tv Pierre L Enfant and Washington D.C. CSPAN March 22, 2015 10:00am-11:29am EDT
world, which president obama is handling with adeptness , astuteness, and profound. i truly believe that americans will stand with our president on the negotiations of the iranian nuclear proliferation decision and the piece of the world. we are standing with him and we understand the right to lecture. we wish they prime minister well as he goes home. [laughter] [applause] john, that was a very polite conversation. i did not want to say more. and breaking news it was important to let your audience know. let me say that i came to honor you and think of the panelists including donna and mr. w
ides, who works with become trawler -- who works with the comptroller of the currency, and bernice king. with all seriousness, it is important to be aware of current events and what we face in washington. we need to be partners in the work being spoken about right here. the last time i saw john, besides being in houston with his wonderful mother, was when he invited me to wall street. he's standing on the shoulders of ambassador young. he is a breakout man. he has taken us to levels that far exceeded some of our own thinking. we appreciate that.
i believe that this time, march 3, 2015, the 150th commemoration of the freedman's bank. $57 million. president lincoln signed it five days preceding his death. texas is a place that associates itself with 1865. we celebrate the emancipation proclamation and something called juneteenth. texans did not get the word that we had been liberated and we were free and no longer slaves until captain granger arrived on galveston shores and said you are free. you can imagine we feel the symbolism of this day that john has brought these presenters to washington. i would almost say, to be
diplomatic this was not a diplomatic day on the hill. to be diplomatic, i agree with all the discussions here. as ambassador young has said we need to wrap ourselves around the new visions regarding civil rights that dr. king spoke about. even as he finished his life in memphis speaking about economic opportunities of sanitation workers. he was heading to washington on the poor people's march. not to keep our people poor but to challenge the government on wealth inequality. here we are now, some 50 years later. 1968 was the time of his death. talking about how we can embrace our young people to be able to get them to understand that they are a quality and rights are tied to their pocketbook rates.
-- they're a quality rights are tied to their pocketbook rights. i did something in houston regarding young people being taken as interns and private sectors. it was an amazing experience. the business person and the young person, high school students, whose lives were changed. in this instance it was a job in a business and they were given in association with the business owner to see what it means to own a business. you have a similar approach. the ambassador has a new approach. that approach is for us to grab hold of our destinies as it relates to our economic engine. in the south, i welcome all who will come back. i know the ambassador stands with me for those who remain in ferguson, let's get them straight and let's get the dignity of dealing with their issues of economic inequality
and justice issues. so, we work on a bilateral, we work on a two-pronged approach to commemorate this 150th anniversary. i close on this note. along with the idea of the economic engine that we speak of, trade bills, there is something called the african growth and opportunity act. it is something that i hope john will engage in so there's a presence for african-americans and minorities in these trade opportunities. there are challenges with them as it relates to jobs in the u.s. i want us to embrace this message for our historically black colleges. which every day faced challenges on the hill for their survival. even today the intelligence he our community are being educated in historically black colleges
as they are in harvard, yellen princeton. -- yale and princeton pit we should take an interest in making sure the scholars in these colleges are exposed to your work. you worked after katrina with young people on the earned income tax credit. my son enjoyed having that privilege of working in understanding your work. you have a base of support. by the numbers of historically black colleges and state african-american colleges to be able to lift your message, a message of the ambassador and roland and that the comptroller is speaking of. we are changing our whole attitude for the 21st century. we are marching with you as we marched across the edmund pettis bridge for the anniversary of the voting rights act. as we reregister people to come back to the polls and self
empowered by viewing this vote as something important. our numbers are dastardly when it comes to us voting in our community. as we do that, we reinvest in your message. that is the silver message. we have all the population garnering this effort and marching to victory. i'm looking for a freedman's bank. i'm looking for a frederick douglass chairman of that bank. i'm looking for billions of dollars being invested in that bank. not only from african-americans but from those who say this is a great bank. this is a bank that is not going to go broke. this is a bank that has a door open for people from all walks of life. this is a bank that has staying power. this is a freedman's bank of the 21st century, this is america's bank. thank you, john, for telling me about this great day and inviting me. so good to see you again. count me as a soldier on the
battlefield for ensuring that we are lifting ourselves up so that we fly high where the eagles fly. we flight where we belong. god bless all of you. god bless the united states of america. [applause] john: give it up for our panel -- donna owens barry wides, bernice king, the introvert ambassador andrew young. [laughter] [applause] andrew: i really was being good today. [laughter] the thing i find about all the
time whenever we start blaming the problems on ourselves, what we have done wrong -- there seeps in a sense of victim. we have never been victims unless we decide to be victims. and i had a granddaddy,my son reminded me of this. he said your granddaddy in franklin louisiana somehow got a way to manage and mount $4 million in a bank account in 1912. and i don't know where he went to school, i don't know what he learned. but people in louisiana trusted him. and he is the money -- and he used the money that slaves annexed and ex-slaves managed to
help fight the fight in louisiana. we did not take much time on angela davis. not that she was not right. we were trying to always chart the future. the victims will come along. ferguson will come along. if you change the focus, put the focus on ferguson when the hold world --the whole world needs our leadership then we are playing ourselves cheap. i just think that the things we have done in shaping america have shaped the world. you can correct me if i am wrong. right now, the discussions of
monetary manipulation in the trade agreements means that the americans do not have much power. the europeans are still running the global economy. and i was sitting in congress where you sit in the banking committee in 1973 when nixon came and ended the stability of the global economic order. nobody ever discussed it anymore but i never forgot it. america ran the world from 1944 to 1974. everybody's currency was tied to the dollar and the dollar was tied to gold. the whole world was growing from 6% to 10%. now, with the europeans taking over the economy europe is in a desperate recession. they are not going. the republicans want a balanced
budget like germany. german business is coming to atlanta. [laughter] it ain't working over there. we've separated ourselves we have almost seceded from the u.s. economy in atlanta. we are part of the global economy. we can run the global economy. i do not want us to get bogged down in the problems we have. one of the things i learned from my old folks was please do not move these mountains, just give me the strength to climb. do not take a lead a stumbling blocks. leave them around. we have a special role here. and a special vision. and we should not we should not limit ourselves to what white
