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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 24, 2013 3:00am-5:01am EST

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the rebel, in turn, are arguably forfeiting by allowing extremist slammists to take a prominent role in the rank. and so, you know, the conflict is stalemated. but this is, you know, a classic insurgency and courage insurgency i suspect at the end of the day will end as a victory . what is the problem going look like after wards? that's what the government has to worry about. what is hard to establish security and stability after wards. it's the big challenge. it's where we've strugged in iraq and afghanistan and struggled even more in syria.
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enabling [inaudible] it's minds boggling howment of tens of billions dollars we have wasted in countries like iraq and afghanistan building while elephant projects of no earthly use and actually battling the insurgency. the water treatment plants. i'm not sure why we were doing it. i think it's something we call the gratitude theory of counterinsurgency. if you give them cool stuff,
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they will like. you a. if you give them cool stuff and not in control of the area, the other side claim credit for it. and so if you build stuff inside the city but don't control the city, guess what, they will claim it. but the larger problem is if you don't have security, it doesn't matter how much people like you. they're not going to come over to your side if they get killed for doing it. they're not suicidal. they're not going commit suicide because they love a water treatment plant. so you have to have basic security. and to establish basic security. you have to have men with guns on the street 247. it's the essence of the surge implemented in 2011. it was the realization you can't just do drive byes. you have to be able to control the neighborhoods, protect the people. that the point they're willing to come over to your side and. sure, there are some spending helpful some jobs programs to put unemployed young men to work so they are not planting bombs.
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at the end of the cay, it comes down to security by legitimacy, and a lot of runway spending on -- not going win a lot of counterinsurgencies. [inaudible] [inaudible]
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[inaudible] and seems that especially toward the latter day of iraq and afghanistan, we were kind of pushing -- [inaudible] >> well, first let me reintegrate what i said earlier, which is thank you for your service. and the service of so many others in this room. if you answer your question, it's a good one. because you're right. traditional the army special force the green beret have taken the lead role in unconventional warfare and dealing with gorilla and act as gur gur little wills themselves. they have been resist toant that kind of mission. we have paid, i think, a heavy price in our recent military history for that resistance. because we went in to vietnam with a fairly arrogant attitude on the part of some such as, you know, a u.s. army chief of staff in the early '60s who famously said, any good soldier can
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handle gur riel wills. but in fact guerrillas fight in a different manner. and the same armed forces that wipe the floor of the vermont wound up losing to the vet congress. along the way, i think, the army and the marine corps. learned a lot of lessons. by the end of the vietnam war. they knew what they were doing. the tragedy is what happened after wards. then the counterinsurgency manuals were literally thrown in the trash and said we're done with that! >> yes never want to do this again. let's get back to fighting the red army. when army went to afghanistan and iraq, the big army, i'm not talking about special forces, the big army was not well prepared. i think we paid a heavy price for the fact we didn't have an army marine counterinsurgency until the end of twirks.
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they figured out what to do. they didn't have a manual. along the way, they have become perhaps the finest counter insurgety force the world has ever seen. what the young officers are able to do in the field is mind boggling. they are manipulating so many different -- they are good at doing this kind of stuff. so to a specific cultural concept. they understand in in the way they didn't at the beginning of the war. my concern is what happens out now we are out. i hear lot of people in the army saying thank goodness that's over with. we never want to do it again. let's get back to -- there's no red army anymore. we'll fight somebody like the red army if they kind enough to
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come out and let us wack them. well, i wish there were more leaders out there stupid as saddam hussein but i'm concern there had may not be. because, you know, saddam hussein was obliging putting them in the tanks in the desert with the "hit me signs." there are not other leaders willing to do. i expect they are learned from the experience of saddam hussein who wound up getting kill forked the troubles. i suspect they have learned it's smarter to fight with a regular tactics. my concern is that's what we're going to see a lot more of in the future. and i'm worried that the army and mat -- marine corps. are in for a nasty surprise. i'm concerned they're going to forget the lessons they have learned.
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i would like do you stay in place for him to get out the door. he's got another appointment he's got get to. he's time sensitive with it i give you the final two minutes to wrap it up. leave us with closing. >> well, i would like to leave you, essentially, with where i started. which is by reminding you the way we think about unconventional warfare is missed up. it's the norm. not going away. adopting new ways to attack us. they're not going do it on a conventional battle field standing toe to toe. nay going to attack our weak spot whether using weapons of mass destruction. whether using cyber weapons. whether it's going to be staging all sorts of terrorist plots and
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hostage places. this is what warfare is all about. we're never going achieve the idea of conventional warfare. there are few of those wars throughout history. senator not -- there is not going to be a lot in the future. like it or not, we better get ready. which i fear and suspect the future is going look a lot like the past. which means a lot of unconventional warfare in our future. [applause]
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>> hello. is this sound okay? so welcome, everyone. it's great to be here. i'm excited for this conversation because carla and i are going to talk about a subject we both know intimately touching on aspects of racial passing and racial crossover, and all kinds of unusual stories that are sometimes short thrift
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in american history and if american literature and american cultural studies, so, carla, why don't you tell us a little about the title and the women in your book. >> so, absolutely. oh, my microphone. sorry. my -- this okay? as a way of getting into answering this question, let me disart with a couple of thank yous. great to be here with me tonight, and to my amazing publishers for letting me use the title because one of the tricks to this, the title has been referred to rightly as cheeky is that miss anne is not a phrase with the same recognized ability across race lines. if you dropped that phrase into a room full of black folks, everyone would giggle and snicker, and you got the phrase
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with the miss anne" into white folks, and they looked at you blankly. that points to the fact that today we still often live in very different and divided communities, although, i'm glad to see this room does not reflect that decision. miss anne has been for a long time a devicive term in the community for any white woman, a any facty turning of the black community on the white community taking a category of people and putting them as a type and dismissing them. of course, what had happened to black people for centuries, so it's a term for white women, and miss anne was the notion of the women i write about were up against. they faced opposition to what they were doing from every possible direction. these were women who were not going up to black harlem just to go slumming. they were not going up to black
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harlem just as tourists. they really wanted to put the black culture explosion that was the harlem renaissance at the center of their lives and sent ire their lives in black harlem, and it was an up likely idea at the time, and to be tried to be taken seriously in harlem as participants and even as voluntary negroes. one of the obstacles was the idea that women were mississippi anne. don't listen to her, she works for miss anne or worked. they say rightful skepticism from the black community, skepticism the black community had to have given the race relations in the country and face violent opposition from the white community that said do this and you may not come back home. do this, and we are done with you. miss anne was just part of the
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obstacle they faced in making this really unlikely choice. >> in a nutshell, tell us who the women are, briefly. we'll get into the detail, but who are the women? >> i'll keep it very brief. so i focused on six women in this book who are exemplary of the larger group of white women putting harlem at the center of their lives. i focused on six who are exemplary of the strategies white women try to use to be part of the harlem renaissance being hostesses, patrons, activists, writers, editors, lovers, wives, mothers, but also six women who left enough behind to tell their story in their own words. how do you think it would work out? what was the experience like?
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lillian wood was a yankee school marm teacher in tennessee who wrote an important novel and always assumed to be a black woman. because part of her novel was an incredible indictment of why women for the complicity with the lynching, and nobody thought portrayal of monsters to come from a white woman. another woman i write about is joseph, a texas heiress, marrying the george skylar. the most notorious philanthropist and patron of the renaissance, assumed to be a dragon and nightmare beloved by her black property -- proteges. how many of you went to bernard? hands, please. nobody? that's the first time in in store that ever happened. >> upper west side.
