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tv   Declaration of Independence Global Legacy  CSPAN  August 19, 2019 8:01pm-9:33pm EDT

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a form on the importance and legacy of the declaration of independence. after that author james nolan looks at observations made by notable visitors during different periods of us history. here's that form on the declaration of independence pick >> dr. bell has presented many forms on topics leading to american history and the revolutionary period over the past several years. he received his phd from harvard and his ba from the university of cambridge in england. he is associate professor of history at the university of maryland in college park where he specializes in early american and cultural history and has been honored with more
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than half a dig doesn't teaching awards. the american society bestowed an award on his undergraduate course on the topic of ordinary lives during the american revolution. his book, stolen, free boys kidnapped into slavery and the astonishing journey home which tells the story about five boys who were smuggled into savory-- slavery in the deep south in their attempt to escape is being published in october. thank you once again for joining us and without any further ado please join me in welcoming.rick l. >> [ applause ] >> thanks dispute-- c-span for covering this. you who have heard me in-- you
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will be surprised to hear my strange accent which is not exactly marilyn. i was born and raised in england but i find myself teaching about the american revolution as part of my job which is a blessing and a curse, and undergraduate class to teach with an accent like this. i'm proud of where i grew up and i carry in my back pocket on occasions like this a giant british flag. [ laughter ] which i am might drape around the scenery. but, i was also naturalized as a us citizen a couple of years ago something i'm incredibly proud of. it's wonderful to be a part of the programming as we move into the july 4 weekend. when you hear me say our declaration as i go forward tonight i'm talking about us americans. the downside of being here is that i don't get to swear.
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at least i will try not to. it also means i don't get to show you cute videos of my kittens or anything from hamilton the musical for copyright reasons. that still leaves us with a lot so i have a lot to say. there's a lot of microphones here. okay. folks, the document on display in the national archive that we call the declaration of independence has lived an interesting life. if anything-- it has been on display since 1952. before that it lived in the library of congress. for 2 years during world war ii it hunkered down in a deep fault of fort knox kentucky. before that it bounced back and forth between the state department and the patent office. during the centennial back in 1876 it did briefly returned to philadelphia, the city of its
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birth. there, the grandson of one of the original signers read it publicly as part of this come is 100 day celebration. reports tell us the massive crowd of people there that day burst into cheers at the sight of it. in the first 50 years it traveled more frequently. when the british burned down washington dc during the war of 1812 the thing we called the declaration of independence was not there. it was hiding in virginia. it spent the second half of the american revolution rolled up and stuffed in a linen bag as it accompanied congress from one temporary capital city to another. but folks, i have shocking news. the document that our government has gone to such lengths to preserve and protect over the
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centuries is not actually the declaration of independence, or at least that document is not the first declaration or the last declaration of independence. and it's far from being the only declaration of independence. the document on display at the national archive is in fact a special commemorative edition that congress audited at the end of july congress audited at the end of july 1776 to memorialize the independence that the delegates had actually declared in a simple vote weeks earlier on july 2 and who had been formalized then formalized the vote on july 4. the document on display in the national archives is really a souvenir, a beautiful souvenir made after the fact.
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it was engrossed on parchment in the calligraphic hand of a junior clerk and was later signed by 56 of the delegates of the second continental congress including several who had not been present for the actual votes and at least one delegate who had voted against the revolution for independence. this is interesting stuff. this is solid, till party trivia i'm giving you so far, that the word from the declaration itself that we use to describe it, all of what i have said so far is just my preamble. my talk is not actually about this arch. it's about all of the other declarations of independence that the prominence of this lovely keepsake has obscured over the past 2 1/2 centuries. i'm thinking of jefferson's own
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draft. we have seven copies in his handwriting and of the final version approved on july 4, the one disseminated in print across america and across the world. i'm also thinking of several other sets, some that predate july 4 by several months, others written much more recently. some written here, others written far away, some written by propertied men like jefferson, others written by people who could not be more different to him. putting all of these into conversation with another one another this evening will i hope give us fresh perspective on the famous parchment that peeks out from behind the bullet proof glass in the national archive rotunda.
