editorial ambiguity among defending chiefs who must have left many proletarian their heads.ching the opposition papers like the detroit free press and the courier, they freak only 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 probably wasn't very common among those newspapers and the working-class subscribers. a, it was more effective as censoring vehicle that i think has been recognized. 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 decided to close down all of the recruiting stations. the same time, the confederate government was imposing conscription. fairly comprehensive conscription. so, as the spring campaigns of
1862 began, the rebel forces were expanding in the union forces were shrinking, depriving union generals of a much more overwhelming force that might have helped them to crush the rebellion earlier. the federal armies in both major theaters were on the defensive by the height of summer. i don't think that the two facts were unrelated. 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 these wilson,by senator henry -- there we are, henry. of the senateman military affairs committee.
senate, march 28, 1862, when a main senator would complain about the size of the army and how expensive it was, wilson replied with -- i have over and over again then to the war office and urged upon the department to stop recruiting in every part of the country. we have had the promise that it should be done, yet every day different parts of the country, we have accounts of men being raised and brought forth to fill the regimens. i believe we have today 150,000 more men under the pay of the government then we need or can well use. i think the war department ought to issue preemptory orders for getting the enlistment of another soldier into the volunteer horse of the united states until the time shall come that we need them. we can obtain them anytime that we need them. later, with no evidence
that he ever consulted with president lincoln about it, stanton issued the very order that wilson desired. it or every sign of being permanent. recruitingrigid offices were to be abandoned. all the furniture was to be sold . yet a couple of months after issuing the order to stop recruiting, by which time he had realized what a blunder it was, stanton claimed that he had only meant it to be temporary so that he could take a tally of the troops who had been raised and see how many were out there. they had to stop recruiting to do that. yet senator wilson, who claimed to be an tried to be a friend of that stantonr said met with the military affairs committee before he stopped recruiting and presented them with a tally of the troops that he had supposedly stopped complete, to 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 1863ries and on april 3 of , they thought the war was won. until three days later, shiloh. that until noting july of 1862, senator wilson was also disavowing his own comments published verbatim about stopping recruiting. he was criticized for having "the new york herald," but at a meeting in "isachusetts in july he said have always maintained that the government wanted more men. there is not a shadow of truth at which to lay the foundation f the assertion." i guess dishonesty is not so new and politicians. president lincoln and secretary seward went to unusual lengths to say the administration admit
embarrassment over these mistakes. in which the governments of these states were encouraged to offer troops to the president without him having to ask for them. so, there would not be an administration contradiction. and as that was going on, senator wilson was working on revisions to the law that would allow the first national draft in the united states, with some federal supervision. lincoln endorsed that law on july 17 of 1862. the language of the bill, the precautionary details of it and stanton's close collaboration on later legislation also just to the stanton's and was heavily involved in the composition of that legislation.
three weeks later, stanton used to the law in his authority to call for a draft of 300,000 militia. in addition to the 300,000 volunteers that the governors had offered. conjunction with the draft, he issued another order on his own initiative to arrest and imprison any person or persons who may be engaged in discouraging volunteer enlistments or in any way giving aid or comfort to the any me or any other disloyal practice against the united states. with his inclusion of the deliberately vague reference to discouraging references and by inserting the words speech or writing in that order, he unilaterally extended the definition of truth -- treason to include the voicing of opinions contrary to executive policy. to be certain that such
dissidents could lay claim to know annoying constitutional protections, he added that 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 i think was most of you. [laughter] critical newspaper editors, democrats running for state and federal office and private citizens by the hundreds were --nded up under the sort of which bill blair pointed out under the was affidavits of two people, to personal enemies. extrapolating from my own personal experience, i'm sure that everyone has at least two enemies. i must have at least 200. [laughter]
in iowa, citizens were denounced for such around his crimes as being very saucy to state officials and federal marshals, the drillng at practice of amateur militiamen. among the newspaper editors who arrested and dragged off to washington, dennis mahoney, who i mentioned earlier, had complained too often that military service fell disproportionately on those without a draft and it would be worse with one. was lockeddirector in a damp cell for two months because he interrupted a recruiting rally to declare that the recruits were more interested in bounty money than in their country. for the first time since 1800, and only for the second time in american history, the federal
government actively imprisoned people for the opinions that they expressed. to give this order the appearance of greater midge -- legitimacy, and perhaps to relieve stanton of the personal liability, in case of lawsuits, which did ultimately come, the president reissue the 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 subjecting the accused to martial law. the increasingly you logistic atmosphere, let's put it that affects so much of the lincoln scholarship today, it can be downright risky to one's reputation to offer any especially new criticism of his administration or resurrect any old criticisms.
