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tv   Robert Merry President Mc Kinley  CSPAN  January 15, 2018 6:45am-8:01am EST

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shooting were landing to explain the governor state. the first year you develop some kind of an illness, an element and never was quite explain what a biased, but he had to return to: in that time he he recuperated he couldn't go back to college because economic difficulties had rendered in need all of the family members to go to work. he got two jobs as a
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schoolteacher and u.s.a. postal clerk he enlisted immediately and whether his family was a strong abolitionist, his mother particularly subscribe to the weekly tribune in the mail and he and his cousin decided within a day and how first though they couldn't add of the war and was a pretty amazing war record. and immediately as commanding officer and became a general and
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was wounded five times and became governor and his remarkable organizational ability. and was taking care of supplies and visibility day of battle in our history was two miles behind the line in the unit that had gotten caught essentially in the area of that battle or they couldn't move, couldn't get out, nobody could get in to help them and they were starving and they had run out of water. and now it's late afternoon they hadn't had lunch and they ran out of water.
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with bread and coffee and a few other things in these troops would have to go right to battle to do it. and some of their young soldier in the encounter to officers who say this is ridiculous from the u.k. and do this and is an associate went on and got to the clearing and then they made a run for it. and they managed to get the provisions in the veteran and
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was promoted to commissioning and put it directly in harms way and each time he got another promotion and the 22-year-old major. so he goes back to poland, and decide he to become a lawyer and run for congress like his mentor, rutherford hayes and he sent a letter that this is what he wants to do. i want to do what you did. but frankly with all of this industrialization going on, and
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maybe should go into business. you could become a man by the age of 40. he carefully preserved the letter, but he knew what he wanted. so he missed a kid in ohio were had become a schoolteacher and becomes a lawyer and hangs on a shingle and becomes a civic leader in canton. he joined everything featuring veterans church, he joined the chamber of commerce and immediately he was pulled into positions of leadership and there is something special about this guy that led people to turn to him for leadership comic even though he was not a flamboyant person. i have a little passage in my book here describing him after
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his civil war experience and i think we see here in the book the first hint of what becomes an element of the history of william mckinley. so the civil war transferring as much as his father's porches transformed crude iron ready for more sophisticated uses. is only a vague sense of who he was or what he was doing with his life. an adult who had been severely trusted with intellect come administrator ability, leadership and courage. he passed the test and demonstrated men gravitated to a site in many older men were drawn into roles that solicitous mentorship. yet this new confidence settled upon him softly without toronto comedian simplicity of temperament to produce demeanor of heavy quiet he learned the power of mystique, that which
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didn't need explicit expression of keeping people guessing as to his intentions or motives with intellect to resolve he didn't seem bothered by it and some of the elements of his persona, and easy-going demeanor shrouding an increasingly restless ambition. so he does run for congress. he serves 14 years come and becomes chairman of the ways and means committee where he's in a position to perch his pet issue, terrorist or protectionism, high trade tariffs to protect american manufacturing and agriculture eventually at a time when america was in burgeoning as a project that machine in the evening, as chairman of the ways and means craft the bill, a tariff bill, very high tariff
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bill, the mckinley tariff of 1898 turned out to be a bad move. the tariff didn't go into effect for quite some time in a lot of businesses took the opportunity to raise prices because they were going to race anyways. the american people didn't like that very much in the result was a disaster for republicans in the 1890 elections and poor mckinley is sitting in his office as they come in to shovel the office all messed up with posters everywhere and buttons any sitting there smoking a cigar and walks his friend, the editor of the news paper and they says jim freeze, it all over. he says what am i going to say in the newspaper? became he looks up and he says, in the time of darkest travail,
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the areas nearest. what? he couldn't get pessimistic about anything. so he lost his seat, beauty or later runs for governor and now he's ready to run for president of the united states for this campaign in 1895. his good friend in the man who serves him so well, martina and he wants to find out from tom platt of new york, matthew quay in pennsylvania who want about state that he wanted to know if
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their boxes to work under them if they would support mckinley because if they did come they did come he was the frontrunner anyway and you would probably have the nomination sewed up. it wouldn't even be a battle. he comes back to cleveland and mckinley is there and they have a nice dinner and they go into this study language books and settled themselves into overstuffed leather chairs and light up their cigars and it's pretty excited and says governor it's all about the shouting. these guys will all go for you. he didn't seem particularly disturbed by the positions. he says where are you? he says manley wants the whole new england and a couple others and then platt also wants to be treasury secretary and he wants it in writing. eight years earlier at the
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beginning of the administration had gotten a similar commitment for his support, but the treasury secretary never materialized, so he wanted a promissory note. mckinley puffs on a cigar and he stands up and walks forward and says there's some things in life that come at too high a price. if that's the price and not have it. hold on a says. i'm just saying we can beat these guys and that's what they do because these guys were so upset that they went to other major politicians in various states and got them to become in those states so they could deny mckinley a nomination that which case they thought maybe they could pull off somebody else who could play their game and price but he beat them.
