tv FDR the Final Years of World War II 1943-45 CSPAN June 2, 2019 4:50pm-6:01pm EDT
weekend on c's and three. >> next, historian nigel hamilton talks about the last book in his trilogy profiling president franklin d roosevelt at war. war and peace covers fdr's involvement in planning d-day until his death in 1945. -- on april 12, 19 what he five. the national world war ii museum in new orleans hosted this event. this year marks the 75th anniversary of the allied invasion of normandy, france. >> good evening, everyone. welcome to the national world war ii museum. to all of you who are sitting here and to those watching on the livestream, i know you are with us in spirit. we feel your presence too. i am the senior historian here at the museum. i am also the executive director for the institute of the study of war and democracy. tonight is the latest installment of our meet the
authors series. we like to mention our sponsor, we bring this to you with generous support of the foundation, so thank you. many of you have been to our events before. you know we have a tradition at the museum. may i ask, are there any world war ii veterans or homefront workers in the audience tonight? if you would please stand. [applause] thanks folks. i heard the president and ceo emeritus, and the current president say as many times, we built this museum for you, so thanks for coming to these events. military veterans of any other era, if you would stand and wave. [applause] we know that is a large number. i love the waves. people give different forms of waves. i like that one.
thank you so much. we would like to acknowledge three special guests in the audience. a current board member -- there he is. robert, good to see you. thank you for coming. [applause] and task board members, deborah little -- iaw her a am looking in the wrong direction. and is dr. mike in the audience? great to see you as always. [applause] thanks so much to all of you for being with us this evening. and of course we will never move on before we acknowledge the national world war ii museum's cofounder, president, and ceo emeritus in the front row, nick, as always. [applause] and to all of you in the audience and livestream who may be museum members, you keep us going, so thank you. and finally, a sincere thanks to c-span for being here. it is great to see your cameras at our events.
i know i tend to stand up c-spanter when the cameras are in operation, so thank you too. you have all heard the phrase, so and so needs no introduction. you probably know what that means. what you are probably really saying is this person deserves a very wholesome introduction indeed. it is with our speaker tonight, nigel hamilton. nigel is an award-winning author and biographer, author of a biography of marshal montgomery, known as monty, which has been on my shelves for a long time. the best selling work on the young john f. kennedy, which was turned into an abc miniseries, bill clinton: mastering the presidency. nigel is the first president of biographers national organization senior fellow at , the mccormick graduate school of massachusetts, boston. i will say this flat out, he is one of the world's greatest
writers. you know you are in for a treat. this one is no exception. [applause] nigel is also a dear friend of the museum. he spoke at our 2012 international conference, and the churchill symposium, and for the first two books of this fdr trilogy. from a personal perspective, he is a friend of nick's and a friend of mine. he lives right down the road with his wife. please stand if you wouldn't mind or be acknowledged in some way. [applause] thank you. and so, to the main event. we are honored nigel has selected our museum as the site of his official book launch for "war and peace." this is the third book in the fdr trilogy. here nigel brings this story home, covering the saga of fdr from d-day to the altar.
-- to yalta. it is an appropriate time for gathering. today is the 74th anniversary of the german surrender in western europe. we are mere weeks away from the 75th anniversary of d-day. without further ado, i give you the incomparable nigel hamilton. [applause] nigel: good evening everybody. this is a slightly sad occasion for me because it is a sort of farewell to somebody i have lived with for 10 years. franklin delano roosevelt.
and i shall miss him. i never intended to spend 10 years writing this series. and i certainly didn't intend for the story to take three volumes. all i did know was that is was something of a national scandal in this country that no one, no historian had written a full-scale account of president roosevelt in his role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the united states in the most violent war in human history.
how was it possible that that had never been done? one of the main reasons of course was fdr died in april of 1945. he had begun to assemble his papers. i was able to interview the harvard graduate who was working in the map room in the white house who was helping them prepare those papers for his memoirs. he was never able to write them. the person who did write them was the british prime minister winston churchill in retirement, and later when prime minister again. who was an extraordinary writer, apart from being a great prime minister and leader of his country.