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we can be reminded perhaps that for all of the kitschy reliquary this matlack parchment that people go to see honors something unambiguously momentous that creates the creation adoption and dissemination of 1310 words statement that forged the american people in union, that justified their rebellion, that asserted their independence, and that announced this country's appearance on the world stage. that famous statement the declaration of independence is our midwife, our birth certificate, and promise to ourselves. there is much to admire and much to discuss and because i want to leave time for questions and comments we need to get going. there's a founding moment in our history declaring independence from great britain
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which seems like this country's first date with destiny. it didn't seem like that at the time and declaring independence, the decision to do it was a long long time in coming. open rebellion was treason, remember, and in april in april 1775 when malicious took potshots at lexington and concorde, in april 1775 the number of americans contemplating unambiguous revolution could probably have been counted on the fingers of a couple of hands. when the second continental congress assembled one month after these events at lexington and concorde in may 1775, the delegates were under instructions from colonial legislatures to find a way to
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patch things up with britain. that's what they had been sent to philadelphia to do. reconciliation and redress for the order of the day. few at that point in 1775 were thinking of using the congress to use it to break from the empire upon which colonists obviously depended on for trade and security. it was actually king george the third who first declared colonists independence. on august 23. on august 23, 1775 the king issued a proclamation. the word of the king. sang the colonists proceeded to open and avowed rebellion and because of that they were outside of his protection and because of that they should be
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punished as traders. august 1775. in december the british parliament acted on the part of proclamation and declared war on the colonists maritime commerce beginning a series of sought stop and search raids on merchant shipping up and down the east coast. britain's belligerence was one of several things that finally nudged the delegates in philadelphia toward their famous wit declaration. another thing that nudged them was the appearance of a pungent new political pamphlet in january 1776. it was the work of an outcast englishman named thomas paine who had come to philadelphia to start again and it told readers that it was common sense for colonists to respond to his bullying by walking away and
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starting fresh. his 46 page pamphlet sold like hot cakes and made its way into the pockets homes and minds of perhaps as many as 100,000 americans in the spring of 1776. and, it changed people. it work to bind people throughout the colonies into a common struggle giving governors a common core sense of new englanders and gave them a common handing-- enemy as well by laying blame for all the chaos of the past 10 years directly at one man's feet, the feet of king george the third. in these ways, this flimsy pamphlet common sense, in many ways was the american people's declaration of independence. readers across the colonies made pretty obvious over the
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following months and as historians-- demonstrated in her 1997 book american scripture, thousands of local government officials in towns counties and provincial legislatures spent the month after it was published, the spring of 1776 issuing their own decorations of independence. formal statements proclaiming their commitment to separate nationhood and summarizing the chain of events that had pushed them to make that decision. some of these local declarations were short and in your hand out there is one short one paragraph version, an example from the town of ashby massachusetts. others among this group were much longer and there's one in your hand that is several
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paragraphs from buckingham county virginia. all of these local declarations said the same thing. justifying their support for independence. they came back again and again to the kings contempt for the colonists petitions for reconciliation. they came back to the threats posed by the fleets and armies he had already sent to repress and divide them. they came back again and again so there are escalating rumors that the government had recently dispatched a large invading force of german mercenaries to the colonies. -- identified 90 of these state and local declarations of independence and she reckoned there were many more that had not yet been rediscovered. they were written to put pressure on the option often cautious delegates of the second continental congress so
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that those delegates might find the courage to embrace the cause of independence and sever all ties with britain. they soon began getting attention. john adams, one of those delegates observed on may 20, every post and every day rolls and upon us. independence like a torrent. they are writing to the delegates and the delegates are starting to get the message. it wasn't just john adams. other delegates were starting to get this message from their constituents. on friday, june 7 on friday, june 7, 1776 this man, a member of the virginia delegation introduced the first formal proposal for american independence, a resolution to declare that these united
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colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states. they are absolved from all allegiance to the british crown, under all political connection between them and the state of great britain ought to be finally dissolved. two days of intense debate followed richard henry leaves revolution-- his revolution. the outcome may not be the result you're expecting. richard henry lee, john adams and other delegates in favor of independence didn't have the votes to carry the day, at least not yet. so members did what congress has always done best. they kicked the can down the road. they delayed a final vote and instead agreed to step up a
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committee to study the issue. this is what they agreed. resolved that that first resolution be postponed. to this day three weeks or so from now and in the meantime should anytime be lost in case congress does somehow agree to that revolution, the committee be appointed to prepare a declaration to the effect of the -- revolution. this is hardly the rousing nation birthing moment that patriots may have been hoping for. it was enough to keep things moving forward and john adams himself vowed to spend those next three weeks lobbying his fellow delegates to vote yes when the vote for independence finally came along. items also agreed to serve on this new committee, a five
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person team tasked to draft a declaration of independence that congress could quickly roll out in the event that these original resolutions did somehow later pass a. if we have a vote yes we will need to have a declaration to show people so we better get cracking on it. a committee of five. other delegates can find to this committee which by the way was not a plum assignment were benjamin franklin of pennsylvania, roger sherman of connecticut, robert livingston of new york and does anyone know the fifth member? what was the guy name? maybe a picture will help. thomas jefferson of virginia. all of these guys were busy
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with other committee assignments so it made sense for just one of them to take the lead drafting the document that they had been tasked to prepare. so franklin a gifted stylist and supporter may seem to ask the obvious choice, he was a good writer who believed in the cause but was also plagued by gout and was exhausted. robert livingston was on the committee really just as the token conservative. he was not there to do actual work. he had been urging reconciliation. he had been urging patching things up and was really there to make sure things to get too crazy. roger sherman as well. the guy in the middle was
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largely windowdressing. he was a good man. john adams once described him as being as honest as an angel but he spoke and wrote like he was in the 17th century and his colleagues found him strange if not weird. that left john adams, the short lawyer who wasn't outspoken advocate for independence, and thomas jefferson the call sandy haired planter who had a reputation as a writer but had barely said a word on congress floor so far. john adams later recalled that these men bickered and argued about which one of them should not do the work. and who the other person should be who should lead the drafting.
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and to reconstruct that exciting conversation, we are going to do some theater live on c-span. i'm going to call up to randomly selected volunteers. chuck, catherine, give them a round of applause as they come up. [ applause ] >> he later wrote a reconstruction of the bickering of the argument that supposedly happened between thomas jefferson. say hello thomas jefferson. >> hello, i'm thomas jefferson. >> and between-- you were right the first time. the conversation between he and adams. and if i'm remembering correctly, the conversation began like this. will you write? >> i will not.
