tv American Revolution and the Arab Spring CSPAN January 28, 2017 2:49pm-4:01pm EST
2013 a award-winning historian spoke to egyptian leaders about the american revolution and the constitutional convention. expense waswhen the still unfolding, there were serious challenges to the leaders. how they devise a constitutional structure that eventually led to a single government. next on american history tv, -- wood talks about the american revolution on the arab spring. this is just over one hour. [applause] >> thank you. it is a pleasure to welcome you here to madison. it has been 40 years since he has been here. honoring the
university of wisconsin. every 40 years, we are going to have him back. gordon wood is recognized as the premier historian of the early american era in when i say that, i do not mean only active historians, i mean of all historians. for all time. he is recognized as at the top of his profession. it is an honor to have him here in madison. it is an honor to be associated with them. professor wood went to tufts and harvard and studied under bernard bailey. it is pretty difficult to top that. just marvelous. professor wood is noted for his productivity and the quality of his work. i had lunch with him today and i
asked him how many books he had published. he was not quite sure, i told him, i counted 26. he said, that is far too many. he has so many books, he doesn't know how many that he has. he has at least 26 books. three of them stand out. "the creation of the american republic," a seminal book that tied everything together in a discussion of the american revolution. he believes that is his most important book. he won the bancroft prize for that. then, "the radicalism of the american revolution." and then recently, "empire of liberty." of the the third volume oxford history of u.s. states. many other volumes in between.
the last five are documentary editions. i am very fond of that. three volumes on john adams and two volumes of pamphlets from the revolutionary era. professor wood is working on a book on john adams and thomas jefferson. that will not be long before that is published. what professor wood has done is he has taken all kinds of interpretations about the revolution and he has synthesized but also delved into the primary sources and has come up with an interpretation of what the revolution was and almost as important, what that revolution. how the revolution transformed the american people and made us a unique people that others might look to. and so, that is what he is going to be talking about today and i
think you will enjoy it. let's welcome him. [applause] prof. wood: with an introduction like that, i have to reciprocate and tell you of that about what john is doing to historical research. what john and other editors do is long-lasting. we historians, those books are very ephemeral. they do not last long. history is a quasi-science. new books supplant the older -- what john is doing will last as long as the republic.
given what is happening, that may not be very long. [laughter] i want to emphasize how important it is. ist his team has done collecting these needs to be at the sized interested in political theory. john has already collected 25 volumes of these ratification debates. these debates that took place over whether the country should ratify the constitution contain every major issue of politics, anything you can think about in politics is included. they are the richest debates ever recorded. as far as i'm concerned. maybe athens had richard debates but we do not have the documents.
maybe england had richard debates but we only have fragments of their discussion. here we have in three dozen volumes and unbelievable collection by ordinary people. it is incredible to know that it --ours.s and yet, i believe it is the greatest collection of discussions about politics that the world has. the greater ones did not get collected, so i want to pay tribute to all of the document editors for keeping these things alive. but i want to talk about is entitled, a device to the egyptians from the founding fathers. three years ago in 2013, csis, a
washington think tank, invited they invited 30 egyptians, this is two years after the arab spring. they invited 30 egyptians, journalists, politicians, academics, women, to members of the freedom and justice party, the muslim brotherhood present among these. in that spring, president mohammed morsi, the brotherhood party had just been elected and probably the fairest election egypt had ever had and yet things were not working out in the streets.
