Skip to main content

tv   Jefferson and Hamilton  CSPAN  December 24, 2013 11:45pm-12:56am EST

11:45 pm
miami book fair international. to find out more visit miamibookfair.com. with a few weeks left in 2013, many publications are putting out the year-end lists of notable books. these titles were included in the kansas -- "kansas city star" top book of the year.
11:46 pm
up next on booktv historian john ferling.en thomas this program is just over an al hour. [applause] >> hello, everybody, and i want [apphank the atlantic history
11:47 pm
center for inviting me in.rybodw for providing much nicer weather for me than six years ago when i came in when my wife carol and i were driving in that day in and my wife carol and i were driving in that day. we looked at the monitor on the dashboard of the car and it was 103 degrees as they came in. it's much nicer tonight. i want to thank you for coming out and especially on a night when my pittsburgh pirates are struggling to stay alive. i guess we will find out how they came out when this is over. i want to talk with you tonight about jefferson and hamilton. they are political battle was over the shape and character of the new american nation and that battle has in a sense never really ended. it puts one in mind of a line
11:48 pm
from faulkner when he said the past isn't dead. in fact the past isn't even past because jefferson and hamilton's battle was over the same kind of issues that have been perennial battles in american political history. struggles over the power and intrusiveness of the federal government, over which americans were to be empowered, over the distribution of wealth and over the size of the american military. the reputations of hamilton and jefferson have ebbed and flowed over the years. jefferson was the predominant figure all the way down to the civil war. in fact hamilton was almost forgotten during much of that time period but it was a rural society. jefferson's party was triumphant during the early part of the
11:49 pm
19th century and jefferson predominated. but then jefferson's reputation suffered somewhat as a result of the civil war. a u.s. after all a southerner and a slave owner and following the civil war the country began to industrialize, following the lines that hamilton had emphasized. hamilton's reputation soared but then jefferson's came back again in the early 20th century. franklin roosevelt's new deal embraced jefferson and it was during roosevelt's presidency in 1943 on the 200th anniversary of jefferson's birth at the jefferson memorial in washington d.c. but then after world war ii with the cold war, with america
11:50 pm
triumphant militarily and industrialized urbanized nation hamilton's reputation soared again and jefferson's has plummeted somewhat in the aftermath of the civil rights revolution and revelations about his relationship with sally hemings. and in fact, during the lifetimes of jefferson and hamilton, both men were praised and condemned just as they have been by subsequent generations. for example, governor mora maurice said of hamilton it seems as if god had called him suddenly into existence but he might assist to save the world. and there were those who condemned hamilton like abigail adams who said not only that she thought hamilton wished to be
11:51 pm
america's napoleon but she said, i have read his heart and his wicked eyes in the very devil is in them. [laughter] her husband john adams said of hamilton, his talents are greatly exaggerated. he wishes to destroy everyone in his way and adams was just warming up with those comments. he went on to call hamilton a breath of the scottish peddler. his ambition, his restlessness and always grandiose schemes come on condensed a super abundance of secretions which he couldn't find enough to absorb. [laughter] jefferson was praised by some. abigail adams said of jefferson, he is one of the choice ones of
11:52 pm
the earth and john adams lauded his extraordinary mind and praised him as a gifted writer. lafayette called jefferson good, upright and enlightened. thomas ship in the philadelphia was on a european tour following his schooling and while in france he met jefferson and said of jefferson he's the wisest and most amiable man in europe. there were those who didn't care for jefferson. charles carol of harrington said jefferson was too theoretical and fanciful to be a statesman and one of jefferson's enemies in virginia john nicholas said that he thought jefferson was the most intriguing and double faced man in american politics. so, these two have had the pros and cons thrown at them since their lifetime and by
11:53 pm
generations that followed. the two were similar in some ways been different in many ways. they were different in the sense that they had very different, a very different youth. hamilton didn't grow up in an impoverished background but what a sociologist would probably call a lower middle-class background. jefferson on the other hand was the son of a plantar aristocrat, and his mother was from the prestigious randolph family in virginia. he grew up on a plantation near present-day charlottesville. they were different in appearance. hamilton was about average height. he was about 5 feet 7 inches tall in those days but very
