Skip to main content

tv   Lindsay Chervinsky The Cabinet  CSPAN  May 2, 2020 11:30am-12:31pm EDT

11:30 am
gilmore offer their thoughts on ening mass incarceration in the u.s. >> good afternoon, welcome to white house history live. my name is stuart mcclaren and i'm the president of the white house historical association. today we will have a conversation and historians on brand-new book. ordinarily we would do this at decatur house but as we are all working from home an we are joining you in your home, we are trying out this new mode of communications but it's perfectly fitting with our
11:31 am
historic mission. as all of you know we were founded by 1961 by first lady jacqueline kennedy who had a vision in such a young age as first lady to create an organization to give nonprofit, nonpartisan support to the work of maintaining the museum standard of the white house but also an education mission to teach and to tell stories of the white house and history going back to 1792 when george washington who were talking about today actually selected that piece of land and hired the young irish architect james hogan to build the white house. well, creating educational materials and content is a core part of our mission and that's what we do every day through the wonderful books that we publish, our programs that we host at the decatur house and around the country and online social media content and website content and this is an example of that.
11:32 am
we are doing more and more of this during this time when we are all at home looking for interesting things to do. i would encourage you to check out our website and you can find all information and material particularly a wonderful new part of our website that combines educational material from over 100 presidential sites across the country. we have become one-stop shopping for presidential and white house history. at the end of the program i will remind you to go to and now i will turn the program to dr. colleen shogan. she will be talking with lindsay
11:33 am
chervinsky, the creation of american institution, colleen, it is all you. >> thank you, stewart. i'm here to celebrate my colleague's lindsay book launch of the cabinet. i have it right here in front of me. it's a terrific book. i want to remind everybody who is listening tonight and tuning in on facebook live that if you have questions for lindsay we will be taking questions from the audience at the end of the program, just type your questions into the comment section, the facebook feed and we will get to many -- as many questions as possible at the conclusion of our program. without further delay, though, i want to start talking to lindsay about this terrific book, the cabinet. so lindsay, tell us, there's been many, many books written about george washington, books about his time as revolutionary war general, time -- books
11:34 am
written about his time as president of the united states and there's been a lot of scholarship on his precedent setting activities, however, there's never been a book link treatment of washington's creation of the cabinet, why do you think that is? >> such a great question. i think most people just really assume that because washington created the cabinet and every president since washington has had a cabinet that it was sort of inevitable or it was just there from the very beginning and that's very much not the case. washington held his first cabinet meeting 2 and a half years into his administration and very much organic development of him needing to respond to international and domestic pressures as they came up and i think because history has evolved the way it is, people assumed that that was always going to be the case.
11:35 am
>> so tell us why washington decided to create the cabinet and tell us a little bit about the earlier models that he utilized when he was trying to seek advice when he was president? >> so most people don't know that the cabinet isn't in the constitution and article 2, 2 section of the constitution lays out two options for the president to obtain advice. fist the -- first the president can request written advice for issues pertaining to their department or the president can consult and advice with the senate on foreign affairs, and that had a very different meaning back in 1787 when delegates to the constitutional convention first crafted this clause.
11:36 am
>> he went to federal hall and visited with the senate and requested their advice and it went very badly. he was expecting immediate answers, he wanted their opinions and is -- the senators we wanted to act as legislators and refer issue to committee and debate it and discuss it in private and come back next week and that frustrated washington and he got really angry. sort of urban legend is he swore on the way out that he would never ever return and i'm not sure that that's actually true that he said that but he never went back to the senate for advice so regardless of what he said he certainly meant it.
11:37 am
washington really quickly realized that he needed to have in-person conversations in order to deal with the very complex issues that were facing his administration and so what he did he would send a letter to the secretary and write back and forth once or twice and would have individual meeting afterwards and that worked for about the first year and a half of the administration until diplomatic issues really started to boil to the surface and washington decided that he needed to bring all of hissers
11:38 am
together to consult in a group.
