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tv   Book Discussion on The Wars of Reconstruction  CSPAN  February 23, 2014 2:33pm-3:22pm EST

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diary what caused you to flip their? cynic i will save that for the moment and please -- >> i haven't read the book yet but i look forward to reading it. i don't know the ages of the women that you are referring to but in your research, did the idea come up with a conversation about the commercialization of space travel and would any of them ever consider the galactic would they do that themselves? to ask about going into space back in the six he sispa and lots of time with life magazine of course, if you have these articles about we are going to be putting up a couple of the astronaut had this sort of
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crackpot scheme and root beer stands when we colonized, so yes someone like a former tough marine said i would have gone up there in a heartbeat and the early pilot who ended up flying in the powder puff derby she would have been there in a moment but some of them are like are you kidding i want to stay down here with my feet on the ground and of course they all hope we will continue to explore and push the envelope as their husband used to say. i will just mention very deeply the red leather diary, my first book because i think it reflects on how i wanted to talk this kind of story. i grew up in chicago.
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and it was a new york guy in a city girl. i was in new york with that density of people walking around looking at these old buildings into these windows lit up and i just sort of naïve, just to be an incredible amount of untold stories but there are and how everybody has a story and somehow i just wanted to be able to reveal some of those distant stars. so very serendipitously i have to say i feel quite lucky. but strange things happen to me or maybe i see the world in a different way. i notice things that seem almost fear a tale -- fairy tale.
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i came out after i graduated and i was working as a news clerk at "the new york times" which is like the devil wears prada that without the prada with lots of bow ties and the businessmen who would give me bits of advice. i wanted to be a novelist to which i going to return to for my next project, which is going to be fiction. i came out of the building and there was something too good to resist pus push with the dumpstr and not an ordinary because it was filled with about 50 old trunks into these were the old kinds that were brought on the titanic from paris and the french line. i am not a dumpster diver by trade but i love vintage clothing and a good story so it's eight in the morning and i literally climb on top of that is to and i start -- you are all
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looking at the very odd. i started going through these dresses in the collections of handbags and among the urban treasure with a red leather diary kept from a woman from 1921 to 1934 at the height of the depression and a long fairy tale short i ended up tracking down the owner is 90 with the help of a private investigator and befriending her. she wanted to be a writer and she hosted a literary salon, she was a renaissance woman who had love affairs in her story spoke to me so much i ended up telling this story of how this comical made the way back to her and it was sort of given as a gift to
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the rest of the world. telling the forgotten story was very interesting to me. little things i remember from professors the good stories are often little margins were footnotes. it's not the typical heroic model but it's the other side of the coin and it was that desire and hunger to tell the story that is an untold stor story but there's also this sort of emotional catharsis for the subject that has been under the radar revealed to the world and i know from speaking to the boys not only does this book take them back in time but they feel
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very gratified that people care about their story. i don't think many of them call themselves heroes because they were so in support of their husbands and would have seen that as arrogant and inappropriate, but i certainly see them as heroines myself, and i think they have the right stuff. [laughter] [applause] the other reports during this time, close to the 800
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african-americans in public office comes including the first african-american u.s. senators, hiring that those inches joseph raimi. and south carolina supreme court. this is about 50 minutes. >> thank you so much. it is really nice to be here. i went to grad school in washington in the 1980s and it's always nice to be back. this is my second appearance at politics & prose. so it is good to be back. this will leave me a lot of time for questions and discussion it may be disagreement. let me start with a story. when the war ended, a lot of black soldiers with the united states colored troops decided to stay put, where they were in the south.
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they had no business is to return. they settled in the small town of belkin, texas, harry thomason george bush. they set up and organized a local unit of the union club, philadelphia a's prounion, prolink and policy organization. he began to register friedman to go. by 1967, they decided they'd had enough of this and decided they were going to intimidate these two men by putting up and writing through the black part of town and kind of showing them who is in charge. thomas and brooks were former soldiers. they were veterans. they fought in the war in battle and they were not going to read now. like a lot of former soldiers, they were with their guns.