11:54 pm
small in stature and many people describe hamilton is having a somewhat feminine manner about him. jefferson on the other hand was quite tall. he was about 6 feet 2 inches which for our time period would be the equivalent of someone who is about 6 feet 5 inches or 6 feet 6 inches towering over most other men. jefferson was described by many people as having a mild and pleasing personality but rather shy and rather serious, somewhat grave demeanor, a man with poor posture where hamilton tended to stand ramrod straight according to many people. jefferson was described as a senator from pennsylvania while he was secretary of state as
11:55 pm
entering a room, speaking without ceasing, rambling in his talk but offering spicy comments and scattering information, some of it really and said that observer. hamilton tended to be rather outgoing in his personality, somewhat domineering where is jefferson was quite reserved. jefferson hated confrontations throughout his life. hamilton relished them. jefferson tended to be a somewhat manipulative individuaindividua l. hamilton seemed to attract his followers by the force of his personality. around women when they were young, jefferson was quite shy. hamilton on the other hand fancied himself as a ladykiller and in fact, when the army would
11:56 pm
go into winter quarters and a number of young women would calm to camp with their fathers, hamilton courted so many of them that washington's wife martha washington named her tomcat hamilton. [laughter] both became lawyers, but jefferson hated practicing law. the moment that he got married and was independent economically he quit his legal practice for good. hamilton loved practicing law. he loved the give-and-take of the courtroom and the fighting that went on and jefferson had a passion for architecture and gardening. hamilton was largely indifferent to that. during washington's presidency, early in the presidency when they were still in relatively
11:57 pm
good terms jefferson invited hamilton to his residence in new york and when hamilton came in he saw the pictures of three men on the wall. hamilton asked, who are those three men? jefferson responded, they are the three greatest men in history, john locke, sir isaac newton and sir francis bacon. hamilton corrected him by saying no, the greatest man in history was julius caesar. jefferson never got over that and never forgot that. for all of their differences and there were similarities between these two. both had rather unhappy youths. jefferson tellingly referred to youths at the time of what he called colonial subservience. if you think about that a little bit, that comes from a man who was the author of the declaration of independence,
11:58 pm
break away from the subservience. hamilton endured in the a youth that a novel is like charles dickens would have been hard pressed to write about i think. jefferson -- hamilton's mother was branded by the courts as a horror. his father abandoned the family. his mother and father never married so hamilton was an illegitimate child and the bigots of that day not finding enough to occupy their prejudices visited much of it on illegitimate children. not so much on the parents but on the child himself so that hamilton i think must have experienced a thousand cruel lows in his youth. we know that he was discriminated against in the sense that he could not attend
11:59 pm
public schools where he was growing up. i think out of that youth, hamilton is really shaped. i believe in the old adage that the child is the father to the man and in this instance i think hamilton comes out of his youths guard and is driven from map point on to seek fame, to seek renown, to seek respect and that drives him throughout his life. another similarity is that both surprisingly grew up with slaveowning parents. jefferson's father owned about 200 slaves and hamilton's mother owned five slaves. both were extremely ambitious. jefferson spoke of that little
12:00 am
tincture of ambition as he put it, but there was more than a little in jefferson and a great deal and hamilton. .. it would provide a more universal acquaintance for him as he put it, and it would be serviceable to me. >> both of these men like, i think, every 2009 founders during -- every one of the founders caught the eye of older men who became they're patrons and helped further their career, and hamilton's case, a presbyterian minister in
12:01 am
christian raised money to send hamilton to the mainland colonies to study. the hope was that hamilton would attend what is now princeton university, but his preparatory education was deficient, and after prolonged study on his own he wound up what was is now columbia university. jefferson was shepherded along by william small, his favorite professor and later by andrew watt, the leaden lawyer in the state and a signer of the declaration of independence. they were similar in the fact that they were both of fast ball. -- of fast affable.
