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tv   The Presidency David Reynolds H.W. Brands on Abraham Lincoln  CSPAN  February 21, 2022 12:44pm-2:00pm EST

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gracing president theodore roosevelt new office. every time the door opened, it tinkled, distracting him greatly. he ordered it to be sent to the capital, and he was supposed to have said put it in the vice president's office and it will keep him awake. and there it remained until my husband became vice president in 1961. during mrs. kennedy is renovation, lyndon was instant and returning it to the white house where it hangs today. >> take a closer look at the spouses of our nation's presidents, their private lives, public roles and legacies. watch all of our first ladies programs online at >> our weekly series the president sees highlights the politics, policies and legacies of you was presidents and first ladies. next historians david reynolds and h. w. brands talk about
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abraham lincoln as part of a virtual symposium on his life and times. >> our first speaker is david reynolds, the thing was professor at the graduate center of the city university of new york. he is the author or editor of 16 books including his current biography, "abe: abraham lincoln in his times." this book has received numerous accolades including this year's abraham lincoln institute book award and theg lincoln prize of the gilder lehrman society. it is also among the wall street journals top ten books of the year. his previous award-winning books include walt whitman's america, and john brown, abolitionist. professor reynolds is a regular reviewer for the "wall street journal," the "new york times" book review, and the new york review of books. speaking today on lincoln and popular culture, we welcome david reynolds to the program. s great to be here at the 2021
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symposium to speak on lincoln in popular culture. in order think institute for recognizing my book with issues book award. it means a lot to me to be recognized on this very special group. the lincoln and the scholars, my book aim tells the story of the cross between lincoln and surrounding culture and lincoln was responsive to the spirit of the hour and his responsiveness fostered his compassionate, michael describes him before and homes in the music, plays the popular theater and so forth and influence two things that he borrowed from an historic effort to civil rights.
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and today i will talk a snippet about from the book about two figures of popular culture where significant for understanding lincoln's favorite petroleum and an actor that he admired those hardly mutual feelings and that was john wilkes booth. in a surprising link between both eliminates lincoln's racial attitude and help explain the circumstances of at ford's theater. along the popular humerus lincoln moved to prepare probably the most important was petroleum. [inaudible]. and a name for the ohio author david ross and during the civil war, he wrote many pieces in the form of letters or papers that are widely privy to newspapers and then collected in books and
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pamphlets. and sketches he used the speaker of the percent of the petroleum and ill spoken drunken lout who impersonated the views of so-called copperheads or northern democrats are calling for a peaceful compromise with the south regardless of what happened in slavery. and of course lincoln was very much opposed to this. lacks satirical sketches of copperheads were somebody and so popular that the commentators credited him contributing to the fall of slavery. the massachusetts politicians george said quote, impressions accredited to the forces, the army, navy and these letters, three forces rated senator charles sumner remarked,
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unquestionably these papers were their own influence and agencies by which to solo and a disloyalty in all of its forms was exposed in public opinion was a short on the right side. and then he went on that it's impossible to move to the value against the devices of slavery and supporters each letter was like a song that strength people. and sumner in the new york herald said that he was the most quoted man of letters in the country and they were repeated by the statement come the soldiers, the clergy and everybody. and repeated them was abraham lincoln who recognize these letters has eight periodicals and books from 1861, onward and present a lincoln enjoys writing so much that he often share them with others.
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he had kept them to memory sketches which he recited spontaneously at key moments when he didn't have this in the rainy would pull out the book from either or pocket or his drawer and read from it and one evening, group of politicians appeared and in the presence of his with a pile of official papers for him to consider and he looked at the documents clearly and push them aside and he pulled down from his drawer, the pamphlet any read one of those allowed and periodically broke out into an explosive left which a witness compared to wildhorse and is native prairie. and lincoln enjoyed reading the pamphlet so much that he jumped at the evening at the end of the reading, i want him to come down here i tend to tell him that if
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he will communicate his talent to me, i will swap places with him read say in adoration for him. what was it about davis ross block. they made him unique and lincoln's eyes pretty he will outperform crucial work in the republican party and he talked political battles with intensity and viciousness that lincoln is the unifying president avoided and walks mission was to expose the racism and the fundamental a morality of the copperheads. he caricatured democratic attitudes of the such force pretty served as a one-person battering ram against racial prejudice in that era. by grossly exaggerating, on top of these views, he made them monstrous.
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lincoln's and the american humor was characterized and law gave that along with the sharp political message that slice through the democrats and they were the conservatives back then and republicans were the liberals on slavery. particulate in the detroit tribune remarked that during the work is been was mighty as a sort to the enemy it was a keen hundred and petroleum. [inaudible]. was inflammable has his first name of the explosive in his middle name and was nasty and concerning sound. to us lincoln's favorite humor character use the n-word liberally coming from petroleum, that word was scathingly ironic.
