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tv   Robert Parkinson Thirteen Clocks  CSPAN  July 4, 2022 1:45pm-3:16pm EDT

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part of the battle against cancer is to find the fear that accompanies the disease. >> learn more about first ladies online at ri >> good afternoon and welcome to today's session of the washington history seminar. historical perspectives on international and national affairs. this afternoon we're focusing on our recent book by robert parkinsonentitled 13 clocks , how race united the colonies admit the declaration of independence published earlier this year by the institute of early american history and culture and university of northcarolina press . joining us our derek spires of cornell university and rosemary of george mason university. artisan from the george
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washington university cochair of the seminar. my cochair holly kristin osterman is not with us this afternoon but i am delighted to report othat today's session is cosponsored by the ongoing institute with us this afternoon to introduce our enspeaker at the institutes executive director catherine kelly about whom i will say more in a moment. the washington history seminar is a venture of the history public policy program at american historical association's national history center and for over the past decade the seminar has been meeting weekly in three covid times and sent the pandemic here in the virtual realm. this is the final seminar of the season so we will return january 23 with a full lineup that will take us to the end of may. our announcements of the spring winter schedule will be available early in the new year. behind us are two people who make the seminar possible, rachel wheatley of the national history center and
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as always like to thank our institutional supporters the george washington university department of history as well k, as any member of anonymous individual donors and as we say every single week , we invite you to join their ranks . on the logistics front these notes today's session is being recorded and can be found on our institutional websites and when you get to the question and answer session we ask that those of you with questions to use the raise and function that our preferred way of hearing from you or you canuse the q and a function on zoom. we will call on as many people as we can . now let me introduce catherine kelly, interim executive director and editor of books at the alejandro institute for early american history and culture and affiliate professor william and mary. prize-winning historian and editor interests focus on gender, culture and politics in the early american republic e. she's the author most recently of a taste t, art
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politics and everyday life in early america and i am happy that she could join us today to introduce robert parkinson. catherine, welcome. >> i'm delighted to be able to join you this afternoon representing the alejandro t institute for early learning and culture . for those of tyou don't know the oi is an independent research organization sponsored by william and mary with colonial williamsburg in and our mission aims at supporting the study of early american history and culture . logically enough. we sponsor fellowships and nf conferences, published a flagship journal william and mary quarterly and we also publish a book series which includes any number of important prize-winning books including this most recent book by robert parkinson. our mission simply point is to support the intellectual infrastructure that undergoes geographically chronologically methodology
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methodologically transformative vision of the past . it's these scholars who offer a transformative vision and it's a pleasure to introduce robert parkinson today . currently an associate professor at binghamton university rob is a preeminent scholar of the american revolution. his african work has helped us understand just how important race was the american founders. most recently as eric mentioned he's the author of chapter 13 clocks, but we were fortunate enough to publish and a book that is the topic of today's programming. his previous book iscreating race and nation in the american revolution was awarded the james a riley prize and was recognized by the association for education and journalism and mass medication. robert is finishing a new book titled the heart of american darkness, savagery,
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civility and murder on the eve of the american revolution which hewill be published and i'm hoping we will hear a bit about that provocative new title book at some point but first let's settle in for a lively discussion of 13clocks . >> i will share my screen with you here and have a little bit of things to tell you about. okay. we should be good, yes? good. the cover of 13 clocks looks like this. a cover that kathy who just very graciously introduced me worked really hard to get. looking this good, thank you to the designers as well. so this starts out with the concept of 13 clocks meaning
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13 colonies really comes from a johnadams quote . and john adams when he look like this. so at 83 years old. he the founding generation were approaching old age here, certainly in the depth of old age. some people in the united states decided they needed to know what happened in 1776 so they started reaching out to people to recall their members before they left this mortal coil. so one of those people was baltimore journalist hezekiah niles and he reached out to john adams and said what went down in 710 1976 and john adams a long time thinking about this and he had been talking with corresponding with thomas jefferson about this very topic on and on for the better part of almost a
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decade . he had a very prepared answer and it has become an answer that there's a series of letters he wrote to jefferson about this and also his response to niles. which has framed how we remember, think about the revolution and written about the revolution for a long time. since 1815 and 1818 but definitely in the last generation or so and i'll get into that a bit. this is what john adams says and remember he lookslike this . i have this elderly ouportrait here because i'm going to show you a younger picking up teacher of john adams which is different than him in 1818 nd. he said the colonies have grown up in competition from government, theirs were so rcgreat a variety of religions, or composed of so many different nations, customs manners and habits or so little resemblance to their knowledge of others so
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imperfect that to unite them in the same principles and theory of the same system of action was certainly a difficult enterprise he said of the enterprise being running the 13 clocks to strike as one. the complete placcomplishment an issue so short a time by such simple means was perhaps single example of the history of mankind. 13 clocks are made to strike together a perfection mechanism which no artist has never before affected. so adams is talking about the miracle of which he's kind of thinking that there's providence and maybe god or just godlike folks like himself who really brought these clocks to strike as one. and this problem of uniting the country or uniting the colonies as one is what i think shapes a lot of my work. the question of how july 4,
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1776 comes about. it's was part of the heart of this book. this book is 13 clocks is an abridgment of something we don't really do in the historical profession much anymore. we used to do it a lot which is take big books and make them small books for teaching that in many ways what 13 clocks or at least that's how i thought it was going to be and it turned out to be something much greater i first imagined. it is an abridgment of this book which is my first one that came out in 2016, costs which really the best way to look at it is it's a 750 page book. so therefore makes a difference rather unimpeachable and in any generation but you like this covid generation so i bought a long time about how to
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fulfill the argument that book and think about this particular problem of the 13 clocks striking as one. a common cause, something that is race revolution and the american revolution and what i found in the research was that race late at the heart of every single decision. every single ... the idea that there are different stories here between, there's the american revolution which is about ideas about ideology about natural rights and then there's the experience of revolution which people of color or women or anything like that but those are entirely different conversations and what i found in my research is that those are so intertwined with one another. that the argumentation for how to make the call, the
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cause of fighting the revolution, and was by turning to and employing all search of language, stories, images about slave insurrections and the potential of violence in the back country especially about indigenous people. but that was the, what the leaders of the revolution turned to over and over and over again. they thought of the role that african-americans either in slave or free or indigenous peoples would play in this revolutionary time. they thought about them so consistently and on a almost hourly basis more than if not daily but certainly weekly they thought about what role folks in those statuses would play and the revolution all
