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tv   In Depth Allen Guelzo  CSPAN  April 22, 2022 10:02pm-12:01am EDT

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general who commanded the confederate army in northern >> host: allen guelzo let's begin our conversation today with your latest look, "robert e. lee, a life." who was he before the civil war and what was his reputation? >> guest: he was best known for two things, one was the fact that he was the son of the famous revolutionary war hero and that was the famed cavalry commander harry lee. he served under washington and in fact coined that wonderful encomia of washington person were, first first in peace first and cut his countrymen. the other thing that people would have known robert e. lee for would have been his service in the war and especially on the
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staff of general winfield scott during scott's fabulous amphibious invasion beginning in veracruz and moving inland to mexico city in 1947. lee served in many respects as scott's eyes and ears performing over and over again feats of recognizance for scott, so much so that afterwards scott made the confession that for all the honors he had one in that great campaign in mexico city almost all the credit belonged to robert e. lee. those two things would have been what robert e. lee would have would have been noted for before the civil war which taken together don't do a whole lot to explain what we know about robert e. lee once the civil war began. >> host: we will get into that in just a minute. he was not necessarily a good father. is that correct? >> guest: he was a splendid
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cavalry commander especially life force carrying out life calgary raids, doing posts and doing all kinds of small jobs. he was very good at that. as soon as the revolutionwa was over and he moved back into civilian life everything went from bad to. he madee investments in western virginia land that were the equivalent of buying ski resorts in bangladesh. they all went to nothing. they bankrupted him. he also chose the wrong politics for virginia. light horse harry lee in 1813 he was beaten within an inch of his life by a pro jeffersonian mob in baltimore and taking both of
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those things together light horse harry decided to other things are more officious for him so he left and went to the west indies. he left when his son robert was six years old and robert never saw him again. i thinkga that's actually a majr entry magic moment in the life of robert e. lee. that stays with him thursdays. >> host: the other thing i wanted to mention from your f first answer is you write in robert e. lee a life that lee discovered s intensive shame at having part of the mexican-american war. >> guest: yes. for many americans who are part of the war especially that invasion from veracruz to mexico city the experience they had stayed with them all of their
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lives and many memoirs especially famous civil war generals who got their start during that war who reflected back on it and remembered mexico of atlantis surpassing someplace they always wanted to revisit and alongside it was a sense of embarrassmentad this were to hae taken place at all. for one thing in the ethos of the 19th n century republics were not supposed to make war on republics and republics in some sense were supposed to make war at all. they work defensively against aggressive imperial ventures from sars andki kings and whatnot and the idea of the american public going to war with mexico was a source of a disconnect for many of these young americans and the longer they serve in thisco war the moe that disconnect weight on them
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and robert e. lee would come to the conclusion i'm ashamed of what we have done their damage shamed of this war. we deliver lee took advantage of mexico and he isn't the only one either. you can find curiously enough the same theme developed in ulysses grant's memoirs so these two men who will in time almost become the yang and yang of the civil war had a similar experienceha from that service n mexico and that was the sense that the united states had done the wrong thing in invading mexico that it was a large stronger power beating up on the smaller weaker one which should have beenco as a sister republic encouraging instead of being the object of war. >> host: you said he served under general winfield scott during that war. what was winfield scott's war -- will roll in the civil war?
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>> winfield scott is too old to take active after command in the world. he is the general chief of united states army at that point but he is really in no shape at his age to obtain and not that direction. he sketched out a large-scale strategic plan to sometimes known as the anaconda plan for how the war should be the but he understood he was past the time that he could take active time in the field. to that end the person he wanted to recommend as a person who should be the field commander, the armies that would suppress their secessionist rebellion was robertcc e. lee. scott never forgot the service that robert e. lee had tended in theot german -- mexico worn in e years between that war and the civil war scott developed
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something of the following for robert lee. he assists in promoting members of the lee family and one of lee's son gets a commission of u.s. army largely because of winfield scott's rankings. so there's a very close relationship. nothing more cruelly than when we came to visit him in mid-april of 1861 to tell him that he was going to turn down the offer of command and that he would resign his commission in the united states army. it was said that winfield scott took to his sofa weeping saying i never want to hear their name of robert e. lee again. that is somewhat apocryphal but it does give you a sense first of all the relationship to china to and secondly the disappointment that scott
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experienced when we decided in fact not to take up the command that under the circumstances got me appointed to exercise himself. >> host: allen guelzo was robert e. lee well-known and the general public prior to the civil war and was he on the society pages because of his wife? was there a will he, won't he back and forth in the press regardingdi his going to theon confederate? >> guest: to a minor degree. robert e. lee was not someone who enjoyed the public limelight. he did his level best to stay out of newspapers, to stay out of the columns of people who are writing social matters. he himself will only venture into public view very, very reluctantly. he simply dislikes it. it's something as no for.
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people often remarked about lee that he struck them as a very, or a very distant sort of figure. there's a famous passage in the diary of mary chestnut, one of the greaty diaries of the civil war era. she matt lee for the first time before the war at soldier springs in western virginia. she met lead there because that's t where lee took his wife mary custis lee who was plagued by room at tory -- arthritis and he gave her relief from the difficulties posed by rheumatoid arthritis. she met them there without introduction andnd she said this man on a beautiful horse came to join u us. l he looked so distinguished i was sorry i didn't catch his name and she found out afterwards this was robert e. lee.
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she said everything about him was so fine looking, perfection, no fraud could be found in the man even if you hunted for one and this wasn't because just not necessarily admired that. gbyte lee's older brother a lot better because smith lee was very companionable a very fine man about town but not robert. chestnut said can anybody say they know his brother? i doubt it great he looks so cold and quiet and grand. that was the image that robert lee chose through his life. he did not like being a in the public glare and for that reason any discussion that takes place about the possibilities of property lease choice tents to occur only in his immediate environment where he was living
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in alexandria and arlington and across the river from washington d.c. and a few other places. it's not a matter of national discussion for national attention ander robert e. lee doesn't want national discussion and attention of themselves. >> host: back in march you were quoted in the prince nationalist saying quote if you wish to imperil the american experiment we can find few more paths to that peril then by obscure in or demeaning who we were. i bring this up now all the -- to robert e. lee memorial's being removed and being taken down. is that a mistake in your view? >> guest: there is no easy answer for that and i have to confess from my own part that i'm at sixes and sevens about this question of statues of property leave.
