Skip to main content

tv   Larrie Ferreiro Discusses Brother at Arms  CSPAN  February 11, 2017 3:31pm-4:56pm EST

3:31 pm
and white house correspondent april ryan discusses ray simply shooting from the perspective of african-american mothers. authors bernard levy explores what it means to be jewish today. there he recalls the assistance france and spain provided the call mr. in the revolutionary war. those are just a few of the programs you'll see in book tv, and c-span2 this weekend. for complete television schedule visit book tv, 48 hours of nonfiction books and authors, television for serious readers. [inaudible]
3:32 pm
>> good evening. can everybody hear me okay? my name is elizabeth with a smithsonian associates and it's my pleasure to welcome you to the program. brothers in arms, revolutionary arm and look in history. please silencer turnoff yourself owns or cell phones or other electronics he may have with you. we have some nice bright lights in here this evening because our friends at c-span are filming tonight's program. i ask when you go to the q and a portion of the event that instead of raising hand and asking a question that we make a line and go to the microphone. so to our valued members who make this year possible, thanks and warm welcome. to those of you who might be joining us for the first time
3:33 pm
tonight, and equally warm welcome. i encourage you to check out the programming offered by smithsonian. we are pleased to welcome larry. larry received his phd in the history of science and technology from imperial college, london. he. he teaches history and engineering at george mason university. in the stevens institute of technology in new jersey. he served over 35 years five years in the u.s. navy, u.s. coast guard and department of defense. he was an exchange engineer in the french army. is the author of three books,. [inaudible] his nose but, brothers in arms, american independence and the men of france and spain who saved it. following his talk if you do not already pick up a copy of his book they are available on the concourse and he will be signing copies. so so
3:34 pm
thank you for joining us tonight. i would like to welcome larry to the stage. thank you. [applause] >> thank you elizabeth. good evening. the early 1776 america was fighting britain in a war for independence both on the navy, artillery or even gunpowder. only france and spain who are the historical enemies of britain had both the motive and the naval and military strength to defeat the british. we needed their alliance. but they would only do so if america was seen not as fighting the civil war, but as fighting a war as an independent nation. as john adams pointed out, form powers cannot be expected to acknowledge us until we
3:35 pm
acknowledge herself. the declaration of independence alone would allow european powers to frequent us. so the declaration of independence was affected in an engraved invitation asking france and spain to fight alongside us. that's why i say it's not just the declaration of independence, it's also the declaration that we depend on france and spain. now, the americans knew that france and spain wanted a rematch with great britain. they come out very badly badly in the seven years war which had ended in 1763 with britain and france losing canada and spain losing florida. france and spain were already closely lined by both family military ties. it was felt felt the bourbon family compact with bourbon family alliance. both nations wanted revenge.
3:36 pm
revenge against britain. but they had different goals. france wanted to regain its position at the center of the balance of power in europe. spain wanted to regain gibraltar and drive the british from the gulf of mexico. both nations said the revolution would happen long before they knew that it would. in 1767 the french foreign minister said, only the future american revolution will consign england to a state of weakness. they need is revolt of the american colonies that were certain to happen in the future when we can pretend. so they would send spies and observers like the baron -- to see when that would happen. but it would not take place for another eight years.
3:37 pm
when the fighting began in 1775 the british army would turn out hundreds of thousands of homes per year. the few american gunsmith that they were could perhaps do one gun per month. france and spain have first provided those arms using, as their means of conveyance merchants like. [inaudible] that's false to type to resourceful britain cannot reveal that besides actually came actually came from the french and spanish government, but the british were not full. in the end, over 90% of all the earth and the equivalent of $30 billion in aid would come from overseas.
3:38 pm
now they worked with the american envoy in paris to negotiate a contract for these arms, even before the news of the declaration of independence had reached france. and they carried the arms across the atlantic in 1776 and 1777. they arrived just in time to finish the american troops who were preparing at saratoga. there was the french arms had turned the tide of the campaign. unless these arms had been furnished to the americans was at the battle annuity was talking about, they would've made an easy march to albany. so, it was these arms from overseas that gave the americans their first major victory
3:39 pm
against the british. meanwhile, most of the french and european volunteers who came to the united states did so to fight their longtime enemies, the british. but along the way, the way, they also made the american cause their own. in washington they came to depend upon these immigrants who got the job done as the hamilton musical so aptly puts it. they became washington's chief engineer unplanned -- and gave needed strategic advice. it was the creating the training plan and machine that would turn the band of militia into a professional continental army, fighting force to be reckoned with.
3:40 pm
in lafayette and the troops in the southern theatre wallace from wallace from coming north and eventually followed him to yorktown. now, the battle of randy klein's 1777 with washington's attempt to prevent to the british from occupying philadelphia. it was the trial by fire of these french and european volunteers who had been so mistrusted. you can see so many spies in our campus how he regarded them just before the battle of brandywine. but the battle changed all of that. the polish officer with a calvary church that save the continental troops in retreat. an engineer was commended for particular bravery and in fact today the army corps of engineers now has it for courage and boldness.