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so they hunkered down behind windows, in barrels, watering troughs and their 16 clansmen coming into town cannot they just opened fire. they scattered, leaving behind piles, hoods and robes and guns in the middle of the street and brooks goes out and collects the guns and add them to his arsenal. this kind of forms the narrative of a book. the u.s. army had been, for these men, their home, their school, their political club, a stepping stone into office. of the 1500 african-american men who served in local, state, national of history miss. come at least 130 had been in the military. 41 better and hope to write news constitutions in the american
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south. 64 became state assemblyman. three veterans became lieutenant governor in military service open door for u.s. congressman and one u.s. senator. but sadly, one of the points of this book is we need to recognize and emphasize this kind of local, black activism on the price of government. we should understand what voip vigilantes learn from the militant debacle. the danger of this group activists in his first all, blacks will fight back. veterans will fight back its effectiveness if they kill enough black activists at once, decades the attention of journalists and editors in washington d.c. and new york and earns president crampy vigilantes learn is far safer to go after black cat to this one by one. eliminate them in small groups. they need guys think a genuine
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asset and at his house early in the morning when they come out. so by late 68, texas whites had targeted brooks and thomas for assassination and quietly picked both of them off. for many americans, reconstructionists remembered badly in the popular imagination as there alluded to this at the time of racial anarchy, and republicans in washington try to punish the defeat itself. osama carpetbaggers in their non-letter, uneducated black allies turned into a joke, i should say here in full disclosure my ancestors were north carolina and tennessee confederates in slaveholders. i read my comment posting reviews on amazon. in the last but one person to he's a yankee. i've let her try seven years now. i was born and raised in arizona and my people were from this. so that they therefore say that
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without agenda, the point of the book is to suggest we remember the reconstruction of a remember the, though apology entirety and an understanding of who was right and who is wrong. four major points i want to make briefly. first come in the reconstruction was revolutionary in that sense of the word. sacking, it was not simply sent a dealing with the south. blackjack misunderstood the entire nation required reformation. third, it did not end in 1877. every textbook says it stops and of course it doesn't. this book starts in 1961. finally, it didn't fail. if it ended, and it didn't end everyplace. it's not because the policies are wrongheaded and it failed. it's because it was killed. he was smarter but works and
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thomas. these are farmers were systematically targeted for removal in assassination and one by one disappeared in the dead of night. but the weekends now but the end of the war, but 1864 with two interconnected groups. the first of course they're black soldiers who first had to fight for the right to serve their country. until january of 1863 or blacks lead to saving u.s. military. the second interconnected group, black activists, many for the south, but at this point in the north and they have sons and brothers serving in the armed forces. they understood the entire country had to be it from the ground up a niche out there for us to lobby president lincoln and so-called radical republicans in congress and get the most progressives whites in washington who by their standard or not all that progressive behind their agenda. so the track began in october 1864 to begin in
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syracuse, new york. in that month, 150 delegates representing 17 states and rushing nbc's matt in a convention at wesley methodist church. it is by the way still care. it's a mexican restaurant called the mission. it's okay. the decor is better than anything else. the food would go under in two days if it was in arizona. there had been black activists in a convention movement before the war. of course they push hard for it to slavery. but the dred scott decision, 1857, the movements die. like americans became defeatists. they had no future in this country. frederick douglass would condemn colonization towards the idea of possibly relocating to haiti. they had to jumpstart this
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movement. douglas is bitter. he of course is the alpha male of the antislavery movement. a man named jermaine loken was a runaway tennessee slave who tennessee say for that to syracuse and he douglas become in-laws. his daughter marries lois douglas was the one at what better and. there also is the long-time abolitionists at incarnate. there is teacher of virginia congressman, john mike standing on philadelphia act to this named octavius cato. outside or about him a few minutes. they issued their agenda items. it called for full voting rights for african-americans across the north and blacks could vote on the same he says is whites only new england where they were any black voters anyway. the rate for black soldiers to get equal pay. they were not at this point being paid the same amounts. in a call for the right of black soldiers, including people like