12:02 am
when hamilton was washington's aide during the revolutionary war, the other aids liked him and called him ham or hammy and palled around with him. and there are more signaturently jefferson and hamilton were alike in one other way, and that is they were both revolutionaries. both were caught up in the american revolution. hamilton is the more intriguing of the two. when one tries to determine why he became a revolutionary. if you are a cynic, and i'm somewhat cynical -- one could argue that hamilton was merely an opportunist, and i think that is part of what went into him becoming a supporter of the american revolution. i don't think he was alone in
12:03 am
that respect. i think you can say that about virtually everyone who was a major figure in the american revolution, but if you think about it for a moment, he comes to new york, knows very little about the background of the protests against england, which had started almost a decade before he arrived, in new york. and he, i think, looks at the situation and makes, as hamilton was also wont to do, a calculated digits, which would be the best way for me to go? if i choose england, then can i rise very far? if i choose america and a new nation emerges, doors will open, and the way will be clear, perhaps, for me to rise. but i would not say that opportunityism alone explains
12:04 am
hamilton's revolutionary bent. he was a recent immigrant to new york, and like recent immigrants, many of them embraced their new country and see it as a place that has given them opportunities that did not exist for them where they cam from, and they fall in love with their new country and want to serve their new country, and hamilton was, to be sure, an intense american nationalist, from the 1770s until his death in 1804. and he served and risks his life for his country during he revolutionary war. so i think there was more to hamilton than merely oppor tu
12:05 am
nism. jefferson becomes a revolution, i think, through his studies of the enlightment. he is introduced to the enlightenment in preparatory school. delves further into it at the college of william and mary, and the injured -- undergirding was to question everything, and jefferson does question everything, including his society in virginia. he wonders why there are so many people in virginia who have so little property, so little power and so many others with so much power, and then he looks at england and asks the same questions about england as well. and for jefferson, i think, the american revolution from the very beginning, was about reform. reforming virginia, breaking
12:06 am
away from england, and creating an america that would offer to use thomas payne's term, in common sense, the birthday of a new world. and that was what jefferson was, after, i think. >> during the american revolution the two played very different roles. hamilton was a soldier. he went into the militia on the eve of the outbreak of the war then, into the continental army, and for the first year of fighting, he is an officer and an artillery company -- in an artillery company. an observer at the time saw hamilton during washington's retreat across new jersey in the fall of 1776, and he said of
12:07 am
hamilton, he is a youth, a mere stripling, small, slender, almost delicate in frame, marching with acocked hat pulled down over his eyes, apparently lost in thought with his hand resting on a cannon, and every now and then patting it as if it were a favorite horse or pet play thing. hamilton, a year into his service in the continental army, was offered a position as an aide decamp to washington. he didn't really want that position. he had already been offered a position as an aide to lord sterling and turned that down. he wanted a field command. after all, he was unlikely to win glory and a desk job, but he could possibly win glory and a field command. and when washington offers him the position as an aide, hamilton debated it for several
12:08 am
days before he finally accepted, and he accepted it, i think, because he thought it would be a short-term appointment, leading to his appointment as a commander of a brigade, which was some of washington's other aides. he never grew very close to washington. washington was cold, olympian in public, and apparently the same way in private. hamilton had lost his father, who abandoned the family hen hamilton was only about ten or 11 years old, and i think he may have wanted washington to be a father to him, and washington was not going to be his father or anyone else's father. so, it was a rather cold, distant relationship, and at one point there was a blowup between the two.
12:09 am
in february 1781, washington passed hamilton in a hallway at headquarters and said, i need to see you about something, and hamilton had a load of papers in his hands and he said, let me put these down and i'll be right in but along the way he was distracted by someone, fell into a conversation, and forgot all about washington. and when he remembered, he went into washington's office quite late, and washington upbraided him. no one keeps me waiting, washington said to hamilton, and hamilton's response was, i quit. and he did quit. as washington's aide. but he told some other people, including his father-in-law, general skylar, what he had done, and skylar told him, get back to washington and apologize. and hamilton did that, and he
12:10 am
continued to serve washington in sort of an untitled position. but he said at the time to a friend, i really don't like washington. i've seen him up close and on the inside, and he is a coarse individual, and he is an overrated individual, hamilton said. but also, as he put it to martha washington following washington's death in 1799, washington is my aegis to success, and so he stuck with washington, and washington stuck with him during the remaining years. jefferson's revolution was extremely different from hamilton's. while hamilton was with washington and in battle, fighting in seven major
12:11 am
engagements during the war, risking his life, at one point being surprised by a british patrol and having, when they shot at him, having to dive off his boat into the cold river and swim for safety. jefferson served first in the house of -- then in congress and while in congress, his 15 months in congress, was the principal author of the declaration independence. almost meetly after independence was declared, however, jefferson left congress and returned to virginia because he was interested in reform. the continental congress was simply going to be a managerial bit that managed -- body that managed the conduct of the war and the conduct of the army, and hamilton wanted to -- jefferson,
12:12 am
rather, wanted to return to virginia and carry out as many reforms as he could. he didn't always succeed, but he pushed for reforms in the laws of virginia so that land would become more available. at one point ewhen proposed that all landless men -- white all landless free men in virginia be given land. something that didn't fly with the virginia assembly. but he did push for religious toleration, for reform of the criminal statutes in virginia, and many of his reforms were eventually realized. in 1779, with the war effort really suffering, washington came to the conclusion that the
12:13 am
best man who had once served in congress, men like benjamin franklin and john adams and jefferson, had left and the congress was suffering in their absence, and washington wrote to george mason in virginia and said, very pointedly, where is jefferson? when his country needs him? and that got back to jefferson, and stung by washington's apparent criticism, jefferson agreed to serve as the governor of virginia, and he served two extremely difficult and not terribly successful terms as the governor of virginia. i think almost any one of the governors would have had the difficulties that jefferson had, but he certainly did have a tempes tempestuous time.