and churchill took six volumes to tell the story of world war ii. so although i am embarrassed that i have taken three volumes to tell fdr's story, it is only half of what churchill wrote. -- took. called my talk tonight -- and thank you so much for coming. you work for years and years and wonder if there is anybody out there who wants you to do it, who responds to what you are doing. i called tonight's talk the man who saved d-day, because as bob
said, we are about to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the normandy invasion. it may be probably the last occasion on which there will still be significant numbers of survivors. the story that i will focus on tonight, the focus is on d-day itself, or rather, not on d-day, but on the project of d-day. volumes began with a voyage. one began with the
president's voyage to newfoundland in the summer of 1940, before pearl harbor, to meet demand that would become his opposite number as commander-in-chief of the british empire and forces in world war ii. ofy met on the battleships -- off the canadian coast. -- theyw up together dripped together the great , and at the end having overruled his own chief of staff, the president of the u.s. decided not to launch a d-day invasion that year, which would have been crushed, but to launch an farsion of north africa, as
as possible from german lines of communication. couldt american forces learn in the field, how to meet and defeat. the second volume took up volume with a story and began great voyage. the first president to fly abroad in office. flying to where he met with winston churchill. his chief ofled recognizing that in january 1943, almost no american
troops had ever fired a single action against a german show -- soldier. processnue the learning in modern warfare in the , and also to declare a moral policy, much as he had done in laying down the atlantic charter, namely, unconditional surrender. no negotiation. unconditional surrender. book,at the end of the american soldiers had landed in sicily, concord sicily, and are red sicily and are on the shores of southern italy.
surrenderedrmy has to general eisenhower in north africa. book thatcome to the is being launched tonight. volume three. reveal that my editor was somewhat surprised at the title. usedought it had been before. but a long time ago. nobody else thought to use it since. it was pretty appropriate. this third volume also begins with a voyage, a journey. fdi failing on a
new american battleship. staff, tohief of north africa. picture thatat a is very small, but i think that you can see general marshall. they are going to north africa because they are preparing to go on to cairo. once again, he is going to meet with his opposite number, the prime minister of britain, winston churchville -- churchville. churchill. before he gets to cairo, he wants to make quite certain that
he has a chance to talk with the american commander in chief, the allied commander-in-chief, in the mediterranean. young dwight david eisenhower. he is anxious. there are quite a number of photographs from that period. his views on strategy in europe and to think about him for a very good reason. because ike tells him that he has just been to see winston winston churchill and is surprised by his
unwillingness to go ahead with in 1944. invasion so when president roosevelt arrived in cairo, on the surface, the two men look as they have always been great friends, which they were. but sometimes great friends fallout over great issues. issue.as a great quickly, in cairo, the president of the united states a crisis. an extraordinary moment in history where his main ally, the prime minister of great britain and de facto commander in chief
of the british empire forces, including australians, new zealand and south africa -- and canadians. has learned that he has threatened to have a showdown over delaying or halting d-day. that iteen agreed should take place in the spring of 1944, in a few months time. churchill, aon prime minister, whose british empire forces were so essential to the success of the invasion, which would be launched from britain -- why was winston churchill such an implacable opponent of the great landing?
