tv The Legacies of the Founders CSPAN May 12, 2018 10:25pm-12:01am EDT
>> [applause] ado let mefurther invite gay gaines to talk about our speakers for today. >> [applause] to: good morning and welcome the last of the founding legacy series of 2018. i have received so many notes and emails and texts for you thanking me for this, but i think the -- i thank the four arts for this series because it has been such an entertaining and instructive series. thank you all for making it possible. grateful to c-span for filming this, because we know thousands of students and adults are profiting by watching c-span coverage. this morning we have two american history giants.
both of them spoke last season, joseph ellis and gordon would. these great historians will be on stage together talking and debating as they have done in the past for the circuit courts. last month's speaker judge ginsburg said they are provocative and entertaining. joe ellis told me he has just finished a book, his latest, due out in october. the title is "american dialogue: the founders and us." i love the title. he says is it about american history that our generation once forgotten -- forgotten and once knew, and the past two generations have not even learned it. joe says i get up in the morning and have my coffee and can't wait to put pen to paper. he writes both of his speeches
and books longhand. he said when he writes in the margins of his student's papers, very often they can't read it because they can't read cursive. what a catastrophe. they won't be able to read any of the primary documents or even their grandmother's letters. as i mentioned to you last year, gordon wood is considered to be the foremost expert on the american revolution, period. in his pulitzer prize-winning book "the radicalism of the american revolution," he explains that america not only broke with england, but rejected an entire way of life. england and most of the great european countries, germany, russia, all of them, were futile -- were feudal dependencies. people were not just the haves
and have-nots, it was the nobility and the herd. gordon wood told me he has essentially retired from teaching and no longer grades papers. he tells me he is excited every day about what he is doing. he says the most important american history is the founding. washington created the country. lincoln saved it. at brown university, where he taught for so many years, he said no one is teaching american history. in 1801, thomas jefferson wrote to joseph priestley, an english theologian. he said "we can no longer say there is nothing new under the sun, for this whole chapter in the history of mankind is new." once again, it is an enormous
privilege for me to introduce our speakers, the two great historians who indeed are mindful of the future, have contributed greatly by their prodigious research to the past and their exquisite writing and scholarship. ladies and gentlemen, joseph ellis and gordon wood. thank you. >> [applause] >> we will start with professor wood. there were two founding this. of course, the declaration then be constitutional convention. what were some of the great challenges that led to the declaration and some of the
great challenges during that summer and philadelphia? prof. wood: the decision had been made on july 2. the decision to break from great britain. date thomas jefferson thought would be celebrated with fireworks and so forth. he was on the committee, five thise were going to drop declaration. i think known at the time fully realized the importance of it. they gave it to this younger man who had come late to the second continental congress, thomas jefferson. he had written a pamphlet. he was a skilled stylist. if thomas had known how important that declaration would become, he would have written it himself.
[laughter] >> he was very busy. he thought this young squirt from virginia would be the one to write it. be one of theto biggest mistakes he made to in his life. the declaration had taken on a sacred carrier during and adams was beside himself with jealousy over the fame that jefferson was dealt. be a back-and-forth kind of thing. i will chime in. professor ellis when i used to teach this, i used to say why the fourth? he writes to abigail and he gets everything right in the letters to abigail. the reason it is the fourth of july has nothing to do with
anything said and congress. it is the fact that the printer puts it on top of the document, july 4. [laughter] wrong for allbeen these years. [laughter] >> but i cleverly said that realized theferson country at made a bad choice. to make the right decision on july 4, they both died. almost to the same hour. are, isn's last words it the 4th? adams dies at about 4:30 end
afternoon in his last words are, is thomas jefferson still with us? of course, he is not. so they make it right. leave retreats from gettysburg on july 4. throw goes on sabbatical july 4. >> the break from independence and the creation of the 15 states of the new state constitutions constitute a very sever founding from the one that appeared a decade later in1787. for many generations, historians would argue which was more important. and was the founding of 1787 out repudiation of the more democratic revolution of 1776? topic. still a viable as the constitution in some sense a reaction against the wasssive democracy that
expressed in the state constitutions and 17 from the six? no one in 1776 anticipated in their wildest imaginations the kind of federal government created 10 years later. a powerful government. that decaded in between 1776 and 1787 as a matter of great controversy. >> it is. of course, i have the authoritative book on this. [laughter] >> which is for sale after the program. [laughter] >> i agree with a lot of what gordon said. we're going to pick a lot of fights just to make it interesting here. but the first sentence in the
greatest speech in american history is in correct. the gettysburg address, four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth this continent a new nation. it was not a nation. it was a confederation of silver 1770 six,and provisionally united to win the war and then go their separate ways, which is what they proceeded to do. so, we are not a nation and any political sense of that term. and some sense, the south, in 1861 -- this is the reason lincoln had to change the right. to make it the confederacy in 1861 had the better part of the constitutional argument will originally awere series of sovereign states, a confederation of sovereign states. for a much like the present-day each you
>> that is right. in order for that to change, something rather genetic had to happen. maybe howlk about that happened. there are two quite different impulses that come from the founding that we are still living out. one comes from 1776 and it is in the declaration. libertarian ethos. one that begins with the assumption of individual sovereignty. an assumption that government is them, rather than government is us. 1787, the constitution is a document that begins with the assumption that the collective is sovereign and government is us, not them.
that is a pretty big disparity. i would argue that the great dialogue in american history is an argument between those two impulses. they sayally, lincoln, is he the founders son, logical air. under's son. the logical heir. he finds himself having to evoke declaration. we talked backstage about the proper definition of "nation." 18then in 1776, the late century, america was not a nation in any traditional sense of the term.
