tv Linda Colley The Gun the Ship and the Pen CSPAN May 2, 2021 8:55am-10:01am EDT
it's such a great pleasure to welcome all of you to the knights conversation, a conversation between linda colley and my jayson jas. they're here to discuss "the gun, the ship, and the pen: warfare, constitutions, and the making of the modern world." i'm going to just hold it up for a second so that we have it sort of online site as we talk. it's just out like a likd it's already been recognized by jill lepore in an amazing piece in the new yorker that i saw yesterday as a masterpiece. in a minute i will introduce our guests and then i will bring them up on the screen before someone to give a quick shout out and thank you to princeton university humanities council. they are sponsored for tonight and were a great help in getting the word out.
i want to point out two important buttons on the bottom of your screen. the long one, green long one is a link to buy a copy of the "the gun, the ship, and the pen" from labyrinth, and if you -- you can get 10% off your entire order if you prefer to order over the phone, send us an e-mail and i will put all the information in the chat. and then there's and ask the question button. use someone has already found that and it's just that, it's the place to put your questions as you think of them and then i will be taking the chat down, join the conversation so please use that button instead and feel encouraged to put your questions in the queue as you think of them and i will actually help us make sure that we leave enough time for the q&a. so now on to our guests. i just mentioned jill lepore
glowing review of this book from which i will quote only a sentence. if the were a nobel prize in history, linda colley would been my nominee. and in some ways enough said, but suggest a few brief biographical details in addition. linda who is professor of history here at princeton and also a fellow of the british academy as well as distinguished advanced study started out as a historian of britain but for a long time now for work is centered on global history. i won't list all of her acclaimed and prize-winning books. i will just mention the early and influential britain, forging a nation -- really still at work in her new book now on the constitution.
-- books from which we know her as an expert explorer of the long trajectories of ideas come of identities across the globe. that skill is now reconfirmed by the vivid example in "the gun, the ship, and the pen" which are persico to russia, to tokyo with lots of -- in between. and how great that my jason up, linda's former student here and now professor at harvard. she's the author of also celebrated, also prize-winning and also best-selling books. that our liberties, exiles and american loyalists in the revolutionary world which won the national book critics award and other awards. edge of empire, lies, culture
and congress in the east. and -- joseph conrad. my copy of "the gun, the ship, and the pen" just arrived late last week but i will say it is already abundantly clear. throughout the book linda -- between aspiration and achievement. so how is it that the constitution, a document, so deep associate with emancipation and peace and human rights, how is it that they had so often produced -- in tandem with imperialism and war, violence? and we learn very quickly that that is not so much a paradox as it is the complement. lind also reminds us that constitutions don't simply an act. they also narrate and they telll
a story about a nation and its people. so here now to pull at some of the threads of the many varied stories and underlying themes and lessons are linda colley and my jason off. i just have to click two buttons to bring them up to you. welcome, linda. >> it's wonderful to be here. >> good. and now maya. good to have you both. i will just duck out and let the two of you take it away. >> hello, lindy, how low audience. it's lovely to quote-unquote see you here and have a chance to celebrate this achievement, "the gun, the ship, and the pen." and i wanted to cook off, first i should alert the audience to the fact that this is a book of
is truly global. the phrase global history is used very widely these days to refer i think i think to take on board more than one place. but between these covers are the histories of pitcairn islands and japan and russia and the united states and south america and nigeria. this is truly global history. it demonstrates something that you do exceptionally well, which is to pull together the history of politics and ideas with the histories of people and practices on multiple scales. i'm hoping in in a conversatn some of that will become clear to the audience. i wanted to kick things off this year, when you first started working this project it was characterized as a history of constitutions. and yet the first two words of the title are guns and ship. this manifesto became a history
about something well beyond constitutions. can you tell us how about a book about constitution became a book as well about war? >> what i wanted when i set out on this book and finally worked out what it was about, because as you know it took some time to work out what you are writing, i wanted to do two things. constitutions go back a long way to ancient time, but i wanted to trace the takeoff from about 1760 whereby you get different constitutions that are mass produced, printed, and they start spreading at an exponential rate across continents. i wanted to tell that story and explain what happened, and i quickly realized that i could
not tell the story without looking at war. war in many ways is more important in this story than revolutions. wars and revolutions interlink. the other things i really wanted to do was to take constitutions out of the rather narrow compartmentalized slots in which they were often kept, that these were rather specialist documents. when i started this project and tell people what i was doing, they would say oh, constitutions, that's interesting. and i wanted to take them out of just the constitutional space. i wanted more than just -- [inaudible]
>> there are many, many ways in which you unsettle -- which i think most americans carry around about constitutions. perhaps foremost that kind of reverence that americans hold constitutions in, and it's so early in the book that i think many angles will become clear about one of the things i was particularly struck by was a book, once you imagine a book about constitution would have the founding fathers around the table and thus not all where you begin. you give us instead, for example, catherine the great with her quill pen setting up to write a new order. can you tell us a bit about with whom -- more picture of constitutions really begins and why those people and what were their aim in getting involved in
the writing of the constitutions? >> well, asthma as the et i'm an outsider -- accent suggest i'm an outsider. [inaudible] so from the one level i didn't have that kind of instinctive reference that you espoused. which is partly why, i mean, i wanted to use start in the 17 '50s because that made sense but also wanted to do it, signal that what happens in 1787 -- [inaudible] and as to catherine the great, women, issues of gender are part of the story.
