tv QA Ted Widmer CSPAN November 25, 2018 8:00pm-9:01pm EST
he is often forgotten. his presidency was only four years. there were bigger personalities before and after. but i argue that he was a pretty important guy. his presidency was not a big success. but he read shaped the political landscape around him. he led an interesting life. host: why did you begin in sorrento, italy? that is where he went to write his biography. presidents did not do that then. but now it is almost required by law. set ofu write a long memoirs. he was the first one to do that. he went to a foreign country.
gather his thoughts about his long career in office at many levels. he never actually finished the autobiography. he wrote a lot but he did not wrap it up. it did not come out until 1919. a time when pretty much everyone forgot who he was. i thought that was interesting. country toa foreign remember all that happened to him. what impact did it have on him if any that his father was a tavern owner? mr. widmer: i think a lot. in later american history it became very desirable to have a difficult upbringing. it proves that you overcame obstacles. but most of the early presidents were pretty comfortably raised in wealthy circumstances. he was not.
he grew up in a crowded tavern in upstate new york. york.hook, new they were ethnically different from earlier american presidents. he was a dutch-american. he spoke dutch before he spoke english. for all of these reasons i found him an interesting, new character in our political story. host: how long did he live in tenderhook? mr. widmer: he lived there his entire childhood. he went away to some school but he did not go to college. he was in hudson, new york, briefly. ande rose and stature became a more successful lawyer
at the very early age he ran for local office. he began to spend significant time in albany. then he followed all the steps of an ambitious person. he went to new york. and ultimately to washington where he was secretary of state, vice president, and finally president. host: where did he meet his wife? . mr. widmer: in his hometown. she was his second cousin. it was a tradition in the van buren family to meet someone who was close to you and make that person your spouse. she died. so he was a widower. which was another way he was different from his predecessors. host: how young was he when they got married? mr. widmer: 25.
host: what was the relationship between his boys and him for the rest of his life? mr. widmer: very close. his oldest son, abraham, was married to a woman named an who became the acting first lady during his presidency. there was a feeling of young people and conviviality during his presidency that was also interesting. he is not that young but he has the strapping young sons around. , wasf them, john van buren a political talent in his own way in the 1840's. later in martin van buren's career, he gets pulled toward anti-slavery. that is a crucial point in all of his career.
where do you stand on slavery? the 20 different pressure points inside of that topic. he was always trying to manage the division between north and south. for most of his career he did it pretty well. but his career began to fall apart as the compromises fell apart. an ardentohn, was anti-slavery politician and pulled his father with him. i found that moving. host: describe him. what did he look like? he?big was the -- mr. widmer: he was not a tall man. most of the early presidents were quite tall. washington struck his peers as a giant. madison was short. tall -- monroe was
tall. 5'6". van buren was he had a couple of enormous sideburns. they were not yet called sideburns. after a civild war general. funny a site -- slightly looking guy with a lot of facial hair going on. a kind of plump body. he did not fit the conventional idea of what a president looks like. host: you said he was quite a dresser? mr. widmer: he was a very sharp dresser. that story, like so many in my research, seemed telling. as a young man, he grew up pretty impoverished in the household of his father, the tavern keeper.
but he was able to apprentice to a wealthier lawyer in his hometown. after his first day of work, the for noteprimanded him looking quite as good as he should. the next day, martin van buren showed up impeccably dressed, wearing the same outfit the lawyer had been wearing the day before. he kept of his career, a very careful eye on his appearance. the reason it is telling and somewhat moving is he was trying to keep up with people who had more advantages than he did. him tolater used against withering effect during his when he was becoming unpopular for a few different reasons. it was a tough economy.
of 1830 seven hits almost immediately after he becomes president. and this growing sectional divide over slavery. he iss best that appearance began to strike his enemies as a vulnerability. there was an incredibly harsh speech on the floor of congress in 1840 denouncing martin van buren for his fast eddie is appearance. had just asked for an appropriation from congress to do some landscaping of the white house grounds. it needed it. but he had asked for fancy flowers to be planted and undulating hills for the flowers to be planted on. and a congressman from pennsylvania took into town. reading features of the bill and
comparing the fancy new names for flowers with the fancy way that martin van buren looked. in a time of depression it was a pretty effective attack. host: what was his personality like? mr. widmer: relaxed, easy-going. even in hard political conversations he would keep his temper. andrew jackson, who was president when martin van buren was vice president, was in many ways his mentor. they each mentor each other in some ways. jackson was famous for going off the handle all the time. van buren smoothed the edges of jackson. he had good relationships around washington. wasrd often linked to him imperturbable. he seems like he could not be riled up.
