Skip to main content

tv   The Contenders  CSPAN  August 2, 2016 12:31pm-2:04pm EDT

12:31 pm
>> could you explain more about how he could be serving -- >> microphone, please. >> -- how he could be serving in the civil war and being elected to congress but he can't be there? did that happen a lot? how did that work? >> the answer is yes, it did. not a lot, but anyone can be elected to congress if you are a -- hey, just look down the blo block. [ laughter ] anyone can be elected to congress as long as they are 25 years of age and a resident of the state they live in and a resident of the state in the senate. you don't necessarily have to show up. i mean today they count votes and see what your percentage is of voting. but just -- you get elected. doesn't mean you necessarily have to show up. obviously if you don't show up enough, constituents will not re-elect you. but certainly since he was a
12:32 pm
significant general in the civil war, everyone understood he wasn't physically there. so i will hang out. some of you are wanting to go and find out what's happening in the hockey game. next week is mckinley. another set of really fascinating stories. on saturday, c-span's issues spotlight looks at police and race relations. we'll show you president obama at the memorial service for police officers killed in dallas. a speech by senator tim scott about his own interactions with the police. and washington, d.c., police chief kathy lanier describing her agency's community policing. here's a review. >> in the course of one year, i've been stopped seven times by
12:33 pm
law enforcement officers. not four. not five. not six. but seven times. in one year. as an elected official. was i speeding sometimes? sure. but the vast majority of the time i was pulled over for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood, or some other reason just as trivial. >> watch "issue spotlight" on police and race relations saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. now the contenders, our 14-week series on key political figures who ran for president and lost. but who, nevertheless, changed political history. we feature former speaker of the house, james g. blaine of maine who also served as secretary of state for three american
12:34 pm
presidents, and was the republican candidate for president in 1884. this 90-minute program was recorded at the blaine house in augusta, maine. each sunday at this time, through labor day weekend, you can watch the contenders here on american history tv, on c-span3. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ you're looking at some of the images from the 1884
12:35 pm
presidential election and listening to a campaign song in support of that year's republican nominee, james g. blaine of maine, and his running mate, john logan. tonight our "contenders" series continues. we're live from the blaine house in augusta, maine, and since 1920 the official residence of maine's governor. we are inside the blaine house with maine's sitting governor, paul la page. governor, do you have a sense of the man here? >> first of all, welcome to maine and welcome to the people's house. mr. blaine is here every day. we see his spirit every evening because we always say goodnight to him. >> what is your sense of living -- the house was built many years ago. many people have lived in it over the years but he really is present in a lot of ways. what have you come to learn about the man by living in his midst? >> he not only was a very strong supporter and founder of the
12:36 pm
republican party in maine, but a national leader and started maine on its course to where we are now and very, very influential, both in the press, in state government, federal governme government. the man was a have powerhouse, big-time powerhouse on a national scale. very proud to be honored, to be allowed to stay here and be a steward of the house for the in exfour years. >> as governors go, you probably have the best commute in america because it is right across the street from the capitol building. >> it's great. if he was here today, i would ask him to put a tunnel under the road. >> and maybe better air conditioning. well, we're really pleased to be here tonight to learn more about james g. blaine. i know for many people, he's really faded into the pages of history. but tonight we're going to learn more about the man who brought the republican party to the state and about your state and that time period. thanks for hosting us. >> well, thank you so much. again, welcome to the state of
12:37 pm
maine and to the people's house. >> thank you. we're going to be live for the next hour and a half learning more about james g. blaine's america and about the republican party that he was so influential in bringing to this state. we're going to be moving into the reception room here at the governor's mansion. two guests are waiting for me and they will be my guests throughout the program. while we are getting set up in there, let's show you a clip from a roundtable discussion that c-span hosted talking about james g. blaine and his times. we'll see you in just a minute or so. >> 1884 against cleveland. before that he was running for the republican nomination and ironically, 1876 it was blaine who prevented ulysses grant from coming back -- or rather, 1880. it was blaine who prevented elis seize grant from making a many couldback and winning a third time. >> besides being secretary of state for james garfield and for chester arthur. >> and benjamin harrison.
12:38 pm
he was secretary of state under three presidents. >> what else? was he elected -- >> he was in congress, he was speaker of the house. he was a very effective iron-willed speaker. >> he changed some of the rules in the house. i'm not sure exactly which rules they are. seems to me speakers of the house are always changing can rules somewhat to their advantage. but a smart, capable guy -- but corrupt. >> remember, this was the period after the civil war when congress was much more central, much more potent, than it had been. the reaction against the strong executive set in. so to be speaker of the house, to be a power in congress, in the 1870s, 1880s meant a lot more than perhaps two today. >> i was curious, what do you think would have happened had he won? how would he have changed -- >> i think he would have turned out to be -- put it this way.
12:39 pm
i think he would be waregarded the best president between lincoln and t.r. because he was assertive. because he had intellectual heft. because he had -- he had a lot of talent. and i think once he had actually -- people are consumed by -- they luft after tst after presidents. it is a distorting, warping malignancy that they suffer from. if they win and survive the office -- clay and blaine have a great deal in common. they're both very charismatic, foe l polarizing figures who i think in office would have distinguished themselves. >> as promised, we are in the reception room at the blaine house. my two special guests, earl shutt shuttleworth is maine's state historian, also the director of maine's historic preservation commission. thanks for being here.
