tv Robert Watson George Washingtons Final Battle CSPAN August 17, 2021 3:06pm-3:38pm EDT
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 in 1791,
only honored the commander-in-chief, but also acknowledged the guiding role in the selection of young nation seat of government and although he did not see it is officially relocated here, it shaped the national capitol for years to come in george washington's final battle, robert watson highlights the political skills and reveals how he worked behind the scenes to establish the new city. robert watson distinguished professor lynn university senior fellow at the citizenship, the author of numerous books on history and politics including brooklyn and the nasi titanic, and america's first price of the war of 1812. as the editor of two is like the prettiest of the market president in american first lady. professor watson has served on the board of the harry truman foundation, the calvin coolidge
memorial foundation, and george mcgovern library answer for public service. professor robert watson has also served as a scholar for many organizations in including truman rent library in illinois holocaust museum in the u.s. military academy was my and others. now let's hear from robert watson. and thank you for joining us today. >> hello everyone. i'm here to talk about my latest book "george washington's final battle". the epic struggle of the capitol city and that nation so virtually any american schoolchild knows that george washington was heroic and stoic. he was a great and courageous commander of the battlefield and of course one of the greatest presidents through his every action and inaction, everything that he said, but it is a pretty much carved out the presidents for this presidency. but what we don't always know is that george washington had an
upside to him, this is, he could be a visionary and a dreamer, and he also could be a critical player. at the same token, almost all americans have been to our capitol city, americans love the capitol city. it is spacious boulevard stand memorials and monuments, the majestic government buildings, the tree-lined mall, very few americans know the story about the capitol city of how it came to be an almost didn't come to be and that's why were here today to talk about it. so, our story begins the backdrop for our story begins in newburgh, new york. and this is along the edge of the hudson and at the end of the revolutionary war. not too far today from fdr's high court, and was quite if anybody has been there. so for many battles, the revolutionary war is the battle of yorktown which is september and october of 1781. after yorktown, that would be the last major battle of the
war, and after yorktown, for about two years there was what we could call the cold war. the british hunkered down in new york city, george washington and the americans went up the river to newburgh as you see right here in my side and for almost two years, they hunkered down there in this cold war. it would be washington's longest headquarters but in new type of challenge emerged. that was the challenge of, without fighting the army, they were not paid they had been hungry and they were there winter after another bitterly cold winter and washington was worried that the army would fall apart. and just as we were ready to seize victory and revolutionary war so go ahead and go to the next site, so what happened in these images i'm newburgh. in march up 1783, on march 10th, the war would end the following fall. in our march 10th on 1783, there was an unsigned letter
circulated in washington's newburgh camp, calling for rising up against george washington. washington was alarmed to say the least and it appears that this direction is coming from inside his own head cover. and then on march 11, the they met the large building. you can go to the next site. this so-called newburgh conspiracy, now washington decided to respond and did so brazenly into a by letting the mutineers, insurrectionist so that hand. a number 15, he called for a meeting in temple. they all gathered. an incentive washington being there early, he was always punctual, he comes a minute late it comes in from the back door. and he walks up and general horatio and others shown themselves and run the state. the mutineers in washington and demand us that the stage. an event has a two-part speech,
one he explodes and you can see this year, the fortitude and the longer sufferings of the army are an example to history. so washington is saying that the army a source in her hand they are ready to rise up and they are at their end and they cannot take anymore. next slide. and you can see here, his argument, there is an artist depiction of washington addressing the army and women many more soldiers though, not completely accurate of this depiction. and he said consistent with the rules of a part. how a military and help subversive of all order and discipline in washington really lays it on. he explodes like a volcano. can you be a friend of the country if you are a mutineer. and then after all that washington calms down. next slide. he comes down and he says to the man, i want to read a letter from a congressman jones of