at the time of a growing debate over slavery, that was an accomplishment in itself. host: how was he elected to the senate from new york? mr. widmer: he was a very interesting political tactician. inalways was interested extending suffrage. suffrage was not nearly as widespread in our earliest history as we might think. go back to theo times of the founding fathers to improve our democracy, but in fact a lot of people could not vote in those early decades because they did not own enough land or they did not have enough wealth. to buren was always open more suffrage. there were interesting questions about race connected to this. he wanted almost any white male to be able to vote no matter how much money he had.
that was somewhat radical for the time. most of those people then voted for him. those were his people throughout his career. lower middle class. they were always behind him. especially in the north. but hepted blacks voting attached a property requirement to it. which made it very difficult for most african voters to be eligible. but still in theory they could vote. according to the rules he was introducing. which was not possible in the south. he was in some ways and .dvocates for racial progress you say in his main speech in the senate he almost had a nervous breakdown? mr. widmer: he did.
comfortable. successes.e the when he had to stand in congress and make his first speech, he fell apart. he came back later and made plenty of speeches that were perfectly fine. his inaugural address as president was perfectly fine. would remember his speeches for especially vivid turns of phrase. his writing could be ok at times. his correspondence could be direct. he had a sharp eye for politics. he could describe things quickly and memorably. host: who was john calhoun and what was his relationship with martin van buren? mr. widmer: calhoun is a very important senator. one of the most important senators in our history. from south carolina.
he was an early nationalist. that is not always remembered. but in the time of the war of 1812, he was ardently for the defense of the united states against england. for war measures he strengthens the national government. he was for a unified approach. westlaw off, and fighting together against this common enemy. but beginning in the early and's he changes a lot becomes the most prominent defender of states right. he is the beginning of a model that we see throughout history of very strong southern senators with a lot of seniority who do not like the federal government telling them what to do. race was connected to a lot of his feelings.
he was an extremely strong defender of slavery. more and more over the course of his life. and he wanted to be president. a lot of people thought he would be. he was a formidable intellect. school.one to yale law in northern school even though he was a southerner. he could debate anyone. he could write well and speak well. but he was increasingly being pulled by his own demons and by the demons of the south toward an extremely rigid proslavery stance. was finding himself near the top of our political system in the late 1820's, he found martin van buren blocking his way. a lotrivalry holds and it
of the seeds of the civil war coming. it is still a long ways away but van buren is a northerner and calhoun is a southerner and they just irritate each other. host: where they in the same party? mr. widmer: that helps to form the democratic party in the middle of the 1820's. historians sometimes get jefferson the credit for founding the democratic party. but what jefferson had founded had turned into kind of a nonparty in the 1820's. the old federalist party had mostly disappeared. there really was not a two-party system anymore. after the controversial election of 1824, it leads to congress anointing john quincy adams as president. some new people get together to start a new party. van buren is really the leader of that.
so i call him the inventor of the modern democratic party. him and calhoun our allies at that point. both decided that andrew jackson, who won the popular vote in 1824 but did not could the presidency, that he is the perfect horse for them to bet on for the next campaign. pool their resources and formed the modern democratic party around jackson. -- calhounecomes vice presidentst for jackson. but they did not get along. jackson, who grew up in tough circumstances of his own, sees in van buren a kind of kindred spirit and begins to direct his attention to van buren.
selects him to be his second vice president and ultimately his successor. calhoun loses all of those early struggles and is furious for a long time. the story of calhoun depriving van buren of being ministered to england? mr. widmer: after they got into all these arguments, including a very bitter one over a woman in washington named peggy eaton, light ofed a kind of of prcuity -- life omiscuity. of thef the wives cabinet members, really started to look down their noses at this woman. and banish her from their social events.
van. , who was a widower and who grew up in a tavern, sought no reason to disapprove of her. he invited her to socialize with him. which she did. and this kind of social rupture happened in washington. divideds cabinet was into the people who would talk to this woman and the people who would not. jackson's wife had just died before he became president. some felt that one of the reason veryied was that she was happy with press accounts of their possibly adulterous marriage. they might've gotten married before she was legally free to get married. so jackson was in no mood to tolerate social disapproval. especially toward a woman. so he sided with van buren.
