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tv   Lindsay Chervinsky The Cabinet  CSPAN  May 8, 2020 2:00pm-2:56pm EDT

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really want to do literary work, he got himself the price in new york city, washington, d.c., people are gossiping, dignity really wrote the book, i wonder how much money they're getting out of the royalty checks. but the poets change the equation and made a moral question and ethical question. leaders realize this to when i was at the kennedy presidential library and looked at the letters he was receiving in 1957 and librarians were sending him letters, schoolteachers were sending them letters saying did you really read this book and they were responding to the interview. . . .
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>> good afternoon, welcome to white house history. my name is stuart i'm the president of the white house historical association. today we will have an exciting conversation with the head of the rubinstein center for white house history in one of our historians on a brand-new book, the cabinet, george washington and the creation of the american institution. ordinarily we would do this event at the carriage house which is our base of operations on lafayette park but as we are all working from home and joining you in your home we are trying out this new mode of communications. it is perfectly fitting with our historic mission. as you all know we were founded in 1961 by first lady, jacqueline kennedy, who had the vision at such a young age in a
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short period of time as first lady to create an organization like the white house historical association to give nonprofit, nonpartisan support to the work of maintaining the museum of standard of the white house but also an education mission, to teach and to tell the stories of the white house in its history going back to 1792 when george washington, who we talk about today, 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 is what we do every day to the wonderful books we publish, our programs that we host at the decatur house and around the country and our online social media content and website content. this is an example of that. we are doing more and more of this during this time we are all at home looking for interesting things to do. i would encourage you to check out our website, white house
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history .org and you can find all kinds of information materials particularly a wonderful new part of our website which combines educational materials from over 100 presidential sites across the country. we become one-stop shopping for presidential and white house history. at the end of today's program i will remind you to go to shop white house history .org or order lindsay's book. we have it on sale at a lesser price than anywhere else you could find it and i think after you hear her talk today you will want to have a copy of your own. now i will turn over our program to [inaudible] who is the senior vice president and my colleague at the association and also directs the david rubenstein national center for white house history. she will talk with doctor lindsay, the author of the book that we are celebrating and launching today. the cabinet, george washington and the creation of an american institution. colleen, it is all yours.
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>> thank you, stuart. i'm so delighted to be here with everybody this evening to celebrate my colleague lindsay's book launch of the cabinets. i have it right here in front of me, it's a terrific book. we want to remind everyone listening tonight and jeanine 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 of the facebook feed and we will get to 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 cabinets. lindsay, telus, there's been many books written about george washington, books about his time as general and times and books written about his time as president of the united states and there has been scholarship on his precedent-setting activities. however, there has never been a book treatment of washington's
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creation of the cabinet. why do you think that is? >> it's such a great question. i think most people just really assumed that because washington created the cabinets and every president since washington has had a cabinet that it was inevitable or just there from the very beginning. that's very much not the case. washington held his first cabinet meeting 2.5 years into his administration and it was very much the product of an organic development of him needing to respond to international and domestic pressures as they came up. i think that because the history has evolved the way it has people assume that that was always going to be the case. >> tell us why washington decided to create the cabinet and tell us about the earlier models that he utilized when he was trying to seek advice from
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when he was president? students what people don't know the cabinet isn't in the constitution. article two, section two of the constitution lays out two options for the president to obtain advice. first the president can request written advice from the apartment secretaries about issues pertaining to their department or the president can consult and advise the senate on foreign affairs. this had a very different meaning back in 1787 where the delegates of the constitutional convention first crafted this clause it really intended the senate to serve as a council on foreign affairs and the intent of the senate to be active participants in the process of diplomacy. this picture i put up here for you to see is of federal hall in new york city and from washington's first when he went into office he intended to use
