tv Book Discussion CSPAN December 20, 2014 5:02pm-5:56pm EST
books, because i had, you know, we are all promiscuous when it comes to art. we have so many lovers, you know? and we are allowed to. and so what happened was that i had 24 books. i couldn't do it, i had to condense it to books that would express my feelings. and the books that i chose were i realized how the american novel, the american fiction goes exactly against that class materialism of american dream. there are two sides to this dream, two contradictory sides to this dream. and the fact that most of the influential american heroes are outcasts and strangers, not just in huck finn, but even in the mystery tales in that magnificent writer named raymond chandler. they are, quote-unquote, little people, ordinary people who do not want material success.
they are, in henry james' words, perfectly equipped failures. and i wanted to talk about them beginning with huck finn because i think huck finn is america's literary declaration of independence. and i felt that at the end of huck finn that people started moving out and going to other landscapes of america. so babbitt becomes the anti-huck which is the standardization of thought. that is what is really threatening us today, indifference, sleeping consciousness which is all the things that is talked about. okay. and then carson -- [inaudible] and then, of course, the great, the incomparable james baldwin who was not just a writer, not just an african-american writer, not just a gay african-american writer, not just an american writer, but a writer.
who speaks to all of us and who's so important today. and i think we should remember baldwin. i don't have time to go into it. and i want to end by a quote from mark twain. mark twain gives a talk to what he calls the mayflower tribes, the descendants of the mayflower. tongue in cheek as always and magnificent as always, he tells them: you guys deprived me of my ancestors. he begins with the first native american. he goes through quakers, through witches, and he ends with the slaves. and he says these are all my ancestors, for i am an exquisite, many-shaded mongrel. and that is the america i want to live in, the land of
exquisite, many-shaded mongrels who, like that little kid named huck finn, decided that he will go with his heart against his deformed conscience, and he would save his friend jim and risk going to hell but doing the right thing. and that is the question i wanted to leave you with: how many of us today would rather go to hell but listen to our heart and do the right thing? thank you so much for your patience and thank you. [applause] >>
>> we're very lucky to have charles here today. he is an accomplished young man with to a tight -- tiny children and old in is an assistant professor at u.s. naval war college in rhode island where he focused his side u.s. policy and strategy. now for political history and the connection between for policy and domestic politics. he holds a ph.d. in history from yale university and received a b.a. in classics. he worked at the peking university center for international and strategic studies previously as a research associate at the council foreign relations and taught high school history in new york. also a native of new york and an intelligence officer.
the first book is what we talk about tonight the author of "nation builder" john quincy adams in the grand strategy of the republicans. >> hello. good evening. thanks for the introduction. we are here to support a local independent bookstore where we can purchase many books in thanks to the order for inviting me here in the first place. in the c-span booktv is filming this event and as a historian and a professor and a nerd i have hit nirvana. but most importantly i would
like to think my wife who is here in the audience said sturbridge telling you a story. just as restarting to date it was a first or second date that i turned to my future wife in no uncertain terms as a diplomat was studying and basically did the same thing. so many years later, like to think my wife for developing an interest in 19th century american diplomacy. and i have a feeling for most of use this seems like it interesting topic may be to buy a book but pretty irrelevant from american diplomacy in 2014. all i can say it is the
current secretary of state has agreed to that assessment. with secretary of state john kerry policy the chinese counterpart a couple weeks ago and when secretary kerry was thinking about which places he could bring his chinese guest he thought the adams the state would be a great place. so here they are. the neece star by informally asking the audience members. how many have you seen the hbo series john adams are rather wonderful biography? the cameras are rolling server one has raised their hands but if you that did not or at home i will summarize. john adams he was smart. he knew it and he wanted you to know it in may had then
obnoxious about it. the apple did not fall far from the tree. if you do anything from the hbo series you recall young johnny was the very intelligent young man debra. a couple of other things that make him worth remembering. john quincy adams came of age during the american revolution. even before he was the teenager to witness the birth of diplomacy when he returned to the united states. as ambassador to the netherlands with president
madison. and under president monroe been credited with extending borders. he follows the success with a single failure that he is elected president of united states of america. from the low point of his life his presidency is regarded as a failure but it is worth noting that his vision the he laid out for the government is the most progressive vision that you see in washington for at least 100 years of not more and though fdr becomes president. he then runs for office afterwards in american politics for the final 17 years of his life and tell the bitterly dies of the floor of congress.
