tv The Contenders CSPAN August 2, 2016 8:43am-10:16am EDT
>> he was secretary of state under three presidents. >> what else did he do? >> he was a speaker of the house. he was a governor. >> he changed some of the rules in the house. the speakers are always changing the rules somewhat to their advantage is. >> this was after the civil war when congress was much more central, much more potent than it had been. their reaction against the strong executive said in. to be the secret -- the speaker of the house, to be a power in congress meant a lot more fun than it would today. >> do you have anything to say? >> what do you think would have happened if he won? i think he would be regarded as
the best president between lincoln and tr. >> he was assertive, he had intellectual capacity. he had a lot of talent. i think that once he had actually achieved it -- people lost after the president's. this is a distorted malignancy that they suffer from. if they survive it and they win the office. i think that belaying is someone like clay. they have a great deal uncommon. -- i think that
captioning performed by vitac we're going to be talking about his other campaigns and wanted to start with -- go back to 1876, which is the first time he ran for the white house. he was nominated at that time at the convention by someone who coined a term, the knight. do you know about inger sol and the speech and why the phrase stuck? >> my understanding of that speak that it is defense of blaine against accusations of
corruption in connection with the railroad industry and that that was how ingersoll wanted to introduce him to believe not everybody believed he was as corrupt. >> why did the phrase stick? >> i suspect it spoke -- he seems to have been the kind of person who really had great a admirers and they thought he was a great hero. >> i think also, it was kind of a label that stuck because in the cartoons of the day, both pro and con, the plume knight was a wonderful image to create. there was a lot of interest in romantic literature and old english literature and he was also shown in elizabethan costume or knight and shining armor. >> how important were political cartoons in effecting the electorate in that age?
>> they were tremendously important. this was a period in which pick torial publications were very widespread and easily produced. in the case of the political journals, you had the judge, which was pro-republican and pro democratic. in the pages of these magazines comes from the judge, it's a pro-blaine cartoon which shows blaine as the sort of learned elder statesman in his plume knight costume, elizabethan costume and all around him are letters from states all over the country begging him to become president of the united states. it's definitely a pro-campaign cartoon. >> you told us about 1884, colorful names for factions in the party in 1876 include the half breeds and stalwarts,
right? the half breeds referring to those republicans who did not support grant and stalwarts referring to those who did. >> exactly. >> which faction was he part of? >> the half breeds. >> what happened that he was not successful in getting the nomination. >> a short time before, the mully can letters were revealed and that created a great scandal for him. the mullican letters involved a questionable deal involving one of the railroads and that clouded the picture for him in 1876. >> the nomination went to? >> james a. garfield and blaine recognized this was happening at the convention. he actually was -- i'm sorry, actually in '76 it went to hayes. >> that's right. >> '80 was garfield. >> was the faction still the half breeds and stalwarts still
active in the party by then? >> i'm not so sure they had those terms anymore, thinking along the same lines. there were of course divisions within the party. >> that year james garfield did get the nomination. >> thanks to blaine in many ways. blaine came after many ballots, if i understand that that was not going to happen -- >> i think it was 36. >> he threw his votes to garfield in order to make sure he would get the election. >> then what happened to him after that? >> became secretary of state in 1881. >> now james garfield of course was struck by an assassin's bullet in 1881. i read that james blainewas with him in the train station? >> yes. i know he was nearby and they were walking arm and arm and very good friends. although garfield -- i remember reading something that garfield never quite trusted his friend james blaine.
he was sending him off on the train to head north to give some speeches. >> that's right. >> we're going to spend a little bit of time before we get to calls learning more about blaine's character, we alluded to the corruption and the like. if he were to walk into this room today, what did he look like and sound like? what were some of the things that you know from your study of the man? >> well, i think he was considered very handsome man, very well dressed, extremely well spoken. beginning in the late 1850s, of course he started out his career here in augusta as a newspaper editor, but got bit by the political bug. by the late 1850s was immersed in the emerging republican party. had lots of experience in the late 1850s and 1860s in stump speaking here in maine. that gave him a lot of practice
toward being able to articulate his ideas as he emerged as a national figure. charismatic, magnetism was another word attached to him. >> i know that -- my understanding is that he had a terrific memory for people's names so he was the kind of politician who could really make you feel that he knew who you were, what your particular concerns were and so on and that made him a powerful figure. >> there's a story told for example when he's in the 1884 campaign, he's on a train and he recognizes a man who he met as a wounded soldier in washington 20 years before. that was the kind of memory he had for faces. >> what a gift for a politician. >> right. >> to be able to memorize names and recall them. so he really was able to capitalize that. >> he was a great politician. >> master. >> not just in that but also in his mastery of political
tactics. >> mastery of political tactics and mastery of controlling his party and leading his party i would say. and there is a sense that when he was in congress during those years that he wrote about, which were critical years for the nation, he did have a way of trying to smooth over some of the terrific differences between the sections and as congress was coming back together to include the south. >> some of the references i read about him though mercurial hype poe kron dree yak prone to depression. >> he ultimately died at 62 in 1893 in the last few months of his life he was truly ill. >> bright's disease. >> he was relentlessly ambitious. someone said this was nobody who yearned or hunger for the presidency more than james