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an reflection of the racism the locket saw amongst the conservatives of the day. and the character was exposing stupidity of lincoln's probe slavery enemy. and it was ridiculous and at full of misspellings. and the copperhead calls for permanent wage rule. his motto is american for a white finish by the increasing of freed blocks from the north and yells, fellow whites, surrounds the enemy in our hearts are in danger. he announces that when the black people use a different word, roles and control society and then you'll remember this morning. predicted that a government controlled by antislavery republicans would give rise to
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interracial marriage and he serves this alarming amalgamation of the races must be prohibited. and way beyond the proud boys are afraid predict this character in the center one was completely the opposite. in his worst fear was that the lincoln administration will lead inevitably to black citizenship and as the demands, do you want black people to march up to the polls to vote you want there is mixed with yours in schools and you want them on juries and home office in your township created by god, locating in his drink frank frantic effort emancipation proclamation in the reinstatement of slavery. in famous copperheads for making
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them heroes and they began fernando woods and franklin pierce. in one point he has a dream's idea of a future up utopian which black people have been exterminated and jefferson davis as the emperor and copperheads our loyalty. lindsay excited to find himself in the stream and duke and asby pretty early opposed to the civil war, nancy in one stretch teased presently can introduces himself to lincoln as a pre- born democratic tells lincoln, you are hunting and he tells lincoln that he will only if the present follows his demand to revoke the proclamation and disarm african-american soldiers and some black back to their southern enslavers.
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and by lincoln's own response to these requests, nancy reads, are saying that lincoln be eight, i'm done with you and he announces that his misery and when lincoln went in 1864 election and becomes. [inaudible]. in 1965 and re- surrenders to grant and reporting lincoln's assassination, lincoln or lack has nasty boys regret that the president and his cabinet had nothing to it in 800 before the damage to sudden slavery had been done. while everything of course came out of the asby's mouth was exactly the opposite. about davis or and they admired each other immensely in a couple of times they met and locke was
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in illinois reporting the lincoln douglas debates made a long friendly meeting in quincy illinois in october after that meet be with douglas. in the two joked and politics and later the president who had written him from the white house, where to go to washington, is another place that you want, come on out to be anyplace that you asked for that you are capable of fitting although government appointment, locke called this meeting delightful and all told, locke said that lincoln was the greatest man in some respects who ever lived in all respects, the most lovable, man his great work gave him the heart of every human being. throughout the civilized world. lincoln's appreciation of him because that humor reveals the
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moderation and caution it in a radically progressive style within or within lincoln the political centrist on this type rope look this abolitionist and racism. and who wanted dramatic social change. on behalf of black people and because locke's words were an exact reverse, we see the future america that locke lincoln visits an integrated and which people color for citizens and voters interracial marriage was permitted it predict fast forward to the last date of lincoln's life, we find that nancy played a major role. washington was in celebration lincoln relax nickname by taking
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a carriage ride with mary his wife. and neither one of them especially wanted to go to the theater that evening and lincoln had actually been warned against it by several who were worried about the potential danger but lincoln was always first and felt obliged to go the newspapers had announced that he would attend and that he reinforced the liz's life because the petroleum asby while in some sense yes and for small, he was delayed in leaving for almost an hour in part because of asby. and then when he returned from a carriage ride he read several chapters to the governor into the general christian who would come for a visit. they laughed often the love the words of the squeaking racist petroleum now speak, against
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lincoln, that was a thriller. the moment lincoln was to entertainment as we do think of anything else in all this be recalled the upsetting for him to come to dinner. he promised he would go but we continue to read the book finally the order to come at once andrew lincoln away. but he had been delayed for a long time and at the time he felt different they not been able to shoot lincoln that evening. no pretty we can say is with a low opinion of black peopleand interventions for strong liquor . those southern born, john wilkes booth and spent most of his time during the war in
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the north hiwhere most of the acting opportunities were. the north made booze a stage star he was wretched there because of the anti-slavery environment, because slavery one of the greatest lessons god thestove on a great nation , slavery was just marvelous. regarded lincoln's sneering condescension, his pedigree, his low course jumps and anecdotes of bogus simile, his frivolity are into grace disgrace to the people, like mapi saying new gorilla. performed a copperhead song which lamented the decline of e will also. what songs but there is an
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kingdom, i don't like to use the n word in public but there's a kingdom, and. so it sounded exactly likethe chilling message . these lies with some mastery like a typical chart that lincoln was coa so-called negro lovingdespot . after lincoln won reelection in 1864, because there were no presidential term limits at the time they came in 1947, it seems possible lincoln's presidency can continue indefinitely. a nightmare for john wilkes booth who planned the depths of lincoln and others around him. just as massey installed clinton's cabinet members, booth targeted not just lincoln but other leaders as well. the plan as finalized on april 14 was that he would kill lincoln, general grant
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at forest theater with the president while to secretary of state william seward and vice president andrew johnson held in the city. and in the new pictures, what was it about booth that drove him to commit the act that others only contemplated? after all assassination plots were common. there were plenty of masby around you wanted to kill lincoln. booth alone among would-be assassins had long been immersed in an eye on identifiably american style of intense action. what today might be called exaggerated method acting. the complete identification with a rollone plate , which was a technique he learned from his intense after father phineas booth right there who once became so overwrought as
