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tv   Madness Rules the Hour  CSPAN  May 20, 2017 8:00pm-8:35pm EDT

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. >> they couple nights ago i asked for a show of hands how many had been to charleston and oboist -- almost everyone in the room.
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so you are well-traveled. we are talking about the oldest cities in america and saturated in history that is what makes them interesting. but not many other places do. why do we care about charleston in the 1860's? what we all know here as my starting point charleston south carolina was out then the rest of the state's would fall.
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but with more enthusiasm than others. with charleston was really the vanguard of secession. so the last day of 1860 they said blood must we shed the officers without the shedding of blood will have no peace madness rules the hour and our raven for the prey i read that letter in charleston when i was exploring for this book it was something i wanted to commit to the with this people in this place and time and that letter helped
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me to make up my mind because there has got to be a story there. how does the community get to that point which is basically not an article of convictions but to act in one but first is fear. so the story really begins in the fall of 1859 in harpers ferry john brown in the abolitionist he is captured and executed but in charleston there was tremendous alarm over john brown rides gail slavery has
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existed for centuries as part of the african slave trade so a letter writer to the hometown paper said then he grows as a group of citizens or planners for may vigilance committee calling attention to the emissaries who come in various disguises in the pretext they combine the subtlety but where there is fear there is opportunity. one that fertilizes the soil
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so the moral of the john brown episode of as far as the radicals are concerned that the problem is one government with all these people we had a separate government of our own post office and military with executive control. of their own destinies would perish. know this is the property that there were men and women the best known was the patriarch that was basically agitating for secession for decades so i think to revive
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the role of his son but the oldest son but he controlled that with his political agenda so just a little bit on that book sold at times he could see anyone or everyone john brown and the fanatics too faced politicians who vowed to protect slavery. but in his own backyard to be unable or unwilling to grasp that state five-foot
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9 inches tall 3 inches shorter than his dad with this merger build 140 pounds with a handlebar mustache really parted hair business attire with the white caller shirt with a flat horizontal above and then to dangle from a chain and important figure 1960 that why in april? that the democrats are coming to charleston. with is the great rhythm of the democratic party peaceful and tranquil this
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is a peace offering to the south they want to nominate stephen douglas he is there candidate because if and only half given full and unimpeded rates places like kansas and nebraska so the other part of that democratic establishment said there were lots of voters in the north they may not vote for the party with plenty of anti-slavery agitation going on at that time. the radicals they actually
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would prefer to see the party fracture at that point they would prefer to see the republicans to literally walked out you can see it now burn down. with the man and the women of charleston with every bit of objection from the southerners and they walked out and they formed their own succeeding convention so that was like the first secession happening here in charleston. and the radicals were overjoyed with two sections of the union but every
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revolutionary model the worse it gets the better it is. so now it is like that with contagion it might cato little bit but it is summertime in charleston so it is really hot it is always hot so the fish carcasses are rocking on the mud flats people are groping from the heat maybe the others are in switzerland enjoying the cool air but not what is happening in charleston and the radicals
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are getting worried as they should be i trust our own people more than a fear the efforts of all the abolitionist even the u.s. marshall so the merchants in charleston were not so enthusiastic about secession i'm not sure about the business proposition because they get goods on consignment there is no central banking system and what did you just drop breaking up and the banks honor the paper currency? it seems like it is bad but it is business they are a clever bunch of what they
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really need as every revolutionary they need to manufacture something so they have that. his name was abraham lincoln. here is the pitcher in chicago in may at the convention really as a moderate. the lincoln never set foot it is time for some fake news. [laughter] he is an abolitionist and though florida looking wretch and a scoundrel after
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him what decent white man would be president? so of course of a white man was discredited by those abolitionist as he should be back in february with cooper union and to explain his position with the territories that you will be left alone and then slavery withers and dies. so secession fever returns they write in a pamphlet note to the south so how'd
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you decide is it a lonely resistance? but the ladies are on board also. the widow rights i have said to my three sons if anyone should be brazen enough then let him look upon my face there is the search for lincoln in charleston on a mission to the south and makes it through mobile and new orleans and immediately slips out that lincoln's by
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so yes charleston was on the watch. and the guy supposedly who invented baseball was day ardent anti-slavery man his brother was working at a bank in new york so even the paranoid have enemies but the last unionist in charleston publicly declared unionist can hardly believe what he is hearing. his own countrymen here in south carolina that makes them a call and partial observer so anything that would flatter their
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divisional so i say he is my favorite character. saudia have grown to like better than others. [laughter] that he is on the invitation. so little starts after midnight out of the ap from york center the telegraph station that set up a bulletin board they have been there for hours but no surprise bid charleston shots at the top of his lungs bring it on so then
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the federal judge right down there on charleston street opens up business that morning takes off his robe and declares it is the end of his association with the federal government so other federal officials retire as well he becomes an instant folk hero with paintings and posters and charleston bill say secession poll in the middle of town on main street in the honor that from the french revolution. interesting choice.
