tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg March 16, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
change the way you experience tv with x1 from xfinity. >> from our studios this charlie rose. charlie: you are one of the biographers of people who have shaped this country, not just politicians, but business people as well. what brought you to hamilton? >> it seems comical now but at time i started writing on him he was the neglected and misunderstood founding father who seemed to be fading into historical and security --
obscurity. which seems strange knowing his name is on the marquis of the broadway show. i thought he was far and away the most dramatic story of the founding fathers. he was the only one not born in the original 13 colonies, the story of a penniless, orphaned, immigrant kid who comes out of nowhere and sets the world on fire and his achievements were monumental. charlie: before his achievements he came out of nowhere, where is nowhere? >> he spent his adolescence on st. croix and he had this ghastly, dickensian childhood. his father left at 11, his mother died when he was 13 and he was farmed out to a first
cousin who committed suicide a year later and he was working as an impoverished clerk in st. croix when the hurricane hit the island. he published a description of it in the local paper that was brilliant. they realized they had a prodigy among the pentagon the collection to go to north america. he came to north america and did not know a soul. he came with a few letters of introduction. charlie: he was very smart? >> alexander hamilton was one who radiated genius. it became clear he was one of the most remarkable people you are ever met. so he came to north america and goes to a preparatory school in new jersey and ends up going to king's college and he immediately acquires a whole series of powerful patrons. people seemed to instantly recognize the genus in this young man. he had tremendous energy, charm and ambition and immediately begins to soar in this new world but he did not know a soul when he came here. charlie: who did he meet?
>> he met wade livingston and when the revolution broke down, alexander mcdougall. these generals immediately try to recruit hamilton to their staff, but hamilton knew that postwar glory would not go to the who had written the most beautiful letters during the war but the person who was a battlefield hero. when washington asked him to be aid de camp, that was an offer he couldn't turn down. charlie: he knew that that could give him battlefield command? hime knew it could give respect, but hamilton was chafing during the revolutionary war because he would like his own command. charlie: washington needed him? >> washington needed someone more to write letters than fight battles. washington had 14 political
masters, he had to answer to the continental congress, but also to 13 state governors so he had immense correspondence. hamilton was completely fluent in french, and he was not only handling the correspondence and in english but also french. charlie: as a biographer he is easy to write about because he wrote so much? >> he wrote so much and because alexander hamilton was a human word machine. he never lived to see the age of 50 but he left behind a 32 volume of books. his editor at columbia university press shows he wanted to dedicate the volume to aronnberg -- a burg. charlie: he did not write about his youth? >> no, this is interesting because he was probably the most
verbal person in our history and wrote at length about everything under the sun but he never wrote a single line about his years in the caribbean which constituted the first third of his life. he really tried to slam the door shut on this dickensian childhood and to re-create himself in a new light. but you pay a price when you try do that, try to bury all of this unpleasant stuff from the past. charlie: what price did he pay? >> i think that for all of his brilliance, he often had terrible judgment. he made some brilliant blunders in his life particularly entering into this completely misguided affair with mariah reynolds. he metsummer of 1791 this alluring, 23-year-old woman named mariah reynolds who spilled out this pathetic story how she had been abandoned by
her husband who had taken up with another woman and asked hamilton for money. hamilton said he would bring money to her that night and i would like to read to you from the pamphlet he later wrote about it what happened. he said in the evening, i put a bank bill my pocket, and inquired for mrs. reynolds and was shown upstairs. she met me and conducted me into a bedroom. i took the bill from my pocket and gave it to her. some conversation ensued that was quickly apparent other consolation would be acceptable. they had away with words in the 18th century. that was the start of the infamous reynolds scandal. not long after, his wife took the children to albany to stay in the schuyler mansion and hamilton started bringing ryan reynolds into the house. -- mariah reynolds into the
