Skip to main content

tv   Fords Theatre Lincoln Symposium  CSPAN  March 16, 2019 1:45pm-2:46pm EDT

1:45 pm
>> we are waiting for david blight to take the stage. there will be a speaker's panel on speakers about abraham looking. spoke earlier on how lincoln was remembered in new deal america. between here and there is michael burlingame on lincoln s president-elect from his election in 1860 until his 1861 inauguration. a lot of discussion. ,> we are about to get started
1:46 pm
so if you would not mind taking your seats, please. as you will see in your program wasnfortunately, stacy unable to be with us today. you are stuck with me again. chairperson of the board of the abraham looking institute. read our remarks slightly edited. as a board member of the abraham lincoln institute, i am delighted to share the news of the 2019 dissertation award. every year, the abraham lincoln institute in partnership with the abraham lincoln -- this award breaks new ground and lincoln scholarship. we look for dissertations that offer fresh approaches to lincoln's life, career and legacy.
1:47 pm
they examine new evidence or reevaluates old evidence in exciting new ways. four dissertations drew extensive praise from our committee. our deliberations were brief and without contention. one dissertation stood out for its decidedly unique focus. the winner of the 2019 mackeyation award is dr. from western michigan university for his dissertation entitled a .hrine for president lincoln for the person who had the question about when do lincoln museums start? you will know all about it afterward. dr. mackey accepted the award at the abraham lincoln associations awards in springfield. in his speech, he noted the idea
1:48 pm
for his research came from his own checkered background in public history. he is currently an adjunct professor at indiana university east in richmond, indiana. his dissertation from the vantage point of his experience as a tour guide, intern, architectural historian, trustee and as a director in a variety of history museums in ohiogan, new york, genia, and most notably as the director of the abraham lincoln museum in tennessee. mackey was joking by calling his experience in public history a checkered past but i think there does exist, unfortunately, a divide between academic and public history, that tends to undervalue public history. abraham lincoln is our most beloved president and millions
1:49 pm
of people are drawn to lincoln sites across the country, just as they are drawn here to forts theater or the lincoln memorial. ford's theater. they want to walk where lincoln walked, see what he saw. -- mackey'sking dissertation offers the historic context and analysis to explain how that power works. mackeyulations to dr. for his work and thank you for all of your support for the abraham lincoln institute, which helps make the dissertation award possible. [applause]
1:50 pm
hello again. i am president of ali. i am here to make a special announcement. the lincoln group of the district of columbia has been promoting a scholarship in the nation's capital cents nike 35. the mission of the lincoln group is to engage new generations and understanding the life and significance of our 16th president. the education work of the lincoln group received a boost under leadership. last august.denly he was a scholar and a dear friend to those who shared his enthusiasm for all things lincoln. john ellis was born and washington, d.c. and grew up in illinois. he graduated from depaul university, earned his phd from harvard university and taught at
1:51 pm
barner college and brandeis university. his career of government service began in 1975 and ended with his retirement in 2010. he served on the senate judiciary committee, moved to the defense department and retired after advising the fbi national security branch on intelligence matters. dr. alice was a frequent writer and much on abraham lincoln. he helped organize events, including the commit -- along with programs at the national archives. he was on the boards of the abraham lincoln organization and the lincoln forum. he volunteered with the national park service as a speaker and guide at ford's theater. he was generous and kind. he spoke with the authority established by years of study and his inherent intimacy with the subject derived from his
1:52 pm
illinois roots. one of his friends said i am a better person and lincoln scholar because of john ellis. the board of the lincoln group has decided to honor his memory with a program that unites his passion and love for ford's theater. the john ellisng scholarship. make thearship will excellent programs here at ford's more accessible to teachers across the country. the lincoln group will make the scholarship the focus of its ongoing efforts to raise support for lincoln education. this first year, four scholarships be granted to teachers that will be selected by ford's staff. i congratulate the lincoln group of the district of columbia for its support of lincoln education
1:53 pm
programs here at ford's theater by creating the john ellis scholarship. thank you very much. [applause] >> frederick douglass was a brilliant speaker, a gifted writer, a stunning persuader and a man hard driven through his life are the cause of black america. brimstoned fire and with a passion and righteousness of an old testament prophet and he saw the civil war as both god's retribution on the wicked and the portal to a new awakening for his people. somewhati was afflicted with frederick douglass, i got to know him better while researching the
1:54 pm
black nationalist delaney. i never had a true sense of the many sides of the man until i read david blight's biography frederick douglass, prophet of freedom. david blight is a professor of ofrican history and director the study of slavery at yale university. he serves on boards of various museums and historical societies. in 2012, he was elected to the american academy of arts and scientists. theecame the recipient of 2019 lincoln prize. time is too short to recite dozens of awards is books have one and the various honors he has received.