even historians who recognize what mark neely called the low tide of liberty following stanton's 1862 order tend to handle the subject with kid gloves. since fewer than 20,000 people seem to have been detained by the administration and no one really knows how many it was. mark neely stopped counting at 14,000. it's usually presumed that stanton's dubious authority was applied judiciously. today, theted states population is about 10 times what it was during the civil war. in equivalent roundup of would number about 200,000. affect mightand the arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention of 200,000 thezens today have on
expression of political opinion? and it's pretty chilling. worse yet, terms of the lincolnts set by the administration, mostly through stanton, even the most scholars will follow -- find many of the arrests the least pernicious will concur that most were not necessary. anyone who doubts how influential his declarations and practices have been on the exercise of liberty might consider his two-part order of august 8, 1862, which i will -- which i alluded to earlier. the one ordering the arrest and detention by military authority without the appeal of habeas speechfor anyone who by or writing may be seen as giving comfort to the enemy. sections 1021 and 1022 of the national defense authorization act of 2012 essentially
reiterated the two halves of the order. authorizing the arrest and indefinite confinement without the benefit of habeas corpus for anyone suspected under the catchall category of terrorism or of aiding, harboring, or supporting such terrorist. prescribed,ection as did the second section of the stanton order, that those people should be confined and tried by military authorities. those provisions conflicted directly with the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments and if they were as and to -- interpreted as loosely as stanton in his own similar orders they could easily be used to spur the first amendment. it really is a chilling vision for the future. especially when, as his contemporaries found, anyone, anyone could find themselves subject to such an accusation.
revisions to the law included in enabling legislation for the new position of judge advocate general. and for that stanton obviously has a specific candidate in mind. his former colleague in the new canon administration, joseph holt. he calls holt into the war department in september for an interview and the next day the president issued his commission as judge advocate general. a decision that he held for the rest of his working life, until nearly the end of the grant administration. like stanton, he had become dependent on the emoluments of ,ublic office and like stanton he reversed his political tack when the wind to turn against the democratic machine on which he had relied. converts tend to be the most. and advocates to their new
creations because they feel a necessity to dispel any doubts about their how sincere and loyal they are. in that zeal they hold certainly equal to stanton. he and stanton worked closely together for the next six years, withholding authority to approve or disapprove the findings of military commissions and thus offering a semblance of an appeals process. exercised he usually that authority as partisan politics dictated, as he did in the courts-martial of john porter and surgeon general william hammond. he also cooperated with stanton in continuing the tactic of trying prisoners by military commission long after p7 restored to better control the outcome of trials and to impart political punishment where civil courts had dismissed all the charges.
standalone had enough of the chameleon about them to serve the new administrations of three ofcessive presidents differing ideologies. his colleagues in the administration of james buchanan knew him as a very conservative democrat who supported john c the slave power candidate in the 1860 election. just about 14 months later he -- toscribing himself as radical republicans as a lifelong opponent of slavery. the 1860 election and the departure of seven congressmen signaled the end of democratic party dominance and patronage on which stanton had grown to depend for generous fees in high office. a few months later his fellow cabinet members in the lincoln administration found him
migrating between the more moderate republican perspectives of william seward and the more radical viewpoints represented here.se, who is somewhere there he is. the subject to be of my baccalaureate thesis that i never finished at that college they gave me the degree that they don't give. [laughter] department heads under andrew johnson in the next administration, including stanton's friend seward eventually learned to mistrust stanton as a secret ally and political saboteur of the more radical republicans, with whom he has been subsequently and equivalently identified. stanton betrayed all three of the presidents that he served.