house. philadelphia the town of only 35,000 to 40,000 people. hamilton was the treasury secretary, the most powerful man in america, and in this little town he was going back and forth between his house and her rooming house, and he was having this affair. it was extraordinarily reckless. charlie: why was he so reckless? >> i think there had to have been an element of sexual compulsion. very quickly, who appears other than james reynolds but far from ending the affair with his wife he starts to blackmail hamilton. and hamilton pays. this goes on for years until he could finally wean himself from relationship. gradually word got out among the jeffersonians what was going on. they misunderstood it at first because they became aware that hamilton was making payments to
mr. james reynolds. they were convinced that hamilton was corrupt, which he was not so they said, he is paying money to james reynolds who is secretly speculating in treasury securities. inside information from tunnelton that hamilton, which is why he created this 95 page pamphlet and said, the charge against me is in connection with one james reynolds for improper speculation. my real crime is an amorous connection with his wife for considerable time with his knowledge. hamilton must have expected that as soon as james reynolds appeared and started to blackmail him that he was risking his marriage and his career and everything. the affair was not revealed in the press until five years after the fact. charlie: he knew what he was
dealing with. a woman who was a prostitute. >> a prostitute who must have been extraordinarily alluring. hamilton made the statement, the variety of shapes this woman could assume -- apparently she was quite an actress and every time he talked about ending the relationship she would fly into hysterics. hamilton does say in the reynolds pamphlet that he thought her affection for him to have been genuine, at least one part of her. charlie: so he thought she had become genuinely attracted to him and was not just pecuniary . >> he admitted this appeal to his vanity so he deceived himself that there might be some love involved and at one point he said that he decided on a gradual discontinuance of the affair. as we all know, anyone who has
an addiction, that this becomes a cover story for further indulgence. charlie: was this the only affair of his life? >> the only one we are certain of. there was a lot of speculation that hamilton may have had an affair with his sister-in-law angelica skyler who was extremely beautiful, elegant, and sophisticated but we don't have any definite proof and i am somewhat doubtful of it simply because angelico was extremely close with his sister eliza. the entire skyler family adored alexander hamilton. if they felt he was having an affair with eliza's sister, they would not have. charlie: this is a pamphlet of some 900 pages. is this a way that people communicated? >> this is a highly verbal era.
if you were a politician you were expected to write essays and pamphlets were almost the preferred form of political warfare. hamilton would have felt very comfortable publishing this in a pamphlet forum. this was a literate generation of politicians. charlie: it's his observations on certain documents contained in the history of the united 1796, inr the year which the charge of speculation against alexander hamilton, late secretary to treasury is fully reputed, written by himself. 1797. >> you know why he put that, written by himself, because most of the writing he did in the press was anonymous. this was a novelty, and i think he knew the impact that would have. he was not hiding behind a roman pseudonym, he was saying i can
alexander hamilton, am publishing the statement. it added power. charlie: he had an interesting statement in the island because he saw slavery firsthand. >> every year they would import 200-300 slaves from west africa and slavery was particularly brutal in the caribbean. when slaves arrived on the sugar islands, the life expectancy was only three to five years. it turned hamilton into an abolitionist during the revolutionary war. he championed a plan to free any slaves willing to pick up a musket for the continental cause, than after the war he joined the abolitionist society in new york and it all goes back to that experience. charlie: but he saw the pirates hanged in the town square? >> absolutely. and he saw what happened to slaves that ran away, he would
see their hands cut off. it was a terrible experience. charlie: he wrote his way off the island? >> absolutely. he wrote his way off the island through this brilliant letter that he published about the hurricane and then he came to north america armed with a few letters of introduction to powerful people. hamilton was so impressive. he sparkled in person. he was verbal, charming, he sparkled in print. he was like a mount vesuvius of words. he was spouting words all the time. charlie: smart words. observations on everything. opinions on everything. >> he came to north america. he did not have a title, he did not have slaves and had no claim to fame. the one thing he had was this top-notch brain.