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i've seen statues not only if we put other people taken and on the one hand speaking as a pennsylvania person i tell people look to i'm the most unlikely of lead biographers. as such i can't fathom why you put up statues for people who committed treason. we don't have any statues at least none that i am aware of the war battlefields to general powell ordered general cornwallis. we just don't have them there an impact in 1776 we tore down the statue of george iii in manhattan so there's a certain sense in which i can measure why we do that. people like robert e. lee raised their handan against the nation
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that they had sworn an oath to uphold. my father was a career united states army officer and he took that oath. my son is an officer in the u.s. army and he took that oath. even when i joined the national counter -- counsel for the humanities inh, 2006 i took the oath so it's not something i'm saying likely and it's not help by the fact that wynne lee does make his decision to fight for the confederacy would he is doing is fighting for cause wrapped around the defense of human and trafficking. on the one hand why should i do anything except a sense of sympathy for the removal of relics like that that really shouldn't be in any other place but a museum. if someone today wanted to erect a statue of robert e. lee i would tell them to get lost.
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but that really hasn't been the whole story because what we have been talking about is not just statues of robert e. lee. we are talking about wholesale top links, the facings of statues across the country and this includes statues of ulysses grant, statues of frederick douglass of statues of abraham lincoln. here in my own hometown ofy philadelphia someone actually to face the statue of a prominent abolitionist figure. what they thought they were doing i don't know.el w soso much of this seem to be a n active rational impulse and when i see the overall picture of the removal and the toppling of statues i begin to see how much of it that gets done by impulse and that's when i started to have hesitations and that's when
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i started having site he that we are doing something a little less considerate, little less logical than we think we are doing. back in 2017 when the charlottesville riot circled around a statue of robert e. lee aaron charlottesville that was the moment when robert e. lee almost became radioactive and at that time i sat down with a former student of mine who is now a national park service officer and we worked up over call a decision tree. how do you deal with monuments and statues are in there are moments. on the one hand you simply s cat save because the statue is there is sacrosanct. that is not true. their member 1956 hungarian revolutionaries fighting against the soviets.
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what's the first thing they do? they tear down the statue of joseph stalin. in 2003 when american forces arrived in fact dead one of the first things that happens is the tearing down of an enormous statue off saddam hussein. i'm not by any means going to say i'm so sorry we don't have a statue of joseph stalin or saddam hussein. i think we are a better planet without them but how do we arrive at decisions for people who are representative by statues that have only been around for 150 years or 200 years is something like that? it's more for process than i have seen in some of the latest waves of statue toppling since statue removal so we developed a decision tree which basically said let's ask a series of questions. depending on the answer that first question would go to the
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second and depending on the answer the second to third and so forth. now there's no guarantee in this decision tree. there's no guaranteed result. it's not intended to produce a certain result. what it is intended to produce as we have throughout through this. we have looked at this logically and we have come to this conclusion ase a result of the process and not just an impulse. if at the end of this process we decide yes the statue should be removed then fine at least we got through the process. the thing which i think is dangerous in our understanding of history, when we respond purely to these memorials in these monuments. truly a cause i impulse this -- impulsiveness and that contains real danger because there's not
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all of the difference between that a rational impulse and the behavior of a mob. the behavior of a mob isob exact lee what democracy and democratic societies strive to put distance between and necessarily so. so i would rather err on the side of caution or at least on the side of process and the result of process may be. at least we would have gone through a process and i think process if is what's important. posted the first line in your book about robert e. lee is how do you write the biography of someone who commits treason? how do you guard against it? >> guest: i asked what does thet constitution say? on the one hand it's pretty straightforward. the constitution said treason consists of making war against united states and giving aid and
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comfort to its enemies. and i have some difficulty looking at robert e. lee and not seeing someone who did exactly those things, who made war against united states and in fact made four years worth of war against the united states and certainly gave aid and comfort to its enemies. simply on those terms alone i cannot avoid the conclusion yes, robert e. lee committed treason. some people would say you are saying that because you are a. no i'm saying that the cause i'm reading the constitution for what it actually says and i cannot avoid that conclusion. so i say this at the beginning because i want people to understand that i'm not coming to write a biography of robert e. lee either to put a halo around his head or a knife in lhis back. i want to cover robert e. lee is
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soberly as i can and the first and most important question is the question about treason. in some respects that poses the real challenge of writing this kind of biography not just about lee. how do you write a biography of someone who commits treason? it is in some sense easy to write the biography of someone you easily it meyer of washington, of lincoln or churchville but how do you deal with people whose lives are committed to things you find? and yet you can't not write about it. you can't simply pretend that they are not there. so how do you undertake the writing of what i call difficult biography? it's what i set myself up as a task to do about writing about robert e. lee conscious of the fact that difficult biography
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calls for a different set of understandings and attitudes and analytical tools. then, you might have a writing about lincoln whom i think att great deal but you have to write, you have to come to writing up out its because his life is very different. >> host: after appomattox was there an outcry from the public to jail robert e. lee? >> guest: oh yes, yes, yes and especially after the assassination of abraham lincoln. in a fewew days that transpired between the lee's surrender in the army of northern virginia in lincoln's murder there was a sense that the war is coming down to this conclusion and we can be generous and openhanded
