tv Stephen Browne The First Inauguration CSPAN August 17, 2021 4:28pm-5:30pm EDT
could've been five minutes but had no sense of time whatsoever. but i remember when i got off the phone with my kids that i felt my heart was pounding out of my chest and i felt actually was very worried that i was having a heart attack, never had one but i do have my father had heart attacks and with the family so it's actually kind of worried about demise very worried about that. and it must've put my hand up to my chest because that photograph of me that was taken shows me lying on the back of my hand up to my chest and i don't remember lying on my back read but i do remember jason taking my hand and stroking it kind of comforting him me and telling me that i was going to be okay. and i was perplexed that he was reassuring me because i didn't realize that i was showing how upset it was. >> this week you will also hear her massachusetts democrat jim
mcgovern, january 6, he is the house, sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, cspan.org or listen on the c-span radio app. >> good evening everyone, my name is kevin butterfield the executive director of the national library the study of george washington and mount vernon. welcome to our cooktop for the month of april, 2021. were thrilled to have you here and excited about our conversation it on the first inauguration it, george washington. one oh, coming up in may, will be our third and final lecture with the wonderful conversations with. they are available for the final conversation the tickets, if you select the ticket that i'm ecthinking of, will include an
autographed copy of the book, ship to you directly at your home targeted and noted author and it great scholar has a new book called the education of john adams, i'm excited to talk to him about it. please join us for our third and final segment of the lecture series. ... ...ut george washington and the new crisis. as written many books we are mostly excited about this one as we near the anniversary of the first inaugural address ever given by the president of united states we're going to talk with him tonight about thein first ad operation george washington.
an award-winning scholar, a marvelous t-shirt but also by the national medication association. join me i welcoming stephen howard brown. >> it's great to be here for anyone interested in washington, this is the gold standard so i feel grateful to you and the sacrament thehe library and of course the ladies so thank you. >> on behalf of the association we welcome you here tonight the company finding these talks for years so thankig you for the wok and everything you do at mount vernon and i'm thrilled to have a conversation with you. everyone out there, submit your questions, i want to give you the opportunity for questions and learn about the first inaugural address but also really about the first inauguration more broadly.
let me start there, tell us about the election of the president. the very first election of the president was like any other how did george washington become elected president 1787 and 89? >> i want to honor the question but maybe one way of getting added to ask how it would be possible for him not to be elected. as you are familiar, it was almost a pure composite of those kinds of values. not only that people embraced but needed to embrace at that moment and people knew it from vermont to georgia, it was very clear that this was precisely the person not only embody the values but right here right now
on the precipice one things were very unclear even perhaps especially in 89. it's interesting to know a day after inaugural address of course they are convened in paris in a couple of months they will have them run it, very uncertain in the world out there in washington. >> maybe you could tell us about environment in which washington is waiting for the news he's been elected as president we know and he knew he was going to. >> there is something of a ritualistic character and some of this given what you just said, people knew it and the
certainty charles thompson, secretary of congress on his way to make a long ride so all that is clear and thompson shows up on the 16th and found his way to the door in washington is ready. something of a two-step dance where he greets him in an official statement, congratulations and washington) turns around and reads a statement back to him. at the same time, i'll put it this way, the greatest story with a beautiful observation abouth washington as a virtual
also really knew how to take leave. absolutely that's true and it reminds us of a stagecraft that washington was good at. fair enough he's also currently good at an interim. that is an art in itself so something of a theater going on here, not to trivialize or empty it but quite the opposite. washington is a camp away, eating cheese and nuts and wine over the campfire, he developed theater of politics and he understood under the circumstances he needed to do this right, every step literally
along the way so when thompson knocks on the door, that's act i, scene one. let's go. >> is there a fear of presumptuous, is not part of what's going on here? what are his concerns making the wrong choice? >> very suggestive question. as evidence from what i'm about to say, i certainly encourage everyone listening and watching mark who has access to the washington papers, one of the most amazing works of scholarship, i swear. what we have is a nice paper trail to answer your question. writing as impending news comes
and it's sprinkled with these kinds of things, famously he writes general knocks beforehand very quickly, i feel not unlike, my feelings are not unlike those of a corporate who's going to a 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 it trivializes oric empties it, that's part of the stage, it's important for a soon-to-be chief executive of the republic, republican government to play that down, to play the power down, to play up the appeal of
home, of mount vernon so it's part of backra choreography of power i think you're so good at. >> once he makes this decision and announces will journey, there is a journey worthy of attention and from mount vernon going to what turns out to be a short capitol, but go into some detail because your book has great detail on the travels of george washington but more importantly what happened along the way and how people are receiving. mount vernon, set the stage for us, what was the journey?
