Skip to main content

tv   Declaration of Independence and 1776  CSPAN  July 31, 2016 9:18pm-10:02pm EDT

9:18 pm
book about grant, and jon's next book about the madisons. what is your next project? i am going back to the having family and working on another volume of that and then i will do a two volume biography of jefferson. he says three. jon: it will be three. mark: we look forward to those. i want to thank you all for being here tonight. thank you so much. [applause] well done, as always. annette: thank you. annette.l done, nicely done. [applause] thank you very much. starting monday, august 1 at
9:19 pm
8:00 p.m. eastern time, the contenders. putart series which helps the 2016 presidential campaign in historical perspective. reaching across time, political parties and geography, the contenders present he figures that have run for the presidency and have lost but changed history. each night, we feature a different candidate, beginning with henry clay and ending with ross perot. at 8:00 p.m. eastern time on august 1 here on c-span3. each week, american history tvs railamerica brings you archival films that provide context for today's public affairs issue. ♪ increase in the number of law enforcement
9:20 pm
officers killed by handguns at close range. to meet this challenge, defensive firearms training must address the skills which can defend against this threat. close combat courses which teach shooting for survival. ♪ coming up next, a discussion of exhibit, 1776 -- breaking news: independence. the first newspaper printing of the declaration of independence. the artifact is on loan from philanthropist david rubenstein who discusses the importance of the document and why columnists wanted to break -- colonists wanted to break free. [applause]
9:21 pm
mr. rubenstein: we would like to welcome our audience. thank you for making this wonderful exhibit possible. why and when you developed this deep interest in american history? i was interested in it during high school in baltimore and also in college but it did not come to a head until i was working in the white house. i was the domestic policy advisor to president carter. at that age, you work around the clock and love what you are doing. and you have some time to think about the historic work you are doing in the white house. that is when i spent the most time thinking about it and i lived in the washington area. it is a combination of things like that. >> what drew you to this newspaper, first reprinting of
9:22 pm
the declaration? mr. rubenstein: the declaration legalependence is not a document in the historic sense. it was the first time that the colonies really came together and issued a statement that was heard around the world and it was their declaration of their reason to want to be independent. it has become a historic document, not so much because it declared independence, but some things in the preface basically, andpreamble, a sick inspiring words for that generation and subsequent generations and we will probably talk about that later but that declaration has become a symbol of the creed under which our country is theoretically established in which all men and all women are created equal. we have struggled to live up to that create but those words in the preamble really are the
9:23 pm
symbol of what our country should be about. the exhibit goes through the context and run up to the declaration of independence. inevitable that maybe you can describe the event. was it british miscalculation? could they have kept a hold a while longer of this vast territory? to rubenstein: as i like remind people in britain, sometimes when you depart from a larger organization, it may not be the end of the earth because we departed and it worked out ok for us, different circumstances though. a not ridiculous position. their view was -- we have spentted the colonies and a lot of money in the french and american wars and now we would and we be compensated are still providing protection so pay us some taxes.