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douglas to be able to rise in rank and become commissioned officers, which at this point they were not allowed to do. finally, they announced as their last agenda item to call from our convention sent ursula deputize people to yerkes say you go here, you coherence or these other conventions and keep the ball rolling in the agenda moving. in march of 65, jamie in albany, new york. of course i'd like the war ends and the convention movement the south. on may 9th 1865, black virginians meet at a carpenter's house in richmond and stuck there pushing for black rights. gets on the train existed north oken speaks at a convention or so, virginia. they then hold conventions in new orleans, nashville across the river here in alexandria,
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virginia. mobile, alabama and this is a national movement and roa sacramento. every convention became a speech praising the murdered abraham lincoln, but the black conventioneers and activists admired lincoln. they were so sure about his party. in most books on reconstruction, sort of the big story, the big narrative is a snap between moderate lincoln and the more radical progressives like that. stevens 1863, radicals and congress passed a bill called the latest build that it's that kind of progressive reconstruction response to lincoln. the way davis doesn't mention black voting rights. so 1866 in response to rising tide of white violence in the south, radicals and congress passed the civil rights act. it doesn't mention black voting rights. what i talk about in this book is from the outside, pushing me that the most so-called radical republicans in the halls of
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congress. to kind of get on board with their agenda. and of course they finally get it in the reconstruction act of march 67, which is of course only to the south. finally at that moment? in the south can go and run for office. i mentioned that this was a movement that was radical in the best sense of the word. look how fast this happens. march of 67, the supreme court announces the blacks, even if they are born free, cannot be citizens of the united states because the founding fathers did not intend for them to be. just 10 years down the road. no blacks are voting in virginia. alabama takes to do because action acts. and in december 1860 when they hear about lincoln's election in the south carolina secede from the union. to stay for the black majority. south carolina and mississippi.
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after at least december, 1860. the 10 years to the day, south carolina since african-american to national congress. this is joseph rainey, a former slave who served nine years, leaves office in 1879. born a slave he was the next race. his father was white. his father is not his master. he died before the war, freed him. when the war ends, he writes in a state constitution for south carolina financiers the assembly of dust that arrest for local office and finally ran national office and in 10 years after the war began, he is representing the estate of john c. calhoun in the nations capital. that same year, the first senator of color took the seat from mississippi. grapple was born free in north carolina. he had left the south. he was educated as a minister.
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he becomes a chaplain during the war. so was also a veteran. he takes the seat formerly occupied to the previous center for mississippi, jefferson davis. davis had quit his seat in the spring of 61 for 10 years is seen as empty. the first person to hold that seat for mississippi after jeff davis is a man of color. it's astonishing how fast this happens. when we discuss how revolutionary this a robust, we need also to note the impact of the north. i can come black activists understood this as a crusade for the soul of america. this is not fixing south carolina or mississippi. it was not fixed in the north and of course new york. bear in mind until the 14th amendment, 1867, the dred scott decision still stood. the decision is still there. when these guys made at this convention in syracuse, they
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have been ruled by the highest court in the land is not citizens of this country, which is why people like frederick douglass wanted so much for black americans to be allowed to serve because once you fight for your country, whites can't stop you. so is douglas once said, let a black man getting either one has but to no power on earth can tell him he is not a citizen of the united states. and of course because douglas was a well-to-do publisher and editor from rochester, he could vote. 80% of black new yorkers could not vote during the civil war. the year he advises the state constitution. or in mind there's slavery in new york until 1827. the passes the law for gradual emancipation 1799 it covers only those people born after 1799. if you're bored in 1798, you're not covered.
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finally, 1827, becomes free. before they do that, they write this new constitution and it seems to make sense to keep the distinction between white and black voters. they would have been 1821 any qualification for rights. $250 in property. again, douglas can fail, that the black shopkeeper in buffalo would not be able to. in 1860, see post this as a valid referendum. do you want to keep this property qualification are not? mind, linking kerry's new york 1860. people go to the polls in new york in april for linking. and then they vote down, you know, a a referenda eliminating the proclamation for blacks. then blacks served in the military. 1867, two years after he war is over, again to repeal the qualification.
