tv Lincoln and the Founding Fathers CSPAN February 18, 2017 5:10pm-6:01pm EST
>> on history bookshelf, here from the countries best-known american history writers of the past decade every saturday at 4:00 p.m. eastern. and you can watch any of our programs at any time when you visit our website, www.c-span.org/history. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> next on american history tv, historian richard brookhiser discusses how the ideas of founding fathers like george washington, thomas paine, and influencederson abraham lincoln's thoughts and policies during the civil war. the lecture highlights lincolns upbringing and passion for education. the event was part of annual lincoln forum symposium in gettysburg, pennsylvania. it is about 50 minutes. [applause] the is al lincoln>> thank you veryt
great honor to be here at the lincoln forum. i am coming from a different country. this is certainly, eddie's berg is one of the holy paces -- places in lincoln country. i have spent most of my career in founding fathers country. although they are both in the united states, and they both helped define the united states, i think of the scholars and the two countries do not talk to each other as much as they should. abraham lincoln talked to the founding fathers all his life. his most famous utterance was the speech he gave here, where he said, our fathers wrought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty. that was in november, 1863. two and a half years into the
civil war. but three years before that, february, 1860, at the cooper union address, the kickoff was his first presidential campaign. his new york city debut. a 90 minute speech, half of it was devoted to the framers of the constitution. lincoln argued that a majority of them believed that the federal government had the power to regulate slavery in the territories. he proved it from the laws that they made as lawmakers. in that speech, he said, slavery as they marked it, so let it be again marked as an evil not to be extended. let us speak as they spoke and act as they acted upon us. six years before that, his pale oria speech, in
october of 1854, the kickoff of his mature political life, the longest speech he ever gave -- three hours. it lays out the themes he will pursue for most of the rest of his life. in that speech he said our republican robe is soiled and trailed in the dust, but it says churn the blood and spirit of the revolution. this afternoon, i want to focus on the three founding fathers who i think were most influential for lincoln. george washington, thomas paine, and thomas jefferson. a man who is so engaged with the founding fathers, inevitably makes us curious about his own biological father. i will start with thomas lincoln. then there is a fifth father who assumes more and more importance as the civil war grinds on, and that is god the father.
thomas lincoln was born in virginia. he was taken to kentucky when he was a boy. it was in kentucky that he married nancy and began his family. a daughter sarah was born in 1807. abraham was born in 1809. 1812, diesthomas, after only three days. in 1816, thomas takes his family to the brand-new state of indiana carved out of the northwest territory. in 1830, they moved again to illinois, which is where thomas will live for the rest of his life. thomas was a subsistence farmer and a carpenter. there was a trend in the mid-20th century biography and history to treat thomas as a never do well. one of the first lincoln books i read was a modern library
collection of his greatest speeches and letters. there is a long introductory essay that was very disdainful of thomas lincoln. we do not think that way anymore. we knowledge that thomas lincoln never went broke. he never left bad debts. he served on several juries in his life, a sign of respectability if not prosperity. he was also a trustee of the frontier baptist church that his family were shipped in in indiana. he provided a family for his children. his first wife, nancy, died when abraham was nine years old. thomas waits one year and then he goes from indiana back to kentucky he looks up an old , acquaintance, sarah, who is a
widow. he says to her, you have lost your husband, i have lost my wife, i want to become back to indiana with me with your children and help raise mine. she says she has debts to pay. he says, give me the list and i will pay them today. which he does. and they leave the following day. that is a story that has come down to us. he gave his family a second mother, a stepmother. he also gave his children and education. lincoln went to two schools in kentucky when he was a little boy, and three more in indiana. these were one room schoolhouse -- schoolhouses. they depended on the presence in the neighborhood of some young man who had an education and was strong enough to keep the older boys in line. if you add up all the time that lincoln spent in these schools, it was no more than one year. he did learn how to read, write,