11:39 am
11:40 am
that was so important when he became president of the united states. >> sure, so washington as you pointed out washington really doesn't get enough credit for being politically savey for having good leadership skills, for being actively involved in the presidential process and as i sort of mentioned with the council war leadership he was dealing with some really big personalities. they were loud, they were sometimes arrogant and had their own ambitions and own ideas of how to do things and including famous lee who brought hounds, i
11:41 am
as u dog lover knows it's great and anyone who has hounds know they can be loud and not conducive to meeting environment, so he had been dealing with just a really colorful voice rouse environment and he had to manage all of the personalities and when washington was president he certainly had fewer people that he had to manage in a small space but anyone who has seen hamilton knows that hamilton and jefferson really, really didn't like each other and really didn't get along. washington was setting precedent in every single action he was taking, everything from how to correspond with the secretaries or how to interact with congressmen, how to respond to an average person on the street, what sort of social events to take place and so someone who is capable of managing these details and managing the people
11:42 am
beneath him was crucial when you're talking about building out a governing structure that isn't in the constitution and isn't passed in legislation, so that day-to-day management becomes essential. >> following up on your observation there, you also talk about in the book that washington understood the importance of developing closed social relationships between advisers. in modern day terms did washington have a high iq? >> absolutely. one of his strengths that's not easily appreciated. washington understood that when you're going to spend 8 years fighting a war or 8 years in the presidency there are going to be disagreements and, of course, people are going to disagree but if you have a bond beneath disagreements you can usually get through them or if you have a common cause you're working towards, you can smooth past any
11:43 am
sort of disagreements or tensions an he hosted the social events, everything from private dinners to horse back rides out in the country side to balls and dances in winter corridors and they would have festivities around the holidays and so he did so as a way to try to build decor and make sure that the officers understood that they were all fighting for the same cause and as president, he did view the same thing but as secretaries he would often invite them to what he called a family dinner because he would refer to secretaries as family. he would invite them family dinner after cabinet meeting or perhaps in the middle of one if it was dragging on several hours as a little bit of a break to try and sort of smooth over the feathers that had gotten ruffled by jefferson's debate.
11:44 am
i would maybe suggest that it worked better in the war than it worked in presidency because hamilton and jefferson were so opposed of each other i'm not sure any amount of socializing would have fixed it but he certainly tried and had the awareness that he needed to try and keep the cabinet together. >> tell us who the original members, team of rivals were in washington's presidential cabinet and also talk a little bit about the backgrounds of the individuals, their opinions, was this a heterogenius group of advisers or homogenous group of advisers? >> there's secretary of war henry knox, secretary of the treasury alexander ham it en, secretary of state thomas jefferson and attorney general randal and to certain extent they are all fairly similar, all white men, of course, in terms of the ideas that they
11:45 am
represented and the experiences and expertise they brought into the cabinet, they were very, very different. henry knox had been the major general of west point and secretary of war underneath confederation congress. so he had indispensable military experience and indispensable experience negotiating with native american nations which was one the purview of the secretary of war at the time. while washington certainly understood the plans that hamilton came up with he wouldn't necessarily come up with the solutions and he needed someone to come up with the ideas. thomas jefferson had extensive diplomatic experience and fluent in french which was the language of diplomacy while washington had been to barbados as
11:46 am
teenager. that was the only time he only left the country so he needed someone who was experienced in the art of diplomacy and what it was like to be in france and great britain and lastly randolf. he had been attorney general for the state of virginia, he had been washington's private lawyer for many decades and so he was a really, really important part of the cabinet especially when they were talking about constitutional questions because he would provide advice for all of the secretaries and not just market, so in addition to sort of their background and their training, they also came from different regions of the country, jefferson and randolph were slave-owning virginians, hamilton made his home in new york and cozied up to merchant trade elites and knox had been self-taught, self-trained in boston and now made his home in maine and washington understood
11:47 am
that when the nation was new and the ties that bound different states together were quite tenuous, he understood that if he brought in people to his administration that represented the different regions and different interests an different factions and all the different parts of the nation as long as, you know, they are white men, that that would help people feel like they belong in the federal government, it would help them feel like the federal government spoke for them and that was a really important part of his sort of nation-building agenda. >> so the original cabinet was diversed and several critical aspects as you just described, however, they weren't unified in their belief that washington needed to bolster his executive authority as president. why did they all agree upon this one principle? >> this is a really important argument that i try and make in the book that goes against what people have to say especially against ideas about jefferson.
