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tv   History Bookshelf For Liberty Equality  CSPAN  July 12, 2020 8:00am-8:56am EDT

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>> next on history bookshelf, his book "for liberty and equality: the life and times of the declaration of independence, the history of the document from its creation to the present." he explained the numerous ways it has influenced american politics, laws, and society. we cover this event at the national archives in washington. >> good afternoon, everyone. i'm the manager for the national archives experience, i'd like to
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welcome you offer today's talk. i wish to welcome all of your viewers watching us at home on c-span today as well as is watching us live from the national archives history channel. before we get to the topic, i'd ofe to highlight a couple our new programs coming of the next few weeks. the 220 anniversary of the u.s. constitution next month, a number of programs and special events. 26, thesday, september president of czars. livewill also be streamed over the history channel. on tuesday, october 2, the andonal archives will host .uthor for his latest work about these and
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are other programs, please visit our website. if you're unable to attend in person and would like to get an autographed copy of the book, please call the archive and don't forget to request the 50% discount. today's lecture is the author of "for liberty and equality, the life and times of the declaration of independence." as well as being an author, he is an associate professor of law in chicago. his other books are "we shall overcome: a history of civil rights and the law" and how they think paved the way for social movements. written in slavery and reconstruction, the 13th amendment of american freedom. the subjects of his articles range from the american revolution, civil war and
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reconstruction, legal history, civil rights, constitutional interpretation, and the regulation of civil commitments. they have appeared or will appear in a variety of reviews across the country including the columbia law review. the law review, boston college law review, harvard journal of legislation, connecticut law review, and wake forest law review. he is a frequent presenter nationwide on issues involving constitutional law, civil rights, reconstruction, and hate speech legislation. please drawn me in welcoming alexander to the national archives. [applause] >> thank you so much for that kind introduction, i really appreciate you coming out and making time either visiting d.c. or in the lunch hour to hear
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this presentation. signing,time of its the declaration of independence has set the standard for fair governance as far as individual rights and the common good. becamehe physical copy faded during president monroe's on a wet leaf that took a bunch of the ink off of a document, it continues to define us as a people. indeed, the copy that is housed here has more signatures than the original had. the original was only signed by president of the continental congress and the secretary of the continental congress. the version which you can see here under our armed guard contains 56 signatures, including that of future , the greatohn adams
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international accolade, intellectual and inventor benjamin franklin, and richard hillary week who was first to put forward a motion for independence in the cousin of congress. version here we know cannot have more signatures than the original because it was published immediately after and because of the timeline. for instance, the new york delegates to the cousin of the congress did not even receive permission to vote for independence until july 9. thousands of pennsylvania delegates who signed the declaration of independence were elected to congress 16 days after july 4. and what is even more curious for that one of the pennsylvania delegates who signed the declaration of independence and a number of delegates from delaware voted against the declaration of independence on july 4 and yet signed it. perhaps even more curious,
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one of the delegates of baltimore was present on july 4, but didn't sign until 1777 or perhaps 1781, we are not sure. that we treasure? i think it is the value that are encompassed in that written text. the declaration of independence set the ego's for the united states -- ethos for the united states and equality for over two centuries and inspire those who have fought against racism and chauvinism. our understanding of the declarations message is not static, it has been for centuries of progressive social movements, interpretations, and the demand that the universal statement of rights extends to irrespective of their social status or physical characteristics. the phrase about inalienable
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rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and a variety of other things that we remember as a people have gotten into our history and have become the guideposts for federal governments as well as representative of democracy. contrary to the claims of other historians in the recent book for liberty and equality, the life and times of the declaration of independence, ari argue that from the very leaders and ordinary people alike understood the declaration of independence to --, because itst contained a manifesto, demanding that the government established laws and institutions so they are most positively able to affect the people's safety and happiness. samuel adams told the state ofembly the representatives
