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tv   Book Discussion on Prince of Darkness  CSPAN  December 20, 2015 10:02pm-11:16pm EST

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forward for what you were working on. thank you very much. >> good evening. and the head librarian and mint please silence any cell phones that may disrupt the
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presentation. we are building tonight -- building tonight so if you do ask a question you will be filmed and please wait until microphone comes to you. and to maintain the book collections and we have kicked off our eighth annual appeal so if you already sent i take you from the bottom of my heart. dr. white comes to us from austria where he is a professor of history at the university of sydney. he lives on either side of
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the world but steadies the history of new york city -- the your city and african-american history. he is author of five books. the most recent book is there irreparable story of jeremiah hilton it was wrote his story is gripping why he draws out the excellent backs to supplement with details from wall street and others in that era. we are proud to share that jeremiah hilton was a shareholder of the library. please join me to welcome shane white to the podium. [applause]
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>> thank you very much. as far as i unconcerned i talked perfect in you talk strange but that is day zero opinion. [laughter] who was jeremiah hilton? he turns up in new york city. running counterfeit coin for a consortium of merchants jeremiah hilton escapes and is hidden by black fishermen around the harbor for few days before he can get back
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on a freight to new york. that was seen as undermining america trade with haiti the first black newspaper hailed jeremiah hilton because he undermined the of black republic. he struggles for a while as he tries to shoot get a head like everyone else. and he does establish himself and has the close link with the insurance company and the insurance companies.
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and as they find out there new associations jeremiah hilton specialized over insuring votes then send them to the ocean and then claiming insurance on them. as they had come to an arrangement that any cargo that had a link to jeremiah hilton would be insured by them but he manages to get around that. in very clever ways. he has established himself in new york city where every heather businessman does as
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they enter ago that of real-estate frenzy. at the sky rocket every where. the lead time in his business career he follows the herd he buys 47 lots of land in by several acres of land he buys the biggest house in poughkeepsie a wharf with three buildings on it. then he buys three or four weeks short of the top of the real-estate market before it goes bust. but those real-estate prices is a and mortgages are the unholy combination.
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but what happened then is for the next five years is fending off creditors. and is one of thousands of new yorkers that he takes advantage of the new federal legislation of the new bankruptcy law that is not so good for the creditors. on the other day the new law operates to declare themselves bankrupt. he is the pioneer.
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and if you think about the first player in the major leagues to appear in the most deferential fashion does nobody tells them how things operate. what is interesting about hamilton in the most interesting fashion he goes around wall street. and selling $35,000. in then buys the back.
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in to buy bankrupt stock. and he goes but then and then in the 1830's to buy some shares to work in the back of the stocky change. bin if you're a black man buying and selling shares you have to be sharper and
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quicker than everyone else. if you hit hamilton he hit you back then at 10% is not a backward step being individual. in the second word of the stock exchange but with this discrimination is not a level playing field. they're more interested the color of his money than the color of his skin.
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the way he deals on the stock exchange he forms of pool that is very similar to a hedge where people put in money if he is in charge of the many in uses it as leverage to buy more money then takes aggressive positions in the market so yorkers are trusted the judgment of a black man in his mostly railroad and steamship companies for those stocks to buy and sell. one of those events of suing him was the librarian. he had a thousand dollars.
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and he is the reason why or the explanation of why henchman's only deal with multimillionaire's because he kept changing his mind the other thing that hamilton did is sid the company to bring it in a receiver to read distribute to the share he doesn't with the excess free transit company that gets into a battle with cornelius vanderbilt and when he dies there is an interesting obituary that says he sees no one but if there is a
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stock-market battle the one person he respected was jeremiah hilton. so in the 1840's and '50's hilton is a prominent man of the town. the first black millionaire he is acknowledged that and have black newspaper. one of my favorite images of him is he leaves new york he had problems when he walks of this treaty is not even as second class citizen. so a couple of times when he is buying poughkeepsie real-estate cover earlier than that he lives near columbia university but in
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the late 1840's to buy the estate in new jersey which is 30 miles from manhattan. and the image of a black man on the 270-acre estate with a house with 10 bedrooms and a ballroom on the terrace that looks out downhill where he had at quail and grouse hunting and a fish pond does not accord in the usual way african-americans are seen in the antebellum north and that is an image that i treasure. in this time as well he buys his share in the new york society library and again in the book over the next 20 years he borrows over 250
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books. this must be the first extensive reading list of an african-american ever in this country. also when he went bankrupt there was an inventory of his own library. i have several pages looking at what he was borrowing. then perhaps the york the mob started yelling 68. 68. that was the address.