9:24 pm
it is not an uncommon thing for governments to impose taxes. but the colonies said -- we have the rights of all englishmen and those rights say we have the rights given to us by the magna carter and subsequent documents in english history. and they said among other things no taxation without representation. and were being imposed are not represented in parliament and we are not happy. they went through a series of legal skirmishes and military skirmishes and ultimately, in the first continental congress was created in 2074. it was designed to say -- the colonies want to come to a resolution on how to deal with this and their view was that we have to stay part of the british empire. there was no real talk about independence then but they did not get very far. the king and the parliament would not respond and the king had the attitude that -- these were being insurgents and he would not tolerate or listen to
9:25 pm
their pleas. and their view was that the king we are submitting to and we are not part of the parliament and he is not listening or answering our entreaties. the second continental congress got more complicated when they decided that they might need to be independent. a resolution was introduced by a few members of the second continental congress authorizing a vote on independence. haveof the states did not the authorization so they went back to their respective jurisdictions and tried to get authority to vote for independence. they got that. and in 1776 at the end of june when they came back, they saw on their desks a document that had been drafted by thomas jefferson with the help of benjamin franklin, robert livingston, and robert sherman and that committee of five had been tasked with the idea of coming
9:26 pm
up with a declaration of independence of assuming the vote for independence would occur. when they came back, the document had been drafted largely by thomas jefferson. they voted on july 1 and second to be independent. on the subsequent evenings, they took up the declaration. the declaration was ultimately approved with some changes. jefferson was upset with the changes. of whatd it mutilation he had written. interestingly, thomas writer,n's, a brilliant he did not talk very much. as president, he made only one speech in public. he had a high pitched voice and he was not comfortable as a speaker. when he was sitting in the second continental congress and they were mutilating his document, he did not say anything. they went next door to mr. dunlop, the printer and asked
9:27 pm
for several hundred copies. they went to washington to read to the troops. and the king of england. and the king of france. and ultimately, the next day, after the dunlop copy was printed, the text was printed in the pennsylvania evening post. the first newspaper printing of the declaration of independence. that is how most americans probably learned about it. there were not that many broadsides compared to the number of newspapers printed. if you take a look at the newspapers that were printing and printing the copy of the declaration of independence, there were many of them after the first couple of days here it the pennsylvania evening post was the first time they could see what had been agreed to at the second continental congress. the document had a lot of meaning for americans subsequently. the focus at that time was
9:28 pm
focused on declaring independence. but as history has unfolded, no one cares about the sins of king george and no one cares about the fact that it declared independence because that is a historic fact and it is not relevant. it is the preamble that everyone focuses on. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal by their creator including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. and that is the part of the declaration that lives on. -- he hadwrote that 17 days to write the declaration. like most people, he waited until the last couple of days. if you are a member of the continental congress, you had 20 or so committees you were a member of. he did write it though and
9:29 pm
showed it to john adams and ben franklin. they politely edited it and then he submitted it for review. jefferson wrote that when he had two slaves with him and he had others back at monticello. one third of the people at the congress were slave owners. and in the declaration, the word slavery does not appear. and you want to say -- how can you say that all men are created equal when you have slavery? that was one of the obvious inconsistencies regarding what they were talking about. they wanted to be free of england and independent and treated the same way british people were treated that they did not want to treat slaves or women that way or those who were not white, male, and christian. in congress, people often ask how could jefferson have written this ?
9:30 pm
he did not need to write bad but he added it because he had written something similar before in virginia, the preamble to the virginia constitution and he felt that there were certain inherent rights that humans hand that his view was if you are bloody way our society has evolved coming we cannot really have blacks and whites living together. jefferson early in his career thought we should and slavery or ended by having slaves free and they should go elsewhere. subsequently he gave up that view because politically it was difficult to give that view. his view later in life was that slavery probably should not be tolerated, but he thought it was unrealistic to end it. he did not become a principled advocate for ending appeared all equal, -- eated
9:31 pm
after the revolutionary war in took upuntries, people the rallying cry that all men are created equal. even know jefferson never explain what he meant, he lived 50 years after he wrote that sentence. never actually explain what he meant. people have taken it to mean this is what the goal of our society should be another society say that is the goal. people have equal rights and equal opportunities. in our country, we are struggling to get there. but that is why it is so important because it became the creed of our country. the person who believe in that more than anyone else was abraham lincoln. when abraham lincoln was a young politician, he was not someone who believed that all men was created equal. later in life he began to become a fan of the declaration of independence and he began to say yes, we should go towards that goal. famously when he gave his adat gdress tysburg, he said
9:32 pm
fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. actually it was not actually that proposition that everyone was interested in at the time. it wonderful sleight-of-hand. lincoln basically said, you thought we were fighting to keep the union together but we are fighting to end of slavery. subsequently other countries picked up on the concept of all men are created equal and it has become the american creek. -- creed. >> did they agonize over it? what happened? mr. rubenstein: these were men who were born as a bushman. in fact, at the first continental congress in 1774, of the delegates who came, moore had been london than
9:33 pm
philadelphia. there were 13 colonies and they were transacting with the british west indies or other caribbean islands or england more than they were transacting business among themselves. they really do not know each other that well because they were born as englishmen, that is what they thought they were. many of them had been educated in england. they did not want to separate. they hadw was that been promised certain rights in the did not want to break away from england because that was their country. wherever you're from, you probably do not want to separate from. they made so many entries to the department and the king to say what we do this, or why don't you take away this tax or we can find some way to work this out. but they cannot get any response they wanted from the british because the british government was split as well. let's treat the colonies a little better, they were not 100% saying to treaty colonies the way they wear.
