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tv   American Artifacts Slavery Freedom Exhibit Tour  CSPAN  January 15, 2018 12:00pm-12:36pm EST

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president that comes down the line, perhaps a more left leaning democratic candidate, that person will have their hand on the switch. this is the thing to think about, right? it's easy in the moment to get sucked into kind of the tear and concerns that we have. they are not always unfounded. they're not always unreasonable. but keep in mind the long-term effects. once the genies out of the box, it's tough to get it back in. no president is going to willingly vund willingly surrender a tremendous amount of power. government agencies don't do that either. they just don't. that's not their nature. do you describe that you have nothing to fear? we'll talk about those issues in our next class. thanks everybody. you're watching american history tv all weekend every
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weekend on c-span 3. to join the conversation like us on facebook at c-span history. each week american history tv's american artifacts visits museums, archives and historic places. it opened in september of 2016, located on the national mall near the washington monument, the museum has quickly become one of the most visited in the nation's capitol with capacity crowds almost every day. we tour the history galleries which began almost three stories underground. >> i am a museum specialist and co-curator of the slave freedom exhibition, which is one of three exhibitions here in the history museum. we actually have three exhibitions in this gallery, and those exhibitions cover 15th
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century africa and europe all the way through today. some of the things we include holding onto humanity in some of the most inhumane conditions. we look at the harsh reality but resistance and survival of a people. we look at how africans and african-americans shape the world as well as by a nation. we look at how they were shaped by the landscape and shaped the landscape. it's important to point out economically, geographically as well as culturally and intellectually. what's very important for people to understand is throughout this museum we look at these stories that are american stories. they're human stories and they're told through the african-americ african-american lens. equally important to remember this is shared history and you'll see yourself throughout this exhibition particularly
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looking at that human experience. let's start with one of the opening labels for the freedom exhibition. right behind me is label that speaks to the making of the atlantic world. we actually feature the story of the queen, one of leaders along the african coast. she was in west central africa. she actually strategically aligned with the portuguese, the dutch and the church all in an effort to avoid her own people being enslaved as well as being involved in the is slave trade. but you'll notice that right below her story is a quote from a gentlemen of european descent. what's very important about that statement and this juxtaposition is to really think about the morality of this particular story. what moral obligations do we
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have to each other? concentrate on that opening line, i admit that i am sickened at the purchase of slaves, but again i must be mum for how would i do without sugar or rum? and i have to point out as well we do not start out this exhibition with it story of slavery but with the story of humanity. and we actually start in africa looking at it as a continent made up of different people, societies, cultures, intellect. as we discussed, we just came through the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade. the driver of the trade at that time was sugar. and that driver of the trade actually moved forward the effort to ship as many human beings across the atlantic
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ocean, forced into slavery. and now we come to the story of the middle passage. the middle passage of course being that space transporting africans from the west coast of africa through the americas and across the atlantic ocean. we're fortunate to feature some dynamic objects including artifacts from a slave ship found off the coast of africa. it actually left lisbon, went to mozambique, africa. picked up captive africans on its way to brazil to sell them as enslaved africans, the ship crashed off the coast of south africa. we're very fortunate to have organized with george washington university, university of cape town and partners of mozack bmb
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as we were able to identify this shipwreck. one of the key features is some of the archival research revealed that in fact there were 1,400 battle stones on this ship. they were used to offset the human weight. and we know in fact they were bow stones on the ship because we found them in the ocean floor. so we're able to feature those. one thing visitors will note is we do not have images in this space. in fact we chose to allow the first person voice to carry the space. we wanted those who went through this experience to speak for themselves. can while we talk about this human story, the human story extends to everybody. so you'll hear voices of those who were enslaved, but you'll also hear crew members. you'll hear voices of slave ship surgeons all discussing, in fact, the horrors of this experience. but also understand, again, there's an important
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understanding of the resistance, the resilience and the survival. we think of human suffering, but you actually have to think of how someone went through that experience. >> it soon becomes fatal. every morning, perhaps more instances than one found of the living and the dead fastened together. >> across the way from the middle passage space is the transatlantic slave trade space. again, we look at one of the themes, power juxtaposed against the human cost. in that space we have a design where you see the business of the trade, the development of the plantation system. and we also see how everyone benefitted from the trade. and we also look at the human cost through the voices of those enslaved and the process of