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the united states agreed that all of them are treated equal and are endowed by the creator with certain unalienable rights, the liberty and equality would be the political creed of the united states. the declaration of independence wisely became part of the collective american forum because thomas jefferson had to deal with political fraud of his day, and at that time, politics was everywhere. in public squares, newspaper pages. c-span is a vehicle that has become very much what the newspapers were of that day. formulation goes to the mainstream political thought of his day and has been kept in collective conscience. in drafting the declaration of independence, he accepted universal concepts of national beens as well as the have with other delegates of the
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continent of congress for philosophers like john locke. great,hese ideals were reality was very much different. madison, the cousin of the future president james madison, wrote that the natural equality of man is the only basis on which universal justice and freedom confirm the new built and secured. madison, these national rights did not apply to all humanity because he was a slave owner, as was jefferson's rub the course of his life. others proved to be much truer to those ideals and even its author. an instance, a speaker at 1800 independence day said that those who on empower should not rely
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what was a compass and the revolution that all men are created equal, and only accepted for half of humanity. that declaration of liberty and must apply to all people, men and women. she also mourn for the fate of africa in the 1800s, which had suffered murders, robberies, and and the punishment of endless slavery. declaration of independence, she exclaimed, where art thou now? the adoption of the declaration of independence did not bring us with bending to slavery. although most americans who were, after all, raised with the thought that the subordination of women and blacks was a natural fact, they did not grasp of further recognition
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reversal rights of human beings that we are all endowed by the creator with inalienable rights. many, those of the founding generation and of the generations that followed understood the humanitarian acknowledgment that inspired the revolution that is incompatible with slavery. in recent years, several books on the declaration of independence had mistakenly stated that they had no influence on the war of 1812. if you have a chance to read that book, you'll see that the historical record does not fare this out. in fact, ordinary people and not only akers justification for empty rhetoric.
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a writer but that the proclamation that all men have inalienable rights must refer to blacks as much as whites. who exploited them for forced labor were ridiculously wicked. they published does go side-by-side columns. he showed the declaration of independence and on the other side he showed hypocrisy of continued slavery despite the availability of these principles in the mainstream thought. society, they adopted a declaration into the 1833 with then american antislavery society
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which laid the declaration of independence at the cornerstone of its ideas for slavery in the united states. untilattern carried on the 19th century abolitionist in the depictions of the early 19th century. the message of the abolitionists came through in sermons, petitions, speeches, editorials, and artistic renditions. an ingenious artist created a window shade in which on one side, the american eagle is holding the declaration of independence in his talents and on the other side -- talons, and on the other side are two slaves praying for the fulfillment of its promises. at the time, when opponents of
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slavery cannot turn to the constitution, the declaration of independence was their official source of national guarantee for equality. itlitionists believe that imposed a national obligation on andemancipation of slaves, the contemplated this with a variety of protections on slavery that existed in the constitution, such as the 3/5 clause, the implication clause, as well as the fugitive slave clause. there simply was no comparable protection of slavery in the declaration of independence, so for abolitionist, the declarations became the core legal statement. just to give one example of this wasd, a railroad conductor
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denouncing the constitution for granting one representative for every 70,000 slaves. clause, politicians entered political office only as lincoln said "to tighten the chains of cruel oppression." this denied slaves any effective representation. the principles of the declaration of independence as a number of the antislavery society, and also because of the slave insurrection in the constitution, the clause which require the federal government to suppress any state rebellion. it's interesting, the contract -- the contrasts. consideringy were arguing that slavery was a positive good. documents about the
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of statement of natural rights existed since the time of the revolution. servitude was as natural as any other form of forced labor subordination. apologists regarding these truths to be no more than exaggerated statements. just as the declaration of independence did not apply, they said, to wealth, education, or skill, so to the declaration was completely irrelevant to slavery. this,eatest apologist of south carolina senator calhoun mocked the declaration of independence for claiming equality of human races, in the plural. errorsidered the inherent
