tv George Daughan Lexington and Concord CSPAN May 5, 2018 1:00pm-1:48pm EDT
middle class by offering working people a guaranteed income. he's interviewed by democratic congressman don buyer of virginia. and we wrap up our prime time programming at 11 p.m. with conservative authors bruce hirshenson and joe pollack from the richard nixon library and museum in california. they talk about conservativism in the age of donald trump. that all happens tonight on c-span2's booktv, 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. television for serious readers. .. >> his current book, the lexington conqueror was just
reviewed in the wall street journal. if you happen to get that perhaps you have read it. if not perhaps you can read it tonight. he has written a number of books including, if i see you which one an award for native a literature. he's been honored with an award. without further do, i will turn it over to our speaker this evening. [applause] >> thank you very much. it's a great honor to be here. one of america's great research institutions. as someone who comes from boston originally, i'm particularly delighted to be here. my book is about a subject that everybody seems to know about. as i got into researching it, it
seems like a lot of things were left out or i did not see quite as my fellow scholars stood. with that in mind, i'm going to divide this into two segments. the talk will go for about 25 minutes. after that i will answer questions. my wife is going to keep time. when 25 minutes are over. may. the first they want to talk about his how the two countries, england and the united states got where they were shooting each other in april 19 -- 1775. when you think about it, it does not make any sense. it did not make any sense to a
lot of people in england who are the critics of british policy, the leading critic was william penn who is the great english statesman who won the seven years war. the first world war -- the argument he had against this war was, one, you can never win it and it's number two, this is not the way to do with the king seem to want to do which was to keep the british empire together and see it expand in north america. one of the results of the seven years war was that england
became the greatest empire and it fired the imagination of the king. he believed that north america and the english settlements in north america would expand throughout this great continent, however big it was, all the way from the south see in england would have something like no other empire had in the world. ever in world history. it was an enormous, wonderful vision that he had. this is what he wanted. now, how did he get from their to lexington and concord? he got there because he felt that the 13 colonies in america were standing in his way in an
odd way. william pitt's attitude was, just make them partners in this grand enterprise, they love you have shown in every way they want to be part of this wonderful big enterprise, why not go along with them. make good sense what it was saying. the king, however, thought differently. one of the guys said in the audience said how do you know what the king thought? that wasn't the first question, but it was a good question. the king believe the american colonies would at some point,
sooner rather than later instead of being willing partners of the british, they would become independent and competitors and more powerful in the caribbean islands that belong to the british would inevitably join them in the two countries would be competitors rather than part of one great empire. this is the basic disagreement that brought the war, two different visions of what the future was going to look like. since the king at this point in british history, he was very powerful and ran the government, he had his way. that is what the troops are
doing in boston. from the point of view of the americans, they had a very good idea. the founding fathers, the patriots, the people organizing the resistance say the very good idea of what the king really meant. what he meant was that he was going to make america look like ireland. that's what he meant. so, i start out by telling you what benjamin franklin had to say about a trip he took in 1772, a careful long trip through ireland and scotland in northern england.
it shocked him to see how the people actually live there. they were under the control of a few all of quarks who live the land and live this magnificent life while the vast majority of the people lived worse than the indians to in america. franklin said i would not advise indians become civilized if it would turn out they would look like the irish. did the king really mean that he wanted to make serfs out of the massachusetts farmers? this is the argument i make, and i'm sure i will get a lot of grief for this. this is the general point i am making in the book. the farmers in massachusetts who are the great majority of the population here have understood exactly what was in store because there is no trouble
understanding what scotland look like. our farmers in massachusetts were the richest people in the world. our economy that had developed in massachusetts was a patchwork quilt of prosperous farms and ordinary people could work, save enough money by land to become farmers themselves. was more democratic than our society is today. this is true throughout the colonies, each colony was different but they were all prosperous. economic success stories. england was an economic success story.
