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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 21, 2012 8:00am-9:15am EST

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it positively need free clearance. it never wavered from that recognition. so you go back -- if you go back the problem is there's an infinite number of solutions. particularly a problem with respect to the congressional map. nothing else to defer to than the judgment of the legislature reflected in this plan notwithstanding that it hasn't been precluded. .. >> we're putting pins in a rattlesnake, and eventually the rattle l snake will strike back.
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>> for nearly half a sent -- century, herr -- herr berth hoover's scholar george nash. at 10 eastern. also this weekend jeff charlotte on religion in america from sweet heaven when i die. tonight at 8. and sunday night at 8:15, jay we canler on understanding our -- wexler on understanding our constitution by looking at the odd clauses. booktv, everything weekend on c-span2. >> up next, historian george daughan recounts the naval battles between america and britain during the war of 1812. he examines how the american navy, a fleet of only 20 ships, outmaneuvered their opponent and supported the u.s. army's ground forces. this is just over an hour.
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>> good evening. my name's dan, i'm the owner of water street bookstore. thank you all for coming out tonight as we continue the celebration of our 20th anniversary with a reprieve of george daughan's appearance here for his first book, "if by sea." when he first came here, it was a revelation to all of us to have someone of george's caliber talking about the birth of the american navy. and now he's gone on to write a book called "1812:2 the navy's war." the tactic that the navy used to fight off the royal navy. george is an eminent historian, he holds a ph.d. in american history and government from
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harvard university and is a recipient of the 2008 samuel elliot morrison award for his previous book, "if by sea." daughan spent three years in the united states air force during the vietnam war and was an instructor at the air force academy and director of the ma program in international affairs there. subsequently, he taught at the university of colorado, the university of new hampshire, wesleyan university and connecticut college. he resides in portland, maine. we're going to do a question and answer after george's presentation, and if none of you ask him what these tactics that the navy used have to do with today, i'm going to ask, so let's get on it. [laughter] please, join me in welcoming george daughan. [applause] >> thank you very much, dan. it's a great pleasure to be back at the water street bookstore, one of the great bookstores,
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small bookstores in this country run by one of the great staffs that -- and i've seen a lot of them. so it's a great pleasure to be here. my book is entitled "1812:the navy's war, but it's really a whole history of the war of 1812, not just a history of the navy. not only is it a whole history of the war and all of its dimensions, but it's also a complete history of the navy as well. so it's the navy within the war that this book is about. and that's what makes it such a terrific book if you don't mind my -- [laughter] my saying so. so let me tell you something about the war as a whole.
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i'm reminded sin we're in new hampshire that this is -- i'm reminded since we're in new hampshire that this is a presidential election year. when you drive in here, you see all the signs for the candidates. well, 1812 was also an election year. and president madison, though he never said so, in those days people running for high public office pretended that they really weren't running. their act lite, their assistants and so on ran, but they kept quiet about it. madison dearly wanted to be reelected. this was his second term. and here he is this 1812 involved in a very serious contest. it's not going to be a cake walk like his first election was in 1808. this is going to be a very tough
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go for him. and here he is in the middle of this important year declaring war against great britain. the war was declared in june of 1812, and there were a lot of problems with declaring war then. let me just mention a couple of them. number one, the country was politically divided. if you think our country is politically divided now, and who doesn't think so after recent events, it was much more so then. we had two political parties, one called the federalists, the others were the republicans. madison's party were the republicans. of the federalists were dead set against the war, dead set against declaring war against great britain. and the republicans themselves
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were somewhat uneasy about it. there are a number of republicans who did not want to declare war either. the vote to declare war was very close, in both houses but in the senate not a single federalist voted for the war. so madison was taking a politically divided country into war, and you know how dangerous that can be. but it was much worse than that. the navy, the american navy i have in 1812 had 20 ships. six of them were laid up being repaired in june of 1812, so we were down to maybe 14 ships. the british had a thousand ships, and 6-700 of those were in the water active at any one
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time, and the rest of them were being repaired or being built in their shipyards. so our navy was practically nonexistent. in addition, our army was also in very bad shape, very small, had very old leaders and was less than 10,000 at that time. and, of course, the british were -- army was much, much bigger. why did madison think that he could win the war against england? what have his strategy? what was his strategy? well, he had a strategy, was not a stupid man, as you know. this was his strategy. in 1812 there were three prongs to the strategy, i should say.
