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tv   President Reagans Berlin Wall Speech  CSPAN  June 25, 2017 10:30pm-12:01am EDT

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and local associations. support of states to explore domestic feels, again, raising up and securing the privileges of the rugged individualists and individualism amid this globalization of the 1940's. >> you can watch this and other american history programs on our website where all of our videos archived. that is year is the 30th anniversary of president ronald reagan's visit to berlin where he delivered his "tear down this wall" speech. next, former u.s. ambassador to germany recall the president's speech and trip. the international center for journalists hosted this event. it is an hour and a half.
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>> good evening, everybody. please find your seats. good evening. thanks for setting up this wonderful event. mr. robinson, members of the board, alumni in attendance, students, and ladies and gentlemen. for me, it is a pleasure and an honor to be able to open this event today. i am pleased to see so many faces. some fairly young faces. and i am particularly pleased knowing the students today do not necessarily cherish things that happened 30 years ago. be it jon bon jovi or george michael or "dirty dancing," there have been cooler periods in history than the 1980's. that is what my children keep reminding me. this is, however, different.
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with president reagan's speech -- [speaking german] from president kennedy's visit, might be better known in germany and the u.s. foreign policy nerds know that there is nothing like president reagan's addressing withtary-general gorbachev his call to tear down this wall. interestingly, the speech received very little coverage at the time. however, the chancellor immediately realized its impact. president reagan was a stroke of luck for the world. especially for europe. he would say after the speech. also the rather hysterical
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reaction of the eastern german leadership also gives us an indication of the strength of that speech. i myself refreshed my memories a couple of days ago. after all i was in new york at , the time in 1987. so i did not have a chance to see it live. and it is indeed an impressive testimony, first and foremost to president reagan's unconditional will to stand behind and side-by-side with his european partners, with germany, and with the citizens of berlin. [speaking german] i still have something back in berlin, is how he describes very special ties. every american president since 1945 had to europe and to the city of berlin in particular.
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but reagan's speech is also a clear commitment to freedom, democracy, and human rights. to those values drove american politics from the founding fathers to president lincoln through the 20th century until today. it is a commitment clearly reflected in this speech declaring unconditional support for european allies. and it is a commitment is clearly shown when the people of eastern germany and the people all over eastern europe stood up for their rights for liberty and democracy. despite the protests and the people's desire for freedom, we have to remember one thing. in the end, german unity was only possible because of our allies and neighbors because they had faith in us.
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and we also have to recall that many people in europe, many governments, were skeptical, whether a reunited germany would be as peaceful as it had been in the decades prior. the specter of the past was still very present. the american people and first and foremost its political leaders did not have these doubts. i think i see this as the strength of the oldest constitutional democracy in the world, that it recognized, people and leadership, that we, the people, is a power and force in history that cannot be stopped. other partners, other countries in europe were more hesitant to historic this unstoppable force unfolding in , eastern europe. without the support of the
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american leadership, of american people, german reunification two years later would not of happened. it is a lesson in how important and how effective the transatlantic alliance can be, how much we can change the world for the positive if we stand united. so, ladies and gentlemen, i find it is a nice coincidence that president reagan's speech fall into the same year as the birth the arthur burns fellowship. what better connection could we think of for our event tonight? the clear commitment to freedom and transatlantic alliance could not be represented much better than in the combination of the two. let us therefore welcome our panel today and in particular,
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the chairman of the fellowship program. and the good spirit of this event and of many other events happening with the fellowship program. thank you for doing this and strongwelcome him with a applause. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much, ambassador, for that introduction and your continuing hatred of the fellowship. i would also like to thank the dean, who so generously arranged for us to hold the event today p -- and while he could not be here, his team has been here to -- very helpful to us. today's panel was organized to commemorate two events of 30 years ago. the founding of the arthur burns fellowship and president reagan's speech in june 1987.
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let me start briefly with the burns fellowship. the arthur burns program was created to foster deeper understanding between germany and the u.s. and more recently, canada as well. every year, nearly a dozen german journalists, american journalists, and now canadian journalists, they go to each other's side of the atlantic and spend time in newsrooms learning and understanding the way that other countries think. many top journalists from both sides of the atlantic have participated in these intellectual sojourns. the program is supported by top news organizations to send and receive journalists. among the news organizations participated, "the new york times,", "wall street journal," "washington post," and many others. npr, many others. nonprofit programs. they depend on contributions
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from companies including goldman sachs and others as well as as a -- as individuals, as a result, you see a card to contribute. if you choose to support program we will be grateful to have it. , the burns program, as you will surmise, is named for arthur burns, the austrian economist starting with dwight eisenhower and was chairman of the federal reserve before he became ambassador to germany in 1980's. in his long career, he trained economists like milton friedman, he shaped postwar economic policy for the u.s., he fought inflation in the 1970's and cemented the close ties between the u.s. and what was then west germany. he died in june of 1987 when his program was established in his name. its goal is to strengthen the understanding between two powerful western allies has seldom been more relevant than it is today. the importance of the relationship was front and center in berlin 30 years ago this summer.
