tv People and Ideas That Shaped Lincoln CSPAN February 11, 2017 12:50pm-2:11pm EST
right is that this man has not faced justice, he deserves to face justice, whatever justice -- whatever we decide. eight :00night at eastern on c-span's "q&a." >> the lincoln forum convened a panel in gettysburg, pennsylvania to explore the ideas that shaped abraham lincoln's political persona. we hear from lincoln scholars herald, ronald, richard, and sidney blumenthal. this is about an hour and 20 minutes. >> good afternoon. i am the vice chair of the lincoln forum and it is a pleasure to welcome you to a pound discussion we are going to have on foundations of lincoln's leadership. ideas, principally, people who inspired and motivated him.
it is a pleasure to welcome on our panel from my left to right "the politicalf life of abraham lincoln: volume one, a self-made man," sidney blumenthal. and richard burr kaiser, the author of "founder son: a life of abraham lincoln." author, not the only of the recently published american ulysses, a life of ulysses s grant, but a biographer of abraham lincoln, an author of a lincoln and expert of lincoln's writings, harold wright. welcome to you all. [applause] youur goal is to hear from and to see if we can evoke differences of opinion. the evil certainly welcome audience -- the well certainly
--we will certainly welcome audience for dissipation. i will give you a single to line up and engage with us. the first person i want to talk to in relation to lincoln's inspiration are the three sets of parents. the three sets of parents in his life. you have all written about them. by the three amine the woman he referred to as his angel mother, nancy lincoln. the woman regarded him as his son, his stepmother sarah bush johnson-lincoln. and his father whose relationship with abraham remains somewhat of a mystery or controversy, even today. of the three, who was influential and was a negative influence? why don't we start with sydney.
>> microphone. negativesitive and were about one experience, and that was an experience of being in the lincoln family growing up. himstepmother protected crucially from his father, which enabled his early education. and that was the initial positive spark for lincoln. lincoln was a bright, inquisitive, naturally-intelligent child. but he was suppressed by his father. his father himself was an oh pressed man. and that had -- his father was himself an oppressed man. that had it in norms influence on lincoln's life and on his thinking on slavery.
lincoln's father, thomas lincoln, had been a poor, dirt farmer in kentucky. he had been cut out of the family inheritance. his stepbrother had taken it all and wound up being a kind of quasi-aristocrat. thomas had terrible luck. he was reduced to competing for wages with slaves. his dirt farm was misappropriated from him probably through a philadelphia banker who manipulated it. and he fled kentucky. he fled a slave economy in which he was on the lower wrong -- in the lower rung, and fled into indiana. out then on, he rented -- as ans a way
indentured servant until the age of 21. , which was legal. he took all of his wages and sent him out as a labor of all kinds. lincoln was the opening line in my book -- he was remarkably reticent about his life and understandably so. lincoln, when he emerged with his identity, his new identity as a republican in 1856, he makes a kind of joke, but it is a kind of joke that is a 40 kind of joke -- that is a freudi an-kind of joke saying "i used to be a slave." what he is talking about is growing up with his father.
when lincoln makes his speech kansas-nebraska act, he says slave states are states for poor, white people to remove from. free states are states where poorer, white people to go to. that was his idea at the root of the struggle between slavery and freedom. it is not simply about the slave. it is also about the free-white labor. -- is also about the free, white labor. >> you have written that perhaps subsistence, but positive provisions that thomas made for the struggling family that at least they survived. so, how would you respond on thomas and the women? let's not forget the women. >> i think sidney puts this all
very well, and certainly, thomas himself moved from a slave say to a free state. so he is both getting his son the short end of the stick, but also showing him the way out that he himself took. costhen i wrote "founder the son," the book that made the greatest impression on me was "herman's informant," which is a notice -- which is know to took after lincoln died in preparing his biography, and realized there is a lot of stuff that lincoln never told me this. orald what we now call a history. the most moving, single piece in that book is his interview with sarah bush johnson-lincoln, the hermother, survived murdered son. she is an old lady.
when i first went to interview her, i thought it was too late. to get anything out of this, but he sits down and have dinner with her. he must have been a great interviewer because she gets to talking and opens up and describes how lincoln learned when he was a boy, and how persistent he was and how careful he was, and how she observed this. and then she has this amazing sentence where she says -- his mind and my mind, such as it was, were alike. i just read that and i thought, lady, your mind was fine. [laughter] you did us all a great service. >> moved in the same channels, right? even though he complained that he did not like her food. [laughter] >> well, you cannot have everything. picture this, we now have president-elect lincoln in
springfield. everyone is coming to see him. everyone wants his ear . he slips away from springfield to go visit his stepmother. this says volumes about who she is in his life. this is the trip he wants to make. what not know exactly transpired in terms of the conversation, but what we have are ready heard from two previous persons is how important she is in his life. when the mother died, the family fell into disorder. they may come up about men living by themselves. he comes back and brings sarah bush johnston back into the family. she brings the monitoring to him. it is hard to overestimate how important she is in nurturing this boy, and he wants to say that back to her. he slips out of town. he does not want anyone following him. this is a very deep, personal,
intimate visit he must make to a stepmother. and yet, i was always struck -- >> it is february and not easy to mow around when you get off the train in charleston. or whatever town is nearest the farm. i was struck by a letter that lincoln gets from dennis in the white house. there was not much evidence of what lincoln did to support his family, but there is this letter in which dennis says the $50 you sent has been appropriated by one of sarah's children. she is not getting any benefit. it must have broken his heart ache as he is not there to control her meager support. we have to move on to positive influences from history as well. why do you suppose lincoln never introduced his wife or his children to this beacon of the stepmother?
