tv [untitled] June 24, 2012 1:00pm-1:30pm EDT
shaped an era every saturday at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. eastern and sunday mornings at 11:00 here on american history tv on c-span 3. each week, american history tv sits in on a lecture with one of the nation's college professors. you can watch the classes here every saturday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern and sundays at 1:00 p.m. this week, harvard university professor john stauffer looks at african-americans and civil war. examining abraham lincoln's first address. also discussed are the president's efforts to keep the border states in the union. the emancipation proclamation and the involvement of black soldiers in both the union and confederate armies. harvard university is located in cambridge, massachusetts. is an hour and 40 minutes.
>> today i want to begin the discussion with the most significant inaugural address in american history which is lincoln's inaugural march 4 of 18 i will give you background and i want your thoughts on it. lincoln, in my view is the nation's greatest literary president and this inaugural address he labored over more than any other single document or piece of writing. when he gave it, seven states had already seceded. confederacy had been formed. it was the most difficult speech he actually gave. here is a photograph of the capital. he givt undethe portico right here his long-time nemesis steven douglas was at his sides. at fal
off because it was so windy. this is how most americans saw the most popular magazine in the country. think of harper's weekly as the forerunner of "time" or "life" magazine. most americans interpreted and understood harpers as authentic representation of reality. here is the portico here. the capitol was unfinished wonderfullysyhe kind of unfinished nature of the united states. herman melville and his collection of civil war poetry. battle pieceononof convictions inhich he describethe iron dome. s anhe saythe iron dom
stronger for stress or strain thwart the main. the founder's dream shall flee. for melville and my northerners and after the war ainly utherners the power of the federal government ow across the main streets of america and impose unprecedented dominion on communities and loe confederation of states and ntrazed governme so lincoln, when he gives his address was under such threat he has to com d.c. on the sly. as detective alan pinkerton thought there was an attempt to assassinate lincoln many southerners would make jokes about the desire to assassinate lincoln. the day after his election, south carolina announces its secession convention. southerners threatened, as you know in previous weeks for years to secede if their rights as
slave owners were not respected lincoln's election begins this. the rst seven st to sede. over a month before lincoln even the seven states had seceded. so his goal for giving the inaugural address is based on the oath of office he takes to preserve the union. yeah? >> i know there are articles of secession. is there another date when it was actually ratified? >> yeah. >> these were the dates they were ratified. south carolina announces its secession convention the day
after the election starts in november. after they announce it they draft the ordinance of secession. actually the ordinance of secession is generally distinct from the declaration of secession i will get to because lincoln refers to it in the inaugural address. these are the dates that the delegates of the state approve of secession. so according to southerners, it's legal. in every southern state but secession watimately voted for by delegates rather than the popular election. citizens voted for the delete delegates went to the state. then voted for the state. how do you interpret the inauraadess? whether you probably read it
before. >> it seems like there was a feeling of desperation to it. like he was trying to put on this whole like cool act like, you know, we're not enemies. we're friends, buddies. at the same time he's trying to make an argument which is a difficult argument to make. the preservation of the union is worth more than the liberty that the southerners so like jefferson vi when he's speaking in mississippi, he's saying we are doing the same thing that the founders did. we're splitting off.
under the lockeian social contract we are splitting up. that's our duty. we can do that. he has to say, no, you can't. at the same time he makes the argument based on the ne ed for perpetual government. the government needs to keep going for some reason. of after reading i wasn't sure exactly where that need for having a perpetual government comes from. it seems that's his answer to a difficult question of saying, like you wanted to be in this. now you don't. but you can't leave. that's a pretty challenging argument to make in this liberal framework. >> that's a great point. at the time the notion that secession was unconstitutional, that the union was perpetual was up for wide debate, not just
among the secessionist southerners. one of lincoln's primary goals is to make the case that secession is unconstitutional, is illegal. he elaborates on why he sees that. >> i don't think lincoln came off as panicked in the address. obviously we don't get to see video of it. but based on the text i thought t was very much concerned wit alrey left the union but the border states that might be consering leaving thun in that i think he does a very good job building an argument based on logic. >> right. >> i think more than anything it's about -- it was about sending the message so he could set a precedent as a way of almost preparing himself for
whatever was going to come next given the states that would secede. >> that's right. a very good point. one of his central concerns was that the border states do not follow the seven states who have already seceded. if the border slave states secede, washington, d.c. is surrounded. if maryland and virginia surrender essentially e war over and confederates have won. so a central goal for lincoln througutto prent the slave ates bordering the free states from ceding. what else? these are great poin. let ummarize his main aims. as you pointed out the primary goal is to placate the south. not only maryland and virginia but north carolina, kentucky, arkansas, virginia.