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in 1812 napoleon invaded russia. and the fact that napoleon was going to invade russia was known by everybody in the whole world for a very long time. the army he was building up on the russian border was enormous. it was the the biggest army in the history of the world, and so it could not be hidden. and it looked for all the world that he was going to conquer russia in a very short period of time, and it also looked like he was going to invade russia in june of 1812 which is what he did. if he won in russia, he would then be master of europe. he would then have only two countries left to subdue,
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actually three. two were in the iberian peninsula, portugal and spain. he had already invaded them -- portugal in 1807, spain in 1808. he had been fighting a guerrilla war in spain for all of those years. the english had an army there trying to fight him. it was led by the duke of wellington. but everybody figured once he got, once he got done with russia that no poll onhimself -- napoleon himself would come to spain, and he would win the war. his lieutenants had been fighting in spain and portugal prior to this time, and they might not have been doing so well, but when the master himself came, it looked like he would conquer there as well. and then you have the whole continent. and who was next after he did that? it was the british. all right. so madison thought that in view of this fact that the british would not want to at the same
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time be carrying on a war with the united states and, therefore, they'd be willing to negotiate with him about the things that were bothering he and the republican party which were the impressment of american seamen, the british rules on trade and interference with our -- the wholesale interference with our trade and their incitement of the indians in the west. these three were the big complaints that madison had, and he thought that the british who had up to this time were not willing to negotiate with him, given the problem with napoleon would be willing to negotiate and not, and not have a war with the united states at the same time they were trying to fight napoleon. okay. inin addition to napoleon, he
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thought that canada was practically defenseless. while the english were, had their, were concentrating on defeating napoleon, they had a very weak defense of canada. and even though our army was very weak, that we could invade canada and conquer at least part of it and use that to negotiate with the english. the third thing that he had going for him were private ers. he was going to unleash, he thought, hundreds of american privateers to prey on english shipping as had happened in the revolution. in the revolution the united states had hundreds of privateers. some people think there were over a thousand, some people think there were over 2,000 of them. there were a lot of them. and he thought, and they had a big effect on english commerce, and they had an effect on
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bringing about a victory for the united states, and he thought the same thing would happen in this war. so these three things, napoleon, canada and the privateers, this is what he wanted to rely on even though he had no navy and a very small army, very little navy. madison thought that the american navy such as it was wasn't going to contribute anything to the war because it was so small. he thought it would be quickly defeated, or it would be blockaded just as happened during the revolution. in the revolution the american army, the continental army was, that's what happened to it, and it was not a factor in the war. okay. now, let me explain to you what, let me briefly give you a capsule version of what actually happened in the war.
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you know how wars go, they never go the way people think they're going to go, and this war did not go at all in the way madison thought it was going to go. the war can be divided up into three parts. the first part goes from june of 1812 to the end of that year, those six or seven month months, maybe into january of the next year. the second part of the war goes from that point until april of 1814. and the third part of the war goes from april of 1814 to february of 1815. so there are three parts to the war, and just let me run through those very quickly. the rest of 1812 from june to
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december went completely differently from what madison thought. napoleon, god bless him, got beat. nobody in the world thought that this was possible. and i explain in the book how he got defeated, i go into quite a lot of detail what happened to him, but the bottom line is that by december of 1812 napoleon was racing back his army having been defeated, he himself all alone with one aide is racing back across europe to paris to get to paris to save his regime and to rebuild his army. think of it, just himself. he started out with an army of probably six, maybe 700,000. we don't know exactly how many there were, there were a lot. and now here he is reduced to
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himself and one aide racing back to get to paris. the english were hoping like crazy that the russians would catch him, then somebody else would catch him. he was all alone, it could have happened. it didn't happened. he reached paris, and he reached it just in time just before the french really understood how badly he had been defeated. he takes up the reins of power again, and he starts to rebuild his army. now, in england from june until december the english are worried. they're worried that napoleon's going to win. they don't really believe as it goes along that he's being defeated. and then in december they finally find out that, my god, we almost caught him, just caught him. and if they caught him, that
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would have been the end of him. but they didn't. he got to paris. and so the english felt exhilarated, they felt that they had been given a new life, and they were mad. they were mad at the united states. the united states had stabbed them l in the back in june, they had declared war on them when they were in mortal danger from that l poll on. so they were mad. that's where the english stood at that time. where did the americans stand? well, the americans had done terrible on the ground. their whole invasion of canada had failed. and the privateers did go out, but the privateers, it takes a long time to get that all going. the privateers were going quite well, but it would take a very long time before that really came into play. what about the american navy?