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>> indeed. everybody remember this happened. there's a play, an indictment of lynching, so controversial that the play house waited seven years to stage it and closed it after ten performances. nancy, british heiress who lost everything because she refused to renounce the love of blackness and devoted most important years of her life to trying to make what was wonderful in black culture available to whites. that's probably enough. >> we'll have a couple occasions to read briefly from the book, and the first one i'll ask you to read is a poem that you did not write. >> i did not write. >> disclay mori necessary because this poem made me cringe a bit, but you put it front and center in the book, and it's called "a white girl's prayer," read that, and then talk a little bit about its context and
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why you chose to put it where you did. >> with everybody, okay, i'll go up to the podium. how does this sound? this is the piece of the book, and there was a period in the late 1920s and early 1930s when the crisis, one of the two most important journals in harlem of black cultures and indeed in the nation started turning its poets' page, a long running feature in the paper, started turning the poets' page over to be a forum for white views of race. this is important part of the crisis. this poem by edna margaret johnson is called "a white girl's prayer," and let me read it first, and then i'll say a couple things about why the book leads off with this. i'm not going to read every
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line, just to get an idea. she was a white woman. i rise in self-contempt, oh god, my nor kick flesh is but a curse. oh, god of life, remove this curse. the cords of shame are strangling me. remorse is mine. i would atone for white superiority. sheer carnal pride of my own race. tonight, on bended knees i pray, free me from my dispiased flesh and make me yellow, bronze, or black. i start the book with that poem not because it's the best poem written, you know, in the late 19 # 20s, but because this longing for blackness is a really important part of what's happening in white culture at this moment.
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langston hughes called it the voke for things black, connected to the primitiveness movement, the idea that white culture was depleted and washed out and dried and could only be revitalized by bringing in the life forces of so-called primitive people so some primitives look to africa, others to the southwest, some look to tahiti, but there is something more important at work than just that primitiveness longing for blackness, which is edna margaret johnson who does want to get away from whiteness, she also wants to take responsibility for whiteness. she says shements to atone, and the women i write about in the book had very strongly a longing for blackness seeing it as preferable to whiteness at a time when that was unthinkable, and they wanted to take
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responsibility for whiteness, and for some, that meant becoming voluntary negroes. >> a generous reading, and that's how we read things differently talking about judgment and what we do with these characters. in my book "near black" there's a cultural history of black whites who passed as blacks, and there's a couple kinds passing for black -- i don't have too many women in the book which is why your book fills a need, but there's two kinds of passing that you might talk about about. one is passive passing for blacks opposedded to others passing for black and the other is pending passing, and some of the characters you write about engage in that. >> let me just add to that as a way to answer that. one of the things about stresses in her book, near black, a wonderful study of racial ideology and this rare form is
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passing is that what was passing is rare in american culture and american history. there is lots of instances for largely economic reasons of black passing for whites. whites passing for black is a much more unusual phenomena, and a number of the women i write about in the book engaged in what we to call passive passing, which is to say they did something considered so unlikely or unthinkable that they were assumed, well, that person must be black, and they did not correct the record. in the case of lillian wood and her novel, "let me people go," lillian wood has been listed, until now, in every bibliography, as a black writer because her portrayal of white women is so sering, her depiction of white women as
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monsters guilty of racial violence is to unusual that no bib i don't care fer imagined she could be a white woman. she never corrected the record. she had lived her life as a white teacher in a black college and stayed there for decades until she was the only white teacher left standing in the yearly faculty photo, and she was perfectly happy never to correct the record. she certainly knew about it, but she led it stand. that's a form of passive passing. there were other women in the book, like josephine, who engaged in active forms of passing. on the marriage certificate, she was nervous on her wedding day saying to her husband, what do i do; what do i say? even though interracial marriage was not illegal, it was frawned on. she wrote down color. she also, in her neighborhood where she lived in harlem, did
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not correct her neighbor's who thought that, well, maybe she's a very light skinned black woman. that's a passive form of passing. she was active passer. i discovered in the course of doing the work on this book that she wrote about under a half dozen pseudonyms and one was a women named julia jerome, who was the black ann landers of harlem. here's whites, josephine skylar, writing relationship advice columns as a black woman. that's active. pen name passing at another form of passing also engaged in by josephine skylar, and it is, for some people, a way of experiencing a kind of freedom
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about which they are a little uneasy because when you're engaging in pen name passing, you don't answer face-to-face questions, so i think about it as my're name is woodrow passing, a way of trying on identities, trying them on, taking them off, trying another one on. >> in a very safe context. >> in a very safe context, but in a moment when playing around with being a whole bunch of people across gender and race lines was not only tolerated, but encouraged. >> two of the male equivalents in my book that are interesting are the founder of the first black niewch -- newspaper in new orleans, quotes, never sought to deny the rumor that i was black. interestingly enough, and there's an author who wrote a
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novel called "i spit on your grave," a dark novel that involved passing and lynching. very, very gruesome and intense. he passed as sullivan, an african-american, and he was a white frenchman, and nobody knew for years and years who he really was, so interesting stuff. >> yeah. >> another reading talk about josephine skylar, who you mentioned, her friendly relationship with skylar, her husband. >> so i am going to talk about josephine and the biography is here with us, and if you want to chime in, please do so. it's a great honor to have you here. josephine skylar emerged, i think, as the star of the book, the character who is speaking to most people, and for me, she was a very important character because she speaks to all of the ways white women tried to be a
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part of black harlem. she was a writer. she was an editor. she was a patron. she was a tiny bit of a philanthropist, although they didn't have a lot of money. she was a lover. she was a wife. she was a mother. she was unlikely. josephine skylar was born in texas to a family of enormous wealth, and at 17, she ran away, first marrying a traveling salesman, a cereal salesman, cereal, a new invenges at the time, and then ran to san fransisco to be a nude artist model, and after she did that with no great satisfaction, she went to grennich village, rented a studio, had fantasies of being a new woman, and in three months, bored to tears, didn't see what the fuss was about, and she said, no, i know what i'm going to do. she published three poems in the messager. she was part of that move on the
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part of black patrons to get space and voice to write ryers on race. she went up to the message officers where she walked in, met george, they fell head over heels in love, went dancing, and that was it from then on. after much back and fort, she did marry george, had their daughter, and she's a complicated character as it's fairly clear, but that as carefully as i can, with kathy in the room, that josephine did a considerable amount of george's writing. in fact, there's no other explanation for george's productivity, particularly when he was traveling in africa, had no way to get pieces back, and she wrote under all these other pseudonames. her life was isolated, lost her family, was not welcomed in most black social circles. at the same time, it gave her the freedom to be six or seven
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different people at once and to have a life that her texas background couldn't have provided her: a last piece that's difficult, cringe-worthy, but striking, is that this was a woman who crossed from a texas background, her father part of the ku klux klan, raised by racist in a racist culture. she felt she married down, married someone she shouldn't have, but in her mind she felt this man she would never be cheated on. she struck in her mind a devil's bargain. she was deeply in love with george, but scraired to cross the line and marry him. the way she did it was she said, well, at least, this means i will never be cheated on. she married one of the most famous lady's men of harlem, and
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he was cheating on her within months, if not week, and that continued throughout her life. her daughter was killed in vietnam, and two years later, josephine hung herself in their apartment while george was reading in the living room, and many of the women in this book did come to sad ends. >> do you have a piece to read to us about josephine? >> yes, i do. with people's permission. okay, one microphone is enough. >> i think the selection displays how in so many ways her marriage was based on an idea, not a reality. their ideas and fantasies about each other consumed realities of who they were, and that built their faulty relationship in so many ways. >> so just a couple of paragraphs as background, and then just a little touch from her diary. today, surrounded by interracial
