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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  July 6, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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>> rose: welcome to the program, and happy fourth of july. we begin this evening with david remnick, the editor of the "new yorker" magazine. >> i've always thought obama hides in plain sight. i've always thought he says who he says he is. i think he's the opposite of nixon or the ultimate duplicitous president. it always paid off when thinking about him, to take him pretty much at his word, maybe a sophisticated view of it when it came to the politics of marriage equality, but it never occurred to me to think otherwise that he was a left to center democrat. that's what he was from the beginning of his career, that he wasn't any great radical. >> rose: we continue the celebration of july 4 with a look back of some of the most memorable moments on this
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program. historians discussing our nation's founding fathers. >> it was a great moment of improvisation. they discovered the two principles that over the course of the last two centuries have proven to be the recipes for success for all nations. a political system bottoms on the principle of popular sovereignty, democracy. an economic system is under the conviction that energies of individuals citizens are the source of the real productivity. call it capitalism. >> there's something that washington throughout his life that people were confident entrusting power in him. he inspires confidence, level headed, not drunk with power and somebody who understands that military power has sob subordinated to civilian power. >> adams steered a very careful dangerous, treacherous, even course among the shoals and the
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whirlpools of diplomacy and managed to keep america neutral not to side with either england or france. >> and franklin is somebody who believed in moderation and compromise. he thought he could negotiate a settlement between britain and america. but by late 1774, he's fed up, he's given up and comes back to philadelphia, in 1775, declares he's a rebel is for the revolution and became one of the honest patriots. >> rose: david remnick looking at obama's america and some elite historians looking back at the founding fathers who created it all. captioning sponsored by rose communications
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>> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: on this independence day, we begin with a look at this moment in american history, the events of the last few weeks have brought sweeping change in the united states. they've also revived president obama's momentum in this final stage of his ten your. the supreme court upheld the healthcare law and legalized same-sex marriage nationally. a tragic killing at a black church led to a movement against the confederate flag and heightened the conversation about race in america. congress passed the president's trade legislation and relations with cuba were formally reestablished. joining me with david remnick editor of the "new yorker"
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magazine, his latest article called "ten days in june." i am pleased to have him back on the program. welcome. >> great to see you. happy fourth of july. >> rose: to you as well. the lead paragraph in your first paragraph, ten days in june -- does that come back to your russian knowledge? >> it started with the shooting and ended with that amazing eulogy, those are the ten days. >> rose: what a series of days in american life furious debate, mourning and finally justice and grace as president obama led thousands of mourners in charleston south carolina in amazing grace, i thought about the late 2013 and early 2014, obama's presidency was surely dwindling if not finished. his mood was somber philosophical, which is good if you're a philosopher, if not not. obama described himself to me then in terms of his limits as a relay swimmer in a river full of
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rapids and that river is history. more than a few believe obama was now resigned to small victories at best but paused to think of what happened, the scale of recent events. and there you go. >> i was recalling a time when the healthcare plan had its unbelievably stumbling, at best rollout, and people were starting to say, well, this is the beginning to have the lame duck presidency of barack obama and what's next and, of course, some months later you had the midterm elections which were business mall for the democrats and -- bismal for the democrats and the talk of lame duckery and the thought there was no way in the world obama would get anything done any which way. so that's setting the terms. it was just striking to me not to overstate it, not to say that the new deal has been passed in the last couple of weeks but --
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>> rose: but something was in the air. >> absolutely, and the parameters were defined by an hoer renne cows tragedy that seemed so -- horrendous tragedy that was so familiar and to have the president come out and say i've made these statements too many times before, and some of the statements, to be honest, always struck me as not political enough, not ferocious enough, not revealing enough of what one knows to be inside of him in terms of fury and frustration about what's going on racially and in terms of relations with the police and all the rest. this time it didn't happen. this was, to coin a phrase, a tipple point. >> rose: yes. at least in his rhetoric and what he allowed himself on that day. and then you had the eulogy in