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he became the nominee you know this story. he had two terms in the house and he lost that seat and he was one of the greatest in our history and we all know he got himself on this platform at the democratic convention and he made this speech. thou shall not press the throne of torrents upon the head and you shall not crucify and the commission and the reason was
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the panic of 1893 was still very much with the country in the south and west in the rural areas were really suffering. what they needed is the three coins and silver and that is what the rally cry was and became who would read that chart. he was bending amazing amounts of time. he couldn't compete with that. you can talk about gardening q&a but i will keep this going but he didn't want -- so he had this
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from porch strategy. they came to canton ohio and came and spoke with the governor on his front porch. who cares. and it was amazing at her. you know what we say in politics that they control the message well, mckinley controlled the message because these groups could be a church group or a labor group were african american motivation and they say they like to come and they send back a letter and said what are you going to say? what questions do you have? so he knew exactly what they were going to say. he basically -- it was cause i
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orchestrated. well, it works. he became president. so now, i'm going to step back and try to describe what kind of a man they have emerged to these experiences starting with the civil war and that sort of sense of self that he developed as a result of his success in the war. so he seemed on the outside to be a very present person, congenial. he didn't seem to be a to be amanda for some a lot of people wondered whether he was really a leader. he was an incrementalist in terms of the way he managed things. he didn't try to push too hard and i will say that he was not a visionary. he was not a man of imagination.
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and his take, theodore roosevelt was a man of imagination. henry cabot lodge, these are men of imagination, great vision about american greatness and how they can bust out into the world. it turns out he had amazing capacity that they were unfolding with clarity and find ways to mash them in ways that would allow them in a favorite direction and this gave him a great deal of sort of subterranean force, and i have the quiet i was talking about. the iron wall beneath the surface. he always seemed to get his way
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somehow indebted by convincing people to do what he wanted to do by thinking it was their idea. one of the great warriors of his time and his war secretary said that he didn't care who got the credit. that just wasn't important to him at all. he had a close friend who set up the mckinley never let anything handed the way of his own advancement and the wife of a very prominent ohio man at the time an ally and adversary of mckinley talked about the masks that the war and they were phony. he was the president fellow, was generously spirited, but behind those masks was this fire and well and desire to succeed.
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my favorite example of this is a word from a congressman by the name -- ben butterworth. i came across 10 in the marking of papers because they were very close friends and a lot of letters sent back and forth and initially concluded that he must be part of that politicians in ohio that clustered around the hannah to make up more and more into these letters that butterworth wally loves him and then he came across a "washington post" article in which butterworth was talking about mckinley and used his illustration, sort of an idea of
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how mckinley operated. he said why is mckinley and i were walking through an orchard in the tree had two apples, mckinley would walk under that tree, pick the two apples, but one in his pocket, take a bite out of the other went and turned to me and say do you like apples? the butterworth was trying to say as he was very congenial, but he always seemed to get the apples. and as he managed the shadows. i'm going to talk a little bit about some of the examples of the mckinley resolve that emerged in big ways during his presidency. one would be the war.
