tv John Quincy Adams and Slavery CSPAN July 1, 2017 12:25pm-1:41pm EDT
to college or professional level and everything in between or most things in between. >> watch after words sunday night on c-span2's book tv. next, on the presidency, the massachusetts historical society in boston host a discussion about john quincy adams 's and views on slavery with readings from his own writings. matthew mason talks about the book, "john quincy adams and the politics of slavery." selections from the diary. this is about an hour. >> a remarkable historical study ofd an academic the late 18th century.
that on the 69 year diary john quincy adams kept. matthew mason is here to talk about his book, john quincy adams and the politics of slavery did --. this book was recently hailed by the washington times is a great read and an informative reality check on issues that affect us even now. matthew mason is an associate professor of history at brigham young university. he holds a phd in history from the university of maryland and has been at the you why you since 2003. -- has been a brigham young since 2003. ,e has many publications including a political biography of edward everett. he has co-edited several
volumes. david walstreisser is a distinguished professor. he is hey -- a historian of early 19th-century america and his interest span political history, slavery, and anti-slavery. his books include, "slavery's " runawayion." america". has also edited a number of volumes and is the recipient of a number of distinguished awards. tom what -- i'm honored introduce them here tonight.
thank you. [applause] thank you sarah. think you all for being here. we are excited to speak about john quincy adams here at the mhs, a lot of research i remember fondly right in this room over the years are at it is fun to be here and talk about john quincy adams. this volume we put together is very heavy on selections from the diary as the subtitle suggests. our presentation will be heavy on selections from that diary. we have explanatory footnotes to set the context for those entries. my remarks tonight will serve that function. i will introduce where we are headed and david will read extended selections from the diary and comment on those. and i will be back. it will be a tag team tonight.
that was david's idea. that will be fun. we are about to find out. [laughter] john quincy adams was best known to americans today is an anti-slavery hero. he is probably known to some degree as president as well. one of the reasons we set out to study john quincy adams is that we are both interested in the way people think about and practice slavery and in the context of american politics. that is a very complicated .cenario for people , john interested in this quincy adams gives us a large sample of that. we are both attracted to biography to explore how people it is true that john quincy adams was anti-slavery in his
principles, but it could never be that simple, for him or anyone else. david potter a great american , historian, 41 years ago, in a very important book laid , out the idea that most people, pretty much everyone interacted with slavery and context of -- in context of other priorities and commitments that they had in their lives. slavery could never be presented pure and simple as an issue. they acted and responded to slavery in different ways across a long amount of time, based on the way they interact with those present principles and priorities. sometimes it advanced anti-slavery action on the part of northerners, sometimes limited anti-slavery practice and expression in public on the part of anti-slavery northerners. in the case of john quincy adams , yes, he is at a slavery, but he also carries some core commitments that, gated his
relationship with slave -- that complicated his relationship with slavery, they over at each other -- they overlap with each other. i want to lay out a few of these competing priorities by framing what we will be looking at tonight. thing one, alongside antislavery is his commitment to advancing his personal political career. for john quincy adams, that was never simply personal political ambition, given that he wasn't -- was an adams, and grew up as the son of the second president distinguished , a statesman, who made no effort to be subtle about the political pressures he put on his son. abigail did the same, but john is especially quotable. one particular fun letter read to the young john quincy adams "you come into life with advantages which will disgrace you if yo your success is mediocre.
and if you do not rise to the head of your country, it will be laziness, slum in this, and abstinence he." -- slovenliness, and abstinence -- ancy." [laughter] was for someone like john quincy adams -- presidency or not. that had to play a role in everything he contemplated until he a came president. overlapping with his personal prospects political principles , that had to do on their face with slavery. he was especially -- in the postwar between 12 years, deeply committed to an ethics of a wouldhistory and at any call the ethic of improvement, with a capital i, and are meant in terms of these -- united states infrastructure, quarrels. a moral reform, building railroads, universities -- the whole ethic of improvement was
simply sewn john quincy adams's priority. it embodied in the national republican party and in the wake party, for which he acted for his later political career after the war of 1812. he had to remain committed to those principles as a way of advancing his own career. also as a way of american life. sometimes those helped him express anti-slavery principles, sometimes they suppressed public and i slavery expressions he -- antislavery expressions he might have wanted to better. towas also deeply committed the union, to preserving the united states is a federated union of different states, very diverse, north versus south was one, a stress that runs throughout the union, also east versus west. this is also overlapping with his commitment to things like building railroads. he was one of the leading proponents of the idea that if we tied to the union together by means of railroads and canals,
as well as moral reform, that would only strengthen the union and seems to be a pressing priority that as we are going to explore, did not usually encourage an expression of an open anti-slavery position given how deeply divisive that was to american politics. and then, for a high percentage of his career, as we will examine over the next few minutes, he was involved with presence, states' prospects and profile out of the , larger world, and as secretary -- as a diplomat and as secretary of state. for him, american sovereignty always seemed under threat, especially from the british, and always needed to be protected. that's another core principle that, as we're going to see, really commented on the way he interacted with slavery. with those they priorities -- personal political prospects, that of his party, the union,
the united states on the larger world stage, that should -- i hope that the context for the -- set the context for the selection from the diaries that we are going to explore in the next few minutes. in his early political career, what struck us as we read through his diaries and his actions in the senate, early in his career, was his studied silence on the issue of slavery. -- for instance, when the united states constitution was being proposed, debated, and ratified, the slavery clauses in that constitution were extraordinarily controversial here in massachusetts in particular. he understood that. but one thing that strikes you -- struck us -- from his diary that in hisughout reactions to the constitutions was that he did not say anything
about the slave cause, the 3/5 clause, any clauses involving slavery. didn't seem to be on his radar, as registered in his diary. and he was serving in the senate when we get to our first entry. in 1807, the united states senate was debating a bill to ban the slave trade to the united states, the importation of new slaves from outside the united states. united states to the middle passage, and other words. thes in that context that slave trade bill comes up and comes to his attention. i will give david chance to read from the diary. -- the chance to read from the diary. dr. waldstreicher: this is a short expert -- excerpt. i will be projecting some longer ones, but it is a representative of one in the sense, but in the diary, certainly by this time,
john quincy adams is using this diary as both a record of this is what happens today, this is what i want to remember about what happened today, but also .eflecting on it quite directly so you do get a window into his thoughts. he's quite intentional about that. these are things that i want to write down, but i might not be saying to everything i'm --eracting with, even everyone i am interacting with people whose conversations i'm , recording. discussed asll was a committee as a whole, and mr. kentucky, ther of made an ardent speech on one of these sections. he's quite a young man -- in order -- and a republican.