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charles, the south carolina, and it was political. it was emotional, it was very much of the black church, there was no holding back. this is who i am in terms of my politics, in terms of who i am in terms of my solidarity and my alegions and my -- and my allegiances and passions. >> rose: i think it was about him, in a sense when he came to washington, yes, he wanted to be aspirational, he had been on the campaign train, but he realized there was a practical job ahead of him. >> early on in the presidency, i was working on a book that became a kind of biography about race with obama called "the bridge," and as some book writers do, i got an interview at the very end of this process and we talked about race a lot
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during this talk. then when it was over -- and he was, you know, forthcoming as much as he thought he could be or wanted to be in the oval office. and then the interview ended and he started walking down the hall away and came all the way back and said, i've got to tell you, it's very difficult for me to talk about these issues -- i'm not quoting directly, but this is the way i recall it -- issues the way i want to because i know that just as i can move markets inadvertently with a stray word about financial policy, i can exacerbate the situation, i can make things worse or i can arouse passions on both sides that i don't necessarily want to do if i set a foot wrong on this discussion, and the implication being the most important thing i can do
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as -- in the history of race in this country which is after all, the most painful narrative that we can you know, talk about in american history on this holiday or any other the most important thing i've already done, i have been elected. and then subsequently reelected. that it seems to me to have changed. it seems to me that because of these tragedies and the repetition of these tragedies, i think he's allowed himself to become more full-throwedthroated on these issues. >> rose: he said to you or someone that he lamented that he couldn't talk about economic inequality the way he wanted to because it would be defined as class warfare. >> it was defined as class warfare. he made one mark about "fat cat bankers," and you would think he was carrying a pitch fork through america. >> rose: he did use "pitch
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fork" at one time in another conversation. >> but not like he wanted to bandish one. >> rose: yes. and he lost a lot of support in the fat cat community as a result. >> rose: i think he said the only thing that stands between you guys and pitch forks is me in corporate america. >> delicate sensibilities to billionaires. >> rose: ed luce in open ed said he went to charleston to speak at a funeral and left at his ten your brought to majesty both the limits of the presidency, he would not be the same on anyone else's watch. well, he could -- >> well, he could perform in a way any number of politicians to the right or left can. >> rose: because he's african-american. >> yes. that adds to the emotional fray
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to what happened in that church in that eulogy. >> rose: it was one of the great moments anyone has ever seen who believes in someone having total command of the moment. but there was some of the same-sex marriage thing in the rose garden. there was a sense of ideas i believe in coming to foer. >> but, again, with same-sex marriage, he also -- and i don't say this dericively -- played politics. when barack obama was a state senator, he filled out a questionnaire, and one of the questions is do you believe in same-sex marriage. he wrote, check yes i do. and he equivocated later on as he ran for this office or that office and he would go back and forth -- >> rose: he began to say i'm evolving. >> i'm evolving. you know, you read david axlerod's book and you know what that was, he was very frank
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about it. it was politics. no one ever accused barack obama of leading the charge on marriage equality but i think it was quite clear what you were supposed to derive from his message, after all. i want to say one thing about both those issues -- we should be very careful about thinking now race in america is a solved issue. >> rose: i know. and people's views are resolved. look at the confederate flag symbols. the flags are going down all across the south and yet polls came out today the majority of people still think of the confederate flag as a symbol of great southern heritage, not as a racist symbol. these things take time and not everybody comes to the same conclusion all at once. >> rose: and on same-sex marriage, they also talk about religious freedom as well. >> i understand that. what i think is there are two different ways of looking at it. there's one thing about people personally accepting a given
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issue, the other thing is politicians stirring the base by saying that there's a war on christianity, as we've seen ted cruz and other politicians do. one i understand, the other is not healthy, i think, for american politics. >> rose: a writing said sometimes history speeds up. rarely has a single act broad such a surging change and sweeping set of challenges to past assumptions. >> bit by bit, all at once. in other words people getting hit over the head and worse in the struggle for gay rights for decades and decades and decades so it's not something happened just because anthony kennedy cast a deciding vote. this came out of nowhere but it is a moment, like brown v board
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of education, like the loving case on interracial marriage where there is a decisive breakthrough moment. >> rose: and understanding this was a dramatic and consequential ten days, exactly what is the moment and what did it change? did it change something in our consciousness, in our better angels? did it change something so that we crossed some river? >> well, it's interesting to see reports -- there is a difference between something being a movement and something being the law of the land, and you watch reports this week -- i have, and you have, too -- of local clerks who are in charge of marriage licenses saying i'm going to refuse to do this, and it's, on the one hand, you're angry at that person for the obvious reason. on the other hand, there is a sense that, well, no kidding
