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tv   Author Discussion on American Unrest  CSPAN  April 24, 2021 3:35pm-4:41pm EDT

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once we have the ability to travel and hold in-person events, it will be my privilege to support an event with you. but this time, to an event in our beautiful public lifer r library here and truly thank you to you and to our audience. i know they're in the process of -- [inaudible] book festival's official bookseller, and i know for a fact that i will be ordering many, many more for myself to give to others. thank you so much, and i can't wait to host you again but in person here in san antonio. >> thank you, the raul. thank you for the questions. >> thank you so much. it was really a thrill to be here. >> thank you. >> hello, everyone. welcome to the san antonio book festival, and this panel, resistances anew, i'm brian
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davies, and i'm excited to be part of this conversation, celebration of literature and books and ideas. our authors today are dorothy whit ken and h.w. brands. if you haven't done so already, we hope you'll consider purchasing their books. the agitators and the zealot and the emancipator. as you know, independent bookstores have been challenged during the pandemic, so we hope that you'll support them and these writers and the festival by purchasing their books. just click on the buy the book button on the festival site. and if you have a question for our authors, you can just use the q and a box, and we'll get that processed to you and try and incorporate them during the conversation as we can. so first, let me tell you a
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little bit about our two authors. dorothy is the author of "the agitators: three friends who fought for abolition and women's rights." and also "the new york times" best seller nothing daunted, the unexpected education of two society girls in the west. nothing daunted was a times book review editors' choice and was named the best book of the year by "the washington post," atlantic, entertainment weekly and the boston globe. she's the executive editor of the new yorker since is 1996, ao writes for the magazine and hosts the weekly podcast politics and more. she and her husband live in westchester, new york. h.w. brands holds the chair in history at the university of texas at austin. he has written more than a dozen biographies and histories, two of which -- the first american and traitor to his class -- were
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finalists for the prettier prize. his -- pulitzer prize. his latest book -- [inaudible] okay. we're going to talk about these fantastic books, and let me get our two authors to interact with each other, talk to each other. both have theories about strong individuals that are working to end the nation's greatest sin, which is slavery, and also do more than that. it was the wonderful for me to be able to sit back and read these books because together you know, they would kind of bounce off each other. i was getting a full understanding of the complex issues, complex times, interesting people. so let me ask you, i'll go to dorothy first, give us an overview of "the agitators." >> thanks, david. it's great to be with you all virtually through new york, and my story takes place in western new york. and it is a history about three women who came together in the
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town of auburn to fight to oppression of women and somehow to help overturn slavery. and this began with the three of them in the early 1840s. they became -- initially were collaborators on the underground railroad. harriet tubman, as every american knows, was the greatest conductor on the underground railroad, and because of her contacts with these two women, martha wright and francis seward, right in the middle of new york state she was able to draw, it was a convenient dropoff place for her when she was extricating people from slavery on the eastern shore. both women, francis seward and martha wright, had underground railroad stops in their basement kitchen. so there it is in short, and i look forward to talking to bill sol more. some more. >> all right. so, bill, if you want to talk about the overview of your book
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and the two characters that you focused on. >> okay. i'll do that, dave, thank you. and i'm also going to take the opportunity to pose my first question to dorothy. because it's one that arose in my writing about john brown and abe a ham lincoln. these two men -- abraham lincoln. these two men were born in the first decade of the 18th century, and it was a time when the attitude towards slavery had not quite slavery. a lot of people kind of thought slavery was wrong and unfortunate, but not at the top of priorities of things that needed to be removed. a lot of people looked at slavery as a necessary evil. thomas jefferson took that view, george washington, henry clay later of kentucky. but, so the story of john brown and abraham lincoln is in part how they came to their views about a slavery. now, before the story ends john brown is probably the most vehemently or quite possibly the
