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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 20, 2009 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT

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the revolutionary war is subsumed by the civil war in the south. 2 major battles in savannah during the revolutionary war, some smaller but important engagements. but georgia was the newest colony at the time of the revolution and the settlement was just along the coast in and the savannah river which divides south carolina and georgia so that most of what we think of as georgia was settled later on, the town that i live in, typical of towns in georgia in front of the court house, there is a statue of a soldier, not a revolutionary war soldier, a
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confederate soldier, he is facing north to protect the south against what some southerners referred to as the war of northern aggression. 3 weeks ago i was at the citadel of charleston and came by frances marion park, a huge park, the statue of frances marion, a statue of john c. calhoun. >> there is a story, i don't know if it is true, about george washington having a lucid dream that he shared with lafayette that the united states was going to win the war of revolution and
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see the borders of the united states extend all the way to the pacific ocean. is that true or that ms. ology? >> i think that is just methodology. washington certainly looked to the west. he owned 60,000 acres, he had fought to win in the ohio country. generally the midwest, what would later be ohio, indiana, illinois, michigan, wisconsin, washington's certainly hope that the united states would gain that area even after yorktown. washington proposed to rauchambeau a joint invasion of
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canada, rights to congress, in his letter he talks about all that great land in canada, securing the frontiers, securing the american national security by keeping great brittan out of canada in the postwar years. most southerners, i think, they were quite interested in what they called the southwest, what we think of as the southeast, alabama, mississippi, and whenever. i don't think very many people, at least anytime soon, thought of going beyond the mississippi river. they hoped to get to the mississippi river. many of the loyalists argued that one of the great reasons for remaining tied with great
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britain with the combined power of america and great britain, much more rapidly, the angle americans could sweep to the mississippi river and beyond the mississippi river to the pacific, they didn't stop there. they thought in terms of central america and south america so that the whole western hemisphere, north and south america, would be anglo-american in this end. >> you mentioned this what fox. over the years, i have read that it was largely a diversion, that he wasn't significant. would you expand on that? >> historians debate, there is
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not a uniform interpretation. i think it grows out of the fact that marion was a cantankerous, independent sort, who didn't always work particularly well with the continental army. when green came in and took command of the southern continental army, he had problems with marion. that said, as i tried to argue, the partisan leaders, not just marion, but sumter and others, waged a war that really turned things around, it through the british on the defensive, the british were beleaguered, there attrition rate was really serious through 1780, 1780 one.
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and the partisan fighters ultimately played a crucial role in saving the american revolution. >> returning to the question of could the british have won the war, what effect do you think it would have been had arnold been able to surrender at west point? >> if arnold had pulled off -- it would have been devastating. from a psychological standpoint it was almost devastating as it was, that a general who was this important and this esteemed, he had fought heroically at lake champlain and saratoga, do something like this, this late in the work, just as the french
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army was arriving, that act in itself was almost devastating. i can't tell you how much washington wanted to get his hands on arnold. he captured major andre, tried to trade him for arnold, the british wouldn't have that. they sent in a volunteer from virginia. this was in a provincial unit that arnold commanded. of all things, that provincial units under arnold was part of the invasion of virginia, and that poor soldier was in a situation where if he had been
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taken prisoner, he could have been executed as a deserter of the american army. once he got into virginia he managed to escape and made his way to friendly places and his real identity and mission were revealed. if the british had gone their hands on west point, they would have accomplished -- that is what arnold was trying to do, get west point to the british. had the british got a west point, they would have accomplished what they hoped to accomplish in 1776, they would control the hudson river. if they control the hudson river, then new york, the new england states would be divided, all the states on the other side of the hudson river.
