Skip to main content

tv   Akhil Reed Amar The Words That Made Us  CSPAN  August 25, 2021 2:54pm-3:57pm EDT

2:54 pm
abraham lincoln book shop. there's a link in the comments where you can get it. it is $24. we will ship it to you with a special date of publication signed bookplate which is today, the 12th of april, 2021. ♪ ♪ weekends on c-span 2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday, you will find events and people that explore our nation's past, on american history tv. on sundays, book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. it is television for serious readers. learn, discover, explore, weekends on c-span 2. ♪ ♪ good evening, everyone. i'm new york historical society's president and ceo. i'm thrilled to welcome you to
2:55 pm
tonight's virtual program, america's constitutional conversation 1760 to 1840. i'm particularly grateful this evening for the wonderful support of the sponsors of the program tonight. i'm also delighted to welcome guests of the sponsors and to thank you for your great partnership. just before i introduce our speakers, i want to recognize and thank new york historical trustees who are joining us this evening. first and foremost, the outstanding chair of our board of trustees, the chair of our executive committee, and trustees and one of tonight's speakers who will be joining us momentarily on our virtual stage. i would also like to thank the
2:56 pm
council. we are so grateful to each and every one of you for your encouragement and support, especially at this challenging time. now then, we are pleased to welcome our guest back to our virtual stage. the sterling professor of law and political science at yale university, before joining yale's faculty, he clerked for judge now associate justice stephen breyer, when he was judge on the u.s. court of appeals for the first circuit. he's also a regular visiting adjunct professor at columbia law school and the author of the recently released book "the words that made us, america's constitutional conversation 1760 to 1840." joining us as moderator this evening is a senior fellow at the national review institute, a senior editor of the national review, and an author of numerous books, including "give
2:57 pm
me liberty, a history of america's exceptional idea" and john marshall, the man who made the supreme court. he was historian curator for new york historical 2004 exhibition alexander hamilton, the man who made modern america. i was delighted to be able to work with him back then. and in 2008, president george w. bush awarded him the national humanities medal in a white house ceremony. this program will last an hour including 15 minutes for questions and answers. your questions can be submitted via the q&a function on your zoom screen. in the interest of simplicity, we have disabled the chat function tonight, so please do remember to use the q&a. our speakers will get to a as -- get to as many questions as time allows. i'm happy indeed to turn our virtual stage over to tonight's
2:58 pm
speakers. thank you. >> thank you, louise. thank you, akil for joining us. it is always a pleasure and honor to be at the new york historical society and always a pleasure to be with the professor who i will call akil for the rest of the evening because he's a dear old friend and has been for years. he's written this terrific book "the words that made us america's constitutional conversation 1760 to 1840." akil, your book covers a lot of things that you would expect to be covered in such a book. you talk about the federalist papers. you talk about the constitutional convention. but i think a lot of the real richness of this book, and what impressed me so much about it is its richness is things that may
2:59 pm
be less expected, maybe a little surprising, and i want to start with two words from your title and your subtitle. i want to start with "words as conversation" which maybe isn't the first thing that people would think of when they think of the constitution and its history and its development. so what conversation are you talking about? who are the people in it? what kind of thing are they saying? >> they begin as british subjects in the new world, and by talking to each other, in newspapers, especially, but in letters, in face-to-face conversations, they talk themselves into becoming americans. they begin to realize whether they're up in massachusetts or down in virginia or in still
3:00 pm
other colonies. the story begins in 1760. they begin to understand what they have in common with each other. they're talking to britain initially. they see themselves at the beginning of my story as british subjects in the new world. they are trying to persuade their brothers and cousins and friends in britain that britain isn't treating them well. and yes, i think some people don't maybe focus on this idea of conversation, but the constitution is a text, so it's words, of course, but it comes to life in a deed, an act. that act isn't just putting the document to a vote, an epic vote up and down the con -- continent, a vote in which more people were allowed to say yea
3:01 pm
