tv Abraham Lincolns Life Legacy Roundtable CSPAN March 31, 2018 3:28am-4:02am EDT
california. every elementary school should have a counselor because of all the problems that we're having with mental issues and illness. they tried to pass it called ab-64 and they did not pass it because the governor said he was not going to support it at this time. it was too expensive. so they're going to -- so i would like to see that happen. and i think we'll solve a lot of problems for teachers and schools. >> "voices from the states" on c-span. american history tv was recently at ford's theater in washington, d.c. for the 21st annual similar pose young hosted by the abraham lincoln institute and ford's lincoln society. next a panel featuring the
similymposium speakers discussi the 16th president's life, career and legacy. this is about 30 minutes. good afternoon, thank you for hanging out this afternoon. we've had a splendid day of thought-provoking presentations. i'm lucas morell and teach politics at the university and very proud that i brought lincoln to the land of lee. and i'm a board member of the abraham lincoln institute. thank you for sticking around today. y'all had a few minutes with each of the folks up here to ask questions earlier, but there's always a bunch more that you want to ask. which i had asked them this thing. so if you want to ask a question, we've got live mikes. only on this level. if you're up in the balcony, join us down here. but please approach the mike and because this is being recorded, speak into the mike. and we're really interested in
questions, not statements that are followed by the question, what did you think about my statement? so the floor is open for 30 minutes. if nobody shows up, i have a microphone and will ask question. we have our first question. >> our first speaker about the monitor. i did see some later pictures of the civil war with monitors with two cheese boxes. and what i was wondering about was, the -- how many of them were there, for one thing? and how do you keep them from shooting themselves? sooner or later, they are going to turn the wrong direction. >> that's a very good question. there was also a three monitor for the "uss roanoke." what i will say is that they did
do a lot of testing. even on the original monitor, they would test how far forward they could fire without killing thor adrums of the folks in the pilot house. later monitors had the pilot house on the turrets. so that was not a problem anymore, but you had several monitors that -- they were orchestrated and had speaking tubes that, unlike the original monitor where the speaking tube didn't work, in the later ones they were able to communicate more effectively. and there were, in some cases, markings to allow them to know their bearings so they weren't firing at themselves. but what the best two-tiered monitors i've seen was a toy done by the bliss company in the 1880s that was a two-turreted
pea shooter. it was an absolutely delightful thing on wheels. >> do you have any idea how many of those were actually manufactured? >> i'm drawing a blank on the exact number. i know that the first one was built at green point in brooklyn as well. i know there were two turrets but the war ended and they weren't needed. i don't know the exact number, i'm sorry. >> about how much of a fleet of monitors was accumulated by the end of the war? >> there were over 60 that were under control by the end of the war. i think the exact number is around 67. >> thank you. >> thanks. >> stage left, please. >> good afternoon. i wonder if we can hear a little bit of the discussion between mr. star and our monitor expert here. with respect to lincoln's response to the monitor crisis
and also stanton's response as well. >> well, stanton, did he panic? if he didn't panic, he came close to panicking that day, as did a lot of other people, because the confederate warship, the virginia or meramec, demanding on your preferences, had just destroyed half a dozen northern ships. and it seemed likely that it could destroy, you know, half a dozen ships every day for the next few years and that the union fleet would be destroyed. he was also annoyed in the secretary of the navy that never got along. and he felt that the navy had fallen down. here we had all this industrial might and we didn't have a ship
down in hampton roads. it was on the way but it hasn't been there. so he, in his typical way, took things into his own hands. he decided that it was necessary to close the potomac river, which hay had just just with great difficulty reopened to commerce. went down to the navy yard, got on with a ship, went out, dumped rocks to try to close down the potomac and strengthen the guards. he also took matters into his own hands, sent a telegram to cornelius vanderbilt in new york city and said, name your price to destroy the merrimacmerrimac. he and vanderbilt worked together on a ship that became the vanderbilt. it was aimed at ramming and
destroying. again, wells was annoyed because here's the army building a warship. so the ultimate, far better response was the monitor, but stan on the instantly started doing things. he wasn't just going to continue welles to sort of bumble incompetently. >> now, bringing up gideon welles, one thing that a lot of people are not aware of is as the monitor was making her way from green point, brooklyn, down to hampton roads, she almost received orders to perceive directly to washington, d.c. in fact, there was a dispatch boat that was chasing the monitor down from new york to try to intercept her, to divert her to washington, d.c. because of the panic that people were beginning to feel, even before the virginia came out. a storm delayed both the
virginias first down into hampton roads. when they do arrive in hampton roads, they come to a. they countermandered those and said the best place to protect washington is right here. so we don't have any -- i don't have any real information on lincoln's exact reaction to the battle other than the fact that i think he was annoyed that stanton was peering out the curtains looking for the merrimac coming up the potomac. the fact of the matter was, she the merrimac or virginia, whatever you want to call her, she probably never would have made it and been ripped apart. but yeah, he was looking out the