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enslavement. one of objects i'd like to point out to you in that particular space is the fox's wage book. it features the wages given to crew members on the slave ship. again, looking at the human story. so we look at the crew members on that slave ship and that document actually tells us two things. one, it lets us understand that everyone benefitted from the trade. but then you have to ask yourself why would someone serve on a slave ship? we often think, well, perhaps they wanted to gain passage to the new world or they needed to feed their family, or in fact going back to that moral issue, perhaps they thought it was just fine to make money and profit off the sale of humans. but it's important to note when you open up that book you will find many crew members actually committed suicide or ran away. the human experience extends to everybody. and looking at the people below in the hulls of the ship we understand that slave ship crew members would pack the hulls of
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those ships tight packoed or loose packing. and that experience oftentimes the slave ship captain said how much cargo you can bring depends on how many small enslaved people you can fit into the hull of a ship. it's a very powerful story. so now we're going to go into the colonial north america space of the exhibition. allow me to explain to you some of the design treatment that we've used to help unpack this story. in fact, we break out the section by region because this is not a monolithic story. african and america shape the landscape and were shaped by the landscape. so the regions that we break out include the chesapeake where we actually look at the making of race. then we move into low country down in the carolinas and the georgia area, and that allows us
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to look at enslaving skill. and then we come to louisiana and we consider the convergence of cultures. and finally we come to the north and look at the urban environment and a merchant system. in each of these spaces the treatments are done pretty much in a pattern, but they each have their own unique features. but it's important for me to let you know about that pattern. from the beginning you see some of the regions of africa where many of the people came from and two, the specific regions and americas, particularly in north america. but you'll also see how the laws change over time and start to define whiteness, and you start to see how africans become black in america. you start to see the status development of all people in north america. from planetary wheat, white, free black and enslaved affkens.
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you'll look at life in the space, escape in the space and then we really start to unpack the story of freedom through the story of rebellion. and of course we humanize everything. so we feature personal stories of people who actually lived, labored and rebelled in these spaces during this time. all of this is foundational to the development of the nation. so what comes next is the fight for liberty. but remember i said slavery and freedom was from the beginning. so the fight for liberty is a national fight. but the fight for freedom is one that had been going on amongst africans from the time they were carried from the interior all the way to this point. so why don't we go to the section of the paradox of liberty, where we really start to unpack the story of what liberty and freedom means and this pivotal moment in time when the nation is taking shape? so we've come from colonial north america and we are passing through the story, a powerful
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story about the revolutionary war. well, now as i mentioned, we're entering into the paradox of liberty. but first let me show you a very powerful object that's personal and speaks to genealogy and the importance that the role of genology plays in helping to tell this story. we enter into the revolutionary period and there's freedom everywhere or so one would think. here we have a space that looks at free communities of color that were all over the nation at the time, believe it or not. but one of the poignant objects we have also shows in fact while there were communities of color, there were limits of that freedom. we were fortunate to be contacted by elaine thompson, a wonderful woman who took the time to really take care of her family heirloom piece. it is this handmade tin.
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he actually made this handmade tin to protect i like to say his freedom. those freedom papers were vastly important to him because at any moments notice someone could challenge his freedom and he would have to prove that. he had to register every two years in virginia. and it gives us a little more insight on the personal experience of being free during this particular time. sadly, elaine thompson has passed on. but she was the steward of her family's history. and she through genealogy was able to unpack quite a bit of her family's history. at this point her great-niece has now picked up the mantle and she is carrying it forward. she wrote a book at age 9 with the assistance of her aunt and now she's getting ready to rewrite that book at age 16 and carry that genealogy research
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forward. we're working on unpacking this family and the significance of him in his status as a free black man. now let's look over at the paradox of liberty. again, remember we talk about the story of free communities of color. well, you imagine at the time you have free african-americans who align with enslaved african-americans. again, a collective voice fighting for freedom. but they're fighting for freedom in a nation founded on liberty but still maintaining slavery. directly behind me you see the cast figures of benjamin banneker and thomas jefferson. this platform where we really unpack that story of voices of freedom. included on that platform included to jefferson and banneker are tusaut momutour.
