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tv   Stephen Browne The First Inauguration  CSPAN  August 18, 2021 4:22am-5:23am EDT

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television for serious readers. >> good evening, everyone my name is kevin butterfield of the executive director of the national library for the city of george washington mount vernon welcome to our evening book talk for the month of april 2021. will throw to javi here and excited about our conversation on the first inauguration george washington in the republic of stephen browne. one note coming up on may will be our third and final we have had two wonderful conversations with cheney, thomas ricks and thus far separate tickets are available for the final conversation remember that if
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you select the ticket that i am thinking of will prove an autographed copy of the book, richard bernstein of harvey bernstein and noted author has a new book called the education of john adams am excited to talk to him about it please join us for the third and final segment of the 2021 michelle smith flex series. to introduce about our speaker tonight, we will learn more as we join the conversation stephen browne and arts professor of can make communication at penn state a rhetorical critic and public memory early america and the most recent book before the book will be talking about tonight was the eyes of war george washington and the new crisis he's written many books but what were mostly excited about as we near the anniversary of the first inaugural address ever given by the first president of the united states were gonna talk with him about the first
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inauguration gorge washington in the invention of the republic he is an award-winning scholar by penn state as a marvelous teacher but also the association please join me in welcoming stephen howard brown, welcome. >> great to be here for anyone who's interested in washington this is the gold standard i feel very faithful to you and the staff of the library and the ladies, thank you. >> thank you its own behalf that we welcome you here tonight and the company that confronting these talks for years, thank you how they support this work and everything that we do and i'm thrilled to have a conversation with you. i want to remind everyone in please submit your questions, i want to give you an opportunity to ask questions and learn about the first inaugural address but
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also the first inauguration more broadly, let me start there tell us about the election of the president it was not like any other how did george washington become elected in 1788, 89. >> thank you. one way of getting out is to ask how would it be possible for him to not be elected and i'm familiar to her listeners and viewers it almost appeared composite of those values not only that people embrace but needed to embrace at that moment and people knew it from vermont to georgia it was very clear of course that this is precisely
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the person not only embody the values but right here right now when things were unclear even especially in 89 it is interesting that a day after the inaugural address the state general convened in paris in a couple months, i said it's very uncertain and is very rural in washington is balanced to the sale. >> maybe you could talk about the environment in which washington is waiting for the news i think he knew he was going to be elected president. >> there is something of a ritualistic character given what you just said the people knew it
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and here comes and it's a certainty and indeed charles thompson secretary of congress is sent on his way to make a rather long ride down to mount vernon. all of that is clear and indeed thompson shows up on the 16th and round his way to the door in washington is ready, something of the two step dance where thompson reads him an official statement from congress of 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
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a set of beautiful observations about washington is an art of the exit and knew how to take his lead. it reminds us the sage grouse that washington was so good at. but he is also good at making entrance. that is into itself, something of the theater that i see going on not to trivialize or to empty it, quite the opposite, i think washington with the rough ready camp eating cheese and nuts and wine over the campfire in the developed sense of the theater of politics and he understood
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under the circumstances he needed to do this right every step along the way, when thompson knocks on the door act i, scene one, is there a fear with presumptuous, is that part of what's going on what her concerns about making the wrong stuff. >> very suggestive question. as evidence for what i'm about to say and i encourage everyone to listen or watch and who has access to the washington papers in one of the most amazing works of scholarship on earth.