mary writes to sarah after the assassination to say you may not know this, but we have a son who is named for your husband. that is how remote the connection is. >> different classes maybe? >> herndon writes mary lincoln'did not approve of lincoln's family and regarded them as lower-class. it was turned in that hated mary. and she -- and just as he says she would not allow lincoln's family in the house, she would not allow herndon in her house and regarded him as a problem. >> herndon was jealous. who could be closer to my hero than me? >> he was exactly the closest he thought. but lincoln had a very strained relation with his father. >> did not go to his deathbed.
>> he was summoned. he had gone earlier when his father was ill and then recovered. then when his stepbrother summoned him again, he refused to go and wrote a letter to his father saying, god will take care of things. he refused to see his father he was dying. >> god will take care of things and i won't. >> something like if we meet now, it would be more painful than helpful. it's a brutal letter. >> he, i think, still felt the wounds of that relationship. it goes back to the stepmother who made possible lincoln's education. the father regarded education as a waste of time, as useless dreaming. in a positive sense the father may have thought my son should be a cabinet maker, a carpenter like i am.
he should have a trade. he regarded reading books is a complete waste of time and putting them on the wrong road, or the road away from being able to earn a living. he used to punish them for reading. that is partly why lincoln escaped and became -- he describes his father has a poor wondering boy. but it was lincoln who was the poor wondering boy and who discovered other influences in indiana as a boy. lawyers who he would discover and befriend them and discover their libraries and read through them. >> let's talk psychobabble for a moment. [laughter] when we talk about the founders as we must, inevitably we refer back to the lyceum address, his first major public speech. in it he talks about the founders. there has been much speculation
-- washington is spotless, etc. is that the moment when he discards his father as the biographers have said in his own mind and adopts the founding fathers at that moment as his true inspiration? rick, why don't we start with you. you talk a great deal about this in your book. >> the lyceum speech, is a very interesting speech. there are flashes of the great lincoln. when he says the "silent artillery of time." that is from the top drawer. the whole speech is simply not at that level. there are interesting things in
it and 19th-century padding. lincoln's problem is the founders are dead and gone. what do we do in the absence? how do we make up for the fact they are no longer here? the lyceum speech is 1838. madison died in 1836. he was the last signer of the constitution. and aaron burr if you don't count him. [laughter] later on lincoln would make them living again in the lyceum speech -- he is sort of mourning their absence. in their place let us set up reason as our guide. what is so funny to me about this as well, if reason is your guide, how come you are talking to the silent artillery of time? that is not like euclid, that is like a poet. you are undercutting your own appeal with your language. >> i think this speech is his right of passage also.
this is his first public address. it is kind of the toastmasters club in springfield. he is learning how to speak candidate. i think of the phrase "tis only hours to transmit." there is a sad is here. there will be the recollection of the founders but he is beginning to ask himself what is my identity or what is our identity? there is this sadness here. we have been left with not a great role to play. he is not yet discovered with that role is. i think at the very real part of this speech. although the death of elijah lovejoy is back in his consciousness, the presbyterian editor of the newspaper who had
been killed in the streets, he is worried about what he calls mobocracy in this speech. there was a context of great crisis around him. his speech is an answer to the crisis. lincoln is remarkable and always being very, very conscious of context in which he delivers the speech. it is never an abstract speech. it is never a speech reaching backwards. it is always in the present, and the present is the death of elijah lovejoy. he is trying to answer the question, what do we do in the midst of this mobocracy? what is it say about the state of our nation in this moment? >> the first on the psychobabble front. edwin wilson suggested in this speech when lincoln talks about the danger to democracy coming from an individual who believes he is a towering genius of all all others and will trample down the laws in order to gain the ultimate power, and will do it on the basis -- he uses the word "celebrity" -- that somehow, he
is projecting himself into the future and worried about himself and imagining himself being that individual. but in fact lincoln is talking about is eternal rival, stephen douglas. >> and also napoleon, don't you think? napoleon had not died out long ago. >> exactly right. >> it is sad. >> it is the image of napoleon as a dictator who travels democracy, who ruins the initial revolution. lincoln had been writing anonymous editorials under pseudonyms denouncing douglas as taking those sorts of actions. douglas was an enormously dynamic, capable, skillful and demagogic person who was already
rising above lincoln. and kept rising above him for decades. lincoln is looking at douglas here. ron pointed out the lovejoy connection. this is crucial to the speech because the background is that elijah lovejoy is an abolitionist editor who has been running a newspaper in illinois, who has his printing presses that are destroyed by mobs and thrown into the mississippi river. and in defense of his printing press warehouse he is attacked by a mob. he brings his own people to protect him. he refuses to give in.
