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tv   Discussion on the Museum of the American Revolution  CSPAN  July 4, 2017 11:40am-12:11pm EDT

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on c-span3. this thursday, july 6th, for a-program from the new museum of the american revolution in philadelphia. it opened in april. we'll be joined by top museum staff to learn about their artifacts and exhibits and they'll field your questions on the american revolution. next, a behind the scenes preview of the mee seuseum reco in 2015 when the building was under construction and the artifacts were in storage. >> when descendents of george washington's family put up for sale the tent that housed him in every campaign of the revolution, it was acquired by a minister in the valley forger are a and that launched the century of collecting. it also launched the idea of a museum to tell the entire story of the revolution. the collection of the museum are incomparable. they really have no fear, we have objects related to
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washington which truly are unique. one of a kind. and they bring to life his leadership, his incredible role in keeping the army together and never wavering from his goal of success. at the same time, we have object that's represent the common foot soldiers, the cavalrymen swreshgs objects that reflect the role of not just american soldiers but british and french and native-americans. so our collection will enable us to really present the entire story of the american revolution to all who come to philadelphia. dpod stephenson is the director of collection ands interpretation for the museum. and he's the ideal person to oversee the creation of the exhibits. he is a phd historian in the american revolution. at the same time, he has been a screenwriter for historical productions and he's created exhibits so he's deeply experienced not just in the history and the meaning of the
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revolution but the material culture, the objects, the artifacts, the equipment that were used to bring about the revolution. so i pulled together selection of objects from the collection. give you some of the highlights and also give you sort of an indication of the big story line that we're telling in the museum. the first gallery that you'll come into really substantive gallery is going to take visitors back to the endst fren of the french and indian war in 1763. there is a new british monarch, the first british born monarch george iii. he is young, vibrant, he considers himself to be a real patriot king. american of the future revolutionary generation are extremely patriotic. they have just participated in one of the most dramatic
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victories in modern history. and are now part of real i didn't think richest, most extensive empire since the classical age. first abt i want to show you is an engraved soldier's powder horn. this is a cow horn, one of a pair that's what carved in 1763 to reflect that great victory. so you can see a crown and gr for the lat hin king george iii. this is that new british monarch. it's actually engraved with a scene of the city of havana in cuba. images of the fortifications around havana. british ships in the harbor. the british and american forces colonial american forces had taken havana from the spanish in 1762.
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and this horn was carved to commemorate the embarkation of the troops after the peace of paris. the city was illuminated at the embarkation of the british troops, july 7, 1763. and so this is really marking a moment in which britain and americans colonial british americans were revelling in being part of this magnificent empire. they expected to reap the fruits of that victory. they had defeated the spanish. they had defeated the french and their allies. and so britain was left with a vastly expanded empire. not just in north america, but in india, in africa, one of the last actions of the war actually took place when the british took manila in the philippines. it was first global war. sometimes the seven years war where the french and indian war here in north america. and so this horn is a great sort of embodyment of the optimism
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that colonial americans had at that point in history. but of course shortly after the riots of celebrations settled down, someone has to pay the bill, of course. this often is when we alwareali in. it begins just after this great victorious moment when british policymakers got face up to the cost of victory, price of victory. now that you have something like 80,000 catholic french inhabitants, former french colonists in north america, tens of thousands native-american who wore pa were partst french empire, they're now all subjects of george ii. armies have to be stationed in america. pleats have to be stationed in america and south america, really policing this new british empire.