9:34 pm
the king basically had a different relationship with the parliament and many people recognize. the parliament had taken control over the british government. ruling, but still he was not making the major policy decisions. he was more or less a symbol of many of them. but the american colonists thought he was the symbol, therefore they appealed to him. but he did not have the ability to control with the parliament want to do. the majority wanted to punish the americans for being an surgeon. in the end -- insurgent. in the end, the british played -- overplayed their hand. the americans really did not want to separate. it was only after the british sent troops over and killed americans in lexington, concorde, boston. they hired a german soldiers as mercenaries and began to do other things to the colonies. they were beyond the pale in the
9:35 pm
end. john adams and others said we had to be independent. it was not something preordained. suppose the british said, ok, you win, we'll take away the taxes. what we americans have done? -- what would the americans have done? i think we would have evolved to be independent eventually. at some point because of our size would have been more powerful than england. but it was not preordained in 1776 americans felt they had to break away because it was really an overplaying of the hand by the british. >> now we associate the declaration of independence with july 4, but that is actually not correct. there is a more interesting story there. mr. rubenstein: yes. as indicated earlier, the delegates came back to the secondary continent of congress
9:36 pm
and at that time they had gone to the states and got permission to vote for independence. although them did except for new york. -- 12 states approved it, new york to not have permission. what happened was when they went to mr. dunlop and said print this up, they had a working draft that tamil jefferson -- thomas jefferson had given them. he printed up copies, the pennsylvania post had its copies. but nothing was signed. they felt to sign something, they needed to have an engrossed copy. very fancy handwriting on a of parchment. the delegates want to go home on july 4. they were tired. there was not a lot of air-conditioning at the time. they had gigantic flies. they were anxious to get out of there. they were told in grossman will be ready around early august. by that time new york state
9:37 pm
would have given approval. despite some historical debating, it appears that on august 2, the majority of them came back and signed it then. signedactually therefore august 2. 4e debate about july 2, july 20 the interesting thing about that. john adams and thomas jefferson were rivals. john adams was the real ringleader, the principal person advocating for independence. he had been a strong figure in the first continental congress and was very strong in the second. use the person who said let's go back -- sunnydale gets back to the states. get the authority to vote for independence. thomas jefferson was young. he did not want to be there. he had illnesses in his family, he would rather be in virginia because that is where the action was. about the second
9:38 pm
covenant of congress? but he was the junior man in the total poll, he stayed. -- totem pole, he stayed. over many years later they fought. he fought over different principles. adams became president was a strong federal government person. jefferson became president but it was a weaker federal government and more of a closer to the people kind of democrat. that caused some problems. the problem between the life force and july 2 was probably some of their disagreement and this is what it was -- after they finished the vote on july 2, john adams wrote a letter to abigail adams. there are about 1000 letters between them. he said, this will be a day that will be celebrated forever in our history with fireworks because today we voted to be independent. he thought july 2 would be the
9:39 pm
day they celebrated. july 4 was the date the declaration explaining the reasons for independence was agreed to on a legal document. a propaganda document saying here is why we want to be independent. so, people at the time to not focus on july 2 or july 4, adams re: thought he should -- july 2 to be the date they should focus on. of thelater, the content congress was so busy with so many things they forgot the day. they forgot. they realize it, and they realize it, and they realize that at the end of the day. but the organizers have a celebration, they organize it for july 4. -- i this was an significant for adams he would say the soul and substance of what really went on in the days of fighting for independence occurred on july 2. july 4, the document, that is not that significant. jefferson was a way to second, i
9:40 pm