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a fellow that he nearly suffocated desdemona of the evening with a pillow. he had to be pulled away and another time in a sword fight scene he throws his opponent out of the theater and continued to sword fight on the street. it's what i call the american style of acting. of the three booth children who became prominent actors, edwin who is in the middle here, john wilkes is on the left and junior is on the right, ndonly john adopted their father's tempestuous american style of oacting. a boston reviewer said john had quote, more of a native fire and fury of his grandfather in any inhis family . john wilkes booth relished violent stage roles. you made six richard someone who loved murder for murder's sake alone as a reviewer said
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. john wielded his sword so vigorously that once his foe fell off the stage into the orchestra pit, a month before he assassinated lincoln while playing an evil duke and a tragedy. booth was so realistic he tortured a woman on a wheel like the spectator was truly frightened by the hideous malevolent expression of his countenance, the fierce glare and unreal role of his eyesas he gleefully boasted about his masterpiece of cruelty . for john wilkes booth, extreme american action style led to emerging such stage characters with his real life. he often played rebels who rose up against tyrants and booth didn't just identify with such assassins, he became one of them. in his mind he really was one of them. america itself was now his
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stage. lincoln was his targeted tyrants. assassinating the despot lincoln in a theater would be booth's ultimate sensational role. a couple of hours before he shot lincoln he recommended to a hotel clerk that he should go to ford's theater that evening because as booth said, there's going to be some splendid acting there tonight so he felt he was part of a play and he was the american actor. lincoln assassination was the american acting style to the hilt . and booth himself was david ross's petroleum mass be come to horrible voice. thank you. >> are second distinguished speaker today is hw graham who book the black jack as
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latin senior chair in history at the university of texas at austin and oregon native, professor n.graham pulled across the american west before earning graduate degrees in mathematics and history and teaching at the university of texas a&m university. he writes on american history and politics with books including the zealots and emancipate her, dreams of el dorado andheirs of the founder . several of his books have been bestsellers and to traitor to his class, religious life and radical presidency of franklin delano roosevelt and the first american, the life and times osof benjamin franklin were finalists for the pulitzer prize. and now to speak on the zealots and the emancipator, john brown and him him lincoln we welcome each w graham. >> thanks to the american abraham lincoln institute. i wrote a book by john brown
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and abraham lincoln because i want to add a question that is one that every citizen in a democracy has to deal with at some time or another. the question is basically what does a good person do, when his or her country is involved in something that that person considers to be wrong west and mark what does a good person do in the face of evil from a more philosophical and accidental way of putting it. i wanted to look at this in the context of slavery. and i wanted to look at it viewed from the perspectiveof john brown and abraham lincoln . and the crux of the question is what do you do as i say in the face of evil and it presupposes that you concluded that something is evil and i say that this is the question that occurs to every citizen of a democracy
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and i would go beyond that and say probablyoccurs to everybody at sometime or other in their lives . what can we do when we see something around us that is wrong. how do we respond and for people in a democracy, the first thing we can do is show up at the polls and choose somebody, we're given a choice between continuing this thing that's wrong trying to do away withthis thing that's wrong . we can do more than last year that a lot of people were upset with racial attitudes ewith policing, with any quality can take to the streets in protest is certainly american tradition that goes back before the american revolution which grow out of protest and continues until today. the big question confronting john brown and abraham lincoln is at least the one they confronted in common during the two lives closely was slavery. and they came to conclude both that slavery was a great evil but that's only the
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first part of the question. part of the question is what do you do about it? it's one thing to say slavery is wrong but what do you do about it ? this is a question that i explore in development book but i'll say also that because john brown was born in 1800 abraham lincoln in 1809 and because they lived till 1859 in the case of john brown. that their lives covered a period in which attitudes towards slavery changed. that's a part of the story. so i tried to tell a story through the lives of the individual. i don't try to cover all of american history during this time i do look at attitudes towards slavery and i'll say that at the time john brown wasborn in 1800 , the idea that slavery was wrong, that slavery was fundamentally evil was by no means a majority view in the united
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states. there were a lot of people who thought that it was wrong, but that it was an overriding wrong. that it was the most evil thing confronting american society. that was in 1800 that remained adistinctly minority viewpoint . there were some groups, actors and some methodists who bought this. but in terms of rising to a political question, yes. there were people in especially in the north concluded that it was wrong enough that it needed to be done away with in their own state. but for most of those in the states it was a relatively inexpensivedecision to make . i should point out to our listeners this afternoon will be aware slavery was legal in every state in the united states in 1976 . by 1800 the northern states were well on their way to eliminating this. as i say it wasn't a big deal
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and most of the northern states sbecause there weren't very many slaves and work a large economic interests at stake. it's worth noting as well that attitudes in the north and let's say the 1780s at the time of the writing of the adoption of the constitution attitudes in north regarding slavery didn't differ that much from attitudes in the south. in both part of the country's there was a belief that slavery was sort of fa necessary evil. almost nobody in this country, even in the south even among labelers themselves look upon slavery as a goodthing . there was john calhoun's assertion that slavery was a positive good was still a long way. it had become until the 1830s most people if you look at thomas jefferson, george washington and most the virginia slaveholders, they believed slavery was a part of life. it was an institution they ainherited.