but i really wanted not just to talk about how women -- [inaudible] but also to get a female actor. and catherine the great was a wonderful catch for instruction that she composes. which is published in so many languages, was a marvelous example because she's such a great character. i was very pleased to write about her because even today she is written about -- in media, very much in regards to our not so private life. and her ideas -- except by
russian specialists. also i wanted to bring her into the -- here it is somewhat thinking about -- [inaudible] before 1776. [inaudible] >> she also is one of the many figures interested in constitutions who again not particularly inclined towards democracy in any way, shape, or form. it's an american assumption that constitutions go where republicanism, democracy, expansion of fries and so, yet in your book there are many examples of how they are used to reinforce imperial, not dictatorial power. i was really struck in this regard by your portrayal of napoleon of the figure in
history of constitutions. i wonder if you tell us about the role of constitutions in empire building and, frankly, his dictatorial rule? >> well, i have to say that, and you know, -- my many american friends in the audience i apologize but i think many of them into a symbol in philadelphia in 1787 would have included themselves as democrats, not in regards women, not in regards to -- [inaudible] even whole white males. so democracy and even spread in the story, but why did i want -- for the same reason i wanted to stress monarchies. the idea that constitutions overwhelmingly to do with the
republic. they can't be because certainly after the first world war most states outside the americas are still monitored and many of these states already have codified constitutions. empires, too, are using constitutions increasingly. napoleon does so with a quick calculation. i really enjoyed writing about napoleon who loved writing and also of course loved fighting, but he might be using manuscripts -- and what he hopes to do by issuing, and sometimes writing constitutions for his
conquests, is cemented control over them. he's quite happy to give them male democracy if that's what they want, not women of course. what he wants in return is the manpower. and the connection of the constitution and getting wartime finance and wartime -- is very, very -- [inaudible] >> you sit at the outset of a conversation the 1750s was a natural place to start the story. this of course is an era of global war on an unprecedented scale. who benefits from these kinds of documents? after all war had been going on for a very long time so what is
special about the mid-18th century and thereafter that makes this instrument surge? >> as i say, they are not accidentally new. england has experimented with its own version of the written constitution in the 1650s. but what starts making them work more from the mid-18th century i think two things. first of all the print and a literacy are spread faster. so you can use these documents in new ways. you are not just issuing things and nobody really knows that. they can be read and they can be put in newspapers and stuck on walls and things like that. that's one thing you've got much easier way to communication.
but in addition you've got various pressure to do often with war, , as they say at one level, almost wanting to raise more men, wanting to raise more taxes. to begin to think how they can do that, and i constitution is the kind ofe contract very ofte. we will give you, the mail, more rights. we will give you more religious toleration, but in return you will accept restriction. but also you're getting pressure, and that interested me. a great classic example of that is tom paine who, i mean, the only job that tom paine manages to hold onto for any part of his
life is as a tax collector. he collects excise taxes in england which is the main source the british used to finance war. and as he collects of these taxes, he begins to develop a -- [inaudible] which is another way that war, taxation, states the man's are bleeding into the lives -- he begins to say what we need constitutions for is to limit the kind of ruler. says they are not just giving taxes -- and making people fight. the organization of the state now affects us more and so, therefore, we should think of ways of control.