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benjamin banneker sending his alma nack to thomas jefferson and stating in fact african-americans are brilliant, they are human, they contribute to the development of this nation and deserve to be free. thomas jefferson essentially said you are the exception and freedom was not going to come during his particular time in life. so now why don't we go forward and look at making a way. again, remember this is human story. so in the midst of all of this inhumanity, you still have african-americans, again, fighting for freedom, fighting for liberty, fighting for the nation to recognize them as citizens in this world, right? but as we go forward we look at while there were laws
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restricting them african-americans found ways to go around those laws and hold onto their humanity. so why don't we go to the section of making a where out of nowhere. understand that many things happened after the revolutionary war, including the development of the cotton gin in 1793 and the louisiana purchase in 1803 and the end of the international slave trade in 1808. what did all of that mean? well, please note the space that we're in right now, directly in front of me is the tower of cotton, which is marker as the driver of the train, no different than sugar was during the early period. so as we come out of this paradox of liberty and we look at directly to my right all of these pieces of legislation from the declaration of independence, the constitution, the bill of rights, all through 1820
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compromise, 1820 compromise, kansas-nebraska act, and you see paired with those actual excerpts from speeches, sermons, newspaper articles all written by african-americans speaken during the moment, to my left is the slave trade. remember 1793 the cotton gin is produce, 1803 the louisiana purchase takes place. that means there's more land to cultivate cotton and cotton is high demand and that demand has an impact on african-american bodies. and mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands and wives are all being sold away from the upper south to the lower south to produce more cotton in the fields down south. at the same time, remember, this is story of slavery and freedom. so those same women, men, and children are fighting for their freedom along the way, defining freedom for this nation.
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one of the pivotal stories is that of matt turner. we're fortunate to be able to feature a bible we understand was owned by matt turner at the time of his escape and at the time of his rebellion. gn nat turner is pivotal because it really made an impact on this country. laws tightened up, and while those laws tighten up, still african-americans found ways to go around those laws. allow me to point out that we have a section directly behind me entitled making a way out of no way, where we look at the black codes and slave codes. codes that define status and ability, autonomy. so african-americans free or enslaved oftentimes were restricted more than you can marry. for example, illegal to marry, illegal to read, illegal to gather, illegal to practice their faith. one of the objects i'd like to
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point out is again a family object. we were fortunate to be contacted by ms. shirley burke in detroit who reached out to us and donated her ancestor's violin he was given by a slave owner to perform gatherings at the plantation site. we were fortunate to restore the violin and have it on display here. that violin is important to the law regarding illegal to gather. oftentimes african americans in the hush of night would find ways to gather and practice their faith, find ways to gather and actually leisure and love one another at the same time. so allow us to go down the hall and go see the slave cabin next, which is a very poignant story and a community story. again, remember this is shared history. so we've come from this story of the driver of the trade being cotton and we're in the an
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antebellum period. and we see the development of legislation all deeply embedded with slavery. we also look at human story of african-american men, women and children finding ways to go around black codes and slave codes. but we also have a deep understanding of that personal experience of being sold away and that juxtaposition of power also being experienced on the auction block. it's important to note one of the design features we have in this exhibition is a wall filled with excerpts from bills of sales. so you will see a young boy sold for $5. $5 for a young black boy is what the excerpt says. understand that $5 is the monetary value, but the value of that young boy to his mother, to his brother or sister is immeasurable. that gets us to the story of life, work and enslavement and