they have a battle in which he is murdered. there is a trial. the abolitionists are put on trial, not the mob. this completely takes over illinois politics. lincoln does not use lovejoy's name. he refers to an editor who was murdered in the context of many other incidents of trampling on the rule of law. lovejoy is very important and he becomes even more important to lincoln through lovejoy's brother, owen lovejoy, who swears on his brother's coffin that he will revenge him by dedicating himself to the abolition of slavery and becomes the early leader and organizer of the republican party and a great ally of lincoln. vouching for lincoln to the abolitionist about his true principles. >> one can't say too much, or maybe one can so we shouldn't, about lincoln's idealization and idolization of george washington.
the mightiest name on earth, he says. long since mightiest in the cause of civil liberty and moral reformation. in february, 1861, he leaves springfield for washington and delivers and later refines what i think is the first of his great, brief speeches. that is the farewell address. which has many layers. the one i have always been most astonished by and continued to be astonished by that no one at the time seems to have noticed or been offended about it or about it, was lincoln saying i had a test before me greater than that which faced washington. that seems to me to be a breathtaking break from his
reverence for the founders. i wonder if you agree with me or i'm totally alone in this conclusion. >> i think we have to look at what he's really saying and what people understood was his task was greater than washington. in no way is he suggesting he is greater than washington. the fact he references washington is his whole larger perspective of what the nation is involved in. yes, this is quite a remarkable speech. we can argue if it was spontaneous or not. i think it was spontaneous and then he writes it down on the train and hands it to nikolay. i think the task is greater. he understands that even though he has reverence for the revolutionary period, they were and what historians would call a second revolution and he is leading that effort. >> but it is also pretty clear this will be a civil war. which in his day the revolution
was not remembered as being -- of course it was, especially in the south. also in upstate new york there was a lot of civil strife during the revolution. that had all been kind of forgotten and smooth the way. people just rumored us against the brits. the enemy was foreign. it was the brits and the hessians and they came here to fight us. it is south carolina and mississippi and alabama now. it is just a few train rides and a steamboat ride away. this is a very different thing. it is arguably a worst thing. the enemies are not foreigners, they are americans. they are all americans. that's a terrible thing to contemplate. >> did you want to comment? >> i think i agree with ron. it is a daunting task he faces.
a civil war is more terrible. he is speaking about washington becoming president. i don't think he is speaking about washington leading the armies against the british. i don't think he is talking about washington and the constitutional convention. i think he is talking about washington coming to be president. that is a different thing. and washington was universally acclaimed. he faced no opponent. he had no real election. and lincoln faces something quite different. he is a minority president. he has a divided country. he is accused of being the source of the division. and he has to come into the country even before the civil war and manage the beginning of
what will be this great crisis. >> i will offer that i still think it's audacious. yes, you can parse it and say it is the task, but he is mentioning his own challenge in the same sentence as that of the most beloved, revered, fearless, spotless person in american history. these are interesting interpretations. >> but also washington did face a rebellion. there was the whiskey rebellion. the only rebellion we had had was that. that was six counties in pennsylvania. [laughter] >> now we are talking about six states and it will be seven when he gets there. and lincoln uses some of the same language that washington used in his proclamation against the whiskey rebellion. it comes from the militia act of 1792, the circumstances under which a president can call up of militia if the laws cannot be enforced in the regular way.
>> i always try to drag myself and ourselves away from the washington story, as fascinating as it is. in 1861, that side of virginia fairly secure, mary lincoln indoors and excursion in mount vernon -- they go down in a steamboat. they get out of mount vernon and mary lincoln is absolutely thrilled. she goes and visits the dilapidated but iconic mount vernon. she visits the grave of george and martha washington. she buys photographs of mount vernon. 20 years ago. she is all in.
lincoln does not leave the boat, which i find fascinating. it is as if his reverence for people does not extend to places. i find that again and again with lincoln. i have political people who don't have that kind of reverence for place as much as for theory and example. just a story. i knew if i told a story i would be immediately killed. [laughter] which i have apparently done. did you know about that story? >> it reminds me of the education of henry adams he describes being taken the mount vernon when he was 12 years old by his father. he said the roads were bad. bad virginia roads. in my mind i linked that was slavery but in the end there was mount vernon and george washington. it concludes that there was nobody get to him. which is a very painful, painful remark.
