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tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  May 1, 2016 12:30pm-1:56pm EDT

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the explicit rating. we have learned that the tv networks themselves rate the shows and the tv advertisers rely on the ratings, just like parents do. there is a conflict of interest ratingms of reading -- content accurately. incapable of doing what it was intended. communicators" tonight on c-span two. history,tures in chapman university professor jennifer keane looks at myths i.ut americans in world war this class is about one hour and
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20 minutes. dr. keene: all right, so today we are going to talk about america during the first world war. i called this lecture americans at war, the myth busters addition. i did that kind of intentionally because we think about understanding the first world war in general, there are so many myths and misconceptions attached to the war that it is really interesting for us to first understand why those myths exist and then unpack and see the reality of the experience. i wanted to start first by sort of talking about how this connects to the first world war all. not as america but also the sense of how we entered the first world war to begin with. we think of the general narrative we have attached to it. one of the most common narratives is that world war i was a senseless slaughter. we have already talked about why this war even occurred, but once
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it is underway, there is this sort of predominant image , those are the images i have up there for you. the idea that this was men sent needlessly to their death. i have two examples, all quiet on the western front. you are going to like this image this is the cover for the first english edition of the novel. you will recognize that image from something we discussed last class. last class was a german war bonds poster, and that soldier was supposed represent germany's last hope, willing to sacrifice for his country. now it has become recycled as a different image, now it is an image of a man who is needlessly
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sacrificed for his country. and over here, which is from a movie in the 1960's called "oh, what a lovely war," and i think this little part over here is instructive. "the ever popular wargames with songs, battles, and jokes." it is a war game for them, but it is the men on the battlefield who have to suffer. i'm not trying to suggest to you that world war i did not involve senseless slaughter. what i do want to suggest is the overarching image obscures the realities to the war in a more general sense. here is one example of this. we have this notion of how many people died overall in this war. we have less of a notion that actually, the majority survived. most men actually will come home. there is tremendous numbers of casualties, but there is also a high rate of survival. we have statistics, 9/10 british soldiers will actually come home. so the sentiment that the senseless slaughter conception of skiers that for us. it also obscures the reality that in fact, soldiers spend a lot of their time outside of the trenches.
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they were obviously fighting, but the majority of their time with either spent in reserve trenches or behind the lines. we can take this even one step forward to point out that all the men in the front line, there needs to be at least two or three behind the line supporting them. so there are large numbers of men who survived not just because they are not in the front lines that long, but because so many men are noncombatant. they are serving in the rear. those are people that we never really factor in the narrative women just think about the first world war as -- when we just think about the first world war as senseless slaughter. when you have this overall connected to the first world
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war, it obscures the fact that in 1918, there is a learning curve that it happens. there is a breakthrough in the trench stalemates. the war ends in 1918. i have this map to show you that at this moment, we have movement in 1914, the stalemate, and then -- there is movement again. so that challenges lions led by donkeys, generals are stupid, willing to sacrifice many men without thinking about it. they were trying. they were trying to make improvements in how they fought. so the point i am trying to make here is that we can think about myths not just to point out how they are wrong, but by dissecting them, we can learn a little bit more about the war is self. this is something we can do overall for world war i. what about the united states?
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i have six myths about america and world war i that i want to talk about and do the same thing i did in the introduction. so the first myth here, myth number one, america was neutral until april 1917. april 1917, that is with the united states officially enters the war against germany. what i am going to argue is untrue about this myth is that while officially united dates was neutral, that does not mean that americans were uninvolved. the key point here is that neutrality does not mean noninvolvement. and we can get a sense of how this different concept, neutrality and noninvolvement, if we take a look at woodrow
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wilson in 1914. here we have the countdown to war, something we have already discussed, how we get from the assassination of archduke ferdinand to the german army actually invading belgium, right ? and no woodrow wilson has to say to the american people, where are we, what is our stake as this war is spreading across europe? this is the quote that we always hear. this is the one that gets pulled out again and again. "we must be impartial in thought as well as action." woodrow wilson told us to be impartial. mother is another thing that woodrow wilson said i actually think is more revealing about what is going to happen. in that same neutrality address he said, the effect of the war will depend on what american citizens say and do. he is recognizing right from the very beginning that the government can say america is neutral. the government can say that we have a policy of treating both sides the same. but what the government does is only going to be one side of the story. what american people decide to do, that is going to really tell the tale of how america behaves
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in this so-called period of neutrality. now, what do the american people do? there are well-known parts of this story and lesser parts. we know for instance that the banks, american banks, lend overwhelmingly to the allies. that is a well-known parts. we know american manufacturers sell their goods overwhelmingly to the allies side. they have another well-known part of the story. what is really less well-known is what the average american says and does. the average americans do, they reach into their pockets and they contribute humanitarian aid
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causes. they realize there is some way for them to be involved in the conflict, and the way for them to be involved in the conflict is through humanitarianism. the person who starts this ball rolling is herbert hoover. and herbert hoover organizes a sort of massive relief effort for belgian civilians. here you can see the kind of propaganda he uses. you have got really hungry children holding out empty tins. they have no food, they need to be fed. you have got propaganda about people donating clothes and people donating food to help bd civilians. herbert hoover is amazing at what he does. statistics say that in terms of the amount of aid that he sent and the amount of money that he raised, there was no greater humanitarian effort, organized by americans, until the recent soon on a. that is a tremendous -- the recent tsunami. that is tremendous. herbert hoover buys his own ships, he paints them his own colors.