afterwards, winston churchill would cast his magical, rhetorical and literary spell over the story, claiming that it was simply that he wanted to do much more then to cross the english channel. that he preferred to focus on the mediterranean and its steppingstone to the balkans in 1944. , he had prime minister misgivings about russian intentions in europe. thus, unashamedly, against putting all the eggs of the western allies into one basket, d-day. it could be done later, if at all. many historians have followed
suit. lauding his political perspicacity. some, like the biographer andrew roberts, whom i admire, even claim that is not true that ,hurchill wanted to postpone still less cancel, operation overlord, the codename of d-day. others, like the director of the churchill archives, alan packwood, who i count as a friend, claim that it is near d-dayght to assume that
was the most important military operation in world war ii, upon which the success of the war against hitler's depended -- er depended. i have to say, as a military that is loyalist hogwash. i bow to no one in my admiration for winston churchill, -- winston turned -- winston churchill's lonely standing. harbor, in 1941, the direction of the war against itler is surely
fdr's finest hour. all through volume two, , churchilln-chief has done his best to argue against a cross channel landing. twice coming to the u.s. to argue personally with the president. peace reveals not only how opposed to d-day churchill remained, but how the prime sent arguably treasonous messages to the ,merican secretary of war say that stalin, to d-day would have to be postponed
in favor of more combat in italy and the mediterranean. finally, in cairo, in front of the president and military advisors, the prime minister indictmentis grand of the president's d-day appealy and a last-ditch to delay or abandon the invasion. the greatest military crisis of the second world war. .of churchill's own the culmination of a whole year of opposition to the d-day project.
to carry out the invasion is simply a lawyer's agreement. one that he, as british commander-in-chief, tara. tear up . and he is serious. -- heeatened to resign .hreatened to resign he even threatened his military and will risk breaking the grand alliance telling the americans that they will be ,elcome to switch their focus if they do not accept a delay or cancellation of d-day. in other words, the prime minister of britain is willing to break his partnership with the u.s., a partnership that he
himself had created, rather than to given. -- give in . staffnly complains to his that he is the only genius that can win the war, but is being forced to fight with one arm tied behind his back, thanks to american stupidity. turkey, the dardanelles, the black sea, the balkans, vienna -- but d-day dda and normandy in the spring of 1944. the parents.y -- pyramids. the u.s.resident of
deals with churchill's rebellion is the core drama of war and peace, my final volume. volume -- his six --umes of more than reuters memoirs. as a historian and biographer, i cannot not winston churchill's prose. fdr's point ofr view, which is very, very different. d-day, as did hitler's .- as did hitler
perhaps, no one will ever really explain winston churchill's opposition to d-day. , 75 yearsn do at last after the landing, is to see exactly how the president of the diffusingabout churchill's time bomb in cairo. that the d-day operation be carried out, as agreed in quebec. saving d-day, and other words. , boiling was furious with rage.
tehran.flew to fdr got stalin to promise to back the d-day invasion with a simultaneous russian offensive on the eastern front, which would force them to fight on two fronts. in which case, the germans would be unable to withdraw forces from the east to reinforce their armies in france, facing the allies. -- stalin also promises the president to join the war against japan, once surrenders -- hit learned --
forces. warned his staff. it will not be too hard to beat the western allies, he adds. after all, he does not have the feeling that the british have their whole heart in this attack. after the president's trip to cairo and tehran, the d-day project is energized. it will go forward in the spring of 1944. energized for one, extra historic reason, as i have tried to relate definitively, at last in this book.
namely, the president's surprising decision not to appoint general marshall to command the d-day invasion, but the men that he interviewed at length on his way out to cairo, young general dwight d ounce and how are -- dwight d. eisenhower. this was one of the most inspired appointment of world war ii. , involving the forces of many nations, but led by the u.s. typically, fdr is not content to ike aike a telegram -- telegram.
returning from cairo, he stays with eisenhower. together, the men fly in the president's plane, nicknamed the sicily, where the general markorates and tells george patton -- i think you can see him next to the last figure in the back. current, black cloud hanging over patton for slapping hospital, you will have an army command in the great normandy operation.
alliancethe grand saved. stone and its supreme commander appointed. thank in washington -- back in ishington, the president fromd the conquering hero hyde park, surrounded by his family, he broadcasts a christmas message, announcing to the world his appointment of eisenhower as supreme commander of the forthcoming assault. found, in the pink, as someone describes him. but he is not.