12:14 am
for both the time period on the cusp of the 1780s and during the 1780s, were pivotal moments. for hamilton, i think the pivotal moment is the collapse of the american economy. it begins to collapse in 1777, and is utterly -- has utterly collapsed by 1779. i don't think hamilton understood the reasons for that collapse, and washington didn't, either. both initially thought it was due to lack of good leadership by congress. but the problems were really much deeper than that. and hamilton, beginning around 1779, began getting up at headquarters early in the morning, lighting a candle, and reading books.
12:15 am
studying, studying economics, reading hume, heading hobbs. reading the guy with my favorite name from all of the characters from the revenues -- revolutionary era. maliki poseltwait, and hamilton came to the conclusion the english had the right idea. the english economic system was the perfect system. it was a system that featured a strong government, strong enough to tax, strong enough to regulate commerce, it had national government, it had a fund edit. it was, in fact, what many
12:16 am
historians call aphis stall military state, state in which -- a fiscal military state, state in which given the economic measures that had begun to come into play around the 1690s in england, the nation had plenty of money to expand, and as it expanded, it acquired more wealth which flowed back into england and enabled it to expand even more. so that england, which in the mid-17th under, had been a rather backwater country in the affairs of europe, had, by hamilton and -- jefferson's time, become the largest empire in the western world since the roman empire. the most powerful country. the country that had won the seven years war or what we call the french and indian war, and hamilton begins to articulate
12:17 am
this vision of the english economic system for america in a series of essays that he published in newspapers in 1780 when he was only 25 years old; writing as what he called the continentalist. for jefferson, the pivotal moment in the 1780s occurs when he goes to france. i'm not sure what jefferson really envisioned after his disastrous gubernatorial experience, but he had certainly failed, and he said that he was finished with politics for all time. and i think what jefferson may have envisaged was a life somewhat like benjamin franklin who retired when he was in his early 40s, and wrote
12:18 am
newspapers and essays, and jefferson saw himself as perhaps becoming a sage that into sit atop the hill where monticello existed, doing at franklin had done. but jefferson's life took a wrong turn. his wife died in september of 1782 of complications from childbirth, and jefferson, after a time in which he appears to have been almost suicidal, he says, in one of his letters, he hints he might have committed suicide had it not been for the fact that he had three daughters at that point. but once he began to come out of that somewhat, he wanted to get away from monticello, and a diplomatic assignment abroad seemed the perfect thing. he went to philadelphia where congress was meeting in december
12:19 am
of 1782, and he stays there for about 75 days. hamilton, incidentally, was a member of congress at that point. hamilton was very close to james madison and jefferson was very close to james madison, and i suspect the two must have met during jefferson's stay in philadelphia, although there is no record in any of their correspondence in which either says anything about the other. jefferson eventually received an appointment as a diplomat in europe that turned into a position as the united states minister to france, and he lived in paris for five years, from 1784 until 1789. and it was a pivotal moment for jefferson. his ideas had already formed.