blaine. >> throughout his career though, the charges of corruption from his days promoting the railroad lobby in congress stuck with him. we have another one of these political cartoon, the tattooed james blaine, which refers to many of the charges against him. would you tell us about that episode and why it was so significant? >> this comes from puck in the election in 1884. it's a tremendously powerful image in that election in that it is recognized as maybe one of the factors that helped defeat blaine, blaine is shown as a roman senator in the roman senate and his toga is being lifted from his body. underneath are tattooed his various political sins. and the senators are looking aghast at his political misdeeds being revealed and in the midst
of that crowd, are his running made general logan and young teddy roosevelt as well. >> the mulligan letters, was a success defense and does history determine if he was in fact corrupt. >> they were the accusations as opposed to being his defense and he tried very hard to make them seem as if they had no value. slamming them down on the desk and daring people to read the letters. once he had stolen them from whoever had them in the first place, went to the hotel, let me see the letters and took them with them and disappeared and never returned them. so he tried to use them as the way to protect himself. i don't think there's any clarity that he was not guilty. i think it's pretty clear that he was somebody called him j. gould's handyman or busboy or something to that effect, that
he was so tight with the railroad industry, it was unlikely he was innocent. >> they continued to dog him. in the 1884 campaign someone published what was believed to be a version of the mulligan letters and pamphlet and never resolved that in his career. >> we're going involve some of our viewers. first caller is from roger. >> caller: how are you tonight? >> great, thank you. >> caller: i just finished reading the recent biography for speaker reid. for two people powerful in the republican party, they seemed really distant. that true or was that just a feature of the biography? >> no, i think you're correct. you're mentioning thomas reed who was born in portland in
1839. he's a little younger than blaine, went to boden college and spent his entire public life as a congressman. he rose to be speaker like blaine was speaker from 1869 to '75. reed served in the late 19th century. i think that corruption was never a question in relation to reed. reed was i think a very totally honest forthright individual, person of great integrity and i think in addition to that, reed is ascribed as a towering figure in the history of the development of congress considered by many to be one of the three four most influential in the history of the house, primarily because of his reform of the house and the recognition that the majority rule had to be
counted and had to be taken into account. >> next caller is jim watching us in san francisco. hi, jim. >> hi. i think you're right on the manler issues here. it seems to me the country was going through a major transition from the old money having formalized their ethical values and then would transition the country with the railroads into big industrial corporations and raising money for corporations and very different sets of values. the question is, how could someone that was busy making all of the deals and representing wall street maintain any kind of public reputation in the situation? >> certainly i think one answer to that would be there was a great recognition of his sheer power. and so he -- because he was so powerful and could do so much
for the party and for its other goals, people could set aside -- some people at least could set aside his apparent very close relationship with the railroads and the industry. >> next is a call from sharon watching us in portland, new york. hi, sharon. >> caller: i want to thank c-span for bringing this wonderful series. my question is this, did mr. blaine make any money before he went into politics or did he come from a family that had money to begin with? thank you. >> good question. blaine came from a modest background. he was born in pennsylvania. he started out as a teacher and then he married harriet stanwood from augusta maine in 1850. there was some question about the validity of the marriage so they were remarried again in 1851. by 1853, they were getting word from her relatives in augusta
that there was a business opportunity for him to come back and so they relocated to augusta in 1854 and from '54 to '58, blaine was the editor of the kennebec journal, still published today and involved editorial in the portland advertiser, which was a daily paper. they were seeing today's issue of the journal, oldest continuous daily newspaper. >> alive and well and still publishing in a difficult newspaper age. we're looking at his desk from the time period. the newspapers of the time, he was both a newspaper man and involved in party politics. >> right. >> that was common? >> that would have been very common. i think it was one of the primary ways that politicians got the word out about what the policies were. there was no radio. no internet.
newspapers and public speaking were the ways politicians operated. >> we have to remember that newspapers were very partisan in those days. >> and shamelessly so. >> self-admitted and that a particular group of individuals would start a newspaper, not only just to report the daily news of their community, but also to promote a political view or party. >> was his interest in the republican party -- how did the newspaper business and republican interest intersect? >> it's very interesting, 1854, the year he comes to augusta and becomes the editor of the kennebec journal is the year in which the national republican party is founded. he's involved in that. other famous people are, israel washington junior, the first civil war governor of maine. the newspaper is very much aligned with that rise of the party in maine. >> i'll take a telephone call
from washington, d.c. marvin watching us there. >> caller: hi. i find this series to be very fascinated. i was wondering, how would america be different or our country be slightly different if mr. blaine had become president? and then also, in terms of why we don't really care about him in the history books, can you elaborate further on that? >> all right, thank you for watching. how would the country be different if he had been elected? >> i'm not sure the country would be terribly different. i think perhaps mckinley becomes a very pro-business president in what -- 1896. and a republican. and i think that blaine maybe would have brought that earlier change had he become elected in 1884. >> the only thing i would add to
that, some scholars have said that blaine because of his personal magnetism would have perhaps been a great sort of figure head leader for the country, would have projected a kind of image of confidence and power and really been lacking in recent presidents in that period. he might have been the most important figure perhaps between lincoln and teddy roosevelt. >> dave, you're on the air, dave. are you with us? >> caller: yes, surely am. i wanted to mention that if i'm correct there was a comment about blaine that thomas nance that said 20 years of congress was referred to as 20 years on the make. >> well, there is that.
