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tv   [untitled]    February 25, 2012 11:00am-11:30am EST

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in this year, 1862, frederick douglas resides in rochester, new york, where he moved in 1847 after his return from a more than two-year sojurn in great britain. he moved in part for security and safety from self and his family, although at that point, his legal freedom was purchased that very year by his british friends. he would knno longer have to li as a fugitive slave. rochester was an enclave of anti-slavery neighbors. he is in at this point the 15th year of editing the longest lasting black anti-slavery newspaper ever then known as "douglas' monthly." he travels constantly as the
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single most sought after orator in the land. he is at this point in 1862, the author and in many other anti-slavery newspapers, hundreds of hundreds of speeches, some of which are already regarded as the rhetorical master pieces of american reform and of abolitionism. he is the author of two auto biographies. the first published in 1845. already a classic by the 1850s through multiple editions, a best selling book by any measure in the 19th century. and ten years later, a second book "my bondage and my
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freedom." he carries the story up through the middle 1850s and more mature and more revealing personally and much more politically ideological auto biography than the first. both of those books had attained literary fame in the united states and in britain as the best exemplars or some of the best exemplars of the american genre of the memoir tradition. at this point in time in 1862, frederick douglas is the most famous and important black person, or at the time, he would have been called an american negro or a colored man in the world. his name and his visage already tied to america's peculiar and now bloody struggle over slavery
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and freedom in the world's model republic destroys itself by 1862. in this year of 1862, as the civil war grinds on in its terrible path from the conflict of political aims, the social order and economic system as it is in the south on one side and the preservation of the national union and in tact united states on the other. as those limited war aims are being transformed all around us, as the scale and purpose of the war were undergoing the revolution to determine whether racial slavery will survive this war or become, in great part, the reason one side or the other
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may win or lose this struggle. no american in reality or symbolicly looms more important than the most famous fugitive slave in the world. frederick douglas. a little more on his background. he was the son of harriet bailey. in all likelihood, her white master. although we don't know for sure and he never knew. he came into the world and probably the cabin of his grandmother, betsy bailey, who had a cabin and a relatively independent economic life and more than 20 children depended upon her at the bend of the
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tuckahoe river in the maryland shore. betsy bailey, his grandmother, was a master fisher woman who would wade in the tuckahoe river with the nets. she was sort of queen of the neighborhood. she was the only semblance of a parental figure douglass really had. at age 6, he was sent to live at the plantation by the former governor of maryland. during his two years living at the plantation, which he called the great house farm, frederick saw his mother for the last time in 1825 when he was nearly 7 years old. she died the following year. he had virtually no real memory of her, but he kept trying to invent her. at one point, he saw an image of
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one of the egyptian kings. ramsey's iii or v. i forgot. a male figure, with such beauty in the face, he decided that's what my mother looked like. he never knew the identity of his father, but he never stopped trying to find out. the two likely candidates were aaron anthony, his first owner or thomas ault, his second owner. he never truly would know and we still don't. he was sent to live in baltimore to be the companion in 1827 of tom ault. the nephew of his owner. one of the great breaks of
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douglass' life was becoming an urban slave boy. it was there that his mistress taught him the alphabet, gave him language. something his owners would live to regret. as did maybe others. no one took to words and language quite like this kid. we can't explain entirely his extraordinary gift for the music of words. the music of language that he heard in his head. but he did have a few sort of teachers. and one of them was sophia ault. until her husband, hugh, ordered her to stop teaching that boy words and language. slaves are not to be literate. but nothing could stop him. he learned about language in the streets of baltimore from little
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white boys. he made real friends among the little white boys. most of them irish immigrants. until they reached the age of 12, douglass wrote about boys being natural believers until they turn about 12. he was sent back to the eastern shore in 1883 because his owner, aaron anthony died and all of anthony's slaves had to be parceled out. he had no less than 14 brothers and sisters and first cousins, sold south from the eastern shore of maryland during his lifetime as a slave. the 20 years he lived as a slave. his lucky break was that his new owner was to be thomas ault, who
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sent him back to baltimore to live with his brother, hugh. again, i would stress had he not had the fortune of going to baltimore and living in the urban environment, we probably wouldn't even know who he was. it was in baltimore that douglass sort of began to see pieces of the world. he lived two blocks from the docks of baltimore's harbor. a major american seaport. it was there where he learned a craft and he got into his first street fights. he had to defend himself. it was there where he learned clan destined ways to learn language and smuggle newspapers under his pillow in his loft bed and try to read at night by a candle. it was there that he began to learn the worst part of slavery
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wasn't physical bondage, but mental bondage of he h. he had to find a way to get out of the shore. to thomas ault, he worked in the store in st. michaels. he is a 16-year-old boy. he was always complaining he was hungry. he had never done field work. he had never been a field hand. and ault had him out doing every kind of field work. now growing frederick bailey now hated it. a ault was the first master to whip him. he wasn't very good at it. ault gave up. for the better part of a year, rented douglass to one edward covey.