or nay than anything they were allowed to vote. :: >> and they come in the visibly americans. one nation indivisible, that the constitution and do it epically through word us through pictures and political cartoons. some very highfalutin stuff, these papers and some of the simple stuff, poetry, and it's
3:02 pm
an amazing inclusive robust uninhibited wide-open distinctively american experience. >> like a free-for-all. so were talking about it wasn't just a big name printed and you do covered that, you covered the people at the presidential placemat and people in our wallets and this is a much bigger conversation. akhil: it is and it so for example, act one scene one is about and is a pretty big name but is not a household name, james otis, fire printed and american revolution and in new england patrick henney and they say that he was patrick and he reporter: there was patrick henry and he tell the story in a chapter of three people who will be significant over the next 15
3:03 pm
years. and stretches out in 1961 and one of them is skeptical of these people who have called themselves patriots. and he actually is the most prominent loyalists, american born loyalist on the continent by 1775 and what is stunning is that most people even really know real people don't really know his name or don't really know a story emma thomas hutchinson he will become the role governor of virginia or a message to she is coming sees me, and his lieutenant governor and is an american born if you'd asked somebody as late as 1770 or so, definitely 1765, which of these two famous boston arctic smart people will end up having american in independence and he will in a siding with the chain
3:04 pm
and benjamin franklin or thomas hutchinson, both of us both really smart. people might've said no, franklin, his illegitimate son is the royal governor new jersey and hutchinson will apply for this fellow in new england or something. it's a lot of people that are more than thomas hutchinson for hutchinson in particular because i want my audience to see there was another side even to the american revolution. if thomas hutchison were alive today, my analogy would be that he is mitt romney, harvard educated, sober, a traditionalist and he believes in hierarchy. and he loves his country but as countries but in any loves his hometown in boston and if he had been lucky enough to be born 20 years earlier, it would not have had to pick between them but he does. adding and subtracting asking. so i do try to widen the cast of characters beyond the big six on
3:05 pm
the first four presidents washington and jefferson madison and of course franklin and hamilton. >> you just mentioned benjamin franklin anyway your title almost sells your conversation a little short printed so just words, is also images, tell us about this great cartoon that franklin generates very early on in his conversation. akhil: invents bifocals, he invites in front invades the franklin stove commandments the lightning rod it any invents social institutions, the first secular university lending library a philosophical is stationed like he is also invents the world first real political cartoon. it's not from britain, it comes from america early on americans
3:06 pm
very democratic culture. and it's simple, the picture 1754, picture of a snake that is cut up into pieces and he has a slogan. it is the first model median today we can say # join or die in 1754 he said, the colon is have to work together and with written to defeat the french in the backcountry and this is in the early stages of what would become the french and indian war and in the very same page in 1754, in the newspaper, he is a newspaper magnet. they were alive today, he money rupert murdoch or something like that on the very same day there is this picture of the snake and this viral # join or die and he is also telling his audience about a young 22 -year-old
3:07 pm
military officer from virginia and bravely is confronting the french and his name is george washington he's going to getting self name and papers up and down the continent 50 different references at age 22. we will hear from him again. but that jointed i cartoon is so simple. it is not high art, so it's easy to replicate in a cartoonist of a noun the continent start to copy it, sort of retreating today. journalists for the printers don't really pay a lot for content yet, the nonpaying scribblers like you and me to write stuff, they're basically yes, the publishing proceedings of local assemblies, grand jury pronouncements and judicial opinions but also, republishing things that appeared elsewhere if you're new york, philadelphia
3:08 pm
or boston, or london. in this joint or die image goes viral first in 1754 and in ten years later, when the colonies are beginning to unite against london, it is a rebirth and related to the congress by the colonies to join together and then ten years after that, it has a re, rebirth that the snake and he hibernates in any reawakened's, he is like a phoenix in 1774, he reawakens for the continent for congress back in franklin philadelphia which is going to involve joining against britain. and if you don't join, you will die individually, this will be the single federalist argument for the constitution. we have to hang together or otherwise, present because to
