tv Conversation with Lynne Cheney CSPAN July 4, 2017 8:50am-9:36am EDT
office. >> one of the most important relationships to the founding was madison's relationship with jefferson. it was a complex relationship and a political relationship and piggy backing on your comment, when jefferson needed something in congress he went to madison. he asked him to do a, b and c. could you talk about this relationship between jefferson and madison? >> i think it's one of the greatest stories of all american history. they first met when madison went to wark on the council and then jefferson became governor. from that time this wonderful friendship developed. they also lived in the same boarding house in connection with kitty.
you could just imagine their conversations in that boarding house. i think that each of them was probably the brightest person that the other had ever known or would ever know. each of them loved books. they bought books even when they couldn't afford them. they had this fascination with knowledge. so think of it not only are they really bright but they are well schooled. so they had this fund of knowledge on which they can build and converse. they were both reserved, but very different otherwise. jefferson had that soaring intellect. you could see it. it just raises you up. madison was much more matter of fact and practical. they balanced each other.
a historian said the account balanced. if you were to give credit for who most deserves the audience or the appreciation really for this friendship it would go to madison. at one point jefferson, who was disappointed really upset that there was no bill of rights on the institution started writing letters. let four states with hold ratification until that's bill of rights on it. here is a fine thing. madison is in the war and in the conflict to get the institution ratified and there was no way to amend it until it had been
they decided the best way to combat this was to write to the states. madison wrote virginia and jefferson wrote kentucky. jefferson was far more forward leaning than madison was. jefferson said that a state had the right to nullify a federal law. now, along the way various people held jefferson back including madison from making such a bold and damaging statement.
jefferson got ahold of it and changed it. madison found out. he got it changed back. he just pointed out to him that these words like nullification and succession were not going to be helpful if you wanted a bunch of states to come together and oppose this act. i think madison's patience accounted for a great deal. >> i couldn't agree more. of the two madison was clearly the politician. on the idea of the bill of rights it was charles who initial lir said we should
promote madison comes to the rescue. madison comes on board. could you talk a little bit about his leadership role in putting together what would be known as the bill of rights? >> well, he just knew the importance of talking to everyone and making his case convincingly. as you point out he was worried that if you listed a bill of rights, if you had ten amendments about the rights of people do x and y you were implying they didn't have rights to do anything else. >> right. >> you were pushing every other right aside. one bit of his jenius genius is
they even became great foes of washington. happen hamilton's idea was a strong central government. they used to call him a someone that wanted to keep the whole they think together. so that was the fight. they wanted more power to the states. >> right. one of madison's high points and some of his low points occurred at the same time. it was the war of 1812. i wonder if you could expand on that. a couple of i guess hawks who came in on the 1810 election
kind of pushed him in that direction. in the adams there was this half war with france. they thought they should dress up and put on a sword and put on a hat with a ribbon that's made to look like a flower. adams did that. madison did that. there are many things you look back that you find odd. his greatest contribution was n not prosecuting people who disagreed with him.
issue, think how different our society would be if they had let it go the other way, if we had let it go unchallenged. they put so many newspaper editors in jail. well, i don't know what it -- but it was a lot in those days. this was a adams administration and washington supported the adams administration in doing this. this idea that it was okay was
like a hinge between the ages. before that not so much. after it you know what we have today and it is okay. could you talk a little bit about he would be overseeing this interesting affair in. >> you know, madison was very confident in himself. you know, he just had confidence. he encouraged congress to declare war. he knew how to change his mind. a friend of ours said to me once, you know, of course you don't keep a total consistency throughout your life. when the situation changes you
change. i guess the most best example of that is madison seasoned the constitution. when he left he was very disappointed. he did not think they had done all that they should. he sort of sat and thought about it and decided that nothing better could be created. he support add national bank during his administration. i think gordon wood wrote in his book one of the chapters is called is there a madison problem with this back and forth. i think he would agrie with me that no. you know, you change your mind when the circumstances change. and so that's what madison did.
>> aalways felt one of mad di's greatest and it's something jefferson gets all of the credit for. he was one of the negotiators. that's the louisiana purchase which everybody is familiar with. p when france made its offer jefferson started worrying it was not constitutional. there was nothing that said the government has the right to buy land. madison took him aside and said it's okay.
could you tell us why you selected a topic but just a little hint of your focus on this book in. >> i am interested in the fact that these were not sitting around a table agreeing ammic bli on issues. s they fought like cats and dogs. you can find things in the newspapers of today. i think they are as bad as what you find in our newspaper odd so it was such a remarkable time to think about how different it was but how many days it's the same.
>> why this extraordinary collection of talent in that one place in virginia? is that something you'll be looking at? >> many great historians have done this. i follow in their footsteps gladly. i stand on the shoulder of unites. it is interesting. all four of the virginia founders were born at ferry farm. that's center of the radius so to speak. education plays a part for some of them, more for madison and jefferson. they also nurtured up coming tale talent. they mentored and brought people along. jefferson brought monroe along.
i think wisdom comes from the clash of ideas. oh, they were fascinated by explorers. and if you look at their book list, you know, they were delighted to learn about the first guy to go in and people who sailed around the world. so they had. it is a purely enlightment thing. they had this whole environment in which it was thought important to explore and to explore ideas as well as countries. there's one last thing. one of your lectures talked about how modest a mansion in
the united states was. and no relationship, i mean one is tiny and the other is huge. they were on civilization. they were on the edges. i think that made them more creative. you don't have this vast layer of tradition over the top of you that you have to fight through. you a new country. you can have new ideas and you can bring them to the surface. that's the idea. >> i can't wait to see it. >> one of the initial conversations is that we all feel maybe we are not doing a good enough job teaching our children about history.