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the book on mckinley and i'm going to talk briefly later about why i think what has kept him from having the reputation that i believe he deserves. the book on mckinley is that he didn't really want to go to war and the american people, congress basically thrust to make it does well toward the war that he didn't want. my view is if you study this carefully, you realize this isn't what happened at all. when he was select to do with the terrible, very bloody, very awful insurrection going on in cuba. they wanted independence from the spanish. had it been a previous 10 year insurrection. i can't remember.
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and they had settled finally, but now it had reemerged in the destabilizing the caribbean. it is putting americans who were trying to do business in cuba at risk. it is also opening up the possibility that other european powers could be the chaos and come in and take over cuba. it was one thing to have a saving power in the caribbean, which we consider to be our serious influence what the legacy imperial power, but to have germany say for some other european power come in would be untenable. and so, there is a great deal of anguish and anger in the country. they stand humanitarian grounds, not geopolitical fact is, but that was a are as well.
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mckinley comes into the presidency and takes over grover cleveland. he had essentially favored the spanish over the cubans, not because they like the spanish particularly, but because he was the status quo guy. his viewers as soon soonest they can put down the insurrection and go the status quo in everything will be stable and fine. we are not very realistic. it was almost from day one. from day one, he concluded that the record is very clear if you study carefully, he wanted out of the caribbean. he wanted to stay out of cuba, but he didn't want to go to war to do it if you could avoid that war. so what did he do? he opened up the negotiation, sort of a program of diplomacy and realized america is becoming a pretty powerful country in the southern neighborhood and it
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would be very difficult if they went to war with us and so they entered and as well. pretty soon they could see that mckinley, his diplomacy was behind this club with an iron fist and he was essentially saying to them, we want this war to end. we don't care how you do it. you can win it or you can negotiate an end to it and probably that means more autonomy if the cubans would accept that, but they don't seem to want that as a possibility, but she's got to get this war over it because it's destabilizing the region and its untenable in the american people are not going to put up with it for much longer. so they sort of sad, you can't talk to us like that.
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cuba belongs to us. i don't care how close it is to your shores. i doubt they essentially said. mckinley never wavered. he just kept pushing and got more and more angry. the battleship had not blown a in the harbor, but the fact that with ayers went also to mckinley is resolved that he was going to make sure that they surrounded the caribbean because offensively was to protect american lives, and the insurrection because the spanish people and cuba are getting increasingly angry at america. nevertheless, it did grow up in the war became inevitable. another example is hawaii.
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we have to understand this amazing story and not in a particularly entirely savory story about americans, but hawaii had been a stopping off police for americans for decades and for other countries as well, but ultimately people from america settled there and they were there for generations mostly running sugar plantations, getting fabulously wealthy in the process and pretty soon they had so much financial power that they felt they should have political power to go with it and they ended up offending the polynesian royalty that had been governing in presiding over the hawaiian island for decades, centuries and not happened when benjamin
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harrison's watch. he was very upset about it and even contemplated going in the and removing those people from the government, but he didn't want them fighting former americans of that was the state of play. mckinley again reject the policy of his predecessor and made it very clear through subterranean diplomacy, that he was very interested in acquiring cubans through annexation and the americans wanted but also. but it generated a lot of anti-expansionist sentiment and fervor in congress and other places among intellectuals and writers and others, but he never wavered. he got the negotiation. he sent it to congress. he couldn't go to the treaty, so
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we sent it back to congress to be dealt with by both houses, which didn't require two thirds vote and that is how we got hawaii. and then there was the philippines. when the spanish sued for peace after that war, he basically said okay, fine, i will happily negotiate a peace treaty, but here is the deal. we have to leave cuba. temporarily it's going to be independent. spain has to leave puerto rico. that came out of nowhere, but we had conquered puerto rico and