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these two options that the constitution laid out for him. he went to federal hall and visited with the senate requested their advice and it went very badly. he was expecting immediate answers and he wanted their opinions and the senators wanted to act like legislators. they wanted to refer the issue to committee and they wanted to debate it and discuss it in private and they asked him to come back the next week. that frustrated washington and he got angry. urban legend is that he swore on the way out that he would never again return and i'm not sure if that is actually true that he said that but he never went back to the senate for advice. regardless of what he said he certainly meant it. that was one option he experimented with and then pretty quickly dismissed. the other option and the requesting of written advice was something that washington did from the very beginning but if we think about today when we are sending e-mails back and forth we often forget to ask something or something isn't clear and we
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need to have a follow-up because someone's tone is not necessarily conveyed well but imagine trying to do that with parchment and quill. it was incredibly complicated and took a long time and it was cumbersome and you had to wait for it to dry and then wait for the letter to be delivered and wait for the response and so washington quickly realized that he needed to have in person conversations in order to deal with the very complex issues that are facing his administration. what he did is he would send a letter to the secretary and they would write back and forth, once or twice, then they would have an individual meeting "after words". that worked for about the first 1.5 years of the administration until double medic issues really started to boil to the surface. washington decided he needed to bring all his advisors together to consult any group. >> you argue in your book that washington was influenced during his time as the revolutionary
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war general for his service in the revolutionary war but influenced the creation of the cabinet. in particular, you talk about war councils that he conducted as general. could you tell us about those war councils and how that influenced the creation with the cabinet? >> absolutely. washington is very much a military man. i put two pictures up here of what the councils might have looked like pending on whether or not they were meeting in a larger home or in washington's war tents. washington was a military man. his prior leadership experience had come in the context of military and it was how he thought, how he approached issues. the councils of war had been incredibly helpful to him because it was an opportunity to bring together the officers or to ask for their opinions and to allow them to debate all these issues and duke it out and it was a way for him to stress test the different positions and see
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where the weaknesses were and arguments and to consider all the facts at one time. then he would often ask for written opinions "after words" that he could go home and read them and consider them in his own time and then make a final decision. he concluded that this process was really helpful because it allowed him to get expertise and advice and perspective that were different from his own and that was very important to him, both as a general and as a president and allowed him to try to build unity among his officers and even to get additional support if he was making a controversial decision. those councils of war were really the building ground for his leadership skills and once washington did conclude that he needed a cabinet it was the model he drew upon. >> you argue in the book that washington was an efficient and effective administrator. you don't often think of george washington, when you think of george washington you think of
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general, decisive, you don't think of him as a talented administrator. could you talk about that? could you also explain why that was so important he became president of the united states? >> sure, washington, as you pointed out, he does not get enough credit for being politically savvy and for having good leadership skills and for being very actively involved in the presidential process. as i mentioned with the council of war leadership he was dealing with really big personalities. we were allowed, sometimes arrogant and had their own ambitions and they had their own ideas about how to do things, including charles lee who famously like to bring in his pack of hounds to counsel where, i as a dog lover, think is great but is anyone who knows hounds they can be quite loud and perhaps not conducive to a good meeting environment. he's been dealing with a really colorful boisterous environment
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and he had to manage all of those personalities. when washington was president he certainly had fewer people that he had to manage in a small space. anyone was seen hamilton knows that hamilton and jefferson really, really did not like each other and really did not get along. that management was crucial. the other reason the management was so important was because washington was studying president and everything will 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 social events take place and so someone who is capable of managing these details and managing the people 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
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management become central. >> following up on your observation there, you also talk about in the book that washington understood the importance of developing close social relationships between his advisors. in modern day terms did washington have a high eq? >> absolutely. this is another strength not usually appreciated. washington understood that when you are going to spend eight years fighting a war or eight years in the presidency there will be disagreements. of course, people will disagree. if you have a bond that is existing beneath those disagreements you can get through them or if you have a common cause that you are working toward you can usually smooth past any sort of disagreements or tensions. he hosted these social events and every thing from private dinners to horseback rides out in the countryside to balls and
