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tv   David Mc Cullough The Pioneers  CSPAN  September 15, 2019 1:05am-2:06am EDT

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[applause] >> welcome ladies and gentlemen. i am so proud that the library of congress put on this fabulous festival and free and open to the public.
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and even better good to have those spectacular authors like david mccullough sitting on this stage right here with all of us. [applause] i don't have to say this the most celebrated living historian of the american. [applause] and to take us through the ogermantown the building of panama canal truman or adams and the americans then has
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been given the presidential medal of freedom which is even better than honor. excuse me and you have been writing about america. your trajectory of 150 years since the revolution to charles lindbergh and to be on. is there a theme quick. >> yes. i now see it and some things you do gain as time goes thousand now see almost all of my books of americans who set out to accomplish something worthy that they knew would be difficult and going to be more difficult than they expected and who did not give up and
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learned from their mistakes and to achieve their purpose in the first place. but that is to increase our whpacity for gratitude for those who went before us and what they did for us it achieved for us and for us to take it for granted to take it to the extreme. >> but what we read and teach our gratitude and empathy. if we food themselves in the place of those that went before us. what would they put up with
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quick. >> and working for the last understandingin the pioneers who settled had to contend with what they accomplished against such adversity but i cannot help but feel we are a bunch of softies. [laughter] and how much we learn from them and in that people to be very close to inus real life. because in real life you cannot read other people's diaries and mail. but they were all pouring out with their worries and fears and suffering. that word suffering is a justy
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that they got hurt but they worried excessively and the sedatives and no band-aids. we are lucky people and i come to feel very strongly that we are a good people. we are a good nation. yes we make mistakes and there evil and yes people cheat and lie for those who have nothing but a selfish ambition. but they are the exception and not the rule and it has been that way right or wrong.
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>> i don't think anybody who has taught us more in and engaged way. had you had a career in which you made history exciting, engaging and made it popular and brought it to a different level. i know academic historians have great admiration for you because you have made his subject of great interest. and what you justr said that an
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book writing not just one but they can be translated into many languages. that is amazing. [applause] >> just to make another point because this was somewhat and
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and then to go places i never 'vexpected. and it's as if i go to a continent i never started. >> t my ambition to write begin in the library of congress. [applause] i had quit my job new york and then called on him when i was still in my twenties..
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it was a picture magazine like the old life magazine. had to spend a great deal of time to picture research at the great deal of congress. but then that terrible disaster. and then there is a group which is not very far from jonestown but this voice my
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brothers and i used to take lake of gravy and mashed potatoes and then sit on the porch then to have no idea whatsoever to but i worked for three years and no end why and me to do the fire the other was doing the earthquake now i was being typecast for bad news. [laughter] i did not like that.
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but then all those people who bro - - built the brooklyn bridge to come in and start the project. my wife and i have lived in brooklyn - - brooklyn when we were first and with that composition or accomplishment that we all though people try
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to changeot the subject program to i was not a very good fish but if somebody can explain that to me then we will be fine for her to the that we drove up to troy to go see this collection is one football game and go to the
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fourth floor and i cannot take you up there the only one on duty. here is the key. so we climbed the stairs and they were creaky and they got dimmer as we got higher. may be 40 inches the first door on the left. i expected but then in 50 years or more those statues
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and i look at it andnd say oh my god. and there goes three more years. [laughter] but what and adventure. what a story. i would like to point something out. it was 150 years ago. this year when the work began on the brooklyn bridge. clap including the genius who designed a. and the men and with the bit
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of a chasing
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>> and then he paused and said too bad old harry still isn't in the white house. [laughter] and that's whatha happens. the dust settles and you see them differently. you judge them differently and hewa0 said that. wait a few years. but with this book i was writing about people you never heard of a nobody has even heard of including historians. and i had dreamed of doing that someday. bad us celebrity of the past to help me get into the tent but just on thehes story. i was hugely influenced by gordon while there when i was in college this was at yale
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and our town is classic american masterpiece where do i ever find a situation where there was sufficient material to tell the story in their language from their point of view from a group of people you have never heard of? it was an incredible collection of a small college library in ohio. marietta ohio. of these like five different characters and they pour out what they are worried about as
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their wives and their children. in somebody's attic or some grin loan - - graham plays the best people i've ever worked with. to realize how vastly important it is. those that go out to the last part of 18th century that was passed as the northwest ordinance. to make you say this is as important as the declaration of independence. >> because one of the most important bills ever passed by congress not all men are
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created equal that we will not have slavery. in this territory to make up five new states with that geographic area and no slavery. and those who have never idlobbied a legislation in his life. to be a lawyer and doctor.