12:40 pm
elizabeth leonard, chair of the history department at maine's colby college and an expert on the civil war era of history. let me have you set the stage for us, about mid 1880s america, 20 years past the hifl war. what's the country like at the time we are going into this election and he is a contender? >> i would start by saying we are a long ways past the civil war in many ways. i think that's indicated by the fact that there is going to be a democratic president that is elected that year, and that would have been unthinkable just a short time before that. that's one thing to say. >> why would it have been unthinkable? >> because the republicans were the winners of the war and they had controlled the government for a long time and they had controlled reconstruction. and it feels to many like a handoff to the south to let the democrats come in to the white house. >> now i'll stay with you for a second because maine is your expertise. but talk to me about north and south america -- countries. northern and southern states and the difference in the economies. >> well, the civil war had of
12:41 pm
course crushed the economy in the south and so one of the key goals of reconstruction was to get the economy up and running again. that was largely on the way to success certainly by the middle of the 1880s. but it is on -- i would say, very much northern terms how the south is being rebuilt. >> james g. blaine was a powerhouse by 1884. known internationally, as well as nationally. but maine really hadn't been in the union all that long. >> well, maine had originally been part of massachusetts since the colonial times. became a state in 1820. we went into the union as the 23rd state. we were part of the missouri compromise. missouri was slave, maine was free. and by the post-civil war period, maine had initially suffered a bit of a setback during the civil war which sent about 70,000 men to the war. about 10,000 had been lost and our population in that decade of the 1860s actually did not grow.
12:42 pm
but by the period of the 1884 election, maine was really getting back on its feet. maine has always had wonderful resource-based industries. so we had ice, we had granite, we had lumber. we also had textiles. we had shoes. blaine was really was very much a part and a beneficiary of this very robust economy at the time. >> he contended against the democrat grover cleveland who won first, and then sequentially later -- nonsequentially later on. the republican party that nominated him, this was his third try for the white house. unfortunately to get even the nomination two times earlier. what was the key to his success in securing the nomination in 1884? >> well, persistence always is part of the story, i suppose, and to continue to try, as he did. he was certainly recognized as a leading, leading figure in the republican party. there's no question. i mean one of had of his many ns
12:43 pm
was mr. republican. he was certainly a leading figure, and that would be part of the story. >> he also had some great enemies at the time trying to deny him the nomination. explain the split in the republican party, if you will, please. >> yes. well there were a group of moderates. they were called in 1884 the mudwomps. they were in many cases the intelligence from boston, from new york, from philadelphia. these were folks who believed that blaine was a very corrupt individual. you think, for example, of henry adams who wrote "democracy," and the senator in democracy who was a dark figure is james g. blaine, modeled upon him. so he did have very strong enemies even within his own party. >> ultimately this was a very close election. will you tell me about the results? >> i think he only loses by 30 or 40 electoral votes. is that correct? >> yes. and the actual vote itself, 10
12:44 pm
million people vote. and he loses the election by 25,000 votes nationally. and the key to the loss is the loss of new york state. about 1,000 votes. >> new york state was also the place where rising star, young star, theodore roosevelt was beginning to make his presence known. was he an influence in the outcome of the election? >> he was considered a mudwomp, one of the liberals. indeed that is a trend that begins his career in that direction, at least into the 1890s. >> what's interesting about the 1884 election that has some exce echoes of today is that it was highly personal. >> highly personal. often in a way we don't think today 19th century politics works. but starting with andrew jackson things get very personal and it is in many ways a fight about blaine as a corrupt poll six, but then perhaps cleveland had a child out of wedlock where it in the country and so on. there's slinging, nasty mud, at each other. >> there's two phrases are most
12:45 pm
even high school students study in their history books that are from this campaign. first of all is the phrase "rum, romanism and rebellion. who said it, where did it come from and why was it so important in the campaign? >> that was a minister named birschard. about a week before the election he gave a talk that blaine was party to in which he denounced the democratic party as the party of rum, romanism and rebellion. rum, prohibition. romanism, the roman catholic church. and rebellion, the south. and that phrase was carried quickly by the telegraph and newspapers all over the country. and it is one of the phrases that apparently contributed to blaine's loss. >> isn't the problem that blaine didn't denounce it. >> no. no. >> so people believed that that was -- many people actually thought he had said it, is what i understand. rather, it is just that he didn't denounce it.
