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tv   Stephen Browne The First Inauguration  CSPAN  August 17, 2021 2:03pm-3:07pm EDT

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♪♪ >> if you choose to research the origins of the topic being discussed frequently in the u.s. in recent months called critical race theory you will find the name derek bell, while professor bell who died in 2011 was one of the principal originators of this much discussed subject. november 1992, bell appeared on book notes to discuss his book, faces at the bottom of the well, permanence of racism. >> the late derek bell harvard's law school professor on this episode of plus. listen@c-span.org/podcast or wherever you get your podcast. ♪♪ >> good evening, everyone.
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i'm the executive director of the national library, the study of georgeto washington. welcome to our evening book talk in the month of april 2021. good to have you here and excited about our conversation on the first inauguration, george washington and the republic. one note coming up in may will be our third and final lecture, we had to wonderful conversations. thus far, separate tickets are available for the final conversation. remember the ticket if you select the ticket i'm thinking of it will include an autographed copy of the book shipped to you directly at home. richard, noted author and great scholar has a new book called the education of john adams. i'm excited to talk withoi him about it, join useg for our thid and final segment of the 2021
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series. introduce a bit about our speaker tonight, we will learn more as we join the conversation. liberal arts professor communication arts and sciences at penn state's, his most recent book before the book we'll talk about tonight was the eyes of war, george washington and the new crisis. he's written many books but were mostly excited about this one as we near the anniversary of the first inaugural address ever given by the firstf president of united states, we're going to talk with him tonight. george washington and the invention of the republic. he is a scholar from award-winning scholar both penn state, marvelous teacher but also the national communication association. join me in welcoming steve howard brown.ep welcome. >> great to be here.
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for anyone who's interested in washington, this is the gold standard so i felt grateful to you and the staff in the library and off course the ladies, so thank you. >> on behalf of the association we welcome you here tonight and alfunding these talks for yearso thank you for noting the ladies, they support this work and everything we do at mount vernon and i'm thrilled to have a conversation with you. please submit your questions, i would to give you the opportunity to ask questions of our authorio tonight and the fit inaugural address but also about the first inauguration more broadly. tell us a little about the election, the very first election of the president was not like any other. how did george washington become elected president in 1788, 89?
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>> maybe one way of getting at it is to ask, how would it be possible for him not to be elected? as you are familiar to our listeners and viewers, is a. composite of those kinds of values. not only people embrace but needed to embrace at that moment and people knew it from vermont to georgia, very clear of course that this is precisely the person not only embodies the values but right here right now on the precipice when things were very unclear even perhaps especially in 89. it's interesting to know the day after the inaugural address, of course the general and be in
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paris in a couple of months will have it run, it's very uncertain, a scary world washington. at mount vernon i talk about, maybe you could tell t us a lite bit about environment in which washington waiting for the news. i think we know that he was going to be elected. >> yes. >> there is something of a character to some of this given what you just said, people knew it and here it and its certainty and charles thompson secretary on his way to make the ride down to mount vernon. all that is clear and they show up on the 16th you get their way to the o door washington is
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ready. something of a two-step dance that follows where it's an official statement from congress of congratulation and washington, of course then turns around and reaches a statement, so there's something of that. at the same time well -- i'll put it this way. the great historian alice has beautiful observations about washington as aet virtuoso in te art and really knew how to take his lead. that's true and it reminds us the stage that washington was. but he's also highly good at
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taking an intern. that's an art to itself. something of the theater i think is going on here not to trivialize or empty it, quite the opposite. washington eating cheese and nuts and lying over the campfire, the man developed a sense of the theater of politics under theic circumstances, he needed to do this right every step literally along the way so when thompson knocks on the door, that's act one scene one. let's go. >> is there a fear in washington's part being presumptuous? what are his concerns about
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making the wrongt step? >> a very subjective question. as evidence for what i'm about to say, i certainly encourage everyone who's listening or watching or who has access to the washington papers, which is one of the most amazing works of scholarship, i swear. what we have is really nice paper trail to answer your question, thinking and writing as the impending news come in it sprinkled with these kinds of things. famously he writes to general before hand very quickly, i feel