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he flies his own flag. he negotiates with the germans and the british to let him both through the blockade and the british blockade and allow them to demonstrate food in a german occupied territory. he becomes a quasi-nation in and of himself. he enlists the help of average american citizens in this quest. so aiding eldon civilians is what americans overwhelmingly decide that they want to do -- belgian civilians is what they
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want to do. they are on the side of the civilians, the people caught up in this war through no fault of their own. now, what we tend to to do is stop there in the story and just to talk about the western front. but if we think for a second what wilson said, the effect of the war on american society depends on what americans say or do. the thing he was really concerned about and the thing that he knew was that america had just undergone this massive wave of immigration. he knew we had people from all parts of the world, all parts of europe, here in the in the united states, and he did not want the war to tear people apart. he was right to realize different places where americans came from would influence their reactions to the war. we can see this through humanitarian efforts as well. this is the map they come from a friend of mine who did some research into the jewish-american humanitarian aid effort and realize we had massive immigration coming from russia.
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a lot of people fleeing religious persecution. if you take a look at this map, which shows you the eastern front, not the western front, but the eastern front, you can see actually a lot of the places that were caught up in the heaviest fighting and therefore had the biggest refugee crisis were places that were heavily populated by jews. the eastern front did a lot of movement back and forth. whenever the army comes through, civilians it up and run. they run as fast as they can. they don't want to get up in this fighting. what begins to begin, you have massive numbers of refugees descending on cities, and they are overwhelmingly jewish refugees. so american jews organized to actually help these people. for a long of these russian
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jews, for people who are helping build and civilians, it is sort of -- eldon civilians, it is sort of trinitarian. but for the russian jews, this is very personal. you have got refugee workers that walk around the encampments and they go up to people and ask them do you have relatives in the united states, and if they say yes, do you have your address? so they would say, your hands, your grandfather, your former neighbor is sending you money. that is personal outrage, trying to make sure -- outreach, trying to make sure the person becomes political or the political becomes personal. we can see this with italians, they are also mobilizing. they are very concerned about this as well. places where they came from and making sure they can actually
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help those communities in need. so in this case, we can see it as a personal that kind of motivates people and groups to come contribute to the war effort. even when we talk about belgium, i am not sure you can see what these cases are, but i find this fascinating. these are facts, facts that have flowered, facts that flower actually going to belgian relief. these are sacks of flour from kansas as a part of hoover's humanitarian relief effort. what is happening is that belgian women, very renowned for their embroidery skills, have embroidered them and sent them back to that kansas community. basically to say, thank you. and so, people want to make a personal connection do they are sending money to.
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here is the flip side. these people in belgium are saying thank you to the kansas town for the aid. these go up in topeka storefronts, and people are able to see them. it is that kind of personal connection that begins to feel humanitarianism as well. in fact, one of the things people complain about on the american side is, you know the clothes? they realize when people donate clothes, relief workers have to go through all the pockets. what is happening, americans are writing notes. their writing notes to people in belgium. they are also sending bibles, things like that. the agreement with german authorities, no notes, nothing else can pass. that is how desperate people are to make a personal connection about, as they are rendering this you military and aid.
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-- humanitarian aid. so the point that americans are involved, they are involved through humanitarian effort. the personal and political become very closely connected. the abstraction of the cause begins to have personal meaning or people even because they are helping people they knew, or they are developing a personal investment in former strangers they are now helping. this begins to motivate people to really care about what is going on in europe. my last sort of major point about humanitarianism is that humanitarianism is never neutral. it is impossible. we agree this is a massive military and effort, americans are actively participating and shaping it. it is not a neutral effort. first of all, given the politics of the war, the vast majority of this aid goes to the allies side. they did not give examples of
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aid going to germany. it is still going primarily to the allies side. as much as americans are motivated by the empathy that a feel for starring civilians, there is something in it for them as well. they are also motivated by the way they feel, increasing the stature of the united states in the world. we can see a really good example of this in this poster from the red cross. they are looking to us for help. are you one of us? i love how the "us" almost says u.s. and in this conflict it is america alone that can rise above and be above the fray. we are interested in humanitarianism and philanthropy
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, doing the right thing. we are not interested in actually taking sides or territorial or anything else that the european nations are involved in. we are above the fray. that is important because what it means, 1917, when woodrow wilson actually asked for a declaration of war, and he says to america, the war goals are better than everyone else's. we don't want any territory, we don't want enemies. we are just service of mankind. -- servants of mankind. the american people are already there. they have gotten their through humanitarian efforts. this is not out of the blue. they had begun to see themselves as a nation that can rise above and do some good in the world. what i think is important is not just to do think about america being neutral but also pay attention to what average americans are doing in this period of neutrality, not just woodrow wilson.
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not that woodrow wilson is unimportant. as i am going to say in my next myth here. myth number two, america entered world war i because of the sinking of the lusitania. this is my favorite one, because it would be so nice if it wasn't true. so this is a big one. people almost always get wrong. he really makes no sense because if you think about the dates, lusitania sinks in may 1915, and the united states doesn't enter the war until april 1917. almost two years before the united states actually enters the war. it is interesting why people so consistently get this wrong. i always tell my students, if you write on a test the lusitania is the reason america got an world war i, you fail automatically.
