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tv   In Depth Annette Gordon- Reed  CSPAN  August 2, 2021 2:00am-2:28am EDT

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author for bracket author for brecher victim over oregon in a couple more in the works is written about world war ii and another one in the works and is writtenn about newt gingrich and mary ball washington the motherg of george washington. he's been our guest on "in depth" for the past two hours. thank you mr. shirley. >> guest: thank you very much peter. it's been a lot of fun.
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>> host: annette gordon-reed on the 245th anniversary of 1776. we often tell ourselves we are -- >> guest: we are certainly trying to be. >> host: in what way? >> guest: i think the number of people in society who are working towards the ideals of the declaration making it a reality the ideas about equality and happiness are they think we have that idea and trying to
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reach that potential. >> host: what the founders recognize who we are today? >> guest: no, of course not. some aspects of it they would did most of it women participating in politics blacks participating in politics would havehe been barred before in the power of united states. the time we are talking about 1776 this is in the middle of nowhere and they don't have the power to lead an empire and weeo have become an empire. >> host: or fester gordon-reed have you weighed in on the 1776 versus 1519 debates that we are having in the country right now? >> certain interviews and things like that but i haven't written anything about it that i know of. i have maybe done at tweeter
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something. >> host: what are your initial thoughts? >> guest: myho thoughts are what i said before is you need both. 1619ut if that's what you are referring to talks about the beginning of slavery in the north american colonies and it set the context for 1776. 1776 is different because it's the beginning of what we call the beginning of the country so these people effective within the context of 1619 was important because they were slavery and13 all colonies. there's a new paradox and we can talk about that are not and whether there's a paradox but this idea of all were created equal in the society in which a good number of people are in --
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and slaved so there's no paradox in 1619 and the english are not saying things about all men are created equal and things of that nature. he becomes an issue on the basis of a the document that claims a universal ideal. >> host: where do the three-fifths clause come from? >> guest: this is a way to try to apportion congress. they wanted four-fifths and so they would have better representation and this was a compromise between the northern and the southern states who were even it's beginning concerned about who would have -- because they come together as colonies but the individual colonies were different that the regions have their own ways of life.
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madisons said small states are states that have been slave people. there were people who in those who don't and this was a way of compromising and colleagues that were used to being alone for themos to come together in a union. >> host: this was not an easy process, was it? >> guest: not at all, not at all. they saw themselves in different places and jefferson talked about virginia he talks aboutut his country and that's what he they didn't created nation all at once but they created a union and that was a difficult process and you know by the conferences -- compromises that they made. a papering over of the things
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you had in the 1860s. >> host: one of those founders that you have written. veaux about thomas jefferson when did your interest start? >> guest: my interest in jefferson starter when i was in elementary school and inch our classroom at the back of the classroom you have a separate library in the back of the classroom. do you have a library and it had books for third-graders and this was when i was in the third t grade. booker t. washington george washington carver and thomas jefferson. the book was supposed to be like a biography. it was a fictional playbook. it was jefferson's companion and the book bothered me because
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it's a silly and not wanting to learn so exasperated because jefferson wanted to reading go to school. and i knew at the same time as the black tours and that my classmates had the intent of the author was to send a message about black people. i loved reading and i couldn't see why it had to be portrayed that way. that was my question to jefferson and i read other age-appropriate books about monticellolo and thought about slavery as well. at the same time what is that
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about? my interest started in school and a continued up until now i guess. >> host: is your school segregated at that point or had he been integrated? >> guest: actually i integrated at this particular school. i integrated in schools in my hometown in texas. by the time i got to the third grade things had changed. there were more black kids in school. i was there by myself the first but then there were supreme court cases and so forth that required an immediate integration of all the schools. there were more by that time. integration was new at this time >> host: you write in your