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[laughter] and from colonial massachusetts to be pinned to the side of their hats just like varity was thrown overboard just like the revolution this is patriotism. sold to small to be a republic but too large. [laughter] broad enough blood be shed. so to fort sumter charleston harbor the war came. when it was over on the
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right hand on the left everywhere and always "harper's" weekly of charleston in 1865 with the deserted warehouses' the gardens and the acres of baroness. general sherman he made a visit to charleston in mid april and then came on the excursion they decided those rules were picturesque so there was not a lot of pity for charleston if there is
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any other city that was more terribly punished but as the people had for years been agitating the civil war the judgment would be that charleston deserves the fate that it got. but was shermans judgment on charleston. why charleston? that is still a question. why was that the vanguard? one reason perhaps more than any other in the south as much as anywhere in the country but the truth is by
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1860 not just by york and boston but baltimore was dealing in more trade than charleston even in charleston there were headed for cincinnati there was a sense of dynamism as they were migrating to other parts of the country and even visitors from maine call it a little and antique mitropoulos he wanted people to feel locked and humiliated so let's get a bacchanal was the message. so with the stowe judge the independence will the days
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of glory have returned in now driving the uprising this was hope even in france rothschild that's what was said. so cotton was money so make charleston great again. [laughter] i am happy to take your questions. [applause] >> what surprised you the most to researching this book?. >> it gets to what i was talking about that i thought with the john brown raid
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that this would be a story driven by fear that once they turn the corner and was called in april at the convention of hope and enthusiasm the secession came almost like a party a lot of alcohol was consumed that year. [laughter] a lot of toasting and bad atmosphere which is surprising because hindsight i knew how the story would turn out to the literally that prospect of what they thought would be a new dreamscape of prosperity.
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i did not expect to turn up any examples of that. the letters or diaries are everywhere. or the enthusiasm. >> i would say that was part of the media. for that behavior to embrace the very careful scrutinize your and he said after lincoln's election to say this is the light?. >>. >> i find it fascinating between today's politics
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when you use the statement of false news you think of california today and immigration issues that if the same thing could occur in the united states with the decisions of people to secede. i find that fascinating. >> i do to. so in the middle of 1860 how do they know they're on the brink of an actual shooting? i do think the fake news and a the propaganda and the partisanship and there is a sense of of longing for the past of the factories and i think mr. yoda is much
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better done with poetry and politics. [laughter] >> get all like to be too pessimistic but i dunno if we ever learned much of anything. [laughter] writing history is as much about feelings and reason. so without agitating the passion of the moment i do think we learned some things but with that feeling that we are on the brink with that important difference to have that intense conflict that could be described explicit geographical terms so now talk about the by coastal part of america it
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isn't quite the same is not all the same but that practical proposition it is harder to see how they are pitted against each other. >> but that is probably the biggest difference?. >> back then even those journalists -- charles estonians that was banned material in charleston so for them to come here in disguise charlestonions did not have a great idea but
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was happening in their city because they will live in the media silo and preaching to the acquirer -- the acquirer now listening to the other side. so that partisanship has coupled with that trend that in some ways has been facilitated to literally take out the new york times or "wall street journal" as they talk to themselves. >> as a fuel that frenzy of the confederates and that seems to read your its ugly head so there is that
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similarity. >> so without any question at that point was not white supremacy. . . i have been to me nowadays, i am by no means an expert. you know i mean it is certainly a debate that how much of that
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was an ingredient in the so-called populism that we see now. and politics. how much of it is agitated by grievances that had happened to the race. i think certainly there's some degree i do not quite see it as overriding a factor as it was about; sleep you know, like and in the 1850s. it was understood for political reasons and stuff to give way to the north basically use the foundation of their society at that point. this is not sensor different now i think is a political structure and economic
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structure of society it is different. now. -- [laughter] >> that's okay! >> we are certainly, they were people who were opposed and wanted to find a way of accommodating with the union. what was life like for them both before and after the start of hostilities? >> i think before hand, i mentioned there was, i am not -- christopher - was i mean he
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was this gifted gifted child brought up in the charleston orphan house and he was tosses leaving moderate. he advocated for some kind of agreement of you know, let's try to work out some kind of a deal with the north. and he was hoping to get everyone in the south on board that. this is early 1860s. so -- took upon himself to go to virginia, talked for four hours you know to the virginia legislature. he distributed pamphlets, he was basically begging them to join some sort of southern conference and at least they were not all of the south carolina but everyone in the south and east failed. medina could have decide what to do. others undermined him so - the
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moderate ground such as it existed in charleston in 1860 essentially disappeared. it evaporated. and not was a deliberate strategy of the radicals to make it like an existential are either with us or you are with them. because you basically just left with people like -- who was publicly declared and one of the very very few, the very rest were even -- anyone else? i am happy to sign your books and chat with you afterwards if you like. thank you for coming. [applause]
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