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inherited from british philosophy. others took a different position, they acknowledged that their human quality was in fact a truth, but they simply thought it did not apply to blacks. sm was not thes only area that found the declaration to be so problematic. they don't close allies in the first -- they found close allies in the first wave of feminism's. relied on a more inclusive version of natural rights. they understood that the statement of the quality applied to women and men. the american revolution which was to throw up tierney and create representative democracy
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could only come about if states repealed all unequal laws about the ownership of property and the ability to have it, boating rights, and the ability to have collective office, to hold collective office. playeclarations principles a prominent role in arguably the most important humans rights convention in the united states 1848 in convened in seneca, new york. a group of many women adopted the declaration which use the declaration of independence as a touchstone, as its baseline and develop a more inclusive version that said all men and women were created equal. the declaration of independence might have become a forgotten document, a statement of sovereignty, a statement of dependence, telling the world that we are an independent nation and asking for their financial support of countries or perhapsand france
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in its original, to be kept in some more prominent place. instead, the document became much more. abolitionists and women suffer suffragistsens referred to it as a statement of principle. lawsde the social advocacy of those areas, the document was also prominent in mainstream politics. in the first quarter of the 19th century, various politically disempowered groups relied on the manifesto for change. the causes ranged from civil rights to speech, the better prison movement as well as the suffrage movement. without any constitutional recourse and without most of the time even something for
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politicians to turn to, they used public discourse, electioneering, editorial writing, religious sermonizing in order to argue for cultural and legal change. the declaration of independence was a recognizable statement of government responsibilities. while the original constitution and the bill of rights used technical jargon about legal searches and seizures, juries, due process of law and a variety of other things, most people found that the liberation statements of 1776 were appealing toward many people. the suffrage movement and one of the most compelling cases for securing the rights proclaimed in the declaration. laborersginning, earned too low a wage to be able to vote in state which require
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property in order to participate in the vote. movementnhood suffrage was meant to vindicate the principles of equality of representation contained in the declaration of independence, because it was the plural and twisted mostess deprived from its rules. in 1830, five out of six people in new england who were in jail were there because of debt they owned, many of that less than $20. senator fromon, a kentucky, was the leader of this movement who said that this is an unfair thing that is also completely inequitable to the poor. change was brought by activists who relied on the document for
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widespread populism which brought andrew jackson into politics in the presidency. advocates also argued that the meaning of the declaration of independence when engaging in conflict about whether or not to spare the legal -- expand the legal recognition of slavery to new territories. out began to put themselves with territory that had been with the most economic aspect of it even with the entrance of missouri and whether or not, as it wanted to coming as a slave state. congressmen of the state of new york or massachusetts preferred -- which the understood applied
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to all people with the subordination and deprivation which was intrinsic to slavery. not holds argument did as missouri entered the union as a slave state, the grave message of the declaration of policy development was unmistakable. 0rguments came up in 185 following the mexican-american war when the u.s. acquired enormous territory out west and the question arose whether new states could end of the union like california, arizona, new enter, and colorado could owning slaves or whether the territory had to remain free. the free party for one condemned the hypocrisy of college -- politicians who asserted their
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devotion to the principles of human rights and proclaimed them through the declaration of independence, even as they backed legislation to introduce slavery into the newly acquired states. at the core of this heated debate was whether or not these new states membership had to be conditioned on the human rights principles which were encompassed in the declaration of independence. about thest outcry compromise of 1850. with the fugitive slave clause which wayted an extremely minimal of processing and courts, did not provide jury trials, and required ordinary citizens to ses who had of pos to gather and forcefully collect these alleged felons and put them into jail. before that went into effect, an oute congressman pointed