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most recent book that you integrated that school all of ruby bridges but without a police escort. my parents and the school district and i suppose the school newspaper or the town newspaper. they decided we didn't want to makedn a big deal about it. it would be nothing unusual here but what wasas very unusual i remember delegations of educators and standing in the doorway to look at us on the 25 or so white kids who were in the class with me just to see how it was going. it was an intense time and my mother said at one point i broke out in hives. it's like anything you look back
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at that time period and i've remember some of the bad stuff. my overall feeling which was of excitement of learning things. that's where galvanized. i had friends. there were some white kids who were not nice to me but my first grade teacher and my second grade teacher which were the key formative years were just fantastic. they didfa everything they could to make everything run smoothly but there were bumps. >> host: in her book annette gordon-reed has written three about thomas jefferson the first came out in 1997. thomas jefferson and sally hemings and the second is "the hemingses of monticello." she won the polk award and the pulitzer prize for that look enter most recent along with peter -- as most was that of the
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patriarchs. why did jefferson referred himself that way? >> guest: he was comparing himself to the patriarchs of old and he people and he had power and yet all these kinds of things. he was the patriarch of this particular era and he saw himself that way and of course he looked at that and said what? i insisted that we put that in quotes in the look because we didn't want people thinking that we were calling it that. it's his identity. we look at thishi as negative ad that's why i didn't want to be associatedd with calling them bt he saw himself as a person who had responsibilities. he looked at the slaveholder and all of those things and the father who has control over
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daughters and so forthd and sad this is a bit much. a side is these are all the people i'm responsible for that i'm supposed to take care of. we thought he calls himself that a couple of times. the book is about trying to figure out what that actually was. >> host: how long have we known about sally hemings? >> guest: well it depends on who we are. people in the african-american community had this story f is an article of faithth and referencd it. we have known and the story came out in 1790 and so the story about it has been in the public
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sphere since the beginning of the 19th century. it was rediscovered in the 1950s when they found madison hemings recollection and the novelist who was also a jefferson person as well. they brought it to the attention of -- so it kind of gets a new life. they didn't talk about it explicitlyeyt in their book but it's just a new light in the 70s when she wrote about it in her biography. she put the recollections in the back of herck book. he was the son of thomas jefferson and sally so that recollection now that was in the public eye -- i read it when i was 14 years old and that was the first time i had ever seen
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seen -- by a former slave% and inches of me to think of someone in that predicament and they knew that slaveowners had children and there were children born with connections and other kinds of connections. i knew that but to talk about a person an individual whom i'd been interested in before this was a new twist on the story. >> host: how widespread are the descendents of jefferson and hemings? >> guest: i don't think his son had children but his daughters had lots of kids in of people around the country who were hemings descendents. i met a good number of them and
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corresponded with a good number of them through a family reunion with them including some of jefferson's legal family. they have lots of kids in those days. >> host: annette gordon-reed have they've been officially recognized? >> guest: i don't think so. the monticello association the association of jefferson's's descendents with his wife i don't believe they have. i think it will would have been news and i would have heard something b about it read i dont know how many of them are actually teaching that recognition because there had -- they have a family story and from the people that i've talked to that's pretty much their attitude about it. >> host: well the c-span
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presidential historian survey just came out and we do it every four years after an election and the president to have written about extensively thomas jefferson came in at number seven and has been consistently at number seven as a president you had written about in andrew johnson came in second to last right above james buchanan. you think those are pretty accurate? >> guest: e i would say so. when my book about hidden came out that was the one-year -- he's usually just above buchanan and that's about right. he was not a good president. he was a terrible person. the thing about buchanan and johnson and it's a tough comparison but they both did things that put them at the
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bottom of the list of presidents. it's probably about right. >> host: hawaii is that? >> guest: probably because louisiana and doubling the size the country. that happened during his presidency and it was his doing. that is the controversial thing because people think about what that meant for the extension of slavery and indigenous people in that area. in the beginning of the united states takano united states, when i fill those surveys out i don't think about necessarily about how i f feel about a particular action or a particular president their policies. ihi think about how they exercie power in office and what they did it help change the country.
