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tv   Willard Sterne Randall The Founders Fortunes  CSPAN  May 1, 2022 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT

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well, cool. i want to thank you kate for taking the time to do this us a. hello everyone. my name is morgan and i'm an event manager with politics and pros and i'd like to welcome you all to pnp live. let's introduce tonight's guests. willard stern randall is a disk distinguished scholar in history and professor emeritus at champ chaplain college as a biographer lecturer and lecturer. he specializes in the history of the founding era and he has been on c-span's book notes. history dot net and more brandl has taught american
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history at john cabot university in rome and is a contributing editor to mhq the quarterly journal of military history. randall will be in conversation with robert vein the president and ceo of veteran's strategies incorporated in indiana based public relations firm launched in 2010. robert served in the united states army from 1987 to 1990 after receiving an honorable discharge robert earn a master's degree in medieval history from indiana university. he also served as debbie deputy chief of staff and communications director for indianapolis. mayor greg ballard in 2019. robert launched the leaders in legends podcast his list of guests includes george f willard stern randall and david o stewart and many more let's give our virtual. let's give our guests a virtual round of applause.
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thank you morgan. mr. randall, thank you very much for your time this evening and tell us about your new book and taking some questions. the latest book is called the founders fortunes how money-shaped america the birth birth of america. excuse me. his previous works include biographies of washington jefferson hamilton and many others. let's get started right away the closing line of the declaration of independence is quote and for the support of this declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence. we mutually pledge to each other our lives our fortunes and our sacred honor. please examine this sentence and tell us why you think fortune was included. well, obviously there there lives were involved because they were starting a revolution against the king.
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and if it failed or if they were captured. they would be hanged drawn in quartered the grizzly execution ritual of the english. but their fortunes they were quite. various some of them were very wealthy some of them were not but they stood to lose everything because if you're on the losing side of a revolution not only yours, but you're you're families and your descendants properties also became the property of the king. so so everything they had earned was at risk. is there is there a particular gap in scholarship you've written so many books. but is there a gap in scholarship you wanted to fill in while writing the founders' fortunes? well, the first gap was to re-examine a theory from a little over a century ago by
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charles beard. it's called the economic theory of the constitution. and he in in times very much like how i started this project was thinking about the times we are in five years ago political term oil divisiveness. are these fragmenting a lots of resistance to immigration and it resembled the time in the early 20th century when charles beard was a columbia university and trying to put together something explained how the country got going and who did it and his conclusion was that it was founding fathers were in it for the money as much as monthly is that and his as economic theory knocked the founding fathers off their pedestals and then he went through their pockets and found gold and bonds and came to the
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conclusion that they wanted a new form of government in which they would benefit people like them and any them as a class. he thought of a politicians has the same as ludacris. he didn't separate them. he actually used the words that these were security brokers financiers etc leaving out entirely most of the men who signed the declaration or wrote the constitution many of whom were not rich at all. so i wanted to not only go back to his theory to test it, but i wanted to go through. each one of the founding fathers' lives and careers and find out for myself as well as to explain to other people. all these people really were how they lived what they had at stake and and whether they want to lose by the revolution and the new constitution. so taken in what you just said,
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would you term this book a revisionist history or just an updated one based on news sources and subsequent scholarship. i like that second. i think go behind curtain b, please. yes. i'm trying to update a theory that became a school of of history that the linger for a very long time and actually banished the idea of individual examining individual lives. i'm a biographer and i think you can learn an awful lot about what happens by looking closer. at the lives of the individuals involved, how can you write about the founding fathers without knowing anything about the founding fathers, which is what's consumed me for several decades now finding out what they were really like and what difference it made for this country. you mentioned finding out about what they were really like you've written several amazing well-received. best-selling books on america's
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founding. so what new things did you learn in the process of researching and writing the founders fortunes? how much time do we have? well, i'll stop i'll start with benjamin franklin who's everybody's popular grandfather figure even in the hamilton play the one thing that they left out of the play was benjamin franklin because the play right said if you let him and he'll take over everything but worldwide probably are best known founding father was benjamin franklin. he was the inventor. he was the guy with the wheelbarrow gathering up scraps of garbage to make soap. he was writing in autobiography that generations of students had to read but he was also sort of the quintessential new american so i i've studied him a lot and what i've learned about him for one thing is that he was totally