1:55 pm
i cannot tell you how pleased we are to have him as a guest speaker at this year's symposium . join me in welcoming dr. david blight. [applause] you to the leadership of the lincoln institute. here, numerous friends particularly the previous speakers. it is hard to follow richard carwardine. whether it is about humor or the movies. i am going to speak about frederick douglass is relationship with abraham lincoln. less about the actual relationship than the meaning of the two wives for and against each other -- against the two lives for and against each other. if any of you are waiting with
1:56 pm
-- i am afraid that invitation to tea that douglass received from the president after the second inaugural but before what happened here did not come off. -- me begin with this recorded by the wpa famous narratives. slave namedormer cornelius garner was interviewed at the age of 91. he is asked if he fought in the civil war by the interviewer. his lackd to interviewer, did i fight in the war? if i had not, you would not be sitting there writing today.
1:57 pm
native norfolk, virginia. day, shouldw year's be capped by all the colored people. that is the day of freedom. freedom andday of they ought to remember frederick douglass, too. frederick douglass told abraham men gunset the black and let them fight. abraham lincoln said if i get them guns, when it comes to battle, they might run. frederick douglass said, try them and you will win the war. said, all right, i will try them. carved a lot of history into one little paragraph of a
1:58 pm
reminiscence in the mind of an old man, but it does begin to help us understand the nature of the give and take, particularly in rhetoric or words between lincoln and frederick douglass, the other douglass. in adjusting this relationship, we are of course talking about two towering personalities, and two mythic figures, as nina's previous talk showed us. their relationship is as much in language, particularly from than it was ine, the actual meetings, although those are important. they are meant a very different temperaments, of course, although not completely dissimilar backgrounds. both are raised in poverty, one was a slave, the other the son of an indiana dirt farmer.
1:59 pm
a similar array of books as they were coming of age. we know more about the exact books, i think, that link and read and used in new salem and a little bit beyond, than we do exactly which books douglass focused on, although we know for sure he did a great deal of reading of the king james version of the bible. and he particularly made a tremendous use of that little book, that little -- it is not little, actually, the colombian order, compiled in 1797. , that manual was one of the books lincoln mentioned that he had also read in new salem. consisted book that of many, many orations and
2:00 pm
speeches from classical antiquity, but also from the alignment era -- the enlightenment era. this book that douglass called his richest treasure, which he first encountered when he was 12 on the streets of baltimore. it had a 20 page introduction that was a manual on oratory, and the douglass he had no more precious possession as a slave than that little book. i get calling it little, it is not that little. the introduction tells the reader how to position the arms, shoulders, the neck, how to modulate your voice from lower tones to higher tones, how to reach crescendos, and it taught the orator how to reach the moral heart of an argument in your audience.