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spain has to give us an island in the pacific. turned out to be gone and not has to happen before we enter into negotiations. that is really tough diplomacy. and he basically said that for the philippines, which we essentially acquired, we took over the drone after admiral dewey destroyed the spanish freedom, he said the philippines is open to negotiation. thank you, mr. mckinley and the spanish were saying. they asked the french a master of the united states to operate on their behalf. kimberlin said to mckinley, you can't get anywhere glory than you are detained in this war of yours, so i'm sure he'll
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be very generous. but the question was, what is he going to do about the philippines and while negotiations in paris are going on, peace treaty negotiations, he pondered it in the concluded ultimately he had to have a station because we were billing dispute global navy and you couldn't have a global navy without controlling territory around the globe and so the best place would be the day, but he couldn't control unless he had the island and if the moves on the whole rest of the philippines, spain was not going to build to keep the philippines at all. the people of the philippines hated the spanish, so now they were going to be able to go back in there. so who's going to have the philippines. it wasn't going to be the
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filipino people unfortunately, so it's going to have to be us or germany or some other european power. germany was on the trial for possessions for colonies. and if germany had all these other highland, they basically decided i'm taking the whole thing. that got them into a war as you know, very much like the vietnam war as a global work for her, very difficult, sympathetic figure, guy by the name of greg although a number of the back of the uncertainty and the uncertainty in that one on for years to teddy roosevelt said minnis ration. so, as i said it, that seems to
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be a consequential presidency. so why doesn't he get more credit? why doesn't he get more respect? one reason has to do with his successor, teddy roosevelt. i'm a great admirer of teddy roosevelt or he might have been the greatest genius ever became president. what he could do was pretty amazing. but he never shared credit with anybody and he was self absorbed, even this kid said he wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. [laughter] ..
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>> and the market didn't swoon, soe didn't feel like he had to say those things numb. he said -- anymore. he said i intend to govern as if the electors have elected me as president and not mckinley, which was a remarkable thing to be said while mccountryly was lying in state in the capitol rotunda. ing but roosevelt was always conscious of the narrative, and he always put himself at the center of the narrative. and over the succeeding decades, his admiring, adoring biographers basically bought the narrative. and the narrative didn't quite work if they sort of said, well, p.r. did these marvelous, incredible things, but the
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foundation was laid by his pred predecessor. so, in my view, mckinley kind of gets the short end of stick in terms of that interpretation. in describing this this term turn of events and the historical narrative building. impetuous, amusing, grandiose, prone to marking his territory with political defiance, roosevelt stirred the imagination of the american people as mckinley never had. to the major so lidty and caution, the roughrider offered a mind that moved by sudden impulses william allen white described it. to many, it was thrilling. it was thrilling, and it was significant. and it was, helped define america in the 20th century. but behind him was one william
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mckinley who may be mysterious, but is a consequential president, and i think perhaps he was even worth the three years of toil that i put in on his behalf. [laughter] thank you very much. i think we can have some questions. [applause] >> if you'd, please, come up to the microphone if you have a question so people at home watching on tv can hear you. >> have you changed your ranking of mckinley since your book, where they stand? [laughter] >> well, i don't offer my own ranking. i talk about what presidents have done and what constitutes greatness and near greatness or mediocrity or whatever. but the answer to that, sir, is my own estimation of mckinley
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is, yeah, it's higher x. when i note those presidents who i consider to have been either failures or not particularly consequential, i would certainly put him above those people. so, you know, i think he would preside in my pantheon in 11th, 12th, something like that maybe. i haven't really focused on where i'd put him directly, but somewhere around there. no more questions. oh, here we go. >> can you talk about the ida and the invalid and how that shaped the american public's compassion for him and the death of the churn? >> it's -- of the children? >> it's a very poignant story. when mckinley was a young lawyer, after he'd been in the war and law school, he encountered young ida saxton.