" we would likely think mr. clay would be avoiding the issue of slavery even perhaps in the , 1790's. but it is actually john quincy adams. he does give us more on why that is, but it is quite representative. at this time in 1807, he doesn't think, in part it's the highest , priority. it is also because in the senate, the issue of the 3/5 hasse has lori come up -- already come up in the massachusetts legislator and they asked him to present that criticized slave power, they were beginning to call it, domination of that institution and of congress more generally. he had spoken about this and also written a speech that he probably did not deliver, but it is there in the earlier collected writings that were published early in the century. andoes not reflect on those
that writing in the diary come but the context for his avoiding the subject -- diary, but the avoiding theis subject as he does not want to be typecast as a new england federalists who is starting to a -- of object to marginalization and national politics due to the dominance of the jeffersonians. this is actually come at the -- actually at the moment when he is starting to identify with , and he istration going to be a lawn among the massachusetts federalists to support that embargo. he is going to switch parties, though he might not have put it that way because he didn't like parties. at that time or later. and so it is really incumbent upon him to take note on debates in that subject because he thinks there are more important things going on. this is going to cost him his senate seat. it was a principled stand, but just not the one we might expect ones the once he took --
he took later on. dr. mason: ok i'm on. , he leaves the senate, then he has a pretty sweet golden parachute. he serves in some pretty important diplomatic positions in the years that follow his senatorial term. he is the first minister to russia, and then he helped negotiate the end of the war of 1812. that was with the british. as part of a delegation that included mr. clay, among others then he served as minister to , great britain. and then as secretary of state for two terms. shifting our focus to john quincy adams and slavery out in the larger world. and always with respect to the british, as they are constantly hanging over his every thought in relation to slavery out in that larger world. and of course, there was american sovereignty and the threat that he felt the british posed to american sovereignty.
in november 1812, he was serving theussia and following developments that led to the war of 1812. from that rather remote position. context, john quincy adams offered a statement of priority that we feel like encapsulated his ordering of priority at this time in his career, and would guide his future path in various negotiations with the british surrounding slavery. at this time, even in the early moment, the british had also abolish the slave trade in 1807, led by people like william wilberforce and thomas clarkson. and the british government committed itself to getting every power they possibly could to cooperate with them. in helping to abolish the slave trade. agotiations usually went little something like this. the british minister would approach the minister or
ambassador from that foreign country and say you know what would be cool -- if you joined with us to help abolish the slave trade. what would be even cooler is if we took the following form. you at the royal navy get on a ship flying your flag to search for slaves, wouldn't that be awesome? [laughter] dr. mason: and so they are talking to the portuguese, spanish, anyone who will listen, including the united states of america. and alsothat context leading up to the war of 1812 that we get our next diary entry. whether it will be eventually abolished is in fact yet a problem. the slave trade is beyond question and abomination, disgraceful to the human character, but there are so many powerful passions and interests interests concurring to support -- interests concurring to
support it. i say the motives of the abolitionists are in a great degree fashion and faction -- for the impressment of seamen is to all intents and purposes a practice as unjust, immoral, base, oppressive, and tyrannical as the slave trade. it is in all its most heinous features identically the same crime, in some particulars it is more aggravated. so not only was he toeing the being ane here, he was effective and good diplomat. he has these jobs, he has been ,etting the jobs as a diplomat negotiating treaties, and eventually secretary of state, and becomes really busy with new nations leading diplomats, and he is really good at answering the british. when he's doing this, this isn't an aberration. he is effective. he comes up with the right arguments. he knows the president, he he studiededents,
the protocols, the history. and the british taken seriously. their hello is been a bit of a disconnect between his ,eputation as diplomat secretary of state, he is at the foundation, in many ways the foundations of american latern-policy, and is seen in his seemingly failed presidency and later his congressional career. one of the things you find looking all the way through the -- this is seen the connections between those three parts of his career. what we're seeing here and is fighting back against the british saying the precedent is terrible, he thinks he is still fighting the american revolution, for national independence and sovereignty, and doing so in a way that it does not matter what section he comes from. one of my favorite diary entries from this period is when he
meets george canning for the first time in london and starts getting questions about sectional differences. said howtraged and dare he suggests i am not on the same page as a virginian? by the time he is saying this to canning, he is expecting them to use slavery to divide and conquer the americans, and he is not going to go there. the one thing i should have said, this in context, one of the leading causes of the war of 1812 was the british habit of -- and policy of boarding american ships to search for her sailors operating as -- four british sailors operating as american sailors. americans saw those as immigrants. they said no, those are americans.