12:20 am
he long since had turned against monarchy and against aristocracy, and as i said earlier, wanted major reforms that would usher in this new world of which he dreamed. but in europe, in france, and in england on a stay -- short stay in england when he visited john and abigail adams, jefferson sees a world, an aristocratic world up close for the first time, and he says, once he sees this, that peasants in europe live a more retched life than the most conspicuously retched american lives. it wasn't epic scale of retchedness jefferson said. he quoted voltaire who said one
12:21 am
is a hammer or the anvil, and most people were the anvil. and jefferson came away with the conclusion that the monarchy and the aristocracy and the army that supported them and the church that supported them, were the causes of the enormous inequality of wealth that he beheld in europe. people lived in hovels but the wealthy were attended by scores of servants. the wealthy kept much of their land idle so their past time of hunting while most people were landless. when people like madison, from america, wrote to jefferson, and told him in the 1780s that there were americans in the
12:22 am
economic plight that america was experiencing after the revolution, told jefferson that some of those gentry in america were now wistfully thinking of the good old days of monarchy before 1776. jefferson said, in a reply to madison, if anybody thinks that kings, nobles, or priests are good conservators of public happiness, send them here to see with their own eyes that those who rule are a con fed -- confederacy against the happiness of the mass of the people. jefferson came home in 1789. not to stay. he planned to be in virginia for only about six months. he wanted to get his own economic affairs in order, and he wanted to get his oldest
12:23 am
daughter, martha, married while he was in virginia, and then he hoped to go back to france, where he could be an observer of the french revolution that had already begun. when jefferson came home, he knew that a new constitution had been written. he had read the constitution. he wasn't terribly happen with it. but he knew that washington was to be the first president, was the first president by then, and he thought all would be well as long as washington was in office. but the longer jefferson was in america, serving as washington's secretary of state, while hamilton served in the same cabinet as washington's secretary of the treasury, the scales began to fall from
12:24 am
jefferson's eyes. he began as hamilton's economic program, the same economic program that hamilton had outlined in the continentalist more than a decade before. as that economic program began to unfold, jefferson began to see that there was what he regarded as a hidden agenda to hamilton's program. it wasn't just about funding. it wasn't just about a bank. those things were bad enough from jefferson's point of view. but he believed that hamilton had another agenda. he came to the conclusion that hamilton and many around him were really counterrevolutionaries who wanted to roll back this birthday of a new world, that jefferson had hoped for. to restore much of what had existed before 1776.
12:25 am
why would he think that? well, for one thing, during the constitutional convention, hamilton had made a five-hour speech. those sessions were secret, but madison took notes on the talks, along with three or four other delegates to the convention, and madison viewerly broke the news to jefferson of what hamilton said. hamilton said in that speech that he favored a monarchy for the united states, that he favored that one house of the congress would be an be aristoct ic body and members held their seats for life and recommended the states be done away with entirely. as jefferson looked at things, as he studied hamilton's economic program, as he heard what hamilton had said, as he
12:26 am
became more familiar with the constitution, jefferson, i think, saw hamilton and his forces setting about to bring about what he thought of as the europeanization of american. they had a constitution which gave the national government enormous power. after all there was that supreme law of the land clause in the constitution, and a necessary and proper clause. he saw in hamilton's economic program, a program that would concentrate wealth in few hands. he saw in that program a situation in which, in time, northern businesses financiers would control the american government. already jefferson said there was
12:27 am
a corrupt squadron, as he put it, in congress, willing to advance the interests of merchants merchants merchants merchants and financiers, over and above those of the average person. he saw an incredibly powerful chief executive in the constitution. things were safe while washington was there, but who knew what would happen after washington. he saw a fiscal military state that would lead too a gargantuan military, and before the end of the 1790s the size of the army had been increased almost tenfold by hamilton's party, and hamilton had emerged as the leading figure, the inspector general, of that provisional army. jefferson, in shot saw hamilton's program as leading to
12:28 am
the doom of the birthday of a new world, that he treasured. in the end, i think it is jefferson who triumphs politically. jefferson wins the election of 1800. and he calls his victory in the election of 1800 the revolution of 1800. he wrote to tom payne shortly after taking office, and he told payne that his election finds us return generally to sentiments of former times. meaning to the sentiments that had been shared by most americans in 1776. he says in inaugural address, the wisdom of our -- have
