Skip to main content

tv   Benjamin Franklins Faith  CSPAN  August 5, 2021 12:42pm-1:31pm EDT

12:42 pm
kelly and the future nancy reagan. book tv features leading authors. on sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern adam serwer reflects on trump's america. his latest book "the cruelty is the point." ben shapiro discusses his new book the authoritarian moment. he's interviewed by eric metaxes. watch american history and book tv on c-span 2.
12:43 pm
next me marks by thomas kidd on benjamin franklin's religious faith. it's 45 minutes. good morning, everyone. welcome to museum of the bible. i am kay penniger. i am the director of museum education. we are delighted you have joined us today for our february speaker series program titled the bible and america's founders. our program consists of three sessions, which we follow by a round table discussion later on this afternoon. following the round table discussion, we'll have a book signing with our speakers. at museum of the bible, our mission is to engage people with the bible. the bible has made a powerful impact on world history and cultures.
12:44 pm
it has influenced nations, laws, and political structures. it has guided debates and shaped pivotal events and inspired views of prominent individuals, past and present. the bible is hidden in plain sight in everyday life from common expressions we all use to the music, the arts and literature. today, we will explore a theme that expands on how the american colonies as they moved toward revolution and the founding of our nation, our founders turned to the bible as a source of inspiration and justification for their political actions. we have three prominent scholars with us today, dr. thomas kidd, dr. daniel driesback and dr. james byrd who will talk with us about how the bible influenced the founding generation. our first session is the enigma of ben franklin's faith with thomas kidd.
12:45 pm
benjamin franklin tells us that he became a deist as a young man. at the constitutional convention in 1787, franklin proposed that delegates open sessions with prayer. in in session, thomas kidd will explore the enigma of franklin's faith and the tension between franklin's well-known skepticism and the enduring influence of his puritan upbringing on his familiarity with the bible. thomas kidd is a distinguished professor of history at baylor university and associate director of baylor's institution for studies of religion. he is the author of "benjamin franklin: the religious life of a founding father." please join me in welcoming dr. kidd. [ applause ] >> thank you to kay and thank you to the museum of the bible for hosting this wonderful event. it's a pleasure to be here at the museum. i hope to consult with some of the section on bible in america and it is just a wonderful thing to be here and see this lovely facility. so thank you for having us and thank you to those of you that are joining us online or on tv.
12:46 pm
it is great to be here. i do want to talk to you today about the enigma of ben franklin's faith and to open with a story of something that happened at the constitutional convention. in 1787 at the constitutional convention, time dragged as delegates bickered about representation in congress. james madison insisted that states with more people should possess more power. the small states knew that under the articles of confederation, america's existing national government, all states had equal authority regardless of population. so why should the small states give up that power under a new constitution? the convention might have failed at this point. it really could have. if it had, the country would have continued to struggle under the inefficient and some said
12:47 pm
feckless articles government or the new american nation might have disintegrated. at this critical moment, the octogenarian, ben franklin, took the floor, calling for unity. he asked delegates to open session with prayer. as they were, quoting, groping, as it were in the dark to find political truth, he queried. how has it happened that we have not hitherto once thought of humbling applying to the father of lights to illuminate our understandings. if they continued to ignore god, he said, our projects will be confounded. we, ourselves, shall become a reproach and a bye word down to future agents. this man, who called himself a deist, now insisted that delegates should ask god for
12:48 pm
wisdom. classic deists did not believe that god intervened in human affairs. even more strange, he was one of the few delegates that thought that opening with prayer was a good idea. his motion was tabled. so what kind of deist was this elderly man calling on america's greatest political minds to humble themselves before god. franklin's work at the constitutional convention was the culmination of his spectacular career. he and george washington, who was 26 years his junior, were not the architects of the constitution. that role fell to james madison and alexander hamilton and others. but franklin and washington were the two most famous americans in 1787 and delegates looked on franklin with respect and awe. there seemed little doubt that washington, the imposing general, would become president
12:49 pm
of the convention. if there was any competitor for chair, it was the venerable franklin. the very heavens obey him, one noted. franklin planned to nominate washington as chair himself if a storm had not kept him home for opening day of the meeting. the son of boston puritans had come a long way to get to that philadelphia meeting hall. in late spring of 1787, he exchanged letters with his beloved sister, jane mecom, who was an evangelical christian. the sibling who maintained the longest correspondence with and the deepest influence on franklin. they reminisced about their humble beginnings as the children of a candlemaker. mecon had remained a person of humble means and relative anonymity while her brother's fame skyrocketed.