william pitt said why are we fighting, they want to work all of this out. the king was having none of it. think about the farmers in massachusetts. they had fought in the french and indian war. the war that william penn had one. there is not a household in massachusetts that had not participated in the war effort. these people knew how to fight. as the problems with england developed after the seven years war, all of which is well documented and written about. how we go from the stamp act and so on to the revolution, these
farmers were men who could fight. now, i like to turn to the actual battle after understanding what it is they're fighting about. the americans at some point understood that they were going to have to be prepared to fight. this is well documented and written about at nausea and it began in the tea party in 1763. the king decided to ramp up his drive to get a firm grip on the colonies through 1774 with the
passage of the four acts of parliament called the course of laws. what they showed to the farmers of massachusetts was that the king was pointing towards making them into irish serbs. they organize themselves as they had always throughout history in their towns, through the malicious. they took over the old royal militias instructed to train. what the king did not understand was they knew how to train. just in one year of the seven years war, 10000 of
massachusetts men fought in the war. anybody who is 35 in massachusetts towns was a veteran. in these veterans train the young man in their town who were not veterans. they were very enthusiastic and they did train and they train seriously. why did they train so seriously? because they knew it was going to happen if they let the king have his way. one of the wonderful things about the king god bless him, was that he thought he could have his way on the cheap. in other words, he didn't have a
very high regard for the farmers in massachusetts is or anyplace else. he thought that if a small number of his professionals could take care of it. if you want to subdue people to think you can do it on the che cheap, it's not going to cost you much and it will be over with quickly and everything will be happy and you can get the massachusetts land and is hard to understand that may be for 500 families alone controlled england. it wasn't even a thousand, that's what they're going to do so they trained in the number of towns that actually got involved in the fighting was 30 during the battle. in these towns collectively
could produce a large number of fighters which they did on that diet day, april 19. the king had a very small army in boston, ties like me and doesn't like me have read the letters of general gauge the commanding officer in boston pleading with the king for more men. in the king that this was a nervous theater commander. like all theater commander see one or more troops. when he thought that even though he had nothing to basis on. when he thought his regulars could make quick work of these farmers.
so general gauge was faced with the king who did not know what was going on with too few troops. and all the troops are training. here he is through the fall of 74 in the winter of 75 trying to tell london what the real situation was and getting nowhere. finally, he had his orders to get going from the king. the american secretary sent in specific orders. the second week of april he received the order so he got to do something. is looking at the countryside looking at what's out there. so what does he do? you would have resigned.
and told him, your majesty, i have a sore throat, i cannot fire, connect one. why did he do that? i don't know. he was a mysterious follow. we really don't know him and we won't really ever know him. one of the nice things the king did was he had already dispatched gauges replacement who is general howell, and he knew if he did not do with the king wanted that general howe was going to replace them. general howe is probably going to get here the third week of may engage new that. so why didn't he develop a bad stomach or a poor foot?
and let general howard deal with this mess. who knows why he didn't. instead of doing that, he decides to send 700 troops into the countryside to destroy a few arms pollen arms catch concorde. 700 against what? he didn't really know. he wrote a letter to the governor of north carolina saying they may not come out. his thinking they've never really organized as an army, maybe they will fail, maybe they will not have the nerve or something. they started wishful thinking.
the inevitable happened. he sent a small number of troops how to concorde, he thought he would get them out there quick get them back to boston. secrecy and speed was the order of the day to his commander was named smith. the idea that he could do anything in boston secretly at that point get 700 of his troops out to the countryside in secret was crazy. and speed, the speed he was going to achieve that he was going to send them over the water instead of sending them by land which was longer, and that brings up my favorite, vice admiral south samuel graves, he
was a british naval commander in boston. his boss was another of my favorites, he as you know this in the sandwich was named after him. he would gamble out and lose a lot and they would bring food to the gaming table. it would be a sandwich. and he would have a couple of naval contractors. these guys are working on the navy and so on. and he had a habit of losing and these guys that will take care of that sir. this was sandwich, and he also like to fish.
he would go with his some of his buddies fishing for the weekend. with him would come and entourage of young women from london. they would fish and have a good time, his wife was crazy, his mistress was someone named martha ray, she did not go on the fishing trips. they were such a success that they stay for the week because the next weekend would be even better. after that weekend, they would stay for another week, and the following monday he would go back to the admiral. he was more anti-american and bloodthirsty than really anybody.