>> one of the other great figures who plays a big role in the book is jeremy benson, and another of the clichés of constitutions in the english-speaking world of course as you've already alluded to, how wonderful is this that they have a written a set of mentions, and yet as you show the british were enthusiastic participants of the constitution, perhaps no more so than been some. where does he fit in this? >> london is really important for the spread of constitution, particularly in south america, in the 18 tens and '20s. hardly because london is so
fast, it's the biggest city on the globe by 1820 pickets got the most advanced drifting networks. it's got the most advanced and biggest mercantile marine and port network. so if you are a revolutionary or if you are a political exile, one very obvious step is to come to london, where there is a much of a -- were on the whole if you go model with the british politics you get left alone. and an awful lot of constitutional writing and constitutional -- takes place in london. you see the whole session of people from ball of our right up
to linen and indeed beyond coming to london, using its facilities and using the transport and information networks of the global british empire to carry out their own deeds. happens again and again. britain is one level out of the game but very much involved in the game. >> so one of the anglo societies that plays a striking role in your accounts is pitcairn islands. what do we need to know about pitcairn islands other than being able to locate on a map which i i imagine most people would have little difficulty doing. >> well, it's where the men --
with their tahitian companions meet up finally on this tiny, rocky island in the south pacific. by the 1830s you get american whalers landing on pitcairn island, and they say well, where is your charter? generally, sure? -- can we come ashore? at the time a scottish naval captain arrives in 1838, and rights the pitcairn a constitution. so for the first time this
constitution which endures until the 1930s gives women the vote on the same faces as men. this is quitete extraordinary ad i think it also shows incidentally how different places influenced each other in these constitutional gains. the scottish naval captain -- part of the reason he does what he does. but also the main reason the nonwhite population at the site has a strong set of -- [inaudible] and certain tahitianet traditios give women physical problems but also -- its own ruler has been
experimenting with his own code. so i think what you got emerges in the episode of pitcairn is a mixture of influences from different parts of the globe. >> than many, many ways in which constitutions are the means of a taking rights away fromm people or granting rights to some which by extension limit them to into others,zed and yet you do show with tdd, with hawaii, efforts by nonwhite men, women, to assert themselves. how does that fit in with these questions about warfare and empire and the ways in which constitutions can be great
mechanisms for the gathering of power by ravenous states? how do these indigenous sovereignties managed to use constitutions to quite different ends? >> well, sometimes they try and the fail. that often happens, but sometimes not so much. great examples which a talk about is what happened in hawaii, which it clearly, over the 19th century, increasingly threatened by being taken over by the united states, which of course is what eventually happened. but what the king of hawaii tried to do by issuing a constitution, which they first do in 1840 and then the various hawaii hawaii constitution after
that, they use the constitution which again issued a different languages come sit around the world, to say look, here we are, an independent monarchy and state, and we are modern. because this is a sign of our modernity. we have a constitution. therefore, and they spell this out, we are not overtaking. we are not here to be colonized. we will show that we are civilized, , that we are modern, that we can govern ourselves in an advanced way. the hawaiian king set up a two house government. the monarchy set certain constraints. there's a lot c of education,
printing, and what happens on hawaii is really quite astonishing, and i would say lacking benefit from some great work for what people are done in hawaii -- [inaudible] growing hawaiian nationalist movement. what happened with that we don't know. but as an adult -- [inaudible] >> a great example a space that you discussed the use of the constitution inhe this way but also fortu empire building and r is japan. >> yes, indeed. i mean, japan is increasingly threatened by europeans but also
america's naval power by the 1860s. [inaudible] also a mini revolution. at that point it is determined by the victims of japan will have its own constitution, which is eventually implemented in 1889. this is a classic example of a nondemocratic constitution. it's a monarchy and it's also increasingly and empire. aca's japan gets its constitution and it is fast modernize before that, it starts increasing taxation. it starts building up its army and navy. it starts expanding into
different parts of, against landmasses like korea. but japan becomes, if you like, a poster child of many anti-colonial, anti-western activists, nationalist in india, egypt. and in china, look at japan which is modern in some ways, not in many others, and successful in war and has a constitution. but here's a case of creating a ibfibrin constitution which is going to last until after the second world war, which is important, which both helps it with its empire, but also
encourages anti-colonialist forces because it's an example of how a people which is nonwhite, non-european has played against -- [inaudible] >> going throughgh the art geographically, this book is a sweeping in many ways, and, of project on wrote a the scale, requires immense learning and dedication and research. it also requires immense discipline at knowing what to keep out. i wonder if you could give us all a bit of insight perhaps into things that you made the choice at some point along the way to keep out, to push to one
side, i i that you wish you cd have included are that your certain everybody's going to ask why you didn't include, if you could give us insight as to what ended up on the cutting room floor. what else could have been there? >> well, i mean, there's so much that i could've talked more about india. i could have talked to more about germany. but as you say, global history is incredibly difficult to pursue. it's fascinating. it's difficult to do.y it's also challenging. it's challenging because it often outrages national preconceptions, what part of the reason for doing this, but i suppose at a certain level, i mean, this book took me ten years to formulate, to think about and write.
