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tv   Alexander Hamiltons Military Career  CSPAN  April 30, 2020 8:45am-9:57am EDT

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the 18th century converging with the 20th century, we can be high-tech about this. i feel much the same as does my wife because i have been a long time reenactor, you can see me
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dressed as an officer in the army. i battled three times in sweltering heat like today, and there i am speaking twice for the alexander hamilton awareness society.
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you can also say he was helping to found american industry. we're just west of paterson falls where he worked with that, of course. washington crosses the delaware, a famous scene on christmas night into the morning of the 26th. a large life side paintize pain. here is one that came out and debuted at the new york historical society. you can see it was at nighttime, a different kind of craft, a cannon, maybe hamilton's. not good weather. similarly, another painter who is now retired, this is another painting, victory or death.;%
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and there they are, in the early morning light, trudging through the ice and the snow. you can imagine how cold they must have felt. hamilton's artillery at both battles of trenton. just like there are two battles at saratoga. i'm showing it in a sketch. a color drawing could not be found and it is well documented that hamilton uses his cannon hire to deliver withering fire on the british. this is a well documented battle that gets overshadowed by a surprise attack at trenton, as well as the second surprise attack that is the u.s. army at princeton. the problem is that yes,
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hamilton's at the battle of princeton, and there is nowhere for the lofty legend, but he fires a cannon with multiple shots and decapitates king george iii whose portrait is hanging on the wall inside. there is no evidence, but it is a good tale. there was offers not from one, two, but three well known generals in the revolution at the time. the one on the left is general william alexander, aka lord sterl i
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sterling who is buriied 175 fro alexander hamilton. an incredibly brave general. and he lived not far from here. he had a huge estate. one of the reasons we don't remember him is his house burned down but we have a beautiful state park there. so he gets an offer, come be my aide. each time he says thanks but no thanks. what does he yearn field? battlefield command. he doesn't rise as quickly and achieve the prestige as wickly as he would if he were on the battlefield. it will end in work town. but in the meantime, someone named george washington comes
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along. he says i'll wait on this, let me sleep on it for a few weeks and think it over. he finally says yes. washington invited him to his headquarters for dinner and i think that hamilton was convinced. so it reads headquarters, morris town, hamilton is appointed commander and chief and should be respected as much. you can find transcriptions like this on the website. housed by congress, and the transcriptions are at foundersarchives.org. a lot of authors say it is
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happening when he is 22 years old but he was actually 20. he was not born in 55, he was born in 1757. he is 20 years old. think about your children, grandchildren, and yourselves at 20. were you helping washington as his chief of staff? he is the youngest kid in camp, most are in their early 30s. there was a lot of turn over with a total of 32. there is a a.m. illt colorful s. so, washington at that point has headquarters set up not far from here at jacob arnolds tavern on
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the green. there is a sign there for it. washington had five aids and or secretaries, secretaries were probably doing most of the writing side of things. a secretary and an aide, an aide might have more varied options. can you imagine sitting in a shot room, it must have been an incredible challenge for all of them.
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writing and copying letters, copious amounts of writing and letters that were dictated by washington to his aides. now, you have some aides that washington was particularly fond of and someone that was an honorary stepson. they could be alexander hamilton, on the right, a composite of george washington and tench tillman. he is the third of the three aides. he was incredible, a talented man. he unfortunately died in 1786, quite young, and that is very
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unfortunate. here is a blow up of that meeting that hands in washington, l ara fayette. and here are the three officers standing on morris town green and we're talking about this statue that was put up not long ago. and the ever so tall giraffe like hamilton. and this gets overshadowed by battlefield actions, but this is very important. you have to know if they go anywhere they have to march on their stomach.
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you have to feed it. it is late september '77, and hamilton is sent with washington and others to go on horse back and go into downtown philadelphia and gather as many horses, general supplies, food, basically. clothing, and blankets in the city of philadelphia. why? they know they're going to lose the city to british. they decide they're not going to put a fight at the city. so they will stay out towards white marsh and receive the flies there. and what is key is his discretion. if you're poor and you rely on your horse for transportation, he does not take the horse. if you're a patriot, not a loyalist, and you're going to
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evacuate he also doesn't take from those people. that discretion is quite telling. there are so many times i think we get overshadowed later in life with scandals that are refuted, to remember how kind hearted he was. and this really helps the state of the continental army. another mission, the official representative of george washington in late fall of 1777. he will serve as washington's proxy. it will take weeks to get there, but washington needs his three brigades back.