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and then comes the lincoln assassination s. this is what we get for being openhanded and this is what we get forbe being generous. we will deal now with these people the way they are asking us to deal with them. there was a terrific backlash against the confederate leadership against jefferson davis who at that point was still on the lam and he would not be apprehended until july 10. a lot of this gets -- and the calls go up for something to be done about robert e. lee and especially what it takes the form of an indictment for treason that is censured by the federal district court in norfolk, virginia. it's a norfolk, virginia by the way as one of the few places in virginia where there's a federal court are porting at that point. its operating most of the civil
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war. at confederate but not -- so this indictment comes from the federal court of norfolk and lee along with some 33, 34 other leaders of his indicted by federal court for treason and the assumption is this is going to be seen as some kind of a trial. that of course is where the problems begin to accrue. if looked at initially just in terms of the constitution's definition of treason,, then we should have gone to a trial that there were some interesting trip wires on the way. one of them is the fact that at appomattox ulysses grant granted to lee and his entire army of norfolk virginia a parole. a parole, what does this mean? this is literally how it's put
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none of those who surrender to appomattox are going to be troubled or involved in the federal government provided they obey the laws. it's not entirely a get out of jail free card unless you violate terms off parole and thn all the restraints are off but the parole is given by ulysses s. grant and when grant gets wind of the fact that the new president andrew johnson and his attorney general james. >> are toying with the idea of pursuing robert e. leeea for treason, grant feels his own pledge his own honor is being called to question and quite frankly tells andrew johnson that if you persist on several resigned as general of the army. well that is a threat that entered jackson could not accommodate. he had that down in the face of
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that because no one stood higher in the estimate of the north at that moment than ulysses grant so that was one that heads off that give the trial. another problem is the fact that all through the war a lot of questions about dealing with civil liberties handled by a military tribunals or does this sound familiar? this sounds like when tom obeyed, it should because the same logic governs for those cases. the justice of united states supreme court could not abide at the idea that there were parallel jurisdictions there is civilian jurors diction in terms of the federal courts. the idea there were military tribunals operating in virginia was anathema to him so he made it clear he would refuse to participate in any trial of
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property leave welfare or military tribunals operating. salmon chase refuses to cooperate in the trial and there's another block in the path of putting leon trial. and there are a number of other legal snags which i won't take everybody into the weeds with unless you are a lawyer and want to go with me. at the end the conclusion was this is not going to be worth the political trouble that it's going to generate so what we will do is we will just enter in other words do not prosecute and in fact in 1868 s. andrew johnson is on his way out of the white house he issues a blanket amnesty that finally dispels the threat of the treason trial furley. technically speaking it was a real question and leave treats
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it seriously. lee is very anxious that this trial may go forward and if it goes forward then he could be in serious danger and it's not until that amnestymn comes downo lee begins to feel the cloud has in large measure passed over his head. .. because i'm -- i'm just seen as such a drag on them. they would be embarrassed to be seen with me. that weighed on him and weighed on him heavily and the result of what it would have been, i don't
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know. >> your >> >> package out
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there like that was weird. >> and a similar question who do you think was the greatest of the confederate generals? and that was actually even worse. but he almost have a sense that there was tit for tat.
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and what could have been in an interestingo relationship and that never develops in that way. and in 1868 and 1869 we actually will lend to those who are challenging to ulysses s grant than otherwise. host: we can spend the next two hours for robert e. lee and his life and everything that goes into that but we want to talk about your other books. and prior to robert e. lee the previous book was reconstruction coming out in 2018. and from the book, even the strongest measures taken by the ushe government during
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reconstruction with the last towards a view toward subjugating the states and more toward pledging them back into a federal government. the great losers in this process for the southern blacks. >> yes. i said that in 2018 but that inclines me to change that. but we teach some lessons to change political minds and all the blood and treasure with the eradication of slavery with open up the possibility not only for reunification of north and south, but a reconstitution of the south
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itself in the image of the north. and that did not happen. and that was in large measure because they simply didn't know how to do this thing called reconstruction. there was no book you could go to inside a bookstore called reconstruction for dummies with the step-by-step process. what she said was a series of improvisations. not all entirely thought out some inspire too much. and a lot of those are inspired on the part of congress. but that's the first thing that you see coming out of reconstruction. we did not know what it was we were doing. so in the fumbling it gives an
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opportunity for the old shsouthern leadership to seize political dominance of life in the south and as they do that they aim to subjugate black southerners to something of the same status from before the civil war to reconstitute a form of slavery without actually using the term. in this reconstitution is in southern states to jim crow with segregation and that was violent subjugation's. black people in the south. and we can only look back at
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that and say why didn't we take reconstructioner more seriously? grant look back from this time after the presidency and said the great mistake of reconstruction was we did not impose a military occupation that would last for a long time to raise up and educate an entirely new political generation. we were optimistic and didn't want to spend the time and the money because military occupation of the south even at the height of reconstruction those military forces that were used on the south did not amount but it was at least 20000 troops we deployed 3 million union soldiers during the civil war.
