tv Thomas Jeffersons Union CSPAN February 16, 2015 4:35pm-6:01pm EST
century is gone. there were contending understandings of the meaning of union. almost always tied to ideas about liberty and opportunity and frequently enmeshed with beliefs about the place of the institution of slavery in the american republic. all of the individuals who have been the subjects of lectures in this series talked about union, from maed sondison and other framers of the constitution who drafted what they thought would lead to a more perfect union to andrew jackson who very famously referred to union in making a toast while he looked right at john c. calhoun during the nullification crisis on jefferson's birthday in 1832. he said our federal union must be preserved, to which, as many of you know, calhoun replied the union next to our liberty most dear. during the election of 1860 when four candidates ran for the presidency under four party standards, all of them talked about union. all of them wanted to be right
with union. for lincoln and most republicans the union was a sort of mystical perpetual indivisible eternal thing. stephen dug zblas whoouglas the regular democratic candidate that year stated over and over that no matter what else happens the union had to be preserved. john c. breckenridge says the constitution and equality of the states are symbols of everlasting union. and the fourth candidate old john bell, lo ran as candidate of the constitutional union party didn't talk about anything else. they didn't even have a platform. their platform was in their title. it was union. and the constitution. union comes up so often during this century which is not peter's perfect century but it is his second favorite century after the late 18th century. lincoln's vision of union rested on free labor and a voice in
self-government for common citizens and the potential to rise economically. not the guarantee but the potential. jefferson davis also believed in the union as safeguarding self-government and economic opportunity but of course he also saw it as guaranteeing slavery in its expansion. both men celebrated the declaration rfdeck clarollar declaration of independence. both invoked jefferson repeatedly and throughout their years. jefferson's ideas regarding union were complex and immensely important. they resonated throughout the 19th century on both sides of the potomac river or the ohio, if you prefer. the united states put thomasjefferson on its 5-cent stamp in 1856. only two people preceded jefferson on stamps in the united states. jorge, of course always would have to be one of this em. the other one was benjamin franklin. the confederacy put him on their
10-cent stamp in 1861. the only person who landed on a confederate stamp before jefferson was jefferson davis, interestingly enough. this afternoon peter and i are going to have our conversation about jefferson's thinking about union and how his ideas were available for use or misuse by many different people in the decades between 1800 and 1880 peter. so why don't you talk for a few minutes about jefferson and union? >> just a few minutes. >> take as long as you want. it is rainy outside. no one's going to play tennis. >> well, i'm a radio star so i want you all to close your eyes and suspend disbelief. >> peter has not only a jefferson tie -- >> no. you got to see it. >> but two jefferson pins. >> well gary i'd like to start with a quotation from jefferson and it's an interesting one. it's when he's talking about the declaration of independence as he's designing a reading list at
the university of javirginia. gary and i used to teach a course, the famous 701. that reading list included the declaration, of course. oh, i didn't write it. the american people wrote it. i'm just channeled it. he said what is the declaration? we want jefferson's simple definition of what the declaration is all about. he says it is the fundamental act of union of these states. he says the declaration gave us union. now, as gary said just before, we don't -- that word means nothing to us now. what could he possibly have meant, why did he say it. why didn't he talk instead about all those wonderful things in the second paragraph. oh all men are created equal. you've heard that one.
government by consent. the american creed, as it's frequently been described. yet for jefferson there is something creedal about union. what i want to try to do is put union and his vision of republican government together because i think we -- and many critics in the 19th century -- dissociated the two. now you say it is only referring maybe to what used to be called the labor movement in the 18th century, in jefferson's time and into the 19th century as people criticized the union they looked at its flaws. people like william lloyd garrison said this is a covenant with death, with hell, this constitution. the union is associated with the constitution not with the declaration and the constitution is the beginning of american
politics. when we still had political life in this country americans celebrated the constitution as this great reform caucus in action, as one author called it where sensible, realistic states men got together and they crafted the only possible -- miraculously, the only possible constitution that could embrace so many different states, different labor systems so much diversity. it was a compromise in other words. as garrison suggested, to have union, you had to compromise. every good historian will tell you that's exactly the point of the union right now. that's not what jefferson meant by union though. for him, it was the coming together of self-governing republics which in and of itself, the fact that the state's had their own constitutions, were governing themselves, what a tremendous breakthrough for mankind, in
idea of self-government. and then showing their genius for union in the creation of new state governments the first peoples in the modern world who govern themselves. then they've built on that to create yet a more all-embracing union. union was part of the unfolding of the republican vision. there would be future unions. the union would expand. the union was dynamic. the union was processed. the union was a movement toward a better world because what it demonstrated -- we've talked about equality. we know how important that is. we're all equal. but what is the point of equality. it enables you to consent. you can't consent if you're not equal. and what do you consent to? you consent to that which enhances the welfare of mankind.
because suddenly the people are governing themselves. they're not under the heel of despots and pirates. now self-government. and i want to tell you this ply fellow americans -- i'm getting worked up now. you can tell. >> have a sip of water. >> i better. americans, you're just going to have to wait a minute. democratic government. hold on to your seats. is an engine for moral progress. i'm channeled jefferson. i'm channeled the democratic enlightenment. once the people rule themselves, government will improve. we will no longer have coercive despotic governments. we will be governing ourselves. >> you can't have a real union if there's in any oars atcoercion
at all. >> we'll come back to that. >> maybe sooner than you think. >> really? we may not be linear here this afternoon. it may be sort of stream of consciousness but go ahead for now. it's a process. don't think of union as a fixed thing. it's not perfect. you heard what madison said. what they said about the constitution. more perfect. suggesting it's not most perfect. it's not perfect. it's getting better. because we don't understand yet what nature's god enjoins but we're figuring it out. i don't know if anybody out there is into natural religion and acknowledges nature's god unless you are a unitarian. they don't talk about nature's god in unitarian churches.