john adams, for one, expresses that. he says "we are hodgepodge of have spaniards, frenchmen, german, indians, how can we be a nation?" i think that is what lincoln is dealing with, that problem. he makes an extraordinary speech where he invokes the notion of our diversity. little did he know how diverse we would become. he talks about the numbers. saying we have swedes, all of these diverse people. how can we come together? how can we be a nation. he said we have is salvation in declaration of independence. that is where he invokes the notion of "all men are created equal." he makes the suggestion.
in the antebellum period, they did not mean washington and jefferson and adams. they meant john winthrop, william penn, the 17th-century founders. lincoln is the one who talks about jefferson. from then on is when we recognize that as the founders. from the civil war on. so lincoln is very important in the story of the founders. >> was lincoln the logical son of the founders than, professor ellis: and mark revisor os: it is a very plausible case. -- >> was lincoln the logical son of the founders, then? professor ellis: it is a plausible case. it is written in a sensible way.
he thinks the dred scott wrong inof 1857 is arguing that the founders supported slavery. actually does some research of his own. the majority of people mentioned in 1787 and host the extension of slavery to the territories. jefferson opposed the extension into any of the territories. develop aing to picture of the founders as presumed slavery was going to be ended. there is truth in that. that we agreengs on, a lot of the founders thought slavery would die a natural death. that slavery could not compete
with free labor. they did not foresee the cotton gin. they did not foresee the cotton kingdom which did not get 1820's.told that they got it they simply contained it, it would just die. wayourse, that is not the it happens. i think that lincoln wants to bring the founders forward on behalf of his version of the union in 1861. gordon is right. the one that he quoted as quoting jefferson -- all power to jefferson, who in a moment of great significance had the courage and wherewithal to discover an absolute truth. that's what he says.
but the guy, he really, really believes as the ultimate is washington. that is who he says is the real founding father. reason washington is the we are no longer a nation, we are eight confederation. >> but he uses this speech where he says because of the declaration and its claim of all men being created equal, which are the way everyone believed in 1776 was literally true, that makes the founders flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood with our diverse peoples. it is his way of bringing these diverse people together into what you can only call an artificial nation based on the believe that all men are created
equal. i think that is true today. i think to be an american is not to be somebody but to believe in something. and that something is what jefferson and others said. i think that makes us different. with so many benefits because of that it say, the french don't have. with two orived three generations. those frenchmen do not consider those arabs really french. anyone who is lived in america two or three generations, we consider americans. and that is our saving grace. so i think lincoln is absolutely right to talk about these principles as a unifying force of the nation. >> right now, we are very much a divided nation. words, in my view, become not "all men are created
equal," because it does not mean real equality. it means you have equal rights. >> there is where i would -- >> that is where we would have to, but -- >> the guy that writes the other magic words are "we, the people of the united states." figure ins a singular the forgotten fathers. he is the same torso is george washington. if you go to the richmond n virginia, there is a statue of washington. a washington. of is gouverneur marks. >> they said he was too cynical and the anti-dramatic to be a
favorite founder. >> that is why i love him. he was a really anti-reverent guy. [laughter] >> in august of 1787, a committee on styleand arrangement is selected. one person from every state.marx, even though he is a resident of new york, key is a delegate of pennsylvania. go figure it out. so, that is and. hamilton is there. and they give the job of rewriting the draft of the constitution to marx. in three days, he doesn't. he changes everything. he reduces the paragraphs to the one we have now. "t, the previous draft said, we the people of new hampshire, massachusetts, connecticut, new york, new jersey -- down the coast.
"but the previous draft said -- that is the single most important editorial change in american history. of the united states. the whole convention has been an argument about whether sovereignty resides in the states or some other larger entity of the united states. he solves that problem stylistically and these first words. we, the people. what does "we, the people" meme in 1887? it does not mean women. it does not mean racial minorities. it does not meet people without property. it is about 800,000 people out of 4 million people. 320 million.
does the term still resonate? are we a collective? interesting question and one we need to grapple with. >> professor, you said you disagreed? >> yes, when jefferson wrote all men are created equal, most enlightened people at the time believed that was true literally. and most americans continue to believe that, despite contrary evidence. people don't grow up to be different. what he is saying is that what is crucial is the environment in which you are raised.
the circumstances account for it the differences. many people, even southern planters, not jefferson himself -- he believed that blacks were not equal to whites -- but many other southern planters accepted the genetics or d.n.a. differences, we continue to put an emphasis on education. now the reason i say this is because john adams came to believe that people were not created equal. they were born all different. he argues with jefferson on this point. he went to a founding hospital inparis and saw babies four days old. he said, already, somewere beautiful, some were ugly, some were smart, some were dumb and that's not the conventional enlightened wisdom of 1776. jefferson was speaking to people, which i think has become an american basic principle that
we and this is what, of course, we believe, that is why we put so much oneducation, with the proper education, proper upbringing, people can be made to be more alike. >> and i mean, it is the kind of thing you tell children about santa claus, bob the easter bunny. [laughter] no serious person believes this. right ton you have the pursue happiness, if you believe that, everybody that pursue their happiness would end up equal with everybody else. with the marketplace does. it creates inequality. adams is a profound student of that. instead of demeaning him as somebody out of touch, he is the one who predicts the gilded age.