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looking at the many complexities of this human experience during the antebellum period. we're fortunate enough we were able to receive a call from the edison island preservation society that wanted to donate a slave cabin to our museum. they know we were looking for a slave cabin to really help tell the story in a powerful way. fortunately, they had one in south carolina. what's really powerful about this cabin is on the front side we actually interpret it looking at slavery. on the backside we interpret it looking a freedom. because in fact on edistol island that is where the union camped out during the civil war. and you see the land given to the african-american community and given away several times thl it is taken away for good. let's talk about the
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interpretations of slavery. what's important about that cabin is not unlike when people locked up animals at night, not unlike the enslaved men, women and children this really could be considered a pen. but african-american men, women and children again through resistance and resilience and holding onto their humanity found ways to love one another, practice their faith, grow gardens on the side of their cabins to supplement their diets and create new cultural practices. while we look at life, work and enslavement, in the same space we break down members of the community. the nurtures, builders, the cultivators. allow me to speak about the builders as one example, the story of solomon williams who was a blacksmith on a plantation in cane river. we look at his story through life, work and enslavement. he created an ornate drill bit that was used practically every day for work on the plantation
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site. this was a gentlemen who had no education, but this drill bit was an architectural fit. he used those same skills to create grave markers for members of the enslaved community throughout his plantation site. but he also no doubt created the shackles that were used on the enslaved on in the plan statita site. we don't look at just what he wore, what he ate, how much land he cultivated. in fact, this is man. and his story is told through life ipterm oz how he designed those ornate grave markers, his work and still being able to create that ornate double helix drill bit and actually creating those restraints on the
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plantation site. so that takes us next to the story of the coming of the civil war. o allow me to take you around and we'll talk about the coming of the civil war and how complex that story is. it's not just north or south, but there were many voices involved in this. one thing i want to point out with the slave cabin is we can talk about objects and their importance in the historical context. but what's also important to note, again, is how we acquire these objects. so in the process of actually dismantling the slave cabin, we actually had community members come out and help us unpack the story of the community. included in that community are the descendants of the enslaved as well descendants of the slave holding family. we were very fortunate to meet with both groups together and talk about the importance of this history coming to the general public to get a deeper understanding of what it is to be american and the all the
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complexities and nuances of this particular story of slavery and freedom in the u.s. now, we know about slavery and we know about freedom, and we know there was a silver war which had a major impact on this nation. we look at the story of the civil war and keeping the union together, and embedded in the secession papers is slavery. but understand that african-americans fled to the union lines as they came closer to where many of these plantation sites were located. at that time the confederates demanded their property back. but the union army declared them contraband of war, and as such they were able to keep them as contraband of war. these men, women and children turned this fight for keeping the union together into a fight for freedom. and as such, one of the greatest speakers of our time and one of the most influential members of it african-american community
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and america itself is frederick douglas. frederick douglas led the charge on pushing for freedom and in constant dialogue with abraham lincoln ensured african-american men could in fact fight on the battlefield for their freedom. right behind me is dynamic broadside we were fortunate to receive where you see a call for men of color to arms. you can only imagine how powerful that must have been for african-american men to know they could suit up in the fight for their freedom. frederick douglas played a pivotal role. while he ensured african-american could fight in the union army, he was also pivotal in the role through the emancipation proclamation and ultimately the 13th amendment.