there was insecurity, there was a good deal of fear. democracy was not working out for the egyptians. csis invited them to talk about the problems facing egypt -- could the arab spring survive? they thought it would be interesting to invite an american historian to tell these egyptians, how did we do it as if somehow lessens might be learned from the american revolution. that is why i was there. when i am going to talk to you about is i am going to give you the lecture that i gave those egyptians. before the arab spring, there was an atlantic spring, a series
of democratic revolutions that spread from the third quarter of the 18th century and went on for 75 years, climaxing with the revolutions of 1848, intense by -- attempts by the european state to overthrow the monarchy's. all of the revolutions failed and by the time needed to abraham lincoln, he realized, and this is the context for his speeches where he says the last best hope -- it looked like democracy was failing everywhere and abraham lincoln is saying, if we do not survive, maybe the whole dream of democracy will fail. the american revolution was the first of these revolutions. it was no colonial rebellion
like the algerians throwing off french rule in the 1960's. in america, it was a historical event. in europe, richard price, the unitarian minister, in 1785, said, the american revolution is the second most important event in the history of the world. the first according to him was the birth of jesus christ. that was the excitement among a lot of radicals, including french radicals. in 1780's. erupted 13revolution years later. ous use it was such a moment ous dominate t continued tended to
with respect consciousness but it followed the american revolution and that is something have never forgiven us for. many french leaders believe that was the can revolution stimulus for their revolution. took the key from the he tille, the symbol of t regime, the prison, and sent it a mark of your ontribution, the americans' contribution to their revolution mounte key hangs today in vern vernon. was not just ion the colonial revolution but monarchy.ng of it is confusing to use the terms century monday ar -- monarchy versus
republic. like.narchies that we aou -- there much a number of republics. so to use republic in opposition monarchy is confusing. but if we think of monarchies as uthorize attorney governments and republics as republics as democracies i think that is what i think they meant we have a clearer understanding of what it opposed to monarchy. americans didn't just intend to rid of british tyranny but to end it for all time. they wanted to set examples for the rest of the world to follow. key responsibility or many of them and jefferson was greatest proponent of this, a responsibility to show the
-- to show what a libertarian democratic future was. i think it is important to keep experiment with democracy was not an immediate success. united states was not a united country in 1776. decade between the declaration of independence and constitution, something i think many americans forget. two and to blur the some think the declaration of independence all men are created equal, are in the constitution. but they are separated by a was a very awesome decade. crisis in the l 1780's. many thought the country might apart into separate sections. the whole republican experiment in peril during that
decade. not an immediate success, our experiment with republicanism. the united states constitution, new federal the constitution brought stability nd unity to the country, was not something that anyone, 1776. even imagined in there's not a single document i this is thehat said kind of government we ought to have. even those who were not happy disunion of 1776 never conceived of such a constitution. so, something had to happen, toething awful had to happen this ople to think about new strong national government. insteadthey established 13 independent democracies. now not democracies by modern standards.
women didn't vote. didn't vote. black slaves of course never voted. but among the white population three quarters of white males could. high.as extraordinarily even britain only one out of six could vote inening land. so the -- england. will the ted states most democratic policies in the world and probably the most world tic policies the had seen, at least in the modern world. the declaration of independence declaration of these 13 independent states each with its newly written constitution. they were writing constitutions the declaration of independence. there was no national government in 1776, and there was very
of nationhood. jefferson's opening line we are people that was just hope, not a reality. there is no sense of nationhood yet. when jefferson referred to my country he meant virginia. my country ams said he meant massachusetts. the sense of being a united not yet clear. it the united states -- and was legally created with the declaration -- was still a verb, took a plural verb and that was true up to the civil war. are.ed states after the civil war the is the is.ted states but thing united states. most people don't think about of , the technical meaning that. it is separate states. not, , of course, but until the civil war not really united. states eventually came together in a loose union that
called the articles of confederate raugs. keep in -- confederate ration. that is not an early version of the constitution. a y are a league, a treaty, treaty of these states coming together like the e.u. parallel in losest modern times for what they were doing. what the fies i think articles much been thinking about them as an early version the constitution. they were not ratified for various reasons. bringing, not happy with there treaty and they were of ratified until march 1781, which is only six months before the battle of yorktown in october of 1781, of course that will,on ended the british destroyed the british will to it revolution and was the effective ending of the war. constitutions that were drafted by the 13
were terribly important. in some sense far more important federal constitution that followed a doecade later constitutionederal was derived from the experiments state out in the constitutions. they were written documents, and from that moment on when people created new constitutions and own timeight up to our and the last half century or so everybody who wants a down.itution writes it that was not true earlier. is not ish constitution written down and i think the ofy other state we are aware is israel that doesn't have a written constitution. a written se has occasion. and if you are going to have a tpnew constitution as they did it down. wrote that was a grand innovation in 1776. more important was the notion of
separation of powers which was by the federal constitution. it does not mean just egislature, executive and judiciary separate but the prohibition on members of the from simultaneously holding office in the legislature. minute, ink about it a by prohibiting that, that dual thece holding, you prohibit rise of parliamentary cabinet government. english system which has been more adopted by the world than our system. so, when hillary clinton became secretary of state she had to seat in the senate. if she were in england in the lords she would have to remain in the house of lords to get into the cabinet. the simple example of the difference between our system and the british system. american revolution and that constitutions create separation of power. they did that because they
corruption that 9 executive with corrupt the legislature so they put a thater between the two and created our peculiar separation of powers. revolutionary state consists a great deal of power and authority was given to the staet state, popular state legislatures. states maintained governors. pennsylvania didn't but most of will single gives but the powers of the governors, the often tives as they were called were greatly reduced and sometimes taken away entirely. of appointmenter of anybody to office. that was all given to the state legislatures. of -- they had no power vetoing any state legislation. emasculated. jefferson, his own proposal for state constitution for virginia said he's no longer a governor, he is a mere the istrator and that's term he wanted to use. the others called them gives.