you come here, you become an american in the 19th century. [laughter] dr. mason: the british said, no, you have a perpetual loyalty to britain. if you were born in britain, you will always be in britain. we have every right, especially in the context of new napoleonic wars to impress you and our service. that's what he's referring to in terms of that. that led to the war of 1812, but that very issue in many ways encapsulated his fears for american sovereignty. david was talking about -- and helped set the context for his reaction to british proposals. then he comes back to the united that long period of service in britain, and become s secretary of state under the monrovia administrations. e administrations. while there, he was confronted with two domestic manifestations of the politics of slavery that constantly seems to be grabbing his attention whether he liked it or not. the first one began in 1860 with
the american colonization society, people from both the projectd south whose was to send free african-americans to liberia in western africa. they would get a lot of government support for this, they would have a lot of momentum. they thought to shift african-americans as a way to solve the problems they worry -- problems of slavery, but also the problem of free lack people. that is the way to people talked about both of those things. that was the way of solving those twin problems. he is constantly being cajoled to respond, and is reluctant to do so for reasons that we will let him lay out in his entries to follow. the explosion of the missouri crisis that lasted until 1821 -- missouri applies to become a state, and james townsend from new york says that
is great, as long as we abolish slavery there. that kicks off a two-year conflict over slavery's future in the territories. this is a territory that wants to become a state that is carved out of the louisiana purchase. they seem to have states involving that entire purchase, and the future of slavery in the united states. it is a brutal, two-year conflict that rages not only in congress, but in the newspapers, public meetings, and for my first book i researched it. when you find somebody saying i'm going to stand and speak on with logical brevity and goes for three hours? [laughter] dr. mason: you are in the middle of a donnybrook. he does so within the framework of all of these other competing priorities. it is really an extended period in his diary that he reflects on the missouri crisis as well as colonization.
dr. waldstreicher: "i said that the colonization society were pushing their object with so much zeal and in unity that i very much wish their memorial -- interest unity -- impunity that i very must -- much wish their memorial might be taken up by congress under the color of colonizing black people, i was afraid that they would smuggle upon us a system of establishing colonies beyond sea. of the consequences of which the people of this country were a little aware, while in england mask ofe abolishing the slave trade, they were introducing hand had already obtained the consent of spain, portugal, and the netherlands to a new printable of the law of nations more formidable to human liberty that the slave trade itself -- a right of the commanders of armed vessels of one nation to visit
and search the merchant vessels of another in time of his. i apprehend the society, which, like many fanatical associations, is intolerable. i would be obliged to stand and speak publicly among their opponents. this is so far as insincere and the projectr with and going to the north pole and traveling within the nutshell of uris. earth.he there is a meme on the internet john quincyhat adams supported the project to to get to the north pole by traveling through the center of the earth. [laughter] dr. waldstreicher: he recorded this conversation, he listened to them and didn't disapprove -- people had taken that out of context. i love the passage. you have him thinking out loud. one of the things so fascinating
about him as a political actor throughout his career is that he sees how issues are connected. resistes, he cannot talking about them, even though it is politically problematic. nobody wants to hear it. somethingually sees that contemporary scholars of the american colonization society are talking about now as well, yes this was reform, was an anti-slavery or not? but mad maybe we need to see -- maybe we need to see this as colonization. that is what they called it. he said wait a minute, i have been going around saying that britain and the colonizing power that wants to enslave us, and throwing its weight around all over the world, and he is going to -- in two years, he is going to use the monro doctrine -- monroe doctrine and talking differentica as a
not a colonizing power, but , rather an exemplar of self-determination and liberty. this would have a real costs if we become, i stretch we will get ourselves involved in the same same kind of traditions that the british empire are doing and continuing to do, they say, in the name of liberty. is quite -- this passage is a good example of these connections right on the eve of the missouri crisis, where he ok, whaty hard to say is constitutional and what is not? let's not copied this by an ideological question about whether slavery is a good or a bad thing? . thing. or bad so i will read several passages from this extended debate. often you see them in your textbooks and biographies. this is the beginning of the july 15, 1819. missouri crisis. he is secretary of state, going to some of the debates in
congress reading about the , transcripts in the newspapers. to introduce the restriction produced a violent agitation among the members from the slaveholding states, and it has been communicated to the states themselves, and to the territory of missouri. the slave drivers, as usual, when ever the topic is brought up, bluster and bully, talk of the white slaves of the eastern states, and the dissolution of the union, and the oceans of lead. the northern men, as usual, pocket all of this hectoring, sit down and quiet, and submit to the slave skirting republicanism of the planters. crawford is trying to cut his are all looking ahead to 1824. he will see how far this affair will alternately go and relies on the support of the slave drivers and is determined to show them that he is on their side even though actually he's a , member of the american