a large entourage or small. >> i remind myself, in some ways what compelled me into the project, everybody loves a road trip so how does this work? military and, he's going to try to fight so he's got a couple and that pretty claim so off they go. , they don't get far. for listeners and viewers remove your, these 12 miles or something like that, give or take, that's as far as they get before the first of many occasions in which washington
accepted along his way and i promise to do this every step but if you don't mind, i would like to convey something of what goes down in alexandria at the tavern as a representative of what's to transpire for the next week. of course alexandria isn't just a stop along the way as we all know, it goes to his heart so this is just a paragraph, they go for him and some speeches by local worthies as you might guess they are quite good and then washington. here's how he concludes his comments.
all that remains for me is for me to commit myself and you to the protection of that magnificent being, and from occasion happily brought us together after a long and distressing situation, perhaps the same will again indulge us with the same heartfelt listening. what works my fellow citizens fail me. another sensation must be left to more expressive ways. from an aching heart, i bid you all my friends, kind neighbors a farewell. >> that's good. i wish i could tell from the evidence on what locations he actually stood up delivered these himself. it's unclear to me amongst us
here this evening, it's unclear whether sometimes he's delivering these as a speech or deliver written form but either way, it's exquisite. it's quite a journey, it's not all that long. easy for me to say but as you know as your exhibits have these portrayals along the way, first alexandria and then stops along theed way but he'll hit baltimoe and there's a big celebration and rituals of power that i mentioned into delaware and into
early, that's crazy. as far as that goes, i look at the commentary from the k events scholarly coverage of that sometimes estimates are around 10000 people turning out. give or take 30,000 which would make that a third of the entire city turns out. it seems like a lot so there you have on the visual fair, there were several of these, the architecture of celebration where you have this arch bridge
and music and sometimes a detachment from the militia or something like that so this is a depiction of i washington into philadelphia for those of you familiar with that area so this would be characteristics. that is theater in the best sense, i think we could talk about that later but what is going on here in this occasion through the whole trip itself is kindhr of, it seems to me interpretive on my part for sure but it is not altogether clear, because nothingse is. it's not clear exactly what it should look like. weok fast-forward 12 years or so to jefferson first inaugural and he is 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 that but here in april of 89 before there is a president after all, it is unclear what to look like. should it be a royal procession the french and over-the-top you can't really do that. another thing, you don't want to downplay it too much because it's probably becoming a nationstate with an aggressive world out there so you don't want to downplay yourself so it seems to me to be a modulation between european access,
somewhere in between and they stay in philly, philadelphia for a stretch, everybody wants a piece of the action so you have the university of pennsylvania and cincinnati and various parties want in on the deal and theyey want to sing to them so e get a rehearsal of what we saw in alexandria and less intimate perhaps but still the same offering up of language, a republican city, you got to play this right, this is philadelphia
and "afterwards", the second part was washington will deliver a statement of this so philadelphia is a big party and if you have ever been to the adelphia, they have to do that but you got to get going. as a military man getting a little rest so off they go. of course you can't just let it like that, to send militia and everybody compiled around them after a few miles he says you guys are go home so i am okay, all good i, we got it. into new jersey and what's coming up across the river, a
trend. maybe if we can see that, perhaps the most well-known, widely circulated of washington century. for a variety of reasons, you will notice if you can squint at that thing, it primarily almost entirely women and girls. their daughters this moment for weeks they've been there outfits and songs, they are receipt rehearsing these placards the effect that his excellency what
saved us the first time. now returning to washington. it crosses that bridge, iss just a little bridge but it is a big bridge in the national imagination, and amount of that's the right word just yet but almost. it's a big bridge because a lot depended on it. washington been raises and crosses the bridge, the lights from the report delivers a few words to the mother's and daughters. this is music and firecrackers and so on.