attorney general he ingratiated himself to the incoming lincoln administration by carrying out embellished tales of confidential cabinet discussions to seward, who took them directly to lincoln. once installed as lincoln's secretary of war he immediately and secretly allied himself with ,incoln's critics and radicals who were looking at the rise of power in washington. himself to beowed considered a challenger to lincoln in the 1864 nomination, stanton played both sides of the fence, giving chase's newspaper supporters war department advertising and he met privately with henry davis at kenyon theege, the co-author of wade davis manifesto that challenge lincoln on his reconstruction policies and seriously threatened his reelection prospects. after that radical schism had
been quelled, stanton reverted to ardent support of the president and cabinet council and after the assassination led to lincoln's lyrical apotheosis, stanton became the principal architect of his own image as lincoln's beloved war minister. during the presidency of andrew johnson, he acted as the radical spy in an effort to pride johnson out of office. hoped to serve next in the cabinet of ulysses grant, but in that he was probably an finally disappointed because grant likely knew him way too well. some most than's earliest correspondence documents his habit of flattering conflicting fashions as a means of winning or of widespread favoring, keeping his options open.
his reputation for candor has nevertheless been sustained by a series of biographers who all seem too quick to accept stanton's own word without digging to dig -- deeply or interpreting too harshly. he has become a fixture in the myth of a serendipitous political combination in the lincoln white house when, instead, he seems responsible for some of the more troubling lincolnof the presidency. even his involvement on the radical side of reconstruction, which is today much more creditable than it would have been viewed a century ago appears to have been guided by more cynical motives of personal preservation. stanton's widely recognized duplicity helps to explain why it's even credible to some future investigators that he would eventually have a part in lincoln's murder. as you have heard, most of his contemporaries described him as
sly, dishonest, and treacherous. that is how he survived public life. by pursuing policies that were sometimes detrimental to the ultimate public good on the basis of what the most powerful faction at the moment desired in order to maintain his own position. that stanton you was without redeeming qualities. i can tell you that evidence of those qualities is very difficult to find. [laughter] he was good to his mother. i'm pretty sure he never beat his wife. but in the realm of public services motives seemed more often selfish than benevolent and his actions more pernicious than beneficial. he may well have cowed opposition to the link it administration, but probably not enough to make a difference in
the outcome of the war. but certainly enough to leave us with a greater legacy of wartime profession than is comfortable or even necessary. their, and io end am going to digress just a little bit here, because i think that rob girardi's lecture today, while it was the most entertaining, was probably also the most important that has been given here today. he's a cop. he deals with evidence. you have to have evidence. too many historians don't use evidence. i'm guilty of this myself sometimes too. i succumb to the same sort of image that i learned as it child and all too many other historians do the same thing. i wrote a four volume history of the civil war based entirely on
primary sources. contemporary primary sources. documents of the day. it didn't get much press, i figured out later, because the academics who would normally review your books only like to review books that their books appear in [laughter] . someone, reader of a manuscript of mine said that. if you don't site their books, they are not going to give you the time of day. for many, that is true. on i think that relying primary contemporary evidence is singularly important. that's the difference between me lincoln autocrat that i found and the autocrat of whatever it in that they called stanton 1962. there just wasn't a lot of primary source material.