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images, hard to grasp how brave they were in their time. the lines they crossed did not begin to break down until recently. the first kiss did not take place on television in the late 1960s. in the 1920s and 30s, those were tbhot lines that most people were willing to cross in the open. josephine and george founded their marriage on their shared willingness to brave center, violence, and isolation for what they thought was right. as they often put it, they spent their lives trying to break down race prejudice so that the schamgs they faced would fade into future generations. particularly, for the generation of their daughter. to that pass, they brought their own myriad contradictions about race. throughout their lives, the two principles of harlem's interracial celebrity marriage
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oscillated among all available positions on the race debates of the day. is race line a goal or another form of racism? can one attack racial essentialism and celebrate race difference? what, if anything, do we owe our own race? can we switch races? opt for an identity based on asilluation and allegiance rather than on blood? sometimes oscillation between all of these conflicting ideas brought them closer together. often, it drove a wedge between them. in that, too, they mirrored the texture of political and emotional ties in harlem. this was a woman who braved extraordinary senture to do what she did, but she carried into her experiment, into her journey, into her bold race
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crossing all of the ideas with which she had been raised. she didn't drop them or lose them the second she married george, and part of the texture of their marriage, as was true of the techture of the interracial lives of harlem, was this bold attempt at deep interracialism, integration, which was ribboned through with racist ideas, skepticism, mistrust, and doubt. the night before her wedding, josephine poured her doubts about marrying george into the journal to dispel them, and here's a little piece of what was written in the journal. i know up north here the negro women will all hate me, and feel i have taken unfair advantage of them and used my peal color to turn skylar. now it all recurs to me how i
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felt him alone of all the men i've known to be my mental, spiritual, and sexual equal. now i remember why i'm marrying him. i want him to browbeat me. it gets worse. i want him to destroy my superiority complex. i want him to laugh at my white aspectations and rationalize my fears. to my mind, the white race, is spiritually depleted. america must mate with the negro to save herself. our obnoxious self-esteem will destroy us if we do. we need shaking down, humanizing as was often said. i need skylar. without him, i will quit growing and solidify. if i am to be saved, s will save
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me. my last pure white knight i shall take calmly, serenely as being the future wife of sur realist of uncompromising courage and color. >> let's skip to the juicy question because that one brings up so many characters, and there's a line where you write unconventional lines are the most difficult ones to live and judge, and so this was something that i struggledded with too in writing "near black" full of the characters who are in various ways passing as blacks whose relationship to blackness and awe then authenticity varies quite, and i absolutely confess to having favorites and less favorites in the book, characters i felt sort
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of i cross identified in a way that struck me as authentic and not based on a primitive caricature of what they thought blackness was versus those who, you know, seemed less appealing and more incline towards those primitive identifications, and it was a struggle writing about characters, having favorites and less favorite characters, and at the end of the book, i try to evaluate standards by which we can judge one who cross identifies or crosses over or passing in this way? can we evaluate them. talk about the characters in your book along those lines. >> one of the things that was important to me when i finally decided that i was going to write this book, and it was a book i wrote because i wanted to read it, and it was not out there. this was a completely missing piece of the history we have had
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up in 1920 and, indeed, of the renaissance, and i had gone looking for the piece, couldn't find it, and realized if i was going to read it, i was going to have to write it, but for me, one of the conditions i set for myself, if i was going to do this, was that i was going to withhold judgment. i was going to withhold it at a couple of key moments. that as i went looking for miss anne in harlem, who the women were, who put harlem at the true sent of their lives and resurrect them, i was not going into the archives sure of what i knew about them. these are women about whom we've known either nothing or very little or on whom we have already passed judgment, and i think, particularly, of nancy whose been dismissed, a great deal written, but these been
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dismissed as a sexual predator. i want to go back in the archive with an open mind, not my usual way, by the way, but i wanted to go back into the archives with an open mind and see what i could hear from these women. i med a commitment if i was going to do this, i wanted them as much as a biography can do, answer the questions in their own voices, and occasionally in the harlem renaissance, white women were asked that. mary white reflected, white founder of the naacp, interesting fact, she reflected on being asked that frequently by black friends, why give your life to black civil whites? she was asked this in the 1940s, and i wanted not to prejudge the answer to the question, but to try to let the women explain why
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they did this thing because what they did was at great cost. what they did was filled with cringe-worthy moments. what they did was very complicated, a range of motives, a range of outcomes, but for all of them, it was at great cost. many could never go home again, many of the women in the book came to fairly sad, even tragic endings. as a direct consequence of their choice to violate race lines, and i didn't want to jig that. as i did the research, one of the things that was most shocking to me, and that i had not expected was to find how unjudgmental in the main harlem intellectuals were about crossing race lines and trying racial identities. from the inclusion of white voices and poet's page of the naacp, journal of the crisis, to
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become welcoming women into an interracial benefit. libby was famous for what we all call an insulting performance of a black prostitute in brown space to a genuine love on the part of her proteges, even for charlotte mason, to a kind of heroic status for nancy's work in putting blacks' culture expression in the largest anthology that i think to date has still ever been created. harlem held back on its judgments. saying we are not sure what race is. we don't know, we want to celebrate it, and we don't know if we want to be free of it, and we didn't know if race is ethics or owe the people we were born
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to allegiance. we don't know where to stand. let's get it on the table. it was a remarkable openness to cringe worthiness. it was invited many in, and that convinced me to hold back my own judgments because i think we might find that the more we all put on the table, presidenter off we are. >> very good of you. again, generous of you. i'll push you, and then we can open it up to the floor for questions, but you cite joplin. >> i do. >> being black for a while will make me a better white. that could apply to characters in the book, and that's beyond cringe worthy, the idea you can dabble a little bit, and, again, this is something i found quite
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a bit in "near black" as well. you could dabble, enter the world, and you can dip in, dip out, and, ultimately, retain your whiteness and your privilege and benefits, and that was one of the criteria used to distinguish between those who did that, you know, the elvis presley started take a little and get whiter and whiter as career progresses and money rolls in, ect., ect., versus a long standing commitment, so, surely, there's a place even if history did not judge them, for us to potentially apply judgment, or no? >> yes. i mean, i'm not saying we can never judge, and, certainly, these women are here for their rairds and for people to sort of make judgments about it, and i do. there is a woman in the book who i judge harshly. hurst, as far as i'm concerned, went into harlem to take and take and take, did not give
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back, and paid no price for everything she got from an appropriated sum of black culture, but the reason to hold back judgment questions until the veryings very, very bitter end is i think we are still string ling with the question of when does empathy and understanding lead into appropriation and theft and vice versa. as a literary scholar, what excites me is seeing my students genuinely learn to identify across cultural genders with characters unlike themselves. this is the great moment for any future. this is, like, yes, you know, more important than theory, a moment of identification. at the same time, we cringe at a appropriation. we, and we have been cringing so
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carefully at appropriation, that we have not been enconcerning a great deal of cross lines allegiance and identification. for me, trying to judge women, trying to think about what they did at cost pushes questions back on the table. >> you use an authenticity as part of what you bring to bear, and for me, this was a moment where racial and gender, ideology, was so all over the place, and miss anne, let me put it bluntly, was such a mess, okay, because miss anne is a mess. that's the first thing, absolutely a mess, that i could not do something like authenticity, and what i ended up using was was there a cost? did it cost them? did they give back?