so he and the king got along well in that respect. he had little regard for the americans. samuel graves said he sent to boston because his plan was big in the navy. he thought he would send them a bone by letting old graves, being charge of the north american fleet which was 24 ships. the fill his pockets before retirement. no general gauge was to implement the king's plan gauge was there. graves was there to line his pockets. he engaged did not get along at all. so, why did gauge plan to send the 700 troops across the water when it required close
cooperation with admiral graves? who knows. but that is the way it went. and this broke down in the actual practice. the interestingly enough, sandwich had someone more important thing graves involved. this was major pit con, he was the head marine officer in -- and he made no bones about wanting to kill every american possible in order to a chief the kings objective. he reported to sandwich in his career depended on pleasing sandwich in the king. not general grave -- general gauge. general gauge in command of the 700 troops he had colonel smith
and he had pit con, off they go there is a mishmash from nothing went right from the beginning they got across the water and it was embarrassing, they finally got to the middle of arlington and smith's fault so far behind schedule that he sends back to boston for reinforcement which is going to need. he scenes sees major pit con ahead and he said six companies about 230 men. so he comes off fast marching
from arlington with orders from gauge, don't get engaged with the fight with americans if you don't have to. your object is to go to concord, get and destroy the arms catch and don't get involved in a fight. that's what gage told him before he left. and here's pitcon, he is thinking that's not what i want to do. lord sandwich is going to be very pleased if i don't do that. if i kill the americans that will be a feather in my hat. certainly it would be with lord sandwich. so we get to lexington, and what does pick confine? he finds out the americans know he is coming, there's been no secrecy or speed. he's been ready for them and he
gets reports about what he faces. when he actually finds out that there's a small body of troops on lexington green, probably not more than 70 and he has 230, he decides to attack them. he kills a significant number of them in colonel smith is still making his way from arlington. this is totally against orders. he comes rushing up and puts a stop to this massacre.
the lexington men tried to get away as best they could, but we still had 22% casualty rate which is very hot when you know their individual stories. pitcon is delighted. this is what sandwich and the king want. they want more killing. the only criticism of pitcon is they didn't kill enough. so this killing ignited all of the militias and inflamed and made the commitment of the militia and all the 30 towns that finally showed up for the fight, it made them into an army
and being big enough, strong enough and experienced enough to give smith and his reinforcements a tough time. of course, they were defeated. they were driven back to boston. i'll get back to what happened in concorde. let me go back for second to lexington. guess who is there? john hancock and samuel adams. they were there they were there and john hancock was the president of the massachusetts provincial congress and the head of the congress committee of
safety. he was, if anything, the man in charge in that area. guess what he wanted to duke in this situation? he wanted to pick up a musket and get into line with the lexington militia. why the hell did he want to do that? samuel adams talked him out of it. what should have hancock done? it's obvious. he should of said get the hell off the green. there are 30 tell militias gathering. there's going to be a very large number in the thousands much bigger than this british column.
get off the green, wait till this army has come together, and then we will take care of this column and maybe even the british in boston. hancock to not do that. it's been curious all this time. he's never been criticized for that. and i love john hancock. he's a nice guy, has an insurance agency. i like him. sam adams has taken the blame. a number of historians have said that adams wanted martyrs to get the rest of the revolution going. and john hancock, there was a lot of friction between hancock and adams. john hancock was the source of blaming a lot of this on adams, as if he was given instructions.
nothing like that happened to give parker instructions to have human sacrifice for the greater cause. if you knew parker, thus last thing he would've done. so, i blame john hancock. that's a different take on that. i expect some criticism for it. never been criticized before so -- anyway. when all of this unraveled the british fish back to boston. when the british the ragged british kids to charleston the
admiral graves has to take them across the water into boston. up until this time he has kept out of the whole thing. take nothing is going on. all of a sudden he starts writing orders and gets involved. to show how uninvolved he was, the ferry between north boston and charleston was running the whole time. all that night. you know paul revere, you know who paul revere is. he could have taken the ferry. this is so crazy. it goes back to the thinking that we can do this easily and also lord sandwich thinking this is going to be easy.