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well, my word, the american navy was doing just great. the first defeat of the american army in canada was at detroit in august of, august 15th of 1812. madison could not believe it. he was horrified. here it was an election year, he had told everybody he was going to invade canada and do all this stuff, and here he is, he loses. and this is going to kill him in the election. four days later, four days later the uss constitution, old ironsides, if you've been down to see it, it's all refurbished now. it's in great shape. well, it's in better shape than it was in 1812. it is a -- the constitution wins
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a victory over an english frigate not too far off the coast here, about 800 miles out directly east of here, and it's just two ships, right? it's just two ships, what could, what difference does that make? the english were ap pop lek tick. in a month that news reached london, and london was far more concerned with that defeat than they were about the victory in detroit. why? why would it matter to them, something as small as this? the it mattered to them because they said it punctured the invincibility, the aura of invincibility of the royal navy. the royal navy was their defense, and anything, anything
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that created the illusion that perhaps they were vulnerable here they took as a blow to the national security. so in this seemingly small event was a huge event to the english. and then after in the american navy on ship-to-ship battles had a number of victories in those six months. it wasn't just this one victory. and madison, who thought the navy one going to do anything for him, all of a sudden perks up, and it becomes an enormous advantage to him politically because the united states is so proud that we beat the english. and so he all of a sudden grabs on to the navy in order to help himself get reelected. well, his election was still close, he barely won, and by
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december he's, he is reelected. but he's in trouble because napoleon has been defeated, the english now don't have to worry too much about that -- napoleon. they now, well, let me put it this way, his whole strategy has been undermined. he didn't succeed in canada, napoleon has collapsed, and the privateers, they are going to take a while. all right. now, relate me go -- let me go on to the second face of this war -- phase of this war. all through 1813 until april of 1814 napoleon is still a problem. remember, he got back to paris, he raised an army, 300,000 men. he's back in business. and so the english have to
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contend with him all, all through that year. and they spend a good part of their time trying to create an alliance of the other european powers to stop napoleon from regaining all his power in europe. that occupies them all throughout 1813. but they still are mad as hell at us. they want to get back at us, and they are just biding their time. they have not forgotten what we did to them. and madison himself because napoleon is not te feeted, he continues on with trying to invade canada hoping that the privateers will do something, hoping for this, hoping for that, but he knows he's in trouble, and he wants to negotiate an end to the war with the english.
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except they're not interested in negotiating. they want, they want revenge. okay. this second period comes to an end when napoleon is finally defeated and abdicates in april of 114. 1814. and he is sent off to the island of elba. he's done. once that happens the english now are going to deal with the united states, only having dealt with napoleon in april of 1814, they are feeling their oats. they are feeling that they are going to really deal with the united states permanently. they're going to dismember us, they're going to invade us. and so madison now, who started the war to end oppressment, to
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get the english to agree to free trade, to do something about the indians, his problem now becomes to defend the united states fens a major invasion -- against a major invasion that's coming. so the english, the english plan to invade the united states in april of 1814 as a three-pronged strategy. they're going to invade from canada, they're going to invade from new orleans, and they're going to have major raids along the east coast of the united states. they're going to split off louisiana from the united states, they're going to unite louisiana with canada, and they are going to extend their control from louisiana, canada to the west coast of the united states. okay? at the same time, they are going to break off new england from the united states, and they are going to take over, also,
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florida. so they're going to dismember the united states. they sent the troops that were fighting napoleon and be france in 18 -- after april of 1814 were sent to bermuda, then to quebec to begin the invasion. madison had a feeling that it was going to be coming, it looked like we were not going to be able to prevent this. and from april of 1814 until august of 1814, the english looked very formidable. and on august 24th they burnt our capitol. this was not the major ip vegas. the major invasion was coming from canada and from new orleans. this was simply a raid. they had 4500 troops alone. we were a country of eight
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million people, almost eight million people. and here we are, 4500 tired british soldiers who had been fighting in france. they land, they fight a battle and disperse our troops, and they march into washington practically unopposed and burn it. it's unbelievable. imagine how everybody felt. the only thing that stopped them from burning the whole damn town was this was a hurricane the next day, on the 25th. and the hurricane put out the fires. and the hurricane killed more british troops than the americans did. so of after the hurricane the english troops left, and their next place was going to be baltimore, okay? two weeks later, two weeks later, um, the invasion force