folks are still saying. , by and large even the better ones are still thinking of the world in terms of 19th century european economics. every now and then you get someone like elizabeth warren who makesbreaks out. there are a few. we're letting the french and the imf run the economy. they do not know what they are doing. it's not working for anybody but them. it is not even working for them. the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. that is not an accident. somebody has rigged the game. i'm trying to unrig the game. we need to do that. we do not need to play this game. we need to make it work like we
are all god's children. [applause] finally, there is an argument and nelson mandela's last work. he and ahmed kathrada are talking about a multiracial society. mandela says that will never work, we have to have a non-racial society. i take issue with that first but i realized that is true. ultimately, we've got to see ourselves as spiritual beings who are united in one cause feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick. does not matter what color they
are, where they came from, or what their problems are. we are here to set people free. john: and now for the benediction, ryan mack. ryan: i can leave you with a positive note that wraps up and buster young's desire for big thinking -- ambassador young's desire for big thinking. the freedman's bank, it inspired a woman, maggie walker, to create a bank that survived until 2009. even when dr. king was focusing on money, it was marion wright edelman from the children's defense fund. her niece, debbie wright,
was ceo of one of the largest black banks in america. even when you fall, sometimes you fall forward. women have an untold story in this work of civil rights. the best is yet to come. i think it is going to be the decade of the women. that is another conversation. [applause] sometimes these conversations get with a lot of words. phd's are good, ph-do's are better. earlier today, joseph flew here from california. the ceo of a bank about to be $70 billion. he committed, pledged to open 100 hope locations in the city of los angeles alone . [applause] that's the best way to give life to the freedman's bank. we already have 100 locations, i
think we are going to have pledges, people think i'm crazy. i think we will have 300 locations this year alone. making us the starbucks of financial inclusion. you have got to be crazy to think big thoughts like that. you got to be a little off to say the things that all of us are saying. you have got to be crazy to save the world. i just put on twitter roland is brilliant. isn't he fantastic? [applause] >> i am a preacher. >> write your vision, make a plan, but wait on him to tell you where to go.
ryan: thank you for the panel today. what a great panel. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> the c-span city tour learns about the history and literary life of columbus georgia. timothy: this is an ironclad built in columbus during the war. those of all shapes are in the gun ports of the jackson. the jackson is armed with 6 brooke rifles. the rifles they are firing today is still specifically for the jackson. it was cast at selma naval works in selma, alabama and completed in january 1865. the claim to fame is connected
to the fact that there are only 4 ironclads from the civil war that we can study right now. the jackson is right here. this is why this facility is here. it is first and foremost to tell the story of this particular ironclad and to show people there are more then one or two ironclads, there are many. >> watch our events from columbus, today at 2:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3. >> each week, american artifacts takes you into historic sites around the country. we visit the national museum of health and medicine just outside washington d.c. to look at items related to president abraham lincoln's assassination. tim: our final stop is an exhibit on the assassination of abraham lincoln. the artifacts collected
during the hours that surgeons or treating him after he was shot at ford's theater. and during, and after his autopsy the next day. you might remember that abraham lincoln was shot at ford's theater at about 10:30 on friday the 14th of april, 1865. a few days after lee's surrender to grant at appomattox, effectively ending the civil war. lincoln is at the play and is shot in the back of the head by john wilkes booth. in a small, by a small lead bullet. that bullet is actually on display here. you can see it in that small glass globe. the bullet was recovered the next day at an autopsy performed at the white house. in the hours shortly after lincoln is shot, the surgeon
general, joseph barnes, responds to the president's side. this is abby peterson house -- this is at the peterson house across from ford's theater. he calls for something called a nelaton probe to be threaded into the wound and identify where the fragment or bullet was. the bullet ended up being lodged behind lincoln's right eye. the nelaton probe is part of the exhibit we have on display. surgeon general barnes army medical staff and another
surgeon were at the president's bedside in the hours before he died, about 7:@222 the next morning on the 15th of april, 1865. it was decided that a postmortem would be performed quickly. the president's body was removed to the white house and the autopsy was performed in a room that is today one of the president's dining rooms. during the autopsy, the bullet was recovered. the skull would have been removed, the top of the skull removed from lincoln's head. as the story is recounted, dr. curtis lifted the brain out of the skull and held it over a china bowl. the bullet fell into the china bowl and made a tinkling sound. according to notes, there was a pause, a moment of silence. with that sound of the bullet in the china bowl, it was the only
sound making any noise at that moment. curtis reflects on it by saying something to the effect of this is a lead ball, for which we cannot measure the calamitous effect. the autopsy is completed and some fragments of lincoln's skull were retained by surgeons who assisted at the autopsy. in one case, some fragment was stuck on some of dr. curtis' tools. as he was cleaning his surgical kit, he found a bit of lincoln's skull fragments stuck in one of the saws. we have a bit of lincoln's hair, removed from the side of the wounded during the autopsy. several locks of hair are accounted for in the notes from those hours before lincoln died and during his autopsy. these are a few of those cut and given away to different people.
another object that is on display relates to dr. curtis. edward curtis, a surgeon on the staff of the army medical museum, is the assistant at the autopsy. when he got home that night, the 15th of april after the autopsy he discovered that his undershirt sleeve shirt cuffs were stained with the president's blood. mrs. curtis cut those short cuffs off and they put them into an envelope. this is one of those two shortcuts. both are in the museum's holdings. one is on display. many of these objects had an interesting and diverse history. the bullet was used as evidence at the trial of the conspirators. the fragments of bone and hair were in the care and holdings of others for many years. most were collected in the early 1950's by an army medical museum
curator named helen and have, for the most part, been on display at the army medical museum and now the national museum of health and medicine for many decades. 2015 will recount the 150th anniversary of the assassination of president abraham lincoln. >> you can watch this or other american artifacts programs at any time by visiting our website, c-span.org/history. >> you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter. for information on our schedule of upcoming programs. and keep up with the latest history news. >> each week american history tv's railamerica brings you archival films that help tell the story of the 20th century.