power which oning seems sanction magisterial or was taken away in many constitutions an given to the legislature. strippingw severe the of power was from the governors. almost immediately the state abusing theiregan power. it came to be called excesses of democracy. legislatures were running wild and enacting all inds of crazy legislation in the eyes of many and minorities were being tyrannized by popular majorities. that was not something that the patriots had expected. there was a debate in massachusetts in 1775 between who was a tory a loyalist and led and john adams who was defending the whig cause.
eonard charged all the congresses that were occurring ere likely to become tyrannical. they would begin abusing their ower and tyrannizing the people. john adams dismissed this threat out of hand. impossible.is the people cannot tyrannize themselves. democratic despotism is a contradiction in terms. changed his r he tune and that is what was happening. legislatures ic despotic and it was an alarming situation. it up in ann summed unpublished essay entitled vices of the olitical system united states. this is, i think, in my mind, document mportant between the declaration and
most importanthe period. written in that , was written in the early r early 1787 and it was never published. was his working paper it get his thoughts straight. wrong ed to get what is with america that needs remedied, needs curing? and he wrote out these ideas. ipad.an call it up on your the vices of the political system of the united states. what is wrong with ameri merica, american popular politics and these excesses of democracy. legislatures te being annually elected which was popular except new england. but the turnover in some states
60%. so, every year you have 60% new people sitting in the and each legislature ad new things to enact, new interests in each election. so, the multiplicity. outlined three evils. ute ability, multiplicity and injustice of all the state laws. objection.s man multiplicity comes from the the ous legislatures, turnover. ore laws enacted in the decade since the declaration than in the entire colonial period. just in 10 years more laws than he 100 years of the colonial period. and the laws were mutable. onstantly changing so much so he said that judges don't know what the law is and they are of less in this flood legislation which keeps changing
ith new people in the legislature every year all enacting their narrow-minded legislation.p most important for madison was injustice of the laws. he's concerned about minorities oppressed by majorities. the minority he is concerned a ut is not one that we have lot of sympathy for, creditors. is the same.iple that is, how do you protect inorities in a democratic policy. legislators were doing, the majority, passing all kinds of didn'tor relief. laws and printing of paper money which creates were lendingpeople gold and or $100 in silver and they would get back pieces of paper issued by the
which said $100 but they the not worth $100 because prices were inflated. in america, lite he aristocracy so far as america had an aristocracy and i hink this included many slave holdings, much earning a lot of their money not from what they although the southern planters were making good money, especially south carolina, from and indigo. and tobacco was not quite what in virginia. ut many of them were acting as bankers. lending money and living off the interest paid. english ow, the aristocracy lived off rents from tenants and that was true right the 1920's if you want down ton abbey. the lord is still drawing tenant rent and that is how he
succeeds. that was not possible in america 10 e there was very little innocentry. ristocracy or gentry are living off the interest paid money on loans but it is has been inflated. they have a vested interest paperventing this kind of money. ll of these problems, said madison -- and this is true, i beset byr any minority majority rule, and that is a big todaym in the middle east as you know. i'm quieting madison, brought nto question the fundamental principle of republican government that the majority that rule in such governments safest guardians of both the public good and minority and
individual rights. that was a major problem. i can't think of a more imagine that.m than how do you curb majorities the ut doing violence to democratic principle of majority rule. hat is still a problem that faces any democracy. theory back to ristotle and the ancients if you got too much democracy you have to bring some monarchy into that is some authoritarian ruler. ive the ruler more power and curb the democratic excesses. in 18th century terms you would say that these governments needed a dose of monarchy. 1780'sme americans in the actually suggested that. there were a lot of suggestions the unpublished letters of new englanders in articular saying we have to go the way of the father of the
on an brothers was key having a monarch brought it merica because nothing else will work. and some thought washington himself should become a king and he should become a dictator and these successes were made to him and he of hand. them out and, as you know, in the spring 1783 away came as chest to a coup d'etat as we ever by the speech by washington to the 50 soldiers going to march on the continental congress. but madison department want to -- didn't want to go in that direction. what he wanted, i want a remedy for republican ills. how do you do that? the creation of the new federal solution.t becomes his by the mid 1780's there was a
