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tv   U.S. Politics Government in the 1790s  CSPAN  August 21, 2019 2:13pm-3:48pm EDT

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ginsburg, her own words. sharon robinson talks about her book, child of the dream. british are many coming. and thomas malone founding director of the mit center for collective intelligence discusses his book super minds. the national book festival, live saturday, august 31st, at 10:00 a.m. eastern on book tv on c-span2. >> american history tv continues now with a look at the first u.s. congress which was seeded in 1790 in new york city. right after that, george washington was inaugurated as america's first president. they now exactly the early years of the federal government and politics of the 1790s. from purdue university this is an hour and a half. >> all right. i think we'll get started. welcome everybody. thanks for coming out early at
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the beginning of the conference. my name is seth i teach history at the university. and i'm here to proceed over this panel. talking about the 1790s then and now thinking about the relationship between the particularly fragile moment in american political history which was the 1790s. and how we might think about what we can learn from that moment and how it connects or maybe it doesn't connect to what's happening in american political history at this moment. so the way this is going to work is i'll introduce the four panelists. each person will talk for five to seven minutes or so and develop a few lines of inquiry. i'll ask a few questions based upon what people have said. and folks will have a chance to have a conversation here. but then we want to leave the last at least 45 or 30 minutes for questions from the audience. so as we go on, please have in mind things that you want to say or things you want to ask about. all right. so i want to introduce folks
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from my left to my right. so first is caitlyn carter. caitlyn is a visiting assistant professor at the university of notre dame. her ph.d. is from pirinceton. she spent the last two years at the university of michigan. she's working on a book that is entitled houses of glass, secrecy transparency and the book of democracy. and i've had the pleasure of reading the manuscript, a book about the french revolution in and the american constitutional moment in 1790s. so it's a trans atlantic history that is both to the french and american context and it's go go to be great. so look for it when it comes out. caitlyn, like several other folks on the panel has written for public outlets as well. she's had a few pieces in the"t washington post" and other places too and engaging the
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public with her work. next to caitlyn is mark boon, he got from the ohio state university. and he's currently an assistant professor of history and department of history and political science at nor itch university in vermont. before that he spent two years in post dock at the new york public library. mark's books which is also in the works, is called" the rise and fall of aristocratic education and the making of the american republican." next to mark is linzi. she got her ph.d. from the urt of california davis. currently the white house hoi historian working for the white house historic cal association. and hers was southern methodist history. her book, she's working on, and is under contract with har vrd university press, is entitled" the president's cabinet, george
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washington and the creation of an american institution." lindsey has written several pieces for popular audience thinking through the cabinet choices that our current president has made and what we might learn from history and thinking that through. and then last but not least at the end is david how. david got his ph.d. from the city university of new york graduate center and current willy assistant professor at the university of north carolina in wilmington. and his book also under contract is to organize the sovereign people, democracy and political mobilization in revolutionary pennsylvania. so thanks to all four of you. and we'll start with caitlyn and work our way down. >> great. can everyone hear me okay? okay. well, thank you first to the conference organizers for putting together this really ks sighting schedule. and to mark for organizing our panel today.
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and all of you, seth, lindsey, david for being here, and all of you coming out early this morning. so i'm just going to give some brief remarks to introduce what my research is about is what i think we'll all do before we jump into questions. so my research has really been informed by the time that i spent working in washington, actually, before i went back to graduate school, which generated a lot of questions for me about how representative government worked, and what made it legitimate. kaitlyn. so what does it mean for government to speak for the people. to what dough agree should elected officials be bound to public opinion? and how should that relationship actually be facilitated and practiced? and i decided to begin to answer these questions, i wanted to go back and needed to go back to the founding of representative democracy in the 18th century. so what i quickly realized was how these questions were central to the founding, and how they were left then and remain today largely unanswered. much of the political history of the united states, i think, comes down to a repeated
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rehashing and reset element of these fundamental questions. so in short the instability of the meek of democracy continues to generate deep disagreements in american political life. so the 1790s i think is critical for identifying the way that americans first grappled with these questions and paradoxes of representative democracy. and what we are witnessing right now, i think, is the break down of a delicately constructed legitimacy of representative government as a democratic form. and the 1790s is particularly useful to examine because it was the period in which that legitimacy was first cemented and also first contested. right. so to get at this process, my reach search is focused on debates over the use of secrecy in the government. and i use that as a lens to try to understand how early americans thought about representative democracy. and in fact i think the issue of secrecy in politics can be used similarly today to identify the same sort of underlying tensions
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over the meaning and function of representative government. so today the mass head of the "washington post" pro claims that democracy dies in darkness. and this conviction that darkness is dangerous to democracy can be traced back to the origin of modern representative government. in the wake of the constitutional convention, the decision to work in secret, which was part of a deliberate effort to make it less susceptible pressure. critics of the constitution and later of george washington presidential launched an attack on using secrets in a government by and for the people. and this critique really grew throughout the 1790s as popular societies identified the use of secrecy as a trick being used to undermine the will of the people. so with my research i argue that attitudes about secrecy were tied to evolving assumptions what it meant to represent the people in government.
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those who envision political representation as a process of mirroring public opinion had a low tolerance for secrecy in the government. while others who understood representation as the advocacy of the people's best interest saw a greater utility for secrecy. so at root my work demonstrates that though it came to be widely seen as dangerous in the 1790s especially, secrecy was establishment in the democracy in the united states. and it's a paradox that i think we have yet to rec on with, actually. so by using decisions and debates about secrecy and transparency in government as a lens to understand the invention of the evolution of representative democracy, my research also explains how transparency became a cornerstone of modern democracies and the way in which state secrecy was deemed particularly dangerous. and these are connotations we
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live with today. and they are the direct result of a transformation in thinking that took place in the latter half of the 1790s. the question remains at the heart meaning and practice of representative politics to this day. and as these debates intensify, they tie the quell back to the meaning of democracy itself. so as a historian i'm not aiming to produce a policy prescription or settle the question of whether secrecy promotes or diminishes democracy, instead i want to explain how, why, and with what effect the question of state secrecy was linked to the meaning of representative democracy in the first place. so attitudes about state secrecy and transparency like understands of democracy representative are not hear historical. they have been shaped in different context over time. and in the modern world we largely still live within the institutional frame works
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created in 18th century which i think should lead us to investigate their construction. so understanding the way debates over secrecy and transparency played out at the foundation of mod turn representative democracy is really essential to clarifying the stakes of those debates today. and i think i'll leave it at that for now and pass it on. >> well, you can hear me, right? this is good. let me first echo kaitlyn's thanks to the copanelists to seth for all of you coming out and conference organizers, i'm excited to be here . i'll break protocol right away. so in 1784 essay appeared in boston magazine called boston magazine and intended to show the quote tendency of establishing private academies in this government. private academies is all caps there. these were privately run state
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chartered schools often founded by pretty prominent individuals usually to serve their own children. to give you the idea the first one in massachusetts was phillip andover. so they continue if there were no such thing a private academy wealthy parents would have to work in their tone to establish a good school in which theout would have it in their power and this would be desirable republican because everyone has to act a part. he says. so the essay finishes with a prediction. if things didn't change, if massachusetts kept founding these privately run pickly chartered secondary schools, the government will be reverted to a no difficult for that part of the community who have as it were monopolized all the reins of knowledge to government and convey them to others who made the same move.