70 years ago on march 7, 19 45 u.s. army forces captured ludendorff bridge, the first allied bridgehead across the rhine river in germany. the bridge at remagen is a u.s. army film telling the story of the battle and narrated by soap opera to spends, -- several participants. born in 1914 and now 100 years old, west virginia representative heckler is currently the oldest living former congressman. [gunfire] >> the town of remagen had some advantages for the attacker and the defender. from the standpoint of the attacker, there was higher ground going into the town where you could direct operations from.
but it was very easy to defend remagen because of the narrow streets and cliff on the opposite side of the rhine which provided observation for 10 miles around. from which the defender could see anybody approaching the town. >> on the morning of march 7, we received orders and were given maps covering the area leading to remagen. we noticed on the map, the bridge of comedy ludendorff bridge. no one paid any attention to this bridge because we had received no orders or to capture the bridge. all we were told was that we were to attack the town of remagen, take it and swing south, trying to connect with
patton's third army. >> in march 1945 there was a series of new company commanders. carl timmermann served as platoon leader. the advance along the rhineland toward remagen resulted in a number of casualties to the officers peered on the night of march 6 timmermann was tapped to be the next company commander of company a. his orders were to capture the town of remagen and then to stop. by the morning of the seventh of march, about 11:30, carl timmermann saw a great deal of excitement up ahead on the edge of the woods. he gunned his jeep, went to the edge of the woods and looked down on the rhine river. there he saw the electrifying
side of a bridge still standing, the ludendorff bridge. a bridge which the americans never expected to find standing. >> now isis rears their ugly head. this army is very shaky. you cannot undo decades of soviet-era and saddam-era stuff with eight years. especially when you taught them on a model when they will have u.s. advisors and partners with them. afghanistan, according to the president's announcements, we had 10,000 troops there. we will draw down to 5000 year and zero the year after that. i would warn that we will see a similar result to what we saw in iraq and ice is attacked. the afghan army is going to be very shaky. >> retired army lieutenant dana
bulger -- daniel bolger on iraq and afghanistan and what we should have done differently. tonight on "q&a." >> author and oxford university history professor margaret macmillan talks about president woodrow wilson's second term from 1917 to 1921. once the u.s. entered the first world war in 1917, the majority of his efforts focus on foreign affairs and diplomacy. professor mcmillan discusses wilson's involvement in the great war and his attempt at a lasting peace through the 1919 paris peace conference and the league of nations. the university of virginia's miller center hosted this 90 minute program. professor leffler: hello everybody. it's a pleasure to see all of you here. january is a time of new
beginnings. we make resolutions. we professors resolve that we are going to do a better job this term that we did last term. this year there's a new beginning because we have a new director here of the miller center, bill antholis, and i know we are all feeling incredibly fortunate to have somebody with his experience ambition, and vision. we are all very much looking forward to working with him. it's a new beginning as well because we are starting a new presidential history lecture series. gary gallagher ran a terrifically successful one. many of you came to the lectures last year on the 19th century. as bill antholis just said, we put together a group of terrific
people to come and talk about 20th century presidential leadership in times of crisis. we are going to have george nash in a few weeks, or i should say, really on march 3, and he's going to talk about herbert hoover's dealings with the great depression. mark stoler is one of the great military historians of the 20th century. he will talk about roosevelt's ealing's with world war ii. david kennedy will talk about franklin roosevelt and the great depression. david kennedy is a pulitzer prize winner. that will be followed by fred
talking about lbj and the agony of the vietnam war. fred vogel won a prize for his book on vietnam. tom blanton will finish the series next december. tom blanton is ahead of the national security archive. he's going to talk about ronald reagan and the end of the cold war. today we're going to begin the whole series where it should begin in terms of the 20th century, on woodrow wilson in war and peace. as many of you know, we are commemorating this year the 100th anniversary of the onset of world war i, 1914. 2014-2015. here in the united states, the great war is indelibly linked to the presidency of woodrow wilson. wilson's presidency was infused with irony and contradiction.
many of you may know that when he assumed office in 1913, his primary focus was intentionally going to be on domestic priorities. he wound up spending most of the next eight years dealing with one foreign crisis after another, most particularly world war i. when world war i erupted, wilson wanted to stay aloof, keep the united states neutral, but he wound up embarking on a great crusade abroad to make the world safe for democracy. wilson was the first president during his tenure in office to actually go abroad. he went to paris at the end of 1918 to engage in the negotiations of the paris peace conference. when he went abroad, he was heralded as a great savior in december of 1918.