van buren resigned as secretary of state. then he was nominated to be minister to england. "minister" was the word we use back then instead of ambassador. said that voting against him for that position would kill him. that was supposed to be the end of van buren's career. ed. the opposite happen he came back stronger than ever. as vice president. calvin was very angry for a long time. a lot of the growing debate around slavery was tied up in these personal aspirations. host: you say in the book that
there were 17 million people in the united states. there were 13 slave states and 13 free states? mr. widmer: yes. it was balanced for a long time. that is what expansion into the west is so crucial. it really was the undoing of the union. disagreements over how slavery would expand west. there is an intense anxiety over texas. independentn republic just before van buren becomes president. of southerners, including calhoun, one texas to come in as a slave state. texas is so big it could in theory be five slave states. there was a feeling that they might inundate the senate.
five states, 10 votes. there are also a lot of protections for the southern way of life built into the constitution. the 3/5ths clause. this was gamesmanship by calhoun. they already had most of the supreme court justices. a lot of the officers who worked in the senate and house were southerners. the north was starting to feel some resentment. the north is gaining every 10 years. the census is counting how many people live in the north. the number of free and slave states might stay the same but the population is growing very rapidly in the north. van buren is aware of that. calhoun is aware of that. they are all try to figure out how to translate this into political power. than beer and has some good
moments when he figures it out has some good moments when he figures it out better than calhoun. calhoun tried to bring texas and to make van buren look ineffectual. the rivalry between these two very intelligent man is a fascinating feature of american life for 30 years. host: where did you grow up? mr. widmer: providence, rhode island. host: what were your parents doing? mr. widmer: they were both academics. they taught chinese and russian history. they taught at universities in new england. i grew up around books, but they were mostly in languages i could not read.
when i was eight years old i came on a train with my dad to washington. it was a sleeper car. you cannot do that anymore from providence. but i caps on in the evening and walk upright across the street from union station. i walked into statuary hall. which you could do back then without in the security guards. it was an immersion into american history. host: how did you pursue being a historian. kind of a: it's boring answer, but i always had access to good libraries. there were good city and town libraries and the communities i lived in. we spent a summer in middlebury, vermont. which has a good language institute. i got my first public library card there. i am a big fan of public
libraries. to elementary schools and high schools and universities with great libraries. providence has a small, independent library. and has a lot of 19th-century books in it.-- i am a fan of stack access. stack and walk into a touch a book from 1850, that is a big feeling. i always wanted to do a book on lincoln. this was kind of a preparatory one. i talk about lincoln a couple of times in this book. working on a book about lincoln and his two week train trip to west -- washington to become president. how many years did you
spend at harvard and how many different degrees of you get there? -- in? did you get him mr. widmer: i'm not sure how i got in. i'm not sure i would get in now. both of my parents i graduate degrees from harvard. i was a very hard-working student in high school. i think all of that helped. i went there for four years of undergrad and eight years of grad school. after i got the phd, i stayed in taught. it is the kind of place you can get comfortable, maybe even too comfortable. in the summer of 1997, i had an extraordinary opportunity to work for the government.
i had been studying political history for a while. i never quite so myself working in politics. i have volunteered as a young person. i had voted for both republicans and democrats earlier in my life. but in 1997, the clinton white house offered me a job as a speechwriter. so i left harvard. i became a speechwriter for almost four years. it was thrilling to be in washington and see politics in all of its messy glory. i think it helps my history writing, too. sympathy for people , who madeuren mistakes, but was always in the arena fighting hard for what he believed in. foroved the ball forward what's democracy is.