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most violently opposed to slavery person in the united states, and he literally wages war against slavery. abraham lincoln is equally opposed to slavery, but he has a very different view on how slavery should be combated. and so how they position and the difference, thediverging views they take, okay, we agree slavery is wrong, what are you going to do about it, that's the difference between the two. but the story that i tell is the evolution of the thinking of john brown on slavery. and john brown tells a story the, there are a couple of moments of epiphany for john brown. one is when he's a young boy, he's 8 or 10 years old, he's praying in ohio with another -- playing in ohio with another child who happens to be black. john brown is vaguely aware of slavery, but he doesn't know what it means on a personal level until some guy that turns
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out to be the owner, comes around and beats him on the head. john brown, all of a sudden i realized my position was very different from this person's position. and abraham lincoln, he was in his late teens, and he had been hired to float a cargo of flat boats down the mississippi to new orleans. and for the first time in his wife, he witnessed a slave auction. and lincoln remembered that was when he realized there was something really wrong about slavery. he'd been aware of slavery, but he'd never seen the process by which people were sold just like cattle and horses were sold. and so i wonder if for the three women that dorothy writes about, i'll ask dorothy, can you identify moments when they came to the conclusion they came to regarding women's rights, for example, and regarding slavery? >> yes, absolutely. and it's a big question so i'll try to keep it relatively simple. i'll start with francis seward
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who was the wife of william h. seward, was one of the great political figures of the 19th century, lincoln's secretary of state. and she was, she was, unusually for women at the time, she was very wealthy, and her father gave her a good education. so she got -- and she was a big reader. she read john stuart mills, she grew up believing in the idea of natural rights. she believed that women and black americans should have exactly the same rights as white men had which is, you know, quite unusual for a woman of her class. she, however, had never seen slavery. she married william h. see wrd when -- seward when she was 19 and he was 23. she had some health problems, i think it was in 1835, get out of the house and spend some time with her husband who was usually off campaigning somewhere, they
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took a trip down south. and as they entered virginia, she began to see the whole land scape completely different. it just seemed -- and they stopped one day at a tavern or a country inn. and they were in their carriage, and they heard the sounds of moaning and weeping, and they looked and saw a -- of little boys between 6-10 tied together by a rope and being driven to a horse trough to drink by a slave trader who was taking them to richmond. this was, to her -- then they were shoved into a shed to sleep, to sob themselves to sleep. and francis is seward was extremely sensitive, and she couldn't get over this sight. it ruined the entire trip for her. she says she wrote in her diary at the time slavery, slavery, the evil effects are constant
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thely before me. so -- constantly before we. by the time they got back to new york, she was a complete, convinced abolitionist, and she had decided she had to do something about it. it took her a little while to figure out how to do it. martha wright, her close friend around the corner, was a quaker, and martha was a born rebel. she was incredibly outspoken and funny is and was middle class. shed had six children, she was burdenedded down with all of this house work and taking care of the children and her his. but her mother, her father had died young, and her mother, who had grown up on nantucket and where the quakers, there was a very strong quaker community, and where women historically had done exactly the same work that their husbands had, they just believed absolutely in the equality of men and women. her older sister was a great early human rights advocate,
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basically taught martha everything she came to believe about the evils of slavery and the absurdity of women having to live a life constricted to their houses. so she was, she was, you know, very much ready to embrace both causes. and she and francis quickly became friends once she moved -- once martha moved to auburn with her family. and so the early 1840s in this very conservative town, the two of them would get together and conspire. and they would exchange pamphlets that were revolutionary and talk about all of these things. but it really was the presence of harriet tubman who liberated herself from slavery in 1849, walked out of slavery on her own without -- her free husband would not accompany her. walked, she had learned all about the underground railroad network through contacts in southern maryland.