he had this magical facility with language that he used at every point in his life. charlie: he appreciated the power that he had, the confidence that he had, the brain that he had, the presence that he had, and it gave him confidence, even to the point of taking risks? >> he had an almost overweening confidence and sometimes took dangerous gambles as was the case with the affair of mariah reynolds, but i think this entire life of these monumental achievements was all built on a very fragile psychological base that there was an underlying insecurity about him. he had had such an abnormal childhood. he was also illegitimate. one cannot overstate what the stigma was in the 18th century to being illegitimate. and whenever anyone accused hamilton of being illegitimate, he went berserk. in spite of this great show of confidence, under the surface i
think he was a troubled and insecure individual. charlie: you mentioned george washington, but also aaron buur became a part of his life and thomas jefferson as well. because almost eerie aaron burr and hamilton had these parallel lives. burr was probably the first friend that hamilton made. aaron burr tried to get a job in washington's staff but didn't. hamilton did. future.at previewed the they both worked on wall street after the war as lawyers. charlie: same firm? >> no. there were several cases they worked and argued opposing each other, but they were considered the two bright young lawyers in new york. charlie: different in many ways. >> hamilton was constantly
spouting opinions. he was very principled in politics and policy. aaron burr was someone who played things close to the vest. he was reluctant to commit to any opinion. he was afraid if he went on record with an opinion that someone would come after him. charlie: sounds like modern-day politicians. >> very much like modern-day politicians. hamilton was very outspoken and fearless, and burr was extremely discreet. charlie: hamilton sounds like donald trump. [laughter] that is interesting, because hamilton's enemies thought he was this machiavellian character, but when writing the book i thought the opposite. he could never keep his mouth shut he could never keep his , opinions to himself. his life and his thoughts were really an open book. charlie: they could see everything about him. >> also what he believed in, he believed these things very
deeply and was willing to fight for those things. charlie: did he admire thomas jefferson? >> that is a hard one to say. certainly he admired jefferson as a political philosopher and thinker. charlie: powerful mind. >> as the main author of the declaration of independence. charlie: a writer as well. talent with a pen, great mind. interested in the world around them. >> there was mutual respect but , they instantly clashed. jefferson was a very courtly, soft-spoken virginian. jefferson did not like confrontation. hamilton loved confrontation. hammond had a real -- hamilton had a zest for political combat with thomas jefferson, if you said something that disagreed with his politics, he wouldn't challenge you on it, he would just make a mental note, record it in his diary and get back at you later. alexander hamilton would immediately confront you.
he loved to debate. i think the split between jefferson and hamilton really is on the one hand a political split, a debate we are still having. jefferson represented weak central government, low taxes, states rights, strict interpretation of the constitution. hamilton represented strong government and liberal interpretation of the constitution. charlie: and a bit of urban, rural as well. >> absolutely. jefferson foresaw an american that would have traditional agriculture. hamilton foresaw the country that would have traditional agriculture, but banks, corporations, stock markets, manufacturing -- a country that looks very much like the country we have today. it was hamilton who was the prophet of america's future rather than jefferson when it came to the economy. ♪
♪ charlie: what was washington's observation of both of them? >> washington really saw very quickly that they had opposing views. washington did not want to have monolithic ideas in his cabinet. he actually favored the interplay of ideas. he had extraordinary admiration for jefferson and hamilton. charlie: thought they were both necessary. >> thought they were both
necessary and was slow to realize just how deep and bitter the animosity between them came. he was quite startled when he realized. it became almost pathological, the infighting between these two men. he appealed to both men to be civilized in the way they are treating each other, but by that point things had gone beyond. charlie: a snapshot of age. we are talking about people who are, at what age? washington? >> washington was a good 20 years older than hamilton. jefferson was 12 years older than hamilton. charlie: he was very young. >> hamilton was the boy wonder of the american revolution. he was 22 when he became washington's aide de camp and effectively chief of staff. he was only 34 years old when he
became the treasury secretary. and hamilton's treasury department with his customs inspectors and revenue departments was much larger than the rest of the government combined. henry knox started the war department with a dozen people. jefferson started the state department with half a dozen people. hamilton started with hundreds of people. the country was bankrupt and we had to collect revenues. that is why hamilton was more like the prime minister than merely a treasury secretary. charlie: was his ambition to be president? >> i think his ambition was certainly to be president. a lot of people imagine because he was foreign-born that he could not be, but the constitution says you have to be 35 years old, nativeborn, or a citizen of the united states for at least 14 years at the time of the ratification of the constitution. hamilton, coincidental or not, had been here for 15 years. he could have been president.
it was the one prize he did not get. charlie: do you believe these men thought of themselves as immortal? that they thought and understood that they were historic characters? >> i think absolutely they did. it was very interesting because i wrote a biography of george washington and washington, when he was complaining to the continental congress that he needs more manpower and money, he gets a special appropriation to hire a set of secretaries to create a beautiful addition of his wartime papers. when it is over, at great expense, he buys these large trunks to ship the papers back to mount vernon. he did not let them travel by water. he knew his place in history. they were very aware that they were making history. charlie: at the same time, he had some sense that he should give it up after two terms? >> washington, when he became president, he thought he would serve for a year or two than resign.