3:09 pm
pieces for france or spain. it's a geostrategic argument for this union and my god, raichlen is seen a version of that, more british version of that as early as 1754. he puts it in a simple picture in ordinary people can understand and three simple words that make a powerful political argument. join or die, he's inventing on the left like he is imagining a twitter or just how many characters, 140 instagram, it is amazing, it is not jeff. richard: and he could've said a lot more but he is smart enough to stop when he said. and we want to get back to george washington but you've raised a very important point, i think this is one of the most striking points that you make which is the americans constitutional development in
3:10 pm
conversation is not just happening entirely within our own area, is also being impacted over and over again by the world. what is our position in the world have to do with our thoughts about how we govern ourselves read and it was perfected by oceans as a writer wrong. akhil: while we are if we join together, we know that we going to have land borders between south carolina and north carolina north carolina and georgia georgia maryland and maryland and fizzling it, the basin dixie line in pennsylvania new york and so on. so the genius of franklin is to understand and eventually washington and hamilton that the atlantic ocean would be an amazing amount that will protect us against the old powers but only if we unite them and we can fight each other and europe can
3:11 pm
actually play off against each other divide and conquer fashion and we have united policy towards the west. in an american and a national domain and not just a virginia backyard or pennsylvania's territory or connecticut even recipes what becomes ohio. so the western reserve. so yes, americans as early as 1754, franklin and washington are beginning to see the possibility of a world at war read the constitution comes out of our revolution as a part of a larger global struggle. so our audiences is very impressive, very sophisticated. historically and of course if you ask them when did the first world war started, they would
3:12 pm
say well it started in 1914 in the european area, no, is started 1754 in american backcountry when a young officer named george washington gets involved in confrontation between the two great superpowers of the world. france and england and that will eventually, things that happen in 507054, join or die in this thing called the albany congress in which some of the colonies get together and will become the world's first global war. second in the two great powers, other european powers get involved in the action and it will be called the french and indian for the rest of the rollcall of the seven-year war and it will involve conflicts on motion under multiple oceans and multiple continents in the new world in the old world simultaneously and is going to
3:13 pm
culminate in a massive redrawing the global map pretty canada will move from the french: and into the british, a column. and no conflict in world history before that involve multiple conflicts, the confidence new and old, multiple oceanic struggle. it is the first world war and at the same time, it is generating at world war on world conversation because warships can move the troops more quickly than ever in the trade ships can move new states back and forth easily more easily than ever learning these papers are being read in austin, boston newspapers are being read in london and both of them ring rent in philadelphia and new york city and charleston. so you are beginning to have actually a genuine world conversation is a conversation about constitutional first principles like should be the
3:14 pm
rules for the empire. in britain having one candidate will have to pay for this really senseless were they thinking that it's only fair than americans should be the big beneficiaries that just gotten rid of a huge french threat to the british colonies so there going to start evoking taxes immediately after the war said, the seven-year support initially begins in 1757 and is in 1763 and thus the aftermath, to pay for that war, britain will try to tax america that will eventually be to the american revolution. in american revolution is going to be the continuation of a world war because eventually france is going to just under joe back in and begin. even though the really sophisticated, it's one part of a larger global struggle in britain has to defend the
3:15 pm
colonies in india and in africa, and keep the troops in homes of the french want to invade printed but we might think that we won the battle, while there were two french fighters on land and sea for every american even at yorktown, we were part of a larger world struggle and at the time, we are puny. $3m americans and 10 million britain 30 million french. >> washington and away start all of this with the frontier but by yorktown, is a commanding the americans army. and then in the next decade, will become the first president of this new country. richard: you praise him as a constitutional thinker.