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honest and very frugal but every once in a while, he could be very naive. for example when he was finishing up as our ambassador to france and had put together the french alliance with the king when he was coming home. he got the traditional gift that the french king gave to diplomats when they were going home, which was often a snuff box. the country was the french were addicted to grinding up tobacco and sniffing on it and you've got a nice little gift from the king according to how high up you were in his favor. benjamin franklin got a snuff box with the portrait of the king and 401 diamonds around the king's portrait. and that created a storm back into constitutional convention when he just mentioned. oh, by the way, i got this and what we got out of it as a result is the emoluments clause
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in our constitution that you cannot a government official cannot take gifts from other countries or titles. so that was a whole line that i had no idea about and i also didn't know a lot about snuff. so i've learned a lot about stuff. i've read it an article too. we've talked about this too that the contention of which is that we focus too much on the founding fathers and the revolutionary era. what's your take on on this charge? well, i don't think you could understand. how this country came about or what that meant or how different it was if you skip over the founding fathers and what what they struggled with not just what they accomplished what they rejected as well as what they were able to pull off. so i think it's the foundation and if you don't have the foundation, where do you start the civil war was really a
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replay of a civil war in the american revolution and that has been has been ignored until fairly recent one-third of americans. wanted to stay loyal to the king one third wanted their own country and the other and i'm quoting john adams the other third independent where the army was we started out divided and you have to understand i think who the players were and what their differences were to understand how you wind up with virulent polly party politics and some other things about our own time. so i think you have to start with the foundation and then go from there. we are having a conversation with willard stern randall. his latest book is called the founders fortunes how money shaped the birth of america. one of the real gifts that you give to your readers of this book. is how you convert 18th century
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financial figures into 21st century numbers. it really has an impact. how exactly did you do that and and did the numbers. the calculated 21st century numbers astound you they astounded me but i actually was i was put on to a website. that it's called. measuring worth and in that it gives you your choice of how to look at the conversions. actually you put in the the money from the time that you're you're examining. and then you put in the amount and then you put in the date when you're writing the book and you can get you get almost a menu of possibilities, but what i decided to follow was what we now call the consumer price index. and that is basically what the money will buy.
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and if you look at that, it's quite surprising and it's not just about the prices of things but for example before the revolution. england and france were in a century of wars the french and indian wars and when it was all over the british had a debt of in our money 10 trillion dollars if you just put that in pound sterling it means nothing but if you put it in terms of 10 trillion dollars now and and no what's transpiring in the senate and in our economy, then it's striking and what comes out of that for me is well the british thought they were on the right side. who were these americans that wanted a free ride around in carriages and and live better than the average english which helps explain why you had a third of the country sympathetic to the british?
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all the well-known actors, you just mentioned benjamin franklin, but all the well-known actors of this period in our history are are part of your washington, hamilton jefferson. but this book isn't just about them. how important was it to you to expand the list of founders who had a keen financial interest in what was taking place at the time? well, i i think to settle on a pantheon of statues of a handful of founders doesn't help you to understand that among the delegates to the constitutional convention. well was a gentleman who ran a general store in, new hampshire. his entire portfolio of const of bonds from the revolution was worth about twelve dollars and 45 cents a year to them. he certainly wasn't well it was worth about 10 dollars before the the constitution and it
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appreciated by $2.45 says he wasn't in it for the money. the chief justice the supreme supreme court of new jersey was practically penniless. he didn't own any stocks bonds, and i've looked at those people as well. at half of these of the signers of the constitution were trained in the law but a dozen of them basically had no formal education whatsoever, but they had already been governors of states founded state universities. they just didn't leap over from the revolution to write a new constitution. they struggled for a dozen years trying to set up governments within their own towns within their own states and only when that didn't work. did they decide to come together and see if they could come up with as the documents and a more perfect union but the
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constitutional convention happened because even george washington would won the revolution militarily and was beloved by so many people he couldn't get maryland in virginia to talk to each other. he wanted to build a canal from the ohio valley so that ships can sail to europe, but they wouldn't talk to maryland wanted all the tolls. and he finally said we have to we can't go on like this. we have to become one nation. when it comes to measuring wealth was there a conflict? or perhaps a debate maybe between the relative value of land as opposed to that of hard money. well part of the problem was there was lots of land and not much hard money. the the british would not allow the colonies to have their own currency.