virginia. in the army had never seen washington where spectacles. they never seen washington appear weak or vulnerable, he was a man among children, massive and powerful man prayed in washington reaches into his pocket and pulls out this letter he wants to read rated and he needs glasses and he halted at arms length. then he pulls out spectacles and put them on and no one had seen him were the glasses in washington shakes his head, puts a spectacles in the letter back into his pocket. and he said gentlemen, will you permit me to put on my spectacles and therefore i've not only grown weary but almost blind in the service of my country rated after you put some back in, in his pocket he has a man from the heart, and i ask only one more full measure of patriotism and patriotic virtue. stay with me, were going to win this. a tear comes out of his eye and washington walks off the stage. talk about the theatrics of the
moment and letting the army down easy. and after he does general henry of the artillery general, is get to the station asked the man a favor to sign the document to show their support of washington and take charge in front of the stage in they sign the document prevents the conspiracy and almost an uprising of newburgh at the end of the work. washington it brilliantly and theatrically puts it down but when he realizes is this new government, this new country is going to be weak and fragile. it could be harder to frame the government and run a government that was to fight and win a war for the opportunities to from the government enough newburgh, he didn't have long to wait for another challenge. next slide. philadelphia, june 20th, 1783, just weeks later. a group of several hundred unpaid disgruntled veterans, they march on philadelphia, we
know today as the constitutional grade pennsylvania assembly, some of our nation's elected officials are inside of the building. it is surrounded by unpaid mutineers. citizens of philadelphia come pouring out of the tavern stroke and now you a drunk and unruly mob in a great unpaid soldiers. they are ready to take legislation worse hostage. congress is worried about the pennsylvania worried that they are feared for their lives it. they asked george washington to put down this mutiny in washington tells mutineers, go home just go home. he pardons people and for a second time, he brilliantly handles a near mutiny and by the time washington realizes this new experiment a popular government is going to be very difficult. next slide. washington start to put together a vision, a dream if you will for kind of nation we need to have. so the war and this default of
1783 and pretty much the question is now what. what happens next. the political and economic and a civil thing here, the loyalists, those who to the ground, they left. that meant the physician the makers, the architects, they all left. this new republic has little in the way of colleges and schools museums and libraries, few trained professionals and that countries in the veterans have not been paid. the currency is worthless. so everybody they say now what and few had an answer except george washington. next slide. so washington put together this letter to the state, this is basically his farewell. in newspapers around the country read this letter and print this letter. you can see the beginnings of his vision for a strong nation
of capital cities and the kind of robust and vigorous government that we would have. washington said that we have and needed to repay our veterans and need a national governing body rated we need more cranes, we need positive relations abroad and we need peace and mostly we need to be united. this nation needs a sense of national identity. if you were to take a time machine back to 1783, and s thomas jefferson about his nation, he would answer, virginia. national identity. not a capitol letter united states, the small u, just states, so washington knew he needed a sense of unity, a sense of national pride, national spirit we need to be come together as a nation otherwise, this will never ever go. next slide. so this country went from 1775, the start of the revolutionary
war, all way until 1800, 25 years. a quarter of a century without a permanent capitol city and without a seat of government. that is no way to start a nation without having a capitol city. and you of the possible cities considered breed over 30 cities were considered as a possible seat of government or possible capitol. here's the problem. everyone in connecticut wanted hartford and everyone in delaware wanted wilmington and everyone in massachusetts wanted boston. the world interests ranged and nobody wanted capitol to be in another state and they although that political power would probably follow the capitol and would be an economic moment and nobody wanted another city to have leg up and everybody wanted the city and for 25 years, there is a fight over where the capitol city should be. next slide. no or a functioning government, we were working under the articles of confederation,
natives league of friendship. it took several drafts and years to ratify the articles. the problem the articles did not have a president, no force, had legislature and that's it. they couldn't raise money to pay back the veterans they couldn't govern. it was utterly ineffectual so we like the capitol city, we lacked functioning government, and good luck with that. this is what washington respond to grade next slide. but everyone's minds, and it was written in newspapers, have we fought for this. in washington ways in and he said we are either united people and united for federal purposes or we are virtually independent sovereigns contradicting each other washington notes and said that i see no greater evil than this union. political factions is what we know as party structure forms.