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that person couldn't change from one day to the next 180 degrees. it's not shocking that that's the case. on the other hand, that person can no more make up his or her own law on gay marriage as he can about speeding tickets or -- this will be absorbed at different rates by different people, but it is our law. the big part is it's now the law and, to me it's a moment of fantastic triumph. >> rose: but i want you to deal with the question of whether there is something beyond the law that somehow this has something to do with the psyche of the country. >> i think it does! i think suddenly -- now what are we discussing? we are now discussing -- think of where we were. andrew sullivan wrote a cover piece in the "new yorker" -- excuse me, unfortunately, not the "new yorker" -- for the new republic years ago about gay marriage from a conservative point of view and it's shocking. >> rose: a gay man and a
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conservative. >> and a conservative catholic. i think his politics have changed since on many things, but now what are we discussing? we're discussing whether transsexuals, whether transpeople should be able to serve in the military. that is an amazing thing. i mean, to see people struggling with these gender issues, with these issues of sexuality, with these issues of equality and respect on things that were unimaginable -- unimaginable five ten 20 years ago is, yes -- to me, it makes a very happy july 4th let's put it that way. >> rose: are you surprised or did you always know this is a man that i -- as a journalistic observer that you never believed
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that he had begun to -- he always wanted to have -- do boldness, he always wanted to give expression to his deeper self, his non-- >> obama? >> rose: yes. well, i've always thought that obama hides in plain sight. >> rose: exactly. i always think that he is who he says he is. i think he's the opposite of somebody like nixon or the ultimate due due duplicitous president. it always paid off to take him pretty much at his word, maybe a sophisticated view of it when it came to foul ticks of marriage equality, but it never occurred to me to think otherwise he was a left of center democrat. that's what he was from the beginning of his career, that he was not any great radical. his model of how to deal with social movements was franklin roosevelt's dealing with the
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nation's civil rights movement. you remember, this is a story obama tells all the time. the early civil rights people come to the white house to talk about f.d.r. and say we want this, this and this and we want you to speed up and f.d.r.'s response is "make me," that f.d.r. cannot be the head of a movement, that the movement has to force a sympathetic president forward. >> rose: it has to come from the ground-up, so to speak. >> it does. so when we're congratulating each other on july 4, i think a lot of the names of gay rights, whether they're the kind of more or less establishment liberals on this or radicals like larry cramer need to be congratulated and acknowledged as every bit a central as any politician. >> rose: this is what he said to you in a 2014 interview, i have strengths and weaknesses
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like every president, like every person. do i think one of my strengths is temperament. i am comfortable with complexity and i think i'm pretty good at keeping my moral compass while recognizing i am a product of original sin and every morning and night i'm taking measures of my actions against the options and possibilities available to me, understanding there are going to be mistakes that i my team and america makes understanding there are going to be limits to the good that we can do and the bad that we can prevent and that there is going to be tragedy out there and i'm part of that tragedy occasionally but that if i'm doing my very best at basing my decisionsen the core values and ideals that i was brought up with and i think they are pretty consistent with those of most americans that, at the end of the day, things will be better rather than worse. >> well, look, this kind of talk was maddening to some people
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when published in the "new yorker" a year ago. >> rose: because? because it seems so philosophical and a little resigned. i would beg of people to compare that rhetoric to some of the rhetoric we're hearing in the current and growing presidential race. race. is that the temperament that's desirable, that kind of thoughtfulness, or some of the other stuff we're hearing now. right now running number two in the republican race is donald trump. >> rose: so? i think it's a product of people who are. >> rose: it's personality and marketing. >> he has a brand name. his name is all the over the side of golf courses, and he's just a man who is willing to say anything to be noticed. anything. and what he recently said -- >> rose: about immigrants. -- about mexican immigrants and rapists finally crossed the
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line, so egregious that a major television network said, you know what? no more. they came under pressure from hispanic media watchdoggers, and nbc is throwing him off the air. >> rose: oh, that's right. macy's doesn't want his -- apparently, he has a men's line. >> rose: a pretty nice line, too. >> also nice, charlie. what a country. >> rose: what a country. what a country. >> rose: what a country that donald trump is out there which is a product, as you say a business success to some degree, but at the same time -- >> but a go desk baffoon! we should be able to call things as they are! >> rose: you just did. there have been a lot of baffoons in life but this is someone who uses hate as his message. >> rose: but you're here to say he knows he's a baffoon, he