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famously he writes the general knocks beforehand and very quickly says i feel that my feelings are not unlike those as a culprit that is going to the place of his own execution. diminishing of expectations and i'm not worried in that kind of thing. i don't think contribute license or empties it, it is important for his soon to be a chief executive of a republic to play that down into play up the
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appeal of home of mount vernon. so part of the choreography of power that i think he was so good at. >> once he makes his decision and offers to charles thompson the journey to become the first president, with some attention and of course he is leaving from mount vernon and going to what turns out to be a short-lived capital, let's talk about the journey and go into some details your book has great details on the travel to george washington but more importantly what happened along the way in terms of how people are receiving how
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can mount vernon set the stage for us, what will it entail. >> thank you, i will remind myself to restrain myself, this is really what compelled me into the project generally, everybody loves a road trip, how does this work, he is a military man and he's going to travel light, they will keep that pretty lean, off they go. they don't get far for your listeners and viewers who are familiar with alexandria you'll know what is 12 miles or something like that give or take and that's as far as they get before the first of many
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occasions in which washington along his way and i promise not to do this every step but if you do not mind i would like to convey something of what goes down in alexandria at the tavern as a representative is to transpire from the next week or so. alexandria isn't just along the way it's as close to his heart and this is just a paragraph, if you do not mind some speeches by local worthies and as you might guess and then washington, here's how he concludes his
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comments. all that remains for me too commit myself and you to the protection of the minister sent being on a former occasion has happily brought us together after a long distressing separation, perhaps the same providence will indulge us with the same heartfelt, but words, my fellow citizens fail me a notable sensation must be left to more expressive silence but from an aching heart i bid you all my affectionate friends and kind neighbors, farewell. >> that's pretty good and i wish i could tell from the evidence on one occasion they actually stood up and delivered, it is
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unclear sometimes more careful searchers amongst us this evening might straighten me out on this but it's unclear whether he is delivering these as one might speech or a written form and that kind of thing but either way that is exquisite, off they go, it is quite a journey it's not actually all that long, it's easy for me too say but as you know and as you exhibit at mount vernon had these trails along the way first alexandria and was stopped along the way it will hit baltimore where there is also a celebration in the rituals of
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power that i had mentioned into delaware, wilmington into philly, that is crazy as far as that goes i look at the commentary from the day in scholarly coverage of that, sometimes estimates are around 10000 people turning out. give or take 30000 which would mean a third of the entire city, it seems like a lot but there we have on the visual there is several of these, what would you call them sort of the architecture of celebration where you have the arch and then
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the bridge in the music and sometimes a detachment from the local militia or something like that. this is the depiction of washington and philadelphia for those familiar with that area. this would be characteristic. that is theater and we can talk about that later but what is going on in this location as we dig through the whole trip itself it seems to me this is interpret on my part but is not altogether clear because nothing is, what exactly all this should look like, we fast-forward 12 years or so to jefferson's first
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inaugural and he's living in a boardinghouse, he gets up and has a cup of tea and ties his hair in a ponytail and brushes himself off, okay, that is that but here in april 89 before there is a president after all it is unclear of what power auto look like should be a royal perception like the brits might do or the french in just over the top, you cannot really do that, another thing you don't want to downplay too much this is a rapidly that will soon become a nation-state with an aggressive repetitive world, you don't want to downplay yourself, this seems to be a modulation between the european access and
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poor mopping it, it is somewhere in between, they stay in philadelphia for a stretch and everybody wants a piece of the action so you have the trustees of the university of pennsylvania in society of cincinnati and various parties want in on the deal and listen to them so we get a rehearsal of what we saw in alexandria more complicated and less intimate but still the same offering of language a republican city, philadelphia after all you have to play this right this is
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philadelphia. and "after words" the second part is washington will deliver a statement of his own, philadelphia is big it's a big party, if you've ever been to philadelphia, but you've got to get going he's a military man and he is getting a little restless so off they go. but the catch is what philadelphians can't just let it be like that they have to set militia and everything piled around them in washington after a few miles says you guys just go home and take care of the household, i'm okay it's all good we got it. so into philadelphia, into new
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jersey it was coming up across the river but tran10, this is the most well-known and widely circulated 19th century. of washington's entry into tran10. for variety of reasons you will notice if you squint at that thing it is primarily almost entirely women and girls, these are the women of tran10 and their daughters who have been ready for this moment for weeks, they have been getting together their outfits and songs there rehearsing the songs with the flower and garland and someone but there's also the equivalent and placards to the effect that
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saved us the first time, the battle of tran10 in you save the women in the daughters of tran10 and now the returning the favor, i think they cross that bridge a little bridge in tran10 but it's a big bridge in the imagination. i don't know if national is the right word just yet but almost that is a big bridge a lot depended on that thing. washington then as you see raises his hat and he crosses the bridge and he delivers a few words to the mothers and daughters of tran10 and needless to say surrounding all of this is music and someone now he's on
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his way to elizabethtown and then eventually onto the water where course new york city in particular wants a piece of the action for obvious reasons. so they have boats of every kind to escort him along, he goes onto the barge in the contemporary writers i don't know if i believe a word of it but dolphins jumping in but there is fireworks in courses and so on where they usher him into the harvard never heading towards a battery into new york
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city itself here you see something like that. the image is entitled washington's entry into new york, is that exactly him coming home from newburgh, it's hard to tell because it suggest what i would call the urban culture i don't know if it's a street culture necessarily but there they are, new york city would have been, the 1790 census of the population in new york city around 30000, it's just about ready to move past philadelphia hard to tell because new york is
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a port city and the numbers get pretty flexible. but this much is clearly the case if you dip into the census records and the texture of city life is arriving and asserting itself the city would've been right around 30000 manhattan area would've been 30015% would've been a combination but it would also be, being new york it would have had an extraordinary diversity of languages ranging, because of the dutch influence the african
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influence there is going to be indigenous people you have dock culture going on which is always a written crazy tabler going on to the high-end but that is the culture and then it is party time for that day into the next day then they put them in a house on cherry street which is on the manhattan side by the brooklyn bridge to put you in the upper east side. >> let me ask you pull the minute question you mentioned a couple of times the washington said a few words, what do we know about washington that you studied even before, washington before the inaugural address.