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dances and winter quarters when the officers wives would come to visit they would have these big festivities around the holidays and so he did that as a way to try to build core and know the officers know that they were fighting for the same cause. as president he did do the same thing with his secretary and he would often invite them to what he called a family dinner. he referred to the secretaries as his official family. he would invite them to a family dinner either after a cabinet meeting or perhaps in the middle of one if it was dragging on for several hours to try to smooth over the fathers that got ruffled by hamilton and jefferson's debate and trying to remind them that they were working towards the same goal. i would suggest that it worked better in the war then worked in the presidency because hamilton and jefferson were so opposed to each other and i'm not sure any amount of socializing would have fixed it but he certainly tried
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and had the awareness that he needed to try to try to keep the cabinet together. >> tell us who the original members and the original team of rivals were in washington presidential cabinet and also talk about the backgrounds of these individuals and their geographic origins and their opinions, was this a heterogeneous group of advisers or homogenous group of advisers? >> this picture shows the original cabinet, washington of course is to the left and there is secretary of war, henry knox, secretary of treasury alexander hamilton, secretary of state thomas jefferson, attorney general evan randolph. they are all very similar in all white men but in terms of the idea that they represented and the experiences and expertise they brought into the cabinet they were very, very different. henry knox had been a major general of the ark to really
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during war and had then served as the commander of west point and secretary of war underneath the confederation congress so he had indispensable military experience and indispensable experience negotiating with native american nations which was under the purview of the secretary of war at the time. hamilton had a brilliant financial mind and while washington certainly understood the plans that hamilton came up with he did not necessarily have that creativity and ability to come up with complex solutions. he needed someone who could come up with those ideas. thomas jefferson had extensive diplomatic experience and was fluent in french which was the language of diplomacy while washington had been to barbados when he was a teenager and i was the only time he had ever left the country so he needed someone was experienced in the art of diplomacy and what it was like to be in france and great britain.
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lastly, randolph goes over was a brilliant legal mind but he had been the attorney general for the state of virginia and had been washington's private lawyer for many decades and so he was a really, really important part of cabinet especially when they were talking about constitutional questions because he would provide advice for all the secretaries and not just washington. in addition to their background and their training they also came from different regions of the country. jefferson and randolph were both in virginia and slaveowner slaveowners, hamilton made his home in new york and cozied up to the trade elites and knox had been self-taught, self trained in boston and out made his home in maine. washington understood that when the nation was new in the ties that bound the different states together were quite tenuous he understood if he brought in people to his administration
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that represented the different regions and interests and factions and all the different parts of the nation as long as they were white men that that would help people feel they belong and federal government. it would help them feel like the federal government spoke for them, that was a really important part of his nationbuilding agenda. >> the original cabinet was diverse and several critical aspects as you just described but however, they were unified and homogenous in their belief that washington needed to bolster his executive authority as president. why did they all agree upon this one principle? >> this is an important argument that i try to make in the book that sometimes goes against what people have to say, especially against ideas about jefferson. people think jefferson was sometimes critical of washington and to was opposed to either get a power surely he did not support that but actually what i found is that cabinet work
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together, hand in hand, to try and boost executive power because they had observed during the articles of confederation time and during the war what happened when there wasn't a strong federal government. and what happened when there wasn't one person pushing an agenda in trying to get things done. congress had been woefully inefficient and had been powerless to try and levy taxes and powerless to try 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 a week congress and the weak executive. they believed that in order for the nation to survive there needed to be a strong president that could articulate policy and then go about implementing it in a very energetic way and the cabinet, as they envisioned it, was not supposed to take away