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washington needs him back and he would also like the rifflemen. it takes most of november and into december. gates is not as saratoga at that point. the battle is over and he is glowing in the aftermath of victory. one of the challenges that he will encounter is that he is a 20-year-old aide born on an island. he is well established with new england and he is very powerful. old enough to be his dad and a two-star general. do you think he wants to hear forest fire a 20-year-old colonel that he wants three brigades back. this there was politics in that time, and alexander a.m. illton's first attempts are
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fruitless, futile. he decides he is doomed. when he says okay, fine, you ku have pa -- can have patterson's brigade. they find out that he has already been wiped out. that is not even full strength. so he puts in writing as well as face to face heated exchanges to gates who relents and he says okay, fine, i will relent to washington's demands, and it shows how much trust hamilton received from washington for this mission. then he has to meet with an equally incorrigible general israel. he doesn't want to listen to alexander hamilton, either.
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at this point putnam is probably old enough to be his grandfather. he says no i'm not giving up my soldiers. he, too, will relent to the strong demands. he knows he has to turn the screws a little bit. so it is for that reason that we can have this quote here from my friend, michael newton, that says by granted hamilton discretion, washington left the entire course of the war and possibly his outcome in the hands of his youngest aide. he already earned his complete trust. so george washington has not won at saratoga. he basically lost at brandy wine and germantown. so gates is getting all of the success, and he should not be,
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by the way. but gates will take the fame. the rivals and critics include dr. benjamin rush. and these three individuals are seen as the three with the ear of washington, and i think they're ruled by general green, knox, and hamilton. he is only a 20-year-old aide and he as seen as influential as two senior generals in the american revolution. that is saying a lot. we all know the story of valley forge. it is the isaac bpots, a wealth quaker, and this is a summer
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house built in 1773 and washington and his so-called family. his family were his aides and sick te tech te secretaries, not his biological family. aside from later in the war which is in new york from afar. but it is a cozy interior. it is a 16 foot long room. lots of people are packing in there much like today. >> he has a beautiful blueprint that he drafts in the bleak midwinter if you think of that
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christmas song. he composes a massive document of 16,000 words. that is a lot of the writing. congress was in shambles, the army was in shambles. we have seen that in recent military in history. they created this blueprint, and the wording is mostly by alexander a.m. illton if is kind of like the work he will pour into all of the documents you can think of. there is a variety of tasks for
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hamilton as an aide. they are seeking most of the volume. you're talking about all of the president's of congress starting with john hancock. it is negotiations for signature exchanges. hamilton handled all of that. they were flute in french and for that reason they could be sent by washington in the middle
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of the war to meet with his fleet when they were off of the coast. and then the american war where they had to help george washington who was the spy master handling all of the different generals, case officers, and independent agents feeding him intelligence. and constantly suspicions of double agents or moles. there was another one that was just as effective and that was here in new jersey to staten island.
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they, at the same time, were trying to call the same intelligence about new york city that they were doing. but what washington was doing, of course is you have to have redundancy. what if one of the rings is compromised. a great quote here, our army was held by a.m. illton. indeed, that's why we know so much of hamilton's and washington's inner thoughts is because of the pen of hamilton. and he is quoted assaying sayin hamilton was confident. he helped occasionally.
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he already knew each other from the manhattan days. very early in hamilton's time. so he is also housing, quartering troops, one of the things we were rebelling against on july 4th, and indeed his home, you can think of the area of manhattan, and he is able to receive information from that time as well. it is another reason we know why his younger brother hugh was involved in gathering
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information. so they really did a great job through hamilton to washington to provide time ly intelligence. it is also likely that hercules didn't save his life once, but twice. of course he can speak jerman, but his second language is french. so being french speakers, they are able to help with this shoddy army into professional
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shape. he was a bit of a hot head. had he done all of the things he claimed he did in prussia before the war? probably not. he was documented as a major, but it is not like he was a two-star general or barron. he was editor of the drill book that historians love to study. she also going to help with
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working at valley forge and other places like monmouth. something that i would like to study are washington's many councils of war in the american revolution and there are two in particular that i find pl particularly fascinating. imagine them all crammed into the 16 foot living room. remember benedict arnold is limping in, a host of bridgeer generals, jedidia
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jedidiajedidiah darrellington. and alexander hamilton is there. it is a whose who. that is the moment that i would pick if i had to go back in time. i would not pick a battlefield. i would pick being in that room at that time just to think of who is in there. so it becomes known as the battle of monmouth. he rides out in advance of the battle and he is doing an advanced intelligence operation. it is several days and it is very helpful to set up the placement of lee, lafayette, and washington. in the famous confrontation, it was just prior to that that the
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altercation between hamilton and lee. and he handled it well. he could not believe that lee would be retreating in a disorganized fashion when he should be attacking the rear guard of the british force moving ever so slowly crawling through the middle of nowhere. and his braf very is by charles lee himself. he said i will stay here with you, my deer general, and die with you. let us all die here rather than retreat. similarly, they wrote i'm happy to have it in my power to
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mention hamilton who was ins insesent. they both had their horses shot out from under them. here are two scenes fairly well known. the one on the left more famous than the won on the right. something largely overlooked and it could have been incredibly impactful. the progressive idea that we could have african-american soldiers in the continental army. lafayette was also part of this.