12:46 pm
>> affected the new york catholic vote in the end? >> very much. absolutely. >> there was an anti-catholic mood in the country in some sectors? >> certainly. even still. there had been since the 184s when the irish first were immigrating in such large numbers. some would say that anti-catholic sentiment went back farther than that. yes, think that persisted, too. the prohibitionists, the temperance movement also running up against that as well. >> "gone to the white house, ha, ha, ha." what's that all about zp. >> that's about this acquisition that cleveland had a child out of wedlock somewhere and in fact that he was not the moral upstanding man that could be set up to challenge the corrupt and devious blaine. >> now he chose a tactic, as i read, which was not to deny. >> and apparently to pay child
12:47 pm
support and find the child and pay for its orphan -- pay for the child and the orphanage. >> a lesson perhaps for modern politicians. >> just come out and admit it. >> i have a book here. obviously the media, the newspapers were partisan at the time but this is a book that james g. blaine wrote 20 years in congress which helped set the stage for his campaign, i understand. and this was very well received. >> yes. the first volume he began to write it in 1881 i think shortly after he was secretary of state for the first time. and the first volume was published in 1884. maybe just in time for the campaign. the second volume didn't appear until 1886. however, it was highly popular two-volume best seller. apparently sold tens of thousands of copies. and it was his personal account of his personal experiences in washington from the time of the civil war to the early 1880s. >> he made a lot of money from
12:48 pm
this. >> he did indeed. >> was it one of the reasons he was able to buy this house, do you know? >> yes, i think it contributed to that. well, not this house though. the house that we're now in actually goes back much earlier. in 1862, which is a critical year for him, he's speaker of the maine house of representatives, and at the same time he's also running for congress for the first time. and it's in 1862 that he buys this house, for $5,000, and he and his wife, harriet, move in with their family. this house had been built just a few years before in the 1830s by a retired sea captain. and this becomes his great political center for the rest of his life. >> in other words, he hosted many dignitaries here, had lots of meetings here. >> bear in mind that in 1859, blaine becomes the chair of the republican party in maine. and it is a post he holds until he becomes secretary of state in 1881. in that 20 or so year period,
12:49 pm
this house is election central for the republican party in maine, as well as the springboard for his national campaigns. >> if people could see the state capitol is right outside our windows here. >> yes. the parking lot is across the street from the state capitol building. >> it was a very strategic decision to buy in house. >> i heard ulysses grant visited here. >> yes. in fact stayed here a couple of days. >> i want to tell our viewers that we're going to invite you in this a little bit in the conversation here in our "contenders" series. we are looking at 14 men -- they are all men, given the presidential election process in this country -- who were candidates for president in their time, did not succeed in the quest for the white house but still had an outsized influence on american history. james g. blaine, someone who was, as i mentioned at the outset, really known internationally, but has really fallen behind in the history books. we'll spend some time tonight digging into what made him so
12:50 pm
well-known and really why he ended up failing in his bid for the white house. our phone lines will be open. we'll take calls in probably about 20 minutes past the hour. we welcome your gilded age in america and the burgeoning republican party and its influence in american life. i mention that we are going to be talking about some of his other campaigns, and i 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 plume knight, a gentleman by the name of robert ingersoll. do you know anything more about ingersoll and the speech and why the phrase stuck? >> my understanding of that speech is that it was a defense of blaine against accusations of corruption in connection with the railroad industry, and that
12:51 pm
that was how ingersoll wanted to introduce him to demonstrate that not everyone believed he was as corrupt as some people had come to think that he was. >> why did the phrase stick? did it speak to something about james g. blaine? >> he seems to have been the kind of person who really had great admirers and tremendous enemies and detractors, and i think his admirers thought he was a great hero. >> and 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. i mean, there was a lot of interest still in romantic literature, in old english literature, and he was often shown in either elizabethan costume or in a knight in shining armor. it was a perfect kind of image for him. >> here we are looking at one of the political cartoons you've brought along. how important were political cartoons in affecting the electorate in that age? >> they were tremendously important. this is a period in which
12:52 pm
pictorial publications abounded in america for the first time. very widespread, very easily produced and in the case of the political journals you had the judge, when was pro republican and the other that was pro democratic, and in the pages of that magazine, this one that we're seeing now, comes from the judge. a pro-blaine cartoon, which shows blaine as the sort of learned elder statesman in his plume knight costume, his elizabethan costume, and all around him are letters from states all over the country begging him to become president of the united states. so it's definitely a pro campaign cartoon. >> you told us about the mug bumps in 1884. colorful names for the faxes back in 1876 include the half-breeds and the stalwarts. >> right. >> yes. >> the half breeds referring to those republicans who did not support ulysses grant and the
12:53 pm
stalwarts referring to those who did, if i'm not mistaken. >> exactly. >> and which faction was james j. blaine a part of? >> the half breeds. >> essentially, a short time before the mullican letters were revealed, and that created a big scandal for him. the mullican letters involved a very questionable stock deal involving one of the railroads, and that clouded the picture for him in 1876. >> the nomination went to? >> james a. garfield. blaine recognized this was happening at the convention. actually was -- i'm sorry, actually in '76 it went to hayes. >> rutherford b. hayes. >> that's right. >> '80 was garfield. >> he ran again in 1880. were the facts we talked about, the half breeds and the stalwarts still active in the party by then? >> i'm not so sure they had
12:54 pm
those terms anymore, that they were thinking along the same lines. there were still, of course, divisions within the party. >> that year james garfield did get the nomination thanks to blaine in many ways. >> yes. >> and can you explain why. >> blaine, although he very much wanted the nomination himself came after many, many ballots if i do understand that that was not going to happen -- >> i think the 36th ballot. >> something like that. he threw his votes to garfield in order to make sure he would get the election. >> and then what happened to him after that? >> became secretary of state in 181. >> i know he was nearby, and that they were walking arm and arm, they were very good friends, though garfield had -- i remember reading something that said garfield never quite trusted his friend james blaine. they were good friends and he was sending him off on the train to head north to give some speeches. >> that's right, yeah.
12:55 pm
>> we alluded to some of the suggestions about corruption and the like, but before we get to that, if he were to walk into this room today, what did he look like? what did he sound like? what were some things 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, started out as a newspaper editor. got bit by the political bug. by the late 1850s, was very much immersed in the emerging republican party, and lots of experience in the late 1850s and late 1860s, and stump speaking here in maine and that really gave him a lot of practice toward being able to articulate his ideas as he emerged as a national figure. charismatic.