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she was the belle of canton, daughter of probably the richest man in canton. he was -- her grandfather had bought a newspaper, bought a printing press from pennsylvania, brought it by oxen, started the canton repository. and it was a successful newspaper. and then her father went into mining and banking and other things. and she grew up, she was quite lovely, she was a sparkling personality. she was scintillating in many ways, and she had many, many suitors, but she sort of fixated finally on mckinley. they were married. there were a thousand people at her wedding, at their wedding according to the repository. it was owned by her father, so maybe that's an exaggeration, i don't know. nevertheless, it was a big, big wedding, a big occasion at the time. he was just about, you know, he was moving up into politics. and it was kind of a storybook thing. so a year after they were married, their first daughter
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arrived, katie. and about a year later, a little bit more than a year after that, their second daughter arrived. she becomes pregnant for the second time. during that pregnancy she learns that her mother is dying probably of cancer. they were very, very close, and it affected her greatly. whether it affected her pregnancy is not absolutely clear, but she had a troubled pregnancy, and her daughter lived only five months. that sent her into a tremendous depression. and it wasn't clear if she was ever going to come out of it. he just coaxed her out of it through a lot of patience and just is refusing to let go. and then sometime after that her second daughter -- her first daughter, katie, died. and then she went back into a terrible depression. and during this time something else happened, some kind of -- it's described as a carriage accident, but nobody knows
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exactly what happened. i suspect that she fell backwards and hurt her spine in some way, because she became rather immobile. it was intermittent, but she was often confined to a wheelchair, and even when she wasn't, she walked with a cane. in the white house they could walk down the stairs with a cane. they had an elevator in the white house, but it didn't work much of the time. she could walk down the stairs, but he would have to carry her up the stairs,. >> he did. and on on the of all this, she developed epilepsy, which in those days was considered a mental illness. you didn't want anybody to know. so it affected their marriage, their live, it affected ida tremendously. her father let her run the bank when he was traveling around on his other business duties, and as a young woman in her 20s, she was running this bank. which was very unusual in those
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days. well, now she sort of reduced to sort of sedentary life. she crochets and does other little things like that, and she becomes rather sort of narrow in her outlook. very devoted to her husband, thinks her husband's the greatest politician in the history of america. but she becomes somewhat peevish and somewhat difficult. he never wavered in his devotion to her, and he just basically accepted that as just sort of life. so when this became kind of known when he was emerging as a national figure politically, it became a, it became an element of identity for mckinley. the man who took such good care of his troubled wife. and there are some people, and i don't game say this at all, who suspect that it was manipulated to some extent as a sort of
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political advantage. so that's the story. yes, sir. >> mckinley's first vice president, what happened to him that t.r. was able to get on the ticket? >> garrett hobart died of cancer in the middle of the first term, i think in the third year of the first term, so the result was mckinley did not have a vice president for a significant part of his first term. and t.r., meanwhile, t.r. had been his assistant navy secretary. mckinley wasn't sure he wanted to give t.r. that job. he didn't know t.r. all that well, but he knew that he tended to be sort of impetuous and got into rows, as he said to one of t.r.'s good friends who was pushing for him to have that job and. and they promised him that, no, no, no, t.r.'s not going to do
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that, he's going to be controllable. well, he wasn't. but he did an amazing thing. when the war came, he, you know, resigned the office, he put together the roughrides, and he did -- roughriders, and extremely courageous to the point of maybe insanity when he ran what was called san juan with hill. it was actually kettle hill, but it was on the san juan ridge. and becomes, along with george dewey, one of the two greatest heroes from that war. the american people loved him, and he knew exactly how to play it. so when the convention, second convention comes up in 1900, the convention just goes crazy for teddy. and it was a force du jour, couldn't be resisted. mark hanna didn't like t.r., didn't trust him, and tried to resist. mckinley had to send a note to him saying cease and desist because you can't put me in this
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position of being against the sentiment of the convention. so he becomes vice president. mark hanna sends a note to mckinley saying after the convention saying it all came out fine. you had to admonish me, but i'm happy with it. your job now is to live for the next four days. and when he died, mark hanna is quoted as saying now that cowboy's going to be president of the united states. yes, sir. >> yes, sir. i'm curious as to how mckinley handled the confederacy. at that time, of course, the south was still, you know, sort of in and out of the union. and, of course, that brings up civil rights and things like that. but what was his policies toward the farmer confederate -- >> yeah. >> -- states? did he want them back? was he a forgiving person? did he want to reconcile with the south? and indirectly how did that