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that even that number we went ahead and something much more serious much more along the lines after world war ii with the marshall plan and europe with imperial japan and from the bottom up from the democratic image. we do that in 1865 through 1877 and then to pay a serious price for that. we learned our lesson in 1945 and subsequent efforts bit that has not shown the learning of that was entirely permanent. we still suffer from wanting
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to take military actions or diplomatic actions and have them produce a quick response and then wash away on —- washer hands and walk away perhaps he should of thought before we got involved what would be required was much more intensive and much more expensive and acquiring a great deal more from society and we were willing to give. that is something we have to bear in mind that the problem with reconstruction offers us an interesting lesson in what is sometimes called nationbuilding and in reconstruction we did a pretty poor job especially black people suffered as a result in
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an especially in this case in georgia that general sherman has been grossly exaggerated and to get the notion to take it towards to everything in the that they were taking places of a high penalty those traipsing back-and-forth and one thing certainly so the sound suffers economically by the loss of the capital with
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the farm implement and farm animals and mounted to as high $213 billion. and then the south that have recovered much more quickly than if that had committed itself to try to re-create and the great punishment the south suffers in reconstruction is not union occupation it is self administrated as the south decides what it really wants us to walk away from industrial capitalism from the trans-atlanticmy economy and to
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return before the war which was that agrarian state. but then it takes the 80 years to change. and then the south became its own worst enemy. host: as you mentioned you are born in japan to an army officer and you got a masters in divinity and then into the history aspect so at what point did you find yourself fascinated? >> i was asked fascinated as you could be. ibe can remember probably not more than five years old badgering my mother and that
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is the old classic series. and the red badge of courage introduces me to stories of the civil war and then a 16 page insert as a quick comic book history of the civil war. i say comic book we think of superman but the classic illustrated series was serious piece of work and this red badge of courage was a serious piece of work and it fascinated me certainly to my grandmother who as a young girl at the turn of the last century had called in decoration day she witnessed old veterans of the grand army of the republic come to the
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schools and they would talk to schoolchildren of the real meaning of the civil war and for them is not what does johnny reds are trying to teach them that the end of slavery and the preservation. and thatt was the understanding of the war of that i grew up with so in my case i never grew up with robert e. lee around his head many other writers wrote summaries and wrote about him as promoting the lost cause and i grew up understanding the lost cause
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the real story of the civil war longed to lincoln and emancipation and preservation of the union. that has stayednd with me and as you can see i'm still talking about it. >> welcome to in-depth for january in the story on —- we want to hear from you as well. intimate comments and ask questions here is how you do so. if you live in send a text this number, text messages onlies, (202)748-8903. please include first name and your city if you would if you do
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send a text question. and you can also contact us via social media. just remember@booktv is our handle for twitter, facebook, et cetera. you can start making comments, start dialing in. we will get to your calls for allen guelzo in just a few minutes. his first book came out his first book came out in 1989. with the evangelical christians and emancipation proclamation 2004 and lincoln a very short introduction 2009. and then follows by a
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gettysburg the last invasion and then redeeming the great emancipator 2016 reconstruction coming out in 2018 and then to kick off with emancipation proclamation very tumultuous year in our nations history. and with a great emancipator. and the emancipation proclamation was delivered on january 1st is surely the unhappiest of all of abraham lincoln's and the great presidential papers. >> the word happiest is what you are focusing on?
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>> . >> that was a strategy on my part and i say that because while with a gettysburg address some people still memorize it after all it is only 272 words and we adore the second inaugural with malice towards nine and charity towards all. but then we come to the emancipation proclamation inro the first word just puts us off because it is whereas. whoever thought beginning a great state document with the
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word w whereas because it is legalistic that is one of the problems that people have and then the language of it is very legal and no one less than karl marx make an observation emancipation proclamationns reads like a summons sent by one county courthouse lawyer to another and it does read that way. people scratch their heads and say why? and the gettysburg address the second inaugural why suddenly when it comes to the greatest part of the administration and
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suddenly does he drop back into professional legal language? because he didn't really mean it is heart was not in it if his heart was really in emancipation ten something equally eloquent for the second inaugural and thiss is what led richard in 1940 to make itba memorable comment. probablyth the comment most attached emancipation proclamation that it had all the moral grander there is one reason people stumble seems so legalistic? what does that mean?
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another reason people are unhappy it's dated january 1st 1863. why didn't as soon as the civil war began why didn't mean can pick up his pen and write that from 1961 what was he waiting for? and to say he has another agenda and then the emancipation proclamation isn't a noble gesture at all but political strategy. those that critique the
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proclamation. there's a whole section of the emancipation proclamation of exclusions. and that might include the border states before the slave states that remain loyal to the union and it also won't touch slaves places in virginia occupied by military forces. what's goinger on? and then you have this bill of exceptions and people scratch their heads and say this cannot be for real.
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invoices of criticism have multiplied over the years that this is why say emancipation proclamation is unhappiest because so many cannot figure out what's going on and in many cases many possible conclusions and so first of all it is legalistic. because the gettysburg address is that we can composed at gettysburg you cannot take the gettysburg address into a court of lawr and do anything with it and then to pull you over on the turnpike and then you cannot quote the gettysburg address but the emancipation proclamation is different that changes the
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legal status of approximately 3 million humanox beings. and ifli it sounds legalistic is because it has beagle work to do itke can be taken into court. so yes is legalistic? very because it has legal do.y lifting to so why at the same time is emancipation proclamation full of exceptions? and to say on the strength of his role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the united states and exercising his war powers. >> you cannot exercise were powershe against the border states which are loyal to the
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union they remain within the union and states that still legalize slavery but they were not at war with the union is lincoln would emancipate the slaves on the strength of the emancipation proclamation you could be sure at 9:00 o'clock the next morning slaveowners would have been at the federal courthouse demanding injunctions which they would have gotten they would have gotten into appeals eventually winding up at the united states supreme court and who was the chief justice of the united states supreme court of that moment the author of the infamous dred scott decision. lincoln cannot afford to make
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that happen. and so we lost the four border states what is he trying to do? is he trying to cheat he's trying to protect from a legal challenge that is difficult to imagine from chief justice. and with this unhappy reputation so there are serious reasons why it is what it is and then to understand abraham lincoln and composing the emancipation proclamation wass more shrewd and if the emancipation proclamation reads like a bill of
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lading, then it is for freedom headed to the port that still awaiting you can rejoice in. host: we will come back to 1863 that we will hear fromon our viewers let's begin with los angeles. good morning. >>caller. >> all of the books are fascinating and that we are watching at 11:00 o'clock our time. so one review of his book said tothat he had written a revisionist history and i am
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curious to have him explain what is revisionist history and i would love to hear on that.. host: you know what that was? >> it was the book on generally. >> in a sense he has already provided the answer i most likely to give which is every time no historian simply duplicates what has been said esbefore every historian comes with new ways of looking at things any questions that you ask. and in my case when i come
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with robert e. lee, i am interested obviously the as the great general of the civil war and great commander of the confederate armies. and those to pay some attention to that. i be the first to admit but what draws me to be our other considerations. but robert e. lee for almost 30 years in his career and was an officer in the army corps of engineers and much of his career and through those engineering projects.ns and it was to lay the foundation and then in the savanna estuary.