12:56 pm
magnetism was another word attached to him. >> i know, my understanding is he had a terrific memory for people's names so that he was the kind of politician that could make you feel he knew who you were, what your particular concerns were and so on and that made him a very powerful figure. >> the story told, for example, in the 1884 campaign, he's on a train, and he recognizes a man who he had met as a wounded soldier in the military hospital in washington 20 years before. so that was the kind of memory he had for faces. >> what a gift for a politician, to be able to memorize names and recall them. he was able to capitalize that. >> he was a great politician. >> yes, a master. >> not just in that, but mastery of political tactics. >> mastery of political tactics, mastery of controlling his party and leading his party, i would
12:57 pm
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, mercurial, hypochondriac, prone to depression. can you verify those sorts of things too? >> he was constantly complaining of ill health, all through his life, and, of course, ultimately died at -- at 62 in 1893 and the last few months of his life, he was truly ill. >> had braves disease. >> he was also relentlessly ambitious, and i read somewhere that there was no one who yearned or hungered for the presidency more than james blaine. >> throughout his career, charges of corruption from days
12:58 pm
promoting the railroad lobbied in congress stuck with him. we have another one of these political cartoons, the tattooed james g. blaine, which refers to on the tattooed man, many of the charges against him. will you tell us more about that episode, why it was so significant? >> this comes from puck, the election in 1884. actually a tremendously powerful image in that election, in that it is recognized as maybe one of the factors that helped defeat blaine. essentially, blaine is shown -- as a roman senator in the roman senate, and his toga is being lifted from his body, and 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 mate, john logan, general logan, and also a
12:59 pm
young teddy roosevelt as well. >> now, the mullican letters, was it a successful defense and does history really record whether or not, in fact, he was corrupt? >> well, think i actually the mulligan letters, the accusation, as opposed to being his defense, and he tried very hard to make them seem as if they had no value. i read something about him 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. he went to the hotel and said let me see the letters, and he took the letters and disappeared with them, never returned with them. he tried to use them as a way to protect himself. i don't think there is any clarity that he was not guilty. it's pretty clear he was -- somebody called him jay gould's handyman or jay gould's busboy or something to that effect. that he was so tight with the railroad industry. that it was unlikely he was innocent. >> and they continued to dog him.
1:00 pm
in the 1884 campaign, someone published what was believed to be a version of the mullican letters and a pamphlet, and he never quite resolved that. >> we'll involve some of our viewers. of james g. blaine. first call from roger, watching us in atlanta. you are on the air. >> caller: hi, how are you tonight? >> great. thank you. >> caller: i finished reading the recent biography of speaker reid. for two people powerful in the republican party, they seemed very distant. from the same place. they seemed really distant. is that true or just a feature of the biography? >> no, i think are you correct. you are mentioning thomas bracket reed, born in portland in 1839. so just a little younger than blaine. went to boden college and spent
1:01 pm
his entire public life as a congressman. he rose to be speaker, like blaine was also speaker from 1869 to '75. reed served in the 1890s. i think corruption was never a question in relation to reed. reed was a very -- totally honest, forthright individual, person of great integrity, and i think in addition to that, reed is described as a towering figure in the history of the development of the congress, considered by many to be one of the three or four most influential speakers of the house in the history of the house. primarily because of reed's rules, reform of the house. 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. >> caller: hi.
1:02 pm
i think you're right on the major issues here. i mean, it seems to me the country was going through a major transition from the old money having formalized their ethical values and then they would transition the country with the railroads into big industry corporations, and raising money for corporations and very different sets of values, and so the question is, you know, how could someone who is busy making all of the deals and representing wall street maintain any kind of public reputation in this situation? >> certainly i think one answer to that would be that 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
1:03 pm
aside his apparent -- very close relationship with the railroads and the industry. >> next is the call from sharon, watching us in portland, new york. hi, sharon. >> caller: hi. 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 -- 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 actually 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
1:04 pm
in 1854. and from '54 to '58 blaine was the editor of the kennewick journal, still published today and involved editorially with the portland advertiser, a daily paper. there we are seeing today's issue of the kennebec journal. >> we're in the study of the blaine house. and looking at his desk from that time period. the newspapers of the time, he was both a newspaper man and involved in party politics. that was common? >> that would have been very common. it was one of the primary ways that politicians got the word out about whatever their policies were. and certainly there was no television. people were very interested in -- no radio. no internet. newspapers and public speaking were the ways politicians operated. >> we also have to remember that newspapers are very partisan in
1:05 pm
those days. >> right. >> shamelessly so. >> and self-admitted. and a particular individual, group of individuals, would start a newspaper, not only just to report the daily news of their community but also to promote a particular political view or particular political party. >> so was his interest in the republican party -- how did the newspaper business and the republican interest intersect? >> it is very interesting. 1854, the year he comes to augusta and becomes the editor of the journal is the year in which the national republican party is founded. he's involved in that. other famous mainers are. including israel washburn jr. the newspaper is very much alive with that rise of the party in maine. >> i'm going take a telephone call from washington, d.c. marvin watching us there. >> caller: hi.