curtain, wasn't he? >> this is what gideon welles delivered years later. >> let's go back to stage left. >> what did president lincoln do when he ran out of troops? soldiers? >> a lot of us could talk to that, but they instituted a draft. they created a system to require all men between the ages of, i think, 18 and 45 to register, and they were going to enlist them whether they wanted to volunteer or not. and that encouraged lots of men who were thinking about it to actually volunteer. >> which followed the confederate christian act which came earlier. >> and there were a lot of people already in the military
who didn't want to go home and be subjected to the draft. these were volunteers, so they stayed. but in the end, the draft only brought in about 60,000 or 70,000 men, and some of them were not very good troops because they didn't want to be there. >> that bill is a direct result of the draft. but an indirect result is a lot men volunteered and a lot of towns raised money to give them bonuses. so i think that's why the draft bill was constructed the way it was, to encourage people to volunteer. >> and some who didn't want to be in the army volunteered for the navy because they thought it was safer. >> thank you for your question. stage right. >> yeah. through our odd pair of circumstances, i'm very good friends with the great-grandsons of both ulysses s. grant and jefferson davis. and we get into conversations about what would have happened in the south if reconstruction
if lincoln had lived with the outstanding perceptions today and all the background you have, i was wondering if any of you would care to speculate on what the differences would have been in the south. and even on race relations, had lincoln been in charge rather than johnson, who didn't have the same relationship with the cabinet and congress. >> i have done a little work on reconstruction and am often asked that question. and will give you my standard answer. historians do not speculate on what might happen. and to follow-up on that, having said that -- >> don't let them get away with that. >> if lincoln had been in charge, he would have been in control. and he would have perhaps compromised some with congress. if johnson was ab obstruction i ist, and he was not lincoln. i think lincoln would have still controlled the situation, which
is where it was at the end of the war, which is reconstruction. and it would have -- i don't say easier on the south, but he would have made sure that the fundamental fruits of the union victo victory, to loyal in the south and emancipation would have been sustained in all of that. >> lincoln's reconstruction policy start out pretty conservative. but i do think as my colleague has indicated that lincoln would have gone along with congressional, more radical reconstruction rather than attempting to obstruct it. therefore, i think reconstruction would have been much more successful in establishing and maintaining black rights. >> well, when i was a student way back in the dark ages, it was standard interpretation of the civil war reconstruction
that lincoln had proposed a moderate, humane set of reconstruction policies. and that andrew johnson, his successor, was simply trying to car rethose out and he got crucified by congress and impeached and almost removed. and the same thing would probably have happened to lincoln. now, it seems most historians wouldn't agree with that these days. one of the most dramatic pieces of evidence is that as soon as the confederacy was whipped on april 9th to surrender, i two days later lincoln offers a new set of proposals, that is black suffrage has to be part of the package. and as i suggested earlier, he got murdered for suggesting that publicly. he had suggested that earlier to the governor of louisiana as i mentioned in my talk, but that was in a private letter. so lincoln's -- the notion that
andrew johnson was just carried out lincoln's reconstruction policy is only accurate if you think that lincoln's proposal of december '63 was the proposal he would have continued to pursue. but it's dmemonstrably doubtful given his speech on april 11th. >> yes, hi, there. i'm wondering if you can comment about lincoln and his relationship with african-americans and also him being an abolitionist or not. and how his parents, i know there was some baptist and quaker background. and i know his parents, they moved to get away from the slave state of kentucky. but maybe you can comment on that. i've done a lot of reading and read differing accounts as to his first 20 years in kentucky and indiana and how his parental influence may have influenced him in terms of his relationship
with the blacks and also abolitionists. >> lincoln's parents belonged to a church that banned slave holders from membership. and they, as you said, moved to indiana. but as far as i know, in terms of thomas and lincoln's views, it was because slavery hurt white laborers, lowering the wages for white laborers to move away from the state of kentucky to a free labor state. and lincoln's relations with abolitionists, he was definitely not an abolitionist. he said he was not an abolitionist. abolitionists said he was not an abolitionist. but his democratic opponents, steven douglas, in particular, insists that lincoln is really an abolitionists. he has the same views as abolitionists. he wants to establish black rights like an abolitionist. but lincoln was not.
he was opposed to slavery. and like most moderate republicans, he opposed slavery expansion, but he's going to allow slavery to remain in the south indefinitely. >> can we -- sorry, go ahead. >> i was just going to say that it's hard for us to remember, but in these days, the word abolitionist was an insult. so even in the south, sometimes southerners would call other southerners as a way to be more moderate on the slavery issue than i am. but very few people would raise their hands in 1858 or 1860 to say i am an abolitionist. it was a tiny my forinoriminori. so it is not only lynn koch lincoln, but my subjects of chase -- no, i'm not an abolitionist. i'm opposed to slavery but i'm not an abolitionist.