maybe lincoln felt something similar. >> he also resisted the invitation to go to the museum. maybe he just do not like visiting places. let's turn to the generation that proceeded lincoln more immediately and look there for some of his inspiration. of course lincoln himself proposed henry clay as his -- that is of course how it should be pronounced. i don't think he said beau ideal. henry clay, a hero. he abandoned him for clinically expedient purposes in 1848 in order to secure a whig victory.
what was it about clay do you think? he references the compromise at the expense of webster, who he thinks is a greater orator and whose reply on the floor he reads over and over again in preparation for other work. let's talk about clay and why he was the ideal? >> clay is the founder of lincoln's party. he is kind of george washington of the whigs, but he is more than that. these an extraordinary political figure who creates a new kind of politics that lincoln grows up in. and the crackup of the federalists and after the long
reign of the democrats, clay is central to democratizing what was left of many of the federalists. but also drawing in new elements. he has a more modern hamiltonian vision of the economy, the american system. building up using the federal government to build infrastructure, canals, roads. and he is rhetorically anti-slavery, although he is a slaveholder and often speaks about programs of gradual emancipation. he is the founder of the american colonization society, which we can debate about. in the upper south was considered to be a philanthropic and benevolent way of looking at the problem. he is more than that. he is the creator of the power of the congress. he is the first real speaker of the house. he creates the office with all of its powers and congressional
powers. he is a senator. he represents kentucky, which is in a way a kind of balance we all know in the country as a border state, lincoln's birthplace. lincoln is married to mary todd, whose father is clay's business partner and political ally. also a state senator. this is a connection that lincoln has to clay. in fact -- he is his beau ideal. he reads the louisville paper. papers are kept, preserved. a dozen people will read one newspaper when he is a boy. they don't print local news. that is considered to be word-of-mouth.
it is national news, including excerpts from the annals of congress or the congressional globe. we would call the congressional record. whole speeches, lincoln memorizes whole speeches of clay. when he becomes a whig, the first time he betrays clay was in 1840. by then, even then clay carried the burden of having been in politics and fighting in the trenches. he had been -- he suffered many wounds already by 1840. before he had been nominated for president. lincoln supported william henry harrison who he thought was more electable, a general, and lincoln supported clay in 1844 when he was the whig chairman and clay narrowly lost. and then lincoln betrayed him again.
lincoln needs clay in lexington after he is elected to the congress. it is an unexpected meeting in which lincoln hears him speak on the platform with his father-in-law presiding. he has dinner with him. he is shocked to discover he is not drawn to this charismatic personality. he finds him cruel and condescending towards him. this just elected congressman from central illinois. >> the one speech he keeps quoting from in the 1850's is an old speech of clay that he gave to the colonization society. it must've been an early meeting of this group.
what struck me about this paragraph is how lincolnian it is. apparently he was brilliant to hear, but a lot of it was the performance, the voice. this paragraph -- clay is addressing critics of the colonization society to think it is too radical. you are stirring up slaves, staring up putting thoughts and black minds that should not be there. and so clay addresses the impulse to freedom. he makes this three-step argument which is very much like lincoln. he says, if you want to stifle this impulse, he will have to do more than stifle the work of this benevolent society. he is starting with the news. he says he will have to muscle the canon to celebrate the glorious return of the fourth of july. he is going back to the revolution. he says you will have to go into the heart of man and extinguished the desire for freedom there.
he is going from the news to history say human nature. that is a very, very lincoln like argument. i can see why he loved that argument" it numerous times. he found it was useful to him, this man's long and varied career. >> i think one of the fascinating questions -- studying abraham lincoln -- [laughter] -- if the tension or creative tension between the continuities, of which there are many, and the surprises. one of the surprises is when lincoln arrives in congress. one of the youngest man in december of 1847. almost immediately stands up and announces the war with mexico. i spoke with the state department in mexico. i called at the mexican-american war.
in five minutes and cinnamon raised his hand and said, you mean the american war? [laughter] where did that come from? maybe as suggested by sydni that there was a cool response to clay, but i think that speech in lexington galvanized -- this is what clay said. this is no war of defense, but an unnecessary and offensive aggression. so lincoln has heard this speech. the founders as we know are all distant persons who we never met. now he meets clay. i think this really galvanizes part of his own attitude and believe towards the war with mexico. here is a southerner who owns slaves but is really saying to the audience, be wary. the south wants this war and they want to extend slavery into mexico. lincoln hears this and offers some surprising comments both in december of 1847 and january of
1848. i think henry clay is very important in his life. >> i think ron adds an important point about clay's opposition to the mexican war. in 1844, clay had been against the annexation of texas. already this was an issue. clay undermines himself during the campaign and seems to send letters to -- the so-called alabama letters where he tries to accommodate southern opinion. he undermines himself in this campaign. narrowly loses, which precipitates -- leads to polk becoming the president and the mexican war. at that meeting where lincoln is listening to clay, clay's son had been killed in the mexican
war. clay is a deeply grieving man as well on the platform. the issue of the extension of slavery is already present. what will happen to this new territory that has been gained from mexico? how will it be portioned? this is for the new incoming taylor administration, but also went he issues the spot resolution calling for the exact spot where there has been supposed mexican aggression. he believes it was falsely created. he is attacking to polk administration. he is attacking the very rationale for the war itself. as he said, he was a proviso man devoted many time for the wilmot proviso proposed by david wilmot, another congressman who wished to prevent any extension of slavery in the new territory.