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edward covey became douglass master for a year between the ages of 16 and 17. edward covey beat douglass and terrorized him and broke his memory and broke him and lost his will. at one point he fled back to st. michaels and begged to be taken away from the fiend. ault said no. go back the next morning. he went back the next morning with his tail between his legs. it was a sunday. edward covey did not beat slaves on sunday, but on monday morning, he met douglass in the stables lifting hay. with a switch and according to
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douglass, he resisted and they fought, claimed douglass for two hours. i never believed that fight lasted two hours. maybe 20 minutes. who knows? according to douglass in the pivotal moment of his life as a slave, the way he portrays it, he fought back physically with his hands and he fought edward covey and beat him. now, under the law and under most circumstances, douglass was in mortal danger, but covey did nothing about it. douglass interpreted it as covey worried about his reputation. nothing was done to douglass. he served out his time with
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covey. covey never again laid a hand on him. there is an extraordinary remembrance that douglass wrote down in his first auto biography of a day that he spent on covey's farm and i just want to read that passage because i think it is the most beautiful and lyrical and penetrating metaphor in all of anti-slavery literature. douglass remembered a day on covey's farm and i could take you there. i have been there with other people and you can walk out on this ridge and you can see what douglass saw. our house, he wrote, stood within a few roads of the chesapeake bay. whose broad bosom was ever white with sails from every corner of
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the habitable globe. douglass then captures the idea of freedom. possibly as well as any american ever wrote it. those beautiful vessels, he writes, robed in purest white. to terrify me with my thoughts of wretch ed condition. i have in the stillness of the summer saboth and stood with the tearful eye the sails moving off to the ocean. the sight of these always affected me powerfully. my thoughts would compel utt utterance. i would pour out my soul's complaint in my rude way to the moving multitude of ships.
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if you ever go glance at douglass' narrative, he then quotes. he puts his words in quotes as though he is quoting his teenage memory. it reads, "he speaks to the ships." you are loose from your moo moorings. you are freedom swift winged angels and fly around the world. i am confined in bands of iron. oh, i were free. oh, i were on one of your gallant decks. alas, between you and me, the waters roll. go on. go on. oh, that i could also go. could i but swim? if i could fly. why was i born a man?
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the glad ship is gone. she hides in the dim distance. i am left in the hottest hell of unending slavery. and that famous passage, douglass reaches an early height in his craft as a writer. appealing for deliverance from enemies testifying from the tattered faith, douglass wrote what might be called his own psalm. in the decade before the civil war, and i think maybe ever since or now, readers of any persuasion if they are reading, can sit with douglass in the dark nights of their own soul along our own chesapeakes and
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feel the deepest yearnings of human freedom. we all had chesapeakes. the look across. chesapeakes of which to escape. now, >> we're having some technical trouble with the program you are watching. we apologize for the interruption. we are working to correct the program. we hope to return to the program shortly.
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>> we apologize. we lost our signal there from
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the library of virginia. here on american history tv on c-span 3, we are bringing you coverage of the person of the year in 1862. the premise is if "time" magazine would be around in 1862, who would they choose as person of the year. five historians have been invited to speak. we have been hearing from david blight. we hope to have the signal fixed for you. his nomination for person of the year in 1862 was frederick douglass. we want to let you know we are taping the event. we will have it later in the program's check. robert krick, the chief historian and military historical park, his nominee earlier was thomas stonewall jackson. two out of five historians so far. we have opened the phone lines throughout the day, too. we will do that later as well. also online at, we
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have tweets if you want to give us your thoughts. send us a tweet. it is #poty1862. we pose the question on while we continue to work on the signal from richmond, virginia, we are working on that. we hope to bring you the rest of the event. in the meantime, a look at the civil war on c-span tv. >> this week on american artifacts, we visit the center for education and leadership across the street from ford's theater where john wilkes booth shot lincoln. the center is the newest edition to the ford's theater campus on 10th street in washington where you can learn about the life, death and legacy of lincoln. paul tatro talks about the center's purpose and goals.