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so i start with this 1780s essay, because it starts a debate that really i think plays out in the 1790s and what my work on the 1790s focuses on is the partisan debate over education policy that the rise of academies these privately run secondary schools bring about. and in that debate, all the participants take for granted what this essayist did, that education was an arbiter of access to political power. and that in other words what i find is that these partisan fights over education policy in the 1790s are essentially larger fight over how to govern the republican and who should govern the republican which was left somewhat unsettled by the u.s. constitution. so you would think that most americans agreed with the boston magazine esissay, that the ideaf
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equal education was absolutely necessary. on an early book he wrote that no theme was no universally articulated as the need for education. bull what i noticed in 1790s in fact the forces political forces are really arrayed against that position for quite some time. so around 175 academies were ubiquitous state legislatures than any type of insurance constitution besides transportation projects and churches. received more government funding direct and indirect than any type of school. and this all happened in the face of arguments like this boston magazine essay that held that since charter academies were created by and served the interest of an elite, they would necessarily produce a country governed by one. so in the face of that, these
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things still opened at quite a clip. the debate crystalized in sort of three positions that i think are really interesting about education. and that carry through in interesting ways through much of american history. so the academies keep getting built because federalists essentially believe in the need for a kind of old school european style ruling class. ment one new york federalist wrote the constitution wouldn't work unless it was administered by men quote that had the confidence and esteem that the world always gives to property and education. right. and academies educated men of property. the critique that academies served an existing elite or essentially aristocratic didn't really fit republican ideals and because they were privately run, it couldn't be changed enough democratically led to a number of different positions for reform. so on the one hand there were
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those that thought they agreed the government and the country should be governed by exceptional man. the problem with that, academies that federalist created didn't really find those people, just sort of credential people who already had claims to status and influence. so really what you need to do is broaden quality of opportunity. and so create a kind of public system that deliberately allowed meritorious people to rise. so you see these in pyramid shaped plans for public education that proliferate in the period that would often have at the base a pretty much universalish for white men common schools up through either a public, state university or even a national university is floated pretty frequently in the period. and then the men who ascended that ladder were seen as sort of the rightful rulers. this sounds a bit like our modern notions of manage tmanag
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a tok kracy. and sufficient to prepare any citizen for public office. in other words, representatives should be made representative. should be representative and this the way to make sure you could have competent ones. in the end, i think this debate reminds us that decisions about who to educate and how our fundamental political questions about how we are governed and by whom. so i'll leave it at that. and pass it down the line. >> thank you all again for being here. i think if i looked at the program correctly, this is the only strictly 18th century panel so i appreciate the sort of vote of support by showing up and engaging in conversation with us. so as seth said, my work is on the president's cabinet and the origins of the cabinet. and as many may know if you look
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at the constitution the word cabinet does not exist and no legislation was ever passed creating it. yet it is an institution that we are all wildly familiar with and public and enduring. so my book set about trying to figure out where it came from and what kind of practices led to its creation, how it evolved and developed and what sort of role it had in the early republican. and i ended up arguing that there were three real origins of the president's cabinet. in particular, washington's military experience from the revolutionary war, he drew several parallels from his counsels of war into his cabinet, so once he determined that a cabinet was necessary to provide the sort of advice and support that he required in the face of constitutional, domestic and internationalal crisis, he drew on what served him well as commander of chief tft continental army. second, all of the states had counsels of state or they had
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governors combs counsels or executive counsels. and first of the members had experience in some way or another, either been a governor. and by and large they kind of thought they were crap. and they really felt that they limited executive authority. they were a tool that the legislative used to control the governor or to control the executive. and that was a system that they were looking to not replicate in the new federal government. finally, the british cabinet. the word cabinet comes from the british government. most americans were very familiar with it. they blamed the british ministers for really instigating the conflict behind the revolutionary war. and while none of the first cabinet members wrote this undorks i believe strongly it was always something on their minds. they knew there was a possibility they might be compared to it. now of course they didn't write it down so i can't say that
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definitively but i believe it strongly. so all of these origins shaped much more than just washington's perspective on the cabinet. they shaped politics, culture, and society in the early republican. the united states was very much part of the international community. and their interactions with that community were reflected in the way that they approached the new nation. i think that the cabinet is a perfect case study to understand the early republic and the government more broadly. it was created in response to challenges and crises that came up that perhaps weren't expected. international forces often forced the cabinet to meet and to respond. this was something that the entire early republic grappled with and really created to meet the needs of the people governing in an organic way when the constitution doesn't provide that many details about what the day-to-day governing experience should actually look like. so this sort of organic reactive
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development is a key to the cabinet and i think it's also a key to the early republic. so all that being said, i still get asked the question why do you study these dead old white guys. don't we know everything about them. what's possibly left to write? it's been hundreds of years. yet the last book written was in 1912 and the origins about the different departments. so sometimes when we think we know something or assume it's been written, it's actually the case it hasn't. so i think that's sort of an experience we have all had is looking back at the 1790s in particular saying there is so much stuff here that needs to be examined and studied and is relevant for all these reasons, first because historians are constantly finding new documents in attics and basements and things we didn't know existed. and second they haven't really been studied. and i think something we are all going to speak to is this decade
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in particular set so many precedents that we are still grappling with today because so much was unwritten in legislation or in the constitution. so the first people in office were really crafting a model that for a better or worse were still dealing with in some ways. for my purposes, i argue that washington's cabinet has left a very significant legacy. obviously, the institution has expanded exponentially. it's institutionalized and national security counsel has usurped a lot of the original functions of the cabinet. and yet each president gets to decide who their closest advisers are going to be. they get to decide if they are members of the cabinet, if they are outside people from the institution, if they are family members. and when we have elections, we ask them who are your foreign security advisers going to be. the constitution says that that should be the senate. but we ask this question because
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we all acknowledge that the president has the power and the right to select their own advisers, to determine what that relationship is going to look like, when they are going to meet with them, when they are going to ask them for stris, whether or not they are going to take that advice. tan there is very little over sight to those relationships. so i think that's a big legacy of the cabinet. and i look forward to our further conversation. >> all right. well i just want to also echo my gratitude for mark and copanelists and the conference organizers. i also think it's worth mentioning it being the 75th anniversary of d day, i find it particularly a moment to see what american democracy means or meant in the 1790s and how that might translate to today. so my work focuses broadly on getting a better understanding of the meaning and scope of the
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democracy in revolutionary america. in particular, i'm looking at gaining a better understanding of how it is that americans participated in the political process and why elections and political parties emerged as the primary vehicles for the expression of the public will. so at the conclusion of the revolutionary war, most americans accepted that citizens had a right to participate in their government. but what this meant in practice remained highly contested. the constitution provided a broad outline of what american democracy would mean. but thorny questions stemming from the amorphous concept of popular sovereignty remained. what we see in the 1790s is real debate emerging what exactly it means to have a government based on the notion of popular sovereignty and how the people have the right to speak. on the one side we have federalists who argued that the constitution quite clearly established elections as the only legitimate expression of