now he's on his way up to what's called elizabethtown and eventually on to the water where now new york city really wants a piece of that for obvious reasons so they've got every to escort him along and he goes on to the barge and contemporary writers, i don't believe a word of it, dolphins jumping in but there is fireworks, people singing choruses and so on than they usher him into the upper harbor heading toward the battery and eventually into new york city itself. y
i think it's washington's entry into new york, was that him coming home on his way to mount vernon, hard to talk but i want to feed you because it suggests something of the urban culture, a fellow that necessarily but there they are. new york city would have been the population of new york city right around 30,000 so just about ready to move past, or has moved past philadelphia. hard to tell because new york is
a port city and the numbers get flexible but this much is clearly the case dip into the census records city life into what now arriving and asserting itself. the city would have been right around 30,000 brooklyn of course in excess but manhattan area would have been around 30,000,ea about 15% of that would have been a combination of that but also as you know, being new york, it would have had extraordinary diversity of languages ranging because of the dutch, the african influence is
going to be indigenous peoples. you have sort of dark culture going on which is always a rich and crazy things going on all the way to the high end for that is that culture and then it party time for that day but he arrives into the next day. then they put him up in a house on cherry street which is on the manhattantr side of the brooklyn bridge, kind of the upper east side. >> let me ask you, he mentioned this a couple of times that washington said a few words. what do we w know abou washington? something he started before this book, washington before the inaugural address. >> okay, before.
that for all the mythology around washington strong silent type and purely a man of action and that sort off thing, there s some of that, fair enough but i was talking to kevin earlier, off you've got to do is get to the library and look at the washington papers, the correspondence so on. it's incredible the houses. this man lives his life in language, so he was highly attuned. did he compose all of his addresses himself no. we could talk about that later if you wish. so y no, he was not order in the ordinary sense of the word alchemy follow up briefly. second, you need a reminder but
washington is ani virginia gentleman. it's not altogether clear of virginia gentlemen had to be an order. one might say -- well, we could talk about the gentleman, with the exception that proves the pool and pharaohs fuel front i don't want to overplay it necessarily but what we know of it does not operate through full order from he kind of got things done all of that is to say maybe we need to expand our sense of what constitutes for what defines eloquence. i can tell you this march 15 of 83 when things are getting really weird and virtually the
entire office core in that room on the ground arguably conspiracy on their mind, i don't know about that but maybe, he walks in front of that room in front of the most powerful military figures in the nation but the mobilizing power, i don't know what is been. a firsthand report of officers, these are hard guys in tears at the end of this addressed so i would suggest not because i'm trying to cheerlead washington but toto recognize that there is an eloquence of character.