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knows what he's doing it's all a connivens to get more attention and by chance it might work and he may get some momentum and nomination to be president. >> i very much doubt that. >> rose: okay. so it's a product of the moment, that his star shall fall? >> i think he likes attention. he likes attention. >> rose: so he's not serious about wanting to be president? >> oh, my god, don't even say it. (laughter) i mean, this is the most serious office imaginable, and he doesn't know anything and he doesn't know what he doesn't know. >> rose: okay, but that's you looking at the kind of person that you would like to see -- >> look, i don't agree with ted cruz on almost anything. ted cruz is an intelligent person. >> rose: he's a road scholar. he's a very intelligent person and there are any number of people running for president on the republican side who are intelligent, serious people.
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i don't agree with them on almost anything, but -- >> rose: yeah. -- it's -- well, that's another thing. >> rose: this is the same country we're talking about. we're talking about barack obama's country donald trump's country, because we're looking at the founding fathers, we embrace a variety of types. there is also bernie sanders drawing record crowds. >> 10,000 people in madison wisconsin. now, madison wisconsin, is the white-hot center of -- >> rose: guess who the governor of wisconsin is, guess where paul ryan comes from? >> madison, wisconsin. it's like austin, texas. it's quite different from the rest of texas. nevertheless, it's an expression of people on the left in the democratic party who want hillary clinton to be more like them, it's an expression of economic populous, and it's
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interesting to note that the black vote for bernie sanders ain't happening. >> rose: there aren't any happening. i think if bernie sanders came to detroit or new york, he would be get an enormous outpouring. >> rose: but he's trying to make a case. >> he's a serious person and i think it's healthy for the democratic party to have a debate rather than a coronation. >> rose: do you feel good about the country on its birthday? >> look, i love my country. >> rose: i know you love it. do you feel good that somehow you know you look at same-sex marriage -- >> i feel good about these things. the air comes out of me a little bit. that happened on a thursday and friday. then monday and tuesday, the very same court made the ruling
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it made on the death penalty and on coal companies and the rest. i mean it's not going to be -- the supreme court's not now going to go undefeated ton liberal side -- on the liberal side, and it is two steps forward, one back, at best. >> rose: in larger sense here we are and at a time like this we think about washington, jefferson, madison adams and all the founding fathers and we think about the creation of this country and how remarkable people came together -- by the way, it was not a perfect union at the time, as we all know. >> when discussing america, there are a lot of people who are without resources and who look at the widening gap of incomes and any number of other problems. so it's great to celebrate on july 4 but complacency is not an option. >> rose: i want to leave you with president obama talking about his week. here it is. >> and my best week, i will tell
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you, was marrying michelle. that was a really good week. malia and sasha being born, excellent weeks. yeah. there is a game where i scored 27 points, that was a pretty good week. i've had some good weeks in my life, i will tell ya and i'm blessed to have had those. i think last week was gratifying because, number one, we were able to get a package of trade legislation that i believe will serve the american people, the american workers the american businesses as well going into the future. the affordable care act, as i've said before, the results, i
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think, speak for themselves. we had the lowest uninsured rate that we've had since we started keeping records. and my remarks at charleston were heartfelt. it wasn't a celebration. it was, i think, a reflection on the consistent challenge of race in this country and how we can find a path towards a better way. last week was simply a sull culmination of a lot of work we have been doing since i came into office. how am i going to spend any political capital i've built up? yeah, the list is long and my instructions to my team and myself have always been that we are going to squeeze every last ounce of progress that we can make when i had the privilege --
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as long as i have the privilege of holding this office. >> in his own words. that's the obama you want to see. i think a year ago there was this sense that, among some people, that the presidency might just kind of play out that he felt defeated, that he felt outnumbered by congress. what you want to see in him or any president that you have high hopes for, just as you do for your favorite ball team, is that they leave it on the floor that every ounce of energy and exertion is left on the floor, so even at the end of the term, things that he pushes toward the good may not succeed and may not reach their culmination, but for the next one actually might. that certainly was the case for healthcare which so many presidents failed to bring home and obama did by a very, very slender margin. >> rose: you mean republicans, joining forces with republicans.