you can only go downhill from here. [laughter] [applause] have i been spitting? [laughter] >> fascinating. in some of my research, i have the researching a lot about arrest of civilians for no apparent reason. how stanton and seward could even exist in the same room. how they could stand each other. like they were many times stepping over each other when it came to, like, issuing orders in dealing with arresting prisoners and all that. >> i was going to invent my answer based on what i wish the question were. [laughter]
the question is, how did stanton and seward avoid tripping over each other? they fit together very well. his sort of like a convex and concave roofing on your roof. was smooth as glass. sly as could be. they just slipped around each other all the time. but seward was actually loyal to stanton. even when he no longer trusted him later in the johnson cabinet. stanton, 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. you see, seward was making the arrests in 1861 and early 62. when stanton stepped in, he took
over the same authority, took it away from seward in that he started doing it. the first thing that he did was let a lot of prisoners go. it seemed to be a benevolent 1862 heut by august of was arresting more people in a month than seward had in a year as the man holding that authority. -- theirly didn't authority did not conflict thereafter because stanton had it and they tended to be, because seward could compromise and because stanton could acquiesce or somehow get around anything he didn't care for, they managed to be somewhat compatible. >> i had wondered, in my research, when they were releasing almost prisoners and 62, saying you've got to let them go, within a month they were arresting them again, it
seems like. >> well, again, the question is -- how is it that they let the prisoners go in march or april of 1862 in the turnaround and arrest them again? really started to pick up prisoners in august of 62. there were elections going on. you had the first draft of american history. he knew that the civil unrest, the dissent, was going to be a potential danger with that draft going on. he meant to crush that dissent as quickly as he could. there was at least one former who had been discharged, arrested, and jailed because he criticized the administration and a perfectly legitimate fashion. the new -- then there were those western election story about.
kentucky was in august, the new had indiana, illinois, and ohio to worry about. they were worried about those. they didn't do right well. they lost a lot of seats in those elections. if more people have been allowed to or for it -- felt free to express their opinions. yes, sir? >> [inaudible] >> well, what was lincoln's perspective of stanton? the principal evidence we have for his impression of stanton is stanton. i'm not kidding. he started to put himself in the position of lincoln's beloved of 1866, i september believe it was, when with a letter to senator james ashley of ohio, the radical radicals, in which he described himself --
he had this cockamamie story of pretending to wanting to resign. he did want to resign. he wanted as much power as he could get in as much salary as he could live on as long as he could. but in this fable, lincoln put his hands on stanton's shoulders and with tears in his eyes told you have, stanton, been what's held this administration together. i cannot let you go. it was pure -- uh -- what's the word? poppycock. [laughter] i knew it began with a consonant. [laughter] so, that's what we know. there are a lot of stories about lincoln. credit, i few that i think it was john hay who was at
the meeting at the war department in september of 1863 when stanton did one of the few good things that he did. , thet everyone together generals, he brought in the railroad presidents on his own initiative before ever asking the president about it and said -- we need send some core troops from the army of the potomac to rosenkranz at chattanooga. thought that this was just ridiculous. you can't get 20,000 men there in six days. you can get them to washington in six days to start them up there. he starts to tell a story and stanton says "this is no time for stories." i believe that he said that. shuttered.
i think that he was afraid of thinkn's temper, which i was histrionic, in many ways. as was andrew jackson's. stanton got away with a lot more flippancy towards lincoln than he did with buchanan or johnson. they would not put up with it. you know this sort of person. he bullies the little guy and sucks up to the big one. but lincoln, i think his character is fairly well described, fairly accurately described as a gentle, kindly person and i think he did not do player likesnarly stanton. yes, sir? >> stanton was on the big defense team for sickles. did they maintain a friendship through the war? stanton -- i-37 expanse team.