12:50 pm
ben told her that the course of his life filled him with wonder and fills me with humble thankfulness to that divine being who has graciously conducted my steps and prospered me in this strange land to a rationally have expected and can by no means conceive myself to have merited. i beg the continuance of his favor." chronic sickness made it difficult for franklin to stand and speak at the convention, but he did offer occasional comments to seeking to steer the delegates toward a successful conclusion, but early on, he also made a substantive speech arguing against paying a salary to the president or to other members of the executive branch. he based this argument on his
12:51 pm
dim view of human nature, and of politician's temptations to personal aggrandizement. "there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men," he declared. "these of ambition of ambition and avarice, the love of power and the love of money, placed before the eyes of such men a post of honor that shall at the time be place of profit and they will move heaven and move heaven and earth to obtain it." such corruption had ruined british politics and he wished to uncouple america's governmen" such corruption had ruined british politics and he wished to uncouple america's government from the profit motive citing exodus 1821, franklin reminded delegates that the best rulers were men hating covetousness. "if you turn politics into an
12:52 pm
avenue for personal gain, he said, only the most bold and violent men would want to enter." less delegates dismissed his pay proposal as utopian, he cited examples of offices in which people served for little or no money. the arbiters of quaker meetings heard disputes that would have otherwise gone to secular courts. these duties were tedious, yet quaker leaders performed them for no compensation. he also pointed to the virtuous washington who took no salary as the general of the continental army. though to be fair, he did submit expenses. the convention declined to adopt franklin's proposal, but franklin was participating in a bigger conversation that ran all through the constitutional debates. what kind of government could best account for the dangers inherent in human nature? although americans disagreed on the answer, they did not dispute the premise.
12:53 pm
men were not angels as madison had written in federalist 51. they could not be trusted with unchecked power. franklin joined a more controversial debate for the convention on june 28, 1787. he had lived a long time, he reminded delegates and he had become ever more certain that god oversaw human affairs. franklin was convinced that providence had shepherded americans through the revolutionary crisis. it was foolish not to call on god again. he reminded them of the early days of the war when the patriots prayed often in that same room for god's help. at its best, faith inculcated public spiritedness and it suffocated selfishness. god had led them to the point where they could now frame the best possible government and have we now forgotten that powerful friend, he asked?
12:54 pm
citing psalm 127, except the lord built the house they labored in vain that build it. "furthermore," he declared "i firmly believe this, and without his concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of babel. "prideful strife would confound their work" he said, "and turn their proceedings into a farce." this was the most remarkable, religious episode of ben franklin's life. it was stunning, and not just because of the stage on which he was proposing prayer. franklin, as i suggested before, was nearly alone among the delegates in wishing to bring prayer into the convention's proceedings. connecticut's roger sherman, one of the most devout christians in
12:55 pm
attendance seconded franklin's motion and virginia's edmond randolph propose that they hire a pastor to preach on independence day less than a week later. that minister could then open subsequent meetings with prayer. beyond these three men, though, delegates seemed uninterested in meeting for prayers. some had not budgeted funds for a chaplain. alexander hamilton worried that calling in a pastor would signal that the convention was becoming desperate. he also reportedly questioned the propriety of calling in foreign aid. so the motion fizzled and franklin was exasperated. jotting a note at the bottom of his prayer speech that, "the convention, except three or four persons thought prayers unnecessary." well, franklin and the
12:56 pm
convention moved on. perhaps his prayer speech did remind delegates of the need for compromise, even if it prompted no formal recourse to god. in an address two days after proposing prayer, franklin explained the root of the tension between the large and the small states. if representation was proportioned according to population, quote, the small states contend their liberties will be in danger. if an equality of votes is to be put in its place, the large states say their money is in danger. both sides were going to have to give up some demands to ensure a successful outcome. so drawing on earlier discussions regarding a two-house legislature, franklin suggested that the convention create a house of representatives with proportional representation and a senate with equal representation between the
12:57 pm
states and this became the great compromise, arguably, the key settlement of the whole convention. in his final speech before the convention, franklin warned against dogmatism. he saw this species of moralistic perfectionism both in religion and in politics. most men, indeed, as well as most sects in religion think themselves in possession of all truth and that wherever others most sects in religion think themselves in possession of all truth and that wherever others differ from them is so far error. delegates should be able to the constitution," he said, "even if they do not regard it as perfect. no other government would emerge from additional meetings." franklin was not sure that it
12:58 pm
"was not the best" that they could do as it currently stood. the framer's enemies were longing to hear that their councils had been confounded, "like those of the builders of babel," he returns repeatedly to the story of the building of babel from genesis. the convention needed to present a unified front as the constitution went out for ratification. multiple forms of government could work well when administered by virtuous people anyway. according to an often-repeated story, when someone asked franklin after the convention whether they had created a monarchy or a republic, he replied, a republic, if you can keep it. so to return to our central question of franklin and faith,
12:59 pm
who was this franklin of philadelphia and what did he believe? in our mind's eye, the man seems ingenious, mischievous and enigmatic. his journalistic, scientific and political achievements are clear, but what of ben franklin's religion in was he embraced by his deism and james wakefield who was the most influential evangelist of the 18th century? his work with thomas jefferson on the declaration of independence and its invocations of the creator and of nature and nature's god or his solitary insistence on prayer at the convention.
