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tv   Story of Virginia Exhibit  CSPAN  February 20, 2017 4:40pm-5:01pm EST

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famed monument avenue with statutes honoring war heros including robert e. lee, jackson and davis. tennis star arthur ash was added to the collection. conversations about monument avenue and which statutes should be added, changed or removed continue today. up next our visit to richmond continues as we travel to the virginia historical associate to learn about the state's history. welcome to the virginia historical society. we are standing at the entrance to the story of virginia, which is our long-term exhibition that covers all of virginia history from pre-history to the present day. this is an exhibit that's meant to show visitors how virginia plays into the broader narrative of american and international
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history. we're going to begin by looking at a canoe that's roughly 300 years old. this is a piece that is actually a symbol of the collision of two cultures that make up the earliest populations in virginia history. this piece represents the merging of european and native-american cultures. many people talk about virginia history being four centcenturie long, but in reality the history spans 20,000 years into the past. the canoe we have here represents the way in which these two cultures sometimes clash with one another, sometimes fail to see eye-to-eye, but in many ways we're learning from one another and absorbing elements of each other's culture. the canoe is made in the tradition dugout fashion where you have a log that's been felled and it's traditionally scraped out by setting a small fire within the log. that small fire is controlled very carefully by the folks
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making the canoe and then the ashes are scraped away with sea shells. this was a type of tool that would have been easily accessible to the virginian indians. what makes this canoe unique is the markings that you're able to see within the interior of the canoe. they're very straight. they were made by a very sharp tool and they're very regular. archeologist have found that these markings were actually made by a metal tool, which would not have been available or representative of a native-american culture in virginia. this represents the collision between european settlers in the early 1600s and created the settlement of jamestown and the native-americans that were here for centuries before. so we've moved into one of the main galleries of the story of virginia and we're at the moment where we have the arrival of a very important third group of people in virginia representing
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a very distinct third culture. so we are looking at a pair of shackles that represent the arrival of enslaved africans in 1619 and this is an essential turning point in virginia's history. so many subsequent decisions and events are tied to this decision to invest in slave labor on plantations. tobacco required a massive amount of labor to basically succeed and what happens is endunt yured serve ants that initially populate these plantations transition out in favor of slave labor because of the lower cost for that type of worker. these shackles represent this new group of people that become linked to virginia history and also they represent a continuation of this kind of eb and flow of people coming and
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merging their cultures with virginia culture as a whole. this odd pile of metal as it appears to be now is actually a fragment of what was called jack of plate armor from the kcolon l period. these would have been worn as a shirt of armor and what's happened, of course, is because this has been excavated from archeologist, this was buried underground for a couple of centuries and the organic materials eroded away and we're left with these met tal plates that have fused together over time, what this tells about the life of virginias is these were a people that were afraid of attack. these are individuals who were coming to virginia with the idea of establishing a new life here, maybe investing in an economic venture, but these are people who are very conscious of the tensions that are here in virginia between the english
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settlers and the native virginians that were here for centuries prior. this and all the other evidence we have on the wall is the material culture that we use to understand the lives of these virgini virginians. everything from ointment pots to chamber pots give a human side to our understanding of their life. we're transitioning from the era when everybody was a good english subject to a period where we were among the front lines of opposition to the british crown. i'm standing next to one of the artifacts that is easily among the most beloved by visoitorsvi. these are patrick henry glasses that he wore when he was alive. these are here as part of a display that features artifacts from what we call the voice, the
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pen and the sword of the revolution. this is patrick henry, thomas jefferson and george washington. easily three of the most famous virginian patriots of the revolutionary period. very often individuals like patrick henry or george washington become almost like untouchable figures when we look at them in history. so thinking about something as human as a pair of glasses that actually sat on patrick henry's face makes him seem like a much more three dimensional person and allows us, especially when we're working with visiting student groups, to talk about the fact that these people were making personal and challenging decisions to participate in the american revolution. this was not a cause they supported lightly. it was a cause that carried with it the condemnation of being a traitor to the crown and all of the punishments that would be associated with that. it's one of the best tools, i
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think, to turn patrick henry into a real individual who lived and breathed. we're standing next to one of the only remaining whipping posts to have been found in virginia after the civil war. so this is an incredibly powerful symbol for what slavery looked like. this is an artifact that was actually taken by union soldiers at the end of the civil war and sent to people in new york to show new yorkers what it meant to be living in a place where slavery existed. in the 1800s, the institution of slavery had spread into all sort of corners of the nation in a sense it was a debate that was being hotly discussed. you had strong populations of abolitionists and populations of supporters that were contentionly arguing over whether or not slavery should still be a part of our nation's
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reality. what is interesting when you look at the public debate about slavery, sometimes it's easy to forget the actually human reality of being an enslaved person in a place like virginia. this would have been in front of a slave jail. it was in portsmouth, virginia. this is where individuals would have been chained in public to have their backs struck with some kind of a leather strap as a public punishment for whatever crime their owners had deemed they were guilty of. and virginia, while it was not necessarily a place that had the highest population of enslaved laborers in the nation, it was the hub for the domestic slave trade. so richmond, for example, was home to numerous auction houses in which a person who was hoping to buy enslaved laborers would actually come to richmond with a specific purpose in mind of buying these people to then take back to their respective plantations. so the artifacts that we have in