representational government. host: how often did you advise bill clinton on what to read? mr. widmer: he did not need any advice. he was a voracious reader. we would prepare speeches for him but then no one would know what he would say. some of the best parts were when he would speak off-the-cuff. he would mention recent books he had been reading. classics of mid-20th-century history. able to write a book on martin van buren was that arthur m. schlesinger, jr. was around the clinton white house. to speeches.d i met him and he was a hero of
mine. aswas a jacksonian historian well as a historian of 20th-century politics. clinton was famously friends with gabriel garcia marquez and toni morrison. there were a lot of novelists and historians and filmmakers floating around the clinton white house. for someone who had been immersed in books as a grad student, it was interesting to see these living libraries walking by. host: after you did speechwriting for bill clinton, what did you do after that? mr. widmer: a lot of different things. but always close to colleges and libraries and politics. a number of years at washington college in
maryland. a very old college. i started a new center for american history and politics. and experiential approach to studying history. the classroom of and meeting practitioners, people leading interesting lives. we had some really exciting programs bringing in foreign students to learn about our history. study african to morecan history as well as familiar history of the small maryland town. you created a george 2005.gton prize in chrenow.it to ron
mr. widmer: i am glad you mentioned that. washington college was very proud of its association with george washington. he had given the money to found the college. so starting that prize was really fun. vernon.ven at mount that was an exciting time because hamilton was so obviously a breakthrough book. well before we became -- it became what we all know now, a thrilling broadway musical. that a the feeling founding father can rise a lot and currency. our past is set in stone.
they rise up and down in reputation. as you know, because you are so generous to us who write political biographies because he bring us on our show -- your show. hamilton was somewhat forgotten. he died young. but he roared back to life. thanks to a single book. that night was wonderful. abouted a lot with ron why he wrote that book. i still cannot get tickets to the show, if he is watching right now. host: how did martin van buren gets chosen to be vice president and how did he elect -- get elected president? who did he run against? mr. widmer: he was in politics young enough that he saw hamilton and action.
he was smart and ambitious. he was drifting down the hudson river to new york city to see if he could get a future career there. he saw hamilton speak a number of times. he became friends with one of hamilton's sons. and told him out impressive his father was. he spent a lot of time with ehrenberg -- aaron burr. martinere even rumors van buren that may have been the illegitimate son of aaron burr. no one will ever know. john quincy adams once wrote in thatartin van buren diary looked a lot like burr. and ask a lot like him. he is always trying to organize
factions and get southerners and northerners and political alliances. that is how you build a political party. you can call it sneaky or party building. also met jefferson and the 1820's when he started to think of a great national party. he went to monticello and strategized with his hero over a couple of days. he loved visiting jefferson. he used his time in the senate to meet a lot of people from different regions. especially.nians that was where the idea of the modern democratic party began. a new york-virginia alliance. ,an buren pulls in new york which has a ton of electoral votes.
if you want to win the election you need new york. this is how the new party is going to work. they pick andrew jackson as their candidate. jackson wins. he is grateful to van buren. and after all of the social turmoil in the first jackson administration, jackson orchestrates the nomination of van buren as his vice president. at that point, calhoun is out. van buren is an. he is very useful to jackson. they are a real alliance. see eye-to-eye. they form a philosophy of government. the democratic approach to government.
which is about opening up the electorate. letting the poorer people vote. distributing benefits to them. whereng special privilege they can find it, like the bank of the united states. jackson decides that he does not like it and refuses to renew its charter. than beer and supports that. supports that. there is an important detail that strikes down a road building project in kentucky. the two of them are really integral to each other's success. but when he is on his own, it is harder for van buren. host: how significant was the panic of 1837? mr. widmer: huge.
it wiped out all the good feeling of his early weeks as president. almost from the day he became president, there are tremors in the air and in the entire commercial system. collapsed in a way we had not seen to that extent. there had been tremors earlier. the panic of 1819. one.his was the worst it shook cities, especially. a lot of new banks had been created. there was not tremendous oversight of them. their savings all just flew out the door. their investors lost all their money. a lot of american confidence flew out the window. a lot of people were investing in western lands without going
there. there was rampant real estate speculation. it took a long time to get the economy going. a lot of unemployment. financial misery in new york city. the beginnings of what we will see in the great depression. food lines and people starving on the streets. a very hard time. host: how long did it last? mr. widmer: basically the entire four years of his presidency. hitch ride to get through some financial relief. he called special sessions of congress. he proposed a pretty radical thencial reform, including isependence treasury, which a kind of early version of the federal reserve system of pulling federal money out of local banks and creating federal holding areas.
it was slow in coming. clunky. it did not have an immediate impact. he was very weak politically. won by that much. he was not as charismatic as andrew jackson. when the panic hit, he lost support in the north and south. at the same time, the argue over slavery was becoming more bitter. there had been consensus to not let it out of hand. but when financial misery set in, it opened up the floodgates for a new kind of anger in the slavery debate. presidency.d his what specifically happened with the slavery issue? as i found in this book, a lot.