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the time. so where i first went to look for that evidence about that came actually from what the next thing john adams says in his letter to hezekiah niles. he says if you want to know why i'm right about how the revolution came about he says young men in letters of all the states and this i think in his mind he thinks about people who would become historians should undertake an interesting task of searching, collecting the records, pamphlets and newspapers and handbills of the 13 colonies to find out how the tempers iand views of the people have changed. in his other letter you writes about the same topic to jefferson three years before he writes to niles so he's thinking about how are people going to figure heout what's happening in 1776, they should look at print. that's for the commoncause that's what i did . o i instead of doing what
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previous generations of historians had done , looking at either the essays that appeared off and on the front pages or the advertisements that appear on the back pages of the newspapers i looked at the really boring stuff in the middle. the short paragraphs and that small little notices that happened within the very middle of these newspapers. i talked a lot about british agents, military officers. superintendents in new york or south carolina. naval captains. you name it, people who are agents of the british empire who were especially in 1775 and 76 were doing their best to try to figure out how to end the rebellion by pulling any lever they could read and
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asked a lot of them were doing and it's not just lord dunmore doing it in virginia that they're considering what role in slave african-americans or native people from the back country might be the pulling that letter might be the thing that ends therebellion . and of course they are. because if, britain is broke and this is an expensive prospect. if you could end the ng rebellion before the british had to do their really expensive thing equipping an army and paying it and sending it across the ocean and funding it in america to put down thisrebellion to be on your . so you'd have governors all over the place or modeling how tomake themselves a hero . there thinking about availing themselves of opportunities like these. so what i found in the
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newspapers is patriot leaders really seizing upon this fact and publicizing it as much as they can and putting those stories front and center as we think about the news feed and using today's parlance of what people knew about the s.revolution. they know a lot about these particular stories and so if we were to follow elderly john adams advice and look at print what would we find in print? >> ..
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trying to galvanize the population really by scaring them is something that is a the heart of this story but my surprise came because of effect of these letters john adams wrote. in the same letter he says what do we mean by the revolution? the war? that wasn't part of the revolution, is consequence of it, revolution was in the minds of the people from 1760 -- 1770.
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this is a very influential quote writtenn by the elderly john adams who appears here on the left but it's about the john adams of a younger man, the one on the right is john adams the 60s when he's about 40 and i love this portion because he's giving a side i hear kind of showing wakefulness and that i think reflects if we were to go back and look at these things like i did, what will find? we would not find that the war has nothing to do with the argumentation of what the revolution is about. it would not something affected from 1760 -- 75. by that which means it's about natural rights, representation,
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ideology and done by the start of the war. that notion has had particularly iastrong effect and why? where do we find the letter? we find it here of course in this book, which i can't see how many participants are in this session but just about everybody has read this book. that letter appears before page one in chapter one, for joining by the revolution? nothing to do with it. it appears as long adams plagiarized himself when he wrote the same thing two or three years later before chapter five so that notion that the war had nothing to do with it, it's a packaged thing, we've seen that lately in the last wars
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about p 6019 and all that's goig on in the last couple of months, i'm sure we will talk about that a little bit more as the session goes along but the idea that independent, everybody is on board as soon as the shooting starts and people's hearts and minds have been changed to such a degree by this ideological change, that has had a tremendous historiographical effect and i didn't see that at all. when the war starts, these stories inflate people and the role people might play, it becomes the thing people are reading about and talking about more and more and more, much more than talking about liberty or rights. that's the thing people are -- as i was reading these newspaper, i was reading this same story over and over, i have
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what i call in the preface of 1o because, this idea of a weird superpower where i would turn microphone reels to look at newspapers i'd never seen before and try to predict what was coming next which was the lame superpower as historians, this is the thing we would do is predict what was goingng on but anyway i would drive home from the library and think about what power that was and what it meant for things like revolutionary mobilization and that's when i thought about how the same stories that would appear in the pennsylvania packet introduced by order and would appear in boston and new york and williamsburg and charleston, same story like we would today,
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modern news or a letter that may or may notip be manipulated, how it would appear in the same fashion because of how newspaper fits in new york and philadelphia and tomorrow and williamsburg ins charleston, wht does that mean? that to me was in a porn gear striking together if there a lot nain the workings of those clocs about what made the colonies come together. one -- the really center that was ignored a lot how patriot leaders like john adams and sthomas jefferson upon these stories because they knew they were not controversial, religion or slavery, these were things if
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you want to talk about 18th century colonist have in common, it the n nightmares about slave insurrection and made massacres, that'ste the one people no mattr if you're quaker or anglican or catholic, people in america have those in common and you can get more people to buy in by making them afraid of this one thing is the thing to be afraid of. what we have and i don't think we've talked enough about his how those stories are deployed and what it means, what does it mean of this idea that domestic insurrectionist and merciless savages working with the king's the 27th and final climactic
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dealbreakerra in the declaration of independence, what does it mean that the argumentation for why we should come together and be one country and create a republic is the exclusion of certain people, what does it mean? i want to show youou a couple things, for me, that has happened, the how as much as the why, the how, the 13 clocks are come together, it means so much because we know the revolutionaries did some really radical things, they made major changes to colonial political life. there was a significant attack on aristocracy and established churches and they really did transform meanings of representation and they also decided, made a
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awayious decision to throw subject to it and embrace republican citizenship and that's something that didn't happen before, the idea of yes, peter silver is right, in the seven years or, stories about native massacres scared everybody and galvanized people or those things happen in the conspiracies of 17414 all the way back to the beginning of the colonial. but what didn't happen in those cases before, there wasn't also an effort in making a new republican regime based on a different political theory of citizenship they didn't believe or understand in 1776 and the members of the club were able to wmake decisions who was in and
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who was out and that's why these founding stories about african-americans and indigenous people continue to have a significant effect about who was deemed to be in-and-out of the country, that directly logistically the case in some places legally in-and-out but also notion that some people belong here and some don't so what 13 clocks looks at is the prevalent and why they matter today and what john adams and his colleagues did in 1776 when he was a younger man and not 83, how they made a happen is important for us today we should look at that and not rely on this utterly way what it is. tha.
