Skip to main content

tv   The Civil War  CSPAN  August 14, 2016 1:25pm-2:28pm EDT

1:25 pm
reconstruction. and on -- an arrow that has been understood for history. andses newspaper headlines individual anecdotes from the period to illustrate topics from the debate. he also books that some of the reconstruction's key political figures, such as massachusetts republican senator charles sumner. this hour-long event was part of the summer symposium hosted by the gettysburg college civil war institute. good evening. i am peter carmichael. >> i am the director of the civil rights institute at gettysburg college. i am also a professor of history here at gettysburg. it is my pleasure to introduce mark summers. mark summers is the thomas d clark professor of history at the university of kentucky, where he teaches courses in political history. he is the author of numerous books including "rum,
1:26 pm
romanticism, and rebellion," as well as -- this book examined. a dangerous stir fear, paranoia and the making of reconstruction. most recently, dr. summers published this book, "the ordeal of reunion," and it is already sold out in our bookstore behind you. there will be more copies coming. this volume is a volume that needs to stand alongside eric boehner's classic reconstruction. it is that important of a book. mark summers has the task to frame the reconstruction era for us. he is going to raise the big questions of this period, and it
1:27 pm
is my pleasure to introduce professor summers. [applause] dr. summers. dr. summers: thank you very much, peter, and thank you very much, allison, for the great work that you and the others have done to put this together. all of you need to synchronize your watches. the last applause was at 20 minutes until 7:00, so at exactly 20 minutes until 8:00, somebody raise my hand if i am still talking, and we will start applauding. i am uneasy, i have to say, on here on this podium for several reasons. it has been a long time since i have been here. i usually like to thread my way for -- my way through the crowd, waking them up by tapping on their shoulder, or laughing in their ear if they have fallen asleep. i can't do
1:28 pm
that. the other thing is that people -- is that these stands make me nervous because the last time i did, teaching, i brought my daughter and she ran up to me and shouted "daddy, stop talking!" don't any of you do that, ok? her interest in history has remained approximately the same. the last time we discussed it is when she asked me that question that i hope is harder to answer than any which is, dad, which came first, the rain of maria theresa or not? with that point, let's see if we can get underway and try to say what we can. those of you who lose track of what i am saying, i hope the pictures will be fun. i want to throw out a few additional warnings and comments of sorts. the splendid paper we had about honor in the civil war. i had a few things i might add to suggest to think
1:29 pm
about that had to do with it, very appropriate, perhaps. wanted it is if you ask a fair number of white southerners who voted or the republican party after the war, including confederate soldiers, people like general outpouring, who became governor of mississippi under the republicans, -- alcor n, who became governor of mississippi under the republicans, said we were required to accept the terms of victory if we surrender. it can also be argued this is the main method used by just about any white southerner who supports the republican party. the first thing you do to destroy them is insist they are crooks, thieves among people without honor. that means they might as well have target signs on them. they can be killed. their lives do not count. that is where honor comes in. when rutherford hayes
1:30 pm
ultimately decides to wash his hands over the last vestiges of a reconstruction government in louisiana and south carolina, one reason he does it is he believes the promises made to him why the redeemers coming into power that they will protect essential black rights. and why does he trust their promises? because the governor's of louisiana -- the governors of louisiana and south carolina were confederate officers, and a soldier's word is good. honor plays a part there in a heck of a lot of ways. that's where we will start out. we will start out with something else as well that might be pertinent, might not be. that is these pictures here, as you can see. i like pictures a lot. i'm afraid this one comes off of a cigar box,
1:31 pm
but it is not bad for the 1890's. a suggestion that once the war is over, nothing really has changed. full reconciliation. that's part of what today's story is. but i want to start the story before the war and then after the war, with a kind of story of my own. this man right here, this person you see is senator charles sumner of massachusetts, a remarkably ideological and fierce republican, a voice for a quality and civil rights throughout his lifetime. a man of fierce and dominating rhetoric, a magnificent writer attention. -- rhetoritician. it was once asked, have you ever heard sumner converse? grant responded, no, but i have heard him lecture. that fit some nerve pretty well. he was a person
1:32 pm
difficult to get along with, and his commitment to equality was strong, vital. before the war, it made him one of the great wedding boys of the -- whipping boys of the white conservative south. that ferocity on his part of rhetoric of the rest led in 1856 to him being caned down on the floor of the senate by a congressman of south carolina by the name of preston rooks. -- preston brooks. it almost came to the point that it killed him, and it would be three years before he returned to the senate to battle for equal rights. i bring him up crucially, because even during the war, sumner is used as an example of everything evil and wrong about the northern response to the issue of slavery and the quality. -- and a quality. -- equality. on the altar of negro worship,
1:33 pm
spirit wrappings, free love, socialism, atheism. and you can see they're one of the candleholders is charles sumner. it is perhaps not surprising that people were shocked in 1872 that sumner would support the democratic candidate for president, horace greeley, a man who declared at one point that while it was true that not every democrat was a horse thief, every horse thief was a democrat. how could you support a party so hostile to equal rights? you had stood your entire right to freedom. even more strange, after the defeat of greeley and his staff, charles sumner -- his death, charles sumner, accused of being the worst of the egalitarians,
1:34 pm