establish the validity of the new government, and then move on both then there was one crisis after another. charlie: does that mean washington did not have the ambition? >> he was ambitious, but he felt he had already sacrificed so much of his life to the cause. during the 8.5 years of the revolutionary war he only saw mount vernon once. charlie: did everybody know about hamilton's affair? >> gradually the word got out. it was known in jeffersonian circles, but the risks hamilton took were extraordinary. it happened in philadelphia. the population at the time was 35,000 people. hamilton was slipping out in the night, going to block or two away to mrs. reynolds boardinghouse. very often, the wife and children were at the schuyler mansion, he often brought mrs. reynolds into his own house. how could he imagine that he
would not escape detection? it's not like he was in new york or philadelphia today with millions of people. charlie: you said, it is amazing he would not have been more careful, knowing the enemies he had, and the tenor of the time he lived in where people would eviscerate you if they had an opportunity. >> we tend to think that the press is rough today, that the style is rough and tumble. nowhere near where it was then. the reynolds affair was revealed by a jeffersonian hitman in 1797. five years later when he wanted to get a postmaster job from jefferson, and jefferson rebuffed him, he turned around and revealed jefferson's relationship with sally hemmings. everything was fair game in those days. there is a certain image that americans have that there was a
golden age, the people wore wigs and buckled shoes. that everyone was courtly and genteel. it was not like that at all. these men were passionate and argumentative. they were insanely in opinionated. charlie: then there is a duel. this long relationship with aaron burr. how could that happen? >> it is hard for people to understand the cult of dueling. it was protecting your honor. alexander hamilton felt that he had been born into dis-honor as a illegitimate child. he was a natural convert to this whole dueling culture. the dueling culture was prevalent around politicians and soldiers. hamilton was a major general by the time of the dual with aaron burr. it is hard for us to understand. charlie: he was general hamilton? >> major general hamilton.
charlie: i appreciate this is a dueling culture and it is about you do not lightly meet the challenge, but here are two men. they are not ordinary politicians, they have a lot to lose. >> they also thought that they had a lot to gain. both burr and hamilton were politicians with their careers in decline. burr was the vice president, but jefferson decided to drop burr from the ticket in 1804. burr came back to new york and tried to become governor, hamilton blocked him. burr was feeling very frustrated. it seemed at every turn, alexander hamilton was blocking his path. hamilton's career was in decline. he had been damaged by the reynolds scandal, he wrote a very vitupuritive letter that
damaged jefferson's reputation. they had careers in decline and thought they would establish their courage on the dueling ground. were tools were -- duels conducted in secret, but the press avidly followed afterward. hamilton no longer believed in dueling. he had developed a principled opposition, but thought that the public still believed in it. that if he spurned burr's challenge, people would consider him a coward, and he would lose his value as a soldier and politician. charlie: his son was dead at that point? >> his son had died in a duel in new jersey 2.5 years earlier. that was one of the reasons hamilton came to believe they were barbaric, but claimed the public still believed. charlie: who usually won? the person who could shoot straightest? >> think of them as a violent form of conflict resolution.