ill with the flu and he never gets better. the second half of war and peace tells a satyr story -- sadder story of fdr behind the scenes. he is diagnosed with fatal heart disease. eisenhower, and was moving to england to take command of the invasion, has fromable to stop churchill mounting his own version of d-day in italy under new, british supreme command.
one of the prime minister's worst military intercessions in in entire war, which results 43,000 allied casualties in three months to no purpose before d-day. 43,000. by contrast, the d-day invasion is a triumphant allied success. broadcasts a prayer on behalf of all americans for its success. not only prove one of the great combat achievements in military history, but they did prove churchill's forecast of an english channel running in
blood, which churchill had predicted to american senators and congressmen in 1943. the president even insists on an american invasion of southern france. normandy invasion, but britain also insists on an american invasion of southern illes., near marse is similarly successful. in the public image, the president is the master strategist of the war. battleship --by sails by battleship that summer to pearl harbor.
pearle is seen entering harbor itself. to force general macarthur to sit down with his opposite number in the pacific to see how the u.s. may -- navy operates. admiral, tohe present him with their best ideas on how they propose to defeat japan without incurring ruinous casualties. beenlly, this would have charm, fdr, blessed with the ability to get commanders to work together, arriving at a clear strategy.
not in president is vintage good health. he is dying of heart disease. he can barely work two hours a day or give a public speech. here is a photo of one that he gives on his return to the u.s., where he is asked to stand, using his iron legs. he has a heart attack doing it. continuing as president and u.s. commander-in-chief is a titanic struggle for him. assured by all of his advisers that there is no one else that can possibly lead the nation to victory, not only in the war but preparing the allies for the postwar, for peace. he agrees to stand for reelection.
well aware that he will never despiteanother term, being only 62 years of age. is duly triumphant at the polls. 1945, inauguration day in he is ravaged healthwise. i'm not sure how clear this is, but this is a map of his voyage to yalta. once again, traveling to get and crimea for a second meeting with stalin to discuss the war's endgame. on the wayin yalta
out with general marshall. helpo get the russians to in the war against japan. nationsstablish united and the security council, as well as discussing the insoluble problem of poland? miracle ofhing of a survival. you can see how ill he looks churchurch hill there -- ill there. he just manages to get through the conference. , hisg back to the u.s.
military assistant, general watson actually dies of a heart attack during the voyage. the point is, the president is not merely sick, he is dying, unable to stand, even on his metal beyond his patriotic sense of duty as commander-in-chief of the u.s. armed forces, one thing perhaps more than any other has kept him alive since his doctors gave him their sentence of death 12 months before. for in the very week that they diagnosed his fatal malady, the love of fdr's life, lucy rutherford, has become a widow, and she inspires him to go on at
least to hitler's end. he almost makes it, but not quite. he takes the train and works on his u.n. speech. there he is, leaving admiral leahy, his white house chief of staff, in washington, to mind the military store. he is joined in warm springs by lucy rutherford, and her friend, the watercolor portraitist elizabeth shoumatoff, his longtime hyde park neighbor, daisy sutley, is also in the room, and his personal secretary, bill hassett, when the end comes.
do we have time to read a short passage? he has provided the president's papers. the private secretary put them neatly in a folder on the card table which the president used as his desk. lucy and daisy were sitting and watching elizabeth shoumatoff work on a watercolor. she was painting as fast that she could, but became aware suddenly, that his gaze, quote "his gaze had a faraway look and was completely solemn." he had asked for a stamp to celebrate the upcoming conference.