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i don't write anything else. i don't need to talk to you the rest of the class. why? why is this a perpetual myth that we have? i think this headline almost is the indication of that. 1200 people, that is 1200 people die as a result, including 120 americans. this is incorrect in the first report. look at the subhead. washington stirred as this boat sank. if you think about the overall narrative of american history, think of how many times a ship going down and america going to war works for you. mayne goes down, spanish-american war, pearl harbor, world war ii, boca tonka, vietnam war. it is the easiest thing to remember. it would be so straightforward. i think that is one of the reasons why so many people tend to cite that because it is that
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kind of narrative they have in their head. the idea that they would be attacked, ship goes down, we go to war. that is who we are. immediate response is going to be forceful. what happens in lusitania is not that. it is going to take another two years before we go to war. i made that point. that narrative should make us feel good. we look in the past, we have a moment where americans have died and we don't actually immediately jump into war. nonetheless, this is something we commonly see people making that mistake about right here. now, i want to point out to you exactly where the lusitania is, because that is another kind of this perception about why the lusitania becomes the kind of highly publicized sort of cause that it is. part of it is to realize where the lusitania was sunk.
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here you can see the sinking of the lusitania, right off the coast of ireland. the lusitania was really one of those moments where if you ask people 20 or 30 years later, they can tell you where they were when they heard about it. it is like 9/11. they can remember when they heard about lusitania. why? why was it such a shock to people? it goes a little bit of a way of answering that question, because it sunk so fast. it sunk in 18 minutes. no time for people to get to the lifeboats or anybody to make it off the boat. you do survive, you were lucky. days after the sinking, these bodies are washing up on the short. so you have a sinking in the middle of the ocean that nobody witnesses and nobody sees the
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aftermath, they just your about thirdhand -- hear about thirdhand. it seems grizzly, bodies and victims washing up to shore, the press is very happy to report upon. so any sense, the drama of the moment, the quickness of the sinking, the awfulness of actually seeing human tossed of this, -- cost of this, this became very visual, very visceral in terms of how they were responding. for woodrow wilson, the lusitania sinking is going to be a critical moment for him in his own ideas of defining what neutrality would be. before we were talking a lot about how the average american defined neutrality, how they did humanitarian efforts to make their contribution to the war. but now we have to think about
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social policy in terms of what is going on, right? and the dilemma for woodrow wilson, and we go back to the map and we can see it, both britain and germany have decided to go to the ocean to fight the war. there is a stalemate on the western front, so both sides are seeking an advantage, so how can they do that? the british blockade, the green dots here, they will use their blockade to stop and stuff from getting into germany, and the germans have to fight back with the u-boat. they will use the u-boat. it is important looking at this map that it takes time. that is a war zone by germany. that is the zone that germany is saying to neutral nations like the united states, do not come here, do not come into the war zone don't come into the wars of
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because you are at risk of getting attacked by a u-boat. they are not saying, don't go anywhere in the atlantic ocean. they are not saying don't go anywhere in the world, just don't go here. the reason that is going to be important is that you are going to see that in 1915, when woodrow wilson has to decide how to respond to lusitania, he has to do something if people are angry, then he has got several different options. people are going to look at that map and interpret lusitania in very different ways. if i hadn't gone through all of this, if i had just put this up here in terms of what actually happened, i am not going to say, most of you, but a few of you might have said that woodrow wilson goes with breaking to the medic relations and declare war on germany there is that is where -- diplomatic relations and declare war on germany.
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this is the moment where we have to enter. then you have some people here arguing almost exactly the opposite. they were the people who looked at that map, and they saw that redline, and they said, we don't want to get involved in this war. here is an idea. why don't you tell americans not to sail into the war zone? if we prohibit people from actually going into this area where germany is patrolling, isn't that a way to stay neutral? isn't that a way to stay out of the war? some people are like, this means war. some people are like, listen, we need to stop a few people from getting us into war. what wilson is going to decide is the middle course year.
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he is going to demand germany pay reparations and accept the right of americans to travel and trade are they wish or risk hostility. this is why the lusitania is important. it is not important because it gets america into the war, it does not. is important because this is a moment in woodrow wilson draws a line in the sand and says to germany, you step over this line , it is highly likely that there will be hostilities. and what is the line? the line is that we are neutral nation, we can do what we want. freedom of the seas, baby. we can go where we want, trade with whom we want. that is our right. neutrality means we have the right that you have to respect.
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now, that is an interesting definition of neutrality. you may think neutrality means treat both sides equally or stay out of it. after 1915, what woodrow wilson is saying, neutrality is about the rights of neutral nations. that is what germany must respect. and germany will back off because they don't have enough u-boats to really do that much damage to american ships. they have got their hands full. they don't want america to come into the war. in 1917 they will change their mind. they go back to unconditional warfare and woodrow wilson has drawn the line in the sand, we have seen them come to the decision that we need to go to war against germany. so 1915 is important, but in terms of the official policy of neutrality, but it is another thing that gets us into the war. you may be thinking to yourself, is the average american really following all of this? is this really the kind of intricacy national law and
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debate the average citizen is all worked up about? we could look at this and say no , this is what makes it important in official ways. in the popular consciousness, what the lusitania does, we have moments where americans have died, women and children have died, and we can now connect this event -- this is a picture of a woman touching a child sinking to her death, the first propaganda poster of world war i. in response to lusitania. it comes from an actual news report, a report of one of these women who washes up and they talk about her clutching her baby as she washes up on the shore. and now we have something tangible about american lives being lost that connects to british propaganda about atrocities committed by the
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german army in belgium. that is the idea that uniquely protects women children from german barbarians, which is at the heart of german propaganda movement, now has resonance in the united states as applied to us as well, ok? but the debate is not over in 1915. but the debate is not over in 1915. there are other people that are going to keep beating this drum. they told you not to get on this ship. they told you if you go into a war zone, you could potentially get shot.