>> and locomotive career, there's a small town in west virginia because it was friend of henry davis who built in pittsburgh and currently csx, blaine west virginia, endures on the railroad that way. if i remember correctly, it's one of those things you have to watch what people say in your favor because did he not lose new york in one of his rounds because he did not repudiate the statement of reverend burchard that people would not a support romanism and rebellion. >> very much so. >> actually -- thanks for watching. we talked about the romanism and rebellion but 20 years on the make. >> that's a great title. >> nast was probably the greatest civil war and post civil war cartoonist.
happener's weekly was the forum. and he just downright didn't like blaine and excoriated blaine in his cartoons. >> there was an incident where he went out to dinner while he was in new york with this incredibly wealthy bunch of millionaires, maybe all of the top millionaires in new york, despite the fact that new york and the country was in a great depression and struggling greatly. he seemed to be completely blind to the inappropriateness of that. >> that was the very day that he also was witness to reverend burchard's speech. in the morning he did refrn end burchard and in the evening delmonco's restaurant. that was immediately reported to the press as the feast. >> another name, the boodle feast or something. >> before the presidential bids 13 years in the u.s. house of representatives during the
period of reconstruction. we're in his study and he has his congressional desk there. and the period of time of reconstruction, where was he on the issues regarding reconstruction? >> it's interesting, my sense is that he was largely a moderate, which would have helped to make him provide some balm to the nation if they say he was quite auk sesful in taking congress, one of the most difficult times of its history and smoothing a lot of feathers. but he was an early advocate of black sufferage which would not have been considered a modern position. my sense was that was more op opener tune is tick. because it was important to give blacks the vote so they would vote republican and vote for him. >> he also had -- we talked about his enemies, he had a very
well known enemy rosco konkling. >> he's a congressman from new york. >> i can't speak so vividly about him either. i know there was the struggle between the two of them which led to a historic fight on the floor of the house of representatives congressman from utica. we have a clip about it from the senate historian, don richie. >> at that period, the two leading republican politicians were roscoe conkling and james g. blaine from maine. they were both dynamic and articulate and magnetic personalities and just attracted lots of people to them. they could give a speech to a convention and knock the convention out of its minds. they were so terrific on the stump and in any kind of
oratory, legislative geniuses and battled out in the congress in the 1870s. and they hated each other with an absolute passion. no two political figures probably hated each other as much as conkling and blaine, they knew one or the other of them would stand in the way of the other getting to the white house at some point. the rivalry started back when they were in the house of representatives in the 1860s. and roscoe conkling was a vain man, dressed to the nines and strutted about that the rest of the members uncomfortable and might have sort of kept out of the way of this man who never had a particularly good word for anyone. but james g. blaine, a young, upcoming politician from maine,
wasn't afraid to take on anyone. in 1866, he launched into one the most savage attacks on another member of congress imaginable. today you couldn't attack another member that day. it was full of sarcasm and with ee lugss to the turkey gobbler strut in which he walked around. first off, it made all of conkling's opponents laugh at him. from then on they were making him into a turkey or some other figure. >> senate historian don ritchie. we're looking at blaine's study,
that is from the capitol, from the senate preserved here and house very much in use. listening to the characterization, politics we think is colorful today but turkey gobbler strut is another thing they used to say to another. was it widely reported in the press? >> indeed. the press was very lively in those days as we've already said -- >> sit in the galleries of congress and capture this stuff. >> very much so. the way in which the information was translated to other newspapers around the country was through the telegraph. and stories would be written and then they would be telegraphed to other papers and then copied in some cases from other papers as well. >> entertainment, there was much about it not just about the politics but about the entertainment value that it had and great writing and clever phrasing. >> before they were big sports teams and people followed politics. >> next is helen, watching us in cape may, new jersey.
you're on. >> hi, this is a wonderful series. thank you so much. all of my students are watching and they are going to be tested. >> we have teachers here, glad you have students. >> caller: i have a question about the blaine amendments to the constitution and many states adopted the blaine amendments. was there an anti-tactic motivation or some other motivation that went along with this? >> more than 20 states have blaine amendments even though it was not successful on the national level. what was his motivation. >> close to 40. >> it's 37. >> 37, wow. >> the blaine amendment would prevent schools from using federal -- religious institutions from using federal funding if i'm not mistaken. >> that's still in place today. separation of church and state. >> do you know if it ever had a
supreme court challenge? i mean, has it made its way through the courts in these states as we discussed the separation of church and states so often in this country? >> i'm not sure. >> why do we still know about the blaine amendments then? >> that's an interesting question. maybe because there are attempts not from the supreme court side but from individuals who are constantly trying to challenge that separation, i would imagine. >> what motivated him in putting it forward? >> well, i think that it was 1875. i think he may well have already had his eye on the 1876 election and i'm not beyond thinking there was an anti-catholic component to it as well since those were the catholic schools that would have been most likely to be trying to not pay taxes or use federal funding. >> what was blaine's religion? >> he was a congregationalist. >> he had a catholic mother? >> yes. >> he attended the south parish church in augusta and there are