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did they contribute in a way that was meaningful, but the people at the time saw as meaningful? i think that's still relevant that trying to step outside ourselves at cost, not conveniently, not for fun, and certainly not for profit which is what fannie hurst did, but trying to step outside our identities in which we're comfortable and born with, at cost, is still a bit -- i still think this is worth doing, and -- >> and i hear you on that. i think the struggle is that in a contemporary lens it is so difficult in light of our knowledge of the context of appropriation of black culture and specifically for profit with capitalism entering the picture. i think it becomes about trying to negotiate of balance of what ownerrous ownership idea of identity which is i own this, i
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own this, i can't take from you, you can't take from me, and there's another model, like, yeah, i take from here, here, and we're one big happy hybrid because we know it's more complicated than that, and the dynamic is more complicated. >> i think one of the things that you take to is how much we try to answer miss anne's question. she was an enormous problem for harlem because she said, oh, i want to be a voluntary negro. count me in. i'm signing up. i'm here too, and she was not just saying i want to participate. she was saying i so identify that i'm partly black, and even charlotte mason actually said and meant i'm a black god. she's a complicated figure, but she did mean that, and, you know, i speak as if i was a negro myself, and she meant it. the problems they were posing, because what is it that we can
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say that says to her, no, you are not allowed to do this. are we falling back on essence, blood, and biology? surely we no longer believe that, do we? race is a social construction. we don't believe race is blood or biology or essence, and miss anne says, all right, if race is a social construction, because this is the 1920s when the idea is developed, she pushed if to the limits saying if race is a social construction, i'm black. harlem said, oh. you're a mess. >> with respect ready for that. >> we with respect ready for that, and i think we are still struggling with that question today which is not to say she's not a mess and not to say she's not cringe worthy, but it is to say what's our answer back? what do we say to someone woo says that?
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>> that's a good place to bring the audience into discussion. questions? >> people are asked to use the microphone. >> i'm martha from new york university. my question goes to the last point, carla, thank you, and thank you both. [inaudible conversations] >> turn it on. >> i'm from new york university, and my question goes contactually to the point that carla was just making, and it's a question you can both answer from both of the books which is this idea of a white perp saying i'm a voluntary negro depends upon the american racial system of a one drop rule. in other words, that anybody with any african ancestry whatsoever by the 1920s is legally considered black,
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labeled that way, you know, which was a process, it was not always that way. my question is did miss anne, did these women ever acknowledge that their privilege came from this one drop rule system where they have the choice to say does it matter what i look like? i can be white or black and may the same with your folks in near black, did they get that? that people of african dissent couldn't necessarily pass for whites? >> yes and no. some of the women in the book, and it is important for me to reiterate that miss anne was never a monolithic. they came with with different motives, different understandings, different experiences, and somewhat different outcomes, and some absolutely understood that, and the reason they wanted to be voluntary negroes was effort on
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their part based on fundamental misunderstanding of the phrase, was to dispel the one drop myth, was as ad race -- radical way of saying that any reliance on blood or biology to determine race is ridiculous. race is a social construction that works politically. some of them were very canny in using it that way. what they didn't understand is that at the time, the phrase "voluntary negro" with a lot of currency in the day, it felt to the one preferable. those who were volunteering negroes were blacks who looked so white they could have passed for white, but chose not to, and the most famous and celebrated voluntary negro was walter white behooves so white he was almost translucent. you can't get whiter. >> blond hair, blue eyes. >> he refused to be identified as white. he encysted on his black identity, which he could claim
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because he had the drop. even harlem was all over the place about this status of the one drop rule. some of these women were simply exercising prief leming. we're saying that i can be anything i want. there was one script laid out for them, the post victorian lights as matrons playing with, doing charity work, and so for them saying, no, i'm over here k i'm this other thing, i'm something else was a way to claim freedom in other sphere. it's complicated, i guess, is what i say. i'm sure you have an answer too. >> similar. i mean, it's the same mixed bag in my book in terms of the characters. it's a source of evaluation for me, again, how attuned they are
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to the kind of white privilege. you have a character like johnny otis, for instance, pioneer, greek born who passed as african-american in various con tensions, wrote a book using the "we" liberally to refer to himself as an activist and so on and so forth who's very attuned to the issues, and the ultimate privilege of saying, hey, i can choose to pass for blacks because it's benefiting me in certain contexts, but not necessarily in others. passing for blacks; right? >> i'm elsa. i finished your book yesterday. well done. >> thank you.
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>> if you don't mind a plug, i find it faze enating and very well written and i certainly recommend it, and i epsz appreciate your treatment of nap sigh. i just changed my whole opinion of her. you didn't judge her. it was a very beautiful treatment. my question is what is the response of -- what's been the response of black scholars? for both of your works. >> oh. >> let me repeat the question. i thank you very much. well written, especially appreciated. the question was what has been the response of black scholars, not just with this project but to all of our work?
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>> what are the things i want to say about that? i'm not going to attempt in any way to answer for others who experienced differently. what are the things i want to say is this book, which is a missing piece of the history of the harlem renaissance, could not have been written too much earlier than it was because it was very important to me, and i think it's important to other scholars who have supported this book that the white women did not come first. they do not come first. we worked for decades now to resurrect the lost, neglected, and derided history of black culture expressions from this period, and one of the things that made my comfortable enough to do this book is that i have been part of the archaeological effort. my own work on hurst was very much rooted in what i call a scholarly archaeology, an attempt to bring back the missing pieces of literary and culture history of women and african-americans, particularly.
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had that book been written before the ark longer call work, which is not over, but ongoing, there would be a different feeling about the book. i don't think anyone wants a harlem renaissance history that's missing a big hole in it, and this hole was missing. i will admit, and the question points to a salient fact that my own experience, as a white scholar in black studies, informs this project. please do not go away with the misimpression this is a book in any way about me. it is not. i promise you. you would not have to suffer through any stories about me, but having been here for 25 years, i have an understanding of what the joy and challenges are to be part of the community to remain an outsider, and that
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is brought to bear on women, and maybe that's why you use the word "generous," i don't know, i noticed that kept coming up, so that is part of that experience that informed the larger study. >> i have the same reaction that people see this hole of passing, but not reverse racial passing, and there was appreciation of the fact i distinguished between those passing. that they do not work the same way, there's prof ledge involved in one and not the other and can't conflate the two. my book came out at a time when there was a lot of talk around the issue of whiteness studies and scrutiny, never a good thing in a classroom in any context so it's not -- this is not this
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invisibility factor or a blank page that does not need analysis and has not been construed in history and culture in the same way that blackness has, and so it's fitting into that niche, i think, fairly well. >> i teach at the community college. >> a little louder. >> i'm carol. i teach english at the manhattan community college, and i heard you speak first at bernard. that's why i got interested in your work. my mother, born in mississippi, she did use a term "miss anne" so i think you need to broaden it because the way i hear you using it, you're saying that the black women are sarcastic, but for no reason. >> oh, no, for good reason. >> this is what i'm hearing.