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not unlike, my feelings are not unlike those of a corporate who's going to the place of his own execution so it's that kind of talk and diminishing of expectations and i'm not worthy that kind of thing but i don't think itin trivializes or emptis it, that's part of the stage. it's important to be chief executive of the republic, republican government. play the powerdown, to play up the longing appeal of all of mark mount vernon so it's part of choreography of power that i think he washi so good at. >> once he makes the decision
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and announces that he will journey to become the first president, there is a journey with some attention and of course he's leaving mount vernon and going to what turned out to be a short-lived capitol -- what's going to some detail because your book has great detail on the travel to george washington but moreeo important what happened along the way in terms of how people are receiving. set the stage for us, what does that entail a large entourage. >> i remind myself restain myself, this is what compelled me into the project generally, everybody loves a road trip so
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how does this work? skies the limit, he's a military man so he's going to travel light so he's cap a couple, thompson and they will keep that so off they go. they don't get far for your listeners and viewers familiar alexandria, window i think it's miles or something like that and they get before the first of many occasions which washington was of course along his way. i promise not to do this but you don'tte mind, i would like to convey something of what goes down alexandria at the tavern as
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a representative of what is to transpire for the next week or so but of course alexandra isn't just a stop along the way as we all know, it's close to his heart so i paragraph if you don't mind, some speeches as you might guess they are quite good and then washington. here's how he concludes his comments. all that remains for me is to commit myself and you to the protection of that magnificent being that happily brought us together after a long and distressing separation. perhaps it will again indulge us
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with the same heartfelt way. but words fail me. other sensations must be left to more expressive times. from an aching heart, i bid you all kind neighbors farewell. >> that was good. >> i wish i could tell from the evidence what occasions he actually stood up and delivered these himself. it's unclear to me sometimes amongst us here this evening, it's unclear whether sometimes he's delivering fees as a speech in written form but either way
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that's exquisite so off they go. it's quite a journey, it's not all that long, easy for me to say but as you know, your exhibits along the way but first alexandria and with stops along the way but they'll hit baltimore and also celebrations and rituals of power that i mentioned into delaware and then into philly, that's crazy. as far as that goes, i look at commentary from the day and scholarly coverage of that,
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sometimes estimates are around 10000 people turning out. at the most, give or take 30,000 which would make that a third of the entire city, it seems like a lot but there we have the visual there what would be, there were several of these, what would you call them? architecture celebration for you have arch and the bridge and music and sometimes he would see a detachment from the local or something like that. this is a depiction of washington crossing into philadelphia for those of you familiar with that area so this
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would be characteristic. that is theater in the best sense, i think and we can talk about that later what's going on here in this occasion, the whole trip itself it seems to me on my part for sure but it's not altogether clear because nothing is, what exactly all of this should look like. we fast-forward what, 12 years or so to jefferson's first inaugural he's living in a boardinghouse, he gets up with a cup of tea and ties his hair back in a ponytail and brushes himself off. okay, that's bad but here in april of 89 before there is a president, it is unclear what
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the power should look like. should be like a royal procession like the french and over the top box you can't really do that. another thing, you don't want to downplay it too muchon because t would very soonn become a nationstate with a very aggressive competitor world out there so you don't want to downplay yourself so it seems to me to be a modulation between european axis or something if you know what i mean. somewhere in between so they stay philadelphia for a stretch, everybody wants a piece of the action so you have trustees at the university of pennsylvania
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and cincinnati and various parties want in on the deal and they want to listen so we get a recruit of what we saw and it's more complicated and less intimate perhaps but still the same offering up language, a republican city, philadelphia after all, he got to play this right. this isig philadelphia and "afterwards" the second part washington won't deliver a statement of his own so philadelphia is big, it's a big party. if you've ever been to
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philadelphia they do that but you've got to get going. he's getting a little rest appears off like a it of course you can't just let philadelphia let it be, they've got to send the militia and everybody in piles around, washington after a few miles says you guys just go home take care of the household, i'm okay. all good. we got it. so off he goes. now he goes into new jersey, was coming up across the river, maybe if we could see that trend, perhaps the most well-known widely circulated of washington's entry.