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our first discussion this afternoon is derek our aspires and associate professor >> and associate professor of literature's and english and affiliate faculty and american studies, visual studies, media studies at cornell university who specializes in early african americans and american culture, citizenship studies and african american history. in his first book, the practice of citizenship and culture, the early united states published by the university of pennsylvania in 2019, one association price first book in the s bibliographical society, a finalist of the library company philadelphia's first book award and editor of genealogy special issue of american literary history published in 2020.
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his work was supported by fellowship from the national humanities, social science research council and melanie's initiatives. derek, the floor is yours. >> think it to the organizers for bringing us together and to robert for writing this incredible book, the teachable version. want to acknowledge tht i'm speaking to you from the traditional homelands of the gay kono or cayuga nation members that are holding shawnee confederacy that figures in part and robert's book. reading 13 clocks a book about store. the stories revolutionaries told about themselves. i couldn't help but think of letters from an american farmer the book published by jay hector sinjin decraft kerr and any number of other names in 1782 that purports to be the authentic account of the years leading to the revolutionary war by farmer named james from pennsylvania. james travels to several
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colonies not unlike adams and suggests that each region had its own distinct character based on climate economy and proximity to sell territory. he decries the luxuries gained from its like saved labor in south carolina and compares it to south america and a more spanish than british style of life. he suggest at the backcountry was a land of lawlessness that nevertheless would eventually become settled and he describes the american as a new race quote. they are a mixture of english scotch irish french dutch germans and sweets from this promiscuous breed that race now called americans as have arisen and quote. that is white men of silent anglo-saxon stock read their newspapers kept their religion to themselves and were on the whole benevolent and slavers. this account of who is an american takes me to two moments in the book the first is parkinson's contention that quote a shared feeling of
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intercolonial trust and unity what requires some forgetting i'm i keep coming back to the notion that trusting unity require forgetting and it feels a bit like deja vu right now that is an alchemy in which all the differences farmer james notes could be transmogrified into the shared project of creating a new american race. and we can see how patriots in their print supporters intentionally amplify amplified for instance fear around indian incursions. not only in newspapers, but also in book covers. so for instance, i will share with you one of my favorite books to teach in the early american lit seminar. this is the cover to cover from sue's from mary rowlandson's captivity narrative. first one is from 1682. so one of the first editions published in cambridge, and then the second one is from 1773 and you can see a really notable
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difference and i would say especially after reading parkinson's book that this difference is not just about the technology involved in having an engraving on the cover right susan rollins narrative initially emphasizes her devotion to christianity her safety etc by 1773. grand has got a gun. granny is the patriot granny is protecting the household. this is from boston in 1770. this is my granny with the gun and i say this because my grandma had a gun and then this is the 1773 cover that really illustrates the ways that a particular brand of americanism is shaped as the patriot protecting home from the encouraging of the savages of various kinds. so parkinson's account of revolutionary print culture, especially colonial newspapers helps us visualize a kind of
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circular process in which an event or as importantly a specter of an event via the slavery conspiracy or the threat of british alliances with indigenous peoples or other convulsions would become a published account a shaped intentionally crafted published account and listening a sort of response both in print and in action, which would then lead to a new event. comic sort of self-fulfilling prophecy in a way this account of print is a revision and refinement of both benedict benedict. anderson's imagined community thesis which suggests that proliferation of french in the early 19th century in particular created a sense of print nationalism through shared text what we learned though, is that these shared texts were not sort of passively generated shared texts. they were intentionally crafted and this scans with what trish lockron our use in the republican print about the way
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that early national print culture wasn't actually sort of this evenly distributed happy. imagine convenience actually pretty fractious and fractured. and so what we see in this sweet spot moment between say 73 and 76 is a moment when through a number of until we say crafted. coincidences right the 13 clocks clicking the place both because of circumstance but also because of patriots taking advantage of that circumstance and realizing not just that no fear can create a sense of cohesion in this moment, but that people responded to it and this is the important part of the circuit right? it's one thing that patriots play up on so particular kind of racial or prejudice prejudicial animus. it's another thing to note how people responded to and we're galvanized by it. and the other thing i know in the moment i have to reflect on
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the book. is that if print was to lifeblood of the revolution the business of enslavement helped keep that blood pumping? the book gives press context for reading how race gets made in print through freedom ads for the sale of enslaved people. so for instance the boston gazette issued at parkinson sites in the first chapter offers an ad for a likely -- and also advertisers for fugitive named caesar important to note that you would go to the newspaper office to collect reward. so it's not just that newspapers were sort of passively reprinting ads. it was part of the business model, right and again, so this feeds into the kind of feedback loop where stoking fears could actually generate revenue for newspapers. and create a sense of cohesion. um so questions. why does this reframing of american revolution as essentially a history of
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american whiteness or the generation of american whiteness important? why is it important that we take up the question of how organizers use whiteness as one of several of connective tissues, that would make a united states in i think part of the answer is the way in the way that parkinson's strange racialization as a strategy and a choice these writers had a set of tools before them and they made the calculation that some tools will be more effective than others. right the other thing i want to note though. is that by the 1830s black historians would be taking up this moment too. they would be some among our first revisionist historians. so for instance in 1838, pennsylvania as the state of pennsylvania was about to restrict voting rights to white men black pennsylvania's published an appeal of 40,000 pennsylvania studied with disenfranchisement, and they cite the articles of confederation, especially the one defining citizenship as the free inhabitants of each state
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poppers vagabonds, and he's just from justice accepted etc. and then they cite minutes from the constitute from the convention. noting that the state's voted down by margin of eight to two to one emotional from south carolina carolina to include the word white. and bring this up because it reminds us like parkinson's book that revolutionaries were constantly thinking of not only about enslavement, but also race they were making race in the moment through letters articles and law and these pennsylvania's remind us in 1838 once again that other choices were available. the revolutionaries not only knew better. they could do better some tried. i'm at least me to rethink the notion of citizenship as a club that parks and gives us yes, perhaps it's a club. i like that metaphor, but there are already people inside too and those people inside were gonna have their say, so thank you, and i'm looking forward to
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the discussion. thank you. robert would you like to respond? yes, i will. well, i will say this derek i have. papers taped to my monitor to remind me and sort of on the shelves around my in my that remind me of what this is really about and one of the and there's circularity is one of them event. discourse policy event and it kind of just goes back at the circuit. so i don't know if you've been snooping around my office, but the but that for you to pick up on that that is a really really excellent point i mean that is that is really what one of the things that i'm trying to think about this is how how these how an event would happen how it gets portrayed. that's the real sort of moment. that's it's extraordinarily important for things like crev curse, wyoming massacre, for