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they weren't crazy about it. if other things havebeen people they would have been happy enough without it but there it was . so it was one of those things in life that was required as they sought to make the southern economy operates in the way the southern economy must operate. northerners in the 1780s had no great compunction. they looked at it as a necessary evil as well in their case it wasn't so necessary so it was easier to focus on evil. the result was by the time abraham lincoln was born, slavery had become essentially a southern institution. and it's probably began worth knowing that northerners would often take a position that made them sound to the south as though they considered themselves morally superiorto southerners . and you know, that for obvious reasons it would get annoying to southerners. you had slaves yourself so
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get off your high horse. but it was a position that would be increasingly possible to take the farther north you got from slavery itself. if i have time to fast-forward by 1860, opinions have changed a great deal more. by no means however were was everybody in the north opposed to slavery on moral grounds. a lot of them were opposed to slavery on political grounds because it seems certain interest in the south and it was the noxious in national politics but there's still a range of opinion on how wrong is slavery and the answer to the question is what are you going to do about it? looking at john brown, he was born in new england and grew up in ohio. his emily was opposed to slavery but he didn't quite know exactly what to make of it. he recalled in later years there was a moment, a kind of
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an epiphany. he was a boy and playing in ohio. and he wasn't part of ohio where one encounters slaves, even though ohio was a free state and always have been but slaves would come and go with their masters and they were working in jobs so john brown could see free workers ou and slave workers working the field and he as a kid hardly thought much about the difference. he didn't reflect on that it was much different until one day he was playing with this black boy and that you were playing and then all of a sudden this white man comes up to the black boy and says starts yelling at the black boy and bleak beating the black boy around the head and john brown is scratching his head saying what's going on here? he realizes that at least as he recollects he realized for the first time this is the difference between my position and this halack kids position. that somebody can do this to
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him and nobody can do this to me except possibly if i'm involved so that's a different thing sjohn brown began thinking there was something really wrong about slavery here . he gravitated in the direction of many people in ohio. and that in the direction of stronger opposition to slavery. not yet an abolitionist exactly. he is supposed to slavery and he's not ready to take up even rhetorical arms against it. part of it is he didn't know what he was doing with himself in life and one of the reasons john brown wound up edas the militant abolitionist was he never really caught on doing anything else. it's is often the case people find their calling through the process of elimination john brown really didn't have much success as a farmer or as a herder of cattle or
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sheep or in the various business he was always looking for something to do. something that he could consider really important. he had a second, maybe a larger epiphany in 1837. he was living inhudson ohio . and when we're into the 1830s the abolitionist movement is taking form as this political , cultural, even moral/religious movement and an abolitionist movement has a real following and john brown is caring a lot more about this. he learns that an abolitionist editor has been murdered in illinois and john brown concluded as many people did who were opposed to slavery and they were in favor of slavery but wait a minute, this is getting out of hand because here is a man who has been murdered simply for expressing opinions against slavery. there were all sorts of
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charges until then that the slave power was gaining a stranglehold on american life . where the slave holder can reach out and mercifully on free soil that slavery was getting out of hand and it if allowed to persist it would snuff out the liberty of everybody. snuff out the lives of people opposed to it so at this point john brown stands up in his church and says before the eyes of god and before the eyes of the congregation i herebydedicate the rest of my life to undying opposition to slavery . john brown has become an abolitionist butthe question remains, what are you going to do about it ? it's one thing to say you're opposed to slavery but what are you going to do about? it takes him another 20years to figure out what that means .
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he moves his family to upstate new york and they take part in this middle experiment where free black people are living next to the free white people and the idea is to demonstrate black people canbe as productive . he talks about starting the school for black children to demonstrate the same thing but he's still looking for his way to make confirmation and then comes the kansas nebraska act of 1853 which opened kansas territory. previously off-limits to slavery the jury missouri compromise of 1820. tears up that part of the missouri compromise and opens in the church or potentially to slavery. this really can a spark in john brown. it energized the abolitionist movement because this seemed to be further evidence vethat slavery was expanding. there was a hope among many moderate anti-slavery. slavery would simply be
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contained then eventually it would die of its own rates in the north. but with the kansas nebraska act it looks like slavery was breaking out of the reason in which it had previously been contained so john brown was taught by his son into going to kansas and taking up arms in the struggle against slavery. ours well, kansas was open to settlement by free settlers and slavery settlers and the good bring their property so folks from the free states to bring their horses and their mules and their slaves and the idea was under stephen douglas is the area of popular sovereignty when king qualify for statehood they were extended, they would vote on the constitution and the constitution would say kansas would be a free state or a slave state so the rush
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would be to see who could fill up kansas with pro-or anti-slavery settlers. when he gets there he anfinds this well to put it bluntly, that violent abolitionism appeals to him. it seems to fulfill this kind of niche john brown was trying to scratch for awhile. because he recognizes , he discovers he has an act for i will call it exactly military solution, i'd say people will follow him. he has a kind of madness and people will follow him into battle,people will follow him to do some of the most honest things . john brown following the raid on the free state community of florence in which much of the city was destroyed, john brown tdecides to send a message to the proslavery. he replete a small band. and they descend upon a small hamlet, a proslavery hamlet
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and there in the middle of the night john brown and his dread five proslavery settlers asked them to death with broad swords, brutally murdered. clearly an act of war. these days would call terrorism, some people those days into . it was a violent message making a political point. if you oppose slavery, proslavery people come to kansas this will happen to you so john brown is wanted for murder. he's wanted for murder by federal authorities around the country but in those days it was fairly easy to go out in disguise. there wasn't photography outside of the big cities john brown didn't sit and have his picture taken. so people looking for john brown, he changed his name. he traveled under various disguises and he continued to raise money in support of his anti-slavery activities.