colonization society so he is playing both sides of this -- and gave his toast at this july 4 celebration to exhibit themselves as their champion. "on this particular question, i did not approve of the attempted missouri,g slavery in as i believe it not compatible, either with the constitution of the united states or the louisiana treaty." adams supported the louisiana treaty where some of the new , englanders have said, this is going to increase the representation of southern states. he had supported it, and he defended the impossible supportions force the -- for the support when he was in the senate. he knows the louisiana treaty like the back of his hand. he takes a surprisingly strict states rights stand on this. restriction is not compatible with the constitution. that is what the planters are saying. even though he is not comfortable with all of the things that they are saying along with that to justify
slavery, this oceans of blood and bullying. ok, so we skip ahead six months. it is a bit different. "the missouri question has taken such a hold of my feelings and imagination. there views of this subject that have not yet been taken by any of the speakers or writers by whom it has been discussed." that's a lot of speakers and writers by this time. has not yet arrived to present it to the public, but in all probability it will be necessary to present it hereafter. i take it for granted that the president's question is a mere preamble title page to a great , a tragic volume. i hitherto reserved my opinions upon it as it has been obviously proper for me to do. the time may and i think will come where it will be equally my duty to clear and to give my opinion. and it is now proper for me to prepare myself for that emergency. the president thinks this will be winked away by a compromise,
but so do not i. mistaken if it is not destined to survive his political individual life and mine." it is becoming a larger issue, bigger than the question of restriction in missouri. a month later, we attended a party of mr. calhoun's, chauncey calhoun. the secretary of war. "we have heard of nothing but the missouri question in these the representative from new york and anti-slavery tribune. ." -- "the slave holder cannot hear of them, they call this seditious and inflammatory when their greatest defect is their timidity. ever since human sentiments and conduct were
influenced by human speech was there a theme for eloquence like the free side of this question now before the congress of this union. by what fatality does it happen mostall of the eloquent orators of the body are on its latter side? could lay bare in all of nakedness that outrage on the goodness of god, human slavery. now is the time, and this is the occasion upon which such a man would perform the duties of an angel upon earth. " --e days later >> this is a question between the rights of human nature and the constitution of the united states. probably both will suffer on the issue." meanwhile, he is saying nothing publicly, and his wife louisa is attending the debate. and she records in her diary that people are looking at her to try to read which way the adams wind is blowing. march 3.
"the impression produced upon my mind by the proverb of this discussion is the bard and between freedom and slavery contained within the constitution of the united states is morally and politically vicious. inconsistent with the principles upon which alone our revolution can be justified, cruel and oppressive by riveting the chains of slavery, by pledging the face of freedom to maintain and perpetuate the tear any of commit grossly unequal politics, by admitting that slaves are enemies to be kept in subjection property to , be secured or restored to their owners, and persons not to be represented themselves, but for whom their masters or privileged with nearly a double share of representation. the consequence has been that the slave representation has governed the union. it would be no difficult matter to prove by reviewing the history of the union under this constitution that everything that has contributed to the honor and welfare of the nation has been accomplished in spite andhem or forced upon them, everything on proficient sent
dishonorable, including the blunder and folly of their may be traced. i have favored this missouri compromise, leaving it to be all that could be affected under the present constitution, an" constitution," from the cabinet meeting. but perhaps it would have been a wiser as well as abled or torse to have persisted revise and amend the constitution. this would have produced a new union of 13 or 14 states unpolluted with slavery, with a great and glorious object to that of rallying to their standard of the other states by the universal emancipation of their slaves. if the union must be dissolved, is precisely the
it must beon which broken. for the present, however, this contest is laid asleep." the second one happens when missouri came back with its constitution, and it had a part of it that said that african-americans would not be -- free african-americans would not be allowed to go to missouri , and made it pretty clear that they would not be citizens. john quincy adams takes what seems, in retrospect sometimes, to be an inconsistent position. he thinks this goes against the constitution. this missouri compromise is now unconstitutional. it would be no difficult matter approved approved by reviewing this -- i'm sorry, wrong -- ok. wrong quote. " this article was in itself a dissolution of the union. if acquiesced in, it would change the terms of the federal context, by robbing thousands of federal citizens of their
rights." then he goes on to say how outrageous this is that they are discriminated against enough. "if the dissolution of the union must let it come from no other ,, cause than this. slavery be the death and sword in hand of the destroying angel which severs the ties of this union. the same sward -- sword will cut the bonds of slavery itself. a dissolution of the union for the cause of slavery would be followed by a servile war in the slaveholding states combined with a war between the two separate portions of the union. it seems to me that it's result must be the extirpation of slavery from the whole continent , and calamitous and escalating as the course events must be, so glorious would it be that if god shall judge me i dare not say desired."is not to be here is john quincy adams predicting the civil war 40 years beforehand on a matter of constitutionality. this is often quoted to show how anti-slavery beliefs work. but it's quite contingent on the
way the missouri crisis went. on this break, in the constitutionality, this overreaching of the missourians felt itplanters that he just wasn't something that might happen, maybe could be prevented, but he could foresee not even a glorious war, but maybe more important, historically that it would take , a war, and dissolution of the union by one side or the other. that this is what would lead to the end of slavery. his ability to see that under the war powers, this is something that happened during the war -- slaves get liberated there are slave revolts and constitutions get rewritten, he really does foresee what lincoln would call the course of events. but wait, there's more.