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from canada turns around and goes back because the american navy won a big victory on lake champlain at platts burg, the american navy. the invasion from canada was dependent on the control of lake champlain. the british had a fleet there. we knew for a long time that they were going to invade, and we built up our fleet there. we had a wonderful commander there named mcdonough, but everybody thought the english were going to ce feet mcdonough, and this invasion army was going to take plattsberg, and how far they would go dependent on the circumstances and the berth and so on, but they were going to have an easy time of it. mcdonough stopped them. he defeated the english, english fleet only two weeks after they
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had burnt, burnt washington. and that invasion army, the general who was leading the invasion army, once he saw that naval battle being lost, he turned around and went back to canada. because he said without lake champlain, we cannot move further south safely. at the very same time that that was happening, the british attacked baltimore. the very same time. and they were beaten at baltimore. and the united states navy played a huge part in the battle of baltimore. as well. so the navy in both these battles changes the whole complexion of the war because up until this time the english hase been doing wonderfully well. but don't forget this; england is tired. they've been fighting the french
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since 1793, they had been fighting napoleon since 1799. and, okay, they thought the strategy in america was fine as long as they were winning. they liked it when they won in washington. that was wonderful. but to lose and then to think they were going to have to put more troops in and spend more money and more sacrifice in order to split up the united states and gain territory over there, that was too much. so when news of plattsburg and baltimore got to london, the whole political climate inening land changed, and they had a prime minister then, a wonderful guy named liverpool, who was, who was a politician who always moved with political opinion. the franchise was very thin in england. didn't matter who liverpool --
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lyndon johnson said you're no politician if you can't smell a feeling. well, liverpool could smell it, and he knew it was all over. people in england were not going to support a longer war when they weren't absolutely certain of victory. so in -- he ended the war. he negotiated peace. we already had our peace negotiators there, madison wanted to negotiate from way back. our negotiating team had been there since august of 1814 thinking that it's going to be murder. instead of that, liverpool just settled with them, and there was a peace treaty in christmas eve, december 24, 1814, the war was over. it was, it was an unbelievable change of the events, and the peace treaty was simply an
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armistice practically. what the english -- nothing was solved, people just -- what it amounted to was we were just going to stop fighting, folks, okay? we were going to go back to the way things were before war was declared. all right. this was in december. now, in january 8th new orleans was fought because that invasion force was already in train and just didn't get word in time, so the battle over new orleans was fought. finish and we, of course, won it. you know what happened there except that what you don't know is the unite navy played a huge -- the united states navy played a huge part in binning -- in winning the battle of new orleans, and i outline that in great detail showing how the united states navy played an important role. and andrew jackson himself said that the american navy played a human role in winning. and i maintain the decisive role in winning the battle of new
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orleans. decisive if you, if you accept the fact that without jackson it never would have happened. jackson was absolutely essential. but so, too, was the american navy. and that's an important part of the, of the story. okay, now, people in washington didn't know anything about what was gown on. they did not know that there was a peace treaty. in january and february of 1815, they did not know there was a peace treaty yet. they didn't know that new orleans had been won. they thought there would be no peace treaty. they thought to new orleans was going to be a loser because the english had a much bigger force than we did. and they were afraid the war was just going to continue on. well, first come news in february in washington that
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jackson has won this new orleans then a week later comes news, there's a peace treaty. they couldn't believe it. and february of 1814 is a major, major month in american history because the two political parties, remember them, the federalists and the republicans that had been fighting all this time? they stopped fighting. the federal its who -- federalists who opposed the war all threw it and opposed it before it started, they were overjoyed. and they, there was a unity now in our politics that had not been there really since the very beginning. and in addition or as a consequence of this, the united states came to the conclusion
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that not only was unity, political unity important, but they were going -- it was also important taffe to have an armed force as when we first declared war. the american people decided and the politicians decided that, yes, we did need a strong navy and, yes, we did need a strong army in order to protect ourselves. so there was a new, a new agreement on the fact that we needed a strong defense force in order to defend the constitution. it was not a threat to the constitution. so we had political unity, we had an agreement on our national security, and we, we, um, we
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decided, too, that we were going to pay for it. all through this war the congress who had voted for the war, the republicans and supported the war, would not vote the money to pay for i. -- it. they wanted to borrow it. only it wasn't like today where they could keep borrowing. in those days we were a small country, and we had to borrow it from somebody. well, we had run out of borrowers. and as a result n -- in february we decided that we were going to pay for the war. so the fiscal underpinnings that would support a strong national defense was agreed on, and we became a complete hi different entity -- completely different entity in the world. we were now a strong country, a country that could be not taken for granted, a country that the european powers had to pay more attention to than they did in the past.