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this is your own individual responsibility. that means when he finally goes and decides for war in 1917, he knows we have to declare it because of that line in the sand. but he knows that he is leading a divided nation into war, right? the nation has not been united in calling for war even because of subsequent things that happened after that, like the telegram. so that is going to lead to myth number three. that wartime spontaneously appeared. we like to believe that we will disagree up until the moment that war is declared, right?
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we argued about it, but once wilson says this is our war, americans will rally behind the flag. they will do the right thing. right? now, we know that a lot of propaganda encouraged people to do the right thing, right? this is maybe one of the most famous propaganda posters, uncle sam, the recruitment poster. what does uncle sam want americans to do? so in this case, i want you for the u.s. army, fight in the army. but uncle sam will want other things in the war, as well. he is going to want them to buy war bonds, conserve food, and some cases spy on neighbors can make sure they are not engaging in espionage or treasonous activities. and what is interesting about this propaganda poster is that it says, "i want you for the u.s. army," implying you have a choice. we see other propaganda posters like this. this is one of my favorite ones here, right? and it is an interesting poster because it really does -- you like that? it is good. it really does show a man kind
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of wrestling with his conscious, and upperclass man, hiding in the shadows, hiding in the dark, trying to decide what to do. looking out the window, making up his mind. he sees outside is community walking in community in the bright sunlight, not afraid, not hiding in the shadows. and the question is really clear, which side of the window are you? you have to make a decision about what you are going to do. there is a lot that is wrong about this poster, in terms of what actually happens, right? and the first part is with the
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enlist. in raising an army, america will do something it has never done before. from the very beginning of the war, they will institute a draft. now, we have had drafts before. but the drafts before always came in the middle of the war. so, when people stop in listing, stop volunteering. they said, ok, we have to go to the draft. in this instance, we go to the draft right from the very beginning, right? and we do this for a few reasons. and here is the sort of interesting -- of course you do not call a draft. we hardly ever call it conscription. if you say conscription, that says that maybe the u.s. is divided, forced to fight an unfortunate conflict.
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what do we call it? "selective service," right? the men here know that. just think about branding, selective service is different from the draft. it means that if you are chosen, right, you are selected -- lucky you -- you are selected for service to your country. and everybody owes some service to your country, nobody is going to get off the hook for owing some service. even the idea of people serving in the military, the reality is different than people sort of individually making up their own minds. so there is a kind of propaganda -- out right liars, there is a short window you can enlist in the army.
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then, they cut it off. and from that point on, selective service fills the ranks of the majority of the branches of the army. and besides the idea of making sure that everybody complies, there is also the notion that we need to organize this army efficiently. because we are coming in late, right, almost two and a half years late? we know it is almost important to have people on the home front, producing weapons and foods, all the things keeping the army going in the field. so besides making sure that people serve in the military, it is also making sure that the right people serve in the military. right? so you, for example, do not want all of your trained engineers walking off of railroad lines and joining the military. who is going to drive the railroad, move goods around the country? you don't want farmers, skilled laborers doing this. it is a way to kind of manage your workforce at this exact same time.
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now, what i find, fascinating about this, besides the fact of conscription, how it actually works in practice. we had it in the civil war. it is introduced well into the conflict. and it is kind of an individual thing. we literally have a registrar, individually registering men. you know there is a lot of resistance to the draft, a lot of resistance. you could buy a substitute, it was easy to get out of it. right? in the first world war, they want to make sure you are not alone, that you are watched while you do it. on june 17, 1915, there was a national day to register for the selective service. that means all the men, 21-30, you have to go to your polling place, church, school, wherever they are having the
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registration, and everybody is going to watch you do it. and if you forget or you do not show up, we are going to publish your name in the newspaper. basically, going to use peer and community pressure to make sure you do the right thing. right? and this idea of turning registration and even the whole induction process into this community event, self policing on the committee level to make sure men actually register for the draft, this is going to be very, very successful. right? now, in the second year of the draft, we will have another national registration date. but we will have another thing that happens to make sure men go into the service. and that is going to be a phenomenon in which vigilante groups, kind of wearing semi-official armbands from the justice department are going to conduct things they call
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"slacker raids," to round up all of those men who are suspected of not registering for the draft, or not reporting when they have been told to come. or for some reason, able-bodied, but got a deferment, change jobs, should not have it anymore. and they fan out, going into movie theaters and grab people by the back of the neck, through them in the truck, stand outside the gates of state fairs. there is one day across the country, here you have an example from maine, literally throwing these guys in the back of a pickup truck down to the police station as suspected slackers. i am sure they were only motivated by patriotism, not by the bonus for each slacker that they got when they were coming down, right? so many problems with this, right? these people do not have any
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authority, they are taking it upon themselves. most of these people turn out to be not slackers, they have reasons not to be in the military. him they are sort of legitimate. it is bad publicity for the war because it seems to suggest that people are not fighting, they do not want to fight the war is unpopular. the we see the government actually putting an end to this and one pretty quickly. but the point here, in terms of wartime unity, is to say that when we think about people complying with selective service regulations, and most people do, there is a lot of pressure to actually do that. and it just because you are a woman, that doesn't mean you're off the hook either. a right? oh, sorry, i was going to say little bit here about alvin york. he is the most famous american
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who comes out of the first world war. he is highly decorated. he is credited in one book of killing 15 germans and gathering 132 prisoners. that is a picture of alvin york. no, it is not. you guys are too young. that is not alvin york. that is gary cooper, who place them in a movie. that goes over well with a certain generation. you an older crowd, that is right. here is alvin york. he is almost 30 years old, not going to be drafted. he applied for conscientious objection because of his religious principles are incompatible with him serving. his application is rejected. he reports to training camp. and now, he has choices he can make. he can request non-combatant duty, try again, refusing to perform any military duty. some people do this.