try to prevent them from seceding. he tries to prevent it in the south. southerners, confederates already had taken over many federal forts.re two chief ones. this notion of using the inaugural address or his to buy time reflea assumptions. one, is lincoln and many northerners believe that the secessionists were bluffing. from the mexican war. they threatened to secede
kansas and -- were not passed. that was the maiurce of ing gettat they wanted. a long tradition of accommodating these utrn views. the second is the majority of southerners, lincoln himself believed the majority of southerners opposed secession. that there was only a minority that voted for it 6789. as i mentioned there was only one state, texas, that was by popular vote and other cases by delegat delegates. one of, if not the most noted authority on the south and secession, william freeling in "the road to secession," argued
if southerners had voted for secession via referendum, they wouldn't have voted. that the majority of southerners believed 2/3 were nonslave owning southerners. everyone understood the dire risk one took by seceding. lincoln felt if he could speak to the silent majority of southerners, that would also persuade them to come back into the union. lincoln also in his inaugural made it clear according to his view that there should be no compromise on the question of extending slavery. the essential republican platform in which lincoln was voted on which lincoln was elected was that slavery was an evil, prohibit the spread into federal territories, do not allow its extension into federal
territories with the goal of ultimate -- in the wake of the states seceding, jefferson davis took office on washington's birthday. many republicans are willing to give everything to abandon their platform of nonextension. lincoln said no, if we give away the nonextension platform, we give away everything. so those were his chief aims. as you actually, the brief responses suggest one of my interpretations, and that is lincoln's inaugural was both progressive and conservative. progressive because it explicitly and unambiguously tries to argue that see suggestion was unconstitutional. lincoln is very clear the union
is perpetual. you quoted it. falls in no state upon its own mere motion can get out of the union. that resolves an ordinance. the ordinances of secession, the resoti sece are legall.id acts oolenh state or states against the authority of the united states are revolutionary. insurrection, revo plaithidiois anary. uncotitutional. yet for many americans secession was, indeed, consided co. in fact, the preeminent legal authority at the time, chi justice roger taney felt strong that secession windeed, legal and cotitual. in fact, his friend franklin
pierce, the former president, he hopes secession n result in a aceful disun a peacefular free institutions in each eemiion. is int legal authority in the country. this was private lter. it doesn't carry the weight of+p e egal opinion. he madit v believed ssion was lal. those arguing it was constitutional and not only chief taney but former president franklin pierce. former president james buchanan. three of the four men who created the timbers of the house that lincoln describes in the house divided. stephen douglas believed secession was unconstitutional. many northern democrats. nathaniel hawthorne said, amputate the south.
let them go.ny if not most said constitutional. there isong trn ti the nullification crisis when south carolina ttens to nullify the deral w, essentiallthe tariff law that penazed cotton pducers making the prices more expensive. it horthtsy son compete better foreign countries and jackson, esent jackson intervened and threatened to send in federal troops to south carolina. essentially the tariff was
reduced and there was no violence. until this nullification crisis, most statesmen maintained that the states were sovereign and that the union was compact. the revocable compact. a treaty. >> i was just wondering in lincoln's address he makes homages to the union, not explicitly. would that have been familiar to his audience? >> yes. it would have en fia what jackson does during the nullification crisis, jackson is a slave-owning southerner. he's outraged that south carolina and j cohn c.m. jackson loved nothing more than a fight. after they threaten to nullify federal law jackson publically vows to send in federal troops le ty renoce i unless they repudiate it.
he privately sends a notice that iu don'tenou re this nullification, i'm personally going to enjoy watching you hang. he was a strong president. do we have more microphones, by the way? >> south carolina had nullified after. >> that's true. >> the nullification crisis verbiage based off kentucky/virginia resolution. it's not just coming out of nowhere. >> that's a very good point. thank you. the notion that the union is a revocable contract, a treaty or
tionthe na great federalists. of justice joseph story heart, one he notes or says if e consticomptutions t between the stes it opesor convo longer sts pleasure. if it's a compact then this union is aeptable. story didn't believe that it was acceptable because he's saying this in the wake of nullification. in essence the federalists after the nullification crisis, people like daniel webster story say, nothconsti is tiont a compact between the states. daniel webster. if a lgue between sovereign powers containing -- if it's a ague between the sovereign wers containing nothing, making it perpetua it subsists only during the good pleasure of both parties.