3:41 pm
they were wounded in the battle leading in infantry charge. washington demanded his dr. treat him as if he were my own son. after that battle the initial mistrust turn first to acceptance and then to reliance. and then they called some of these men just a few weeks earlier, they actually came to rely on both -- and lafayette during the southern campaign. now back at bursae and i hope all of you are watching that series on ovation, the french foreign minister, was the most important character in this story. he made almost all of the key decisions that concerned this alliance. his primary goal as i had mentioned earlier was to have
3:42 pm
the war of the independent sufficiently weekend so that the balance of power was tilted back in france's favor. he had already decided to allied with the americans even before the battle of saratoga. on the grounds that without france the americans would certainly lose the war. and that a reunited british empire on the north american continent will threaten the french colonies in the caribbean. that was was too great a risk to entertain. so, the american victory at saratoga was simply the pretext that was needed to form that alliance with the americans. so the treaty was cited early 1778 which brought france into the war against britain. brought the french navy to the american shores. that forced the british troops to evacuate philadelphia and
3:43 pm
consolidate new york city. this time spain was alive with france but they could not risk going to war in early 1778. the reason is the reason is they still had the treasure fleet at sea. that was carrying 50 billion and silver from peru and until that treasure was safe they cannot risk having it attacked by the british. when i finally arrived safely in spain spain was now free to go to war with britain. the spanish prime minister had established the spanish goals of the war. recover gibraltar and drive the british to the gulf of mexico. now, spain offered to mediate
3:44 pm
between france and britain after the treaty of 1778 and eight and they also offered not to enter the war if britain would hand over gibraltar. but britain refuse. now in one of the usual tirades they called gibraltar this pile of rock. but for british this was a strategic asset that they would not give it up. so france went to war against britain the side of france. it is no exaggeration to say that britain sacrificed america for gibraltar. pile of rocks. no spain was not actually allied with the americans during this war. but they did agree that the terms of the peace could only happen with britain's recognition of the sovereignty of the united states. the entry of spain into the war
3:45 pm
alongside france fundamentally change the nature of the war. from a regional clash in north america to a global conflict. the british navy and the british army were now spread ever thinner around the world. the combined navies of france and spain numbered 124 shifts against britain's 95 and they were overwhelmed. so instead of only attacking the americans in america, britain now had to shield england from invasion by france and spain they had to defend against gibraltar when they had to protect their own colonies, their sugar colonies in the caribbean and their colonies in india. this all happened in 1779 to 1780.
3:46 pm
as the war in america was coming to its lowest point. you you can see by "alexander hamilton"'s despondent comment that if we are saved france and spain must save us. they reflected the fact that the americans understood now that winning the war against britain rested with france and spain. >> after spain declared war 1779 the french and spanish navies forms a fleet of 150 ships, 30,000 troops to invade britain. this was larger even from the famous armada 1588. the planned invasions of britain would caption portsmouth and self into. it would wreck havoc on the economy and would potentially bring britain to the peace table.
3:47 pm
but it was sidelined by a massive dysentery outbreak was laid low and in which the french admiral's son was lost. the admiral and the entire invasion seemed fizzled out. as a side note that is signed a little known john paul jones for creating a diversion by creating a british empire led by his ship. no british admiral was foolish enough to chase after john paul jones and his diversion was largely ignored and certainly played no part in the invasion scheme. but, his victory over the much larger british made the headlines in the american
3:48 pm
newspapers is a david versus goliath conflict that stood in for america versus britain war. it was a needed shot in the arm. back in new orleans, he supplied the american troops and western theater with arms and munitions. but when war was finally declared by spain against britain in 1779, left into action and lost a series of attack that captured the british post at mobile, natchez, and baton rouge. after a series of setbacks to hurricane in 1781 he commanded a joint spanish french force that captured pensacola. that was the british capital of west florida.
3:49 pm
britain was now out of west florida. with spain now brewing the gulf of mexico and with britain no longer a threat the french enabled commander who had just arrived on scene asked the spanish navy to protect the french's sugar colonies will he took the entire fleet up to the chesapeake. now washington learnt that they were heading to the chesapeake so they raced south from the to meet him in a circle cornwallis at yorktown. -- was a fighting admiral who is blood by his sailor. who is him, he stands 6-foot four and 6-foot 5 inches underneath the battle. and yes, since you asked, he was an ancestor of the astrophysicist, neil degrasse
3:50 pm
tyson. when they met george washington, who who by the way was shorter than degrasse by 2 inches. they exclaimed that the fleet was landing troops around yorktown. when the british fleet under thomas appear they quickly went from the chesapeake bay from upgrades and prevented him from resupplying or evacuating on wallace. and that sealed the fate of the british yorktown. the story of yorktown is well known. after washington had led their troops on a quick march from new york to yorktown, they surrounded cornwallis. the. the seas began on october 9, 1781. the guns blasted away for five days for each lines advanced.
