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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 9, 2011 11:30pm-12:00am EST

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decision to keep working on the book to the end of the bush a administration that is when the research starts. i will look at his autobiography certainly but i hope i can move on to a subject this culture of peace or of something else in the future rather than go back to this right now. >> professor john dower has already won the book award for increasing the speed and he won the pulitzer prize for that book as well. he's been nominated for the 2010 national book award on fiction category for cultures of war pearl harbor, hiroshima, 9/11 and iraq. book tv is on whether.
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from the tenth annual national book festival on the national mall in washington, d.c., a historian board to gordon wood presents his book empire of liberty history of the early republic 1789 to 1815. it's just under half hour. [applause] >> thank you three much. i'm delighted to be back here at the book festival. one of the great i think the greatest book festival in the country. [applause] i want to say a few things about my recent book empire of liberty which the subtitle is the history of the early republic 1789, 1915. it's part of the larger oxford project for the history of the united states which is nearing completion about a dozen volumes and i think there are about
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four, maybe four or five left to do but they've been commissioned and it should bring to an end a project that began in the 1950's more than half a century ago. my assignment was 1789, 1850 which is one of the extraordinary if not the most extraordinary period in history. i think we should start by recognizing how important the american revolution is to us. it is in my mind the most significant event in american history bar none is not only legally created the united states but in a few sericulture with almost everything we believe. our highest aspirations, noble ideals all of these cannot of the revolution. our belief in equality and liberty and the well-being of ordinary people and constitutionalism. so it is understandable why we go back to this period. i have people ask me at defense
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like this what would george washington think of our invasion of iraq, what would thomas jefferson think of affirmative action? i don't know of any other culture where people would be asking that about past historical figures. i'm sure david cameron in great britain is not asked what would william pitt think about what you're doing? it's just not possible. so it is something peculiar to us and i think it has to do with that event and the revolution and those people who led it who created our political institutions by which we still live and also the values, the ideals by which we still live, we go back to them to refresh ourselves, to reaffirm what we are as a people. now this period are you dealing with an entire year of liberty, the term by the way comes from
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jefferson. this is the term he gave to what he thought was united states project. the irony of course in that is that a fifth of the population was enslaved. but the notion that the united states was a special place begins in this period. they are struggling to identify themselves. after all, they were by and large the majority of the population, the overwhelming majority was british. so how do you become americans when you are british? this is why the issue of impressment, the british seizing of american sailors and the in the devotee of citizenship was important in this period. james madison s president said the reason, the principal reason we have to go to war in the war of 1812 is because of this impressment. it goes to the heart of american identity. we didn't even know what to call ourselves. the term colombia was tried in 1792 at the centenary of
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columbus' discovery they thought maybe columbia would be a good name but i didn't stick. although it sounded good because the -- decibels could be fit into a lot of pressure songs britannia columbia, so it was attractive. samuel mitchell the senator from new york mentioned freedonia. we are the freedonians dependent works with the canon as america. why do we the americans? the canadians have never forgiven us for taking that title so that was an issue running through the whole period. what kind of people are we? the government was contested between the hamiltonian who wanted a european type of state, fiscal militaristic that could take on the european states eventually on their own terms with a standing army, the big media and bureaucracy that was equal to any of the europeans
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verses the jeffersonian, the republicans, democratic republicans fall were such a person who wanted a minimal state and wanted to use economic sanctions as an alternative to the use of military force. this is the grand embargo we were involved in the jefferson promoted in 1807. how to use economic sanctions as an alternative to military force because the use of military force is so violent, so bloody anything must be tried. that is jefferson's rationale. it is a period of enormous controversy. we've come as close to civil war in 1998 as we ever have except for the actual civil war in the middle of the 19th century people were frightened the french were going to invade and that the francophile president or potential president jefferson
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was leading a kind of fifth column of from the files, friend supporters who would create another french puppet in the united states. it is that federalist years of it was a tremendously tumultuous period. the population was still growing doubling every 20 years the fastest-growing population in the entire western world. this population is on the move. it is a period of extraordinary democratization. so much popularization, democratization that it left those founders who lived in to the 19th century deeply disillusioned with what they had brought. it was, as you know, a creative period. our institutions we still live by. the converse, presidency, the supreme court will all created in this period. it was a period of great instability. violence, city mobs, all kind homicides, homicide rates in the
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17 nineties. it was a period of heavy drinking. alcohol became -- we became the highest drinkers in the world. 5 gallons per person which we've never obtained since and was the highest in the world with the possible exception of scotland. [laughter] these are all signs of instability in the society. people were simply influx moving that enormous rates, migrating to the west, more territory settled in the single generation following the revolution than in the entire 150 as of the colonial period. as a people were all for the book reaching mississippi in a relatively short period of time. it was a period where the college ra ayittey which we think the 1960's were bad there's nothing comparable to what happens between 1798 and
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1808. colleges up and down the east coast rioted. students were expelled, half the student body of our colleges like williams or harvard were expelled and the college's word large via 120 students but 60 or be expelled. enormous instability it was burned to the ground a student presumably no one knows for sure. this is a period of great instability in all areas. religion transformed the old european religions, the congregational lists were surpassed by these new methodist and baptists growing by leaps and bounds so that by 1810 the methodists, there were no methodists and 1760 by 1810 and was the largest religious group in all of america and growing even more rapidly.