the crowds in paris and london and rome, all the great cities of europe that he visited right before the peace conference, people came out in the hundreds of thousands to greet wilson. he was a real hero. by the time he wound up leaving paris in june of 1919 permanently, he was being scorned and ridiculed. personally, he could not wait to leave. when he returned home, the league and the treaty seemed to have the majority support of the american people, at least judged by newspaper editorials and magazine editorials. but his foes in the u.s. senate assailed wilson's handiwork, the treaty of versailles and the league of nations, and they
impelled him to on a nationwide tour to drum up support for the league of nations and the treaty, during which he was stricken with a terrible stroke and incapacitated for the rest of his presidency. even in his personal life, wilson was a very contradictory figure. to many -- if you see pictures of him, you think of him as a prudish and austere person. privately, wilson was charming and witty and very passionate. he was grief stricken when his first wife died in 1914, but very quickly he struck up a romantic relationship with a washington socialite named edith bolling. the joke around washington went like this. quote, what did the new mrs. wilson do when the president proposed? the answer? she fell out of bed with surprise. [laughter]
i listed that and -- i lifted that anecdote from margaret macmillan's incredible book on peacemaking in 1919. we are incredibly lucky to have margaret macmillan with us today. she's truly one of the outstanding, one of the most distinguished historians of international relations in the world. she's a professor of history at oxford and the head of saint anthony's college at oxford, for those of you who have been at oxford, i was privileged enough to spend a year there about a decade ago. saint anthony's is one of --perhaps arguably the best place in the world to study international relations. professor mcmillan has written many books. she has written on british women in india, on nixon's opening of
relations with china. she has written on the uses and abuses of history. most of all, she's known for her two wonderful volumes on world war i. the first that she wrote about a dozen years ago was on peacemaking in 1919. the other just appeared last year and is about the origins of world war i, the war that ended peace. that's the name of the book. the former book, the one that in some ways will be the framework for today's lecture, i suspect won a half dozen of the english-speaking world's most prestigious prizes for the best book on international relations. i'm incredibly happy to have margaret macmillan here with us. she's going to talk for 40 or 45
minutes about wilson in war and peace, then i will engage her in a conversation for 10 or 15 minutes, and then i will open it up for questions. thank you. [applause] professor macmillan: i would like to thank you for that kind introduction. i should warn you about that joke about mrs. wilson. the man who made it was asked to leave washington. [laughter] i would like to think the miller center for inviting me. it's a great pleasure to be here. i'm ashamed to say it is my first visit to the university of virginia in charlottesville. aren't you lucky to live in such a wonderful place. i'm going to talk today about woodrow wilson in war and peace. in 1913, at the beginning of his first administration, he said to a friend, it would be an irony of fate if my administration had
to focus on foreign policy. it was not his interest. it was not something he particularly wanted to have to do. as professor leffler said, that was something that he ended up doing. we look at him because he presides over the united states at a time of great crisis in world history, the great war first world war, one of the great crises of modern history. it shattered much of the old european order. it had consequences which lasted for decades, perhaps into the 21st century. it affected much of the rest of the world as well. it is also a very important moment in american history and world history. it is a time when the united states is in the process of transforming its already great economic strengths, its greatest strengths as a nation, which is finally coming together after the scars and trauma of the civil war, when the united states begins transforming the strength into military strength. when the war began, the united
states was not a military power in any sense of the word. it had a small navy, although it was beginning to build up its naval strength. it had a small army. it counted in military terms much less than a smaller country such as italy. what we see as a consequence of the first world war is the beginnings of the united states becoming a truly global power. those beginnings were there before 1914. the period between 1914 and 1918 is a very important period in the history of the united states and the history of the world. it is important to look both at what was happening in the world, what was happening in the united states, and at the personality of woodrow wilson himself. as president, he not only expressed the feelings and aspirations of a great many americans, he came to power on the great surge of progressive sentiment that was hoping to remake american society.
but he also came to express something of american views of themselves and what they might be doing in the world. i do think we have to pay attention to wilson the man. we have to put him very firmly in the context of his times. his personality and character and his many foibles would not have mattered if it were not that he was in charge of an important nation at a pivotal time in history. melvin has said something about a personality of that man. he remains a puzzle and will continue to remain a puzzle. like a lot of human beings, he's very contradictory. he was a great idealist. he was also someone who would act in a ruthless way. if you crossed him, he tended to assume that you were his enemy. he was not good at accepting the people could have different points of view from him. his life is marked by a series of rejecting those who contradicted him, stood against
him, disagreed with him. he could be extraordinarily rigid. he was a great order, perhaps one of the great orators among the american presidents. but he also in private told some of the worst jokes i've ever seen. when he was in paris, he was surrounded by a group of people who were working for him and admiring him. they used to write down his conversations in the evening. they wrote down his jokes. there's a huge collection of his papers. if you want to find some really bad shaggy dog stories, i would go to the wilson papers. some jokes that go on for 20 minutes with an irishman, a scotsman, southerner northerner. you all know that sort of joke and i will not bother to tell them. he was an intellectual in office, but a very good practical politician. anyone who had been governor of new jersey knew something about the practicalities of politics. he had been a very effective governor. he was someone who liked engaging in ideas, discussing ideas, but he could be very
rigid once he made his mind up. those who knew him well would say he would talk about policy until he made his mind up, then there would be no further discussion. he also had the confidence, who knows where it came from, that he understood better than many other elected leaders what the people wanted. the people, he said he never , really defined what the people was, but it seemed to be those who agreed with him. the people spoke through him. this is where he ran into trouble in europe. he said, to the elected leaders of france, britain, and italy, your people have spoken to me. i know what the people of the world want. the french ambassador in washington, who observed him closely and quite liked him said of him that he was a man who had he lived a couple centuries ago would have been the greatest tyrant in the world because he does not seem to have the slightest conception that he can ever be wrong. i think this is something that marks wilson. a very intelligent man, a very interesting man but a man who , could also be immovable and
rigid. when he came to office, like many americans, he had a strong sense of what the united states could do in the world. i think part of his understanding and views of what united states could do in the world came from his own background. he was a devout presbyterian. he remained a believer all his life. i think he believed in the role of good works, that it was the responsibility of people put on earth to carry out good works. he believed the united states had a role and obligation to do good works in the world. he believed the united states could and should be a force for good. the united states should be an example to the world, as he said when he was campaigning in new jersey in 1912, america is an idea, america is an ideal, america is a vision. that is something that helps to shape his attitude towards american neighbors, those he has
to deal with, and towards america's enemies. he supported the spanish-american war, although he initially opposed it. he convinced himself the united states was bringing the benefits of civilization to the territories which it took over from the spanish. he supported the intervention of the united states in the affairs of latin american countries -- again because he felt the , united states was a force for good in those countries. when he became president, in the first term of his presidency he intervened quite forcefully in mexican affairs. often on rather shaky grounds, but he felt he was doing the right thing. as he said to a british diplomat, i'm going to teach the south american republics to elect good men. this is an odd view for a democrat. but he felt, and a sense, he was carrying out a mission of god's world. he said of mexico when the u.s. sent troops into mexico, we have gone to mexico to serve mankind, if we can find a way. we do not want to fight the mexicans. if you were mexican, you might see this differently.
this is the man who is president of the united states when the war breaks out. someone prepared to use american power when he sees it is necessary to do good, and it must be admitted, to defend american interests. he certainly felt in dealing with the caribbean basin and mexico, the united states had every right to defend the interests of american missionaries or business or american strategic interests. he did not in see the united 1914, states playing a larger role in the world. he was at that stage still very much focused on domestic reforms and was carrying out an ambitious program of domestic reforms. when the war broke out, he was horrified, like many were. distracted by the fact that his wife was dying in those first days of august as europe was going into the first world war. but he took himself away from her deathbed and sent her a note, which unfortunately was not paid attention to, to to the different sides offering to act
as a mediator. at this point the european nations had determined on war and were moving towards war. there were those on the other side who said the united states should not get involved, theodore roosevelt among them. there were those on the other side who said the united states should not get involved under any circumstances. there is considerable debate about if united states were to get involved, on which side should get involved. it was by no means a foregone conclusion that the u.s. would intervene on the side of the allies -- italy, britain, france and eventually i russia. there were large sections in the united states to had no particular love for britain. a large irish population, which was not prepared to support the united states going in on the british side. there were all those who had fled czarist autocracy, who had fled russia for very good reasons, and moved to the united states and saw no reason to support an autocracy.