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the fact that he was known to be responsible for these murders in kansas increased his ability among the abolitionist groups. increases notoriety and people were giving money to john brown without telling his supporters john brown had changed his strategy and was going to go not to kansas but was going to take the battle against slavery to the slave itself itself. this gave rise to the rays on park raid on harpers ferry. i'm not going to go into detail but my point is john brown i say sort of in the middle of this life at age 59 , he concluded slavery was the greatest evil facing the country. facing the united states and the question was what are you going to do about it, john brown said i'm going to take up arms against. i'm going to wage war against slavery. slavery is so evil that this is the required response of a good man.
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abraham lincoln. abraham lincoln was born in 1809 so a little different than john brown. abraham lincoln is born in kentucky and indiana eventually moved to illinois. he inherited this dislike for slavery. and the dislike for slavery was shared by many working-class whites who expected to make a living by the sweat of their brow in part because it's harder to make a decentliving when you have to compete with and slave labor . there was that. there was just a general feeling that slavery made the community a bad place to live. so omabraham lincoln took him to indiana. as i said, he abraham lincoln himself had this inherited, learned this kind of moderate
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antipathy to slavery and in his case the epiphany came as he explained on a trip to new orleans. he was hired to write a flat cargo down mississippi to north mississippi where for the first time he saw a slave auction. again, lincoln was familiar with slaves working won the box. he had seen slaves working on the field. he'd seen slaves workers doing this kind of thing and doing the stuff what workers did to. so all right, they don't have as many freedoms but it really came home to abraham lincoln by his own recollection when he saw a slave auction. because they are for the first time he understood what the institution of chattel slavery was like. these people are property. they're like horses, they like pigs . they just are examined this way. the auctioneer bags down the hammer and off they go. for people to be sold like
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property really offended lincoln's of morality, his sense of fairness. he developed this opposition to slavery but his opposition to slavery was tempered by his political ambitions. i think it was also tempered by the fact he was less sure of himself religiously for than john brown. john brown was convinced that the almighty was opposed to slavery, miabraham lincoln had no such views regarding religion. and at least regarding what god was telling him to do. and as i say, he was a lawyer. he was a lawyer in springfield illinois and try cases. he took the cases that sometimes peoplethe ownership of people . he became a politician. and in illinois, illinois was a free state. but to be a militant anti-slavery politician would be meeting he was not going to get very far.
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when he finally comes back into politics in 1850s he has ambitions. he wants to be a senator from illinois n. he wants to be eventually presidents of the united states and lincoln concluded that although john brown was right about slavery being wrong, his strategy, his way of dealing with the evil of slavery was counterproductive . it was wrong in itself because in the first point the raid on harpers ferry which john brown tried to instigate a war, an armed uprising of slaves against masters, abraham lincoln concluded this was wrong as a short-term vision of a long-term. it was counterproductive and short-term because iit tightened the shackles on slaves rather than to loosen them. the slaveholders in the south
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looked at the fact that there is this guy in the north trying to finance an uprising and they eliminated such freedoms as the slaves were allowed. so life gets more difficult for slave men and women in the south in the wake of john brown's raid . in the long-term, lincoln was very frustrated that what john brown's raid was doing because lincoln as much as he thought that slavery was t wrong, if he had to choose between ending slavery and preserving the constitution, every time he would choose the constitution. lincoln put the constitution of the opposition to slavery because lincoln believed the constitution was the guarantor of freedoms of all americans. lose the constitution and nobody can be free. lincoln believed that his political model and putting all his idealism, that the south eventually, white
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slaveholders would come to the same conclusion as whites in the north, that slavery no longer suited the evolving economy of the south and on their own they would come to the conclusion thatslavery needed to be done away with . they had done it state-by-state o. lincoln hoped this would happen as well. so anything that caused southerners to take a large long or short term would push back the date whensoutherners would conclude on their own that slavery was wrong . that lincoln wants to be president, and he knows that if he scares off people if they think that he is a john brown, if they think john brown is a republican, lincoln would go out of his way and say i'm not like john brown, i'm not an abolitionist. i believe the constitution guarantees slavery. this wasthe position . lincoln eventually was elected president of the ve united states. to summarize, john brown o believed slavery would and as
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a result of this war that he was going tostart at harpers ferry. john brown tried to start a war and failed . try to be free slaves and the raid on harpers ferry didn't produce anything at all. abraham lincoln triedto adopt a political instead of the path of violence . try to avoid war and believe that emancipation would, i legal means, by constitutional needs. abraham lincoln to prevent a war. and he was forced to accept emancipation as a way of preserving the union. there is an irony here and the irony is john brown and abraham lincoln and asking this question what do you do about people's place john brown says lincoln says going to take the peaceful route to get to emancipation but they don't wind up in the same camp. abraham lincoln leaves the country through the worstwar in american history . but the end is the result that john brown wanted john
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brown prophesies. in 1850 and i'll stop there and i hope we can pursue this discussion and questions. >> i people so much. that was a wonderful talk. we got questions coming in and i want to remind our viewers imat home that you can post questions on facebook or twitter and youtube and we will get to read them on the air. i'll start bill with you. can you talk rta little bit. you closer book talkingabout frederick douglass and his use of lincoln. can you talk talk about douglas's experiences with these two men and how that was you that ? >> i'll say this as an author of a book about john brown and abraham lincoln, if frederick douglass hadn't existed i would have to invent him because the parallel lives of johnbrown and abraham lincoln at the
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same time they never met each other . their paths ernever met directly. they were dealing with the same issues from different perspectives. frederick douglass is the unifying character here. so frederick douglass is the one who met john brown before he met abraham lincoln and you much admired john brown. he believed john brown had a sense of the immediate needs of the people of fredericks. frederick douglass being a former slave, being one of the most this most noted abolitionists naturally gravitated towards the emphasis that john brown placed on antislavery almost by any means. because john brown invited him to take part in the raid on harpers ferry. john brownsaid okay, if i can get a high-profile abolitionist like frederick douglass to come along this will lend credibility . and especially somebody who
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had been a tslave. but douglas says no and part of the reason douglass says know is that herecognizes that this is probably a suicide mission . douglas understood having been a slave himself and having weighed the moment when you're going to go before him he denies that the enslaved folks and the enslavement of harpers ferry are not just going to follow anybody who toseemed to have this to start a war. they're going to weigh their chances to survive in this war. and they're going to say it's not going to work. that's exactly what happened. so part of frederick douglass's response was i'm a writer,and i'm not a fighter but he knew that this wasn't going to work . nonetheless he had to like every other r abolitionist had to meyer john brown for having the courage of his convictions and having the courage to take his views to the point of resting and finally giving his life for the cause. while abraham lincoln always too slow.