12:29 am
devoted to ataping these ends. they must be in creed of our political faith and touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust, and what were those? they were a jealous care of the right of election by the people, and absolute acquiescence in the decision of the majority, and those were quotes from jefferson's inaugural address. if jefferson won that election, that revolution of 1800, the rivalry between these two ended with both winning and both losing. hamilton won, i think, in the sense that the country is transforming economically. his economic program was successful as washington repeatedly told jefferson during the 1790s. and it led to a changing face of
12:30 am
america. in 1776, almost all americans had lived on farms, and they still lived on farms in 1790, when hamilton proposed the first of his economic measures. but by 1840, in new england, one in three of new england's labor force was working in a factory, and that was a hard harbinger of widespread change throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, but if hamilton won in that respect, he lost in other ways. in the very last letter that hamilton wrote a couple of days before the duel in 1804, he writes: our real disease is democracy. and he calls democracy in that
12:31 am
letter, a poison. and that was what jefferson was trying to boost, as he made clear in his inaugural address, and poignantly, near the end, hamilton, who realized his day, perhaps, had come and gone, wrote every day proves to me more and more that this american world was not made for me. jefferson's world was changing, too. he had wanted -- he had favored an arcadian america in which most people lived on farms, and he envisaged that lasting for generations as the country expanded all the way to the pacific coast, which would take centuries, perhaps, to
12:32 am
accomplish. but jefferson, who lived until 1826, saw those smokestacks, those factories, in new england, and knew that his world was vanishing. but unlike hamilton, jefferson seemed to shrug off his losses. we might as well require a man to wear still a coat that fitted him as a boy, as civilized society to remain forever under the regime of their ancestors, he said. and he also rejoiced that the flames of the american revolution have spread around the world, and led him to proclaim that right and liberty are on a steady advance. and, of course, jefferson was certain that he had played the
12:33 am
pivotal role in establishing what he called the world's best hope, a new world in which there was no place for the tyrannies of monarchy and aristocracy. thank you. [applause] >> please use the microphone. [inaudible conversations] >> thank you very much for your talk. i'm a john adams person myself, so these two guys are interesting to me. i had a professor in graduate
12:34 am
school who told us once that the more he studied jefferson and hamilton, the more he liked hamilton over jefferson. i'm just curious, after spending so much time with these two men, where you fall in terms of who had the better vision for the country and just in terms of your particular affection for these two. >> i think i really started as a jeffersonian, but as i went along, i came to admire much about hamilton. i certainly admired his military service during the revolution. he was an extraordinarily brave individual, came under fire many times, obviously bright, obviously had, without a doubt, the right economic program, i think, in most respects, at least for dealing with the crisis that existed at that time
12:35 am
period. so, i didn't abandon jefferson in the course of that, but i came to admire both of them. i think as i look at things now, my sense is that much of what jefferson saw hamilton's economic program leading to, has come to fruition. i think we live in a society that is increasingly plutocracy, wealth is medical distributed just as jefferson said it would be, power is increasingly, i think, not so much on main street but in wall street. so jefferson saw the dangers that were inherent in hamilton's
12:36 am
program. i do want to mention one thing that i mentioned in my preface to the book, in many respects jefferson sold hamilton short, but in one respect jefferson didn't really understand that within the -- within hamilton's economic program, there was a spreading of the wealth through the industrialization of america, which might have come even if hamilton had never lived, but he did live and he did advocate that so give him some credit for that. and i think that the distribution of wealth that grew out of that raised a good many ships and as i said any preface, i came from a working class background. my family on the ferling side came over from germany in the
12:37 am
1870s. i was the fourth generation to come along in america, but the first to have an opportunity to go to college. and my dad, i think, was sort of an example of what came out of hamilton's program. he worked in an industry, and was able to send me to college. so i wound up admiring both of them, aspects another beth of -- both of them at any rate. >> thank you for your talk. we study these people and try to find transpose them into modern times. i think anyone listening to you was thinking -- at least i was. where are they today on the current government dispute over clean resolutions, unclean resolutions, closing the national monuments? who is who today and where would they be standing?