explained all the reasonings in this is why it windows well we did it, july 4 is more significant. they sparred over what was more significant. adams was upset over the remainder of his life that july 2 was not celebrated. many people took it as a symbol of divine intervention or thatdence that the fact both of these men died exactly 50 years after. they both died on july 4, 1826. somebody up there must be focusing on the fact that would've those two days is significant. anyway. said,on his deathbed jefferson still lives and he did not know jefferson died a few hours earlier. they signed the declaration july 2, july 4. what did they expect to happen next? mr. rubenstein: well, they
9:41 pm
recognized it was an uphill struggle. remember, we do not really have a military. we do not have the ability to patch estate or require them to send troops in. we have a ragtag army led by george washington, who had more experience than most people in leading military efforts, but most of the things he led not that successful. he was not a great military tactician. he lost more battles anyone during the war. but he had very few troops to work with. many time the troops had no shoes, no equipment, very bare clothing. it was amazing they could hold them together. they were not being paid at all. had a fervor, saying they had the moral right. if people think they are morally right they're going to believe that they are going to win. i think most people thought the british would win quite handily because they were the biggest military in the world, one of the wealthiest, and they sent
9:42 pm
many troops over, many more than we had. but they had probably not as .ood an overall strategy in the end, the americans have the french who were helping us. we had some other the things that came to our benefit. but i think when they voted for independence on july 4 or july 2, i think they all felt they were committed what would be considered treason. said,in franklin famously we'll have to hang together or we will all hang separately. i would not disparage at all their courage at all because they were committing treason, but they did not release the names of those who actually signed declaration of january 17 77. the truth was if they had lost, they probably would have been executed. the people who signed it. one of the big differences
9:43 pm
between those times and now is the speed in which news is disseminated. it takes weeks for this newspaper to get to the colonies and well over a month for to get to london. today, news instantaneously transmitted. we see the many advantages thatusly of speed, but slow dissemination, didn't allow for more debate or thoughtfulness than the instant news we have today? mr. rubenstein: it obviously gave people more opportunity to talk about things. but it was so difficult to communicate. washingtonboston to would take a week or so. communications were not very good. the communication system was actually not so bad in terms of mailing letters. not as good as today, the benjamin franklin was in fact the postmaster general.
9:44 pm
his wife set up a good system that works. benjamin frankel and spent a lot of time out of the country. his wife actually been at work. you could get a letter in a couple days, generally. but sometimes as you point out, when the dunlop copy was sent to the king of england, he never actually responded. it took a month to get over there. the british reaction is interesting. they never formerly responded. they do not say, thank you for letting us know. this is outrageous. they do not do that. people to be pamphleteers. they kind of made fun of the concerns that the americans had express. one of the main things they made fun of was the fact they are saying all men are created equal when it was slavery in the colonies. the king of france was sent a copy of dunlop's version.
9:45 pm
it becamehs later clear he had never even got it. communication was relatively slow. in those days people communicated very often by writing letters. one of the lost art today is letter writing. does anybody remember what a letter is? [laughter] therubenstein: it is letters that these people right, and they are extremely personal, they are very thoughtful. john and abigail adams had about 1000 letters that they wrote between each other and they are extraordinary letters. to politics, personal matters. thomas jefferson, we have about 14,000 letters of his. he had a very good sitter -- very good system. he would write a letter and he had a hand that was copying it so get a copy of everything he said.
9:46 pm
the letters were long and it could take weeks to get across the united states, a month to get across the ocean. people still thought that was the best way to communicate. there was no better way. >> 1776 moment is for another reason. the wealth of nations. on the one hand, the united states leaves, eventually, the british empire and becomes a smaller political unit. isthe other hand, smith arguing the bigger the market, the better. that tension has really persisted for over 200 years. we have almost 200 countries today with desire for bigger markets. the desire for self determination has, in the end, one out over economic rationality, which is stay with the bigger market? mr. rubenstein: self-determination is the creed which has more or less one out.