>> i think we need to establish a difference between anti-abolitionist and anti-slavery. politically speaking, we need to remind ourselves we don't have one form of government. we have the state by the american people, and have added the lion's share of this. so when he says he's leaving slavery alone where it exists, he's leaving it alone because he has no power in those areas. the question is, the front-burner question of the 1850s is, what power does congress have over slavery? it has power in the areas where all the states are involved. the importation of slaves and the question of whether slaves should go into the federal territories. that's the beef that he gets
into with steven douglas. and the congress also has power over the internal slave trade, but that was a massive third rail in politics that no one was willing to touch because of what it might do to the union. so when i try to teach my students is, what authority does lincoln have? and one thing you see consistent with lincoln throughout his public career is trying to remind the american people the difference between personally what we wish would happen with slavery and officially what lincoln or douglas or any president or senator could do with regards to the institution of slavery. as james oaks put it in his book, freedom nationally, slavery local. that is to say domestic institution of the states. i don't know if anyone wants to comment -- there's my statement, what do you think of it?
>> well, i agree with the statement in terms of what the president constitutionally could do, or what congress can constitutionally do. but there were -- the garrisonian abolitionists, the radicals, that dissolved the union. and to dissolve the union, means the u.s. army won't be able to backup the masters. if there's a slavery revolt, that will end slavery. john brown had a sort of similar idea. garrett smith, known as a radical political abolitionist, went by interpretation of the constitution. and said the constitution does give congress and the president power to abolish slavery. >> federal douglas agreed with that. >> all right, stage left, please. >> with respect to the so-called kilpatrick/dahlgren read where dahlgren found ordered to burn richmond, to capture or kill the
cabinet. i'm curious what degree stanton and/or lincoln were aware of these orders if they were at all? >> hot potato. >> yeah. i think i may be the one who has written most recently about this. dahlgren was the son of the well-known admiral. so he was, you know, a person whom stanton knew and lincoln knew slightly. and so i come down that it's quite possible that he had kind of face-to-face discussions with stanton and lincoln that aren't reflected kind of in the official orders, but may well be reflect in the so-called dahlgren papers. and the importance of it to me is not so much what lincoln or stanton did, but that after the dahlgren raid, the confederates believed that lincoln and
stanton had targeted the confederate leadership for assassination. so if, it's a big if, but if the confederate government had any role in supporting booth in the conspirators, they did so because of the dahlgren raid. which they viewed as sort of tearing up the laws of war and declaring that this war was not going to be fought according to the usual rules of war. >> the young lady right there just reminded me of something i have often wondered about. the union navy had a higher percentage of african-american sailors, i think 15% than the union army did soldiers. and we know, we now know that george washington's continental army was 3% african-american. there was a whole regiment of rhode island black troops commanded by nathaniel green's cousin. did the union army and the nauf sri, while it is more liberal during the war advancing, did
they look forward to the presidents for the war of independence? and why did the navy completely reverse itself after the war? >> that's a very good question. i'm not sure i have an answer for that. so i'll let, if anyone else wants to take that. >> i have a piece of an answer, which is that blacks had been serving in the navy. i don't know starting when, but they were in an established part of the navy as the civil war started. and the black role in the navy was used as an argument as to why blacks should be allowed to become soldiers. so during the war, they do become that. but it's not surprising in a way that the percentages were lower in the army than in the navy because in a way the navy started a step ahead at the outset of the civil war. but the piece after the war, i
don't know as to why the navy becomes sort of a lily white institution by the time of theodore roosevelt. >> yeah. i can address that. there was a quota before the war in relation to the navy and it was 4%. and there were no navy officers of color. and there were some eventually taken into the knavenavy reserv others. in terms of the army itself, it figures 106,000 plus and the merchant marine, which is more than the navy, who was integrated and there were officers of color in terms of relation to that. so there are three separate groups, plus you had a fourth factor, which stanton dealt with that was the malitia act that literally banned before the war
people of color being in state militias, which had to be overturned in relation to having african-american improvement, don't like the states. and in terms of somebody asking about numbers in the draft, the draft was done for two reasons. it was done to encourage enlistment, but black troops started to count toward state quotas. so that was another inducement for people of color, particularly from the north, to enlist after 1863. so a lot of different factors going on in relation to that. and i thought maybe i could clarify some of that. >> yeah, i think that's the reason that the ohio governor, the yaunion republican, union supporter, changed his mind about black enlistment, was it would count towards ohio's quota. >> one thing missing from the film "glory" is the fact that massachusetts 54th was heavily composed with men from ohio who
were not able to enlist because the governor would not allow it. >> this is funny, you almost took my entire question, except it's very closely related. but my question is, because i've read a lifetime of reading about lincoln, who had the most influence on lincoln in terms of accepting the idea that recruiting the black soldiers from various state regiments or otherwise was, you know, a practical idea for wanting the civil war? when did he come to that realization even though he was not an abolitionist. this is a great idea, i'm going to put maybe 250,000 troops into the field. that could be -- that could be the final element that might win the war. >> i don't think there's any way to measure just when that decision was made. we know when it was officially announced because we have the final e mmancipation proclamati.