[laughter] dr. waldstreicher: so even in the midst of all this, this really eloquent version of john quincy adams -- in the diary -- wrestling with human rights versus the u.s. constitution and the union, as if that's not enough to juggle, he's also secretary of state. having to have a conversation about every week. it is like every time he sees a british minister to washington, stratford canning, he has to have this conversation. hey, wouldn't it be cool if the united states signed a treaty to allow us to board their ships and search for slaves? that same of conversation they -- same old conversation they have been having since he's 1807, having the entire time he's in london and is secretary of state in washington. finally it reaches a boiling point that i think is one of the more revealing, rather
disturbing entries in the diary. one of the wonderful things about the diary is that it gives us his private ruminations, like we just saw with the missouri it also gives us his record of conversations as he rumors those conversations with people like canning -- remember those conversations with people like canning. the worst thing for historians is when people are apart, they stop writing letters to each other. here in his diary, we get content of conversation. in that latest conversation -- canning re-raises this same old issue and john quincy adams gives him a revealing explosion. dr. waldstreicher: " he said the main purpose for which they wish to obtain her principles -- but it might be urged as an example to france. i said that he'd rather adhere
to our principles rather than give them up. he asked if i could conceive of a greater or more capricious -- atrocious evil than this slave trade. i said yes. admitting the right of search by foreign officers of our vessels upon the time of peace, that would be making slaves of ourselves. ourselves." 10 years later, he ramped up the rhetoric. "we went over this ground again as we health and have before, competing over the same arguments as before. he particularly repeated that many persons in this country were in favor of conceding this right of search, and alleged that the two successive reports of committees of the house of representatives in its favor. i merely said that there were other views upon which those reports could be accounted for." do not mess in our politics, thank you. "i finally desired him to leave me me -- with me as
parliamentary printed paper, which i wish to take to the president, to whom i promised him to make a full report of the conference." so this is still about the war paymentsand getting for the slaves that the british had supposedly carried away during the war. and canning says bantering ly, if he were to emancipate every slave he could find, i would never make peace with you. but who are you talk but emancipating slaves? he said they had none. and what i of your west india islands? what would you say we were to land in to make a. but we do not need to land in jamaica. [laughter] not if you can help it. so the caribbean, this is the monroe doctrine.
get your hands off of cuba. this all continues to be part of the story. sen. mccaskill: dr. waldstreicher: -- dr. mason: and also in the mix, as david mentioned earlier, there is the looming presidential election of 1824. in which the consensus president would sail off into the sunset and the entire cabinet was running for president for eight years. they were marginalizing their forces and having conversation of lighting people up for support for president. in may oftext, 1824, he had another conversation that revealed a pretty direct statement of his priorities should he become president. they are not an anti-slavery direction. "mr. plumeeicher:
wasas here." -- plumer here," a senator from new hampshire. from theed me a letter general of tennessee to him, not signed, inquiring concerning conversations at the boarding house in which they both lodged in 1821 -- answering my opinions the year before upon the restriction of slavery in missouri. he intimates that he had understood him to have set i was in favor of the restriction. the object was to get an electioneering weapon against me for the southern country. he asked me of what my opinions had been. i told him that the only conversation i recollected to have had with him on the first missouri question, that of the the 23rd of was on february, 1820, and i read to at an account of it given
the time in my diary of that date. he said he to go we recollected it is tension i had drawn between a restriction upon illinois and one upon missouri, and wished me to give him a copy from the extract of my diary, which i promised." dr. mason: this is a fascinating example of adams finessing his record on the rosary restriction -- missouri restriction, because earlier excerpts go, he went back and forth a\s to whether he was -- as to whether he was appreciating a restrictive slavery in missouri. this i think keeping with what he said in another conversation where he told the person he was
in conversation with, if i were to be president i should be not of the section, affection, but of the holy union. he's not posing as an anti-slavery resident. as we did the work on the diary. -- i think that led into one of the bigger surprises we had as we did the work on the diary. the chapter that we devote to his time as president is one of our shortest. in the entire time he had almost , nothing to say about the issue of slavery while he was president because he wanted to say almost nothing as president, but he wanted to be president of the whole union. the best case scenario avoid the , topic altogether. then he goes down in flames into his reelection campaign, loses to his rival andrew jackson, and that put him in a position of contemplating what was next for him. there was this transition in which she does not that she -- he does not immediately become an eloquent speaker of the house
of representatives. he doesn't even immediately go into the house of repetitive. -- representatives. he is left in this position to wonder, like every other ex-president, what do i do next? he's not young and he still feels a lot of energy, and he wants to contemplate how he will leave his mark on priorities in american history hereafter, and that was not a straightforward process, as some of these entries would show us. adams,dstreicher: "for the loss in 1828 was not just his personal loss, it was also the loss of the national republican coalition, his alliance with for the virginia gentleman -- with the virginia gentleman and what he thought was farseeing republican statesman. it was in the family tradition to work with. we are often struck by adams versus jefferson in the election of 1800, and we are struck by their differences. we forget in the 1770's, john
adams did not bring the issue of slavery up in the constitutional convention. he did not know that -- nor in any of his constitutional arguments in the continental congress, and john adams is pretty good at working with southerners. that was the tradition that -- you could call it diplomacy, statesmanship, nationalism, it was all those things to them, that's the tradition that he's working in. to be defeated by jackson, to have his alliance with henry clay called corrupt, then overthrown left him with some questions about what he was going to do next and where the republic was going. he addressed these in a couple of writing projects that did not quite -- they never saw the light of day. one was a pamphlet war and book length reply to the