beautiful tiffany memorial windows to he and other members of his family in that church. >> we have a viewer from d.c. calling us next named ron. you're on the air. >> caller: good evening. susan -- >> yes. >> caller: hi, thanks for hosting this series and all of the programs have been so great. i wanted to say thank you first. so my question goes to the chinese exclusion act and at that time, i believe that most new england republicans were against the chinese exclusion act because they tend to be -- they tend to be more liberal and they were not on board with that. but blaine started out supporting it with the southern democrats and i wonder what
gives? why was he not so liberal in terms of civil rights at that time compared to the other new england republicans? and i would like to learn about it. thank you. >> well, i think again, it's similar to elizabeth's recent answer on another issue and that is that this is a man who always had his eye on the presidency and in order to win the presidency, you needed to do it from a nationwide perspective. and i think he recognized particularly in the west and especially in california that chinese immigration was a major issue. and he wanted those votes. >> so what i'm taking away from this, this is a man who said he wanted that presidency desperately, that was not idealogically driven so much as had his finger to the political wind. >> that is one way to interpret his political career. i think -- when i think about the pro-black suffrage policy
and chinese exclusion act policy, i find it hard to bring those two together. if he was racially progressive, then why would he not be racially progressive on the other side? that's what i think of very ambitious and whatever would win the election. >> morristown, new jersey. ed, welcome. >> caller: was blaine so obsessed with the presidency that he considered himself a failure for not having attained it? >> that's an interesting question. >> i don't think we get that sense. what happened, he went through the process three times and he was also was kind of dangled in front of him in 1888 and 1892 even though he was then a very ill man. but i think he felt towards the end of his life that his great
accomplishment was that second term as secretary of state between 1889 and '92. and there he was able to play out a lot of his ideas not only on the national scene but on the international scene as well. and so you know, i don't think he viewed his career as a failure. >> you're watching c-span's contender series, we're going to take a short break and tell you more about this series. the cone >> the contenders and our look at the life of james g. blaine continues live in a moment. features profiles of key figures who have run for president and lost but changed political history nevertheless. for more information on our series "the contenders" go to c-span.org. there you'll find a schedule of the series, biographies of all of the candidates, and historian's apraisals and
portions of their speeches when available, all at c-span.org/thecontenders. we now return to maine and our discussion on the life of james g blaine. >> and you're looking at the live picture of the james g blaine house in augusta maine, state capitol. it is now the official residence of maine's governor. we're live inside the governor's mansion, guest of the governor and his family to learn more about this house's long time owner james g. blaine, unsuccessful presidential as pier saying three times. failed to win the presidency yet made a mark on the country. our two guests earl shuttleworth is maine's state historian and ann leonard. specialist in civil war america. we're taking telephone calls,
you're welcome to join in the conversation, we're getting great questions tonight. and we welcome your involvement in this. tell me about maine -- a little bit more about maine in this time period. we talked about earlier on about him coming here as a young man. how difficult would it have been for him to establish himself? how welcoming was it? >> i think that he had a very good connection with his wife's family and stanwoods were a prominent family and that connection for him to become the editor the kennebec journal was essentially made by family and friends who wanted his wife back here and make that opportunity available to him as well. he came really at a perfect time. the 1850s, decade just before
the civil war, maineis really at the zenith of prosperity. there is a recession in the 1850s but maine is really cresting in both its economic and its political force at that time. >> last week we were at the home of henry clay, were there connections between james g. blaine and henry clay? >> there were in a sense that he had grown up in a house with clay was absolutely idolized and clay was an idol for him as well and when he was a young man he spent time in kentucky working as a teacher and made the point of seeing clay whenever he could when he was in kentucky and so he was a very devout fan. >> there's one account that at the age of 17 he attended one of clay's major speeches in 1847 and took copious notes on it. >> our next caller in our discussion about james g. blaine is from indianapolis. edward? >> caller: how are you?
>> great, thanks. your question. >> caller: what was the role of blaine as secretary of state under benjamin harrison. >> if you do that briefly because we'll spend more time later on. he served under three presidents as secretary of state, is that correct? >> yes, garfield and arthur and harrison. harrison was the long period. garfield was within last than a year's time, about nine months. with harrison, he was really a wonderful position because he really had reached the zenith of his career. he was viewed as powerful if not more powerful than the president himself. and he had this free reign to be able to develop ideas he had been working on for years in terms of international relations and his particular interest during the 1889 to '92 period was central and south america. and he developed including the
idea for the pan-american union and so on. >> that's right. i want to get more involved in that later on. let me ask you about in the study here there are a few memorabilia pieces connected with abraham lincoln. what would his -- obviously was a supporter of abraham lincoln. did he know him that we know of? >> i don't know -- personal will he he had met him? >> yes, of course he went to congress -- he was elected to congress in 1862 and so he would have served in washington from 1863 and lincoln of course was assassinated on april 14th, 1865. there's a very poignant reminder of his connection with lincoln here at the house. and that is that there's a little card literally seven days before lincoln is assassinated, blaine went to lincoln to get permission to visit richmond, virginia, which had just fallen, the capital of the confederacy.