"wait till you see the san francisco stamps with the united nations," but seemed to have moved somewhere else in his mind, staring at lucy next to him. it was about 1:15 p.m. to the filipino butler, the president has said they needed 15 more minutes to work before taking lunch, which he was looking forward to. suddenly, elizabeth recalled, he raised his right hand and passed it over his forehead several times in a strange, jerky way without without emitting a sound. daisy recalled the president, quote "looking for something, his head forward, his hand fumbling."
immediately, she rose. "i went forward and looked in his face." "have you dropped your cigarette" she asked him, alarmed. he tried to smile. he put his left hand back up to the back of his head and said, i have a terrific pain in the back of my head. those would be the president 's last words, daisy, quite certain of them afterwards, -- he said it distinctly, but so low that i don't think anyone else heard it. my head was not more than a foot from his. i told him to put his head back on the chair. the president is sick, call the doctor, madame shoumatoff yelled. the doctor comes and administers medication for the president's
heart. the president had suffered a quote "massive cerebral hemorrhage" or catastrophic stroke. his blood pressure was over 300, and there was nothing, despite attempted artificial respiration by the president's doctor could be done except wait for the end. they called washington to speak to the president's naval formal white house doctor, admiral mcintyre. and he's told that there is a long siege ahead. but in the end, the siege did not last long. lucy rutherford told elizabeth to pack her easel and bags and
summoned nicholas robbins, the man who took this photograph in a white cadillac. they set off in the estate before the press could arrive. they would only here whether or not the president had passed away when i stopped to telephone the white house on their journey home. the flag was already at half mast. the operator, before putting through the call, asked if they knew what had become national, in fact, global news. on april 12, 1945, the commander-in-chief -- the last words of the author of this book -- the commander-in-chief was dead. thank you very much. [applause]
host: nigel, thank you very much for another wonderful presentation and for really wrapping up this wonderful and remarkable individual up. we want to open the floor for questions. we'll start in the center, about halfway back. please stand when i bring the microphone to you. >> we briefly talked when you were signing my book, and i would like you to share with the audience your contrast with hitler's interference with his command, with his army, with what roosevelt did with his own. mr. hamilton: yes.
i enjoyed meeting you, and, you raised an interesting question, what was it that describes fdr's style of leadership, and can he be faulted for interfering with his military staff? yes, he did interfere with them. sometimes as commander-in-chief, he has to do that. after fdr, harry truman would have to do it. with macarthur. in the second world war, fdr had to do it several times, as i explained, with his chief of staff over premature decisions to launch d-day in 1942 and 1943 before american forces, not just the forces, but the combat
commanders had shown that they could beat the wehrmacht in open battle. and we have one of our experts on the wehrmacht right here. tough, tough enemy. so i would say that fdr's great contribution to military command is his willingness, where he felt necessary, to step in to save lives. i think that is what a president often has to do, he has to think of the human equation, not just whether his military advisers should be allowed to go their own way. but once having made his strategic decisions, fdr was truly remarkable in letting his team get on with the business. and the support that he gave to
eisenhower, once the d-day decision was reached at cairo and tehran was really exemplary. and is in direct contrast, as you pointed out, to the way that adolf hitler tended to interfere from with the command decisions, especially in battle, of his generals. host: we will go back to the center again. >> thank you very much. you talk about tehran and yalta. seems like one of the big differences between tehran and yalta was fdr's illness in his declining health. do you believe that if he had been healthy and if he had continued as he was at tehran, that any of the decisions made in yalta or post-yalta, even if he had lived that long, would
have been different, based on his health, or not? mr. hamilton: welcome of that is the most difficult question i have ever been asked! [laughter] historians are still debating that. it becomes a political and rather partisan debate. i cannot believe that fdr would not have been tougher with marshal stalin if he had been in good health in yalta. there were careful minutes taken during the conference. stalin is deferring to the
president. the president was running the conference. the fact is that the president did not run the yalta conference. stalin and churchill did, and battled particularly over poland, but whether with so many millions of russian boots on the ground already in poland, ultimately, it would have made that much difference, particularly when the poles were very naturally unwilling to surrender territory. who knows? in some ways, it was a relief to end the book where i did. [laughter] mr. hamilton: and leave those questions to another biographer of a subsequent president. >> nigel, i have a question
online. kent from missouri wants to know: how do you excuse fdr for not informing truman on the a-bomb? or can you excuse him? mr. hamilton: i can't. as i say in the book, it is very difficult to understand why fdr, again, going back to your earlier question, i think if fdr had been in better health, for instance, if he had only been suffering from a physical ailment, but if he had been mentally fitter, he would have understood how vital it was to put his vice president and obvious successor in the picture. but he relied on henry stimson to do it. and the truth is, by those last weeks when perhaps he thought he would spend more time, he did
see truman, and obviously, he had given instructions that secretary stimson should share the atomic bomb secrets with the vice president. but he just was not well enough. and to be honest, i think if he had sat down with truman, am not sure how much sense he would have made, in terms of whether or not to drop the bomb. i am often asked whether i think, as his biographer, that he would've dropped the bomb, and i can say unequivocally that he would have done so. after all, he is the president who founded the manhattan project, who watched as the scientific research was done.