a lot of democrats, whether they had families who would come from russia, did not feel comfortable with the united states supporting a country that was known for being thoroughly undemocratic and autocratic. there was also a large population of german descent in the united states, many of whom were not prepared to advocate that united states joined on the german side, were not willing to see the united states fight a country for which they still had a good deal of affection. as the war broke out, there was division in public opinion. fair to say, this was before public opinion polls probably , the majority of americans hoped the united states could stay out of the war. they looked at what was happening in europe with horror, particularly as the war developed. it seemed what had been promised to be a short war was going to turn into this hideous war of attrition that was going to drag on and on and on.
a lot of americans looked at europe and thought why are they doing it, with a sense of bewilderment and shock and horror that the europeans seemed intent on destroying their own civilization. i think initially at least in , the first year of the war, if you can gauge american public opinion, i think the feeling was the united states should stay out. but a number of factors, some of them outside wilson's control, and sometimes inside his control began to push the united states , gradually towards the allied side. wilson himself was probably more sympathetic to the allies than he was to the central powers of germany and austria-hungary and their other allies, the ottoman empire, bulgaria, and so on. i think -- he had not visited europe much, but he had spent time in britain. had studied british history. he was a great admirer of the development of constitutionalism in britain and the development of liberal thinking in prison. -- in britain. it felt on balance, the allied
side with the better side. -- was the better side. from the beginning, when there was a question of doing something that might favor the allied side or might favor the central powers, wilson tended to come down on the allied side. for example, on the issue of loans to belligerents -- this was a thorny issue. should those fighting be able to borrow money in the u.s.? his secretary of state, williams jenning bryan -- william jennings bryan, was initially for ban on both sides, which he argued with some justification was true neutrality. if you're going to be neutral you should not lend to either side. there was pressure from business, from banks which did want to lend, and the people they probably were going to lend to were the allies. the allies were in a better position to borrow. the state department was also in favor of making loans to the allies. by the late fall of 1914, wilson had ordered the state department and ordered bryan to make it
possible for the allies to borrow in the u.s. as bryan argued this was tilting , towards the allies. the loans to the allies were going to increase steadily to the point that by 1917, united states' mostly private interests had lent $7 billion to the allies. gradually, the u.s. became more financially committed to the allies and wilson did nothing to stop it. in fact facilitated it. , the war had a favorable impact on the united states because the allies were in a great position to order a great deal of war material from the united states. most of what was being sold to the belligerents was being sold by the allies rather than the germans. the war also gave the opportunity for american business to begin to move in on market that had hitherto been the preserve of the british or the french. in many ways, the war was an economic benefit to the united states.
it brought full employment. it brought an expansion of american exports. to give you one statistic in , 1914, u.s. exports to europe were $500 million. some of it going to germany, but the bulk of its going to the allied powers. there is a marked increase in the war. which does not commit the u.s. to the allies but does entangle the united states more and more economically with the allies. both through the loans and through the exports. the u.s. was also pushed towards the allied side by what the germans did. it was not that the british did not irritate the u.s. the great british weapon was a naval blockade. the british imposed a naval blockade on germany. they began to disrupt neutral trade, trades being carried in neutral shipping to germany, which began to irritate american public opinion. when american ships were stopped and american ships were seized
on the grounds that they could be used for contraband. this remained a constant irritant in the relationship between the united states and allies, particularly in the united states -- between the united states and britain. on the whole, it was germany that managed to enrage american public opinion much more than britain did. there were a number of reasons for this. the germans, increasingly as the war went on, allow their policy -- allowed their policy to be made by the military. the german military tended to see very much in terms of winning the war, and they tended to ignore or downplay political factors. you can see right at the beginning of the war, the germans for military reasons invaded the neutral country of belgium. whose neutrality had been guaranteed by a number of european states, including germany itself. so what germany is doing is breaking its own guarantee to belgium, invading a small country. the german invasion of belgium was going to help very significantly to tilt american opinion against germany.
it outweighed the irritants of the british blockade, irritating though those were. increasingly, the american public began to see germany is something that had been dominated by militarists which were running out of control, not obeying the laws of civilized warfare. there were going to be several incidents in the invasion of belgium which really shocked american opinion and opinion elsewhere. the germans behaved with increasing brutality in belgium. they were enraged when the belgians decided to resist. they began to round up belgian civilians, use them for forced labor in germany, and began as a warning occasionally to shoot a number of belgian civilians, in spite of the fact that this was contrary to the rules of war. it is fairly clear that the germans also burnt a large part
of the ancient city of leuven in belgium, including a very old library which contained a great many treasures of the european past. this really shocked american public opinion. this seemed an act of barbarism. an act against civilization. one german later on said the two things that really swayed american public opinion against us were leuven and the lusitania. in 1915, when german submarines sank the lusitania, a large number of civilians were drowned, including a number of americans. this was a shock to american public opinion. you can see a gradual shift in american opinion, which probably shares towards the allied side. this is a very long way from saying the united states should be involved in the war.