when he was a young man to spend time with thomas jefferson and benjamin franklin. he shares the stage with henry clay from andrew jackson and calhoun and is in the same congress has the same abraham lincoln. including this our alexander of the first of russia. when they traveled to america all sought out adams company to help inform their views of the emerging public and with good reasons. with the monroe doctrine. he greatly influenced washington in the "emancipation proclamation" in. his career is so broad reading -- ranging in fact, adams has something of
forced to dump type of defect and history. with every major figure there is john quincy in the background i will give you examples the battle of bunker hill there is a young john quincy adams he is seven years old he watches the battle take place. the first major treaty -- treaty has a young pup diplomat he carries the draft to those who are negotiating. here he is he has lost his hair at this point he hopes to negotiate and end the war. >> this is a quiz of your american history.
there was a gag imposed on congress the issue of slavery could not be discussed in general on the floor by name. but it was instituted for john quincy adams did that bring of slavery because he was such an antagonist. those who sued the u.s. government for freedom you they remember the movie where anthony hopkins played john quincy adams. the actually help to win their freedom. probably the most influential american. apolitical sas state politician, diplomat, a professor, lifelong
enthusiast of technology and not amateur astronomer and garner. those letters so broad so you get the point. and he is famous but there is another reason to begin a critical for early american history as a first grand strategist. with a continental hemispheric and global power. the word implicit is key
because they write out the world p.o. was a grand strategy. as a historian john quincy adams is a gold mine and a human word machine. these are some of his voluminous writing rating thousands of letters over the course of his life he gave congressional speeches one was blasted for three weeks straight he wrote scholarly articles in to write letters about the bible in a separate gore addresses. this is not even half of it. and my favorite one a 266 students the poem about henry the second 12th century conquest of ireland.
he had a lot of time with his hands. it is amazing works -- resource. it is a remarkable resources the most thorough diary of the 19th century. now with zero down what they thought about that and it is very intriguing what he thought he would try to accomplish. at the naval war college that before you execute any strategy you have to know what you a match. and john quincy adams was crystal clear.
to be the most prosperous nation of big time. from the declaration of independence would be the first ideology to spread over the entire earth. but destiny is not a strategy in john quincy adams was not a bad strategist. and it seems clear he had a clear conception of the goal of the united states. but having a vision is only half the battle. and in order to do this you have to have a clear understanding of a strategic
environment. we all like what we want to also with threats and challenges and constraints might stop you. take a look at these two paintings. their white washed with the american expansion there are some native americans in the corner but the perspective is overwhelmingly positive. to'' juppe milton the world was all before them. according to the is plenty -- paintings all they had to do was march the sunlit across the continent. to be sure americans had a fair enough reason to have
some optimism, rapidly expanding people that were commercially oriented in the government specifically set up to safeguard their liberty. but that was a desperation more than a fact in america was not at its infancy or birth the country that would influence the rest of the world by its example. this is the cover of my book. for those of you in the back squint hard. there is a map in the background. here's what it actually is. if you cannot read the legend north america has been divided 1774 map. spanish, french, british territorial claims in north america.
this map is a much more accurate depiction of how the founding generation saw america. european mark -- monarchs had territorial designs on north america. analyst bonaparte carving up the rest of the world where the european beast put himself above the lentic to challenge america. internally ameritech had problems of slavery in partisan politics. but both had the potential to with the nation and for
any amount of power. with the external and internal challenges i that america had what we might call psychological problems. the wanted to run or sprint before they could walk. there's so excited to support people who claimed to be republicans around the world there would establish their own institution into the them highly vulnerable if saddam's goal was to experience the republic his strategy they did three different things. national development and fizzle security and morality. that is the strategy.
first, physical security to achieve physical security at of the american lead needed to reduce the menace of europe in north america. with all those european countries in then to make those countries go away. lowe's the time it would occur by undermining those sovereign claims. as united states grew and expanded it would pushout those interest. but to be careful not to give europe any excuse or pretext to come over to challenge. this is true because the world was divided.
driven by anglo-french competition. so that meant if america wanted to stay neutral for the london or paris claims in specifically a navy. this is problematic. invaded taxing themselves. and they were worried it would not tax itself that a sufficient rate to. he cautioned his fellow americans that the experiment but to have that
was not the goal. this is a wonderful image to tell you exactly what i will tell you that american and the hegemony spreading across the continent if you tell me this is an eagle eye will be impressed because it looks like a pigeon across the north american continent. he was secretary of state working to push british and spanish in interest water for the mayor cut by shrewdly combining diplomacy and force. you will diplomatically deal with this but on the spanish empire and he will threaten
to use force. is spreading across demanded aggression and required constraint america was offered the opportunity to spread the liberty around the world the greeks had gone into rebellion in south america all of these rebels they claim they read the declaration of independence in had done what we had done and requested the support and assistance in arms of united states. wildly popular causes in the united states. in fact, it monroe's cabinet everyone wanted to support them except john quincy adams.