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everything had to be paid in pounds sterling. several states that already tried and have been shut down by the british government. there were no banks which was hard for me to believe there were no banks in the united states before the revolution before the before the constitution set went up with alexander hamilton and his formula the land was what everybody wanted. that's why so many came from europe you could know land in europe. it was owned by the nobility or the church, so everybody came here and expected after the french and indian war was over to go west and the british shut it down they drew a line on a map of them on on the appalachian mountains and said you can't go any farther west from the british point of view. it made sense. they were made people too far from the coast and not be able to anything from england. to the americans it was it was it was an affront and it guaranteed for them that they
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would have no wealth. no land to expand and give to their families. let's go back to something. you just said because that he took me back. there were no banks. in the colonies prior to the revolutionary war and the constitutional convention and establishment of the united states where did people keep their money? where did they get money to build or buy? well in in part, washington's an example. he had him he had a broker in london. all the all the cotton plant the tobacco planters had had to use brokerage houses in london. send over their crop have the broker evaluated keep his ledger books and fulfill orders for any goods that washington wanted which wasn't working very well you had to order everything from england given that like the time it took for shipping
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washington's wedding suit was six months late. martha's clothes were always the wrong size. he saved up to buy a carriage a nice carriage custom-designed carriage to stop using her old buggy and it fell apart at the dock. i mean americans were at the mercy of english merchants who insisted on being paid in silver and gold and americans didn't have it. so washington, i think began to rebel when he became a debtor, which was not it his nature. so let's you're talking about the attitude of the british and the treatment of the of the colonists of the americans by the british. so while all this was happening while while the colonists were. in the state of pre-rebellion and complaining about the taxes. what was the attitude of the british ruling class and its wealthy accomplices towards the colonists and their complaints.
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well, unfortunately, especially dealing with boston. they thought the americans were on unruly mob. and so they they sent troops. they sent garrisons through troops to the frontier to keep the the settlers from crossing the mountains. they sent a regiment from montreal to garrison boston. they traded americans more and more as a conquered people not as english citizens living abroad. and that that really niggles somebody like george, washington. um, and we don't talk much about honor. we don't put as much of a value on it in our history, but the the insults of being treated as second class englishman were were a factor i have found. the seven years war what we called the french and indian war certainly was enormously expensive written. you just mentioned the figure. actually they're dead.