that event where he meets clay indeed is an interesting and intriguing event. >> i will propose a new area, a new line of potential influences. i want to invite those of you who have questions to begin moving to the microphone because they want to engage you in this discussion as well. here is my new thought. it may be an old thought that we have not thought about recently. lincoln -- no president up till then had ever entered office with more former presidents hanging around. it was really remarkable. lincoln had met or would meet all but one of them, and i'm not sure if he did not meet the final one. he met van buren when van buren came to springfield on a lecture
tour in the 1840's. sydney has written about that. van buren found him amusing. who wouldn't? [laughter] i will inquire about what lincoln thought of him. he met fillmore in buffalo on route to his inauguration in 1861 and went to church with him. he visited buchanan at the white house, unannounced once he got to washington. then when he went back to the willard e met john tyler who is chairing the old tenants peace convention in an effort to make policy before lincoln was inaugurated. and pierce was alive. don't know if you met him. none of these people seemed to lincoln to be as powerful and influence as could overshadow him. five ex-presidents. what should we take about him thinking he could do better?
>> these are the guys who had screwed up. [laughter] >> thanks a lot. [laughter] >> there must be more to this story. [laughter] >> sometimes less is more. [laughter] >> when his train passes near we went in lancaster, pennsylvania for lincoln to look out the window and see the actual home of the former president, he has the same reaction he did when he was in mount vernon. he doesn't even look out the window. it is almost as if he will not allow himself to be overcome. >> he has no love for van buren. he campaigned against him in the 1840's for harrison. van van, the used up man. then van buren turned into a free soiler. lincoln with the massachusetts
to campaign against the free soil party, saying it would go against the -- split up the whigs and the free soilers would regret it if they turn against the party. he had no use for them. buchanan had created through weakness that she put lincoln and the spot -- >> how about you and rick share? >> how was that? >> buchanan, tyler. tyler was despised by all whigs because when harrison died after a month in office from pneumonia tyler came in and was a states rights democrat and undermined everything the whigs, especially
clay and webster hoped to do. they all regarded tyler is the great betrayer. his accidentcy. [laughter] they despised tyler. who were the others? >> pierce. >> he never met pierce. pierce became what many people around lincoln referred to as a traitor. he was devoted to his friendship with jefferson davis and was discovered during the war to have sent secret letters encouraging him and so on. pierce was about to make a speech that announcing lincoln for losing the war and encouraging the democrats to help launch the campaign of 1864. this speech was to be given in july of 1863. as pierce was about to give the speech in concord, new
hampshire, the news arrived from gettysburg. and he never gave the speech. >> and lincoln also, in the house divided, he says pierce and the canon are among the four conspirators. >> franklin, james. >> this almost gothic house that will imprison america. they are the workman. >> pierce sends a nice condolence letter when willie dies. they year the loss of the son as a bond. we have people lining up her lying down, i'm not sure. [laughter] go ahead, please. >> how you reconcile the stories of thomas lincoln interfering with his son's education with sarah lincoln's recollections to herndon the stories were not true? she says that abraham was
reading, his father would tiptoe around him and even do his chores he was behind in. what she's just trying to make her husband look better than his legend? how do we know which mother abraham lakin was referred to as his angel mother? >> i will say one thing about the angel mother. i thought several times over the course of my lincoln studies he might be referring to sarah, who probably by then loomed more vividly in his mind as a savior and inspiration. i think herndon assumed it was someone in heaven. sarah was very much alive. that is my take on it. the reconciliation? i don't know. what you think? >> i think she was in a way protecting her dead second husband.
she is trying to may be smooth over something that had been awkward. and certainly thomas let his kids go to school and learn to read and write. i think you just thought of it as a skill, not what lincoln thought of it. there was that. >> no one can enter psychobabble that are that the only son of a psychoanalyst who became president of the mac and psychiatric association. [laughter] >> who might that be? you. [laughter] >> i go back to the thomas lincoln problem, abraham problem with slavery. lincoln humorously saying it was slavery but making a point. the other one says it is perhaps -- i forgot what he said. thomas had 14 people in his home that he had to take care of economically. it was legal. it was also common. i don't think we should throw that away.
i think it was not only common, but maybe necessary. my question is, was lincoln being an ungrateful son for what thomas was doing for the family? >> that's a very good question. let's over member he is the son of a psychiatrist. [laughter] >> i could charge for the answer. >> would be the first time, would it? [laughter] >> and also we should not you psychobabble. people are people. they have thoughts and they have unconscious thoughts. it is the duty of a biographer as much as he can to try to figure out what those are and to see the way their minds work are in some ways similar to the ways our minds work.