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that the declaration of independence attributed one of the causes of the revolution to the fact that it denied jury trials to the common men, and here is the fugitive slave act for that permission denied jury trials despite its tremendous effect on individuals. and then that it was creating a system of domineering that was even worse than that which colonists had to deal with in 1776. passage of the fugitive slave act triggered a positive response that relied heavily on the statements of the declaration of independence. york, a man --w a racially mixed man who was intured asked abolitionist the name of the declaration of independence and god, why am i
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bound thus in a free country? the irony of the situation was not lost on the members of the new york abolitionist society who asked rhetorically what was his crime? a love of liberty? which we all declared to be every man's inalienable right, and the slave was quoting the declaration of independence in chains. shis humanitarian' understanding of the declaration of independence had taken root in the free states. in the south, on the other hand, jefferson davis had a very different conception of the declaration. he thought it was primarily about executive tierney and state rights. his followers and supporters believed that bars to the introduction of slavery in new states were the very type of tyranny against which the colonies had fought and had
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rejected when they were under british rule. indeed, when president lincoln took power, data is compared him to george the third with the view that lincoln was as much of an autocrat and that the succession was comparable as it had been when the colonists freed themselves of england. what was missing from this picture was any sense that white supremacy was against the principles of equality and rights contained in the declaration of independence. sectional compromises only postponed the inevitable conflict in the supreme court, in an effort to resolve the dispute, could not help. indeed, the infamous dred scott tawnyon written by robert advocated sectional conflict by issuing a politically charged
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opinion that claimed blacks were not citizens and not part of the american compact of the declaration of independence. tawny's opinion did have supporters, but a dissenting judge argued that he had falsely stated history. instead, thehat firmer sentiment in the declaration of independence was meant to create an assertion of universal truths. the same dissenter went on to say that the fathers could not have met -- meant to say that god had endowed the white race exclusively with the inalienable rights that were contained in the declaration of independence. york, his opinion was immediately encountered by opposition. a newspaper accused tawny of degrading the declaration into a mere sham. a new york state congressional
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community was established for his claimurpose of that blacks were not part of the original contract of the declaration of independence, that the violation of the sacred principle announced to the declaration of independence. the greatest effect of this white-only conception of the declaration of independence which dred scott encompassed was to drastically speed of civil war. throughout the civil war, the nation was led by abraham lincoln, a politician from the declaration of independence has played an incredibly important part throughout the course of his political career. he often asserted his believed that the declaration is the great fun of a principal upon rests in itsedom labor is a violation of those principles. lincoln called on the american people to read off the
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declaration of independence and limit the practices and policies with statements. war,e time of the civil lincoln could have allowed confederate states back into the youth if they had simply want to reenter. even if they had not denounced slavery. but all that changed in 1953 with in 1863 with the emancipation reclamation. that same year, during lincoln's renowned gettysburg address, he drew the nation's attention to the commitment of the declaration of independence, stating, "our fathers brought forth in this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." raising the conflict to idealistic pinnacle union victory came linked with a universal vision of national citizenship. the end of the civil war in 1865
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raised hopes that some of those ideals would enter into the constitution in the form of constitutional amendments. the declaration of independence influenced that discussion of reform. it had become an ancient but living manifesto of universal values, whose principles was not only that of sovereignty and was not only informed by the past but by the wisdom of later generations. in the eulogy to abraham lincoln, after john wilkes booth felled the president, massachusetts senator charles sumner was adamant that, after the civil war, in the united states, racial injustice must be prevented. he rallied the country to live up to the ideals of the american revolution. "victory over the confederate
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states," he said, "will have failed unless it performs the original promises of the declaration of independence." senator sumner called on the country to fulfill lincoln's vision of emancipation by finishing the work, the unfinished work of the declaration of independence. debates on the 13th amendment about the abolition of slavery touched on the declaration very often as the skeleton for governance. and so this new amendment, which changed the constitution, was something that created a new vision for the country. "the new york tribune" argued that the north should prove that, by victory, the north sought not territorial aggrandizement or power but rather the establishment of the principles of the declaration of independence.