3:51 pm
the french officers who directed the siege. french officers who directed the gunfire. they also suffered twice the casualties of the american during the battle. i once french and american troops recaptured nine and ten, the situation for cornwallis have become -- so when brigadier general who is second in command came out to offer this which is the scene in the painting, they consider the victory to be a french one. he offered this render. now standard said this was a french victory but also understood the moment blind to george washington.
3:52 pm
without a word he gestured to o'hara to washington and washington, in in turn gestured him to his own second-in-command , benjamin lincoln who accepted the surrender. after yorktown there were no more major american battles. that. that did not mean the fighting stopped. facts the fighting was continuing around the world between britain, the burma alliance and other nations. in fact the time yorktown britain was fighting five separate nationstates. it was overwhelms. overwhelmed. for example the battle of gibraltar observe over 60,000 spanish troops troops in a four-year siege that ultimately failed in that is a mushroom cloud. the fighting was that fierce. republic was drawn into the war for having supplies with france and battles of the north you
3:53 pm
were equally as fierce. france had aligns in india to drive the british east india company from the subcontinent. in fact, the last major battle of the war which was the battle of -- in india equally fierce happen six months after the planetary peace treaties had been signed. this is 1783 and it ended eight years of war. during that time over 200,000 french and spanish troops and sailors fought in the war. compared with an estimated at 250,000 to 380,000 americans. they were as invested in the war as we work for the war as we were. americans could have never won the war without france and france could've never fought the war without spain. what i hope all of you take away
3:54 pm
from this is the following, the the united states did not achieve independence by itself. it was in fact born is the centerpiece of the international coalition which together work to defeat the common adversary. that is in fact america's role as a centerpiece of international efforts for, good that continues even today to defined the united states as the indispensable nation. thank you. [applause] >> as elizabeth has said, there is a microphone and the fronts. i'm very happy to take questions. >> thank you so much.
3:55 pm
i have two quick questions. number one related to france can you say something about the death of france might've gone into and maybe also the debt they would've incurred to help fight this. and number number two, where is russia in all of this and kept in the great. i have no idea, i do remember reading that she was not a fan of george the third. i be appreciative of what her goals are. >> the first was about the debt to france after the war. the short answer was that it was in debt but it had seen that level of debts before. was not crushing in the way it is sometimes pretrade. just to give you some background, after the seven years war, all the countries, britain, france were heavily in debt. but through very strict financial measures france was able to repay that debt as was britain.
3:56 pm
so they actually both entered relatively free of debt. but france had abandoned it strict financial policies and allowed a number of ways of collecting money to creep back in. they also were not able to get the kind of loan rates that britain was able to get because it had a centralized bank. at the end of the word of of the american independence, both station as the product will were approximately equal in debt. drink a patdown. and the accumulated continue to came late debt on top of that. so, the point is that when the french revolution was a large part a result of the fiscal crisis erupted, the american revolution was one pause but not the catalyst. it's not the primary cause.
3:57 pm
it has simply abandoned good fiscal policy. so that's the first one. catherine the great was a wonderful hidden hidden player in all of this. european politics didn't stop all the world is going on at the center of the juggling of european politics was russia. they were threatening france as allies, the, the ottoman empire and they had recently invaded crimea, sound familiar? and also there is a siege or of her titian of poland, catherine the great they were certainly trying to attract by half frame apprise there are also looking
3:58 pm
at shipping many nations were helping so she authorize something that was known as the league of arms neutrality which was supposed to be a fleet of a dozen ships that would patrol the oceans and stop britain from attacking mutual ships. so, that was the intent. unfortunately it ended up bringing the republic to war they thought they would be affected by russia, britain declared war and it was quite devastating for them. so, russia never russia never officially got into the war. they are always behind the scenes and everybody sky collation. does that help? >> yes, thank you. >> if internationalism is central to the birth of our independence, why is american isolationism such a persistent and if i dare say recurring
3:59 pm
phenomena? >> i've actually thought about this question. i have to say that unfortunately this question is not for me. this question, since the beginning we really have been in the shed that has depending on its alliances and immigrants. that is who we are as a nation. the question i think it's more for the administration. historically we have actually, despite protests sporadically from time to time about isolationism, about closing the gates and barring the door. we have generally been quite open. that's who that's who we are as a people. the real question that you should all be asking is, if that's who we are as a nation, as a people, how does the administration, the congress and
4:00 pm
government live up to that, live up to the beliefs and not just beliefs but action over the past 200 years. that i think is the question you need to ask more so. . .