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i just want to bring that to your attention. before you sell out because most of the black women did domestic work, raised the white chirp, took care of the white families, especially in the south. >> yeah. >> all right? i'm going to give a quote. this is not from my mother, but she used miss anne. this is other women i heard use the term, and they said, it's too hard to work for a white woman. she has to sleep with her husband, raise her children, keep her house clean, cook, and she's never satisfied with what she did. that is how they use miss anne, and i think you should put that out there to give a context ever why. i first heard it like that as a little girl. >> thank you for letting me clarify that in case someone misheard. i did not say for no reason. i said for good reason. this was every reason for the black community to try to not
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just -- not just use the term, but it's a dismissive term. so many black women in particular, as you say, had to work for white women who they could not dismiss, that finding a way behind employer's backs to put them in a category where they could be dismissed is very important. >> [inaudible] >> they are not dismissing them, but describing them as tyrants, all right? that's really important. secondly, my father physically looked white with green eyes, so he didn't pass, but people thought he was white. that was a part of his life experience so i hear my mother say miss anne, and listening and watching my father, people think he's white with me a brown child, all right? i think -- i'm happy you did the
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book. >> well, good. >> i read some of it, not all of it, because i really have negro -- i have, you know, the anthology. i have it. >> you own the original? >> yeah, i got one. when i came to new york, michelle's bookstore was open, and he was still alive, and you could talk to him who knew all these things. >> you know what the copy is worth; right? >> negotiations will take place after. >> if you don't know, can we meet outside for a moment? >> a lot of stories short, i do think this is important. i always admire lillian woodian smith. >> uh-huh. >> her writings, and what she did, always admired her. >> people like nancy have real question marks about because i spoke to dorothy west who was hurst's roommate. >> that's right. >> dorothy west said wherever it was, a political party, wherever, whenever a white woman walked into the room, it was trouble. all right? >> absolutely. >> if you were in the southern
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states, it couldn't mean a thing. if they spent the night in a home, when the people went back up north, the house was burnedded down. i think it's -- did you -- i have not finished the book, but do you have the trouble in there? >> not only the trouble, but one of the reasons -- so glad you said that in particular, this is a hard book to research, is some of the white women who were most important and influential in harlem, like mary white, believed deeply and for good reason, that the only way they could contribute effectively to the harlem renaissance was not to draw attention to themselveses, not to make it about them, and they went to great lengths, sometimes to destroy their own papers or in other cases, like mary white, to write what they wrote so carefully that you can hardly get to the women underneath this really, really constructed prose because they understood that.
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there were women who understood that white women had so long been troubled, capital "t" in boldfaced type, 28 inch font; right? , that they had to tread extremely carefully if they were going to do anything that they could feel good about. it's a wonderful point. >> i think we have time for one more. >> you used the word "complicated" that this is a very complicated issue, and yet i never once heard in the discussion whether or not you explored the psychological reasons why these women or these human beings wiewld feel so strongly about wanting to -- i don't know if we want to use the word "pass," but experience
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blackness or be blacks, and to me, quite frankly, that's more interesting thought. >> one of the very difficult things, and i know there's a lot of biographers in the room, and any biographer faces this is trying to thread the needle and trying a way between trying to imagine what somebody's motives would be and get inside their heads, and i did consider that to be part of the job, without agenting like an amateur sigh colings and pronouncing or diagnosing them, and i'll leave it to readers to determine how effectively or ineffectively i managedded did thread or did not thread the needle. i picked women who left enough of a record, either in diaries, letters, or in unpublished writings, that i heard them
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talking about their motives, talking about their reasons, talking about how this fit their lives and what it meant for them, and women for whom i could not find that discussion at alling and one of them was mary white. i ended up not making major characters in the book because i thought that question of why anybody steps outside themselves to try to step into a world in which they are not entirely woked is a really important question. >> and i think in my book there's some common threads, and one of them is music. there were a lot of musicians in my book passing for blacks, and the reasons for doing so was connected to the art and the authenticity question of performing black music as a white musician or white artist. i think art plays a tremendous role here in terms of someone wanting the authenticity that they envision that coming with a different race. >> i think we're out of time,
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unfortunately, but we'll be here. carla will be signing books, and you can chat to us then. thank you, and thank you, carla. >> thank you for coming. [applause] >> thank you for being with us, we have copies the great book, we invite you to have your books signed. thank you all, and good evening.
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this is about 45 minutes. [applause] >> thank you. it's an honor to be introduced by a fellow nantucket.
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both of our kids were educated by them and it's great to see you here in brookline. it is wonderful to be in the coolidge center theatre with this great bookstore and the co-sponsor with the historical society which has been an institution that is an absolutely essential to my life as a historian. i sometimes sort of feel like i have taken up residence in the archives there. every book i have done there has been essential information that has come from their but none more so than "bunker hill." many of the characters i delve into, their papers or they are and what we call the mhs and it's just an organization that is essential to anyone who is looking into not only the history of austin but this country. and the genesis for "bunker hill" really goes back to the summer of 1984.
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my wife and i had just moved to boston full-time. we were living on print street on the north end. add it was at that time a journalist but my primary responsibility was to be at home with our almost 2-year-old daughter, jenny so i have a lot of free time on my hands and i would push the stroller through the corrected streets of the north end. it was there, cops phil was a favorite hangout and it was there that i began to think what was it like back then? when i thought back then i thought of the book i had read in middle school along with many people of my generation, johnny tremaine. that just captivated me as well as the movie and what was revolutionary boston like? i began to actually look into the history of boston that year
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in 1984 on sundays when melissa was at home. i went go to the boston public library and begin to look into the history of the city. soon after that we would end up on nantucket and quickly my growing interest in history was directed to my new adopted home. i went on that path but it was after writing mayflower which begins with that famous voyage that ends with king philip's wae english native peoples of this region and i began to realize i wanted to continue the story so to speak. mayflower ends in 1676 and even during the midst of this terrible battle it was amazing, the governor of massachusetts insisted to an agent from the king, king charles the second that the king would be wise if anything to give more liberties
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to those in america. their own general court, the laws enacted i doubt which superceded anything they were going to get from parliament. it sounded very eerily like what was going to be said 100 years later. it was with that i began to think at some point i would want to continue the story and do something about the revolution. i would then write a book about the battle of little big horn, the last stand. i was working on that look about a very complicated battle that i began to set my sights on the battle of unhcr hill. from the beginning i didn't see this as a battle look. all of my looks one way or another about communities under enormous stress whether they are on a whale ship or a whaleboat or taking a passage into an unknown new world. those are the kinds of stories i find it interesting and what interested me what happened to the people of boston in the
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revolution. i knew that bunker hill was going to be the pivot point and it seemed to make sense that i should start after the boston tea party when britain responded with the dumping of three shiploads of tea into the boston harbor where the institution of the boston port act, which basically shut down the town commercially, sealed off the port and would begin there with the arrival of the lieutenant general and royal governor thomas gage military governor and his four regiments of british regulars and it would take the story to the up tick of tension is boston became an -- a militarily occupy city to the skirmishes at lexington and concord with bunker hill ain't the point at which violence turned from skirmishes into
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all-out war and the battle of bunker hill was the turning point when it was realized that this was going to be something more than a dust-up that could be dealt with diplomatically. this was going to move into new and truly terrifying directions. and what a lot of people think of outside of boston is when they look to revolutionary austin they think of boston as the center of patriot defiance which it originally was but with the arrival of general gage and his growing army of british regulars that would grow to almost 9000 by the end of the occupation of boston, boston became instead of the center of patriot defiance it was turned inside out as patriots began to flee the city particularly soon after lexington and concord which created a waive of panic and not just bostonians began to leave the city by people who