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everywhere there was a popularization from our literature john marshall wrote a five volume biography of george washington which he expected to make money from and people would read. nobody bought it. they bought a short little pornography of jefferson's view. marshall summed up his youth in one page. in five volumes he devoted one page and nobody wanted to read those volumes instead they read the fastest selling most popular biography washington never made. the one who made at the cherry tree that is what people wanted to read about. the generation was filled with illusions, so many allusions the thought political parties were awful there should be no
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political party spirit faction was bad. nonetheless the political parties emerged. they want to do it well by the indians in the northwest. henry knox letters to washington about how we should treat the indians even the modern anthropologist would endorse, that but nonetheless the popular movement was so great it just overwhelmed all of these plans lead in the the capitol and philadelphia for treating the indians in a humane and civilized manner. there was a popular movement in every area. and of course the biggest illusion of all was slavery. not a single want defended the institution. it was such a violation of the meaning of the revolution that nobody could defend it but they all fought slavery would buy naturally but with the ending of the slave trade in 1808 slavery would simply disappear, overwhelmed by free labor.
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now couldn't have been more wrong despite the freedom of tens of thousands of slaves in the north it wasn't inconsequential in the north, 40% of the population was enslaved all the northern states had set slavery on the road to the elimination and it remained and grew despite the dreams, the illusions of the founders. all of those who lived in to the 19th century died disillusioned with what they had brought. the society was much more space, much more popular than they ever expected. before we become arrogant and condescending towards this generation of the founders for their illusion we should realize we live with illusions, too only we don't know what they are. every society, every generation i think has its own illusion in fact i think history is a record of exclude it illusions but this
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leads in my mind to the major lesson of history which is humility. humility is the consequence of realizing you may not have all the answers to what is happening and that future generations will look back at us and say what were they doing? thomas jefferson, for example, thought as late as 1821 he said there is not a young man now alive who will die a unitarian. i mean, how wrong can you be? [laughter] this is one of the smartest men of the whole generation. so we should not be cocky about what we know and we should be much more humble and our approach to ourselves and to the past. i want to stop there because i want to have questions. we only have about 15 minutes to go and we have got a very tight program here because mrs. bush
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is coming on board right away and then there is a whole session of speakers. if we can open up to questions i would be happy to answer them. i guess there are microphones here. go ahead. >> after reading your book i have a question about the u.s. and british relations after the war of 1812. even during the civil war, u.s. relations with britain were somewhat rocky because the british at least some british favors themselves but then by world war i we were their allies so would you comment on how the special relationship developed? is out of my period as we say but there is no doubt britain was still the principal enemy through the 19th century. there were people in america who were anglophiles but by and large we regarded britain as an enemy. it's not until the 1890's you
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are quite right the civil war we were quite worried about britain recognizing of the confederacy and adams as the investor to minister i should say to great britain headed that off special relationship didn't default until the 1890's. john hay as the secretary of state and it came out of the whole sense of in ophelia that do prepare the way for the alliance in world war i, but there are books on this and it's a very interesting story but a special relationship is a late 19th century development. yes, sir? >> in the war with britain can you say something about the relationship between having the government policy in france during the french revolution? >> well that is a very interesting and important
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question. initially of course everybody welcomed the french revolution because we started as a carbon copy of our own. lafayette who was involved in the early stages of the french revolution he wanted to simply a form the marquee. he later and that was a victim fleeing france, but initially he was supportive and sent to washington with a key to the bastille in the july 14 takeover which is the initial event in the french revolution. he sends the key to washington as a symbol of american contribution to the french revolution. our revolution, republican revolution came first and the french liberals saw that. that he still stands or is hanging in the wall and mount vernon and many of you may have seen that.