12:38 am
please don't tell me about harry reid. >> i don't want to document your question but it's try to take somebody from the 18th century colored, which was so different from our world -- there's a -- one of my favorite lines comes from a novel by l.p. hartley that you might have read called "the go-between." and in that novel his opening sentence is: the past is a foreign country. they do things differently there. and they really did things differently back in jefferson and hamilton's times. so it makes it very difficult to see how they would react. jefferson, obviously, favored a small government, and more power for the states and so forth,
12:39 am
even flirted with nullification, which seems to be a kind of a variant of what is going on now with the shutdown of the national government, and hamilton favored, obviously, a much stronger government. so, the power of government is essential for liberty, hamilton says, in the first federalist. so, that is about as close as i can come to putting them in a contemporary context. >> is there a contemporary point where jefferson and hamilton realized they're putting upon the path towards political parties and factions which hamilton warned us of? >> well, jefferson, in the wake of the passage of the bank bill, washington's signing signing ofk
12:40 am
bill, jefferson and madison go on the botanizing trip to new york, and jefferson's plan was to take people who had reservations about the constitution, and people in congress who had some reservations about hamilton's economic program as it unfolded to that point, and to bring about a concerted opposition, not town do what hamilton had done necessarily, but to prevent him from going any further. with that. and that really -- jefferson hadn't planned a political party. it become -- the group that he founded becomes a political party, and within a year, madison calls it a party, and calls it the republican party. and that name would stick
12:41 am
through the 1790s, and hamilton does the same in response. he rallies people that supported his vision and puts together the federalist party. so, i think pretty early on, they realized by the early 1790s, that something like political parties were around, and there was no question that in the presidential election of 1796, which is the first contested -- the third election but first contested presidential election -- both saw political parties as being in place. >> first of all, i enjoyed your lecture very much. >> thank you. >> i have to take issue quickly -- the heart of what i want to say. you know, washington became the father figure to lafayette and there was quite a relationship father to son in that relationship, so i have to give
12:42 am
worthiness to washington as the father of our country as well. >> i said i was a cynic, and remember that lafayette was french, and france was our ally, and a cynic could say how much of washington's relationship with lafayette was diplomatic and much was father-son. probably some of both. >> yes, exactly. no dichotomy there. i had to -- in response to the person who wondered about how they would stand today, these two giants of our past in today's world. you had quoted, and i founds it remarkable, talking about, we are a coat that still fitted as a boy a civilized society to remain under the regular -- regular -- regimen and the next
12:43 am
line is quite the opposite of what many people -- how they stereo typed jefferson's youth of today. jefferson said, after your quote: each generation has a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its own happiness, a solemn opportunity of doing this every 19 or 20 years should be provided by the constitution. >> right. and he says very much the same thing during shay's rebellion, when he hears of that and he is in france, and while many people were outraged by shay's rebellion, jefferson passed it off and said, the tree of liberty needs to be watered with the blood of patriots, and he measured a generation as lasting about 20 years or so.
12:44 am
so he was, as i said, revolutionary who favored change, and change in the sense that each generation -- >> but could decide for itself. i just quickly -- you know, it's with hamilton that is responsible for jefferson being our third president. >> that's right. >> exactly. and hamilton was never president. but he is a federalist, went before a federalist majority house and lobbied for jefferson, knowing the difference, over aaron burr, bus the said jefferson, i know, is a man of principle and carolina about this drib as much as i do, whereas burr is a pet where, small-minded man who only thinks of himself. i want to sway the house to vote for jefferson for president. and that's how jefferson -- i think that's very fitting for
12:45 am
jefferson's vision to be above hamilton and hamilton's capitalistic vision to uplift jefferson's egalitarianism. [applause] >> i think he sort of grudgingly thought that as bad as jefferson was, he was better than aaron burr. >> what could you possibly have against aaron burr. >> thank you for your remarks. i enjoyed them very much. in american -- presents jefferson as a very dogmatic rigid and self-righteous partisan and that seems to contrast with jefferson's great mind that has such cosmo -- cosmopolitan thoughts and what do you think of ellis' portrayal. >> i agree with much of ellis'
12:46 am
portrayal. certainly jefferson's -- jefferson's views form in the 1760s, i think, and they -- he expands those views but never really questions those views from that point on. he remains an adherent of the views he came to at that point. so, -- but i think that was true of most of the people -- probably true of most people at most times in fact. >> -- ferling, thank you kindly for your presentation. >> sure. >> with james madison writing the constitution and being almost a neighbor at what -- ash lawn, believe, right up the road