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>> before. [screams] up until this moment is washington great order. >> that is a spot on question it identifies what works in this whole thing, if you forgive the south record thing but my first book was on edmund burke and angelina and jefferson and someone, there is that oratory of daniel webster sort of thing. but clearly washington is not and he would never pretend to be, at the same time i'll try not to go on about this but it
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occurred all of the mythology around washington as a strong silent type in a manner of action and that sort of thing, there is some of that for sure but i was talking to kevin earlier if you get to a good library and with the correspondence and so one it is incredible thousands, this man lives his life awash in language he was highly attuned, did decompose all of his addresses and someone, no and we can talk about that later if you wish. he was not an order in the ordinary sense of the world but let me follow up briefly
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secondly remember not that you need me too remind you but washington is the virginia general, a virginian gentleman had to be in order or they might say about contradictory or something but we could talk about the gentleman with the exception that proves the rule, there is a few so i don't want to overplay this but what we know and did not operate through oratory he got things done differently. but all of that is to say we need to expand our sense of what constitutes or defines eloquence or oratory i tell you this would newburgh on march 15 of 83 when
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things are getting really weird and he has the entire officer corps in that room on the ground and he would've arguably conspiracy on their minds i don't know about that but if you walked in front of the room in front of the most powerful military figures in the nation if that is not oratory in mobilizing the power of the work i don't know what is if they are indeed first-hand reports of officers these are hard guys in tears at the end of the newburgh address, i would suggest that we ought expand not just because i'm trying to truly washington but recognize there is an eloquence of character, there is
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an eloquence of the person that speaks sometimes speaks with massive power. >> i was not expecting to assess question but as you were describing the journey that it may be unanswerable the people are welcoming washington and philadelphia or even in new york but there welcoming the new president or were they welcoming washington and by that what they have welcomed george washington in the same way in 1786, i'm just curious. >> thank you to be speculative in the sense, i hope i'm not fall been the question by
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suggesting that one he is the man there is no question there is no more famous american even more than franklin. >> at this point, yes of course, wherever he went would've been an occasion but they were welcoming and this cuts very deep for me is they were not ins because they welcoming a military figure, was that were his contributions to put it mildly acknowledged, of course but you look at the letters, the speeches, the toast that was fun to look at the various toast, is
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very much oriented toward what we would call the presidency and he plays that pretty smart, these anxieties there is a unwell problem in the man on horseback so to speak and you give a back record on these things it is not really good you can win the war but it's winning the piece is tough if you're not careful you're gonna have a napoleon over the horizon if you don't write this properly, that on the 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
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come to as many as i can, your new york late april and you're about to be inaugurated once you arrive in new york is there waiting. before he's waiting to be inaugurated and what does that look like take us up to the day of the inauguration. >> part of the fun of this whole project this is to see if he can transplant and imagination back to life at some point you have to settle down and have a cup of tea and say now what sort of thing and to absolutely no one surprise this hostile lineup to the battery because people want to talk to them. so there is that housekeeping business going to go one but i want to mention one thing
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important he writes in this is in the letter to the correspondent hill right to madison and hamilton and several others asking them about certain protocols, should i have an invite people to my place should i go to somebody else's place for dinner and it's the nuts and bolts, again as rehearsing this what that says what a republican government ought to look like one of the protocols it's not as if he has much to go with as he looks across the landscape as we said famously everything that we do as a president, he asks
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mr. madison what fork do you use as a solid, that kind of thing, there is that housekeeping and figuring out the rules of engagement so to speak. i do want to mention it seems a very important dimension to all of this of a piece with this matter of what a republic should look like and as we get to the speech itself what should a republic sound like but for the moment this goes on assuming somebody is in the chair or is going to be the first thing you want to do is hit them up for a job and they contain all of this and it is hundreds and hundreds of people who say i saw it in
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trenton and the kids need food can you see a self job for a position. washington has what turned into he seems to adapt or his secretary does but in any case i promise not to read about the ups shot of these responses are very polite but very pointed and when he specified what he cannot help he says first of all to put it casually this is not going to happen, sorry flat out this is never going to happen for you. i appreciate your service but it can't happen and he explains why