3:16 pm
this might strike people has little odd. we know that george washington was a great man, think of him as a great general. and we think of him as a great executive for a date but he didn't write any federalist papers, he did not write the declaration of independence. he was at the constitutional convention but he hardly said anything and yet you identify him as a very important constitutional thinker. so what is his contribution to this conversation and how to be make it pretty. >> substantively and methodologically, he is the in this visible and without income there's no constitution that would remotely like the one that we have so first let's take this conversation at a method point rated you need somebody to listen in washington is not a great scribbler. he's a big talker or a great
3:17 pm
writer or a pamphlet but he has a very good listener and brings people who disagree and listen to both sides of the present he will have hamilton on his right and jefferson on his left in the war, has more councils and he listens to his advisors. and actually, he is a good generator of words but he doesn't write the pamphlets, he writes letters to people. he is a one chorus and a correspondent and his correspondent interns and pun intended, they're like network correspondence today there giving him intelligence information from all parts of an and eventually even from across the water and he said lafayette and france and other areas. so he writes more and receive more letters about anybody and
3:18 pm
thomas jefferson i think it audience can confirm this by looking at the national archives founded on one and is free to everyone. you'll be able to see me letters go back and forth to washington. so he is a wonderful listener, unanimously elected president. every single electoral votes for him even the people voting against the constitution voted for washington. his unanimously really elected in part because he try to listen to everyone and unify the country and pull them together. a symbol of union and now substantively now moving from this and he listens everybody and he is sober. and john adams, he loved john adams and he wrote a great book on the adams family met john adams is not always the world's best listener and you might think that jefferson is quite common thomas jefferson is so ideological that he cannot hear wendy does not want to hear. sound familiar because we have a problem today. and so impressed washington who
3:19 pm
does not have strong ideological but let's just get to the facts. on hear both sides carefully and then i will make up my mind. so jefferson is of the world's best listener and john adams is not the world's best listener and some of people, they are better at protecting but now what is washington's substantive idea. he just like franklin, understands join or die and join or die appears on the front in may of 1754 the same page, is actually referenced into the young officer george washington reading this is benjamin franklin talking about george washington and aged 22. and he understands i'm from a military point of view that in less the paint together, and if independence stays in 1776, they are done for. the continental list and whose
3:20 pm
at his right hand, from the american revolution, basically or pretty early on alexander hamilton alexander hamilton barna phrase, american. he's not just about massachusetts about adams is her thomas jefferson talks about virginia. hamilton had designed a single loyalty to any uncial state though he does come to new york pretty comes from abroad and he loves america as a whole the price to summon it into existence in the key idea is union, join or die, national security and if we do not create and invisibly union which is was what washington is advocating, in the early 1780s, and so hamilton, they call the continental us, they will become the first federalist which are
3:21 pm
far more influential than anything the medicine i federalist expanded they make a geostrategic argument for the union. they pulled together and yes they can have a huge mode called the atlantic ocean in the won't need big army and they will be no hard powers of europe. as long as we don't kill each other. we could get rid of the borders and make it into visibly like the union of scotland and england. so britain had 10 million people and france with 30 million people and how do they do that. they have good capitol structure and thanks and select that in washington understands banks and some is unbuttoned hamilton and madison and jefferson well hamilton also much but also, the strong indivisible union between england and scotland and that is going to be a model for the more perfect union. america because they're different kingdoms and they are fighting each other. and the queen is getting involved in that is not is for
3:22 pm
liberty and union will be to liberty is washington first and always has army on the continent of new york and coming is only one who really is normally any give the company does not make himself become the emperor. he could have but he understands that liberty and union art one in inseparable and he says that during the revolutionary war and he says that actually in a letter that accompanies the constitution itself. and moves beyond state sovereignty and he says that and a farewell address. written largely by hamilton so he listens to everyone in the big idea is that we are all american cities in southern he understands the north and he spent time in the west. pay is the embodiment of american union buried in the continental army is really the only genuinely cost continental institution. the congress and the confederacy
3:23 pm