4:01 pm
the washington was too good strategy just to reject what he was doing. here was the issue. yes washington did want to get new york back. and i mentioned the deportation. they knew what it meant to lay siege to the city that's what the french did for a living during the seven years war for a hundred years before that. he understood the logistics that would be required to wage siege and the fact that they would also need a solid neighbor present to be able to carry out that. they really needed both. the problem new york public new york city number one is
4:02 pm
very hard to invest in attack as a preceding army but the c word side is especially difficult because there's a trolling area called sandy hook which is too shallow for vessels to go in. that's why almost all of the british -- british vessels were small. they could not lay effective needle -- naval siege. they understood that there was a strategic opportunity it was
4:03 pm
the sister i have to say that. they carried the word your best opportunity is going to be in the chesapeake. and by the way they have sent pilots along with this for any potential port of call it could've been the chesapeake could've been the delaware been new york. and when they read the letter on again he was a very skilled mariner who fought alongside the army sought the writing and saw what he was saying and send i can come up or come to
4:04 pm
the chesapeake it's just a two day sale from the chesapeake to new york if i need to do it. but that as we have to meet me. at that point they were around new york city. so they have to do a quick march and draw clinton's tension away from where they were marching at the same time. that to me and to every history and his ever studied this the two together minutes to draw two separate fleets into three armies into one place within a very narrow window. they were only going to be up there for a few weeks during hurricane season. and somehow they manage to pull it off. the direct answer to the question as they really did make the decision but he kept washington fully informed. they were equal partners they both did the measure of each other they were both
4:05 pm
experienced, sober warriors and they fully respected each other's opinion the book is turned brothers at arms because there was a wonderful letter from washington referring to him talk about the peace piece of paris. there are certain ones and stories were opinions that america was abyss -- a bit discomforted that they were getting out of britain while it was written. america was not aware that they have their own agendas. >> what happened was that as the piece was being negotiated
4:06 pm
the minister who i mentioned in franklin worked very well together. franken franklin was an extremely capable ambassador but it's important to understand that franklin understood the role of the ambassador as being someone who gave information who helped to convey a position that was never one to impose on the leader of the sovereign nation. franklin certainly didn't. fortunately while they were negotiating they understood they have to negotiate somewhat separate piece one between britain and the united states the other one between britain and france which also acted on behalf of spain and the dutch republic. as long as we are conducting these side-by-side as long as
4:07 pm
neither side makes a commitment before the other one knows we will keep it to the terms of the tree. then franklin was laid up sick. john jay was there and he took over for a little while. he thought that these negotiations which they approved were going on and threatened almost to pull out of the negotiations almost snatching defeat from the jaws of victory fortunately franklin recovered in the peace process was continued. what actually happened was that do to the pressure that franklin faced on the rest with the other people in his group he have to agree to premature settlement with britain prior to france having
4:08 pm
finalized its own negotiation with britain and what happened in the result of that was spain effectively when the terms of the american treaty got back to the parliament they could possibly accept that they would lose america but the idea of also losing gibraltar was unsupportable the negotiators backed out of the deal at the last minute and spain was left with almost nothing until the spanish ambassador to the french court stepped in and on his own recognizance accepted them as repayment. i just mentioned his tirades. at this point he was smart
4:09 pm
enough to understand that this was the best deal they were going to get and that's fine today there in one of the vortices around which brexit has been argued. it is still in british hands. again again the idea that somehow france was double dealing no, it was not by any means franklin. they worked very will side-by-side in the correspondence is very clear about that. >> i hoped that answered it. in your introduction as a matter of fact you did not say they included the phrase that we mutually pledge our lives
4:10 pm
to each other as a plea for the french in the spanish to support i would take accept and to that. that was not true. and the other 55 men only wrote the declaration of independence after the american army have achieved certain successes in 75. and in your introduction you give no evidence whatsoever that that was a direct conclusion that mr. jefferson has a plea for either of the continental powers to join the powers. >> it was only at the very end of the declaration that they
4:11 pm
included a passage that the kings may have taken particular notice of. so who was the action on? that action described what the kings of france and spain would likely take notice of not what the intent was. and that was how i wrote it. in my proposition is that in anticipation of spanish support it was not what motivated the pen but the success of an army in 1775 and have the army not been successful in 1975 to not only with the gathering of those 55 men be delayed but such a proposition would never had been written by mister jefferson. >> please do read the book. i laid out very carefully. the cry for independence only happened after thomas paine's common sense was published in
4:12 pm
january 1976. every discussion before that that was done in public referred to trying to find a way to come to an accommodation with the king. yes i'm sure independence had been muted privately but the majority of the publications including jefferson's declaration of the reasons. it was thomas paine who drew the line that said that ship has left the station. that train has failed. it is time to call for independence once that call for independence was made all of the legislative bodies around the states started to discuss sending their people to philadelphia to call for independence.