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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. that underlines at time and time again. he fell it's not a big party but you have people over for a glass of moderna and talk about the old days and a lot of the days themselves aren't in terminal interviews, there is no cabinet that we would recognize as such he's trying to figure this out as he goes along. >> we will spend a little bit of time in good audience questions on the speech itself this is now
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a fixture in the american civic calendar of the inaugural address and this is the first of them tell me about the speech and how washington puts together and most importantly i mentioned to hear your take on the beach as the first inaugural address, did it shape everything that came up. >> absolutely, what are we talking about here after all, president biden with the speech delivered we might ask i promise to be responsive to your question but we might ask the first order of business, why why do presidents give oath of office, they do not have to as
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you know there's nothing in the constitution and there's nothing i can find in the constitutional debates or ratification debates i cannot find a word about any of that, did washington invent the inaugural address, he certainly did not its variations that go back and angle experience for centuries in the colonies and profits into themselves we would see governors for instance. deliver assumption of office addresses, that kind of thing so the presidents after. >> the speech itself as you might imagine seven paragraphs long about 1400 words, give or
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take, it's not particularly long, it is written in the characteristic 18th century english syntactical structures and so one it is not particular reader friendly for most people these days, i love that, more specifically where to this address come from, it's not a peculiar route it had a bump or two washington seems to ask david humphreys for a long time, he was pretty good and what we has become to help them out a little bit, his chance in the 70 plus page beast of a manuscript, what about this washington says
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and it was about a 70 page speech, around christmas time prior to the inauguration itself in april of 89 jeff madison stopped by the house and they spent time together and it's pretty clear that washington said mr. mattis what do you think of this madison took one look and said that is not going to happen and the two of them bend themselves to the task. for those of you familiar with madison or madisons, you can see it there in several ways. manuscript gets tucked into a washington express pocket as he
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assumes in the second floor of the balcony, there we go look at all the people down below. george washington president of the united states of america we might call a joint session and then a delivery to the address. several people in attendance wrote in response the repressions the several notice there might be sweat or two on the brow and a quiver in the voice and shaking of the hands after this order question. i don't think it ever felt particularly comfortable that is
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for sure. but he did it and we talked about why but one of the legacies, i think he thought he was absolutely essential to the republican government that power shows itself and speaks itself it let's itself be known this is in the european deal unless it's a french kind of thing or a ritual in the house of commons or something, in any case it stands up with manuscript in hand maybe it shakes a little bit but this is pretty intense moment and it delivers the address, is exposed into seven paragraphs not particularly long but it is very, very pointed one
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of the reasons i entered into the project i was struck by the absence frankly of any scholarly work on the inauguration and much less the inaugural address so i'm off of my modest contribution to that, why i do not know there is no sense dwelling on that but if it was a dreadful speech it was still the first, in any case. >> there is no policy in this initiative although there is one thing that we talk about your advocating for a series of bills to rectify this wrong or that wrong and you might see in some inaugural address that has an agenda or a plan, what is in this address what is the nuts
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and bolts. >> very good again it's a precedent-setting but without getting into the weeds, allow me i do want to quote one sentence. like i say 1419 into seven paragraphs, characteristically young the first paragraph that ingratiate yourself, importantly where washington as it were to assume itself to the office or become a commonplace and inaugural address to greater less convincing as sure as the standard go to, this is beyond
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my ability but i will do my best kind of thing, i wish i was back at mount vernon bouncing kids on my knees but here i am that's what you've gotta do, there is an appeal to define sanction, it's conspicuously not a christian language that he mobilizes but for better or worse we have an appeal and so on. thirdly you're right there is not much to talk about policy it's unclear what that would mean under the circumstances. but there is very much a statement of vision so we know the word inauguration is ancient
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intern for seeing and predicting in seemingly the land looks like when you're starting something, we then get talking about article five in the constitution this is where we see madison's hand being played which washington reminds his audience if things are going the way you want it we can deal with us in that way. through the amendment process. he then says towards the end i don't want any salary for this and concludes with an appeal to define sanction. >> you're right it's a very short speech and would feel
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short today the inaugural address in 2020 or 2024 and at this point we would think that is true. >> i think so not as short as you well know doctor butterfield but washington second inaugural address which might be rather telling was rather three sentence. >> one paragraph is all it was. >> ivan audience questions and we will talk more, it's a great question, i don't know the answer to this when we asked washington's wife and family were the any part of the presidency . . .