-- i thought you said expanse team. stanton was on the defense team, yes. a relationshipin thereafter. sickles sort of followed the radical lead and reconstruction and he -- he was not unlike stanton in many ways. i would like to point out, though, that stanton's role in his defense team -- sickles had murdered his wife's lover in 1859 and got off on a technicality, supposedly the insanity defense. the first insanity defense in american history, which is not true. in fact there was a similar case that had been decided one year previously in the same courtroom
on that same issue. but 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'm serious about that, too. courtroomkles in that , left in the bar, which in many courtrooms and that they was in the back of the room. the reporters were all up in the front. , or histon argued colleagues argued that they wanted to have him at the table, but they couldn't have that, he had to be in the dock. they uprooted the dock and they brought it up to the middle of the room, at least, and stanton stood there and apparently huge sickles to cry when necessary, which he did a couple of times. they had to stop the trial because he was in tears over the disgrace to his daughter that this had brought.
i think that stanton also played a part in keeping the baltimore hotel keeper out of the trial. the one who had the hotel register with sickle's name on it and his wife's name on it signed by someone not his wife. they kept that out of the trial. but stanton was one of only eight lawyers there. i'm not so sure that he was even considered one of the top lawyers. but yes, they did remain associated thereafter. anyone else? yes, sir. >> they all wanted to be president, didn't they? i don't think stanton did. >> seward did in 1860. ofnton was very shy political office. in order to run for political
office you had to say what you stood for. he only likes 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'm free. [laughter] >> i was afraid of that. >> his abuse of civil rights, as you have outlined here, highlighting a traditional american conflict in our culture. the conflict between security and freedom. something that we experienced in world war ii with the interment of the japanese. something that is around today in our political discussions. the security versus the freedom of people. stanton,any defensive
his actions, on the basis of a severe desert -- sincere desire to keep the united states secure in a time of war? >> there are certainly defenses like that. harold heineman made them, i just don't find them valid. i think that harold heineman in particular gave stanton a pass on far too many different issues. awill say that i could make defense of stanton on that -- in that manner, but i would have to be somewhat specious -- i would have to violate my own principles to do that. in other words, i haven't seen what is to me and in -- a convincing argument. i could make one, but it would not satisfy me. i think it would satisfy many others. -- of the issues for me is if we are a free and democratic the first amendment
--the foundation of that then if during wartime the only way we can survive is to abolish that, or restrict it significantly, what does that say about the success of our underlying principles? >> abraham lincoln wrote himself that during times of peace, the constitution and the bill of rights protected our freedoms, but this other war powers act, those things were suspended. recollect abraham lincoln was a single individual and not the congress of the united states, not the constitution of the united states. say -- i would go on to well, how long are you going to suspend them for if you are under a state of actual war? which we seem to be toying with.
>> he talked about the martial powers that would exist. also, you say that that was lincoln as an individual, and yet lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus, which he did not have the constitutional power to do. how does one separate what he did as an individual acting as president versus an individual giving -- 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. todoes anybody need me repeat that? did you all hear it? this was not his sole opinion. because he maintained the support of at least a plurality and often a majority of the united states.
personally, i consider it a failure if your system cannot survive warfare. all it really takes is someone who can convince you that you are always at war to convince you to suspend all of your principles forever. [laughter] [applause] thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] >> "the time has come," narrated by john -- ginger jones, originally created for overseas audiences. it documents the progress of african-americans.
>> as a judge i feel that i am on the economic and political life of my community >> the registration is bringing about a new sense of hope. not just a new sense of hope and optimism, but also a sense of economic parity. >> for the complete schedule, go to c-span.org. >> coming up monday morning, the influence president obama had on race relations in the u.s. with race and ethnicity reporters. of "the invisibles," the untold story of african-american slaves in the
white house. nelson, the author ." andu clear this one cheryl cashin, author of "loving," interracial intimacy the threatmerica and to white supremacy. "washington journal, live monday morning. join the discussion. historyxt on american tv, annessa stagner discusses shellshocked in world war i soldiers, the psychological term describing long-term distress from psychological experiences. she is the academic services dean and lamarr community college in colorado. part of antation was two-day symposium hosted by the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city missouri. >>