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they went to leavenworth. because i told you he was the most decorated hero of world war i, you know he chooses number three. it is interesting why he chooses number three. he has a sympathetic company commander, well-versed in the bible. and a theological discussion, alvin york says to him, the bible says thou shall not kill. the commander says the bible also says render unto caesar, that which is caesar's. obey the government. he says to alvin york, i will give you the weekend, make up your mind. he goes home, studies is bible, and the company commander says, why did you change your mind? because the bible says, blessed are the peacemakers. this is going to be woodrow
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wilson's war, the last one we will have to fight. and the question we have about alvin york, what does he tell us, right? he is telling us he decides to fight, but it shows you how hard it is to become a conscientious objector. people are putting into this war to create an important goal in terms of how we think about it. and we have some interesting things in the training camp,
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where even the military understanding the a judaism and being for the war, always working on it -- understanding the patriotism and being for the war. this is one of the craziest things i've seen. these are 18,000 soldiers standing on pieces of boards in iowa. the guy is up there in the shape of the statue of liberty. why are you making these guys do this? this is showing their patriotism, by standing in formation, demonstrating that you actually -- you are a loyal american citizen. so these are these kind of crazy demonstrations of patriotism, that even if you are a soldier in uniform, people are asking you to engage. even if you are a woman, you are not off the hook. women are being asked to participate in all sort of ways, knitting is a big one here. people wonder why knitting, why focusing on women knitting? if you think a bit about trench warfare, member when we talked about it? the germans dug nice, dry trenches, the allied side is closer to the water, standing in wet feet. all sorts of nasty things like
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trenchfoot, gangrene. i could show you gross pictures. a functional purpose, men actually do need socks. but it is safe to say that american women go a little crazy with knitting. this is 1917. let us say 1918. i mean, most of the class would be here -- you would not have a pencil, you would be sitting in will here knitting while i was talking, to show you are patriotic. you even had notices like this, women basically being told, stop knitting during performances. this is from the new york philharmonic society, saying stop knitting, because it is really disturbing. people are trying to enjoy the music, right? and you have to ask yourself, why are women feeling like it is so necessary to knit and every spare moment?
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they are being, in a sense, pressure to demonstrate their patriotism in ways that are somewhat similar to men registering in front of their neighbors for the draft here, right? you know, knitting, yes, men need socks. is it the best way? i am not so sure. i don't think any of you would want a pair of socks that i would knit. i think you would rather go to target, it would be cheaper, standardized, what you actually wanted. this is a question about if it was necessary, getting people on board for the war effort? we can make a sort of similar suggestion about the food
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conservation efforts to go on, in terms of the kind of pledges that people are being asked. herbert hoover, who had organized the humanitarian effort for belgium, now becomes food administrator during the war. he takes pride that we never instituted formal rationing, that people volunteered for meatless mondays, porkless thursdays. but you have to get people to do this, right? one of the ways here, the example, here is the food pledge. every family is asked to sign and abide by the hoover pledge, you can expect another -- i told you you will not get a knock on the door by registering for the draft what you could get one for the food pledge.
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how do i know that my neighbor has signed the food pledge, that they are actually complying? they thought it through. you are going to put that sign in your window, and that will demonstrate everybody you are doing your duty, demonstrate the people that you are actually involved. and for the people that do not do this, the people that do not want to hang these in the window, that do not want to sign and admit that -- this is seen as evidence of disloyalty, not doing your patriotic duty. in a sense, wartime is cultivated and coerced. it is not summing it naturally comes about. it is something communities enforce upon each other. and in that sense, it tells us something little bit different. that once we are at war, americans spontaneously come
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together. alright, myth number four. it had no lasting impact on american society. i am not exaggerating to you to say it is my life work to get this one off of the books and out of people's minds. well, we don't really have to talk about it too much, it does not matter that much for the u.s. matters more for europe, not really for us. so, i could say a lot about this. what i am going to say are some things about how it affects social movements in the u.s. i wanted to about three things -- civil rights, suffrage
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movement, and the movement for prohibition. these are three movements, long-standing reform movements, that are dramatically affected by the first world war. i am going to go ahead and start with the civil rights movement. i like this poster because it is a good counter to the traditional way we look at the gander. when we look at propaganda, we almost always look at the government side of the story, the official propaganda posters that are distributed. but what we fail to remember or look at, privately produced propaganda posters. there is a thriving industry during the first world war, which is important because it allows voices that we don't normally pay attention to to actually show us their point of view about the war. this is an interesting poster. obviously, created for the african american community. it is published in chicago. i don't know if you can see the
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bottom, it says trueblue. and if you look at the poster, it is kind of a generic propaganda fare. you have the father serving in the military, the flags there. we know he is alive. how do we know? the starred flag in the window. if he had been killed, it would have been a gold star. advertising to the community that he is serving, and we know he is on the front lines, look at that german helmet. the souvenir, right? and it is full of patriotic symbolism, right? washington, wilson, abraham lincoln -- marketed as always the big guy, the big figure. very proud and patriotic. probably if we think about it, not that popular of an image. but i will tell you why this image is so important. you know, we have the official propaganda posters because the government is a good collector.