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he he writes to knox and says hey can you help me find this is taylor up there. he's a big guy obviously with a nice thing going on.
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as to -- so what? given that we are talked about in terms of the power and the choreography of republican government, one has got to pay attention to as jefferson was to find out at a later date. not altogether appropriate for the president of the united states, to open the door into slippers like what the heck. washington was much more formal along those lines. the ones who will don his uniform? i don't know. i have not come across a commentary or observation to that effect. the imagery aside i would be surprised but i think formed
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since is it would -- he would've found it inappropriate to civil government to be president-elect of the united states of america to go to the ball dressed in military uniform. this is helpful. questions are continuing to commend them got another one, i like this question i think there's a lot of answers to. one of them i know right off, where did washington learn his theatrical sense and i note he loves going to the theater. he enjoyed. tells more about that. no reason not to believe it. a staging at valley forge i'm
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stumbling here, and so on. new virginians out there will understand that to come of age under his circumstances was to come of age in a time of exquisite and we know from the book one can overplay that a little bit. one didn't have to know really early on the arts of how to navigate a powerful company. now sometimes that might include, dancing you gotten how to move your body. especially your big guy like washington was it was important to develop an
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athleticism in terms of even how you sat down, how you danced, that kind of thing. that mattered. but think to have a military experience, especially his early formative military experience with the war of independence. meaning what? he was taught early on management of yourself before others that really matters. that was lamented or celebrated but he understood practicality as it's put here. is the art of appearance some abstract theoretical terms but in part for us to tell you get
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things done properly. this is what famously sort of mortified him when he showed up in boston remember? to take over what comparatively called the american army in boston. he was mortified walking around the superiors officers getting inferior people he put a stop to that in a hurry. i don't think he had an obsessive rotarian things going on. that just looks bad. the time is going to come when the guy giving you a haircut might be sending you into the front lines we better get this straightened out it's the art of appearances. >> one more coming from the
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audience hoping to touch on briefly with your scale in valuating your rhetoric margo has a great question even more famous. learning excerpts the inaugural address may be a little less so. how do you compare the two? are there differences? >> this question deserves a positive you don't mind. it's a good one. in my view aside from the obvious differences in content and context, what impresses me
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is the distinction the fundamental optimism that ice embedded every word of the inaugural address. maybe not made as pessimistic but an address by someone who was never delivered of course orally by someone who has had a very rough stretch of it. maybe not so much in terms of failure, all of that is arguable. i will put it this way. you will notice the first inaugural address is not one single word we would call foreign policy. he open that door to his office and it just never
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stopped. if you looked east you had that whole thing going on. if you look west secondly there is a hard one wish i had a better word than pessimist, he was not possessive of almost eight kind of kind of knowing where -- everything that he was hoping for the business about party infections and all came true. roots i'm here is because i don't know personally but washington in some sense he's wiser, he's got a few scars on
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him now. think is feeling very 18th century. as a world rapidly that it already been coming on that was deeply inscribed by consideration of factions and power and personal interest, that kind of thing. it was a rough couple of administrations. this is been a great conversation first inauguration, george washington and the republic it came out last year. we needed to know more about this too little has been written about this. so much of what comes later. thanks her writing the blog. thank you for sitting down with this.
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thank you so much to you again and to everyone who logged on i really appreciate it. >> thank you everyone out there for joining us tonight for book talk. i hope to see you in a month of may have s


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