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it shows 9233. it's not even close. and of course it's worse yet in lincoln, illinois, ohio, pennsylvania, indiana, new jersey were zero african-americans in zero. it is not until the 15th amendment is ratified in 1870 this blacks their franchise. all across the north and outside of new england. when i was growing up in arizona, not in many ways their most progressive state -- [inaudible] my textbooks in high school talk about how reconstruction was indeed did, was to punish the south. to start with the obvious. hiram revels was a southern. joseph rainey was a southerner in no way did they believe that this was designed to punish the south because now voting rights were becoming truly democratic.
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when we talk about reconstruction beans and dave, here's an interesting story. one of the black congressmen in north carolina is robert smalls. he becomes a war hero. his master on ships and so he infected cement slave ship's pilot. during more he still is a confederate can associate to the navy and becomes a war hero, then runs for state office of the house or the state constitution of the u.s. for congress. he is raised in this house in south carolina. the house is still there. his master dies during the war. he likes the house and he buys it. his agent mistress is still alive and she's a little old and a little doggie. when a shoebox in the door and she is home. so he takes therein. he gets to reaffirm, freeboard, feature, cares for her for the rest of her life.
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now, one story a private compassion is admittedly anecdotal. americans today say reconstruction was vindictive. ask them what part of this was in gave you to set public schools, which the south lacked before the war. voting rights for all male american. when i go to a conference in the south or speak in the south, one of the key things i like to do is go on tours. my partner doesn't allow me to talk or ask questions. if you cannot charlestown, they had these carriages are run by someone with a confederate caps. the tour guide points to fort sumter and says reconstruction was the least democratic moment in south carolina history. well, when the war breaks out, again, the state a 61% black. it's like south africa appeared controlled by a tiny white
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minority. all of a sudden it is the majority that has the right to vote and run for office. it is in fact prior to 1965 when blacks again can vote and women can vote. the most progressive moment. in south carolina history. in the 1870s, three of the four congressman from south carolina, they are people of color. finally, says south carolina has a congressional delegation that looks like the rest of the state, that resembles the rest of the state. some modern critics think that these farmers face were not ready for political rights, not ready for political responsibility. the person i replaced the majestic college in upstate new york is to tell his class unwanted blacks are not yet ready for voting rights. as one former slave in this book says, it is true i've got no book warning, but i know justice
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when i see it. he knows who's on the right side and who is on the wrong side. it is true that a 21 men who served in congress, about half were former slaves. but none were literate and field hands. a typical was john adam heyman, a congressman from north carolina. tonsillitis rocket rented out as being hired out by the master. so it's a boy, john ammann says rented out by a local jeweler. the true amount to send them on errands around town and get things for his business. the jeweler finds it inconvenient that the boy can't read here so he starts to teach the boy to read in master finds out, brings him home and. the boy then steals the book on his master's library and is trying to read night. his master cells into alabama. he sold five times before his 25
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result for the crime of wanting to read. i use the story to beat my students up with. my students are not always the most excited about doing all the reading. you know, here's a kid who is beaten and repeatedly sold because he wants the written word. these people understand that knowledge has been kept from them. in south carolina simply it's illegal to teach slaves to read. it is likely illegal. i understand that knowledge is the path to political rights. it is the path to prosperity. and all these conventions in the south, they almost always demand voting rights. they are pushing really hard for land redistribution. but the one thing at every conference is they want decent schools for their children. in part due to southern poverty in part because planters with higher deal tutors to tutor
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their children. in south carolina, there were no public schools for white or black children. am i to confederate states, texas and louisiana before the war had free public education for middle-class and working-class white kids. the first thing he pushes for is free public education and integrated public education. south carolina actually has integrated public schools. for the first time, it's got decent schools for his children. so, why does all this progressive era and? again, it doesn't end everyplace. if you are john black voter in chicago, voting rights never leaves. if you are a black barber in syracuse, reconstructionist success because the 15th amendment has given you something you can't take away. there's a lot of things that can