i know i'm lapsed unitarian. >> can you be a lapsed unitarian? >> check it out. this is what you get. >> from what you're saying, let me push you on something else right here. if this is a process and it's things are going toward, with any luck something that's even better with be did jefferson think this could only be -- i mean the union became very much an exceptionalist concept by the mid 19th century. is it that way in jefferson's mind? could this happen somewhere else? >> there is an exceptional dimension. you know the city on the hill idea that we've heard from ronald reagan as he was channeled john winthrop that idea that united states is an exemplary nation the example suggests that others can follow. but "follow" is the key word. they will become more enlightened in the fullness of time. what's remarkable about the american people is -- these are
the people who made the revolution -- is that they -- they're all literal mostly, except in places like virginia -- just joking. i come from new england. i can't help it. they're largely literal. >> new england used to be important. didn't it? >> coll boy! coll didn't exist. okay? all right. moving on. >> it actually did exist. new england just hadn't named it yet so they didn't think it existed. >> you know now why the union failed. all right. so where was i going with this? >> i had asked you whether jefferson's notion was an exceptionalist notion of what was happening in the colonies at that point because it became
very much that. >> right. and jefferson does think that the americans have a unique opportunity to govern themselves because they are literate in the broadest sense of the word. they're civically competent. there's been a high degree of local autonomy and self-government in the colonies and the revolution itself is testimony to the fact that americans are conscious of their rights and willing to fight for them. because this was a people's war. i don't believe all this but i'm just channeled jefferson. >> lincoln called the civil war a people's contest. >> and that's the important thing. because that is the principle of republican government. we now have abandoned notions that we have little gods on earth, kings who give rule to us who are our political fathers without whom we could not exist. we have abandoned the great chain of being that suggests
that some are born to rule and others are born to be ruled. what a magnificent idea. but what a scary idea in the 18th century when the people are basically considered and i'm now quoting abigail adams -- rubbish. i just happened to be reading her recently. but it is a common way of referring to ordinary people the scum -- >> lincoln and many other unionists in the mid 19th century would have said nothing had really changed, that the rest of the world still didn't think that ordinary people were capable of self-governing. >> i think that's a key point when we compare lynn son and jefferson on union. lincoln sees that this is the last best hope of mankind. you might say that jefferson sees it as the first best hope for mankind. that he has this enlightenment idea that it will spread. light will spread. it's almost a metaphor that's natural, that suggests as the day dawns and as the light spreads across the land, people
can see clearly. that notion of seeing clearly is very important. and the people are capable of seeing what they need to see. what they into ed to see to govern themselves. you don't have to be, as we say now, a nuclear physicist. you just have to be a democrat -- no just joking. >> what about the notion of the union being perpetual, that was so important by mid century to people who -- that saw all of these qualities in union that made the united states exceptional? >> that's a great point. that. point about perpetuity. the only thing that jefferson thought should somebody perpetual were the fundamental principles or ideas on which the union was based. and let me put it this way. we're going to get into this complicated development that's really important over time. i want to introduce the key to jefferson's thinking about union.
and that's federalism. jeffersonian federalism is not what we have today. you have to understand that his conception of political authority, legitimate political authority, we talk about family values today, but for jefferson, the family was the foundational republic on which larger republics would be built. i think it's important to get this down, because it's going to explain i think a lot of things that happen over the 19th century. for jefferson federalism culminating in the union and perhaps in an expanding union, perhaps even a union of unions that will cover the world begins literally at home. and that foundational union of man and wife, the creation of a family which is the incubator of republican citizens in the next generation. families combine together for
jefferson had new england envy. gary obviously doesn't. he wished virginia had towns. what do we have in virginia. what did we have in virginia? counties. in which local clerks self-appointed themselves, and gave rule through parish vestrys, through county courts. the only representative institution was the house of burgesss. and those elections, 90% of them weren't contested. and the ones that were contested were drunken brawls because that's the way you treated voters it's a pretty sorry story. jefferson was familiar with this. he said we need towns so the families, the fathers can get together. and on top of the towns, counties. and then we go to a higher level, to the states and then to the union, the federal union. here's the key idea. we'll throw this back at you.
equality is crucial. we talked before about you can't have consent without equality. and every -- >> you cannot have coercion. >> no. every level of union, whether it be on the town level the union of families or the county level, the union of towns, those unions exist to preserve and perpetuate the equality of their constituent units. do you follow me? that's pretty straightforward. the legitimacy, the value of the union of the town is that all families will be treated equally and have an equal voice in their own government. >> and you move up the ladder that imperative remains. and that is union depends on preserving equality of constituent units, because
otherwise, some are benefiting at the expense of other -- that's another way of saying that some are ruling others. you know, the great problem with unions throughout our periods is the fear that it's going to be captured by the bad guys. and one thing americans produce in great abundance is bad guys. >> this problem, though of equality within the union, did you have another -- did i step on your bunch line there? >> no, i was waiting for a big response. >> oh, okay. >> are you going to respond? i don't think they're going to. one thing that -- for example john c. calhoun wrestled with, how do you maintain what he would have called equality, equal treatment in all the ways that matter, within a union where demographics were tilting power toward the nonslave holding states. >> that's, of course, the great nightmare of the slave holders.
