tv Abraham Lincoln Abolitionists CSPAN March 30, 2018 12:11pm-1:01pm EDT
associate dean for research and law professor at temple university. watch "landmark cases" monday and join the conversation. our hashtag is "landmark cases" and follow us at c-span. we have resources on our web site for background on each case. the landmark cases companion book, a link to the national constitution center's interactive constitution, and the landmark cases podcast at cspan.org/landmarkcases. american history tv was recently at ford's theater in washington, d.c. for the 21st annual symposium hosted by the abraham lincoln institute and ford's theater society. next, stanley harrold talks about the influence of abolit n abolitionists on lincoln's political decisions. this is about 45 minutes. >> i have said it 100 times and
i have now no inclination to take it back. that i believe there is no right and ought to be no inclination in the people of the free states to enter into the slave states and interfere with the question of slavery at all. i have said that always and when it is said that i am in favor of interfering with slavery, i know it is unwarranted by anything i have ever intended and i believe by anything i have ever said. these are hardly the words of a man burning with the flame of abolitionism and even allowing for the fact that their author was running for public office when he uttered them the summer of 1858, they bespeak a man straddling a moral and philosophical fence that was growing rapidly harder to
bestride. just a week away from the end of his presidency and his life, after circumstances had pressured him towards an increasingly progressive policy on emancipation. lincoln paced the credit elsewhere. "the logic and moral power of garrison and the anti-slavery people of the country and the army have done all. yet despite his stunning personal growth during those four turbulent years never once did abraham lincoln publicly declare himself an abolitionist. here to discuss the subject of his latest book "lincoln and the abolitioni abolitionists" we are privileged to present the renowned author and educator dr. stanley harrold.
dr. harrold is a professor of science and history at south carolina state university is the author of books that cover the world of the abolitionists, the border wars of the 1840s and' 50s and the civil war itself. he is the co-author of "the african-american odyssey" which is now in itself seventh edition sand the best selling african-american history textbook in the world. please join me in welcoming dr. stanley harrrolld. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. there's going to be some repetition and contradiction of earlier talks. frederick douglass had been the united states leading black abolitionist.
on april 14, 1876, he delivered the keynote address for a ceremony dedicating washington, d.c.'s freedom monument. the monument portrays abraham lincoln as the great emancipator. douglas in his address complicated that portrayal of lincoln. according to douglas, lincoln had been preeminently the white man's president, entirely devoted to the welfare of white men. and i know this is opposite from what professor burlingame quoted douglass as saying, he said "both the lincoln is preemine preeminently the white man's president and also preeminentedly black man's president." but at the dedication of this memorial he said lincoln had been preeminently the white man's president, devoted to the welfare of white men. douglas recalled during the early years of the civil war lincoln had been willing to deny, postpone and sockry nice
t -- sacrifice the rights of the humanity of colored people to promote the welfare of the white people in this country. douglas asserted that from a genuine abolition perspective, lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent. dougl douglas -- douglass and other abolitionists had demanded the immediate end of slavery in the united states. lincoln at best opposed the extension of slavery into the country's western territories. during the civil war's first two years lincoln thought to restore the union, not to abolish slavery. yet as douglas realized, had lincoln put the abolition of slavery before the salvation of the union, he would have driven from him a power class of the american people and rendered
resistance to the rebellion impossible. douglas' ambivalent view of lincoln was not unique. in term, lincoln's view of the abolitionist evolved over time. the relationship between politician lincoln and abolitionist was long, complex, and ultimately direct.abraham l abolitionist was long, complex, and ultimately direct. much of it developed over the pre-war years as the nation divided over issues related to slavery and race. abolitionists regarded slavery to be a sin and crime that must end if the united states were to avoid god's wrath but many more northerners sympathized with white southerners. they held racist views and a posed granting black people equal rights. in between were people like lincoln who merely disliked slavery. lincoln did not believe slavery
to be a beneficial labor system and worried about slaveholder domination of the united states government. like most white northerners before the civil war, lincoln sought sectional compromise with the white south and opposed abolitionist radicalism. during the first three decades of his life, lincoln had little or no contact with abolitionists. the abolitionist movement's center lay far to his east in an area stretching from eastern pennsylvania northward into new england. lincoln's priorities during these decades included educating himself, finding work more rewarding than physical labor and beginning a political career. lincoln believed that to advance that career he had to appeal to the prejudices of political party leaders and the majority of voters. from 1832 when he first ran for office in the conservative state