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authority from the president or compete with the president but rather bolster the president's authority and to help the president get things done. >> wended the first cabinet meeting take place and why did washington recall it? >> the first cabinet meeting took place on november 26, 1791 which was over 2.5 years into washington's presidency. these pictures show the presidents house in philadelphia that is to the right and was contemporary and then this 3d model shows what the house would have looked like at the time and it was one of the first homes in philadelphia and was quite a grand residence. washington invited the secretaries over on november 26 because jefferson had gotten bad news from the british minister and they really felt like it was time to establish a new strategy for trying to figure out the trade agreements with france and great britain. they basically had this meeting
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where they laid out all of the existing policies and what their future goals would be. not too much came of that meeting but what is interesting is those issues, the relationships with france and great britain and those continued to dominate both washington's presidency and also cabinet deliberations to the remainder of his administration. >> how did washington handle disagreement within the cabinet? you alluded to the fact that jefferson and hamilton did not always see i to i so how did washington handle disputes that might've even gotten heated during cabinet meetings? >> yes, there were some significantly heated cabinet meetings and they would have met in a place that was like this and this would have been similar to what washington's study would've looked like at the target was fairly small room and 15 by 21 feet and this was very full of furniture and five pretty young men meeting in the
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space. i think under the best circumstances, even if they all did get along, they were meeting up to five times a week for several hours a day in the middle of the summer with no air conditioning in this cramped space, it would have been some hot tempers. because jefferson and hamilton really were diametrically opposed on so many issues the attentions in the cabinet meeting quickly flared into much more than just a little disagreement. washington did his best to keep things calm. he often would literally go back and forth between siding with jefferson and fighting with hamilton, siding with everson or siding with hamilton or he would find a middle ground that merge those perspectives. he held the family dinners which are mentioned which may be helped and maybe didn't but 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
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wanted those different perspectives. but ultimately he felt that the disagreements and the differences of opinion were helpful to him. it was important to hear all the different sides of an issue and so while jefferson was uncomfortable with that conflict and frequently wrote about how annoying it was that hamilton would go on for three quarters of an hour so he would give us a 45 minute speech in the space in washington was okay with it and willing to let them battle it out because he thought it made him in the presidency and the nation better. >> you argue in the book and in several chapters that the cabinet, the institution of the cabinet, washington's cabinet greatly affected some of the most critical important leadership decisions he had made as president. one of those had to do with citizens jun a, can you tell us a little bit about the genetic controversy and why was it so important for washington to have unanimity in his cabinet about
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this expulsion? >> yet, in 1793 france close war on great britain and it quickly expands into an international conflict and the united states was nowhere near prepared to get into another war and they were just starting to recover physically, emotionally, financially from the revolution not to mention they do not have a navy or an army so even if they had wanted to fight they had nothing to fight with. they all knew when this war broke out that they needed to maintain neutrality and what neutrality meant may be different because it enforced restriction neutrality was hamilton favored and that would help the british or you can force neutrality which jefferson favored and that would favor the french. but what really threw a wrench in all these plans was when citizen edmund [inaudible] who was the new french minister arrived and ignored the united
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states neutrality. he started hiring privateers were which were essential private citizens that were hired to take ships out under french mark or french letter basically and go attack edition ships and then they would bring those attack ships back into u.s. ports, sell off the goods and turn that new ship into another french privateer. obviously the british were pis sed that this was happening and did not want the ships brought into u.s. ports because that did not seem very neutral. genêt basically disregarded orders to stop doing this activity and in fact, with doing it in the port of philadelphia which was about six blocks from washington's house, literally right under the presidents nose and he ignored so many orders again and again for months to stop these activities and
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finally he was in an argument with jefferson and was basically disagreement with jefferson about who had the power to issue diplomacy policy in the united states and genêt said it was congress. jefferson was saying you are wrong, it's the presidents. genêt threatened to appeal to the american people and now that was hugely disrespectful to washington very disrespectful to the nation and so when this threat came out when it was revealed that he said this washington convened a cabinet meeting and decided to request the recall of genêt from france. this was a big moment because the united states had never requested the recall of a foreign minister before. if france disagreed or refused that was basically going to be denying the right of the united states to establish its own foreign policy and to require that foreign minister to adhere to that foreign policy.