the north against south and the eastern seaboard against the west. urban areas versus more rural areas and actions of federalist, instead of one being in opposition party, much like recent years, it is an obstructionist. an arrangement with gridlock in washington is upset about this. and this document crisis, this is where he emerges. next slide. we have seen rebellion in the 1780s, farmers are rising up ready to declare war against their own government and pennsylvania new york are almost fighting one another as states can agree on how to trade with foreign across the state borders rated washington says, we have errors to correct and we need a stronger government. in washington asked alexander hamilton to get involved and in 1786, hamilton calls for a convention. in the city of annapolis in maryland. the problem only had a full of states showed up and everybody
argued and embarrassingly, marco. washington stays with it and he pushes along with hamilton for the following year, 1787 the going back to philadelphia hoping that lightning strikes twice. and they have to improve the articles, they would ultimately create a new constitution and system of government, strengthen our government and find ways of moving forward in a mark united light. next slide. so we don't know as people know all about the fanning's of the slavery and over the electoral college and over how we pick a president but there was another, i always call it the other fanning debate and that was should we have a capitol city. multiple capitals? or where should it be and what should it look like in the size of it. the agree and one point to try
to satisfy everybody ben franklin through the idea we should have multiple capitals. because nobody would want congress to come to the city. and the joke was like ancient you know, the trojans saying they were without a horse predict never the giant trojan horse and they would hide in it. and congressman would get out and do its business of this was the other fanning debate. we have multiple things with george washington that the framers but the debate over a capitol city, was even more heated and even more preventive anymore bonus and then all of the other fanning debates the constitutional convention infidel it in a philadelphia. the debate over the capitol city almost undermines this nation just as were getting started. so those of the other pounding debates. next slide. enter into this back into george washington who has his vision for the country. it was a destiny of unborn
millions involved in a call it the most intense and explosive debate of the entire session in philadelphia. that being the fight of the capitol city, selecting a state of government in washington said, is proving to be pregnant with difficulty and danger printed so washington was very cognizant of the fact that this debate could undermine the country and yet without a stronger capitol city, he did not know this country could endorse the washington had a vision and he proposes the following things. have them on your screen. a strong national government, number two, he wants to unite the people behind a national character, and only a capitol city could have that national character. our government is not seen incredible as far as the european powers, great and glorious capitol city would give credibility to this new republic. washington wanted a grand capitol city, a city that he said, for the ages.
thomas jefferson and others wanted a simple brick level and washington wanted built on the potomac river any wanted it near the potomac river in washington had the founders were joking call the potomac fever. and george was not well traveled, and washington felt that the potomac was equal to the senate and the brine and i'll put together. and i like the potomac. but the potomac, it connected the community next the future capitol city, risk the chesapeake which meant access to the atlantic, the rivers were imported in the date of transportation and rudimentary communication and also the potomac is westward and unite maryland virginia pennsylvania the roads from the edges of the tributaries of the potomac would run west and what is today the ohio territory pittsburgh and so forth and so on.
so then it would contact north and south an equal distance between the two. nathan less and serve the function to unite the new capitol city with it in than the goshen that's on and so forth. that's washington's vision. next. in the constitution, a debate over the capitol city, article one, section eight agreed that the capitol city should be 10 miles square. as 100 miles, what means is this capitol city of most laughably will be larger than paris and the great capitals of the world yet built out of woods and the question remains however, where with this ten file square feet. next slide. the initial argument was new york city on serve as our interim capitol in washington is
inaugurated and is supposed to be in march 4th, 1789, he is late so until april 30th 1789. this washington arrives even later yet. maybe he was still getting dressed pretty. [laughter] so washington inaugurated in new york city in april of 1789 in new york city and federal welcome you can see a picture of it here, on the right is osman's home. and washington use this as his residence. new york city would be an interim capitol. no one seemed happy with new york city, new york city was slow to ratify the constitution. in this way hamilton and jay and madison wrote the federalist papers even though the new york city ratify it. washington was worried will he go to new york city for my inaugural. in ratify this estate and can even be the president if we don't have a city. and nobody seemed like new york city unlike today where everybody likes near city. thomas jefferson claims the new
york city may never have as far as i can learn, ten months of winter. only two of summer and agree right now, some of the snow and instead of new york city, belongs for the company springfield. he describes new york city is overrun by dogs and garbage in a much else. so no one like new york city, this can only months in new york city and there was a deal cut. next slide. >> due will be cut new york city on june 20th, 7090, and what is probably the second most biggest dinner party in history, behind the last last supper. in the dinner party was between you can see the picture, jefferson, anderson hamilton and madison and jefferson were allies and federalist in hamilton with their nemesis in the federalist. two issues are trying to contend with. where should the capitol city b
and the other was how should it look at how do we build it into to be a simple brick federal house or a glorious well and asked capitol the second argument was assumption, we are in debt after the war and so jefferson calls for the dinner party. he and madison are going to team up and going to defeat hamilton predict what would happen at the dinner party is they would resolve these issues and they would decide basically, the more the capitol would be in hamilton blood with jefferson and madison he played them like a guitar. and he got everything he wanted. so virginia said were not paying our debt in the south did not want to pay the debt hamilton one of the to be paid. so he surrenders and says okay, you have to pay her debt, little did jefferson and madison know that if the south is not going to pay us, what that means is a federal government would come in
and assume the debt under the treasury and is the secretary of the treasury, hamilton. he would become one of the most powerful americans, and hamilton wanted a stronger federal government and jefferson wanted a weaker federal government to buy hamilton giving up the fact of a journey in the south would not have to pay a cent, pretty much a guarantee that hamilton would get a strong federal government in a bank and a strong treasury. so hamilton gets whatever he wants even though we place it. in a second argument is where is the capitol going to be in jefferson and madison hundred and in the south in virginia. but they didn't know was hamilton knew that george washington had already pretty much decided that the capitol should be virginia. so hamilton give up that the capitol would be there. he thought of the redone so he placed jefferson and madison and ultimately, jefferson wants a simple federal brick town of only a few acres. so hamilton agrees that they can have a contest. and jefferson could share the
committee of the winning design and it appears that jefferson cements his own design anonymously for a little town and then he picks it. when jefferson didn't know was even though he said here's the design, that he went to washington and washington said, no, were going to pick the rope and is capitol so there you go. and the 1790, solidified our this, rising capitol would be in virginia, but ten years later, in the meanwhile in the interim it would be while they have to build the city that eventually would be name for george washington. 1790 in the folks a lot of these difficult measures failed in here you see george washington playing political chess. when washington wanted to have the most, he did in washington strategically picked a couple of members of congress met with him personally and flipped everything about to get the votes he needed to get his capitol city.