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and then he was assigned from there to reconstruction of fort calhoun is the main ship channel. and on the st. louis waterfront and then the chief engineer on the tip of long island and then crossing over to long island and from there goes to the mexican war and then it's back to construction for baltimore harbor and then superintendent of west point was an engineering school as the superintendent there. spending his life as an engineer. i have to give myself a crash course anand is the kind of
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engineering and that is coastal. so i want to understand the and someone of a confederate general. and what drives me to that i'm trained as an intellectual. i take university from pennsylvania. and i approach with to understand how the mind works. and then to understand his
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profession that is in it that is a revisionist way of robert e-the because no other biography spend a lot of time talking about lee's career in the army before the civil war. and the four volumes that devotes giving us the life of robert e. lee for those 30 years don't even take up the first volume another famous biography written by freeman. and then the first three pages before 1861. and then by the fact other than military affairs i will come at me with a different set of expectations and that
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makes me a revisionist but i confess to the deed knowing that every historian who does this kind of work seriously will be a revisionist sometimes because there is a different concept. sometimes because one of the challenges with robert e. lee is that unlike lincoln or grant, lee is a civil war figure whose papers and letters are not easily available in a printed or edited edition if you want to write about abraham lincoln you have the famous eightball on the collected works of lincoln or if you want to write about grant, you have the 27 volumes of the papers of ulysses s grant that
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are beautifully edited but robert e. lee is different and that is a problem because lee was a compulsive letter writer. estimated between 6,008,000 letters in hisn life. not only a lot of them but they are scattered all over the place little packets of papers here or there i have access to archives that ran all the wayib from the library to wind and see marino in california and various points in between and even more maddening is how much material surfaces on ebay and auction sites because a lot of the material so there is no single
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addition that makes life easier for a biographer been on the other hand it means you make some very interesting discoveries whichng i did and sometimes when you make interesting new discoveries you will revise the conclusions people come to earlier and then to work in a serious way is really performing revisionism is it revisionism in a sloppy and careless fashion or done with care and consideration? and i would like to believe i'm in the second category. host: you are on.
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>>caller: thank you very much. bringing this back to the lost cause and the origins. i am in the middle of your american mind lesson 19 the failure of the genteel elite. and that the w potential origin of the lost cause could you speak margin that? >> the lost cause could be said to have sprung april 9, 1865 mrs. when we issues as last general order which is known as general orders number nine and in that order the
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army is told you find a noble and honorable war but greater union members have overcome that nobility and compel us to surrender we managed to do it with honor so now we can all go home for what we did was honorable that becomes the root of the lost cause. that will sprout from there to acquire a number of facets oneri principal tenant is at the southern confederacy was not about slavery. but really what drove the confederates was a concern about states rights.
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and then potential dictation by northern capitalism. so you find in the writings of richard taylor and his memoir he says slavery had nothing to do with the confederacy that's a story cooked up by the abolitionist so that's the first tenet of the lost cause and then another tenant is that the confederacy did not really lose the war it was simply ground down by the weight of yankee capitalism and that attrition, not military skill or genius a simple raw barbarous attrition is what destroyed the south they fought until there was no one left standing to fight
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superior numbers to throw in and that accounts it doesn't really lose the war it was unfair from the start almost as if you would say one team fields 11 players one only fields three then guess who will when? and then the lost cause rest on the assumption that conservatives always behave themselves with honor t and nobility. and the yankees invade the south they behave like vandals and attila behind a rod and destroy and rate and kill but when lee's army lunges across the potomac all three of those are as phony as a three-dollar
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bill. and just to give you some illustrations the southerners always behaved honorably as opposed to the south they do not invade all that much but when the armyy of northern virginia comes into pennsylvania the 1863 every record on the ground shows a confederate army and then to behave just like the yankees did that they behave most like h century armies. so that confederates rounded up 500 pennsylvania blacks shackled them sending them down to the slave markets that is a different kind of repossession.
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and that pulled into serious doubt we behavedd honorably. is no harm in capturing defenseless and innocent people. but let me take us back to the question of general orders number nine. and lee himself does not actually draft general orders number nine is really composed by the military secretary charles marshall. he may have been a great letter writer withat correspondence be contested official paperwork and he will make some corrections and he does that marshall drafts this because marshall says so.
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and then to strike out to say he was afraid to antagonize. and then to write a document this way which is a final report to jefferson davis and tells a different story. and how they lost all sense of discipline how it struggled and failed everything that held the army together to come apart and he is putting out a lot of blame on the behavior of his own soldiers. that's very different from the last cause.
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so why then do we find those like charles francis adams appealing to support the lost cause and endorse it? because for adams the postwar north turned out to be a very different world than they thought we would inhabit it was a different world than any previous adams this is one of the first families of the united states. they believed as elites they deserved a certain measure of respect in the postwar society with the energetic and race of industrialism showed no particular inclination to great families from the past and the adams turn to the lost cause almost as a way of
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criticizing if they believe how northern society has become it's a weapon to say see how noble they were in defeat and how terrible we are in victory? that was theic complaint of the elite family that did not feel like rodney dangerfield that i got no respect. so they will use the last cause to buttress their own claims not that they succeeded and then embracing the last cause charles francis adams fought against it in massachusetts regiment. but then i was a handy stick to beat the fellow disrespectful northerners with. host: laguna hills thank you
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for holding. >>caller. >> i appreciate your appearances on c-span uas have words of wisdom and you are the voice of reason. so recent you are on c-span discussing your biography and you discuss potential applications and then potentially leading to a settlement of the north. and i know and then to play the what if game with brilliant observations of the geopolitical impact with respect to world war i and world war ii. and then to have profound
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implications of those that we are having today. >> i start off by asking what kind of world would we be looking at if lincoln had not been reelected in 1864 or the confederacy had achieved? and is much as i dislike the what if question some people make a career doing what if history. and there are so many contingent factors that go into the making of historical events asking what if it is almost like a fantasy if they had fantasy leagues for football and baseball but on
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the other hand there is athe least some limited consideration for the value of the what if question. if only because it lets us see possible alternatives might have been those are not necessarily good. what was the most important moment of the civil war? and i surprise them when i tell them at the courthouse but they are expecting me to say gettysburg or antietam. and that's where it ended.