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it was there that president ronald reagan delivered one of his most memorable speeches. it was a call to tear down the wall that divided the post-world war ii world. an appeal to our common humanity and freedom and dignity. it is a call that should be trumpeted again today. we're fortunate to have with us today to talk about that speech three of the most knowledgeable people of the moment. burt, ambassador richard who is on stage in berlin, who was with president reagan, and is also a trustee of the program. peter robinson, a white house speechwriter who had primary responsibility for the speech. and the former deputy editor who wrote a book on it and will moderate today's conversations. i will hand it to them. thank you very much. [applause]
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>> thank you. it is a pleasure to be here. it is a pleasure to be on the stage with men who witnessed and made history in berlin and throughout their careers. quickly introduce them although markets already got us started. the ambassador, many of you know, was the center of a whole range of conversations that dealt with the end of the cold war. he was the assistant secretary for european and canadian affairs at the state department from 1983 to 1985, and he was of course the ambassador to west
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germany, and later the principal negotiator on the strategic arms reduction talks with the former soviet union. the ambassador was in berlin on that day and will talk about his role in the speech and what he witnessed when president reagan delivered those famous words. peter robinson was the chief "tear downr on the this wall" address. he worked in the white house for five years as special assistant and speechwriter to president reagan. theiously, he had been speechwriter for vice president george h.w. bush. peter is now a research fellow at the hoover institution. the edits the quarterly journal and hosts the wildly popular video series on television. i hope you will indulge us as we
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talk about the history of the reagan speech. i think it is a fascinating history, silver fascinating i wrote a book about it. the fact that it did not sell a lot of copies may mean that others did not agree my assessment. nevertheless, -- >> i bought two. >> there you go. i should have sent you a free one. we will talk for about a half-hour, talk about the speech and its legacy, and then we will open it up to questions from all of you. ambassador burt, i wonder if we could start with you. i hope you could just take it back to the time leading up to president reagan's visit to west berlin and give us a sense of the mood among west germans in particular. inevitable the wall
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would come down november of 1989, but it was that something people were thinking about? did they think it was realistic at that time in june of 1987? >> that is i think a really great question and it is probably the most interesting question for understanding the impact of the reagan speech. i guess i would make a couple of points that need to be taken into account. you talk about the impact on the west germans that day. people at the speech were not considered west germans. they were berliners. they were not citizens of the federal republic of germany. at the time, berlin was still formally and occupied city. it is interesting. one of the reasons i got to sit so close to the president when he was delivering that speech is that the chancellor of germany and the foreign minister of
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germany were not present. they were not recognized officials in berlin. you had the governing mayor and representatives of the city council, but this was a kind of anomaly, still being an occupied city. when i went to berlin, i was not the u.s. ambassador. i was the high commissioner. strange i had this responsibility. meet on occasion with my russian counterpart the russian , ambassador to the federal republic. but when i was in berlin, i was having regular meetings with the ambassador to east germany. i was talking to two different russian ambassadors, given this unique, peculiar situation of berlin being an occupied city. why that is important for the reagan speech is this.
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one of the things we had to do, and we always talk about the allies and we talk about the allies in those days, we met the united states, britain, and and france. and our collective responsibility. recognized that for it to work it had to get political support from home. it was not just enough that west germany and the west german parliament would support us financially, which they did. but we needed the public, political support from the united states, britain, and from france. these countries or at least the leadership needed to understand why we were still hanging around defending berlin. and somebody, probably the governing mayor, came up with the idea that we should commemorate the 750th anniversary of berlin. i think that was probably phony date.
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i don't think you could go back 750 years and find the establishment of berlin. but it gained traction. it gave us an opportunity. one of the big ideas was during that year, the head of state of all three i like powers should come to berlin. sure enough, you had a visit from the queen, the president of france, and of course, ronald reagan. that created the opportunity. i always thought it was perfectly teed up for ronald reagan, that this was the opportunity to talk about an issue he believed in, that he would feel totally at home and comfortable with. but he did not, i think, and you can correct me if i'm wrong, and now i am getting to the heart of the question, there was a weariness, a fatigue, with the division of germany and of berlin. berlin was still an exciting place, a big youth culture, and
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a great place to be. really, i think by 1987, had drawn the conclusion that the wall was not going to go away anytime soon. that it had become a kind of permanent fixture of life in berlin. meanwhile in west germany, i found a different sort of mentality, which was, somehow, the division of germany is again going to be semipermanent. nobody saw a way out or a way of reuniting germany. in fact, i remember very clearly going to a meeting convened by the center-right party in germany, the cdu, where they asked me and the russian ambassador to speak, which i found in itself a little bit
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unusual. and one of the things the russian ambassador said, you know, one thing you guys have got to stop doing is talking about reunification. it is not going to happen. i came back ferociously to argue that, whether you think it will happen next year or in 10 years, it would be a terrible thing if the people of west germany gave up on the dream of reunification. that said, i did not think it would happen anytime soon. efforts by theus german government not to try and bring that wall down but to transcend the wall, to find ways of building up ties for what was known as the inner german relationship. ways contacts, and find the much bigger and richard west germans could help the east
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germans. i will stop my answer here but there is a lot of mythology about east germany. in west germany and in west berlin. i learned an important historic lesson. being close to a situation does not necessarily mean you understand it. nobody in 1987 or really 1988 or even into thought that there was 1989 going to be some kind of popular uprising in the east. of so, there was a kind commitment to this process of trying to find ways of increasing interaction between the two germany's. to try to somehow ignore it on the one hand and on the other hand, to try to ease the pain and the feeling of the historical inevitability of the division of germany. that is what made, in my view, the reagan remark so refreshing.