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broken in and ran up the stairs confronted by his wife. he married a white woman. and often you think of black men and white women being a tree in the relationship they had 10 children and married 40 years. when he was 30 he met her and she was 14 and she was pregnant. then she stands at the top of the stairs and says what do you want? they said we want your husband we will hang him from a lamp post. he is not an idiot he went out the back and jumped the fence while she was left holding the four. he died in 1865.
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he travels san francisco, paris and he is in paris a couple of days before the siege starts of the of prussian army comes down. one of those who turns up been interesting places the new york said newspaper the founder roy is his best friend and he led publish articles. why should anyone care? the interesting things is he is a prominent individual deserving some recognition but to be totally and
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utterly erased from american history he has been mentioned four times since 1900 and some of those were wrong then he went to west indies and got a suntan. [laughter] sova he has been totally erased. he is a figure in wall street's history he was never going to be remembered as part of the struggle of new york city so he falls between the? and is totally ignored. for what i am interested in is what he tells us about african-americans and new
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york city in the 19th century. and that is a large part of what the book is about to look at race relations by looking at this person who associates with the white but is now white and treated like a black man but had nothing to do with the black man. and new york city is inventing segregation in the 1940's. saw what was the point for him to walk the streets of new york? so now i will read a couple of paragraphs. in which i try to make that same point. he had a unique position in
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new york for that opportunity to come to a new understanding and offers of way to reconsider the subjects of those that were quintessentially white those that were segregated this is the case of the stock exchange in the great fire but also the revolution of the 1830's. far too often the story in st. them with what segregation as if they believed in their own separate world and in effect they become segregated for a second time telling of their history. erasing his life from their story. hamilton traveled all over with distinction and any one
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time would be disdainful but in the end it is hamilton the stands with his life cinematic its vividness. the trial that was the talk of the town more than the occasional angry confrontation. with all this he never took one backward step. if you crossed him he returned the favor and a few percent for interest. it is one thing for vendor build or any other white man but with a so-called prince of darkness to be named in such a fashion. he never seem to care too much. because also be trying his luck on wall street. he had learned as things
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should be balanced for the most part in the lot was something to be taken advantage of. he was at home in court rooms new york society libraries and could tell you which stocks were a good bite, or talk about the history of tom jones. he took a steamboat to cuba and arranged to go over on the ship. and he became rich while winning help the american nightmare of race. "prince of darkness" was an extraordinary figure. by telling of the untold story of jeremiah hamilton
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wall street's first black millionaire beginning in the year in which he was first under the skin of the new york businessman. i vitamin capsules of fascinating character in you be surprised to know and like most historians and think someone should make the film about jeremiah hamilton. a couple months ago there is an article about chris walk -- chris rock end it said he was trying to make a film about nat turner and did you know, that history that will never be made there is too much baggage with those than black writers responding. but i ain't he should think about making a film about somebody like jeremiah hamilton because martin luther king, is someone who
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is a sinner but no more than vanderbilt end is just as ruthless as they were. plus of my net turner is not a knife or anax but legal documents to read the fine print that enables this person to get ahead. so in the way he is a new type of sinner so i hope someday make some of -- someone makes a film of him so he can have a moment in time that i think he deserves. thank you very much. [applause]
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>> where did he come from? obviously a free black man coming to new york it was a copperhead's state what about his education? >> there are two stories where he comes from in the balance both of them that it comes from the caribbean so haiti becomes intermixed in the other story, as i was writing the book would bounce back and forth in the
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end from the caribbean but maybe stopped on the way. did you ask about his education? he had a very good education according to his obituary. that particular one said he had a solid school education and was ted been inspiring because he reads. before he goes bankrupt he
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has 22 volumes in his library. encyclopedias, and then as a member hear he is also reading bacon, and he does read a few novels as well. with no reaction a physically read those books you think if they come bar them he is probably reading them it is not for show. so i think there is a certain element of the old code but it was unlike debt
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city university. when he died obituaries also the saving the richest colored man in america. but that doesn't last it seems to have supported his children who didn't marry or have kids and were living off of him stereo's three houses is on greenwich.