think of them as the 18th century equivalent of a libel suit. someone slanders you, you would send a friend to try to get an apology or retraction. most of them never went to the dueling ground. even there, the objective was not to kill the other person, because if you did, they could be prosecuted for murder. and burr was denounced as a murderer and charged with murder. the objective on the dueling ground was to wound the person then the second would come out and negotiate a settlement. charlie: you did not shoot to kill. ron: you did not shoot to kill. burr did shoot to kill. whether it was intentional or not, we are not certain. we do know from anecdotal
that aaron burr, unlike alexander hamilton was taking a lot of target practice in the days and weeks leading up to the duel. halton picked up a pistol a few days before and let it drop so hamilton had not fired a weapon since the revolutionary war. charlie: does anything he wrote before suggest strongly or prove that he wasted his shot and shot in the air? >> hamilton's second, nathaniel pendleton said that burr fired first. that hamilton just spasmodically fired the gun. r's second so that hamilton fired first. whoever was right, the one thing that everyone agreed on
including ehrenberg was that hamilton's bullet hit a tree branch four feet wide of burr. they are just standing 10 yards apart. charlie: 10 yards is not very far. >> and so, unless hamilton was wasting a shot the bullet would never have gone up that high. charlie: even spasmodically? one scenario is it he had fire first, and he was wincing from pain. charlie: and if hamilton fired first? >> he would've been wasting a shot, because they actually founded in late tree branch to preserve. becauseinteresting, hamilton founded the "new york post." the editor would come to hamilton's house and hamilton
would dictate editorials. this is the first announcement of hamilton's death. there were no pictures or illustrations. charlie: this is actually "the new york post." it says here as >> it looks a littl >> it is very interesting. it says here as of this writing that alexander hamilton is still alive. but then they say we stopped the press to announce the melancholy knowledge that hamilton is dead. that was the most they could do. charlie: was he known as general hamilton? >> after the war he was often called colonel hamilton which he was. hamilton loved things military. he often was called general hamilton. he became major-general when john adams was president. charlie: what is this?
>> this is a letter from aaron burr. historicallar evidence, but it has great handwriting. charlie: are you admiring of aaron burr? >> no. lynn has more sympathy. he has great dramatic instinct so he presents burr as an opportunist. there are touching moments, there are poignant moments with burr even at the end. i can remember discussing with lynn early on saying to him, you know, lynn, burr can be a
cartoon villain. it will wear very thin. charlie: make him interesting. >> and maybe a little bit more human. charlie: what happened to burr after that? >> burr was charged with murder in two states. new york, and new jersey. he fled for sanctuary to the united states senate because he was still vice president, hence president of the senate. believe it or not, while he was wanted for murder in two states, aaron burr presided over an impeachment trial of the supreme court justice of the u.s. senate. there were a lot of senators who said what is wrong with this picture, the man who is presiding over this trial is wanted for murder into states. he is sitting in judgment of a supreme court justice. charlie: that is the times. >> people think the style of politics is rough these days. nothing there those days. charlie: tuesday that alexander
hamilton was suicidal would be wrong. he expected to survive. >> he expected survive. charlie: he had a lunch date? >> he had a legal appointment not long after the dual. he was still arguing landmark cases. he had a plan to write a series of books on history. he said that series would be to the federalist papers what wine is to water. but i have to say also hamilton was very depressed. his son have been killed in a duel, he had the affair exposed. he wrote not that long before the duel, the shadows grow long around us. he looks very somber and ravaged. i am not saying he was not depressed but i do not think he was suicidal unless on some subconscious level he was. charlie: in the play, the musical, women play an important part. >> absolutely.
very important part. charlie: did they play an important part other than the reynolds affair? >> women were always an important part. the father had abandoned the family, james hamilton was a feckless ne'er-do-well. rachel, was accused of being a whore by her first husband. she was a strong and fiery woman , and a great influence on alexander. you can see from his relationship with his wife eliza and sister-in-law angelica that he needed companionship. he needed different kinds of women. eliza, the good and pure wife, angelica, the worldly and sophisticated. charlie: was angelica the love of his life? >> we don't know. one of the things that i love about the show is that lynn manuel has kept the ambiguity. everyone noticed the fascination between hamilton and the closeness and also eliza was not
interested in politics whereas angelica loves to talk politics. she was much more intellectual. charlie: she was also ambitious. >> she was socially ambitious. there was a way in which she entered much more into his political world. eliza presided over the family life and they ended up having eight children. charlie: here you have a man with all this promise, with this big brain and bigger pen, he is dead at age -- >> by my count 49, others count 47. charlie: did america forget him? his main tell you that political enemies were john adams, thomas jefferson, james madison, james monroe, i will even throw in john quincy adams and adam jackson. what you notice about that list?