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be taken away. in 1860, 90% of black americans are nonliterate by lot and the south. 1870 that comes down to 70%. on the 20th century to sack 250%. that's still pretty bad, but at the same time, what literacy in the south is only 62%. so half a century, the numbers have skyrocketed and certainly by 1900, schools in the south become segregated all across the country, including new york schools in blackberries are underfunded. but that is sort of a gift in the power that can be taken completely away. en route to its end, again it doesn't end because the policy is the failure to start with. it ends because it is killed. it ends because it's murdered. there were a number of big-city riots in 1866. one in memphis, one in new
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orleans. the famous colfax massacre in colfax, louisiana in 1872 on election day. but again, those kinds of atrocities could a lot of attention. they appear in the near a person washington papers and again white vigilantes, southern democrats discover it's a lot easier to go after one person one at a time. they go after poll workers, registrars, bureau teachers. one story have been the 19th century don't with a ballot. you have a ticket. on election day a functionary hints tickets out that looks like a bookmark. at one point, four guys right up to the house in south carolina who has to take it. they state the obvious. give us a ticket or we we will kill you. the guy has the tickets over in the next is election day. there's no republican ballots in south carolina. white vigilantes come to understand that today's poll
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worker, today's registrar is to mars state assemblyman admixtures congressman or the next or senator. before they become famous, you can stop progress in its tracks and bears some state assemblyman. he's on a train for guys right away. broad daylight. by 1901, he gives up. ..
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>> he taught math, he taught english, latin, greek. and one day he's walking home and, of course, this is the city of brotherly love. african-americans could not get on the streetcars. and he's tired. and so like rosa parks, he just gets on the streetcar, and he's got his coin. and the driver tells him to get off, and he's just not going to get off. it's late in the day, the driver doesn't need these kind of headaches, he simply unhooks the team of horses, and he thought he'd come back the next morning, and he'd be gone. he's still sitting there holding his coin, and the entire carriage has been filled up with
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black philadelphians, and they're ready for their ride. and they win. and the city backs down and integrates the streetcars. that should have a happy ending, but then comes election day 1873, and cato was assassinated by a white democrat on election day many front of hundreds -- in front of hundreds of people. and, of course, the all-white jury finds him not guilty. strangely enough, as he's lying on the sidewalk dying, pulling up next to him is an integrated streetcar. so probably the last thing he sees as he's lying there looking up is a streetcar filled with black and white faces looking down at him. so he succeeded, but he's paid the ultimate price. let me summarize in this way, that was 30 minutes, and we'll have time for questions and discussion. the way i think about reconstruction is it's a very long era. 1864 from that syracuse convention to 1901 when george henry white just walks away
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because he's had enough. what happens here is a reminder that history is not this kind of steady march of progress from the bad old days to the allegedly better modern times. americans who are very optimistic creatures like to think that tomorrow will be better than today, today is better than yesterday, and sometimes that's true and sometimes it's not. robert smalls certainly would have argued that south carolina and america was a better place to live in 1875 than it was 20 years before when he was still a slave in south carolina. but smalls lived until 1915, long enough to see the rise of jim crow in the south, the emergence of segregated school, underfunded schools for black children and, of course, the loss of voting rights for people like himself. smalls in a lecture to congress once estimated that 53,000, 53,000 people like o.k. tawf yous cato, teachers like poll
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workers and assemblymen were murdered during the wars of reconstruction. in some ways, what you see in this book is the civil war being continued by other means. and that's a in number that americans don't know about and need to hear about. every american has and should, of course, hear about the battle of gettysburg. you know, casualties are atrocious. killed and wounded are 51,000. smalls, again, argued that 53,000 people die in the wars of reconstruction. they die trying to fulfill the promise abraham lincoln made at gettysburg where he said, you know, four score and seven years ago america made this promise that we would be a country of liberty and freedom and equality , and for that long america has failed to achieve that promise. cato dies trying to make america live up to that promise.