in congress is very vocalist basically. so washington is the embodiment of america and he is franklin's snake. richard: so there's another virginian. you also link to washington into hamilton throughout not only outlives them but he stays in office. many years after the gone. as john marshall. what is his role in this conversation. akhil: so you mentioned that their friends and one of the things that is most proud of my work as an author for them also proud of my work as a news, i try to inspire other authors my favorite authors. and try to learn from my favorite offer so both unite really respect interested in images for example. so do that with cartoon yes okay
3:24 pm
so i encouraged to you early on to write a book about lincoln is only 18000 books written about him, if you need another one by you, lincoln relationship to the founding and i love that book. even if you're thinking with the title, founders son. i give you title and they told you oh event john marshall and you did. you didn't use my title though, my title for that one was the last of found it. and yes, actually madison outlived marshall a few years madison is been out of office since 1870 any dies in 1836. and marshall predeceases him of marshall is an office as the chief justice for 34 years or so printed so he is the last founder and that he is
3:25 pm
continuing to have an impact into the 1830s where hamilton, i'm sorry hamilton, franklin eisenstein t90 buried and washington dies in 1799. in hamilton is killed in a duel in 18 oh four, and famously the die on july 4th and the 50th anniversary of the declaration of independence but throughout all of this, marshall is in power and what is he doing, he's vindicating partials vision, the great nationalist caring towards the constant issue list and geoe washington nick, under whom he fought, with whom he served at valley forge if you are at valley forge with washington
3:26 pm
hamilton and marshall was, you understand it we need money we need to sports troops rated and we don't we are dead. and adams was not dead and jefferson was not there. they don't feel it in their bones with marshall does. nationalist the cares for the vision and an immense respect for washington and the first biographer. and has immense respect for hamilton the brilliant lawyer and marshall used this legal ideas about the makes and then many other things. one of the things he does is ease nationalist figurines also a good listener and a timeout relationships between the founders frees up madison team up. and adams, he makes enemies in lombardy teams only with abigail. unable fuse with hamilton even
3:27 pm
though hamilton into her ways a starts with jefferson but then they become so teams are important. jefferson and madison team up. in hamilton and washington team up. and marshall finds a teammate, the great story and america they work particularly well when they combined north and south and in particular massachusetts and virginia read some marshall is virginia in the story is massachusetts. something about all of the other virginia, massachusetts, the team. rhetorically, james otis is from mattress under massachusetts the patrick henry. and they worked together in 1776 and by the way, so did jefferson and adams and again virginia and
3:28 pm
massachusetts. and adams is vice president and virginia and thomas jefferson's and one of jefferson's vice president since the massachusetts and also going to be madison's vice president soap north and south team, a massachusetts and virginia is important. so the answer to your question about john marshall is the last founder emma strengthens the judiciary and is a washington man, hamilton man in a continental list. any finds a partner from another region predict and story together and build really impressive teams just as washington and hamilton do. and also as madison and jefferson do. richard: i think it's fair to say the both of us, minerals under the numbers of the federalist party, we are synthetic to it. and i think but very good words
3:29 pm
for thomas jefferson. we agree with what you say but after all, he is who he is. so what does he add. akhil: let me begin by saying that as a young person, i adored if jefferson was very skeptical of hamilton. and you and other people change my ideas about hamilton. and miranda and change my ideas and are somewhat but then as much as anyone change my idea about hamilton. and then it arises and jefferson pulse but if you'd asked me in a 20, we we were a college together i would've sent you, i'm lucky enough ever to have a son, i'm going to name him jefferson greatest some ideas about jefferson have changed it but you asked me to say a good word about human especially the young jefferson, he such an
3:30 pm
idealist pretty he dreams of a world that could be better he is the architect of the weight become northwest ordinance that proposes to end slavery not just in the northwest in all western territory. any dreams of an america that is open to talent and is going to help smart kids who are not born at a privilege be able to rise because of their native ability and academic aptitude. and inspires ordinary people with his belief in ordinary people. and for all his impressive attributes, does not get the common man. he's a little bit too stiff on the hierarchy from his strategic
3:31 pm
perspective, he says lots of silly thing truthfully but when is president, which he tested is more things. in one of the smartest things that he ever does is double the landmass of the united states. he now purchases in epic achievement and yes completely consistent with its geostrategic idea and i'm not sure that the federalist could've done that because the french by jefferson, likes, his wonderful and so much. i'm not sure napoleon would've ever done that with john adams because john adams might've had a way to annoy they did find ways to annoy napoleon because such a blunt person. so he found a political party. i have to are good at what they do and he actually pretends he's