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civil sentiments were voiced during the ratification of the 14th amendment, which was the first place in which equality of individual rights was put into the constitution. the equal protection clause, which became so important in landmark decisions in the 20th century, such as the desegregation of schools and the ending of gender discrimination, or at least the prohibition of education and employment. still more reliance was made in the 15th amendment, which secures voting rights against racial discrimination. one of the complaints of the colonists against king george iii was that he was taxing them without giving them representation. the idea was that if one couldn't vote, one could not vote for politicians that could help move forward the country's laws to provide the opportunity
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to pursue happiness and equality. the 15th amendment was meant to give constitutional power to congress to pass laws protecting the rights to vote, according to the precepts of the nation's founding. of course, even after reconstruction, these amendments remained -- there remained much to be done on the basis of these amendments. and during the gilded age and the progressive era, the country readily slipped back into old ideas about gender and race, as well as for ideal things like corporations. nevertheless, as i extensively document in my book "for liberty and equality," the nation's manifesto continued to inspire visionaries in the late 19th and 20th centuries who tried to make the declaration's statement a
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reality, securing suffrage for women, the right to bargain collectively for labor unions, and for nonwhites to have immigrant status in this country, as, for example, asians. in my opinion, today, the document is too rarely invoked by politicians, social groups, and others as a statement of national principles. i mean, sure, we talk about it during independence day celebrations. we talk about it in civics classes and come to the national archives, but it is rarely discussed by politicians, by judges, by social movements as a method for seeking understanding of how the declaration might inform decision-making, how its statement about representational government, innate rights, sovereignty, and international relations can help set and
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refine federal, state, and international politics. with the 2002, november election looming, we should look at that document to help us better understand where we are as a nation, as political public actors and as private citizens, on issues about health care reform, immigration, judicial authority, hate crime legislation, the relations between the federal and state government, affirmative action, and our relations to autocracies like iran and saudi arabia, and a host of other topics that draw us to participate in governance. the seat of government, the local school boards, the public square, or on social media. the decoration of independence helps us understand who we came from, who we are, and our commitments for the future.
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as at the country's founding, thedecoration informs for nations that we are a people who stand for liberty and equality. its grand statement not only gives us direction but also illuminates our shortcomings. it offers ideals against which we can measure our accomplishments and failures as a people. the declaration of independence remains as relevant today as it was at the time of the revolution. [applause] thank you. i will take questions, if there are any. i think you have to go to the mic, because we have c-span here. >> does your book into the problem of the lack of
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representation for the citizens right here in the district of columbia? [applause] our license plates, you know, have that slogan "taxation without representation," so that is one contemporary example where the ideals of the declaration of independence are still being invoked. i just wonder if you get into that controversy. alexander: i did not. but i certainly think it is very relevant, and i think there is greater understanding about the need for equality and representation. because, certainly, wherever citizens have to participate in government, as far as getting part of their paycheck, they should have representation. so it is certainly something that makes sense and something i should explore in later works. >> did the principles of the declaration of independence were invoked at the time of the colonial conquest of the philippines by critics, like mark twain, of the conquest of the philippines? alexander: absolutely.