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she walked to philadelphia, which she knew about as a free city where she would be able to get work and where there was this amazing abolitionist network. she got to know every abolitionist in town including lucretia mott, and lucretia introduced her to martha to give her a good contact can for her expeditions which she was already planning. and then martha introduced harriet tubman to francis seward. that's how that amazing collaboration got started and this friendship, and these women of different classes and races would absolutely in this same set of revolutionary ideas, they really goaded each other and made it possible for each of them to pursue these rights in a way that she enabled us to do. >> go ahead. >> can i ask another question? was thering something in the
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water of upstate new york that caused that part of the state to have these reform movements that sort of cropped up all over the mace? from the great awakening, it seems to be bubbling up with reformers. i'll ask your reaction. why there? why not in connecticut? why not in pennsylvania? >> yeah. well, i think, you know, new york was still being settled, you know, early in the 18, early 1820s and so on. so, you know, it wasn't -- didn't extend much further west than auburn at that point. and settlers, as we know, tend to be a little bit more liberal-minded and less hierarchical. and also the evangelical movement just happened to be extremely strong across the state. and so these camp meetings, and i read about this in francis seward's letters, these camp meetings were taking place, and most churches in that era were
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very conservative. calvin arist and, you know, man was born in sin, and these evangelical preachers -- it's hard for us to think about to today, but they were considered very left wing. they believed that slavery was a sin and that women had every right to speak in public which at the time was considered a ludicrous idea. so a lot of new york state was -- so syracuse, for instance, and rochester, they had very conservative pockets, but they also had these communities often comprised in part of free black people who had liberated themselves from slavery and then settled in new york state and gotten their jobs and were full members of these communities. so by the time the fuming ty slave act of -- fugitive slave act of 1850 is passed --
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[audio difficulty] are told that they have to return finaltive slaves to the south -- fugitive slaves to the south, a huge uprising to sir ruse, rochester, auburn and other cities because they know, we abolished slavery years ago in our state. so conservatives came around to this idea who had never given slavery any thought before. >> so, bill, your book, "the zealot and the i chance pater," is zealot is an interesting choice of words when talking about john brown. and typically we are taught that john brown was this lunatic growing up and that he was unhinged and irresponsible and attacked harper's ferry. is this a rehabilitation of john brown? is he -- where does he -- was this a good idea? to hit harper's ferry? >> i mean, no.
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harper's ferry was a really bad idea, and, in fact, the badness became apparent or to frederick doug has before the raid took place. john brown had known for frederick douglass for some years. when douglass was living in rochester, brown every time he would go east to raise funds for his various activities, he would stop in and talk to douglass. so he planned this raid on harper's ferry, and he said we need to talk. he hadn't told douglass exactly what he was going to do. i'm going to launch this raid on harper's ferry, and we're going the hand these weapons out to enslaved young men, and they're going to rise up. and he said you need to join us, you need to join us. we'll have so much more effect if you do because i you have credibility that none of us have by ourselves. and douglass said, no, i'm not going to do it.
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and part of the reason, douglass was somebody who had a sort of -- [inaudible] he ned for his own freedom, and -- fled for his own freedom. basically, he was a writer, not a fighter. but the other thing was, and this i can only infer, because he didn't say it exactly to brown, but what dozens realized was that brown's raid was basically a suicide mission. there was no way this was going to succeed. and the reason it wasn't going to succeed is precisely that douglass, like harriet tubman, had walked to philadelphia for freedom. and in both places they had sort of waited until the moment was propitious. they didn't just blindly go. if your life is on the line, you sort of weigh the odds and what are your chance for success. and douglass knew that brown's effort was not going to succeed because the --