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>> you should write it. >> o no. >> well why not? you want to do it. >> i will not. >> why? >> reasons enough. >> what can be your reasons? >> reason one, you are a virginian and a virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. reason to. i have been noxious, suspect, and unpopular. you are very much otherwise. recent three. you can write 10 times better than i can. >> if you are decided, i will do as well as i can. >> very well. when you have drawn it up we will have a meeting. >> thank you.
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>> [ laughter ] >> [ applause ]. >> that took 30 minutes of personal. i want to thank chuck and fabulous. the her soul was for technical reasons. that's a conversation according to john adams. when jefferson was asked to that happen like that? he said absolutely not. so jefferson was lead draftsman. the five men met a few times over the next few days to outline what exactly this document should can attain, but they left it to jefferson to write it up as his own and his own. he used quickly, he used a portable desk that he brought from virginia and had a first draft done within a few days.
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>> he later claimed that he lent on no other source his wife he was scribbling away for two days but he was already deeply versed in and lightened political philosophy and that fact is evidenced in the draft he came up with. the draft he came up with owed a considerable to several texts including england's 16-- the declaration of-- john locke's and thomas jefferson's own 1774 pamphlet, a summary view of the rights of british america and his most recent draft of a constitution for virginia and george mason's virginia declaration of rights an early copy of which jefferson received days earlier. the powerful opening lines of
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jefferson's draft drew directly from this wellspring of ideas and language. as you can see, jeffersons language was decidedly simpler and more forceful. here is john locke-- i'm going to give you two examples. if a long train of abuses and provocation make the design visible to the people, now look for the influences of jefferson's writing. when a long train of-- convinces a design you can see a borrowing of language and ideas there. we can debate whether jeffersons is better than john locke or vice versa and apparently borrowing from george mason, george mason had written all men are created
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equally free and independent. and, have certain inherent rights which they cannot by any compact divide or the best posterity of which enjoyment of life, liberty, and the means of acquiring pursuing and pertaining 14, and it says we hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable that all men are created equal and independent. from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and an amiable in which to the preservation of life liberty and pursuit of happiness. that's all i'm going to say for the moment about jefferson's famous opening paragraph. i will return to them later on. for more about the political philosophies that inform those few famous sentences in the first few famous paragraphs, i
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recommend these wonderfully sophisticated books. i want to keep going because instead i want us to think about his declarations long middle section, the least quotable bit. the paragraph that everyone skips over between the famous opening and the rousing conclusion. i'm talking about his list of grievances. they are hugely important. without the grievances, there is no motive for the declaration. and without the motive there is no declaration. there were more than four dozen grievances and 27 will end up in the final version. the first roughly 12 or so, king george's abuses of executive power over the 12
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years since the 1765--. the next 10 or so described conspiracies with parliament to use legislative powers to inflict even more damage over that same period. then comes the final group highlighting the capacity of the king for cruelty in the war that he has been waging against his own people over the previous 12 months. the tone grows more and more urgent, belligerent, and accusatory as it goes on and on as if jefferson was a prosecution attorney making a closing argument in a murder trial. the verbs that he uses in the first group of grievances like what have we got, dissolve,
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affected and relatively even- tempered become more evocative in the last group. one of those charges the king of having plundered, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns and destroyed the lives of our people. another raises the specter of those arriving soldiers dispatched, jefferson says, to complete the works of death desolation and tyranny. you can hear the emotional pitch as we move through the list of grievances. one of those final charges deserves our particular attention. it is the clause in which jefferson denounces the king for seeking native american
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allies and encouraging them to make war against the patriots. in the same charge he also condemns king george for the actions taken by one of his commanders, a man named lord dunmore, the reddish general-- british general who famously promised freedom for any black men enslaved by patriot masters who were willing to dessert slaveowners and fight for the british. that made jefferson furious. in these lines, you see them here, jefferson was channeling many anxieties about the threats posed to their security by runaway slaved and native americans in war. but there is still something distasteful here about the way he is react to encouragement to slaves to free themselves and how angry it makes him. there's a horse something
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woeful about his refusal to it knowledge the decades of colonial incursions on native land, the true source of tension between patriots and natives. rather than a knowledge that truth jefferson's declaration portrays native americans, and i'm about to quote the historian, his declaration portrayed native americans as passive, mindless, bloodthirsty by variance to naove to realize they are being duped by a tyrant. jefferson leads no leaves no doubt as to who that tyrant is. the tyrant is not the british people. is not parliament. it's not even the monarchy. it is one specific monarch and he looks like this. it's king george the third. look at the way that most of the crisp, brief sentences in the
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middle section begin. he has. he has refused, he has forbidden, he has combined. he has incited. the he is george. george is rendered here not as a puppet of parliament or a bumbler making one bad decision after another. he is rendered as an all- powerful villain who had a neck did an intentional program of harm. this is george is richard the third, attila the hun, a rhetorical decision jefferson has made to give the readers someone to hate and root against . given that goal it should not surprise us to find that his list of grievances is full of
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hyperbole. he exaggerates. he tells readers that they are swarmed right tax collectors when there were really just 50. he tells readers that tax collectors pose the same threat as occupying soldiers and that's hardly true. he blames slavery and the slave trade on king george, a man who came to the throne 16 years earlier, not 160. what i'm saying is simple and i hope uncontroversial. don't look to this list of grievances for object to the. this is not journalism. this is not the job of the listed. it's job is to fire up readers
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and give them a story that in the words of john adams shall make their ears tingle. there's a catalog of prosecutable crimes that is surprisingly vague. not lots of emotion but no detail. no places, no dates in this list of injuries and names no other names except the king. as a result if you do not know your revolutionary history you may not be able to place each of his alleged atrocities on a timeline or know precisely what they referred to but that obstruction is again intentional and marks the efforts to universalize the dilemmas of the communist and