charlie: they all became president. >> the quickest road to the white house was to be a political opponent of alexander hamilton. so history is written by the victors. the federalist party disappears in the first quarter of the 19th century. hamilton himself disappears in 1804. the jeffersonians were solidly in charge of american politics in the years leading up to the civil war. of course it was an interpretation of history that tended to be more sympathetic to jefferson and madison and demonized hamilton. ♪ ♪
woman snoring take the roar out of snore. yet another innovation only at a sleep number store. ♪ charlie: his ideas about the strong federal government and an international monetary system, that part prevailed. >> absolutely. he rescued us from bankruptcy. at the time the federal government started federal debt was selling at $.15 of the dollar. by the time hamilton leaves, american credit is as good as any other country in the world. our interest-rates are as low as any other country in the world and so he rescues us from bankruptcy. he creates the first fiscal system, the first monetary system, the first coast guard,
the first customs service, the first central bank, on and on. charlie: his wife, eliza, spends her life, 50 years, trying to make sure people do not forget. ron: eliza has a beautiful couplet. i stopped wasting time on tears, i lived for 50 years. she lived until the age of 97. she spoke out against slavery, she raise money for the washington monument, she gathered his papers, and in this touching moment in 1848, she attended the groundbreaking for the washington monument. in that crowd was eliza hamilton, dolly madison, and a one term congressman named abraham lincoln. you can see the founding generation and the civil war generation.
at that one moment, they meet and touch. charlie: you know your history and you know your presidents and you know your founding fathers. and you are a recorder of the american experience. what do you know about rap music? first -- when i first met them, i was a complete ignoramus about hip-hop and rap and about lynn monroe. he invited me back in late 2008. i found out from a mutual friend that he had read the book and it had made an impression on him. charlie: what was he to you? >> i was vaguely aware of his name that i had not seen the show. i heard that this hip-hop artist seemed interested in my book. charlie: wanted you think? >> i was a little bit skeptical. charlie: you are a pulitzer flies -- pulitzer prize recipient. >> i was a little bit skeptical.
he invited me to a matinee, i went backstage. and i loved the show. i was very charmed by lynn as a person. i said to him, i gather my book native impression on you. > he said i was reading the book on vacation and i was reading, hip-hop songs started rising off the page. i was flabbergasted. he told me he wanted to do an album and maybe his next show would be on hamilton. charlie: he thought hamilton was a rapper. >> yes. i did not see that first as he so brilliantly dead, this secret, subterranean connection between alexander hamilton and the standard hip-hop narrative, people writing their way out of poverty and being combative and everything else. there is something about the speed and intensity and volatility of alexander hamilton's life. it is uncannily right for hip-hop.
i did not know anything about hip-hop. lynn saw all this in a great, blinding flash and he made a believer of me. the very first question that i said, can hip-hop be a good vehicle for telling this kind of story and he said i will educate you about hip-hop. he pointed out some things. you can pack an enormous amount of information in the lyrics. this show has so much history. it is like an advanced basement course in american history. he also pointed out how much wordplay there is, how much internal rhyme there is and the founding era there was a great , linguistic richness. lynn has really captured it. in this idiom that combines standard 18th-century english with 21st century slang. amazing. charlie: when you heard the song? >> he used to send me the songs by e-mail, with a psychedelic
screen and i would just hear him at the keyboard. he came over to my house and he sang the very first song of the show, sat on my living room couch. he started snapping his fingers sang the first song of the show. when he finished he said what do you think and i said that is most extraordinary thing i have heard in my life. you have condensed accurately the first 40 pages of my book into a four and a half minute song. he told me he spent almost a year on the second song on the alexander hamilton song. once he had the style that was the big breakthrough. he made a believer of me very quickly. charlie: what was your role? >> the very first time i met him he asked me to be the historical
advisor. wanted me to tell him when something was an error and he said he wanted the historians to take it seriously. that was music to my ears and i think this show has really good integrity because sometimes when you see american history done by broadway or hollywood they start out by thinking it is boring. lynn is smart enough to know that the best way to dramatize the story is to stick as close to the facts as possible. you cannot improve on this. as time went on we would talk about hamilton's psychology, we were talking about the portraits of the different characters and the relationships. i think i had a good relationship with lynn so i was not like a finger wagging pedant standing there saying this is wrong. charlie: you were more like a sounding board. >> i was a sounding board and also a lifelong theater lover. i would be looking at things not only as a historian but as someone who loves theater. there are so many layers of meaning with this show.