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example how that then gets portrayed leads to different policies including things like the the sullivan campaign to eliminate the honda shawnee in in 1779 and how that then sort of goes back and forth and how you tell stories about that. so those that's really really contingency is the really important subtext of the whole book that things could have turned out very differently. and and you see this in a like the example that i always think about is something like the french. certainly, the french are seen as for generations since the end of the 17th century. they are the most hated and feared enemies and then by 1782 their bostonian celebrating the birth of dephon. yeah, and so how is it that the french can be? yeah redeemed and so quick a manner? but other people cannot what's
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going on here? and so so there are moments of revolutionary forgetting i have amnesia of real sort of creativity on the fly about thinking about people and i have i talk about the german mercenaries in the same kind of way, but some people can't and so and and why is and and it is about that kind of moments of storytelling that i think that can that again doubled down and tripled down that are really important at this moment. thank you very much. before we move on to our second discussant. i will just ask those of you in the audience with questions to remember that you can use to raise hand function and you can actually get into queue now and get it ever everyone else or you can use the question and answer function itself. we prefer not to use the chat function. i've eliminated ability to multitask here between parts of the screen. so q&a function if you want to write your question raise hand
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if you want to directed yourself. and now our second discussant is rosemary cigari university professor and professor of history at george mason university. she received her phd from yale university and is a specialist in early american political history and women's history. she's the author of numerous articles and books including the politics of size representation in the united states 1776 to 1850 a woman's dilemma mercy, otis warren and the american revolution and revolutionary backlash women and politics in the early american republic in 2009 to 2010. she served as president of the society for historians of the early american republic. that's very the screen is yours. okay. thank you all for all the audience for coming for attending virtually and for the wilson center and the american
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historical association for sponsoring this i think especially in these pandemic times this kind of intellectual community is really important and necessary to keep going so and thank you for having me and thank you rob for writing these books this book in particular 13 clocks. i should say up front that i am and allowed champion of this book. i am a blurber on both books. so even though my support for and enthusiasm for the books i don't think is in doubt. i think what rob has done here is an extremely important intervention in our understanding of the american revolution and our understanding of tree of race in the united states and in our understanding of the origins of some of the contemporary dilemmas that we find in our nation today.
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i i know you didn't write it actually originally with that purpose in mind. that is to explain our current dilemmas since you began writing it in the early 2000s, but it is an extremely timely work that i think really reflects very importantly on a lot of the issues. we're dealing with today in the united states. so that said i want to highlight a few things that i find especially important or insightful about the book and then i'd like to move to some um criticisms reservations or at least at least points that i'd like to discuss further with you about the book or the audience. so so here's what everybody to for us to think about first of all, i think one of the things that strikes me about 13 classes. i mean, it's an amazing
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accomplishment amazing distillation of this 700 page book into 200 pages that preserves the core of your argument about the importance of race in the lead up to the revolution because your book concentrates on the 15 months prior to the declaration of dependence and to the declaring of independence itself. and so i think that that's extremely important that you do that and show how profoundly first of all fractured the country was and i think that's a point that a lot of in the traditional narrative or the popular narrative of the american revolution people don't understand how divided the colon or even even colonists were just spread out across a very large
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country a very large north american continent i should say and they were much more attached to their own individual colonies or to great britain than to each other. and so there were often boundary disputes that are often fights about about who should pay for fighting indians. for example, um, there were there was not a lot of mutual understanding of recognition of the commonalities that united these these mainland north american british colonies in the decades prior to 1776. and so i think it's really important that you stress that and that the question you poses what mademe together what makes the teen clocks strike it once and you know, i love that metaphor of john adams because it points to how difficult if no almost
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impossible. it is to make that happen. and so i think that's a really important kind of groundwork that you lay in the book that that gives people a real sense of of the state of play in the colonies the north american mainline british colonies in the decades before the revolution. you also provide an incredible level of insight into the nature of of the technological revolution occurring in the colonies in the decades leading up to the revolution and during the revolution and that is the revolution and print culture and again, you don't make the contemporary analogy but that revolution in the in print in the printing of newspapers in particular but a pamphlets of all sorts of documents revolutionized the way people
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thought and you know one one some historians say that you know, the number of newspapers doubled in the decades prior to the american revolution then doubled again after and this kind of change is only comparable to the kind of change we've experienced in our own lives with the advent of the internet with you know, with with digital media and again, you didn't write the book with that analogy explicitly foregrounded, but i think it's important for readers to know and and they see through your your extremely exhaustive research into the print media of the time how thorough going that print culture revolution was and how extensive it was and how penetrating it was and how it really had a profound impact on the way ordinary people thought not just political elites, but
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wait ordinary people thought and you know, i hastened to add that the rate of literacy in the north american british colonies was among the highest in the world at that time even higher than in great britain and in new england among white males. it was all approaching universal literacy and even for white women in new england, you know, perhaps 60 to 70 percent maybe about half that in the south but still that's a lot of people can read and a lot of people who can read these new printed materials that are what that are doing what you show us, which is spreading fear. um, and so you know, i think that what you see here is that you know there there is a and an effort by political leaders and by newsmakers news printers partly to sell publications by
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the way as as derek pointed out to to capitalize on that fear by printing these articles that scare people and and they fear people about things they're most susceptible to be scared about especially indian massacres and slave insurrections and funded by the british promoted by the british. so i think those are really important things they they just take an a center stage in your book in a way that is very powerful and i think help people to really understand the revolution in a very visceral way that is very different from a traditional narrative. i i also appreciate your nuanced understanding to the question of race race is in your subtitle, but in your introduction you point out that you don't use
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that short-hand word race in your text and you do it for good reasons because the idea of race as a coherent category as a biological essentialism as biological essentialism did not coalesce as you say and as i think a lot of most historians would say until after the revolution it was coming into being but the words you use are very carefully chosen prejudices stereotypes attitudes and you use the words of the time merciles savages domestic insurrectionists. and so, you know, you convey to us what people at the time felt and you help us translate it into our modern term of race while warning us that that category of race had not yet taken on. the rigidity or the meanings all the implications that we have attached to it today.