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to frame the transgressions of the king in such a way that they could spark general outrage no matter where they are being read and no who is reading them. following his list of grievances his draft concludes and does so by insisting that despite this extraordinary provocation, american colonists have been patient sufferers who have sought peace. jefferson wrote our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. is king george's fault that things have come to this. it is his doing and colonists
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have no other choice. we know he showed his draft to franklin and adams but wasn't reported whether he bothered to show it to livingston or sherman but did show it to franklin and adams because as he later explained. they were the two matters of which whose judgments and amended i will-- they are who i wish to-- and they read carefully but according to jefferson they thought it was genius. according to jefferson, there alterations were two or three only and merely verbal. he made the requested changes happily and they submitted combined work on june 28, this is a collected portrait, the committee turning in their draft , their homework to the larger
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congress. not the july 4 signing or anything like that but what it is, i wanted to draw your attention for one hot second. this is john adams. look at that hand on that hip. once you see it you can't stop looking at it. he's very proud of his work. and why not? now, delegates have three days to read over the draft that the committee turned in and i will say that again, delegates had three days to read over the curse. the debate in congress finally began on richard henry lee's resolution recalling that these united colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states. it had been several weeks since the june 7 motion had been tabled and in the meantime
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there had been lots of arm twisting and lobbying. several colonial governments that had previously taken reconciliation just positions, delaware pennsylvania and new jersey had sense had since given their delegates permission to vote however they saw fit. other legislative had sent along strict instructions that their delegates must vote for independence. by july 1 most men's minds were made up and news that a british fleet had just been-- off the coast of new york only added to the momentum. john dickinson, a brilliant lawyer did stand up and speak in opposition but was answered point for point by another
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brilliant lawyer, john adams. on the morning of july 2 after drum it involving the delaware delegation, and i would show you a clip from the musical 1776 if we had the rights, but we don't so i can't, imagine in your head. after some drama involving the delegation everyone voted. several voted no. john dickinson himself stayed home. but the no votes were massively outnumbered and the majority of delegates asserted support for independence and how many colonies voted yes and no that mattered. this is good enough to be considered unanimous. congress adopted the resolution and by the end of that woman to
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stay july 2, 1776, a philadelphia newspaper printer had the news and he squeezed it into the last free spot in his late addition, the announcement in the evening post. it was two lines long. this day the continental congress declare the united colonies free and independent states. that was it you just witnessed history. congress had not yet touched the committee of the five drafts of public declaration so they took that up the following morning on july 3. to edit the draft they bought up a batch of rented copies of the language of committee. all of those printed copies must have been destroyed afterwards because none of those printed copies of
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the draft survived today. then they started scribbling on those printed copies. they amped up some of the language but struck out jefferson's lengthy rant about george and the slave trade. they added appeals to god because they thought that the american people might like that but they deleted most of his conclusion in finger of concluding language cribbed directly from the june the june 7 revolution. they worked for two days and debated hundreds of changes eventually making less than no less than 86 alterations and scrapping almost 1/4 of the committee. the more changes that they made, the more miserable jefferson got. [ laughter ] no franklin
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apparently tried to placate him and tell him to cheer up by telling him a story. a story about a hatmaker who had come up with a great new idea for a sign to put outside his shop. it was supposed to read this. john thompson, had her, makes and sells hats for ready money. but john thompson the hat acre made the mistake of asking his friends for feedback and those friends were not shy giving it to him. one suggested that hatter was redundant. pie pie. who else sells hats but a hatter? another suggested that makes was a relevant because customers only come into a shop to buy
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something, not see how it's made. bye-bye. another friend thought the phrase for ready money was equally unnecessary. goodbye. when they were finally finished editing they were left with this. he called his critics and did not mean it in a nice way but like that hatmaker's friends, his editors in congress were actually doing good work. the changes that the delegates made heightened and focused some of the excesses of his draft. here's the jefferson version of a sentence. the history of the present king of great britain is a history
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of injuries and use of patients which appears no solitary fact to-- but object the establishment of absolute tyranny over these states. it's what the delegates finally end up with. the history of the present king of great britain is a history of injuries or having a direct object, the establishment of absolute tyranny over these states. as it was put, this is no hack editing job. the delegates who labored over the declaration had a splendid ear for language. they made it better. the result was to make sure a leaner and more powerful piece of writing. a quick question why do you think they were in such a hurry to get a printed proclamation out following that vote on july
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2? as i've written why do you think the delegates worked so hard and so quickly to get this written declaration finished, signed off and out the door. what is the hurry? tell me what you think. yes sir? >> they wanted to go to the beach. i love this man. yes sir? >> they wanted to-- to a viable nation. >> they might have their eyes abroad. that's great, thank you. >> fearful of their necks. announcing they had done something treasonous as quickly as possible was a good move for. >> there weren't enough people -- someone coming for them. >> maybe they wanted to do it while the getting was good so to speak, while the public was
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with them. >> the public is with us, we don't know how long the public will be with us, move this quite a long. >> the balcony i can never see. >> it's hot. they'd rather be at the beach and catherine? >> the british are coming. right. one more hand in the back? >> they want to get signatures quickly. i like that. let me try to answer at least part of this because i want to favor one of the arguments we've heard over the others. we tend to assume that the motive for their hard work was so that it could be promptly circulated to the american people to up the stakes in the escalating military conflict,
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to give soldiers something to fight for, or perhaps it was aimed at king george. a very public retaliation for his previous contempt. those explanations and most but not all that you offered, the one about the beach is questionable, but i don't think they are half the story. in truth, as one gentleman said, delegates have their eyes on france. the new declaration of independence was the hail mary, the best hope of securing foreign assistance. they desperately needed to resume trading with europe. the urgently needed to borrow lots of money. they needed hard currency and boatloads of it. and they needed soldiers and ships to join them in the fight to push the british back into the sea.