11:48 am
well, it's certainly jefferson critical of washington and who was oppose today executive power, surely he didn't support that but actual what i found that the cabinet works together hand in hand to try and boost executive power because they had observed during the articles of confederation period and during the war what happened when there wasn't a strong federal government and what happened when there wasn't one person really pushing the agenda and trying to get things done and congress had been woefully inefficient and powerless to try and levy taxes, powerless in trying to negotiate diplomacy and powerless to defend the nation against both domestic and foreign threats and so they had all experienced what happened when there was the weak congress and weak executive and they believed that in order for the nation to survive there needed to be a strong president that could articulate policy and then
11:49 am
go about implementing it in an energetic way and the cabinet as they envisioned it was not supposed to take away authority from the president or compete with the president, but rather to bolster the president's authority and help the president get things done. >> so when did the first cabinet meeting take place and why did washington call it? >> so the first cabinet meeting took place on november 26th, 1791, which was 2 and a half years into washington's presidency. these pictures show the president's house in philadelphia, the painting to the right, of course, was contemporary and then the 3d model shows what the house would have looked like at the time. it was one of the largest homes in philadelphia and it was really quite a grand residence. washington invited the secretaries over on november
11:50 am
november 26th because jefferson had just gotten bad news from the british minister and needed to establish new strategy for treatments with france and great britain and basically had the meeting where they layed out all of the existing policies and what their futures goals were going to be and not too much actually came of that meeting but what was interesting is the relationships with france and great britain, those continue today dominate both washington's presidency and also cabinet deliberations if for remainder of his administration. >> how did washington handle disagreement within the cabinet? you alluded to the fact that jefferson and hamilton didn't always see eye to eye and how did washington handle disputes that might have gotten heated during cabinet meetings? >> yes, so there were some significantly heated cabinet meetings. they would have met in a place that was a little bit like this. this would have been similar to what washington study would have
11:51 am
looked like at the time, a fairly small room, it was 15 by 21 feet, it was a very full of furniture and 5 pretty large men meeting in the space and i think probably under the best of circumstances even if they all did get along, they were meeting after 5 times per week for several hours a day in the middle of the summer with no air-conditioning and this cramped space there probably would have been hot tempers but because jefferson and hamilton really were diametrically opposed and washington would often literal i will go back and forth between siding with jefferson, siding with hamilton, he would try to find a middle ground that merged both perspectives. he held the family dinners which i mentioned which maybe helped
11:52 am
maybe didn't. he assured both of them how valuable they were to him in the cabinet and pleaded with them to stay and not retire because he wanted the different perspectives but ultimately he felt that the disagreements and differences of opinion, again, were really helpful to him. it was important to hear all of the different sides of an issue and so while jefferson was uncomfortable the complex and frequently wrote about how annoying it was that hamilton would go on for 3 quarters of an hour and would give 45-minute speech in this case. washington was okay with it and was willing to let them battle it out because he thought it made him and the presidency and the nation better. >> you argue in the book in several chapters that the cabinet, the institution of the cabinet, washington's cabinet greatly affected the most critical important leadership decisions he made as president, one of those had to do with
11:53 am
citizen giney, can you tell us about the controversy and why was it important for washington to have unanimity in his cabinet about the expulsion of jenet. >> in 1773 france declares war on great britain and the united states was nowhere near prepared to get into another war. they were just starting to recover physically, emotionally, financially from the revolution, not to mention they didn't have a navy or an army so even if they had really wanted to fight they had nothing to fight with, so they all knew when this war broke out that they needed to maintain neutrality and what neutrality meant maybe differed because you could enforce a strict neutrality which hamilton favored and that would kind of helped the british or looser
11:54 am
neutrality which jefferson favored and that would favor the french, but what really threw a wrench in all of the plans is when citizen who was the new french minister arrived and really ignored united states neutrality. he started hiring privateers which were private citizens that were hired to take ships under french marker or french letter basically and attack british ships and then they would bring those attack ships back into u.s. ports, sell off the goods and turn that new ship into a another french privateeer, so obviously the british were really pissed that this was happening and they didn't want the ships brought into u.s. ports because that didn't seem very neutral and jenet basically disregarded orders to stop doing this activity and, in fact, was doing it in the port of philadelphia which was about 6 blocks from washington's house,
11:55 am