4:13 pm
now they said quite clearly the only thing that is going to achieve and independence is to write a declaration that would be received by the kings and courts of europe and he means france and spain and he actually says that because we need their help. america in 1775 in the early part of 1776 as i just explained was incapable of fighting a war with britain. it was like an adolescent that was running away from home without a penny to its name. as i said no arms, no gunpowder, no canon, there was no hope for them to ever win. the only way they could ever prevail in a new this was to head france and spain by their side. and the letters by the founding fathers are very clear about this.
4:14 pm
the letters by the people that are proposing independence very clear about this. thomas jefferson and adams were very clear about this. the declaration of independence although it was written by jefferson as a document for the ages and make that very clear was specifically addressed to the courts of france and spain. you don't write a declaration just for the record. they never did that. the declaration that jefferson wrote as i mentioned taking up arms was specifically addressed even if he was knocked in the byline. and i say this because the first considered action by the congress after the signature on after its acceptance and printing up of july 4, 1776. the first action that congress took was to put it on a ship bound for france so that the
4:15 pm
kings of france in spain could see it and they were very clear about that. the writing and the evidence is quite clear. yes it certainly helped to rally the troops at the intent was always to bring france and spain in on the side of the americans. >> france and spain both head impetus to jump into the fray they have a bone to pick with britain regarding france the traditional account is that ben franklin spent quite some time cajoling with the french government to get them to jump in. it was in saratoga that that persuaded france. could you elaborate a little more on how much was franklin and how much was the french
4:16 pm
administration. regarding spain that they didn't jump into the water until they were safely home. is there point beforehand which they have artie committed even if it have to wait a little bit via the silver. i already made it the illusion that franklin was a very effective ambassador. let's be very clear about what ambassadors did. the role of any ambassador was to represent the position of the country to present facts but not to try to influence in a direct way the decision of a sovereign nation. we would never accept an ambassador coming into the white house insane you must go to war against our enemy or
4:17 pm
with someone else. that has never been the role of the ambassador. he actually spent a lot of time just idling about but i think franklin understood better than anybody that doing nothing is not the same thing is not getting something accomplished. he was probably quite astute in knowing that even though this is an absolute monarchy so let's be clear the french government bore no resemblance to the british government. they have a parliament and ultimately they did have to gain popular support in an absolute monarchy did not. it helped to keep them at least happy. and so did the aristocrats. finklea was very good at keeping them happy. also very good at presenting
4:18 pm
facts that made america look better than it actually was. it is the role of any ambassador . 70 years before franklin set in france someone have said the investor was a man set abroad to lie for his country. he certainly did that quite effectively. but let me be very clear he call the shots every time. there was not one action that was taken that was not his doing and i will go a little bit beyond franklin because it's not uncommon to see the reports and from the american point of view it looked like cause and effect. lafayette after the first encounters i'm sorry the first battles have gone back to, i'm sorry it would france declared war on britain they were back in action. he came back with the news of
4:19 pm
troops and money and so in the play hamilton of course hamilton gives all the credit to lafayette for bringing guns and ships. it's a great song but it's not true. keep in mind he was a charismatic person and he certainly kept the king into the queen entertained and he was an effective general. let me be very clear but lafayette had already made the decisions that we needed the french army needed to come in on the side of the americans and provide more trips for the reasons i already elaborated that a reestablished british empire in the north american continent would have been too great a risk for the french colonies. let me say one more thing about that. i think this is the most important idea to have as
4:20 pm
you're reading this book. no nation ever goes to war against another nation. for all to a sick purposes. we've never done it. when we talk about america first even when we are intervening overseas is because it's in our national interest to maintain a stable global economy to have stable partnerships they are all part of our national interest. it was france first. our interest in france's interests intercepted for spain, spain first meant working to get back to florida and we want gibraltar but they never lied with the americans but it was clearly in their interest to fight the common enemy. the fact that they were doing it for their own purposes should in no way undercut the
4:21 pm
support that they gave us. give a second question. i overextended on your first one i thought that was a critical point. your second question. >> when it's been actually make the decision. they had been preparing for sometime. they some time. they were arming the americans there actually and with the french he was the spanish martin who was supplying the americans. it's certain that the court knew what he was doing. so all along they saw this as an opportunity to get britain out of the territories that they wanted. this is really critical for them. remember where the majority of their wealth came from. we caught south america it was then peru. and the route was through the caribbean and the gulf. they did not want the british
4:22 pm
there. this is an opportunity but they have to wait until the right moment specifically until that trigger fleet was home before they went to war directly they both understood that eventually spain would come in on the side of france. it was critical for their alliance cannot overstress how important the french and spanish alliance was, were against the british and that would be and i would gladly do an entire lecture on that but that was the crux of this entire war. did that answer your question. yes thank you. >> you told us that one of the french observers and spies in
4:23 pm
1767 decided at that time that the americans were going to revolt there would be an american revolution. how could he say that and what is the background. i think very few colonists and americans who saw that coming and what were the reasons. have another question after. there was a series of acts. and by the way because of this i can't really see if any anybody in the balcony is interested in the question but if you are if you could please come down. right after the seven years war one historian said they were never more british. the thing that sparked the curiosity was that britain decided that it needed to bolster the defenses of the americans and also start getting them to shoulder the
4:24 pm
burden. there was a series of taxes. taxes weren't really a big deal as in terms of big numbers. many historians say this they just happens to appear in most history books. the tax burden on the americans was very small. the average at the time was paying the equivalent today of about $200 per year in taxes the americans were pain one 20th of that. it was never the tax burden that was the problem. the americans did not believe that parliament have the right to tax because only the american legislative body in the colony states. they said have the right so that was a philosophical disagreement.
