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tv   Richard Brookhiser Give Me Liberty  CSPAN  November 17, 2019 11:01pm-12:04am EST

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[applause] [applause]
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spent good evening everyone so glad to see you here in the auditorium tonight's program give me liberty is a part of the shorts distinguished speakers series and thank you for your great generosity which enables us to bring so many fine speakers to the stage. i also want to think the chairman's council member who is in attendance and thank you for your support which enables us to do our work with that question and answer session as you enter the auditorium my colleagues are going up and down the aisles.
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following the program there will be a book signing and they will be available for purchase. we are thrilled to welcome richard brooke kaiser at the national review institute and the author of numerous books including alexander hamilton's americana. as our chief historian curator the blockbuster show alexander hamilton from 2004. we were way ahead of our time but it caught up with us. richard brooke kaiser was is awarded the national humanities metal in 2008 his
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newest book is the exceptional idea was published in one - - just this week. before joining yale professor clerked for justice breyer when he was a judge in us court of appeals first circuit. it with the outstanding scholar award. and as our very own before the speakers begin their conversation please make sure anything that makes a sound is
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turned off please join me to welcome our speakers this evening. [applause] sumac it i admired him the first time i saw him my first week at yale college i just turned 18 and i have been following his words ever since. so as you have heard this book give me liberty is a history of america is exceptional idea and dedicated to the american people.
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it has your trademark and incisive newness but it is also a big book because most history books don't try to take on such a broad sweep of time. talk about choices of basic framing of the project. >> i am making an argument in this book to say the characteristic of american nationalism is our concern with liberty that makes us not canada or mexico or whatever and this is been going on a long time and has gone on before we were a country in our colonial past so i take 13
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episodes each of which produces a document the first one is 1619 in jamestown the most recent is 1987 in berlin with president reagan. not quite 400 years spent four centuries of concern with the concept of liberty. three of the episodes are colonial before the declaration of independence because this concern of ours goes back that far you have to trace it back that far to get a grasp on it. you will not be surprised to learn there are 13 different
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episodes you describe them as snapshots of an album we cannot do all 13 today so as the new york historical society we will focus on the new york aspects of your story but before that tell us a 13. >> the first is the minutes of the first general assembly of jamestown. number two is 1657 number three the trial and argument to the jury that john peters 1735 number for the declaration of independence
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the constitution of society 1785. number six the constitution in 1787 number seven and is the monroe doctrine over eight is seneca falls declaration of sentiment 1848 next is the gettysburg address next is the new colossus written for the pedestal for the statue of liberty it was written in 1883 next 1896 next is the fireside chat 1940 the tear down this wall speech 1987.
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>> 13 out of 13. [applause] so we will not talk about the 19 of jamestown but we will i will be honest but you talk about the flushing that when it is still a dutch colony and is being governed and i live down on 16th street third avenue with a splendid statue of peter stiles it really captures the man's personality. he looks vigorous and energetic with the wooden leg he lost in the wars against spain and looks like you would not want to cross this guy he wants to be in charge of
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everything. >> he reminds me a little bit of rudy giuliani. [laughter] crazy but effective. despite all the good he did he was a big it. a dutch calvinist, his father was a minister he wanted to impose that on his domain in the new netherlands because there were lutheran and jewish investors in these companies he was told to back off but then there were no quakers
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they were extremely countercultural religion they did not recognize iraq use the same forms of address and that men and women preach equal so this was very peculiar and threatening so they appeared in the new netherlands he handles them in various ways he almost whips to death another and says we cannot have any in here. and then says fine we will send it back if anybody harbors one then that will be a crime. and then 30 men in flushing as
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part of his domain they sent him a public laid - - letter and say we cannot obey this order for religious reasons we redo other men as they would do to us this is for church and state. this is not god and the prophets tell us to do. it is a remarkable stand for freedom of conscience. what moves me the most is that six of them could not sign their names. they didn't know how to spell their own names so they made a mark but they were standing up to the sky. p-letter had them arrested the
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actual scribe of the document the dutch kept very good records to have a record of the interrogation. who told you write this cracks no one how did you come to write it? i was just listening. where do they express this quick. >> no place in particular where did you write this cracks it is an interrogation no beating up or torture but it is an interrogation and he made them crack. but quakers continue to come in to defy the order he decides to send one to amsterdam to be tried and finally his bosses although there were quakers said layoff these people they said we
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don't like quakers anymore but we want population they are willing to come in, fine so finally he does back off. >> speaking of thin-skinned people running in new york you mentioned rudy giuliani and now we have another thin-skinned person who is now the governor so tell us the story of a different hamilton. >> that's right the english conquer new amsterdam in 1664 and in the 18th century we have a series of royals some are worse than others in new york historical society owns a
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portrait of one of them in a women's dress. rudy giuliani saturday night live by the way. [laughter] he would allegedly lurk on the street corner. and this picture depicts them in drag its probably a forgery. 's and it takes six months to get over here from england and during that time so he says when he arrives you owe me my back salary. [laughter] they don't want to pay him it
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goes to the lower court and rules against cosby said he fires morris inputs in his place a much younger man and what morris does to fight back is hires an immigrant to start a newspaper and newspaper culture has already started in the 13 colonies the franklin brothers started in boston every significant town along the coast had at least one newspaper and now new york has two previously it is official they would print all of the official notices and laws and
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that was in the pocket of whoever the governor was. and for a year to campaign against governor crosby they run bogus ads for one of cosby's supporters and cosby doesn't like it so finally he has issues with the newspaper so the supporters hire from out of town the best lawyer in british north america named andrew hamilton. he's a lawyer in philadelphia who comes up to defend his client.