12:47 am
-- >> who do you feel had the greater input into madison in that production of the constitution? >> i'm not sure either really influenced madison that much. madison was a savvy politician, looks at the situation in the 1780s, is fearful the union is not going to survive. he reads deeply into a possible constitutional or political solutions to it. i don't think he talks with jefferson much at all. jefferson's gone, in fact, during that time and he doesn't really have much of a dialogue with jefferson. they talk about constitutional issues but he doesn't let
12:48 am
jefferson know what is going on behind the scenes. i think he works it out pretty much on his own. he knows hamilton. they served in congress. they were friendly. they're at the annapolis convention together, but i wouldn't say that hamilton influenced him. i think madison was his own man. >> three more. >> my question is also about madison and some of your previous writings you have not held quite a high opinion of him and i'm curious to know in the course of writing this book and seeing the relationship that both hamilton had through the federalist papers and jefferson serving as a mentor, did your opinion of madison change at all? >> my problem with madison, i think, is that -- i guess it was
12:49 am
probably just some of his thoughts leading to the constitution. i think there were other solutions that were available without going as far as he went. that was my problem with madison. but my views didn't really change that much. >> do you think that jefferson was particularly disloyal to washington when he was secretary of state and was saying things and doing things to oppose washington? and the other thing is, what do you think about the book "the helpings of monticello"? >> okay. i think an ed gordon wrote a
12:50 am
fine book, great book. i don't have any particular problem. in my book i don't -- i'm a little bit -- i'm more wary of accepting madison hemming story completely. i mean, basically i accept it, but i think she accepted it in total. but i think it's a good book and i think that, and the first book that annette gordon rewrote, dealing with jefferson and hemming, was an ex-lent book -- excellent book as well. i've for forgotten your first question. >> whether jefferson was disloyal -- >> that's right. >> when he was secretary of state. >> i'm not sure i would say disloyal. he went to washington repeatedly and told washington what he thought about hamilton, told
12:51 am
washington his fears of where hamilton's program was leading. they discussed it. they argued about it. the last time they talked, washington just cut him off and said, i don't want to hear anymore of it, essentially, and -- but he -- his republican party was working against, obviously, hamilton's programs, and he saw many things that hamilton was doing, crushing the whiskey rebellion and whatever with washington's assistance, that he opposed. but i'm not sure i would say disloyal, and there was one incident with jefferson in 1793, decides he is going to resign from the cabinet. he had been in the cabinet since
12:52 am
1790, wanted to go home, was having financial problems and wanted to tend to those economic problems at monticello, and washington rides from his residence in philadelphia, the president's house in philadelphia, out into the outskirts of philadelphia, where hamilton was -- jefferson was living, and meets with jefferson and tries to persuade jefferson to stay on in office. and it's the only instance that i've ever been able to uncover where washington went to someone's house during his presidency and pleaded with them to do something. so, he, i think, remains, at that point, very much attached to jefferson. he persuaded jefferson to stay on for about six more months, but then jefferson left after that.
12:53 am
>> at one point in time -- i can't remember the dates but hamilton and madison obviously had a very close relationship, and he was also pretty close to jefferson. then that fell apart somewhere along the line and i don't quite understand how that fell apart but it got to the point where those guys made hard harry reid and john boehner look like buddies. >> it really starts to fall apart in 1791, and no one was more surprised than hamilton about madison, that once the bank bill becomes law, then hamilton and jefferson begin to oppose and it begin to try to form this -- rally a group around to stop hamilton from further activities, and that is when the break occurs, and it's
12:54 am
intriguing, i think, that -- no one ever understood completely why this was the case -- but i think jefferson just became the predominant figure for madison. madison listens to jefferson, he follows jefferson, he swayed by jefferson, and jefferson manages, i think apparently to convince him, this is what i saw in europe, this is where hamilton is taking us, there's great danger there, and madison tends to follow jefferson more than hamilton. when hamilton learned that madison had deserted him, hamilton's remark was interesting. he says, madison is not a very worldly person.
12:55 am
and you could take that to men he is not a very sophisticated person and is being melted by jefferson. and there may have been some truth to that. [applause] >> please joan us for a cool drink and a book are signing outside. thank you very much for coming. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]

38 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on