massachusetts federalists that revisited what he felt was a disloyal root between 1805-1807. this between the war of 1812, and some of that was in massachusetts newspapers. book thatd it into a he did not publish, but he kept working on in 1829, and henry adams eventually published it in 1877, i think it was. he also started a biography of john adams that he did not finish, and he wrote about 60 pages of something he called states." n the united it's only been published once in a small addition in the 1940's. it's fascinating. you see him trying to figure out what went wrong. he lays out all the things, the important characteristics of american national politics and why parties developed the way they did. of those six factors, five are connected to slavery. you can see him grappling with this way in which the politics
has developed. we have a few diary entries in which he -- you see him starting to talk about what has happened. "i received several visitors. all of her walcott among the -- ," the walcott among them former governor of connecticut. he holds the south carolina turbulence rather too much in contempt. domineering spirit naturally from the institution of slavery, and when, as in south carolina, the slaves are more numerous than their masters, the domineering spirit is wrought up to its highest pitch of intensive miss. the south carolina and are tending to govern the union as they governor their slaves, and all of their -- and there are too many indications that, abetted as they are by all of the slave driving interest of the union, the free portion of
the population will power before the men's trouble to their insolence." of course, andrew jackson gets them back down, so we are usually struck by a lack of a united front, but that's not the way it looks in 1830. five days later "the presidential bead no exercised with great reserve three, not more than six of congress have been arrested by six presidents in four years. -- and in 40 years. he has redacted for in three days. the overseer ascendancy is complete." jackson has the slave power -- not just south carolina. and now, eight days later in the month june 25 actually, 1830. , i cherish the principle of internal improvements among -- under convictions that it was the only path to increasing comforts and well-being. to honor the glory and fight for the general improvement of the condition of mankind. small bowls. "the slave holders of the south have since discovered that it
will operate against their interest. cal hugh has turned his back upon it and jackson, who to promote his election and obtain western votes, chuckles to it for a time. he has now taken his decided stand against it. my devotion to it has sharpened all the fangs of envy and malice against it, and most boots -- most -- multitudes oppose it only because its success would interview to my reputation. the cause will no doubt survive me, and, if the union is continue, will no doubt ultimately triumph. at present it is desperate." dr. mason: i will say my final bridging remarks and let david decide which entries to emphasize because we want to wait time for a question and answer. we are headed towards the best known part of adams's career, fighting the gag rule, this idea that in the house of representatives, no antislavery positions will be received. -- petitions will be
received. they won't even talk about them. they will immediately reject them not even send them to , committee. adams was outraged by that on multiple fronts, including the affront to the right of petition. and he did become an eloquent, old man eloquent, in fact, fighting against the gag rule and the admission of texas as a slave state. that is all true. the one thing that is fascinating to us about this part of his career is the ongoing tensions with abolitionists. he never identified himself as an abolitionist. they identified themselves as pure and simple antislavery people. cast aside your other objections, loyalties, priorities, and throw yourself into the immediate abolition of slavery. he could never bring himself to that position. even until -- the last entry in our collection is him expressing ongoing tension, given all these
other things he's wrestling with , even as a member of the house of representatives, and an inability to thoroughly identify himself as an evolutionist in -- abolitionist in many ways. this iconic anti-slavery period and in his career encapsulates this ongoing story of competing priorities and loyalties. dr. waldstreicher: ok, i'm just going to give a taste, skipping ahead of this wonderful 1831-1832 period, where he gets elected to congress, and is really starting to think bigger and bigger about slavery, thinking about it as one of the great issues of the time. connecting it to democracy. he's thinking about what's going on in england, and how maybe the conflict in england seems to be about democracy and not about
the slavery issue, but actually they are connected. this is what he says to an his theme of democracy in america, and he says to a congressman -- congressman hoffman, that in december, 1832, the real issue convulsing the union is whether the nation can be half slave and half free. to go a step further back, the question in issue was slavery. uphe gradually ends presenting abolitionist petitions columbia. -- about the district of columbia. must," and then, even later on, two years later after he has thrown down the gauntlet, and become identified with the cause, he writes, "upon this
subject of antislavery, my principles in my position make it more necessary for me to be more circumspect in my conduct and belong to my nature. i have therefore already committed indiscretions of which all political parties avail themselves to prescribe me in the public opinion. the most infinite good era of conduct of me at this time would be my irredeemable ruin in this world." he is 70 years old. "both the ruling political parties are watching me with for some overt act to set their precedents upon me. it's also to be considered the most dangerous of subjects, the slavery question. exposure for which i have passed -- it boost me well to consider
before it myself and the way of the fiery furnace again." the politician. "on the other hand may god , preserve me from the spirit shrinking from danger, and in the discharge of my duty. between these two errors, but -- let me be removed and put my trust in god." so it does not get simple even , when he is the old man eloquent, the anti-slavery tribune, there are still complicated politics. much of the capital spending in the antislavery clause -- he be very careful, if only to conserve it. so rather -- in some ways this a great transformation that happens when he is in congress but one of the reasons why we , spent such time figuring out how he gets to that point is because we feel it more -- a more realistic and true appreciation of his political skill and career, and dedication to the union. for better or worse -- it requires us to see that consistency and political calculation.