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and i put my finger on that as a rhetorical gesture. and the american civil war could've ended very differently. through much of its duration. so different students if george mcclellan was elected the 17th president of the united states than it seems to me that then there is no question from mcclellan himself. and then to open negotiations and if those had begun but nobody goes back to a shooting more just too much bloodshed too much weariness and exhaustion people in the north
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would not have elected mcclellan because they anticipated the extended war beyond that. so had mcclellan been elected would have ended in no other way. and if that had occurred and v that is a very likely result. one is united states would have continued to dissolve into secession once itn is successful there's no reason why there should not be more. and not difficult to see the pacific coast going off into its own west coast republic. the northwestern states and the great lakes area hiding
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off itself into its own independent republic leaving pennsylvania and new york as the united states to become a useless and balkanized tiny republic. >> and a longer with the united states they would have been trade wars and the result would've been organization and if there had been what would have been the result with world war i and world war ii? and the result of that it is not pleasant to contemplate but that's onlyt' one possible result another of confederate independence is negotiations would've been the rendition of
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fugitive slaves. and through the course of civil war and of those slaves that fled slavery and with those contraband camps or founded in some kind of refuge and at theeg end of negotiations the confederacy almost certainly would have required rendition of those fugitives which is a genuinely horrible thought he almost think we cannot imagine that. really? if the price of peace the price and bringing home your father or brother or son was
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the rendition of those fugitives i wonder how many white northerners? my guess is not many. after all we demanded rendition at the end of 1812 and a single reason not a single demand to not be entirely successful but not entirely successful with the nrevolution of 1812 so there is another unhappy product of a confederate victory in the confederacy itself it would have seen its future lying and expansion the creation of aio slave empire not just in the confederate states themselves but in imperialist expansion to cuba any other islands of
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the west indies to central america and in the decade before the civil war the filibuster expeditions uber mercenary expeditions funded by americans to topple local governments in nicaragua and panama and places likeme that where almost all were in the postwar environment where confederacy was independent that kind of filibuster would become foreign-policy and you would have seen the aggressive expansion of a confederate slave empire in large parts of the western hemisphere. these are not conclusions we can look at and yet they are the answers that would come to the what if question so a
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veteran of the union army lieutenant seriously wounded at antietam sat on the united states supreme court is on the most famous justices sitting on the bench with him louisiana and briefly served in the confederate army and every year on the anniversary of the battle of antietam it would present a red rose and whites response but my god if we had one and i think in that same stricken tone of voice is what we have to say is the answer to. >> you have had a long
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association with gettysburg college you have an intimate knowledge of the area can you get a good sense by walking the battlefield? >> all the time. it is such a wonderful place to walk and to visit and to meander and analyze tohi think about the temptation you always go around that marvelous battlefield and then to be smashed against the union defenses and you think this small plot of ground may be the most hallowed of hallowed ground in the north american continent. a marvelous and magical place
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to be in and walk around. and that's the feel that gettysburg. >> nashville tennessee.. good afternoon. >>caller: one —- >>caller: i teach history at tennessee state university here in nashville. and then to show in class many times that you are in and what you are commenting and to point out to the students that this looks and sounds exactly like frasier crane. [laughter] kelsey grammar if he was doing history professor they would use you as the model.
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i was born in 1953 she was 70 when i was born and she was born in 1883. and used to tell the stories. and then that brings up something that you see is the theme in movies and gone with the wind with the looting of the south to look like organized criminals at just food in whatever they need but with the plantation owners own have never seen anything about that do you have any knowledge?
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>> armies are armies. of the babylonians and to descend upon the areas there and they simply eat up and take up and steal. when it army comes into the neighborhood and is one of the highlights on —- the horrors of war. and i went to tell you frankly in my lifetime that the army officers that are most dedicated and serious about
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their calling are the ones that i could call the most sincere and dedicated because they are the ones you really understand what were costs. and that work can ever be entered into but reluctantly because what will happen in the environment of work? is never anything to be enjoyed. and when ac were become a species of entertainment , that's i began to have the uncomfortable feeling there is a things such as war pornography. i'm not a military historian when i approach the subject of war with a certain degree of hesitation and caution. knowing that the cost it
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imposes is simply beyond definition. so war is one of the four horsemen of thes apocalypse. with faminee and plague. yes it is on the same level. so army and our civil war misbehave they are in some sense not doing anything different and even have done in our own time. while we are reluctant sometimes to admit it even our own forces have in modern warfare misbehaved. that is on the sad eventualities of war. that does not move her hands
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together and say nothing we can do about it. we must simply always understand war is a great calamity. and that even when the result of war is a victory the price to be paid for is always a great and terrible price. >> i'm sorry doctor go-ahead records of just going to add, so this is the way i think we approach even our own civil war. remembering these sacrifices. remembering all that was lost "in the cauldron" of war. and all that it cost. because the cost across are more serious than almost any other. >> 202 is area code 748-8200 for eastern time zones and have a question or comment for historian allen (202)748-8201
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for those in the mountain and pacific time zones. if you cannot get through on the phone lines you can try text message (202)748-8903. that is for text messages only. please include your first name and your city. rich in orange, california text into you, i really enjoyed your link and reveal on the coffee table life lincoln intimate portrait book. i am currently reading lee with the 36 page bibliography and 82 pages of notes. the acknowledgment section includes a mention of your use of four by six cards. is that how you assembled and crafted the 434 pages of text? >> easy answer to that, yes. [laughter] i in fact have right beside me here a box of four by six
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cards with the next project i'm working on. [laughter] not in some ways i suppose is an old fashion way of collecting one's research. it is one i pitched into very early and have stayed with. i often say i read when i'm in the middle of a project i read, i read, i read a note, i note, i note that i accumulate boxes and boxes of four by six cards. it's finally like water building up behind a damn. there comes a moment where you just sense okay, they are there. : : :
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amounts of resource this is way and i can go back to these cards over and over again. perhaps the question is also why 4 by 6 and why not 3 by 5. i can't enough on a 3 by 5 card. i need the 4 by 6. 4 by 6 has become my standard procedure and on 4 by 6 i put all the material. >> how many 4 by 6 cards and where are they stored right now?