4:25 pm
but the economic disagreement and this is the one you always had to follow is at the british laws were prohibiting the import of american manufacturing goods and when americans try to sell the commodities there was a law that meant all goods have to float through britain and not go to the other parts. they were losing money constantly. a lot of the crops and other produce. the granary made whiskey i think. he was very happ to smuggle that to the caribbean. these were the things that often on got the americans upset the british would put down a wall the americans would get very upset in revolt. there would back track on the
4:26 pm
law. the americans would come down. i kept going back and forth that way until around 1774 when things became unobtainable. he said it number one they are deftly upset. in the revolution as i can happen in our lifetime. they also saw other reports. it's more pressing as they turn out. the concerns and the economic issues. my other question was about lafayette and others who i think so the american revolution as potentially triggering other revolutions against the imperialist country. >> faint -- spain was far more worried than france.
4:27 pm
they ask me about spanish debt in the short answer was they never went into the kind of debt that france did in part because they were always able to fund their money through the colonies. and also they never made quite the large-scale commitment that the french did in terms of supplying to the americans. so the $30 billion in aid that i mentioned only about one to $2 billion acrylic came from spain the rest came from france. they did not go heavily into debt. but they were very worried and ever since the spanish have taken over the empires all the way from mexico to the middle of today's chile and argentina. every ten years or so and there has been something of uprising usually among the peoples again with the spanish
4:28 pm
taxation it was a very nasty way of imposing on the native and the indigenous people and those upper right easy rebellions were put down. right around the time of pensacola was the uprising and i describe it very briefly because i didn't want to deter you from reading further but the uprising which is probably the most notorious was put down within a matter of six to ten months and once they were captured if you don't mind buried with us they were not just drawn and quarter all of the body parts were sent around the viceroyalty of peru to show residents what would happen if you went up against the king. they were very worried about a similar uprising in one reason
4:29 pm
might they never did align directly with the americans. >> is a true that general washington stopped off on his way down to yorktown the have of the chesapeake bay and he saw the french sleep there. and he understood what was can happen. >> no, he did. he was actually near wilmington delaware. he was in chester pennsylvania when this happened. i have the account and yes i think it was chester luke's who wrote the account but if i'm wrong is in my book someplace it's footnoted. he saw from his boat they were off inspecting the forts further down the river he saw
4:30 pm
washington weaving a handkerchief jumping on the bank and here's the interesting thing. he has a letter stating that it have arrived. he knew it was can happen. and he embraced rochambeau. this i find absolutely fascinating. there are some the accounts of george washington the man that no american officer would dare slap on the back embracing and kissing his french counterparts. he was for some reason always more relaxed and less stern and stoic with his french counterparts and with his own troops. i just found so revealing of the man.
4:31 pm
>> when you get to the battle of the capes normal burnished add more rest did not incompetence or was it gratuitous accidents that accounted for the friends -- the french victory that made yorktown possible. >> there is a running three -- theme throughout most accounts that the problem with the french as they just weren't british. have they been british would've been so much better in france one because it outmaneuver and out fought. there is a wonderful and i can direct you to it. there is a wonderful bachelors thesis who looks at the actions and looks at the diaries and looks at the logs
4:32 pm
and draws the conclusion i'm just giving you now. he was a fine admiral. they did not operate at sea nearly as much as britain. he was an island and have very few trips. they were always worried about their enemies on the border. of the budgets britain spent two thirds on the needy and france spent two thirds on the army. the french admirals there are actually called captain generals in the spanish were effective fighters they knew their business de grasse was particularly good sailor. i will give you one other example. in my book i describe a wonderful little action
4:33 pm
against a british convoy which was carrying enormous amount of wealth to the caribbean and in the middle of the night his staff captain heard i can build and figured that it was a signal from the british convoy and so in the middle of the night managed to sail into the middle of the convoy. they thought it was their own escort. followed the spanish and at daybreak they were under the gun of the combined fleet. it's something right out of master and commander. it is a spanish you did it. for every, it is worth reading the accounts of the french navy except for my friend jonathan doles wonderful book which you should buy after you
4:34 pm
buy my book and another wonderful book by recently deceased friend of mine john harlan which you should also buy after you buy my book. that will give you a more balanced view of how the work. they were all professional. by the way, they were all royal navies. it was a british royal navy. they were all royal navies and very good. >> benjamin lincoln the guy that accepted the surrender at yorktown is he in ancestor of abraham lincoln. >> intriguing question that i'm willing to bet is probably answerable quickly but i don't know.