3:32 pm
all that he really is. madison is more openly political rated ms. amazing political partnership they created dominant political machine it's basically, champions speech rules rule 40 john adams does not get free speech in thomas jefferson gets it a lot and his partner madison gives it even more and they champion the freedom of speech against this acted against john adams they're going to form a political party they will be the dominant political party. all the way to a blanket for the political service. they have to respect that increase in new secret empire to eight newspapers that support his way of thinking about the world. it creates "fox news" network. and he understands that the democratic newspaper culture of america, he's always telling
3:33 pm
madison, against hamilton, repetition reds, ahaz to god of a newspaper scribbler, we've got to go after him. so thomas jefferson can there's reason the guy is on mount rushmore you now criticize him because something really important to me, slavery issue gets worse over time. he found the political party that basically has a southern base, here's the relevance of this today. today there is a party, both parties have this, liz cheney, i think in the end give to take the soul of your party to consciously taken. it's a big lie so i respect her for that but i see on the other side, going to lose votes in our faces. that's a similar thing that concerns madison and jefferson,
3:34 pm
we know in our hearts that slavery is wrong. so in order to defeat john adams was main criticism of john adams in the outcome they have to create a party and the party has a seven days and may because they are politicians. they say that the political but we made an we are going to lie in it and do our part and if it requires to compromise, okay greatest of the get worse in slavery even though they know it is wrong. but in order to keep their political machine operative, they become increasingly proslavery and actually this is the story that i tell. told by their biographers. i'm alone and others. you tell a better than anyone else in your book on james madison. you say on slavery, medicine
3:35 pm
disappoint. i add to that, he is getting worse over time and he actually handed his life, says less send send's legs into the westlake spreading the virus. which is the opposite of what jefferson and madison generally on. and eventually slavery and is in the west of washington gets better obviously as time goes on and he realizes it's wrong. and he provides that jefferson doesn't and madison doesn't. franklin gets better on slavery as time goes on. in his last act, i basically . richard: tell that last story of franklin before get to the questions. it is so funny, it's just a great story. akhil: let's talk about these great men and in my last scene i show them all off rated to give you the death scene,
3:36 pm
dramatically. i love them but they did die. anyone, there's some deep idea there pretty and for both, washington and franklin, they are rosebuds, the dining undergoing birth is basically emancipation abolition it and get rid of slavery in washington doesn't, he's a quiet guy and he doesn't make about it and he doesn't is a businessperson a plantation owner by providing. the emancipation proclamation. and who franklin, newspaper guy and he loves and is a - any actually first proposes the conference an impressive petition, anti- slave abolitionists aside and promised to do to the maximum as possible congress to try and diminish it. and the people from georgia and they don't like that and they really is prickly the one guy who actually said what does he know about the constitution.
3:37 pm
so franklin writes in his fear is that the satires in british carton, and satire they appeal to a democratic culture. it's tongue-in-cheek and he writes as if he says some of the arguments that i just heard about why we should preserve slavery quickly something that happened a hundred years ago, and there was this slaveholder who actually was defending enslavement of the christian and every single argument the georgians made about enslaving my people, he said you make this up of course but basically african era for enslaving white european christians. although have to do the work they don't believe in god and better off here in their
3:38 pm
homeland and he wants to intermarry with lesser blood in holy scripture and authorizes this and actually this is good for them and as a positive and he takes every one of the jordan arguments and he flips around racially. and some really is brilliant, it's the same guy 16 years old and he could've pretended he was a middle aged guy rated 15 years old, raichlen brings on his own brother friends newspaper and he doesn't realize that he's playing this fictional character and he does it at the end he knows that he dies and somebody knows that america will eventually recognize this is his dying refuge to america. so do we want to actually mean in a hundred years, still be defending slavery that the way that a hundred years ago the
3:39 pm
slavery was european christians in defending them rated. richard: in one of the funniest things about that is that he claims that this is in some book that was written a hundred years ago, the memoirs of some english diplomat. as of people in philadelphia actually said difficulty of that. it is made about it was so well done. okay now we have some questions coming in. here is one. very pertinent to what you've been saying, how does literacy of the american people evolve between in other words, how literate or wait for we getting more literate or in 1716 obviously, there's gonna be a base year all this newspaper writing a letter writing that will fall on them predict. akhil: is spectacularly widespread among whites. female as well as male.