and their need to control, in fact to capture -- which is precisely what they did, because the federal government was dominated by slave holders throughout its existence up to the civil war. so much so that by the time lincoln comes along, and says, maybe we should agree not to let the area of the slave states expand, then that's too much. that's violating the basic idea of union. here's the problem i think it's what we would try to reconcile as we talk about the problem of union, how can you have equality or liberty you might put it, autonomy independence and union? is there attention between them? that's what i mean by -- >> and where do -- what's the line between compromise and coercion, they would have argued about that too. you say i'm compromising. >> what i'm going to suggest to you, i'm going to try to channel
jefferson here the way we resolve such quarrels is that public opinion becomes progressively more enlightened. and that's what's so hard for us to believe in an era in which public opinion doesn't become more enlightened. >> that's the idea of an organic developing union too. that's going to -- >> right, it will expand. and the idea that expansion means balancing free and slave states, that's insane. because jefferson honestly believes that slavery will eventually disappear. and why is it going to disappear, not because of economic forces and market forces. it's going to disappear because people are going to see that it's wrong. remember the revolution was against authority and jefferson doesn't have a great record right now. he does -- equality, coercion
slavery, contradiction between a republic of slave holders is going to become too striking too conspicuous, and americans will see it's in their best interest. >> will he have argued for equality among the white citizenry or would he have included everybody? >> no, he wouldn't. >> the short answer on this as you know is that for jefferson the idea of the way he thinks about slaves is as a captive nation, held unjustly, this is important. slaves don't deserve to be slaves, they're not naturally slaves, they are slaves because of -- what jefferson would like to blame george the third and his predecessors because we have
them. but it is an evil institution, it's unjust. the solution is to end the state of war that is slavery. it is a state of war, it's a cold war of a violent coercive institution. his big concern about slavery is that young men in virginia will grow up in a world of slave holders and that will be their school. they don't have public schools in virginia in the antebellum period. instead they're going to learn to school slave holders. people as old as we are because of race privilege, because they're white, that's horrible. he needs to break this down. >> he would see a union down the road where black people would
have been removed? >> they would have been removed. this is in the best of all possible worlds. and jeffer soon's a patient guy. it could take generations. it's not going to happen in his lifetime. he keeps pushing the date off. eventually people will see the light and emancipate slaves and send them -- he doesn't know where, maybe the west indies maybe west africa. in the best of all possible future worlds. the former slaves, the freed people will govern themselves, and then as an independent self-governing people, they can form unions. the union among the enlightened republican nations of the world we can divide black and white so that one day we can unite. >> lincoln embraced colonization as well? >> yes. >> until deep into the civil war. didn't go over until 1812. >> the depth of race prejudice i want to suggest the way race
and nation are synonymous terms and he's -- jefferson's really thinking geo politically about warring nations and all the things he says about slavery grow out of his wartime experience. slaves are dangerous to the fut turt of the republic, because they're a fifth column, because when they have the opportunity and this is how slavery is ended throughout the world, in wartime, they will seize it. >> nothing is more -- nothing destabilizes swlavry the way a war destabilizes slavery. >> whether it's the revolution or the war of 1812 along the chesapeake or the civil war where the armies are great engines of emancipation. it's the worst thing that can happen to a slave holder's world. >> jefferson does believe in the separation of races for native americans, they can become civilized they can become white in other words and they can adopt farming ways and become
effectively whites. after all, all good virginians, we probably have a few in the room you're all decendents of pocahontas if i'm not mistaken. >> i'm a 19th century guy i have no idea what was going on with pocahontas. that's so early. many people as we move through the 19th century would use thomas jefferson in the sectional debates to but res arguments for state rights, in a system, within a union that has become unbalanced as the government is threatening rights of the constituent parts. what would jefferson say about that? >> well, he wasn't in his grave yet during the missouri
controversy, but he did some turning over nonetheless, because when it looked like the union would fall apart, i don't know if you all know about the missouri controversy it was weather or not missouri would be admitted as a slave state to the union it ultimately was in tandem with the free state of maine, one of the great states of our union. but this argument about the future of slavery was one that looked like it was creating a line of separation between those states with slaves and the so-called free states. and that fear of the capture of the federal government was intense for jefferson. jefferson's position was in effect oh, give us time and we'll deal with our domestic institution. it's none of your business.
and eventually we'll deal with it but when you threaten to destroy the union which is what he thinks the restrictionists in the missouri controversy, there's northern republicans, people in jefferson's own party who are pushing for a limit on slavery, that's the trigger issue throughout the anti-bell um decades. those people mean to seize power, and subject the southern states to a colonial provincial status they will be creatures of a strong federal government whenever that happens, people start talking about that's the return of the british empire, this is evil you can see from jeffer southern's logic why he would be so acute when i
sensitive to threats to the equal status of the southern states, because what he says to the restrictionists in the missouri controversy is you're telling us that we don't have republican governments that we're not perfect republics because we have slaves most of the states, even the north still have slaves but that your commitment to the institution of slavery makes you less than a republic. and the guaranteed clause of the constitution according to the restrictionist's article guarantees republican government to all the states. and so now you're saying, all states are not created equal. there are the real republics the northern states that are getting rid of slavery. and then there are these slave holding hybrids. hybrids weren't a good thing in those days. in the south. so that that notion of equality is really crucial. what i want to suggest here, and i talk about that federalist and
business, look forward and outward with jefferson from the founding of the republic and federalism looks like the secret, it's going to unfold, the whole world will one day be embraced by this republican vision. it's the means by which we have it both ways. >> it only works if you really find a balance between the center and the localities. >> right, and you all have to share the same set of beliefs, this may be the ultimate naive tay of the enlightment project. i'll tell you what the key beliefs are, equality, consent, that those ideas we still cherish, we all agree on that republican, it's the declaration we're celebrating, not the constitution. >> it's the declaration that jefferson davis referred to when he said all the southern states are doing is asserting their
right to self-determination in 1860 '61. >> yes. what i would say to you is that the collapse of the union, i talked about jefferson turning over prematurely in his not yet grave. if the union splits then the revolution was pointless. then the united states is pointless. and i'll tell you why. because as soon as you break up the union, well what's to stop the fragmentation from continuing. >> well, it will continue. that's what lincoln would have said. what do you get when you get a disunited states. you take union for granted now. we don't define awlorng sectional lines any more. well, we do actually, but on a micro level, i've been taught there are a lots of lewd people
in the red states. >> i don't believe many people believe in secession any more. >> here's the dilemma it's the collective security problem. and in an an arcy which is the technical word an anarchy, we achive some kind of temporary quill ib reum, those states are in nature with each other, which means a state of war. they may not be fighting but one day they will. during the period of the founding in the 1780s this was the great argument. you need to strengthen the union, and make it more perfect lest the united states become disunited and become an image of europe. why did we even bother to try to form a new nation if the best we can do is create a knockoff version of europe. pretty pathetic we'll be at war
with each other. guess what happens when there's war, my fellow republicans? when there's war, have you to exercise power. it exaggerates the executive power, military power. you get military industrial complexes, nations at war are nations that have a lot of problems with liberty because all you liberty lovers out there are a bunch of sub versive terrorists. do you follow me? you need to preserve -- >> i'm trying to keep up. yes, i am. >> i was trying to explain the simple point -- >> you and i talk together for years and i'm having little flashbacks as we go along here. >> he is not going to send me out of the room, as he did during one of our seminars.