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the public will. beyond casting a ballot, citizens were expected to defer to their elected officials. they could petition but they were table to ignore this right. in effect, federalists believed that by doing a ball lot succeeded at least until the next election. they had the public symbolically through attendance at parades, festivals and celebrations. but these rituals were inherently differential and designed nationalism and rev ance for the federal government. so in contrast to this deferential of this, they had
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their will. so these americans drawing inspiration from french turned to different forms of mobilization such as town rallies in an effort to engage the public more directly in the deliberative process and give them a voice. some residents even went so far as to reject the legitimacy of the constitutional government and turn to violence as a way to assert individual sovereignty. in the mid 1790s however i argued that two events did the limit of these forms of popular sovereignty. the first being the whiskey revolution seemed to quite clearly indicate the dangers of he can es democracy. just an as if not more important the failure to prevent the in pla mentation of the jade tree which they admit to embarrassing toening land and humiliating
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until sult to ally in france. so i suggest these two events seem to point to the fact that the constitution had had been built to be insulated from these forms of public and popular politics. so as a result, beginning in 1796, critics of the federalists began to abandon their efforts to engage the public more directly in the governing process and started to focussing on winning elections. this process, which occurred from the top down, bottom up, middle out, resulted in the emergence of the republican party. this new party organization would serve as an intermediary body between the people and the government. instead of engaging directly in the deliberative process, citizens were encouraged to participate in the political party through a variety of means they could attend local meetings and communicate with like minded individuals. they could oversee election efforts and help nominate candidates. the understanding was, however,
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that when the election was over, citizens would defer the actual governor go governor go to their representatives. so in this sense they did a retreat from a more participatory form of democracy advocated in the early 1790s. what's more as been pointed out by several copanelist, that the rise of the jeffersonian republican party also necessitated the coalition of building which resulted in pushing more radical views to the fringes, if not out of the public sphere all together. however, i would argue the party structure ultimately succeeded because it produced results where other forms of mobilization had failed. the voter turnout surged in the years following the emergence of the republican party and recent scholarships say they became more engaged in the political
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process than ever before. what's more, incidents of political violence which had spiked in the 1790s declined dramatically as partisans worked to harness popular passions and channel them into more constructive political action. now, it's worth pointing out that the party system would ultimately fail when confronted with the deviissue of slavery. but i believe it ultimately succeeded and emerged as a powerful tool for the people to assert their will. >> all right. thanks. so what i want to do is just draw out sort of the four big questions, themes that we had developed here and give folks a chance to weigh in a bit morph they want and then turn it over to you all for questions. as i listen to these four presentations, for some reason i started this i go about originalism.
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and the idea that here's a constitution and here are the words and that's what we need to know. and what these four presentations suggest is that there is a whole host of other things that surround the constitution. the political culture that makes a constitution function that brings it to life. the constitution as we all know was an organic metaphor that people would refer to the body as a constitution. and it's healthy or less healthy, more functioning or less functioning. and the words on the page or the physical structure of a body is not sufficient to fully understand what makes a constitution healthy or less healthy. and so what i heard kaitlyn talk about is basically the problem of trust which is the problem that we currently are living through as well. what is it the role that trust plays in a healthy policy and healthy republic and healthy democracy? and as kaitlyn showed, it's not
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a simply matter if we show you everything you will trust us, right. if we have more hearings on benghazi, then we will produce trust. doesn't work that way. but yet trust is important somehow. it's an essential ingredient. and this is was one of the questions in 1790s is should we trust the people who we have empowered to run this -- to staff these positions in the government. so that's the first, the question of trust. mark's presentation made me think about the problem of equity or the problem of fairness. how how essential is it for a republic or democracy to have less extremes of wealth and poverty? oftentimes we tend to look at these socio economic realm being separate from political realm.
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and what mark suggests is even back in the 1780s and 1790s people were thinking very self-consciously about what sort of social structure or economic arrangements make for a more well functioning, healthier constitutional democracy. and what is the role that the state itself should play in fostering such a world? and, obviously, anyone familiar with this knows one of the great concerns about 18th seebt centu liberty and state power. so clearly answer wasn't in 18th century, they just thought the states should make everything equal and everything would be great. but yet it's not clear that the answer is everyone thought the state should just do nothing and let things work out as they were already. so that seems to me like a rich and fruitful place to dig in.
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third, and by the way i'm not suggesting that mark hasn't thought about this. so framing it for all of us, right, to sort of think through this. lindsey's presentation made me think about the role of norms which is something we have been talking about for the last three or four years, probably more so than we have in the past. but this has been an issue in american political history since the 1990s especially, but long past. anyone familiar with john free man book about the break down of norms and civility in the congress in 1850s, and again nothing in the constitution, so many of these norms are just customs or they are traditions or habits or procedures. what is the status of those? how seriously should we take them? how do they get built? why do people build them? why do they evolve and shift and change over time? obviously, the cabinet has
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changed over time, right. yet it's also remained constant in the whole host of ways. and how did the people who built the country, how self-conscious were they about establishing a set of norms? cultural norms. and why would did they see those cultural norms contributing to the health of a constitutional republic? and then, finally david's presentation made me think about the political party. as we all know, the this continuing that none of the founders ever thought or expected or hoped would emerge, and within a couple years there they were. and so what is it the role of a political party? how should we think about parties? i mean, parties always change over time. but this feels like a particularly transitional and pivotal moment for both
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political parties. and how should we think about the role that -- and it's also a moment when political parties have less buyin than historically they have when more and more ordinary citizens don't identify incredibly stronger with one party or another. is that a good thing? is that a bad thing? how should we think about the roles that these imperfect institutions that the founders did not want to exist called political parties, how should we think about the way they contribute or don't contribute to the health of a constitutional policy? so those are my four rubrics or general questions around the political culture in the 1790s and what we might learn about it and use it as a touch town thinking about where we are today. so you folks have thoughts, take it away, then we can turn it over to the audience. >> all right.
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yeah, i'll start. so i think i'll address the issue of trust which i think you addressed at me. it's absolutely central. and as you say it's central today. and it was central then. and i think that actually brings me back to what david was speaking about is there are kind of different visions of what's going to -- what should make you trust politicians. right. and the federalist vision is really you should trust us because we are wise and we are natural leaders in some sense because of that. and if you've elected us, then we are working in your best interest. and that is where the trust should come from. and i think on the opposite side of that democrat republicans in the 1870s, and they are saying, no, that's not really where trust should come from. it seems to be sym tiesstem sys some way. and those people they elected
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were supposed to be faithful with where they wanted them to do. so that's where the notion of transparency comes in. becomes they agetting trust. and it becomes complicated that we can break it down in that way. when we think about what should be secret or transparent, really it is situational. a lot of us have -- and just speaking from experience or in the modern world, a lot of us it comes down to a situational question. and it usually is secrecy is okay if we think that it's being used to advance a policy that is beg beg good. but if we think it's being used to advance a policy that's corrupt or bad and being used to hide it so that it's not known about and there can't be backlash to it or influence on it, then secrecy is pernicious.