2:01 pm
both of them somehow have been influenced by that little book. i will run very quickly through those three very important meanings that douglas -- meetings that douglass has with lincoln, and then i want to focus on the election-year of 1864. i do this in part because it is so important to frederick douglas, his reelection, but also because i know that i have onken before numerous groups those meetings and i do not want to repeat myself. i do not want to be accused of telling the same stories over and over. the first meeting is august 10, 1863. one of the great things about speaking to any lincoln group is you all know so much and i do not have to fill in the details, that is also the scary part about speaking to a lincoln group, somebody is going to catch me here and you will email
2:02 pm
i know you are, because you do. [laughter] one of the risks of actually having your book read, fairly widely now, you get a lot of emails from people with opinions. [laughter] who also scrutinize your footnotes. hm? a couple of you are in the audience, but we've already talked, i know. and i have a list of revisions to do for the paperback. anyway, the first is august 10, a meeting that douglass sought out, he had no invitation. he had never been in washington dc. it was his first ever visit to washington. or hadin the midst, actually just stopped recruiting black soldiers for the union army, for the famous 54th massachusetts regiment, he has stopped recruiting because of the brutal discrimination
2:03 pm
against black soldiers, particularly the unequal pay problem. he recruited two of his own sons into the very regiment. at this very moment, when he is meeting with lincoln in august, his oldest son lewis has been moved north to new york from, u m, charleston harbor, where lewis had been very badly wounded in the attack on battery wagner. and douglass was soon to be in new york city at his son's bedside for two weeks. lewis did recover, but was never able to have children because of his wins. at -- wounds. protestate, he went to the discriminations and he had a very useful and important meeting, probably no more than 45 minutes, with the president. he came away saying things like, well, the president did not shift his views, he reminded me of how difficult his job is.
2:04 pm
by lincoln away awed come i do not think there is doubt about that. he came away saying in the speeches he would give about this, "i felt a big there." wow, that sounds like the teenager that just met, i do not know, his baseball hero or something. "i felt big there." meeting a year later, not quite to the day but august, this time was at the invitation of lincoln. the war has taken many turns, but the worst of the turns is the lack of a turn, the stalemate in virginia and in georgia. and it is election-year. more on the election in a moment. but in mid august of 1864, lincoln invites douglass, the greatest spokesperson of black people in the united states, to
2:05 pm
come to washington to try out a couple ideas on him and list the douglass support, rhetorically at least, through the newspapers, although douglass by this time hasn't stopped editing his anti-slavery newspaper after has stopped editing his antislavery newspaper after 16 years. this meeting was longer, more forthright, and he looked him in the eye and asked him to be the principal agent of a scheme where douglass would go back and a start calling a band of scouts that which i do funnel as many slaves out of the upper south, behind union lines, into the north and into some level of legal freedom before election day in november, because there was a good reason to believe that lincoln would not be reelected. he might be defeated by the democrats. war wariness was horrific by
2:06 pm
august of that summer. and there was no certainty of lincoln's reelection, there was a great deal of uncertainty about it. this was lincoln's way of saying to douglass, alright, emancipation has become the great aim of this war, let's get as much of it done before i lose the election, if i lose this election. they exchanged ideas on other things, we could go into that later. now, it is worth pointing out right here that one of the things that makes this relationship so interesting is because both of these men had this extraordinary, much written about capacity for intellectual and ideological growth. both. and where they started in 1861 and where they come to by 63, especially by 1864 and 65, is
2:07 pm
the extraordinary part of the story. in the first year of the war, even the first year and a half, into 61 and 62, at least through august of 1862, douglass was one of the fiercest critics lincoln had among the anti-slavery advocates. at one point, when the lincoln administration started to try to recruit douglass to be there colonization is our, the person -- czar, the person who would lead this game to remove -- of the scheme to remove by people from the united states, among other things douglass said is he called him a colonization us lecturer. hatred as same negro all others. and earlier on, in the fall of 1861, when it appeared of the policy of the lincoln administration and the war was to return the slaves who had escaped, a policy that was not