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the colonies had to prove to the world had to prove to the world that they were rubbles. the best way to do so, thomas paine argued back in january, the best way to prove that they are real rebels was to announce that fact in writing in a manifesto that was dispatched to foreign courts.
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july 2nd knew tom pain's arguments backwards and forwards. richard henry lee certainly did and he wrote that april of '76 that no state in europe will either treat or trade with us so long as we consider ourselves subjects of great britain. weren't going to make treaties, weren't going to trade with anyone in europe except britain if we are still subjects of great britain. indeed two months later when richard henry joe his june 7th resolutions, he didn't just propose independence, he also proposed to prepare and digest the form of a confederation and
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offered a third resolution to draw up a plan for forming foreign alliances. in the same breath saying have our independence, we are saying have our alliances. that's the same thought. the declaration was a means to an end and everyone at the time understood this. even though today we sometimes don't. proclamation could not make the colonies free or independence, but maybe with france's help it could. this is why the delegates had their declaration translated into french and why they had it addressed to king louie of france and spain on the first ship bound for europe four days later on july 8th and why they
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had them published in european newspapers, why the congress authorized john adams for a list of talking points for negotiations with france within days and why congress dispensed benjamin adams -- benjamin adams -- why congress dispensed benjamin franklin, but before we travel with the declaration over the sea, let's pause for the american colonies or should i say now the united states. congress proclaimed the official text of its declaration on monday july 8th, 1776, issuing it as a printed poster known as a broadside prepared by dunlap, their official printer, with the perfect size to paste up everywhere and their typeface was large enough to be legible
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outdoors and to be easily red aloud in public settings. so they were read aloud outside, first in philadelphia that same day, july 8th when colonel john nixon of philadelphia's committee of safety read the declaration, read the dunlap broadside from a platform outside the white house. when nixon read the resolution, they erupted and members of inspection took down the king's court of arms from the state house and threw them onto a bonfire. the celebration continued on for hours afterwards. john adams remembered the city's bells rang all day and almost all night. congress ordered other copies of dunlap's broadside to be sent
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far and wide to committees of safety, counsels, conventions and state assemblies with the request that it be proclaimed in such a mode that the people can be uniformly informed of it. over the days, these declarations, dozens and dozens of them were read in churches, in squares and troops. when one was read in baltimore, just a ways from here, they were dragging a dumbny of our late king in a cart and setting it on fire in a large crowd. while only 25 copies of dunlap's broadside are available today,
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there were over 200 of them and other later transcriptions later that sunday. the london papers, they printed the text of congress's declaration in the second week of august, and you might expect it to have caused up roar over there, a calculated shrug might be more accurate. par la meant was in recess. this strategy, i think was to try to starve the colonists of attention, to deny the legitimacy of their declaration and in so doing refused to recognize the rights of
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britain's enemies in france to interfere with the british empire's internal business. clever, right? in london, at least, the document only generated two public rebuttals. one was by thomas hutchinson, the fallen governor of massachusetts. the other was by a young lawyer named john lind, who it turned out was secretly in the pay of the british government. lind published a pamphlet taking the american declaration to task point by point and as you can imagine, it is a pretty fascinating read. lind wasn't much interested in the now famous opening paragraph of the american declaration, all men are created equal, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. i have taken little or no notice.