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and then finally, this is a kind of historic graphical point, but i think what you're doing here in many ways can be can considered is a moving us beyond administ morgan's classic work america's slavery american freedom, which famously posed the paradox and really opened the eyes of a whole generation of his story and not that other historians. hadn't hadn't seen the problem before of slavery and talked about it including some very important african american histories, but he framed it as a paradox and i think for a long time we've talked about the paradox of slavery for instance of slavery for black people and freedom for or liberty for white people, but i think what you're doing care is showing it's not a paradox. it's that white people actually used the the subordinate condition of people of color to
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advance the cause of liberty that in fact it was it was a motivator. it was the one of the things that made the revolution possible. and so, you know, i i still like that idea that it's a paradox. it's a paradox for white people not really for the people of color that are you know being portrayed in this way by white political leaders and white writers. um, so my my thoughts are issues that i'd like you to discuss our other people to discuss so the first issue is is kind of historic graphical and sort of for those in the audience who aren't early americanists that may not be of much. but i'm since i have you here i can close it anyway, so, you know. how do you align your argument
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along with balance ideological origins of the american revolution or with the classic arguments about the coming of the revolution as being caught, you know being motivated caused by the objections to you know infringements on american liberty on representative government on taxation without representation and famously, i think you kind of are not quite fair to balin. i mean he's talking about ideology too. and he also uses print culture, but he's talking mainly about pamphlets and he's talking about a triad, you know slavery corruption and conspiracy that um, he sees these themes and these pamphlets that americans are mobilized by i mean, he has a parallel argument to you. are you have a parallel argument to him the motivation is different and he's saying that
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you know americans oppote, you know opposed liberty against power civic virtue against corruption, you know, so are your arguments compatible are your how does your argument fit with the with the with the idea what that the more intellectual arguments the the about taxation and representation and representative government because arguably and as many other stories have argued, you know, those did provide causes bonds of unity between and among the colonies. i mean in that one of those quotes the 1818 quote of john adams. um, he says what united people are principles opinion sentiments and affections. okay, so you're talking a lot about sentiments. all right. okay, what about those principles and opinions? how would you know? these interpretations compatible. are you arguing that regionally
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the this you know the the slavery and and race argument and are more powerful now. i do want to know you do a very good job of looking at newspapers from all over the continent from all the colonies, but is it as powerful say in new england as in you know, south carolina, um, okay, so that's one of the things i wanted to ask you but related. is is the whole question of fear as a motivator? okay. all right, so an older generation of historians objected to a similar argument propaganda in the american revolution and they said oh, it's these elites manipulating these, you know hapless masses
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who can't think for themselves and then a whole generation of social historians said no. no, you know ordinary people have have agency have have their own ideas. saw what they and took what they wanted from the revolutionary movement. okay, so, you know, how do you respond to a charge that you're moving in the direction of of propaganda and and leads manipulating the helpless or helpless masses? and and so, you know, i'm just curious about what you would say to that and then i guess sort of related to that um is and and this is where i think your caveat to not call it race in the in the body of the book. it serves you well because as you know, there were many other
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others during the lead up to the revolution and during the revolution itself catholics and you you know antique catholicism was rampant in the north american protestant british colonies prior to the revolution and was used as a motivator to you know, get people, you know riled up about british policies. you mentioned the germans and you even say at one point the germans were considered white. well, so, you know that broadens, you know our notion. who these others are pretty much in a way that could work if you're just talking about the use of this kind of fear during the war itself, but after the revolution in terms of talking about white supremacy, and you know are more modern conception of racism. it poses some problems.