there was always a southern mistrust of van buren. the south up that they owned the presidency. it mostly had, for the most 50 years of american history. handsome, virginia on theave owners who w south pretty easily and formed friendships with strategic northerners. that system prevailed for a long time. van buren is not that kind of person. he does not look like them. he has the strange foreign thing in his background. he is dutch speaking. he is lower-class. that is why the south does not trust him. he had tried to assure the south that he was solid on slavery. so in certain ways, he was opposed to letting the u.s. mail
distribute anti-slavery mailings. that was a hot button issue of the mid-1830's. can a northern anti-slavery group send a pamphlet to the south? nowadays we would say anything nowadays we would say anything to go in the mail. but back then it was important that the south say no. vanburen agreed with that. he called it the gag rule. in other ways, van buren went away -- along with the southern way of doing politics. he promised in his inaugural address he would never touch the existence of slavery in the district of columbia which was becoming an embarrassment. was proud ofates
its role as a role model for democracy around the world. a lot of english travelers were coming to washington and horroring with four -- the existence of slavery. northerners thought more and more that we have to take some steps to get rid of this. heburen promised the south would not allow any steps. was thegural address first time the word slavery was used in an inaugural address. but in another way, he worked with northerners to show that he heard what they were thinking. he was not entirely with the south. when texas becomes independent from mexico, it wants to come into the u.s..
the south wanted to come into the u.s. they want those extra senators. he says no. it is too controversial. we do not want texas in the united states. he kept it out during the presidency. which took some courage. 1840, he triesin to come back in 1844. host: when you go back to that era and you talk about slavery and blacks could not vote, women could not vote, even all white men could not vote, equates that with what was in the constitution about equality and freedom. it appears that very few people have that. is widmer: the constitution written by mostly wealthy white landowners. host: the language is all right
but they did not apply to people back then. what was the attitude of everybody who was not a white male? the attitude was generally one of acceptance based on a long history of going along with that philosophy. there were not too many places on earthwork were people of different races could vote. there basically were not thinning. that was largely true for women as well. buren was ok with black people voting of they owned enough land to meet a requirement. most could not. the declaration is more hopeful than the constitution. we do not have one founding document, we have several. we have a declaration of
independence that says in no uncertain terms that all men are created equal. that language implies that all people are created equal. there was a lot of enlightenment andking that went into that followed it that suggested the u.s. was trying very hard to begin a new experiment in enlightened self-government. in which all people have a stake in their political government. the constitution is a little more rigid. it has hopeful moments, including the bill of rights. amendment which strongly implies that all people maybe not a vote, but they say in these topics. throughout our history, we have had the implied power that if we work hard enough to improve our system, political power will eventually flow to all of us.
i think van buren was a visionary of sorts. he is not perfect. his flaws are as interesting as his virtues. but he opened up suffrage to a lot of people. in his home state, huge numbers of voters got the boat because of him. and they stayed with him his whole career. and then he applied that logic to the country at large. host: how big did he lose in 1840? mr. widmer: pretty big. ? who beat him? mr. widmer: william henry harrison. a war hero from indiana. he basically never said a word. which was good politics back then. vanburen campaigns for reelection. he wanted it. he was out there giving speeches
hoping to be reelected. but he is become unpopular with the panic and the growing nervousness over slavery. harrison was a charismatic war hero. a brilliant strategy was created by political handlers around him that included slogans, toys, trinkets, mass-produced objects like whiskey bottles in the shape of a log cabin. because he was supposed to have been born in a log cabin. lincoln would. later use that to slogans like too."canoe and tyler there were terrific songs from that election. out-van burened.
they made fun of him. there were songs that made fun of them. up man.", he's a used songs that made fun of how he looked. questioned if he was a man or woman. did he wear a corset? there was a lot of the true all and he came up on the losing end. independence hall became a clothing store? is set to true story? mr. widmer: yes it is. holla --nce all --
hall has been many things. it once was an art museum. of natural history museum. smithsonian. i was doing some recent research on independence hall for the book about lincoln that i am finishing up. jail for, it was a african-americans in the 1850's after the fugitive slave law was passed. african americans were expected running away from slavery could be arrested and put in holding pens on the second floor forndependence hall re-exports back to southern plantations.