so literally right under the president's nose and he ignored so many orders again and again and again for months to stop these activities and finally, he was in an argument with jefferson and he was basically disagreeing with jefferson about who had the power to issue diplomacy policy in the united states and jenet was saying that it was congress and jefferson was saying, you're wrong, it's the president and jenet threatened to appeal to the american people and that was hugely disrespectful to washington and it was very disrespectful to the new nation and so when this threat came out, when it was revealed that he said this, washington convene ad cabinet meeting and they decide today request recall of jenet from france because it was big moment because the united states had never recalled foreign minister before and if
11:56 am
france disagreed or refused that was basically going to be denying the right of the united states to establish a policy and require foreign ministers adhere to that morn policy. -- foreign policy. and so they all did agree and sent the letter to france and eventually france did recall jenet and that was sort of an agreement that the united states did have the right to set its own foreign policy. >> calling out the malacia during the risky rebellion was certainly another important precedent that washington set, how did his cabinet influence his decision-making during the whiskey rebellion? >> absolutely. in 1794 violence broke out in western pennsylvania, a number
11:57 am
of rebels burned down home of a tax collector and had been brewing discontent and this was the moment that it became a violent situation and washington gathered his cabinet and asked for their advice on what they should do and basically there were 4 options that were available to him. he could leave it to the states to deal with in their own way, north carolina can deal with theirs, he could wait until congress came back into session in the fall and let congress deal with it and request emergency session of congress and ask them to come up with some sort of policy or he could use a new law that had been passed that said that the president could call up the malacia from several states in the event of a foreign invasion or a domestic rebellion and the cabinet really urged him to do this fourth option, to take
11:58 am
action himself and they sort of disagreed on the best way to do that. randolph thought that he should send out a peace commission first to try and negotiate and come up with a peaceful solution, hamilton and knox were sending military right away and the new attorney general william bradford suggested that he kind of do a middle approach where he send out a peace commission especially for optics to look at though he had, you know, done everything he could to avoid a military solution, but then be getting the militia ready in case it failed so washington pursued the last option. he thought it was a good idea to try and build up current-public favor and build up public opinion before sending out the troops, but then he did end up calling the militias from maryland, virginia, pennsylvania and new jersey and before doing so, they really had to work with the pennsylvania official to try and get their compliance and this is where the cabinet was
11:59 am
really crucial because they basically bullied the pennsylvania officials into agreeing to comply and they really didn't want to and they thought that it should be a state issue and washington was overstepping authority and the cabinet officials worked through series of letters and negotiations to browbeat them into submission and amazing moment when the cabinet and the president worked to sideline state authority and sideline congress and carve out the spear of influence for the president over domestic issues which in theory are more purview of the state and congress. .. >> to how they lead the cabinet. what did you mean by that? >> well, so at the end, in the
12:00 pm
last couple of years of washington's presidency, there's a lot of turnover. and some of the new people that come into office i sort of affectionately sort of refer to them as the b team. and i think that's because washington didn't really trust them as much. he didn't think that they were up to snuff, he didn't think that they really were talented as his first team. and so based on purely the numbers, there are the far few ther cab meetings in the -- fewer cabinet meetings in the last couple of years, and he refers to individual consultations, to one on one meetings and to written correspondence because he doesn't want to convene the group of individuals. and so by doing so, he insures that the cabinet does not have a right to participate in decision making process, and he determines that the president really gets to decide when and how he's going to meet with the cabinet. and that is a very important legacy for going forward and for the presidents that came after
12:01 pm
him. >> i'm going to ask our last question, and i want to remind all of our viewers out there that we can ask lindsay questions for the conclusion of our program by typing in the questions in the comment section of the facebook feed. at the very end of your book, you argue that the management of the cabinet by the president is, can be a nearly impossibles task. can you tell us why you wrote that, why you call it a nearly impossible task and also what are some presidents historically, other than washington, who have effectively managed and led their cabinets? >> sure. so the cabinet can be the president's greatest asset, and it can also be its biggest potential risk factor or really detrimental to the president's legacy and success. and the reason i say that is because if a president has put together a good cabinet, then that means they are putting together a group of people who are incredibly experienced,
12:02 pm
incredibly knowledgeable, probably full of opinions and maybe have their own ambitions. and so managing that group of people and getting them to be the most effective tools for your administration, your best form of outreach, your best form of congressional liaison, that can be an incredibly tricky tool, incredibly tricky task to try and manage. without either making them shut down or without having them undermine presidential ambitions or presidential agendas. and so we've seen some examples where presidents do in this incredibly well. so fdr was really great about managing his cabinet, and he had really diverse perspectives including two republicans during the war years trying to make sure he had unity and diverse opinions in his cabinet. another example of a president