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second thing happened now. the english also decided to change their policy completely towards the united states. they could see how powerful we were. the battle of new orleans was not irrelevant. it was very important because we won. the english were not expecting us to win. and the englishman who was the key figure in changing all of england's whole approach to the united states was a guy named castleray who convinced liverpool and the rest of his cabinet colleagues that a policy of friendship with the united states was much more to england's benefit than continued, continued antagonism, continued fighting. so the importance of the war of 1812 which i main is very
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important -- maintain is very important lies because the whole relationship between the english-speaking countries changed as a result of the war. the united states became more powerful, the english recognized that, and they decided they're going to be friends with us. now, any historian of the 19th century will tell you that we had plenty to fight about all through the 19th century, and we did. we argued. sometimes we argued very vociferously, sometimes we were very angry with each other. never came to war again, never again. and as the most difficult time was the civil war, but after that these two countries, as the european complexion of europe changed after the civil war, these two countries actually came together. and after 1895 they really came together, and the great alliance between the english-speaking countries in the 20th century
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that saved the world from naziism, communism, won the cold war, has preserved the peace ever since, this, the beginnings of this new relationship start here with the war of 1812. and so this is what my book is about, telling this story of this very important war. and i'm going to close here and answer whatever questions that you have. [applause] yes,. yes, sir. >> how -- [inaudible] british antagonism was due to, as you said, the loss of that naval battle as opposed to the geopolitics of the day which said if you control the mississippi river and ohio valley, you had a trade route
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from canada down to the gulf of mexico as well as you're having additional bases where the british would be able to protect their tradeouts in the west indies. >> good question. the roots of english antagonism to the united states go back to 1763. [laughter] we fought a war. they lost the war, the revolution. that starts in 1795 -- 1775. they had won the war, by the way, the revolutionary war and be, i mean, we had run out of gas by 1781, and what saved us were the french. i mean, the french came into the war in 1778 and, um, it was, it
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was the european rivalry that saved our revolution. the english were very angry in the 1783 at the treaty of paris. they, they thought it was very short-lived, they thought our political system would not succeed. they, and there was something of a fluke as far as they were concerned. a lot of people thought we were going to request them to go back into the empire. when that didn't happen, they continued to be mad at us. i mean, they looked down on us, they didn't like our political system, they didn't like our economic system, they didn't like our culture. they thought we were a bunch of
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hicks. they didn't like the way we treated the indians, they didn't like our slavery. they didn't like anything about us. and this, they treated us as a third class country all during this, all during this time which is, which is why we were so angry with them. and when they got into the war with napoleon, they impressed our seamen, took them off our boats and put them in the royal navy for the whole duration of the war. and you know what life was like in the royal navy. it was no picnic. they treated our trade as if it was their own, they did whatever they felt like. and they were very anxious to expand canada and very anxious to have access to the
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mississippi river open to them, and the whole big continent of the united states they were interested in. be and these are imperialists who thought large. keep in mind this thing which americans really don't know too much about, don't pay attention to. in 1808 when napoleon invaded spain, the whole spanish empire in america which was enormous, all of latin america -- all of south america except for brazil which was portuguese, all of central america, a number of islands, important islands in the caribbean and then bigging parts of north america -- florida, what's now texas -- all
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of the southwestern part of the unite, california, all of this was spanish. mexico, of course. and be all of this wuss collapsing because napoleon had ensaided -- invaded spain, and that war went on for a number of years, and the colonies were breaking free. and england was interested in acquiring them or at least having an expanded trade there. so it wasn't, it was all the things that you mentioned that they were interested in, but all of this as well. so they, they were bound to come in conflict with the united states because we didn't want them to have control of these areas because we were next. we were not going to be able to
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withstand a power that had this much control all around us. so, yeah, absolutely, they were interested in that. yeah. >> would you say that the u.s. navy's success in the war of 1812 was due to an overall command strategy, or was it the individual actions and individual initiatives of captains acting more or less on their own? >> it was both. when the war started, madison didn't know what to do with the navy, and what he wound up doing after the victory of the constitution in august 19 -- 1812, what he wound up doing was splitting up the navy so it would be difficult for the english, impossible for the english to defeat it all at once and very difficult to find our
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warships if they were split up even though there were very few. our navy commanders of those individual warships were outstanding. they're outstanding for a number of reasons, but they were very experienced. they had been fighting for a long time. they fought as midshipmen and lieutenants in the quasiwar with france for two years, 1798 to 1800. that's where they started their naval careers. they then fought in the war with tripoli from 1801 to 1805. very credibly in both wars learning a great deal. so they were very experienced people. they were very patriotic. they were very interested in achieving fame. they were motivated. their crews were better than the english crews. they were not impressed men. they were people who had volunteered.