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he said would you please allow blacks to enlist in southern regiments in the u.s. army. there was a manpower short an. and it was more of a civil war that was ugly down there than up here. it would help fill the numbers shortage. they would believe that african-americans were both very bright and very brave in battle. unfortunately it fell on deaf ears. congress would not do it. so many congressmen were slave owning plantation owners from the south. so we can get into dayton's ring for one moment. this is colonel dayton, one of the last colonels promoted to
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brigadier general. they warn washington of a british fleet leaving new york city and going towards newport. there is one problem, george washington is absent out on an errand of some sort. he receives the letter, knows i must immediately dispatch this news to get it to him is enough of a challenge and then he has to get it over to rhode island. they were able to warn the french. and the british do not end up attacking. maybe they were tipped off, we don't know, but often they are given create, that is not the case because they're intelligence came in two days later, the same intelligence, just not as punk chul in it's announcement as daytons.
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major general benedict arnold of course of kons. a wealthy merchant, and he is beginning his communication, one of the common misunderstandings is that he is confined to september of 1985. it was a month after he fell in love and married peggy shipman. this wportrait to the right is the only known portrait are from ben bill clint benedict arnold in life. so washington is with lafayette
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hamilton, henry knox, and others. and they are conferring for three days with the french general and it is the same stretch of time. it is around 21st, 22nd, 23rd, the same 22nd is when alexander hamilton -- benedict arnold, really, is meeting with john anderson and they're meeting just south of west point. so it is uncanny timing. after that, washington is returning with lafayette and others to meet with hamilton, i mean arnold to go over the fortify ca fortifications of west point. it is very clear that he will
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escape on the aly named and he decided immediately the quick thinking officer that he is that he needs to prepare the counter attack. first he attempts to capture arnold himself. he is down the east bank and they do not capture arnold. after that, he writes and tells him he is planning on writing momentarily and he does that. they were encamped 30 miles south of west point, and they return to the infantry, and they respond to george washington and the rest of headquarters.
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here is the letter to green. there has been unfolded at this place, the scene of blacke eses treason. andre is in our possession as a spy. i came here in pursuit of arnold but was too late. i advice you putting the army under marching orders and working immediately this way. >> wepeggy shipman was the pari hilton or kim kardashian of her day. she was drawn there, in a selfie, the night before he was
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hung. she keeps a lock of his hair in her drawer until she dies when they find it. they are both very impressed, they're both charmed by the personality of john and dre, he says will you please shoot me rather than hang me, and of course that attempt fails. and he is indeed hung. but you can tell that they were touched by their time with andre. he was hung which was pay back for the hanging of nathan hale. he had two long visits of about a month each. i mention it now so you can
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think about how washington and hamilton were responding when they were here the second time. if these walls could talk. it is a final turning point. it is a beautiful mansion there, a beautiful brick mansion, and then hamilton gets field command, washington's orders, the companies for the first and second order will form a battalion. after the formation, they enjoy the advanced core. there will be four light infantry commanders. he works with john lawrence.
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in the center is an illustration of new hampshire. now the complication here is that alexander skamel in the middle is killed in new york down, killed in the surprise attack. he is shot in the back, mortally wounded, and he writes in his dieing words to take over the battalion. the three of them knew each other well, and the unfortunate twist of fate is that he decided he wants to aide someone else.