of illinois onward lincoln sought to represent his constituents' views and desires. it would have hurt his career if he appeared to be too close to abolitionists. for two decades, lincoln identified with the whig party. this political organization represented upwardly mobile northerners and encouraged national government support for industry and commerce. the whig party also represented the interest of moderately pro-slavery white southerners and it included evangelical northerners who opposed slavery. within this complicated context, lincoln idealized whig leader henry clay. clay was a kentucky sleiavehold who mightily opposed slavery and sought reconciliation. yet by the time lincoln reached
adulthood, abolitionists helped shape his life. in 1819, abolitionists inspired opposition to admitting missouri territory to the union as a slave labor state produced a north/south sectional crisis. the crisis led congress under clay's leadership to pass the missouri compromise in 1820. it allowed missouri to become a slave labor state and ban slavery and the rest of the louisiana purchase north of the 3630 line of latitude. another abolitionist effort had more significance in establishing lincoln's political environment. during the early 1820s, pro-slavery forces attempted to legalize slavery in illinois. local abolitionists organized societies to prevent this and the pennsylvania abolition society sent 6,000 anti-slavery pamphlets into the state. as a result, illinois voters rejected allowing slavery in
that state. if this had not happened, lincoln's career would have been very different. much anti-black prejudice remained in illinois. during the 1820s and 1830s, the state legislature passed laws restricting black settlement, barring black men from voting and of course no women could vote and illinois also passed laws not allowing black people to testify in court against white people. when the country's leading abolitionist, william lloyd garrison, learned of these laws he exclaimed "oh most detestable and bloody state, thy offense is rank and smells to heaven." in contrast, lincoln did not object to these laws. instead, as lincoln gained
support to the state legislature, he supported the american society's program of very gradual abolition of slavery combined with sending former slaves to africa. supposedly for their own good as well as that of white workers. during the 1840s, major national issues related to slavery included annexation of texas and war against mexico. abolitionists opposed annexation of slave holding texas but lincoln declared he had never been much interested in the issue in a similar manner, lincoln during his term in congress for march, 1847 to may 1849 expressed views regarding the mexican war that were far more moderate than abolitionists. lincoln denied the war had been originated for the purpose of extending slavery.
abolitionists said it was a slaveholder's plot to expand slavery. lincoln did, however, support the willmott proviso, designed to prevent slavery expansion into new mexico and california as a result of the war. lincoln also acted not ratley in response to abolitionists and anti-slavery whig efforts against slavery and the slave trade in the district of columbia. he initially voted in favor of a bill to end both but then he became more conservative on the issue. in 1848, he objected to a similar bill because it didn't provide compensation to slave owners whose slaves were freed. lincoln had been out of congress for over a year when that body passed the compromise of 1850. this measured a mitted california to the union as a free labor state and required slave labor state texas to give
up its climb to eastern new mexico. otherwise the compromise favored the south. it gave slavery a chance to expand into new mexico and utah territories. it kept slavery but not the slave trade legal in the district of columbia and with the fugitive slave act of 1850, it instituted united states government support for recapturing fugitive slaves. abolitionists opposed all the pro-slavery measures. lincoln supported all the measur measures including the fugitive slave law. this was despite the fact that lincoln often expressed sympathy for escaping slaves. during your early 1850s lincoln described abolitionists as those who would shiver into fragments the union of these states and even burn the last copy of the bible rather than slavery should
continue a single hour. lincoln also denounced slavery's strongest defenders. he followed henry clay in embracing the ultimate emancipation and like clay he linged that ultimate emancipation with sending black people out of the country to africa. lincoln maintained the colonization society's program would relieve the united states of what he described as the troublesome presence of free negroes. it took congress's passage of the kansas/nebraska act in may, 1854 to begin an uneven process that brought about a limited convergence in lincoln's and the abolitionists' views. introduced by democratic senator steven a. douglas of illinois, the kansas/nebraska act repealed the missouri compromise. that meant kansas and nebraska
territories would be open to slavery. at this point, some abolitionists lost hope for a bloodless termination of american slavery. meanwhile, former whigs who opposed slavery expansion came together with willmott proviso democrats to form the republican party. in illinois ichabod cotting and owen love joy who had close ties to the abolition movement held meetings during october, 1854. lincoln did not attend. this was in part because he fired abolitionists radicalism would dominate the meeting. as it turned out, the meeting adopted resolutions that were more radical than lincoln's views but they were not
abolitionists. to resolution called for prohibiting slavery in all united states territories. they asserted that fugitive slaves had a right to jury trials. lincoln limited himself to opposing the repeal of the missouri compromise. lincoln accepted the legality of slavery expansion into new mexico and utah. that october lincoln described slavery itself as a violation of republican principles and a workers' right to the fruits of his labor but he continue to support expelling free african-americans from the country and he continue to oppose repeal of the fugitive slave law. during 1855, as pro-slavery and free state forces in kansas went to war lincoln began to wonder as abolitionists had before him if the union could continue half slave and half free.