1:06 pm
i find it very fascinating. i'm wondering how would -- america be different or how would our country be 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? >> thank you for watching. well, how would the country be different if he had been elected? >> i'm not sure the country would be terribly different. i think that perhaps mckinley becomes very pro-business president in 1896. and a republican. and i think that if -- blaine maybe would have brought that earlier, you know, change had he become elected in 1884. but he -- >> i think -- the only thing i would add to that is that some scholars have said that blaine -- because of his personal
1:07 pm
magnetism would have perhaps been a great sort of figurehead leader for the country. would have projected a kind of -- image of confidence and power that was -- had really been lacking in recent presidents in that period. and that he might have been the most important figure perhaps between lincoln and teddy roosevelt. >> and chicago is up next. dave, you are on the air, dave. dave, are you with us? >> caller: yes, surely am. i just wanted to mention that if i'm correct, there was a comment about blaine that thomas nance had -- this book was also referred to as 20 years on the make. >> well, there is that. >> caller: had to be a locomotive engineer. the railroad connection was validity in the day. there's a small town in west
1:08 pm
virginia because his friend, henry davis, who -- central pittsburgh, western maryland and then currently csx, named blaine, west virginia. he endures the railroad in that way. and if i also remember correctly, we get to watch what people say in your favor, because if he did not lose new york in one of those rounds because he did not repeat the statement of one reverend, the people did not support a party of democrats, romans that were valued. >> right. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. >> thanks for watching. we talked about the romans and remember bell on. 20 years on the make. that's a great title. >> of course, probably the greatest civil war in post-civil war cartoonist. harpers weekly was his forum. every week he created another as fascinating and challenging
1:09 pm
political cartoon. and he just got -- didn't like blaine. and excoriated blaine in his cartoons. >> i think that there also was another incident in the 1884 campaign where he went out to dinner while he was in new york. with this incredibly wealthy bunch of millionaires, maybe all the top millionaires in new york. and 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. >> well, that was the very day he was witness to the reverend's speech. in the evening he did del monaco's restaurant in new york. and that was immediately reported to the press as the feast. >> right. boodle feast. >> 13 years in the u.s. house of representatives during the period of reconstruction, we are in his study. he has his congressional desk in there. and -- the period of time of
1:10 pm
reconstruction, where was he on the issues regarding reconstruction? >> it is interesting. my sense is that he was largely a moderate which would have helped to make him provide some bond to the nation. and if they say he was quite successful in taking congress in one of the most difficult times of its history and smoothing a lot of feathers. but he was also an early advocate of black suffrage which i find quite interesting. that would not have been considered a moderate position. and i think that -- myself, my sense is that that was more opportunistic than anything else. he was among those who believe that black suffrage was important and not because it was important for blacks but because -- important to give blacks the votes so they vote republican and vote for him. >> he also -- talking about his enemies. he had a very well-known enemy with a very publicized fight in that period, roscoe. who is roscoe? >> he is a congressman from new york.
1:11 pm
>> i can't speak so individually about him either. i know there was a 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. let's listen. >> at that period, the two leading republican politicians were roscoe conklin u.s. senator from new york, and james g. blaine, u.s. senator from maine. they were both dynamic and they were both articulate. her magnetic personalities. you know, with just -- attracted lots of people to them. would give a speech at the convention, not just the convention -- out of its minds. so terrific on the stump and in
1:12 pm
any kind of oratory. they were legislative geniuses. they hated each other with an absolute passion. political figures, hated each other as much as roscoe conklin and blaine. partly because they were about the same age, the same ambition. they knew one or the other 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 conklin was an enormously vain man, handsome, dressed to the nines, and strutted about in a way that made some of the rest of the members uncomfortable. kept it out way that never had good words for anyone. but james blaine was a young upcoming politician for maine. wasn't afraid to take out anyone. in a debate at one point in
1:13 pm
1866, he launched into one of the most savage attacks on members of congress. today under the rules you couldn't attack another member that way. it was full of sarcasm and illusions to the hyperion curl and the turkey gobbler's strut in which he walked around. it was impressive. secondly, it gave tremendous amount of ammunition to the editorial cartoonists. from then on they were always making conklin into a turkey or some other figure. >> what you are looking at on your screen is here in the blaine house, augusta, maine, and the blaine study, that is actually chaise lounge. it is preserved here in a house that is very much in use. we listen to the characterization there.
1:14 pm
politics is colorful today but turkey gobbler strut and other things people used to say to one another. was it widely reported to the press? how did the stories get passed along to us? >> indeed, the -- the press was very lively in those days. we have already said. it was very -- >> sit in the galleries of congress and capture this stuff? >> very much so. and then, of course, 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. >> it was entertainment. it was not just about the politics but the entertainment value it had and clever writing and great phrasing. >> before there were big sports teams, people followed politics. >> next is helen watching in cape may, new jersey. helen, you are on. >> caller: hi. this is a wonderful series.
1:15 pm
thank you so much. all my students are watching. they are going to be tested. i hope they are watch. >> we have teachers here. glad there are students involved. >> caller: i have a question about the blaine amendment. he tried to have an amendment to the constitution. states adopted the blaine amendment. what -- was there anti-catholic motivation or some other motivation that went along with it? >> more than 20 states have blaine amendments even though it was not successful on the national level. what was his motivation? >> close to 40. >> 37. >> 37. wow. >> blaine amendment was an amendment that he proposed that would prevent schools from using federal funds. religious institutions from using federal funding. >> that's still in place today. >> separation of church and state. >> do you know if it ever had a supreme court challenge?
1:16 pm
made its way through the courts in these states? discuss the separation of church and state so often in this country. >> i'm not sure. >> why do we still know about the blaine amendments? >> 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. >> what motivated him in putting it forward? >> well, i think that it -- it was 1875. i think that he may well have already had his eye on that 1876 election and may have been opportunistically picking an issue and i'm not thinking there is an anti-catholic component to it as well since those were the institution it is catholic schools would have been most likely to be trying to not be taxed and use federal fund. >> what was blaine's religion? >> he was congregationalist. >> did he have a catholic parents? >> yes, his mother. yes. but he attended the south parish church here in augusta. and, in fact, there are beautiful -- tiffany memorial windows to he and other members
1:17 pm
of his family in that church. >> we have a viewer from d.c. calling us next named ron. you are on the air. >> caller: susan, hello? yes. >> caller: oh, hi. >> we can hear you. >> caller: thanks for hosting this series. i have been watching c-span for many years and all the programs have been so great. i just want to say thank you first. my question to the chinese exclusion act. at that time i believe that most new england republicans were against the chinese exclusion act. because they had -- had to be more liberal and -- they were not onboard with that. but blaine started out supporting it with southern democrats. i wonder what if -- why was -- not so liberal in civil rights at that time compared with the
1:18 pm
other new england republicans. and i would like to learn about it. thank you. >> i think that, again, it is -- it is similar to elizabeth's recent answer on another issue. that is that this is a man who always had his eye on the presidency and 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. >> what i am taking away from this is that this is a man he said he wanted that presidency desperately. that -- that was not ideologically driven so much as had his finger to the political wind? >> i think that's one way to interpret his political career. and i think when i think about the pro black suffrage policy and think of the same time about the chinese exclusion act policy, i find it hard to bring those two together.