and do simple arithmetic. that is the second thing that thomas provided his son. but abraham and thomas never saw eye to eye. part of the problem was work. as soon as abraham reached his full growth at 11 or 12 he shot, -- shot up, his father would put him to work, not only plowing his own fields, but renting him out to neighbors to clear their fields. all of the money that abraham earned by this work would go to thomas's pocket. this was a common custom at the time. but common customs strike different people in different ways. we know that abraham hated this. he once said that my father learned me to work but never learned me to love him. that is because the work he was doing was not his own, it was for others, for his father. i do not think it is fanciful to
say that some of his aversion to slavery comes from this youthful experience. when lincoln turns 21 and becomes an adult, he will leave his family and this will end. of course, that never happens for a slave unless they escape, rebels, or is freed. still, lincoln saw a bond before -- between the life he had led and the life that slaves lead. another disagreement between him and his father was education. thomas wanted his son to know how to read and write and do simple math. but that is because those were skills that would be useful for a subsistence farmer or a craftsman to have. that is why he wanted his son to have them. but for abraham, reading and portals, portals to
the world. they were portals to his inner world. they could show him new things. they could allow him to develop his own thoughts. this is something his father never got. his stepmother did get it. she was interviewed as an old lady and she remembered how her stepson learned when he was young. when he was young and adults came to visit and talked about something that was unfamiliar to him, he would not interrupt, he would wait until they were gone and say, what was that, what were they talking about, what did that mean? if you read something he did not understand, he would write them down and rewrite it in his own words. if you did not have paper, he would write it on a board with charcoal. when he filled up the board, he would clean it up and start over again. his stepmother saw this and encouraged it. thomas lincoln, not so much. nevertheless abraham did get
, three things from his father although he never ate knowledge to them. one of them was strength. the lincolns were differently built. abraham was over six feet tall. he was thin and lanky. thomas was five foot 10 inches and solid. both of them were strong. this was important in the communal hazing rituals that every young man had to go through when he moved into a new place. you would have to prove yourself against the local tough guy. both thomas and abraham had these experiences. they passed the test well enough that they were accepted. that was an important inheritance. the second inheritance was temperance. early 19th-century america was a nation of alcoholism. estimates that the
average adult drink five gallons of hard liquor a year. i saw another estimate which was 7.5 gallons a year. that is probably done by factoring slaves out of the equation. slaves were not encouraged to drink hard liquor. a doctor in new york, dr. samuel mitchell on the faculty of columbia and u.s. senator estimated that workingmen drink a quart of hard liquor a day. this not only ruined their health, it made them turbulent and willing to fight. neither thomas nor abraham drank. i think it kept to them clearheaded and out of trouble. the most important thing that abraham got from thomas was storytelling. we know this from two of his cousins on his mother's side. john and thomas hanks. they lived for a number of years
with the link in the family. one of them said in later years that thomas was as good a storyteller as abraham. the other said thomas was even better. who knows. we do know that abraham was an excellent storyteller. it helped him as a lawyer, it put clients injuries as ease. it put audiences at ease. as a politician it kept people away. one of his cronies from illinois remembered how lincoln handled the crowds that descended upon him in springfield after he won the republican nomination in 1860. everybody in the world was coming to his house and asking for something. he said he heard them all, told them all a story, and sent them all away. probably the smarter ones as they were leaving said, i did not ask him about, but by then it was too late, the story had done its work. he seems to have gotten this from his father.
he seems to have learned this at home. lincoln got and did not get from thomas lincoln. thomas dies in 1851. abraham names his son after him. he names a horse after him, old tom. after he is elected before he goes up to washington, he visits his father's grave. he sees that there is no stone on it. he says, i have to put one on. he never does. that was the end of his relationship with his biological father. if we do not get everything we need or want from our parents, and none of us ever does, we have to look elsewhere. we have to look for substitutes or surrogates. for a boy or a young man in early 19th-century america, the handiest surrogates were the founding fathers. many of these men were still alive when lincoln was young.