1:00 pm
when you add franklin's propensity for joking about serious matters he becomes even more difficult to pin down. regarding franklin's chameleonlike religion john adams once remarked, the catholics thought him almost a catholic. the church of england claimed him as one of them. the presbyterian thought him a presbyterian and the french thought him a wet quaker which basically means a quaker who is not so well behaved. the key, i think, to understanding franklin's ambivalent faith is the contrast between the skepticism of his adult life and the indelible imprint of his childhood puritanism. the intense piety and of his parents acted as a tether restraining franklin's skepticism. as a teenager, it's true he abandoned his parent's puritan beliefs and that faith kept him from getting too far away. he would stretch his moral and doctrinal tether to the breaking
1:01 pm
point. by the end of a youthful sojourn he made to london. when he returned to philadelphia in 1726 he resolved to conform more closely to his parents' ethical code and he steered away from extreme deism. could he craft a christianity centered on virtue rather than traditional doctrine and avoid alienating his patients at the same time? more importantly, could he convince the evangelical figures in his life, most importantly his sister jane mecom and the revivalist james whitfield that all was well with his soul? he would have more success in
1:02 pm
time convincing his sister than convincing george whitfield. when he ran away from boston as a teenager, when he ran away from boston to philadelphia, he also ran away from boston's calvanism and the tether with christian friends and families and disappointments with his own integrity and repeated illnesses and the growing weight of political responsibility all kept him from going too deep into the dark woods of radical skepticism. franklin explored a number of religious opinions, even at the end of his life as we will see he remained non-committal with beliefs. this elusiveness has made franklin susceptible to many religious interpretations. some devout christians, beginning with the celebrated
1:03 pm
are 19th century biographer have found ways to mold franklin into a faithful believer. weems opined that "franklin's extraordinary benevolence and useful life were imbibed even unconsciously from the gospel," and there's something to this notion of christianity's unconscious effect on franklin, but weems had to employ indirection here because of franklin's repeated insistence that he doubted key points of christian doctrine. other christian writers could not overlook those skeptical statements. the english baptist minister john foster wrote in 1818 that love of the useful was the cornerstone of franklin's thought and that franklin, quote, substantially rejected christianity. one of the most influential interpretations of franklin's
1:04 pm
interpretation was in max vaber's study the protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism, 1905. for vaber, franklin was a near-perfect example of how protestantism drained of its doctoral particularity fostered modern capitalism. franklin's "the way to wealth" 1758, which distilled his best thoughts on frugality and industry, illustrated the spirit of capitalism, faber said in near-classical purity and simultaneously offers the advantage of being detached from all direct connection to religious belief. for vaber, franklin's objections were no locker of just obeying god. virtue was also useful and profitable. franklin admonished by his,
1:05 pm
quote, strict calvanist father about diligence in one's calling presented moneymaking and success as products of competence and proficiency in a vocation. vaber's franklin's grew up in calvanist, and the zeal in a profession, namely printing. there's a lot to recommend in vaber's portrait. as an adult, franklin touted ethical industrialability and benevolence each as he jettisoned christian orthodoxy. many recent scholars have taken franklin at his word by describing him as a deist. he calls himself a deist in his autobiography so that's a decent place to start. other scholars have called him everything from, quote, a stone-cold atheist which is ridiculous, he's not an atheist to a man who believed in the, quote, active god of the israelites, the prophets and the apostles.