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so how justified in your mind were? its leaders an advocating and legislating for the colonists to contribute in ways that they hadn't before. well, the the leaders of england the parliament tended to ignore the fact that the colonies were given royal charters. and the charters included privileges including each colony was allowed to legislate and set its own taxes and collect its own taxes. it wasn't intent people did not come here to it to north america expecting to be have the whole framework of their of their government pulled apart suddenly because the new administration came to power in london wanted to ignore the rights of the american colonists and just hand us the bill benjamin franklin put in very well. he said what we gave you half was our lives and half of the
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cost of the struggle and then we gave you all of our trade all of our commerce. and how dare you tax us on top of that. so how shocked were the colonists when the british started passing all of these acts the stamp act in 1765 and the tea act and others to the towns and acts. to recoup some of this money. what was the reaction? well, it was gradual but it started out immediately with the with americans saying we have to buy a stamp and put out every piece of paper now practically you look at that. it doesn't sound like enough to start a revolution over but george washington for example, and when he got through with a a hard day in the fields and over the account books like to play cards with his friends in his in his drawing room. all of a sudden he had to pay
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ten shillings tax on a deck of cards for 10 shillings. he could hire a farm manager for a week. when they cracked open the dice to play with them there was a tax on that too the tax on a pair of dice would give him two horses. so what seemed like it seems like a small thing to us was a big thing to them at the time and how they reacted was the way any good englishman would riot. the english rioted a lot at home if you raise the price of the earth, they riot if they couldn't get the beer they rioted again. again. so americans protested with riots. what was new was the british sent soldiers? to put them down and it was so englishman with weapons. trying to control other englishmen. as it went on the british kept the british were fumbling. they had never they had just become emperors. there was no precedent. they sat around reading the history of rome to try to figure
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out what an empire so that one administration after another had an idea what to do so they came up with at the stamp act was rejected and overturned. then they came up with the townsend acts which included paint glass you had to pay a tax an important glass by sea to america. oh americans just started putting something like foil on their windows. they were they began to risk or resist and not go along. but then the british took back everything but the tax on tea. well, that seems like such a small thing now, but franklin's son william when he was courting a young lady would go over to her house on a sunday and he would have to survive 16 cups of tea and keep sipping unless until her mother said you have to leave i mean it and and they had to pay to have it imported. by the english in english ships
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with english crews all the way from india and all they had to do was duck down into the caribbean and get it for a fraction of that which is what they did. so they resisted by their actions. they didn't suddenly decide to go to war washington thought war was a very bad alternative. that was a surprise to me. his family had lost everything in the english civil wars. that's why he came his family came here. what he wanted was sanctions as we call them today. he wanted an economic boycott of the english and and that worked very well until the british and soldiers over again this time and invaded you talked about how some of these taxes fell on the the wealthier members of the colonies. look, but just the average joe for lack of a better term and his wife and his kids the blacksmith of the baker. how did they react and how were they affected by these taxes?
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well for one thing when the resistance began the british started using the royal navy. collect customs duties and the result was that many people who had been openly buying things from the caribbean or from france. couldn't anymore goods became very expensive a needle and thread was something that robert morris ordered to be smuggled in from europe because he can make so much money with needles and thread because americans weren't allowed to manufacture anything. they had to send raw materials and then buy the finished goods. so as the struggle between the two went on there was less and less commerce between americans and and and europe and the average citizen had to pay for it. when my kids were studying the this period in american history. i always told them to pay attention to the quebec act as
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i've always thought and and maybe we'll get some questions about this or comments in the chat that it's really underrated the quebec as a cause. of the break between the colonies and great britain. what is your take on the act? and and how did it affect the mentality of colonists both? rich and poor? the quebec act which was finally passed in 1774 after the townsend accident. did two things that many american english americans resented one it made. catholicism the state church of this huge province of quebec two an extended quarterback beyond what we call quebec all the way down to the ohio valley and it also cut off trade. with a native americans in in in
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the in quebec province. so americans basically saw that being boxed in. new englanders were as anti-papist as they would say then as they could be and the idea that the british were superimposing catholicism on their protestant heaven was was much too much for the and the first army that went into canada to fight in the in the revolutionary war stopped off at the tomb of a famous puritan preacher and cut up pieces of his of his vestments and put them in their hats to carry the message to canada that they were they were not going to sit for this so it was about trade it was about more english control. it was a matter also the quebec got real problem by jewelry. it put all the landowners to work as peasants more or less fixing the roads and bridges what it did was really diminish
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the rights and the privileges of english americans. we're having a conversation with willard stern randall famous historian. his latest book is called the founders fortunes how money shaped the birth of america no discussion or dissection of the economic conditions of the revolutionary era is complete without a deep dive into slavery in the slave economy. how did this peculiar institution affect the founder'' fortunes and the colonial economy in general? well the economy of the south as we would now call the south was based. on slavery the economy of the north depended on another form of servitude and that was the indentured servant if you put the two of them together, it's really half of the population of british america.