2:08 pm
easy to sustain, douglass called abraham lincoln the most powerful slave catcher in america. he said even worse things. it was the preliminary emancipation proclamation and especially the final event, the final proclamation, that changed douglass' tune on lincoln. in the wake of the final proclamation, douglass went back, after the incredible celebrations in boston he attended on january 1, 1863, he went back to rochester and not only published that wonderful editorial he had already written before he left rochester called "a day for poetry and song," meaning emancipation day, he went to his desk to write down his thoughts. i'm convinced of many things on douglass, other things i will
2:09 pm
not quite figure out, like any biographer, because there are ways in which he was not so knowable, just like lincoln was not so knowable, even for aman who wrote 1200 pages of autobiography, my god is he hiding a lot. [laughter] david: nevertheless, he wrote a new speech and it was called "the proclamation in the knee grow army." he took across the midwest and it became the speech in which he worked up his ideas as a recruiter of black troops. and, in that speech among many other things he said, this proclamation frees us all. it frees the entire country, he said. it frees the white union soldier, it frees the white confederate soldier, i frees the black soldiert, it frees the white people, it frees us all. he understood the emancipation
2:10 pm
proclamation beyond its own text. as did many. before and after it was written. ut, that 64 meeting of course, comes at an incredibly difficult, sensitive moment, because of this election year. the third meeting, of course, is at the second inaugural. i will not even going to that. douglass was out in the crowd, of to the left of lincoln, here i am not going into it. [laughter] david: he was right down there. lincoln gave his a second inaugural and after it was over douglass tells us he had no invitation to go to the reception, but he walked over to pennsylvania avenue, over there, and followed at the presidential carriage back to the white house. line.sisting -- he got in
2:11 pm
he asked if he could come in. they said, no. he gave his card and said, tell the president i am here. it did not take long. they came back and said, come in. they had an encounter where lincoln insisted he tell him what he thought of the speech. douglass thought it was the greatest speech ever given by an american president, and douglass had so long wished he had written that speech for lincoln. the great thing about it is lincoln wrote it. lincoln wrote that third paragraph. of the second inaugural. by therop of blood shed last shall be repaid by bloodshed by the sword. greatestbly lincoln's anti-slavery statement of the meaning of the war. let's go back to the
2:12 pm
election-year. background. little it is the first time a republic ever tried to hold an election in a civil war, not an easy thing to do. lincoln will not be on the ballot in the south, we all know that. amendmentth abolishing slavery had passed the u.s. senate in the winter of 1864, but not passed the house, as a required two thirds majority. by the spring and summer campaign when it is not clearly good will get the nomination over the renewed efforts of some of the more radical republicans to bring back john c fremont, conceived -- c as more radical. the republican party was the party of the 13th amendment, whether they want to be or not,
2:13 pm
they are the party of abolishing slavery. what do the democrats do? exactly what political parties do, they stamp them in their forehead. emancipation. and worse. it became come i always tell my students that the 1864 campaign became the most racist election in american history, until the next one. because it's a 60 it was even worsein many ways, grant's first election. the democratic party employed utterly explicit uses of white supremacy everywhere, every day, in all kinds of media methods. asy painted abraham lincoln abraham africanos the i. they called him the -- maker and worse. and the rep. kim: party stood for -- the rep. kim: party stood
2:14 pm
for nothing but a word that was literally coined and makes it into the american dictionary. that year. republicans were the party of racial mixing, if you elect them they will mix the races and destroy the gene pool and all the rest. now, i am leaving out the worst. were put out,hat the lithographs that were put held at thells lincoln clubs all over the country. no balls, no clubs, but it did not matter. this is the way that they were portrayed. now, the republicans, lincoln will get the nomination, the renomination in a testing process. withrick douglass flirted supporting fremont for a little while. he backed away from that in june of 1864.