we know from other instances that he would have had opportunities to meet and talk with lincoln. we also know that he was so an admirer of lincoln, when he built the addition to the house in 1872 for the study, he wanted to use the very same wall paper in his study that lincoln used in his cabinet room. >> we're showing that wall paper to people as you speak on the screen. that was the card you saw, a replica -- >> that's right. >> permission slip to travel to richmond, which would have been necessary at the time. waterville, maine, glad to have a maine person involved. alexander, you're on the air. >> caller: yes, i was wondering what kind of other attacks blaine used against cleveland aside from the claim that he had a child born out of wedlock. thanks. >> as far as i know that was his primary -- personal attack against him of course there would have been political attacks against him as a democrat and representative of
the party that had full meanted the rebellion. >> how scandalous would it have been to have a child out of we hadlock? >> it would have been quite scandalous. >> i would think so too. >> just to answer that question a little more. there were nults and bolts issues to the campaign of 1884. one of the strong issues that the republicans and democrats differed on in the post civil war period was the tariff, how much to tax goods coming and going. and the tariff was a maker factor. >> i believe currency was also -- >> oh, very much so. and had been since the civil war. of course the civil war had pro live rated the use of paper currency so the issue of greenback currency was in the 1870s and '80s. >> and into the '90s. >> absolutely. >> houston is up next and our
caller's name is james. hello, james. >> caller: hello. >> go ahead, please. >> caller: well, he mentioned the civil war governor and the first republican governor was actually my great great grandfather hamlin. >> yes. >> caller: additionally, i think the rift with conklin may have caused blaine new york and the presidency. some of the toeing of the lines came back to haunt him i think. >> thanks for your contribution. hannibal hamlin. >> born in '89 in oxford county. he was a highly skilled lawyer who served as governor of maine briefly and became a senator. then in 1860, he's chosen as
lincoln's running mate for vice president. and serves as vice president of the united states from 1861 to '65. and then after the war, he goes back into political life again as a senator. so he would have been very much a part of blaine's world in the republican party in maine. hamlin was a powerful towering figure in that period and he would have interacted constantly with blaine. >> he was someone who stood against chinese exclusion. he was a republican who stood against blaine on the issue of chinese exclusion. >> i would like to have you -- since we're in a period of time where you hear people bring up the question of maybe it's time for a new party that the two party system is failing us and the like. and this was a period when we saw the evolution of political parties from the ways to republicans. would you take just a minute or so and explain about the demise of the whigs and rise of the
republicans. >> i think that is very much associated with the program you were talking about in your program last week with henry clay. when henry clay died, that the weak party really collapsed. it wasn't just about henry clay, it was about the slavery issue and anti-immigrant issue and number of other issues that led to the development of this sort of political chaos which gave way to the republican party but also the split in the democratic party over the course of the 1850s. >> we would love to introduce you to books and our guest elizabeth leonard has just seen today -- >> just seen the first copy of my new book. >> her fifth book. tell us about this character. >> joseph holt was lincoln's judge advocate general. a very important figure in lincoln's administration, chief of military justice after lincoln was assassinated and prosecutor of the lincoln
assassins and anybody who has seen the film -- the con spir tore, has seen a representation of joseph holt, which is more than i could say before that film came out. kn now some people know who he is. >> we're in a historic house and it's a couple minutes early here but the clocks are ringing and you'll hear a couple of them at this -- at the top of the hour here as we get into the second half of our program. let's take another telephone call from michael watching in tampa. >> caller: i think your show is wonderful. i appreciate the historical commentary as well as the interviewers' commentary. can we put forth personal comment tri relative to blaine's experience in time as compared to today's political landscape? >> what do you mean? just give me a little more of
what you'd like. >> caller: i think blaine represents something that's pretty dominant in the american populist today but not being representative. i think blaine was very inspiring to hear about this tonight. i'm just curious of maybe some personal input from all three of you relative to that landscape of then and versus today. >> okay, thanks. >> i'm not quite sure what he's looking for. i guess if you're asking whether i think he's a politician perhaps who would be recognizable today, i guess maybe i would say i would think he might be kind of recognizable in his ability to know the political system, to manipulate the political system and be a real career politician. he's a certain type. >> could he have competed in today's -- then and now. a person with his characteristics been successful in today's political world?
with his charges of corruption? >> what would be different about that? >> right. good question. i think though he had a lot of personal skills that probably would stand him in good stead today. to be an effective leader, you need to have a charismatic personality and get your message across well. and these are things that he did very successfully. and also he really understood the behind the scenes working of the political scene, really from the 1850s into the 1890s. >> we talked about the media being so supportive of parties. would someone who had persistent charges against him, were there investigations by the media at the time? >> certainly, they were looking into it. i think even so today we investigate people's corruption all the time and they still
proceed with their careers so -- >> phoenix is up next. this is josh. >> caller: good evening. great show. i was particularly -- your guests if they could comment on mr. blaine's foreign policy thoughts as secretary of state, what were his opinions were? did he go abroad? i'm specifically interested in south central america. i was born in cuba and during towards the end of the 20th century, you know, the cuban revolution was just starting. i was wondering if whether blaine ever went to countries outside of the united states and what his opinions were on colonialism, say like by spain or other countries and if he did anything about -- or had feelings about those types of issues? it's a great show. i'll hang up and listen.
thank you. >> thank you. your question is so timely it's time for us to spend time learning about his years as secretary of state. we said earlier he served three presidents and some historians suggest that we look at blaine's legacy, it's really in the area of international affairs. so can you speak to his influence and then answer his question whether or not he left the country? >> sure, maybe i'll take the first one first if that's okay. >> sure. >> i don't believe that he went to central or south america. >> but europe -- >> but europe, yes. he traveled several times to europe in the period between the time that he ran for president and the time that he became secretary of state in the mid-1880s, he spent quite a bit of time in europe. some of that time was with a very close friend of his, andrew carnegie in scotland. in terms of his significance as secretary of state and development of policies as we've
mentioned before, they were really primarily focused on central and south america. and this was a really very progressive thing to be doing in american foreign policy. those areas had largely been ignored since the days of the monroe doctrine. he was very concerned that britain was having an unusually strong influence on some of the countries, particularly argentina, that many of those countries were fighting among each other and he felt that in order to have a strong and safe america, you also needed to have a strong and safe neighbors to the south. >> right. >> before you answer, we have another of the political cartoons with his title, the old scout. what is it about? >> this is a pro-blaine campaign piece. it's from the judge. and it shows blaine as an old western scout on a horse with an
old t oldtattered hat. >> look at the people around the world looking at him. >> exactly. he's actually leading the people of central and south america into a new world. he's giving them leadership and in many ways this is reflecting his pioneering work in creating what became the pan-american union, the opportunity for people to meet diplomatically in both hemispheres. >> where would he have gotten these ideas from? >> i think it goes back to the monroe doctrine. i think he was trying to revitalize that older image of hemispheric unity and defense, something that i find interesting is this notion that he did feel the monroe doctrine extended as far west as hawaii. he had his eyes on hawaii, even though he was talking about perhaps hemispheric integrity. he also had an imperialistic strain to him, wouldn't you say? >> certainly the hawaii episode.