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different because he stared head on standing in front of the berlin wall and challenged the east to bring the wall down. >> that is a great deal of context. i would now like to know, how much of that did you know when you were assigned to write the remarks at the brandenburg gate? tell us how the whole process worked in the reagan white house and when were you told you would , write the speech? how did you start piecing together the elements of what was going to go into it? >> i will. let me begin by thanking the ambassador. for 30 years, i have wondered about the correct pronunciation. finally. i spent 30 years practicing. in a word, you brought me here
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after three decades to embarrass me because in a word, here we , immensely knowledgeable, all the nuances and sophistication. and that was rick burt at the time as well. and in the reagan speech, we knew essentially none of this. you're right about the 750th anniversary being a sham when researching was when was berlin founded? it was not founded. it just sort of emerged. the briefly, and i am truly embarrassed about my younger self because i was just a kind of an idiot child stumbling along. what happened was the scheduling office said he was going to speak in berlin, the 750th anniversary. i cannot recall who gave me the direction.
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it must've been the chief speechwriter at the time. the president is going to stand in front of the berlin wall, the gate would be visible behind him in the shot. it will be a crowd of about 10,000. i think at the events, it was closer to 40,000. speak for half an hour. i think you ought to talk about foreign policy. that was really all the direction i was given. there is a back story that he was holding back a lot of direction. he wanted me to do research in berlin with a clear mind. but then i did go to berlin with the american pre-advance party very briefly, four stops in berlin with me that day. the first was to the site where the president would speak. i remember feeling a speechwriter in trouble. i do not know how you convey to people who are not old enough to
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have seen it themselves. it is a serious question. how you convey what it felt like to stand at the wall? the reichstag still pockmarked. behind you, west berlin, color motion, activity, people , well-dressed, driving beautiful mercedes. and you look over the wall, and everything is gray and brown and you see very little street traffic. more soldiers than pedestrians. on the main thoroughfare, i saw a couple of cars going by. i just had a feeling of a sense of moment, of place the weight , of history. been in a place since or before where you just felt the weight of history. number two, i went to see your colleague. and john's title is minister. john kornblum --
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minister.le was >> john filled me in on much of what you are saying. my point of view that it was what the president should not say. mie bashing. com in berlin, these people are acutely sensitive to the nuance and subtlety involved in east-west relations. and by the way, this might have been a point similar to the weariness, they have gotten used to the wall. don't make a big thing about the wall. number three, i was given a ride in the u.s. helicopter over the wall. it looked bad enough from inside west berlin. you could forget about it for a moment. you were in a modern city. but from the air, incomparably
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worse. as i'm sure you remember. from the air, you can see on the other side dog runs guard , towers. for some reason, which i found a -- especially striking there , were large areas of raked gravel. i used the intercom to ask the pilot. the pilot explained that was for the young east german guards. if the guard ever allowed a member of his family to escape, he would have to explain footprints in the gravel. i thought, they thought of everything. you could feel angry. then the final event, i broke away from the american party that evening. i left the hotel in downtown brooklyn and went to a suburb. and there, a lovely couple put on a dinner party for me.
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i had never met them. he had just retired from a long career at the world bank in washington. we had mutual friends. they asked on a dozen or 18 of their friends just selected meet some berliners. a physician, a couple of university professors. in any event, i said i have been told you have gotten used to the wall, is it true? silence. i thought, oh, my goodness, i have committed just the faux pas i did not want the president to commit. then the silence ended. one man raised his arm and said, my sister lives a few kilometers in that direction but i haven't seen her in more than 20 years. how do you think we feel about the wall? they went around the room and every person spoke about it. they hadn't gotten used to it, they stopped talking about it. there was weariness. that was true. but they hated it. every day.
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lovely woman, just died a couple of years ago. she balled up one hand and slapped it into the other, she became angry. and she said if gorbachev is serious, he can prove it by coming here and getting rid of this wall. i was there to listen as if i were ronald reagan. this is what i mean when i say i i was just this idiot child wandering around berlin, looking for something that the president would respond to. i knew he would respond to that. so back to washington. ,and the painful process of writing. i had technical problems, part of the immediate audience would be german. american audience with the english-speaking. at first wrote -- [speaking german] and tony said when your client , is the president of the u.s., give him his best lines in english. [laughter] "tear down this wall."
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there is a long story about how that speech was resisted by many of the foreign-policy professionals. in the end, it was ronald reagan alone who just said, no. i want to say -- there is another moment that is important. should i take another? the president meeting in the oval office. we were talking about a number of speeches. we got to my speech. the president said that is a good draft, a good speech. always want more from ronald reagan. right? speechwriters would go in. you might have time for one question. so i explained that i have been told in berlin that people would be able to hear the speech on the other side of the wall. if weather conditions were right, they might be able to hear it as far east as moscow itself on radio. i said mr. president, is there anything in particular you would like to say to people, on the other side, the communist side
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of the wall? moment.ike this for a he said, well, there is that passage about tearing down the wall. that is what i would like to say to them, that wall has to come down. that was the marker. staffing,nt out to everybody understood, the president has already said he particularly liked to deliver that line, which enabled it to survive three weeks of quite a lot of pushback. the inspiration for that one was a german. >> let me add a quick anecdote. i can't remember when i saw the draft, when i saw that language -- i really liked it. it was -- oh yeah. it was authentic reagan. you couldn't ask reagan to come to berlin and stand for the berlin wall and not say that.
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but, as a courtesy, we finally got the final draft, i think 24 hours in advance. as a courtesy, i gave it to the governing mayor of berlin. i have mentioned him already, edward r deacon. he read it and immediately came back to me and said, you have got to take this passage out. you have got to take this passage out! i said, we can't do that, this is ronald reagan. i said what is wrong with it? he said, there will be protests on the other side of the wall. there were. nothing very large though. but, we were afraid that if they hear that, this will create -- potentially create a riot,
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unrest. we could have a real scene on our hands. i just said, look. you do not know how hard it was to get ronald reagan here this year. it was difficult to get that organized the way we did. you've got to allow him to make these. he relented. >> rick -- i'm sorry. >> no no. >> we will bring you back in. >> you are making my job easier. >> i was not part of the traveling party, so this is especially fascinating because you were there. but 10 2%, deputy chief of staff, the actual chief of staff -- his wife was very ill. ken duberstein was ranking member.