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lived around boston began to flow out. boston became emptied of most of its inhabitants. this was an island, this was truly an island community and it was interesting to me being an island or that has a year-round population of 15,000 to think that on nantucket, to think that boston was basically an island connected by a thin neck of land known as the neck that was as narrow as 100 yards at high tide in some places that led to roxbury. then it was this island dominated by three hills almost of mountainous proportions with a small town of 15,000 people crammed into a group of houses in the north and south ends. this was an island and it was easily, after lexington and concord the patriot inhabitants fled al to. they would be about 3000 nonmilitary people left in the
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city. most of them loyalists, refugees and a smattering of patriots who decided to leave, decided to stay so they could look after their houses along with 9000 soldiers. so boston became a city under siege as paid trip militia who had been involved in the skirmishes of lexington and concord and towns well beyond flooded cambridge and roxbury on either side of boston and literally surrounded the city. so boston was now the former center of defiance was a british garrison under it a patriots siege. now the point of the siege is to cut off the city and starve it to death. this wasn't going to happen in boston because the english had the navy, the british navy with ships or off the harbor and you
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know today the town of nantucket nantucket -- excuse me, the town of boston is now the city of boston and it's almost unrecognizable to the way it was. many of those hills that once defined the island that was lost and were shaved down to fill in the back bay, the back bay was a day. it was water. then upon sunriver came in much closer than it does now. what is now washington as you walk that end, that was the neck as you come and from now the south bend into boston. this was an island and one of dozens of islands that occupy gigantic boston harbor. they had ships scattered throughout the harbor in strategic areas and cap the entrance opens so that they could get revisions whether they be from england or from canada. this meant even though they were
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completely surrounded by land boston as it british occupy a garrison is going to starve. so it became a stalemate that then erupted into violence in the battle of bunker hill in june 1775. and this was a battle like none other. it was a terrifying cater for those not only living in boston but in towns around because all of the roofs of boston were filled with people watching as more than 2000 british regulars made their way across the harbor into the charles river to the charles town financial and began the assault that would erupt into the battle of bunker hill. so this was something viewed i everyone there. then they would settle into a stalemate that would then have
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george washington arrived and that would change everything. eventually, in march 1776, the british wood he forced to evacuate with the arming of george esther heights and i will get to that later but that was the arc i wanted to tell them the story. with the up tick up tensions with the arrival with the boston port act and then with the evacuation. so when i began this research almost immediately i realized i was going to -- the characters i was going to focus on were not the characters most of us are familiar with is what was happening as tensions were building with boston was the continental congress met for the first time in philadelphia in the fall of 1774 which meant that leaders such as john adams and sam adams were out of town
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when all of this was beginning to unleash. and tensions were escalating with the boston port act but it was really an act that followed this, one of many acts, the massachusetts government act which brought vitale not only of its commercial way of life but of its government, the entire province lost -- the town meetings were outlawed except for an annual one and the town meetings have been the fundamental way of life of the town. they have also been the fundamental lifeblood of the patriot movement because it was sam adams who really was in many ways the presiding presence as tensions built between great written and the american colonies particularly in massachusetts. but he had a problem. by 1772, two years after the boston massacre and unsettling
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call settling on boston. the patriot movement was losing steam and it was in doubt fault that he instituted the boston committee of correspondence. it was a brilliant move because what he did was create a network of communication that had never existed before in which a 21 member committee in boston would write up tracks that were then distributed to 250 pounds throughout massachusetts. remember this is a time when massachusetts included what is now modern maine and this set ud town meetings that usually were devoted to discussing things like repairing roads and bridges on the issues of the day. one of the first tracks that was distributed was an argument how the natural rights of man superceded anything parliament could determine.
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they soon got a bunch of responses from towns throughout massachusetts about why we feel this is important and suddenly adams had found a network of communication that was independent of the royal government that allowed people throughout massachusetts to talk among one another, to share ideas and these letters began to come in from committees of correspondence in towns throughout massachusetts. they began to get unusual responses. i would like to read one from the book, one response from the town of quorum which is about 10 miles inland of what is now portland me -- port lomé. what became clear is if there were radicals in massachusetts they are not necessarily in boston. they were in all the towns surrounding them because many of these people saw their current
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problems not so much in terms of what representation in parliament but in terms of their freedoms, the freedoms that they felt had been earned by their ancestors in the lead of the indian wars that had preceded all of this. i think this, and for the citizens of quorum the fight for liberty and now i'm quoting from my book, was not about the current frustrations with parliament. it was about the terror, anger and violence that went with colonizing this ancient and bloodsoaked lands. our eyes have seen our young children while turning and therefore in our own houses and are dearest friends in captivity they wrote to the boston committee of correspondents in january of 1773. just 16 years before it and attacked in a native rate. several people have been killed and several of that good.
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this was still fresh in their memories. we had been used to earning our daily read with their weapons in our hands. therefore we cannot be supposed to be fully appointed with the mystery sochor policy but they look upon ourselves as lee equal to judge soap or dark concerning our rights as men. we look with horror and indignation on the violation. many of our women who used to handle the cartridge and load the musket and the swords for our enemies are not yet grown rusty. what they have discovered was if these growing tensions should ever move in the direction of violence the militiamen and the 250 towns of massachusetts were there for them. if the words from gorham as early as january 1773 were any indication these people were willing to fight. and so tensions would uptick.
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sam adams and john adams and several of the other leaders were away on their way to philadelphia at the end of august and early september of 1774. thomas gage has been put, the british general has been put in an impossible situation. he might've had a chance at convincing the people of boston to pay for their tea and to begin to respect the authority of parliament if parliament had stuck with the boston port act but they came up with the massachusetts government act which meant that royal appointees were replacing people that should have from their perspective been elected. they went crazy and many of these royal appointees were attacked, forced to flee into boston and gage decided with these growing tensions it was time to round up as much of the gunpowder as he could. each town had legally a certain amount of gunpowder.
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they were in powder houses all around the province. gage determined to get the powder, the powder house that is now modern somerville so in the early morning hours he sent some soldiers in boats up the mystic river and the operation went on without a hitch. they were able to get the powder, take it to castle william which is where the fork was where they were stopped piling this kind of thing. it went off without a hitch except the rumor was spread. the rumor spread like wildfire and as the british were there in what was then part of cambridge they fired upon some militiamen and several people were killed. it hadn't happened but that was the rumor and the rumor spread through towns throughout massachusetts. this was early september 1774 and suddenly the entire region to rub did with a call to arms.
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hundreds and thousands of militiamen began to stream and towards cambridge and began that night and all the next day cambridge began to fill up with militiamen. they soon learned that there was no violence but there were all these people with their weapons in the middle of cambridge. it was a very volatile crowd and these were the country people who had turned into the rabble-rousers. it was then -- sam adams wasn't there and john adams wasn't there. they needed someone from the boston committee of correspondence to show up and try to calm things down. in samuel adams absence a new person began to emerge as one of the leaders of the boston revolutionary movement. he was a young dr. named joseph award. 33 years old. he had been an accolade really of samuel adams for more than a
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decade and he had gained more and more of a public presence. he was a different kind of guy from sam adams. sam adams was almost two decades older. he had a different approach. joseph warren, there was a charisma about him and i'd like to read a passage in my book that describes warren as he -- because the quest went out that he come to cambridge said he and other members of the committee went to cambridge to try to quiet things down and they were successful in this. it was the key point at which this young 33-year-old man joseph warren stepped to the forefront of the patriot movement and here's a brief description of his background. whereas saying no adams was part political boss in part ideologue warren close to two decades younger processed a swashbuckling personal magnetism.