he was born one month before thomas jefferson left the white house at the end of his second term. jefferson was followed by eight years of james madison, who was followed by eight years of the james monroe, the last founding father president. this takes us up to lincoln's teens. by the time lincoln is in his 20's, this generation of men who won the revolution and wrote the constitution are dying. none of them ever came to kentucky, indiana, or illinois. lincoln never went to the east coast where they lived until after they were gone. if you wanted to meet these men, the only place he could do it had to be in books. the first founding father he met with the greatest of them all, george washington. --met them in a book called
"the life and exploits of general george washington." the author was an ordained clergyman, but he made his living as a publisher and seller of books. he would go up and down the east coast with his stock, many printed by himself, some of them written by himself. he and that george washington once. he paid one visit to mount vernon and sent him one letter about his book business. he turned this link on the title page of his washington biography where he identifies himself as the parson of mount vernon parish. [laughter] there is no such not theand he was parson of it. he did see that biography of george washington would be a bestseller. washington dies in 1799. he comes out with his book in 1800. he has a second edition in 1808, the year before lincoln is born. this is the book that lincoln
reads as a boy, probably as early as kentucky. he was one of those writers alike james fenimore cooper or h.p. lovecraft, sentences are not very good, but the stories are terrific. the proof is that we all know one of them. the story of washington and the cherry tree has entered the national mythology. you all know it. when george is a young he is given a hatchet by his father augustine and as he is swinging , it around he accidentally slashes the bark of one of his father's prize cherry trees. the father sees what happened. he goes to his son and he says, george, do you know how this happened? george says i cannot tell a lie, i did it with my hatchet. and then his father says, come to my arms my boy.
what you have said is more valuable to me than gold. this story is teaching a double lesson. it is teaching children or young adults to tell the truth. it is also teaching parents, if your child tells the truth about some mistake he has made, do not beat him up, but praise him for it, because that will encourage him to be honest. lincoln was not inspired by the author's story of george washington as a good boy, he was inspired by his stories of washington as a great man. we know this because lincoln said so himself in 1861 when he was on his way to his first inauguration. he leaves springfield in the middle of february and he takes a train trip through the northeast and he swings down to washington, d.c. the country is falling apart. six states have already seceded.
the day he arrived in washington, texas the seventh will join them as the seventh. -- will join them. he is trying to show the flag in the northeast. when he passes through trenton, new jersey, the capital of the state, he gives an address to the new jersey state senate. in there, he refers to the book. he says, i remember it from my first days of learning how to read. he says that of all the battles that the author describes, the one that made the greatest impression on him was the battle here at trenton. this of course was washington's counter attack the end of 1776. this was after four months of catastrophic defeat. washington had lost the battle of long island, lost the battle of white plains. the british had chased him out
of new york. they had chased him across central new jersey and the delaware river into pennsylvania. they rested on the jersey shore. they thought, come the spring they will wrap up the campaign , and the war and destroy his army. but washington takes his army back across the delaware in a nighttime attack. he attacks an enemy garrison at trenton capturing 900 prisoners. that is not the end of the beginning -- it is not the beginning of the end, excuse me. but it is the first time that this revolution may not end in disaster. lincoln describes it to the new jersey senate. he refers to the struggle with the hessians, the allied german troops that there british had brought over. he talks about the crossing of the river and the sufferings of he talks about the suffering of
the men. these are the very things he spends paragraphs describing. lincoln goes on to say that even though i was, i thought there must have been something even more important than independence that these men struggle for. something of importance to all men at all times. and he explains what that is. it is the liberties of the people. again, if we go back to the book, that is exactly how he framed the battle of trenton. because after he described the crossing of the delaware, the continental army still has a march of several miles before they come to trenton. he introduces a figure, a woman hovering over the troops, the spirit of liberty. he says she has been chased out of europe. she's come to the new world as a refuge. but her enemies have followed
her with navies and soldiers. who will defend her? nly this ragged band of men. and the words he puts into washington's mouth when he is encouraging his men to charge are all that i ask you to remember is what you are about to fight for. in 1861 lincoln remembered. he had said the battle of trenton was a battle and struggle for the fate of liberty in the world. lincoln thought he was engaged in the same struggle as george washington. the second founding father that comes across lincoln's path is homas payne. he fits a little oddly among this group, an englishman who came over in his 30's. he never had a political office. he was briefly a secretary of the congressional committee. he was the great journalist of the american revolution.