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that was a claim to fame for him and his first inaugural address was a successful term and the second term there was an embargo on all sorts of issues. i think he belongs in the top 10 and i suppose because of the decorations that they were talking about or we were speaking on. he gets points for that as well even though he is not president then. it's a key militant score for him but i would say some the things he did his first term and setting a tone this idea about the people as the sovereign rulers and jeffersonianism which definitely continued in his acolytes madison and monroe and took place after him and even
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jackson. he took over from john quincy but jackson saw himself -- he admired jefferson even though jefferson didn't admire him. it's the influence of jefferson. there's the age of jefferson that you think of and that's part of his presidency. >> host: were you asked to write and andrew johnson biography by the american presidents series or did you volunteer? >> i was astrid arthur schlessinger on the board of advisers the papers of thomas jefferson out of princeton. i knew him from that and the other editor had been the editor on the book i did on vernon. between the two of them asking me to do this, it was only 40,000 words and i said sure. it was not something i would
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have ever out of the blue thought of doing but once i started doing it and started looking into it i realized e evn though johnson is not a terribly pleasant person which shouldn't be a consideration but it always is whenit you spend time writing about them he was president during a pivotal moment. he made fateful decisions that put d in place other fateful decisions. even if he's not attractive as a manor is a character the role that he played as president people should know about him because of it. >> thost: the only southern senator not to leave the senate. >> guest: exactly and that's why lincoln traded and his original -- because it was symbolic. he wanted to send a message see,
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we can get back together. a seven or on my ticket we can go forward together. it was a disaster. >> host: the one thing i picked up an herb biography you were for two jobs and as independent and quirky. guess who he came from nowherehe essentiallyy. his wife apparently taught them how to write and you think that's a good quality in some ways. it could business and perseverance. he really didn't accept limitations. he came from a working-class
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that ground. he didn't let himself be hampered by that. basically every office he could have mayor, governor he sort of non-displayed he becomes president because of a tragedy. head had grit and they are not a lot of other things in my book other than his love for the union was important. i think it's his grit and loyalty to the union were things that ico could say okay there is something there. along with as i said being in a pivotal role at a particular time. >> host: l before we leavesk andrew johnson i want to ask
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about dolly. >> guest: well we don't really know much about her. there are peoplee who claim to johnson through her. because my book was basically about his presidency and the american presidents series we don't necessarily talk about the personal lives off the president but the main things that are out there their policies. i didn't go off into detail in talking about his play. >> host: annette gordon-reed back to the presidential historian survey put out by c-span and a jackson has been dropping steadily since 2011 when he was. number 13 and went down to
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number 20. what does that say about him? >> guest: well it says that different people have generations respond to different public figures differently over sktime. it's the same way historians ask different questions of people in the past and situations ins the past based upon their preoccupation and we had been very interested in the question of indigenous people and we were interested in the subject. jackson is an interesting figure because there is an age of jackson to. it was a rise in american democracy but it was arise of what people refer to and i'm not making this up the idea that white men should rule so even in situations and places where of
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blacks had been disenfranchised you have the situation where there's an expansion of democracy. working-class and lower classes getting power that they didn't have a foreign by then -- it's a restriction on blacks so that's a problem and what does that mean and how do we celebrate one side? it had been a policy before jackson but jackson's treatment of native americans has been seen as a problem and i'm putting out mildly. if you think about those issues he looks worse than he may have before. people were thinking about the
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fortunes of african-americans during this time period or fewer assuming there's only one way to handle the situation with native americans and he becomes a problematic figure. people like arthur schlessinger and others -- because of the spread of democracy. you have this nation of progress sort of a historical process that inevitably leads to better and better things. it's okay that they were taking the franchise away from the black people. as historians there's nothing that's inevitable and there is no end to what we are working towards people could say yeah but we still have to deal with, you can't think about what happens afterwards. you have to think about what's happening during that particular
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moment and would we think about people who couldn't vote now -- couldn't vote before and now can vote and how do we feel about what they were doing at that particulart time? it makes sense but b who knows? certainly jefferson, jefferson's fortune has fallen over the years and now it's in the trough. but it's not likely that he's goinghe to stay there. these things come and go and different generations are interested in different things. >> host: eight different criteria and areas and by the way it's all available on but we do it every four years


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