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>> there are 3 boxes stored in the back room behind me, you can't see it but they are there. all marked robert e. lee. they are there for boxes on 4 by 6 cards. ic you get the idea. there's a lot of boxes full of 4 by 6's. >> jim in caliente, california. >> wonderful discussion. just your thoughts, please, on the issue of reparations especially because you are an expert on reconstruction and what is the medallion on your suit? >> the little pen is the james madison program's logo because i'm james madison at princeton university. it's one of the hats that i wear
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there. yes, all right. that's the pin, now -- >> that's at princeton university? >> the initiative and james madison program itself are part of princeton. >> thank you. >> now, focusing on that, you are going to have to remind me your first question. >> reparations. >> reparations, thank you. the question of reparations usually comes up, i can almost -- most recently it came up an article written by nicole hannah jones in the wake of the 1619 project and just before that by coats and both of these were passionate arguments on behalf of reparations, passionate
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though they are, i have some questions and hesitations here because on the one hand the payment of reparations is something which seems to be normal. we have, in fact, engaged in reparations payments for a number of groups which have suffered harms and wrongs at the hands of governments. particularly here the german government dealing with the israeli government. i think of our dealings with those who were unjustly assigned to near concentration camps in world war ii, japanese americans, the reparations agreement there. reparations are in a sense part of justice system, so what about reparations as it is promoted by
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nicole hannah jones, by coats and by a number of others running back over many years. first of all, i think they have to work with the definition of what we are talking about. are we talking about reparations for slavery or are we talking about reparations for subsequent segregation and discrimination because those are too separate categories and sometimes i think that coats in particular wants to phase them together and talk about them as one and i don't think that's quite so easy if only because the harm it is done, the tort, for instance, if i can use legal language it's an entirely different tort. the first question is what are we talking about, most talks are reparations for slavery and here
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is where we start to run into difficulties. reparations for slavery looks like the plank, 10 feet wide over a casm and the plank is 10 feet long and you put weight on it and things start to fall down. the first thing that you want to ask is, well, who should be paying reparations? here is where the question starts to get difficult, should it be the united states government? well, why because the united states did not hold slaves? the united states did not pass slavery or enslavement legislation. the united states government had law and it was the state that is had enslavement statutes. slavery was a state-base matter, not a federal government matter.
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so should the federal government be paying slavery reparations? here is a major question. how can it because it didn't own any slaves. let's single out alabama and the state of alabama should pay reparations. let's also remember that there were other states that we don't think of as slave states. alabama legalized slavery from the time that it was a territory until the civil war. so we are talking 50, 60 years. my own home state, common wealth of pennsylvania legalized slavery from the time it was founded all the way up to 19th
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century. so if the state has responsibility, the state comes away, much more responsibility for paying reparations for slavery than alabama which simply does not seem to make a whole lot of common sense. in pennsylvania, in fact, fight to end slavery in alabama. pennsylvania on its own merits move to emancipate and eliminate slavery, yes, it date. how can you evade the fact that pennsylvania has more guilt over time than alabama and yet the oddity of that would jar many people. then you had a question of, well, if you can't easily settle who is going to, what entity is going to pay reparations, does
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it come down to individuals? what about the descendants of slave owners, should they pay reparations? well, one of the difficulties is that many slave owners, many descendants of slave owners are not in the same economic position. to whom do you pay reparations? obviously, you think the answer should be the descendants of slaves? yeah, well, that will eliminate, for instance, some important segments of black america today who are not descendants of slaves i think someone like colin powell, powell was not descendant of slaves. how do we deal with large
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numbers of black people who would be excluded from a reparation's settlement. is that fair? that would lead to a related problem and that is in many cases so many slaves were themselves the offspring of the slave holders. among the many crying injustices of slavery was the fact that slavery was a system of sexual oppression and that slave owners raped and misused their female slaves and the offspring of it were multiracial or biracial. well, if you are a descendant of a slave, the irony is you may also be the descendant of a slave holder. in fact, studies estimate that on average, this is -- this is
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on average figure, black americans are anywhere between 20 and 25% white by descendant and that surprising and shocking statistic is itself a testimony to the widespread sexual exploitation that occurred during slavery. you're a descendant of slave and slave holder, to whom are you paying what? so serious critical problem there. how do you make that determination? i think a final problem that has to be confronted by reparations is, what about the civil war? it is estimated that the civil war cost somewhere between 650
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and 850,000 lives. a mean has been established more or less around the figure of 750,000, but that's a mean. statistically the variations in that. of those civil war related deaths, something in the order of 330 or 350,000 lives were lost in the union cause. these were people who were fighting and dying to end slavery. and their lives are a price that would pay to end it which is manager that lincoln captured in the second inaugural when he talked about the price of the war and how this war was a judgment that was inflicted on beth north and south for its complicity of slavery. if we drop a blood drop by the
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lash is being paid for by the drop of blood drawn by the sword, what is the value of those lives? how do we compute the value of those lives that were sacrificed including the life of abraham lincoln itself. how do we compute the value of those lives and reckon it against reparations bill? i don't know how to do that. also know that you cannot take that reckoning into the -- your decision making about reparations. if all the reparations is about getting a check, then my concern is that we have forgotten about the civil war itself and i have heard people say, i was at a reparations conference in colombia university a number of years ago frankly stood out and said, all i want to know who is going to write me the check, if
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that is the only consideration, then we have forgotten about the civil war and the lives, black and white, that were lost in that war, to eliminate slavery. so i ask, what is the reckoning for that as well? these are questions which do not have easy answers but these are the questions i think which have to be asked if what we are going to eventually come up with are honest answers. >> we are talking with allen guelzo on book tv, david in virginia, you're on. >> thank you, good afternoon, professor. i -- i'm a native pennsylvanian. i was borned in raised in chambersburg, i happened to marry a young lady whose great grandfather was in the mcarthur army who burned my hometown.