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[inaudible] 99% of them would say, forget it, i'm not going anywhere near those because i don't want to get killed. what makes you think this is going to work. and that, indeed, was the response to the john brown raid. so john brown's raid on harper's ferry was a bad idea. but, i mean, the question was, was john brown a madman. no. my answer is no. it served the purpose of lots of people at the time to say john brown was crazy. it served the purpose of abraham lincoln for one, because lincoln had to put as much distance as possible between himself and john brown. heed said that john brown is not a republican, i am not an abolitionist, i am not going to bring violence total south. you know, we're going to operate in the constitution and the rule of law. and a lot of southerners, they wanted to say john brown was crazy too. why would anybody attack this institution of slavery? but if crazy means out of touch with reality and listening to
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some -- no, john brown was not that at all. in fact, john was an enormously persuasive person precisely because he seemed so logical and rational. and when he made the argument that he made for his opposition to slavery, hot of people who otherwise wouldn't -- lots of people who other side wouldn't have responded did. one of the things i never entirely figured out is what the, where did this magnetism come from? even people like the governor of virginia after brown was arrested and put on trial, he was interviewed by the governor of virginia, and he was put on trial for treason against the commonwealth of virginia. he was trying to overthrow government of virginia, he was going to set up this alternative state. and john brown was wounded, nonetheless, he so impressed the governor of virginia i'm not going to say the governor was about to change his mind about slavery, but he thought that john brown was this honest, upright person. the ironic thing is that some of the stuff that john brown was telling the governor was, in
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fact, lies. so he could really project sincerity in a way that was very convincing. >> and, bill, you know, he was so, so deeply religious. he was this kind of old testament figure, and he really, really believed that if, that it was his, you know, god expected him to overattorney slavery. and one of the way -- overturn slavery. and one of the interesting ways our books dovetail, i wonder if you could talk about that, how do social movements happen? how do revolutions occur? and it takes, it takes incredibly savvy politicians like lincoln and like william h. seward who was very careful about, very, very anti-slavery but knew that they couldn't constitutionally overturn the slavery the way the abolitionists wanted them to do. so there's this, so you have the outsiders, and the women were definitely way, way outside, you
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know, conventional, you know, belief. and so john brown was violently outside. but somehow you needed the two, and this is something that seward himself recognized. he kept -- he maintained correspondence with lots of militant abolitionists including garrett smith who was a big figure in new york state and became quite -- was a friend of john brown's and became very, became, you know, was a supporter of violence in the end too. so just maybe talk a little bit about that and how, where you came down in the end on sort of lincoln's overall views about slavery and his perspective on john brown. because, to me, john brown was disastrous at the harper's ferry raid, he was the precipitating factor in the civil war.
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>> yeah. so i'll answer that question in two parts. one is that john brown had a huge advantage over nearly everybody else in this movement, an emotional advantage in that john brown rarely among the abolitionists was someone who basically walked the walk even while talking the talk. most of the abolitionists, they were talkers and writers, and they were just enormously impressed, overly impressed by a man of action like john brown. and well they could have been, because john brown had the courage of their conviction. he was putting his life on the line and, ultimately, he gave his life to the cause while they were just sitting in rochester, concord, you know, someplace like that. so he had an advantage over them. and precisely because of this, he so impressed people like emerson and smith and all these other folks, and because they knew that they didn't have it in them to do what john brown was doing.
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but the question of -- so that's how he was viewed by his contemporaries. his peers in the abolitionist movement. how should he be viewed by history. well, so the answer to this question depends on an inponderable. and the question is was the civil war necessary to end slavery in the united states. and if we think the answer is yes, then you'd have to say, yeah, well, john brown -- well, first of all, either way, whether the civil war was necessary or not, john brown turned out to be on the right side of history. and so, yoke, you're going -- okay, you're going to give him credit for that. and john brown is a very straightforward figure, and we live in a town where there are -- in a time where there are straightforward views on slavery. abraham lincoln did not have the commitment to the equality of african-americans that john brown did.