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which leads me to my last point and you can take the easy way out here or the hard way out on page 185 you say republicanism and exclusion are inseparable. not only is white supremacy and ideology. it is intertwined with and dependent upon republicanism that was born in 1776. okay, so the easy way out is to say this is in the conclusion and it's kind of hyperbole and i was just stretching things. the hardest thing is for you. to justify it, which i'm interested in. i don't actually object to the idea that white supremacy is an ideology or that was intertwined with republicanism, but is it dependent on republicanism? i mean, i know you're trying to explain that republicanism required, you know, the definition of citizen a
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definition of citizenship and that requires inclusions and exclusions, but does and it's it does founding a republic require exclusion and if it requires exclusion, are you certain that? it's the exclusion of the same groups that you're identifying as the motivators or the unified force american revolution. so i will stop there just once again saying i think it's a terrific book. i you know, i think it is an incredible teaching book and i think it's a book that historians can learn a lot from and really has a lot to teach us in many many ways about the present moment. thank you so much robert some thoughts. sure. yes, so thank you for that rosemary. um, so three things to talk about. okay, so one bernard balen two
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propaganda through republicans, okay. so yeah, i i it took me i i i was at the page proofs stage of um for the common cause in 2015 or whatever when i finally realized 15 years in that. oh, i was i remember driving in my car and remember and thinking dawned on me that oh really what i was doing because i mean it's really big fight with barbara balen and gordon wood. i didn't even realize that was doing that. for 15 years, so maybe that maybe that shows a little bit of history graphic forgetting on my part and i think my i do maybe it's because it is because that they are the braylon's book. which i admire very much is. is very close to what some of the things that i'm saying? and i just see the limitations of it in a couple of ways and i
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would also say sort of some of the argumentation that that thb makes as well. in that well, first of all, one of the points that i make in the in the larger in the larger book, but also in 13 clocks, is that once the shooting starts? all the stakes change and that's when you know, we have this sort of artificial we when we teach these things we have this sort of broader american revolution. that we talk about that starts somewhere in 1763 for five and then ends in 1780s. that's the american revolution. you know when i teach my error of the american revolution class. it's a 30 year thing or longer. but the revolutionary war is just a small part of that and and we set like we like to bifurcate these two things, but that's not how people at the time lived it and so the war itself so the idea that this is that that a packaged finish deal
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in on april 18th. 1775 is where i part ways with with phalen and i but i do think that those the arguments that i think do resonate with with some colonists and not a few colonists, but but some colonists. those are argumentations about masculinity about honor about identifying liberty and identifying conspiracy and making the right choice here and that those things are highlighted from the 18th century past from the 17th century past from the roman past the idea of of the virtuous liberty loving masculine. republicans will take action to defeat tyranny that is right in front of their face and that and we can meet and we can add potpourri to that too that argument i think.
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does hold a lot of water? but then as the stakes go up in 1775 76. i think they have to. go deeper than that, and i know that because that's that's what a lot of people start to talk about the same guys who are writing pamphlets in 1774 about those topics. don't really write about that stuff anymore what they write about is about and and it's almost like this is that now the test has come but and they start talking about the test and the test is the the tyrants who we thought were tyrants now, they're doing this and now you have to now it's it's very obvious. what the tyranny has become is to become naked and obvious right in front of your very eyes and you have to take steps in that direction and i think that that as the stakes go up and you have to broaden the base.
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it can't just be other elites that that are also reading these pamphlets that look like you in other colonies. you have to broaden the base here and you have to get a lot of people to put their bodies and their families and their fortunes on the line that's going to require a different level of argumentation that i think goes past economic arguments. it goes past just sort of purely political theoretical arguments and now and where do we go after that, you know, i think we in in the colonial imagination you go to race you go to those kinds of things. you know, it's you open the toolbox and those kinds of fears are laying right at the very top of the toolbox. so i do think that that my argument here and i do and again i want to get to ideology here as well. now propaganda um, i have struggled with that word for a really long time.
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and it is certainly not. when when? historians in the 1930s and 40s thought about propaganda they were thinking about the creel committee and they were thinking about gerbils and they were thinking about world wars mass media totalitarian stuff. um, that's and so so then when they thought about the american revolution they said well, is this right? is this? is this the same kind of manipulation and and as you said right the same kind of elites hoodwinking and unsuspecting people. and i think we are now i struggled with that myself. like is that really what's going on here? and i thought about that word propaganda for a really long time. and over the course of many years of staring at the wall. i began to think about the the base word. probably propagate.
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and propagation which is a very 18th century concept about growing your own things, whether it's the society propagation of the gospel or the or propagating crop yields or propagating families or limiting the propagation of smallpox all kind of things like that is something that 18th century people are really really familiar with and that is what i think the the patriot leaders are trying to do is propagate more patriots like them and so they were trying to do their very best to get people to to agree with them and make the best arguments to get people to agree with them and sometimes that worked and sometimes that really didn't work and and of course there's a tremendous amount of agency, you know, the the robert gross another line that i think about that it's not taped in my monitor, but it's pretty close in my head is what brought people to the conquered bridge. and what brought people to the bridge what why were they? why were the minute men there to take a bullet?
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and everyone i think who was there would have a very different reason for that. but what i can back to over and over again was the atoms and jefferson and franklin and washington went back to these stories over and over again because they thought they would resonate with people. they thought this is something we should spend our time and money telling the american people about they because we we only have a very small box here of of arguments that will work because people disagree about what liberty means and people disagree about about whether or not we should have freedom of religion. i just finished brenda mcconville's new book the brethren and about and that's a book about in north carolina the enlightenment of the enlightenment ideas about religion aren't people are very unhappy about that and so the end and they think that the revolutionary leaders in north carolina in 1777 are secret catholics, and they're this is a
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sort of a popish thing because they are saying that that they don't really believe in the trinity and so there's a plot to try to kill patriot leaders and those guys consider themselves patriots. so the the the window here of what well how you make these argument is a very very small one. and so, how do you how do you sort of thread that needle over and over again? and again, i think that this is the race is really a safe argument as opposed to others. and and page 185 i'm glad you think that white supremacy is an ideology. that's good because i i agree maybe if i were to change that sentence what i should say is republicanism in the form that it takes and found in the united states in 1776 didn't needed white supremacy. i'm not i'm not exactly saying that republicanism. across the board in every context and every age does although maybe exclusion is is
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an important part especially if you're going to throw out a lot if you're gonna pull up a lot of different anchors. like aristocracy and you're going to or and you're going to enfranchise a whole lot of people you're gonna have to figure out how to exclude people. i mean this is this is sort of the the because you not everybody's gonna be happy with bringing everybody in that's the that's not historically what you know, and we think about the american the universalism of 1776 and 1789 leads to a backlash of exclusion by the 18 teens and 20s all over the world nationalism really does change shape in the 19th century as a backlash against that which you know, very well. so the i i think in in the republicanism in the form that it takes in the united states, it's it's dependent on that. i think i think it's it needs that to make it.