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our crews served for two years in enlistments. the english served for the entire duration of the war. if you can imagine. and the war had been going on since 1793. just think of it. there were people onboard the english ships who were impressed men, and if their officers didn't think they could be trustworthy, that they might desert, they never got off the ship. they were not allowed off the ship. also -- so you can imagine that the, any officer know es that a happy ship is a much better fighting instrument, a happy unit than an unhappy one. that's another reason that we did so well. the english did not have the gunnery practice that we did, and there's a lot of reasons for that.
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but our gunnery was vastly superior to theirs. another reason was that our ships, the designs of our ships were much better than theirs. now, you would say, well, the establish were the greatest sea -- the english were the greatest sea power in the world for centuries, how could their ships possibly be a lesser design than ours, but they were, and it showed when these individual ship battles occurred. so for all of those reasons, that's why we did, that's why we did so well. it was an extraordinary group of leaders, an extraordinary group of crews too. >> go ahead. >> yeah. how much impact did the war of 1812 and in particular the conduct of our navy have on the development of what ultimately became known as the monroe
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doctrine and the concept of manifest destiny? >> it was, well, there were two things that you mention here. one is the monroe doctrine, two is manifest destiny. it was huge. here we are in 1815 when the english and the americans decide that they're going to stop fighting each other. now, the english, of course, decided first. we couldn't believe it. and we didn't. they had to prove it. to us. and don't forget right at that time napoleon come back into power for a little time, and that's kind of interesting. and we, we really didn't know if english were being nice to us at that time because they had to deal with him first and whether or not that was going to continue. but after the battle of waterloo, it did continue.
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and so, and castleray lived, was foreign minister until 1822, so all during that time he kept showing the united states in negotiation after negotiation that he wanted a new policy, and he wanted friendship with us. at the same time, if you remember, the spanish empire in this world over here was collapsing, and the english had to decide -- or let me put it this way, the imperial countries in europe russia, prussia and austria, were very interested in expanding themselves and very interested in helping the spanish king, ferdinand vii, reestablish his control of the armies over here which would have meant big european armies coming over here.
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now, the english didn't want that to happen. they wanted to be over here, not them. but they had learned an important lesson because they had tried, actually, to occupy what is now argentina back in 806 and 1807 and got defeated. there's a long story ant how that happened. so the english decided that they were not going to try to colonize the old spanish colonies, they were going to try for privileged trade positions over here. so they wanted to block the other imperialist european countries from coming over here, and they wanted to have their trade be privileged in those areas. and they wanted to work with the united states in order to bring that about, and that's why the monroe doctrine was something that both countries could agree on. it was not an alliance between
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them. it was not even an agreement between them. it was simply an understanding that it was in both our interests not to have anymore european colonization of america, both americas. now, manifest destiny is very important also because what the english were doing, in effect, was conceding the fact that the united states was going to turn its attention away from europe west. and if you have the royal navy interceding and preventing european politics from interfering with the united states and be you have -- and you have the english not wanting, wanting to have friendship with us, america for the first time in its history doesn't have to be bothered with
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european politics, it can face west. which it did. and our, the united states then grew as you know into the great continental country we became. and all during that time, this occurred from 1815 until 1850, okay? that was the high water mark, really the 1840s are the high water mark of manifest destiny. just think how many times the united states and england could have fought during this time, you know? over and over again there were so many issues there, but they did not. they allowed the united states to expand. so the war of 1812 was huge in both of those things that you mention. it's a very good question. long-winded answers, right? used to be a professor. [laughter]
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yeah. >> you mentioned the impact of the war on domestic politics and geopolitical, um, events that transpired afterwards such as the monroe doctrine and so on. to what extent, if any, did the war, the way the war was fought have an impact on the future of military history and the way wars were fought in the future? >> um, it had a, it had a huge impact in this sense. the united states navy came of age in the war. up until that time, the country was not decided on whether or not it needed any kind of navy at all other than a coast guard. the two political parties had fought, the federalists and the republicans had fought since washington's day on whether or
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not we ought to have a navy at all. and the success of the navy in 1812, and the country was divided on this issue, and the success of the navy in the war of 1812 settled that issue. and the leadership of the navy during that time became the leaders of the navy after the war. and that group of officers and their and their, often their children, the people just under them ran the navy up until the civil war. and i could go at length into that, but it shaped the entire u.s. navy. the same thing happened with the army, the u.s. army was a disaster for the first couple of years. it was then reformed by madison.