rather than take action, lincoln called on god to superintend a solution. lincoln did use his political contacts in central illinois and his emerging eloquence to take control of the state's republican party. lincoln attended the party state convention at bloomington in may, 1854, where he led in introducing a moderately anti-slavery platform. it emphasizes resistance to slaveholder power in washington, d.c. and maintaining the union rather than confrontation over slavery in kansas territory. nevertheless, pro-slavery democrats charged that lincoln shared the views of garrison and frederick douglass. some republicans known as radical republicans did share some abolitionist views. they corresponded with abolitionists and attended
abolitionist meetings. lincoln during the 1856 presidential campaign rejected the radical's example. he supported the republican p t party platform, it upheld congress's power to prohibit slavery in territories but did not opposed a mitting new slave secretary of labor states to the union. it didn't call for repeal of the fugitive stave law in 1850, action against abolition in the district of columbia. as lincoln spoke in support of the republican presidential nominee, john c. free monmont dd that abolitionists affected his party's agenda. when james buchanan won the election, lincoln blamed freemont's loss in part on the democrats' claim that freemont was an abolitionist. in 1858, lincoln ran againstste
a seat in the united states senate. during the campaign's famous lincoln/douglass debates, douglass repeatedly charged that lincoln was an abolitionist who advocated sexual amalgamation of the races. lincoln responded in part by declaring "i have always hated slavery, i think as much as any abolitionist. but unlike the great majorityover abolitionists, lincoln rejected social and political racial equality. he declared immediate emancipation to be impossible. after losing the 1858 election, lincoln's expression in 1859 of anti-slavery sentiment continued to fall short of abolitionist standards. therefore it's not surprising that lincoln's reaction to john
brown's october 1859 raid on the federal arsenal at harper's ferry, virginia, diverged from that of abolitionists. following brown's execution garrison wished success to every slave insurrection in the south. lincoln in contrast described brown's raid as wrong and predicted it would not help end slavery. in a february, 1860 speech, lincoln pledged that the republican party would let slavery alone in the states where it exists. in april, 1860, the democratic party split in two. northern democrats nominated steven a. douglas for president and southern democrats nominated john c. breckenridge for president. he was from kentucky. as a result, republicans stugt choose a moderate candidate who was most likely to win.