12:03 pm
that did very well with their cabinet would be lincoln, of course. there is the team of rivals, and he managed to have a number of different personalities by making them feel involved, making them feel welcome and heard. and jefferson was great at this as well. and on the flipside, people like adams really struggled with the cabinet because he thought that they would be loyal to him for the office as opposed to having to really work hard to manage those relationships. so it can, it's when presidents have good cabinets we tend not to see them, they tend not to be too visible in their successes which gives the president an extra boost. and when they are not working well, then they become very visible, and they tend to detract from a president's mission. >> okay. we have some really great questions here, lindsay. knowing nothing about the first cab nerkts i have to ask -- cabinet, i have to ask was there
12:04 pm
fierce competition for these positions once they were created? in other words, once people found out washington was putting together this thing called a cabinet, did everyone want to get in and have a chance to serve? >> so actually, no, which is pretty remarkable. washington really struggled to get people to fill these positions especially in his final years. and it makes sense sort of when you think about the reality of these positions. the pay was pretty low. you had to live in philadelphia most of the year. you probably were leaving your family, your home, your business, your farm, your plantation the for many, many months at a time. communication was poor because it took a really long time for the mail to go, and travel was really difficult and uncomfortable, so you weren't getting to visit all that often. so you were probably talking an economic hit by -- taking an economic hit by being away from your main source of income, and you were dealing with sort of an uncomfortable reality. to most people really didn't
12:05 pm
wallet these positions -- want these positions, and washington had to appeal to their sense of honor and duty to get people to go into office. >> okay. so a question about lincoln. as you mentioned, doris kerns goodwin, of course, made a big splash with "team of rivals" trying to peg lincoln's political genius in part to his foresight in creating his cabinet. do you see lincoln as really that unique and changing the mold of what the cabinet looked like during the early republic or, quite frankly, there just a lot of clashing personalities in the early days too? >> this is a great question because "team of rivals," of course, has changed how we think about cabinets and how we think about even the phrase, team of rivals, people know what we're talking about. it's a beautifully written book and a phenomenal story. but as the question sort of points out, the concept of putting together your rivals in a cabinet was actually not that new. most presidents put the leaders of their political party in
12:06 pm
their cabinet, and if the president was lucky, they weren't competing directly with them and only with each other. so monroe is a great example. monroe didn't really have any trouble with the secretaries trying to take over authority from him, but they were all competing with each other about who was going to be the next president. and that led to a lot of cabinet conflict. so that was sort of the standard model at least up through lincoln, and he, of course, had his own political genius about getting those people to work together. but that was definitely the standard or cabinet model. >> so the next question from claire on facebook. did washington see john jay as an advise proker in any way similar -- adviser in any way similar to how he saw his cabinet members? >> claire, thanks so much for this question. so john jay was definitely one of washington's closest advisers. they had a very good personal relationship. from the very beginning, washington was asking for his advice especially on issues
12:07 pm
pertaining toty proposal i city because jay had been the secretary of foreign affairs underneath the confederation congress. and so washington asked him for add advice on everything from diplomacy to how washington should host social events, to legal issues. and jay had really no problem sharing that advice and sharing those issues with washington. he ran into a little bit of trouble when washington would ask the entire supreme court for advice and then they had to sort of shut that down and said, no, we can't really advise you on this issue because that would be a problem with separation of powers. but jay continued to be a very important adviser to washington until the end of his presidency, he just didn't attend cabinet meetings. >> the next question is from steven on facebook again. this is a good one. who was your favorite cabinet member and why? >> oh, just having to choose one, oh, my goodness. i would say either -- i'm going
12:08 pm
to take a copout. i'm going to the say two. i would say either knox or randolph. i think they were two most underappreciated cabinet members. i hate when people say, oh, knox didn't do anything. he was just following along with hamilton which directly comes from jefferson's writings, by the way. jefferson thought that because knox agreed with hamilton on almost everything, surely he was hamilton's toadie when, in reality, knox had all these incredible experiences and was in the army for so much longer than hamilton. he's really not appreciated, i think, enough in the cabinet. and same goes for randolph. he's gotten a bad rap. so those are my two favorites because i kind of feel bad for their legacies. >> okay. what are the primary ways -- this is from william -- what are the primary ways washington's engagement with his cabinet affects how cabinets work today? >> great question, william.