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the the difference was in new england the indentured servants served a term of years and when it was over he was rewarded either with the tools of his trade or land enough land to raise a family. but the two did not see each other they did not see each other as equal that really the seeds of the civil war begin right at the at the time of the declaration of independence. jefferson who owned or enslaved hundreds of people wrote the declaration and in it. he blamed the slave trade on the king of england and on the british which in a way was accurate because the largest exporter of slaves was the royal african company controlled by the king of england, but he tried to write slavery.
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to get slavery abolished slavery by public law in the in the declaration of independence and the southerners the southern delegates would not go for it. they considered him someone of a trade or saying that and they cut it out slavery. basically hit the cutting room floor the very beginning and i think a much worse is when the constitution was written just a dozen years later. the debate was cut off there would be no more discussion in congress of slavery for another 20 years. they can't they kept ignoring the snake that was coiled under the table of their democracy and that that evil institution of slavery, but one each blamed it on the other the southerners said, how can you object since it's your ships that you build the transport the slaves? it's you who take the rum that the slaves labor to get the sugar cane and you turn turn it into rum in boston the biggest
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slave port in the country was not in the south. it was providence, rhode island, so that they could not. solve this amicably between them so they can't. pushing it down the road kicking it down the road. and it continued to be a source of much of the wealth of the country, but not all of it as time went on the north joined the industrial revolution built factories imported workers from europe. who worked under pretty horrible conditions, but only for a short time so you already have in the declaration of the seeds of the civil war by what they cut out. and was there their inability to do so fueled as much by economic necessity as it was by their own racism in the sense that we can't afford.
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to have our plantations and our crops without involuntary servitude and oh, by the way if if their god or if god wanted them to be equal to us, and he would intervene. i mean you read some pretty horrible stories about the attitudes of the plantation owners in the 18th century for sure at least during the term time period you're writing well, let me take that and sort of reverse order first of all slavery was not invented in the south. and racism was not invented in the south either. in the early 17th century even the archbishop of canterbury of the church of england actually rode a very bad poem that talked about how the chromatics there was a chromatic scale of evil than the darker you were the farther you were from god and
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england. and the english had an experience had experience in enslaving the irish for example and the scottish. so they came with the idea of treating a race or a nationality quite subservient to their own. as far as the economy, not everybody agreed that you had to continue slavery in the south george, washington in economy calculation. figured out that he couldn't go on growing tobacco, which is used intense slave labor. because the british were charging him 80 cents on the dollar our money to ship it warehouse it unpack it process it and tax it so he he could no longer afford to grow tobacco and instead he converted to a
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crop that use almost no slavery. growing wheat catching fish in the potomac river selling fish and wheat in the local markets building his own ships to sell weed all the way to italy he converted to a whole new economic model and everybody in the south knew about it. you couldn't get to the north without crossing at the crossing at mount vernon and stopping for dinner having some of martha's ham. i mean, he was chosen by southerners to lead the revolution because it was the largest and wealthiest colony without it when there would no war so it's pretty hard to find an excuse for turning a blind eye to the solution. it's just that some of the delegates to the to the decoration of independence meeting on a huge number of people. one delicate 26 years old from south carolina and had 800
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enslaved workers. the numbers are staggering in the north. i've only been able to find. one or two of the delegates to the continental congress who has slaves and freedom. so they already the north already saw this as a as a terrible idea. when you read biographies of washington and jefferson and some of the others and i know you've you've delved deep into their lives, it's kind of shocking. how poor they were. and the extent that they had things and land but no money. i mean if you if you didn't know thomas jefferson owned monticello, you'd think that he would be begging outside the tavern every single night for a meal. why were these? owners these plantation owners
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these these founders so cash poor well, they lived harvest to harvest. and there was such things as bad years as in any farmers life. and they lived according to the ideas of the british what they were going to pay for that year's crop. there was no gold or silver. there was no money. you could borrow from a bank thomas jefferson took 54 years and probably the longest home improvement project in history to finish monticello because he could never get enough money to do it at once but that was also that's that's taking a light view of it. he was an absolute. compulsive shopper who just kept spending and spending and they also he had the idea that if the british were going to rip him off he was going to rip them off so he didn't he didn't put spend much time or money paying off his debts to england. he rationalized. he he rationalized everything
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including his debts. there is a founding father whose name is whose signature is bigger than anyone's. on the declaration of independence. do you think that wealthy merchant and patriot? john hancock is underrated in his contribution to the revolution. i think he definitely is. and i'm i'm working on that frankly. he's underrated because he he's underrated because he overdressed maybe that's too simplistic, but he was born the son of a country parson in massachusetts penniless. he was adopted by a wealthy uncle and aunt who had no children of their own and he was brought up as the child of the wealthiest merchant in new england. and he worked and learned the business. he he went to harvard.