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a coherent project thank you very much. we're now going to our audience and the questions that they've posed. i've got a very basic one here that we can start off with that you actually address in. i think paragraph one of your your preface, but i'll let you answer here david stork writes. please clear up some confusion for me. i just ordered a copy of the common cause now i get the impression that 12 clocks it distillation of the the common cause for college classes. did i order the wrong book? no, david, i don't think you ordered the wrong book, but i i so the common cause is something that stretches over a long much longer period of time and it goes into the 1780s in but then it really goes into the at&t's and this book focuses just on a couple of the different chapters
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and and really that's those 15 months between a april and of 75 in july 76. uh it is it is i call it an abridgement sort of because there's a lot of new writing in it. and there's there's something there's a pair believe it or not in the 700 page book. there's a paragraph that i turn into a chapter about all the very different ways in which you know, the the not only the colonies disagree with one another and fighting with one another that's getting worse in the 1770s that all of these problems are getting far more exacerbated the pennsylvania and virginia are on the brink of war with one another over the over the ohio river country and and connecticut and pennsylvania are at war with one another over the wyoming valley and new york and and new hampshire are fighting with one another and over the vermont country.
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and this is all happening in in the 1770 sometimes within months of of the fighting at lexington and concord. and so and then there's slavery is a big problem and the loyalists are actually making really really good points. and so that's those are kind of things that i highlight much more in 13 clocks to kind of give you the give you the stakes here about how how difficult and enterprise as adam says this really was thank you. we have a number of questions that center on the question of fear. and sarah cunningham asks whose interests does the fear serve who writes and promotes these inflammatory pieces. she's thinking granularly particular authors or newspapers and alan. could gaiden asks did scare tactics create fear or more importantly confirm existing fears and biases and then
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finally paul blumhart asks, there seems to be an implication of demagoguery in the accounts of how the founders exploited fear of the other. is this an oversimplified observation or an indicator of how well this appeal has succeeded throughout american history us history. was it merely a commentary on the universal appeal of wealth positioned propaganda? okay, so who does it serve? i do think and who's benefiting the most at a granular level? so the john adams that's kind of siding us, right? the the 40 year old john adams that portrait is done in the 1760s and in 1769. john adams things are going very badly in boston for the patriot cause this is before the boston massacre and things are not going.
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well. there are competitors print competitors loyal will become sort of loyalist newspapers as we want to call them who are threatening the same adams isn't john adams is in john hancock's with calling them hypocrites think that the patriots are breaking the boycott and so it's a very precarious moment for the revolution in boston. and so the atoms cousins and john and james otis go to the print shop of the boston gazette and they and adams writes about this in his diary and he says we had a wonderful night. we just he we cooked up all kinds of things to put in tomorrow's newspaper. we cooked up a occurrences and paragraphs and all kinds of fun stuff and he says it's working the political engine quote unquote working the political engine. it's my favorite thing my favorite thing in the other than my daughters in the whole world. is this this paragraph that because this is the one moment
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when john adams tells us really a big thing about how the revolution comes about and he's and and so if you look at the next day's boston gazette, september 4th 1769, you would have no way of knowing what was cooked up and what was not and and what are the things that are cooked up is kind of difficult to know. um, there are letters in there. there's some poetry in there that's obviously cooked up, but there's stuff that you know is in the term of the day would be considered fake news. then that boston gazette issue goes all over the place. it goes all throughout new england. it goes into new york. it doesn't go deep into the south after that. but it but it gets exchanged and and taken directly. so the work that john adams and sam adams are doing that sunday night in the print shop goes all over the place, and i think they really do figure out that t that sunday night and the printshop goes all over the place. i think they really do figure out that this is a really important ingredient to
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revolutionary mobilization so john adams later on after that, when he's in philadelphia, he writes explicit letters sent home from philadelphia boston and says put this in the newspaper. this paragraph, not this paragraph. don't get this into the printer, give that one to the printer. those who appear in boston newspapers under anonymous headlinesad of judgment in philadelphia to his friend in boston and you have no way of knowing it's actually johnan ads writing to another patriot leader so we begin to see the architecture of these things and how they are put -- there's a management, propaganda, there'st a management to this whole thing because there are no reporters or journalists in the 18th century, thehe only way in which they appear in the newspaper as if someone like adams gets the correspondence to printer or letters printed from, that come
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across the ocean or taken from someone else's newspaper so these -- there is a directness to this, it's not accidental and itsel not milk. ... could probably go on for next two hours talking about fear, but i think that that hit some of the highlights beer. yeah, no the fear stuff. yeah, yeah. so let me combine two other questions. the first >> the first just came in from farnsworth classics bernard baylor wrote in the 1960s. what do you think if you were still here you would think of the direction that you've taken and joshua kaufman
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earlier wrote a question i suspect many people are thinking about . it's a very simple question. does your research online or conflict with the propositions taken in the 16 team project . >> i figured this would come up.i don't think, in 2017 there was a 16th anniversary conference about the 50th anniversary of ideological origins and proceedings, some of those papers were published in the new england quarterly a few year or so after that and so there was actually. i can tell you some of the talk about my first book called nout a little back and some of the students namely gordon would work the fans it. mostly because it moves away from this the idea of natural
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rights and there's more heroic interpretation of the revolution and its into sort of the for me what's important is not a why it's the. and adams and jefferson and franklin and these guys are going to have regrets about what they do during the revolution afterwards. they're going to talk afterwards about ... and adams doesn't want us. he doesn't want us to do work that i was working on. it was us about those applets. it is the curtain about this after after 1775. please focus on this early period when it's about pamphlets and rights. don't think will we talked about when it comes toscaring people about slavery . i think that historians who
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believe that this interpretation is the right one don't really love what i'm saying here. what was the second partof the ? >> 1619. >> there we go. you would think i would be a one percent wholesale supporter of 1619 . going to put a number on it i am a supporter of thelarger . for sure. we should, what i'm saying is race is at the heart of the founding. that's the main point, take away from 1312 as i said before. you would not expect to be thinking about people of color at the moment that they areeswriting constitutions writing declaration of independence, thinking about these people all the time . the in several stories as i said early on.