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>> and many, many attempts to repeal it. >> rose: thank you for coming, by note the fact you use leaving it on the floor suggesting where your own sports interests are. >> i miss it. >> rose: thank you david. good to see you. >> rose: and, now look back at some of the most memorable moments on this program. historians talking about our nations founding fathers. >> they didn't think each individual necessarily was unique, but they knew they were present at the creation of something special. i mean in 1776 john adams writes to abigail and says start saving every letter i write you purchase a leather volume to put them in. jefferson invents a machine to make copies of all his letters. by the end of the lives of both adams and jefferson which are is most interesting, symbolic creatures because of their combination of friendship and rivalry, when they write letters
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to each other they write letters to us. they know that we will be reading these things. now, if they were wrong and if the american republican experiment failed, then, obvious, we wouldn't be here, but they turned out to be right and this is now oldest enduring republic in world history. >> rose: why is that? well, you know that's a very good question. i think because they, in a moment of enforced improvisation, it wasn't like an academic exercise, it was a great moment of improvisation they discovered the two principles that over the course of the last two centuries have proven to be the recipes for success for all nations. a political system bottomed on the principle of popular sovereignty, demock circumstances and an economic system rooted in the conviction that the energies of individual
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citizens are the source of the real productivity call it capitalism. >> rose: you saw most who is the mart r smartest of all? >> adams, the fastest thinker. the classics of american are written. and this is the kid who adams called the bastard brat of a peddler. it was an epithet but absolutely correct. he was born in the caribbean of a woman who probably was a prostitute and a father who was kind of a derelict, and i had a student once who we were reading the accordance between adams and jefferson, which is the classics, and she said jefferson
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is this, adams is this... (laughter) and, so, they bring those kind of -- franklin is the wisest. franklin is the grandfather amongst the fathers. >> rose: here's what you see and i have a quote here somewhere -- know that -- no event in american history which was so improbable at the time has seemed so inevitable in retrosuspect as the american revolution. improbable at the time. >> yeah. we look back now and it looks like it was a done deal. we take it for granted the united states is the power of the world in the 20th century and 21st, the oldest enduring republic in world history. this is fading. in 1775, '76 the chances of this collection of 13 colonies successfully defeat ago major military power in the world and the country that's going to go on in the course of the 19th 19th century to be ahead of
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the power of europe is about one in ten thousand. >> rose: was it like a perfect storm that it happened, you know? >> that's nice. benjamin rush is standing in the continental congress when they're writing the declaration of independence. >> rose: philadelphia. yes. revolution gnash guy signed the declaration, great friend of adams parable to jefferson in political convictions, and he reports a conversation where eldridge jerry of massachusetts is stepping forward and the virginia delegate benjamin harrison is stepping forward and harrison says to jerry, you know, when they catch us, you're lucky -- or i'm lucky, excuse me, because i'm fat and heavy and when they hang me,ly die quickly. and you are thin and light and you're going to twist in the
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wind. they really believed when they signed the document that the chances were that their lives were in danger. it's become rhetorical. the chances of them succeeding were so remote and if they failed they would be hung. >> rose: where most revolutionaries go to the gallows. >> that's right! >> rose: >> rose: having said that, you can't argue the times were so extraordinary. we all know presidents are rated in history because of great events. >> great crises make great history. >> one day i had a revelation when doing the hamilton blog, that hamilton quit washington's staff in anger and sat down and wrote a letter to his father in law defending his decision and painted washington as a very kind of moody irritable and temperamental man. he writes the general and i have come to an open rupture. he shall for once repent of his
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ill humor. i can remember sitting there, absolutely stunned, george washington, ill humor? >> rose: he shall repent? didn't conform to the saintly image i had of george washington and got me wondering and thinking perhaps this most familiar figure in american history was in many ways the most unfamiliar. >> rose: what now do we know that makes the unfamiliar familiar? >> well, what i discovered, because i spent six years doing this book, i discovered washington, under the surface was a passionate, sensitive complex man, a man of many moods and fiery opinions. he was really a fierce, hard-driving perfectionist, but it was all cloaked under this tremendous reserve and that very kind of stoical, iconic aura we know, but there was a very fierce, hard-driving personality under that facade. >> rose: could you make this case with ease without george washington the revolution would have failed? >> yes, in the earlier biography