all of our contradictions, all of our greatness as a people and our shortcomings as a people have been on display in that one building. host: talk some about what you are doing now full-time. distinguishedam a visiting lecturer at the city university of new york. i am in a place martin van buren would recognize. a lot of hard-working young people who see education as a great way to advance their own careers and expand their horizons in every sense. it is a wonderful place to teach. i am more of a teacher than i have been in a long time. i neglected to mention earlier that i was director of a couple of libraries in my career. i did that and i loved books and libraries. -- loveally thought teaching. work for long did you
hillary clinton and how disappointing was it when she lost? mr. widmer: i did not work on her campaign. i was surprised. like everyone i thought she would went pretty easily. polls were not even that close. i was living in washington when the election happens. i was working at the library of congress. i respect that your show is pretty nonpartisan. so i should not go there. but i was a democrat and i voted for her and i thought she would .ent -- win helped usorians have alexis dew
tocqueville. these are his words. " a native of the united states clings to this world's goods as if he were certain to never die. he is grasping all within his reach. suppose he is constantly afraid of not living long enough to enjoy them. he holds nothing fast but soon loosened his grip to pursue new gratifications. garden and lets it just as the leaves are coming into bearing. he brings a field into telling and leaves no other men together the crops. he embraces a profession and the
moves on." why did this passage get your attention? tocqueville. love it is important for americans to remember that he pointed out our flaws as well as our strengths. he loved our strengths. he admired our democracy. more insightfully than anyone had to that point and maybe even ever than anyone has since. but he did see problems. and they are still with us. we are not good at sustaining attention. we get distracted. in that passage she is saying that we are just so obsessed with our possessions. having the nicest house. having shiny objects. having a second house.
he would have totally understood the two car and three-car garage. he saw some danger in that. because what works is our fraternal values. that is not a word you hear that often. "fraternity." the way we look out for each other. cited whenword often eville.s to tocqu "individualism." he might've been the first one to say that. he loved our institutions. in small towns.
what really has always come to our rescue is when we think in a united way. when we are not just all about number one. england freed its slaves across the empire in 1833. mexico abolished slavery in 1829. when did we? mr. widmer: not until the emancipation proclamation. but that was imperfect. it did not apply to the south. host: why were they ahead of us? mr. widmer: because we had a proslavery bloc that controlled congress. it seceded. it took the civil war and great loss of blood and treasure.
the mexican war was not a big triumph. it was pre-introducing slavery into a lot of a country that had got its act together in the limited to slavery. host: this is not a new book. you wrote this back in 2005. what did you think of martin van buren? mr. widmer: i liked him a lot more than i would expect. i did not really seek this assignment. i'm not sure anyone would seek it. you are not going to get the big numbers writing about martin van buren. but i respected arthur m. schlesinger, jr. vanhe liked and beer and --
buren. ren inis a lot of van bu his book about jackson. buren's failure was interesting. his success was a good thing. but his failure was interesting. on his renomination views on slavery and about the panic. he got more anti-slavery throughout his career. a might have come back for second term later in his life but he refused to surrender some principles on slavery. he is an interesting example of a former president getting even more interesting. we have seen that. a lot of former president remaining true to their conscience.
going out on a limb on principle topics. he is an early example of someone like that. all the way to the and he is interesting. i don't think you can find a president who isn't interesting. host: thank you for helping us with our series of presidents. ons is from the time series all of the presidents. you.idmer: thank ♪ for free transcripts are to give us your comments on this program, visit us at q >> for free transcripts or to give us comments about this program, visit us at q&a.org.
they are also available as c-span podcasts. >> the week ahead in congress. the center for strategic international studies and defense a jet analysis director todd harrison will talk about the pentagon failing its first ever comprehensive audit. watch washington journal live at 7:00 eastern. join the discussion. monday, the center for international studies hosted a series of discussions with andtary leaders on air
missile defense systems. live coverage beginning at 1:00 eastern. when the new congress starts in january there will be 100 new house and senate members. the democrats will control the house, the republicans the senate. new congress, new leaders. watch the process unfold on c-span. >> theresa may takes questions from the house of commons. then, an interview with bob corker. at 11:00, another chance to see q&a with ted widmer on his biography of martin van buren. earlier today, european leaders announced an agreement on the uk's exit from the european union. approved byl be brh