he protects we're going to have a second gilded age, which is the one we are in now. freedom, harmony will result. everyone will produce the same amount of what. they will be living together in some sort of utopian paradise. of course, that is not true. he sides with jefferson, i side with adams. >> we also still teach our kids george washington could not lie, andut down the chair tree cannot lie about it. of course, today we continue to this debate. i want to get back to the jefferson-adams relationship. do, we agree about the forgotten founder
hamilton, too. hamilton, on the eve of his death, said the poison destroying america is democracy. that is where morris is more a cynical. the notion that where we disagree and this is a profound disagreement. we agree on lots of stuff, and believe me we stand together back-to-back in the academic world to defend the right of the founding. thate in a minority in regard. we cannot afford to fight to publicly and too many places. [laughter] >> but gordon believes this is about democracy and i do not believe that. it is not about democracy. we have thedo prosecution? >> the constitution arose out of excessive democracy occurring in the states. a very important
working paper. he never published it. it is called "the system of the ititical united states and is full of complaints about democracy. tendencies.e fatal one is toward demagogues. washington warns about that in the farewell address. you want a republican based on a foundation of popular sovereignty that filters popular opinion through layers of refinement. that is what the constitution is designed to do. to produce a wisdom at the end that takes the best of popular opinion, but also refines it through the better minds. >> i agree because situation is anti-democratic in its origin. democratic.e-
the kind of democracy you see does not come into existence until the 1830 possible. tois primarily due demography. due to the economic changes. eggs wasn't it to a means to amort them a craddick and? means to at it a more democratic and? >> they said, anybody who lives long enough to see jackson says, this is not what we had in mind. this guy is a barbarian. of his time, trump so to speak. [laughter] >> who fired his entire cabinet, by the way. >> in yeah, donald trump for a while had a picture of him. >> martin van buren says, look, we do not have anything to learn
from them. they were much too aristocratic for us. i see the jeffersonian time as a consequence. 1804, 1806, we have a modern kind of government and that northern states with competitive elections, high turnout. it is very democratic. in the 1780's, madison is concerned with excessive democracy. .hat is the point of his ethic he supports the principal person who organize the convention. >> he is afraid the confederation is going to split up into a series of smaller units and factions and there will be a new england. movement.kind of e.u. america in the 1780's is heading toward a breakup that we now know the united states becomes
not something united. but something like, if new england is like scandinavia, the middle colonies are like italy, that kind of thing. his right about that. what comes pretty close to it coup d'etat to change it is what you needed. it is not something that bubbles up from below. it is coming from straight down. there is a group of people who say, we have to change the direction we're going in. part of that, madison is part of that. a big part of that. they really orchestrate the calling of this convention and then the agenda the convention has. >> i agree with that. there are two reforms going on in the 1780's. to add amendments to what is now considered a deficient in confederation.
it needs tariffs, the ability to levy tariffs. it also needs the ability to make navigation maps controlling trade. and his other nationalists hijacked that reform movement for a larger purpose to crate a government that will somehow deal with the state passed excessive democracy. littlee outlines in his paper, his working paper, which is one of the most important documents of the time which was never published at the time. going crazy, he calls it majority factionalism. majorities running wild. the multitude of legislation. the mutability of legislation. in, the injustice of state laws. that is why he goes to the convention in virginia. he has a negative that the
congress will have overall state impracticalt is so that your mind boggles at the very idea. every state would have to send its bills to the congress to get approval before they get to be made law. water, heays in the says. >> a yes. it is dead but it stays in the plan for quite a while. of course, wiser heads prevail. it comes out of section 10 of the constitution, which prohibits states from doing certain things, particularly printing paper money. >> what i want to add, we do not completely agree hereby yes. he is emphasizing movement toward the constitutional convention and nationhood as an anti-democratic movement.
washington and hamilton, who were veterans of the weren't a very active way did not see it that way. as a fulfillment of the principles they thought they were fighting for in the continental army. going to fall are victim to predatory european powers a hand all the things that we created here going to be lost. so it is not primarily anything about democracy. that entails not some kind of argument about the power of the people versus the power of elites. it is not the old categories of aristocracy versus democracy. that is an imposition. charles beard, living in the gilded age, looks back and sees robber barons of the previous century. we need to create a system that gives us a level of collective control nationally, but that
shares that power. and this is federalism, this is the genius of madison. if the british had been able to figure this out in 7075, we would of never had a war. we would have invented the british commonwealth and 1775 and 17 76 and shared authority between the colonies and parliament. here, madison does that. what is at stake is not democracy, it is whether government is something at a national level we can create. this is going to be the biggest republican world history, ok? if never had a nation-size republic like this before. modesty says you cannot do that but that is what is going on. >> one concern was the size of this country. the geographic size. too large for this form of government.
charles beard finds himself in great hot water for espouseing harharassing. i told them i would say hello and let it go. i said hello. i want to get back to the relationship between adams and jefferson, not only is it absolutely fascinating on-again, off-again, the old couple that couldn't live with one another,couldn't live without one another, but one of the most important relationships per the founding. you both alluded to that. adamserful letter abigail jefferson.ith >> the two men differed politically. over major issues. jefferson was a real radical.
adams was a conservative. so, they differed. a guy named calendar denies he did it then he comes out and says, here is the money he gave me and here is the letter he wrote me to do it. calendar then goes after jefferson and exposes sally hemmings. then calendar gets put into jail. this would be a great soap opera. >> this is really old news now. >> stormy daniels is really old news. against calendar, right. yeah. [laughter] >> well, back to the letter of 1804. they broke apart in 1800, adams was so bitter, he refuses to attendjefferson inauguration, captures stage to get back as soon as possible to couldn't
see. the two men are broken apart. the split seems irreparable. in 1804, abigail finds out that paulie, jefferson daughter dies prematurely during childbirth. she writes a letter, she knew paulie as a young girl and writes letter of condolence to jefferson. jefferson is eager to reestablish the relationship and he takes this letter and responds very mourningly and then he thinks, i guess he thinks the letter shows that the is strong enough to criticize john adams to abigail.