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for a variety of reasons, you will notice if you squint at that thing, it's primarily almost entirely women and girls. these are the women of trenton and their daughters who have been ready for thiste for weeks. they've been getting together, their outfits and songs, they are rehearsing the songs and so on. up above you see the flex but there's also be equivalent, fees backwards to the effect that his excellency saved it the first time. battle of trenton. saved the women and the daughters of trenton and now they are returning the favor. crossing pepperidge, just a
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little bridge in trenton but it's a big bridge in the national imagination, i don't know if national is the right word yet but almost. it's a big bridge because a lot depend on laughing. in any case, washington as you see raises, he crosses the bridge and delivers a few words to the mothers and daughters of trenton and then on their way. needless to say surrounding all of this music and firecrackers balloons and so on. now on his way up to what was called elizabethtown and eventually on to the water where of course now new york city particularly wants a piece of the action for obvious reasons
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so they've got votes of every kind to escort him along. of course he goes up onto the barge instead of the contemporary lighters, johnson inc. them but there's fireworks and people singing choruses and so on were they ushered him into the harbor now heading toward the battery and eventually into new york city itself in here you see something like that. another image i think is entitled washington's we enter into new york. was that coming back from
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newburgh onto -- hard to tell but i wanted to have this because it suggests something of what i call something up for urban culture, i don't know culture necessarily but there they are. new york city would have been, well, 1790 as one puts the population of new york city around 30,000 so just about ready move past has moved past foot off you. hard to tell because new york is a port city and the numbers get flexible but this much is clear that the case in the census records the texture life into which it's now arriving so the
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city would have been right around 30,000. brooklyn of course, the manhattan area would have been around 30,000, 15% would have been a combination but there also be as you know being new york it would have had extraordinary diversity of languages of course because of the dutch but there's going to be indigenous people, you have doctor halter going on which is always a rich and crazy way going on all the way to the high end. then it party time for that day
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that he arrives into the next day and they put him up in the house on cherry street on the manhattan side of the brooklyn bridge to put you in that area, upper east side. >> let me ask you a preliminary question. you mentioned this a couple times the washington said a few words, what we know about washington, this is something you study but before the inaugural address. >> okay, before. >> up until this moment, is he seen as a right order, is he a great order? >> that is a spot on question because it identifies one of the motivations in this and that is my first, if you forget this,
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first book was on eckman, jefferson and someone so there is that kind of the full daniel webster well, okay. clearly washington is not now at the same time, and i'll try not to go on about this but it occurred to me in the newburgh address that for all the mythology around washington is a strong silent type and purely a man of action and that sort of thing, there is some about. there are not, sure but the man, i was talking to kevin earlier
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he had to do was get to the library a look at the washington papers, the correspondence so on. incredible houses this man lives is life awash in language highly attuned. did he compose all of his addresses and so on? no. we could talk about that later if you wish. so no, he was not in the ordinary sense of the word but he followed up. second, not that you need a reminder but washington is a general judgment and it's not clear he ought to be. one might say what about januark about the judgment but maybe
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he's the exception that proves the rule does a few so i don't want to overplay this necessarily but with politics what we know of it does not operate through full order, you kind of got things done different but all that is to say maybe we need to expand our sense of what constitutes what defines eloquence. i can tell you this when newburgh for instance march 15 of 83 when things are getting weird virtually the entire office core in that room on the ground said newburgh was conspiracy on their minds, i don't know about that but maybe. if you walked in front of that room and got in front of the
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most powerful military in the nation, cleaning up down south butt mobilizing the power, i don't know what is done. a first-hand reports of officers, these are hard guys in tears at the end of this address so i would suggest that we ought to expand, not because i'm trying to cheerlead washington but toru recognize that there is an eloquence of character. an eloquence of the person that speaks, sometimes speaks with massive power. >> i wasn't expecting to ask this question but as you are describing the journey kept coming to mind that it may be unanswerable but when people are
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welcoming washington and philadelphia or trenton or even new york, where they welcoming the president or washington? would they have welcomed georget washington in the same way in 1786 just curious about that. >> you would think -- i hope i'm not getting up the question by suggesting that one, sure, he's the man, no question. there is no more famous american -- more than likely i would say at this time. wherever he went would have
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been, yes but they weren't welcoming, it seems to me this cuts very deep for me is that they were not welcoming a military figure. were his contributions acknowledged? of course but look at the letters, the speeches, the toasts even, that was fun to look at the various toasts, very much oriented toward the presidency. he plays it pretty smart. these anxieties, there is a problem at work here, there is a man on horseback so to speak,
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it's not real quick. you can win the war but it winning the peace that's tough and if you're not careful, you're going to have a napoleon i'm writing over the horizon playing this properly so that is on civil authority, it seems embodied in the person as well as the reception of. >> that's extraordinary helpful. let me remind everyone after, i want to come to asou many questions as i can. late april and of course about to be inaugurated but is there a waiting periodou before he's rey to be inaugurated? what does that look like? take us up to the day of the inauguration.