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he probably had cash on hand but it was not listed in the al will when he died. he was one of the very early americans to have the term millionaire become an american word rather than have british word. is in the 1830's the term becomes more prominent. but the black millionaire from 1851 or 52 issues by smith. >> did you determine the
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racial makeup of his servants in his house from the census? >> no. in his will he leaves money to the servants in his house in the census in new jersey there seems to be labor's living close to the stated think they were living on the estate for him but the actual estate was left to them. >> that was and that an insulting term like the negro millionaire? >> but "prince of darkness" is not really in an endearing term and many times he is called nigger
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hamilton even those whose trash him like james gordon is a fascinating brilliant man but even he admits there's something there. but the sun newspaper attacked him but that wasn't part because knows this --
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because the editor the second proprietor of the newspaper, of benjamin day is his brother-in-law later he says it is the most stupid thing he did in his life they have of firm that hinges on jeremiah second editor of the sun newspaper said so he is forced to sue and it hinges on the character of jeremiah hilton -- hamilton so there is one
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that is the top of the town in the hinges of he is black or not. various witnesses get in the box to say he is disreputable. i know he is black because i have seen him with his wig off in that proves he is black because of his shaved head underneath. and one is put out of the witness box hamilton can take it no longer he stands up and says the only reason he testified against me he came to wall street to borrow money and i would not lend him money. then the judge dismisses the case. and as they testified in
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their walkout jostling one another lead justin hits hamilton with a keen -- ak and grabs the would and swings at the justice head and they end up in a brawl in the street. benjamin and jeremiah and his brother-in-law all end up getting arrested. i have been reading the york newspapers 35 years i have never seen anything like that occurring in a courtroom. and a hinged on the testimony if he was black or not and his character.
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i found one reference to the color of his skin that it was a dark mulatto. bought a color spectrum i have no idea. [laughter] >> i guess it depends if you mean skin color or blood. i'll is fine americans and race interesting. [laughter] >> obviously you found sources for your book did he keep notes himself? >> i would kill to have had a. [laughter] if you go to a biography session blondel's section 99% of book there is already
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a book on the character rather a biography by in this case there is absolutely nothing. you already have the most facts about hamilton on a printed page ever accumulated. the book is based on 65 court cases, so he is a serial litigant and also newspapers so that means i have to kraft a book i know every passing thought would go through virginia woolf's head for a novel but i cannot do that which makes the actual writing of the book very, very difficult. perhaps jim a difficult for the amazon readers who have found it very dry and
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written white textbook i don't realize is -- they realize how wounding that is to the author with their comments. [laughter] but it is very difficult to write and hold the reader's interest over 300 pages when you only have a couple of words from him in court cases. but i have nothing he doesn't sit down and write it is terrible that they treated me so horribly. which is unfortunate. above to asking a few questions. >> when he arrives in 1935
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he shaves his head he has so long black full linguistic that was commented on repeatedly by people. the name of that newspaper editor calls him counterfeit in one of the things he talks about is the way it is said to be more important than san skin color trying to figure rhoda someone is black or not. so when he died all the obituaries talk about the high squeaky voice in bill long flowing black wig. there are no pictures of him. if you look him up on the internet the few people have piggybacked on me there was
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of a pds injury -- and injury about two hours after "the new york times" there is the picture of jeremiah hamilton and the end of the 19th century but no image that i had tried to find. >> as a point of reference he didn't say how he died. >> pneumonia. going up to saratoga for summer packing up to ago and got sick and went to bed and to days later he was dead. that was on the death certificate at 67 years old.
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>> did you find any wedding pictures? did his wife passed after? >> she died 29 years after him in lebanon with their daughters. one of the obituaries said which church u.s. supposed to be buried in but they do not mention his name. they live together as man and wife for years but there is no actual proof no marriage certificate. >> no pictures of the children? >> in the book there is one
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picture of the survivors of the marriage but she married a guy who came from germany there is the pitcher ever taken in france and that happens was doing a richer genealogy. in discussing if they had up black man in the family. this woman had a photograph of one of his daughters.