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i get what happened just before the speech. they are leaving the venice economic summit, they are ordering -- boarding air force one. the back of the plane begins clacking away because the state department is an binning, by my count -- the seventh alternative draft. they are considering this. the president makes this final decision in the limousine on the way to the wall. ken said they talked about it, then ronald reagan leaned over. ken on the knee and said, the boys in state will kill me for this but it the right thing to do. [laughter] that's real reagan. >> what was reagan -- what was the opinion of reagan at the time? there were fears, there were some protest by leftist groups, anarchists and the like in the days leading up to his visit.
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>> reagan's image in germany went through almost 180 degree change over the years. the first time i was with ronald reagan in germany, i think was probably 1982. he was visiting, there were maybe 2-3 -- 2-300,000 protesters protesting the deployment of person to -- nuclear armed vessels. -- missiles in germany that had the capability of striking soviet homeland. this was a controversial, difficult decision. chancellor kohl was holding firm -- that aligns decision, in the
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face of not only tremendous public protest, but a very ferocious russian propaganda, fake news, the modern parliament -- campaign to stop this deployment, threatening to recall, the new ice age. a lot blamed reagan for this, he was a war monger he would get us into nuclear war. as time went on, things began to gradually shift. very importantly, in 1986, reagan had his first summit meeting with gorbachev. and it's, it's, was, it was, it was productive, optimistic meeting.
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both reagan and gorbachev went back with a shared believe that they can do business together. needless to say in 1987, same year as the 750th anniversary, there was a famous meeting. the two leaders were talking about substantial reductions in nuclear weapons. in 1987 the two sides also were able to agree to the zero option of missiles, which were to lloyd -- which were deployed in 1983. people laughed, saying that is just a smokescreen for deployment. by 1987, people said, this guys getting things done with gorbachev.
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when he said, tear down this wall, it was not propaganda. people understood that reagan had a relationship with gorbachev. and, and, and, it, and it's, it wasn't just a relationship of them being good pals. it was serious, where they were both prepared to press each other for important reasons. people began to realize that reagan was becoming a foreign-policy success, that he was transforming the east-west relationship. it was the perfect time for him to give that speech, in the context where u.s.-russian relations were headed.
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>> when he finally did deliver the famous line, you were there on the days when he delivered it, what ran through your mind? you have an inkling that this would be this to finding -- the defining statement, not just of the reagan residency, but in a lot of ways, the cold war itself? what was your reaction in that moment? >> i can remember it. the first thing, i was very scared. i don't know if you remember this, but immediately after that event, there was another one temple haas airport. this was an event for the
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american community, substantial. we had an army for great -- brigade, big air force presence. other u.s. personnel there. i was asked to introduce the president to the american community. they told a 5-6 hours before, they wanted to televise it on german television. i introduced him auf deustch, in german. it was my finest hour. [laughter] i only mangled a few words in german. but no, to go back to reagan speech. i know it was a great applause line, and i knew it was authentic ronald reagan. but, history, as president obama says, has an arc. of course, we would never
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celebrate that famous speech if the events of 1989 had not transpired the way they did. the fact of the matter is, as i said before, being too close to an event sometimes can make you blind to the bigger reality. i don't think any american officials, maybe with the exception of ronald reagan. they really thought mr. gorbachev would tear down that wall, more precisely -- >> allow it -- >> the people of east germany would tear down that wall. but, you know, before we run out of time, i want to make one other point. while because the reagan speech -- and would focus on the wall actually coming down.
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discussions between -- officials in bondage so-called to plus four process. we focus on the american german cooperation, which made the reunification of germany possible. what we don't focus enough on in my view is a tremendous effort and sacrifice and courage, and optimism that the german people showed through the whole decade of the 90's into this century, in creating a remarkably successful unified germany. what an achievement. what an achievement. a country that is now, and public opinion polls, always the
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most respected country in the world. a country that has developed a functioning social market economy. the country, even given a lot of static that we have had over the last couple of weeks, between the german-american relationship, a country i know is wanting a strong trans-atlantic relationship. this was unthinkable in 1987. the germans have been capable of doing -- and i don't think frankly, in this country or others, they don't get enough credit. >> go ahead. when i was with feist president bush, not long before you went with president reagan, i was with a vice president of germany before the president -- >> that's exactly right!
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>> we had the rocks thrown. >> that's what i was going to say. rocks thrown at the bus. >> we had to get under our receipts. -- seats. this was the missile deployment era. >> exactly! this helmut kohl. met helmut kohl at one point -- police are holding the crowd at bay. the crowd is cheering -- jeerign and hissing. i thought to myself, wow. ronald reagan comes over -- under pressure at home. the concert in central park which is the biggest public gathering in the united states
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. no one faced pressures like -- the germans. the person had to stand up, frankly, to large segments of their own people. to insist on remaining part of the west, the temptation to neutrality was so powerful for so many years. also, the insistence, explicit insistence, given all of german history on creating a good -- i just think it's one of the most impressive average human history, really. >> all right, all done. >> what we ask one more question, then open it up to all of you. peter, it's a question, that's a little bit of a bank shot. we live now in an era of 140 characters. 24 hour news cycle. do presidential speech is still matter the way they do 30 years ago? could a future president give a speech like the one ronald reagan delivered in west berlin, and have people talk about a 30 years from now?