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alexander hamilton will be tasked with a lead -- he is helping the general solve a read out ten, they're adjacent to each other. ho we have been on that ground. the french will take theirs, hamilton is tasked with read out ten. it will take alittle while. it will take six minutes. they decide we're going to not wait for them to stream through. no shots fired. bay bayonettes and here is a painting on the right, here is how he would have been dressed. here is another alternate view. what is interesting is i have stormed a readout, it is
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interesting even when you do it and it is fake with no gunfire. there is three versions of this painting. one is at yale, another at hartford and the third is at the u.s. capital rotunda. they get bigger and bigger as they're created. in that particular painting. i would show on the right, are ebinezer, and i'm going to just briefly point them out here on the right. i don't want to look like the bejewelled john lawrence with his diamonds. so alexander hamilton does not get enough credit.
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york town is not the actual end of the war. now let's turn to 1790. we know that hamilton has already been working as treasury secretary and he founds the u.s. revenue cutter service. he is considered the father of the u.s. coast guard. i go there every graduation to give an award right there on that spot. and i was there for this unveiling of this sculpture. that is hamilton haul. there is a painting in the hall of him running the revenue service. you see an early u.s. flag in the background. a cutter, full sail, a
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lighthouse. so illustrations at the time, there was one named after colonel alexander schamel. and what you would consider the seal for the cutter service, always ready. that is the motto. tied in with that is the revenue service. around this time, washington had just become president and he asked his old friend to serve which included not just the river, but the connecticut river itself. and there is a lighthouse there that still stands from that era.
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it was built around 1800, and there are many letters between j jedidah for lighthouse oils and so forth. and then taking place from 1788 to 1799. several american vessels are captured. that is embarrassing and hamilton says this is too much humiliation after all that has passed. there is a major problem, john adams realizes he has a potential crisis and he is fired on the atlantic ocean, and he needs a military commander. would you please return to
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military service. he was the only president that ever did this. dema commander in chief and back to the u.s. military. that never happened before. washington says yes but alexander hamilton must be my second in command, i'm not taking field command, he will. and he says incredulous, how dare you make such an imposition on me. and it takes many weeks for adams to caulk down and say okay, i will have to put my personal agenda and personal feelings about hamilton aside and recognize that i must put up with major general alexander hamilton as part of the deal. such was the influence of mr. hamilton in congress that without recommendation for the
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president they passed a bill to raise an army. i have to say that he does the best job of going through a.m. illton's later military service. and amends is just incredulous. and he served at that point before becoming treasury secretary. here is a letter to george washington from hamilton in which he is negotiating about how he will take this role on. saying "if you command the place in which i should hope to mo b most use sfl that of in facting general high pressure he wants that field command. he want it had to go to hamilton. this, i would accept of the
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other generals in the war, they were ingrcredulous. i'm a general but i have serve under hamilton. again, a testament to how high a. hamilton had climbed. here is his letter around that same time. we're talking about oliver of connecticut. he says the u.s. should boost taxes, and take out a large loan and establish an academy for naval military instruction. okay. that's a lot. around the same time, speaking of people jockeying for
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position, aaron burr wants to jockey for a position. he has so critical. there is a portrait of major general hamilton that is not well known. he does have a federal era uniform on with a high color. we don't know what the medal is on his lapel. it was donated around 1860, and it hangs at the cincinnati head quarters. one general not mentioned as much as jockeys for position, is
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eban ar ebenezer. there was five in philadelphia that were spent at the famous city tavern. i imagine that alcohol may have been involved in november and december of 1798. they needed a good federalist with military experience from the south. they were afraid that the french might attack the south. so he will come up for this meeting along with secretary of war james mchenry. they will converse there for five weeks and hamilton breaks out detailed charts. he organized out how everything he will work. it is very organized and it
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shows how obsessive-compulsive he was with detail including designs for uniforms and the soldiers huts. he was an amateur architect, perhaps, and then he returns to his office and he is basically trying to operation the u.s. army from that office space. there is an encampment not too far from here. it is a site picked by new jersey's own. it is an officer from elizabeth. he mapicked the site. about 2,000 soldiers were at camps there and a.hamilton does review the troupes in the fall
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of 1799. as we start to wrap it up, it is t the diamond eagle. it was a gift and it was presented from officers of the french army. it was their first meeting every three years, and of course it was owned by george washington until his death on december 14th, 1799. it has some 200 diamonds and other jewels that make it up. on his death, martha washington, the widow, will send the metal to alexander hamilton for safe keeping because he is now the second president general of the society, and for many, many decades it has been owned by the