1:19 pm
if he was racially progressive, why would he not be racially progressive on the other side? so that's -- an indication, i think, of sort of a -- opportunistic approach. and very ambitious. >> morristown, new jersey. welcome to the conversation. >> caller: was blaine so obsessed with the presidency he considered himself a failure for not having obtained it? >> that's an interesting question. >> i don't think we get that sense. i think what happened, you know, he went through the process three times. 1876, 1880, 1884. he was also, you know, dangled in front of him in 1888 and 1892. even though he was then a very ill man. but i think he felt the end of his life, really great accomplishment was that second term of secretary of state between 1889 and '92.
1:20 pm
and there he was able to play out a lot of his ideas and not only on the national scene but on the international scene as well. and so, you know, i -- i don't think that he viewed his career as a failure. >> you are watching c-span's contenders series. special series for this fall. we will take a very short break and tell you about more -- more about this series. >> "the contenders" and our look at the life of james g. blaine continues live in a moment. the contenders 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 our website at you will find a schedule of the series. biographies of all the candidates. historians' appraisals and portions of their speeches when available. that's all at we now return to maine and our
1:21 pm
discussion on the life of james g. blaine. >> you are looking at a live picture of the james g. blaine house in augusta, maine, state capital. it is now the official residence of maine's governor, has been since 1920. we are live tonight inside of governor's mansion. guest of the governor and his family. to learn more about the house's longtime owner, james blaine, unsuccessful presidential aspirant, three times. won the nomination in 1884, failed to win the presidency and yet made a mark this country we are learning more about tonight. our two guests tonight, earle shettleworth and elizabeth leonard, history department chair at colby college and specialist in civil war america. we are taking your telephones calls. i'm going to give thank you phone numbers. we are getting great questions tonight. 202-737-0001 for eastern and central time zones.
1:22 pm
202-737-0002 for those of you in the mountain or pacific time zones. and we welcome your involvement in this. tell me about maine -- little bit more about maine and 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? >> i think that he had a very good connection with his wife's family. they were a prominent family here in augusta. and actually that connection for him to become the editor of the journal was essentially made by family and friends who wanted his wife back here and also wanted to make that opportunity available to him as well. he came really at a perfect time. 1850s, the decade just before the civil war. maine is really at a zenith of prosperity and there is a -- recession in the late 1850s. generally speaking, maine is
1:23 pm
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 where clay was absolutely idolized and clay was an idol for him as well. and when he was a young man he spent some time in kentucky actually. and working as a teacher and he made the point of seeing clay whenever he could when he was in kentucky. and so he was -- he was a -- very devout fan. >> i think one there is one account 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. this is edward. >> caller: hi. how are you? >> great, thanks. your question? >> caller: what was the role of
1:24 pm
blaine as secretary of state under benjamin harrison? >> okay. if you would do that briefly because we are going to spend a little more time later on this. >> he served under three presidents as secretary of state. is that correct? >> yes, garfield, arthur and then harrison. and the harrison was the long period. i mean, the garfield was just within less than a year's time about nine months. but when -- with harrison, he was really in a wonderful position because he reached the zenith of his career. he was viewed as powerful if not more powerful than the president himself. and he had this free rein to develop ideas in terms of international relations. his particular interest during the 1889 to 1892 period was central and south america. he developed including the idea for the pan american union and so on. >> that's right. i want to get more involved in
1:25 pm
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 -- supporter of abraham lincoln. did he know them that we know of? >> i don't know he knew him personally. 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, lincoln was assassinated on april 14. 1865. there is a very poignant reminder his connection with lincoln at the house. and that is that there is 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. capital of the confederacy. we know from other instances that he would have had opportunities to meet and talk with lincoln.
1:26 pm
we also know that he was so -- an admirer of lincoln that when he built the addition to the house in 1872 for the study, he wanted to use the very same wallpaper in his study that lincoln had used in his cabinet room. >> we are showing that wallpaper to people as you speak on the screen. that was the part that you saw. i believe it -- replica of -- >> that's right. original. >> with permission slip to travel to richmond. >> exactly. >> which would have been necessary at the time. waterville, maine. glad to have a maine person involved in the discussion. alexander, you are on the air. >> caller: yes. i was wonder what other acts he used against cleveland to prove he had child out of wedlock? thanks. >> thank you. >> 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 -- fermented the rebellion. >> how scandalous would it have been and in this time period for
1:27 pm
someone to have a child out wedlock? >> oh, i think it would have been quite scandalous. yes. >> i would think so, too. >> to answer that question a little more. there were -- nuts and bolts issues to the campaign at 1884. and one of the strong issues that the republicans and democrats differed on in the post civil war period was the tariff. you know. how much to tax goods coming and going. and the tariff was -- was -- a major factor. >> currency was also -- >> oh, very much so. and had been since the civil war because, of course, the civil war had proliferated the use of paper currency. >> right. >> and so the whole issue of greenback currency was very much in the 1870s and '80s. >> houston is up next and our caller's name is james. hello, james.