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this section focus on that industry. richmond actually profited very much in the mid 1800s from the domestic slave trade. we have a cain here that was owned by a slave auctioneer. this is a person that would have run the auction. the collar would have been worn by an enslaved virginian. these pieces highlight the inhumanity of an institution that was linked to virginia's economy. slavery is still an essential part of virginia's identity economically andculturally. it was how virginia saw itself in the 1800s. we're looking at a sword that was presented to henry thomas who, unlike famous people like robert e. lee, who believed
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in their identities as virginians first. henry believed in his identity as an american first. this is a sword given to henry by the people a system of
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segregation that essentially divided virginia's population into two groups. it was a very vibrant community of african-americans living in richmond. the hearse is a symbol of these two parallel economies that were created between the white population that was served by the white-only businesses and companies, that existed in a place like richmond. and then the black-owned businesses that served the african-american community. because of the jim crow laws and because of segregation, these dual economies were essential. people like maggie walker who
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helped create the nation of banks and service foundations and newspapers. specifically for the black community. it meant that even if an afri n african-american wouldn't be able to be served by the white companies that existed, there would be a distem in place that would allow them to purchase anything that they needed to serve black customers or read the news in their own newspaper. so we're looking at a very enthusiastic group of ladies here who have just gone to the state capital to petition the state government for the right to vote. many people seem to forget that women were not enfranchised with the right to vote until the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920. virginia women were very vocal about their desire to have the right to vote. but in many cases, virginia women who supported suffrage were in the minority in their communities. virginia was not a state that
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was very enthusiastically behind the movement towards women's right to vote. virginia, in fact, doesn't ratify the 19th amendment until 1952. so despite the fact that it passes nationally in 1920, virginia doesn't decide that they want to ratify that amendment until 1952. the notion that virginia women are gentile southern ladies who don't want to be troubled with politics, sort of reinforces this notion that suffrage for women isn't important for virginia priority, but women like for example nor ra houston who wore the dress here, loaned to us from the valentine museum from richmond, she would have been able to counter that argument with a great number of arguments of her own. that's part of why pamphlets like the one we have on display here explain the reasons women should have been given the right to vote, were such essential tools to the early 20th receive
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rajjists. this was the type of material that would change minds and opinions in the way to spread ideas among a large group of people. we have moved into the middle 6 the 20th century, and we're looking at a suit jacket, tie, shirt and lapel pins were owned by one of virginia's civil rights, oliver hill. hill was a lawyer who took on the brown versus board of education case that essentially asked the highest court in the country to decide whether segregation in schools was unconstitutional. he was somebody who was from virginia, from richmond, who felt as though it was an important cause for him to lend his services to. the supreme court decision to integrate schools was partially, you know, tied to his and other lawyers of the naacp's contributions to this series of supreme court cases. and he's someone who continued
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to serve the african-american community in virginia for the rest of his life. so this riot of stuff is our made in virginia wall. it's meant to represent people, ideas, and things that were made in virginia in the 20th and 21st centuries. many people think of virginia as being a place that relies on things like tobacco, or agriculture, to keep its economy afloat. but in fact, virginia has invested in a very wide diversity of industries in the end of the 20th century and the start of the 21st century. so everything from recording artists that hail from virginia, the movie and 2television industry that has grown rapidly here in the commonwealth, the growth of nasa's presence here with places like wallace island and langley station -- or even industries, rather, like reynolds aluminum that is a
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household name to many americans is an iconic virginia industry. so it's a fun opportunity to look at all of these amazing products, and people that hail from virginia, and think about how virginia, as a place, has changed in terms of its identity over the last century. and how virginians themselves might look different now from the way they may have looked half a century in the past. the notion of virginia as a place that's welcoming people from all over the world, actually sort of links back to this notion in the colonial period that virginia's a place that has accepted people for centuries that are coming in and making this their home and trying to find the best way to live within the confines of the commonwealth. so it's a fun place to kind of look around and see industries and things that might be a thing that you would find in your own backyard.
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this weekend we're featuring the history of richmond, virginia, together with our comcast cable partners. learn more about richmond at other stops on our cities tour on tour. you're watching "american history tv," all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. tonight on "the communicators," national association of broadcasters ceo gordon smith looks at the future of television, as a new republican-controlled fcc weighs changes to the communications landscape. mr. smith is interviewed by technology reporter amir nassar. >> aps 3.0 on the television side holds enormous promise for the american people, for the consumers. not just for broadcasting, but it lets you do data casting, it lets you do the best pictures that are out there, immersive
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sound, internet operablility. it suggests he gets this and its value to the american people. >> watch "the communicators" tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. so which presidents were america's greatest leaders? c-span recently asked 91 presidential historians to rate our 43 presidents in ten areas of leadership. top billing this year went to the president who preserved the union, abraham lincoln. he held the top spots for all three surveys. three our top vote getters, george washington, franklin roosevelt and theodore roosevelt. dwight eisenhower from 1953 to 1961 makes his afeerns in the
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pop five this year. rounding out the top tern choices, harry truman, thomas jefferson, john f. kennedy and ronald reagan. lyndon johnson jumps up one spot this year to return to the top ten. but pity pennsylvania's james buchanan, he's ranked dead last in all three c-span surveys. and there's bad news for andrew jackson as well. he found his rating dropping this year from number 13 to number 18. but the survey had good news for outgoing president barack obama. on his first time on the list, historians placed him at number 12 overall. george w. bush moved three spots up on the scale to 33 overall, with big gains in public persuasion and relations with congress. how did our historians rate your favorite president? who were the leaders and the losers in each of the ten categories? you can find all this and more on our website at


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