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or are we in a different era, in which that kind of presidential rhetoric doesn't have the same resonant? >> the short answer, we will find out. my own suspicion, the longer answer, they have to matter still. we have -- i would love to here what other people have to say about this. -- you attempt to deploy arguments. i'm not persuaded that can be done in 140 characters. i have to believe, if it comes to that -- you have friends in the white house, rick -- if it comes to that, the current chief executive david parenting speech to the joint session of congress. it would have longer if he hadn't undercut it by tweeting the next morning.
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-- gave a very good speech to the joint session of congress. he gave a pretty remarkable speech in saudi arabia 10 days ago. those have the opportunity to move policy, establish an agenda, show members of congress what he wanted to do, where he wanted to take the country, to move the arab world in a way that i just don't think -- my formulation would be, not only could he not have done in 140 characters, but i wish you would knock it off. speeches are a lot better than the tweeting. the tweeting undercuts the
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administration's own, in my judgment, quite noble efforts. so there's my answer. i think we still need speeches, but we shall see. >> with that, i would like to open it up to all of you. if you could just -- go to the back there. we will bring the mic to you. if you can stand up and state your name. >> short question about security issue at the time. i'm a little bit hesitant about security -- for president reagan during his speech at the berlin wall. would you mind recalling about the circumstances? >> you mean just the physical security? >> yes, even for today. a big issue for an american president to give a speech at a wall just behind the iron gate. >> well, i'm trying to remember,
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did he have -- will you weren't there. i'm trying to member -- he may have had a kind of lexi glass -- -- plexiglas behind the wall. >> i think that -- that's right. >> behind him, yeah. i think so. no. i don't think there were -- needless to say, again, i want to remind you that this speech took place in the american sector. i remember very well one of my first visit to berlin -- i went to berlin almost every week when i was the ambassador. i would go, one of my first visits we were -- i was actually doing a spy exchange on the clinic or bridge. i said, i asked my age, how are
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we going -- my it, how we keep the press away? they said, told the police. i said, how you do that question mark they said, mr. ambassador, you do not understand. the police work for you. [laughter] i remember saying to myself, this is great. [laughter] we had -- we really control the environment. we had the people -- it wasn't just the secret service. you had a very large american presence there. i think people were comfortable with the security arrangements. >> thank you. >> let the record show, this is my favorite journalist on the planet. >> thank you, rick. i actually was there. security would show -- not what it is today. i was sitting on the edge of the -- in the pool, at the edge of the stage. but they had was a pale blue background, but behind the president and you, it was clear plexiglass, so you could see through to the graffiti marked wall.
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incredible picture. there was nothing in front of you. on the western side. >> i think that's right. so the task peter a question. just give us a little more of the back and forth of the state department. are you saying george schultz was against this? weinberger? can you tune in, to? >> so a little bit of it -- so, the innate -- you need to bear in mind that howard baker had recently become chief of staff. he brought with him to make risk of, had -- tommy griskem, his longtime press aide. coming back from berlin -- the result of the idea of building a speech around the call to tear down the wall. we immediately, before he went on -- put a working paper, went to tom, and he said, that works. drafted it, and then -- this is
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a terrible admission. the record is what it is. the president was going to rome and the venice economic summits, so there were a lot of speeches. the whole speech writing staff worked fast to finish a whole bundle of speeches. tony dolan, chief speechwriter, waited until one friday afternoon -- friday, may 16 or 15th, until he heard the helicopter descending to the south lawn. he went over to the west wing and said to the staff secretary, also new: the president has a big wad of speeches, better get them to him to look over at camp south lawn. david trade the staff secretary said, i will do it. as the helicopter took off, the president had my draft with him. it was very rare. you can count on the fingers of one hand, the times speechwriters feared out how to get a draft to the president before went out for staffing.
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and we met him the following monday. then he said, well, there's that line in the draft about the tearing down the wall. that's what i want to say. he'd see the draft, and he singled out that passage before it went out to staffing. then went out to staffing. the national security council opposed to. roz ridgeway called, tom griscom called. tempers kim goldman -- told me afterwards he went down the hall. call down the hall, there was george schultz. he was representing his states department, tom griscom said, you don't understand. the line in this speech, this is going to get press. the president had said he particularly wants to deliver it. then can griscom told me in italy, the fighting never stopped. god bless them.
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really, i look back on it -- i was 30 years old and new this much of what he knew. this much of what foreign-policy professionals new. but dammit, i had been to berlin, i talked to berliners, i was going to defend that draft tommy griscom called me to his office, seated waiting was colin powell, number 21 security council. decorated general, used to talking to his troops in a certain way. he gave it to me. i, 30 years old, knowing no better, got right back in his face. this went on and on. finally, someone felt they had to take it back to the president, which as you know, is the last thing you want to do, have your president revisited -- a decision. but the fighting wouldn't stop.
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ken super bowl -- iverson set the president down. they talked about it. then can said -- the state department did stop couple days later, on the day they went to berlin -- try to get another alternative. this was a fundamental decision. then can told me -- that they can talk about it. he had the president read the passage, then you could just see he decided. the twinkle came into his eye. he said ken, i'm the president, aren't i? [laughter] well yes mr. president, we are clear about that. i get to the signed that line stays in? sir. well then, it stays in. [laughter] also >> having gone through many presidential speeches by ronald reagan, when i was assistant secretary, if you got something out of the speech, but learned quickly, and from a reagan liked
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it liked it, it got back in. he spent an enormous amount of time in his speeches. you have much more -- for the speech writing process than i do at that time. i was a policy -- thinking about arms control proposal and so on. i realize that reagan, probably because of being an actor, understood the power of the speech. we would get speech drafts back. we wrote a very important speech at the beginning of the second reagan and restoration, george schultz finally vanquished. cap weinberger, richard perle. this was pre-gorbachev. the message was -- we are going to start talking to the russians.