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abraham lincoln never voluntarily moved to a colony of free blacks as john brown did and basically commit himself to treating them as equals. he also had the luxury of irresponsibility. lincoln and seward and other people who chose the political path, they had to be responsible and had to answer not just to the abolitionists, but to everybody else. so if you think that the civil war was not inevitable, that slavery could have been ended without a civil war, then i think you've got to say that john brown went too far. before the raid on harp harper's ferry, he was responsible for the brutal murder of five pro-slavery settlers in kansas. and that was an act of cold blood. if you come to kansas thinking that slavery's going to be planted here, this could happen to you too. brown was trying to do in harper's ferry. he didn't actually admit it, but
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by any assessment, he was trying to start a war. and if you think the civil war was ineffable, then -- inevitable, then you'd say, okay, he just got there first, and his was the trigger that started the end of slavery. and people like frederick douglass came to believe this by the end of the civil war. but at the time of harper's ferry, lincoln believed that slavery could be ended in the united states peacefully. he believed that slavery could be ended in the southern states by the same effort that it was ended in pennsylvania, massachusetts and other states that ended slavery, by a decision of their own people back into the legislatures. .. for the first year end a half from april 1861 to the
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proclamation in 1866, my job is not to end slavery, finally he concluded all along, you can't save without ending slavery so in the second inaugural, lincoln said the civil war had been necessary to slavery. 700,000 people to end slavery. he said if every drop must be paid for by a drop of blood drawn by the sword, it may be the will but if you think slavery could have been entered otherwise, we got to think okay, john took things in the wrong direction and helped cause a war that didn't need to happen. slavery was just about in every other country of the world so there's nothing inherent in slavery that says you have to
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kill hundreds of thousands of people. they could have been smarter if they hadn't been so on it, most of the blame is on the south but you can imagine an alternative universe in which there wasn't a slavery, then you can say i don't know. >> i do want you to talk about harriet tubman and john brown. >> yes, that was one of the most big moment for me and i don't know if you got into this yourself but yes, very much cultivating frederick douglass, really wanted him in that but even more in some respect, harriet tubman to lead so in 1858, desperately trying, i
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can't even remember how many men, a half-dozen men or something, pathetic, he can't create this war so he goes to see harriet tubman in canada where she's living with her family who she rescued from slavery, she knows about her heroism and thinks she's the perfect person to lead his men. he's a monster of a man, just wildly obsessed with her and asks her, and you gather for me men who have been in the underground railroad so i can convince them to join my army? they have a little session, john brown makes his pitch and he calls her general tubman and when he writes to his son, he assumes harriet tubman has signed on. he's completely convinced and they meet with him later on
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harriet tubman, my interpretation is that harriet tubman never had any intention of joining that suicidal crusade any more than later with did that's where the personal stories of these women come in. while john brown frantically crisscrossing the country trying to get on the odds of the federal authorities and raising money and getting built from this crusade, harriet tubman just bought a house from francis and offered a mile down the street, it is incredible. women don't buy and sell houses, they certainly don't for slaves but these women are good friends at that time, it's convenient for tubman to live in new york with her family in canada.
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she signed the document and has to raise money for her mortgage. at the very time when they are getting ready to head there so she goes to boston and that's where john brown, the supporters lived and she knows many of the most famous abolitionist but doesn't get phillips so she says to john brown, i'd like you to introduce me, he is thrilled. mr. phillips, general alpine, the greater chair on the latter, or some such. it was fascinating that tubman, and away turned the tables on john brown. she was a great leader and feel free to correct me but he failed at every business enterprise he
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had ever taken on, he was not a very good leader as we saw, went wildly wrong and of course harriet tubman new it was doomed to failure but at the same time, had to raise her own so she knew john brown boston to get to know some of his contacts so she could have money to pay her mortgage so this is where we sometimes focus on people who are way off to the side of history and more conventional historians just had the thought to explore this suddenly it made sense to me and she was way too savvy to have done this and it's so true, he's a literary man, he wasn't cut out to fight wars,
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she was a real fighter she was going to fight on her own terms and she let her own excursions, they were very different and she never failed once. she went back to maryland a dozen times, rescued 70 people and she said late in life, she said i can say i've never lost a passenger and it was true. >> this was one striking thing about the abolitionist movement. there were those people who actually freed slaves john brown did, too. he managed to guide a dozen slaves to canada but most of the abolitionist were writers and talkers and they could talk a big game and write a big game but what have you actually accomplished? it wasn't there. you are absolutely right, to john brown's failure.