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when you visit you'll also see artifacts that speak to the efforts of one who educated many of the people who are at these contraband camps. you'll also see the story of harriet tubman. she also served as a union spy. and also you'll see the story of susan king taylor who not only served as a nurse but ultimately opened up her own hospital. so why don't we look at the artifacts that speak to the freedom of emancipation. how do you tell the people that they are now free? in fact those same men that frederick douglas fought for were responsible for carrying things such as this, this very important tiny but powerful handhold emancipation proclamation. they carried a handhold
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emancipation proclamation from plantation to plantation and told men, women and children they were no longer enslaved. what did that mean at this point in time? well, the space we're in right now is actually quite powerful. behind me you'll see that legislation that started with the declaration of independence, bill of rights and carries all the way through the exhibition and comes to this point where we see through the agency of african-american men and women, we come to the emancipation proclamation the 14th amendment, the 15th amendment. all of those are important today. but note the space we're in right now speaks to that reconstruction period. we're fortunate to feature an original campaign button owned by william beverly nash, one of the several men who ran for office, african-american men who ran for office and successfully campaigned and secured positions
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in their local legislator as well as u.s. congressional members. he was based down in south carolina. but it's also important to note that men and women and children sought to reconnect with family members who were sold away during the domestic slave trade period. and we're right here behind the slave cabin where we interpret freedom and emancipation. land was given to those formerly enslaved, ask it was taken away at least three times. ultimately, it was taken away for good. however, a co-op was formed with nine men who were able to form and create their own community. this takes us to the segregation era, and this is something that occurred during the period of
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slavery. the church is at the center of this community development. the church was a site not just for sanctuary but also for community organizing, for civic engagement, for communication, for gathering, for education, right? it was a place for leadership development. the church plays a pivotal role, and we are excited to feature the story of metropolitan ame church here in washington, d.c., in fact the church attended by frederick douglas. it's been my pleasure to take you on this tour of the slavery and freedom exhibition. we look forward to having you here and having you look through these other exciting objects in our exhibition and learning more about this american experience, this human story. indeed, a shared history. thank you.
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tonight on the communicators, we're at bell labs in merry hill, new jersey where they conducted advance communications research. >> i guess on the forefront probably most exciting is for 5g communication. >> which is. >> it's an interesting thing because it's been 100 years since we had the first wireless communication. but this has changed our species. this is what we do. that's what all wireless communication is. your wi-fi, your bluetooth, your cellphone. we want to go to a new era of communication. as opposed to broadcasting the signal everywhere, we want to target the beam at individuals. and the reason we want to do this is because our thirst for data is never ending. so we only want more and more. and we have saturated our spectrum at lower frequencies. so we have to go to higher
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frequencies. ask these higher frequencies have many other challenges. one of the challenges is the signal lost through the air is too much. if i want to talk to you is direct it data at you. so this is change in paradigm with communication and with that, of course, a huge set of challenges in the entire wireless industry is excited about this. >> watch the communicators tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 2. american history tv is on c-span 3 every weekend featuring museum tours, archival films and programs on the presidency, the civil war and more. here's a clip from a recent program. >> one way in which the united states legally goes to war, constitutionally goes to war is by declaration. and this is -- we naturally arrive at this is part of the
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list, article i of the constitution gives congress the power to declare war. but as you said, philip, declarations of war have fallen out of fashion. the united states has only declared war five time. we've been involved in way more than five wars, but only five times. the war of 1812, the mexican war, spanish war, world war i, world war ii. as i know no country has declared war since world war ii. it's sort of gone out of fashion as with international law. a good substitute is with a second way you mentioned which is by statute or resolution. congress can authorize the president to use military force. and we've talked about some examples here already. a very broad thoerauthorization
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use force in 1964 that johnson obtains from congress. directly after the 9/11 attacks the president receives a very broad authorization to use force against those abroad. so the deck lrlaration of war h been replaced by this practice of force authorization. and those force authorizations are often very broad in scope. they're often phrased not just as the united states is at war with country "x" but here's a threat that the united states is facing, and the president is authorized to say all necessary and appropriate force or such language in order to eradicate that threat. >> you can watch this and other american history programs on our website where all our video is archived. that's c-span.org/history.
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the c-span bus continues its 50 capitols tour this month with stops in raw lay, columbia, atlanta and montgomery. on each visit we'll speak with state officials. follow the tour and join us on wednesday at 9:30 a.m. eastern for our stop in raleigh, north carolina when our guest is north carolina attorney general josh stein. next, a panel of scholars talks about abraham lincoln's friendships both before and after he became president. this discussion was part of the symposium in gettysburg, pennsylvania. it's just under an hour. >> i'm herald holser. welcome to the lincoln forum and a special panel discussion on lincoln's friends. let's start, if we can,

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