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as a law professor you would be very interested in the courtroom drama because the relevant law is of seditious libel which at the time was a recognized law of anglo-american law to it criminalize criticism of rulers on the ground that could cause violence and upheaval obviously we don't want that so we will not permit criticism of rulers so that is the law of the land. so it's a brilliant performance basically asking for jury nullification. now he cannot say that and there are times when the judge will not let him but what hamilton does, he knows his way around the courtroom he
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says he will apologize and make the argument later in a slightly different form it's a very eloquent performance to say what other recourse do they have if they are mis- ruled? they have to have the right to complain because how else can anything be redressed if nobody can talk about it? and if you don't allow this the only alternative is revolution and he mentions the overthrow of the kingdom by the first brutus in the english civil war but he keeps coming back to the point the right to complain to expose this rule is something every freeman has. and the jury agrees to leave
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the box for a short time they come back these 12 ordinary new yorkers it is an impressive group we never heard of any of them but they stand up and acquit him. but colonial governors will not bring actions for seditious libel after this because no jury will bring a conviction so the fact the press in colonial america will be the freest in the world. >> this is 17 thirties but you want us to know these names some are recognizable today but many are not before union - - mention the name of lewis morris - - mention the name of lewis morris he is the
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backer. >> this isn't a new york story but my copy of the declaration of independence there is a lewis morris. >> grandson. >> and then there is another family connection. so we will pass over the declaration of independence you focus on the ode to liberty and their other aspects as well those that have international significance you will have to read the chapter yourself so now let's leapfrog to the constitution the new york
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historical society. >> some of the chapters in this book are about filling gaps i argue the constraint of liberty is centuries long and central to our experience and we have violated in numerous ways and we have had to correct those violations over the course of history. the largest and most inflamed was human slavery. i wanted to do a chapter on the northern state we forget it wasn't just a southern thing new york was a slave colony and a slave state i learned in writing the book
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that new york city had more slaves than any american city except charleston that's a function of our size we are the largest city but still that is a startling and shameful statistic so after the revolution there was a scandalous event where some free blacks living in new york were about to be put aboard a ship with some slave trading new york another towns were people looking for runaway slaves they may try to carry them off into slavery it was
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scandalous so there is a meeting in new york of an interesting combination of people the elite of the state george clinton was part of this john j. the great diplomat and patriot and alexander hamilton. who had a very good staff and you can see the musical. [laughter] and was also working with new york's quakers who appear several times in the book and they are always on the outs by their own choice because their vision is so radical this is
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an ongoing debate within the quaker community but with this moment that have a common interest to rectify new york situation with respect to slavery they feel this is a violation of the principles of the revolution that these men have fought people like hamilton did and they want to set new york on the path. so they write a constitution which is very eloquent to resemble the famous opening of the declaration of independence but is more exclusively religious talking about the laws of nature and nature's god. speaking to the benevolent creator and father of men. and says it is our duty as
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citizens and christians not only to sympathize but actively work to enjoy the same rights as ourselves so can our brother and. it's a very sweeping statement many members of society :-colon slaves but they were willing to put themselves on record and willing to go to work to end this const to tuition one - - to end this constitution no slave or when - - slave could be sold outside the state. a number of slaves where they
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are and they said they should all be free they also established a system of schools for black children because they felt they were ignorant so they started off and then girls were allowed a few years later ultimately this is put into the school system in the 19th century than the final result is john j the first president of the society elected governor and in 1799 signs a bill to end slavery by 1727. people reading about this come to it for the first time say they are really dragging their heels. but the other side is they got it done was in the culture
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they wanted to get it out and someone has to do it you can't say it will go away but you have to work and that's what they did in 1827 finally the last slaves are free july 4th i and the chapter with another hamilton who is a black man self-proclaimed journalist and an eloquent essay about the end of slavery in new york which he praises the society as the main engine of the process. >> let me give one distinction for the freeing of individual slaves going back to antiquity
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and they have regimes but actually it is the americans that develop the idea to abolish slavery itself. abolition to free the slaves. it may not be that many existing slaves but then not at all or ever. >> one final thing as you talk about john j with this abolition law.