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as soon as the situation turned violent and especially after the jack evans took over, the american society was deeply split along party lines. federalists supported england and jefferson and fall was supported france and it contributed to the party split in the united states. jefferson never lost his feeling for france and felt that the american revolution future as the republican state in a more marked cool world dependent upon the success of the french revolution so he made extraordinary statements in support of the french revolution. when his colleague and successor in paris route back and said mr. jefferson, some of your former friends are losing their head in the guillotine jefferson's response was quite extraordinary. he says well, so be it. if only an adam and eve were left alive and left free, that
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would be okay. this led the irish journalists to say that thomas jefferson was the pall of the 18th-century. now jefferson never really would have implemented that, but he -- his support of the revolution is deep and split the society and made the federalists feel as if the had a fifth column in their midst and that france might have invaded the united states and was invading every other state in europe and creating a french puppet. that is what created the crisis of seven to 98. estimate is their anything in the revolutionary and constitutional era that could eliminate such political phenomena at the tiberi movement, the mistrust of government? >> one thing you should realize is popular politics is not new. let me give one exit from 1808. simon snyder the governor of
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pennsylvania, and snyder was the son of a poor mechanic, saw the jacket and had no formal licht vacation but a very smart guy. but lacking all of the cultural attributes of a princeton graduate or harvard graduate and there was no federalist party by 1808 in pennsylvania that established republican party, jeffersonian republican party was appalled at the time that candidacy and split the republican party, thomas mckean who was the former chief justice and himself governor pennsylvania called he and his followers called snyder the clodhopper and he had a follower. snyder took the term and said what is said to be a lot hotter and he rode to victory with that slogan. that was the popular politics that appalled many people. daniel thompson a columbia
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graduate, wealthy lawyer, he knew if he was going to win the governorship of new york he had to be what? a farmer's boy and he used that as his campaign slogan, not that he graduated from columbia and was a wealthy new york attorney. no, there was a kiss of death. he's a farmer's boy said to have popular politics of a sort that is being expressed today i think in the tea party movement in christine o'donnell and sarah palin there is a class dimension to this resentment and it's very similar to what went on with american politics in the north in the early decades of the 19th century. yes, sir? >> good morning, professor peter and i was wondering to what extent the religious aspects have on driving revolution, the idea of america as a city on the hill, the new jerusalem driving out european control and influence. >> right. i think certainly there is an
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evangelical and assisting the revolution but it is secular as well. the notion that we were the last best hope as lincoln said comes out of the revolution we were the forerunners of the revolution and that it would spread. that is why we welcome the french revolution that this democratic or revolutionary republican revolution would spread throughout europe and so we supported all of the efforts throughout the 19th century with one exception. all the resolutions starting with the greek, latin american revolution, the revolution of 1848, 1870, french republic we were the first state in the world to recognize the new regime. all of which failed to accept the third french republic. there is one exception of the haitian revolution we didn't recognize that new black state until lincoln's administration that we supported all revolutions much to the chagrin of conservatives. it's much more than just a
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religious feeling. it's deeply embedded in our history, and when president bush went into iraq with some understanding that by some people at least we were bringing democracy to the middle east he was responding or echoing this kind of tradition which is deeply rooted in our history. we didn't invade other states will be supported and diplomatically and individuals actually went off and offered simple in the creek rebellion against the ottomans in 1820 so that has been a deeply rooted part of our heritage. yes, sir? >> can you comment on the role of the louisiana purchase? did add to people becoming americans or did it add to the turmoil you mentioned? >> the question is on the louisiana purchase. it is of course a jefferson's wildest dream doubling the size of the united states, and was widely supported. a lot of federalists in new
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england were very upset because they realized it would create more jeffersonian republicans. all of those western states were thoroughly jeffersonian, republican. there were some mixed feelings. hamilton supported however he gets no credit whatsoever for jefferson. i don't think that it added to the american identity. what was sad i suppose about it is we didn't learn much by absorbing this multi-cultural, multi racial area new orleans was a very different place from the rest of the united states with the spanish, french, black, mixed races and understanding of racial mixture and the american people didn't learn much from that, and we have to wait to an understanding of diversity to our own time. so the louisiana purchase wasn't something that brought us together.