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probably would have been unthinkable for the americans to have continued the war in that situation. >> you mentioned the disagreement rauchambeau had with washington about the northern campaign. rauchambeau summoned the grass as far as the chesapeake. july take it that rauchambeau maneuvered washington maneuvered wisely into falling on and taking on -- >> i am glad you raised that point. i didn't have time to develop that earlier. when washington met with rauchambeau at the conference, and rauchambeau wrote the letter to come to the chesapeake, washington and rauchambeau knew at that point that there was a fairly small british army, 2500
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men in virginia. washington thought that was pretty small potatoes, and he wanted to go at the bigger force, bigger prize in new york. into virginia, weeks went by. by june, if they did know that cornwallace was in virginia and they knew that clinton, the british commander sending reinforcements to cornwallace so cornwallace's army was growing and came to $8,000--8,000 then. in june, rauchambeau revealed to
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washington that the grass was coming but he didn't tell washington where he was going to. he said to washington, what do you prefer? washington said let's klet de s degrasse get cornwallace. washington got to see the possibility. but everything had been put into motion. as envisioned originally by rauchambeau. an interesting quote, let me read this quote to you because it goes back to the idea of washington being an indispensable man. from a volunteer in the french force that came over to fight with the americans in 1777.
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one of the county's named for general call, commented that a soldier for a quarter of the century, one of those soldiers who didn't think very much, was the weak general under whom he had served, general cobb said this. if washington ever does anything sensational, he will know it more to his good luck or his adversaries mistakes, then to his own ability. he went a little the do far -- too far, because had it not been for cornwallace's mistake, he violated his orders, had cornwallace stayed in the carolinas, yorktown could never
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have taken place. i don't think they could have defeated the british in new york. there were 3 generals involved in 1781, general plan and, rauchambeau, and general washington. 2 of those generals were professional style floors--soldiers. neither of them fought franco american army could defeat the british in new york. it would take a siege of 2 years, they couldn't get enough men to gather for that length of time. playing in supplies and preparing defensive works, have the showdown battle been a battle for new york, i don't think the fresh -- the french or
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americans could have won. in the end, in a sense, general cobb was right. washington succeeded because because of cornwallis's mistake going north. >> i am confused about the glue that held the union together, the 13 colonies seemed like strange bedfellows long before the civil war. the industrialization and all that, by the civil war, what were the major elements that held together through the revolution, which takes it under? >> there are probably 2 answers to that. in the early stage of the revolution, there was a general
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-- the revolutionary ideology. not everybody believed the same thing but there was a general belief in wanting to become autonomous, a belief that opportunities would be greater for americans ran their own country. you could never served in parliament if you're an american, you could not be a general in the british army, you could never hold a position in the british ministry if you're an american colonists. there would be greater opportunities for social mobility and economic mobility, and as i said earlier, pain, tomlin's -- and -- thomas paine's common-sense talked about that when talking about
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the birthday of the new world. that is something that sustained this war in the early going and throughout to a considerable degree. washington became something of a blue. what happens during the valley forge winter, there's a great deal of opposition, gates has succeeded. they wanted to get rid of washington, who had failed so many times and replaced him. henry lawrence of south carolina was president of congress. in 1778, i have just come from a meeting with several congressmen, and washington's
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ideas were greeted with laughter and derision. great many people in congress had lost confidence in washington. there was a feeling that for better or worse, they had washington and had to keep washington, and dr. benjamin rush from philadelphia wrote that he thought there was a concerted decision made by congress in the winter of 1778 to make washington the national icon. we were the only country that didn't have a came. the king's work to a considerable degree symbolic figures. they were the figure around which people could rally, and the nation could be sustained.
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john adams, after the war, said the same thing, there was a decision made early in 1778 in congress to make washington the central stone, as he put it, in the national arch. that is the glorification of washington, where it really begins, and this idea of washington being indispensable, develops. as adams said, congress protected washington in many ways. it hidden from the american people washington's mistakes, it embellished small triumphs that washington had, try to make washington appeared to be better. they realized they had to have some sort of blew of that sort.