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>> this whole project is to see if you can't translate yourself in the imagination back then. at some time you have to settle down and have a cup of tea and then say well -- that sort of thing. of course it's got to line up all the way to the battery if people want to talk to them so there is that kind of housekeeping business that's going to go on but i want to mention one important part, again this is in the letters, the correspondence, he writes to madison hamilton and several others asking them about certain protocols like should i invite people over here to my place or
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should i go to somebody else's place for dinner? again it's a risk of rehearsing this but what's at stake here is what i republican government would look like. what are the protocols? it's not as if he's got much to go with here as he looks across the landscape as he said famously is like everything i do. so he asks mr. madison, what you think? which fork do you use for the salad that kind of thing. so there is housekeeping and figuring out the rules of engagement. i do want toga mention it seemso me a very important dimension to
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all of us, a piece with this matter of what should a republic look like and as we get to the speech itself, or should a republic sound like? but for the moment, of course this goes on since time out as soon as somebody is in the chair, the first thing you want to do f is hit them up for a job so apparently turns out to be hundreds of people saying i thought in trenton or something and the kids need food, can you see yourself a job for me for a position? they come in by the back full and washington has what turns
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into, he seems to sort of adopt secretary does not in any case, i promise not to read about the upshot of these responses, they are very polite but very witchy specified why he can't help. he says first of all to put it casually, it's not going to happen. flat-out, this is never going to happen for you. i know, i appreciate your service but it can't happen and he explains why. he says is tough, i have to turn away sometimes but it is absolutely crucial to the republican government that the administration be headed by those competent to the task for that reason alone.
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that underlines it time and time again. so he's not a big partier but he has some people over sometimes talk about the old days. there's no cabinet would recognize as he tries to figure this out as he goes on. >> let's spend a little bit of time and then we will go to questions. this is now a fixture in the american -- i won't even say the american civic counter of the inaugural address. this is the first of them. tell me about the speech, how washington puts it together importantly, your take on the speech is the first inaugural address.
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did it shape everything that came after? >> what are we talking about here after all? president biden said it was the 59th speech delivered you might ask, and i promise to be responsive to your question but we might ask first order of businessfi of why? why did they give oaths of office? they don't have to. there's nothing in the constitution, there's nothing i could find in the constitutional debates or ratification debates, i couldn'tt find a word about that. washington invent the inaugural address? he certainly did not. the variations go back for
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centuries. they deliver assumption of office and that sort of thing but washington but not have to so why after? i know why, because washington did. the speech itself as you might imagine, seven paragraphs long, 1400 words ever take, it is written in that characteristic 18th century english tactical structures and so on, so it's not a particularly reader friendly text but most people these days but more specifically
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what is the address come from? not a peculiar route but washington seems to be in aid of his for a long time and he was pretty good to help them out a little bit. he had a 70 plus page of the manuscript. washington says i'll get back to you can you imagine, 70 pages. in any case, around christmas time prior to the inauguration itself in april 89, jeff madison stopped by the house they've spent some time together and
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it's pretty clear that washington, what you think of this? they seem to take a o look at it and say that's not going to happen. they put themselves to the task. for those of you familiar madison, you can see it at work there several ways. beckett tucked into washington's pocket. he takes it out on the second floor out on the balcony there and find delivers it. look at all the people down below.
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president of the united states ofto america. then he walks in. we might now call it joint session and then delivers the address. there are several people in attendance, washington seems to notice there might be a bead of sweat or two on the brow, maybe a quicker waiver and the voice, shaking of the hand in this question. i don't think het ever felt particularly comfortable, for sure but hes did it. one of the legacies why is i think he's got it was essential to the republican government that power shows itself, speaks
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itself and this isn't a european deal. it's a french kind of thing or a ritual in the house of commons or something. in any case, he stands up and put manuscript in hand, maybet t shakes a little bit but this is an intensent moment delivers the address. it's into seven paragraphs, not particularly long but very pointed. one of the reasons i entered into the project, i was struck by the relative absence of any series scholarly work on the inauguration, much less the inaugural l address i so i wanto offer my contribution to that.