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gorham just across from the boston neck was a boy often seen wandering the streets of boston selling milk from the family farm. the oldest of four brothers warren was recognized as an unusually gifted lloyd and when he was 14 he began his studies at harvard or the fall of that year his father was paid thing apples from the top of a tall ladder when he fell and broke his neck. warren's and his brother john had been two years old at the time of the tragic event and one of his first memories was of watching his father's lifeless body being -- lifeless body being carried away. warren was able to continue in harvard and later served as a surrogate parent for his brother's particularly for john hood recently finished his apprenticeship with warren and was now a doctor and salem. at harvard warren's talent for pursuing a variety of extra creek that 70's. early on hesed aged several performances of clinically themed play keto in his dorm
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room. the french and indian war was in full swing and he joined the college's militia company. the classmate told the story of how warren responded to being locked out of the meeting of fellow students in an upper dormitory room. instead of pounding at the door he made his way to the building's roof, shimmy down a rain spout and climbed in through an open window. just as he was making his entrance this bout collapsed to the ground in a spectacular crash. warren simply shrugged and commented this bout served its purpose. for a boy who lost his father to a fatal fall it was an illustrative bit of bravado. this was a young man who dared to do what should by all rights have terrified him. it was at harvard that warren showed an interest in medicine, great challenge for medical students in 18th the 18th century was finding human cadavers for dissection. it's likely that warren was a member of the club of medical students for which we know his younger brother john and warns apprentice william eustis
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remembers who regularly raided graveyards jails and poorhouses in search of hotties, illegal yet all in the name of a higher good to this grisly game of capture the corpse was a perfect training ground for future revolutionary. so this was a leader with a difference and he would be successful in cooling tempers and what was known as the powder alarm. he would then be instrumental in writing the suffolk resolves which would make their way down to that first continental congress, be approved by them pushing congress into a more radical direction than they probably would have gone and then has time continued as a leader in the movement. he would become a member of the provincial congress that the columnist put together to provide them with some kind of organizational forces they prepare themselves for potential violence.
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it would be warren who on the night of april 18 would give paul revere those famous orders to tell the countryside that the british were headed for concord. warren was one of, probably the only patriot leaders still in boston. he would cross the river the next morning after a meeting of the committee of safety which was operated as the executive ranch of the province at this point. he would then join the fighting along the battle world as the british who had made it to concord for their way back towards boston and warren took took -- was right there in the midst of the fighting and in fact he was a very stylish dresser. he had a pin that was holding up the horizontal curl at the side of his hair and a musket ball past soap close to him that it
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knocked out the pin. this was a sign to everyone that this was a leader who was very willing to put himself in dangerous path. after lexington and concord as cambridge and roxbury filled up with militiamen warren would be a lot did president of the provincial congress. he was also the leading light of the committee of safety so in effect he was the leader of the legislative body and the executive body. he was way overtaxed in terms of what he had to do but his standing was so high that people in massachusetts felt that there was no one else who could do it. this was a 33-year-old man. by this time is for children and his new fiancée were in worcester and he was managing things in cambridge. during those 60 days he was the one overseeing the creation of a war, of an army and it was the
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battle of bunker hill approach. he was named a major general and so from the beginning he had decided that if it should turn to war, he wanted to be in the fighting. he would be at the battle of bunker hill and he would die at the very end of the battle and thus become a hero. because he died, many of us have never heard his story. and just a word on the battle of bunker hill. it began as a mess. it was not supposed to be that way and this is a battle name for the wrong hill. they were supposed to put the -- which is an earthen fort. the patriots knew that the british were planning an attack. in the hope to delay that they'd they decided to build an earthen fort on bunker hill which is to the north of the charles town peninsula have way --
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half mile away from breeds hill where the monument is now but for reasons we are unsure of even today we impress god, more than a thousand people tilt their fort not on bunker hill but i'm breeds hill right in the figure face of the british in boston. general gage woke up the next morning he felt he had no choice but to attack this threat to that shipping and to boston itself or the fort that was supposed to delay an attack actually provoked an attack and this battle would unfold causing all sorts of mayhem. and it would become the bloodiest battle with more than 2000 british regulars involved. they would suffer casualties of close to 50% which is just devastating. this would be a british victory technically. they would take the red out but as william haugh the general on the ground during the battle
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would admit it was a victory bought at too many lives. washington would arrive in washington was one of the great surprises to me. it was a great relief to find out he was not born a statuesque person that stares at us from the dollar bill. this was a young washington who arrived from virginia and was appalled at what he found, this group of 30 provincial soldiers none of whom were disciplined or interested in following orders. washington decided that he had no choice but to try to attack as soon as he could. fortunately his soldiers were not as sincerely the best trained and he also didn't have the gunpowder he needed. his decisions to attack were luckily for all of us were opposed by his council of war.
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but he was always pushing, pushing and pushing. he provided a real electrical force to an army that was in disarray after the death of joseph warren. finally with the occupation of george esther heights which involves one of the great stories of new england history with a bookseller henry knox going to fort ticonderoga and returning with the canons some of which would be placed in dorchester heights to force the evacuation of the british. that is boston that went from being a city that have been occupy to being a city that had to pull itself together. this had been a devastating experience for everyone and 9000 soldiers left along with about a thousand loyalists never to return. bostonians would filter back and the town had been beat up terribly.
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many structures had been burned as the british tried to keep themselves in the winter but bostonians by and large have survived. i would like to end my remarks by quoting a passage from a sermon that was delivered by reverend samuel cooper on april 7, 1776, his first after the evacuation of the british and much as we have seen boston in the last few weeks his have been a community that had seen the worst of times but they had made it through and so he delivered the sermon. i would like to read it. this quote serves as the epigraph for my book. it's a short one but i think it's to the point. boston has been like efficient of moses, it was burning but not consumed. thank you very much.
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[applause] do you have any questions? i would be happy to try to answer them. see you feature a number of characters that are not household names. you talked about joseph warren, his fiancée. he didn't talk about but it's wonderfully described in your book, joyce junior and malcolm a wonderful cast of key year's. how did you settle, what was your process unsettling on those historical characters as opposed to perhaps others that were known or maybe the thought of that rejected? >> well thank you and this is dr. samuel foreman who is the biography of joseph form was a
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huge help to me so thank you, sam. it's a real contribution to all of us. [applause] thank you for that question. it was a story that was full of surprises for me. i kept discovering these characters and there is this joyce junior character who appears in a nathaniel hawthorne short story in the fictional warmth of a kind of thuggish vigilante who is dressed in a costume like an evil, that kind of thing, and organizes patriots in tar and feather in. he describes himself as the chairperson of tar and feather in, the committee of tar and feathering in boston. in my first chapter i describe the tar and feathering of a customs agent john malcolm and it was just a horrifying affair that happened in january of 177f
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that winter. they would pour the hot tar on his flesh, place feathers on it and drag him around the streets of boston often in a cart and on occasion beating him up for hours until finally they dumped him at his house in the north end. he would be in bed recovering for six weeks but he would live. he was -- his younger brother daniel who died several years before had been a foremost patriot and there in the malcolm family you could see how much of a civil war this wasn't how it divided families. we think of it as patriots versus british but bostonians were deeply divided as these issues began to bubble up and it was a truly traumatic occurrence.