1:06 pm
that's what another scholar says. so deism stands at the center of this continuum between atheism and christian devotion. but other than indicating skepticism about doctrine, deism could mean many things in 18th century europe and america it can mean many things. the beliefs of different deists didn't always sync up. some said that they believed in the bible as originally written. other deists doubted the bible's reliability. some deists believed that god remained involved in life on earth. others saw god, yes, as the cosmic watchmaker, winding up the world and then letting it run off on its own and going off somewhere else. deism meant different things to franklin over the course of his long life, too, and he didn't know how to explain the
1:07 pm
variant meanings. so i'm not opposed to calling franklin a deist, and i do so in my book but deist doesn't capture the texture or trajectory of franklin's beliefs. i gratefully draw from aspects of vaber's analysis and other commentators on franklin's religion and my analysis of him, but adding to the themes of franklin's skepticism and ambivalence, my book shows how much franklin's personal experiences shaped his religious beliefs and his personal experiences shaped his religious beliefs. like abraham lincoln there is an important comparison to be made here with lincoln and franklin's early exposure to skeptical writings undermines his confidence in christianity, but books alone could not erase
1:08 pm
franklin's childhood immersion in puritan piety. his ongoing relationships with evangelical christians made it difficult for him to jetson the vocabulary and presepps of traditional faith altogether. although his view of providence vacillated, the weight of the american revolution fostered a belief that history had a divine purpose. franklin and lincoln, both self-educated sops of calvanist parents, both of whom had much of the bible committed to memory gravitated toward a revitalized sense of god's role over history as war and constitutional crises racked america in the 1770s for franklin and in the 1860s for lincoln. neither man's beliefs could escape the influence of their
1:09 pm
daily relationships and stressful experiences. it is difficult to overstate just how deep an imprint the bible itself made on franklin's or on lincoln's mind or on his ways of speaking in writing. you all know that many devout christians today are basically unfamiliar with large sections of the bible especially in the old testament and don't know much about current theological debates. franklin knew the bible backward and forward it framed the way that he spoke and he thought. biblical phrases that he had learned going to church over and over, long, two-hour sermons
1:10 pm
sometimes and puritan churches, multiple times a week so biblical phrases are everywhere in his vast body of writings. so even as he embraced religious doubts, the king james bible colored his ideas about morality, human nature and the purpose of life. it served as his most common source of anecdotes. it's everywhere. he each enjoyed preying on friends' ignorance of scriptures and he would show them a passage and say don't you remember this from the book of genesis? they'd say oh, right. he'd laugh at them because he knew it wasn't in the book of genesis. he got upset one time when one of these got published because everybody knew about the joke and he couldn't play the joke anymore. franklin once explained the
1:11 pm
bible saturated environment in a letter to the reverend samuel cooper of boston. franklin was arranging for the publication of one of cooper's sermons in europe and franklin needed to annotate the sermon with biblical references. this is what he said. quote, it was not necessary in new england where everybody reads the bible and is acquainted with scripture phrases that you should note the text from which you took them, he told cooper, but i have observed in england, as well as in france that verses in expressions taken from the sacred writings and not known to be such, in other words, you don't give the chapter and verse, appear very strange and awkward to some readers, and i shall therefore, in my edition take the liberty of marking the
1:12 pm
quoted text in the margin. now, franklin did not need cooper to insert the bible references because franklin knew them by heart, and as a child of the puritans, franklin immediately recognized bible phrases when he read them even from obscure sections of the text. so the shadow of scripture loomed over his long life. franklin, then, was a pioneer, i think, of a distinctly kind -- a distinct kind of american religion. i'm tempted to call it an early form of what robert called sheilaism, which was the individualist religion described in bella's celebrated book "habits of the heart," 1985, if you haven't heard of this in bella sheilaism, it is the
1:13 pm
standard for religious truth and not any external authority, but i think franklin's protege tom payne might be a better choice as a founder of sheilaism with the declaration, the age of reason in 1784 that, quote, my own mind is my own church. so i think franklin was too tethered to ethics and institutions to be a forerunner of what bella called sheilaism. instead, franklin was a pioneer of a related kind of faith and that is what i call doctrineless, moralized christianity. doctrineless moralized christianity. some may debate whether this is christianity at all, but you can all think about this for yourself. franklin was an experimenter at heart and he tinkered with the novel form of christianity, one where virtually all beliefs became non-essential,
1:14 pm
nonessential so the pure tans of his childhood focused too much on doctrine and he fielded the presbyterian's zeal for expelling the heterodox and as he perceived it in the man dates of love and charity. for franklin, christianity remained a preeminent resource for virtue, but he had no exclusive attachment to christianity as a religious system or as a source of salvation. in franklin's estimation we cannot know for certain that god's trin tearian nature are true, but we do know, franklin said, that christians and the devout of all faiths are called to benevolence and selfless service. doctrinal strive, he said, is not only futile, but it undermines the mandate of virtue and we know god calls us all to do good.