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douglas was able to grab in some leeway and he was a politician and politicians have the balance to confused but even after the civil war began douglas lincoln was just misunderstanding what this war was about. and he really challenged in his own newspaper and every speech every chance he got lincoln's prioritizing. lincoln made it very clear that saving the union came first and any action on slavery came second in his famous letter to horace greeley, might not like freeing, my job is to say that. douglas tried to make the point the only way to savethe union is to free the slaves . because eventually lincoln came around to that point of view. it was only at the point lincoln issued the patient proclamation was finally say going. and fthen from there to the end of the war douglas became a member of lincoln's sort of
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outer circle. omhe was somebody lincoln would consult with, somebody lincoln would try to send messages to and somebody that douglas finally concluded that lincoln did more for the freedom of black people and anybody else in american history but douglas still thought lincoln was too slow in doing it .nc >> i want to ask a follow-up, you both have written about john brown so i want to bring you in on the question as well. in your book you read about the meeting lincoln and douglas had in august 1854 where they about using john brown as a model for getting n word to the slaves to become free. can you talk about that meeting went douglas and lincoln met and what it meant to douglas? >> this was mentioned to douglas had first thought lincoln was too slow and much more concerned with the
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reason union rather than slavery but when he met lincoln in august 1864 he found that lincoln on a very personal level was had a complete lack of prejudice against african-americans. and in fact he said in a statement he said he has less prejudice than any white man i've ever met. as much as he admired john brown. and at that time, lincoln sort of certain plants john n brown like this conversion into the south and frederick douglass would play a role in leading scout into the deep south to try to spread the word of the emancipation proclamation to enslaved people. and they didn't perhaps know about it and he got together with martin delaney a little bit later who was waving on black lives matter or anything, super radical. but on lincoln as well. he beat similar to mention. what was happening is sherman
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and grant were winning the war anyways. so those two missions were kind of obviated but still , the john brown and abraham lincoln views coming together towards the end of the war partly through frederick douglass. >> i love that meeting with delaney where delaney comes to meet with lincoln in february 1965 and says we need a black army to go into the south . according to delaney later reminiscences, lincoln says this is the idea. i'vebeen waiting for someone to bring to me and of course delaney gets commissioned a major a few weeks later . david, let me ask you about a lincoln's love of literature a . can you talk about is just love those things as a young man, how they developed and more of his impact on his later life? >> here's an example of somebody and i think it's can still apply today but he had
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less than one year of school here and there, three months there. but he was sort of like infinitely curious. didn't have that many books in the frontier but as he grew up he read as much as he could and he had such a steel trap of a memory that he could read a poem a couple of times. he loved poetry of all. and it would be in his brain. he's he knew shakespeare by the page. poetry for him really channeled feeling and theme and emotion and every once in a while his presidency would break out with all. the same time he loved that lincoln above all manage the entire experience. peshakespeare, the opera and all that the most.
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and everything in between. sentimental songs, he loves sentimental songs so he had an encompassing vision. it truly is breathtaking that was part of his compassion. >> what about john brown's education? can you tell us about a formal education he had and how his background in that hmight have put him to where he went? i actually don't recall. >> his formal education was quite limited, perhaps not quite as limited as abraham lincoln. and he clearly was a self educated person. not to the extent of lincoln but on the subject of education one of the things i became interested in is how the john brown ever come up with ideas for engaging in military operations? because when he let his, when he let his small abolitionist army in kansas, he engaged in what military packs may not
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have been quite to the level of strategy but he plotted the harpers ferry red and he was thinking in terms of things to do so he read various books. he didn't have the practical experience that was necessary to make these things actually work when confronted with folks who know what they were doing. one of the things the harpers terry read proved such a fiasco was that brown figured out how to get into harpers ferry which was actually fairlyeasy if nobody knows you're coming . but getting out of harpers ferry once the townspeople have been alerted it's nearly impossible and anyone with any military training or even in formal military education would have realized that that harpers ferry is not the place to start a war against slavery but that also raised the question on harpers ferry, was exactly did brown think was going to happen? and it's clear that by the
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time he is executed, john brown has concluded that he's worth more to the edabolitionist movement, to the freedom movement did an ally and you can almost see that revelation dawning on him in his days in jail and court and all this. but i think that as far as i can tell when he went to harpers ferry he was hoping the thing would work. but that's where being a self-taught person can have its boundaries. >> i think about how lincoln cowas checking books out of the library of congress to learn about military strategyduring the war . same kind of thing. at what point did john brown decide to stay in the engine house at harpers ferry and not go out as he had t originally planned? what caused him to ultimately make that decision?