9:47 pm
-- won out. i was reading a book about the relationship between franklin roosevelt and with the churchill. with the churchill is a man we all admire it is an extraordinary statesman. he was defending the british empire. where's roosevelt was saying, no, we have to let these countries be self-determined. india should be independent. churchill, for all the strengths and virtues in intelligence could not get the concept that people should be allowed to determine their future. i think in the end, self determination has one out and capitalism has won out. -- you have the communism and capitalism and it was not clear to everybody that capitalism would prevail. it more or less has come and even countries that were communist as some form of capitalism. it probably was not evident to
9:48 pm
adam smith that this would be the case. central to the exhibit is the actual artifact, the newspaper. you have generously donated other artifacts to other cultural museums. what is the value to you of these artifacts in the digital age? mr. rubenstein: that may be the most important question. why should anybody care when you can see itwhat is the value to f these online anywhere? in fact, why we need museums? why do we need the national archives, presidential libraries, the smithsonian? in my view, the answer is this -- when you see the historic document, it has an opportunity to make you think and thinking is a good thing. when i generally think is that if you get young people to think documents, is sort
9:49 pm
they might learn more about the history. then they might be a better citizen. some of the young students are not even required any longer to take american history or civics courses in high school or college. surveysfind amazing like one that showed more high school sophomores can name the three stooges than the founding fathers, which is not encouraging. but it is not just students. can name% of americans the three branches of government, which is hard to believe. if you go to a museum and you see a historic document, it is likely to make them ask questions and to go back and think about things and maybe do some research and read. if you just look at it online, you can push a button and you go to the next thing. what you physically go to the museum, your parents might drag you in some cases, but if you go
9:50 pm
there you actually have a chance to think about what this docket means. when you actually see the relic, the historic document, i think it has some meaning to people. we can have a facsimile, but i think when you connect to go to somebody and say you will see the same document that people sign 1776, it makes you think, this is interesting in how did this come about? if you learn more, you read more, you'll be better citizens. it are citizens, better democracy, better government. >> of course, it was printed in a newspaper. , that was the major form of dissemination for the declaration. today, of course, the newspaper industry is deeply challenged. people get the information in other ways. not because of
9:51 pm
me. i still buy six or seven newspapers everyday. i like to read the old newspapers. i will be the last guy reading newspapers probably. that the demise or the challenge to the newspapers as a physical object -- does it have implications for our democracy? it is alwaysn: dangerous to say progress is not a good thing. on the other hand, everything that is new is also not good thing. let's say that -- when i talk to my own children, i have three children, two of them went to harvard and one went to duke so they are well-educated -- they do not read it -- they do not read newspapers like i do, they read everything online. i don't know, i'm sure there are a brilliant young people not
9:52 pm
reading newspapers and doing other great things. but i do think reading newspapers is a very useful thing. it was a very important part of my life. i am a newspaper addict. i just think you learn a lot by. but each generation is different. george washington's father , youredly used to say generation, george washington, is not going to get anywhere because you are not hard-working. every parents as to their generation -- their children that they are not good enough. that has been going on for 10,000 years. when i say the next generation is not really enough, who knows whether i'm right or not. i do think newspapers have played an important purpose and function in our society, certainly. i do applaud the museum for promoting the idea that newspapers are an important thing in getting the news out is an important thing. it having news be disseminated in a way that is fair and accurate is important for our society.