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and so this is the routes of the odious stamp back which many, of course, view as the beginning of the revolutionary storey. it takes another ten years for their there actually to be shooting to begin in north america. but that is the root of the revolutionary story. britain has to raise revenue to cover the costs. it's a common fallacy that stamp act was to pay for the cost of that war. that price had actually been borne by british taxpayers who had been squeezed just like we often say, can't afford any more taxes. they were looking at the americans and saying, you know, they're fairly lightly taxed people. maybe they can bear the tax of their defense. and so a lot of the next decade and that's where we love in. we actually have a image of what the gallery is willing to tell the story will be located under the limbs of boston's liberty tree, a re-creation of boston
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liberty tree. we'll talk about that decade when americans begin to articulate their views of their first english liberties that are infringed by the acts and taxes on the part of the british. and one of the objects we'll show in here is this is a chinese porcelain punch bowl. this was used to serve alcoholic punches in taverns and homes in britain and in america. so this was actually produced in china but for the export trade to britain and particularly america. it has here the arms of liberty and the figure of john willkis who was a politician against the -- rallied support in britain against the administration of lord bute and he became a very popular figure
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for the american sons of liberties r ert and they would often use wilkes' image in their propaganda. they were protesting for american liberty all through the 1760s and 1770s. it is wonderful piece. as american colonists began shouting loudly and increasingly loud about their rights as englishmen and their feeling that there is a conspiracy to enslave them under way in the british parliament, the whole issue of slavery, of travel slavery increasingly the contradiction of these calls for liberty with the presence of slavery particularly in america, of course, it existed in britain at the time but it was particularly widespread in america becomes louder and louder. and so this next item is a
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really incredibly rare and important work. this is a volume of poems published in london in 1773 by a young woman named phyllis wheatley who is the first published african-american poet in american history. phyllis wheatly had been enslaved the west coast of afri africa probably in senegal and brought to the new world in the 1750s. as a young girl maybe about 8 years old. she eventually was sold to a family by the name of wheatley in massachusetts. and the daughter in the family taught her to read and write. and she had a real natural talent for writing verse. and, of course, at the time this was an extraordinary development. so much so that there were those that she began publishing pieces in the newspaper and they began to be circulated and was
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actually a trial held in boston where people like john hancock and other significant figures in the community were brought together to basically put her on trial, ask her questions. broug together to basically put her on trial, ask her questions, to try to determine if it was possible that this african-american woman could have written poetry like this. of course she passed. and they actually wrote a testimonial saying they believed she, in fact, had been the talented writer who produced this b this poetry. in 1773, she travelled to london and this volume was published. it's also remarkable in that we have an engaved image presumably a good physical likeness of phyllis wheatley. this volume, and i'll turn the page to show you, is also -- it would be wonderful even by itself. but it is one of the few examples that have actually come
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down to us with phyllis wheatley's signature on the volume. and it just doesn't get better than that. you know, trying to find the sort of tangible objects that allow us to discuss the very important contributions of african-americans to the founding period of our nation. it can be a real struggle as a curator to try to find this material. so we are incredibly blessed to have that volume available to us and to share with our visitors once we're open. that will be in that same gallery located next to our visiting tree. reflect on, you know, the contradiction between these calls for liberty and the continued persistence of slavery. couple of other items. these are later bindings of two 18th century publications.
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of course, at the end of this decade of increasing division between americans and britons over this issue of taxation and representation in the umpire sort of comes to a head in the aftermath of the boston tea party and the coercive acts that are passed by parliament in 1774. and so delegates from all but one of the colonies come together in philadelphia at the first continental congress. this is the fall of 1774. those delegates meet in a small building that still stands today. right across the street. carpenter's hall. this is often known as the first continental congress. so this is a first printing of the journals of the proceedings of congress. in this case, the first continental congress held in philadelphia september 5th, 1774. and was published just down the street from where the museum
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will be located at the london coffee house. this is the corner of market and front street in old town, philadelphia. and this wonderful emblem that we have in the center, very symbolic. as you can see, there's the hands. each one representing one of the colonies with a pillar and a liberty cap at the top and the words magna carta again. still reminding us that these delegates even on the eve of the revolutionary war are still appealing to their rights as englishmen and to those founding documents of the english constitution. try to define their place in the empire and seek redress for these grievances. of course not everyone felt that this was the right way to go. there was still -- this is by no means the consensus of all colonial americans that we should be pushing literally to the brink of war, to the point where the congress is calling for americans to form voluntary
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military associations and prepare to fight britain in the fall of 1774. so this is sort of a piece of opposition literature published in new york. and i think it's kind of funny to look now because it seems very contemporary in a sense. what think ye of the congress now. which we might say in 2015 as well. or an inquiry how far the americans are bound to abide and execution the decisions of the late congress. so this is sort of a loyalist track calling into question a legitimacy of that group of delegates here in philadelphia at the first continental congress. and of course this is -- this is the beginnings of a divide that will split eventually into tories and patriots and loyalists and revolutionaries during the retch lucivolution. and result in tens of thousands of americans who chose to exile themselves as a result of the revolution and become founders of other nations.