there's no way of getting around that it was those skills as well as his belief in natural rights as well as just anti-slavery fervor that made such a crucial difference. he wasn't just another anti-slavery activist. he was the son of the founding -- fatherho went who went and i slavery. that is what made such a crucial difference. thank you. [applause] >> i would ask that people use the microphone. there we are. >> i just wondered, what did adams think would happen to
his diary? dr. waldstreicher: i, i think that he knew it would be kept and read. by the time he is secretary of state, he is already using it as a kind of semi-public record, especially basically taking down cabinet minutes records of , conversations. he knows that he is an important person. so it was quite deliberately saved. one of the nice things about being able to see it in the bound volume is that you see the care, not just the care of his handwriting which may be , difficult for us to read but is contemporary standards it carefully preserved and need. he's not scribbling, crossing out, he's spending hours -- i he drafted, then there are
already three rights. talked about sometimes being in the rear on his diary he had , to catch up on his notes for couple of weeks. this is a literary work in many ways. he is writing it for posterity to be read, certainly by the time we get to this point. >> is there anything in the record to reflect the extent to which his change of position might have changed his attitude when he was president, secretary of state, ambassador? he represented the whole union. where as when he was post-president and a representative of massachusetts, he is free from inhibitions that might have resulted from representing the slave-holding states and he can speak his piece. did he ever addressed that? -- address that? a greatn: that is question, because there is a certain freedom that comes, but i like the way david put it. in that scenario, it was never simple for him. one of the things that struck us
waiting through the diary -- through theading diary is how long it took him, even once he represented massachusetts, to embrace that as his cause. if he had his way, he would probably be talking about tariffs all the time and railroads at a national university. he made sure he got onto those committees that dealt with that kind of thing, and so there is a degree to which it is freeing to be a rep. dent: of a massachusetts as opposed to the whole union, that it could never -- representative of massachusetts as opposed to the -- was not, that it just in national terms come but he was thinking in cosmic terms is about his mission in life and legacy, and so forth. in some degree that is true, but there are always other things embracing, other
than the anti-flicker position, that are fraught with all kinds of internal tension, as revealed in this way. then, i would say this is worse tension as president, but never simply after that point. different --as a he was aware it was a different job, being a congressman was different than being -- the diplomacy not being responsible for the u.s. international relations as being a leader of the party and having to appeal to both sections. that certainly did make a difference when he was a congressman. and yet, he is always a nationalist. he knows the traps that massachusetts politicians could fall into about being sectional, and he is very aware of it. it is still going in both directions.
>> thank you very much, gentlemen. james madison, fourth president i performted states, as james madison and teaching igh school, etc. this is central to the issues i talk about in high school. my reading is that the first four virginian presidents were all adamantly antislavery. it is confusing, and i am lost -- why would a northerner, especially in massachusetts, be so sensitive about this issue? i would have expected a general principle to be taking exactly the opposite point of view. in massachusetts, when i'm in school, i have to talk about this. it is a big issue. i am lost. >> madison is a great example of
is hopinguincy adams that things are going to turn out differently than they did in terms of the expansion of slavery. there is a wonderful diary entry from when adams is in paris with his father, meeting thomas jefferson, talking with him, and jefferson is talking about writing notes on the state of virginia and about virginia, and clearlythat he is talking about slavery in a way that makes it clear he disapproves of it and wishes it will go away and thinks it might go away. that was madison's attitude as well. gentlemenat these were on the same side as him, even though there were certainly nuances. it is precisely because it is jefferson and madison and monroe that he can go along with them.