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approach his civil rights positions? >> it's a very, very good question, and it can't be ignored. so here's what i say about that. you really have to go back to his great mentor, rutherford b. hayes. rut hayes became president by making what you might call, you know, a deal to end reconstruction. and a lot of recent historians who are sort of giving a revisionist view of reconstruction consider that to have been a terrible thing because it kept african-americans in the south down for the next hundred years. but the deal was essentially, look, we've got to stitch this country back together, and it's not going to be easy. so we're going to, we're probably going to have to sacrifice civil rights for a period of time. now, rut hayes and mckinley,
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they were abolitionists, they were, they were liberal on civil rights, but they cut that deal. and so by the time mckinley was president, he still was, he still was concerned about bringing the sections back together. the spanish-american war helped a great deal. i'm drawing a blank now, but he got one of the great southern cavalry generals -- >> whelan. >> whelan, yes, thank you. and gave him a command. and when he was in cuba and they got the spanish on the run, he gets, he kind of loses, he kind of lost sight of where he was and said we got the rebel, we got those yankees on the run. well, they weren't yankees, they were spanish. but his, his position towards african-americans ended up being what i would call patronizing, and you can -- there are worse
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words you can use, and i wouldn't necessarily game say those words, but basically by patronizing i say he had a good relationship with a lot of african-american organizations, and he praised them for working is so hard under difficult circumstances. you people are doing wonderful things, you know, keep at it. but he wasn't lifting his finger for them. and, ultimately, towards the end of his presidency some of these groups were becoming quite agitated against him. >> one quick follow up. was one of the -- was any of his cabinet former confederates, former southern? >> no. he wanted to get somebody who was a southerner, he ended up getting the one person that was sort of assumed to be sympathetic to the south was from maryland, and that was as far south as he got in terms of his cabinet. yes, sir. >> who would be the politician
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in recent times who you would say was most similar to mckinley? >> i would say d. eisenhower. in fact, i see very significant parallels between eisenhower and mckinley, you know? fred greenstein wrote the book about how eisenhower managed from the shadows and who managed by indirection and people thought that he was sort of bumbling and when he didn't want to explain something, he would become inarticulate. and everyone said, you know, especially stevenson backers would say this guy can't even express himself, but it was all with a purpose. and i think that that was somewhat the way mckinley operated. is so i think that those two people are really quite similar. sir. >> two unrelated request questions. the first is you mentioned mckinley's relationship to imperial itch or empire. --
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imperialism or empire. william james, a harvard professor, was strongly against imperialism. could you say something about mckinley and how he reacted to that criticism on imperialism, and the other question was about his assassination. could you say just a word about that? >> well, yes, indeed, there was a very strong anti-imperialist wave of sentiment that emerged in america. mark twain was involved in it, various other people of prominence. carl shirts. and mckinley was stung somewhat. some of these people were friends of his. mark twain certainly had been. but he never, he never took personally any of the turmoil of politics. and so he also had sort of upped
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the incident of the president talking to the american people. he traveled a lot, made a lot of speeches. some of them designed to be major policy addresses. and he would explain what the policy was and why he had done it. so he understood that he had opposition. it was particularly bad when foreign affairs got particularly bad with the korean, with the philippine insurrection. and he, he was on the defensive. but he basically just handled it as part of the great american debate. fascination. he went to, he was supposed to be at the great pan-american exposition in buffalo in the spring of 1901, but he was traveling in california. part of that policy he had or that practice of traveling around giving speeches explaining himself to the american people. he thought that was very important. one of the things that led one
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of his academic biographers to suggest that he was the first modern president, among other things. nevertheless, ida got sick. she'd developed an infection that got into her blood, and she almost died. and they went immediately right back to washington. they were in san francisco. on their way to washington state, but they never made it. and so his appearance at the exposition was postponed to the fall, to september, and that's when the anarchist leon -- [inaudible] concocted the idea of assassinating him. mckinley was or very fatalistic, maybe part of that optimism of his, about the prospect that anybody could possibly harm the president. and so he would talk openly with people. secret service people went crazy. but he didn't worry about it
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very much, and his assassin had his hand in a bandage, in a sling like it had been injured. he put the pistol to his chest and fired it point-blank. it did not penetrate very much, but mckinley went back on his heel, and shell dawes fired a second time, and it went into his abdomen. it lodged there. they couldn't find the bullet. they operated rather quickly. they couldn't find the bullet but concluded that looking for it was probably more dangerous than leaving it, and so they did. and he was recuperating nicely. back in those days, they didn't really understand infection and sepsis and those things, and that emerged, and that took him down. i think he lasted somewhere in the neighborhood of less than two weeks after the assassination before he died.