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here are the categories we are going to talk about. reagan invited the whole diplomatic corps to the east room of the white house to give that speech. schultz and i wrote that speech. schulz insists that it didn't go to the speechwriters. he wanted it to be perfect. we got a draft back all written up. he said, who got a hold of this speech? they said no, that's ronald reagan's handwriting. [laughter] >> for those -- the presidential handwriting file, it's remarkable how many speeches, especially in the first half of his president the -- >> in fairness, there was a lot of the usual back and forth,
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between the speech writing operation and the state department and national security council -- if you listen to the speech, i have always maintained that after the call to tear down the wall, it becomes boring for about five minutes. that's the state department -- [laughter] >> it's probably true. >> that is very nice. >> standing comes back. >> the ending comes back. but there was the usual -- but on that line, dish >> when you said you loved it because it was ronald reagan's, you couldn't put this man -- at the berlin wall. you couldn't put him there. they said well, state department, he just couldn't do that to him. anyway. yes there. >> am curious if you could talk a little bit about this for the immediate future of the u.s.-german relationship.
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obviously, several speakers have noticed it as particularly relevant for us to talk about this. in light of nato and -- if you could talk about where you think things are going and what the challenges will be in these coming months. >> i will do it very briefly. perhaps others can do it better than me. i think we may be overreacting a little bit. i think we have got to distinguish between fundamental issues and, boorish behavior. i think, in the case of the u.s. german relationship, there's three issues. one, this cert of security defense issue. i see some merit in the american effort -- germans in particular, to do more.
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that said, and those of you who follow these issues know that the europeans and the germans have already started -- and made commitments both ashley wales-nato summits, and warsaw-nato summits. they are spending more. so, -- but if the president wants to claim credit for that and push harder, i can understand that. in the long sweep of history, the current allocation -- of spending is probably unsustainable. the europeans will -- need to do more. i think that -- ironically, this whole debate about, maybe we can't depend as much as we did in the past, on the american guarantees, so on. ironically -- believe the europeans to doom -- need the europeans to do more and
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cooperate more closely. i do think it was my own judgments, a terrible mistake on the part of the president, not endorse article five and a full throated way. particularly, standing in front of a memorial at 911. given the fact that this is the only time article five was ever invoked in the history of the alliance. that's on the security defense issue. on the economic issue, i think the germans have the right -- they have the stronger argument here. let's recognize the amount of german investment in this country. let's look at -- they're more interviews produced, south
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carolina than there are in rough area. substantial investments, not only by car companies and the germans because they are sober economicmore prudent policies mercedes and folks , wagon, but tremendous presence in this country. there is tremendous german investment in -- and real estate, and all sorts of asset categories. to sort of lame the germans because they are sober and pursue more prudent economic policies than some of their neighbors, or from it -- that matter the united states, it's crazy. it's a logical in my view. that's not an economic argument, it's cultural. you don't, in foreign policy, tell countries to change their culture. finally, i just hope -- and the united states adheres to the paris accords. but i think, as you can tell
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from my remarks, there's so many shared interest and values between the united states, germany and europe as a whole. i think we can work through this admittedly difficult period. >> thank you. i just wanted to pick up on something that rick said about the relationship that president reagan had developed with gorbachev. it made me wonder whether the decision for the phraseology, to be as personal as it was -- was in soviet -- soviet leadership, tear down this wall, or the union, or gorbachev. was there a sense on the president's part that's making it that personal would have some kind of resonance with gorbachev, challenging a guy he had come to see as a friend, or was in not as intentional as
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that? >> in my view it was very intentional. i remember listening to reagan talk about his first meeting with gorbachev in geneva. maybe you remember this too. just taking back -- they had the meetings that they had in the morning, large groups. maybe 10-12 people on each side of the table. because the two leaders -- take some time after lunch, sit and talk alone. talk together. this is something that reagan had always fantasized about. he was very frustrated in his first administration. he wants famously said, they keep dying on me. remember, you need that drop off, corny and go. i remember that well. george h.w. bush -- he was frustrated. he wanted -- and i think maybe all presidents in one form or another -- certainly that's true for donald trump -- he really
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wanted -- what wasn't true for barack obama, he really wanted to sit down with a russian leader and try to work it out. the immensely enjoyed that one-on-one. there was something he said. he came back after the first meeting -- one-on-one. he -- as they were saying goodbye. in the cars, limousines coming by to pick them up. gorbachev said to him, according to the president, gorbachev said, god bless you. then again, according to president reagan, he saw that gorbachev was wearing a crucifix. that really struck reagan.
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reagan had -- to be fair, i would say a kind of average, and somewhat simplistic view of the soviets, the russians. the atheist -- the fact that he saw -- that here is a man who is religious the believer, really had a big impact on reagan. i think he felt from that moment on, that this is something -- somebody come as margaret thatcher famously said, but he could do business with. it's funny, prior to that, one of the first -- even before margaret thatcher, saw gorbachev, think brian mulroney, then the prime minister of canada, had a meeting with
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gorbachev, and he came back. he said i thought he was leonid brezhnev in a $1000 suit, and he could not and more wrong. somehowfunny that moroni was unable to figure it out gorbachev in the same way that ronald reagan was. >> we had a speech writers meeting with don regan. said, toys, the president wants you to lighten up on gorbachev. we said you want us to, and he
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shrugged. -- he just gorbachev said through a longtime translator, still translating.