i take this opportunity to thank my home university, princeton, but also to thank in particular the history department. because for ten years i have made myself a complete nuisance i think too many of my wonderful colleagues, grabbing them in the quarter and say can you give me a reading list? is a right to say this? what i be right to translate that work this way? because this is thenl only way,s you yourself know from your work, that the more you spread yourself, the more you investigate connections and divergences across the globe, the more you become dependent on the kindness of friends and the kindness of strangers.
>> one of the things that we have discussed about global history before it spread, it does spread very wisely, and s what are the consequences of that is it's often to be written through the lens of economic politics, diplomacy. you know, it's a little more schematic shall receive in the sort of granular typegr of history, characteristic of cultural, historical work. and yet you bring this alive with all kinds of scenes and characters and personalities. how do you in your own sort of research process and thinking and writing, how does that relationship work for w you? the discovery of the scene or the character and the catching of that scene or the character to a larger schematic idea driven concern? you sort off hit a theme and say
yes, this must be in the book? this is an animating moment. how does itmo work? >> and again i'm sure that, right, with you a lot of it is serendipitous, if you come across a beautiful example or a wonderful character. .. danger of letting it out of control and letting it. so i have to work out and organizing way because that is so important. i finally decided i would organize each of which is rooted in place and is solely about
people. and that's how i did it. in 1765 and the last name chapter starts in 10 years on the eve of the execution of thejapanese constitution . but i was traveling to singapore partly because again, i suppose it connects with the process of getting constitutions out of the first i wanted to add the literary element. many of the people who involved themselves in constitutions, [inaudible]
the main author of the japanese constitution would be for another. these people were involved in trying to write it and they involve themselves in constitutional documentsbut they may do other things . [inaudible] and he runs a newspaper e]and he writes books forchildren . and you see this again and again, how people involved in these acts are also involved in other kinds of writing. it's important because constitutions should not be a debt in the context of literature.literature invests them and yes, after
all these documents are indicative of many of the things literature at this time. >>: one is an economical text that people might have in the household along with the survival of shakespeare and dictionary or whatever maybe. speaking of them as a literary genre is rich. >> i mean, my example is norway, the 1814 constitution that's the second oldest still stand. and norwegians are encouraged to take pages of the constitution on the walls, the inner walls of their houses . to serve as information but also so that in it, the
symbolism is extreme. this is a way of domesticating organization of their state . >> so maybe i'll ask just one more question before we turn to the audience, i'm not sure how many questions for you. so one of the things that course you argue that what op held the prison together was accommodation of things which i by the late 20th century were not so much in evidence anymore. the empire, the wars with france and then anti-houses in and so on and sure enough evolution followed and many things followed from your arguments in britain. turning to this book which i see very much as a counter argument but maybe part one of the question is do you want to part two of the question is you know,
famously in the us, the reference for the constitution has led over the last century or so. now in the us as amended in the wake of this idea. pulling back to the role of war, and the writing of the de constitution, we have in the us now almost 20 years war and i wonder if you see something about the present state of affairs in us that may have for the ability of the constitution. in the years ahead. so many fascinating questions that i don't know where to start.