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the nathaniel i still have not read "moby dick". i hope to one of these days. thanks to dr. foreman. i have lived here in boston for about a year and a half now. i am a new yorker and i'm rooting for the knicks tonight. they don't need my help. thanks to dr. form and who i went to hear talk about bunker hill our -- learned of this gentleman joseph warren. i had never heard of joseph warren. my sister has lived here in boston for four years and i have visited every historic site in new england and boston several times. never heard of it. dr. foreman said this is a unique human being. since then i have talked to in number of native australians and
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i'm amazed at how few of them have ever heard of joseph warren. thanks to europe book which he did send me an advance copy of so i just got ahold of it yesterday. you mentioned your book talks about two charismatic men one from massachusetts and one from virginia. i'm assuming i know the answer to the man from massachusetts is joseph warren. i have wondered since i've been here wise in their bridge named after joseph warren? >> yeah. speed reading the book there was a ridge named after joseph warren. can you tell me what happened to it? >> my history of boston passed 1776 is very thin. joseph warren was the hero of his day. he was someone that was a
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revered icon of the time, and would perhaps have been a founding father if he had lived but he didn't live. so he did not become part of that pantheon that we are so aware of today. but it's interesting, i loyalists who did not necessarily appreciate joseph warren's efforts probably gave him some of the greatest praise where it years after his death and this was as much an attempt to take it to george washington but he said if joseph warren had lived instead of dying in the battle of bunker hill washington would have been in obscurity which just gives you a sense of how highly respected he was. and how absolutely pivotal he was to the events that created our country and the city. you are right, he is largely unappreciated. speak in new york we rename the
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triborough bridge the robert f. kennedy bridge. there is richer in boston that i think should be named after joseph warren. >> okay we will talk to our congresspeople. >> him i have one more brief question and? >> you have got to cut to the chase. >> do you know where that famous statement was made, do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes? >> we have all heard that. don't fire in till you see the whites of their eyes. it may never have been said at the battle of bunker hill. there is no document. so-and-so said to me don't fire. the one reference i saw that was documented with someone saying don't fire until you see the whites of their half gators which are the splash guards. it doesn't quite have the same bring, does it? but it was a phrase that have been used a four the battle and after so it very easily could.
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it's interesting when you think about looking at people that's very close. what is interesting in my account of the battle is that was the big that the patriots were using. they didn't have a lot of gunpowder. they were dug in so those provincial soldiers knew they had to make every shot count. their officers were telling them they had to wait, they had to wait and they also had to aim low. they listen to those orders without devastating results. >> hi. i first of all wanted to say i enjoyed -- and secondly i am
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very familiar with joseph warren and i'm a descendent of mercy scollay who eventually did marry. my question is about your description of 9000 troops in boston, british troops in boston. and i'm wondering if for a lot of people left with the population was. in other words, were there more than 9000 boston residents who were surrounded or less than 9000 that were surrounded by british officers? >> yeah. there were about 3000 show we call them civilians in the city at the time. a lot of the loyalists and some
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people just they're caught in the middle of it. and so you have the city that was the population pretty close to what it had originally been that it was largely soldiers. and so they had taken up residence in houses, turned the other war around. just the ultimate indignity. the green dragon, the tavern that had been the patriot in her center was turned into a hospital and so the city was beat up and it was city of military occupation. so this was a real trauma for all involved. >> i would think so. thank you. >> thank you.
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>> they had 9000 british troops and they have the ships and that is how i understand they were fed by the ships coming from nova scotia. why did they stay in boston? they could've gone up the north shore and they could've gone down this floor -- south shore. they could've gone around charles town. why did they stay? >> that's a very good question and one that the british asked immediately after bunker hill. they said hey what are we doing here? boston is not a strategically placed city when it comes to caring on what is obviously award. very quickly after bunker -- bunker hill age made this suggestion we should reform and free lunch and invasion of america to the south, perhaps new york and that is exactly where they would go that summer. the parliament, the british ministry of.
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with them so by the end of that summer at the decision had been made that they were going to evacuate boston anyway. that is one of the great ironies the british had decided to leave there was no need to attack but of course the americans did not know this. prior to all of this the british had made an attempt to sort of show there might. they had earned the town which is now portland, maine and instead of striking fear into the hearts of the new englandero such a point that i made it clear that it isn't helping our cause at all. what they were finding is what happens to any empire that finds it has to in conducting a war in which they have to attack civilians. it's hard to feel good about those kinds of wars and that is
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what the british found themselves in the middle of. it was not a situation and if the british soldiers enjoyed. in fact it was a horrible duty and would become the graveyard of many an officer's career. >> hi. i have a question about the primary sources that you used. you bring so much light to the story and it's not like they are new sources. this all happened long time ago. what kinds of documents and how do you find so much vitality and them? >> well you know for me it's all in the details. it's finding those traits, those characteristics that bring a person to life are a situation to life. you really have to go to the primary sources to find them. in the case of those, the sources are extraordinarily rich so the papers of the warren family are at the massachusetts
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historical society. the book still exists and the notes on who he was taking care of and what time, what the prescription was and it runs right up to april 1775. it's just an extraordinary document. that's just the beginning. barrow all sorts of primary source materials. the diaries are wonderful when it comes to bringing the past to life. you have not only were these people witnesses but you had their voices coming through. those can be of great help and then the other interesting source which is not necessarily as reliable or the newspapers. what you find is the newspapers all had a political ax to grind for combining newspapers from both sides it's interesting you can often get the side of the story not revealed from other sources and that is the rate challenge and also trying to get
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a balance and an account if possible. >> thank you for the talk. the gentleman from new york with a question about the warren memorial. if i'm not mistaken there are several warren streets. there is one in roxbury and anyone in this country whose first name is warren is named after joseph warren the way people might be named after washington and i believe anyone named wayne is named after anthony wayne of the west. i could be wrong about this but the warren building is named after joseph warren and the entire line of doctors from the warren family. would you want to comment about that and am i correct in saying warren burger of the supreme court and so forth, the surname
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is their first name coming from joseph warren? >> i can't vouch for that certainly that might actually be the case. it's almost like archaeology in terms of warren was such a popular name in the early 19th century that got past him and is part of people's genealogy and where that came from his publicly in an individual case. the point you made joseph warren's younger brother john found mass general. this is an extraordinarily capable family that would spawn generations of leading doctors. so this was a person with talent that went way beyond anyone's. in many ways joseph warren was a victim of his tremendous talent. he was doing everything in those final six to eight days of his life as he ran into one crisis
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after another. all of my looks in one way or another about leadership. a very different personality and different kind of leader kind of a leadership vacuum left by the death of warren. do things firmly and do things in a way that settled things down because times have changed. it's gone from the screwing revolution into a stalemate that will ultimately turn into a war. that takes a different kind of government. i think one of the great what-ifs is how helpful it would then to washington because washington had real trouble when it came to improvements at the end of the year. he lost most of his army. when it was done they were going to go home. washington didn't really have an
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effective goal between him and the soldiers. warren would have been perfect at that. it would have been appealing to their better nature but such the what-ifs that are not a part of history. thank you very much. [applause]
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