i have quoted from stimson's diary showing that he was well aware what the germans were or weren't doing, the japanese the same. he discussed with winston churchill whether or not they should share stalin the secret. he is totally on the atomic bomb page until this fatal illness reduces him really, to a very lame president at the end. the point is, he thinks he has accumulated in his fourth term in office, that is pretty historic. but also, in all the work he has done with winston churchill, in his meetings with stalin, he thinks he has accumulated the sort of stature that nobody else
could have. that nobody else could have done -- just some extent, i think that is true, that no one else could have done what he did in that final year. host: on that point, then i will get to two more questions. mike r. wants to know, was it that he had such confidence in his subordinates that they knew the right thing to do at this point in his life, though they were going to carry on his message, his legacy to his successor, and was part of his secret to his success the fact that he would stay hands off? mr. hamilton: i don't think that is quite true. i think when necessary, he
accepted that the role of the president and commander in chief is to make the ultimate decision. hands off, yes, when wild things are being done. but when it comes to a question open our, do we deliberately go ahead with an invasion that will kill not just many tens but hundreds of thousands of soldiers, and even civilians? only a president as commander-in-chief can make that decision. and fdr would never have stood back from it, and i think if he had lived in retirement, he would have been proud of what truman did. host: question in the back to your right. >> thank you. why didn't fdr lie in state at the u.s. capitol?
mr. hamilton: why didn't fdr lie in state at the u.s. capitol? there are various theories. [laughter] as i am sure you know, there is this very sad train taking him back, the ferdinand magellan, that takes him back, with eleanor aboard, to the capital. there have been various theories. some people feel that eleanor was still upset that she had not been present when her husband died, and that lucy rutherford had been present, and was annoyed or angry with her daughter anna for having kept that secret. i don't think that is why
-- i don't think there is a naturism that. -- any truth in that. i don't think that is why eleanor decided against it, for her own reasons. secondly, i don't think eleanor, it has been much exaggerated, her feeling of anger. the point is, it is impossible for any historian to believe that fdr could have had this insummate, not sexual, the president was unwell, but it is impossible to believe that the commander-in-chief, surrounded by doctors, personal staff, lawyers, politicians, it is impossible to believe the claim that eleanor did not know that lucy rutherford was keeping him alive.
and after fdr died, eleanor wrote to lucy and sent her some objects. i think fdr had an extraordinary relationship with eleanor. obviously, he shouldn't have had that adulterous relationship during world war i, but when that ended, he was completely loyal to eleanor, who looked after him when he suffered his polio. i find it very moving that at the very end of his life, he did have this, her charming relationship with a woman he had once loved so much, and who loved him. host: we have time for one or two more questions. to your right, nigel.