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yes, sir. >> i am fascinated by the thought that once upon a time we thought we could live without political parties. how is it we came to become partisan and to think of ourselves as federalists or republican? >> right. well, the parties by the term is partisan, partial. you're not thinking of the total could, so parties for 18th-century english speakers were always considered to be a disease in the state. there's something wrong. if you can't promote the consensus. and to some extent we've always believed that. we've never been keen on political parties. despite the fact we actually have them. why would we have primaries? why would we have open primaries? i mean, we have always had movements to somehow transcend party is beginning with a liberal republican the 1870's, the movement of the 1880s and in the 1890's and the 1900's progressively formed were
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designed to bypass parties. there is no european party that would allow the nomination of the candidates to go out to the people in general and especially allowing an open primary opponents. so the parties have given up control of the most important function of a party which is to nominate its candidates. no european party can come up with that. some parties have always been suspect. nonetheless, the crew and it wasn't until the 1830's and forties of the new generation that finally came to terms with parties as a normal thing. the founders never did. they always felt that parties should be -- should go away. jefferson assumed republican party was a temporary party and that as soon as the federalists disappeared the where monarchists in his mind and as soon as they disappeared government party would disappear and that is the sense people had in the mongrel administration. they had good feelings.
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we transcended party spirit federalist parties have been wiped out, discredited and we are entering the new era but it wasn't to be. yes, sir? >> my question is sort of along the same lines. i am curious to your feelings were your thoughts are regarding the the jackson party machine, and as it relates to the sort of undermining the john quincy adams' administration idea. >> welcome although i am not an expert on the jackson era, i think -- i think it is open to the revisionist interpretation. i think jackson and his administration are attempting to bring back some an optical elements that the federalists had attempted to build in the 79 these. as you know, jefferson came to power as president in 1800 he eliminated almost everything the federalists had built up including the bank pete he
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allowed the bank charter to lapse some of the efforts to build a clause i -- hamilton's program as paul simon optical and uses patronage within a republican from work, hughes is patronage to build a standing army, trying to build a bureaucracy, he's trying to create a kind of surrogate not to call to the acoustics and not to call substance because the only thing that can hold the sprawling united states together. it turns out that jefferson repudiates all this and jackson comes along and what does he do? the builds on a space framework and institutes patronage, the spoils system, he builds a huge bureaucracy relative to what jefferson wanted and is not opposed to the strong army and military force.
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so we can see jackson and of course he makes the presidency calls i monarchical as jefferson had in the 79 keys, so i think we can see that the president remains as many people thought he was at the beginning and elected as our president article to his extraordinarily creates an extraordinarily strong executive office and are open to a revisionist jacksonian era. thank you very much. [applause] [applause]
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we are at the national press club talking with mark helprin and john heineman about the best seller can change. is there another books in the work for the two of you? >> we are working on a sequel was using in hollywood. hbo is making a movie about this one and at the same time we are working on a book about the next presidential campaign. >> and will there be and probably the paper like addition any kind update to this one? >> there is. the paperback is just come out and we have a new "after words" that takes into account everything that's happened over the 22 months between the last election and this one. >> and what was probably the most fascinating thing about doing this book for the two of you? >> our original goal when we had our first conversation about doing the book we had a goal of what kind of book we wanted to be and what wet


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