that gives us some hope of us making some discoveries here. >> thomas had some necessary problems. he had to deal with necessity. but how abraham lincoln experienced it was quite different. he experienced it as being oppressed. he also, and this might be ungrateful and might be unfair, regarded his father is a failure. he saw him fail again and again and again. and lincoln was determined to succeed. and his father's failure was part of the element of his deeply rooted ambition to succeed and get ahead, which
became the core of his own message for all people. a clear path for people to have opportunity. it goes from the grain of his smallest personal experience, all the way up to his larger speeches. >> dan, i think all of us struggle to make him and a meritorious figure that makes no mistakes and does nothing wrong. is there sometimes time to blame him. in another metaphor of lincoln traveling on the circuit. 180 two 200 days a year, leaving his wife to be the single mother of all these boys. is that meritorious? in a sense perhaps lincoln is
being very unfair to his father. his father by the laws of that day is the youngest son of his father. it is not inherit anything. lincoln is not being fair. i would say in terms of the 100% he took in, isn't it true for many people the son would have received 10%? he would have received something. in that sense that is the garage. he knows other boys are doing similar things but are receiving part of what they are. it may be a very small part, but it is something. he does bear that grudge against his father. >> i would also, did i could venture one piece here, lincoln as oppressed as he might have felt, especially in retrospect, he did not leave this family bondage when he was 21 years old. he could have walked out when he was 21.
the state with his family for almost another year, helping them move, helping them build another cabin, injuring all his father's alleges indifference or hostility towards his aspirations. it is probably a lot more complicated than we think. >> so he is ungrateful and dutiful until he settles. he is so contradictory. >> he is so dutiful his father has to tell him to get out of the house. do we have other people lined up? they are all resting. [laughter] >> i would like to follow dan's idea and suggest there is a countercultural view of lincoln and his father. one thing is that his father must have financed part of his schooling, his one year of schooling. one year of schooling is about as much as any frontier kid got. he was not deprived compared to the other frontier kids. therefore his father arguably
did support lincoln getting an education, but only when he had time. secondly, lincoln brought on his relationship with his father, the negative relationship, largely or at least in part to his own behavior. that was subsistence farming in those days and labor was critical. without lincoln laboring with his share of labor, it would be disaster for the family because they had to plant to eat. lincoln would go to the end of the planting row with his horse and plow and stopped to read. his father took great umbrage at that. i don't see what is wrong with his father seeing that point. lincoln was constantly provoking his father. that is a countercultural view. i would love to have your comment. >> that recalls to mind one of
the hanks cousins who said, i forget if it was john or dennis, someone was riding by. if abraham horned in with the first comment, his father would smack him. that's competition. the boy is saying what his father thought he should not be saying. you have two competing storytellers in the family. he doesn't remember sarah bush johnson saying he waited until the guest left to ask what he was saying. he does not have to compete with her. he has to compete with the old man. again, this is not new. >> it is true that biographers for generations have been angry at thomas for not looking at the tall boy and seeing him with a top hat and a beard. [laughter] surely he should have realized
this was abraham lincoln. [laughter] and every precious moment he gave him to read and study was expected and anything he did do inhibit the learning would be damning him in time and eternity. i would add -- we heard about 15 people in the cabins to be supported. the reason farmers have big families if they could was to produce girls to cook and sew and clean, and boys to work on the farm. abraham was the only boy. a big boy and capable boy. i do see thomas being reasonable and inspecting the farm to be worked before abraham began reading newspapers and books. >> just to add one point. >> yes? >> on the point of reading newspapers and books, young
lincoln developed horizons that his father did not understand. as a boy he knew more about the world and his father did. his father could not really read. lincoln consumed newspapers voraciously. and spoke to people about all sorts of things that his father was not interested in. lincoln learned as a boy that there was a new school in indiana. it was a school in a utopian community called new harmony created by the english socialist robert owen. they were taking students for -- it would be like going to a great prep school at the time. maybe that contributed to his resentment, his ngratitude. it was part of his breadth.
>> what time frame? >> he is a boy. i believe he is in his early teens. >> one of the issues is that most 15 and 16-year-old boys were children and are sure that no more than their parents. it is only when they are about 50 they realize how wise they were in many ways, although we do not hear it from lincoln. >> my question starts on lincoln's 15. that is when adams is elected president. in a rigged election where clay get secretary of state because he throws his forces to adams. then four years later andy jackson who has been deprived of the presidency, having won the popular vote, he overwhelmingly is elected four years later.