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when they made that decision washington really needed to be sure that everyone agreed otherwise that would be problematic when they took this huge step. they all disagree and send the letter to france and eventually france did recall genêt and that was a tacit agreement that the united states did have the right to set its own foreign policy. >> calling out the militia during the whiskey rebellion certainly another important precedent that washington set. how did his cabinet influence his decision-making during the whiskey rebellion? >> absolutely. the cabinet was important at this moment. in 1794 violence broke out in western pennsylvania and a number of rebels burned down the home of a tax collector and there had been brewing discontent for quite some time but this was the real moment when it became a violent
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situation. washington gathered his cabinet and asked for their advice on what they should do and basically there were four options that were available to him. he could leave it to the states to deal with in their own way so pennsylvania could deal with their own discontent, north carolina could deal with theirs and he could wait until congress became came back into session in fall and allow congress to deal with it. he could request an emergency session of congress and ask them to come up with some sort of policy or he could use a new law that have been passed that said the president could call up the militia from several states in the event of a foreign basement or a domestic rebellion. the cabinet really urged him to do this or that option, to take action themselves. they disagreed on the best week to do that in randolph thought that he should send out a peace commission first to try to negotiate and come up with a
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peaceful solution in hamilton and knox were all for sending in the military right away and the new attorney general, william bradford, suggested that he could do a mill approach where he sent out a peace commission especially for optics to look as though he had done everything he could to avoid a military solution but then getting the militia ready right that was happening just in case of fields. washington pursued this last option and thought was a good idea to build up public favor and public opinion before sending out the troops but then you did and up calling the militias from maryland to virginia, pennsylvania and new jersey and before doing so they had to work at the pennsylvania officials to try to get their compliance. this is where the cabinet was crucial because they basically bullied the pennsylvania officials into agreeing to comply. they did not really want to and they thought that it should be a
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state issue and that washington was overstepping his authority and the cabinet officials worked through a series of letters and negotiations to essentially robbing them into submission. it's amazing moment when the cabinet and the president worked to sideline state authority and sideline congress and carve out this sphere of influence for the president over domestic issues which is supposed to be the purview of the states for congress. >> at the end of the washington administration, you argued that washington reinforces this notion that the cabinet will be led by the president in a personal way? the president had to take his or her approach to how they leave the cabinet and what did you mean by that? >> so, at the end, and the 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 affectionately refer to them as
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the b team. i think that is because washington did not really trust them as much good he did nothing they were up to snuff and did not think that they really were counted as his first name and so based on purely the numbers there were far fewer cabinet meetings in the last couple of years and he reverted to individual consultations and two one-on-one meetings and to written correspondence because he doesn't want to convene a group of individuals and so by doing so he ensures that the cabinet does not have a right to participate in decision-making process and he determines that the president gets to decide when and how he will meet with the cabinet and that is a very important legacy for going forward and for the president that came after him. >> i want to ask our last question and remind our viewers out there that you can ask lindsay questions for the conclusion of our program by
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typing in the questions in the comment sections of the facebook fee. at the end of your book you argued that the management of the cabinet by the president can be a nearly impossible task. can you tell us why you about that, why you call it a nearly impossible task and also what are some presidents historically other than washington who have effectively managed and let their cabinets? >> sure, the cabinet can be the president's greatest asset and it can also be its biggest potential risk factor and detrimental to the president's legacy and success. 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, incredibly knowledgeable and probably full of opinions and maybe have their own ambitions. managing that group of people
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and getting them to be the most effective tools for your administration in your best form of outreach in your best form of congressional liaison and that can be an incredibly tricky tool, incredibly tricky task to try and manage without either shut down or without having them undermine presidential agendas. we've seen some examples of where some presidents do this incredibly well. fdr was great about managing his cabinet and he had a diverse perspective 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 that did really well with his cabinet would be lincoln of course but there was a team of rivals and he managed to have a number of different personalities by making them
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feel involved in making them feel welcome and heard endeavors and was great at this as well. 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 work hard to manage those relationships. when presidents have good cabinets we cannot see them and they tend to not be to visible and they give the president an extra boost and when they are not working well then they become very visible and they tend to detract from presidents mission. >> okay, we have really great questions here. lindsay, knowing nothing about the first cabinet i have duress, as they are fierce competition to these positions once they were created? in other words, once people find out what she was putting together this thing called a cabinet to everyone want to get in and you have a chance to
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serve? >> actually, no. it's pretty remarkable. washington struggled to get people to serve in these positions especially in his final years and make sense they think about the reality of these positions. pay was low and you had to live in philadelphia most of the year and you probably were leaving your family and your home and your business and your farm in your plantations for many months at a time and medication was poor because it took a long time for the mail to go and travel was difficult and uncomfortable so you weren't getting to visit all that often. you were probably taken an economic kid by being away from your main source of income and you are dealing in this uncomfortable reality so people did not really want these positions in washington had to appeal to their sense of honor and duty to get people to go into office. >> question about incan.