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truth is little or none does it deserve. instead lind focused his energy on trying to pick apart the list of 27 grievances in the final text and doing that took lind a while. congress's declaration was 1310 words long. john lind's rebuttal to it was 130 pages, which is to say no one read it. and what about the rest of europe? copies of the declaration reached island, austria, the dutch republic of spain by august and copen haggen by august. the declaration turned up in france quite belatedly. the dunlap broad sides the
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congress sent to dean, it representative in paris, it had been lost in transit. and replacements didn't arrive until early november. by then two french translations had appeared in the paris newspapers, but it's not certain if senior members of the french court had yet read them or acknowledged them. what is certain is when they did, the french were unimpressed. dean was under instructions to obtain as early as possible a public acknowledgement of the independency of these states from the french king. but no such acknowledgement was forthcoming. weeks passed, then months. the french court said nothing. john dickinson, the lawyer from pennsylvania, had predicted this would happen. in his speech against
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independence back on july the 1st dickinson had stood up to ridicule the notice that a written declaration would somehow be sufficient on its own to convince foreign powers of our strength and unanimity. what rubbish john dickinson had said in that speech, what rubbish. before taking sides, before waving in, the french would surely wait for us to start winning on the battlefield. the event of the military campaign dickinson said, the event of the military campaign will be the best evidence of our strength, not some piece of paper you guys write today. dismissed at the time, john dickinson proved to be presient, it was only when the army in the
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battle of saratoga a year later in october of 1777 that france finally began the formal negotiations that would culminate in the treaty of amity and commerce with the united states formed in 1778. it was only then when france finally got off the sidelines that britain's other european rivals agreed to do the same. the dutch republic and spain were next to sign off on the war of the british. in so doing they recognized the united states as a free and independence country. after britain's defeat at new york town, britain too would have to do the same. and in article i of the treaty of paris signed in october 1773 to mark the end of the war and coming of the peace, britain's
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peace commissioners begrudgingly enforced a peace agreement in which it acknowledges the said united states to be free, sovereign, and independence states. as i start to wrap up, i want to move past the dunlap broad sides and the newspaper transcriptions and the foreign language translations and turn now to another set of declarations that have been hiding in plain sight. i'm thinking here about all the subsequent declarations of independence. more than 100 of them, that rebels, separatists and state makers crafted in other parts of the world since 1776 in direct imitation of ours. that practice began quickly. by the time thomas jefferson and john adams passed away -- can
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someone raise their hand and tell us what date thomas jefferson and john adams passed away? july 4th, 1886, 50 years to the day since they finished their work. by the time thomas jefferson and john adams passed aidway july 4th, 1886, people in flounderers and haiti and columbia and new venezuela and mexico and chili and peru and nicaragua and brazil, the united province of bolivia and uruguay had all written their own declarations of independence. all of them modeled on ours. we know in fact that american travelers in chili and mexico actually distributed translations of our declaration
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there in the years before the chill lains and liberated themselves and our translation also made their way to columbia, venezuela and ecuador in the period of 1776, a half century known to scholars as the age of revolutions. you can call it the age of declarations too. david armatage has shown and i'm drawing on his work, that age of revolutions was just the first of four great waves of declaration making in global history since 1776, a second wave swept around the world in the immediate aftermath of the first and second -- first world war. between 1918 and 1999 declarations with central features of the demands for
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self-determination marked the destruction of the ottman empire, the romanof empire and hatsburg empire. the american declaration was obvious at every turn. for instance, which the check nationalist, thomas masarik signed a declaration of independence of the mid-european union in october 1918, he did so with ink from an ink well from philadelphia's independence hall. two more great waves of declaration making have remade our modern world since the end of word war ii, one began immediately at the war's end and maintained momentum for the next 30 years. historians regard those deck raids from 1945 to 1975 as the golden age of decolonization , a
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tumultuous chaotic period in which some 70 new states, most of them former colonies of the british, french, and porj geez, in the early 1990s following the collapse of the soviet union, one former soviet after another regained their independence. now in 2019, the majority of the countries on this planet have their own declarations of independence, among finland, singapore, syria, and taiwan. some of these deck of these
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declarations like the republican of vietnam quote our declaration word for word, as you see on your hand i included that one. others expressed their debt to include our declaration with a little more subtlety. in june 1846, thomas jefferson wrote a letter to a friend and calmed the declaration an instrument pregnant with the fate of the world. how right he turned out to be. over the last two and a half centuries peoples around the world have used jefferson's declaration, our declaration as one of their weapons of choice to try to extinguish and obliterate empires. our declarations pithy pointed portion of sovereignty and state
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hood can hardly be overstated. in our lifetime decolonization movements empowered by the origin nap american declaration have continued to sweep this globe, continuing to mark the unmistakable emergence of a world of states from the wreckage of the world of umpires. here in the united states our declaration spawned hundreds of american imitations. other declarations devoted to other causes that draw on the 1776 original to advance their own claims to freedom from other types of tyranny. the most famous of these up on the screen is the declaration of rights and sentiments wrote by the women's rights convention in seneca, new york, the document
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that holds that all men and women are created equal. and it goes on like that, replicating the language and moderating and adapting it throughout the entire document. and it's not alone. really just the tip of the iceberg. there are many, many more american adaptations. in 1829 the utopian activist robert owen wrote the declaration of mental independence, designed to free americans from private property, from organized religion, and tyranny, ladies and gentlemen, of monogamous marriage. the tyranny, ladies and gentlemen, of monogamous marriage. that same year, 1829 george henry evans authored the working man's declaration of working americans, the list goes on and