the writing and acting is extraordinary. there is so much happening simultaneously on the stage that the first three times i saw it i was concentrating on the principles and the foreground. as i repeated things i started watching all of these beautiful vignettes that tommy and andy had created in the middle and background and commenting what was going on. i think more than anything that has been done by hollywood or broadway this captures the fire, the energy, the idealism, and the passion of the revolutionary era. charlie: all actors of color. >> this is the extraordinary thing. i remember the first time that lynn invited me to a rehearsal. there were eight actors standing in front of eight music stands and the first thought that went
through my head is that they are all black and latino, what is lynn thinking of? i sat down. they started singing and their voices were exquisite. within a minute or two i forgot what race or ethnicity they were. charlie: you thought you were listening to thomas jefferson and alexander hamilton. >> absolutely. charlie: they were capturing all the energy. >> the passion, in a way i had never seen before. i went from five minutes of thinking what is he doing to becoming a militant of having this young, multiracial cast do it. the shows simultaneously showing us who we were as a country and who we are now. these people had a feel for the founding era that no actors have had. perhaps because historically
blacks, latinos, eurasians, biracial people felt excluded. this was a history that white males, a lot of whom own slaves. it is one reason why this show is such a phenomenon. it is the greatest advertisement for diversity we have ever had. charlie: in fact it is not just , another musical. >> this is not only a theatrical phenomenon this is a social and , political phenomenon. it is why we have had obama has come to see it, the clintons, the cheney's, people from the the political world are flocking to it. it announces the arrival of a new generation. not just on the stage but american life. i remember when obama was elected, reading an article that try to explain his election by saying more than 40% of births in the u.s. are to people who are black, hispanic, eurasian, or biracial.
that is the cast we see on the stage. this is the new face of america. the beautiful thing is that this new face of america, people who might have felt excluded before have embraced it. i cannot explain the pride this felthas felt -- cast has in doing these roles. leslie odom, jr. has said now my people get a piece of this history. i do not think anyone has said it better. it is deeply touching to meet to -- to me to not only get to know and love the cast but to see how they have embraced this piece of american history. charlie: thank you, ron. ron: thank you. ♪
♪ on the next charlie rose, a continuation about our conversation about politics, america and books and movies that may interest you. >> welcome to cuba. >> thank you. charlie: why did you want to come? >> the main reason is we were able to come. the idea opened up to do a concert here, we have done a lot
of concerts as my group all through the caribbean and i have always been fond of cuba. i have been here once before. i thought when i had the opportunity we had to do it. we're the first to try and do it. charlie: this is an interesting month in cuba. you, president obama, and the rolling stones. >> we beat both of them. that was the goal. [laughter] charlie: you're kicking it off. you're the opening act. you have said this is the most important show you have ever done. >> i think the pressure is on us to do something, it is kind of an amazing opportunity. right now i have done so many concerts, we have fans alter the -- all through the world. this is a show we are doing free for the people. we were invited with the cooperation of the government. it is a very diplomatic opportunity. something important, especially right now in the relationship between cuba and america.
so unique, the first time in 50 years we were here to come in as a bridge. everyone thinks it is about politics. it is a lot different. -- a lot deeper. charlie: you have met some young people today. where was that curiosity? >> today we spent an hour doing a press conference with young positions and i was amazed how specific the questions were about distribution, sound cloud, releasing music, record labels about mastering music, about the sounds i use. these kids were specific. they are trying to do this for living and i feel like what is amazing is that having this access to me is like having access to the internet which they do not have very easily. having me there to give them simple information, simple answers, is huge for them. >> you are a way to find out how music works. >> i was surprised how knowledgeable they are. considering there is a blockade of culture.
they are finding ways to find out things themselves. charlie: and you lean on? >> i was surprised a girl was walking around, she walked by the boombox. i thought that it was scripted. i could not believe she was literally playing our song as she walked by. she did not know who we were. the music speaks for itself, but we are a mystery. charlie: how much recognition is there? >> not much. they study the music, they are aware of who i was. this song is being distributed through channels here. but they do not know who we are. tomorrow they will see the whole show and get the experience. charlie: is that what makes electronic music so global. >> that it is anonymous? charlie: that there is the sound. it is not a song, not a vocal. >> pop music itself, the culture
around that artist. electronic music can be made by anybody. you do not need a huge team to build you up, to build your album and your marketing plan. electronic music can be made on one computer in one hour. you put it up on the internet and you can go to the world instantly. it is in the hands of anybody. ♪