an eloquence of the person that speaks sometimes speaks massive power. >> i wasn't expecting to ask this but as you were describing the journey and kept coming, this may be unanswerable but when people walk in washington and philadelphia or trenton or even new york, with a welcoming the new president or where they were coming washington parts what they have welcomed george washington in the same way in 1786? i'm just curious about this. >> thank you for this question. it's hard to be speculative in that sense -- i hope i am not eating around the question by suggesting that one, sure, he would have been -- he is the
man. no question. there is no more famous american -- franklin at this time, wherever he went would have been an occasion but they weren't welcoming but it seems to me, this cut deep for me, they were not, inconspicuously not welcoming the military in that. were his contributions acknowledged? of course but the letters, the speeches, it was fun to look at the various toasts, very much oriented toward the presidency
and he plays that pretty smart. there are anxieties, there is the man on horseback the back record on these things as you know is not real good. ... civil authority seems to me embodied in the person as well as a reception. >> i like that into a lot let me remind everyone you can ask questions type them in and submit your questions i want to come to as many as i can, y
it's late april and once he arrives there is a bit of a waiting period before he is ready to be inaccurate and what does that look like? >> so you have to see if you can't transplant yourself and the imagination. at some point you've got to settle down and have a cuppa tea in your new quarters you know. of course there's a line oblate out to the battery for people who want to talk to him. so there's that kind of housekeeping business that's going to go one but i want to mention one important dimensione of this.
this is in the letters and the correspondence. the hamiltons and several others asking them about certain protocols. should i invite people to my place or should i wait? should i go to some other place for dinner? it's the and bolts of this. again at the risk over her sing this but what a republican government ought to look like. what are the protocols? it's not as if you've got much to go with here is a look at the landscape. it's pretty as you said famously like everything i do so e hey what you think about which fork
you use for the salad. that kind of thing. so there's that housekeeping and figuring out the rules of engagement so speak. i do want to mention though it seems to me a very, very important dimension to all of this and it's a piece of this matter of what after all should a republic look like and as we get to the speech itself what should a republic sound like? but for the moment of course this goes on i'm sure since time as soon as somebody is in the chair or the officer is going to be the first thing you want to do is hit them up for a job.
so the writers contain all these accounts of hundreds and hundreds of people who have said hey i fought in trenton or brandywine or something and the kids need food. can you see yourself it for a position? >> yes command by the bagful as near as i can tell. washington has what turns into not really boilerplate but it seems adaptive or his secretary does but in any case and their promise not to read it but the upshot of these responses, they are very polite but very pointed in which he specifies why he can't help. he says first of all to put a casually is it's not going to happen, sorry. flat out this is never going to happen.
sorry, i appreciate your service but it can't happen and explains why. in my situation he says this is tough i have to turn away friends sometimes but it's absolutely crucial to the fortunes of republican government that this administration be headed by those who are competent to the task and for that reason alone. and he underlined to time and time again. it's days are crowded. he himself is not a big party or that he will have some people over and sometimes talk about the old days and those days are interminable interviews. there's no catapult that we would recommend is such in trying to figure this out as a goes on. >> i want to spend a little bit
of time you and me and then go to audience questions on the speech itself very we had the inaugural addressed just this year and this is now a fixture in the american -- i won't even say political calendar but the american civic calendar. this is the first. tell me about the speech they tell me how washington put it together and most importantly i'm adjusted to hear your take on the speech as the first inaugural addressed. didn't shape everything out there? c right, right. absolutely. what are we talking about here after all? president biden was the 59th such speech delivered. we might ask and their promise to be a response to your question but we might ask as the first order of business why. why do newly-installed president
take off his? they don't have to. there's nothingiceb as you known the constitution. there's nothing i can find in the constitutional base or thee ratification, i couldn't find a word about any of that. did washington invent the inaugural address? he certainly did not. variations go back of course in the english experience for centuries in the colonies and provinces themselves and we would see governors for instance. deliver sort of an assumption of office and addresses in that kind of thing. why did presidents after? i know why because washington. well, the speech itself as you
might imagine was seven paragraphs long about 100 words give or take and it's not particularly long, seven. it is written in sort of that characteristic 18th century english sort of latin so it's not a particular reader friendly tax for most people these days. i love it of course but i'm used to. more specifically worded this address come from?m? well it's not a peculiar route but it had a bump or two but washington seems to have had eight of his for a long time who is pretty good and a pretty bad poet but pretty good with a pen plan to help them out a little bit. humphrey has a 70 page soul or