in part lincoln gained the nomination because republicans believed his chief rifle, william h. seward, could be more easily linked to abolitionists than lincoln could. the republican platform was also moderate. it favored admitting kansas to the union as a free labor state but it ignored the fugitive slave law and the supreme court's 1857 decision in dred scott, the dred scott case, which legalized slavery in all territories. even so, lincoln's nomination led northeastern abolitionist leaders for the first time to focus extended attention upon him. garrison predicted that lincoln as president would do nothing offend the south. other abolitionists portrayed lincoln as the most dangerouses on doll the anti-slavery
movement but some answer ligsists applied to lincoln a long standing abolitionist policy of makesing criticism of anti-slavery politicians with encouragement. if june, 1860, frederick douglass, who vowed he would not vote for lincoln, described lincoln as one of the most frank, honest men in political life. douglass contrast it had republican party's limited anti-slavery with what he called the democratic party's wickedly aggressive pro-slavery. and several abolitionists campaigned for lincoln's election. the secession crisis that followed lincoln's election, his inauguration in march, 1861 and the start of the civil war that april led to the first lasting reciprocal relationship between lincoln and abolitionist
leaders. fractious and sporadic, it insisted despite and because of lincoln and the abolitionists' continued differences regarding slavery and race. lincoln's inaugural address delivered in march, 1861, confirmed many abolitionists fears that he would compromise with pro-slavery leaders. in the address lincoln vowed to maintain united states government control in the states that claim to be out of the union. but he repeated his promise not to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. when on april 12, 1861, lincoln's policy of holding the united states government property in the south led to the confederate attack on ft. sumpter and war. lincoln faced major difficulties. he believed he had to secure washington against confederate attack. formulate a military strategy
and convince the border slave states to remain in the union. none of these tasks required lincoln to alter his views regarding slavery's legitimacy. in a message to congress on july 4, lincoln emphasized that union soldiers fought on behalf of perpetual union, not emancipation. this disturbed abolitionists. following the union defeat at bull run in july, 1861, abolitionist criticism of lincoln intensified. it did it again following lincoln's countermanding of union general john c. freemont's august 30 proclamation. criticism intensified again.
in lincoln's annual message, he emphasized safing the union would want emancipation. abolitionist elizabeth cady stanton wrote privately "i really blushed for my country when i read that message. but all of lincolns have been the most 'nam bi-- namby-pamby order. a few abolitionists undertook direct efforts to persuade him to adopt emancipationist policies. these efforts continued during 1862 and presaged a more personal relationship between abolitionists and the president. key to this was a smithsonian institution lecture series that brought leading abolitionist to washington. lincoln met with some of these abolitionists at the white house. at these meetings abolitionists
in nearly all instances acted respectfully toward lincoln. he, in turn, treated them politely while suggesting that they had a limited and impractical point of view. the other all abolitionist estimation of lincoln improved when in april, 1862, he signed a congressional measure to immediately end slavery in the district of columbia. during the follow months, abolitionists called on lincoln to issue an emancipation proclamation. when a delegation met with lincoln in the white house to urge him to issue such a proclamation, he dismissed the proposal. nevertheless, lincoln began to draft his preliminary emancipation proclamation.
he began to announce that slaves in areas under confederate control would be thenceforth and forever free. but lincoln decided not to make his intentions known until the union achieved a major battlefield victory so as to a pie to act in strength rather than desperation. therefore during the summer of 1862, lincoln's tensions remained unclear to abolitionists. and their view of him detier your rated -- deteriorated after he tried to undertaken a effort to send african-americans to central america. blaming the civil war on black people as well as on slavery lincoln told the group "it's better for us both to be separated." in early september, 1862, as robert e. lee's army of northern virginia marched northward,
abolitionists continued to question lincoln's fitness to be president. then the union battlefield victory at antietam on september 17 gave lincoln the opportunity to show his emancipation proclamation. in it he proposed only to free slaves in areas under confederate control and he proposed federal government aid for gradual emancipation combined with the ex-patriot rati -- e e ex-patriot united nations or who would return to the union. therefore abolitionists acted cautiously. two of them characterized the emancipation proclamation as a designed t to bribe the seceded states to return to the union wrath earn than achieve
universal emancipation. lincoln's december 1862 message provoked a more thorough negative reaction as they worried he would back off from issuing a final emancipation proclamation. in the december message, lincoln called on congress to provide a plan for gradual, compensated emancipation. it's likely that abolitionist contacts with lincoln helped keep him from backing off in regard to his final proclamation. and of course lincoln did issue the final emancipation proclamation on january 1, 1863. a relieved garrison called this proclamation a great historic