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like many people, john brown found his way to his calling by process of elimination and he tried various business and failed he tried be a military leader and he failed at that. the harpers ferry was a brave gesture but utterly wrong as anybody with any military sensitivity, i've never been in the military but i've been to harpers ferry and in the middle of the night under another name, you're never going to get out of that once people wake up because you had mountains to climb and rivers to cross the striking thing is he finally found his calling jail during the trial awaiting execution because it's interesting to read his letters from jail and the accounts of people who visited because for every moment of his life from the time he started waging war against slavery until harpers
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ferry, he assumed he was of greater value to the abolitionist movement, his commanding horses and all this, he realized the that it's greater value to the movement and the one thing he finally got his being a martyr and that is why john brown is remember. as a martyr, he gave a symbol to the abolitionist and this was almost a soul achievement of john brown so of course that's often the essence of modernism, it's a great thing at the moment of death and then is forgiven and forgotten. >> he becomes a christlike figure to his supporters and harriet tubman did review him, he was a hero to her even though
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she didn't approve of his particular methods and she left him because he had a white man set out to sacrifice his life for her people. >> yes, you have to give credit to that, no question about that. >> the tile title of the book, it could have been the water they were both martyrs. >> you can certainly say that. i thought carefully what i should call john brown because i wanted something slightly provocative but not too much. i could have called him a terrorist because in kansas was certainly terrorism but of course if your in favor of the cause that a terrorist, but that
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would be the fact -- as i conclude, the people who hardly complain about the label zealot, he certainly was valid and macon the emancipator, that's critical but it is true they were giving their lives to the cause. brown a little more directly, he went into the battle that might be the end. lincoln was assassinated so it wasn't exactly the same although there have been attempts on lincoln's life before that he could have, i suppose, taking greater care but these irony throughout history but in the histories of these two men in particular because john brown wanted to start a war and free slaves. he never got started with the exception of john f. kennedy. abraham lincoln tried to avoid
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war and then the war began, he tried to avoid mixing to get mixed up with slavery so he failed in preventing the war so lincoln, the one who chose, he tries to pull the path of nonviolence, do things peacefully. he wound up leaving the country during the most terrible war in history. when war began, he did not intend that this would be a war for slavery. it wound up being four for slavery and ended, it didn't quite and with slavery. lincoln was right finally, lincoln said all along that slavery was the end of the united states through either the decision of the states themselves or changing their institution but slavery did not end in the united states at that
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time. even until after the end of the civil war. >> i totally agree with you, at the beginning of the war secretary of state and lincoln were in complete agreement about this, there message to the american people would be this is a work to save the union, not a war to end slavery. in my book, this is huge contention to life. he gives, lincoln is out and springfield, he's been elected, desperately trying to keep the country together and in lincoln's absence as this premier he calls himself and he gives a final speech in the senate and says political affairs, it's not always exactly
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right. we just have to compromise. she's in auburn, she hates washington where slavery is legal and she writes to him, she calls him henry. she says how can you say this? you've devoted your entire political career to end slavery, how could you think holding the country together is more important than frame millions of americans? that's the difference between the abolitionist and antislavery publicans who are desperately trying to figure out if there's a way at least at that time to keep border states quite. so for both of them, for the evolution of the views, he was
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very reluctant in the emancipation proclamation which is industry. >> and in your book, you have the quote from harriet tubman talking about how god would not allow lincoln to win the civil war finally he came around to the idea. >> yes and she was so brilliant in herself, she was such a strategy and looking at it from her perspective, the perspective of her people but to her, frederick douglass was not to allow blackman to fight for the country and it took a very long time for the lincoln administration to come around to this idea. she just said your white sons are going to continue to die you will lose this war unless president lincoln corrals the
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black man to fight. he finally does and amazingly, in the second year of the war, she gets permission from the abolitionist governor of massachusetts, goes down behind military lines into south carolina, the union occupied territory, 10000 african-americans have been freed and desperately need help in social services so she's helping with that but her real mission is to help the army to liberate and ahead of lincoln's permission coming to an list blackman they go to war and harriet tubman takes part where
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tree plantations are torched in 750 enslaved people are liberated so the history is mind-boggling but when you see from tubman's perspective, it makes complete sense and it's true, once these black soldiers are trained, they turn out to be good soldiers. >> lincoln had two reasons to take the position he took. following lincoln's election, seven of the 15 states were immune. eight of the 15 slave states had not succeeded. the ones who had not including virginia, where most of the slaves were, lincoln understood there was no way if he couldn't
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save the union, he couldn't free the slaves lincoln's position was saving the union as a prerequisite for free slaves. lincoln believed the constitution, guarantor of all american freedom the freedoms of all would be at risk. we've got to save the constitution, then you can talk about freeing slaves. we can do at the beginning of the war, after south carolina militia, lincoln issues a call and ask for 75000 volunteers. what does he ask them to do? save the union. again knew perfectly well asking for 75000 volunteers to free the slaves, they wouldn't have showed up. nothing like what was needed so lincoln had priorities straight, it's understandable.