he trusts these guys. dealthey say let's not with this now, let's not deal with this in public, we will find a way, the next generation will take care of it -- it is somewhat plausible to him for some time. but you really start to see in when monroe's president -- and i should defer to matt, who has --tten more about this during the monro presidency, matt has written about this and robert forbes also -- monro onroe plays both sides, trying to get the union back together after the war of he believes it is his job to send different signals and smooth of the water. it arguably helps make the missouri copper might happen, and one way he does it is not taking a public stand about misery restrictions, -- missouri
restricting come but sending the signals -- restrictions, but sending the signals it is ok with him so he can be read where the national republicans are going in different ways. this only feeds the flames of the partisanship mixed with the sectionalism that is going to blow up in the 1824 election, which some have described as being several different sectional elections for good reason. monro backs calhoun, actually. not admit he is doing it, partly perhaps because the son-in-law, the guy who was against the colonization society and proslavery -- i'm talking about things that expert more of an here. he has tremendous respect for madison and madison rewards him
by recognizing his skill, appointing him ambassador to russia and secretary of state. without jefferson and madison, he does not get to be president. he does not get a chance to be in the room where it happened, as goes the hamilton plate. he is quite aware that. not in a crass way but in the way we can all be on the same page and that is what national republicanism is all about. >> the only thing i will answer to maybe get some clarity is is not that different from someone like madison and john quincy adams, if you are going to sit them down, an abolitionist always like to do this. he asked them a simple question, are you for or against slavery? their answer never simple. they would go on for an hour. like we just did. anti-slavery, but i am
all this other stuff too. just separate it out. it is much more complicated than that. that is the way madison with would have answered and the way adams would have answered. if you isolate slavery as a question, i'm against it but it isolated as it relates to all these issues and politics. he was anti- slavery in principle but the way he translated it into action was endlessly complex. that is the insight that david potter give u gave us.
true for north and south right down to the american civil war. >> i just happen to be reading "team of rivals" at the moment and having gone through the period, how much it just sounds the same. with lincoln -- these guys are politicians and they are trying to win. adams, too. they are all trying to hold the union together. we're still talking about all the same things. nobody wants to have a war. >> thank you. i think lincoln is very similar to adams and even better known as a anti-slavery icon. the idea of lincoln as emancipator, that isolates out
one particular act, maybe two. the emancipation proclamation and he pushed really hard for the 13th amendment. the title of that film, lincoln, is really telling. it is not a biopic. the title suggests all you need to know about lincoln is this, he was immensely anti-slavery. this is the advantage of biography. a full biography. it shows people interacting with an issue like slavery over a long amount of time and in multiple contexts. it is not boilable down to one particular act that represents the entire career. lincoln is a very direct parallel to what we had said in relation to john quincy adams.
>> i guess i am tempted to put in a pitch for the journey we have taken. in some ways, matt and i both do political history, but we have a particular interest in slavery. we have the interest in topics that we did not think were interesting because they turn out to be all about slavery and were inseparable from them. matt is becoming a diplomatic historian and we're finding this period, we are pushing the story back and finally the complications are not just the road to civil war starting in 1848 or with the mexican war, the originating crisis of nationalism. we see this as part of the originating crisis of american nationalism and we see that in
adams's career. it is not an accident that we started at the beginning. i hope along the way that people will get more interested in what might seems to be the site issues that have nothing to do with either adams or national politics. these issues were interesting to people at the time because he got people excited because they were mixed up in other things. there are lots of analogies to present-day politics, things that might seem to be simple and suddenly immigration is more complicated for a lot of people because it is not just about the border with mexico or how many people are going to be let into the country or jobs, it is about all those things and 12 other things. >> thank you very much. [applause]
this holiday weekend on american history tv on c-span3 metadata clock p.m. eastern on the civil war -- historians discuss new york city during the civil war. and 1863 draft riots. >> these draft riots really were a kind of organic perfect storm of resentment that had been building maybe for half a century. john, you were saying that this is not so much an irish riot or ethnic right, but a working men's right. >> philip lee discusses locations associated with george washington, including riverfront land on virginia's northern neck. >> george corbyn washington had
sold the property off. there were still family stories about the land, but they were getting fewer. the washingtons themselves were living further away. it is sort of a retreat. there wasn't a lot on the land to recall where the buildings were. >> monday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, the 1977 documentary men of bronze about soldiers in the all-black 369 u.s. infantry regiment known as the harlem health fighters. -- harlem hell fighters. rifles.anteens, our and our helmets. these are french helmets my instead ofeens -- water, it was french wine. >> david mccullough talks about
how the founders, particularly john adams, valued education, theery and persevered in face of hardship and how these ideals shaped american society. >> he grew up on a farm or they had no money. his mother was illiterate, his read because could there was a bible in the house and that was the only book. day fromed hard every childhood on. because he got a scholarship to this little college in cambridge called harvard and discovered books and read forever, he became the john adams that helped change the world. >> for a complete schedule, go to www.c-span.org. all weekend long, american history tv is joining our comcast cable partners to
showcase the history of portland, oregon. to learn more about the cities on her current tour, visit www.c-span.org/citiestour. we continue with our look at the history of portland. >> we are in portland, oregon at the lewis and clark collection. today, we will see a range of selections from our lewis and clark collection, including material representative of the things they brought with them on their expedition to the pacific ocean. contemporary material that informed their decisions. we will see contemporary expedition the and we will see the legacy of the expedition. material that reflects upon expedition from 150 years later and romanticize the offense