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is the indispensable man. what you find during the revolutionary war, eight and a half years he's the commander-in-chief of the continental army, there are probably generals who were superior from a strategic standpoint burks while the other generals are jockeying for power and getting side tracked in petty disputes, george washington, whatever he does, he has a clarity of vision, ten nasty of purpose and a force of character. there's nobody in the world you would rather give a monumental task to than george washington. >> rose: how did he come to those skills? >> he had much experience. he spent five and a half years in the french and indian wars. turns out to have been a prodigy when he was 23 years old. he was already in charge of all the armed forces in virginia and virginia was then the most populous and powerful state. >> rose: at 23. at 23.
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hehe's been in the virginia house of burgesses running a plantation with 300 slaves i discovered it's a small industrial village. it has a big fishery business on the potomac and this last year he's even running one of the largest distill ris in the country notwithstanding his averse to alcohol. >> rose: he was the logical choice? >> he was. in 1775, he was elected unanimously by the continental congress' commander-in-chief and one of the few people who had significant military experience even though he was in his 40s and this experience was back in his 20s. but remember what's happening is the revolution is starting in massachusetts, lexington and concord, thousands of militiamen who gathered in cambridge but
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they're all new england militiamen, so to give the cause a continental perspective everyone immediately looks to the south because then it would give it a national character. and there is something about washington throughout his life that people are confident and entrusting power to him. he inspires confident, he's level-headed. he's not someone who becomes drunk with power. and also he is somebody who understands that military power has to be subordinated to civilian power and he does this brilliantly through the revolutionary war. remember, he has 14 masters. the poor guy has to deal with 13 state governors and this eternally squabbling continental congress. so washington's genius is in many more ways political genius. he was not a great general i discovered. >> rose: what in his character made him famously not want to be president for more than two terms and not want to be king?
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>> it's an interesting story. he starts out as a young man who really wants money status and power, but then he gets more fame and power than any human being can possibly dream of. people don't realize charlie during the revolutionary war he's away for eight and a half years. he only goes back to mount vernon once for three days in eight and a half years. so at the end of the war, he feels like he has really sacrificed the prime of his life to this war. he goes back to mount vernon praying for a little piece of privacy and tranquility. but then what happens because of his stature because people feel so confident in entrusting power to him he's first pulled out and becomes the president of the constitutional convention. he does it very reluctantly. he very reluctantly becomes the first president. the office is literally his for the taking. in fact, he was unanimously elected in the electoral college, but he does it and says
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to his closest friends, he says, i'm going to become president for a year or two establish the legitimacy of the new federal government, and then i'm going back to mount vernon. well, what happened is after a year or two, his cabinet said we're in the middle of a crisis, you can't go home. and then there was one crisis after another and eight years passed. so if you look at the last 25 years of this man's life, almost the entire period is sacrificed to the service of his country >> rose: then when he went back home after eight years? >> when he went back home after eight years, this is a fascinating story, because he was warned -- in fact, someone said you should get a special appropriation from congress because you will have people descending on mount vernon. no sooner does he get home he looks over the hill and there are tourists and curiosity seekers. and washington is this impeccably polite man and feels
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obligated to feed and house everyone who comes to mount vernon. so very often there are 10 or 20 people sitting at a table, a lot of them complete strangers. voluminous papers in the summary of 1785, he writes, i dined alone with mrs. washington today for the first time i returned home from the war. he had been home from the war for a year and a half, it was the first time he had had dinner alone with his wife. >> rose: unbelievable. even in the privacy of mount vernon, he becomes not only a prisoner of his own celebrity, he becomes a piece of public property in a way he can't escape and doesn't know what to do with and is constantly complaints in his letters all these guests are showing up drinking his wine eating his food, and it becomes a tremendous strain on his finances, and he made the mistake, this person advised him to get a special appropriation from congress for expenses, and he said, no, i don't need that,