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don't you realize slavery but lincoln's position was first things first, make sure the unions survive and then we can free the slaves but even then, lincoln knew proclamation on authority of commander-in-chief, military measures, even then he knew that this was constitutionally sketchy because during wartime, commanders siege the property of the enemy. you see is there crops but at the end of the year, your expected to give the nonconsumable stuff back. he realized if the war ended constitution had not been changed, there would be lawsuits where they would sue the federal
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government they would have a big case to make so in the next breath, he said now we have to get the constitution cap the 13th amendment and this is why lincoln and lincoln get the house of representatives to approve 13th amendment? it might never pass and then in perspective of slavery. >> no question. the other people who understood finally necessary for the woman's rights.
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they band together with their abolitionist and then launch the women, the biggest campaign in history on either side of the atlantic. susan b anthony, the deputy to those two women, they sent out these, they'd been petitioning for years for women's rights and they thought and totally believed that amendment and then they thought this amendment passed, their abolitionist friends would return the favor and make sure that women got the vote. of course it didn't happen that way but that was incredibly important and in congress, senator charles sumner was a great friend of francis.
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she liked it a lot better than her husband's political views so she writes to sumner and says what can we do? he says send the petitions along as soon as you can, they need opportunity for speech so they get these tens of thousands of petitions, he sends them down and gives a huge presentation. there are all of these wonderful moments in american history that have been lost in its own to put them together again what was required along with, by the way, maybe you could speak to this, all of the lobbying required by lincoln, all kinds of things,
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just follow the right number. >> harriet tubman's premonition, it's spooky that writing about her premonitions and how much weight you give it. >> in the end, my goal was to tell what i know, people responded to them there is no question that people who are with tubman thought they were deeply uncanny so she was in new york when john brown, it went so wrong at harpers ferry, she came with a friend came downstairs and the french recorded in said something terrible has happened to john brown and the next day his arrest was announced so
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there were many episodes like that throughout life which yuriy and inexplicable but i will say she didn't have space and with this head injury when she was enslaved as a young girl and an overseer trying to catch and they threw it at the young man and hit her in the head and cracked her school and it caused neurological damage and gave rise and gave her terrible headaches and blacking out in the middle of a sentence and coming to later so who's to say she projected to her minister? she said to her pastor, that she
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died monday so there you are. >> how does she account for in this? did she think she was hearing messages from high or what? >> it's rather like john brown but even more, she heard god speaking to her, she fully believed, she was very religious, she read huge passages of the bible about god put on earth to do what she did, liberate her people and also help every woman she possibly could. not only through the course of the civil war but her life after her 48 years in new york, practically until the day she
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died. >> if we were to look at these books and use them as a blueprint for social change, what should we learn, to change the constitution? >> i would say effectively require emotional commitment of people like john brown but they shouldn't be guided by people like john brown city need that but they don't succeed unless they have the practice. they don't succeed in the united states as long as we have the constitution because permanent change takes place through our constitutional system you have to have a lyndon johnson as a california trauma martin luther kueng and people like this. the changes they place, effective and last are ones that
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have both. you have to have the emotional energy, so somebody like john brown. john brown is the son of the movement and things can go off the rail and you need lincoln but sometimes he didn't fight by himself or didn't do all this stuff so the ones who can somehow manage, it's rare to find them by their very nature. so somehow if you back either one, then it's all about extremists sometimes you don't generate the energy necessary to get through the opposition. >> we still have equal rights amendment and it's something the
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characters in your book would have supported. what can we learn in the long haul? >> absolutely, i kept thinking while i was writing the book and it took me a long time and right now, going through extraordinary changes, we have seen i would say the grassroots movement, the grave injustice in america, so antidemocratic, it often gives rise grassroots groups, black lives matter, the need to movement, directly out of the causes centuries earlier were fighting for. it's those grassroots activists, sometimes they are, they often are but they force politicians
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to go further than they feel comfortable going so look at bernie sanders and aoc the left wing of the democratic party and how far it made joe biden go. he's a democrat from the 1990s, he's been there forever, he was very moderate. his presidency so far is not moderate and it's not because he's been forced to grapple with some of the things he hadn't been willing to do earlier, murdering black young men, filing the country and it's got to stop. >> in your book, the agitators, where they really agitators or
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they more under the radar? >> i think you can be an agitator under the radar. and since, francis who seemed familiar and traditional shy, if you read the letters back and forth between her and her husband, she was agitating him almost every day to the 1850s and through the civil war to go further and further. be true to your conscience. when she was in washington, always saying to think about the party and she was safe till about the party? harriet tubman was a much more obvious agitator but francis had a lot further to go given her background.