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he is so opposed to slavery that he buys some slaves. what is up with that quick. >> so when they work off their price they will be free. that sounds all head to us but i would also may be in his defense say he tried to get anti- slavery language in the first constitution during the revolution. he helped to write that and he failed in this respect than three years later he wrote until we do this our prayers to heaven for liberty will be in pious. that's pretty hard to saying. >> the next chapter is a different constitution. it's not quite new york because in the drafting gates and lansing basically defect at a certain point leave new
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york without a vote so now he can talk that cannot cast a vote on behalf of new york. but there is a new york angle for we have to move quickly there are more new york stories. another morris comes into the picture. >> my favorite so tell us about governor morris and then a few observations about the ratification process in new york led by those on the other side so give us the new york take. >> governor morris is also the grandson of lewis morris who is the half brother of the lewis morris that signs a declaration. it is an active political family. i love him.
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he had a pagan leg he was a ladies man. he was brave. he would go on to be minister to france during the reign of terror. he sticks to his guns and hold his own when those are at the guillotine. in terms of the ratification struggle new york is a must-have state nine out of 13 states ratify it goes into effect but they know they have got to have certain states the biggest of massachusetts pennsylvania and virginia. they need new york not so big yet but growing and centrally located.
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so there is a lively press controversy. we have all read the federalist papers with the blast on the pro- constitution side. >> yes. these are op-ed pieces writing 750 words twice a week these were 2000 words coming out three or four or five times a week. but they were very eloquent essays on the other side and new york state of actual riots there was one in albany another in new york but it shows you how high the passions were. >> you think it's important
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with that you mentioned society and in the end will be the swing vote so they may agree on something and alexander hamilto hamilton. it is a fascinating story. so now we go upstate and tell me about seneca falls. >> this is another gap. obviously women mostly do not have the right to vote. but in new jersey through 18 oh seven women who met the property qualification could vote that was because the language of the first new
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jersey constitution talked about inhabitants and not free man. people noticed and there were enough women meeting the property qualification the joker in the deck that married women their property belong to their husbands but if you are single or widowed and you met the property qualification you can vote in new jersey over those 31 years so they were called the petticoat vote recognized as a block but that ended 18 oh seven so this chapter is the most important individual is a woman from johnstown new york elizabeth cady stanton. her interest in politics is from her youth. her father is a judge serving a term in congress. she was his law clerk.