in january, 1776 he published a pamphlet "common sense" which argued for independence six months before congress declared it. he sold 150,000 copies. this was in a population of 3 million. it was shared and it was read allowed to other people. i've seen an estimate that as many as one-half of all the adults in america read or heard "common sense." . at the end of 1776 he writes an essay "the american crisis" and wrote it during washington's retreat across new jersey before the battle of trenton. paine was in one of washington's camps and wrote it n a drum head. he hurried to philadelphia to have it printed and washington had it read aloud to his troops. the opening sentence of the essay, i think, is the greatest opening sentence that's ever been or will be in journalism. it's "these are the times that try men's souls. the suffering soldier and the
sun shayne patriot will dessert his country but he who stands now deserves the love and thank of men and women." when the american soldiers attached trenton he said these are the times that try men's souls. that is the effect trenton's words had. after the war paine almost destroys his reputation by writing another book called "the ainge of reason." it's a ferocious attack on revealed religion. paine was not an atheist. thords would later call him a filthy little atheist. that was not true. paine himself always said i believe in one god and no more but he argues in the age of reason that every exiting religion is the system set up to terrify and enslave mankind. he makes a number of hits at islam, more at judaism, but most of his fire is directed at the religion that he, himself, grew up in, which is
christianity. in his book he explains the moment where he says that he first came to this conviction. he says that when he was 7 or 8 years old someone in his family gave a reading at home of a sermon on the substitutionary atonement, which is the christian doctrine that christ died for our sins. he paine remembers that left the room and he walked down some steps into the garden, and he writes, i revolted at the recollection of what i had heard and thought to myself that it was making god almighty act like a passionate man that killed his son when he could not revenge himself any other way. as i was sure a man would be hanged that did such a thing, i could not see for what purpose they preached such sermons. now, lincoln seems to have read paine in illinois, in new
salem, and later on when he moves to springfield in his early 20's. so he's just left the nest. he's left his father. he's left his father's church. like many 20 something's he hinks this is just terrific. the religion he was brought up in is all nonsense, full of contradictions and holes. jikes -- jesus christ was an ordinary illegitimate child. you don't have to trouble yourself with any of this. and lincoln is so enthralled that he writes a pamphlet of his own. and he reads it to some friends of his when he's acting as post master. now, post master was one of the jobs he held early in his 20's when he was trying to figure out what to do. frontier post masters then did not have post offices. they would set up a desk in someone's store and people would bring in their letters or come to pick up their mail. mostly what the post master did
was read everyone's newspapers and shoot the breeze with his friends. so you can imagine lincoln doing this in the store of a man named samuel hill and telling his friends about this wonderful pamphlet he's written which will explain that jesus christ is an ordinary, illegitimate child, and the only tested doctrine is not tradition or faith but reason. so mr. hill asked to see this pamphlet. lincoln gave it to him. hill put it in the stove. because lincoln was already interested in politics. and mr. hill knew that you will not go far in politics in illinois in the 1830's if you write pamphlets explaining that jesus christ is an ordinary, illegitimate child. rumors of this pamphlet did reappear in 1846 when lincoln did run for congress, but, fortunately, the pamphlet, itself, had long ago been burned up. so lincoln was spared any direct evidence of it.
lincoln's religious views would change over the years. but i think the one thing he learned from paine that he never outgrew was how to use humor to make a serious argument. he didn't have to learn humor from paine. he already knew that from thomas lincoln. his father had taught him how to tell stories. ost of them funny stories. but paine shows him how to use humor in making serious arguments, which is something that is a little harder to do. paine was a master of it. his usual technique was to take some complex idea and reduce it to its essential and thereby hopefully make it ridiculous. when paine writes of the virgin birth, which is a principle of christian theology written about for hundreds of years, paine isn't interested in any of that. he simply says, if a girl today
were to say that she was made pregnant by a ghost and that an angel told her so, would she be believed? so he dismisses all the theology and reduces the virgin birth to a domestic accident, a crisis. similarly, lincoln when democrats would accuse him and other republicans of being race mixers, because of course why else would you oppose the expansion of slavery? it must be because you want to sleep with black women. isn't that obvious? and lincoln's response, which he gave over and over again was, just because i don't want a black woman for a slave doesn't mean i have to have her for a wife. i can just leave her alone. so he is taking this miasma of sexual desire and fear and repulsion and he's just dismissing it. i can just leave her alone. but he's also leaving his audience with a thought, because if you leave the black
woman alone, aren't you also leaving her free? so he is using humor to make a rather subtle, serious point. i think thomas paine was the first man he saw using those techniques. the third founding father who was important to lincoln, of course, was thunderstorms jefferson. jefferson -- thomas jefferson was a very complex man. brilliant. a great writer. no other founder wrote better. paine and benjamin franklin write as well but they write very differently. jefferson can do the million dollar sentence. he can do it in a public document. he can drop it into a letter. you have a feeling you could wake him up in the middle of the night and he might utter such a thing. but jefferson is also complicated. he can be manipulative. he can be devious. often unconsciously devious.