this is at the very end of his life and doesn't live long enough to see hawaii anexed but sets it in place by sending his old friend john l. stevens from augusta who was involved in the kennebec journal in the 1850s, sends him to hawaii to fulment revolution. >> blaine envisioned an influential america based on its increasing wealth. you mentioned he had an american sen trick view. >> he would have been supportive of the growth of american wealth and its expansion around the world. >> the interesting thing, we had a caller earlier on ask about thomas b. reed. there's a strong difference between blaine and his world view and thomas b. reed who
resigned from the house after the spanish war because he was so concerned about the imperialistic direction he perceived america going in. there were very differing views in america in the late 19th century about the direction of the nation as a world power. >> right. >> serving under president benjamin harrison. how strong a president was he? >> he was generally perceived as a fairly weak president and that blaine was actually the shadow president and this is certainly reflected in a lot of the popular literature and cartoons again. >> i actually read a similar sort of thing about him when he was secretary of state for garfield, that he was also -- people -- the author was defending garfield as being powerful in that relationship but he was defending it against a long tradition of people saying it was really blaine who was running the show then as well. >> wisconsin rapids, wisconsin, this is david. you're on. >> caller: yes, i was wanting to
know with him being progressive republican, did he have any influence or was there any did he have any influence or was there any fingerprints he put on wisconsin's political party to become progressive during that time period until the 1900s? 190s? 1930s that there's a lot of policies that we still look live by. workers comp and workers right. did had have anything to do with anything or any influence -- influencing anybody in wisconsin? thank you. >> not that i'm aware of. >> i think we are talking about the next generation of politics. we are talking about the teddy roosevelt era, progressive era from the early 1900s and indeed, the reforms that you are talking about that wisconsin so noted for and reforms that also extended to other states as well are post 1900 usually.
>> i think he would have been pro-capitalists. if we are talking about workers rights, he was with the millionaires. he wasn't meeting with the laborers to see how they felt about things. >> bangor, maine, this is bruce. >> caller: yes. yes. hi. could you give us a brief history of the house that you are in, about the -- how the state of maine was able to acquire that from the blaine donation. and also mr. blaine's death in washington, d.c., and subsequent burial 20 years later back into augusta? >> i'm going to ask you not to talk about the death now because we are going to show his grave site. about this house, please. >> yes. well, i think i mentioned earlier the house was built on a retired sea captain from bath, captain james hall in 1833. our state house right across the street had just been finished in 1832. so for hall as to blaine this was a really strategic location for a home.
the house was acquired by blaine and his wife in 1862. and he died in 1893. she in 1903. and then the house was really inherited by their surviving children. then in the 19 teens, the house went to blaine's grandson, walker blaine beal. and walker blaine beal was tragically lost in the last month of world war i, 1918, in france. and so the house went back to harriet blaine beal again. and she in turn gave it to the state of maine in 1919 as our governor's mansion. it was restored and remodeled so it could be used as the home of maine's governors. governor and mrs. lepage are the 21st family to live here since 1920. >> let me introduce to you another gentleman we would like to bring into the discussion.
and let me show you as we start out here, a biography he's written, neil rolde is joining us, his book is "continental liar" from the state of maine. a campaign slogan used against james blaine, of course. neil rolde is joining us from inside the blaine house, the governor's mansion. how did you get interested enough in james blaine to write a biography about him? >> well, basically i have been involved in this house since 1966. i was assistant to the governor. so i knew all about the blaine house. and then later on, another governor, angus king asked me to be co-chair of a group called friends of the blaine house. i was spending a lot of time here. i noticed there was a little bit about blaine here but there really wasn't very much. and there was no up to date biography of him.
the previous biographies were about 70 years old then. and had been -- two of them written in the 1930s. early '30s. so i thought it was high time that this character who came within a whisker of being president of the united states should have another biography. that's how i got involved. >> you said fascinating. what are other adjectives you would use to describe blaine? >> sorry, would you repeat that. >> what are other words you would use besides fascinating to describe him? >> well, the one that they used a lot was magnetic. and they called him the magnetic man because he had a magnetic personality. and apparently when he was walking into a room he filled that room, and everybody sort of flocked to him and so he was sort of a natural in that regard. >> i know you have been listening to our conversation. do you have a favorite james g. blaine story we haven't told tonight? >> oh, boy.
i didn't hear everything that you said. i was -- i'm going to start by talking about the first time hay was secretary of state, and i don't know how much you got into his relationship with garfield. >> tell us a little bit about it. >> all right. garfield was like a protege of his. in fact, he helped him get through a real tough patch down in congress when garfield was accused of corruption. and of taking some stock that he shouldn't have taken. he got him out of that. they were just very close friends. but in 1880, when -- blaine was running, the second time, and he kept ulysses grant from getting the nomination, but, again, he didn't have enough force to get the nomination for himself. so -- he -- he turned it over, he turned his votes over to
garfield. and that's how garfield, who was a very dark horse, when the convention started, happened to end up as the republican nominee. and the sort of quid pro quo was that the number one job in the cabinet was to be secretary of state. and so it was sort of understood between them that he would become secretary of state. >> let's take another telephone call. we have less than 20 minutes left in our 90 minutes on james g. blaine. hillsborough, ohio, this is chris. hi, chris. >> caller: hi. i'm curious about blaine's relations with thadeus stephens and charles sumner, both radical republicans before and during and after the civil war. the relationship with sumner might be particularly interesting since sumner was chair of the senate foreign relations committee. >> thanks very much.