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on. if we skip forward 1970 african american church leaders published the black declaration of independence. here is a quick excerpt from it. history having in direct object the establishment and maintenance of racist tyranny over this people to pruf this let facts be submitted to a candid world. the united states has evaded compliance to laws necessary for our children's education. the united states has caused us to be isolated in the most dilapidated sections of the cities and right to be jerry manneded, almost impossible of attainment. there are dozens and dozens of these alternative declarations and in 1976, the year of the
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bicentennial, historian published a wonderful collection of these alternative declarations i urge you to find and read. still, counting the number of time that is americans have adapted the entire 1776 text, that's hardly the only way we can measure the enduring value of our declaration on these shores. a great many more americans have drawn much more selectively on the text of that declaration, focusing in of course on its second paragraph, the one that that british lawyer had dismissily referred to as a worthless preamble. we hold these truth, that men are created equal. to have been clear, jefferson was referring to the equality of
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peoples, peoples plural, the american people and the british people. but most readers since then have taken him to mean that all individual people are created equal, a wonderful, powerful misreading that is imparted to our modern world, a vary tab golden rule for modern rights rights seekers have invoked in almost every aspirational, progressive advancement in our country's history. think about our declaration's role in the fight against slavery here in the united states. black americans, slave and free heard in its ringing lines a call to arms, an invitation to turn its abstract claims about
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equality into vibrant reality by any means necessary. in 1829 the free black radical david walker concluded his famous appeal to the colored citizens of the world by inviting white americans to compare your own language extracted from your declaration of your cruelties and murders inflicted by your cruel and merciful fathers and by ourselves by our fathers and us. frederick douglas drove the same point home in rochester new york on july the 5th, 1852. what to the slave is the fourth of july, douglas asked. how can black men and women enjoy that black hallowed day of
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this country's political freedom when they hold in seventh part of inhas been tents. what to a slave is the 4th of july. those are free i have been quoting. it was the ideals of our declaration don't forget that inspired matt turner to his 1821 slave revolt of july 4th. white abolitionists too returned to the declaration time and time again finding in its famous lines a to their own conscious. if it meant no right to control another man, in a system of slavery in which men were born the subjects and indeed the
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property of others is profoundly wrong. no one did more to constitute our declaration as a beacon towards which the people of the united states must hue than abraham lincoln, the great emancipator, the declaration was, lincoln said, our manifest destiny constantly looked to, constantly labored for. the assertion that all men are created equal was of no practical use in effecting our separation from great britain lincoln wrote in an 1857 essay denouncing the recent dread scott decision. it was placed not for that, but for future use. its author meant it to be a stumbling block to all those who in after times might seek to
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turn free people back into the hateful path of decpetism. when war came back, he stuck to that. he came to the semitrig there for the union dead, that 1863 battle at gettysburg had taken place on that field on july 4th. in his gettysburg address lincoln argues that the union triumph was nothing less than a vindication of the proposition that all men are created equal. the union dead he said had heeded the declaration's challenge bringing to this nation under god a new birth of freedom. we survivors, lincoln said, must finish the work the declaration had started. in lincoln's hands the
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declaration becomes a living document that i think it remains today, a secular creed, a set of goals to be realized over time. we can hear its echo in almost every call to expand freedom, equality, and civil rights in this country ever since. the declaration's promise of equal rights was the touch stone for advocates of the 13th amendment that abolished slavery and 14th amendment that equal protection. the declaration's language and ideas reverberate through fdr's four freedoms speech about global human rights and threat of totalitarianisn. king told crowds that our
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declaration was a promissory note to which every american was to fall err. >> king's hopes are rooted in its famous second paragraph. i still have a dream. i have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed. we hold these truths to be self-evidence that all men are created equal. we can find the language of the declaration in the public debate surrounding every single civil rights act passed in history. lynne don johnson, his president lyndo n johnson, a speech that took place not coincidentally on
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july 2nd, when congress had declared independence. 188 years ago a small band of value yen men banded freedom and pledged their fortune and sacred honor to forge an idea of freedom not for political independence, but for personal liberty, not only to eliminate foreign rule, but rule of justice. we believe all men are created equal, yet many deny equal treatment. we believe still have rights, yet many do not enjoy those rights. we believe blesses of liberty, yet millions are deprived of those blesses, not because of their failures, but because of the color of their skin. in our own time numerous civil rights activists including disability advocates, labor
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advocates, guy marriage advocates have all evoked our declaration, even if they have sought constitutional remedies via the amendment. it has found its purpose as a means for rights seekers to seize the high ground. our declaration is the voice of humanity and what picks our american conscious and reminds us what is right. it is what shames us and stirs us to lift our heads and do better. it is what pulls us forward. there is a beautiful paradox in all of this, isn't there? this declaration of ours is an 18th century document conceived, written, and authorized by a group of white men of considerable privilege and power that has over time become a
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clarion call for everyone else, for african americans, native americans, propertyless white men and women to claim equality of their birthright. in fact -- and this is where i will stop. harvard political scientists danielle allen explained the declaration matters now because it helps us see that we cannot have freedom without equality. thanks very much indeed. . >> we have time for a few minutes of comments and questions. if i call on you, please wait for the gentleman with the c-span mike so you can be picked up for posterity, meaning forever and ever.