he said, there is one thing your husband did that i found offensive, appointment of midnight judges. adams lost election in november, in those days the president didn't take office until march, there is a long period, adams appoints a lot of judges, including whole new circuit of judges. john marshall. jefferson is opposed to the appointments. call it midnight because it seemed like they were last-minute kind of things, lame duck appointments. of course that was mistake. abigail rushes to her husband's defense and writes a very strong, angry letter back. jefferson tries to explain and he must have at that point wondered, what have i got
myself in for? a couple of exchange then finally he just stopped. the relationship is not recovered until 1812. that was through the efforts of , a mutualn rush friend who works for years to bring the former friends to gather. he was a great physician. fray byms enters the telling jefferson, i had nothing to do with these letters. right? right. he is saying to abigail, actually he knows were going to be reading this i knew nothing about this exchange of the time and had nothing more to say about it at this time. >> i've written about it at the end of founding fathers and jefferson and adams, so we both thought a lot about this.they exchange 158 letters between 1812 and 1826, when theydie simultaneously. asadams wrote three times many letters as a jefferson. >> about two times, but yes.
three times. >> i will say 2.5. [laughter] >> however, adams wrote three times as many letters as jefferson. about two times, but yeah. three times. i'm going to say 2-1/2. we'll count them up. he is more invested in the correspondence than jefferson. jefferson has other things to do like create the university of virginia and stuff likethat. but adams is the one who is the driving force in the correspondence and he's the one who says early, you and i ought not to die until we have explained ourselves to each other. >> right. >> and in terms of the kind of dialogue that i was trying to identify at the beginning of our session here, this is the capstone of the american revolutionary diva.
so as areader, if you want to go back to one place and try to findthe words and the differences, this is the place to go. >> right. >> and gordon and i, we've only been doing this for 50 years and we will not always agree because the argument isn't simplistic. it is not a central obvious thing. but i do think that the point i would make is they come to see that they're both made by this experience called the american revolution, that they helped to make it. the revolution is not complete without the two of them together. drag's right. andhe kind of wonderful sentimental coming back together of a friendship that itself represents the coming back together of a view.
>> two major things, they agree on the revolution. different thing that brings these two men together as they both had a deep and abiding hatred of alexander hamilton. >> yeah. [laughter] >> they agree on two major things. the point about the letter, adams apologizes to jefferson. he says, i'm now writing so many letters. you are not writing as many. he realizes maybe jefferson is busy. he says how many letters did you get last year? jefferson says, i got 1200 something. adams is as standard. 120.ys, i only got 1/10 of the correspondence jefferson is getting.
is an international superstar. he is corresponding with those are of russia, alexander the .reat, he is a celebrity it is kind of difficult for adams to accept that but he realizes, i am not in his realm. [laughter] >> i am going to read and be impressed with his writing and thinking. i had a young woman who went on to write for showtime. this,id, jefferson is adams is this. you would think, well, jefferson is the greater. jefferson is bankrupt. jefferson is going to die and his children will be words of the state.
state.s of the his last 20 years is spent only communicating with people within a range of opinion that is extremely pro-slavery. he has said the he has been able to live and he would have gone with the confederacy. have a legitimate claim on jefferson, especially at the end. >> adams, you know, he dies with us on who is president of the united states and with a body of land that is going to be .nherited by his heirs so, there are actual condition is fundamentally different.
jefferson is in a bad, bad way. >> both men would also lose their wives and confidants. lose their confidence, and both men lose children. -- so they lose their confidantes, and both men lose children. >> i think it is an honest correspondence. --y avoid the really touch tough question. they touch on slavery only slightly, because items realizes that is some he cannot really razz jefferson about. he razzes him about everything . his letters are always teasing,
that is his nature. he loves to be facetious. he is joking. was probably the supreme advocate in america for the french revolution and by 18 15, napoleon defeated and was back in france put -- napoleon was to figure that was back in france. jefferson responds politely. he is so concerned for the relationship that he never comes back with the same kind of razzing. >> this is one where he says, you were right and i was wrong. i did not foresee there would be over a million casualties as a result of the senate would end up with a dictator. you are right and i was wrong. god.dam says, oh my that is the biggest confession you have ever made in your whole life. i'm telling everybody from now on you changed your mind.
i would say the metaphor is that jefferson's standing in the center of the room with his arms folded, protecting himself from introversion and adam says pacing back and forth in front of him and grabbing him by the lapels and saying, now what do you think of that? ok? it is adams who is always raising and sometimes by accident, the difficult questions. jefferson hates arguments. cannot stand it. for adams, argument is the highest form of conversation. for jefferson, it is dissident noisy cannot stand. drags there is a wonderful letter jefferson writes on the >> of his death will -- there is a wonderful letter jefferson writes on the eve of his death. he says, the rights of man are becoming -- people all of the world are becoming more and more aware of the rights of man and no longer will people be born with saddles on their back, with
privilege running them. in other words, he foresees that democratization of france. it did not happen now, but eventually france will become a republican government. in the long run, he is right. >> that is a good question. >> in that sense, jenkins and still lives. adams had no they that france would ever become a democracy. in that sense, we have to -- >> i think there are interesting things they say to each other that we can appreciate now that we may not have 50 years ago. get intomson jefferson an argument and adams is much more skeptical. will never be democratic because the catholic church is hierarchical. and come of french society will not permit this to happen. what adams is saying is interesting. that what we call american exceptionalism, which is in the
jeffersonian means the very thing we just talked about. by the way, he stole the line from a 17th century puritanical guy. that therson's view version of government crated by america that we have come to call democracy is destined to spread throughout the globe. says, no. the very fact that we are exceptional, we have exceptional advantages. existence at a distinctly advantageous moment. we have this confidence nobody else has the providers with a set of advantages that is not going to be transportable to other countries. we should not expect around bank to become -- we should not becomearound -- iran to
a democratic society. they are really different. on that side, it didn't the argument between adamson jefferson is one where he goes on -- >> sure. jefferson, the great land to the west, the louisiana purchase under jefferson. let me move this on and invoke the filibuster rule. [laughter] >> since the legacy of the founders we have been covering jefferson and adams. what would you say are a couple of the most important influence founders.uential if we can come up with a legacy for each of them. >> i think we both agree washington, head and shoulders, figuratively over the the others. they thought so.