i'm going to stop here and answer questions. my wife has had her hand up for quite some time. any questions. >> i'm sorry, we're out of microphones c-span is marvelous, they are always prepare prepare. you didn't even notice them to chew. can you just take that off and pass it around? >> it has been asserted that margaret campbell, general gauges wife who is an american
was actually passing information to the patriots. do you ascribe to that? >> no, but it's a great story and i love it and would not want to do away with it. it pops up in a lot of places, not in my book. for one, she wasn't meeting. we know what they were doing all the time. it was pathetic how gauge wanted the whole thing secret and there is nothing secret that we did not need her to risk herself in that way. the king was so unhappy with gage that he dismissed him in september. and they go back to england and live happily ever after. there's nothing to indicate there is any problem between them. they loved each other. it's impossible for me, knowing
their story to think that she wanted to do him in. so i think it's a terrific story that is not true. but, don't think you can bury it. >> in april of 75 with the men of lexington and concord, what they see themselves standing up as citizens? are they looking toward independence? >> you need to say that again. >> in april of 75, with the men of lexington concord in the militia, was their vision that were standing to maintain our rights as a british empire or are they already thinking about
independence? >> good question. is hard to answer. one of the things i like to close these things with this the effectiveness battle. the battle itself had a huge effect and winning had a huge effect. my feeling is they were reluctant worriers. there were some scholars, in fact the majority of the history professor believe these were enthusiastic fighters, they knew how to fight, they turned out with greatness to challenge the british, it's not so. they were very reluctant.
they were farmers a very prosperous, they were healthy, do you seriously think they wanted to risk their lives everything else in anything like this? no. if they thought the british king wouldn't conduct serious negotiations. what he was doing and follow william pitts vision instead of the kings, they would have gone for overwhelmingly. so it was reluctant revolutionaries. be the same as your me, wanting to fight? no. not at all.
>> i enjoyed your comments, especially her emphasis on king george. i'm wondering if you're familiar with the theory that george's animosity towards the americans in his ostensible crew cluelessness about the farmers, was that related to his medical diagnosis? >> no. that manifested after the revolution. the illness comes up one day and they weren't prepared for it. lester for some time and then went away. it did not reappear for many years. no effect whatsoever.
>> the king lasted until 1820. in 1811 they promoted the poor guy. his successor who is totally incompetent. the king was competent and he worked hard. he knew a lot about what was going on. he studied her. he did not have the time. he had 16 children. he had a huge number of children. it would -- he went between his office in the bedroom it look like. he's very serious about all of this and about maintaining a
great british empire. the greatest empire the world had ever seen. he thought the americans if they were not brought under control and make that impossible. in 1781 after they had lost the war, he wanted to continue with the war. he never wanted to stop the war. because the empire was everything to him. the strategy may have been wrong but he was very serious about it. >> is there someone in the story we should pay more attention to? or took it by surprise? who is the unsung person in the story if there is one?
>> this is a confessional. when you start on the american revolution in the early american history as i did beginning in 1997. my wife and i sold her business and i spent full time on this. i did not publish my first book on until 2008. i was impressed about how impossible the subject is to get a hold of because they're so much there. but i kept on and on. i decided i would contribute little but i could. anytime i am asked to review
someone else's work in this area i approach it this way. i want enough this person knows what has already been done men what they have done to advance our knowledge going there is no way on earth you can encompass the whole thing. it's too big. so, we trudge along. one hundred years from now may be some young man or woman will write a book in which all of the collected inquiries will have been made. so far as being surprised, i was surprised by how awful conditions were in ireland and
how the british were able to live with that. the same feeling franklin had. there were many parts of scotland that were not much better. and also northern england. i have this enormous feeling of inhumanity. how could they go on for so long. i also was a great admirer of how much the british had done. franklin had admired britain so much. and how much we on how much we learn from them, which we were their successors or progeny. they were the greatest economy in the world at that point.
they let the world at the industrial revolution and had grown were the greatest traders of the most powerful. so you had huge parts of england so admirable and so far advanced. so, how can we have that and at the same time a political system that was a futile hangover that they cannot get rid of. what was the king doing in such a position of power? all of that was surprising because my grandfather came from england, he was an englishman. we spent a lot of time in england. we loved england and thinking back in those days and reading
about all of this is an overwhelming sadness that all of this happen. sort of how franklin felt wasn't necessary? didn't feel it was. that the americans were going to be independent was a foregone conclusion. but could we stay together? you know what happened. i say a lot about this in the book on the war of 1812. the 1812 war people don't understand how important it was. it brought together the english-speaking people. the english were administered during that war and liverpool was the prime minister, they change english policy towards the united states.
from then on, the basic policy was to be friends with america. draw closer to it. this is challenged by many and really challenge during the civil war. but a hundred years later we were able to come together and save civilization against the germans. course we save the world in the 20th century. having these people work together is so important. it's always great sadness to see how important it was for them to come together. thank you for your question and your hospitality. [applause]
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