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integrating the neighborhoods in new york, this is integration and 30s to 50s. >> writing about abraham lincoln and john brown you would think would be all exhausted but you gave us more work. what i love about other history we have, there was an underground railroad in texas, south texas helping escape slave freedom in mexico and mexican americans and indigenous people build the slaves to get the. as a story being told, do people even though these things? >> i do think people know.
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one thing, i teach history to freshman and sophomores and you take your spot and try. >> the pages about the attack on secretary by the assassination, the grand conspiracy and that led to the death of francis and trauma. 1865 when her particularly, can you talk about that?
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>> here's the story which is what i piece together what you can from original sources, 21 within the war ended. , that night abraham lincoln multiple conspiracy and one of the victims in late at night, they came out and not only attacks her in that and had it around his neck which might have saved his life, this is awesome be almost to death his gun, and
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the others on was injured as well and she's reading to her father the time trying to recover from the accident, she witnesses this entire attack and things and writes in her diary and says blood, blood, blood is everywhere. i slept in my brother's blood. she confided at first because they pushed him off the bed, a horrifying scene and francis was asleep another part of the house and she was will open up by the noise and lights were turned down low and can't figure out what was going on and she doesn't know and then she sees her older son, his school
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cracked open and what has happened? for husband is almost dead, it's astonishing. she spent the next five or six weeks around-the-clock with other members of the family trying to nurse her family back to health. >> we are out of time. part of that night sugar america and here again the books, be zealous and emancipated and i want to thank our guests, thank you for being part of this book festival, appreciate it. >> you can buy the books, click on the thing here and that will
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support the book festival in the bookstore, appreciate it. we are going to sign off. >> tune in tomorrow 1:00 p.m. eastern or more. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪
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the heritage foundation in washington d.c. recently hosted a virtual but with author and historian, george nash and shares his thoughts on the state of conservatism in america. >> in 2021, americans conservatives are in a state of acute anxiety convinced they are under siege as never before their losing. commanding heights of the federal bureaucracy, news media, entertainment industry, high-tech corporations and educational system preschool graduate school and dominated by people who seem increasingly hostile to conservative beliefs. in social media and elsewhere, identity politics and ideology of woke appears to rain main
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supreme council culture operates impunity. having conservative vulnerability is a recent trend that appears to be accelerating. it's concerns call america's civil religion. for many years, nearly all american conservatives have believed the american experience has been a success story and at the heart has been a commitment to individual liberty and limited government and the philosophy involved in the constitution and declaration of independence. today for many americans, this story no longer appeals. large number of young americans are being taught the essence of american experience has not been freedom like slavery and even
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now america is in systemic racism which raises a troubling question. the young generation of people talk to and despise their political heritage, reachable by conservatives defended the american believe in american exceptionalism still persuasive. >> watch the rest of his booktv.org. use the search box at the top of the page to look for george nash. tonight a book to be in prime time vaccine product starting director heidi report on what influences public thoughts on the covid-19 vaccination. military conflict affects our lives religious liberties are
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under attack and john would grow has the effect ongoing violence of children in america and starts at 7:00 p.m. eastern tonight. >> welcome to the official book. i was excited when i was asked to host this conversation. for those of you who don't know me, from the chief of global policy and external relations. the 100-year-old education nonprofit that's worked on same issues in the search for common ground. reason i like the book is it is so well with a lot of things i've been worried about in my life. i wrote a book

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