they all agreed that washington was a superstar in hand they were just ordinary politicians. i think that is true. washington is crucial. if there is an indispensable man and the revolution, more importantly, the first decade of the national history, in 1979 washington is the man. i do not think anyone else can of how the country together. >> without him, would not have work. drugs i think in the revolutionary war he is important, but not in disposable. i think if he was killed, something else would've happened. nathaniel green or someone would lead the war. and in the nation building nation holding, i think he was crucial. thes and his presence at national convention? >> absolutely. >> and hisnot not -- presence at the national
convention? >> absolutely. >> he did not say anything. but he was just there. >> in fact, at the very end he makes one proposal. we should lower the number of people and the size of the district. he knew his own strength. if you ever intervened in debate with a point, no one would have contested that. probably privately in the tavern at night, maybe, but publicly when you read medicines notes, there is no statement by washington. >> but they went along with his proposal. >> of course. on washington. >> washington was number one primarily because of his judgment. everyone agreed about that back
then. there was no disagreement. franklin was probably the wisest. he was number two because he had an international reputation. he was the equivalent of a nobel prize-winning scientist, too. a hand he was grandfather among the fathers. >> about a generation older. the criteria i have but adopted, and there is nothing profound about this, we talk things. in order to qualify on the list of significant prominent rounders, you have to have been involved in both soundings. so that drops out patrick henry. that drops out sam adams. they were involved in the first -- >> right. it becomes a madison, who i think is the most politically agile. jefferson, the most intellectually sophisticated.
>> neither jefferson nor adams was present at the constitutional -- >> but their letters were influential. is the smartest. hamilton would've gotten the highest grade on the sats. let me say that. [laughter] 20 years agoredict who was going to make it on broadway -- >> not adams. >> hamilton. have been why, who is this guy? he is a comet they came through. we are stars. but who else? adams. adams is the most well-randy in politics -- the most
well-read, in politics especially. and he is a contrary yet and, my favorite one because he spills the beans. there are 1200 letters between abigail -- >> unbelievable -- >> gordon recently edited the papers and a brilliant way so he made it available at the library of america. which is really a significant contributions. have been these lower-tier people that you sort of want to let people know they were important. that they were more important then. like, john jay. john dickinson. robert morris. morris.r these are crucial people who dropped out of the storyline.
it is called "the forgotten founders." are reallyse people worth your attention. the notion that they are stars and then there is everybody else misunderstanding the way the revolution happened and the collective effort that was required. wood, would you agree with that list? prof. wood: yes. it is an extraordinary generation. it was a moment i think you might say a krista craddick and democratic values were in kind of balance. -- where you might say of aristocratic and democratic values were in kind of balance. who couldup of men not be replicated because we became much too popular, much to democratic. >> i love this argument because what it is is that, the founders did not know it but they were
creating a democracy, ok? and then when the democracy they created came into existence, they became irrelevant because they were not really democrats. >> franklin died before he could see the full impact of what he was creating, but anyone who lived into the 19th century and i include adamson everson, they died dissolution. it had become much too capitalistic. too much paper money. too much scrambling for money. too much democracy. >> if you want to get into the leadership issue, how did we get these guys? how did this happen? >> divine intervention. >> it yeah. >> god came down and busted us -- >> what is interesting, how many of them are first generation to go to college. a couple did not go to college at all.
but the others are the first american generation to go to college and be gentleman. that is the distinction. >> what is the name of the guy from north carolina the rights one of the first histories of the revolution? >> ramsey. he says the revolution created talent. he meant people that who had otherwise lived out lives of total obscurity, animals would've been a country lawyer outside of boston. adams would have been a country lawyer outside of boston. there was a crisis that war stem out. -- there was a crisis that
forced them out. jay shows up and writes this thing first continental congress, it is really brilliant and nobody noticed it is written by jay, so that this is like the queen bee in the history, you know, leadership only comes into existence in momentsof great crisis. >> and they were all aware of this kretschmer >> at yes. very aware. gordon and i are in agreement, again, nothing, there ,s a line by mark twain innocents abroad goes to the holy land. he says, christ has been here once, will never come again. you are never going to see these guys again. [laughter] >> now, maybe will have a crisis in the 21st century that is commensurate with the one they faced. war ises, the civil thought not to have been such a
crisis. it produced a lincoln. that depression and totalitarian era in the 1930's produced roosevelt. scholars of the presidency, say washington, lincoln, and fdr the three greatest presence. hygiene formally they are ranked 1, 2, and three in all of the ranking polls followed by jefferson, truman, teddy roosevelt. >> is a popular poll, not among scholars. >> jfk is one and reagan is number two. like, nobody before 1950. >> would you agree to be part of the founders you have to be part of the founding sorcerer case to be made for the long legacy of thomas payne, patrick henry, sam adams? thomas payne is different, but adams is too old.