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>> the wife of jeremiah hamilton went to philadelphia. some of the early stuff about him suggested her maiden name was morris. but it is impossible as far as i can see but she moved up as the very young girl her mother ran a boarding house / almost like a cheap hotel. >> what prompted the lynching attempt?
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and how common were they at the time? >> mostly that is a southern thing. but during the riots there were 10 african-americans of few of them were hong upon though light post the draft riots were a racial cataclysms in new york but also like the local schools i think that is what is going on. by looking at book records and the testimony about 10:00 at night, people heard people knocking on doors
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whispering saying bring the nigger down. bring the nigger down. tinting 68. they know where they're going. they're not looking randomly the first person that spoke to the wife on the stairs said jeremiah had done him wrong. but it is never explained anywhere what that was. but it was something to have prompted the leader to burst into the house. if he had been home or four or five blocks over the next day an african-american is pulled out of his house and
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killed there and hung up then the militia comes by and says put it down then they put a back up in drag around. the lynchings were fairly unusual in the north that is more associated with the south. >> the queue so much we're all honored for you to do such remarkable work. we are very appreciative. first bid hamilton tried to hide his ethnic identity or did he embrace that like i
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did this in spite? >> the lack of evidence is quite striking. sometimes in the 1840's a prominent merchant or broker was walking down the street and hamilton confronts him in the street. and said i hear you called me nigger. he was known as nigger hamilton. and he said yes. that's true. he said yes you are. i'm sorry. that is told to us by an octogenarian who wrote a memoir. and is telling this in
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hamilton is getting his just deserts. but actually the term nigger is being invented the by yorkers it was used but it takes off with the printing press and is associated with slippery -- slavery to show them off to the side so i read against the grain this account to say he is not at a loss of words but it is in a way the you can read this account that something is like hamilton walks on as if
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it was like dog shit on the ground and keeps walking. but hamilton insisted to be treated as an equal and to also he basically segregated others so other people at the time in thomas downing is the businessman to be placed down on bradstreet and he fights segregation and goes into its own waste your parlor. so interestingly hamilton be paved as if he would be equal to every white man in the data included aggression.
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so he would be aggressive to them. so cavalierly he would disregard the racial ideas of the time. now he is protected by many. he is not like a poor black settler on the street. he had nothing to do with blacks her though he has nothing to do with the other blacks but he will live as being of black in new york city when segregation is introduced and invented in often he would blindly ignore it into would ignore what many wanted him to do.
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>> i am curious as to the relationship between hamilton and william day. the owner of the sun newspaper. was it because he was the entreprenuers? or was it something else? or hamilton being so disruptive? what made that such an enduring friendship? >> before sizzler this account i actually think they were too young bin in
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new york in the 1830's and were banging their heads against the establishment a nasty establishment to put them down and so date picks up and writes about hamilton that i was talking about in part the horror of being such close friends and in particular, 25 times benjamin day is a hamilton was spotted walking down the street drunk arm in arm. [laughter] so one of the issues i try to raise in the book is the impossibility of the interracial friendship
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between the to the way the establishment comes down on benjamin day for having a black man as a friend. so it has been written about a lot but of think anyone has considered that issue. of the difficulty of the black man and a white man in this particular time period to be best friends and what happens. they're both rich enough that they're all sorts of things going on. so this is where white new
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york stands. also the son newspaper he probably got copies of it such a wonderful time sitting there reading the newspaper because some of though wordplay and the cleverness they would go at one another's throats for years at least five years in newspapers and the competitiveness of the insults i will say makes me wonder about today's in comparison. >> in the book can you elaborate?
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>> on vendor build. >> he runs a steamship company that runs steamships down to nicaragua. then they go across the lake then down the aside. it is the quick way to san francisco but vanderbilt does what he always does and apparently the accessory transit company did not actually have a bank account it was a light there was good bookkeeping like payments are coming in and out.