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madison got new leadership. he brought the, he brought the age of the leadership of the u.s. army down 20 years. our generals were now 36 years old instead of late 50s and early 60s. one of them was named winfield scott, and it was these army generals who ran the army after the war, another famous leader was named general brown, and they are the ones who trained the people who fought in the civil war. so it had a huge impact on them. the united states army right at the end did quite well against the british. they redeem themselves for the
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earlier defeats under this new leadership. >> when did this war become known as the war of 1812? >> well, i think right from the beginning. it was, it was called, also, the second war of independence. and a lot of historians have poo h-poohed the that we were ever threatened despite all the english wanted to do to us. but in the sense that we for the first time fought a war, the first big war under the institutions that had been created in, under the new constitution and did it successfully and did it under that constitution without us
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becoming a military dictatorship. and we changed our whole relationship with the english. in that sense it really was a war of independence. it really solidified america's independence in the world. we were now in control of our own destiny. nobody was going to threaten us after this. >> well, i'm going to try to make the parallel. it sounds like what the british decided to do after the war of 1812 was embrace soft power rather than hard power. >> yeah. >> they tried for a politics and a diplomacy and a power of influence rather than control. can you draw some of the parallels with what the current administration is doing in terms of shifting the war on terror and other diplomatic ventures? >> um, not really because i'm very reluctant to draw these parallels. i mean, there are so many
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differences that it's really not the situation in this sense. today the united states is the greatest power in the world, but, and we have done marvelous things for the world. just think of the fact that there's never been a world war since world war ii. do you know how many people were killed in world war ii? about 50 million. think of it, 50 million. and millions more after the war. in world war i, ten million. the united states decided after world war ii, um, to take an active hand in preserving the peace. we did it because of the threat of stalin, but we did it. and we have, we have maintained that ever since. and now we're at the point with where we have overwhelming
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power, and the world doesn't understand how good things have been with the united states being as powerful as it is. throughout history whenever you had a power as dominant as the united states, everyone else was worried that they were going to take them over. and so you would have coalitions of other countries forming together to oppose us, to balance our power. l have you seen the chinese coming together with the russians? have you seen the japanese and the chinese and the russians and the europeans joining together to counter the united states? no. because we, our power has been viewed differently than any other power in the history of the world in the sense that it has been benign. our goals are democracy and economic development. so it's quite different, a quite
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different situation than it was back then when the goal of the -- there was no major power. but if napoleon had succeeded, he would have been the equivalent of where we are today, and what was he going to do? he was going to take over the world. i mean, he literally wanted to take over the world. he was -- he never would have done it, but that's what he wanted to do. so you don't have that parallel. ..
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how much they have benefited from america being as strong as we are. i think if we lose this position and it is back to a place where there is no dominant power i think the world will look with great nostalgia on the period -- and we will -- that is my view of it. >> had madison declared war in 1812, a lot of things pretty rash. had he declared that war and lost what would history be saying about him today?
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>> it would have been interesting how all of that would have worked itself out. on have no idea. the english would have broken up the country. all of world history would be different. there would be no united states of america. remember the united states of america that saved the world in the 20th century? it wouldn't exist. but if the english succeeded they would have to brew this empire so you would have a constant warfare again as they could not rule, they could not rule as big an area as they wanted to. they would have the same trouble they had in 1775.
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there would be constant turmoil, i would say. >> what i can't get away from is you have a country with 14 warships declared war on a country that has a thousand. it sounds pretty insane. if there were certain things that were inevitable, cells -- still sounds like the act of a mad man. >> critics fought so. the federalist party voted against it was centered in new england. in new england they controlled state governments and were very powerful in new england. they thought he was on the wrong side. they said what if napoleon succeeds? he is treading in london. we are next. they were right.