i think that constitutions face fines of, they always have but there are new challenges to constitution. the fact that we get our information through documents rather than paper is one of them. but also the course has changed, the idea that to meet these new changes the political system in order to get more men to come and fight and so forth, warfare is like that anymore.you just. [inaudible] so that is another point. and i actually think in the
united states there is all the fact that the u.s. constitution is very difficult. and the farming it but it also is a basis for coming out of state. you compare this to the other long-lasting constitutions or living constitutions and they're always changing. i'm not saying it's necessarily better but it is i suspect adaptive to a 21st century world. in a way that the u.s. constitution has not been in. and i realize there's an area
where reverence can inhibit the necessary information. >> thank you for that. i think he will emcee the question i want to thank all of you for the conversation. it's been wonderful to listen in on and i'm glad also that you sought to talk about the craft because it is such an absorbing book because of this marriage between faith and people and then ideas so it's all quite wonderful. there are a few questions here in q and also beginning with one that has me patiently sitting here for the beginning of this.
>> that's quite correct. >> there's john ãnothing in what ways do you believe a written constitution as advantages over an unwritten constitution as we have here. we also have one all the way in britain. >> i have to say the divergence between the written constitution and our unwritten constitution is often more rhetorical. actually by the 19th century many american admit that they will actually do a lot of things about the american system which the constitution is not rhetorical. conversely in the uk, there's a single unified constitution but there are not lots of
fact sheets as well as text. between the medium in scotland, they're going to adapt but i read the financial times a week or so ago. that constitutions are our problem, it's gets down to how much does democracy and affecting this either but it can be very effective. they are there and available to help interested people are. how their faith is at least either.
is the constitution is. even quite tall, indians have been able to borrow into that diffusion to establish what was, you can't do in britain. because it's not the optimist they happen to increase single.. and i think that is particularly given the speed british state stays closed . >> let me move question onthe words of the modern english title . because you understand the
damage to advocate opportunities. were there any critical of the idea of the constitution itself or if you found it more useful, how were you posted this in your post is also relative safety is wonderful. >> that you as a theoretical question which i will not remotely discuss with you. i knew the modern world in my subject and i realize. [inaudible] because so many of my excess were references to the modern world and constitutions -- [inaudible] constitutions did however
submit to languages, to the e identity where they were in a modern i and in my penultimate chapter i proposed a chinese radical lowering successful were saying 1812, that's the known state and the modern success without a written constitution. that isn't necessarily true but it's conclusively for me. that said, yes course there are different ways to find what a modern space is and again, how wise it was to do that. but normal things the
hawaiians didn't quite do is keep certain aspects of their own indigenous culture. as for as example, have been sitting in the upper house, while all are saying we are framers of the modern constitution so you can see they don't course realize it in the way that it is now sometimes realize but you can i think see aymuch more action. most see the attraction and laura of a constitution but also how they make this. [inaudible] trying to work
out an alloy which is distinctive but also used in there as well. >> and the questions are now. [inaudible] more about specific cases but i wanted to say stay with a more general one for another minute here. which picks up on your point that constitutions and democracy don't necessarily gohand-in-hand . could you find a sub argument , but it's systematic in the relationship between war and constitutions for democratic and nondemocratic regimes. we often think only democratic governments have the right and citizens complain then you find nondemocratic regimes were in fact less responsive. >> non-democratic regimes --
[inaudible] >> i'm not sure i fully understand the question. i think it is important for the question and i hope the questionthat nowhere is is it particularly democraticin the 18th century . but and clearly there are parts of the world that do not involve themselves with the regime in china. where warfare does not stimulate constitution making or clinical conception and
the same way. but i'm not sure i'm understand. perhaps i don't fully understand it. if the question is what it means to be again. >> let's leave it at that. there's a follow-up question there that you want to ask, but in the meantime we'll go to liz patton as an advocate of constitutions and the question here is from lloyd austin. [inaudible] and surprised to find nixon opposed an constitution for the ottoman empire as early as 1820 and he was influenced by the federal constitution tof the economist: so constitutions
as inherent means of warding off more democratic and nationalistic tendencies. [inaudible] did this figure into your research? >> know and this is one of more of the things that i leave out but rhetoric is part of a trend in many treuropean monopolist states early because what can you do in these earlier decades? by means of the soil he has instituted his own constitutions allover the place . you can't run against that so what many european conservatives say is okay, what we do is accept this
device but we will make it part of our own -- [inaudible] that's what many of the germans did and they still see constitutions very much about. [inaudible]. they keep the electorate small and they may make a few concessions but these are modest documents. these are very volatile documents and nefarious. >> we come to a nice question here that invites us to think about those in the system of the constitution and this is.