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and i think a lot of that comes down to trust. do we trust the people making that decision and do we agree with the decision. so it ends up being complicated and really hard to up being com and really hard to draw firm lines in terms of when we think it's necessary and not. it often is situational and it often comes back to that issue of trust. >> so i'll tackle equity. no small thing. the obvious thing here, right, is all men are created equal, this is right there in the founding moment. sometimes i think we take for granted just how much they think about the founding generation thinks about the connection between arrangements of wealth and status and the political system. and so, as david and katelyn have been talking about, the federalist sort of take this position that we're wise, therefore, we should be in power. but where does wisdom come from, how do you prove it, how do you
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convince somebody you are wise? the old way in europe, you're wealthy, you have status and it gets passed down and it makes sense that you rule. even the federalists have to confront that notion that the hereditary basis for understanding who you can trust is nonsense. this is why they turn to education as a way to kind of launder the privilege they already have that they think should give them this kind of claim on people's trust. that's not totally equal, though. so i think that is in large measure what jeffersonians are responding to and i think that's where education policy fits in, which is to try and create both more democratic economic arrangements but in turn more democratic political arrangements. and the kind of nexus there is the school system. so they used the state to do
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this in the same way the federalists do. that's an important point that seth alluded to. this is not a sit back and do nothing moment. if you zoom in especially at the state level, everybody is trying to use the state to create the kind of version of the relationship between economic and political arrangements that they desire. so all three of the groups that i was talking about earlier all see a pretty prominent role for the state. the federalists we usually think of as the big government types. their education policy tends to be a less direct use of state power, chartering private groups to do something and funding it through indirect means like a lottery. what you get with republicans is a real sense that in order to make a more democratic political arrangement, you need to essentially distribute resources through taxes to create schools that can then use that money to
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make a more democratic political system. that is inherently intervening in the economic arrangements in the society. we don't aufb thioften think of anti-federalists more radical jeffersonians thinking this way. robert korum of delaware who is this interesting guy who thinks that not only should the government give the people universal education and redistribute some property, but government owes it to the people to do this because the inequality present in the society is a product of the creation of society and the creation of government, so they need to kind of mitigate the unnatural inequalities they've produced. i mean, he's pretty successful. the delaware public schools as they develop in the 19th century start with a school fund, like a kind of endowed fund that korum gets passed, i think taxing
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tavern licenses. anyway, you see this use of state power to kind of create your own arrangement between economic and political democracy across the board. >> so to address norms and customs, i think it's important to start with a disclaimer, which is that i cannot overstate the amount of anxiety that pervaded the 1780s and the 1790s. it's hard to look back and actually get a sense of what that's like because we know what happened, but there was a widespread and constant fear of failure. the history of republics was a sad one that was full of unhappy endings, and most of the people that were in office knew this history. and so they were deeply concerned that if they failed once they were in office, the
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republic would fail. this was their last shot. they weren't particularly worried about what washington was going to do. this sort of goes back to trust. he had such a reputation that they were pretty confident that he was going to figure it out. they were worried what was going to happen afterwards and they were worried what was going to happen when maybe someone who was slightly less trustworthy would come into office. and they expected that virtuous and upstanding men would serve, and if they stopped acting in that way, they expected that they would be turned out of office through election or through impeachment. i think there was a fairly widespread expectation that impeachment was going to be wlrks it be for judges or members of congress or members of the executive branch, a more heavily utilized tool to keep political behavior in check.
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in terms of norms within the actual branches of government, creating institutions is one thing and filling them with people is an important part of it, but having that culture that actually functions and gets people to accept those institutions and actually makes the institution plug along and work is really where those norms come in. the idea was that if you could establish norms ensured that there would be little "r" republican virtue in every branch of government, then the institutions would probably have a good chance of surviving. what that meant looked really different to different people. for example, to washington, that meant combining a simple homespun wool suit for his inauguration that was made in the united states. it was very nice homespun, but it was made in the united states, with diamond shoe
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buckles. so he had a combination of american made products that were simple and not ostentatious with just a little bit of flash. alternatively, he had the fanciest coat in all of north america. it was cream colored with gold trim. the sleevesthat attended to it had sparkling blue uniforms with matching trim. his horses matched. to show he was a common man, he would take a walk in philadelphia and get his boots muddy just like everyone else in the sewage of philadelphia. that was to demonstrate you were a virtuous republican. as they were working through these norms, it was very much a deliberative process. there was no one right answer. washington had one vision, hamilton had had another vision, jefferson had another vision. if you compare the jefferson portraits that were done over
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the course of his lifetime, there's a portrait that's done when he comes back from his time in france and he has this super frilly lace cravot and he has a portrait done later and it shifts to a much more simple streamlined look. by the time he was president, he was looking down rigright shabb. that was intentional to convey a sort of way of governing. these norms were constantly shifting. they were constantly being negotiated and some of them, i think, still continue to govern today. there's the expectation that people will not profit off of office. that was something that was a norm that was expected from the very beginning and has carried through, whereas we don't expect the president to show up to congress in a cream colored
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carriage. so a constant shifting process. >> i'm going to take a stab at sort of addressing all of them, because i think it all comes down to this question of how exactly do you keep a representative government from failing, particularly when you deal with the fact that at the time, at least, it was universally accepted that man was at base selfish. when humans are left to their own devices, they pursue their own self-interests. they're hass ee're lazy. they choose ignorance over education. if you start from that premise, whether it be from the fall of adam, natural law state, self-government is a terrible idea. democracy is a terrible idea if you're starting from that premise because you're basically giving it to the people that are guaranteed to abuse it. and yet there is this experiment in doing just that.
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and i think the founders were acutely aware of the fact that citizens needed to be molded and shaped in order for this to succeed, that there was this hope that perhaps, yes, mankind is naturally wicked and prefers ignorance and selfishness, but through institutions, be it norms, be it schools, be it trust in who's in office, that perhaps these citizens might be able to succeed as a republic. for me, i see political parties emerging as this perennial balance between liberty and order, power and liberty. the question of how you balance having a popular government where you want people involved, you want people paying attention, because ultimately there is still this sense that power corrupts. if left unchecked, power
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corrupts. even the most educated, although washington was apparently not, the most educated will still corrupt. so they must be watched, but who's going to watch them? one way you could do that is have everybody watch it, which is not really effective or realistic. ultimately i think the party emerges as a way to keep the public engaged, informed and active while at the same time channelling some of that energy directly into achievable goals, as opposed to each individual trying to pursue individual goals and ends. a party system functions more or less as a filter, not unlike the way madison had imagined the representative system working, the idea being that at each level somebody can participate, have their voice heard, and in the process it will filter up. it's very idealistic and it's
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absolutely true that none of them wanted it, most of them didn't think they were a part of it. you can debate all you want whether they actually were parties. i think in the end it actually comes down to a matter of semantics. how you define a party decides whether parties existed. but the role i think they play, the role i think it could play continues to be keeping people involved, engaged and informed, recognizing that when left to our own devices, not because there's anything inherently wrong with every american, but perhaps it's human nature to choose selfishness and ignorance over information and virtue, that in order to combat that we need to be trained, we need to be taught, we need norms and institutions to help prevent us from falling back into our natural instincts. >> thank you. all right.