event sublime in its magnitude, momentous and ben efficient in its far-reaching consequences. lincoln during the final two and a half years of the civil war and of his life faced complicated issues. they included developing a winning battlefield strategy and finding generals who could implement that strategy he had to deal with a growing pro-slavery northern democratic peace movement and he had to formulate a plan for reconstructing the south after the civil war. within this context, lincoln's relationship with abolitionists changed. previously abolitionists had universally combined criticism of him with varying degrees of praise. but as 1863 passed, some abolitionists moved toward concentration on praise while
others who drew closer to radical republicans concentrated on criticism. this process was not smooth. abolitionists continued to question lincoln's commitment to universal emancipation and equal rights for african-americans. even the crucial union battlefield victories at gettysburg and vicksburg in july, 1863, did not alleviate abolitionist fears that lincoln might seek a negotiated peace with the confederacy that would sleeve slavery in existence. alternatively, abolitionists feared lincoln and republicans would not be able to defeat peace democrats in the 1864 union elections. meanwhile, lincoln seemed to draw closer to abolitionists. he praised black union troops. he ceased to endorse expatriate ration of black people in
public. he began to describe emancipation as god's will. nevertheless, lincoln's inconsistent responses to shape his policies regarding the standing of former slaves in the post-war south caused consternation. his proclamation of amnesty and reconstruction that he issued in december of 1863 contributed. this proclamation acknowledged that the supreme court could overrule the emancipation proclamation. it suggested that so long as former confederate states recognized african-americans' permanent freedom, race issues would be left up to those state governments to decide. in addition to alarming abolitionists, the proclamation of amnesty and reconstruction split the republican party. radical republicans sought to replace lincoln as the party's
1864 presidential nominee. john c. freemont became the radical favorite. as a result, abolitionists divided between those led by wendell phillips who followed the radicals in support of freemont and then led by garrison who stood by lincoln. during the spring of 1864, some abolitionists joined r.o. war democrats in organizing a radical democratic party convention to nominate freemont for president. philli phillips, elizabeth cady stanton and frederick douglass wrote letters of support. several abolitionists attended the convention. meanwhile, the garrison group endorsed lincoln for a second term. in june, garrison attended the republican national convention in baltimore where he applauded lincoln's unanimous
renomination. at a white house meeting that followed, lincoln expressed hope to garrison that the house of representatives would follow the united states in passing a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery throughout the country. as democrats continue to portray lincoln as an abolitionist who prolonged a disastrous war, lincoln began to doubt that he would be elected. william tecumsah sherman changed that. a few days earlier, frederick douglass declared that every man who wishes well to the slave should at once rally to the support of abraham lincoln. lincoln's more resolution critics didn't agree. wendell phillips approached
irrationality when in an october speech phillips characterized lincoln as tenter towards the south. nevertheless, abolitionists of all persuasions welcomed lincoln's and the republican party's triumph in the november, 1864, national election. the result they declared would allow them to keep pressing lincoln for action on behalf of universal emancipation and protection for black rights. for much of january, lincoln worked behind the sans to get the house of representatives to pass what became the 13th amendment to the u.s. constitution ending legal legal slavery throughout the country. the effort succeeded on january 31 with black abolitionists minister henry highland garnett seated in front of the house gallery. he then spoke for black voting
rights and education, yet many abolitionists continued to fear that lincoln might compromise with the white south. even so, lincoln at the end of hiss life recognized the abolitionist contribution -- and this is going to be a repeat. while visiting ulysses s. grant's army after the capture of richmond on april 3, 1865, lincoln talked with lieutenant daniel h. chamberlain in the fifth massachusetts black cavalry regiment. lincoln told chamberlain "i have only be an instrument the logic and moral power of garrison and the anti-slavery people of the country and the army have done all." when john wilkes booth wounded ling common this theater on april 14, he claimed lincoln was an abolitionist similar to john brown. abolitionists' react to this
tragic event reflected the fraught relationship that had long existed between them and lincoln. retrospective disregard and distrust of lincoln persisted among some abolitionists. others became increasingly devoted to positive memories of him. garrison provided the most sophisticated postmortem abolitionist account of lincoln's character and relationship to the abolitionist movement. lincoln, garrison noted, never assumed to be an abolitionist. lincoln was a politician not a philanthropist or reformer in a radical sense. garrison noted when the civil war began, lincoln defended slaveholders' rights, upheld the fugitive slave law and ignored the necessary and palpable relationship of slavery to the rebellion. garrison criticized lincoln for
timidity, following instead of boldly leading public opinion. but at the end of his talk garrison also recognized the appalling difficulties lincoln faced as president and according to garrison when lincoln changed his position it was always a step in advance. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you. i know from my reading that all the incidents you talked about of lincoln not going along with abolitionism are true but you also mentioned that lincoln said he was always opposed to slavery. so suspect it possible that all of those incidents that you've described so well were simply being a politician, that he knew that if he were an abolitionist, he would get nowhere.