wilson's own views was we should not be involved, this is not a war that involves us. on several occasions, he offered his services or the services of the united states as a mediator. while this was happening, there is also debate in the united states about whether the united states should get more prepared for war. should the united states up its military preparations in a world that was increasingly turbulent? this divided american public opinion. it was something woodrow wilson had to beat -- felt had to be done. the united states, he argued could not take the chance and a world that was at war, of not being prepared militarily. he cast this in terms of being prepared against mexico, in terms of continental defense but that could be stretched to mean preparedness in terms of naval preparedness in the atlantic. there was a fear increasingly in the united states that if germany won in europe, it would be a europe europe inimical hostile to the united states. it would become more vulnerable eventually as technology was changing, more vulnerable to threats from europe. in any case on december 15 and , december 1915, wilson and his
state of the union speech talked very focused, it was focused on military preparedness. he developed and approved a new five-year plan for the navy, which was approved by the senate. in june 1916, after a great deal of debate in congress, a national defense act was approved, which increase the army to 223,000 people. it had been an army of less than 70,000 people. this was a very marked increase. this was cast in terms of defense of the united states not of getting into war. you can see the similaritiesthis was a very between the debate that took place in the united states before 1941. a similar debate that the u.s. does not want to choose sides but should look out for itself in a world that is becoming very difficult. what you also got was an interesting debate in the united states about what the proper role for the united states should be in the world. it is a debate i think which has
reoccurred throughout the history of united states. i think we see it again today. a debate about whether the united states should be internationalist, whether it should get involved in the world for any number of reasons. whether to promote american safety and security, to promote american economic interests or to promote american values. these debates go right back to the founding of the republic and i think will continue. or whether the u.s. should withdraw from the world and not let the rest of the world and penned upon it. it is in this debate in the first world war that the word isolationist first enters the vocabulary. a word which is still very much with us today. you probably all know what happened. the war drags on. the united states is more and more involved economically. american opinion is debating what the united states should be doing. wilson runs in 1916 on the platform of keeping the united
states out of the war. we will be too proud to fight, he said. he kept us out of the war, was what the democrats said when wilson won. this was the platform he ran on. there's a real parallel here with franklin delano or roosevelt in 1940, are doing he's the one who would keep united states out of the war. in the end, what brought the united states in was this gradual shift in public opinion. it was what the germans did. the germans behaved in a way that i can only describe as folly, extremely shortsighted. the german supreme command by 1917 was in command of the german state. it had set up something close to a german dictatorship. it had been repressing to renew unrestricted summary and warfare. it stopped in 1915 after an american ship had been sunk. there is huge protest in the u.s. and the german government had recognized that unrestricted submarine warfare with submarines could fire on any
shipping approaching british shores, whether neutral, british, or not, was not helping germany. the high command had been pressing for the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare. in january 1917, they got their wish. the sinkings and loss of american lives began to go up. american opinion begins to harden. in 1917, wilson talks to the senate. he's hoping to keep the united states out of the war. he's beginning to sketch a world after the war, beginning to take an active role in defining what that role should look like. that's not the same as going into the war. it is indicating that the united states, as far as wilson is concerned, is moving to a position of saying, the world
is going to be a different place and we ought to have a say in it. once you think you ought to have a say in the world, you are more likely to want to get involved. it's in his address to the senate in january 1917 that he talks about that victory. he talks about how the world might develop a community of powers to replace the old balance of power, and begins to sketch out his ideas for a new type of way, a new way of managing international relations. the germans do their best to make up american lines. not only do they resume unrestricted submarine warfare but they sent a telegram to the mexican government after the foreign secretary who sends it and what zimmerman sends to the mexican government is a telegram saying, we think you probably -- you would probably like to have back the territory which the united states took from you in the 19th century. we suggest you declare war on the united states. we can probably persuade japan to join in. we will certainly support you. the germans had to send this telegram on british cables
because the british had cut all the german telegraph cables to the new world, but it was coded, but the british had broken the german code. the british decode this cable, they realize they have a really hot potato here, sit on it for the time being as they decide what they will do with it, and in february they take it to woodrow wilson. you can imagine his reaction. this is treachery of the first order, now a menace to the security of united states, right there on the southern border of the united states. from that point on, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that the united states will enter the war on the allied side. what also makes it easier for the united states to contemplate doing this is in february 1917 there's also a revolution in russia. this is not yet the bolshevik revolution, this is the first revolution that overthrows a czarist regime.
one of the main objections that used to come from liberals and people who are profoundly democratic to joining on the allied side, that the allies included this autocratic power suddenly is removed. in april, to cut a long and complicated story short, wilson goes to congress and asks for a declaration of war. it's one of his best speeches. he does so not in a triumphant way. he does it in a somber way. united states, he says, is entering into a war that is going to cost us. it's going to suffer the loss of life. himself has a heavy heart. what he hopes is that the war will end in producing a better world. what he hoped privately and said to many, he hoped it would bring the american people together educate them about international issues, and the responsibility towards the war. i think he understood very clearly what needed to be done and more. he understood the importance of mobilizing the nation for war. the day after he signed a
declaration of war, he made a list which he called his program. he said, we need to up the measures for war. we need to increase the size of the army and navy. we need to pass necessary legislation to put the country in a state of preparation and defense for actions. we need to make sure we do not have spies and we do not suffer espionage at home. this is one of the areas which is very contentious about those days of the presidency. there is a real curtailment of civil liberties and a good deal of spying on american citizens. i think woodrow wilson himself did not do enough to defend very basic civil liberties. he allowed furthermore attacks
on ethnic minorities. he allowed attacks on unions. he allowed increasingly and often rigid segregation in the armed forces. as a war leader, he did a lot to bring the united states together. you can also look at areas where he didn't. the also recognize the war was going to have to be financed. baruch and others tried to don conduct american industrial output. unlike some of his predecessors, he was not himself interested in things military. he did not on the whole intervene in either making strategy. he allowed strategy for winning the war to be made by the allies, who now had a coherent commander, supreme commander. but he was prepared to support general pershing when pershing insisted the united states play an independent role and american forces play an independent role. wilson's attitude seems to be that he would allow pershing once appointed to do what he
thought best. you get very little interference by wilson. appomattox he does not play the role the churchill will play in england or roosevelt. what he does in the course of the war is continue to scratch -- sketch out american warrings. after his address in which he talks about these without victory, january 8, 1918 he unveils the 14 points. these are a more comprehensive statement of the type of world he wants. he doesn't use self-determination in that speech, although that term is associated with him. it had been used a few days previously by the british prime minister, who had made a similar speech.