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so let's turn over to the audience for questions. so raise your hand. we have a question over here. >> thank you all, first of all. >> wait for the -- we have a mike pho microphone coming. we're on tv. >> i forgot. thank you for starting a wonderful conversation on the subject. i'm john larson from here at purdue. i'm struck by something katelyn said kind of in passing but which i think will lift all of this into an interesting then and now conversation. that's the idea of good or bad policies. the american founding in my understanding is such a product of the enlightenment era notion that some things are good, some things are bad, we can tell the difference, and that right thinking, decent, honorable people will concur about what is right and what is wrong. so all you have to do is make sure that the bad guys aren't
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pursuing bad policies and let the good guys pursue good policies and we'll get there. and almost immediately what begins to rear its ugly head is the fact that we don't agree on what are good or bad policies. we barely agreed even then, because most americans were not, in fact, enlightenment philosophies, but as david said, self-interested individuals with a lot of interests. over time as you get into a global, pluralistic, wildly incompatible set of values and norms around the world, how on earth do we expect this procedure to result in people concurring on what is good or bad policy in 2019? the possibilities are just almost beyond imagining. >> i'll jump in just to give an initial response to that.
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that's something i've thought about a lot, and i think you're right that there was a fundamental belief at the time that if reasonable people had all the information, they would agree that something is good or bad. and i think what's really significant is that they don't let go of that for a long time. so i mean, after the whiskey rebellion, for example, washington is writing in his letters, you know, i'm convinced that if people just knew the truth of this, they could not possibly be so mad about it, they would acquiesce to this. he's really convinced it's a result of people manipulating information and spreading misinformation. and i think that actually that brings us to the sedition act. that actually is, you know, strategic politics aside, which largely it was that, but i do think there was a sincere effort behind that on the part of many federalists actually to say, you know, there's too much misinformation going around and if we could just have a referee, if we could just get things straight, that people would
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agree with them, they thought, but people would be able to identify what is good and bad. but i think you're right. what it comes down to is that's not a matter of reason necessarily or truth. it's a matter of judgment and opinion. so how do we actually deal with that? and i think we haven't really answered that question. >> you bring up sedition. jefferson actually had an argument with galleton after because he wanted to use the sedition act to silence his critics, because unlike his people being arrested in the '90s, his people were telling the truth. so there's no harm in arresting people who tell falsehoods, but it's wrong to arrest people who tell the truth thanch. >> that's the most jefferson thing ever. >> what's that? >> that's the most jefferson thing ever. >> oh yes, of course. >> it's actually useful for us to think about the motives
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behind the sedition act. and there are federalists after the election of 1800 who fight to extend it, actually, though they know they might be on the receiving end of punishment through that. but i think there is a sincere effort to say that there's a problem with lying and misinformation and that that's a real problem. and we should recognize the sedition act as related to that genuine concern. but at the same time i think serves as a warning, because as you say, that's not a solution when one team, so to speak, is calling themselves the referee, because that's not a neutral notion of defining truth and falsehood. >> who adjudicates how partisan the press was in the 1790s. the federalist newspaper said this thing. well, of course the jeffersonian newspaper is going to say, you say x, we say not x, you're lying, no you're lying, no
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you're lying. t the notion of the press hadn't emerged yesterday. the federalists were like who's going to decide? we will. the government should decide. >> it's a great question. i think this pursuit of the one truth did ultimately blow up in a number of instances. yet while, yes, they held onto it, i mean, people still hold on very dearly today. we bemoan the bipartisanship of the senate. there is this sense that if we as individuals would get outside of our partisan bubble and talk to each other, that perhaps, while not agreeing with each other, we might at least be able to understand each other. i'm not all together convinced that's incorrect. i think part of the structures we've set up force us or enable us to have contact with primarily people we agree with face to face and a lot of people we disagree with over the
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internet. as a result, we don't engage in real conversation. now, it's not the same as, you know, sitting down and following logic to the one reasonable truth, but this notion that deliberation cannot still produce some at least useful ends in a democracy, i think it still exists. and perhaps it's gone, and that may be the case, but it is worth noting that there is still a strong sense that we as americans agree on more than we disagree, we just don't know it. >> i'll jump in with one thing. since you brought up sedition, the other thing i noticed about these policy fights is also how some of the people who seemingly are most committed to the ideal there's right and wrong, good and bad policy and you can come
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to it through rationale deliberation also come to some really kooky ideas. i'm thinking of the bavarian thing surrounding the sedition act. a man created the first geographies meant to teach kids geography of the united states and make them good thoughtful americans. he's convinced the bavarian illuminati has created a revolution and there's designs against the united states. even to the people committed to rationale deliberation, i see there's another illuminati in new hampshire. a priest comes up with the idea that the feds are basically distorting truth and distorting people's understanding of what is and isn't real through churches and universities. that's the new england ill lum
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that t ati. there's this mistrust among people who otherwise would agree. >> conspiracies and lack of trust in the political culture, that's one symptom, right. when the conspiracy theories start to bloom, there's a sign there's a kind of weakening of that trust. yeah. >> hello. my name's bill white. i teach in the cornerstone program here at purdue, but in another life i was actually a historian. i walked into graduate school in 1969, not quite 1912 when the book on the cabinet was written, but a long, long time ago. so i have a generic history graphic question that i want to take all the panelists to the
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first word of the conference, remaking american political history. are there sources or questions that you and other scholars are asking in 2018-2019, 2020 that just would not have been asked, would never have been thought of when i walked into graduate school 50 years ago? >> great question. thank you. somebody want to be brave and go first? >> sure. so i think that from my own personal work there has been a renewed turn to looking at institutions as structures, as bodies of people who are responding to international issues and pressures and trying to prove themselves on an international stage, to understanding that the states -- the federal state was much larger and powerful than perhaps
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we initially gave it credit for and formed much earlier. my work suggests that sort of the executive turn of the federal government was actually much earlier than a lot of previous scholarship suggested, a lot of previous scholarship puts that turn after the civil war and my work suggests that there was a lot of executive energy and intensity from the very beginning. so we've mentioned the whiskey rebellion, we've mentioned the french revolution and neutrality crisis, jay's treaty, these are all instances that i use to show that washington and the cabinet really seized the opportunity to embolden the executive branch and boost presidential authority and power way earlier than would have been previously argued. so i think the institutional turn is a big one for me that i see and looking at it beyond
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sort of just a biographical focus, but saying what are sort of the cultural forces that are shaping this institution, what are the international forces, and how do we study it as a body of people? >> i will jump off of this. i think the institutional stuff especially about the rise of the federal state is related to questions of putting things in a broader transatlantic context. katlyn can definitely talk about this more authoritatively than i can, but i'm not sure when palmer's democratic revolution came out, if it was before or after you got to graduate school, but i think all of us take for granted that the american revolution had impact on the stories we're telling. later the haitian revolution. and that this could affect the way the institutional structure, the norms, the ability to maintain norms, the ability to maintain trusts, that all of these currents are coming in and -- from the outside and that