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that is right. congress invoked that during the mckinley administration. there was a parade for an independence day. there was a parade of filipinos during independence day. you are absolutely right. in the halls of congress, there were many who spoke about it as a subjugation of people, because it did not allow people to vote , filipinos to vote for representatives of their choice. it required there to be a colonial government in the philippines from the united states. that's what i discussed in the book, and it was widely talked about, both in congress as well as in newspapers. yes? >> i read of some disdain expressed by some comparing graham greene, the prominent
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british writer of the 20th century as an example, comparing pursuit of happiness with the of the ideals, at the same level of the other ideals in the declaration perhaps an , enshrinement to narcissism or something from his perspective. ,i am not sure, but he expressed disdain for that. does your book discuss this part of the decoration to any degree? i think the issues of equality and liberty were significant issues to focus on, but does it discuss any questions about this inclusion of the pursuit of happiness? alexander: i discussed the pursuit of happiness very extensively and about the way social groups interpreted it. i think it was a really critical component of the declaration, because the other formulation, as you may know, is the one that locke did, which was life, and property, or of estate, in which case we would
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have had a less nuanced or less common good type of aspect. they also felt it was important not to interpret pursuit of happiness in an individualistic kind of way. that is a legitimate way to think of it, a more hedonistic way in what makes me happy, but what about the common good? if there was some group that did equality, is it possible to say we were pursuing happiness one half of humanity, women, were unable to vote? because that whole half of humanity could not pursue happiness the same way as the other part of humanity. so that is a more inclusive aspect. it was critical. the idea as well -- there were philosophers who were writing about that specific phrase. not just happiness but the pursuit of happiness, even before it came to jefferson. so i think it was a well-thought-out component of the declaration. >> i would say most of us are
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used to thinking of the declaration of independence being on display here at the national archives. i'm interested in learning about its care, its exhibition, i guess, if you will, in the early years. how was it stored, where was it displayed, how was it cared for and taking care of as opposed to what most of us think of it as today? alexander: the national archives has the best description anywhere around on its website about the history of the care of the declaration. we are not entirely sure where it went immediately, but it was carried around in a sealed container. it was in the state apartment. it was up on a smoky wall. there was time in the library of congress. there was a time, literally, in a room, open for display, over a
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fireplace with smoke coming out where you could smoke. one of the things i touched upon briefly is what happened to the declaration, why it is so faded. that is, during the monroe administration, as i mentioned, somebody commissioned the making of an identical copy. the person who was going to make the identical copy claimed that this was going to make no damage to the declaration. she was going to make a wet leaf of india-something paper. and they would roll it on and then you would get an identical copy. the problem is it took off a large percentage of the ink, and, because of that -- it was not just because of that, it was the smoke, and it was in the sunlight, for quite a while. century,ly in the 20th the mid-20th century, that there was the decision made that it needed to be kept not only in a safe area from the elements but also protected, along with the constitution. >> i enjoyed your talk.
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i have a question -- you discussed, in your lecture, about the progressive use of the declaration of independence. it leads me to ask, from the other end, was it or is it possible to argue that the declaration of independence also contributed to the reactionary era of the supreme court and politics by talking about liberty of contract, which is not in the constitution, is against labor unions, against wages? natural law the way clarence thomas talks about it, that it overrides constitutional guarantees? his there a flipside to your provocative thesis? alexander: i think there is. there was certainly no talk about it within the concept of liberty of contract in the late
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19th and early 20th centuries. the conservative thought on the declaration only begins with roosevelt, with the franklin roosevelt administration, where people begin to say that roosevelt is a tyrant like george iii, because he is putting on all these regulations. but i think that there's room for thought both on the conservative and the liberal side. and the wonderful thing about the declaration of independence is it is meant to give a common ground to us as a people. and it is meant for us to be able to dispute with each other what it is that the pursuit of happiness and life and liberty means. and to have a system of representative government so we can vote in and vote out politicians that will not keep to our thoughts and move along the developing thought of us as a people. so as we bicker and differ in
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our political thoughts, we have a common ground, and that is one of liberty and equality. and it is for us, as a people, through our representatives, to define. i think think, in that regard, the supreme court has to be very careful. because governance remains with the people. and while there is a judicial review that the supreme court recently recognized -- it was also in the declaration of independence, that the document in the supreme court is almost never invoked. and i think it is really as that have to define what these grand concepts mean, again, in immigration, in regulations of health care, social security, and the like. >> i think my question may be pretty much the same but a bit more general. is there a use of the declaration in fleshing out the
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meaning of the constitution when there's this debate on originalist meaning of the constitution? alexander: there's certainly people who have spoken about originalism within the context of the declaration. i think there really needs to be more. the other thing is that the original school of thought about the constitution -- for those who do not know, the idea is that there is some original meaning of the constitution, and the way to prevent judges from being self ruled is to require original abide by the suppose of the constitution rather than a living constitution type of concept. but those schools of thought are very divergent. it is really class of thought. there is an original intent school of thought that a few
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people abide by because they say you cannot really identify with what the intent was at the time and whose intent we should go with. there is an original meaning school of thought that speaks about we should look at the way the language of the constitution was used at the time of its ratification. and now, there's a more living constitutionalism which speaks about some semantic content of so many of the words but also about principles guiding the way. he also speaks about the declaration in two of his most recent books. so there has been talk about it. i think there should be more. and, generally, the way that the activists of the 19th century were so effective in using the document in talking about how it was the framers understood pursuit of happiness. and it couldn't have been, it couldn't have included slavery.