2:15 pm
and the problem now was, and by the time that douglass visits lincoln at the white house in august of 1864, the republicans are trying to kind of sidestep dipsy-doo ono a the emancipation issue. lincoln proposed a letter that he asked frederick douglass about face-to-face, should he publish this public letter, saying, i cannot free the slaves unless the people really want it. idea thats namby frederick douglass took about one second to say, do not publish that letter, whatever you do. all the members of lincoln's cabinet, the secretary of the interior, and especially william h seward, the secretary of state, he started making statements about how, well, emancipation is not the
2:16 pm
centerpiece of our war effort just yet. we are willing in the long run, he said, to leave this to the adjudication of the courts. what doesat meanat -- that mean? nobody knew. there was an executive order saying that they must be free and black soldiers are being recruited into the army and navy, you are going to leave it to the courts? uh, frederick douglass was deeply disappointed and frightened by what he was hearing from official republicans very frequently, but he was once again for the second time awed by the fact that lincoln invited him and said, help me set this up to free as many slaves as possible. douglass went on to rochester, barely two weeks is all he had and he started recruiting people to help him, to be part of his band of scouts, agents who are
2:17 pm
supposed to do this. he started recruiting fellow recruiters of black soldiers, friends in abolitionism, he may have written to 20 people to get this going, but the truth is i do not think he had a clue how he was supposed to do this. all he was told is the war department will help you. yeah? he did notappily have to worry about it after two weeks. the reason of course was the fall of atlanta. it was battlefield victories. in just the fall of atlanta, the first week of september when sherman took atlanta, as everybody knows, one of the most important turning point of the war, militarily, but also politically and what it did for northern morale. and then the successes in the shenandoah valley, and in the last week of august, do not forget, they took mobile bay.
2:18 pm
august 25, the largest naval engagement of the entire civil war, a huge event on mobile, when it fell to the union navy. slaves scheme of freeing out of the upper south was basically disbanded.and the election campaign was on now. frederickxcuse me, douglas wanted to campaign for abraham lincoln. the party would not let him. they are trying to duck and dodge on the emancipation issue. the last thing they want is give his aouglas to speeches about abolitionism in the wrong places. the truth is he will campaign for every republican presidents the rest of his life. they wouldn't let him take the stump in. 1864 he presented it, he was outraged and angry, but he had no choice. what he did do is he went to
2:19 pm
syracuse in october to a big black convention. and the famous tradition of the black conventions, the delegates from all over the country, including five southern states, and he gave a barnburner of a speech about the right to vote. not just about completing the war for emancipation, but the sacred quality of the suffrage. and he declared that the war would never be over until every deadonous slaveholder was or in custody. it is the war propaganda once again in frederick douglass. out there doing this now, not entirely sure yet, as late as the state, ho -- this date, how to trust the republican party. the election came. and on election night, by the way i found a little source for this, i only have one source, but by god it went with it,
2:20 pm
because these are some of those clippings you find and you think, 'thank you, god.' in a private collection that has everything to do with why i wrote this book, there is a little clipping, and everybody here knows that everybody who has ever met lincoln, seen him, imagined they saw him, had a reminiscence of imagining the had been with lincoln somewhere, the same thing went on with frederick douglass in the 1880's and 1890's. thekinds of reminiscences, day i did this with frederick douglass, the day i saw frederick douglass do that -- it is a little reminiscence published in a newspaper in 1881, by the man who claimed to be the poll worker on the night of the election of 1864, that he had put frederick douglass's ballot in the ballot box. i decided to believe him. because the best part of the story is he lived near douglass,
2:21 pm
and he says they were walking back into town, douglass lived a mile from town, they were walking back late at night and it was about 10:00 p.m. to go to the telegraph office and learn the national returns of election night. while they are coming into the center of the city, says this came out drunken thugs and challenged douglass, called him the "n" word, and there was a clash between them. but then this test of fire says, testifier says, then they wanted nothing to do with douglass, they scurried back into their holes, and douglas had a physical and political triumph. i do not know if that really happened, but why not? [laughter] david: screenwriters can have that one. key, andut here is the
2:22 pm
i will end with this little two-part story. did what he then had done so many times in rochester. the sunday after the election, obviously lincoln was reelected, decisively, although way over decisively in the electoral college, decisively even in the popular vote, particularly because of the soldier vote. douglass went to the local black church on a sunday after the election, spring street african methodist episcopal church, and he had spoken their countless times. he could have that pulpit anytime. he had given mini lecture series there, he would do lecture series on sunday afternoons all the time in the 1850's, during the war, he would go to spring street. he went to the church the sunday after the election. how important was the reelection of lincoln?