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many people in canada for instance today can trace ancestry to loyalist ancestors who left places like new york, boston and philadelphia. in order to settle in canada after the war. so this another engraved powder horn. it's a wonderful object to transition from prewar decade of americans appealing to the britons as shared inhateriters liberty and transition to making that decision to declare independence and go their own separate way. so this is a powder horn that belonged to a man named william waller. he was a virginian. lived near what is now shepherdstown, west virginia. not far from washington, d.c. it has a lot of slogans we associate with the revolutionary
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movement. of course, most recognizable, liberty or death. these words reportedly spoken by virginian patrick henry at the beginning of the war. lift this carefully out of the mount. you can see, kill or be killed. which is a fairly sobering, almost contemporary sounding slogan. and appeal to heaven. which was something that appeared on new england flags at the time. and, you know, was also a very popular slogan at the beginning of the the war. the date, 1775. and curiously, this crown, so if you'll remember on that havana powder horn also a crown. in that case, with gr-3. sometimes people who see this horn are a little confused and say wait a minute, this guy was a virginian, he was fighting in the continental army, why would he have a crown on his powder horn? but of course in 1775, these men are still fighting to restore their rights as englishmen
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within the empire. so it's perfectly consistent with that to appeal to the king, to see the king as the person who's going to intercede with parliament. that parliament is the group that is oppressing and trying to enslave americans. of course all that changes between summer of 1775 and the summer of 1776. in which americans were finally that they hear that the ding has refu the king has refuseded to read the petition sent by congress. the olive branch petition. essentially taking them out of his protection. they then, encouraged by an immigrant englishman by the name of thomas pain who writes his famous pamphlet common sense. this newspaper volume, this is a bound volume of all the papers.
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the philadelphia publication. the pennsylvania post from 1776. i've turned it to the page on saturday, july 6, 1776. and this is the first newspaper printing in english of the declaration of independence. and so while many viewers will have seen the large broad sides published by john dunlap and other printers, they would have been posted up in public places. this is probably the way many colonial americans first read the declarations of independence. first in philadelphia but then quickly scattering out through the other colonies and then eventually by august appearing in print in london itself. so independence had actually been already declared on july 2nd of 1776. we celebrate the fourth. the fourth is the day the declaration of independence, the
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final version of the declaration, was adopted by congress and then it's sent off and printed. this is tuesday july 2nd, 1776. as you can see, just general descriptions of activity going on in various cities around the world and around the nation. more news is going on in providence, in newport and new haven and philadelphia. and literally the news we can imagine must have arrived very late in the day because they had set the type. they were at the end of the news columns just before the classified ads. and here this day the continental congress declared the united colonies free and independent states. that is the announcement of the birth of the united states. and then to be sold. and we move on to the classifieds. so in some ways i love showing
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people that volume as much as the declaration. so that's really the birth of the united states. of course, nothing on the fourth because that's the day the declaration is finally being put into its final form and voted and adopted by congress. but at the end of the first page, all of these lines here are indictments against the king. congress explaining its decision to declare independence by citing all its groovances against the king. and among those, he has abdicated government here by his declaring us out of his protection. so that's saying basically, you know, my armies and navies are going to attack you. and then he says he is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny already begun. this cap here, this fragment of a cap, originally belonged to
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one of those foreign -- what americans referred to as those foreign mercenaries, the haitian soldiers from one of several principalities in central europe, in the german speaking states of central europe. this is a fucilar cap. this is an archeological fragment. it actually was recovered from the delaware river. near if you've ever flown into philadelphia international airport. as you're landing, as you look to the river off to the side. there are a bunch of remnants they put there to keep the british from taking philadelphia in 1777. at some point over the winter of 1777, '78, a body load of haitians got caught up and dumped into the river with all of their baggage. this cap was recovered during the first world war by some corps of engineer, folks who were dredging the channel. so this is actually a brass gilt
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metal pieces. this would have had a wool liner in the back. it would have been worn on the head of a haitian fusilar. 1776. driving washington's army back through new jersey. back around new jersey and new jersey. retreat into pennsylvania. could well have been warn in the actions, you know, right up to the crossing and the battles of trenton and princeton and then this soldier may well have been part of garrison of new york and been a reinforcement sent to philadelphia in that winter of 1777, '78. now that same winter, the american army, george washington's army, was encamped about 20 miles west of philadelphia. british army had taken the rebel capital of philadelphia and was,