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i believe that's it. >> yeah. robert merry, thank you very, very much. [applause] mr. merry will be signing the book in the hall. thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> here's a look at some of the best nonfiction books of 2017 according to the christian science monitor. retired admiral james --
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examines the history of naval warfare. kate lineberry, former editor for national geographic magazine, recalls the high of robert small, a former slave who became the first african-american captain of an army ship and went on to serve five terms in congress. mark bowden recalls the turning point of the vietnam war in hawaii, 1968. biographer walter starr explores the life of abraham lincoln's secretary of war in stanton. code girls profiles a secret team of female codebreakers during the world war ii. it's by former washington post reporter liza mundy. >> more than 10,000 women who were breaking the codes of the german naval codes, the u-boats, the japanese naval codes, the japanese army, they were reading signals all over the world including some that were coming out of north africa. so it was a massive effort to recruit college-educated women secretly. so women at the seven sisters
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schools were tapped secretly, they were called in to private interviews with math professors and astronomy professors. they were asked two questions, to you like crossword puzzles, and are you engaged to be married. [laughter] and a number of them actually lied at the second question and said that they were not because whatever they were being invited to do sounded quite a bit more interesting than waiting around -- [laughter] while their fiance was fighting and was risking his life in the war. so the women came to washington. those women joined the navy and, ultimately, would be joined by enlisted women as well, women who had not had the benefit of a college education who came from california, oklahoma, all over the country. and if they had the aptitude, they were also routed into these giant code-breaking compounds in washington. and meanwhile, the army was recruiting for codebreakers of its own, and they hit upon a strategy to send handsome young
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army officers throughout the south and the midwest recruiting schoolteachers. again, they wanted women who were adept at languages and math. and as a woman in the 1940s, if you had a great liberal arts degree, pretty much the only job you could expect was teaching school. and, again, they were -- marriage was sort of the theme. they were trying to lure the women to washington with the expectation of making a marriage to a handsome young officer like the one who was recruiting them. but, in fact, a lot of these women were interested in getting out of hasty engagements that they felt pressured into when the war started. so those women packed up their suitcases and came to washington as well. and the reason story has been unfold for so long is the women were told they would be shot if they said they worked in washington. they all had security clearances, it was wartime, and to talk about their work would be treason. they were told to tell people that they sharpened pencils,
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emptied wastebaskets, that they were secretaries, and that's what they continued doing after the war. and because they were women, people believed them. in some ways, they were the ideal intelligence officer at the time because people believed whatever they were doing, it wouldn't possibly be important. >> all of these authors have appeared on booktv. you can watch them on our web site, >> what about trump supporters, because we have questions, by the way, that were submitted by many of you, and i'm going to try to work in as many as i can without dropping all of these papers. and, you know, obviously you -- people turned on you. you needed support, you were spit at. you would see families, what looked like lovely families, but when you look closer, the dad's wearing a t-shirt that says hillary sucks more than monica does -- >> but not like monica. >> but not like monica. and you'd be taken aback. wait a second, they've got small children -- >> that wasn't even the worst.