3:40 pm
and partly because america is a protestant culture and be entered deepened americans and especially in new england. puritan even like places like virginia which is more cavalier when new england and more structure around without the english centers. but if you are profit you believe that you have to read the bible so it's a material and americans do read the bible and even someone like annie jackson, have good words to say about andy jackson on some things and he believes in indivisible union and ill stand on jackson shoulders and resisting and jackson's nullification in jackson a self-taught. has a self-taught, he goes to
3:41 pm
church every sunday and he listens to people preach in the pulpit and preach from the gospel from the bible. so it is a bible reading and discussing culture on very famously someone like jonathan edwards whose grandson publishes in the hands of an angry god so bateman in 1760. by 1790, america has more newspapers and readers per capita than any country in the world including brighton. in certain technological developments are going to facilitate that so we get for example the erie canal, we can actually now go all the way around america just like you can go all the way around britain because you got from chicago, and across the great lakes to buffalo, and to albany down the hudson to new york and all
3:42 pm
around florida coast all of the way up to over to new orleans and then of the mississippi and to chicago. it's the letters can travel faster some of the ships can travel faster and eventually portion going to get railroads by anna my time. and in 1840 and it is a remarkable letter writing was franklin, is a postmaster. and of all of these guys over there newspaper guys and so five of them are newspaper in the six, george washington reads more newspapers than anyone around. but there also letter writers in her audience can read these letters free online at the national archives founders online in every letter is word soup chargeable to and from every major founder. a remarkable literate culture,
3:43 pm
and limited, we have a talk about women's little bit about that. so her name is abigail, and she is amazing and because atoms is a public servant and a sacrifices himself virtuously for this country, he is away from abigail for a long time because he is away off in france, lots of letters back and forth. they say and say place. that would love to be in the same place, they really love each other and respect each other and she's really smart and fun read that because there separated, have amazing letters back and forth between abigail and john read it is really a highly literal culture and a highly newspaper culture. richard: so there's more german speakers, did these documents,
3:44 pm
were they translated into german newspapers predict. akhil: so because i did because i do not speak german, i did not look into that. but one time the declaration of independence, where native german speakers in german newspapers are really important as late as i think the first congress, there's discussion about translating congressional proceedings at least in pennsylvania into the germans in nierenberg's, speak for the house and i can remember but there are a couple of them. and you may know because the they served as a great friend of the historical society and lincoln, is a secret owner of a german language newspaper in springfield, illinois and the german language speaker are about 10 percent of the population in springfield. they're all public and because
3:45 pm
he can while he's the owner of this newspaper. by the way they had, previously in an early age, okay he reads every scrap of paper any reason newspapers wherever he can find them in early on, he has writing anonymously and many of them because newspapers back then were in a partisan affiliation many of them, but the national for you today or the new republic with the nation. their ideological newspapers. i think the new york times on one side and the washington post. richard: . [inaudible]. akhil: so link and reason newspapers and he writes but he also owns a german language newspaper and especially yes there were german language newspapers. i have hundreds of citations to the newspapers and is on the big
3:46 pm
thanks in the book. some even better than the book came before us because until ten years ago, five years ago, we were not online and searchable for you are. and therein a database in every academic can get to american historical newspaper so not have to go to 40 different cities to find more files newspapers. i just find them online to the truth is that i didn't really look at too many of them determinedly which newspapers which are around because i don't speak german. richard: one question, asking about the rid the entered religious diversity in america during this period. and is that a problem and or doesn't somehow benefit predict. >> is a challenge. in billing on experience even in virginia between the baptist and in clinton's but today i promise
3:47 pm
you, that it only takes two to kill each other over centuries and any two things will do. protestant and catholic school do. warfare in central europe but any two will do. the christians and the jews and the jews and muslims. and any two will do in america is way more, they've got congregationalists at the new england. freethinkers in the rhode island. descendents who is a great great grandparent by the way and roger williams. so freethinkers in rhode island. and some baptists. congregationalists in new england. new york is very powerful of
3:48 pm
many different and quakers, in pennsylvania and delaware. angle is an especially in virginia and the carolinas rated then there going to be new, the shakers and the methodist and more baptist coming aboard. baptists are important in virginia. and madison befriends the baptist in particular. so that is a a lot of religious diversity that will initially is selling block party catholics in maryland, but america for strategic reasons think that you have to come together read the join or die. so much so that the first confederation that congress actually writes a letter to the crossing what you join us. we thought of war against you that the french and indian war
3:49 pm
and even though your catholic and we are protestants, french-speaking and we are english speaking, geo strategically, it's going to be useful for us to have you on board. so you don't stabbed him in the back to work on the rest on the coast. so the cinnamon ice letter. this is like any membership, you get this preapproved for card rated the american express or mastercard or whatever. because the canadian say, thank you but no thank you. they don't really wanted so americans try to actually conquer and benedict arnold arnold comes close but failed so religious diversity is one of the things that's going to make it hard for them to join or die and there's 13 different
3:50 pm
colonies founded at different times and for different reasons. virginia is basically about making money and massachusetts is basically about religious freedom read some of my story begins in 1760, they're not american. they are from virginia and south carolina and massachusetts men. because newspapers the british try to treat them all pretty badly, they step back. in the newspapers, they talk to themselves into being american and basically say to themselves, okay, there's a lot of religious diversity but you know what, that can't be a strength rather than a week is network medicine comes in and the religious diversity can be a strike. and at the time, another many people paid attention the main argument was the geostrategic of washington and hamilton and franklin to join or die idea. the religion will be a stumbling block.