4:35 pm
i hope somebody here maybe afterwards anybody in the audience happen to know that. >> the answer to the question was was benjamin lincoln the second in command to george washington who have been entrusted by the way was he in ancestor direct of abraham lincoln and this gentleman said no biography of benjamin lincoln mentions that. so let's look into this and if you find something different please let me know. good question. notwithstanding the fact that the americans failed to take back when they tried why did the french canadians throw in with the americans against the british in the other question is did the roman empire had
4:36 pm
any stake in this at all. the first question was. with the french canada. come in on the side of the americans. the answer was that they did not see any added advantage of being with the americans than with the british who were already treating them as reasonably as could be expected. one of the things that the americans were not happy about was laws that permitted the practice of the catholic faith and i think they were called the québec acts. this is important. the french people in canada who actually came in on the side of the americans. in fact some of the very earliest of the volunteers were from canada the ones who
4:37 pm
fought alongside the americans but the vast majority of them saw no benefit to siding with the americans the same was true by the way in 1812. americans wanted to grab hold of canada that was one of the reasons why we went to war and again saw no benefit to being with the americans. [inaudible] >> i always had to remember which nations were part of that. and austria is one that springs to mind. and of course maria teresa was alive with france and her daughter was a queen. she and her son stood on the sidelines it's pretty
4:38 pm
important to note that during this whole timeframe there were no major conflicts on the european continent. that was always the concern he did not want to for example invade london because he did not want to set off a firestorm that would bring other nations now scared of france on the side of britain. it was very delicate balance of power he was trying to maintain. and he was worried in fact on the death of marie therese that joseph the second would then align with russia which did not happen. so it was always a concern but they did not directly align or fight with anybody. there was an interesting little side bit the principality of the age which
4:39 pm
was part of the empire but it wasn't quite part of the austrian netherlands which is today belgium which was a major supplier. with the arms to the markets. a number of arms and anybody who collects arms from that era or if you go to the smithsonian if you ever have a chance to go there arms collection is a great place to go you will see the stamp. they stand. they were sold to the americans usually via dutch ports reports in the austrian netherlands and were major suppliers as it turns out to both sides everybody is trying to make a profit so within the roman empire the dramatic states there were a number of small principalities small
4:40 pm
nationstates that were involved in the war but it was generally in an indirect way. did that answer the question? >> yes. >> i've have a fascination with the civil war since i was as old as a little guy over there. recently i learned that britain freed at slaves in 1833. and the thought came to me if washington and all its buddies have been put in their place that we would've avoided the civil war because they freed slaves not only in britain but in all of their colonies. i would like you to comment on that but i ask this identical question at the park service presentation in one of the people in the audience said part of the reason that the americans went to war was because they knew the brits were thinking about freeing their slaves and they didn't
4:41 pm
want to be part of the british empire and that cast a whole different light on these slaveowning guys. >> nothing in the reading that i had encountered indicated it anyway that in the year 1775 or 76 when all this was coming to have that freeing slaves not becoming and not being in empire that depended on slaves and remember where britain was getting most of its wealth, the sugar colonies and who were the workers there. the caribbean and all of the nations of europe were slave owners. stained of course. nothing that i have read in any way indicates that britain was considering that at that time and that that was one of the concerns of the
4:42 pm
americans. this not to say that the idea of my might not had been in some people's mind but the specific reasons that you see when you encounter writings of why they want to break free has more to do with the reasons i stated. it was a big one. and the inability to conduct trade as they wanted. the counterfactual's are fascinating so what could've been. it is always a wonderful train to leap on and imagine. and i've often wondered that myself because several of the people that i talk about in my book stayed behind in america or québec and some of them
4:43 pm
became noted abolitionists. they saw the cause for freedom and he wondered by the americans were not themselves fighting for the same freedoms for their enslaved people. and not just the african slaves but as you all understand today the native americans who were equally enslaved. if not equally certainly they were enslaved. all i can do is direct you to another book by my friend jonathan dole's called the miracle of american independence. actually talks about a number of scenarios where britain would have one and quite frankly even today it's amazing that it did happen. would we had ended up like canada, i think that's a distinct possibility. there were a lot of potential routes that the war and the outcomes could have taken. not just britain maintains all
4:44 pm
13 colonies could've been that they split off the southern colonies which was a possibility georgia was actually under british consult -- british control for a fair amount of the war. and left the other colonies which could never have expanded because of the presence of a dominant empire. it could've been that these 13 states which were not a nation if you read through the nations that eventually led to the constitution it wasn't clear that we were going to stay as a single nation. we could been 13 separate nations. any number of things could have happened. it's entirely possible that we could've ended up as canada and done reasonably well. if that have been the case it
4:45 pm
would've been the conflicts with the other nations that were on the continent. by that time france was off of the continent. and russia don't forget have its eye on the west coast and we simply don't know what might have happened there. thou comes could've been vastly different. >> the other, i heard what they were really wanting to get out of was that european war. is that a possibility that they were thinking of that. that was on george washington's mind during his farewell speech when he said that has become part of the national lexicon. he did not want america to be
4:46 pm
enmeshed. if you step in the middle of conflicts you will not come out very well. it was more that the question they're asking. as opposed to what got us into the war with written in the first place. it meant military alliances. we were a nation of traders. long before that. even as colonies. he was never against the kind of commercial reciprocity that we were used to but he did not want this still a small unsettled nation to be in the middle of a major conflict. of a major conflict.