but this was the way to finally lead to the end of slavery in the united states? >> yes, i think he said in 1864 he'd always been naturally opposed to slavery but there are degrees opposed to slavery. there are degrees. opposition to slavery expansion, opposition to the slave trade and not the slavery itself and recognition of the constitution clause protecting state rights over slavery. >> would you speak about the significance of lincoln's position as a young illinois legislature in apposing the slate legislatures condemnation of abolitionist literature. >> his condemnation of -- >> early in his career i thought that the state of illinois took the position that they were opposed to the dissemination of
abolitionist literature and they oppose that had position. not because they supported because they supported abolition nichl but opposed to the position of the state legislature. >> apposed to -- freedom of speech. i think that was a point. >> as a congressman, lincoln was in a boardinghouse known as the abolitionist house. do you have a theory in the way the relationships there -- >> he had a close relationship with joshua giddings, was an abolitionist and later became a radical republican. that was the closest relationship that he had with the other boards.
>> lincoln frame add bill to abolish slavery. not the slave trade but slavery itself in the district of columbia in 1849. he was ahead and what was being discussed. and he draft as bill with the help of giddings. the diary talks about this and he lines up 15 people from members of the political e lit in washington to endorse the plan. slavery itself. southerners said if you pass legislation like that we're going to break up the union. lincoln announced he was going to introduce the bill and said given the fact i lost my supporters, i won't.
but he went further than most of the wigs in congress to frame legislation to abolish slavery and of his remarks, in 1837, the state legislatures in the south appeal to state legislatures in the north and some northern states too appeal to other states saying please condemn the abolitionist movement. the state of illinois, the illinois house of representatives which lincoln sat, voted 77-6. six guys had the never to go against mainstream. was was lincoln and he came from central illinois where anti-abolitionist sentiment was strong. of the six, one went further and issued a statement saying slavery is based on injustice and bad policy. of the two, one was lincoln.
the only one running for re-election was lincoln. he stuck his neck out. he was a young man running for office in central illinois, arguably, the most racist free state in the union. i think his antislavery, hate red of it gets manifested in 1837 and 1839. >> and he never introduced the bill. i think what you're getting here is that lincoln is ambivalent. that he can be portrayed as ant slavery and he makes clear that he is not talking about ending slavery in the souths or in the slave states. [ laughter ] >> we're going to have a panel discussion afterwards. so i don't want to -- so if
there are other people who have things to say. i don't want to reempt your opportunity. he says, let us remember, that opposition to the expansion of slavery is a proxy for opposition to slavery itself. >> right. >> and the reason we emphasize the opposition to slavery expansion is because it is constitutional. the other measures suggested, including abolition nests that say let's tear up the constitution. slavery expansion, opposition, among some of the people who oppose slavery was a profound expression of the hate red of slavery. we only have one method to express it. >> there's been a debate over
denationalization of slavery. if e denationalize it it is going to disappear. abolitionists did not agree. they were going to let slavery continue indefinitely. >> right. >> other questions? thank you. [ applause ] this weekend on the c-span network. saturday at 9:20 p.m. on c-span. a debate on the suit by a same sex couple against a colorado bakery refusing to make their waeding cake from the national constitution center from philadelphia and daniel mark,
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"american history tv" at fords theater in washington, d.c. for the 21st annual symposium hosted by the abraham lincoln institute and ford's theater society. next, walter stahr, author of "stanton: lincoln's war secretary." he talked about the role edward stanton played after lincoln's assassination, overseeing the conspirators. this is about 50 minutes. welcome back to our final speaker of the afternoon. and first of all for those who celebrate, happy sait. patrick' day today. i'm michelle acro wl and i'm hee with the