and lincoln is 19. four years later he moved to illinois and he comes to new salem. there jackson is highly popular. he is the people's choice, they called him. why did lincoln decide that the whigs and clay rather than andy jackson should be his model. >> that's a great question of what we should address. ron, let me start on the side. >> the irony of this of course is andy jackson's portrait will be in the white house when lincoln's president. he does push against him. he is drawn to the whig ideals at that particular time. he is drawn to the order, the
fact that labor can rise to become as prosperous and business. springfield is in the center of the state. it is a major political parties, not simply andrew jackson. he pushes against jackson. what is remarkable to me is later on he will look back upon this with a different perspective. >> was in springfield the one safe whig seat? >> that district was the whig district. lincoln, when he came to new salem, fell under the surrogate fatherhood of bowling green, who was leading whig party power in new salem. and taught lincoln about the law, party politics, and train him. he is the one who initially trained him in the most elementary forms of politics.
bowling green deserves some blame here. [laughter] >> did you what to add something? >> clay's most famous phrase is probably self-made man. he put it out there. that had to have struck a chord with lincoln. >> clay is a poor boy who rises. lincoln sees that example as his model for somebody who could be politically prominent. it is a good image. >> what is fascinating is when he calls clay a poor boy, he magnifies that because he is identifying himself with clay so he makes clay's story his story. he exaggerates clay's underwhelming beginnings.
>> clay was taught law by george witt. >> i'm glad ron mentioned the irony of this president finding a centralffice had he's of decor over the mental, a painting of andrew jackson which he not only left there for the , the famous francis carpenter fate -- carpenter painting of the reading of the emancipation. it was almost unrecognizable. not only that, when authorities in maryland told lincoln they did not want to union troops to come to washington through maryland, one of the things he said is there is no washington in that. no jackson and that, there is no manhood in that.
he cites jackson's judicious suspension and how he restored them when the time came. likes some of the authoritarianism. this is stealing your enemy's hero, trying to wrong foot the other party by saying i'm the one who really understands the man you idolize. >> would you could say about jefferson. >> the one part of jackson he appropriates and relies upon is jackson's prop -- jackson's proclamation against nullification. he uses it in a secession crisis that's part of his thinking on how to deal with secession.
he regards jackson as having provided the initial arguments against john c calhoun, who is the inspiration for this movement. >> could be also say just looking at recent decades that it is one thing to be making an opinion before you are the president. it is something else when you get into the office and suddenly look back and say maybe a look at -- maybe i look at that person or idea differently now that i'm in the office. >> one can hope. [laughter] >> we'll just do these four questions. >> i want to go back to the farewell address in springfield. it sounds to me national i remember reading if you did not understand the civil war, you did not understand the history of america. i'm wondering if lincoln maybe had an insight as to how big
this deal was. in saying that, again, i would agree that he was really talking about the situation, not about washington itself, but the situation he found himself in. in his view of the civil war, it was this is going to be a big deal. i think he was right that he was facing a challenge big or biz are -- big or bigger than washington's. i would like your opinion on that. >> south carolina had been making trouble for years. the nullification crisis was all about south carolina. i forget where it is but lincoln makes a passing reference that south carolina is a hybrid -- hotbed of e-signature cities -- hotbed of the centricity's. -- he would expect that from south
carolina. south carolina took the lead at five other states have followed. it's not an outlier anymore but a leader. you would have to be an sense to notice that. >> the immigrant newspaperman describes the events of that day, lincoln arise at the train station. he is so overcome with emotion, he can barely speak to the people who are crowded into this station. he told the president i will give no speech. he does not intend to speak. there are 1000 people, so he speaks. lincoln usually only speaks when he is really carefully prepared his addresses. i'd used to ask how many people think he wrote the gettysburg address on the back of an envelope, and the answer was always more than 50% so i stopped asking the question. [laughter] but i think he said this spontaneously.
what is also remarkable is how much religious language is in the speech. this is his thought that he offers at this particular moment in time. he is already determined. seward told him to give up his train ride. you have to come to washington right away. we're going to have a fight on our hands. lincoln is determined to not say anything on the train. over and over, say something, would you respond, he tries not to. but he says more in this small address the nieces and any of the speeches, perhaps the exception of trenton. it is extremely important to see what he says. >> i think lincoln understood this is a very big deal. but he did not understand the full dimensions of it until it unfolded. >> yes. lincoln, for example, like the
southerners, thought the war would be resolved quickly in one big battle. and it was not. as a developed into this longer conflict, and the full-scale of what he was involved in became clear to him, and the nature of the transformation of the country, economically, socially, politically, also was something that he would address, not least the emancipation proclamation. so, everything changed. he was, as he said, he was carried away by events and so on. he was not passive, but the events changed his views of things as they went on and his
understanding of just how complete the transformation was, what a great revolution the civil war would be. >> and keeping himself in springfield, i think he was somewhat sadly immune to all the forces out there. he did not fully understand them. he had not experienced new york, philadelphia or boston or anything else. when he got to washington became a different story. >> my question is, is there any influence that the story had on lincoln, and if, what? >> i don't think so but i think we discussed washington. he is considered cincinnatus. there is a long washington story of lincoln.