1:28 pm
>> caller: hello. >> you are on the air. go ahead, please. >> caller: okay. well, you said -- mentioned the civil war governor. i just -- the first republican governor was actually my great-great-great grandfather. i wonder what his role will play. additionally, i think that the rift with conkling may have cost blaine new york and may have cost him the presidency. so some of his -- pulling the lion's tail came back to haunt him, i think. >> he was a little older than blaine. he was born on 1809 in oxford county. he was a highly skilled lawyer who had served as governor of maine briefly and became became a senator. and then in 1860 he's chosen as lincoln's running mate for vice
1:29 pm
president. and serves as the 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. hannibal 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. >> elizabeth, i would like to have you -- since we are in a period of time that you hear people bring up the question of maybe it is time for a new party. that the two-party system is failing us. this was a period when we saw the evolution of political parties from the -- to the republicans take a minute or so and explain about the demise of the wigs. >> very much associated with the
1:30 pm
person you were talking about in your program last week with henry clay. when henry clay died, that was very -- he was so closely linked to the wig party that the wig party really collapsed. it wasn't just about henry clay. it was also about the slavery issue and the anti-immigrant issue. a 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 1850s. >> we love to introduce you to books. and our guest elizabeth len hard has just seen today, brand-new book, her fifth book. and take a minute and tell us about this character you are writing about here. >> joseph holt was lincoln's advocate general. he was a very important figure in lincoln's administration. he was the chief of military justice. and after lincoln was assassinated he was the prosecutor of the lincoln assassins and anybody who has
1:31 pm
seen the film, the -- conspirator, then went -- "the conspirator," has seen a represent take of joseph holt. nobody knew who he was. now some people know who he was. >> congratulations. it will be available. we are going on -- in a historic house. it is, you know, it is not the top of the hour, it is a couple minutes early here. the clocks are ringing. you will hear a couple of them at this -- at the top hour here as we get into the second half of our program. let me take another telephone call from michael. watching us in tampa. >> caller: i think your show is wonderful. i appreciate the historical commentary as well as the interviewer's commentary. can we put forth personal commentary versus blaine's period of time compared to today's political landscape? >> what do you mean? just give me a little more of what you would like.
1:32 pm
>> caller: i think blaine represents something that's pretty dominant in the american populists today, not being representative. and i think blaine was very inspiring to hear about this side actually. and i'm curious of maybe some personal input from all three of you relative to that landscape versus today. >> thanks very much. i will ask both of our guests to talk about that. >> i have to say i'm not quite sure what he's looking for. if you are asking whether i think that he's a politician perhaps who would be recognizable today, i guess maybe i would say it is -- i would think he might be recognizable in his ability to know the political system, to manipulate the political system, to be a real career politician. he's a certain type. >> could he have competed in today's -- let's do a then and now. could a person with his characteristics been successful in today's political world? >> with his corruption --
1:33 pm
>> well -- >> 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. i mean, clearly, to be an effective leader, you -- you need to have a charismatic personality. you need to be able to 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 right into the 1890s. >> we talked about the media being so supportive of parties. would it -- someone that had persistent charges against him, were there charge business the media? >> certainly. even so today we investigate people's corruption all the time and they still proceed with their careers. >> phoenix, up next. this is josh.
1:34 pm
>> caller: yes, hi it good evening. great show. i was listening to the comment on mr. blaine's foreign policy thoughts as secretary of state. what would his -- what his opinions were, did he go abroad? 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 -- had just started. i was wondering if mr. blaine ever went to countries outside of the united states and what his opinions were on colonialism, say, like spain or other countries. and if he did anything about or had any feelings about those types of issues. it is a great show. i will hang up and listen. thank you. >> thank you.
1:35 pm
your question is so timely. it is time for us really 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 is really in the area of -- international affairs. can you speak to his influence and answer his question about whether or not he left the country? >> sure. maybe i will take the first one first is that's okay. i don't believe that he went to central or south america. >> europe. >> europe, yes. he -- he traveled several times to your open. in the period between the time 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 actually with a very close friend of its, andrew carnegie in scotland. i -- in terms of his significance as secretary of
1:36 pm
state, development of the policies, as we mentioned before, they were -- when they were primarily focused on sent federal 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. 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. >> we have another political cartoon titled "the old scout." what's it about? >> yes. this is a pro blaine campaign piece. it is from the judge and shows blaine as an old western scout on a horse. with an old tattered hat. and -- he -- >> look at all the people looking at him. >> yes. exactly. this is blaine, secretary of state. dates 1890.
1:37 pm
he's actually leading the people of central and south america into a new world. he's giving them leadership. and in many way 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 did he get these ideas from? >> it goes back to the monroe doctrine. they were trying to revitalize that older image of sort 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. >> yes. >> and he -- he had his eyes on hawaii. though he was talking about perhaps hemispheric integrity. he had an imperialistic strain, wouldn't you say? >> certainly the hawaii episode of course, this is at the end of his life and doesn't live long enough to see hawaii annex.