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>> one observation, that business about john adams, there was an article of long time ago, in the 50s, in the william and mary quarterly, that discusses that. he was talking about the french revolution, not the american. >> i don't think so. addams did say that he thought 1/3 of the american people were loyalists. it is easy to study because what happened, in the peace negotiations, the british wanted the americans to provide restitution for the property
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that the loyalists had lost. as the country went bankrupt, there were negotiators at the peace settlement, john adams, john j. and benjamin franklin. adams and j were willing to include a provision in the final peace treaty under which congress would have to provide restitution. intriguing lead, benjamin franklin, whose son was a loyalist, said absolutely not. franklin wouldn't go along with it. you can look at that in 2 ways, did franklin hate his son that much or did franklin think that his son had a better chance of getting restitution if it came from england?
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it didn't go into the peace settlement. there was political pressure in england to provide restitution. after the war, everybody who was a loyalist had to provide evidence of what they had possessed, how much property they own, what they're in, had been when they became a loyalists. it was a great deal of information, all of that was written out, they had to make 5 copies of what they rode out and they submitted that. from all of that evidence, historians have been able to have a pretty good idea of how many tories there actually were.
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among those who were active during the revolution, probably 20% were tories. i didn't mention when i was talking about civilians, perhaps i should have, in our civil war, > when i was doing work in the 70s, the numbers i came up with,
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proportionately speaking, more americans went into exile and cubans after castro or french after the french revolution or russians after the russian revolution and the wonder if you would agree with that. >> i have seen those figures on the french revolution and that is right. you are exactly right. more americans went into exile as a result of the american revolution as a result of the french revolution. >> when they expelled the jews, france -- can you speculate what america would be like? wouldn't this country--might this country be more rich?
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>> historians have a hard enough time trying to figure out what did happen. maybe that is a good way to dodge the question. what i would say, most of the revolutionaries shed variable tears seeing those people go into exile because their departure, a great many opportunities for other people, people were able to take positions in state legislatures, business positions, wouldn't have existed previously. >> mentioned something earlier,
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surprising. the tory propagandists and pundits of the time. with british power, british america could sweep into the interior, could conquered not only in north america but central america and south america, and this is an expansive vision. can you give any examples of anybody -- i would like to look into this later. >> i was thinking of joseph galloway, the pennsylvania politician, speaker of the house at the pennsylvania assembly, 20 years before the revolution. benjamin franklin's political partner, they cobbled together the quaker party, dominated pennsylvania politics during the 20 years or so before the
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revolution. galloway was the head of pennsylvania's delegation to the first continental congress, but the war broke out before the second continental congress, he was elected to that congress, refuse to serve. he wrote a pamphlet in the fall of 1774 col they can examination and the really long name after that. another pamphlet came out in spring of 1775, he makes that argument in both of those pamphlets, that we would be better off remaining tied to great britain. then we would if we become independent. in the introduction, something that came out in 2003, a meet in
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the park, that was not galloway's phrase but it was the phrase of someone from pennsylvania who was taken from an essay in a philadelphia newspaper that was published 6 weeks before independence was declared. sweeping out to the pacific, made the argument that to declared independence was a leap in the dark. there were too many uncertainties in trying to become independent, and we would be better off remaining with great britain. not many people remember this but for the first fifteen months of the war, the objective was not independent but reconciliation, to force great
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britain to make peace on our terms. once the cat was out of the bag, and the war begins and the british begin killing american soldiers and american politicians hold positions that they had never held before in state governments and in congress, the idea of independence kept growing and growing. and took on a life of its own. as i tried to argue in the book, what really clinched the declaration of independence at least at the time, it would have been declared later on any way, but what led to the decoration in july of 1776 was the american
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defeat in canada, the americans send an army in fall of 1775. it was dragged into new york. they knew it was going to be a very long, very tough work. without foreign assistance, what reason was possibly there for france to assist america if our objective was to reconcile with great britain? if we declared independence and britain lost, 20% of its population, they were sending 1/3 of their exports to america, and it getting 1/3 of their imports from america, if america


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