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mike reagan and mikael gorbachev had a little speaking gig going in the 1990's. mike and i were friends, so he had me help him with questions. this was on the stage in sacramento, california. is, in 1953 the soviets move in to put down the east germans, and i 68 the move into prague in a 19 89, you didn't. why not? gorbachev said through a longtime translator, still translating. gorbachev said, michael -- you must understand, your father and i shared christian morality. gorbachev said, when i was growing up, my grandfather was a big communist in our town, but grandmother was always a
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believer. we had a communist meeting, and up would go pictures of stalin. as soon as the communist left -- they would put michael and saint injured. [laughter] he went on. he said my grandmother lifted up that lived with us as my from -- my career process -- my career progressed, and she would say, to go to church every day, then going to pray for you atheist. permission said, i'm a communist -- gorbachev said, i am a communist, but we share immorality. why was it some good for ronald reagan to extend his hand to
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gorbachev and share these talks that ended up with what you say the end of the cold war? and president trump trying to do the same, he is called a traitor . what is different? putin does claim to be religious. he has played a role in an insuring the centrality of the church in russia, which is interesting to me. he seems to have different kinds of guises. i don't think that's the problem. the problem right now with trump -- with russia, i have to say, as every day goes by, it becomes more of a domestic-political issue.
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i happen to be one of those that itho believe probably isn't possible to get somewhere with the russians right now. for a variety of strategic reasons, he wants to see if it's possible to get a deal that's consistent with his interest. in the long-term, the russians -- playing with a week and hand,g with a weak economically, demographically, i don't think -- -- and i think, for one reason or another, i don't understand trump wants to do business with putin. he suggests he thinks he could get along with putin. he never provided a thought through strategic rationale, or some kind of u.s.-russia
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rapprochement. i do think, this is more of a strategic point -- think if you want to do business with with russia, you want to strong united alliance with nato allies were not doing that right now. i think that's a mistake. but, now the whole issue of russia has become, a domestic-political football. i do think there's a hysterical element. i think the democrats, think there are some democrats who see this as an issue you can -- wound the president. i think other democrats see it as actually, convinced themselves that if the russians had not intervened and our presidential elections, that hillary might have one -- won. i don't know, but i think that domestic aspects of this issue
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are now dominating the process. unfortunately, producing room for maneuver. >> but i try a little bit of the reagan example. reagan didn't just talk to gorbachev. take two terms of the reagan administration -- you mentioned in 1987-88, when the signed the treaty. most of the treaty, way back in 1981, and the russians walked away. >> they wanted -- they walked away. in 1983 i remember, accounting of kal. >> the point is, there is this
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marble moment -- this moment where he goes in to the roosevelt room -- 81, i'm almost sure. reagan is rejecting the jimmy carter to track option on the imf negotiation. he's adopting a 00 option which is that the soviets remove their missiles, but a single missile in place. >> that will hold by the way -- consistent. it's a 1979 double track decision. >> this was not at of -- an act of defiance against nato at all. the said mr. president -- the soviets have an investment of hundreds of millions of rubles. you are asking me to tell them we are about to render that investment worthless. mr. president says, after this was named -- i don't even know how to say that to my soviet negotiating counterparts. ronald reagan says, well paul, you just took the soviets you are dealing with one tough son of a bitch. [laughter] the point is, he laid out a hard
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negotiating position, rebuild the military, started spending money on this research. >> correct. >> all of that before it became time. >> correct. >> to talk to the soviets. first you demonstrate -- we build the alliance. >> it all looks more logical in retrospect. remember, again, there was nobody to talk to in those early years. >> if i could just add one point. and it goes to mark's question. reagan didn't negotiate eastern europe. we had a vision of a europe united home free. if you look at the memorandum conversation between reagan and gorbachev -- reagan did not put eastern europe on the table. we had a vision and that was non-negotiable. how to avoid armageddon. i think eastern europe was
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something that reagan felt strongly, was not something we were going to find a compromise on. it wasn't. i mean we never ever had this happen in the first year or so. it was one thing to be shocked, surprised by the crumbling of the berlin wall. another thing to be shocked and surprised by the collapse of the soviet union, which happened in the early 90's during the bush administration. that allowed the geopolitical opportunity to create a europe whole and free, with the breakup of the soviet union, collapse of the warsaw pact, reunification of germany. then it became not just arms control, it became a new geo-political reality in europe. >> i think we have time for one
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more for a yes, sir. >> you mentioned reagan. just wondering, what the -- discussion there -- what if they -- what influence they might've had on the events that came later. >> well there are several schools of thought about that. my good friend, as you may know, ken adelman, who was then director of the arms control, has written a book about what -- there's a direct line between reykjavik and the collapse of the berlin wall command of the cold war. i don't see it that clearly. it was more complex than implead -- led to the other. reykjavik was a very important
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turning point, because it opened the opportunity for the first time, real, substantial reductions in nuclear weapon, which we achieved and 87, the treaty that i helped negotiate in the early 90's, which had a 50% reduction in the strategically intercontinental range of nuclear weapons. that process has continued, and unfortunately, not as rapidly as i would like it to have. the end of the cold war is the end of the result -- a number of different variables. ronald reagan deserves part of the credit, clearly, in terms of his leadership -- i think some of the fresher -- on the one hand, he put on the other hand, to relieve the pressure. there are a lot of people who could make a compelling argument
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-- the soviet union collapsed. and what happened oil prices in the 1980's. the russian economy was followed out by the end of the 1980's. we forget, as late as seven 870 -- mid 70's-late 20's, there was still debate about what kind of stone worked best. to which communism would work better. that debate totally disappeared in the 80's. anyone who visited moscow all , you saw were bunch of world war ii era trucks belching smoke. empty streets. slogans -- that the russians can read any longer in the street. there were a lot of reasons that
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it collapsed. one thing that was also important was the end of the so-called -- people forget that just a month or two before the berlin wall came down, gorbachev visited east berlin, and gave a famous speech. where he basically said, you are on your own. we are not going to -- we don't have the capacity or will any longer to tell you -- to really save your bacon if you get into trouble. gorbachev already begin to change the rules of the game within the eastern bloc. i think that gave a green light to a lot of people in the gdr when they had a sense that there were not going to be hordes of russian troops moving in to the cities of the gdr. in the event of a uprising.