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hamilton had shares in the company is founded in nicaragua but listed on the new york stock exchange in in in new york hamiltons is a transit company in this imploring the judge to declare to have a receiver put in to have everything sold. he loses the case but looking at the bare bones of a court document it is often very difficult and it seems something else is going on. and there is a suggestion that they'd built and hamilton that it was a
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rigged the lawsuit and there was something funny going on. three of them were wrong but one said that hamilton had a history of steamships in california said that the vanderbilts that hamilton was married to vanderbilt's daughter and that was not the case but a suggestion of links that have come through in the obituaries. but the what i play around with in the book is the consortium of york merchants in 1828 counter it clean -- counterfeit coin hamilton knows who they are but never needs them. my suggestion is i have absolutely no proof of this
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is the case i think the vanderbilts was one of them and i cannot get added to. though whole book in a way is about writing a book about someone when the sources are very thin. like a novelist mike of filmmaker would seize on this. the idea of funding that conspiracy. and if i was of the maker it would be my rosebud as in referring to "citizen kane".
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. .
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i believe his granddaughter had something on youtube -- his granddaughter, we are talking about a [inaudible] one of his relatives wrote a book, and i was wondering if you had any knowledge of that or any of the families. >> i talked with a descendent of the family and jeremiah hamilton's granddaughter. there is a grandson very out greenwood -- buried at greenwood. >> this gentleman was a black
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pioneer and most were more polite and deferential. he seems to be the complete opposite end i'm wondering was the attitude picked up. i know they have some of the behavioral tendencies so i'm wondering if there was -- can you give me the supposition on what you think? >> i don't think jack johnson and their knowledge of one another -- he became the heavyweight champion of the world in sydney australia denials from where i lived.
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>> [inaudible] >> jackie robinson was made to be differential. and again with anyone watching he wasn't very happy that there is no restraint on jeremiah hamilton and he, the guy that i was talking about he jumps in front of him on the street and said he's been calling me names, he confronts him over that and that to me, my difficulty -- i've been working in history for 35 years now. martin luther king is a saint but totally beyond my understanding. turning the other cheek isn't a part of my makeup. that's part of the reason i find hamilton appealing. he wasn't going to turn the other cheek. he was going to go straight for
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the -- >> and 36, two white businessmen who had a dispute with hamilton arranged to have him arrested at 11:00 at night in bloomingdale specifically so he can't raise bail, which he could easily come and have had spent the night in prison. about two weeks later, those two white guys are hauled out of bed at 5:00 in the morning and the bail is so high that they can't make it. again, he comes straight back, and i find that immensely appealing cheering from the sidelines. >> et and 45, brokers at the stock exchange are not allowed to buy. what preceded that having to do
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specifically with the new york stock exchange? >> it wasn't the stock exchange. it was the second new board as it is called in the stock exchange. it was this revelation was passed, it was personal and i have walked through the stock exchange for mike looked through newspapers and i can't find any more details than the ones i've pieced together then the new orleans became a. of a pasty resolution but, quote unquote the hebrew faction arranged to have the passage put to one side and the committee to look at it and it seems to have dropped out of that so as soon as possible the chairman of the exchange fund to himself we can't do this and so they
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arranged to have it. i don't know what they are so i'm afraid i've uncovered a walk-through some almost herculean research that often people will ask questions like that and all i can say is i don't know where i could hazard a guess. and that also as i mentioned i read in the book. >> you talk about new york city ending jim crow and segregation. can you talk about the public transportation and i'm thinking of the trial that you mentioned downey. >> new york goes from being a walking city to one that is all over the place that you can no longer walk around.