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lady right here. >> so my question is and -- so was there not an original calligraphy copy of the declaration sent to england immediately after it had been signed or did it not get there until the dunlap broad sides. >> i'm not aware there is an original calligraphy copy without an fu -- sorry, i tried hard. the dunlap was on july 8th. the calligraphy thing was ordered up at the end of july. it's engrossed, which is the word for some dude writing it out in his fancy handwriting the start of august and names begins
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on august 2nd, not july 2nd as it mistakenly says in your hand outs, begins august 2nd and the signing doesn't always happen. there are not 60 people waiting to sign. whoever is in the building on august 2nd. john hancock signed first and then drips and drabs. it took them until the early months of 1777 to get all 56 signatures because some move around and some hadn't been elected to congress on july 2nd, subsequently signed the calligraphy and we also know, you may know this or may not, there is a secret patent to the order of the signatures. they are grouped by geography and i think i have this right. we start with -- if i'm the declaration of independence -- oh, dear, if john hancock is my knees let's say, then the georgia delegation is to your bottom left and we go from south to north to we end up with new
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hampshire in i think the bottom right. so there is a secret there. there is no secret from the back of the declaration of independence, like nicholas cage would tell you in national treasure. i think you have more. >> for the signers -- >> no only john hancock's name was printed. not each he signed it. >> so nobody knew who the other signers were. >> the gentleman is correcting me. >> secretary. sorry? charles thompson was the name i was being told. another question? gentleman back there in the lime shirt. >> yes. i have two questions. number one is in light of the 1829-1830 statement, i believe you mentioned john lock i think or something, i forget the name
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of the person you mentioned. it was said that all men -- all people are created equal at that time. how can roger tanney have the audacity to say that slaves are property? and my second question has to do with this. i always was under the impression that king george iii was not really an absolutist as most of us seem to think, but that parlament had a great deal of influence. >> thank you. other members of the supreme court could hand down opinions like the famous dread scot of 1957, the declaration of independence had no force of law. it is that constitution, of
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course, that has the overriding force of law. in fact, interestingly, some judges even today confuse the two. there was a famous case -- i won't name the judge's name partly because i can't remember in 2013 when a judge in virginia in our opinion quoted the constitution's famous line that all men are created equal, which of course is not in the constitution and as many generations of scholars will tell you the original 1787 constitution is at best ambivalent on the rights and liberties of black people and many scholars would say you could pin down 10 or 12 pro slavery provisions in the compromise. so that's why he can do that in 1857 and king george iii, i think you know where i'm going to go with this, which is to say
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jefferson has to obvious reason to paint king george in the most diabolical authoritarian, it serves his purpose. the truth is much more newer the par lament is much more developed as he charges. but put it this way. the enduring effect of the declaration has been to demonize and stigmatize king george iii, through his many thoughts was a straightforward random ruler, no better or worse than any other king in england or heads of europe at the time, not the scheming you see. but that impression endures, if you have seen hamilton, an american musical. king george is in several of those and he is depicted as a
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psycho path, who to show his love in air quotes to the columnists will send a fully armed battalion to slaughter them all. that lingering image as king george as a scheming is a general characterization of him. we will take one more. let's go to catherine down here. >> yes, in 1990 there were initiated american demok democratic institutes that did training in europe to countries like hungry, et cetera, that were making the transition from dictatorship and also portuguese, et cetera, that
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was then. now what do you see as the direction in which including in our own country, the -- particularly in the u.s. where the declaration does not have the force of law, that there is a trend away from the -- or is there? do you see a movement away from the equal rights, et cetera, that the declaration has laid out? >> yeah. much specificity that's a broad thing about the declaration. i would say simply that the constitution is not as bad now as i made it out to be in my previous answer. there are plenty of things we can look to in the constitution for protection of our liberties in the 1868 constitution was drafted to get it ratified, bill of rights, for example, was added, the 10 amendments added
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and we look to the bill of rights, the modern day for our liberties and protection and that continues in american political life today. i would also add that in every progressive advancement that bubbles up in 2019 and that will bubble up going forward, we will continue to find activists drawing on that well spring of ideas that we have a founding document, though it does not bear or carry the force of law, which tells us that equality is important. i draw your attention again to this new book by danielle allen called our declaration came out a couple years ago, it was on the previous slide. there it is. notice the subtle book plug for my own book. this book by danielle allen make that is exact point. for every example people drawing on the declaration's promise of equality we have seen so far we can hope and expect that there will be just as many people
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drawing on it as we go forward. so if we use the declaration of our guide, then the declaration is enough. i will stop there. thank you much indeed. weeknights this month we are featuring tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. tuesday the 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon, american history tv and washington journal covered the anniversary of the apollo 11 moon landing with three hours of viewer calls of the space museum on the national wall. guests included astronaut michael collins and director of the air space museum. watch tomorrow night at 8 p.m.
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eastern on c-span 3. >> the first africans to land in english america would land here in 1716. and that would begin an amazing experience in the development of the united states. >> saturday a special american history tv washington journal feature. as we look back to the first arrival of africans to america, 400 years ago, at point comfort historic fort monroe, virginia. at 8:30 a.m. eastern live with norfolk history professor alexander nuby for origins of slavery. and at 9:30, commemorative ceremonies including senator mark warner and cain and justin fairfax. the history of africans in america, from fort monroe live
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saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. on c-span's washington journal and on american history tv on c-span 3. author james nolan looks at foreign visitors to america during different periods. he focus on their thoughts regarding their relationship between individuality and conformity in america and considers the relevance of their analysis today. mr. nolan is the author of what they saw in america, alexis to toteville, max webber, gk tester ton. this is an hour. good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for coming out to be with us tonight. i would also like to say hello to those who are watching the talk on c-span. my name is wi


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