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she marries a man who himself is very involved in politics and then in 1840 she and her husband go to a worldwide abolition conference in london where the issue is are the women in attendance allowed to vote. this becomes an argument and the conference votes and says no they shall not be allowed to vote. then the young american gets home and says to her friend why can't we have a conference on women's rights? and ultimately moves with her husband to the seneca falls and there she has tea with some friends of hers. life was stressed. she and her husband are prosperous and her father
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helps to support them but three little boys. the husband is away politics and she runs everything. they are talking about the situation and the husband of one of these women says do something about it. so they decide to have a conference on women's rights. they have to act quickly because there is a noted women or raider visiting seneca falls going home soon so we have to put out the word fast and get a venue for go they get a wesley and chapel which is an anti- slavery section of the methodist church for go they have a two day meeting one of the more famous people that attendance is frederick douglas comes back from
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rochester new york the only nonblack person all of there are 12 people we know nothing. 's there probably were others what is interesting is even here the issue of women's voting was controversial. because they were quakers and by this point are thinking the whole political system is corrupt. it supports slavery, why have anything to do with it? to participate is the devils game. she says no if you are not voting you are not represented and you have no guarantees to protect your own station and write for go she is guided by the fact her father was in politics and her husband and she has been observing politics all her life. she knows the importance she wins the point for can i will
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skip ahead a lot of years. obviously the civil war sucks up everyone's attention. after the civil war the western states and territories individually allow women to vote before the 19th amendment was passed new york state one year before let's women vote. elizabeth cady stanton has yet died but one women is still surviving 102 years old from seneca falls lived all her life and only two houses that she went with her father to the seneca falls convention when she is 102 she is taken to the polls to vote. >> i hate to jump over the gettysburg address but that doesn't have a strong new york angle tell us about the statue
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and the plaque. >> yes. the statue of liberty was a gift to this country from france. it was a gift from a particular slice of a french nation. wringing your hands over american politics look at france sometime. [laughter] they really always have a tougher time than we have. they are reactionaries and so much further left than ours but there has always been in france a centrist liberal strain which has honestly admired republicanism to sustain the american revolution.
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and pushed for republicanism in france. lafayette the most famous of the beginning so during the second empire napoleons nephew in the middle of the 19th century as an authoritarian state as one of the liberals named edward is very interested and favors the union side and interested in emancipation and after the passage of the 13th amendment wouldn't it be great for france to commemorate emancipation of a colossal
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statue and where he floats this idea one of his guests is a young sculptor learning his trade in france he is interested in monumental sculpture he goes to egypt to the monuments of the ancient world are still standing he has some very interesting theoretical things how you should do this you don't want too many details don't distract the eye it should be as simple as a sketch. these to get together when france becomes a republic in 1870 republicanism is now the official position of the french nation they offer the gift to the united states. but they will not pay for the pedestal. they built the statue we have to come up with the money for the pedestal. this takes a long time.
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one of the projects to raise money is an album of literary productions mark twain write something they may have some poetry and then one writes a sonnet about the statue that she identifies as the mother of exiles it's called the new colossus from the ancient statue that everybody would have thought of at the time. that celebrated a triumph. she said this is different. this is not about that. this is welcoming people here as a refuge and this is what we should be proud of to have a free country of liberty we are willing to welcome people to it.
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it is put on the statue after she is dead. she tells her sister who is her executor make sure the new colossus is its put on page 404. [laughter] there were some family issues going on. [laughter] but she had a friend another blue stocking who was a descendent of alexander hamilton who lobbied on the pedestal where it is today. i think the problem is very effective piece of rhetoric it is important on that statue because that identifies the mother of exiles. she is the mother of liberty. not just being oppressed as a stop but you come over here
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and it will stop for good because this is a country for liberty you don't have to worry about that happening again. >> line of the exciting things about this and i have some great questions talking about filling gaps of liberty and responding to inclusion of slaves or blacks or women early on because you were a journalist during the contemporary era and a great scholar of the founding and the founders. and i nudged you forward in time all the way to lincoln with your great book but i don't remember a lot of brooke kaiser host lincoln or pre-
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reagan and with the colossus you have that. but for the first time that i can recall you really talk about that man the new yorker who isn't always beloved by the national review. or maybe he is, franklin roosevelt. so to skip across the speech. i will not let you talk about reagan but the arsenal. >> there are three chapters in the book dealing with america and the world. that may seem paradoxical talking about liberty in america but there are instances where we have seen that our interests and our preservation of our own
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liberty elsewhere. this is certainly what roosevelt thought in the 1930s he was not elected president of foreign policy but dealing with the depression and always mindful of foreign affairs with a lifelong interest and he saw the coming of the fascist dictatorships of the military regime in japan and he took steps to prepare to deal with that. one was to put young officers in charge of the army and the navy with general george marshall they were planners who developed a plan to how we would fight a war if it came to that against germany and italy and japan.
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and military code dog stands for d there were four options like the good memo writer and then you hold the line in the pacific but that remain focused to defeat germany. and then norway the low countries of france and to tell roosevelt if we win if britain survives we can win everywhere print goes down we might not lose everywhere but we cannot win.