skpconsensus that the articles of confederation were not working. lacked the vote, power to tax and regulate trade. is because the congress was a substitute for the crown. a lot of could do things and still can. declare war, e -- wage war, appoint judges. what it cannot do is cabinet tax or regulate trade. that is kwhy the congress, whic was supposed to be a substitute crown, was deprived of those two powers. but now people are thinking we have to get them because there working. not i think by 1786, i would say, entire political nation -- i don't think anybody objected to
was ready to add those two powers at least to the confederation. so, there is a kind of consensus building up. of rhode island was cantankerous and turning down things but even they came around to accepting giving a 5% duty, tariff duty, to the congress, tax puower. those yone is ready for reforms. what happened is i think madison and has followers -- and he had of them -- takes advantage and uses it, sus hijacks, if you will, there to create ment something entirely different. government, his virginia plan, is much more tan couple -- than a couple of articles added to the articles
of confederate rags. rati-- ps -- confederate confederate rags. r r -- confederation. e develops the government that we have. o he is going to solve two problems at once. he will take care of the articles problems, people taxes. about trade and but he will take advantage of hat political consensus to create this new kind of governme government. he says this was caused by, this legislation was caused by so many -- these are terms he uses over, code words for the kinds of narrow-minded eople who are creating this kind of excessive democracy -- provoke rail. ill-liberal.
narrow and uneducated. these are the kind of people stuff. l this bad william finley, a character from pennsylvania, he is exactly the that madison disliked. took an ex-weaver who advantage of the revolution and now a politician in the state legislature of pennsylvania. from the western part of the state near pittsburgh and fan of the farmers and others who want paper money. of course, he is much hated by the east elites. he is asked by the state legislature -- there is this in ing that will take place may of 1787 in philadelphia. the esumably reform articles. traysed.he way it is and the -- phrased and the
egislature asked finley would you like to go and he said would you pay my way. no. he said i can't afford to live expensive - city. he said late the others do it. he philadelphia delegation was made up of seven people who lived in philadelphia. the y from the rest of staet state. n fact, one of representatives wasn't even a resident, wasn't citizen of philadelphia. he owned some property. morris says why don't you come along. you are a handyman with a pen that wrote thean constitutionment you are a good speaker and you know a lot. hy don't you come to this meeting and governor morris comes and speaks to the delegation through the whole convention.
they had no idea that there be this virginia plan. nobody knew. made a loaded convention up of what you might call nationalists who shrewdly called themselves the federalists were the ey nationalists but they were a very smart group of people. was a loaded convention. only real supporters in the outset of at the philiply's position were lansing and yates from new york. as soon as they grass wanted the mplication -- grasped the implication they see the virginia plan and they begin to me-- there oes there mean? they said that is not what we are here for. we are supposed to reform the articles and walk out leaving delegation with alexander hamilton and he doesn't have a quorum and can
vote. so new york never votes on anything the rest of the convention. you read the final letter that washington writes he ames all the states who have supported this convention report states new all the hampshire, massachusetts, connecticut, rhode island depth to the convention. then he says and mr. hamilton of york. he names him as the single person. is a load convention and are on and his colleagues out to do more than just reform the articles. they are going to get rid of completely and create an entirely new government. pose as two plan house legislature with both dark proceed phorgs proportional representation. wants them to be like the ouse of representatives it not
just because he is from the biggest state in the union but more important in his mind he the states out of the system altogether. e sees that the states have a representation as states in the overnment and they were vitiated. the loyalty to states are so strong the federal government never be automobile it stand up against -- never be destroy it d up and from within. the other thing he wants is a power given to the congress, this new congress bicameral, a veto power given to the congress of all state bills. think about that. stayed in, 50 states before to accepted their bills their bills to washington to the capitol and there with have to be hearings not veto. to veto or it is totally impractical.