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as you mentioned, doris kearns would made a big splash with team of rivals trying to peg lincoln's genius in foresight in crating his cabinet. do you see lincoln as unique and changing the mold of what the cabinet look like during the early republic or quite friendly, was there a lot of clashing personalities in the early days to? >> great question because team of rivals has changed how we think about cabinets and how we think about even just the phrase team of rivals but people know what we are talking about. it's beautifully written book and it's a phenomenal story but as the questions points out, the concept of putting together your rivals in the cabinet was nothing new. most presidents put the leaders of their political party in their cabinets and if the president was lucky they weren't competing directly with them and only with each other. when munro was a great example.
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monroe did not really have trouble with the secretaries trying to take over of authority from but they were competing with each other about who would be the next president. that led to a lot of cabinet conflicts. that was the standard model, at least up through when lincoln and he, of course, had political genius but getting those people to work together but that was definitely the standard cabinet model. >> the next question is from claire on facebook, did washington the john jay as an advisor in any way similar to how he saw his cabinet members? >> claire, thank you for this question. john jay was one of washington's closest advisers and they had a very good personal relationship from the very beginning, washington was asking for his advice especially on issues pertaining to diplomacy because jay had been secretary of foreign affairs underneath the confederation congress and washington asked for advice on anything from diplomacy to how
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washington should host social events to legal issues and jay had no problem sharing that advice and sharing those issues with washington. he ran into a little bit of trouble when washington was asking the entire supreme court for advice and then they had this to shut this down and said no we can't advise you on the issue because that would be a problem a separate station of powers. jake continued to be a very important advisor to washington until the end of his presidency and did not attend the cabinet means. >> next question is from steven on facebook again, this is a good one. who was your favorite cabinet member and why? >> having to choose one, oh my goodness, i would say to, either knox or randolph. i think those tend to be the two most underappreciated cabinet
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members and i hate when people say knox did not do anything, he was just followed along with hamilton which directly comes from jefferson's writings, by the way. jefferson thought that because knox agreed with hamilton in almost everything, surely he was hamilton's toady when in reality knox head these and credible experiences and was in the army for so much longer than hamilton and is really not appreciated enough in the cabinets and then goes for randolph and he's gotten a bad rap. those are my two favorites and i feel bad for those legacies. >> okay, what are the primary ways and this is from william, one of the primary ways washington's engagement with his cabinet effects how cabinets work today? >> great question, william. obviously the cabinet has changed a lot. it's bigger and has institutionalized in the national city council has taken over a lot of the responsibilities of the original
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cabinets but when we think about washington's legacy which is that each president gets to decide who they are closest advisors will be and how they will relate to them, when they will ask them for advice and in what form they will ask them for advice and whether or not they will listen to that advice, those relationships all take place outside of congressional and public oversight. it means some presidents can be really close with their vice president like obama and biden were close. some presidents can be 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 people that they happen to know. that legacy very much affects how modern presidents work because we still don't have much oversight over those advisory relationships. >> next question is from a sean, did george washington really
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offer hamilton's choice of either treasury or state? if hamilton had chosen state, who would have been our first treasury secretary? >> no bread he did not. so, depending on the evidence you look at some people say that washington first offered treasury to robert morris which makes sense because they were close friends and robert morris had bent treasury secretary during the confederation time and according to myth morris declined and encouraged washington to pick hamilton for the treasury secretary. it 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. hamilton had not had that experience and had not been in those positions. that definitely would not have happened. actually it was madison's encouragement that washington