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but it becomes a major drain on his finances. >> rose: most americans don't realize we were fighting a war with france in the last years of the 18th century, during the john adams administration as president. we were fighting an undeclared war at sea but a real war exchanging fire, capturing ships, all the acts of war at sea. but the real war that -- the undeclared war at sea could have very well ignited into a real war with, as it happens the new high dictator, if you will, the emperor as he proclaimed himself, napoleon. but adams steered a very careful, dangerous treacherous, even, course among the shoals and the whirlpools of diplomacy and managed to keep america
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neutral, not to side with either england or france. >> let me come back to something you said earlier. how should we then, these people who have been so lionized, these founding fathers and this notion that never before and never since in the history of mankind have so many brilliant, wise men come together to do something so important? >> well, there's a great deal of truth to that. they were fallible human beings. several of them were clearly brilliant beyond almost anything that we can truly or fully fathom. >> rose: who's on that list? jefferson, adams madison franklin, hamilton. hamilton was brilliant. >> rose: just sheer brain power. >> george washington was an immensely intelligent man. he was not learned, and he was not an intellectual, but he was a great, natural-born leader and
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a man with phenomenal self-command which is what adams admired most about george washington. >> rose: i think early on in support of who ought to be leading the revolution, he nominated -- >> jefferson put washington in command of the continental army. he's the one who said jefferson ought to write the declaration of independence and the man when he became pt president who put john marshall on the supreme court, maybe the greatest chief justice we've had. so john adams was a casting director. >> rose: he could have been the kingmaker of the revolution. >> washington's greatest quality in the war was he would not give up. >> rose: george washington. absolutely. i mean, the idea that we were going to defeat this british army, best trained, best equipped, toughest army in the world, sort of a pickup team of
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an army washington had poorly equipped, poorly clothed, inadequately trained was going to take on -- and no navel no naval force, not a ship to defend our ports at that point was preposterous. he had never led an army in battle before he began but he wouldn't quit. when washington was retreating across new jersey in the late months of 1776, that's the lowest point. he hasn't a chance. it's over. >>. and then you can go through the presidency to the fact that he does not want to be king. >> and he holds the country together. like franklin roosevelt who went through two crises in our lifetime during the depression and then the most horrible war in history washington leads the
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country in two testing times -- the revolution and then this period after the rev revolution where we're trying to form a government, different forces pulling apart over all kinds of issues, including slavery at that point too, and the only thing holding it together is the universal regard everywhere in the colonies everywhere in the new states for george washington. >> what happened to the relationship that left it where adams and jefferson were part there? what happened to them to split them apart? >> adams was elected to be the second president after washington. adams had been washington's vice president and though they had not been particularly close as president and vice president, adams said nonetheless strong support -- >> and jefferson secretary of state. >> that's right, when election of 1796 came along jefferson ran against adams. in those days the winner became
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president, the runner up the vice president. there were two different parties, adams being a federallest and jefferson being a jeffersonian what we would now call a democrat. so president of one party vice president of the other party. jefferson did not support adams. he gave him no support whatsoever. he cut himself off from adams and if anything was detrimental to adams presidency because he was busy organizing the political opposition behind the scenes, and he was a very skillful, political general backstage director of operations. and then the next time around, jefferson ran against adams and adams tried for a second term and defeated adams in the bitterly contested, vicious campaign of 1800. >> rose: take me to july 4, 1826, the last 24 hours of their respective lives. >> yes. each one is gravely troubled,
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ill, dying. each of them it's clear he is dying in his home, each is dying in his own bed and each is dying surrounded by his beloved books. they are also surrounded by family and servants. they each want desperately to live until the fourth. >> rose: 50th anniversary. yes. jefferson succumbed first. he died in the morning of the 4th. adams died late in the afternoon almost 6:00. but among adams' last words -- they weren't actually his last words, but very near the end he said, out of the blue, quite clearly to those who were present, thomas jefferson survives. and died shortly thereafter. >> rose: he was of what mind about the revolution?