next slide. washington within not only helps pick the location of the capitol, he picks the arctic decked and the architect from the presidents house, in washington surveyed the land in washington helps sell the plot in washington helps raise money in washington helps to decided what builders would go in it. so washington washington washington, innocence it was his project, it was his near obsession. so he picks a brilliant frenchman which was a great selection pretty he was educated and most importantly for washington he shared washington's vision. grand capitol with large boulevard us public squares filled with monuments and memorials and he did not like jefferson's vision of a small federal town. sweet it is fitting and brilliantly designed the capitol but unfortunately he would
answer to nobody but washington turns out to be more difficult than he was worth. in some accounts adjusting that he was fired another say they quit. the both have at about the same time so the answer is, all of the above. next slide. his image and the capitol city which he will recognize today predict running diagonal or horizontal commitment next will become the river near the platonic and a national mall that we all recognize today. you can see the great squares grand boulevards and intersect named for this days and so forth and so on. inspired by rome and art inspired by paris and even though it would be fired, is his design that continues to define this great city today. next slide. washington not only pick the foreigner, a frenchman but he picks an irishman to design the presidents house. and he's also well educated it
is on beautiful buildings in charleston and south carolina and washington immediately fell in love with the design. it reminded him of rome and it looked like marble brightest of washington then pushes for hiring him in the building with a referred to as a presidential palace predict and a friend to construction problems and funding problems. so those good vendors, they found brilliant scottish stonemason so they brought more europeans and however tragically they would reliance life later. yes lame labor built the presence home in the capitol city because it is cheaper the round of funding. next slide. here's the image, you recognize that, the white house today, the original design. pretty much help. next slide. the me bring this to close by simply saying they work show with ava named the city but they
knew it would be named for washington's of a proposed washington obelisk. the other part of me his legacy is small, he would when the revolutionary war and resign from power once pleading king george the third is the greatest man alive because it would amended, voluntarily relinquish power. washington would do it again the presidency leaving king george the third to advise a statement the city's greatest man of all time. many cards out the presidency and he is the father of this nation. i think that ultimately, one of washington's great legacies is is vision for the capitol city, is washington's every action is stewardship, and his oversight that produced this great and glorious capitol city. and help a sense of nationhood, and americans a sense of american identity we didn't have
any help to the country a degree of stability, gave a government legitimacy in the eyes of the world and today we have this great and glorious capitol city of la's to say that washington slept here there and tells around the country. it would be the one place that he didn't sleep. washington would die on a summer 14, 1799, a little less than a year later november 1st of 1800 is when the capitol city would open up and washington's last words work one can only imagine, that he was thinking about this wonderful capitol city that he invested so much of himself and and this is true of legacy. thank you everyone. ♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪♪ ♪ ♪♪
>> washington dc, to new york city, former wall street journal reporter neil king reflects on his nearly 300-mile journey. >> a year later, all that is happening in all of the things you know, walking behind the masks, that long covid-19 winter. the events that we saw playing out on january 6, at the capitol. the contesting elections, and there a lot of bad blood in the air overall. and really i think it was the fifth day of spring and just walked through the spring and see it unfold. and look up close and i was
meeting people along the way and try to kind of understand where where we as a country. >> neil king on his nearly three and a mile journey, walking from washington dc to new york city sunday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span q&a you can also find q&a interviews wherever you get your podcast. >> hello everyone and welcome to the 2021 virtual gaithersburg book festival, i'm john your host for this presentation before we get started, a quick to support the authors by purchasing their books from our wonderful bookseller partner politics and prose premier independent bookstores and we have links to purchase in the presentation subscription and given all that we have been through over the last are, it is so important to support local jobs in the local economy. ne