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but when we look at those times, unfortunately, many, including jefferson, who spoke about the -- about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, unalienable rights of man, had slaves. so there is an element -- it is a critical document for helping, for being stable in the principles we have, for not being willy-nilly in the way that this country moves to and fro, depending on popular majority, where the popular majority might be chauvinist, might be racist, and that we might have a tyranny of that majority, so the document is critical in setting baseline standards. but that we need to continue to reinterpret those ideas to be true to the original but yet also to be sensitive to our understanding of where those who interpreted them fell short. >> when you look at the debate today, i think if you did a word
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count of, let's say, democratic ads or democratic candidates, the word "equality" comes up a lot, but if you did a word count of republican candidates and republican debates and speeches, "liberty" comes up a lot. it seems to be that the republicans are all talking about liberty and the democrats are all talking about equality. i don't even know if those terms mean what they meant for jefferson. they may not. but i was wondering if you could comment on that. alexander: well, certainly, there's a more libertarian strain of the republican party than there was in the early 1980's and in the 1970's. and there's a lot of equality talk amongst the democrats, because it tends to try to get a more social, and more, wider swath of the population for voting. but i think that, first of all,
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they are not mutually exclusive. i like to use the term "liberal equality." rather that these things are combined, so if one has liberty at the expense of others' equality, then one has failed to meet the standards of the declaration of independence. and if one has equality while exploiting others and subordinating them and not giving liberty, one has not lived up to the concept of liberal equality. i think these things are both necessary, and it's really one concept in its exercises there for the common good. and so, we talk about -- also, if i may add just a little bit more, i think what has happened with the declaration of independence has been true throughout the country's history. it is primarily used for rhetorical flourish. and if you really did a word count -- and i've read thousands of documents. i mean, i've looked at, i think,
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every newspaper article from 1776 to around 1968 and some to the present that use the declaration of independence. the wonders of electronic research as well as the classic library research, but, boy, you can really now harness and look at a tremendous amount of documents. but most all use of this is rhetorical. the declaration of independence, rah, rah. what i am saying is this document really has substantive meaning. it really has meaning that is constitutional, that tells us about the sort of laws we should pass, how we should exercise our ability to get representatives into congress, to participate in governance. and it is that substantive meaning that is too rarely invoked and thought about in what these provisions really mean in light of our history and in light of present politics.
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thank you. thank you. thank you for coming. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] ♪ ♪
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>> you are watching american history tv, covering history c-span-style with event coverage, witness accounts, archival films, lectures in college classrooms, and visits to museums and historic places. all weekend, every weekend, on c-span 3. >> american history tv is on c-span 3 every weekend, and all of our programs are archived on our website at /history. you can watch lectures in college classrooms, tours of historic sites, and archival films at up next, and oral history interview with gloria grinnell, who talks about taking part in ine 1960 lunch counter sit-
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protests during her time as a student at richmond's virginia union university. she described the culture shock she experienced as a californian attending college in virginia. this interview is part of an oral history project on the civil rights movement initiated by congress in 2009, conducted by the smithsonian national museum of african american history and culture, the american folklife center at the library of congress, and the southern oral history program at the university of north carolina chapel hill. gloria: okay. i'll go back to my grandparents, if i may, because, in a way, it was a civil rights-type activity. my grandfather -- these are stories that were told to me. and i asked my cousin about it, because he is older than i, and he says it's true. my grandfather had $500 invested in the stock market. and, of course, he lost it. this was when people were jumping out the window and so forth.


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