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um, and then went to work in the county house as a clerk worked his way all the way up to owning the company in 26 because his uncle was was sick and and dying. so 2026 he he was a small fellow lightweight, and he liked to enhance his size with really fancy clothes. he was a fashion plate that any young bloods what imitate he wrote everywhere in a carriage he put on quite a show but bostonians loved him because using the hancock businesses. he said a chain of stores. basically, he bankrolled the managers he distributed food to the poor. he supported hundreds of families when they were hard times or when the british blockaded the port so he was very loved but well loved in in
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boston except for one or two people. the loyalists and john adams john adams john adams. john adams is an interesting figure. he's the most loquacious founding father. there was a song and a musical once called sit down john because he would talk and talk and talk. which was the opposite of john hancock john hancock would run a good meeting, but he didn't talk much. he didn't have any any heirs either. so no family to glorify his reputation in future generations as john adams did. my favorite bostonian by the way, just to keep going on that for a minute is sam adams the true radical of the revolution. he's the hippie of the 18th century and when hancock and sam adams were racing to philadelphia during the british attack on boston to the
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continental congress. john hancock turned to sam adams that you can't go to philadelphia representing, massachusetts looking like that. so john hancock and tagonized santa's. by buying them a new suit and that became a political rivalry for the rest of their lives. that's the kind of thing. i live for when i'm doing my research. terrific terrific arm conflict is sometimes referred to as a quote rich man's war and a poor man's fight. is the american revolutionary war an example of this? no, it's not that quote from james mcpherson's battle cry of freedom. rich man's war poor man's fight. it's very accurate with the confederacy. it everyone was in all everyone was in on one side of the other in the revolution.
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the the wealthy put everything on the line and they were haunted men george washington moved 280 times in temporary headquarters during the war while his farms had no income is his wealth diminished by half before it was over but who was fighting who were the officers we had no office class. we had no military academy and people who had just been raw militia. fight and with their valid or promoted and wound up being general summit very young age. so that doesn't work too well. many people who were poor and under the british scheme of things could never own land. volunteered to fight because the states gave them bounties a land bounties when the war was over anywhere from a hundred acres. it was actually a schedule of what you got all the way up to
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general from this state and the states by the way were competing with each other now bidding each other for recruits. so rank or birth or class were not factors anyone who was willing to fight the british and risk british bayonets and british artillery was welcome. fortune applies not only to people who were trying to keep it or risk it but also to people who were trying to create it. was the revolution viewed by some as a way to better their economic condition? the answer is yes. because we had americans had no navy and what you could be done about that was merchants could invest in building their own ships. hiring their own crews and the called privateers who got commissions from congress.