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there was the father with two kids and his wife proudly wearing a shirt that called hillary clinton a c-u-n-t. there was a man who said is i wish hillary married o.j. are. i don't if you think republicans or democrats have all the wrong ideas, that was a shirt that said i hoped, essentially, that hillary clinton was brutally stabbed to death in the 1990s. i mean,s that is so far beyond what should be acceptable for common decency, for behavior let alone politics. >> but you got to know the trump supporters, and people -- and there might be, you know, this is boston, but i'm sure there are many in this room. and faith wrote to ask, you spoke about running into a trump supporter in the bathroom before a rally who helped you with your hair, an act of kindness. >> it's -- you can't paint an entire group of supporters with a broad brush.
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i think it's a mistake to call -- i thought it was a huge mistake to call donald trump's supporters deplorables. i don't think that's -- you don't go of after voters in this country, and i don't think it's a good idea to say that this swath of voters are all a bunch of racists, xenophobes, city knowledge nist, you know -- misogynysts, whatever name you want to ascribe to them. they are a varied group of people from a number of socioeconomic backgrounds. they have, some of them voted for president obama in the past, a lot of them were women. i mean, there are a variety of sporters. supporters. and at the same time, they were the kind of people who often times would probably live their lives in a very polite and, you know, rule-abiding way, a non-to offensive way. but there was something about walking into a trump rally that allowed people to shed all of those rules, to shed those burdens. i write in the book that trump had a halo of crudeness, and in
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that halo of crudeness, he allowed everybody else to be crude around him. he said whatever he wanted, he never backed down. and a lot of people found that refreshing. people who maybe couldn't tell a joke any longer because it was a politically incorrect joke. people who were worried that they had to watch what they said and watch what they did, people who thought that their patriotism was being mistaken for racism, and they walk in there, and they said i can say and do whatever i'm thinking. >> yeah. we talked earlier about covering the primaries, and very early on i was in iowa, and you could see the lines at the trump rally there. was calling back to wvur and saying i'm meeting a lot of young people in particular, young men in particular who are trying to decide between bernie sanders and donald trump. >> yeah, it's true. there was a bro culture that would come out to the the
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rallies, men who would wear tank tops and, you know, big make america great again hats. that college fraternity culture that would show up and really like the enthusiasm of the event. the same sort of people who would say i want the vote for -- and this is kind of a broad brush. i have to apologize, but this is a demographic that i'm talking about, really liked either bernie sanders or liked donald trump. and it was because they wanted an outsider. they wanted somebody different, somebody refreshing, somebody who wasn't part of the establishment, somebody whose name they hadn't been hearing their whole life like hillary clinton, somebody who wasn't afraid to take on the system. bernie sanders had that quality, so did donald trump, and they both had jobs messages. these were young people who were either just in the search, just in the middle of a search for a job or soon to be graduating from college, and they wanted a better opportunity. >> they wanted a disrupter too. >> definitely wanted a disrupter. >> do you think, and i thought i
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observed this, that i constantly saw people who saw things that people on the left might see as appalling, like those t-shirts you mentioned, and they thought they were perfectly acceptable parallel reality of what they might have seen. for instance, when george bush, george w. bush, the invasion of iraq and there were so many people who were against that. and you, if you'd gone to the anti-war rally in washington, you would have seen people wearing very disparaging, t-shirts about george bush. >> yeah, sure. >> and they really felt it was the same. >> yeah. and there's an argument to be made for that. i think that's just a sign of how corrosive our politics and our public discourse has become. it's, the question is where does it go from here. do we, do we correct it? does it get better for 2020, for 2024? or are we going to see even more
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crude language, crude behavior? is this going to be a line that is too far, a bridge too far? where do we go? >> you can watch this and other programs online at >> recently "the communicators" visited bell labs named for alexander graham bell, inventer of the telephone. we talked with several researchers about their communications projects, and we look at some research on art a official intelligence. -- artificial intelligence, 5g wireless communications and optical sensing. bell labs are headquartered in new jersey. they're owned by the finnish telecommunications company nokia. >> host: and "the communicators" is on location at nokia bell labs in murray hill, new jersey. we're talking with some of the staff members about what they're working on, and joining us now, michael eggleston.


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