this is my time. >> only for ten minutes. and then he came back. if a union cannot involve coercion, how would jefferson have looks at the resolution of the american civil war, is that a worthwhile union put back together after this -- not that he's against bloodling. this is a lot much blood in the american civil war a reconstituted union that lincoln would have said is the youth yn, what would his response to that be? >> lincoln could have persuaded him it was a good thing the union lincoln celebrates, the union that your men your people, the winners the good -- folks, the good guys.
>> colorado counties are named after union generals, unlike counties in new england. >> because our counties were already named by that point. >> think about it for a minute, the union that lincoln wants to preserve, that's a perfect thing that needs to be preserved, he's not looking forward to expansion, in fact the republican platform is to end expansion if it means more slave states. >> well, it means to end expansion of slavery. it doesn't mean to end expansion of the nation? >> it probably does because of the political impasse, doesn't it? >> i don't know, the union is perfect. it needs to be preserved and i think something has happened to the idea rather than looking forward expansively we're now
protecting a great nation. dominant in its continent, even prospectively in its hemisphere, this is -- this great nation has a manifest destiny. we squander that great advantage, we forfeit it we risk relapsing into a state of war. we need to preserve this thing it's sacred, and there is an element to this an element of a static quality to it. something to be. >> i think if you read lincoln early in the civil war you may get more of a sense of its being static. he would have talked about, getting rid of slavery is improving the union.
it's the kind of union that jefferson would have agreed with. >> i think that's right. he is not eager to integrate. he wants to preserve. >> his experience in illinois, indiana and kentucky convinceds him it was possible. >> i think that's right. >> he is beyond that by the end of the civil war. >> i do think what motivates lincoln is a sense of that great destiny for the nation. the fact that it is a republican is important. i think lincoln's great service to jefferson is to redeem him. there's a dimension of lincoln's thinking that's captured in the gettysburg address and elsewhere, this republic needs to be preserved as we said before, for lincoln, the last best hope of mankind for jefferson, more hopeful, perhaps, the first best hope.
>> i gather from some of the things you've said about jefferson, that he really did believe that if things didn't work out that perhaps some unions would fail and others would rise, lincoln didn't believe that, he believed if this one failed the ideas of self-government and of economic opportunity would simply be gone and the forces would have reasserted themselves. >> i think lincoln and jefferson agreed on this jefferson's response to the missouri controversy, if we can't find an equitable compromise some way that respects the rights of all member states if we can't be reassured about that then all hell will break loose. there's no point to this experiment in republican government, it failed, that's a key word experiment. we call them scientists. it's the founders the way we
like to think about them. this is a great seminar, constitutional convention, they're coming up with this brilliant plan and they're going to see how it works. maybe it doesn't work maybe the experiment fails 37 what does that say about the future of mankind. what lincoln does is what jefferson believed would happen naturally but it didn't. namely, the end of slavery. and coercion force was needed to do that. and that is a tragic failure from jefferson's perspective. the represent tour of a union let them go. how long would that last. that's a tragic failure as well. perhaps a greater failure, because at least if he preserved the shell of the union, perhaps it can rehabilitate itself.
perhaps free government can emerge in the wreckage. >> how upset do you think he would have been he being jefferson, at some of the constitutional questionable actions that lincoln took, that seemed at odds with the spirit and the letter of the constitution. >> there are two ways to think about it. the way jefferson uses executive power himself and that is, jefferson does not fetishize the constitution. he doesn't say that my hands are bound because of the constitution, because there's something greater than the constitution at stake, and that is the very existence of the united states of america. the first law of nature. and remember i invoke nature's god, natural religion, the first law of nature is self-preservation. the nation fails, the nation dies, then the constitution is a
museum piece. you can put it on a 14e68 in the library and read it at your leisure, but it's dead. >> constitution means nothing. >> he would have -- you think jefferson would have thought, okay, you have your priorities in order there? >> i think union looks different looking forward, looking back. so does the idea of the nation i think it's implicit in jefferson's thinking about the american people as being dedicated to liberty. >> does jefferson link union and nation in his mind. by the time of the civil war they're deployed interchangeably interchangeably. they'll drop all of them in the same far graph. >> it's a wonderful question the idea of a nation is implicit in the notion of popular sovereignty and self-determination that is an
idea of the people as an organic hole. a great family of families, i talked about the importance of family before but by the time we get to lincoln at medicine tourry and beyond this is the great period of romantic nationalism, there's something about the nation as its organic hole that supersedes subsumes individuals, it subsumes everything. your identity is a national identity. it trumps everything else. >> well for some people. >> for some people -- >> for many people. >> we don't want to exaggerate it, because lincoln is not about to abolish states though he would love to abolish those southern states, he believes in the federal distribution of authority. he believes in the compromises that were worked out in the constitution, all that's important to him. but the most important thing is the dedication to that shared
principle, commitment to republican government, that makes us one people. jefferson would be reluctant to make that final move toward that great super human thing as a nation, and we are libertarian americans hold on to notions that are at odds with that. >> where would he have come down on the argument about the origins of the union does the union arise from the people does it arise from the colony/states? >> i'm going to throw you another possibility. >> fire away. >> all right well enwhitened philosophers are famous for looking forward to a better future. but you can't look forward without looking backward, and when jefferson tried to define
what liberty was he looked back to the original social contract. he also looked back to the british empire and this is my answer to you and it complicates in a notion of states rights being foundational. because the states are in the context of british empire a joke. they are not independent. they are free riders on imperial protection americans love their kings. they are monarchists until they're not. until they become republicans, because their king is making war against them. what americans want, and i think this is the deep model for jefferson's commitment to union what the americans want is their version of the british empire. one in which you can have it always. you can have local liberty, you
can have courts responsive to local juries. you can determine land policy within your colony, you can determine labor systems within your colony. you have trading opportunities with the emporium of the planet. you are enriched by the imperial connection and you are free riders on the collective security afforded by the military and naval mite of the british empire. that's what you want. only now you're going to call it something different. you're going to call it republican, you're going to say it doesn't come from any king it comes from us, the people. we can do this without the king. but the predicate of doing it without the king is to form a union among those former provinces. george washington -- >> i'm fascinated by all this now, are you going to answer my question?