is that something you can take? >> well, i could tell -- particularly thaddeus stephens, blaine made a name for himself when he first was elected to congress by taking on the the dowdy thaddeus stevens who everybody was afraid of. and contradicting him. i don't know exactly what his relationship with sumner was but blaine was not a radical republican. he was a moderate in that regard. he still wanted to build the republican party in the south. and that's why he was so strongly for suffrage for the -- for the freed slaves. and -- and for that part of reconstruction. but he was not for, you know, tremendous punishment for the south some of the radicals were. >> our callers are here for our three guests as we talk about the life and times of james g.
blaine. unsuccessful nominee for president in the 1884 election. grover cleveland was the successful candidate. but we believe that he had an outside influence -- outside influence on american history. we are learning more about that tonight. wood land hills, california. you are on the air. >> caller: yes. hi. >> hello, eric. >> caller: hello. how are you? continuing on about the -- james g. blaine's personality, i was wondering certainly is larger than life character. do you see him embodied in any current politician? thank you. >> well, let me -- ask -- neil briefly and ask the two guests. giving him a little time to think about it here. >> no, i don't think so. he was considered a very congenial person. and, of course, he came from way as we say here in maine, came up here as a young man and immediately was accepted by
people here. because he was so good with people. and so he was sort of a combination of various people we have now but i don't see anyone that has his intellectual depth. he was a very bright guy, very well read. i was reading about his going to parties in washington and being described as being surrounded by all of the women there because he was reading them poetry. >> have either of you thought of comparisons to today? >> i thought of bill clinton actually. though i don't see the -- certainly in some ways that kind of great personable style. larger than life. very commanding. my understanding of bill clinton is that when he walks in a room, you know, he just sort of takes center stage without even trying. >> and a great orator. >> and great -- very bright. clearly a very intellectual
figure. the other person that i thought of was lyndon johnson in terms of his being a party man and knowing everybody and knowing how to gather people together to do what he wanted. >> also how to work the system. >> how to work the system. little corruption here and there. gulf of tonkin, you know. >> we are live inside the governor's mansion in augusta, maine. 15 more minutes on james g. blaine. falls church, virginia, sean. you are on. >> caller: hello. good evening. i was wondering was there -- was there a residence in washington, d.c. on dupont circle and was there any connection between mr. blaine and the southern railroad? >> okay. >> we'll take it in here, neil, thanks. >> what was that? >> we will take it in this room. residence in washington, d.c. >> yes. in 1881, when blaine became
secretary of state, he decided to build a large gilded mansion on dupont circle and that house is still standing today. and it was a house that he only kept for a few years and then, of course, in the -- in the post-1884 election, he and his wife traveled a lot. and it was at that same time after giving up the washington residence that they built another big gilded summer cottage in bar harbor, maine. then when he became secretary of state, for the last time, he actually acquired secretary of state william sewell's house near the white house, near lafayette square. that's the house he died in 1893. >> he had sold the dupont circle house. >> yes. >> i mean, he -- he was there for a very short time. he had one of his daughters was married there. his wife hated the place. it is absolutely mammoth. it is still standing on massachusetts avenue.
>> 2000 massachusetts avenue in washington, d.c. interested in james g. blaine and would like to see that period of history. just 12 minutes left. pittsfield, maine, up next. this is stanley. hi, stanley. >> caller: yes. i would like to know how -- are there any books that either earle may recommend for reading in regards to mr. blaine? >> i would suggest the book you are holding right there. >> if you want to know about the time period or the state, in addition to this, earle, some other books you can recommend. >> yes. first, i would agree neil's book is the most recent and up-to-date and comprehensive understanding of blaine. you have to go back to the 1930s to find two biographies of him previous to that. as to state history, actually, neil also was an author to turn to there.
he has done a couple of wonderful overview histories of the state of maine. >> you are getting a lot of valentines in this room here. >> i bet. keep it up. >> while we are talking about houses, in your book, you describe the scene when james g. blaine learns he's successful in attaining the republican nomination in 1884 and goes to the front door of this house. to greet his supporters. will you tell us about that time? >> actually, he was -- when the news first came the people were gathered down on water street, which is right down by the river, around the post offices, his biggest crony, joe manly, was the post master down there. and they were putting up signs, you know, how blaine was doing, how he was doing and finally
they put up that he had gotten the nomination. also the blains had a telephone and they were probably one of the first in the nation to have a telephone so the phone rang and his daughter, maggie, picked it up and learned that he won and she ran out into the front lawn where blaine was lying in a hammock. she told him, you've won, father. you've won. so that was how he learned the news. and then everybody marched up the hill from water street to come up to greet their hero and a huge crowd gathered and then it started to rain. one of the -- you heard a voice yell out from the crowd "we've been waiting 11 years for this rain."
blaine said they were getting soaked. he gave a speech then and then everybody started pouring in from all over the country and they had a train come from california, which had the california delegates to the chicago convention all plastered with blaine stuff. people started coming from all over the state of maine and all over the united states and then john logan eventually called him blackjack logan came and spent a few days here with blaine. >> i want to thank you for adding to our rich knowledge of james g. blaine. one more plug for your book because our program is running out here. "continental liar from state of maine." it is available wherever you buy books. we'll learn more about this colorful and very influential man from the 19th century known not only across the united states but around the world. top sail beach, north carolina,
doug l douglas watching us there, you're on the air. >> caller: how are you? i would like to ask the historians what blaine's relationship was to joshua chamberlain, later governor of maine after the civil war. he was a republican. what was their relationship? >> of course as you mention, chamberlain served four terms right after the civil war and chamberlain was a very independent individual and he was not comfortable with blaine's brand of politics. there is ample evidence they did not get along that well and they were not close compatriots. he became president of a college and later on collector of the port of portland. >> we had a caller that mentioned the town that was named for james blaine off the railroads.