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at the end of the war, some agency puts those things, slides and into a drawer. 100 years later, we can come look at them. these things at the end of the war, they are trash. i'm sure you all had posters in your room, you went to college, your mom ripped them down. why do we have this poster? we have this poster because the postmistress in melbourne, florida sent it to the postmaster general to ask him if this was the kind of seditious material that should be banned from the mail under the terms of the espionage act. let that sink in there for a second. she considers this seditious material. what is seditious about this poster to her? >> is in the color of their skin?
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jennifer: the color of the skin, in what sense? >> they live in an upper-class home. jennifer: they probably lived better than this white postmistress does. it is a sense of economic achievement, the assertion of equality. that they are on the same level as whites. that we can surmise it is at the heart of her objection. in fact, she actually knows in her letter "the considerable influence from the negro element lately." what is in her mind? this kind of privately produced poster, that this war for democracy, with african-american
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men and communities doing their bit, is going to advance the civil rights movement. it will mean that finally there will be honor and justice for all. and what that exchange demonstrates to us is that this is exactly what white supremacists are provide is going to happen -- are petrified is going to happen. right? and one thing is to shut down from the mail anything that advocates racial equality. and another thing is, after the war, to engage in racial rioting and an upswing in lynching. we see a dramatic upswing after the first world war. but that is not the only thing that happens. it is not even the most important thing in my mind to what happens. what also happens is an exchange in the -- a change in the mentality of the civil rights movement itself. what we see happening in the first world war is that military
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service politicizes african-american soldiers. and you think of what we have now as a really kind of rallying slogan, black lives matter. that is a very potent set of words that are energizing the civil rights movement at our time. but the rules one generation has is a set of word from dubois. we return fighting with fighting. that we have fought for democracy elsewhere, now we will fight for democracy at home. right? and we can see that this new notion of fighting back, this is going to be the new tenor of the civil rights movement. in 1919, african-americans fight back by joining the naacp in record numbers. by making it a strong civil rights organization. and i can just point to one example here, from charles
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houston, who writes some years after the war that fellow americans convinced me there was no "sense and dying for them. i made up my mind that i would use my time fighting for men who cannot fight back." this is just one example, i could give you more. you may not have heard of charles houston, but he is the guy who devises the naacp rules for brown versus board of education. he is a genius of our time that made the modern civil rights movement possible. in 1919, it is not a success story. fast-forward to the 1950's, those successes start here. this is the foundation of that, coming out of the first world war. now, the second sort of big movement that we have here is the suffrage movement. and again, we look at this cartoon here. it is like if you are good enough for war, you are good enough to vote. kind of like giving the impression that a grateful
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nation bestowed the vote on women for all of that knitting. this is so not what happens, so not what happens. looking at the first world war, it is activist women -- look at what they are doing, picketing in front of the white house. nobody had ever done that before. this is new. this is a new idea. you have women like this, right? making the world safe for democracy, they are in it. and they are holding up posters of woodrow wilson, what about women in this country? when are they going to be allowed to vote? this picture is deceiving because it is the before picture, the after picture is after the mob attacks, rips the posters down, please come and
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send them to jail. where they force-fed, put in solitary confinement. what is their crime? they stood outside the white house with a banner, right? but these women, i mean, if you have time to study them in depth, it is amazing. here are some ideas from the new york times. woodrow wilson finally does back women's suffrage in the middle of the war. again, you want to think it is because of women supporting the war effort. but the real secret is down here at the end. suffrage states, some states are beginning to pass female suffrage. new york just past -- it is because i'm touching the screen. they were worried that when women started voting in new york state that that was going to hurt the democratic party, right? now they think about women having power.
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but this campaign goes into 1919. a goes in the 1920 when the amendment is finally ratified. even in 1919, they burn woodrow wilson in effigy, out the white house. they were organized, radicalized, militant. they were the ones out there pressing their cause, right? so i don't think anybody could say that it does not matter that women got the right to vote. that comes out of the first world war. and a major, long-standing reform movement's prohibition. i do not want to say too much about it, but it is kind of interesting that the war somehow become the winning argument. they talked about all sorts of things -- an aerial disease, domestic abuse -- veneral disease, domestic abuse. it becomes a kind of patriotic thing to save grain by not making beer, do not buy german products. that prohibition finds amazing success, that they did not success.
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it was a constitutional amendment prohibiting people from purchasing alcohol. myth number five, america was not bloodied in world war i. america was barely bloodied, another reason why we do not need to study it, right? of course, calling it a myth, i will tell you some endeavor. where does it come from? from these kinds of numbers, from taking the u.s. and comparing its death toll to other belligerent nations. looking at this chart here, we see deaths in the american army. i can tell you it is even fewer number of people dying on the battlefield. because half of those are because of spanish influenza, they are from disease, not battlefield deaths.
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if we take that number and stack it up against britain and france, it does not look like we suffered. because the casualties were so tremendous on the other side. but you know, numbers are so funny. what do they actually mean? it is so relative. and it matters i you contextualize it. you can catch life in this way, america was barely bloodied -- you contextualize it this way, america was barely bloody. you compare that to korea and vietnam, right? and more people, more americans died in the first world war than either of those wars. and i will contextualize it to you this way. it takes america one year to get itself organized, train the men, get to france, get into battle. this is not even a year and a
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half, but six months. this is three years, this is nine years. in the first six months of fighting in iraq, 52,000 coffins came home. ah, that is nothing? right? we're not, right. for the people fighting this, this is not barely bloody. this is a pretty significant number of people who died. and we can ask why it is that we do not really remember that? and i think there are probably a lot of reasons for that. but i do have a question for you. this one, i want you to answer. what is the most lethal battle in american history?