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public transport becomes more and more important and as segregation is being invented, you could get this coming here. the british when english travelers couldn't understand that class wasn't a factor here you could be a rich black man but treat like an ordinary black man. they thought this was insane. but a barber cut and shave a black man if he wanted white business just struck european travelers as insane. hamilton is the european sort of picture of the way in a way because he is a wealthy black man who can't be treated on public transport so the most important strain that runs on third avenue i think it is tons of the harlem railroad so the
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27th street is drawn by horses about 27th street unilaterally using steam engines and it is segregated but the segregation isn't that and force. so they travel on it and mostly the train company doesn't really worry about it but every now and again they do. thomas downing, the two richest black men in new york thomas downing and jeremiah hamilton, they are paying taxes on $90,000 worth of real estate which is unfortunate in 1845, he gets on the train on church business and he's coming back down again, he gets on the train and several white conductors and up beating him up and then tossing it off
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the back of the train. he then goes to the train company and he sues and goes to the company to identify the people that are there. the chairman of the harlem railroad comes down and he is a friend of downing and he's horrified. here is the story of what his employee he fires him straight away but he sues and when they tossed him off they busted his hat and so he says to the chairman they stuck my hair up and and the trim answers to downing a black man, go buy yourself a new one, i will pay for it which is one of those interesting moments but is and what you sort of expect. so the case goes forward and
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it's a fascinating case because the executives of the railroad company are embarrassed by the segregation and the imposition of it and the violence that has to be used and they are squirming but the audience watching it is against, is for segregation and so when the conductor and the driver come on they say not only were we right they would begin to segregate these people. so they go out and figure out for 23 seconds and then comes back in and it goes against thomas downing and the court directs into tears. so it's one of those things where an optimist can see the
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future and the embarrassment of the white elite as the way the segregation is going but for those poor bastards that are living in new york in the 1840s they have to live with the crowd cheering coming and that's going to be the way that it's going to carry on. as it happens, there's another case involving thomas downing again in 17, 18 years later in which the crowd ends up pushing the drivers that refuse to drive the car on and the crowd ends up yelling out of three cheers for downing and pushing the carriage down the street so it seems things really are beginning to change. >> thank you so much everybody for coming. [applause]
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we do have books for sale in the exhibition gallery and ensure the speaker would be happy to sign a copy for you. >> john is the catholic program director at washington, d.c.. he's also the author of the new book by francis affect radical pope's challenge to the american catholic church. what makes pope francis medical? syracuse asked why he is a revolutionary and he didn't shy away from that. he said it's one that goes back to the roots and i think that he's going back to the root of the gospel which really puts the floor first and i think that he is radical in the sense that he talks about unjust structures and wants to talk about inequality and that makes him radicalized in a possible way. >> what is the command membership current membership of the catholic church in america? >> it's very divided and i think this is why catholic voters tend
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to be swing voters in elections. we have one coming up that will be key and i think that's what this pope is doing is opening a new space for a different kind of catholic narrative in the country that has been very narrowly defined in the recent years in the united states and he's expanding that saying economic justice, environmental justice these are pro-life issues that catholics have to take seriously. >> as a nonreligious and religious alike have looked at the austerity measures here in the united states he drove around and is that what former popes have been doing? >> he stands in a tradition that goes back really first century. it's endorsed living wages for more than a century but the problem has been here in the united states of america has been sort of stuck around issues like same-sex marriage and contraception in recent years the city isn't creating a new teaching but he's bringing back to the floor but justice voice
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in the square and i think that is attracting a lot of people. >> when the church decided on francis, did they know what they were getting? >> that is a good question i think they knew they were getting a pastor that wants to block with the floor. he was in archbishop and rode the subway and cooked his own meals. they knew they were going to get a rockstar pope who completely redefined the conversation. he's the first pope of latin america said they knew that this was going to be a change but i don't think they could have expected what we are seeing right now. it's back to recent books came out looking to the vatican bank and to the vatican financial issues of pope francis that has asked for investigations and wants more transparency with the bank, can you tell us about what it is? >> his works go back to pope benedict and he's trying to push for more accountability in the ancient system and the vatican
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bureaucracy benefits from a certain mentality and culture and he's saying we have to change this so he's going at it in a very powerful way and people are excited about it he is also making enemies in of the church by doing that. >> you work for a catholic advocacy group. since he has been the pope have you noticed an uptick in the folks wanting to engage you about your religion? >> there's a renewed sense of urgency about the folks that in recent years were now taking a second look at again and i think that this is going to have repercussions for the catholic political conversation in the country so absolutely there is a new sense of energy. >> the author of the francis affect the radical pope's challenge to the catholic church published by roman and little field. thank you very much. >> we are so honored tonight to welcome susan at the best selling and highly esteemed memoir biographer and


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