and it is hard to know from my research who could be pointed to as the person most persuasive. but i'm willing to defer to my colleagues. >> i have a vague memory that was generals, officers in the field that took the niche tuini. and lincoln told a couple of them they shouldn't do it, but it started the ball rolling, i think. >> let meed a ed ed add a foot that. walter, you know this better than i, but my recollection was, go ahead and do it but don't tell us. >> i think this was true of louisiana where there was a general that wanted to use black troo troops. and ben butler shut him down. and then butler began to realize that, you know, this was -- they
were unable to defend new orleans without more troops. and the war department is not giving them to us. so therefore, we'll give a signal that they can have the green light to take the black troops and they started recruiting them. >> and i would say coming back to the question of responsibility that even after the final emancipation proclamation calls for black troops, i think in lincoln's mind, it is still an experiment. and the black soldiers prove themselves in places like gibson. and at that point, both lincoln and stanton begin to throw more resources, they have realized what a force this can be. so you could credit the black troops themselves with proving what black troops can do. >> and to add to that, i know right after the fourth of july in 1862, after illinois governor
yates sobered up a little bit. he wrote a letter to -- he wrote a letter to the president demanding stricter measures, harsher measures and to recruit all loyal men. so i think this was coming also from husband state war governors -- his state war governors. and i think massachusetts and the other new england governors would have all chimed in this with. and that would have all added to his decision. >> all right. we've got time for one more question. >> so not to cut your own throats, but as his torns of civil war, what research would you personally like somebody else to do? something you're really wishing was written but hasn't been written yet. >> i have one. well, this morning we heard a long discussion of the cabinet crisis, which is based on the papers which are in a remote
library up in maine. and i would love it if somebody would go up to maine and do what michael has done with hay and nikolai to create the fessened letters version of the civil war. because i've done it kind of a little bit for seward and for stanton and guess i'll have to do it again for chase, but it would be a tremendous resource if someone would go through that and publish it. i have a variety of other projects, but i'll yield after that. >> well, currently i'm really interested in what happened immediately after the war. and that's all the mess that was left in the waterways. because particularly in hampton roads, we have vessels sunk as obstruction of navigation on purpose, but after the war you've got to reopen the waterways. i'm researching a little bit about that now, but i would love if someone would delve into the army corps of engineers' papers at the national archives.
and then just -- you know, do a comprehensive survey of all the cleanup after the war. >> a couple of the lincoln-focused projects i would like to see done, first of all, identifying what lincoln wrote anonymously for illinois newspapers. i made a stab at it informally in the green monster, but it needs to be done more systematically. that's a project i hope to get to in the near future. another one, which i hope to get to in the near future, is to compile what lincoln said according to civil war newspapers. because an awful lot of information within civil war newspapers from washington correspondents reporting what lincoln said. and i use a lot of that in the green monster, but it needs to be systematically done and compile in a way similar to what don and virginia did in
recollection words. this would be reported words. and it would be an online version, electronic version, so you can have lots and lots of footnotes to discuss why this is more plausible and the like. so if i live long enough, i'm going to get those done. >> michael, how about it? a new history of illinois during the civil war, the whole civil war period from the 1850s in through the earlier reconstruction. >> absolutely. a new history of illinois. and this is the bicentennial of illinois statehood. and i'm on the faculty board of the university of illinois press. and i was just astounded there's no major effort to do a whole new history of illinois based on all kinds of information that's been generate in the century since it was last done. and so, i agree that should be done. >> all right. that concludes this session. and we've got a presentation, i think, by professor alan gelso that is next, if i'm not mistaken. thank you so much. stick around.
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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, michael burling game, author of abraham lincoln, a life. he talks about the president's treatment of african-americans visiting the white house and those he met during his travels. this is about 50 minutes. >> i'm privileged to introduce our next speaker, dr. william c. harris. bill harris is professor emeritus of history at north carolina state university. a native of alabama, and on his b.a. degree in alabama in 1954. he remembers seeing legendary alabama football coach bear bryant for his early morning practice, but he was always too