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>> is that a loaded question? i don't know if it is or not. >> no, number i think he was expecting more of anexplosion among the enslaved people . some of them did join to be sure. others in a way, these what people coming to free the enslaved people, the ones that didn't know edabout the raid and so forth it was like the man from mars coming. what are you doing here? some of them were befuddled and i think john brown kept waiting and by the time he waited the local militia had come up and so forth. and he was really trapped. he even told a train that passed by the train spread the word and pretty soon robert e lee came and surrounded him.
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>> brown's problem was that brown wasn't quite ruthless enough to do what he was trying to do. and so if he had been willing to shoot townspeople and kill people who had no dog in this fight, then he might have been able to fighthis way out . i think he might have realized when it became clear there wasn't this uprising he had expected, he had weapons for hundreds or maybe 1000 people that he had specially made. but there wasn't this flocking to his banner. and he might very well have asked himself what am i going to do for my next act? should i get out of here and it might have, there's some that would say i don't know where it is when he concludes that okay, i'm not getting out of here. once he surrounded of course
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by the us marines under robert e lee he's knows he's not getting out of there and he would have been killed except that the sword he was struck with turned out to be addressed sword rather than the realthing . he lived d to speak again, not to fight again but he lived to speak again. >> that's right. we've got a question from a viewer and the question is can either speak or comment on what might have been good for the obstruction period in jim crow had lincoln not been assassinated? >> my feeling is counterfactual with historyso we don't know . on the other hand we do know that andrew johnson was really ultimately was a racist who botched reconstruction. at first, reconstruction was sort of pro-african-american and so forth and there was
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thiselevation of african-americans . but under interest policies there was a resurgence of white supremacy that snuffed out this momentary empowerment of african americans in the south. i'm absolutely certain that lincoln would have been much firmer about rights for previously enslaved people than andrew johnson was. i'm very certain about that. inso anyway, that's just my point of view. >> the first thing i would say is hot if lincoln had t lived, his historical reputation would have suffered from having to deal with reconstruction. his reconstruction was the hardest time in american history to have been president . andrew johnson made things worse ulysses grant and what reconstruction did to grants
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reputation i think probably would have happened to lincoln's reputation because grant was pretty much as devoted as lincoln was to rights for freedom, for the former slaves but the problem that both presidents would have encountered and i'll leave johnson out because his intentions were in the wrong direction but grant and lincoln's intentions were pretty much in the same direction. the first problem lincoln would have encountered was that he would not have been able to dictate to congress in a way that he did. and secondly, certainly he and congressman nasser would not have been dictatedto the south forever as they have been able to do duringthe war . during the war he could use the army . during the war you don't have to persuade people. you can coercepeople . the south was not convinced by union arguments. was convinced by union lars and the real question is how long could lincoln have and
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we know that grants, how long can you keep troops in the south? in a democracy long can you rule by military force? another way of putting it is how long will the north continue to insist that the south behave the way northerners want the south to behave? and eventually northerners just say we've got other fish to fry. we'd rather be doing other things and keeping watch on the south and that point was going to come sooner or later, it would have come for lincoln. he certainly would have had a third term, and then it probably would have been so it would have wound up the same way. in a democracy, people get the government they deserve. and by the late 1870s that was not a mobilizing majority of voters in the whole acountry to say okay, we're going to enforce. where going to require the
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south to honor the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the letter and they're willing to let the 14 and 15 to go. at least the 13th in place. so i think it would have turned out pretty much the same. the timing might have been a little bit different .>> you're right about lincoln's legacy being what it is in large measure because it was being shot on good friday, easter sermons in 1865 are all about lincoln and that sort of sentence a legacy that would have gotten destroyed to some extent in the messiness of reconstruction. >> i like the situation that well historically frankly rosa flank and was about that with. these two presidents are considered the two greatest american presidents . george washington being the first so they deal with these great crises but then through an assassin's bullet they exit the stage before things get difficult. franklin roosevelt would have had to deal with the
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breakdown of the grand alliance and he would have had to deal with the things that madeharry truman really unpopular during his presidency . and what if that's deal with the stuff that made him immensely unpopular. >> we've got a question asking either of you to talk about the parallels between john wilkes booth and john brown or the connections between them with brown being something of an n inspiration for both, brown course or booth being there at the execution of john brown. can you talk about john wilkes booth and john brown together ? >> booth was of course an actor and he left richmond just to go witness the execution of john brown. but he looked at john brown obviously he detested everything john brown stood for . booth was a white supremacist and aided abolitionist but he
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was really struck by the moxie of john brown on the scaffold. john brown was the call list person there, the very tallest person there so eventually john looks booth called john brown the grandest man of the century. it was ironic that all a lot of southerners have much more positive things to say about john's but both demonized him but they admired his coolness under pressure. there's this thing aboutn southern honor and so forth . so i think that john wilkes booth tried to be john brown in reverse. to be the grandest man of the century but in theright cause . what for booth was the right cause. john brown died for the wrong cause, john wilkes booth wanted to murder for what he considered the right cause. but you wantedto be john brown in reverse in effect . >> you want to add to that western mark.