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it was a gamble, big gamble. he was lucky. going to be lucky sometimes. yes? >> hi live in swamps before a couple of decades and the wonder if you could answer once and for all is the birthplace of the american navy marblehead? >> when i am in marvelshead -- >> well put. >> when i am in beverly it is beverly. when i am in montana -- i would say if you really want my opinion it is philadelphia. i am going to be in philadelphia
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shortly. >> very good question. something a little more clear. i wonder if you were going to ask -- >> my question is trivial. the british want to enter? they were in pressing british subject, not americans subject to. british -- when the leopard fired him and they were trying to impress british subjects were they pursuing the war? how interested was great britain in a war? >> they had trouble enough in europe. they were not interested in a war but at the same time they had so little regard for the united states they were doing as they pleased. to answer your question specifically, the royal navy, to man these ships they needed 145,000. these are admiralty figures.
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145,000 men, and 25,000 of them had deserted. they were deserting in droves from their ships. why were they deserting in droves? because conditions on their ships were so awful. this can't be. you are exaggerating. if you read the accounts, some of their own good officers will tell you the same thing. the ships were so tyrannical and air men treated so badly, they were deserting in droves so they had -- they had to be on the ships. they were in a life-and-death struggle with napoleon. that is why they were pulling
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men off of our ships and claiming they were british nationalists. some of them were, they didn't care. a lot of them were not. they have to man airships. they were going to do it come what may. paper taking a risk with the united states but they thought we were so politically divided the people so weak militarily we weren't going to do anything about it. they never solve the manning problem. a pull off of our ships between 6,000 to 9,000. no one has ever know the exact number. i think the figure is around 6,000. they never solve the manning problem and they refused to change the way they treated their ecmen.
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this subject came up very few times. i read all the parliamentary debate for the whole entire war. the subject came up very infrequently and when it did, whoever did mention that maybe they should treat their seamen better got shot down. that was the actual situation. i should add my english colleagues, english historians writing in the same period have the opposite view from what i just told you. they think, they think life aboard the ships were just dandy. i gave a talk to a group in new york the other day. i thought it was all american officers, retired guys. the first guy who came up to
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sign a book in this thick english accent says to me make it out to those who made this all possible. how are we doing on time? one more question. okay. >> how much influence did the new england states have on the success and development of the 1812 navy? >> that is another good question. you asked three good questions. the federalists always supported a strong navy. the federalists believed with george washington and john adams that the united states ought to have a respectable navy. they went out of power in 1800. the federalists.
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into power came to worse--from their point of view the worst imaginable person, thomas jefferson. jefferson had opposed washington and oppose adams on the navy. jefferson's support obviously -- jefferson tried to have a smaller navy given the fact he had to fight the war with tripoli. he succeeded in keeping it very small and madison was his successor and went along with them. that is why we had such a small navy going into 1812. the federalists during madison's administration screaming for a larger navy. they supported the navy. if you want to know, to answer your question to what degree
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were the federalists responsible for what an excellent small navy we had, a lot. is the answer. i should also say the officers were non-political. they kept out of politics. they agreed with washington and adams that the officer in uniform had no business in politics. it was not a political navy but the federalists supported them. federalists--big time. thank you very much. great audience. i will be here signing books.
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>> this event was hosted by waterstreet bookstore in new hampshire. for more information visit >> here's a book with an unusual title but it is also part of a series. "obama on the couch" has been written by justin frank who also wrote bush on the couch. what kind of doctor are you? >> psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, professor of psychiatry at gw. >> how do you get inside the mind of presidents? >> you take psychoanalytic principles and apply them to people you can never get in your consulting room. for instance sigmund freud did that. the first to do that were people like leonardo da vinci and fdr hired somebody to do that with hitler during world war ii.
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it is a well-established technique. obama road two autobiographies. that made it very interesting to see what he put in and what he left out and how it relates to his behavior as president. >> what is one of thing we will learn about president obama? >> he is deeply obsessed with uniting the country because he came from a broken home, half black and half white and wants to heal his inside. that is why he became a community organizer after harvard law school. could have written his own ticket in a high-powered law firm but he really believes in bringing people together. that is the biggest struggle he has. the irony is we are more divided than ever in a lot of ways. when he gave his speech in 2004 about red states and. states and the united states he really believes that.
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eventually he started negotiating -- the accommodator in chief. that is what the book is about. why he does that. an incredible difference between him as president and as a candidate. >> your first book, bullish on the couch. >> what we learned about bush is he really was very much a person who had once been an alcoholic. a dry drunk. those are people who are impulsive and suddenly given to blaming other people and one of the things about him that was so powerful is when he made up his mind he never change this. he was an either/or president. your with us or against us. he lived in a very different world where he says i don't deal with it. obama and only does not want. we have the opposite two presidents back to back. >> when you write


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