we did research and there may be more. we found a number of towns and counties around the united states named for james g. blaine mostly in the time period after his death. can you talk about honoring people especially james g. blaine by naming communities that were growing up around the country. >> i thought that several of them are out west. i thought about his whole push for the western vote in 1879 and 1880 hoping to build that through chinese exclusion. maybe he did win favors out west. >> most of blaine's history was during reconstruction. he was a moderate republican but can you nuance a little bit to what degree he negotiated or supported the reassertion of power by southern whites?
>> well, i'm sure he would have said that he stood firmly against the assertion of southern whites. he was a moderate and in line with those that believed that the nation should move forward and that the radicals were really holding it back and of course the radicals were in favor of punishing the white southerners and rebels as best they could and i don't think it would have been in any way good politics for him to have stood up for white southerners but i don't think that he was really strongly going to take the position that they should be
punished. >> in that regard, elizabeth, could i ask you, what's the incident with him sponsoring the bill that would exclude citizenship. >> in 1876, when he was throwing the hat in the ring for the presidency, he sponsored this bill that said that all of the -- the remaining confederates, former confederates, who had not yet been given amnesty, should be given amnesty except jefferson davis, which was interesting. >> how did politics of that resound with the nation? >> well, it provoked a great fight in congress. some people thought it was great because of this idea that you could still hold jefferson davis accountable was great and others thought that blaine was waving the bloody shirt again and the nation was moving away from the war and reconciliation seemed to be moving forward and why was he provoking this dispute again. >> we have five minutes left. independence, iowa, this is joe.
>> caller: unlike joshua chamberlain, ulysses s. grant, william mckinley, blaine had no military record in the civil war but his running mate general john a. logan had one and was the first president of the grand army of the republic, that great republican organization throughout the states and logan gave us memorial day declaration day. can you speak to the fact, was that a ticket balancing move in some sense or did it in part cover the fact that blaine had not served? >> i think there's no question but that what is a political balance on the ticket. logan was very well known. the veterans vote was a very powerful force in the post-civil war period in america. blaine, because he was very much involved in an emerging political career, when the civil war broke out he was speaker of
the house here in maine and in our maine house of representatives and he was about to run for congress so he did what many men did at the time and he actually bought a substitute. it cost about $300 to have someone else go in your stead. cleveland actually had done the same thing. it was a very interesting situation that prior to the 1884 campaign, you always had someone in office in the presidency, grant, and hayes and garfield, who had been civil war officers but blaine and cleveland were not. >> so whichever one of them had won, it would have been the break in the generation. >> we had a viewer who asked about his death so will you now tell us the story of his death? >> yes. as has been mentioned, he was a man who was prone to illness all through his life.
i think both real and imagined. there was always mentioned that he might have been more hypochondriac than reality. by the same token by 1892, he was exhausted both physically and mentally and in fact the campaign of 1892 was looming and there was some talk of his being nominated for president. he really wasn't up to it. and he bowed out. he gave only one speech during the campaign on behalf of the re-election of harrison and then early in 1893, he died at his home in washington. >> where is he buried? >> buried in augusta originally buried in washington as was his wife and then the state of maine brought mr. and mrs. blaine's remains back to augusta and they reside in a beautiful memorial. above the cemetery here in
augusta. >> how long did his wife live after him, do you know? >> until 1903, another ten years. >> we have very little time. we have a local caller. augusta, maine. this is jonathan. >> caller: yes. this question might be answered by earle shettleworth there. what was the relationship of mr. blaine towards the native population of the state? native american population. we know there were natives in the civil war that had their own regimens and what not down in the south. >> thank you, jonathan. i'll jump in because our time is really short. big question but short time. >> yeah. i'm not sure that i have a quick answer for that. >> is that right? any place to go for that? material available in maine's historical -- >> i would definitely look to neil's book to start out with. and also the state library. very good reference at the state library. >> i would like to close.
we have just really a minute left and ask you the question. support our thesis. what was the legacy, what's the importance to america today of james g. blaine having been a politician here? >> i think his influence as secretary of state was very important. it's a great legacy. his desire to build some kind of cohesion between the north american and south american and central american states. >> i think there's that and i think also if you look back across his long career in public life it is that he is one of the key builders of the republican party in the 19th century. he's there at the beginning in 1854. and he is still there almost 40 years later as probably their most powerful and most identifiable figure. >> and maine today has a republican governor and two republican senators and congressional delegation here is democrat, correct? >> the congressional democrat. our state legislature is all republican too.
>> we're out of time. i want to thank a number of people as we close here. thank you to the governor for hosting us at the governor's mansion tonight, and the director of the blaine house here and the staff has been fabulous to us as we have been setting up over the past couple of days. we do take over the place. they've been wonderful. maine historic preservation commission, thank you for your help and historic research and also to our cable affiliate here time warner cable of augusta for all of their help and support in bringing c-span to this community. we'll close the program just the same way we opened it by giving you a look at the campaign memorabilia and particularly listening to a group called independent silver band as they sang in 1884 blaine/logan victory song. thank you for being with us tonight. ♪