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reconstruction was, i think, america's first truly progressive era, and there is nothing about it to apologize for or be ashamed for. it was a great and noble moment. and that was 32 minutes. [applause] sarah has asked if you have questions to get to the microphone so the camera can hear -- >> remember, these are questions, not your speeches. [laughter] >> yes, sir. how could we have done reconstruction better? for example, if we had doubled the number of troops, would that have helped? >> troops certainly would have helped. and really what hurts reconstruction in many ways is the indian wars in the midwest. during the contested election of 1876 and rutherford b. hayes makes in this deal to pull
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troops out of the south, and he does, but it's a symbol you can gesture. 1876 there are 2,800 shouldiers -- soldiers in the house. i bet there are more cops today in washington, d.c. than there were soldiers in the entire south. when hayes agrees to pull them out, it's a symbolic way of saying you're on your own. but every time, the battle of little bighorn in '76, every time there's some native american, anglo-american conflict, soldiers are shipped to the midwest, and i've got a lot of bureau agents saying things like don't take any more soldiers away. we can't have a fair election down here with just one patrol. so certainly, you know, trying to kind of decide, you know, where soldiers were going to be in the '70s and '80s is one more main issue. the other thing that could have made it better is for lincoln not to be shot. and i don't mean to be, you know, sort of cute about that. i don't want to get involved in great man theory, and i'm not trying to suggest that lincoln
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is the only man for the job. but andrew johnson is absolutely the worst man for the job. there is, i think, a clear window, a moment in time. i've got a lot of evidence in the book where southern whites are saying things like they won. you know, we fought, they won. lee's right-hand man writes a series of editorials in which he says we fought the good fight, they won, they get to make the rules. 65,000 young boys don't come marching home, so there is this enormous loss of people. look at pictures of columbia, south carolina, when the war is over. it looks like berlin in 1945. so the bureaus are saying they know they're defeated. we get to make the new policy, and, of course, then johnson becomes president and makes it very clear early on that the only thing that he will sort of crack down on is an absolute attempt to reenslave black
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americans. everything else, segregation, loss of voting rights, you know, that he's perfectly fine with. and it kind of empowers for the small, really reactionary group prone to violence, you know, the klansmen types who don't just silence, you know, whites teachers and black activists, they also go after the types who are willing to turn the page and start anew because they regard them as soft and weak. and they go after them as well. so the other thing is anybody but andrew johnson things would have been really quite different. and think about it this way, what makes our reconstruction so much harder than, say, 1945 in japan or 1945 in germany? and the answer is harry truman, you know, digs his heels in and says here's the way it's going to be and whereas, you know, president johnson's like we'll just kind of go about your business. so johnson, if there's a villain
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in the book, johnson is it. he's just a terrible president. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> hi. something you said kind of piqued my interest. you mentioned briefly there was an interest in the policy of land redirection. can you fill that out a little built, did it ever get anywhere, and what was the means or sort of structure of that plan. >> well, of course, bear in mind there's a lot of areas in the south where early on during the war whites simply abandoned -- they abandoned the coast of south carolina, they abandoned the coast of georgia. and that, of course, is some of the first places that the u.s. forces land early on. in '63 they've taken over the coast of south carolina. and the whites just flee inland. so there's actually giant pockets of the south where there are no whites and, in fact, there's areas when the soldiers arrive, you know, slaves have moved into the plantation big
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house, they've divided the land up. and a number of generals, people like sherman who are not progressive and they're not enamored of black rights but, of course, they're trying to win a war. the last thing they need is this giant entourage of black rough fee jewishs. so they adopt -- refugees. they want to keep the women, the older people back there on the plantations. so in the spring of '65, congress passes a bill creating the friedman's bureau and actually in the language of the law is if the land is completely abandoned, the blacks can apply, they can work the land for three years, pay represent to the u.s. government, and at the end of three years, they'd have the option of buying that land. and lincoln toward the end of that life uses the term 40 acres and says, well, you know, maybe that's the way to go, and sherman says it leaves behind some mangey army meals, so they're not making that up, you know? sherman, grant, lincoln are using that terminology.