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it's not just this sort of internal dialogue among insulated, you know, pennsylvanians and virginians and maybe some nationalist-minded people. i think that there's a notion that this broader context is pretty important. >> i will just jump off of that. i think both of those things are exactly right. i would just add one other thing to that which is i think there's a renewed investigation of democracy which david was talking about also. there's a real -- i think there was a long trend in american history to take it for granted that it's democratic -- you know, it was democratic, it's inventing a democracy, we live in a democracy. i think there is a renewed questioning among historians, what was that actually, what did it mean to people at the time, how was that constructed, how is a represented democracy constructed because that was a new concept at the time. it took a lot of work to actually think of and legitimate. so i think there has been a renewed investigation of that and i think, like all historical moments, it's coming from, you know, current questions and crises are informing the kind of historical questions that we're
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asking. >> thank you. >> so i would just add that the broad investigation of culture and as part of that the inclusion of people that were previously ignored, which is something that, you know, we haven't necessarily gone into great detail about, but looking at how it is that african-americans, looking how it is that women, you know, the poor, how did they participate in the political process? what did these institutions and ideas mean to them? where do native americans fit in this story? some of these questions were asked beginning right around when you started, but i think, you know, just as we might take for granted that the french revolution played a part, there's almost an extent to which we now take it for granted that, of course, we're including discussions of these previously
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excluded groups, but it is worth emphasizing that, you know, this look at political culture more broadly is designed in part to take account for these other voices. >> and i would say for me the question of liberalism and i will liberalism not in a louie hart's sense, but as we look at the resurgence of what we could call illiberalism, conservative illiberalism, whether it be in the u.s. or around the world, that i as someone who went to college at the tail end of the cold war, that illiberalism was understood to be something of the past, it was around but was eventually fading and going away, and liberalism the sort of liberal threads were the future. so -- and that shaped the way we told the history of, say, for example, the alien and sedition acts which are always understood as these weird 18th century things that we then shed and went away because of course we don't talk about immigrants that way because, of course, we don't
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talk about, you know, the government sort of playing a really strong forceful role in culture, whatever it might be. or conspiracy theories, thinking about the roles that those play in a particular political culture that i had maybe taken less seriously as objects of study that now appear to be the kind of coexistence of illiberalism and liberalism in american political culture, whether that be the existence of slavery or patriarchy or all these illiberal forms of culture and social structure that filter into politics and shape politics in a way. so that's just something that has been of renewed interest to me but which hadn't been when i went to graduate school in the '90s.
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>> thank you all for your lovely papers. i'm johann niemm. as much as i would never disagree with my colleague john larson whose work i respect so much i want to disagree on his depiction of the enlightenment and that leads to a question which is, you know, that i don't think the enlightenment was quite as heroic or, you know, good versus bad as he portrayed it, but rather as carolyn winter's work suggests there was a more humble approach, more empirical, more investigative, more practical. you know, there was a real humility to the capacity to generate knowledge during the enlightenment and that humility has implications for policy making in terms of what works, what doesn't, what's good, what's bad. it seems to me the four papers are asking questions around if we take the enlightenment that sort of idea of investigation and finding out how things can
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work seriously, the four papers are asking these questions and i just want to hear your reflections on it about the 1790s, who gets to deliberate and where, who is able to deliberate and how do we translate institutionally the products of that deliberation into policy. so i would just -- those are just some thoughts that i had that i would love to hear your thoughts about. thank you. >> so i would -- i would absolutely agree with the -- i mean, part of the problem with defining the enlightenment as anything is that there's going to be a counter example that's just as much a part of the enlightenment, but i think you're right that it's as much a recognition that they don't know and that the idea of empirical evidence and right hand deliberation can lead to progress, if not the ultimate single truth. there was this hope that maybe you can, you know -- some of the writing, i think, pointed to this maybe state of nirvana, but
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i agree. the question of who gets -- and how -- and who gets to deliberate and how i think it fundamental to our country today as just as it was then because what does it actually mean to be involved in this deliberative process when what happens in government is by definition beyond the scope of what most americans are capable of discussing. i mean, we as individuals have lives, i mean, even today when information is so widely available and we have c-span that can broadcast what's occurring in congress, i mean, you know, i don't know what the house is debating today, and part of that is because i've got my own life to live. so what does it mean to participate in the deliberative process? i would love to have that answer. at the time i would say ultimately the understanding would resolve around property owners, of course, but
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nevertheless there was this sense that you could participate through your actions, whether it be demonstrating patriotism, demonstrating a love for liberty. >> just building off of that, i wanted to mention two things, which is that they were deeply concerned -- the people who were doing the deliberating were deeply concerned about who was doing the deliberating and recognizing that it was a really complicated process and the issues facing the nation and the issues facing trying to sort of figure outer these problems required a lot of knowledge and experience and practice. if you only served one term in the house for two years, you are not going to acquire the knowledge and the practice and the experience necessary to wrap your head around these things. so madison in the federalist
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papers talks about this extensively, that his biggest concern was that especially in -- you know, in the 1780s in the house you just had this revolving door of congressmen and how can you have an effective government if they don't know what they're doing. i also want to mention that there was a hope that people would get better at it. there was a hope that the next generation would have more understanding and would come to better agreements. i often call the constitution a hodgepodge of compromises and suggest that all of -- most of the participants, i would even go so far as to say all the participants felt as though they didn't get everything they wanted and knew that there were things on the table that were going to be a problem and they hoped that future generations would be able to come to a better solution than they had. so i think that's a really
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important thing to remember when we are talking about this sort of first generation is they understood their limitations very, very much. >> i'm going to answer your first question with your second. i think who gets to deliberate is who is able and i think the problem -- that's the problem, right? one of those questions in theory answers the other and that's what they kind of have to deal with and sometimes that's -- and i think this runs back to the original revolutionary constitution making, it's definitely there in the constitutional convention. what should -- what should differentiate the senate from the house? well, it's something about ability, but how do you define what the ability is to create the greatest deliberative body, right, in the world. and so i think that this -- i don't have an answer because i think it's kind of -- it sort of runs in a circle in some ways. >> i just have a -- i will just jump on quickly to say i think as lindsay say they were extremely concerned with deliberation, how it could best work. something i've been thinking a lot about is the way they discuss conditions for deliberation and particularly the use of secrecy and its utility to deliberation is essentially to insulate the process from factional passions, they talk a lot about passions.