which -- >> are you accusing me of being unresponsive? >> no i'm accusing you of being yourself, which is one of the things i really like about you. you often spin off in directions, and people wonder, but i -- >> that was good about the empire, right? >> i was transfixing. let me bring you back. if we put it to mr. jefferson, whether the union derived from the people or from the states. put it within those terms we're not in the empire any more, we've already settled that. >> that i think is the template, and you'll grant that. >> i've already granted it. and i'll give you another answer. >> you're on the clock. >>. >> i've been talking about nature. nature's guide -- >> i've been right here. >> all right then, thank you for being there for me. it is nature's decree that this
continent be the domain of this great free people. yes, the states are the instruments of rule of land policy, labor policy they do the important things that we nido mefticily, we need a strong union so that we can dominate the hemisphere, if not the world. we have to be strong and we have to be united to be strong, the answer is both it is a people that is a product of -- and relates to that great land and territory, this is -- let me coin this phrase, nature's nation. those are synonymous terms, nature's people. the first people in modern history, who conform -- this is hard for us environmentalists to take seriously the first people
in modern history who have ruled themselves in accordance with nature's laws, and, therefore have exploited the great riches through the improvement of nature. now, we think nature should be saved from improvers and developers. we have rather different ideas today about how gaya is at risk many h. >> i thought we were all part of the -- >> you're so 1840s. >> to say people -- the american people, yeah, i'd say at the end of the day, jefferson would. i mean he doesn't -- would say yes, the american people. that's -- that was a short answer. >> once again, he agrees with
lincoln, or lincoln agrees with him? >> i think so. >> i want -- let's come back, you brought up something else i want to pursue, another thread i want to pull here. that is in terms of -- the union is going to expand it's natural future would be expansionist. what would jefferson -- did jefferson believe that peoples who did not look like western europeans could be brought in as functioning parts of the union? what would he have thought of incorporating all the people that lived in the half of mexico that the united states an ex-ed in 1948? >> i think it was a -- would have been a real problem for him, given the state of political and civic development and what we now call latin america, and he -- >> he wouldn't have said they were real republicans? >> no, no. >> even though they called themselves republics? >> national self-determination, a kind of faux liberation --
there's no capacity in those peoples, that's why he predicts there will be military dictator ships, they're only used to -- >> long term spanish rule, catholic rule would make it impossible in his view. >> and for north america of course the wonderful thing about north america is that it was virgin land. as he says in his inaugural address. he said there's land enough for the thousands to the thousands of americans out there. it's a blank space. of course he knows that you're going to have to displace a few indians, asimulate a few others. there are plenty of people out there. but in his vision, there is this progress of civilization against barberism and savagery submitting, subjecting the land to higher use. yielding more from it what's more with native american
societies is that they don't reproduce enough they don't reproduce enough because native men spend all their time hunting and abusing their women. so they'll never move past that static stable point of barberism. the future is in the progress of civilization, this is what he embraces, and moving across the territory he's not seized with the kind of collective guilt that comes with the red legend in america the condemnation of indian lands and again side and instruction of native cultures that doesn't bother him. >> he would have accepted territorial expansion into these kinds of places but then would have pushed for some kind of relocation of the populations? >> that's what happened. andrew jackson implements. >> i don't just mean in -- i'm speaking in terms of the acquisitions from mexico and other -- >> i think he would say, and this is to give jefferson his
due, he doesn't think that the other people's of the world, less educated, less developed, maybe not with our exceptional qualities, thinking of americans as being really with the british. and after all, this is british america. he does think that the rest of the world one day could catch up. how it would do so, my guess is that he would suggest the emergence over time of confederations in all the populous areas of the world the progress of republican government would be fitting, i mean, he survived long enough lived long enough. >> take a very long time. >> even for the french common people, he thought they were 200 years behind? >> that was his estimate, he said, we're six years behind france. but as soon as they publish their books and send them across
the ocean we'll catch up. but our common people, this is a vote for democracy, our common people are 200 years ahead of their french counterparts. >> forward republican -- >> yeah, well, they can be republicans, jefferson was not optimistic the french could create a republic, and it seems they had trouble -- they created how many republics, five? so jefferson is both a universalist and exceptionalist that's another thing we have to put into our paradox or contradiction we have to resolve. this is a people uniquely capable of governing themselves, in doing so they demonstrate eternal truths about human nature and human potential that will be fulfilled in the fullness of time across the world. >> liz baron talked about andrew
johnson and the crisis of impeachment. andrew johnson called himself a jeffersonian. he said he loved jeffersonian theory about government and the bedrock of that was a small government, nonintrusive. he's used by lots of people who take that view. that's his union. his union is a union -- >> well the idea to take consent to its logical mean what does it mean? in some ways, enlightened people spontaneously form unions. maybe to better understand it, we have to think about the scottish enlightenment philosophy. we have to think about the new account of human nature which is remarkably democratic in its