>> i would agree. lincoln is more about the little engine that knows no rest than waiting for the call for duty at reluctantly answering. >> so was washington. washington love to mount vernon. he always thought about it when he was away but he could have stayed there. but he left it twice. you left it in the revolution. he was away for a .5 years. he only visited once because it was on the way to your account. then he leaves again to be president. he comes back during the summer. but he could have been like george mason. another pet -- intelligent political planter who rarely held office. when he did not want to do that. he wanted to be out there in the arena. >> my question kind of deals with nash earlier on you to -- earlier on you talked about how he jewish and ship with his
-- how his relationship with his father gave him a viewpoint to the effects of slavery and how he was able to relate to that. later on throughout his career he talks about the importance of the working man and how he builds the economy. as he became president he has only spoken once to a group of the strife going on with weight slavery in the north. certainly had his hands full with the war in the south. but there is a lot of unrest. in 1863 with the draft riots, he does not speak too much about it. how come do you think that lincoln did not apply his softly earlier on in his life, why he -- apply his suffering earlier in his life well, that is a very provocative question.
it was a guiding principle for the country with capitalism. i think you are talking about his comments after the shoe strike in connecticut, which was pretty daring. part for a president to associate at the time with. aboutw, lincoln was all running a war, it is a little bit different. does anyone else have anything different on this. >> what's remarkable is how little lincoln speaks. expect any president to speak hundreds of times with speechwriters. we have the annual address to congress which lincoln did deliver. part of that was written by his own cabinet members. some flourish, he speaks very seldom during the civil war
. it is perplexing but it was also the way it was in that particular time. isof course free labor intended to be intrinsic. originalrt of the republican party slogan in 1856. on in hislks early first annual message about the people's first contest. talking about the economy that he wants to create. it is free from slavery. that is his idea of it. that is his sense of the working man. he said every man should have equal chance in the race of life. sufficient to the days we are unclear. when you look at the founders, you expect them to have abolished slavery. they were setting up the government and we can look at
lincoln and say why did you have all those problems in the late 19th century. he had another thing on the his plate. >> thank you. >> yes? >> i have a military question. lincoln became the military , what did hechief study or what leaders that he audy that prepared him to be military commander in chief as president? someone from the library congress is here, i'm sure she did not -- i'm surprised you did not leap to her feet to point to a book about strategy that henry wagner wrote. that is maybe why the war took so long to win. [laughter]
here is who inspired lincoln? i wonder if we could broaden it a little bit to what inspired lincoln. i think his trips to new orleans road for himey of ab ther. cousin whog to his this the trip with him, had an enormous influence. was the original huckleberry finn o. he went down the mississippi on a raft twice o. the first time on his way there, he stopped in louisiana and was
attacked by a group of slaves who try to steal their goods. wound to his head his whole life. once he gets to new orleans he is in a state of shock. the third largest city in the united states, it is a teeming cosmopolitan city. it has been held by various , there arein, france a lot of freed blacks. there are different languages, but there is also slave auctions openly on the street including selling young women for obvious reasons. for this boy from the frontier who had been in a baptist church, even though he had seen
ulcers of things in his life this was a shocking site. says he was determined to strike a blow in slavery. perhaps he was shocked and appalled by these trips. it was his first real introduction to seeing slavery. had undoubtably seen slaves since a youngt his firstas really ght of slavery and its full form. >> i think we also have to how people sawh slavery for the first time. many people thought it was very cool. the governor of mississippi
--ped some human filibusters toan filibusters trying break cuba from spain. embrace the whole thing, he had a plantation and thought it was great. went to different people in different ways. for this particular young man ,is experiences and his nature he just wanted to find out what is was all about and how he .ould handle it seeing the young women auctioned and stripped, it must've been vegas in hell. i said that, i should not have made a laugh about it.
my god, that must've been his first reaction. >> you introduced your question with a junior year abroad, that usually transforms peoples lives. pillow, a of fort traveler who was there to washington and said he had an interview. what lincoln saw a new orleans was many women separated. that blacks and whites cannot be legally married. she asked for their marriage to be recognized and to get pensions for widows. lincoln's experience way back in new orleans of men and women separated comes home to him pillow.ort hell
married in order that couples would receive pensions. that andd add only to between those two events, as a backbencher he had the opportunity to gaze out the window where he can see slave pens operating in the shadow of the capital. where i wouldes agree with you that there were some places that influenced lincoln. that influence has remained a substantial debate any query. we have not solved the question of who was his greatest inspiration, we have had numerous interpreters. thank you all for joining us. [applause]
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girl named mary fagan was murdered. after a jewish factory owner was arrested and charged with the crime. oneyxt, the author steve talks about his book the lynching of leo frank. the possibility that anti-semitism played a part in fiction. he argues that the case became sensationalized because of the new york times read the georgia historical society posted this event. >> welcome, everyone. am delighted that you are all here. those watching on c-span, i