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you know, hoping to split off philadelphia and the northern colonies from the southern colonies and the rebellion. washington's army marches into valley forge. like i said, about 20 miles west. this is actually a pointing. will be very recognizable to people. it's probably one of the most iconic images of the american revolution. it was painted after the civil war. so that's about a century later as a commemorative work. very evocative of the date, december 19th, 1777. as washington's army marches along the golf road into its winter quarters at valley forge. and a couple of the objects i have here would have been witnesses to that winter encampment. the first is a pair of silver camp cups here. if you can see them. and these pass down through the washington -- through relatives
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of general washington. who had this "w" engraved on them later. and the legend camp cup owned and used by general washington during the war of the revolution. these two are part of a set of 12 camp cups which remarkable as the original receipt has survived. so we know these were made by a philadelphia silversmith by the name of edmond mill who was working at second and market street down in old city, philadelphia. washington paid for these cups just two days before he and the continental army marched through philadelphia, right down chestnut street, literally past the future front door of the museum of the american revolution. they passed congress which was drawn up on the steps of independence hall. john adams wrote to abigail adams describing the scene. said they looked great. they were very spry as they marched. although not all in step. he thought they needed a little bit of work to look as professional as he thought they should. but he was very beau youed at
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the sight of seeing this vast army marching through philadelphia. pretty much like the fellows in the painting are doing. of course about a month later almost to the day the british army marches down that same street and occupies philadelphia. so this was one of those many, many dark days of the american revolution. so washington's army then marches in to -- marches into valley forge. this is one of the winters, as she did every winter through the eight years of the war, that martha washington joined general washington. and in many ways one of the rarest objects in the collection i'll share with you now. this is a volume -- actually owned by martha washington. it is a -- see her signature. m. washington. and it's an early edition.
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printed in england. it was known as a help and guide to christian families. published in london in 1752. so quite likely a book she may well, you can imagine, would have taken along with her to camp to spend that winter at valley forge. now, the top of the page is missing. almost certainly it was clipped by an autograph collector in the 19th century. presumably her name would have been written out there as well. and it was probably clipped by a collector. and if any viewers have that in their collection, we would love to reunite the book and the autograph. but there's her signature. martha washington. so it's entirely possible to imagine that that's a book that spent the winter at valley forge along with the general and his suffering soldiers. a few other objects. again, an object that quite likely was also used at valley
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forge. the soldier's canteen. seems like a fairly mundane object but there's really probably about half a dozen canteens that have survived from the revolution with this surcharge will tells us that that was the property of the continental army that was actually marked. there was actually an order that came out midway through the war because so much of the material, they were having trouble keeping track. soldiers would be discharged and take all their gear home and of course perennially short on supplies. there was an effort by marking weapons and akud ramentes and just things like canteens they could try to get a better handle on keeping all that material. >> one of the great treasures in our collection is a simple modest little flag. blue background that bears 13
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stars. and it was general washington's personal standard. so it really signified his presence. when you saw that flag, you knew general washington was in command. and it's incredible that it has survived. so few flags from the revolution have. it came to us from a desecocend of betty washington. these were the men and officers that were personally assigned to general washington and had the responsibility of ensuring his safety. so it's a wonderful object directly from the washington family that, again, reflects his command, his leadership of the continental army during the revolution. >> thursday at 7:00 p.m. eastern, join american history tv for a live tour of the museum of the american revolution in philadelphia. the museum's president and ceo
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michael quinn and collections and exhibitions vice president scott stevenson will introduce artifacts and exhibits throughout the museum including george washington's war tent and a piece of the old north bridge from the battle of concord. hear stories about the american revolution. and you can participate in the live program with your phone calls and tweets. watch american history tv live from the museum of the american revolution thursday starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 3. >> c-span where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cage television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> next on american history tv, pulitzer-prize winning historian david mccollough talks about how
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the founders particularly john adams valued education, viewed slavery and persevered in the face of hardship. mr. mccollough then discusses how these ideals then shaped american society. following his talk, he sits down to discuss why he thinks studying history is important. what his writing process is like. and how he started writing books. he also previews his upcoming book about the pioneers of the northwest territory. this event was part of the series of the founding fathers hosted by the society of fine arts in palm beach, florida. >> wow, it's great to see it fill like this. and thank you, all. good morning. and i'm really happy that there are students here today from cardinal lumin and also from palm beach atlantic university. ultimately the people i want to reach most are the children and grandchildren of all the people in this room. but today i'm introducing a dear
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