1:15 pm
. if you hadn't noticed doctrineless christianity and doctrineless religion is utterly pervasive in america today. we see it most commonly in major media figures of self-help, spirituality and success such as oprah winfrey, who in a different vain, houston megachurch pastor joel olstein and the late steven covey the author of "seven effective habits of highly effective people." and although they differ specifics and some are more christian and some are less christian, the common message of these authors and their countless followers, and i do mean countless followers is that a life of love, service and significance is the best life of all. god will help you live that kind of life, but your faith should be empowering and tolerant rather than fractious and nitpicking. these characteristically american beliefs amounts to moralistic, therapeutic deism.
1:16 pm
moralistic, therapeutic deism. many of the prominent exponents such as joel olstein live out their faith in particular congregations and traditions. even oprah winfrey has testified that, quote, i am a christian. that is my faith. however, she says, i am not asking you to be a christian. if you want to be one, i can show you how, but it is not required. doctrineless christians agree that people may to believe in doctrines our personal understanding of god can help us. we may need particular beliefs to enable our best life now in joel olstein's phrase, but ultimately the focus of doctrineless christianity is a life of good works, resiliency and generosity now. faith helps us to embody, discipline, benevolent and
1:17 pm
success in this life. that's what god wants for us. >> well, today it's easy to dismiss this sort of pop faith because it is so often peddled dismiss this sort of pop faith well, today it's easy to dismiss this sort of pop faith well, today it's easy to dismiss this sort of pop faith because it is so often peddled by wealthy media superstars, but it is, i think, america's most common code of spirituality and for franklin, when you go back to the 18th century, doctrineless moralized christianity was serious intellectual business. it was very serious. born out of contemporary religious debates and dissatisfaction with his family's puritanism, like many skeptics in the 18th century, franklin was weary over 300 years of the protestant information and much of that fighting concerned church authority in particular doctrines. franklin grew up in a world of
1:18 pm
intractable conflict between catholics and protestants and also between protestant denominations themselves. what good was christianity, he wondered, if it precipitated petty happens, persecution and violence? unlike some self-help celebrities today, franklin and his cohort of american deists that in promoting a ethics-focused christianity they were redeeming christianity itself. how successful that redemptive effort was, you'll have to decide for yourselves. could you really have a non-exclusive, doctrineally
1:19 pm
minimal, or did the effort compromise christianity itself? >> thomas jefferson and britain and france wanted to give it a try. 13 years after franklin's death, jefferson wrote he considered himself a christian in the only sense jesus wished anyone to be. he admired jesus', quote, moral doctrines as more pure and perfect than any other philosophers, jefferson said, but to jefferson, jesus' excellence was only human. jesus never claimed to be anything else, jefferson said. authors imposed the claims of divinity on jesus after he had
1:20 pm
gone to his grave and not risen again, jefferson concluded. well, franklin didn't go as far as jefferson. franklin preferred not to dogmatize one way or the other on jesus' divinity. in a classic tension that still marks american religion right now, franklin's devout parents, his sister jane and the reverend george whitfield all found doctrineless christianity to be dangerous. yes, they agreed that morality was essential and, yes, it was better not to fight over minor theological issues, but true belief in jesus was necessary for salvation to the puritans and evangelicals, jesus was fully god and fully man. doubting that truth put your soul in jeopardy. jesus had made the way for sinners to be saved through his atoning death and his miraculous resurrection. it wasn't enough to just emulate jesus' life as important as that was, more than a moral teacher,
1:21 pm
jesus was lord and savior. so honoring christ required belief in doctrinal truth. franklin wasn't sure about that, perhaps the puritans and presbyterians of his youth had gotten it wrong. perhaps he was the one who was getting back to jesus' original teachings, but he was sure that doing good was the grand point. for most of his life franklin had traditional christian inquirers especially family and friends who asked him about the state of his beliefs and the state of his soul. as i've said, among of the most consistent inquirers were his sister jane and george whitfield. in the last few weeks of franklin's life, however, one more inquirer came on the stage.