implications, that is all of us have that kind of moral sense. that's crucial for politics, for understanding society itself, because what it means is that we do not have to be ordered governed and constrained to do the right thing. maybe the epitome of this enlightenment is the very idea of a market of transactions among equals to which all consent that are beneficial. when you think about the purity and the economists can't get over the purity of their account of the market, it's a beautiful thing to behold, when has it ever existed in all its beauty, no, it doesn't. only it's -- it's a fugitive thing, it's an aspiration, a hope, that idea that we could be drawn together. not out of sordid self-interest,
this is where mandeville and those economists can vulgarize the best of adam smith's moral philosophy, we come together to achieve higher things better things, not only for ourselves because the first coming together is to form the family for others for those people who we raise, our children. and that i think is crucial, for jefferson is obsessed with generations, with progress of generations. things will get better over time. you can't imagine that the rising generation would ever be less enlightened than its predecessor. you can't imagine that people could become ignorant and stupid and selfish. >> i'm going to pick up on generations, which is one of the words you used a minute ago, because i want to bring in each
of the other subjects of this lecture series, and u.s. grant was one of those subjects this is what grant wrote on the great accomplishment of the civil war. what saved the union was the coming forward of the young men of the nation, they came from their homes and fields as they did in the time of the revolution giving everything to the country to their devotion we owe the salvation of the union. so long as our young men are animated by this spirit, there will be no fear for the union, where did jefferson put the citizen soldiers of the revolution in his calculus of credit. >> they're centrally important. the idea of the citizen's holder is very much a jeffersonian coinage. he didn't fight the war, he may not have thought about citizen soldiers if he had been involved in the war more directly. but he celebrated. >> he could have asked his friend james monroe. >> yes, and hamilton was full of
contempt for him because he didn't put his life on the line. that's what we do. jefferson in his inaugural address, which i think is the central document for understanding this philosophy, talks about how the united states has the strongest government on earth which is a remarkable thing for him to say at a time when there are 2,000 people in the army and there's no great government insight or out of sight. it doesn't exist. he thinks it has enormous strength, what he's talking about again -- so much of the enlightened vision has to do with potential what will happen. it's the fact that the revolution is a great moment of the revolution i think this is what grant is evoking. there's nothing stronger. nothing more powerful than a
united people at war to preserve the things that matter most to them that would be their families, that's why apple pie, motherhood, all those things, those images of why we fight -- those homely images, that's what makes us powerful. that's the vision that jefferson conjures up and grant echos. and it's also you could say, the technology of mobilization in the modern world, getting people to die for you mastered by the french perhaps in the first great war. we now have the social technology to get people out to do these things, we don't need to kill -- waste our own people's lives, we can do it remotely with drones and things like that that great force though comes from the people. >> the force grant is talking about is not a coerced force, he's talking about --
>> he's not coerced but it coerced them -- >> it's coerces, it is not coerced. there's a draft labor in the war, the majority of the soldiers were volunteers. he's tying them to the revolution and putting them at the center of things. >> i think that's right, and it's an interesting thing the core of this -- enduring idea of national power and greatness and lib ertl it's people who will sacrifice everything. >> and not be soldiers any more. that's the key they're not really soldiers. >> they disappear, because a permanent military industrial -- >> daze a problem. >> it can be to repeat this theme again captured, if it's a technology, a toolan instrument that can be used by whoever has control of the government, then we're all at risk, i think that's of course what we live with in the modern world, the capacity is now there, and the capacity is not that the young
men will rise up, take their swords and go to war, the capacity now is much greater than that, and it doesn't rely even on our consents much less our participation. the image of the citizen soldiers, powerful one, we have to is and i think many americans today do ask does it describe in any meaningful way who we are as a people today? >> this citizen soldiery is different. we have a professional military now, yes. >> and that's the antithisis of what grant's talking about here. >> lincoln may have preserved and redeemed jefferson's union, by means that jefferson would have seen as a contradiction in term s
terms but grant giveses this notion of a people's war, and if the people need to fight that war, i think this is the important thing jefferson was perfectly willing to fight wars, you had to know who your enemies were. the most horrifying thing is that your enemies are your countrymen. and that was the thing that so many americans had difficult with. >> that was his war. that's the revolution, and that is -- >> the revolution they were fighting -- >> it's the same -- they're both civil wars. >> you need that to identify that thing against which you're fighting, whether it's loyalists, these anglo americans who wouldn't give up on their kings. or at least in the north for a while, you can demonize the slave holders for forcing this
war on a liberty loving people. >> the war of 1812, you could demonize new england? >> whoa! >> you could. >> we said we were going to leave 20 minutes for questions at the end. it's 4:38:03 unless you have a parting thought -- >> no. >> they may come up in the course of questions. if you don't have any questions, we'll keep talking we're capable of filling how much time we have. if you have a question raise your hand and someone will appear with a microphone and put it in front of you. this is really problematic. >> mike, have you to ask the first question many there's one right behind you.