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and then went out and attacked the british. attacked merchant ships attacked ships carrying weapons thousands of british ships were captured it's an amazing thing. we call that the merchant marine now, but the merchant marine really was privateers and everybody on that ship got a cut the loot when they captured another ship intact and brought it back with its cargo and auctioned at all. so the crews somebody who started as just a member of the crew wound up owning a ship or several ships. it was a way to wealth. we've reached the question and answer part of our conversation with willard stern randall. his latest book is called the founders fortunes how money shaped the birth of america. eugene has a question who was before that i would just like to eat. robert these are wonderful questions. i want to thank you for them. and then i'm looking forward more wonderful questions from
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our guests you as always you're incredibly kind and wonderfully gracious eugene has a really good one. who was the richest and the poorest founder? robert morris to both he started out this american's first billy. he came out of the revolution as the america's first billionaire because he had been a financier invested in ships and then use them to transport goods to france etc. i also had privateering ships that were very successful and by the middle of the revolutionary war the french said he was the richest american we would consider him a billionaire when it was all over. when the struggle was all over and there was a new constitution the the economy tanked because the british while they gave us our political independence in
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the treaty of paris did not give us our economic and independence and they cut off america's markets with europe with with a caribbean and robert morris was one of those people were no longer could sell goods and use ships to make money with europe. so he did the spectacularly foolish thing of speculating in land which so many had done three signers in the declaration of independence including robert morris wound up in debtors. because they they had so much so little cash and so many investments that land they could even keep up with them. so robert morris who financed the revolution and actually sat down signed 6,000 notes by hand to pay washington's army so they could be discharged and go home proudly he wound up in debtors prison for three years, and we
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didn't even know they had dinners. following is a anonymous question how would the founding fathers interpret the current financial situation of the united states and maybe focus a bit perhaps on mr. hamilton? well, mr. hamilton would be very happy. with his his idea which was creating national bank? to create the corporation. the first american corporation is the united states government. anybody has to pay back a government loan knows that the government makes profits. he would be very happy with the financial health of the country and banking and the stock market and all that but personally he was a disaster at making money. he was he was so broke when he was killed in the famous duel
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that his friends and colleagues had to pass the hat. so he he would be happy in the abstract but in and and real life and death. he would not be happy at all. so so in our previous conversation you made that comment about passing the hat expand upon that and say until the audience exactly what you mean by that. well passing the hackman he didn't have well it goes back to the land and money thing. hamilton and married the daughter of a wealthy hudson valley landowner but he couldn't sell his land any more than any other american he couldn't collect rent from tenant farmers because they didn't have any money. so hamilton worked very long hours supporting of family of seven as a lawyer. but he also couldn't get along
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with another american a different political persuasion. aaron burr. and so they wound up at odds on height. so we hawkins shooting it out. well, the problem was hamilton have any money. so his family didn't have the money for a funeral or a monument. and his colleagues in congress and the other officers literally took up a collection to pay for his funeral and to put a marker on his grave which by the way is right across the street from the world trade center. so but for for the man came up with our phenomenal financial system he was not very good at it himself. the next question is anonymous. so would you say that what the founding fathers lacked in material wealth they made up for in political power.
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ambition to have power. yes. but they really were powerless. because from the minute the the constitution was signed in washington took office. his his lieutenants hamilton and jefferson were at each other's throats, so they had no real power washington ran the country as if he was still a general the cabinet meeting was having three people over on tuesday afternoon and telling them what he wanted to find out about the next week. so the only one who had any power was george washington congress had no power basically because nobody had any money. through most of this period and each state as we're now finding out again came up with its own election laws and its own laws of who could hold office and in
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the south only the rich could afford to be governor. in in new jersey or in new england, it took very little money in new england the value of your tools counted as the property to meet the property qualification to become a voter. in in the south it was which was that their wealth was based on the value of human beings. they borrowed on the equity of slaves and the governor of south carolina had to be a millionaire. the governor of massachusetts for a while was sam adams with the old suit and very bad at making money. please submit your questions and the q&a feature we can ask willard stern randall before we leave we have a few minutes left. question is from robert. a lesser known financier is oliver pollock. can you comment about him and how he did post-war?