2:23 pm
douglass open to this speech by reading from genesis. "and the dove came into him in the evening and lo in her mouth was an olive leaf, so noah knew that the waters were abated from the earth.' " douglass told the story to his mostly black audience. of noah's ark. noah sent the dove, the dove returns, olive branch in the beak, something is growing out there. he sent it out again, and the dove does not return. and in the story, the great old testament story, noah decides to take the tarp off the ark and lo
2:24 pm
the world had. been renewed. -- had been renewed. as a text, as a place to put his audience, the meaning of this election, it was not just about lincoln, it now means that this war is going to be prosecuted to its ugly, horrific bloody end, but it will mean black freedom. he went to the oldest rebirth story in western civilization. that is classic frederick douglasss. . he does this dozens of times, when he needed a story or a metaphor, he went to is king james. he went to the great stories of the old testament. the or on many other stories. announcede speech, he
2:25 pm
the following sunday he was going to go to baltimore for the first time ever since he escaped from baltimore as a slave. and in 1838, he had not been back -- he had been through baltimore on the railroad getting to washington dc, but he never got off. he said, i am going to baltimore next week. i'm returning to my native soil of maryland. he said the reason was, because maryland had just held a referendum on november 1 to decide whether to become a free state in the midst of war. and the vote had been, this is almost hard to believe, but it had been 30,174 to 29,799, it passed by like 300 votes out of 60 some thousand. narrowly maryland had voted to be a free state.
2:26 pm
douglass said, i am going home to the free state of maryland. and he did, a week later, he returned to baltimore. the paparazzi were in toto, the equivalent, and he had good press coverage of this one. bethel church the on dallas street in fells point. point expert here today who will correct anything i get wrong. he returned to one of the churches he had attended as a slave, as a teenage slave. and what happens? at the front entrance, he encounters his sister, whose name was eliza mitchell. an older sister, about three years older, and he had not seen her since 1836. she had managed, she has a fascinating story, she had managed to purchase her own
2:27 pm
freedom. she also had some seven or eight children. she had named her daughter for her famous brother by giving her the middle name douglass. she remained illiterate, but she had somehow followed the fame of her brother. it is not absolutely clear douglass even recognize her at first, but whatever, he grabbed her by the arm and they walked up the center aisle of the church to an altar that we are told was surrounded by american flags. and one of the local papers called him the illustrious exile. and he opened the speech again with noah's ark, but with a twist. he told of noah sending the dove out of the ark, and it comes back with a branch in the beak. he sends it out again, the dove does not return.
2:28 pm
says, noah takes the tarp off the ark and lo, the world is renewed, but he said today i am the sign, i am the dove. i have returned to the free soil of maryland. and i am the dove. to putkes chutzpah yourself into the noah's ark story and get away with it. [laughter] ofid: but it was his way personalizing this great, great ancient old deeply mythical story. classic douglass putting himself into the biblical tale, putting his people into the biblical tale, and putting his nichon into the biblical story. i will end with this.
2:29 pm
if you go ahead a little to the spring of 1865, when he will meet lincoln again at the second inaugural. he had a new speech he was taking on the road this winter and spring. he called it, "black freedom, the prerequisite of victory." and in this speech, he trotted out another biblical story. knowing his audience needed a metaphor back to the significance of storytelling and douglass was a genius not only with words, but with story. this was the parable of lazarus 6.d the rich man from luke: 1 douglass believed with emancipation and the defeat of southern slaveholders, americans witnessed what he called the fulfillment of the tale of a "certain poor man who laid at the gate of a rich man."