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so you can well know i have mixed feelings about -- about the rebellion, however, there are some questions that have been bothering me over the years and i will just share them with you. my first one was, was jay buchanana homosexual, was stevens a mirtyr and i have a few questions and that's related to the election of 1864, did lincoln run as a third party candidate and if not was andrew johnson a third party president. >> well, my answer to that is going to be a classic. yes, and no. and the reason i will put it that way, in 1864 lincoln is
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facing a real election which has some serious odds against him, the war has been going on for 3 years and by the summer of 1863, '64, what has he got to show for? the confederacy is still fighting, lee is still defending richmond. sherman has not taken atlanta, block aid runners are getting through the federal navy blockade. for many people 3 years of war was about enough and gotten us to nothing and the leaders of the republican party said came to lincoln and said, we are going to have to do something desperate. lincoln is very, very eager to draw as many democratic votes as he possibly can to side with his republicans. he's not sure if they run just
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on the strength of the republican votes that they are going to win because many people who are satisfied with the course of things that they would shift the votes. how to appeal to the democratic voter who doesn't particularly like republicans or republican policies but nevertheless wants to see the war brought to a successful conclusion? well, what you do rename the republican party. so when the republican party comes together for convention in baltimore in the early summer of 1864, it is a new title. it calls itself the national union party and while they renominate abraham lincoln, republican nominee as presidential nominee, they also select a democrat and in this case a serving democrat andrew johnson to run as vice
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president. in 1860 the republican party had already done something like that. in 1860 they nominate lincoln for the presidency but they nominate as vice president hamlin of maine who had been a long-time democrat and had just come over the republican ranks because of opposition to slavery. so you had certain foreshadowing of that in 1860. 1860 becomes explicit and lincoln is nominated as president on national union ticket and his vice president will be andrew johnson, the only senator from a confederate state who refused to go south who stayed in the senate, life-long democrat and one who represents what had always been a democratic state. tennessee was the state of andrew jackson. on the other hand, lincoln had
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appointed johnson to be military governor of tennessee and johnson had done reasonably good job, not perfect but certainly far better than the other experiments lincoln had made in appointing military governors for occupied areas of the south. in fact, johnson himself had addressed delegations of black tennesseans, promising them i will be your moses, i lead you to the land of freedom. republicans wrote that, if what we are trying to construct a ticket that would appeal to democrats, andrew johnson is our man. johnson gets the vice presidential nomination and posters get up, national union ticket. you see abraham lincoln and andrew johnson. for all practical purposes the leadership of this national union effort is -- is still the republican party who was
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kidding? but it is representing this -- this very aggressive pr effort on the part of republicans to make a bipartisan appeal to democrats, so they run as national union party. is it really a third party, no. it's really the republicans carrying a sign with a different anymore on it, national union ticket. and is johnson a third-party candidate, well, no one would have thought at that point because johnson despite long career as a democrat seemed to be uttering all the appropriate republican noises, so it goes forward that way, lincoln is reelected and johnson is elected as his vice president and at that point, the whole national union thing disappears because they got -- they got reelected and that's the last we hear of it. so is the third party, yeah, but only in the sense of using a
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different name for pr purposes. is it a third party, no, in the really because it's in the a different party than it was before. it's simply a strategy for recruiting democratic votes. >> four minutes left with our guest allen guelzo, every in-depth guest we ask for their favorite books and what they're currently reading, here are allen guelzo's answers. favorite books, jonathan edwards, john gardner's on moral fiction, daniel walker, the political culture of the american riggs, harry jaffa, crisis of the house divided. bosswell, life of johnson. what are you reading? hidden pleasures of an
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intellectual life and the recurring crisis of american democracy. i wish we had time to discuss some of those but we have a couple minutes left and we want to get james from ohio in here. >> good afternoon, i hope you can hear me clearly. i have my tv muted. professor guelzo, first of all, i want to associate myself early comment of steve 50 minutes ago. you are as a retired teacher myself let me just say you're like the very model of thoughtful analysis and what used to be call ratio summation and above all contextualizing and i know some people probably get on you for lengthy answers but context is everything. i've been to gettysburg 3 times. i have my book.
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and gettysburg if you go once, you will want to go back. what would have happened, i think another thing that popped into my head. i've had a lot of your thoughts like 4 by 6 stack-up, canada and mexico might have gotten a little piece of the united states if it had been bulkannized if you had suggested and another the coldest winter on the korean war and he says perhaps all wars are in some way or another the product of miscalculations and i guess maybe a good way to wind this up, unless you want to talk -- >> you gotten second and we will get 30 second from dr. guelzo.
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>> the answer is they miscalculated utterly. they miscalculated they had the resources to carry on a car and miscalculated that the north would respond by refusing to admit the rebellion and making a war and they miscalculated by assuming that foreign nations would come to the rescue and intervene. at every moment they misclavated and nobody criticized them more than that than robert e. lee. he said this is how i knew, this is how i always knew that this would end. >> host: you mentioned your 4 by 6 cards at your side for your current project which is what? >> guest: it is another book about abraham lincoln.
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so i'm returning to some original turf. >> host: we will close with text from al in new york, who plays the base that's in the back end? >> i do. i was a music major my first year. a composition major actually. you discover that you don't have enough talent and i've been doing something else but i still play it. >> host: professor allen guelzo has been our guest for the past two hours talking about the civil war era and system - his
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