in the fact it stays plan well into i think it is wise are heads prevail and say we can't do that. endless problems of having to send every piece of egislation passed by a state legislature it the capitol to get okayed by the congress would be impractical. instead is have article 1, section 10 of the constitution, which if you look your constitution says the states can't do certain things. it is prohibitions on the states. they can't pass tariffs. hey can't pass ex-post facto laws. they can't violate contracts and ost important they can't print money. can you imagine illinois with prupbt r able to print money to get rid of its pension problem. it is good they cannot print their own money. an happened, this is ad-lib, the states were
around it by they got which tering banks printed the money by the hundreds of thousands of dollars was the generating force between the expansion of the economy, particularly in the north. domestic trade opini possible. they got around that prohibition by the bank notes. money was so much needed that counterfeiting ecame a major sport and people accepted counterfeit money ecause it is so much needed that even if it is counterfeit as long as somebody will accept it is as good as any or kind of money. he has these two things that wants. absolu absolutely necessary is the veto
pow power. and the proportional representation. of them.oses both 1, oses the veto by article section 10 of the constitution. the proportional representation fights longest for. the climax comes in the middle aljuly, july 16 where you have connecticut compromise which each two senators for state regardless of their size from our 've democratic small d point of view absurdity of wyoming with 600,000 people with two senators 37 million ia with with the there is no changing that. that is the one thing that cannot be amended.
that was not a compromise for madison. that was a defeat. he met with his virginia colleagues to caucus. shall we walk out? virginia is the most dominant state in the union by far. no state has ever dominated our country in these years -- by far the biggest state in population, wealth, territory. as virginia went, so did the nation. it is not surprising that four out of the first five presidents were from virginia. the commander-in-chief was from virginia. virginia was the dominant state. if the virginia delegation walked out, that would have been the end of the convention. so they caucused. they worried. they do not want to destroy
this, they stay. madison never got over that. he saw that as a defeat. the loss of the veto and proportional representation, both defeats. the question -- many were stunned when they saw the constitution published. this is not what we wanted. this is not will be expected. hundreds of thousands of people are shocked who would never have thought that this was going to come out of the convention. they thought it was going to be an enhanced articles of confederation. this is immediately -- this is where the anti-federalist -- that is what is given to them. they do not think that name themselves. they were given that. that is not what they wanted at all. the question that was raised by madison himself.
he writes a long letter to jefferson. he could not say anything to jefferson because they took a -- vow of secrecy. jefferson is, of course, in paris. madison was to let jefferson know what has happened. he is a little bit anxious because he knows that jefferson isn't as sympathetic to the antidemocratic constitution as he is. so he says to jefferson, he actually raises this question that any political scientist would, what is different about the federal constitution that will keep it from doing the same kinds of evil things, vicious things, that the state legislature did? why is it going to have the same multiplicity, the same readability. you could say, they are in for two years. senators are in for six. that is the question that he raises.
madison was to think through everything. he wants to explain -- he has a long letter -- you can look it up -- which explains the thinking that went into the constitution. it goes right by jefferson. he is kind of a knee-jerk liberal. if things don't fit my notion i don't pay attention to them. it goes right by him. all he can see is a president who looks at a polish king. polish kings served for life. when they came died, the aristocracy would elect a new on -- that is how jefferson sees the president.
at any rate, he says, how is this going to work? he says, one thing, small matter, at the end of his -- he says "desirable thing." it would mean that a better class of person would end up. the first congress has 65 members. that is very small for the population of 4 million. some of the state legislatures in massachusetts was 350 something, north carolina was 232. north carolina was given five congressmen in the congress. it got 232 members in the state legislature, but there are only five college graduates in the state of north carolina. madison assumes those five college graduates have been liberally educated.