2:30 pm
in the agent story that has inspired a black spiritual, and a famous modern folk song, "rock my soul in the bosom of abraham." we can sing it, but not yet. [laughter] inid: a rich man was clothed purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. beggarigger -- poor soreslazarus, full of from leprosy, laid at the rich man's gay, desiring to be fed crumbs with fell from the table. dogs licked his wounds. both men die. ar is carried by the angels into abraham's bosom. while the rich man is buried and
2:31 pm
this sense into hell. as it begins to burn, the rich man sees lazarus far off, resting -- and this is the way that douglass is telling the story,ome although -- although however accurate to the bible -- he is far off in abraham's embrace. the richies out, mercyfather abraham, have upon me and send me lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. as the rich man is engulfed in flames, abraham, or god in this that the tables have turned and it is too late. he schools the rich man for never listening to moses and the prophets." in this case, douglass brilliantly employed the
2:32 pm
parable. and his auditors seemed to love it, wherever he gave it. everybody is calling for lazarus now at the north and south, douglass announced in the speech, we all know who the rich man is in this country into the poor man is, or has been. the slaves, these are his words, the lazaruses of the south, line at the slaveholder's gaetz, but it has come to pass, said douglas, "tha the poor man and rich man are deadt, for both have been in a dying condition for some time." he elicited applause from audience after audience with this a speech from january into april of 1865. he concluded that the "poor man is said to be very near in abraham's bosom, and the rich
2:33 pm
man is crying out, 'father '"raham, said lazarus. by april, douglass applied the story to lincoln, and the end of the war. the rich men had just fallen, the slaveholding confederates were in flight. those "arrayed in purple and breasts satin, with sparkling with diamonds" were defeated and pleading to have their lazaruses back. ied thezarus back, cr rump of jefferson davis's revolution. douglass provided the new answers, but father abraham says, if they hear not grant or sherman, neither will they be persuaded, so i send lazarus unto them.
2:34 pm
with an armed gesture to the sky, douglass shouted the transformation -- "i say that we are way up beyond her now, no mistake." with his audience shouting for approval in "great merriment," said a reporter, douglas had re-crafted a piece of scripture to fit the moment of impending victory for the federal union, and for black freedom, just how much of the mortal father abraham's buddhism, or the united states -- bosom, or the united states could hold and comfort the free to people as they came back to life was now to be determined. and very soon, the mortal father abraham was gone. thank you. [applause]
2:35 pm
david: questions? strongly given how douglass felt about the war, and given the number of hits he took over his actions, how do you feel he justified to himself his refusal to actually take part in in the war? david: thank you. [laughter] david: he had many justifications. actually, like any biographer ,i cannot speak for all of us, but a buyout for wishes -- but a biographer wishesny to have their subject in a room for four or five hours, no bathroom breaks, and we get to have at him. near the top of my list of questions i have for mr. what didis, mr. d.,
2:36 pm
you say to your two sons when you recruited them into the 54th massachusetts at the age of 20 and 19? what does a father say to his sons to send them into a war where they could die or be enslaved, did they go for their reasons or yours? i'm really going to hammer them on this one. every time i have tried, he just slithers out. [laughter] skill,douglass knew his which was the word, spoken and written. of course,ird son, who went into the mississippi valley, frederick junior, the middle son, he went to the mississippi valley and recruited black soldiers and recruited a significant portion up north as well. and the entire family would to war. -- went to war.