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so the ideas that you need to have a cool, right hand space that is separate from all of that where you can actually have solid and sound deliberation and i've been thinking a lot about that, you know, in our modern world because the notion that you should have any space or time to deliberate and complete a policy or make a policy is almost antithetical to our media environment and to the way that politics works now. it's so much fast, you know, go, go, go, and we want to see everything and we want to talk about every step of the process and pundits are annualizing it all the time. so in many ways i think where we have arrived at is very, very different from the vision that many of the framers of the constitution had and to some extent, i mean, part of that is just technological innovation, but also it's, you know, changes in values and expectations and so i think that thinking that through and thinking through
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that transformation is challenging, but very -- you know, potentially really interesting. that's a very wide open answer. >> thomas pane i think it's in rights of man said the people will not decide wrong unless they decide too hastily, something like that. he had this faith that if you just let the people decide -- now, sometimes they might make mistakes, but that's only if you don't do it right, if you go too fast or if there's self-interest that finds its way in there. i'm also thinking about like whenever i teach about the revolutionary era i always remind students that the largest city -- i teach alt salem, oregon, in salem, oregon, which is 150,000 people, which is, you know, roughly three to four times the size of the largest city in the united states in the 1790s. so the extent to which people live in these face-to-face
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communities, so like robert quorum who was brought up by mark, his idea of how you should adjudicate property disputes you just get trusted people in your community to sit together, sort through it all and make a decision. lawyers and the legal system is the way that rich people tilt property arrangements to your own benefit. come on, if we were just all in a room, you get seven trusted people you can figure this out. i think for payne and some of the people who followed him, there is this image and common sense of people under a tree. the first legislature will just be everyone sitting under a tree hashing it out. cool, got our rules, let's go
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back home. we are just sitting under the tree and we can work this out, unless we do it too quickly or are doing it in bad faith. depending on my mood sometimes i think that's the most inspirational thing i have ever heard and other times i think that is the dumbest idea i have ever heard. today i think it's a cool idea. yeah. >> hi. thank you so much. i'm cole jones, i have the honor and privilege to teach early american history here at purdue. so i was thrilled to see a panel in my specialty. but my question is really for all the panel. how does your research speak to a tension that seems to exist in this fragile period of the 1790s between the desire to create a new government based on this principle of popular sovereignty with the desire to create a government that would be respectable in the eyes of the world, right, what elijah gold calls treaty worthiness, that they must be among the powers of the earth. it seems like all of your papers in some way reflect this tension and it seems to me a tension that has some contemporary relevance today. on the one hand balancing the desires of the constituents who elected the president with this desire to also balance the u.s.
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position vis-a-vis the rest. world. so if you could elucidate that a bit for us i would appreciate it. >> well, i will just say that i think part of it is this question of, you know, how do you achieve respectability. i mean, is it through emulating the old world, you know, is it -- is it through getting as close to, you know, england as you can because that's their role model, or do you seek to provide some other example. and i think there was a lot of tension there about how much to focus on what it would mean to have a radically self-governing country versus one that is a nation among the nations. so, i mean, i know for me they were acutely aware that people were watching globally, but at the same time i think it's worth remembering that just as people did not live in cities and while
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the global turn is very important, the vast majority of americans were much more concerned with their day to day lives. so, you know, if we are talking about average americans, i would say that they were probably -- you know, they would know about it, but they were a little more concerned about their basic needs. >> so my work very literally encapsulates these two quandaries in the cabinet. you had alexander hamilton on one hand who was advocating for this very sort of global, banking, merchant heavy, respectable sort of english-based system with strong military power and strong presidency and then you had thomas jefferson who was supportive of some of those things in much smaller doses but
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had a different vision of what they should look like and they literally duked it out in the cabinet to the point where thomas jefferson described the cabinet meetings as a cock fight. there is no better way to describe that. if you think of sort of a bloody, violent spectacle where you're fighting to the death, and they did meet in a room that was 15 by 20 feet, filled with furniture, it was five very large men by the standards of the day and they met for hours at a time, they met up to five times per week in the summer of 1793. we know that that summer was very hot and humid because there was a very bad yellow fever outbreak that fall. they had no air conditioning, it was philadelphia, it was very
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humid and they hated each other by that point and they were just locked in these battles over, you know, in some ways really small details of things, but in some ways this much larger vision of what the nation was going to look like. i'm not sure that actually answers the question of, you know, which one -- i mean, i don't think necessarily either came out on top. hamilton's vision of sort of banking and merchant system sort of transpired, but there is a jeffersonian ideal that a lot of people hold very closely to. so in some ways that battle is still sort of the political concepts that we're grappling with today. >> it's a great question. so i think there's a lot going on there, but in the work i do you see both -- there's sort of anxieties about how europe views americans and there's anxieties about how europe views america. so what i see is a lot of the impulse towards -- in federalist education policy is one status anxiety among elites trying to hold their position. you see this weird outpouring of dancing schools and french
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schools right after the revolution. they are supposed to have -- everybody is dressed in home spun fighting a revolution about virtue in the face of luxury and then the officer corps comes out and goes and learns how to do a minuet. that's definitely what you are talking about and it's really weird, but that has implications for how government resources get used, should you create schools, universities, institutions that teach people to do that because on the international stage having somebody who can talk into, you know, a court and do a minuet is pretty important, or do you need to do the thing where you teach people how to be -- as johann said before, a humble kind of practical enlightenment that would maybe make -- would make the new more republican american version of things take root. in all sorts of policy arenas where historians wouldn't have noticed this years ago it's become evident it's not just necessarily the socioeconomic stuff i'm talking about but also this kind of geopolitical
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situation that we are now aware of because of work like gould and others. >> i would just say that i think you're absolutely right to identify this tension and i think you're right that it endures to this day, but one thing that i think is significant about the 1790s is that some of these things are changing the international community is really changing. so, for example, when i'm thinking about the use of secrecy, a lot of times it's justified on the basis of an international level. we need to keep secrets to be able to function as a government internationally. so that seek ratty is necessary in military realms and diplomacy, for example. but with the french revolution there is a movement to change that, actually, in the international community. i mean, the french are talking about all diplomacy should be open. jenair comes to the u.s. and said we have abandoned the crooked ways of diplomacy and i'm going to do everything in the open. there are interesting ways in
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which i think international norms and questions about things are changing at the same time. so the u.s. is -- this kind of move to adopt aristocrat tick french mannerisms and clothing and things like that, soon that's going to be a lot more complicated because the french revolution is actually throwing that stuff out and, of course, not everyone goes with it, but i think it complicates those questions a lot. >> we have ten minutes. i want to gather a few questions. i want to be sure everyone gets a question to ask. if you have a question raise your hand. there's something back there. over here as well. >> so thank you all so much. i was listening to your papers wondering if maybe an institution that could bring them all together would be the u.s. senate in the 1790s, it meets in secret, it's supposed to be the bastion of the elite, it's supposed to be the cabinet but it doesn't quite work out that way and it's not directly elected, it's kind of separated
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from popular politics to some extent. could you weave all of the themes together maybe in an edited volume about the senate to make that work? i'm just wondering if you have given thought to whether or not that could be the representative body for all of these ideas. >> thank you. and we had a question over here. while we are waiting is there anyone else who has a question who wants to ask? okay. >> because these were face-to-face communities i was wondering if the location of the capital is changing your deliberations that you're seeing about each of these issues. does it matter when it's in new york or philadelphia or washington and that 15 by 20 foot overheated room, does it matter where that room is and where the shaded tree is? >> thank you. any other questions? so we will sort of take those together. a question about the senate and a question about location. take it away. >> well, i will start with location. you know, i mean, i deal a lot with pennsylvania and it factored heavily into what occurred in the federal