>> oh, i have so many questions. >> would you identify yourself? >> i'm an ameritus professioner in the history department. i've been in the speaker series. the parallel you were trying to draw between lincoln and jefferson seems to me off base in this respect or maybe it's because you didn't mention it aat all for lincoln and republicans of the 1850s, the basic principle of republicanism was the majority rule ss and the minority has to acquiesce. you cannot just quit if you lose an election what did jefferson
think about the idea of majority rule which runs against equality? >> it's a great question, it's the mother principle of republican ism republicanism the majority of whom, and if it's a national majority to aggregate to bring in lincoln to the presidency it's insister pretted as a move that's going to lead to the loss of liberty or rights on the state level. those majorities on the state level will no longer be capable of enjoying and exercising their rights. in other words, it's the assumption that -- and this was always a problem, it's why you had to oirk straight the machinery of the federal system to make sure you never had something like this happen. that is a lincoln. you had to achieve a kind of balance, which of course, was a
balance that favored slave holders. let's be honest about it you had to sustain that balance in order to sustain the illusion that this was the kind of union that the founders imagined. >> i was just thinking, you talk about the importance of jefferson's first inauguration, don't you think that we're all federalists, we're all jeffersonians, the point is to tell the federalistic that you may have lost but were no threat? >> worse than that he says, the federalist, how does he define federalism in the rest of the address? he says, federalists are people who believe in states rights. he just turns it on its head. we won't persecute the leaders of the federalists, we'll just make laughing stocks out of them. they will not lose their support.
majority rule is foundational. no question about it. gary was eluding to this. that's why i was so difficult to pin down on the states of people business. that's the problem in a nutshell. jefferson wants it both ways. the majority rule on all levels. >> we're expecting questions at some point that don't come from the department of history. but for now we'll have our second question. >> i'm brian bellow and i direct the national fellow ship here in the history department at uva. >> and a co-host with peter, back story with the american history guys. i'm getting in many more words this way.
>> federalism begins in the family, and gary pressed you on the ability of jefferson's notion as union as it moves forward. i want to take you back to the family and jeffer southern's understanding of the relationship between a husband and wife, for instance. and his vision to how that would progress toward equality? >> it wouldn't. >> >>. >> i feel compelled to explain that answer. jefferson was a self-defined patriarch. the form of government at the family level is the norm of government that's projected on to a whole kingdom. but it is confined as nature
means it to be confined to the family where there is, according to nature a division of labor. and just as there must be a single voice with respect to the larger world representing that unit, whether it's a representative or the father. the father is the representative he must have authority over his own domain. there's a wonderful quotation from the jeffersons in 1816 in which he talks about the series of -- from the ward to the county on up. but he goes backwards to the plantation or farm itself where nobody has a right to interfere in the affairs of the farmer or planter on his own property. don't mess with it that's his way of protecting slavery. that's the practical implication of it. but the principle is the principle -- this is the
foundation, a foundation -- a hard foundation where there's no ambiguity of who rules as there is in modern families instead it's absolutely clear you can build on those rocks, that's a solid foundation, and that's nature that decrees that, in case you wondered. >> over your left shoulder. >> i don't know in this is too close close. >> i'm class of 71. is that still too close? >> we think that's -- no we think that's wonderful. >> thank you. >> i wanted to get back to some of the original premise. following on what brian said, among other things this notion that equality and coercion can't co exist it strikes me that coercion can exist without equality. equality cannot exist without coercion, that at some point the
consensus is taken somebody wins it somebody loses and there's coercion. going back to what brian said, it starts in jefferson's family and his world, the mail role, possibly his concept might include the tidewater of the piedmont, that was his country until he was a minister of evidentiary, that's how he saw himself. >> right. >> and i wanted you to take up the issue of male sufferage, we talked about how great it was to be white. let's not assume for any moment that all whites had votes for the first 40 50 years here, they have 100 acres or 25 acres in a house sufficient wrath coercion and equality seem to be the go -- go hand in hand ultimately in strengthening a union. >> that is expanding the sufferage.
absolutely. jefferson sees the evolution of the electorate as moving toward sufferage. no doubt about it. his chief complain the is not only that it lacks local self-government. but that the tidewater is badly over represented. and to the extent that that is true, people in the paidment and beyond are underrepresented and therefore, under the thumb or rule. and he thinks that needs to be rectified. his progressive ideas about the evolution of the republican government include the electorate, the expansion of the union, the creation of new states, which offers new opportunities for families to establish themselves. a class of whites would be excluded. it's not as if you can freeze
frame that moment of 1776. except to the extent the spontaneous outpouring of all men, many of whom couldn't vote. >> thank you. >> hi, i have nothing to do with the history department or the university of virginia other than my love for the center. and our oldest son graduating from the university with a degree in english and history. >> but my question is with regard to the civil war. do you think for a moment that if we did not have it, the
southern state would eventually relinquish that problem because of the mechanization. >> no that problem being slavery? >> yes. no, i think we would have had the distinction of being the last western nation to get rid of slavery. we would have been after brazil, it was thriving making the transition from cash crop agriculture into all other elements of the economy by the mid 19th century. it used to be a comforting notion that slavery was on its way out, it was not on its way out. >> you can tell by the price of slaves, the civil war, and one of the problem ss was, would southerners be able to aspire to slave ownership. the price of slaves is the most sensitive indicator of the value, it's literally value. i think it's important to do
lincoln, his critic and fellow unionists with this vision of republican government, it's not that it was normative in the 19th century, you could say things were moving in the other direction. >> you could say it, because they were, they were moving in the other direction. >> you feel bad for the 20th century which you were responsible. the really nasty 20th cen duri. and yeah. the big -- >> one measure -- one measure of the 1860 census is our wonderful friend that tells us all kinds of things about the united states in the 1860s, that census tells us that wealth in slaves was about $3 billion. wealth in all manufacturing. all railroads put together in the united states was $2.2
billion in 1860. the amount of wealth controlled by slave holders was unbelievably large in 1860. and the two wealthiest states per1860 were south carolina and mississippi. which had in common -- they were the only states with an absolute majority of enslaved people in 1860. i mean, there -- slavery was not going anywhere in the united states. >> you know, the insurance companies have been apologizing, travelers and others for having been implicated in the institution of slavery. they were selling life insurance to slave holders to insure their very valuable property. the wall street people would have been all over this, you know? this is not a -- this goes way back. and the 19th century gives us -- is moving toward racial hierarchy. toward a conception of what kipling called white man's