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i would like to know about him because i can't answer that question. so robert robert if you have a minute type in a little bit about mr. pollock, and we'll try to answer in a few minutes we have remaining next question is from jan what finally let trade happen again between the united states and england. the war of 1812 which was the final act of the american revolution again privateering. and the courage of a lot of the sailors and fighting men they were able to to at least fight to a draw against the british army, which had already defeated bonaparte napoleon. but the americans held on to the territory that they had won the
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british invaded baltimore we get our star spangled banner because they failed. by the bombs early light or this they invaded from canada. we don't hear about that the most important naval battle of the war was on lake champlain. and so the british could not invade from canada. they made it a terrible blunder by leaving baltimore and sailing to new orleans where they ran into the frontiersman. under andrew jackson 2000 men killed or wounded in 15 minutes the british were vanquished the british lost the war of 1812 whatever else they say, they defeated napoleon, but they couldn't defeat the americans. the question is from cynthia. what was the role of higham solomon? i'm so glad somebody brought that up. i am solomon this this he's there's a statue to him in detroit. he was the man who actually knew
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how to get together enough cash in this cashless society. when washington needed to pay his men to cross the river and attack trenton in 1776. he basically hung out in a coffee house in philadelphia when the ships came in and contracts came etc and bid he was an excellent financier and totally respected by washington who depended on him and he has been he has been given far too little space. in in our history so robert has come through for us oliver pollock is a merchant and financier of the american revolutionary war of which he has long been considered a historically undervalued figure. he is often attributed with the creation of the united states
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dollar sign in 1778. well, that's a good idea for for a book. this is how books are born in the questions that historians can't answer. you know some of the we talk about the the wealthy members of that generation who who cast their lot with the revolution. but what about the wealthier colonists the wealthier americans who stayed true to britain? how did they fare both during and after the treaty of paris in 1783? they fared very badly in in the united states the loyalists. all convoys of ships left, new york harbor or charleston to take determine loyalists elsewhere in the british empire if they stayed by the way, they lost all their all their civil rights of their legal rights. only hamilton defended the loyalists in new york.
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why did he do that? why did he defend the loyalists? well because he thought the war was over. and because the treaty provided that the loyalists would be able to collect their debts. he was a lawyer. he firmly believed in contracts and language and the individual states refused to accept the terms of the the treaty that franklin and jefferson etc. had nicote no see so he also there were so many people who had property and money that they had to leave or they be hounded out. or persecuted that he became the lawyer for the loyalists in new york. they were the basis of his legal problem. legal practice. so it's it the british probably would the only ones who treated the loyal as well after using
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them and losing the house of lords gave the loyalist the equivalent of the cost of one more year of war and divided it up sent commissioners over to get documents and people for their losses. final question is what canada is where most of them went. so what is now ontario province was a loyalist province new brunswick? oh, i lost promise nova scotia. so most of the loyalists walked or went by ship to the frozen north final question for the evening. is you started talking about in the very beginning of this discussion about how the british were had a debt. i think you said of 10 trillion dollars and they needed money from the colonists through taxes to help alleviate this debt, but instead of getting money from the colonists they got war. so what was the financial
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condition of great britain after the end of the american revolution? very deeply in debt. they hadn't managed to do anything, but incur more debt they had also lost. george the third managed to lose the first british empire he ran the war personally. he was insomniac writing notes to generals in the prime minister, but he managed to lose. he loosen and he left the landowners of england paid most of the bills and as much as the third of the value of their land every year that the war went on british would not could not afford to go on fighting there were riots in the streets there were troops in london shooting rioters the british had lost war and and they were dead bro still. and i guess we know how. the war affected the allies of the colonists the french
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monarchy. and it's and it's deadly game and how that played out. we have been speaking with willard stern randall latest book is called the founders fortunes how money-shaped the birth of america. thank you to everyone who came on the zoom today to listen to mr. randall talk as usual. will you did an absolute terrific job. your book is amazing. i encourage everyone to use the link in the chat feature to pick it up at their nearest bookstore. thank you, sir very much. and thank you robert. this has been a greokay, let's s
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second half of the material. we're going to be discussing mass production and the american system of manufacturers. now as you well know. there are differences in the way economists and historians discuss issues in particular. i would sort of say historians plays a great emphasis on archival information descriptive statistics and testimony that was contemporary to the time in contrast social scientists, especially economists look very
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