1:22 pm
franklin had known yale college president ezra styles ever since yale granted him an honorary degree in 1953. stiles, a congregationalist minister and a calvinist realized that franklin was near death. quote, you have merited and received all the honors of the republic of letters and are going to a world where all sublinary glories will be lost in the glory of immortality, stiles wrote to him, but stiles paused. would it be impertinent of him to ask about franklin's belief in christ? as much as i know of dr. franklin, stiles confessed, i have not an idea of his religious sentiments. i wish to know the opinion of my venerable friend concerning jesus of nazareth. stiles adored franklin, but he still wished franklin would have clear title to, quote, that happy immortality which i
1:23 pm
believe jesus alone has purchased for the virtuous and truly good of every religious denomination. franklin respected stiles and so five weeks before his death, five weeks before his death he penned a response. it's absolutely precious that we have this, and he asked stiles to keep it confidential. apparently, he didn't since we're talking about it here. you desire to know something of my religion. it is the first time i have been questioned upon it, franklin wrote, which is just simply not true. i don't know why he said that because his parents, george mecom and george whitfield and others have been asking him
1:24 pm
about it all his life. anyway, he said, but i do not take your curiosity amiss and shall endeavor in a few words to gratify it, he wrote. here is my creed. i believe in one god, creator of the universe. that he governs it by his providence, that he ought to be worshipped, that the most acceptable service we can render to him is doing good to his other children, that the soul of man is immortal and will be
1:25 pm
treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. so at the end of his life franklin was a providentialist, a believer in the duties of worship and benevolence and he expected god would rule in a final judgment. so pretty good. then he continued -- as to jesus of nazareth my opinion of whom you particularly desire, i think the system of morals and his religion as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see, franklin wrote, but he still had doubts. quote, i apprehend christ's teachings have received various corrupting changes. in other words, he's not sure he can trust about what the new testament says about jesus' life and teachings, corrupting changes, and i have some doubts as to his divinity. though it is a question do i not dogmatize upon. there's that word again, dogmatize, having never studied it. franklin never doubted how admirable christ's moral teachings were.
1:26 pm
he just didn't know if he could accept the new testament's doctrinal claims about jesus. franklin thought, quote, it needless to busy myself with it now when i expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. there he goes joking again, right? he knows he's going to be dead soon and he's going to go and he's going to find out whether he was right or not. so in this life he just wasn't sure whether he could know the truth about christ, the bible, salvation, but he was going to find out soon. in spite of his qualms about traditional christianity he saw, quote, no harm however in it being believed and it being believed as it had the good consequence as it probably has of making his doctrines, jesus' doctrines more respected and better observed.
1:27 pm
so you can believe, if you want, but for franklin, the point was never just belief, but virtuous action, oralized christianity. i shall only add respecting myself, he concluded his letter to stiles, that having experienced the goodness of that being in conducting me prosperously through a long life, i have no doubt of its continuous in the next though without the smallest conceit of meriting such goodness. god had always been good to him, franklin said, and he saw no reason to think that god's kindness would stop when he died. and die he did on april 17, 1790, and he left, when he died he left the enigma of his faith unresolved. but in his code of doctrineless,
1:28 pm
moralized christianity franklin became the founding father of perhaps the most pervasive kind of spirituality in the western world today. thank you very much. [ applause ] weekends on c-span2 bring you the best in american history and nonfiction books. saturday on american history tv at 2:00 p.m. eastern, on the presidency we'll feature two programs on gerald ford, the only white house occupant never elected vice president or president. he took office 47 years ago this month, after president nixon's resignation. first, a visit to the ford presidential museum, looking back on the 38th president through archival photographs and film. then a profile of his wife, first lady betty ford, honored
1:29 pm
four her life's work with a special focus on the white house grounds and gardens. feature author of "a garden for the president" and former first dourt susan ford bailz. 6:40 p.m., new york's 20th century all key male barbizon hotel. morning the hotel's notable resident, poet and novelest sylvia plath, grace kelly, liza minelli and we talk with the new york historical society's valerie pailey about the unique role. book tv's nonfiction books on sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern, atlanta, adam serwer reflects on the past and future of "trump's america" in "the cruelty is the point" and 10:00 p.m. eastern on
1:30 pm
conservative podcaster ben shapiro discusses requesting the authoritarian moment" and argues the progressive left is pushing an authoritarian agen ta in america, joined by eric metaxis. watch american history and book tv on c-span2 and find a schedule on why you are program guide or visit next, on american history tv, american university professor dan el dreisbach looks at the bible's contributions to the u.s. constitutional and judicial systems, part of a symposium hosted by the muse eemg of the bible in washington, d.c. hello, everyone. our second session today is the bible and the founding of the american constitutional republic with daniel driesbeck. during the american founding


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on