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listened to when he picked jefferson to be the secretary of state. >> next question from caitlin, white was of the creation of the cabinet written into the constitution? that's a good question because the british had a form of the cabinet so the british had influenced a white dude they write the cabinet into the constitution? >> thank you for asking that question. so, the delegates of the constitutional convention were very concerned about there being a group of advisers around the president that obscured responsibility at the highest levels but they were worried it would become a cable and there would be cronyism and corruption and that even it would not be clear who was advising what and who would taking different positions and who was making the final decision. that was very much the concern that they had inherited from the british system because it really wasn't clear if the british
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cabinet who told the king wants and who was making the decisions and who they could hold responsible for bad policies. the delegates rejected that option and refused to put it into the cabinet because they were concerned about responsibility and transparency. that is why they insisted that the secretaries provide written advice because then there would be a paper trail of evidence about who said what and it would be clear who to blame something went poorly. >> from a megan, was there some story or source that you loved cannot include in your book? >> oh my goodness, very creative question. yes, actually. there isn't, i mentioned it very briefly but i don't talk much about it in the book although i've since written other things about it but there is this thing called the articles of confederation or i'm sorry, not
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that but act of congress but i was thinking the other -- >> you call it -- >> there are articles of confederation but this is the act of congress but it's a volume washington had ordered and is basically a copy of the constitution and a copy of the bills passed by the first federal congress. he had them bound into a volume imprinted and then he wrote a series of notes in the margins and basically these notes revealed his ongoing thinking about executive power right as he is contemplating what he will do because the senate hasn't worked out and written advice is not efficient enough. these notations are incredibly important and the reason i love this document so much is that it was in private hands until 2012. mount vernon acquired it then. most historians did not even know about it until 2012 and the
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notations are rare because washington was not a scribbler in his book like adams or jefferson. you can see it. if you go to mount vernon and i've done a podcast on this and an article is also if you are interested in more of that information i can definitely share it because it's a fascinating document. >> 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 debate but it's important to note two things. one, he was there every day and hank voted with the virginia delegation. people knew how he was voting in his opinion was powerful for the second is after the end of each session a lot of the delegates would go to dinner or go listen to music or the theater and they would visit local philadelphia families so they were socializing together almost every day and you can back that they were talking about what
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they had discussed earlier and so i think he would probably have more private conversations about working with the virginia delegates to try to get certain things past. he just preferred to work in smaller groups as opposed to speaking in front of the entire convention. >> next question with brian, can you tell us more about washington's philadelphia home where some of those cabinet meetings took place and what was the homelike, the neighborhood and how did that affect the meetings? >> great question. i think this is important and something we don't often consider about how our surroundings affect us on a day-to-day basis. the home, as i said, was one of the largest private homes in philadelphia and it was in the parts of a very nice in the district on markets and sixth street but if you go to philadelphia today there is a memorial in a path of the fur floorplan on the first floor with all of the secretaries
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lived basically within six blocks of the presidents house. so do many of the elite homes and so it was a -- people say washington dc is a small world today but it has nothing on the philadelphia in the 1790s because it was a very small community and they all went to the same shops in the same markets in the same merchants and they attended the same social clubs and attended the same libraries and went to each other's homes and so that network in that neighborhood which was really important because not only could jefferson and hamilton not to each other in the actual study i showed and i was pretty small but 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 they used the same tailor to tailor their suits. the likelihood that they were running into each other was pretty good. they just could not escape each
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other and philadelphia maintained a hot house for political tensions and exacerbated these existing divisions. i think, it led to the acceleration of the first political parties. >> the next question from andrew which is i thank you will like this one, was the musical hamilton an accurate representation of alexander hamilton? >> yes and no. first of all, it is art and its phenomenal art but is not history. 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 to his unbelievable marriage was true. eliza's efforts to preserve his memory and his legacy after he died 100% correct. the duel, absolutely. but then there are things that are built out for dramatic