he can also lose heart as he ages. his enemy alexander hamilton said he knew no man more likely to temperize and certainly jefferson backs off on his youthful antislaveryardor. but the jefferson who was important to lincoln was the young jefferson, the 33-year-old man who in the continental congress is given the assignment of writing the public statement of why the united states is declaring its independence. in this document, the first of his self-evident truths, he says that all men are created equal. lincoln would turn to this again and again in the 1850's and 1860's. in 1859 he is invited by a group of republicans to come to boston to celebrate jefferson's birthday. he can't come because of his legal practice but sends them a
statement and clearly labors over this because he knows it is going to be published in newspapers and he wants it to be just right. there he says, of jefferson, that he expressed the axioms and definitions of a free society. he goes on to say, all honor to jefferson, who had the coolness and the forecast to insert into a merely revolutionary document an abstract truth that should be applicable to all men and all times. so washington was the hero who fought for liberty. jefferson was the man who explained it and expressed it. and of course lincoln's greatest tribute to jefferson was here at gettysburg because four score and seven from 1863 -- he is saying that is the beginning of the american project. that expresses who we are and what we're all about.
he goes on to quote, "all men are created equal" as the proposition to which we're dedicated. now, the gettysburg address was given at the dedication of a funeral. and there was a lot of death in lincoln's life. his younger brother died when he was 3. his sister, sarah, died when he was 20. his mother died when he was 9. his first sweetheart died when he was in his early 20's. one of his friends at the time said we had to hide the razor fs. lincoln was so depressed by this. lincoln knew that his grandfather abraham lincoln had been killed by an indian. he knew this because his father thomas had been there. abraham was working in his field when an indian shot and killed him from the edge of the woods. then he came out to scoop up young thomas but one of the other lincoln boys went back to the cabin, grabbed a gun, and shot and killed the indian. thomas told the story over and
over again. abraham said it was a legend in my own family. abraham served in one indian war himself, the blackhawk war in the late 1830's, northwestern illinois. he never fought in a battle but he did see men who had just been scalped and he remembered in the center of every head there was a spot the size of a silver dollar and he said blood seemed to be everywhere. i think this was a normal experience of death in early 19th century america. there was a lot of mortality from disease, there were a number of wars, large ones like the war of 1812 or the mexican ar, smaller indian wars. the civil war was not normal and turned out to be something else. one of the first armed encounters took place in alexandria, virginia in april of 1861.
just down the potomac from washington. there was a rebel banner flying from the main hotel. you could see it from the white house with a spy glass. so a party of union soldiers was sent to recover the city and the hotel. it was led by elmer ellsworth, who was a former law student of lincoln's from springfield. he accompanied lincoln on his inaugural train trip to washington, d.c. as ellsworth was running up the stairs to tear down the rebel banner, he was shot and killed by the owner of the hotel, who was in turn shot and killed by a second in command. at the end of 1861, another friend of lincoln's from illinois, edward baker, is in a battle. baker was a weak man in weak politics. lincoln named one of his sons after him. baker had moved to oregon, become a senator, and he is the man who introduces lincoln to the crowd from the podium at his first inauguration. but baker serves in the battle
of balls bluff in december of 1861 where he is killed. lincoln is described at baker's uneral as weeping like a child . in 1862, william mccullough, another illinois man, had asked lincoln's help getting into a regiment at the beginning of the war. the reason he had to ask for lincoln's help was that he was 50 years old and he had only one arm. he had lost an arm in a farming accident. but he still wanted to fight for liberty and his country. so lincoln helped him. he became a lieutenant colonel in a cavalry regiment, then a colonel. he is killed in northern mississippi in the run up to vicksburg. it's to his daughter, fanny mccullough, that lifpblg writes his eloquent letter about how suffering can only be diminished by time, only time will cure it. he doesn't tell fanny that time will bring more suffering. she'll figure that out herself.