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>> a very long time he referred to the british empire as a fine and noble china vase. he wanted to save it. franklin was somebody who believed in moderation and compromise. he thought he could negotiate a settlement between britain and america. but by late 1774, he's fed up, he's given up and comes back to philadelphia in 1775, declares he's a rebel declares he's for the revolution and became one of the patriots. >> rose: always about him there is ambition. >> right, he's a very ambitious man but he's proud of it. he said that's what's going to make america great, the middle class ambition to rise in this world. his father always quoted solomon's wisdom about the diligent in your calling and you shall stand before kings. he said i was diligent and i
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stood before five kings and the king of denmark invited me to dinner. >> rose: he said something about power and ambition and men, using men as representative of all people, i guess that they were driven by two things -- one, the need for power, and the need for money. >> right. >> rose: he wanted money. not really. he retires in his mid 40s and doesn't take a salary for working in government, and when he made that -- >> rose: he made money hadn't he? >> a lot. he franchised print shops all over the colonel any and he was the first of a media conglomerate. he has print shops from providence, boston bahamas and bermuda and is making money and becomes quite wealthy. he said i would rather have it said of me that i lived usefully
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than died wealthy. that was halfway through his life, 42. he retired and argued people shouldn't take a salary for serving in government because he said ambition drives people and didn't want this to happen. so he was trying to conquer his ambition and certainly was able to conquer any agreed because he was not a greedy person and did not strive to get great wealth. >> rose: what did others think of him? jefferson. >> jefferson loved him. jefferson comes to him in france after franklin has been embassador. he says you're here to succeed franklin. he said, i just hope to follow him, i can't replace him. they were both avatars of the enlight meant. the person they both hated was
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the person in france john adams. john adams it's a love-hate relationship with franklin, but john adams is very puritanical, very prudish, a little bit stuck up and franklin has at least two girlfriends in paris and is truly enjoying himself and john adams found that a little unbearable but also found jefferson unbearable as well. >> rose: what's relevant about benjamin franklin today? >> you know, in 1776, in july this very week when they're writing the declaration, jefferson writes the first draft, a messy draft. you can see it in the library of congress, a wonderful document. >> rose: a messy draft. a messy draft of the declaration. it's the first draft. you have all sorts of crossouts. it's like us who write long handed first. a big mess. jefferson writes a sentence on a little lap desk on market street
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next door to frankline's house. he writes, we hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable and then we send it two doors away to franklin and say would you be so kind as to peruse the document and in your great wisdom edit it for me? people were nice to editors back then. (laughter) franklin takes the heavy pen of printer and does the big backslashes and crosses out sacred and undeniable and changes it to we hold these truths to be self-evident. the point he makes is we're creating a nation in which the democracy comes from reason, not from religion. we're separating ourselves from religion in terms of church and state. we're all very religious, but the fact that we have our rights comes both from our creator but also from reason. and he is trying to create an
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enlightened nation that believes in religious tolerance. if you look at the struggle of the last century, it was against tyranny. it was against communism and fascism. you look at the struggle of this century, today, right now, it's against intolerance and mainly religious intolerance. that's what this century is going to be about. that's why franklin's values the notion that religious tolerance and tolerance between tribes, people of different religions, different races whatever, is the most important value to have in a democracy. and when he had died, he had donated to the building fund of each and every church in philadelphia, and right before he died to the new synagogue there, and carrying him to his grave, the minister of his church, the ministers of every church, the rabbi of philadelphia, and all the people because he built a hall
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saying if muhammad preached to us, we would have a haul for him, and he wanted to 3weu8d a society based on pleurallism and religious tolerance. >> rose: for more, visit us online at and captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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>> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: additional funding provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide.
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