maybe at princeton. the unc had not been created, so they have to go north, but they would be liberal minded, and they would be the kind of people in the congress. you get a better class of person. you use the term, the purest and noblest characters into the congress because of this narrowing of representation. that was his hope. but more important, i think, he believe that the expanded sphere of the united states new government would work to prevent any one faction or interest from congealing with others to create a bad legislation. one of the problems the state had, there were these interest groups. it took a small amount, they would come together and promote their vicious legislation. now they have so many interest groups because the expanded sphere, they will neutralize one
another. they will not be able to congeal. now later political theorists, david truman for example in the early 20th century, call the interest group theory, that is not what madison has in mind. he is not saying the proper liberal emerged out of these interests. he is saying these interest groups will neutralize one another and allow and enlighten them to promote the public good. he gets his insight from experience. in fact he feels that nothing comes from reading books. that is probably true, when you read it when you pick out what you are reading something that jogs with your experience. that is what happens here. read a book that contested the conventional wisdom.
that was a point in testing the conventional wisdom, and the public had to be smaller and homogenous. and then he comes along, he is a terribly eccentric -- taking on conventional wisdom all the time, bright guy. he said no, we can expand the society, they will not congeal. he made the point that madison sees, but he had experienced it firsthand with his shepherding the jefferson's bill for religious freedom through the legislature. both of these insights that he has are expressed in his two famous federalist papers, if you want to look them up, federalist 10 and federalist 51. this comes from the 1785, 1786 experience in getting this bill to disestablish the applicable piscopo -- the church of england, that was dominating religious life in virginia. madison came to realize the
separation of church and state that jefferson wanted in his bill, and is a really radical bill, and true religious liberty, jefferson and madison both said, we are not going to go half way with this. this is not toleration. we are going to go beyond locke. we are going to real religious liberty. there may be no place still where religious is kept out of the state. that was uniquely 18th century. even holland is very liberal, did not have this kind of religious liberty. toleration is one thing. toleration is the kind of establishment you tolerate other groups. that is a far cry from what jefferson had in mind. jefferson is the intellectual, he thinks this will combine rational argument. we will convince people this is the rational thing to do. madison said, that is crazy.
what is going to work, what really enables us to get this bill through is the multiplicity of sects and the jealousy of each other. you have the baptists and the quakers all frustrated with the legislature to adapt the bill. now the presbyterians could have been assured that they would be the established church in place of the episcopal church, they would have taken that. the thing one of the wants to be except for the baptists is to be in charge, but they come to the realization that since none of them can make it, it is better to neutralize the state completely in religious matters. that is the basic insight of madison, only because of the
experience, the jealousy of each. jefferson never sees that. he sees people have become more reasonable like me. he thinks people will believe in separation of church and its -- and state. i say this as a parenthetical remark, i was on a conference with, sponsored by monticello to discuss the separation of church and state with scholars from all over the world, including two muslims, one from indonesia, one from iran, and europeans and americans. we were all discussing jefferson's argument, separation from church and state. the europeans understood that they agree with the argument, but the muslims found it in incomprehensible. they said if religion is divorced, the state must be [
divorced from it. so that is the problem. anyway, madison sees this as an example of a new species, federalist groups neutralizing one another. this is how the federal government is going to operate. this is how people like himself enlightened the puritans to operate and promote the public good. so the lesson that came out of this american spirit that i told the egyptians, democracy is more than majority rule. it is a prerequisite. it also needs attention for minority rights and individual liberties. if it is to be a real democracy. moreover, separation of church and state does not have to mean the loss of state. what was extraordinary over the next generation was the flourishing of religious life in america despite the first
amendment. all of the states, the first amendment did not apply to the states, massachusetts and connecticut kept their established churches, which were dissenting churches, not the church of england, until 1819 for massachusetts, but they went the way of virginia. it was an extraordinary moment in christendom, and people marveled at it having separation of church and state, and yet the second great awakening, religious revivalism was flourishing without state control or state interference. that was a lesson that might have been taken by the egyptians and other arabs. of course, what i said as you know, within four months, the egyptians had moved in a monarchical direction and a military coup. general cc took over and was