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society of cincinnati. a beautiful piece i end on a very poignant note. my father-in-law who was in the west point class of '56, they give an award every year, and it involves the creation of a military academy. he writes to washington sir, enclosed is a copy of a let near have i written to the secretary of war on the subject of a military academy. washington will then replay on december 12th and he will die two days later. he says sir, i have dually received your letter the 28th enclosing a copy of what you wrote on the subject of a
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military academy. the accomplishment of a institution of this kind on a respectable and extensive basis has been considered by me an object of primary importance to this country. while i was in the chair of government, i admitted to proper opportunity of recommended it in my public speeches, but i never undertook to go into detail of an organization of such an academy. leaving this task to others has better qualified them for the execution of it. he closes i hope that the subject will meet with due attention and the reasons for e it will be placed on a permanent and respectable footing. i am, sir, your most obedient
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servant, george washington. that's the end. thank you everyone. going to do q & a. as you can see all the equipment here, we have c-span taping this event. if you want to have a question, we'll have a mic brought to you so that they can, you know, capture what you're saying. >> thank you. >> you're welcome. questions? anybody? >> including from the flanks. >> i didn't pay wade to ask the first question. >> i'm curious, i believe one of your slides depicted a home and you're well familiar with washington's headquarters. >> yes. >> did general washington solicit homeowners to use these facilities in private dwellings
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as military headquarters or did he walk in and say i'm taking over? you're over i'm over here, you're over there. >> depending on the nature of the time of year and who owned it, sometimes he was already aequated with the owner. sometimes it was an advanced solicitation. other times it's a pretty quick, convincing, yeah. i really don't know the details to answer it. yea yeah. >> we know washington leaves office and hamilton goes as well. disstilling whiskey in the ohio
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territory and america has always had a very independent spirit, haven't they? they were rebelling that they would have to pay some kind of task. hamilton had no problem putting taxes on people. he felt it was the only way we could build ourselves as a country, financial foundation to ensure our independence and standing in the united states. we have a beautiful painting that hangs in the metropolitan museum of art. george washington going out, inspecting the troops at ft. cumberland and i believe alexander hamilton is also in uniform, in tow. i wasn't sure how i would have the time to incorporate it all. i left it out. obviously, i could have included it. you can read about it in others. it's part of the whole theme that the federal government will
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use the military to back up the strength they're trying to exert with its citizens. federalization model, something that someone like jefferson would have abhorred as a political opponent. other questions? there must be more. >> was lawrence hamilton related to alexander hamilton and was he naval commander in the great lakes in the war of 1812? >> i have no idea. i never looked into that. there are several descendents of alexander hamilton who took on great leadership roles in the military. it's great when you read sources like wikipedia. for that particular leader i would have to look it up or ask a descend enteant. yes, sir? >> what did washington die from? >> he had gone out on his horse on his plantation of virginia.
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it was a cold, rainy day, and he got sick from the wet clothing and, of course, what do you do in 1799 when you get cold and get sick and have a doctor? they bring in leeches and do blood letting. that's not going to make you better. it's going to make you worse. it exacerbated what probably would have been a preventable cold with something simple. tragic. how symbolic he dies at the end of that century. i have an ancestor from deerfield, mass, who wrote in his memoirs the day that the news arrived of washington's death, he said my goodness, i'm paraphrasing here, what shock we're all in. we all loved our beloved founder of this country, brings tears to my eyes. historians will do justice, which i cannot. it's wonderful, as a descendant, 200 years later, to be able to
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try to do that as an historian. well, thank you, everyone, for your attention. it's wonderful to be here. [ applause ] you're watching a special edition of american history tv during the week while members of congress are in their districts due to the coronavirus pandemic. american history tv's reel america looks through films, health issues is the focus tonight, beginning with "m.d. international:a 1958 american medical association march of medicine program" that highlights american doctors working at health clinics and hospital as broad and includes an introduction by vice president richard nixon tonight at 8:00 eastern. american history tv now and over the weekend on c-span3. every saturday night, american history tv takes you to classrooms for lectures. >> why do you all know who
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lizzie wborden is? raise your hand if you have ever heard of this murder before this class. >> the deepest cause where we'll find the meaning of the revolution was in this transformation that took place in the minds of the american people. >> so we'll talk about both of these sides of this story here, right? the tools, the techniques of slave owner power, and we'll also talk about the tools and techniques of power that were practiced by enslaved people. >> watch history professors lead discussions with their students on topics ranging from the american revolution to september 11th. lectures in history on c-span3 every saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv and lectures in history is available as a podcast. find it where you listen to podcasts. up next on american history tv, historian h.w. brands talks about his biography of aaron burr, the new york politician an

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