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when it comes that very controversial line in the original 1619 by nicole jones about that slavery was the main driver of the revolution she's talking costs. what caused the revolution. 13 classesb& causes. what happens after. slavery on april 18 1775 is something that people are talking a lot about. some people are talking about seeing this opportunity of crisis of empire as a way to get rid of slavery some opeople are talking about as a way to protect slavery. is one of those controversial things. you the first continental who are included slavery as part of the continental association and one to melanie jefferson writes in the summary of the rights of
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british americans to make them famous as a writer says in 1773 and 1774: " ray's desire is to elevate slavery from the american colonies. which was foisted upon us by became we never want to slavery is this on the arguments he makes about. but the great object, this is popular to get rid of slavery . and our people who are also there from south carolina are saying get rid of slavery, what areyou talking ? we want to tell them as trickle-down slavery so is one of those fault lines that destroy everything . it's interesting to me is starting the next day that really changes. when the war begins, you don't see e ... pamphlets talking about using this crisis of empire as a way to
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get rid of slavery. the volume gets turned down to almost 0. after a while the volume gets turned automatically now the british are trying their best to use enslaved people try and the rebellion. to stop. we see that in thedeclaration itself . jefferson writes a very full paragraph about, that the language here and there, talk about the 1830s. by abolitionists, by african-americans. jefferson has is beautifully called the slave trade a piratical ... form of warfare. talks aboutweslavery as an assemblage of horrors . uses powerful words in his draft they are capitalized.
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needs for them to be there they all get struck out except for the event at the end of that paragraph when he says now using enslaved people against us. that it stays so great object of desire is completely. the merciless this, the domestic insurrection sspark and they are using them against us, that stays . so slavery becomes something that's not controversial because only talking about one of the equation. that to me, that very much. water with the 1619. slavery is important, that are water. causes. as a consequence, you that. >> thank you. i get to exercise cochair my own question.
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" you conclude, we have for too long adams and his colleagues at the word. you begin by saying are what he said they wanted us to we largely have the drive to the 13 colonial clocks strike as one was a campaign by the vicious that is the area you will the word we didn't context i want to know about this we. florida we where not forgetting? page 185. you look at a historiography yes, there are these celebratory events but there's also this long substantial list of people are not doing precisely. the david wall striker is
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also alert. gary ãand anthe others so there's a portion of at least the historical profession that addresses aspects of what you want to offer us a somewhat less romantic picture here. i assume that we yare talking about in this passage is the american people the wrong culture here but professional historians are often quite aware that what we write in our little studies doesn't always make it into the ilarger public domain or at least not as much as wewanted to . some thought of the aweek if you would. we want to go discussed and how they might get to where you want them to be. >> that was a very fantastically phrase thing because the camera. but we really is theamerican public . for that we who we hold these truths to beself-evident .
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and that's one of the things that one of the reason i wanted to write this book is because i feel like fi get my cake and eat it too is big long book the only under institute could have published. tevery other publisher would have had works for me and i think david to i got to make the entire arguments and put all this evidence out there for students and scholars. which is important. and that does. i do think that that, we underestimate our importance a little bit. when we think that people are going to find out about this. i think they do. it takes time but i think they do. is very much for my 19-year-olds 19-year-olds and my this was part of the
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challenge here is to write his, to work on the language. to work on the ways in which i made the arguments. the five takeaways in the conclusion are in bowl for a reason to help teachers out there. i wanted to go on and these are the five things i think are important . and because i want we to know these things. i want this to be something that has me an individual 50th anniversary, to these kind of arguments are part of the equation. we're thinking about race is a central part of the founding. as part of the cornerstone herethis is part of,
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understanding the states . we thought we could get rid of racism by passing laws in the 1960s, the reason it didn't work is because we didn't understand the depth of the problem. his work is going to happen problem. we need to go much much deeper into the cross and the mantle of north america to understand how racists penetrated this is what i think as you grow up with thesethings as i also think this is about climate change our children are going to learnthis young age . that the we might be different in a generation or so . >> the jump in this is why we pushed against your other statements about republican is a and exclusion being extremelylate . i say lately. i think it's important for the future of our society and government that we understand
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that choices were made is what your book shows continually excluded certain groups and we can make decisions to include other groups of course we have failed over and over again but that first part of the declaration of independence. calls us to meet quality people rights and so you know, i think it's part of the historiographical cycle to emphasize one of the over the other i do think it's important to have the same time that we emphasize the sexuality of race that we not miss the sense of hope and possibility for future inclusions (, governance and the principles of the declaration of independence chave asked for. >> i would agree with that.
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i don't mean for that tomean that we are then dammed because of this . i do think again the contingency part of this does give us hope. we are bound because of what has happenedbefore . >> i just thought that, thank you .. so 60 sessions, over 60 sessions. now for the first time i had my views on when i started to talk. my apologies what i was saying is we couldgo on for quite some time . we scratched the surface of a very rich provocative and important book unfortunately is. is: 30 drops close. i want our participants today as well as members of the audience are on institute for
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bringing this book out for cosponsoring this session so you robert . >> follow american history tv on twitter, and youtube or schedule updates to learn about what happened. watch videos and learn more about the people and events that have shaped the american story find us at c-span history. di>>. >> welcome margaret h nichols. [applause] >> i am the 23rd regions of the lady's association and s it's my great pleasure to welcome you this beautiful evening mount vernon the beloved home of george


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