2:37 pm
his daughter married a black soldier, a terrible marriage and it was ultimately an awful marriage of that kind of had a huge impact on her life. um, he got accused of not joining as a soldier, but he is in his mid-40's. look, douglass would say, he said it many times, i have you ever been known as a warrior. i am known as a man of words. i'm much better as an order. i -- orator. i'm better at fleeing, than going back to fight. i have a cartoon in the book of him fleeing overlake ontario with his trunk on his shoulder, leaping over the river, fleeing the john brown raid. i think the best answer is he in
2:38 pm
his best skills, not as a warrior, and after all, in what way would he have served? a noncommissioned something or other? he did serve. he recruited about one hegemony is of the 54th mass. and he recruited a lot of other people to be recruiters of black soldiers. yes? >> you gave a lead into my question. can you compare lincoln and douglass' view of the john brown raid? david: oh. in a few sentences? sure. [laughter] in thewell, ironically long term, not far apart, that is what was so extraordinary to douglass in 1864, when lincoln is asking him to create an above id and john brown's ra
2:39 pm
funnel these slaves out. douglass called of the underground railroad an over ground railroad. very bigass was a supporter of john brown until, and i have an entire chapter on this in my book, and i believe i have located nine occasions in whic douglass and john brown met in the years that they knew each other. with douglass parted ways john brown was when he learned it would be at harpers ferry, the largest arsenal in the u.s. tostill went down pennsylvania and met with john brown for 48 hours, near chambersburg, to try to talk brown out of it. what douglass was attracted to
2:40 pm
was john brown's long discussion, vague discussion, sorry for the john brown sainthood club -- [laughter] david: i turned in my key to that a few years ago. supported brown when the plan was what brown called once the subterranean passageway, which was supposed to be this series of forts manned by lots of men, a militarized underground railroad. douglass was so desperate that he raised money for it. but when he found out that brown was going to tackle the largest federal arsenal, he said, i am out of here. lincoln's reaction was a typical republican antislavery reaction, his reaction to john brown was to condemn the acts, which he did, and argued john brown deserve to be hanged.
2:41 pm
at the same time, lincoln and many republicans would then still focus the story back onto the issue of slavery, and if we do not solve this problem or do something about it, we will have more violence and more john browns. taht was the republican move, of course, that scared the you know what out of southerners. they were already scared of lincoln and the republican party. so, in a sense they are not that far apart, although there were no letters from abraham lincoln in john brown's chunk that they found in maryland, which there were in douglass. >> would you think it is fair to say that both of them feared the effect of john brown's raid in getting the south to dig in its heels further and moving the saddle further towards secession? david: lincoln feared that more,
2:42 pm
because douglass had long yard for some kind of -- yearned for some kind of break, something that would force the collision and a conflict between north and south that would lead to some kind of sanctioned violence. ironically, the war that actually comes, like it or not, was douglass'fondest dream. when it did come, the propaganda came out in some of the most ugliest ways you will ever read war propaganda. i suspect lincoln had a greater fear about that, that oh my god, how do you hold this thing together in the wake of john brown? his first test was to get elected. he goes to give the cooper union speech in the wake of john brown's raid, so lincoln has a whole different problem on his hands, as did the whole
2:43 pm
republican party in the wake of john brown. yes? last question. you get one more, go for it. up, here we go. >> a well-traveled man frederick douglass. did he have a green book? david: [laughter] yes, and no. it wasn't a green book. abolitionists from the 1840's on they stayed wherever they had friends. it was not unlike what we now know as "the green book." they would stay in private homes, taverns and hotels, wherever they found friends or friendship. early on in his career, this was always a difficult issue,
2:44 pm
douglass and this group he traveled with, particularly in the early 1840's, which was a series of 3-5 abolitionists, including abby kelly, the woman star of the abolition movement. douglass' first couple years on the circuit, he was second fiddle to her, until he wasn't. they would stay with friends, but they would often go into towns and say, we will speak over here if somebody lets us in. often, they could not speak in certain churches because it was too dangerous. when he does these enormous speaking tour's after the civil war, year after year, thousands of miles at a time, 3000 and 4000 miles at a time, 30 or 40 lectures over the series of three months, he had all kinds of lists of friends and places. he went to wisconsin, a family would put you up.
2:45 pm
in iowa city, a family that would put you up. but he also stayed in hotels and taverns, which got him into all kinds of jim crow situations. in the book, douglass was jim crowed more times than you could count. can i end with one click story? uh,s ur sure, why not? again, he got jim crowed so many times. early on, he would act without rage and he would get thrown out of hotels and trains. later on, if he was stopped in the dining room of a hotel, this is in the north, and he was told you cannot eat in the dining room, you must eat in the kitchen. he was stand up and he would as loudly as he could, where do you feed your dog's, where are the


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on