9:53 pm
while the great blessings this country has had is that we have had an abundance of good newspapers. an abundance of great journalists. some of whom have died in the service of their profession. ourselves on a frequent basis that we are blessed to have this kind of newspaper society is viable. have notther countries always had open newspapers and some still do not. when the benefits of our society is that people are allowed to think and they can think whatever they want and write whatever they want. the first amendment is one of the great things that our founding fathers gave us, though i should point out was not in the original constitution and was originally not be first amendment. beenis discussion has centered around this document and its reprinting. in our times, what you think about the seminal document that 100, 200 years later -- from our
9:54 pm
country or across the world. mr. rubenstein: the magna carta has been overstated importance of its importance. but the magna carta is i think the most important document in western civilization because it contains certain rights we now regard as part of our society, part of our nature and our system, you know they were initially given to just the nobleman. now we have translated them to everybody. the declaration of independence, constitution and bill of rights are the most import documents. the declaration as a propaganda document in some ways. however, because it had these important words about all men created equal, it became the creed of our country. you know we struggle to live up to that creed, it has been a have adopted.le because a two ship is the oldest deriving constitution and the world. it is a brilliant document. i often say to myself if today
9:55 pm
we would put together a new constitution, who would be the 57 people we could pick from the united states to come together to be at the constitutional convention? i assume we would have more diversity than they had in those days -- it will be hard to have less diversity. [laughter] mr. rubenstein: on the bill of rights, it is interesting as an aside -- it was an afterthought. they wanted to get out of there when george mason said, we have no bill of rights. they said we do not need it because the states have their own presentations and they have bills of rights and we're not taking it right away. so the dismissive. three members of because additional convention did not sign the constitution because it did not have a bill of rights. subsequently, james madison recognized he had made a mistake probably not supporting the bill of rights and ultimately in the got becausess, he dental congress to read a bill
9:56 pm
of rights. but when it went to the states it was 12.n, there were 200 proposed amendments to the constitution in the ratification process, it is still them down and ultimately they had about 17. then they met with the senate, the senate have 12. they compromise to 12. 12 when to the states and 10 ratified. interestingly, the first amendment was not a first amendment that. the first amendment was an amendment that actually would expand to members of congress. we would have more members depending on the population. that got voted down because people do not want to have too many members of congress did the second one was eventually the 22nd -- 27th. if you vote for a salary increase, the memory of congress cannot get the benefit of a salary increase until another election. the theory being you should not be all to raise your own salaries and you should have the voters approve it and they
9:57 pm
approve it by voting for you again. that got voted out. why? the do not want members of congress to ever get a salary increase. ultimately that became part of the constitution. interestingly, when the ratification process was going need -- theyonly were 14 states because vermont had come in, and you only need 11 to approve it. when 11 approve it, the other states do not send in their ratification. did some i think 1939 of the states, including massachusetts, prove the bill of rights. some of them waited longer. they didn't need to approve any technically never did. but three states finally got around to doing it. you have been fantastic today. thank you so much, not only for your support of the newseum, but for visiting us today. we have a gift for you, which is a book that contains the
9:58 pm
pictures of the artifact and the exhibit. on the inside cover is this and grateful- appreciation of your generous support of 1776 -- breaking news, independence, as well as to educates americans about history. thank you very much. [applause] mr. rubenstein: thank you. thank you. >> it is a pleasure to see you all tonight. coming out for this important and illuminating discussion. we hope to see you quite often at the newseum. we ask now that you exit through the middle exit or the exits on top. thank you so much. thank you for your interest in the newseum and in american
9:59 pm
history and freedom. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] starting monday, august 1 at 8:00 p.m. eastern time, the contenders. series whichart health with the 2016 presidential campaign in historical perspective. time, it presents key figures which have run for president and lost the changed political history. nightly feature a different candidate. at 8:00 eastern time august 1 -14 on american history tv, only on cspan3. the c-span radio app makes it easy to continue to follow the election wherever you are. it is free to download.
10:00 pm
get audio coverage and up-to-the-minute schedule information or c-span radio and television, plus podcast times for our popular public affairs book in history programs. stay up-to-date on all the election coverage. the c-span radio app means you always have c-span on the go. >> each week, american artifacts takes viewers into archives for , museums, and historic sites around the country. next, we visit the new smithsonian national museum of african american history and culture, which stands on the national mall in the shadow of the washington monument and within sight of the white house. founding director lonnie bunch leads a hardhat tour opens the museums which opens his door to the public on september 24 after an outdoor ceremony expected to feature president obama. mr. bunch: i want to welcome you. what we want to do today is give
10:01 pm
you an opportunity to see the museum as a work in progress. about 40% of all the exhibitions are now complete and we are working to make sure we will be very ready on september 24. the reality of this is simple. 11 years ago we began with a staff of two. we had no idea where the building would be, no sense at all of any of the collections. not a single object in the collection. we knew we had to raise a lot of money. we had no money in the bank. now, as a result of some the gifted staff you will meet and thousands of people, we have raised enough money to complete the building and by september, we will be over our target number. we have collected nearly 40,000 artifacts of which 4000 will be in this museum. instead of two people, there are 200 people working to build this museum.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on