sometimes what lincoln experiences is not death but injury. he and his wife make many visits to military hospitals uring the war. on one of these he is accompanied by noah brooks, another illinois man. brooks had moved to california and become a reporter for "the sacramento union" and they sent him back to washington to cover the lincoln administration and the war. because of his illinois connection, he has very good access and his dispatches make interesting reading. in one he describes a visit to a military hospital with lincoln. as he and lincoln are moving down the row of beds, ahead of them there is a charitable woman distributing tracts. one of the soldiers picks up the tract that she's put on his bed, glances at it, and then tosses it down with a laugh.
lincoln says, she is just trying to be helpful. probably not nice to laugh at her. he said well she gave me a pamphlet on the sin of dancing and both my legs are shot off. the joke is on lincoln. soldier of course. if you multiply this by 10 and by a thousand and by a hundred thousand, this is the civil war. and all of these deaths come across the commander-in-chief's desk. he hears about every one of them, even if only as a statistic. and lincoln has to think, why is this happening? any man who is not a brute or a fool would have to ask that question. lincoln had a very logical mind. he was also a person who believed that everything that happened had a cause. one of his little catch phrases to express it, william herndon remembers him saying this, was that the motive was born before
the man. everything you do has a cause. that also has a cause and that has a cause. and these chains of causation go back before you were born so that everything you will do has already been put in play. and if you follow all these causes back to their source, to the first cause, you come to god. lincoln never disbelieved in god. thomas paine didn't, lincoln didn't. but he's confronted with the horrible problem that all this death and devastation is somehow caused or willed by god. his final thoughts on this matter, he reveals in the second inaugural. the second inaugural is not his shortest speech. gettysburg is shorter. but it's one of the shortest inaugurals ever given. it's only four paragraphs long.
and the third paragraph, he addresses this question directly. fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray that this mighty sourge of war may speedily pass away. yet, if god wills, that it continue, until all the wealth toil y the 250 years of shall be sunk and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid with another drawn by the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said, the judgments of the lord are true and righteous all together. now, the first thing that struck me about that paragraph, when i came to write about it, was the math. the math of the gettysburg address was four score and seven from 1863 yeak withdrawals 1776. but here the math is 250 from
1865 is 1615. that's jamestown. the first american colony, the first colony to import slaves. the founding fathers disappear from this speech. the only major speech lincoln gives apart from a house divided in which there is no mention of them. they are a dimensionalist point in 250 years of the national sin of slavery. the other thing that struck me about this is how far lincoln has come from thomas paine. thomas paine had been revolted at the thought that god could kill his own son in order to save men from sin, but now lincoln's god is killing undreds of thousands of sons to expiate the sin of slavery. i think the moral calculus of this paragraph is outrageous. this is a great speech. it is certainly the greatest speech lincoln ever wrote, but we must never smooth this over.
we must never pretend there's anything easy about it. but there is a fourth paragraph. it's only one sentence long. with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as god gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish, adjust in a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. and when i came to write about that, i saw how many of the rbs and verb phrases are two syllables long. strive on. finish. bind up. care for.
do all. achieve. cherish. it has the rhythm of walking. as simple as walking. it's as hard as walking when you've walked so long and you have so far yet to go. thank you. [applause] >> we have the mike in the aisle as before. >> thank you. many of us see lincoln as a man of destiny, given what you described, do you think he saw imself that way?