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with the interest in everything. with the complete freedom of religion and public education and no public education so that's a huge advancement and we don't even know him i didn't until we started to write about him. after jefferson was elected
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and then to admit the slaves td eat them cutler and ed was elected to the legislature and one of the original pioneers of rufus putnam then battling to stop to expand the rule to allow slavery. and efraim cutler was deathly ill and putnam came to him and say get up out of bed because we will cast the vote today. he said i can't.
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some said he was carried in in a stretcher but i found no proof of that. and have a powerful speech and he voted in a measure to introduce slavery. and was defeat did by one vote. but nobody has ever heard of his s[applause] people said if you put this in a novel your editor would say it never happened in real life. and we should know about that. is to be passed by the legislature public schooling and you had the proper education.
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we heard a report today that 30 percent of the population is illiterate. we still have a long long way to go. and we have to fix that. [applause] >> you are doing a good piece of that. in many ways the great american teacher of history and you have brought history i want to know what is the state of history today? do you have an idea quick. >> yes. largely with those teachers and required courses they should not be allowed to major
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in education but a subject. [applause] the teacher who reached more than anybody was mister rogers sb was taught by a woman who taught at the university of pittsburgh and the admonition to teachers to show them what you love and they will love it too. you can't love something or someone more than you don't nose if you graduate with a degree of education you don't know anything about history or math and you are assigned to teach that course you will not be a very goodod teacher. and then to bring back those retie on - - required courses personal 80 percent of colleges do not require any history in the four years of
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college. is wrong. and that some things are required. [applause] so this is by the granddaughter remembering how life was. and in particular her grandmother and to raise as her daughterr catherine was to be useful in be pleasant with your playmates and respectful to superiors.
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black or white and good to the poor but kindness and goodwill land to see to it that we look to our own before we look at the faults on - - faults of others. the most frequently repeated. count where the setting sun where there is no worthy action done. believing in telling the truth they did not believe the lying or cheating were being unkind because of a peculiarity who believe strongly that all men should be created equal and who work hard to be useful all
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their life. many of us are brought up that way. what did you do today to make things better for somebody? i would also like to read to you one of the passages from efraim cutler wrote to his wife sally. and with the legislature in massachusetts late december and christmas is about to happen and he wants to be home. and is still trying to get the legislation through. and wrote about the thickheaded mortals of politics. i just attended from the
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slumber in the adjoining rooms. the difficulty to make thickheaded mortals is sometimes vexing but then yet to contend there is nowhere to be found of the legislature with the specious and looks that calculate to entrap in those bloodsuckers can you see how things have changed? he was fed up and truly tired and those before me. but with the new england
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background and he succeeded. [applause] >> now this particular story there are several questions i want to ask but with youngdu graduates and also the warriors who were being paid in whiskey with the rough-and-tumble and these ideals at the same time with the representation on the front tier those who have come
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from the battlefield what we have to remember is how hard people had to work and with a contributing life children worked and women worked from dawn to dusk or more and this particular group where fundamentally anytime i take a
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book and not know as well as i should have but my impression is they all wore black they like to seeing her dance for human beings. when it was their conviction in order to understand the will of god or religion or a better life for better understanding you had to be able to read the bible.
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so there was no question about the necessity of education of all those great early schools and colleges because they believe in education. and that is part of the creed of the country because of thent success in the realm of the northwest territory. imagine if slavery was introduced so history turned. and think of what has come out of ohio. maybe there's something in the water but the man who first circled the earth who first put his feet on the moon not
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only came from the same place but the same part of ohio. is that coincidental? i'm not sure. we could go on and on of public education. wilbur wright was asked what's the secret of success as you understand it? to grow up in ohio. [laughter] i hope this doesn't sound pretentious have never said it before in front of an audience but i feel with every project will undertake i tried to do something for my country.
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[applause] >> i thank you have. to talk about american ingenuity and even though the world was smaller as cutler who comes in and then to go into the established by the end of the story there are millions of people in ohio under that inner miss for building. - - enormous. i want to tell the audience something but i'm reading a
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boo book. >> and honestly i thought i knew a lot about history i know nothing or long before even columbia showed up. and this is an immigrant and has done a lot in her short time to deserve more attention and praise and gratitude than you will ever get. [applause] thank you.
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>> how do we get back to that ingenuity with freedom of religion? which we seem to have lost and get back to the value of education. and some who graduate from college and never read another book. so is that gone quick. >> i truly believe to do the most important work in the country. those are the teachers. [applause]
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they are shaping the future. i doubt there is any one who have changed your life the way they taught some subject those high school and college changed my life because the attitude and enthusiasm for the subject and understanding they have to work to achieve learning and information is a learning. information is not learning. if it was learning if you memorize the almanac you to be educated. if you memorize the world almanac you would be weird.