4:47 pm
my last question is this. i was at colonial williamsburg. they told us how they died. i do not remember how he died. >> with the georgia tech her house explained just to us that he committed suicide in france. he was arrested by the government. i think he went crazy because he thought that a democracy that the people would go crazy like they did. >> i will look into this absolutely. and now has piqued my interest. >> thank you. the young man who raised the question earlier may be the best informed student in america on these issues.
4:48 pm
unless i'm wrong i suspect that there is this vein of nationalism that runs through our country that has maybe presented an alternative view of all of this and i'm wondering if you had encountered like what you put your book in context earlier was some remarks. the difference in spain had this same nationalism at how they approach the subject. it's a pale weak shadow of french exceptionalism and i assure you there is a spanish exceptionalism. there is a peruvian and name your country exceptionalism.
4:49 pm
so it's normal. it has always made it somewhat different. has that been the idea that somehow we are endowed with some physical or religious capability that no one else has because guess where we all came from. we did not just become optional. i will answer your question and then i will give you my view. it may not be quite the question you ask. have i seen that thread through the history books. and the short answer is i came to the story by reading what they have in their textbooks. i did my doctoral thesis on shipbuilding during the age of sale.
4:50 pm
i knew that they have created a common navy and that was part of what i have studied in order to defeat britain so when my children were in school and i saw that france barely got a mention. spain was never mentioned at all. my agent said there's a story there. a kind of traced this to the exceptional us narratives that occurred during the 19th century during the expansionist era when we were moving to the west and it was our manifest destiny to go to the pacific and there was a particular historian that used to be a secretary of the navy. he wrote the standard histories of the united states and have a very exceptionalism model in his history. he had written out much of
4:51 pm
what france and spain had done. and i understand the idea of exceptionalism but here is my view of it having done this research and looked at the history. we are exceptional because more than almost any other nation we had been able to not just bring people from other countries and immigrants into our countries. a lot of them can call immigrant nations and correctly so but we do far more than just make them adapt we adapt to them. we become who comes to our shores. and we've done historically more and sorry france sorry spain and australia we've done it better than anybody else i can see some of that here
4:52 pm
tonight i see in my students all the time i see around me all the time. who we are is the people who have come to be americans and we in turn have become them. >> and i have two minutes. nobody asked the question i thought they were and ask. if lafayette was the most important and it was not that important figure he made a grand to her and then he signed. he was seen as a hero of two worlds. people loved him. he looked so elegant but at the same time very frail. in fact in world war i to aid honored the obligation and that's on a great it's
4:53 pm
important to understand when he became the icon that he did. so i checked the usage of the word going all the way back to 1770 and you can see the majority of the mentions occur when he was in exile and that he made his grand tour and then he died. as a famous person said about that great chimeric commute -- great career move. the mentions of lafayette just spiked and continued. not just in the link english language but also in the french language. so lafayette got the notoriety that was long after the actual events. [applause].
4:54 pm
[inaudible] tv tapes hundreds of other programs throughout the country all year long. here's a look at some of the events we will be covering this week. on monday we will be at creamer books and afterwards in washington dc where washington contributing editor david frantz reports on hiv and aids prevention efforts in his book how to survive a plague. on tuesday were at the library of congress with elizabeth dowling taylor who will recall the rise and fall of america's black elite between emancipation and the jim crow era. we will be in cambridge massachusetts at harvard book store with the university of tulsa professor randall fuller who will examine the impact of the book on the origin of
4:55 pm
species on america's religious and intellectual communities following its publication in 1860. on wednesday we are at george washington mount vernon estate and university of delaware


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on