[inaudible] therefore an argument that may be the will be an indication among them. >> sometimes as in china because they want to resist change and i think it's clear the chinese revolution of 1911 happened because the imperial house initially thought by the end of the 19th century they would make various initial steps but they said that's one kind of resistance. but there's also, some people are just dutiful as they see it. because there is an overview
of where the move should stay. which you can find in the bible. which basically says it's paul talked about it. that the best wall is not written on tablets. it is written in the art. and some british have also joined. letting them take this view in england makes this point of the instabilities of south america and they say no, something that's internal, something that we know in our hearts looks and will survive this punitive and what they
call in a lively way the paper of the future. and they claim that idea because around 1800, it was seen as breaking down unstable and probably counterfeit and that option is sometimes why we take the constitution as much better to have substances within. >> i have to talk in the question of my own area then i'll go to the closing question. sorry i don't have time for all of them but i was wondering and thinking about all of the debate that goes into the writing of the constitution. hei'm always glad and remember the american constitution unlike the declaration of independence does not mention bonds and i wonder how
prevalent it is and if that's one of those points of common debate between the commission . >>. >> how can i put this, they tend to be more common in these constitutions and there's a big change rate that here is the constitution of taipei. which is rated by moment in saying to areas, it becomes a big influence many south americans emerging. but is also translated into a bunch of other languages including some like arabic. but the nature of the constitution includes a large
number of suits and they are determined that while they will now get its own written constitution, this constitution will not be in danger the dominance of the catholic church and will not endanger the goals of true believers. it did they feel very t strongly in the constitution and in many constitutions of cultures across the globe. they think god is speaking after the first world war and the irish constitution and the constitution that makes ireland a republic is very
much agnostic of god. this is a very catholic constitution. >> so we're at the hour and i'm going to close the question is in action what your. is there a story or single work inspired at all of your. >> i suppose. i got sucked in the global t history by lots of influences like lots of people, i was very much impressed by the history of the 19th century and different global history of the 19th century. and i won't say much from those i also was determined.
[inaudible] which is whati'm trying to do . >> so here it is again, this is the book and is my now to thank you for this hour and we have to get. and thank everyone who is long gone i'm so glad to see for many of you. if you want to see get the events you can find those on our website or you can also call us on this platform and thank you for that. i wish that i could keep following you online, i hope that you will for yourself one, both of you, all of you and stay healthy. be well. many thanks.
19th century assumed false identities to expose political impropriety and or workplace conditions area than on our weekly author interview program "after words", cindy mccain discusses family, country and her life with her likehusband john of arizona . i fall schedule information online at booktv.org or consult your program guide. >> a look at publishing industry news. norton has halted publication of blake bailey's recent biography of philip roth following actual assault allegations against the author. a publisher stop at 10,000 copies, the second printing of the book after it landed on bestseller lists and has pulled all promotion. bailey denied the charges and call them categorically false and libelous. blisters weekly reported on the future of in person author events in the wake of the pandemic.
the publishing industry news source reese reached out to several bookstores libraries and publishers to get their thoughts for the return of touring authors found that for the moment publishers and booksellers are willing to stick with virtual readings . there are a growing number of knowledge mints. in other news, simon and schuster has rebuffed a petition from some of its employees to stop publishing books by authors with ties to the trump administration including a recent two book deal with mike pence. he responded at same as a publisher we experienced outrage from both sides of the political divide and from different constituencies and routes but we come to work each day to publish, not cancel which is the most extreme decision a publisher can make and one that runs counter to the core of our mission to publish a diversity of perspectives and the late mystery writer agatha christie's home is for sale. a five bedroom house that sits on five acres of land adjacent to the river thames is lived in for just over 2.7
million pounds which is about $3.8 million. agatha christie was the author of over 80 books including murder on the orient express died in 1976 at the age of 85. book tv will bring you new programs and publishing news and also watch all our past programs anytime at booktv.org. >> i'm louise miriam, the historical society president and i am real to welcome you to tonight's virtual program. learning how conflict will shake us. it's presented as a part of our irene schwartz distinguished speakers series which is part of our public program. just before i introduce our speakers i want to recognize and thank historical trustees who are joining us this evening. first and foremost the chair of our board, the visionary