he said we wish you well but the most famous words ameritech rose not abroad. what about this constraint? the same thing that explains the push across the north american continent for undermining european claims for territorial control in america. but adams argues it did is states would defend them is the pretext of the justification for any european power to intervene in north america. it is a waste of time for the republic. into going abroad was a
distraction. the example was in the power of this example. but to provide the mission to invest by restricting itself at home. this is a strategic goal that is national development to set up a long-term driver of growth to become the most progressive nation in the world we do this with investments of infrastructure in industries in the republic's citizens he promoted the american
system a tariff that would protect american industries industries, a series of roads and canals that would bring in new markets in the national bake to facilitate commerce but this is the flip side. a strong and diversified economy to make the united states more unified to project abroad in strengthen the american economy. but had never jokes this one step further it is not big government's role to only improve the economy but to promote the improvement of the citizens and cultural and moral terms.
he wanted to make it a positive example of what the state could accomplish. with 27 different times. end of the program failed. the presidency failed and we could talk about that later but it is the most progressive vision of government for more than 100 years. finally morality. isn't if this is an idiot to be spread around and had to be logically compelling and morally persuasive. if that would happen america's promise would be brought to my with the practice.
is that what happened they would take on the problem of slavery. the biggest understatement of the year was a big problem for the united states. because it was woven into the fabric of america but yet so fundamentally at odds the declaration of independence is promise of equality put squarely at odds with contradiction of approval of slavery. as early as 18 '04 adam says publicly that abolishing slavery will strengthen the united states but if you do it too soon before the nation is ready will rip them apart. when he does decide to take on slavery that three things have to happen.
day don't take it on it will be trade the country's mission. if you wait too long it will stop the progressive vision and also if the country is not strong enough the european powers will rip apart. in the first one is the founding document of the united states the founding legal document is not the constitution but the declaration of independence. 80 says publicly that you have to read the constitution with a framework guiding and eliminating what it means legally. head becomes clear of the
direction. the second he makes publicly that only the federal government can do this so state sovereignty past to be subordinated for this to happen. resolving the moral contradiction is the third component of power before it influences the rest of the world. these three different components are linked corporatized and in and explain to natalie the different stages of atoms career but a link between the founding fathers and abraham lincoln. so here is the $1 million question. who cares?
uninteresting story. ameritech ago is not a broad when it was a small in rising power but it did not immediately affect its interest. when he was in washington d.c. in the potomac every morning without clothes to go for a swim. it's hard blow dash hard to conceive of the president having that luxury even today a. [laughter] there are four lessons and are applicable -- applicable today. increasing power is conscious of its limits and reach if you define american power as limitless paradoxically your living
so adams was pretty a clear about the rising power had to go through building of its own defense to be sure it is hard is properly a lightning actions with its ideal. but some things were more important in that mitt could not only prioritize so what made such a great grand strategist in makes irrelevant now so not only fish about priorities and trade-offs. now we have cut off this slide but perhaps the greatest strategist to the 20th century and from 1995
this is what he had to say about john quincy adams. homes with a certain adjustments entirely suitable for american policy in the coming period. at this point i will stop speaking in of love to hear what is on your mind. let's turn it over to you. >> i am curious as a president we don't hear much about so is the over qualified? of the sunday was asking the other day to lose your favorite president? the answer is john quincy adams. no. key is not he did not get
much accomplished even with great vision but the sources of the failure are interesting. read in chapter four of the book has little in there. but a couple of failures that succeed wildly in others. the reasons are multiple eliot overlapping. personal and political and structural. he does not to compromise well. the smartest person in the room with a long-term vision for the united states will stop listening after the first five minutes and they begin to lose control of their own policies. if you are in addicted that
is a great personality trait to have a few our secretary of state is behind a popular president is a very good treat if you need to build consensus it is a less useful trait so he thinks politicians don't do or should not do. of adjusting for new we've forgotten seventh grade is the corrupt bargain there is no clear winner. ended is thrown into the house of representatives. there are four of the candidates interjects and william crawford and henry clay said he is thrown out.