>> he certainly hoped so. there is the famous herndon quotation about his ambition being the little engine that new no rest and he certainly saw early in the 1850's as slavery is suddenly becoming an inflamed issue and he reflects on the anti-slavery movement in england, which had climaxed three years earlier with the abolition of slavery in the empire. and he has that famous meditation on how wilbur force and granville sharp are known to every school boy but all the men who opposed them and their forerunners in the struggle are like candles that smoked and they stink and no one remembers them at all. certainly he is hoping he will be more like wilbur force and sharp rather than these other people. you know, he does reflect at certain points that his career is not going very well. one term in congress and then
that's it. then here is stephen douglas, who is younger than he is, and every prize that can come into an ambitious man in illinois is coming his way. of course lincoln figures out a way to turn that to his advantage and he sort of rides on douglas's shoulder in a slip stream and then he uses douglas to move ahead. but, you know, all that has to be proven. so is that destiny or is it hard work? i guess it just depends on how you look at it. >> thank you. >> you mentioned both washington and jefferson as the founding fathers that inspired lifpblg, both of whom were -- inspired lincoln, both of whom were slave holders, plantation elite but you do not mention hamilton who was anti-slavery as having any significant influence on lincoln. could you comment on that at all? >> you know, i'm a hamilton guy and i looked and i looked. i really wanted to find
something. but you have to remember what happens to hamilton's reputation in the early 19th century. he was killed in 1804 by the vice president of the united states. one of his greatest enemies, thomas jefferson, is president for eight years. then a former friend now an enemy james madison was president for eight years. another enemy james monroe is president for eight years. john quincey adams gets four years. the adamses also hate him from a different point of view. then andrew jackson is, you know, state, states rights, democrat, also no fan of amilton. so his reputation goes into eclipse. he is remembered a bit in new england and new york city. webster gives some speeches about hamilton and we know lincoln read webster's speeches so maybe there was some content there but lincoln certainly doesn't refer to him partly because there is no percentage in doing that in illinois.
if you're going to look for a w.i.g. predecessor henry clay is much more attractive. so, alas, i don't see any onnection. >> i think you may know joseph ellis, he starts on the thesis, four square and seven years ago was incorrect because it was not created by the declaration of independence but bite constitution and as you know the end of the declaration of independence says, speaks of united colonies creating free and independent states. i appreciate your comments on that math or thesis or whatever. mr. brookhiser: look, this is a very contested point. it has been throughout american history. but certainly our independence does not begin with the constitution. it begins with the revolution.
and lexington and concorde are in april, 1775, but for the longest time we say we're fighting against the ministerial army, you know, and then finally partly prompted by paine we draw that conclusion and then the formal declaration is the one that jefferson writes. lincoln has -- his relation to the declaration and the constitution is interesting. he always presents himself as the man who adheres to both. and there are contemporaries of his who say they like the constitution but the declaration is this sort of radical pie in the sky document. then of course the abolitionists love the declaration and hate the constitution. william lloyd garrison burns it. he says to deal with the devil. lincoln will never go in either of those directions. he says, i adhere to both of them. his cooper union address he is not looking at the men who wrote the declaration but the framers of the constitution.
so he's always presenting himself as the man of both. as the civil war goes on, he comes to cite the preamble, the phrase "we the people." and what that might mean and its ramifications are also a large part of his thought. so he's the guy who's looking at both. >> i thought the phrase "all men are created equal" was something lincoln wanted to hang on to. mr. brookhiser: yes, of course. he says it is the definition and the axiom. >> excuse me. i don't have a question. just a comment. magnificent. thank you. mr. brookhiser: thank you. [applause] >> amazingly, that is about the same thing i was going to say. i heard the same speech from you at our civil war forum meeting in new york in september, and i have to tell
you it was even better listening to it the second time. mr. brookhiser: thank you. thanks very much. [applause] >> since the official opening last september the national museum of african-american history and culture has welcomed over 750,000 visitors and sunday american history tv on c-span3 takes you inside the museum for a live, exclusive, after hours tour. our special includes a look at the galleries and exhibits telling the african-american story from slavery to the first african-american president. we'll talk with the museum's specialist and curator and throughout the program our guests will be talking to you and hearing your input via phone calls and tweets. join us for an exclusive, live visit inside the national museum of african-american history and culture. live sunday beginning at 6:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3.
watch c-span as president donald trump delivers his first address to a joint session of congress. president trump: this congress is going to be the busiest congress we've had in decades. >> live tuesday, february 28 at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span and c-span.org. listen live on the free c-span radio app. >> the civil war. naval historian craig simon and a history professor talk about the meeting twenal generals william sherman and joseph johnston to discuss the future of union army at the end of the civil war. the april, 1865 meeting happened just two days after president lincoln's assassination and a week after robert e. lee's surrender at appomattox. his talk was part of the annual lincoln symposium and is just under an hour.