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why? i don't i know. no sense drawing on i that but even if it was a dreadful speech. >> there is no policy initiative although there is one thing i think you talk about, he's not advocating for a series to rectify this or that, certain things you might see in an inaugural address have an agenda but a plan of action so what is in this address. >> very good. it's president setting but i think in the main without getting into the weeds but allow me, i want to call one sentence
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but by my accounts, over 1419 words long set in paragraphs. characteristically, that first paragraph, what they call the incorrect trio -- it's president sending to as it were get him self to become a sort of commonplace in inaugural address was in this but as a standard go to, this is beyond my ability but i'll do my best kind of thing. i wished i was back in mount vernon bouncing kids on my knees but that's what you've gotot to do. there's been an appeal to this,
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not a christian language he mobilizes but for better or worse, we tend to call this someone and then you are right, there's not much specifically about policy, hard to say without even meaning under the circumstances but there's very much a statement of a vision so we know the word inauguration is an agent term for seeing and predictingg. seeing what the land looks like when you're justen starting so e then get talk about article five u.s. constitution, perhaps were receipt madison's hand being
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played which remark washington reminds us if things aren't going the way he wanted, we can deal with this and that way to the amendment process. he then says toward the end, i don't want any salary this and concludes again with an appeal to divine sanction. >> you are right, it's a short speech. if we stood up the inaugural address in 20202024 and heard a speech of this length would take thatth short. >> i think so. they were shorter, notrt as sure as you all know but washington's second inaugural address saying was what, three sentences.
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>> one paragraph was all it was. [laughter] >> i got an audience question, a great question that i don't know the answer to. t when martha washington, washed goods wife and family in the beginning of the presidency. >> thank you, megan. okay, here's how that turns out. martha and the gang did not accompany george washington on that journey but they would come later. they have to take care of the situation at the house, figure things out. washington has to find work at people on staff and someone. answer the question, there is no
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immediate presence there. if i may, it is really unclear given the gender dynamics at play, what it meant for a female to be publicly sent like that. it's kind of unclear. is that appropriate? or is it not? in any case, after the inauguration ceremony and so on, everybody wants to have a big party there is no inaugural ball recognized parade like we would think of down pennsylvania avenue but the spanish ambassador, everybody wants that but washington is insistent that
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they wait until martha comes up. then the staff and the kids of various -- and someone. >> i have another question, keep it up, everyone. another question is about military uniform during the trip as indicated as you mentioned in the 19th century but did you travel by carriage? did he have a big white horse before arriving parts this is something we know he did on occasion, i don't know about this trip. >> again, for all of the stern
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washington, the man liked a nice jacket. there are letters in exchange where the inauguration is coming up on her horizon from he writes to knox and says can you help me find my theories this taylor up there i think in connecticut, does the best work, you get him? he's a big guy obviously with a nice brown will think so he is always the tenant to that. so actually given what we are talking about with the choreography of republican government, one has to pay attention to one's close as jefferson finds out at a later
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date, it's not altogetherut appropriate the president of united states of america to be in slippers, you know? washington much more formal along those lines. specifically did he once in a while don his military uniform? i don't know. i haven't come across commentary or observations to that effect. frankly, the imagery aside, i would be surprised. i think the sense is that he would have thought it inappropriate to civil government for the president-elect of united states of america to go to the ball dressed in military reform.