>> there was a report that hoover was told by macarthur that he had sent a 40-page memorandum to truman, seeking to inform him that japan was memorandum to truman, seeking to attempting to surrender under terms which would have been acceptable under yalta terms. there was also a report that there was a, in 1995, there was a report that the english for the first time, released information that there had been a secret communication from japan to russia in code orange, attempting to negotiate a surrender. simply indicating that the emperor would be retained. do you believe that those
happened, and should they have been considered consistent with fdr's instructions that it should be unconditional surrender? and with that, require the dropping of the bomb? mr. hamilton: it sort of goes beyond my brief, but it does relate to fdr in terms of how he looked on the war with japan. and i do quote evidence in the book that not only was fdr willing to soft and the -- soften the unconditional surrender in specific cases, he writes a wonderful memorandum on this subject to the secretary of state, howell, saying, there's a difference between principle,
which you want to hold to, and practical realities, which may require you to do something else. later, he does talk to somebody about the japanese. he is worried that the japanese seem so willing to encourage civilians to commit suicide, not just troops. there is also the concern about american pows. so i don't think fdr was ideological bout dropping the bomb. i think he would have weighed the matter very carefully. certainly, in the state he was at the end of the war, i think it was merciful that he was not the president that would have to carry the weight of that
responsibility, and that we had a president who refused to pass the buck. host: last question will go to our livestream audience -- winston, who had seen his clout decline and his empire end, and fdr were dear friends. so it seems in their correspondence, but there may have been some resentment near the end of the war. was winston truly sad on fdr's passing, or did he see this as his opportunity to reestablish his greatness and the united kingdom's greatness? mr. hamilton: i don't think churchill, in any way, wanted to exploit the president's death. it is true, he did not come to the funeral. but as you say, they were -- i wonder how many times in human history there has ever been a
coalition of two leaders, of that sort of level, who so trusted and committed with each other. the great showdown is evidence of the fact that they did actually have it out. i have reached a vast age myself, and finishing this book, i was sad. i was sick. the president has made me think the president has made me think of mortality. i prefer to think of churchill not coming to the united states because in some ways, you know, he may not have been able to control his own emotions, which i find old enough. -- it difficult enough. [laughter] host: thank you very much, nigel. [applause]
host: i said the incomparable nigel hamilton, he proved it as he always does. so you know the drill by now. buy the book, buy multiple copies of the book. he will be happy to autograph it. drive carefully. thank you, and good night. one more time please, for our nigel hamilton. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> american history tv is on social media. follow us at c-span history.
week, lonnie bunch was elected 14th secretary of the smithsonian by the smithsonian institutions board of regents. he is the first african-american and the first historian to take the post. mr. bunch is the founding director of the smithsonian's national museum of african american history and culture on the national mall. earlier this year, he talked about how he sees his job as a museum director. i was the associate director in charge of all the curators at the museum of american history. i was called before congress. the question of one member of , caness asked me was somebody african-american be in charge of america's history? i was so offended by that notion that i could only know one aspect of it. i realized that what i wanted to do was make sure that i
understood the fullness of the american experience. the opportunity to do an exhibition on the american presidency, an exhibition that is up at the museum of american history still was an amazing opportunity. it allowed me to think about america writ large. there's nothing more quintessentially american than understanding how presidents get to shape a country and how countries shape a president. that reminded me always to say, this is a story that is a story that an american historian, who happens to be black american tell. >> it was named the glorious burden. i think it would be easy to name that now. -- >> i will tell you the true story. it sounds wonderful. i glorious burden. i had a researcher and we were struggling to figure out the name of this.
i said, find something that jefferson said. you can always count on jefferson. says, jefferson said, the american presidency is a glorious burden bring it i'm recalling the secretary, we got the title. at 10:00 that night, the kid calls me and says, i screwed up. jefferson did not say it. [laughter] >> whoa, whoa, whoa. he is on the phone to my crying. i am crying. i decided we would go and tell the truth. notion of the burden of being president was much like the president -- burden of being a museum director. able to doge to be something that matters, that gets to shape the way a country views itself, that is what a good president does.
that is what a good leader does. monti bunch, elected as the 14th secretary of the smithsonian earlier this week. you can watch that entire program and others with mr. bunch by searching his name on our website, c-span.org/history. this is american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. tv productshistory are available at the new c-span online store. c-spanstore.org. i my name is jared frederick, am an instructor of history at penn state, and i am a reenactor with the furious fourth world war ii history group. we aree