it was suspected in the white house, to preempt what wilson and steal publicity from him. although the term is now forever associated with wilson of self-determination, it comes to be something he uses later on. in the 14 points he talks about the liberal world order he wants, a world in which there is open diplomacy. he talks about open company's openly arrived at. a lot of americans and others blamed the war on europe in secret diplomacy. the idea the relations between nations will now become transparent -- that does not last. it turns out to be something that is very difficult to do. he talks about a community of nations, collective security. this is the forerunner of the league of nations. he talks not about self-determination, but autonomy for the different parts of the oster-hungarian empire. he talks about helping russia to find its way. it talks about disarmament lowering trade areas. this is a very liberal international order that if we can have collective security
disarmament, if we can link the world together through trade increasingly, we will have a world that will be safer, and a world safe for democracy. he continues to elaborate on his views of the postwar world in the last months and year of the war. increasingly too, he tends to blame what he calls german militarism for a lot of the war. he doesn't lay in germany itself, although it is certainly close to that, but he is increasingly vehement against what he calls impression on german militarism, the rampant ascendancy of the military, as military values. these, he says, must be removed from germany before germany can be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the community of nations. in spite of what later historians have said, he was not
prepared to be soft with germany. he was prepared to chastise germany. then and only then would germany be fit to be admitted into the community of nations. the war ended very quickly. the germans made one last great push in the summer of 1918, but they had by this point run out of steam. the fact that there were now a million americans in europe and more in training camps, two million more in training camps in the united states, that tremendous american support of material, manpower, fresh approach to the war, was now counting against germany. the germans simply crumbled. they were no longer capable of sustaining the war. the german homefront was collapsing. by autumn of 1918, german allies were beginning to fall away. the german high command continues to assure the civilian government that everything is going well. suddenly, panic.
i we have to have an armistice. the german government, hoping they might get gentler treatment from the united states because of the sorts of speech is the woodrow wilson has in making which had been well reported in germany, sent an open note to woodrow wilson, asking him to broker an armistice. wilson, much to the fury of his european partners -- he will never call them allies. he says the united states is an associate power. this is not something the british and french particularly approve of. they find themselves preempted by what the germans in the first phase have done and by what wilson does. the armistice is made in spite of what the british and french want. on the british and french side there is sentiment it is probably better to go on, and germany needs to be thoroughly defeated. there are certainly those in the united states arguing this as well.
teddy roosevelt is saying, and so is henry cabot lodge, that unless germany is utterly defeated, unless germany knows it has been defeated, there will only be the seeds of trouble for the future. sometimes i think they were right. it's a difficult debate. in the second world war, roosevelt and churchill decided on unconditional surrender as their policy. they were not going to have conditional surrender as there was in the first world war. the armistice was made. it was made in such a way that germany continued as a state. it accepted that germany will continue to be a state, although there had been talk of breaking it up into its component parts. germany on the whole did not come badly out of that armistice. the government had by this point been replaced by a more or less democratic government. german soil was not occupied except for a small bit on the west bank of the rhine. this perhaps lead to trouble in the future.
i would argue that it did treat most germans never really felt they had been defeated. they never saw the consequences of defeat. the high command, who had so rapidly and in such a panic stricken fashion demanded the government -- they panicked, we didn't. they began with the support of of the right in germany to promote this pernicious myth that germany had been stabbed in the back, it had never been defeated on the battlefield, it had been stabbed in the back by traders -- traitors at home. they included liberals communists, and unfortunately, jews. it grew in power rather than lessening in the 1920's and 1930's. the question now is what sort of peace will be made. as the professor mentioned
wilson broke the president by coming himself to the peace conference that was going to take place in paris. he was heavily criticized for it at the time. he was right to go, because this was an important conference. the world had quite literally been turned upside down by the war, and europe and much of the rest of the world was in turmoil. four empires had disappeared or were in the process of disappearing. germany was falling to pieces, was losing territories it had conquered a century earlier, losing its polish territories, its colonies. the ottoman empire was going to disappear shortly after november 11, 1918. the austro-hungarian empire had already disappeared. it was falling into its different component pieces. new nations were struggling to be born in the wreckage. russia had an internal revolution and was losing an empire. the states on the periphery of russia were declaring their independence. states such as latvia, lithuania, ukraine tried and succeeded briefly.
georgia, azerbaijan, russia was both an empire and regime. both were splintering in the aftermath of the great war. so there were huge questions the world had to settle. what was the shape of europe going to be like? what was the shape of the middle east going to be like? suddenly all the arab territories of the ottoman empire were now up for grabs of some sort. there were colonies to be disposed of in africa and south pacific. there was a real danger that many felt at the time, the europe and the world were going to plunge into even more revolution. the second revolution in russia, of november 1917, had seen a small and fanatical splinter group in the bolsheviks takeover. there was a communist revolution in bavaria. it only lasted for a week come but it was enough to worry a people. there were militant strikes in
britain, canada. there were troubles around the world. there was a real fear that 1918 was not the end of something, it was the beginning of another even more dreadful period in human history. wilson was right to go to paris. where he made a mistake was in the way he chose his delegation. he did not include any republicans. he included one nominal republican who he paid no attention to. this was wrong. it also fought the 1918 congressional action as a vote of confidence and himself. he made the making of peace a partisan affair. you can criticize him for that. i think it's striking that fdr in 1945 mixer and international conferences he went to before he died in 1945 were bipartisan. i think wilson was right to go to paris. there are many views of wilson in paris.
there is wilson the messiah who came from the united states with the gift of peace and international fellowship and was greeted by black-hearted cynical people in europe who took his gift and destroyed it? that was promulgated, that wilson was too good for the europeans. the europeans did not understand what it was that he was offering. my own view is that is wrong. many europeans supported what wilson was trying to do. they had seen firsthand, and many of them had survived what the war had done to their society. for a lot of europeans, wilson offered promise, offered hope. many of the ideas he was bringing with him were ideas that had been in europe for a long time. these were not just ideas he had come up with. these were ideas that you should have collective security, ideas that had been talked about throughout the 19th century in europe. ideas of international arbitrations to settle disputes among nations.
these were things that had been talked about and had been tried. international free trade, these are ideas that had been talked about. in the ideas certainly were there. i think the view that wilson was too good for europe is wrong. the view that wilson was in a in competent at paris was wrong. this idea was promulgated by the young economist who was critical of everyone in paris. -- british economist who was critical of everyone in paris. the french prime minister he describes as a giant chimpanzee in human form who sits there with hooded eyes, thinking only of revenge on germany, which is not true. in an and in an.