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and, again, it's johnson who immediately begins to pardon southern whites and return, you know, not just land the government took, but land simply that was abandoned by southern whites. that said, con area to poppe hard belief not every -- contrary to popular belief not every southern black becomes a sharecropper. about 30% do become small-time farm ors. there still is land and, of course, again, a lot of whites who own farmland, they just don't make it home, so that land now literally is abandoned, there's no air, and so there is land for the united states to parcel out. again, that's something a loot of bureau agents, whites and blacks, were pushing for and culturallists were working for. they'd worked for decades without compensation, and now it's time for some payback. you know, there's talk today -- not much, but, you know, some talk about reparations for black americans. this is the time to do it
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because these are people who worked for decades without being paid a penny, and now their response is, well, here's a chance to pay us back, and we'll take land. i've got stories here where a woman comes out of the house, and a guy is busy, a black guy is busy literally kind of moving the kitsch, trying to drag it away with horses and, you know, with a team of tackle. and he says, well, i built a kitchen, and i'm going to move it to my land. as far as he's concerned, he made it, and it's his. a compelling argument can be made that land reform would have helped get the south on its feet and given it the a kind of level of prosperity. the idea that people actually have a stake in the land, they're going to work harder. and so one possible answer to post-war southern poverty is you give people a chance to own a piece of land. you know, we'll never know what would have happened had lincoln lived. but, again, he is talking about land. not wholesale confiscation, but
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certainly land that truly has been abandoned. so it's a great question. yes, sir. >> how do you explain the amazing, to me, juxtaposition on one hand of the sacrifice of so many lives during the civil war and so much treasure, soldiers going in singing, you know, he died to make men whole, he died to make men free. and all the idealism of that, and then the real cynical, well, i'm not going to do it anymore, that as i hear you and other people speak really seems to be, to me, so profound, that people were on one hand, you know, willing to give their lives and after it was over, you know, heck with these guys. because it was widely known what was happening. >> sure, sure. well, i think -- no, it's a great question, and i think the most obvious to answer is, you know, again, new york whites
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are, for the most part, are indifferent. so they're hardly willing to go to the mat so that blacks can vote in alabama. the reactionaries who don't give up, they just kind of wear the north down. people just get kind of fatigues about this. it's kind of sort of ping-pongs back and forth. you know, the war is over, the north wins. johnson gives the green light to southern whites, and so they pass the black codes which are an attempt to reenslave black americans but just not use the s word and talk about slavery. but they try to impose serious labor codes, blacks are not allowed to buy land, rent land in urban areas. they can marry, but that's about it. they're not allowed to hold weapons, run for office. so the north responds to that with the civil rights act and the reconstruction act. the south responds to that with the klan.
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grant responds to that with klan act. for a lot of northerners who were just trying to get on with their life and, of course, there's sort of an enormous postwar dislocation in 1873, there's essentially a global depression, the northern just gets tired. and in part because the north was never that dedicated to black social equality anyway. black activists in the north were and a handful of really white progressives including carpetbaggers who have been unfairly tarred as determined to plunder the south. they're not the majority. of yes, sir. >> you talked about president johnson being the majorville rain of your book. how would you assess the level of villainy of the supreme court this terms of making it difficult to reinforce reconstruction. >> yeah. oh, there's certainly blame to go around. and one of, i guess, kind of heroes of the book and one of the few really, really
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legitimately white progressive voices in washington, of course, was charles sumner who writes a really good civil rights act which is very, very similar to the 1960s civil rights act. and as he's dying, his last words are pass my act. it finally does get passed in 1875, and the supreme court mostly staffed by northerners strikes it down. i'm not suggesting there's not a lot of blame to go around, but johnson's crime is there is this kind of one moment where if anybody in washington had here's the deal, this is the way it's going to be, and there will not be plaque codes. you don't have to like your neighbor, but we're not going to go back. the jawments longstreets would have won in the south. but there's a lot of people that one can look back on in history and pick on. >> so what's the roll of the enforcement act of 1870, the ku klux klan


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