elected president under an election that was not at all fair as the other president had been elected by. president morsi was elected and -- arrested and thrown in jail where he sits today. many of the muslim brotherhood were outlawed, the freedom justice party was outlawed, many arrested. that is the solution the egyptians reached, and it has been embarrassing because we were excited about the arab spring. we were endorsing the overthrow without hesitation even though we had been allies for a long time, now we are stuck with another new power who may be more oppressive than mubarak was. that is the solution they have reached. it is not a very happy solution. despite recent shenanigans, the electoral process, we live in the western world and have been blessed for the last 200 years,
and we can only watch with dismay as other people, especially in the middle east, struggle to establish some kind of populist based democracy. thank you. [applause] gordon wood: thank you very much. [applause] gordon wood: be happy to take questions. >> you talk about madison as being a front runner to the constitution but being disappointed with the connecticut compromise. he was diminished in his role
related to the federalist papers and all he had authored, perhaps 15 whereas hamilton authored as many as 50 gordon wood: gordon wood:? he did not desire to promote it. he is a politician first. he is not a john locke or a philosopher who sits in a closet. he is a working politician but a very intelligent thinking one. he quickly adjusts, i will do the best i can to get this thing through. so he works. it is just that hamilton is such an extraordinary engine of energy that he organized the federalist papers. and he only got five. madison wrote as fast as he could, but who could keep up with hamilton? hamilton was an unbelievable guy. by any measure, he was the smartest of the founders. he could read a paragraph
quickly, figure out the meaning and write a paragraph quickly. it is not surprising that he wrote many more than madison did, but madison was very much in favor of the constitution. it wasn't exactly what he wanted. when he writes his letters, it is not despair, this will not , but he had a vested interest of emotion in those two measures. so he came around, but he certainly is in favor of it. there is a new book out by mary dillinger called madison at hand, and it seems that madison worried, she suggests, worried about jefferson's reading of his performances in the convention, doctored his notes to make them seem a little less anti-popular, a little less antidemocratic. there is evidence he did change
it. it is not clear, but she wrote it, and she won the prize last spring. there is a lot more to be found out about this whole business if she is right. but he is really much more antidemocratic than jefferson. what is interesting, in response to his letter, he talks about the evils of majority rule and how they are oppressing minorities, jefferson comes back as if he had not read that and says, the one thing i believe in his majority rule. they are not really meeting, yet they are very close friends. madison has to adjust. he does it quite radically in the 1790's because he is totally surprised.
>> is that leads into my question. can you explain how madison from being one of the architects of the constitution, the chief legislative lieutenant in the first congress to working with jefferson on the kentucky and virginia resolutions? gordon wood: it is a great problem. i call it the madison problem. in the 1780's, based on the problem, he comes with this solution. and since the federal government is the problem in the 1790's, he comes up with a state solution. it is a major problem to explain what happened. it is reactions to hamilton's quote is, it is not what he had in mind. read the 10th federalist carefully. his conception of the national government is judicial. his image is adjudicatory. it is an empire. the federal government will be an umpire by all of the vested interest. he does not have in mind the
fiscal military state, european type state that hamilton wants to build. hamilton's image or his model is england. england had come out of the 17th century, and in the course of the 18th century, had emerged as the most powerful nation in the world. this little island where a third of the population of france had by financial structure, creating the bank of england, stock market, a host of financial reforms, had enabled its state to tax its people without impoverishing them. the french could not do this. hamilton wants to copy that. he said, yes, that is how we are going to build. the british are following the dutch only on a bigger scale and
expanding on what they had done. now hamilton wants the same thing. his model is what has been labeled a fiscal military state. he thought that the united states, within four decades, four or five decades, could take on the europeans in their own terms. we have democracy, standing army, navy, we would be powerful. he was not off by much. the united states was a major power, but it was capable of taking on european states if it had to. it did later, showed itself is a world power. but that is what hamilton wanted. it is not at all what madison had in mind. he sees the implications of hamilton's program, he is stunned. hamilton does not understand this. he said we wrote these papers , together.
he was surprised by madison's opposition. i think if he understood madison they did not have the same vision, and i think that vision is a different kind of national government. it is a umpire. the federalist paper is through with judicial imagery, and that explains the problem, but that is the solution to this madison problem. just one here. well we got two questions. , >> my question would be, what were your suggestions to egyptians when they ask you -- gordon wood: i am not hearing you well. my hearing is not all that great. >> by question is, what were your suggestions to the egyptians? gordon wood: what was the reaction?