reef of manuscript. washington says you know i will get back to you. can you imagine the 70 page speech? even edward kirkwood blanchett that. in any case around christmastime prior to the inauguration itself in april of 89 madison stops by the house and they spend some time together and it's pretty clear that washington and effect said to mr. madison what do you think of this and madison seems to have taken one look at it and said that's not going to happen. two of them bend themselves to the cask so for those of you familiar with medicine or medicine pros craft you can see it in several ways. if that manuscript that gets
tucked into washington's press pocket as he assumes the office itself. he takes the oath of office on the second floor out on the balcony there that extends and delivers it. look at all the people, george washington president of the united states of america and walks into what we might call the joint session and delivers the address. several people in attendance road append response and their impressions. washington sees several that might have had a bead of sweat or two on the brow and maybe aquiver in the voice and shaking
of the hands back to this order question. i don't think it ever felt particularly comfortable. that was in the zone that's for sure but we talk about why but one of the legacies why is because i think he thought it was absolutely essential to the ethos of republican government that power shows itself and that it speaks for itself and it lets itself be known that this isn't a european deal much less a french deal or some sort of ritual in the house of commons or something. in any case he stands up and with manuscript in hand maybe shakes a little bit and this is a pretty intense moment and delivers the address. as i say it's the "-- and seven
paragraphs and not particularly long but it is very very pointed. one of the reasons i entered into the project is i was struck by the relative absence frankly of a serious m scholarly work on the inauguration and much less the inaugural address so i'm kind of off of my modest contribution to that. why, i don't know. there's no sense dwelling on that but even if it was a still thepeech it was first. in any case. >> they are is no policy initiative although there is one thing that we talkng about. he is not advocating for a series of bills directed by this robber that wrong and you might
see in later inaugural addresses that have an agenda and that have a plan of action. what is in this address? what's the and bolts of the substance? >> okay, very good. and it's precedent-setting but i think in the main we could without getting into the weeds but if you'll allow me i do want to quote one sentence. >> course. >> what you know like i say it's 1419 words long disclosed in the charactersraphs and that we that paragraph is called the ingratiating self. importantly though and again here's the precedent-setting where washington is careful to as it were subsume himself to the office or become sort of a
commonplace in the inaugural addresses to greater or lesser degrees for sure but as a kind of the standard go to saying this is beyond my ability but i will do my best kind of thing and i wish i was back at mt. vernon bouncing kid so many but here i am. that's what you've got to do. there has been an appeal to divine sanction. it's conspicuously not a very, it's not a christian language but for better or worse we tend to call it did deists appeal and then thirdly you are right there is most but not much hardly at all specific talk about policy because it's kind of unclear what that would even mean under the circumstances but there is very much a statement of vision.
so we know the word inauguration is the ancient latin term for seeing and predict king. seeing what the land looks like when you're just starting something sort of thing. then get some talk about article v of the united states constitution and this is perhaps where we see madison's hand being played which washington reminds his audience if things are not going exactly the way you want it we can deal with this in that way. through the amendment process. he then says listen, towards the end i don't want any salary for this and concludes with again and appeal to the divine
section. >> c so you are right it's a very short speech and i think you would feel short today. if we took the address of 2020 or 2024 and heard the speech of this length we would say wow. >> i think so. there were shorter and not as short as you well know but washington's second and a girl address which might be rather telling us all of what, three sentences kevin? >> one clunky paragraph is all. >> i have an audience question and they will talk more about the speech. i don't know the answer to this. was martha washington washington's wife and family in and a part of this inaugural ceremony at the beginning of the presidency? >> thank you meghan if i may. okay, here's how that turns out.
martha and the gang did not in fact a company george washington on that journey but that will come later. they have got to take care of the situation at the house and figure things out. washington himself has to find or get people to find it for him no doubt staff and so on. now to answer your question his immediate presence there i think if i may get a little impressionistic but the it was really unclear given the gender dynamics at play in what it meant for a female to be publicly sentence like that. it's kind of unclear. is that appropriate or is it not? in any case after the
inauguration ceremonies and so on everybody walks out of the big party and there is no inaugural ball is such that we would recognize or parade like we would think of now. the spanish ambassador so they will have that but washington is insistent that they wait until martha comes up. and then be and staff and kids and so on. but that would be an accompaniment. >> if you have questions coming in keep it up. one question we have is about his military uniform.