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>> we are in the center for education and leadership. directly across the street from historic ford theater on 10th street in washington d.c. behind me is the tower of books, which is a concept that really started about five years ago to visualize and showcase the unending quest to learn more about abraham lincoln. this tower of books represents, as we all know, that abraham lincoln is the most written about figure in world history next to jesus christ. we believe that ford's theater is the location in washington d.c. to learn about lincoln and his legacy. it's one of the things that we do better than anyone else. we are able to marry the concepts and the excellence that we bring to theatrical
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productions. we teach the oratory programs in the theater. all of these are jumping off who lincoln was as a brilliant leader. this center is what that is all about. >> for more information about the ford's theater education and leadership center, visit their web site at >> and back live on american history tv on c-span 3. we had been bringing you coverage from richmond, virginia of an event of looking at the person of 1862. this is a forum that is co-hosted by the museum of confederacy and library of virginia. we have had trouble with the signal. we are recording the event with richmond. one way or the other, we hope to have it for you. we expect to go back live very shortly. in the meantime, we want to
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remind you that you can participate online. send us a tweet at #poty1862. same on facebook. who do you think the most influential person of 1862 was? we hope to go back and hear more from david blight and hear from his person of the year in 1862. his nominee was frederick douglass. let's see if we can go back and hear the rest of his conversation. >> there were many places to stop here that i don't have time for. he was a bitter critic of the linco lincoln administration, as many of you know. he was a bitter critic of returning fugitive slaves. he called abraham lincoln the most powerful slave catcher at one point in the land. he hated the colonyzation in the
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country. especially him being the czar. and one point calling lincoln the colonyzation preacher. he hated that meeting lincoln held in august of 1862. the five black ministers from the washington d.c. area. no black abolitionists invited. he told us we would not be having this but for your people. >> we apologize. we solved part of the problem with the video signal, but the audio is having difficulty. that is david blight speaking about his person of the year selection for 1862. this is an event happening at the university of virginia at richmond. it is put on not the university, but the library of virginia. it is put on by the library and the museum of the confederacy. we are working on getting you a
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better signal. we are working on that. we are taking your comments online as well. for the past year or so, american history tv has been looking at the 150th anniversary of the civil war. the civil war ran from 1861 to 1865. over the course of the next five years, you will see more historical programming here on american history tv. >> each week, american history tv's american artifacts takes viewers behind the scenes at archives and museums and historic sites. 15 years ago, thom lilleanquist found a civil war bullet in the park near their virginia home. the find sparked an interest in the conflict. they soon began collecting photographs of union and confederate soldiers. in 2010, the family decided to donate more than 700 of these
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amber and tin types to the library of congress. the last full measure, civil war photographs from the family is an exhibit of 379 of the images. american history tv visited the exhibit to learn more about the unique collection. >> this is the very first photograph that we bought in ellicott city, maryland. he had a somber look on his face. that is one of my favorites. the photograph that we used on the library of congress web site, it didn't bring much money. it is cracked down the middle in two places. which reminded me of the nation cracked in two. he's a 16-year-old boy cradling a rifle musket and the flag in
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the background of the painted back drop. where it cracked, the red that was painted on the stripes of the flag, you can see it leeching. who did the nation turn to save itself? these young boys. just very powerful photograph. you can blow up that photograph to a real high resolution and get a close look at his face. it is incredible. >> when the family asked to have the photographs at the library of congress and have the photographs laid out as a beautiful patchwork quilt and that quilt has come to be very special to me in that it tells what the stone monuments to the civil war and the history books can't convey. it is that opportunity to look directly in the faces of the people who fought or were close relatives to people directly engaged in the war. on the surface, it might look as
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if each of the pictures is similar. but not only were the photographers talented at making the soldiers look like unique individuals, you will notice how incredibly young many of the soldiers are. you will see how much they look like your brother or cousin or somebody on the street today. the past is so much like the present at times. you feel a kinship or a friendship for them. finally, the photographers offers that opportunity to have your shade or shadow captured. you could bring to the event how you wanted to be remembered. not someone else, but your idea. they would bring knives and guns, their hats or best-dressed uniform. even if they borrowed parts of it from a colleague or the
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photographer himself. you get a sense for how they wanted to be known. it's like the past talking to you directly. >> my favorite photograph is right here. it is a little girl. she looks like she is about 6 or 7 years old. she is holding a picture of her father. she is wearing mourning ribbons. when people wear mourning ribbons, that usually means someone died or a tragedy happened. she is holding a picture of her father because her father is dead and he probably died at war. you can see when you look in her eyes that she is just devastated and she just -- i mean she is just so sad and depressed that her father is not around anymore. >> do you have a favorite here? >> my favorite photo is right below it of the africaer


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