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government. i mean, philadelphia was the sort of preeminent city to begin with, it had sort of established itself as the economic heart and once it became the political heart what happened not just in the politics of pennsylvania, but in philadelphia i think factored heavily into what occurred in government. i mean, pennsylvania had a long history of fractitious politics, much more so than some of its neighbors which weren't to say that those were peaceful, either. and that definitely spilled over into what was occurring in congress. i mean, these individuals were talking to each other, they were interacting with each other. it's an interesting sort of counterfactual about how washington might have responded to the whiskey rebellion had it not been in pennsylvania, but the fact that it was made it all the more important that the federal government show a force. as to the question in the
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senate, you know, i think that's a good point. you know, one thing that i would say, though, is that it's worth looking at the process of selecting the senators themselves could be very contentious and i think this is one of the problems you get into with any sort of body of that sort, that egos and personalities clash and, you know, if you look at william mcclay's diary from the first senate, i mean, all he does is sit there and grumble. and part of that is, you know, he's performing for an audience back home, but based on that evidence it didn't appear to be working out very well as a deliberative body. again, it's one disgruntled voice, but when you're passing notes about the weight of the vice president, might not be the best example. >> so the senate question first. actually, i just want to back up. in response to your whiskey
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rebellion comment, he didn't do anything when north carolina or kentucky ignored the tax. >> that's right. >> so i think you're absolutely right that pennsylvania was really important. in response to the senate, so washington, of course, has his very famous august 22nd, 1789 visit to the senate which we know because of mcclay's diary, it goes very badly. he has these expectations that the senate is going to operate like a council of war and the senate's are going to debate like his officers would and offer him advice and instead it acts like a perfect legislative body and refers it to committee and asks him to come back later. so he says that he's never going to go back and he doesn't. so i think that really speaks to the norms issue that we've been talking about a lot and how
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that's very much in flux. in terms of the location, it absolutely shifts a lot in terms of the cabinet. so in philadelphia the heart of the city was very much around high street or market street and hamilton and jefferson lived six blocks from each other and they were sort of the outskirts of the cabinet community. they went to the same shops, they went to the same tailors, they went to the same social environments. they could not avoid each other if they wanted to, it was very much a hot house for political tensions and elite society was all in that one little clump. when the capital moves to washington, d.c. it's much more spread out. there are little chunks of communities, sort of the -- it's an older work, but james young's the washington community talks about how sort of the executive branch people cluster around the
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executive branch buildings and the legislative branch building people cluster and there is a wilderness with cows in between. he is not wrong. so i think it is much more spread out. there is much more space. but then also what we see in the white house in terms of the cabinet meeting space is i think very informative. jefferson selects his private study in a much bigger space. he has it set up much more comfortably so the secretaries actually have proper work space. there's larger tables and more comfortable chairs, has great lighting, it's on a first floor, it's a private space. i think there is a lot to be said that his experience in washington's cabinet absolutely informs what he then creates once he is in the white house. >> i don't have a great answer for the senate question. i think you are right, i think it's super interesting. the debates that i've read in ratification conventions and in madison's notes prompted a lot of the questions i've been asking about the role of education in determining access to power and really how they kind of dealt with this thorny question of having an upper house as opposed to -- in addition to the lower house. on the question of location, i
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don't deal too much with national politics, but i do think an important thing to talk about is the presence or lack thereof of women in the capital. d.c. in its early years is not exactly a fun place to live and so i think if i'm remembering correctly the number of spouses who come with congressmen goes like really far down and also there is not that many women living there. the ways in which people do politics informally in private spaces or semi-public spaces is really different when you have, you know, women or not. so there is that. and then i would just say on the local level this matters a great, great deal. state controls pretty much all move in this period to make them, you know, more accessible to people who live in new york and some places northern areas versus western areas. even if you go down even more local level, should school taxes be town level or should you divide your town into districts and should the districts then have to hammer this kind of stuff out. the real immediacy and face-to-faceness it gets pretty intimate about some really important, you know, things, road building and other things that are just like absolutely fundamental to can you get your goods to market or can you get your kid to school, so on and so
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forth. so i think it's not just a national story, that's happening in every little pocket of the united states. >> yeah, these are both really great questions. i will start with the location issue. i mean, i think -- and everyone has echoed this, it absolutely matters. it mattered a lot to them and they thought about it a lot and i think the room where it happens to quote a "hamilton" song as lindsay said in the executive cabinet matters a lot, it also matters in the legislature quite a bit. i'm thinking a lot about that in terms of accessibility, how many people can actually fit in the room if you are going to allow an audience, where can reporters sit where they can hear what's going said to record it. those kind of things matter a great deal, i think. and also just to bring up the
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french revolution again, people like thomas jefferson when they are in france they are witnessing the estate's general meeting and the crowds that are coming and, you know, invading the assembly at points and i think that that -- you know, he is writing home about that and i think that that even subconsciously is influencing how they're thinking about where should the capital be, where should the legislature meet that is most safe or kind of insulated, if you will. and to the senate question, i think that that's an absolutely just great question because that is the institution that actually boils down a lot of the things that we've been talking about and i've thought about that so much recently because the senate is being discussed a lot right now in terms of is it still functional, does it work the way we want it to work. and i think that i come back a lot to how madison talked about the senate in the federalist papers as sort of a cooling mechanism. it is supposed to be the place of wisdom and it's not going to be directly elected by the people and it's supposed to be this kind of check and this wise body and i think what's interesting is that it was theorized in that way as sort of a limit on too much democracy as david was saying earlier and the ills that they think they're guarding against are demagoguery and, you know, populist threats, these kind of things. i think what's kind of ironic is that actually we find ourselves
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in a situation where that institution -- maybe more democracy would be the solution, in fact, to those ills and it's not the thing causing those ills. so we have a senate that was designed to be inherently undemocratic in many ways and not really reflective or overly responsive to public opinion and that might be what's actually causing a lot of the very ills that the framers feared when they invented, you know, the senate and that as an idea. >> it makes me think about how nowadays everyone is focusing on the breakdown of norms in the senate as the problem of democracy and if only the senate can get it right that can save democracy. if the thing designed to not be democratic ends up saving democracy, that would be a wonderful historical irony. all right. thanks to our panelists for -- and thanks for all of our -- to the audience and the good questions. enjoy the rest of the camp and enjoy the rest of the
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conference. all week we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span three, lectures in history, american artifacts, reel america, the civil war, oral histories, the presidency, and special event coverage about our nation's history. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend on c-span 3. our coverage includes interviews with justice ruth bader ginsberg. david troyier. his book is "the heartbeat of
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wounded knee." rick atkinson, thomas malone, founding director of the m.i.t. center for intelligence. the national book festival, live saturday, august 31st at 10:00 a.m. eastern on book tv on c-span 2. next on american history tv, back story host brian mallow and nathan connolly give a look at their weekly podcast. they're joined by a staff member and a regular guest. this is part of a purdue university conference called "remaking american history." it's an hour and a half. welcome to the 10:45 panel called something like "behind the scenes, a back story". >> that's right. >> maybe.


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