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[laughter] and the difference in the story and they said that if he the king died and the queen died that is a sequence of events of a day the king died in the queen died but then that's a story. she said there's no trick to telling mom - - teaching history just tell ait story. every river is a story. mark twain understood that right away. river towns are story towns there is always something
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passing through. and you know how that comes out. and then to do something to watch television. and then to work with the library off congress. with the first library card was as exciting as the first driver's license. i grew up in pittsburgh and the carnegie museum in concert hall all under the same roof and then had a big influence on me and the others growing up because we never thought off
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it as separate. all with a rainy day saturday. and education and then with high school classmate and in charlottesville and monticello and the campus of university ofrs virginia then came back and it has opened my eyes and i also thought the university of
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virginia looked very appealing. and my older brothers had gone to yale. and to be a wonderful character. and i went in to see him after we got back from the trip and said i just had a wonderful trip to see you and went to the university of virginia we saw the beautiful c campus and i thought i might apply to the university of virginia. he was standing very close to me and considerably shorter and jammed his finger into my chest and said you are going to yale and i don't want to hear any more about it. [laughter] he didn't say's it out and let's talk about it or your feelings. [laughter]
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it was a different approach and never thought about the university of virginia again. [laughter] change one - - teachers change the world. and who they give credit for and one of the most lovely of all to say she and up being a teacher. you are doing what needs to be done. here is to you. >> so you are a person to have
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ways of communicating that is astonishingly powerful as the narrator and we have heard the voice of the john adams series of ten birds to tell the stories. but tell the story on a page requires a certain mastery language tell us about the approach for language itself. >> i write everything i write many times over. because if somebody reads it back to you or if you read yourself you can hear when you
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are repeating or the sentence structure is repetitive. and my wife reads everything that i write out loud to me. and working on the last chapters on theater roosevelt she came to a sentence and said there's something wrong with the sentence. i said we did again. wepshe read it again i said there's nothing wrong. she said yes there is. i said give it to me. i said c she said yes there is. so we went on eventually went to thet publisher and it got
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wonderful reviews except in the new york review of books by gore vidal and stopped at one point and said sometimes however he doesn't write very well. consider this sentence. [laughter] i have toto tell you something else about the voice. there was a big snowstorm in boston and everything stopped and you could not get food so i went to the market to load up on provisions. i found everything we wanted except cashews and you cannot survive without cashews. [laughter] so slo was walking by with a
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label on his sure i said excuse me can you tell me where i find cashews. he showed me and went on his way but then checking out at the cash register he came up to me and said excuse me are you the narrator of the can burn series of the civil war? i said yes. i have to thank you for the bottom of my heart because when that series first came on the air i was suffering terribly from insomnia. [laughter] i would hear that voice and go right out. [laughter] >> i don't believe that.
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>> absolutely true. >> it is important the first page is crucial and critical. but when the wright brothers put on what they could do at home and he wanted to take his father up in his eighties and up they went. he kept saying higher. higher. that's the spirit.
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no bird ever soared in the cold you have to have t adversity to lift off. if everything was easy not only accomplish much of anything always something that needs fixed those advances that were exciting. with those important events of our time and is all human ingenuity and perseverance and admirable use ofse the mind. i wish we want - - i can live another 80 years. it will be exciting. [applause] [laughter]we
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i also must insist on revealing the secret of all my career success her name is rosalie she is our secretary of treasury, chair of the ethics committee. [laughter] and the most wonderful editor and partner one can imagine. sweetheart, please stand up. [applause] >> that is a great segue because that was my next questionst and thinking how helpful she has been trying to
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save you but as a member of my gender when you talk about john adams abigail as they are or the wright brothers the sister is they are. - - there book might goodness the women are added building. to make it indispensable. they have never been given sufficient credit but that is changing, thank goodness. [applause] years ago i read a marvelous book. i've never forgotten it and i still tell people about it. a woman with an distinguished name ashley montagu. called the natural superiority of women and he has to be this seriously an anthropologist and
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a scholar. women live longer. women are less susceptible to disease. women mature in their minds, their bodies faster than men. they are stronger on a per weight basis. it's very easy to understand why. women are necessities in order for the race to survive. men are no good. remember 90% of our time living as cavemen of prehistoric people all the men had to be able to do is plant the seed and go out and face a saber tooth tiger pac-man had to raise these young minds, these brains because we are at the only animal who is ready to go. therefore they have to be around with the mothers and women for 18 years and now it's probably
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about 25 years. the mind doesn't fully develop until 22 or 23 years old. but this is wonderful. that's progress. that is real progress. >> david i want to thank you from the bottom of my heart in the bottom of everybody's hearts here and i want to. the presidential medal of freedom citations which i think encapsulates the greatness that you have given this nation that you have given us in making all of history come alive. one of our nation's most distinguished and honored historians david mccullough has taken his own place in american history. the united states honors david mccullough for as long time efforts document the people, places and events that shaped america and so we honor you david mccullough. >> thank you. [applause]
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>> wonderful. a great job. [applause]
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