time but wast the very much for just the constitution. he is an anti-federalist. that is something we have not emphasized. those are the people of 1776 if you will. far removed political power. that is still alive and well with them. i don't really understand this new generation. all of these fathers, these are back in the 1930's. they are old men. exception. the he is respected in the convention but he makes several proposals that are ignored. in the executive branch should serve without pay, he suggests. medicine note there is a long pause. finally, somebody table the motion out of respect for the old and then for practicality of it. >> he was sick with a gelt and
had to be carried into each session of the convention. he does not miss one. as nurse from the local philadelphia jail carry him like cleopatra. if you are looking for a type part isa inside, read what he wrote at the very end. he is being carried back to his quarters and this matron and philadelphia c simmons has, mr. franklin what have you done. he says, we have given you a republic, if you can make keep it. >> that's problematic. >> maybe. i don't know. >> but this in context. as late as 1848, the europeans had revolutions in italy, france, germany, to get rid of monarchy and try to establish republics.
they all. that is a context for lincoln when he says, we are the last, best hope. -- that any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long into her. the notion this republic is going to be the wave of the future looks like it is not true. >> we know the future and so it is hard for us to recover the kind of moment that lincoln is talking about. >> with the founders, the framers divided at the end of that convention, the speech that professor alice mentioned. franklin comes in and gives one of these having lived long speech. nowgs i want suppose, support. things i supported, i oppose. let us down our infallibility and do today what we would find
as unsupported. on the list, washington, franklin, jefferson, adams, madison, and hamilton, big six. >> those are the big six. these two.agree with >> got to be right, then. [laughter] >> absolutely. so, a legacy of ben franklin, and we'll run through that list. legacy of ben franklin. professor wood. >> he has a tough time in the 1780s, because outside pennsylvania, he has a lot of enemies and people aren't really happy about him.
he has to plead, he has to write a note to the continental congress, i would like to have some land given to my grandson in the west. i would like to -- he asks for certain benefits, he has been serving the country as minister abroad and the congress just ignored them. when he dies, the french have three days of mourning, lots of eulogies, franklin gets none, until the head of the american philosophical society is forced. william smith, his life-long enemy, gives the eulogy. it is really extraordinary moment and the senate is embarrassed, a little embarrassed because the french have been praising franklin and they've done nothing. madison moves in the house. there is an embarrassing moment. somehow franklin didn't fit in for some of these people. you know, when he comes back in 1975, he's been living abroad so long in england, they think of him as a mole, as a spy. some
people do. he has to write letters that, to his friends in england, disavowing them, never mailing the letters, but letting them circulate in -- yeah, he's a late-comer to the revolution. he wanted the empire to hold together and he's the last american -- >> but his great political legacy would be his diplomacy in europe. >> he is as important diplomatically as washington was militarily. he extracted loan after loan -- >> he causes the french revolution. >> he bankrupts france. >> and he's doing it, and of course adams comes over like a bull in a china shop, creating all kinds of -- and franklin has to call him down. >> the social fabric of the united states, i thought was one of his legacies with creating postal routes, first circulating public library, the american philosophical society. so his imprint on the social fabric -- >> the post office is very
important. if he were living in 1804, say, the only way you would know there was a federal government is delivery of the mail. jefferson was such a minimal government man, he wanted no taxes, no way you could feel the impact of -- >> he takes what he says and believes that, but when he is elected president, he takes the most dramatic executive action in presidential history in purchase of louisiana and uses executive authority to enforce in the states the very things he opposed before at the federal level, closing down newspapers in new england, through state attorney generals, so that in some sense, he's -- he takes off his opposing the federal government and then in his presidency, everything he does seems to be at odds with that. embargo of 1807. >> his embargo, yeah.
james ford nonjeffersonian. his strategy was to completely commit radical position to avoid military force at all cost and use economic sanctions, the same thing we now do, too. the sent in troops we want to pluck by sanctions and that is what he was doing with the embargo. he thought war was such a horrible thing, we have to do something else, some alternative to war. >> the problem is that 80% of our trade is with england and 10% of england trade was -- didn't work. >> no-win situation. no-win situation. >> right. and the irony is, coming from providence, as you do, you know about this, he's basically bankrupts new england, the port cities and consequence, they have to start domestic forms of manufacturing to replace goods being lost from britain and you get the beginning of the
industrial revolution. >> what is interesting, however, john adams and john quincy support the louisiana purchase and the embargo, and that makes them less than the hamiltonian. >> it makes them hated in new england. >> where it was very unpopular. james madison, professor of his legacy -- madison is the toughest guy. there is a new book on him by harvard law school guy that talks about three madisons, and the madison up until 1788 is one guy and he switches positions. gordon and i have argued whether not.is a contradiction or madison is, in terms of -- madison is the thinker who is responsible for moving us from the confederation to the constitution perhaps more than anybody else, making that happen. he recruits washington with jay's assistance.
he writes the virginia plan, which becomes the agenda. he oversees the ratification process. hamilton is the one who has the idea for the federalist papers. writes 29,1, madison and jay writes five, but they actually played the ratification process, too. what madison understands, it is nine, they have got the agreement, nine states will be sufficient. where does that come from? they just make that up. they know that if it has to be unanimous, little old rhode ratified.l never place in newis a england where you sent witches and quakers and people like that. [laughter]
crazy people that lived down there. and we have never built roads until the last 20 years to get from boston down there. theydon't want you to get down there, ok? i had a son that went to brown, took forever to get him to college. >> and providence airport canceled flights to get there. you can't get in, you can't get out. >> that is so right. >> here is the problem for me. if you try to read the madison papers, and i've read most of them, washington papers, adams papers, jefferson papers, some of the franklin papers and some of the madison papers and some of the hamilton papers. reading madison is like reading series of insurance policies. [laughter] and, you know, the sentences that start here and you say,
yeah, and they come back and the syntax ships and it ends up being the opposite of what you thought it was. >> he was a lawyer. >> actually he wasn't. i can invent all kinds of reasons why this is true that a really interesting, but i will only share one with you because i have to be quick. if you are born in the south in virginia in the late 18th century, into a world where slavery is a dominant presence, as it is at montpelier and monticello, you have to learn to develop a way of talking and writing and even thinking that is inherently inclusive, that doesn't face the daily realities that you are actually facing. my wife is from mississippi. she can do this, ok? [laughter]
syntax.s in his it is like, oh, that is the radical southern planters. they are all enlightened, they know slavery is wrong, but they don't only know -- don't really know what to do about it. the killer is, i mean, i -- gordon and i both recognize the centrality of slavery in the founding. it is america's original sin. there is nobody who disagrees with that now, except maybe one wo.us or t is it a tragedy, all right? now here is, is it agreek tragedy or experience tragedy? by greek tragedy, i mean, is it embedded in the society in a way that no human agency or decision could change the outcome?