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>> reagan may have had a simple understanding of the soviets, but you got the essential points. i'm sorry, madam, but this has been available for 20 years. 20 years to this day. will you deliver it in the morning or afternoon? [laughter] what difference could it possibly make, the plumbers coming in the morning. [laughter] of course, the end of the cold war is complicated, and to kiss describe it all without offense on the ground in east germany, john paul ii's visit to poland, so forth. reykjavik matter.
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in my judgment, at least this much -- ronald reagan had brought to bear just soviet union -- when the soviets had matched us. they had spent decade and a half developing a blue ocean navy, nuclear arsenal is roughly equivalent with ours. all right. they say no no no, we will also bring to bear in this struggle our economic and technical time -- -- dynamism. with a reconnect missiles out of the sky and provide a perfect -- who knows. but if we start doing research, we bring to bear our economic and technical dynamism. you can't match us. gorbachev went to reykjavik command jumped him. remember, reykjavik was supposed to be a pre-summit summit. shove went there with a trap and said, mr. president, look at all
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that you can have prayed and went to bed that night feeling pretty well. the next morning, gorbachev said, there's one detail. find fbi to laboratory testing, reagan said no. that strikes me as decisive. gorbachev goes back to moscow and the game is over. it's correct that they can't -- equal our technical or economic dynamism. they just, can't, play that game. to putad been able reagan back in the box, maybe they could have continued. who knows. but in reykjavik, a certain kind of relationship ends. certain kind of possibility for soviet union in. it's over. we disagree on that. >> we will leave it there. come back in 30 years. >> that's not bad! >> 40 minutes and only one disagreement. please join me in thanking these two gentlemen. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.
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visit] >> interested in american history tv? visit our website, watch college lectures, museum tours, archival films, and more. atrican history tv >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> on july 6, joined american history tv for a live program from the museum of the american revolution. will be joined by museum staff
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to learn about their artifacts and exhibits and will take your rest and sent comments. here's a preview. >> my name is michael quinn. thethe president and ceo of museum of the american revolution and i'm standing on the laws of the museum at the corner of third and chestnut streets in all city philadelphia. philadelphia was the headquarters of the revolution. as this is where the delegates came when the pressure first mounted. this is where the declaration of independence was written come just 200 yards away at independence hall. it really is the most central element of the american revolution, the first of a nation, which is loving these images located here. just down the street is the first bank of the united states, that of alexander hamilton's branch bank when he lost our nation's banking system and the first building constructed by the united states of america.
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so we truly are where the nation began, and it's the right place to tell the entire story of the american revolution, which is our mission in this museum. i behind me you see can is from from the era. as part of the city of philadelphia's collection. everyone these canons is old enough that it could been used to fight the revolution. on the wall behind me you see carved in stone those core concepts that rove -- that arose, the aspiring, lofty ideas of freedom, liberty, self-government, which is the whole purpose of the american revolution. in 1776, but the revolution continues to this very day. let's go in. we are entering the entrance rotunda of the museum. , classical,nderful
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welcoming space. -- the architect was selected because he so thoroughly understands classical architecture. not that we wanted him to copy some building from antiquity, but we wanted the same sense of scale, proportion, and stature that he delivered beautifully. this rotunda is named in his honor. let's go upstairs. is design of the stairs curved,nal to evoke soaring stairways of some of the more elegant residential homes of the colonial and early riod.lic pe they want to welcome my visitors to come upstairs to the second-floor atrium where the core of our exhibits or. in the atrium, you see some magnificent paintings. these are paintings that are historic and they capture the spirit of the american revolution. the one you are looking at now
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is by fitzgerald, a pennsylvania artist, and he painted this in the early 20th century. this is his depiction of washington's army marching into valley forge for what was to be , afterterrible winter the british captured philadelphia. behind me is a magnificent painting, but it is a copy. frenchman,l, by a hangs in #. -- hangs in versailles. is the siege of yorktown. since a french artist painted as for the king, the most prominent general, the the one in the pink sash. our general, george washington, is behind him into the left. in many ways it captures the critically important role the
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french play not only at georgetown but throughout the american revolution. one other feature that attracted us to this painting is that it tent.a napoleonic, not the kind george washington would abuse, but we love the fact that it did show how armies travel, living in tents. >> thursday, at 7:00 p.m. eastern time, on american history tv, the museum of the american revolution. >> next on the presidency, the massachusetts historical society in boston host a discussion about john quincy adams new
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evolving views on slavery, of adams -- from adams on ratings. -- from his own writings. this is about one hour. >> a remarkable central historical figure. based on the 69 your diary that john quincy adams kept -- tonight's speakers are here to talk about their book, "john quincy adams and slavery, the selections from the diary." this book was recently hailed as a great read, and -- and informative reality check on issues that exist even now. ma


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