3:51 pm
here's one final thing, but know if i told you. but two places in the world that are pretty self-governing and free our defense in the active union and the swiss. in the swiss, there was a german italian french and they don't have the same religion, the protestants and catholics so how they came together what's makes them work right, democracy and if god actually catholics and protestants. and in britain and here's with federal say especially but they say, defensible borders is what works, england and ireland, as defensible. in swiss even with the catholic, they got a defensible war and if we can create a continental union and join or die and hang together, will have a defensible border called the atlantic ocean we won't need to be army that
3:52 pm
will be threatening to the liberty. in the navy and just like canadian have to be the spanish and the navy's less threatening to people the coast in the land to the liberties. so that is the idea rated geo strategically, we are one people even though religiously we are not quite there but hey it's working with the rents so we can make it work for america. the federalists talked about them. about the swiss and the british. richard: just a brief time for a last question. it's an interesting one. the constitution never mentions two political parties and yet very soon, lo and behold, there are two political parties. akhil: and that is the story that i tell about when these former friends and allies jefferson and adams to work together in 1776, begin to diverge and adam makes it a
3:53 pm
crime to criticize adam standing on a submission act in response by the way marshall does not join adams to marshall's credit, he never is all in on this act but in response to that, jefferson takes a coalition and he turns it into a much more organized political party and would become a permanent political party and a two-party system, strong two-party system emerged after washington, remember he's unanimously elected printed we will get that between the contest between jefferson and adams, is going to be constitutional lies in the 12th amendment decided to make electoral college safer two-party system. we won't go into all of the details now but as in the book. richard: we still have jefferson and madison party.
3:54 pm
they called it the republicans and then became the democrats freedom of the oldest party in the world. akhil: it is in one of the things that i actually said about this in your book on madison is on the thought of biography because it captures madison, he had no other job basically except public service and hamilton was a lawyer and washington was a general. as rare and a businessperson. and jefferson actually and it franklin was a printer and this was the only thing the madison does buried he's appalled from start to finish and he's a party guy, he created a party pretty so that much different from martin van buren or others or mitch mcconnell or lyndon johnson or franklin roosevelt
3:55 pm
and across the spectrum. abraham lincoln loves politics and he understands any creative party. and that is what you get distinctly about madison and he's not a pure political thinker, he's appalled and he's got it judge and sometimes he kind of disappointed because this forcing right now today, kevin mccarthy lynn cheney and lindsey graham, in short-term interest of the party. you can keep the base what you say and if it goes against the party, there are certain core principles that we have to abide by. as a matter of conscience and that is the kind of things that you will not understand if you think these guys are pure especially madison, pure theorist as opposed to political actor. richard: on that note, maybe also a helpful and because on the one hand we are saying,
3:56 pm
madison was a politician but on the other hand we are saying that politicians can be like teams madison. so let's and there. this was a terrific book and thank you professor and thank you the new york historical society. >> weekends on "c-span2" are an intellectual feast, every saturday you'll find events and people who his carnations pass in american history tv, on sundays, look at tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors in television for serious readers. it learn discover and explore, weekends on "c-span2" read. >> good afternoon everyone rated welcome once again coming to you live from midtown north carolina and we have god some really


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on