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>> very good. questions are continuing to come in. i love the questions because i think there's something there's a lot of answers to. one of themrs, where did washington burn is theatrical sense i'llrn just throw part oft out, i know he loved going to the theater. he enjoyed going. >> indeed, no reason not to believe but the staging of plays at valley forge, i am stumbling here, at cato and someone. okay, you virginians out there will understand to have come of age under his circumstances was to come of age at a time of
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exquisite calls. we know from the book on stability and one would overplay that but one did have to know early on the art of how to navigate a powerful company. sometimes that might include taking dancing, you've got to know how to move your body especially if you are a big guy like washington was, it was to develop an athleticism in terms of even how you sat down, how you danced in fact something, okay. well, with the military experience especially his early formative military experience
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before the american revolution, he was taught early on that this management of yourself before others, that really matters. one lamented or celebrated but he understood this art, it's the art of appearance in washington understood the power of appearance. not so much an exact theoretical terms but in terms of because that's how you get things done properly. this is what famously mortified him when he showed up in boston to take over or can be called the americann army in boston. he was mortified looking at
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superior officers, the men in the ranks haircuts. stopped back in a hurry. i don't think he had an obsessive authoritarian going on, just chat that looks back. time is going to come when the guy giving you a haircut might be sending yourc into the front line so we better get this straightened out. it is the art of appearance. >> there's one more question, this is what i was hoping to touch on briefly evaluating rhetoric and the performance side ofr things, is the relationship, relating inaugural addressst even more famous? i know for a fact schoolchildren
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were learning accepts and a huge chunk of the farewell address for more than a century after. inaugural address may be a little less but do they have common themes or other distinct differences? >> this question deserves a pause if you don't mind. ... >> between the fundamental optimism thatt i see in every word of the first inaugural address. in the farewell address, perhaps as pessimistic but an address by
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someone who has never delivered and by someone is a very rough stretch of it. maybe not so much in terms of failure things like that, all that is arguable, but i will put it this way, you'll notice that in the first inaugural address, is not one single word of what we would call foreign policy. hey help and if that door to his office and it just never stopped. we look east, had things going if you look west, he had tensions at work. and south, everywhere. and secondly, there is a kind of a hard one, i wish i had a better word than pessimism
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because he wasn't possessive of that but almost a kind of a narrowing where everything he's got it, is hopeful, the business about a party infections in all. and true and there is and the reason i'm fumbling here is because i don't know for sure. but washington in somey sense, he's older and wiser in his a few scars on him now. and i think he might've been feeling very much in his century. >> a world that rapidly and if not already been coming on, that was deeply inscribed by consideration of action and power, personall interest.
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that kind of thing in those were rough couple off administrations nationally. >> this is been a great conversation. in the book is to everyone out there, "george washington's final battle", just came out last year, we needed to know about the two little has been written about the subject. and thank you for so much for what comes later think you for writing the book and thank you for sitting down with us and i would like go to mount vernon someday soon. >> thank you so much deal when again then to everyone who long gone. we really appreciate it. >> thank you for everyone joining y us. i hope to see you in the month of may, maybe exciting programming coming upn we will
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see you again soon. have a wonderful evening and thank you so much. >> begins on "c-span2" are an intellectual faith, every saturday american history tv documents american stories and incidents, book tv bring to the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding comes from these television companies and more. including comcast. partnering with a thousand community centers to create wi-fi enabled the state for students in low-income families to get the tools they need to be ready for anything. comcast, along with these television companies support see cspan2 visit service. sunday cspan series january 6, newsom house continues, two more members of congress share stories of what they saw heard and experienced that day.
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going with the many democratic susan wilde who groused what happened during those early moments in house floor. >> i honestly don't remember how long we were in a situation between the time they barricaded the door and the time we finally got out. they told me of someone like 20 minutes. it could've been two hours or it could've been five minutes. i had no sense of time whatsoever. but remember that when i got off the phone with my kids, that i felt as though my heart was pounding out of my chest. and it felt, i actually is very worried that i was having a heart attack. i never had one but i my father had a heart attack read we have family history so is actually kind of worried, very worried about that. i must've been my hand up and said, my chest because the photograph of me that was taken just me lying on my stomach with my hands up to my chest and i don't remember lying on my back. but i do remember taking my hand
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and stroking it and kinda comforting me and tell me that i was going to be okay. i was perplexed, he was retrying me because i didn't realize that i was showing how upset i was pretty. >> this week, you also different estrogens democratic government, january 6, he is from the house. saying 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, cspan.org, is on the c-span radio app. >> i come to you from the national archives building in washington dc, the federal city built on a site chosen by her first president george washington. the location from a capitol in 1790 in washington actively advocated for site along the potomac river, not far from his own home of mount vernon. when the commissioners in federal district named the new capitol for washington

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