12:09 pm
so, obviously, the cabinet has changed a lot. it's bigger, it has institutionalized, the national security council has taken over a lot of the responsibilities of the original cabinet. but when we think about washington's legacy which is that each president really gets to decide who their close advisers are going to be and how they're going to relate to them, when they're going to ask them for advice, in what form they're going to ask them for advice are, whether or not they're going to listen to that advice, those relationships all take place outside of congressional and public oversight. which means that some presidents can be really close with their vice presidents like obama and biden were really close. and some presidents can be really close with certain cabinet members. and some presidents prefer to rely on family members like kennedy whose brother was in the cabinet, and they were very close. or friends or other, other people that they happen to know. and that legacy very much affects how modern presidents work because we still don't have
12:10 pm
much oversight over those advisory relationships. >> the next question's if sean. from sean. did george washington really offer hamilton his choice of either treasury or state, and if hamilton had chosen state, who would have been our first treasury secretary? >> no, he didn't. so depending on the evidence that you look at, some people say that washington first offered treasury to robert morris if, which makes a lot of sense because they were very close friends. robert morris had been the treasury secretary during the confederation period, and according to sort of myth, morris declined and really encouraged washington to pick hamilton for the treasury secretary. if -- which probably would have been his second choice anyway and was a natural fit. washington knew he needed someone who had diplomatic experience and had relationships with people in foreign nations to serve as the secretary of state, and hamilton had not had
12:11 pm
any of that experience, had not been in those positions. so that definitely would not have happened. and, actually, it was really madison's encouragement that washington listened to when he pick jefferson to be the secretary of state. >> the next question from caitlin, why wasn't the creation of the cabinet written into the constitution? that's a good question because the british had a form of the cabinet, so -- and the british system influence thed, so why didn't they write the cabinet into the constitution? >> thank you very much for answering that question, or asking that question. so the delegates at the constitutional convention were very concerned about there being a group of advisers around the president that sort of obscured responsibility at the highest levels. they were very worried that it would become a cabal and there'd be cronyism and corruption and that it wouldn't be clear who was advising what, who was taking different positions, who
12:12 pm
was making the final decision. and that was very much the concern that they had inherited from the british system because it really wasn't clear with the british cabinet who told the king what and who was making this decision, who they could hold responsible for maybe bad policies. and so the delegates rejected that option and refused to put it into the cabinet because they were concerned about responsibility and transparency. and that's really why they insisted that the secretaries provide written advice because if then there would be a paper trail of evidence about who said what, and it'd be very clear who to blame if something went poorly. >> from megan, was there some story or source that you loved but you could not include in your book? >> oh, my goodness, that's a very creative question. yes, actually. so there isn't -- i mentioned it
12:13 pm
very briefly, but i don't really talk much about it in the book although i've since written other things about it. there is this thing called the articles of confederation. or, sorry, the acts of congress. i was thinking -- >> the articles of confederation. >> there is an articles of confederation, of course, it's the acts of congress. [laughter] and it is a volume that washington had ordered. it's basically a copy of the constitution and a copy of all of the bills that were passed by the first federal congress. and he had them bound into a volume and printed, and then he wrote a series of notes in the margins. and, basically, these notes reveal his ongoing thinking about executive power right as he's sort of contemplating what he's going to do because the senate hasn't worked out and written advice is not efficient enough. so these notations are inkid by important. and the reason -- incredibly important. and the reason that i love this document so much is that it was
12:14 pm
in private hands until 2012, and then mount vernon acquired it. most historians didn't even know about it until 2012, and these notations are really rare because washington was not a scribbler in his books like adams or jefferson. so you can actually see it if you go to mount vernon, and i've done a podcast on this and an article as well. so if you're interested in more of that information, i can definitely share it because it is a fascinating document. >> and we don't have much record of what washington thought during the convention because he didn't speak very many times during the constitutional convention, correct? >> that's right. he only spoke once at the very end, and he really preferred to listen during the actual debates. but it's also really important to note two things. one, he was there every day, and he voted with the virginia delegation. so people knew who he was voting, and his opinion was very powerful. the second is that after the end of each session, a lot of the delegates would go to dinner, they would go listen the music,
12:15 pm