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>> with the means of communication the precedence speech makers roosevelt uses the radio and gives the fireside chats probably radiator chats. but i was way to intimately connect in december 1942 tell america he wants us to be the arsenal of democracy. and say the oceans are still there because transportation is quicker and better to explain from senegal from germany to brazil it is shorter than washington dc to
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denver that the oceans are smaller than they were and we have to be mindful of that. to see the irish-americans would it be possible that i wish liberty could survive if every other country went under cracks and then says with hitler but you may find that embrace so trying to address these voting blocs in his corner. so he knows there has to be many months build up of resources before we could take the access on.
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he's not saying we will go to war but the arsenal of democracy because arsenal is not a food pantry. it is weapons if you are supplying weapons to one side you are taking sides. hitler is very mindful of what is going on and he tries not to provoke us for the longest time he gives orders do not fire on american ships. but planned dog is followed we prioritize the war in europe. that the arsenal of democracy is a crucial step in that process.
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>> what about fdr before quick. >> i don't think so. >> great questions. >> one detail when he was doing the arsenal he was in the white house over 500 radio stations but he had his political inner circle and his mother. [laughter] >> maybe that's the connection to ronald reagan's remake he had a great imitation. >> obviously the missing link. obviously you thought about this a lot so what other
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documents did you consider to quite make the cut if you are trying to pick something since what would you have picked quick. >> i address this in the epilogue and my model is a wonderful book about the constitution called the grand convention for guys still say if you read one book about the constitution that's the one. it is terrific. >> you know how to hurt a guy. [laughter] i am teasing to make you have written many books. >> but that book is outstanding. >>, there has been quick said they had not come to philadelphia would we have found another set he comes up
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with the same number from each state with washington and franklin that are unique and similarly with the documents and then frederick douglass was a fourth of july meant to the slave. and that is a characteristic of a free society these philosophies to be rest assured it's not self perpetuating our fate is in
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her hands that something that has to be done and keep being done and this will only be obvious to us in the future could you pick something since reagan quick. >> i could but i'm not going to say i don't want to turn anybody off the story i'm also not writing a book of policy prescriptions. this isn't to hold your hand and what's most important with
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american exceptionalism. since roosevelt's triumph had begun to emulate in certain ways so are we less exceptional today because we have liberty and democracy and in particular how canada and holland differ at times and the closest for canadian politics.
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and to be a canadian that's why he was aware of it. and then to say he ran it because he was a canadian. like the canadians. but they are different. there is no first amendment for one - . it doesn't happen a lot because canadians are nice. there are protections that we have. >> with this canadian constitution very interesting.
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and with the statue of queen victoria that we have permission from our parents to declare independence. because of our hero lincoln and britain begins to give up the new world ambitions. so they owe their independence to us. and then those that defend the american revolution or in
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vietnam and eve and their independence is more of a product. >> certainly there is unity. but his job is the canadian pacific railway in response to the american civil war. the american civil war. . . . . >> i'm going to have to take, there was a great question about religious liberty in particular public it just can't resist this because they paid me so much to not get to ask about the gettysburg address. when that you did. so, what is there to see about
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the gettysburg address. [laughter] and, go for it. >> what one thing, it's not entirely new. i say it was inspired by a winnable book called fortune and priors by michael max baron. no print of mind. but little noted aspect of it is that this wasn't just about americans and poor americans. the whole world was watching us. and they can is mindful of this. it is reflected here and there. shall not perish. from the earth. shall not perish from the earth. this is the biblical big republican world if it falls apart and fails, this going to send a lesson to the world. we do send a liz to england which has begun parliamentary reform but working on still to not have the right to vote. there will be an argument on the side of the site give to them because of what happened in america. will be a lesson to france,
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which has a napoleonic restoration in which also habsburg print on the throne of mexico. cellophane of a republican experiment is being watched, not just bias. >> right, off of reforms that the due 40s, that failed, and if we have a regime in which people who lose elections and were allowed to overturn that by of course of arms. the world will will have lost the last best hope of france. i say that is right. whether that is new or not, i say it is a good note for us to news and on. >> thank you. [applause] next book tvs afterwards, or harvard law school martha questions whether
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forgiveness and indices can strengthen the american justice system. she's interviewed by george laufer professor and federal particular public butler, afterwards is the weekly interview program with relevant breast host interviewing top nonfiction authors. about the latest work. all afterwards programs are also available as podcasts. >> full disclosure, me and i go way back. remote law professor at harvard and you taught me family law. and you were to go on being a lowly assistant professor to a storied career. not culminating but along this way you the dean of harvard law school but what i knew, your display favorite law professor. on the loan in that. in 2008, the junior senator from illinois was a man named barack ob


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