burden. that's in the 1890s he coins that phrase. and that is this notion that the civilized, nordic types needed to exercise a paternal rule over darker-skinned people. the idea of natural rights -- maybe this is the key thing and the key point about lincoln and jefferson. an idea that comes out of the enlightenment and nearly dies at the hands of people like jeremy benttham and others who say, natural rights, nonsense upon stilts. it's all power it's all positive, it's all what you can do and what you can enforce. that force you're talking about law is only good if you can back it up. and this is -- this is not a happy time. where we have the race problem in america as americans understand it. what are you going to do with all these black people? you've got the labor problem in britain. what do you do with all these
massive numbers of irish people who are out of work? the misery of manchester. but of course, hard-thinking, realistic, 19th century progressive types say, that's just the price of the progress of civilization, which they had their own ways of measuring. it's really a pretty horrible century. and i guess the 20th century's bad too, i know. >> i'm not going to take much more of this attacking the 19th century. i've about reached my limit. you're going to make -- >> natural rights! >> you're going to make a plea for the 18th century for god's sake? >> i'm saying that's the claim you can make through lincoln is that you kept that idea alive of republican government and natural rights. all men are created equal. that's nothing to us. i don't know what we make of it. but it meant a lot toward lincoln. >> when you lean toward me and point should i pay extra attention? >> i was pointing over here,
this guy over here. >> here's one more question right here, then i think we will have reached our ending point. >> martha williams, history maim but not history in new england. >> all right! >> okay now my question is changing the subject. i learned something new today. i wasn't aware that jefferson had such a keen sensitivity to the fact that new england had towns. and less so down here. >> yeah, definitely town envy. >> since we have such an urban/rural divide in our country now i'd like you to address the idea of not only new england towns but in your day that you're talking about serious urban culture clique. philadelphia, big old boston, most dynamic of all, the dutch influence in new york and the highly tolerant society. it's not as prevalent in the rural areas. and i'd like you to -- see what you can do about that. >> there's a lot of pathos in jefferson's beliefs in progress moral progress, economic
development. there's a nice exchange he has with his granddaughter ellen who travels to new england, as billy knows. and retraces a route that her grandfather had taken 30 years earlier in the company of james madison. when northern new england was still pretty much a wilderness, underdeveloped. ellen went to these same areas and found it absolutely remarkable. the roads were good, the hotels were good. there was a church in every town. there were schools. it was the very image of the republican society fulfilled. and the contrast with jefferson's virginia at that moment, they commented on this. when you approached monticello, it was as if you had to make it through these scruffy woods
through a kind of wilderness, it wasn't clear whether it had reverted to an overgrown area around monticello. you could look from monticello, you would see -- you would see many farms. but you wouldn't see the kind of landscape, a republican landscape. and of course this was at the very time gary's talking about the prosperity of the institution of slavery. it left an ugly imprint on the land. virginia itself at this period was probably best at producing slaves, better at producing slaves than anything else. because there was such a voracious appetite for slaves further to the south. this was not an image of republican progress. and yes, jefferson did understand and see this kind of urbanity. it's not big cities. big cities are bad, they're sick, nasty places to go to you'll die they're unhealthy. but a kind of -- a civic
landscape, in many ways new england was perfect except for the new englanders. >> that's right. and on that note. i'd like to thank you all very much for coming out on a nasty day. you all had a hand out on your seats that tells you what's coming up in the 20th century, a version what was we've been doing in the 19th century here. i hope you will attend all of those and remain good friends of the miller center and travel home safely. thanks for coming. thank you, peter.
with live coverage of the u.s. house on c-span and the senate on c-span2, here on c-span3 we complement that coverage by showing you the most relevant congressional hearings and public affairs events. and then on weekends c-span3 is the home to american history tv with programs that tell our nation's story. including six unique series. "the civil war's 150 the anniversary," visiting battle fields and key events. american artifacts, touring museums and historic sites to discover what artifacts reveal about america's past. history bookshelf with the best-known american history writers. the presidency, looking at the policies and legacies of our nation's commanders in chief. lectures in history with top college professors delving into america's past. and our new series, real america, featuring archival government and educational films from the 1930s through the' cities. c-span3, created by the cable tv industry and funded by your local cable or satellite provider. watch us on tv like us on
facebook, and follow us on twitter. the political landscape has changed with the 114th congress. not only are there 43 new republicans and 15 new democrats in the house, and 12 new republicans and one new democrat in the senate, there's also 108 women in congress, including the first african-american republican in the house and the first woman veteran in the senate. keep track of the members of congress using congressional chronicle on cspan.org. the congressional chronicle page has lots of useful information there, including voting results and statistics about each session of congress. new congress, best access, on c-span c-span2, c-span radio, and cspan.org. each week american history tv's "reel america" brings you archival films that help tell the story of the 20th century. >> each family upon arrival at a relocation center was assigned to a single-room compartment
about 20 by 25 feet. barren unattractive. a stove, a lightbulb cots mattresses, and blankets. those were the things provided by the government. the family's own furniture was in storage on the west coast. scrap lumber, perhaps some wall board, and a great deal of energy -- curtains, pictures, drapes. depending on the own family's own ingenuity and taste. others took what they received and made the best of it. boy scouts who usually provide the color guard for the american flag which floats over each center are typical of the memp organizations who are prominent in each relocation center. there's a uso club to provide entertainment for the japanese-american soldier hot come to the center to visit their families or friends.
girl scouts, campfire girls parent teacher associations the red cross. the evacuees belong to these organizations in their former homes and transplanted them to the centers. the boy scout drum and bugle corps here is leading a harvest festival parade, marking the high point of the successful season of farm production. everyone turns out to view the beauty queen to see the well-decorated floats and to join in the good time that goes with the full day of celebration. while they have many things in common with ordinary american communities, in the really important things relocation centers are not normal and probably never can be. home life is disrupted. eating, living, and working conditions are abnormal. training of children is difficult. americanism, taught in the schools and churches and on the playgrounds, loses much of its meaning in the confines
IN COLLECTIONSCSPAN3 Television Archive Television Archive News Search Service
Uploaded by TV Archive on