1:38 pm
he sets it in place by sending his only friend, john l. stevens from augusta, who was involved with him in the kennebec journal in the 1850s and sends him as his special diplomatic emissary to hawaii to basically ferment revolution. >> one of the quotes from his -- historian i wrote down that blaine envisioned an influential america based on its increasing wealth. you mentioned the -- that he -- really had an american centric view as he was doing this. even he was reaching out. >> very much, you know, he would have been very supportive of the notion of the consolidation of capital and the growth of american wealth and its expansion around the world. >> the interesting thing we have, caller much earlier on ask about thomas b. reid. and there is a very strong difference there between blaine and his world view and thomas b. reid who actually resigned from the house after the spanish war because he was so concerned
1:39 pm
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. >> serving under benjamin harrison. >> yes. >> how strong a president was he? >> i think 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 thing about him when he was secretary of state for garfield. >> yes. >> he was also -- the author was defending garfield as the 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. david, you are on. >> caller: yes. i was wanting to know -- did he
1:40 pm
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? 1910? 1930s that there's a lot of policies that we still 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. post-1900 usually. >> i think he would have been pro-capitalists. if we are talking about workers
1:41 pm
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 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 by 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.
1:42 pm
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. she gave to it 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
1:43 pm
he out here, a biography he wrote, neil rolde is joining us. "continental liar" from the state of maine. a campaign slogan used against james blaine, of course. and 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 friends of the blaine house. i was spending a lot of time here. 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 -- the previous biographies were about 70 years old then. and had been -- two of them
1:44 pm
written in the 1930s. early '30s. so -- i thought it was high time that this face naturing 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.
1:45 pm
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 he 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. of take something stock he shouldn't have taken. he got in 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.
1:46 pm
so 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 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 relation with thaddeus stevens 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 --
1:47 pm
particularly thaddeus stephens, blaine made a name for himself when he first was elected to congress by taking on the thadeous stephens who everybody was afraid of. and contradicting him. i don't know exactly what his relationship was 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.
1:48 pm
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 -- he was considered a very congenial person. and, of course, he came from way as we say here in maine, came up
1:49 pm
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. >> that gets us all the time, right, elizabeth? have either of you thought of comparisons to today? >> i thought of bill clinton actually. 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
1:50 pm
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. and and there. >> yeah. falls church, virginia. sean, you're on. >> caller: hello. i was wondering was there a president in washington, d.c.. >> in 881 when he became secretary of state, he decided to build a large gilded age
1:51 pm
mansion, and that house is still standing today. it was a house he only kept for a few years, and then it was in the post' 84 election he and his wife traveled a lot. at the same time they build another gilded age victorian summer cottage in bar harbor, maine. when he became secretary of state for the last time, he acquired secretary of state william's house near the new white house near lafayette square. his wife hated the place.
1:52 pm
it's still standing. >> we're here in washington, d.c. just about 12 minutes left in pitsfield, maine is left. this is stanley. >>. >> caller: hi. [ inaudible question ] it's the most recent comprehensive of blaine. you have to go back to the 19230s to find two biographies. as to state history, actually, neil also is an author to turn to there. he's done a couple of wonderful
1:53 pm
overviews of history of the state of maine. >> you're getting a valentines in this room here. >> keep it up! we're talking about houses. in your book the state of maine you describe the scene when james g blaine learns he's successful in attaining the republican nomination in 1884 and he goes to the front door of this house to greet his supporters. will you tell us about that time. >> when the news came the people were gathered on water street around the post office. the biggest crony a postmaster down there and they were putting up signs, you know, how he was doing and finally they put up, you know, he had gotten the
1:54 pm
nomination. also, the blaines had a telephone. they were probably one of the first in the nation. the phone rang and his daughter maggie picked it up and learned he won it. she ran out into the front lawn where blaine was lying in a hammock and she told him you've won! that was how he learned the news. and everybody marched up the hill from water street to come out to greet their hero. then you heard a voice in the crowd saying we've been waiting for 11 years for the rain. then he gave a speech.
1:55 pm
everybody started pouring in from all over the country. they had a train come from california, which had the california delegates to the chicago convention. people started coming from all over the state of maine and all over the united states, and then john logan eventually -- they called him blackjack logan. he 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 the state of maine," it's available. 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, douglas watching us there. you're on the air. >> caller: yes, i would like to
1:56 pm
ask you. what the historians, what blaine's relationship was to joshua chamberlain, later governor of maine after the sieve war. he was a republican. what was their relationship? >> of course, as you mentioned, 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. this is, i think, fairly ample evidence that they did not get along very well, and they were not close compatriots in the party. in fact, blayne did not go further in politics after he became governor. 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
1:57 pm
named for james blaine off the railroads. we did just a little bit of research. there might be more. we did studies around there 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. >> one of the things i thought about when i learned that, i thought about it, and several of them were out west and i thought about his whole push for the western vote in the 1879, 1880, hoping to build that through chinese exclusion. i thought maybe he did win favors out west. i don't know if there was a connection but i thought it was interesting that a republican figure from maine and there was support from west. >> washington state and idaho in particular. jim is up next. hi, jim. >> caller: most of blaine's history was during reconstruction.
1:58 pm
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 power by southern whites, but he was a moderate and he was in line with those who 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 he was really strongly going to take the position that they could be punished. >> in that regard, elizabeth, could i ask you, what's the
1:59 pm
incident with him sponsoring the bill that would exclude citizenship for jefferson davis? >> right. right. in 1876 when he was throwing his hat in the ring for the presidency, he sponsored this bill that said that all 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 thought it was great, the idea that you would 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
2:00 pm
chamberlain, 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
2:01 pm
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. so 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 first generation. >> it would have been a break in that generation, yes. >> 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
2:02 pm
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. but 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. >> how long did she live?
2:03 pm
>> 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 toward the native population of the state? native american population? because we know there were natives in the civil war, had their own regiments 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? is there material available in maine's historical --


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on