they would go to the theater, visit local philadelphia families, so they were socializing together almost every day. and you can bet that they were talking about what they had discussed earlier. and so i think he was probably having more private conversations about his opinions and working with the virginia delegates to try and get certain things passed. he just preferred to work in smaller groups as opposed to speak in front of the entire convention. >> next question's from brian. can you tell us more about washington's philadelphia home where some of those cabinet meetings took place? what was the home like, the neighborhood, and how did that affect the meetings? >> it's a great question. i think this space is so important and something we don't often consider about how our surroundings affect us on a day-to-day basis. so the home, as i said, was one of the largest private homes in philadelphia. it was sort of in the heart of a very nice, elite district on market and 6th streets. if you go to philadelphia today,
12:16 pm
you can still -- there's a sort of memorial and sort of half of the floor plan, the first floor. so, but all of the secretaries lived basically within suggestion blocks of the president's house. -- six blocks. so did many of the elite homes. so it was a very -- people think washington, d.c. is a small world today. it has nothing on philadelphia in the 1790s because it was a very small community. they all went to the same shops, they went to the same markets, they went to the same merchants. they attended the same theaters, they attended the same social clubs, they attended the same libraries, and they went to each other's homes. so that network and that neighborhood was really important because not only could jefferson and hamilton not escape each other in the actual study that i showed that was pretty small, so when they left the home, they probably were running into each other fairly regularly at social events and other things. i know, we have records that
12:17 pm
they used the psalm tailor to tailor -- the same tailor to tailor their suits. so the likelihood that they were running into each other was pretty good. so philadelphia really became a hothouse for political tensions and whatser baited these existing -- exacerbated these existing divisions and, i think, led to the acceleration of the first political parties. >> the next question from andrew which is, i think you'll like this one, was the musical hamilton an accurate representation of alexander hamilton? >> yes and no. i mean, first of all, it's art. it's financial -- it's phenomenal art, but it's not history, and that's okay because it has inspired so many people to learn more about the subject and to read more, and that is a wonderful thing. i'm a huge fan of it. there are certain things that are absolutely correct. the reynolds affair was true. his unbelievable marriage was true. eliza's efforts to preserve his
12:18 pm
memory and his legacy after he died, 100% correct. the duel, absolutely. but then there are things that, you know, are sort of built out for dramatic effect. so there's no record that he had a sort of romantic flirtation with eliza's sister. they certainly had a row bust correspondence -- robust correspondence, but it didn't ever appear to be inappropriate. similarly, he certainly did support some abolitionist sentiments. he supported the creation of the first school in new york city for freed african-americans, but he wasn't as much of an abolitionist as the musical makes him out to be. the skylar family had enslaved people. he was often surrounded by slavery and didn't a appear to object to it all that much. so yes and no to a certain extent. >> from james, was there talk amongst the early cabinet about who might be the next president? did jefferson make his
12:19 pm
intentions to run known early? >> great question. no, because everyone really wanted washington to keep serving. they felt like he was a unifying figure and kind of the only person they could all agree upon at a time when agreement wasn't as hard to come by. so so this wasn't really all that much conversation. jefferson retired at the end of -- retiredded the at the end of 1793 and went home to month cello and swore that he was -- monticello and swore that he was done with politics. everyone sort of knew that wasn't really quite so. and, but he never said anything about wanting to be president. but at the time it's really important to remember you couldn't appear to want to be president because that would make you ambitious in a very bad way. you had to appear to be disinterested and called to serve from duty and honor. and so jefferson really tried to sort of put that image out, and
12:20 pm
he didn't want to serve, he didn't want to be president, he wants to stay home. and it wasn't until washington announced the his intention to retire that people actually started talking about the other options. >> now we've come to our last question, unfortunately. it's from shin. it's a good one. why is is it called a cabinet and why not a council? >> it's a great question. so the term "cabinet" comes from the british, like so many things in the american political system and the american culture. so initially there had been a privy council that the king would meet with to discuss issues and get their advice, and the privy council met in a very large, ornate chamber. and when the privy council got too big to be efficient as an advisory body, then the king started pulling a couple of his favorite advisers into a small, little room off to the side. and this little, tiny room was called the king's cabinet. and that was just sort of the
12:21 pm
description for really small rooms at the time. and so this group became known as the king's cabinet down is ill. and then -- council. and then eventually council was dropped and it became the cabinet. and cabinet sort of signified a less official position within the government. councils tended to be written into legislation. so virginia, for example, had a council of state that advised the governor, same with new york. and so cabinet was intended to con ray sort of a more private -- conning say sort of a more private conversation, a more private relationship. and by 1792 americans were referring to washington's meetings as cabinet meetings. >> well, thank you so much, lindsay. once again the book is "the cabinet," harvard university press. i can't say enough about this book. i learned so much about george washington and also about the creation of institutions and, certainly about the creation of the cabinet. we're now going to go back to stuart for our conclusion for the evening.