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most lethal battle in american history? >> in terms of how many americans died? jennifer: in american history, the most lethal battle for americans? >> gettysburg? jennifer: gettysburg is a good example. >> people would generally say antietam. jennifer: the bloodiest day is antietam.
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anybody have a guess? when you don't know something, where do you go? do not lie to me. i know what you go. [laughter] the most lethal american battle? number one, world war i. i will bet nobody has heard of the offensive, i'm what you say that is a safe bet for most people right there. a 47-day battle from september until the last day of the war, 47 days, 1.2 million men involved. 26,000 killed, 100,000 stragglers on the field. this is the most lethal battle in american history. nobody knows about it. why is that? why is that?
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i think those are really good questions, right? it is why we remember certain things and why we do not remember other things. and i think for a lot of people even at the time, they did not want to dwell on this. because the questions you can ask, why did so many of these men have to die? it raises uncomfortable questions about american leadership, sending untrained men into battle not ready to fight. and also, thinking about the needless slaughter narrative of the first world war, there is no pickets charge. there is no great triumphant moment. performing this heroic thing, they need a hero. saint summit about this hard, hard slog. there is a sense of satisfaction americans feel, that a lot of people died, why did they die? that is what americans want to
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know. that is what they are not sure about. this kind of feeds into last year, world war i was quickly forgotten. we have forgotten. but the generation that participated in not forget world war i. and i can demonstrate this in just a few quick ways. the first is that, we built huge overseas cemeteries -- eight of them in france and belgium for the war dead. this becomes an interesting puzzle between the government and the families of the fallen. because at the beginning of the war, the secretary of war had promised american families have
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promised they would bring bodies home if they fell on the battlefield. now they reverse course and want to build these cemeteries overseas. in part, because they want americans to stay invested in what happens in euro. they want europe to remember how many men died to save them from germany. but a lot of families want their loved ones wrought home, right? so you see again this personal and political jostling once again. 70% of americans are brought home. you would never know that. you go to the cemeteries, they are huge. they have the same plot, they want to make it look as impressive as possible.
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but in a sense, this is a sense, this is a lot of effort. it takes lots of years to build these, not forgetting the war. this is a visible presence about it. there is a high degree of depression. those mothers and widows who let the bodies stay in europe are given a free trip to go visit the grave. a pilgrimage to the battlefield of the world war, this is 1930. what is going on? the height of the great depression. we are spending all of this money to send women to the graves of the fallen, reminding the country that patriotic service will not be forgotten, right? you can forget all about this in the height of depression. we have other problems. it is not forgotten by the veterans themselves, who come to washington, d.c. in 1932 and stage a demonstration march. for about six weeks, 40,000 veterans want early payment of a bonus they had been given in 1924. they are forcibly evicted from the city, driven out by the army. the shantytowns are burned down. and they are somewhat credited with helping fdr when the election in 1932. because herbert hoover, the great humanitarian ironically enough, who allowed the army to drive them out of the city. but the most important thing about the bonus march, the memory is really strong in people's minds in 1944. why 1944? looking towards the end of world war ii, you think, we are going to have 13 million veterans coming home whenever the war ends. look at all the trouble those 4 million men gave us after world war i, when we did a properly prepare for homecoming.
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we have to do it better this time around. we could have the government overthrown, who knows what could happen? what do they do? they institute the g.i. bill of rights. it is a direct desire to learn the lessons of the past, and not have similar dissatisfied veterans organizing and marching on demonstrations in washington, d.c. no one will underestimate the importance of the g.i. bill of rights in american society. also about the bonus march, it is integrated. black and white veterans
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participating side-by-side. what is significant about this, what the civil rights movement sees. and what it sees is a march on washington. and you have progressive commentators saying, this is the first time we are really trying to implement collective nonviolence protest in the u.s. the seeds of an idea are in place, in terms of marching on washington as a political protest strategy. the last thing i want to mention today is how this memory of world war i really begins to influence -- well it has dramatic influence -- on how we respond to war clouds in europe in the 1930's. this is an interesting painting. it is curry's "parade to war, allegory." here she is, the sweetheart sending off to war. you see the kids all caught up in the pageantry. they have the parade, really happy. but if you go to the side of the painting, this is what is interesting. this is the war mother, the sudden loss, hiding in the shadows crying. and there is the war widow. she is actually trying to reach the men, but the policeman stopped her from speaking the truth about war, right to the men marching off. now, look at the guys, their
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faces. what is happening to them? they are literally turning into corpses, the walking dead. this is a political statement, right? saint people in 1938, hitler is empowered. -- saying to people in 1938, hitler is empowered. fascism is on the rise. what can america do? this is clearly an antiwar campaign. remember the promises, the needless deaths of our men. and that is what to be away -- a way, a memory of the u.s. response to the second world war, a war we stay out of for two years until pearl harbor, the attack on that ship that will bring us into the war. so i just want to end the lecture by reiterating what i think the message of this painting is, which is really that in a sense, the first world
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war, like all wars, is at its core a story of countless personal tragedy. alright, thanks you guys. i think we want to have a few minutes for questions, right, finishing up with the taping. anybody have questions or
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comments? now is a time where you are actually allowed to talk. [laughter] trying so hard not to say anything. right? i am sure you have to have at least something. go ahead, erica. erica: the germans saying don't come through here, had herbert hoover already worked out his approval plan to get through those war zones? jennifer: yes, exactly right. what he had to do was have permission. that is why he had to go to the ship, so they would be identified in color with humanitarian ships that were coming in. it was still dangerous. because of course with the british did a lot of times, they flew the flag neutral -- a lot of cheating going on. it was a dangerous thing to be doing great but that is exactly right. that is why he had to have his own fleet in order to do that. that is a good question. sarah? who else has a question? i feel like two or three more. i know you guys have something. >> if we send them, the american