or, is it something that could have gone the other way? i think you can make both cases pretty powerfully, ok, if you look at the evidence. i think after 1820, it is a greek tragedy. get into theyou cotton kingdom and once the economy of the south is taking off. but i think there might have been a chance earlier and here, honest brokers can disagree about where that was. >> problem was they all, as you said earlier, they all thought it would die a natural death. >> yeah. >> they couldn't have been more wrong. but they live with that hope that somehow it's just going to die. they are going tofirst -- the virginians have a vested eliminating the
slave trade. by 1800 or so, they can't grow cotton. the climate won't allow it. tobacco is exhausting the soil. >> virginia would have been better off getting rid of slavery, from a purely economic point of view. >> their principal exports are slaves. the killer is that when they tried to talk about a meaningful, gradual emancipation plan -- it has to be a gradual emancipation plan -- that the people in the north can say, yeah, that makes sense, and they're going to -- pennsylvania is going to end slavery, new york going to end slavery. massachusetts ends it. vermont is quick to it. that is because they are very
few african-americans in the region. but virginia is 40% black, so carolina is 60% black. so when you're talking about ending slavery south of the chesapeake, you are talking about something fundamentally different, and this is the killer because the founders are brilliant in so many ways. they are imaginative in so many ways. jefferson can imagine the separation of church and state. they can imagine a nation-sized republic. nobody else could do that. they cannot imagine a biracial society. >it has never existed before, ad they cannot conceive of it. let me move us, we are almost out of time. i have two questions i want to close with. the last of those six that we really didn't touch on, professor wood, hamilton's legacy, other than on broadway? >> hamilton is crucial in solving the debt problem in 1790
and 1791. very important. i think his influence has been exaggerated. i think capitalism owes more to all of those northern entrepreneurs that hamilton didn't actually like. he wanteda national bank. he couldn't stand the hundreds of state banks being created. see, constitution forbids states from printing paper money. that is how little they understood the future. well, the economy would have been frozen. states get around that by chartering banks, which in turn issue paper, hundreds of banks. that paper money is the capital that feeds the economic powerhouse that emerges. my own state of rhode island, as a colony, was notorious for printing paper money. that is why madison hated it so much and glad they didn't come to the convention.
but rhode island continues, as a state, to print paper money. that turns it into an economic powerhouse. by the end of the 19th century, the little state of rhode island has the five largest manufacturing firms in the world -- textiles, jewelry, steam engines, small tools. little did they understand -- and hamilton never fully grasped how important paper money would be. >> hamilton's legacy in intangible way, is he an important work against jefferson-adams -- >> he is antidemocratic. >> to balance those wings. again, for me, the issue isn't democracy, aristocracy, it is, does the federal government have sovereignty or do the states? if that is the underlying issue
and jefferson talks about the common man, and he talks about farmers, he is not a farmer. jefferson has not walked behind a plow in his whole life. he is a planter. he has 200 slaves that do the labor for him. the republican party is in virginia, and in the south. both the presidential elections of jefferson and adams are regional. thing. sectional once you allow the federal government to claim sovereignty, you know that slavery is doomed and we are not going to let that happen. >> one person we haven't mentioned is john marshall. he is perhaps more important than hamilton in nationalizing
the united states with his decisions. jefferson was furious, he was related. >> he is terrified of marshall. if you come up to marshall, don't say anything, because whatever you say, he is going to take it. just shut up. if you are even talking in his presence, you are finished. >> now the court is viable in promoting national -- >> yeah, yeah. >> that is unusual -- >> that is the reason jefferson is upset. theefferson never accepted idea of judicial review, that is the court alone could construe and interpret the constitution. he felt all parts of the government, the president and the congress, were equal interpreters of the constitution. he never accepted the notion, which now everyone supports, the supreme court has final say on
whatthe constitution means. >> marshall is -- let him in on the revolutionary side. valley forge, he won the high jump competition. he was like a navy seal. that is what he was during the revolution, special forces guy. he had several different companies shot out from under him throughout the course of the war. big, tall, athletic guy, goes on to become the greatest chief justice in american history. the problem with him, he burned all his letters, personal correspondence. the kaiser is writing a book about him now. it is important that participation in the continental army tended to nationalize a person. hamilton said that and marshall certainly was an example. marshall is a southerner from richmond. he instinctively is federalist because of his experience in the war as fighting in the continental army. >> two final points, i have to at least get to something on my list.
question, founding myths. assessing the legacy of the founding era and founding fathers, what do we get wrong today or what would people be surprised to know? what aspect of the founders and founding are taught incorrectly and misunderstood today? who wants to jump on that first? one that exists in the academy that both of us are part of, both gordon and i are card-carrying destroyers. we didn't just decide to become historians. we are not like, you know -- never mind. [laughter] >> chernoff is a good writer. >> great biographer. same with walter isaacson. same with mcculloch. mcculloch started working for
"sports illustrated." we have phd's from respected institutions. his is from harvard and mine is from yale. these are the two lines of apostolic succession, ok? [laughter] and we're the end. there is nobody after us. and because we're still under the impression that the founding is the great bang, the big bang in the american political universe, that radiates meaning out for us still now, and we still wantto be reading these guys. the great myth that students are now being fed is these are the deadest, whitest males in american history. and that american history should be called anti-american history.
the story is about the way in which native americans were systematically eliminated and slavery was permitted to continue and women's rights were not permitted to develop in the way they could have. now look, those are all storylines that are worth exploring. but for that to then take the form that it has taken, it means that young people coming into college learn about the revolution or the constitution, or about the coming of the civil war. they're only following a line of interpretation that draws them off into the so-called inarticulate, is what they call it. i think that is a myth that is dominant in the academy and that will eventually go away, but during the last 30 to 40 years, i would say it's become the hegemonic mythology within the profession.