if it is a compact seceson is constitutional. lincoln was clearly arguing th it'sot a compact. he also wants to argue against a common southern perspective as reflected by jefferson davis. he makes a logical point that one of you pointed out. if we as a nation had the right to leave britain why isn't it the right of a sovereign state the government. it's very logical assumption. it's no coincidence thatis gives his inaugural address on washington's birthday referring to t birthday of the man most enidthe blishment of indepennce and esblishmatests
out an act of disunion. so secession like the slavery debates we discussed last week, it self-reflects this constitutional crisis. dred scott creates the constitutional crisis. secession itself reflects the constitutional crisis. lincoln said at the end of the cooper union address in which remember last week it's the best way to understand that it's a legal brief against the supreme court's decision in dred scott. he said that chief justice taney's opinion is wrong. he said right makes light. in essence, secession became
unconstitutional because might made right. after the civil war it became clear that secession or disunion was wrong. that becomes a supreme court ruling in texas v. wyatt in 1868 which explicitly declares secession to be unconstitutional. so lincoln's inaugural address is profoundly progressive in which he establishes far more than any document had the notion that secession is wrong. that at the time was widely debated. now when texas governor suggested secession he was mostly just laughed at. that goes back to the influence of this first inaugural. it's also conservative.
y is it? forces fugitive slave act. supprevesses snsurrections and protects slavery in states. he's explicitly hears fr lincoln's inaugural. i have no purpose directly or directly to interfere with avery ins erit exists. abolitioded nis resp saying, what about your platform of gradual abolion with the goal of ultimate extinctio i believe i have no lawful right to do so. that was true. republicans didn't believe ty could constitutionally interven slery existed. he makes it very clear that he will support the fugitive slave clause of the constitution to send back a suspected fugitive.
he also says something that especiallyges icitionists. this is from his inaugural address. i understand and propose amendment to the constitutional which amendment however i have o not seen to the effect that the federal goventll never interfere with the domestic institutions of the es inin of peons held to service. i have no objection to its being made expressed irrevocable. anyone know what he's referring to? yeah? [ inaudible ] >> i'm sorry. when he's saying he wouldn't interfere with the states' rights to say whether or not they would -- like slavery would be legal? >> yes. >> but he said he would preserve the union whether that meant freeing all the slaves, none of them or some of them. >> yeah. that comes in august of '62,
later. >> did he have his opinion now or was he saying this to appease the border states? >> he's clearly wanting to appease the upper south. and appease the south more generally. he's clearly -- you know, that's why he vows not to interfere with slavery in the slave states. but he goes further than to say, i believe i don't have a constitutional right to interfere with slavery in the slave states. he goes further then to say that i will make sure fugitives are returned to their property owners. what he's referring to is the two days before he gives the inaugural address congress, in its effort to conciliate with the south passes a new constitutional amendment. it's the first 13th amendment.
you all know the 13th amendment is the one that abolishes slavery. the first 13th amendment is the language is really weird because it essentially is an unamendable amendment. no amendment shall be made to the constitution which will authorize or give to congress it have power to abolish or interfere within any state with domestic institutions thereafter helped or serviced by the laws of the state. it guarantees slavery in the slave states forever. and lincoln supports it. yeah? >> was this something the general public would have known about? >> yeah. it had just been passed so in the age of telegraph, two days later people living in cities would have known about it. it was just beginning to spread.
it was obviously never ratified. but it wasn't everywhere known which is why lincoln elaborates. he hasn't even read -- >> i just feel he was cryptic about it. i think lincoln has the capacity to be explicit and eloquent. i don't understand why he wasn't more explicit when talking about the first 13th amendment. >> because he says i haven't seen it. he hasn't read it. it's just been passed. he knows it's been debated. he hasn't read the thing. he says, i have no objection. i support it. i have supported it in principle. [ inaudible ] >> hasn't been ratified and it never would be. >> i was wondering about the political pressure. he's playing to the middle of america. >> yes. >> especially in supporting
this. you know, right after he makes the inaugural address frederick douglass comes out and says, you know, writes that -- calls him slave catcher basically. >> yes. >> if lincoln ends up, you know, by the end of the war riding the emancipation proclamation and what is it that makes him -- what causes -- >> we'll get to a little bit of that today. to what degree do abolitionists influence lincoln. i think a lot. we know that lincoln knew of douglass when they met. douglas was the first black man to meet with a u.s. president in
terms of equality or first black man to advise the president. he met lincoln three times. lincoln recognized him immediately. we now know that frederick douglass was the most photographed american in the united states. more photographs of separate poses of douglass than lincoln than anyone else. for most of his career as i mentioned last week until 1860 douglas was better known. lincoln is very familiar with douglas's criticism. so he was sensitive to abolitionist response. he was also close to charles sumner who was the most abolitionist senator who met with lincoln at the time. there are some that say lincoln managed events. lincoln contradicts saying events controlled me. this is giving a bit away next week, especially. but lincoln came to the conclusion that a union war, his chief aim to pree