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soldiers, which that'll have the most gross -- which number had the most gross number of deaths? jennifer: in terms of both sides? i do not know. i am not sure. that is a good question. one of the reasons the civil war is the most, katie, when we talk about american deaths, we do consider both sides american. and we do not do that in any other conflict. so that is a good question. maybe wikipedia can answer it for you. [laughter] go have a look. give us one more question, so they can get what they need for the taping. i will ask, i'm thinking. yes? go ahead. >> the decision to enter the war in 1917, waiting for the russian
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government to back out of war? jennifer: that kind of goes back, i went over it quickly, but the suffrage banner, the envoys of russia. protesting the russian delegation coming to visit the white house. and when the u.s. enters the first world war, you have the first russian revolution, a democratic revolution. you hope that with the czar gone, it is democracy versus autocracy, right? and of course what makes the war effort really so potentially catastrophic for the allied side, the second russian revolution, bolsheviks and
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lenin, britain and france thinking it is a one front war. america is not here yet. this is the end. when you look at those cavity figures and say, all of these untrained men in battle? they needed them. they needed the extra manpower. the russian revolution is really important, and kind of understanding the overall experience. and it helps wilson rhetorically, when america entered the war. in itself, not a reason america goes to war. go ahead. >> the ecumenical, like --[indiscernible] jennifer: the army was rigidly segregated.
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and there were some units that have black officers, trolls houston. --charles houston. but the army was segregated. it was not going to be desegregated until 1942. a very important point. go ahead. >> with segregation, the white soldiers in world war i, they saw the black soldiers as like more friendly to them, more like a friend or just another american soldier? jennifer: i think another important thing to say about african-american soldiers was that they were not only segregated, they were disproportionately drafted. they are 13% of the army. 89% will serve as noncombatants. so that means you are looking at 40,000 african-americans. and i think that answers your
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question. segregating them for noncombatant roles, and you had sort of these campaigns to remove them from positions of leadership. it was central to the message that african-american and white soldiers are not equal. like we will take the manpower, but we do not want their manliness, if that makes sense in terms of that. and that is why for the african-american press, how those african-american soldiers perform in battle is so, so important. and they have one great example. because the american army is so uncertain about what to do with black combatants, they have two divisions. one of them, they get to the french army. so you are going to have -- 20,000 american men fighting under french command for the entire war.
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the french are very happy to have them. they fight, they get medals, recognition. right? now, the men come home, and they were not necessary treated badly, but look at what we did with the french. we performed very well. so they come out of the war also with a strong example to sort of throwback and white america's face, when they are told they are not up to snuff. right? in other words, beginning a long campaign. but what you're seeing is a huge shift in tenor, much more militancy in the civil rights movement than before. those are good question. i'm glad you asked me those things. we are covering a lot of ground. we don't have time for much
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detail. anybody else? >> they built the cemeteries in europe, how committed not build any national monuments here? jennifer: that is a good question. the preoccupation we have with national monuments is kind of a relatively new phenomenon. we did not have a world war ii monument either, until the whole greatest generation degreed it started with vietnam. and we started with korea, going backwards. then we started -- now we have world war ii. and just now because of the centennial, they're talking about building a monument -- a national monument in washington, d.c. but now, you guys are going to be paying attention, right? you are going to see monuments everywhere in your town. memorial hall, los angeles coliseum, pershing downtown. but the greatest generation also built utilitarian monuments, things the community could use. you sort of forget that they do not exist in more. but that was a football stadium
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in chicago, soldier field. all of these things open to the public. it is one of the things you walk by a million times, once you start paying attention, you are going to start realizing it is all around you. it really, really is. if you realize that, i have done my job. [laughter] that world war i mattered for american history. ok, so we will see you on monday. i look forward to your presentations. you can see our upcoming .chedule lectures in history and more. and >> military historian jeremy black relates the origins of world war i --
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he also focuses on dwight d eisenhower's role as military president. here's a preview. >> eisenhower becomes the republican candidate in a very interesting fashion. former general to become president. many american presidents had been generals. and people who are maybe not so well known. there had been many presidents who were generals. teddy roosevelt had a military background.
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she would have liked to have been the admiral. the idea of having a general as president does not seem as implausible. america had fought the war with a civilian male population. it has been a national experience. singularly benign. >> you can watch the entire lecture sunday on 8:00 p.m. on c-span3 american history tv.
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>> independent media is the -- essential. holding those in power accountable. we are not there to serve some kind of corporate agenda. >> tonight on q and a, executive producer of democracy now. covering the movement changing america. which looks back at some of the stories and some of the people covered. >> it really hasn't changed. they very much represent the majority of people. people who are concerned deeply
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about war and peace, about a growing inequality in this country, about climate change are not a fringe minority. silenced by the corporate media. >> on c-span's q and a. >> eric larson talks about the origins of the office of the white -- office of the vice president. and early convoluted method of selecting vice presidents. the office of vice president did not have substantial legislative power. it is about half an hour.


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