whatever he thought of the germans, he knows that france would have to work with them at some point. he portrays the british prime minister as half goat, half man, coming out of the welsh mists, who weaves spells around wilson. he portrays wilson as someone blindfolded and spun round and round until he doesn't know whether he's coming or going. this is not true. wilson made mistakes. they all did. i think he believed he could do too much. whenever a question came up he said, as long as we get the league up and running, the league will be able to deal with it. i think he had too much optimism, but he was bringing something very important trade he was bringing to the forefront of public opinion another way of looking at the world, another way of trying to run the world. this was enormously important, particularly when you can see what had happened. i think there was real support in europe for wilson station. he was trying to do something that was impossible. i take a view of the paris peace conference that it made
mistakes, it did not create a stable world, but that it probably couldn't have done much better. the conditions for a lasting peace were simply not there. it's all very well to say that those people sitting in paris should have sorted the world out. the world was not in a condition to be sorted out. it was very different in 1815 when the powers met at the congress of vienna to sort out the aftermath of the french wars of revolution and the napoleonic wars. by 1815, europe was tired. nobody wanted anymore war. in 1918, that wasn't true. there were a whole series of small wars after 1918. winston churchill called them the wars of the pygmies. wars in the southern parts of europe. this is not a peaceful world that was yet ready for peace. it was a world in which revolutionary feelings were running high. the russian revolution had set off revolutionary fervor around
europe. ethnic nationalism was running high. people who had been within those empires who had increasingly been defining themselves as nations suddenly saw an attempt to establish nations of their own. establishing a nation with national boundaries was not easy. there were no clear markers of where those boundaries should be. the center of europe had a mix of peoples. nationalities were so mixed up that you would have a hungarian village next to a german village. how did you draw a reasonable boundary? there is no way of putting all german speakers in a neat little box. nor were there clearly defined historic boundaries. because european history had seen so much, and for so many
centuries boundaries had come and gone, what was the legitimate boundary? they all said, history shows this should be the extent of our nation. human nature being what it is, what they called on was the time their nation had been biggest in the past. the bulgarians looked back to the 14th century, when they had been quite big. they were often claiming the same bits of territory. you can just imagine what the greeks did, or the italians. [laughter] they could go even further back with even more justification. i would argue that it wasn't wilson's fault that a lasting peace was not built. the circumstances were not right for it. and they tried. they brought their experts. this is one of the times when people like me, history professors, were invited to go along and give views on how the borders should be drawn. this is the beginning of the use of experts in international diplomacy. the committees worked hard. they had delegations who came in with maps to show that they
should have this piece of territory rather than someone else. the americans, on the whole, tried to draw a rational boundaries that would give countries a fighting chance of surviving. they try to make them economically stable. they tried to incorporate railway networks. they tried also to resist the more outlandish claims. the americans on the whole played a reasonable part. they were dealing with something that was not reasonable. ethnic nationalism was not by its nature reasonable and it wasn't going to be settled easily. national self-determination, in the end, what did it mean? robert lansing said come and how do you define an ethnic nation? what about the people who don't want to be apart of it, they
have an ethnic nation too? can you keep subdividing it until you get smaller and smaller nations? how can they survive in an independent world? wilson told the senate at the end of 1919 that he had come to regret that he ever uttered the words national self-determination. he said, i did not foresee what trouble it would cause. you look at the paris peace conference. i'm inclined to say that wilson and the rest of them did the best job they could. there are things you can criticize about what wilson and what some of the others did. he was right to insist on negotiating the league covenant first. he said, we've got to get the covenant first. it was going to be put into all the other treaties as well. there is grounds to criticize. one of the things i would criticize is the way he handled the japanese request. the japanese wanted to be part of a liberal international order. but what they wanted was to be recognized. they were very sensitive about the fact that their nationals
had been denied entry into the united states, canada, australia on racial grounds. what they wanted written into the league covenant was a phrase that came to be known as the racial equality clause, which said there should be no discrimination on the basis of religion or nationality. wilson ruled it out on a rather feeble technicality. he was afraid of losing votes from the west coast and felt that if he challenged the fears on the west coast, if he did not go along with what the west coast wanted, that is, exclusion of asian immigration, then he would have more trouble getting the league, the treaty through congress. i think he was wrong on this because it served to poison relations in the long term with japan. i think he was also wrong, but it was not him alone. when china came to the peace conference, and china and japan were both allies in the first world war. the chinese said, we would like
back what had been german concessions in china. the japanese said, we also have a claim on those because we helped to defeat germany. the allies and wilson could have stopped it. they gave german concessions in china to the japanese. it infuriated the chinese. it helped to spur the founding and growth of the chinese communist party and helped to turn china away from a liberal international order. as one young chinese intellectual said, we used to trust people like wilson. now we think they're great liars. you can look at what wilson did and argue that it would have long-term consequences. can you blame him for not foreseeing it? no, perhaps you can't. in the end he felt the treaty was the best they could have got. it wasn't too harsh on germany. that is perhaps something we can talk about again. i think the final criticism i
would make of wilson is that he did not make it possible for the treaty to go through congress. he came back, there was opposition. as far as we know, american public opinion -- literary review did a survey, as it often did, and opinion was over 2 to 1 in favor of the u.s. joining the league. there was an organization to promote american membership of the league, which had far more members than the parallel organization to oppose american membership of the league. in the end, why the treaty failed was because wilson was not prepared to compromise. he was not prepared to accept the reservations that came attached to the treaty as it made its way to the senate. he ordered his democrats to vote against the treaty as amended. the treaty and therefore american membership in the league was defeated by a combination of democrat and republican votes. you can argue he was no longer the man he had been.
he suffered a stroke in the fall of 1919 in the course of the long trip across the country to get support for the league. he had become both isolated and extremely stubborn. on the balance, my own view is wilson was not the savior of the world people hoped he would be. but he was not the bamboozled and blindfolded figure spun around that people thought he was. he was a complicated man. he presided over the united states at a complicated time in a complicated world. his record is mixed. but given those circumstances, i think anyone's record would have been mixed. [applause] host: that was a wonderful survey of woodrow wilson in war and peac