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effect. so, there is no record that he had a sort of romantic flirtation with eliza's sister. they certainly had a robust correspondence but it did not appear to be inappropriate. similarly, he certainly did support some abolitionist sentiments and supported the creation of the first school in new york city for three african-americans but was not as much of an abolitionist as the musical makes amount to be. the scholar family had enslaved people and often surround by slavery and didn't appear to object to it all that much. yes and no, to a certain extent. >> from james, was her talk amongst the early cabinet about who might be the next president? did jefferson make his intentions to run known early? >> great question. no, because everyone really wanted washington to keep
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serving. they felt like he was a unifying figure and the only person they could all agree upon and at a time when agreement was hard to come by and so there wasn't all that much conversation for jefferson retired at the end of 1793 and went home to monticello and swore he was done with politics and everyone knew that wasn't quite so. but he never said anything about wanting to be president but at the time is 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. jefferson tried to put that image out that he didn't want to serve and do not want to be president and wanted to stay home. it wasn't until washington announced his intention to retire the people started talking about the other options.
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>> now we have come to our last question, unfortunately, it is from a shin. it's a good one. why is it called a cabinet and why not a counsel? >> a question. the term cabinet comes from the british, like so many things in the american political system and american culture, so initially there had been a privy council that the king would meet with two discuss issues and get their advice in the privy council met in a very large ornate chamber and in 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 in this tiny room was called the kings cabinets. that was the description for really small rooms at the time. so this group became known as the kings cabinets counsel. eventually counsel was dropped and he became the cabinets.
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cabinet signified a less official position within the government. counsel tended to be written into legislation so virginia, for zumba, council states the device the governor with new york and so cabinet was intended to convey more private conversation in a more private relationship. by 1792 americans were referring to washington's meetings as cabinet meetings. >> perfect, thank you so much, lindsay. once again the book is the cabinets from harvard university press, i can't say enough about this book. i learned so much about george washington and also about political institutions, the creation of institutions and certainly about the creation of the cabinet. we are now going to go back to the stewart for our conclusions were leaving. >> thank you, colleen and lindsay. i can say that i work at the
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white house historical association and learn something new every day and i've learned a great deal just listening to this conversation this evening. this is the first edition of something that we would like to continue. if i could get your feedback, if you have suggestions for the future send us a message to our website or through the comments on this facebook live session. we would also like to invite you to an event we are hosting this thursday at 5:30 p.m. eastern, 4:30 p.m. central and it is 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. his son, the great grandson of president truman, will mix a special cocktail that i understand was a favorite of president truman's. if you like to order the book, the book we've been discussing
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today, it's available on the white house history, white house historical association website. go to shop . white house histor. it's discounted for purchase and you can get your copy there today. stay safe. we look forward to seeing you on your next addition of white house history life. have a good evening. >> tonight on the tv, former federal reserve chair is interviewed about the coronavirus in the current economic downturn. he is the author of the courage to act, and firefighting, the financial crisis and its lessons. after that conversation with former secretary of state condoleezza rice on the ongoing covid-19 pandemic and the national security. it begins at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span2. >> sunday night on the tv on "after words". author talks about growing up in the idaho mountains with survivalist parents in her book,
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educated: a memoir. i think my mother did a pretty decent job of homeschooling and by the time i came along she had seven kids, she was a midwife, herbalist, there wasn't a lot of homeschool going on. i never bothered my mother or took an exam and there was never a thing like a lecture. >> at 10:00 p.m. eastern former u.s. surgeon general with his book together on the impact of loneliness and health. >> [inaudible] 20 of my subjects scroll through their e-mail mindlessly and it's a question that comes up and i don't need to do that. it's so acceptable so i fall into it but it does dilute the quality of our conversation. silence science tells us clearly we cannot know not -- [inaudible] this is why i think that it's


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