as you mentioned some of these are 19th century but did he travel by carriage and duty mount a horse before arriving? i think this is something we know he did on occasion but i don't know about this trip. >> sure. well again for all of the stern -- the man liked a nice jack because there are letters of an exchange where when he knows that the inauguration is coming up on the horizon he writes to knocks in said hey can you help me find -- there's this paper up there and i think was in connecticut to does really nice work. can you get him my proportions because he is a big guy
obviously and with a nice brown hair and he's always attempting to do that. now as to, actually given what we were talking about in terms of this choreography of the republican government one has got to pay attentions to one's clothing as jefferson finds out at a later date. it's not altogether appropriate for four the president of the united states of america to open the door and slippers like what the heck? washington was 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 a commentary or observations to that effect. frankly the imagery aside i would be surprised and maybe i'm
biased on this matter but i think he would have thought it inappropriate to civil government for the president-elect of the united. states of america to go to the ball dressed in a military uniform. >> questions continue to come in and give you another one that i love this question because i think it's something there are a lot of answers to. one of them i know worded washington learn his theatrical sense and i will just throw it out i know that he loved going to the theater actually enjoyed watching plays. >> indeed no reason not to believe it but the staging at
play at valley forge. okay, you virginians out there and southerners perhaps in general wall understand that to have come of age under the circumstances was to have come of age in a time of exquisite times. and we know that one can kind of overplayed a little bit. but sometimes that might include taking -- you have to know how to move your body. if you are big guy like washington was it was important to give off your athleticism in terms of how you sat down how
you dance and that kind of thing. you had to be, there was a sense of comportment. synced to of the military experience especially the early formative military experience before the war of independence. i think he was taught early on that mismanagement of yourself before others one can lament it or celebrate it but he understooded the art of practicality as is put here is the power of the parents and washington understood the power of appearance but it's how you get things done properly.
it's sort of mortified him when he showed up remember to take over what could charitably be called the army. he was mortified looking at superior officers giving the men in the ranks haircuts. he put a stop to that in a hurry. i don't think it was an obsessive authoritarian thing going on. the time is going to come when if i say can i get a haircut you have to go to the frontline. >> there's more -- one more question coming from the audience and it's one i'm hoping tohe touch on briefly with your
scale and evaluating rhetoric. is the relationship relating this in our girl address the farewell letter and i know for a fact they were learning about the fair world address for more than a century after but how do you compare the two? did they have some common themes or were there big difference is? >> this question deserves a pause if you don't mind. in my view aside from the audience differences of content and context what impresses me is the distinction between the
fundamental optimism that i see embedded in every word of the first inaugural address and i really see the farewell address not perhaps as pessimistic but an address by someone who has never delivered it orally and someone who's had a rough stretch. maybe that's in terms of failure bu i will put it this way and at first inaugural address there was not one single word about what we called foreign policy. he opened that door into his office to and it just never stopped to look to geist you
had -- he had that whole thing and ifou he looked west and the north and south everywhere and secondly there's a kind of wish i had a better word because he wasn't and i pessimistic bind that there's almost a kind of a winsome those are the kind of mellow link where everything that he hopes for in that business about party and factions and all were true and the reason i'm stumbling here's because i don't know personally
but washington in some sense he's older, he's wiser come he's got a few scars on them now. and i think you might have been feeling very 18th century. what he saw was a world that was rapidly if it hadn't already been coming on that was deeply and strived by considerations of faction in power and personal interests and that kind of thing. it was a rough couple of administrations you know. >> this has been a great conversation. the book and everyone out there is "the first inauguration" george washington and the invention of the republic. when you get to know more about this address that too little has been written about the subject and of course it sets the stage