>> case in point. i want to go to professor wood. rofessor wood and ellis are leading voices on the founding and revolutionary period. since they have retired, these chairs have not been filled by anybody to teach the revolution, the founding period and not being told at eminent institutions. founding myths, professor? >> follow-up on that, i think a growing gap between what i would call the academic world and the non-academic historians. when i came of age in the 1950s, people like daniel boston and oscar hanland and woodward and richard hosteter wrote for two readerships simultaneously. so i would be examined in my oral exam and yet he was a popular historian, being read. >> that's why we went to this profession. there were people like bruce
and barbara, but they were marginal. now the economic world has become so semi-scientific and i understand that. the degree of specialization is unbelievable, and it is very hard for a layman to read some of these academic works because they depend on being part of the conversation. as a consequence of that, the public, the general public that wants to know about our past, is reading books written by non-academics, and they have filled the gap that has emerged, and these are the people, ron chernot, isaacson, john meechum, i could name 20 people in my field alone, early american history alone, who are doing this. sometimes they are former journalists. they have no phd and they have
no academic position. >> that might be a big asset because they never learned how to write academ-ese. >> i understand what the profession is doing, but it is cutting itself off from the general public. scientists can do that too. but history is different. it's got a public obligation. it sees the academics writing to just one another and ignoring the larger public, which is hungry for knowing the story and that gap and hunger is being fed by these nonacademic historians. thank god that they are doing this. joe and i are anomalies within the academic world because we have academic positions and are still doing and writing this kind of history. >> to me, if you say you want to
study early american history and don't want to study the founding, that's like saying i want to go to fenway park with a lacrosse stick. [laughter] we are not playing lacrosse. that will come around, eventually, because -- that is what this series is really about. and blake, one of the things i've benefited from is that when i write books, people buy them. [laughter] like, "founding brothers" sold a couple million copies. and that there is asset type out there for not watered down history either, serious history of the founding. >> in defense of the academic world -- >> they don't need a defense.
>> they are filling in gaps that we have ignored for too long. it is just that they become so incestuous. they talk only to each other and ignore the responsibilities they have to talk to a larger audience. it is hard to do that for young people because they get no rewards from it. >> when some of the system me, who are you writing to, i say i am writing to the same audience that i used to teach. these are people who are really smart and don't know anything. [laughter] not this audience. one thing, one of the many things, one of the great gentlemen these two have is they have the ability to write definitive works in academia that we can all understand, and that is a rare, rare gift. one of the reasons why david and molly and don and marie and gay,
we all work to create this series, the vision fork, was for this, and to promote this sense of civic education and remembrance of the founding, and by design, this is why this year's program has closed with these two individuals. on that note, a last, quick question. the state of civic education in america today and historical literacy, which piggybacks off what we just talked about, professor woods? as i say, the tail being written by the academics is tale of americanhistory, is a tale of oppression. these are stories that should be told, but not at the exclusion of the other stories. there are alternative facts, lots of facts out there. the question is, how focused should you be on all the negative facts? hoe one wants to hide the fact that the treatment of the native peoples was atrocious over the
long run. although not everyone was out to eliminate them, it certainly wasn't genocide in any nazi kind of sense. but it is a tragic story, an , the whole national history, but it needs to be a balanced story. we need some positive facts, as well as the negative facts that we seem to be getting. >> last word, professor ellis. >> it is a deplorable situation. there are a lot of different ways to measure the level of ignorance, but most americans don't know what the bill of rights is. a lot of them don't know what came first, the revolution or the civil war. a majority of the american
populace citizens could not pass the civics test that all immigrants have to pass in order to be made american citizens. and the real consequence of that the population is honorable to fake news and to all forms of internet communication that they would be able to understand and read with much less credulity and much less -- they would be able to have convictions based on evidence, rather than based on shifting definitions of their own identity. so the consequences of our civic failure are profound. >> absolutely. >> and i think the program here is making at least a modest contribution in addressing that problem. we're only about 100 million from a lobotomy's short of a responsible answer. lobotomies short of
a responsible answer. [laughter] [applause] >> on that note, we would all agree -- so many times, i'm listening to a politician or leader invoke the founders,cite the founders, and i'm cringe at their interpretation of it. my line is always that many americans don't know what year the war of 1812 started. on that note, before we run out, let me thank c-span for covering this, and this is also available with c-span's classroom and education project. their books and this video, free of charge. let me thank you for coming out and supporting this wonderful program. [applause] thank you to the society. and mostly, thank you to the work of gordon and joe. thank you. [applause]
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter for information about our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. >> lectures in history, a tulane university professor teaches a class on agricultural labor in the united states since 1930. and the rise of organic farming. she describes the bracero program which brought temporary workers from mexico in the 1940's and 1950's, as well as a farm worker strikes under leader such as cesar chavez. she argues that despite the rising consumer awareness relating to organic food, working conditions are not always considered a factor in what people buy. her class is about 50 minutes.