12:22 pm
>> thank you, colleen and lindsay. you know, i often say that i could work at the white house historical association for the rest of my career and learn something new every day, and i've learned a great deal just listening to this conversation this evening. this white house history live is the first edition of something that we would like the continue, so we'd like to get your feedback. if you enjoyed this or have suggestions for the future, send us a message to our web site or through the comments on this facebook live session. we would also like to invite you to an event we're hosting this thursday at 5:30 eastern, 4:30 central. it's the third in our series of white house history happy hours. this thursday we will talk with presidential grandson clifton truman daniels who will talk about the truman renovation of the white house and many other aspects of the truman presidency. and his son, the great grandson of president truman, will be
12:23 pm
mixing a very special cocktail that i understand was a favorite of bess truman's. if you'd like to order the book, lindsay chervinsky's book, it is available at the white house historical association web site. go to shop.white house it's discounted for purchase, and you can get your copy there today. please stay safe, and we look forward to seeing you on the next edition of white house history live. have a good evening. >> as the coronavirus continues to impact the country, here's a look at what the publishing industry is doing to address the ongoing pandemic. in recognition of last week's world book day, the association of american publishers, the authors' guild and the american booksellers' association released a joint statement that encouraged readers to patronize their local bookstores on line or to make a donation to save indie
12:24 pm was launched in january as an effort to provide independent bookstores with a greater online sales presence. in its first month the site posted $50,000 in revenue with a $10,000 disbursement to stores. total sales are now $4.5 million with over $870,000 to participating bookstores. also in the news, npd book scan reports that book sales were down 3.5% for the week ending april 18th. adult nonfiction print sales saw a decline of 12% from the year prior. and many book festivals and conferences that were forced to cancel are now offering attendees a virtual experience. the american library association, which canceled their annual conference in chicago this summer, will hold a virtual event from june 24th-26th. the bay area book festival kicks off a month of online author programs starting this weekend.
12:25 pm
and maryland's gait thers burg book festival also intends to go online this may. booktv will continue to bring you new programs and publishing news. you can also watch all of our past programs from the last 20 years anytime at >> recently, new york times columnist ross -- [inaudible] here's a portion of the talk. >> over the last few generations, it's become a lot harder to effectively golf western countries and to effectively reform or transform or build new or unbuild government programs. and so an age when it was possible to elect a president of are reform from franklin roosevelt down through ronald reagan has given way to an age when presidents are lucky if they can pass one piece of major
12:26 pm
legislation across their presidency. if they succeed, as obama did with obamacare, they may pay a political price for it that lasts the duration of their presidency e. and overall, politics is dominated by various stalemates, by polarized parties competing with each other without building clear majorities, with in the united states sort of congressional abdication and an increasing form of government that consists of basically negotiation between the executive branch and the judicial branch which i think is how a lot of actual american policy now gets made. so i think there's a version of this, a somewhat different version in europe where you have you have the institution of the european union which has advanced to a point where it is, in effect, too big to fail. it has all kinds of problems, but no one except, you know, the wild and crazy english willing to actually take the step of leaving. even the sort of fearsome
12:27 pm
populists and nationalists of eastern europe don't actually plan to leave the e.u., but mean while it's inefficient, it creates common currency creates all kinds of economic problems that are obvious to everyone, but it can neither move forward, nor back. it can't shrink back towards a more sensible arrangement, it can't move forward towards the actual european superstate that many of its architects envisioned. so it, too, sort of has this stalemate. so that's what i'm describing as sclerosis. and as i said, i i think it's sort of -- that's the easy one, right? that's the one that people nod along to. the others are a little bit more debatable. right, so stagnation. economic stagnation not as a sort of thorough-going reality as sclerosis. you still have periods of economic growth, we've managed a respectable pace of growth under those -- basically since the great the recession in 2008. but overall, you do see a a
12:28 pm
pattern of real decelebration -- she hell ration, lower growth rates and you have those growth rates achieved basically through a kind of perpetual borrowing, right? where you can get to 2% growth with massive deficits whereas in the 1950s you could have 4.5% growth with what then were sometimes complained about as massive deficits but weren't really deficits at all. so in effect, we're -- and i think those deficits may be more sustainable than some conservatives think, but they're sustainable, in effect, if they bridge society paying itself to maintain a form of progress that its own fundamentals don't really justify. >> to watch the rest of this program, visit our web site, search for ross douthat or the title of his book using the search box at the top of the page. >> this weekend on booktv,
12:29 pm
today at 6 p.m. eastern richard cord ray, former director of the consumer financial protection bureau. >> this is about consumers and the problems they face, it's about consumer finance and how it's changed, and it's about the new consumer financial protection bureau and the role and importance of the work that it engages in to protect people across america. >> sunday at 12:30 p.m. eastern, h.r. mcmaster, former trump administration national security adviser. >> the united states and other free and open societies ought to do everything we can to protect ourselves against the efforts of the chinese communist party to subvert our free market economic systems and our democratic form of governance. >> and at 6:20 p.m., ruth gilmore, author and city university of new york professor on mass incarceration in the u.s. >> the fact that most people leave prison, do a little bit of analysis to see that we could be
12:30 pm
closing prisons already and jails already if we just cut by two weeks and three weeks and four weeks much less years the kinds of sentences people are is serving. >> watch booktv this weekend on c-span2. .. the owners, bradley graham and our staff was welcome to today's event.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on