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>> it's striking to me that in some ways concerning what he learns, what wilkes booth learned from john brown and the speech that john brown gave in court on his way to being executed if booth had been willing to take that you have prepared a seat. hehad the stage presence . he didn't have what they call moxie. >> that's a great question. can you talk about the role of religion in the two men's lives and how it brought them to where they ended up? it's a question, i know. >> try a little bit and this is simply my observation of lincoln and i'll start with lincoln because i think lincoln is most interesting character and i'll be interested to hear what david has to say in response to this. that mlincoln seems to be to
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grow more religious the longer the war lasts and the greater the moral burdenof the war . and it's all as though lincoln says at some level i cannot bear the moral burden of this war. and i basically have to kind of this off to somebody else. so in his first inaugural address lincoln reverse the better angels of human nature but he's not speaking directly to god or a version of that in the way hehe is in the second inaugural address when he basically says, he comes close to saying the civil war was god's will. and we needed if every drop of blood that's drawn by the slavers last must be read by a drop of blood drawn by the swordmight be god's will . that's pretty close to saying if this was out of my hands, don't blame me for this. god will do it that way. and it's a natural kind of
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response because this is one of those cases where if lincoln had not made the decision that he made in response to southern secession that things would have been very different. it's very rare that a single person can be the hinge of faith that way but if lincoln had said okay in the south, i don't like it but i'm not going to fight. if he had taken that position then there wouldn't have been a civil war at least not been and it would have ended with something else but lincoln had made that decision . he hoped the war didn't last as long as it did but he has to look at this and say i d made this decision and all these people live. so heaven help me with the responsibility . >> money has to sort of my question that i didn't see m before. they both came from a countess tradition if irecall . >> yes, john brown in
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particular came out with a calvinist position believing in predestination. john wilkes believes he was predestined to or appointed to fight against slavery. lincoln came from a baptist tradition. he never joined the church. but as bill was saying, increasingly he becomes religious not orthodox christian or anything like that. he never really joined the ch church 's rhetoric becomes more and more religious so that by the end he almost sounds in that second inaugural which is only about 700 words long but it is full of religious references and quotations from the bible and there is almost this sense of predestination or something bigger than himself. that's why a few reviewers of the second inaugural said
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this is making john brown's speech. this was his cromwell speech. so there is a kind of fusion so to speak and kind of calvinism of john brown and whatever deterministic religious view that lincoln has towards the younger. >> we got about three or four minutes so i'm going to ask one more question and hopefully we can fit it in. we often think about lincoln as a politicallottery . these may be a success, he's not a radical. but i think you both and ways are challenging view of lincoln. can you either of you talk about why it is we view lincoln as a moderate and maybe why he's not ? >> how start and let david finish because i'm going to say that i do consider lincoln to be a political lottery . i think that lincoln was very attuned to what was politically possible win this
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stage of his political evolution and ateach stage of the war. so for example , if he had followed frederick douglass's advice at the beginning to say this is more about slavery would have lost and that would have been that was the border states would have hjoined the confederacy, we would have had no choice the federal government would have had to and it would have been nearly impossible to gain. but lincoln understood even do that. if you want to, if the endgame was to be the union and free the slaves you have to do it in that order. you can't say, you can go for yourself, after four sold or when lincoln requests 75,000 volunteers, what he asked them to defend the union, if 75,000 e all the volunteers to free the slaves you might have gottenanybody to show up . because people would say,
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they would defend the union. eventually freeing the slaves became part of that but lincoln was careful to understand how this is going d to happen. by the way, lincoln believed from the beginning that slavery would be added in the united states only by constitutional lead which is exactly what happened. it's the 13th amendment that ended slavery. so is moderation pay off. >> in my book i compare him to london because he was often referred to as he himself also supplement several times london was walker who walked across niagara falls forward, backwards, on stilts. he was a centrist. secretly, he was radical underneath his radicalism could not come out because it would endanger the war. he said we lose kentucky were going to lose everything and if we start losing the border states are not going to be able to win.
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so he had to maintain this kind of centrist for left centrist point of viewfor sure . >> that brings us right to the mark where we need to be. i want to again thank our speakers and i want to commend their books to all of our viewers. two very large but worthwhile books. i highly commend them and i want to thank you both for a wonderful talk and for engaging with our audience . i want to thank the staff at ford for making thispossible . >> c-span has hundreds of programs on first ladies including interviews and book topics. here's a look at one of our programs . >> i feel quite sure what the american people lack is knowledge . i feel quite sure that the american people if they have knowledge and leadership can meet any crisis just as well
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as they met it over and over again in the past i can remember the cries of horror and my husband said we had to have the thousand airplanes in a given period but we have them. and the difference was that the people were told what the reason was and why. and i have complete faith in the american people's ability if they know and if they have leadership. and no one can move without some leadership. >> for the time being you feel we are bereft of leadership . >> yes. >> take a closer look at the spouses of our nation's president. the private lives, public roles and legacies. watch all our first lady programs online at first lady. >> our weekly series the presidency highlights the politics, policies and


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