>> sorry, your suggestion. gordon wood: my suggestion, what do they think of my suggestion? >> what was your suggestion? gordon wood: my suggestions were what i just told you. >> i am sorry, but i forgot what you said about your suggestions. i would like to reaffirm your point. gordon wood: their reaction was, you were lucky. you americans. it is true, we were blessed, we had all that experience. as englishmen. we had been electing legislation, legislators for hundreds of years in some colonies. we had trial by jury. we had essentially the bill of rights, magna carta, no taxation without representation within each of our states, but we had the experience, trials and
elections, and no european country except england itself had elections, -- so we had enormous experience, advantage. when the french began their revolution, they had not had a meeting of these since 1614, so nobody alive had any experience. it is no reason that the french revolution went crazy. so in that sense, we were blessed. the egyptians had no experience, really. they had elected mubarak. they were always phony elections. the only election in egypt's modern history was where they elected morsi. that was the fairest election they had, and it turned out to bring you the guys that most people do not like. he is a muslim brotherhood man.
it was a fair election, but that was the majority not treating the minority well. there were a lot of secular minded people that was frightened by that, and there was fighting in the streets and insecurity. that is what they left behind. it was an impossible situation. the arab spring was so hopeful in the west. we dumped mubarak -- it is actually kind of embarrassing. i think a lot of political figures were embarrassed with the quickness in which obama administration dumped mubarak, and now we have a second mubarak, and we are not worrying about it. but it was -- i don't know what i thought my part in the american resolution was going to do, but they thought it would be an interesting contrast.
the people, the 30 egyptians that represented the country, they were fairly sophisticated that spoke english, and they they were not at each other's throats. the two people from the muslim brotherhood were very quiet and rarely spoke, which suggests something. they were uneasy. their president was the one being talked about. their man, and they did not come to his defense. they were the most quiet of the 30 odd people there. i don't know how they felt about each other, but there was a point where the dean of the music school, a lunch partner was a very sophisticated man, very hopeful for the arab spring, but i don't know what he thinks now.
one more here. >> so you have all these brilliant men get together, they write the constitution about how government works, and they miss the bill of rights. how did that happen? i would like your thoughts and how they went about fixing it as they did. seems like they should have had that in mind. gordon wood: madison has a very sophisticated argument. it was included by george mason in the last few days. after four months of meeting, a groan goes through all of them, do we have to have a bill of rights? and they vote on it, and every delegation doesn't. they said it was about limited government power. section eight was congress do this this and this. what is the use of the bill of rights when you have delegated power?
it isn't necessary. that is the sophisticated argument madison used to jefferson. but jefferson, thinking again in his ideological ways, he says my french friends, i am embarrassed we don't have a bill of rights, because they expected. we are applauding their declaration of rights. he sent that letter also to maryland. he was not going to publish it. maryland publishes the letter. now there are antifederalists everywhere. they said mr. jefferson once a bill of rights and madison is caught. he says finally, he will get into the house of representatives. you have to go back to the state of virginia.
it is amazing the ratification got through virginia, because without virginia, there is no constitution. it got through only by a few votes, but henry is still dominant. madison wants to go into the senate. henry said because the legislator elects the senate, you are out of the senate. somehow this is my government, you know. so he runs for house seat. what henry does is redistrict his district in a way that cuts out some of the voters, orange county voters, and puts up this young war hero against him, james munro. madison for the first time in his life, he hates to have to do it, he has to give a speech. gives you an idea of the difference of politics. he does not want to have to electioneer.
that is the meaning. it is the first time he has ever done this, and he promises them that if i am elected, i will get a bill of rights in two, to amend the constitution. and he takes the lead and his federalist friends say forget it, mr. madison, don't sign the constitution before it is on its feet. he said, i promised my constituents. with his intense efforts, he called it a nauseous project that nonetheless, i promised my constituents. he is the real father of the bill of rights. the rest of his colleagues are rolling their eyes saying, what is going on with this guy? so he deserves to be called it. he is called the father of the constitution even though he lost two of the major things he
wanted, but he's really the father of the bill of rights. thank you, thank you. [applause] gordon wood: thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the >> the russian american history tv. follow us on twitter at c-span history. keep up with the latest history news. next, on history bookshelf, journalist walter isaacson talks about the personal life of steve jobs. cofounder of apple computers. this was recorded in mountain view, california. it is about an hour and a half. walter: