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tv   Pocahontas at the National Portrait Gallery  CSPAN  February 14, 2015 4:35pm-4:59pm EST

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e beating up nazis on the docks with no due process. hoover was sort of cleaning up the mess. that would have been the main area of sabotage. their original mandate was to come in here and identify nazi sympathizers and german organizations in this country. they vastly overstep that and did all kinds of spying on our politicians and meddling in our own political process before they were done. that is what happens when you invite your allies in. >> i found a copy of the official history of british intelligence in north america, how reliable is it? >> it was commissioned by william stephenson in the latter months of the war. when you commission your own official history, you are
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covering your ass. it was written by his closest and favorite lieutenants including the academic and later columbia scholar gilbert hiett. he was married to helen mcinnes which is interesting because she was writing anti-novels that made the nazi atrocities about which was also propaganda in the form of fiction. i believe they are recognizable for the style. it is fairly academic and dry. suddenly, you will come across a chapter that begins, looks like a goat, in terms of one politician, and another politician looked like a horse. this would be dahl trying to liven up an official report.
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i used it it -- heavily would be an overstatement. there are portions that are more reliable than others. the dahl section -- i know what he was doing every day. i knew where he was. i could compare it, track it with his entry in the history and substantiate many of his claims. i was willing to use him there. other claims made by stevenson i don't mention in the book. i don't think they can be substantiated. certainly not with any records we have now. they claim to do all kinds of accomplishments that are more controversial. i tried to stay when i could prove and triangulate with other documents. the british have an enormous
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amount of records that they are not obligated to release them. every five years they come before parliament and people petition for them to release them. and parliament goes, no. and they lock them up again. i'm not sure we will ever see them. any more questions? thank you for coming. [applause] >> coming up next, we visit the national portrait gallery in washington d.c. with historian and curator jim barber, who gives an in-depth look at one of the museum's oil paintings titled "pocahontas." the images of the native american woman who married an englishman named john rolls in the early 1600s. this program is part of a series called face-to-face, about
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important players in the struggle for justice in american history. >> >> hello, everyone. i'm can cook -- i'm ian cooke. this afternoon's face-to-face talk pocahontas. face-to-face is a series designed to highlight the best of our collection and explore some of the surprising historical connections within it. it might seem a stretch to connect alexander hamilton with mark twain, but as a matter of history, we do it all the time. jim barber is a historian here at the national portrait gallery. jim curated our current collection about the city, its intrigues and operators during the lincoln administration, and organized an exhibition of original art commissioned by "time" magazine for their covers about half a century ago. you could visit these shows on
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the second floor well jim puts the finishing touches on his next exhibition about babe ruth. please welcome jim barber. [applause] >> welcome to the national portrait gallery. we are in the third oldest public building in the city of washington, behind the white house and the capitol. the fourth oldest public old incas across the street, the post office. it is really a museum of history and biography that uses art as a medium. we are going to look at a conscious -- pocahontas. what is a painting? it is an oil painting. we don't know much about either to be honest with you. when we think of pocahontas, we
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think of several things. we think of jamestown. jamestown, we think of captain john smith, who arrived in jamestown in may of 1607. jamestown will be the first permanent english colony in america. we also think of pocahontas, her father. he was the grand chief of 25,000 indians at the time, and there were some 30 tribes. the matter pony tribe now is what survives today for the most part. there are almost 500 and virginia, not far from jamestown.
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i will talk about the portrait her life. i will talk about the portrait where it came from, why is it here, and then i will make some sense of the other portraits that will follow in this series in february and march. i mention those individuals we think of. pocahontas allegedly saved his life. the oral tradition, which has been passed down from the indians, is a little different from the version that captain john smith wrote about after-the-fact, when he got back to england. there are two different versions.
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they don't always agree. it is pretty well established that pocahontas was instrumental if not saving captain john smith's life, at least freeing him from captivity. chief powhatan's brother captured captain john smith. pocahontas elyse played a role in freeing him. this established somewhat that are relations between the indians and this new colony of english people. the indians were uncertain about the englishman, and englishmen were uncertain about the native indians there and of course there was a language difference. another individual we think of in relation to pocahontas is john rolfe. john rolfe will be another
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member of the virginia company of london, and this is a commercial endeavor. jamestown wasn't a tour boat that came to america. the people that signed onto this they did not really know what they were going to find. they were hoping to find gold and silver and precious metals, and maybe lumber and whatnot. it turned out to be a cash crop that was going to be the profit-making substance to make all their efforts in the new colony worthwhile. that cash crop is going to be tobacco. that is where john rolfe comes in. he pretty much founded tobacco in virginia. it wasn't the native tobacco that was sort of bitter, but the indians smoked. it was the sweeter caribbean
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tobacco that comes from trinidad. think of cuban cigars and whatnot. john rolfe will play a big role in this story because he will end up marrying pocahontas and they will not stay in virginia very long. he wants to show the folks back home his new bride and this is a commercial endeavor too. they sailed back to england. he thinks this will be good for the virginia company to sort of show off what the natives are like and how well everyone is doing in hopes of getting new investors. they married in 1614. they have a son the next year
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thomas rolfe and they sailed for england in 1616. this all happens very quickly. i will stop there. well, they stay in england for a year. pocahontas is introduced to the king and queen, king james queen and -- anne, royal society. she is looked upon as american royalty. she is an indian princess, and her husband -- her father is a very powerful indian chief in the new colony of virginia, and so she is somebody. she can't be wearing buckskins issues in indian princess.
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what you see in this image here is of english royalty. she would be dressed for court. let's actually turned to the portrait. what are we looking at? this year is also the 20th anniversary of another thing we think about when we think about pocahontas disney, the disney movie, " pocahontas." when that movie came out this area was oftentimes an entertaining place to eavesdrop. more often than not, there was some student that would say "that doesn't look like pocahontas." well they are right. it did not look like an indian that you would find in the new world.
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who dresses in court dress like this? it doesn't really look like pocahontas. so what is this, exactly? this is a painting, and we don't know much about it other than it is very old. we have for the date after 1616 but the image is authentic. right under here you see this, and it says in the latin, old english, and indian in this text here, but in the letter and it says "of the age 21, 1616." this painting was actually done from a print that appeared in the book of kings in 1818. it sort of reverses things.
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apparently when she went to england, there had been a portrait done of pocahontas. usually if you look down this hall here, you will see a portrait of benjamin franklin. that is the new one dollar bill of benjamin franklin. the process would be to paint a portrait, and then from that portrait you make a print, an engraving, which is what the $100 bill is made after today after that image of franklin. there must've been an original portrait which has been lost from that, was made that original engraving of 1616, and his portrait was then copied from the old engraving.
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but this is old. where did it come from? it came to the gallery as a gift from the national gallery of art. they acquired the portrait from the andrew mellon foundation about 1942. let me just turn here before i go on to actually -- the engraver, or the portrait painter put some information down here. let's take a look at that and see what they thought was important. it says, [indiscernible] or rebecca. you will not see the mention of pocahontas on there.
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pocahontas was her nickname, and a playful one. her christian name when she married john rolfe became rebecca, daughter to the mighty prince powhatan emperor of his nation in virginia. she is converted and baptized in the christian faith, and wived to the worthy mr. thomas rolfe. we have learned that this has been repainted down here. whoever did the conservation mistook the old english john and put thomas. he must've been thinking of the son of pocahontas and john rolfe. the son went with them to england.
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he was one year old. he will stay in england, and he will not return to his homeland until he's about 20. in 1635 he returns. powhatan has her member tim. powhatan dies shortly after pocahontas dies. pocahontas never comes back. she will die in england of disease. she's on her way back, but before the boat even leaves harbor she becomes ill. she is buried in england. her son will return 20 years later. powhatan has remembered him. he has given him 30,000 acres of land. he comes back to reclaim this, and it is from him where the descendents of pocahontas.
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if you go on the internet, you can google pocahontas descendents. there are some 2000 of them. you might wonder, how can that be? it's interesting. we will think about that a little bit just an thinking of our own ancestors, but before i do that, the person of real interest, the owner of this was francis burton harrison who gave this portrait to the national gallery of art. he was a descendent of pocahontas. he was a descendent through his mother. the parents are interesting too.
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back to francis burton harrison, 100 years ago he was the governor-general of the philippines. he was born in new york, and although his roots were virginia he did not ever really live in virginia, never really spent much time in virginia. he is buried in the philippines. he sought out this portrait that was done in england, and he sought out the owners of it and acquired it. he's thinking about his ancestry and whatnot, even though he never returns to virginia. the father, burton harrison, is from louisiana. he's not a virginia harrison.
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he has nothing to do with the lineage of pocahontas. he was president jefferson davis' secretary during the civil war. he will become acquainted with a virginia woman whose name is constance curry fairfax. she was of fairfax, old virginia, and she will then eventually marry mr. harrison. this is where the lineage comes through francis burton harrison. think about that. that was important to him. how do we remember back? it has been estimated there are 16 generations from the time of pocahontas. if you consider that for a little bit you had parents, you
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had the grandparents, and then there would be 14 greats. let me ask you, talk about oral tradition that you could remember, think about your greats. you have eight to great grandparents. how many of you know their names? you have 16 great-great-grandparents. did you ever think about that? how often have you visited their tombstones or whatnot? things can get lost through time. this is why we have places like the national portrait gallery so we can keep track of people and events and whatnot. there may be people still that are related to pocahontas and don't know it.
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the former owner of this portrait, although he really didn't think much about virginia, but he knew that his lineage went back to pocahontas. now, how does all this fit? what comes next? next month i will talk about a portrait of an african-american that was born free, i wrote all bridge. he became an actor. this was in the early 19th century. he could not make a living. he was black. he went to england, and that's where he made his name. the connection here is really james down. in 2007, virginia celebrated two
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anniversaries that were noteworthy. the 400th anniversary of jamestown, and the 200th anniversary of robert e. lee. when you think of robert e. lee, you think of old virginia, first families, and you think of the civil war. you think of the civil war, you think of slavery. it just so happens that that ira and robert e. lee were born the same year, in 1807. we're talking about slavery and all that. and african americans in the country. the third and last portrait will be senator dirksen of illinois. he played in


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