he is the most influential person there. so if you swing the house to vote for me i get to be secretary of state. there is no compelling evidence this took place although i did show you pictures of his diary where he writes pages and pages every day. there is the page and a half that is blank. historians have speculated for ever we know what this means. but step back from this it doesn't matter if that was a quid pro quo clade never would have supported jackson he made speeches over the past five years used dubious caesar romping our republic. he suffered a stroke during the the racing and klay did
not like him anyway. and it is henry clay's idea. john quincy adams supports it but they see the way they need to develop some with policy reasons so from the beginning before he takes office it is a tainted presidency. jackson got more votes and was a much more popular figure. liquidated in the was part of what the administration had to do in the beginning. it is worth noting of the two-party system it was not the result one-party the federal list shot themselves in the head there is only
one party. for there is only one party at this point. the opposition or the injured jackson supporters stand up a political party. if you were john quincy adams you are stuck. what will you do? you don't like the idea of party politics you are an atoms in have been called to office. what do you do when another party rises? you either a engaged in politics yourself that adams refused to do or you leave the playing field to them. so politically he is in trouble from the beginning and when he is told by the cabinet members there
rewarding their people and backstabbing administration he does not fire anyone he does not want to be seen playing politics. the devastates is changing at this point. rating of the constitution and what the qualifications are adams verses jackson doesn't have a chance it is something that will championed these reforms and who went to harvard. this at least is the campaign's road out against him. but slavery enters more at this time. and goes away because it is ignored but of all the
virginia president's begin to hear rumblings to increase executive power what does that mean for the interest of the south? the retrospectively he thinks the southern interests are building at that time it is a long winded the answer with those issues. other questions? >> still even today as they say it cuts take care of ourselves what do think adams would be thinking? >> i am cautious to answer that question. anyone who'd tells you what john quincy adams would do
about ice is or how he would respond to lead a reader putin gore the south china sea and china behavior people like to cherry pick quotes from the founders to support any position so we do know adams would be against all forms of intervention that is in 1821 but yet two years before he is supported aggressive policy expansion into florida which is spanish florida at this time because preemptively it will pledge through the threat of military force to make sure apples into our own orbit. so just as the car should be wary of understanding with john quincy adams with understand today.
christ so with that background would he be against it? but he gives good caution to think about. i want to make the point with my very bad joke about swimming naked it is fundamentally different now. if america is a rising power of the international system it can ignore revolution in america and ignore that they not threaten its interest? so given broad stroke that
is bad history but cautious and very much is something is of a clear threat he read not be as opposed as we think gore is cautious to think what our other interests are. so that is my vague answer to your good question. >> given that he had been at the founding is sought by slavery had to be compromised, did he come up with a how will this end? duty predict how it wouldn't ? gimmicky was watching slavery about how this would and.
is interesting two's speculate is to his mother abigail when the schools in massachusetts during the american revolution in with the continental congress to say we don't want them here. don't argue with abigail the matter what you do she is a blunt hemmer and reminds them remember root the american revolution is about in shames them into integrating the school. whether or not that translates directly to john quincy adams but privately he makes observations about slavery.
publicly he is more equivocal so while he has politicians in slavery is legally will temper your thoughts are not be elected. it is interested in his inaugural address the main buzzword is monroe. monroe. monroe. it uses the term is a strict constructionist. dell his first annual address where he uses the word improvement all the time is a very different vision with 35 different
policies beckett southerners very nervous very quickly. i will backtrack. the most important moment comes in 1820. the question will be debated in the most important question can the federal government itself control and dictate what it will be? the way things are done is there is only one party and cabinet secretaries are mitt to be indicative of the entire country. solyndra represents commercial interest. policies to be done by consensus. in john quincy adams is dead
set against slavery and argues vociferously to the cabinet and he was overruled by only one pushing that. could is fascinating is his diaries i have not read all 70,000 by have read many thousand the most anguishing passages are the nights following the debates. the person who has the same vision of with john calhoun. in with slavery and has an
amazing resources. so let me educate you how we see slavery in the south. so here is the answer to your question and he says i am secretary of state the he doesn't sarah will run for president so there is so much i can do. panera end is very clear someone needs to be rolled out against slavery. it is not public pronouncement and what does he see as the end? nothing could as a bloody
>> so was it the slavery issue? what were the issues 1828. you got on the first part of the question it was the jacksons. talk about the corrupt bargain where gentleman do not run for the presidency. don't even put your name for word. the second party system as a starting just one day after he loses the 1824 election he is a senator in
washington at the time ahead resign defeat to go back home which at what time those and started to coalesce around jackson draft him starting in 1824. we are used to permanent election cycles but that wasn't the case back and so the issue was adams and adams and adams. on top of that if you have a president that his opponents point out to point to the policies that have failed when you charge him with the intellectual as well. and it is not a landslide. but