i have been a historian for 27 years, but there are a series of books on history education books for kids. what inspired you to write that? what was the moment when you said wow. was it being in the classroom? >> that. that's always very inspiring. when i was chairman of the national indowment we showed how youngsters didn't know anything about history. they won't know about history but they know about technology. you know, how often have i heard people say i'll get my grand dour to fix this?
it was perhaps a primary purpose. the second was i wan today stay out of trouble. if you write a book that's deep history about adults somebody is going to be mad. who could be mad about these books? i love these books? >> tell us about your main argument. i recommend these books for your grandchildren and i'll tell you about one of the books i bought of yours in a moment. tell us about america i worked with a book illustrator named robin. the idea was to go through the
alphabet. it's to go clear through the alphabet. x was a little hard but we got through. we were working on this right after 9/11. robin drew this wonderful picture. we used a line from america the beautiful and robin did this beautiful picture. it was a book that was inspired with a lot of emotion. >> one of the other books i recommend is a is for abigail. talk about -- and i was pleased to hear you end your talk with some of the other women in his
lives. what are some of the other women you chose to put in the book? >> we want today make the book inclusive. sally ride is in there. we tried to make it about a group of women that was as inclusive. you want little girls and little boys to read this and understand girls are full of potential just as the boys are. >> and another one is out in 50 states. on that note, do you have a favorite national park or scenic natural area other than wyoming? >> you stole my line. >> the vice president was
looking at me as i started that question. do you have a favorite? >> i could i not say yellowstone national park? they have been such a part of our lives. i have never been the glacier. when i see the advertisements of arizona on tv i want to archers national park. there are many things left to do. >> what a favorite historic site? is there a battlefield, a home, a historic site? some of the folks are here, which is a lovely site. you obviously visited that. are there favorite historic sites that you have? >> the thing going on right now with monroe's home is very
interesting. i thought it was almost unbelievable how modest it was. the theory now is that what we look at abdomen thought was monroe's house was a little guest house and he had something much bigger there that he and his wife and family lived in and then it burned. the record of that is a little hazy. it makes sense this whole theory that the house burned and they have excavated a large part of the foundation for it. >> there's always more to learn. >> and each of of these, they wonderful for bringing children. >> absolutely. >> my kids have suffered me
drags them to all of these places. the vice president and i were talking. i always knew he was a great military history buff. do you share his enthusiasm and various battlefield sites in the country and is that something that is discussed in your book? >> no. but dick has made the lives of o our children richer. they were little and dick loved the idea of being in the middle of all of these battlefields. asaid no more battlefields. you really do need to know north
from south. >> sure. >> was there one that was the most difficult and most challenging for you? >> yeah. nothing else took me five years. >> just because of the sheer keep. >> yes. he's not more than 5'7" or 5'8". most difficult, that's the point. we don't have a whole series of photographs to look at. you have gilbert stewart and every president try today get his portrait done.
portraits would be made and then copied and copied so people would know i don't think it's right. i think it makes him -- he was a handsome man. i think it makes him handsomer than he was. i like the portrait. do you want to look at -- i was so stunned the first time i wasn't to mt. vernon and saw the young washington. we all know about the guy that has no teeth. he had one tooth and he lost that in his second term. i think it was john adams who left the white house with one tooth. first of all the trial but secondly, the paintings. you see whose mouth is sunken
in. so you know them we know washington too well as an old man. the portraits don't even show him enough in his prime. >> sure. and he was aun times in pain because the dentures were so ill figt. washington was a big fellow but he would be about 14 feet tall. >> my favorite is of george washington. i mean he probably i think was joe ellis who said it was important that we be worshipful of our great men in the early days of the republic.
it's a religious type of -- who did that? >> washington and looking -- >> with a toga. >> yeah. so the attitude of people in these days were important. he no longer had anything to tie his false teeth to. it made his face swollen. whielt gives us a wrong image of him it helps us understand him as a human being. >> so was there one you found to be particularly, you know, it's never easy to write a book but
is there one that's easiest. >> probably blue skies, no fences. it was about growing you and having an exclus. you know, to find out what linda was up to. that was the most fun. >> what's the difficulty in writing about yourself? as someone who lived in the public eye -- >> you have to fig your oure ou you don't want to say. >> we are almost out of time. as a long year as a scholar, a teacher, political pous, public figure and author what are some of the great rewards, what have been some of the challenges of this public life? >> well, when you reach higher levels you don't have any privacy or the ability to be
spontaneous. if you want to go to the drugstore you to call secret service agents. we were always surrounded by people so nice i can't say enough good things about the secret service. they not only did a great job and they were good people so that's a kind of disadvantage. the advantage is, you know, you get to meet remarkable people. before he died we got to visit with pope john paul. he was truly, you just felt holiness. he was just amazing. the other person i remember feeling stunned by is this empress of japan!
who were you heros? >> wonder woman. >> wonder woman. understandably so. >> yeah. >> and one last question, what really sparked in you this passion for history? what was it from your early life that helped to forge that? >> i got my phd in english literature. i thought it was and i kept two it and then i realized it wasn't history. i don't know. being able to get into life and being able to delve into the ris ri of this amazing story. it is such a mystery in some ways. >> absolutely. >> before we break let me just
remind everybody they are all hard at work. let me thank the society for hosting this wonderful five-part series and cspan but we put together curriculum and putting it out make it available so students can watch this and learn it. i would like to thank the vice president and dr. chaney for coming here today. >> it has been a great pleasure for us. thank you very much. >> and there are signed copies of her books in the lobby. interested in america history? visit our web site. you can vee our tv school yule