he rose in the senate to offer one of the most controversial moves of his life. a man denounced during the campaign for trying to make free blacks shake hands across the bloody chasm of dead black citizens with the ku klux klan in the worst of southern racism, would rise in the senate, and in fact offer a shocking resolution that did not ask. -- did not pass. i want you to look at this cartoon so you can see how charles sumner fell so low. this is during the 1872 campaign, and there is sumner abdicating himself, on his knees, strewing roses on the grave of his a silent. -- assailant. this cartoon's adjusted sumner had deserted his principles, but
1:35 pm
sumner, who had no sense of humor, did not understand it at all. he said, what did preston brooks have to do with the attack on me? it was not mortal man, it was slavery itself who struck the blow. that kind of sense of the abstract -- in december when the congress opened, sumner offered a resolution to propose that all of the markings of american victories against the confederacy, he stripped from the flags the regiments of the united states. in those days, when you think of chancellors field, vicksburg, gettysburg, you discovered that these would be put on the banner of those regimens that had been there, and now sumner was calling for these to be removed. as he argued, keeping alive the memory of a civil war amongst the
1:36 pm
people is something barbarous. it should be said that sumner was on very good ground. you look at the battle flags of great britain, and you find no kind of insignias of the battle of germantown, for example, or the battle of bunker hill, or any of those kinds of battles, because, in fact, the united states was seen as part of the british empire. you don't put on their insignias -- on there insignias of the people. but you won't find where you are fighting against other french citizens in the revolution. you just don't do that. first sumner's action, there was tremendous outrage. with the monuments at gettysburg be taken
1:37 pm
to the ground? with baby for bid in -- would they be forbidden for soldiers? with thi >> -- would the battle standard be put away and concealed? the state of massachusetts that had stood by sumner for so long passed a resolution against this man. what is going on? why would he do something like this? has some nerve deserted the cause? he has not. but it goes right to the heart of how we ought to see reconstruction, and that is what i am going to try to explain today. my duty here is to give you a basic overview of reconstruction and how people see it, and i am going to try to do exactly that as best as i can. in fact, reconstruction, the further after the war it
1:38 pm
went, it became more permeated with this vision of reconciliation, where all people who served on either side were in some sense equally upright, equally brave, equally moral, equally good. by 1913, you can have cartoons like this, which called itself reenlistment, showing the dead rising to meet with their congress -- with their comrades again. most people assumed that the south was new, that it had become something different from what it had been before. it had factories and water mills . a land of diversified agriculture, and a relatively patronizing but harmless relationship between white and blacks. this vision permeates everything. and in fact, this willingness to forget what the war and its aftermath were about is also helped on my un-american racism that knew no
1:39 pm
borders -- by an american racism that knew no borders. all you had to do is look at a comic magazine and look at the black stereotypes, as well as the jewish stereotypes and the like, or the comical blacks at the bottom. in every issue, something like that is there. it should not surprise us, then, that what happens by the turn-of-the-century is that the view of reconstruction made by historians is very dark and hostile. a personal statement about this. somebody once said that there were two novels that could change a bookish 14-year-olds life forever. one was "atlas shrugged," and the other was "the lord of the rings." >> as they went on , one was a childish fennel seed that
1:40 pm
engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, will with its unbelievable heroes, and the other involves orcs. he left out another book with unbelievable heroes and villains that engendered a lifelong concession in this 14-year-old. it was one of those blissful days where i was convincingly pretending to be sick to get out of school, a technique that i will be glad to share with anybody needing excuses for missing meetings or the like, that i picked up and found i could not put down, the greatest and most widely read history every construction, open vote that -- history about reconstruction, "the tragic era." turning away from the sense of lincoln led by hypocrites and fanatics put the
1:41 pm
south in torture. we watch as congress puts the south at the mercy of lack ignorant -- black ignorant voters and white thieves. we steal everything not nailed down and opened the streetcars to the slaves of yesteryear. they will bankroll this to their own end until common sense and an or g of corruption led by the ku klux klan brought america home again. whose hearts would not eat for president andrew johnson being mobbed a self-proclaimed patriots? who would not prize that the ruthless oliver p morton, the delusional kid glove narcissism of charles sumner and the like? i have the perfect
1:42 pm
antidote and thomas nast's remarkable cartoons. in those days, i dreamed of being a political cartoonist where at least you don't have to compile an index for your work. it increased my devotion to that era. captivated, i found some day to do in the postwar era what had been done for the dozen years leading up to the war and in my own four volumes. and draw all the pictures for it as well. this did not happen, but it gives you the idea of ambition. for those of us who have read bowers' >> tragic reaction, it seems like midsummer madness. it is hard today to be read his overheated prose with any kind
1:43 pm
of sympathy. history is not supposed to read by j.k. rowling, but the style does what all those monographs simply could not, create this demon theory of reconstruction. and until eric garner -- eric phone made his4r magnet -- phoner read his magnificent book about it, it was the most extraordinary of the period. bowers did not just ignore any source that did not fit its way, he twisted them, reshaped them, and distorted them. it is not fair to fall to middle school minds like mine. the remarkable thing about hours' awesomely authentic account was how universal the appraisal was all stop men of
1:44 pm
the assumption of powers that -- bowers by republicans found it so like their notion of the 1920's when this came out that it can't be true. you can argue that the way a character in an old comic strip did that history is like a mixed drink. if you don't like it the way it is, you can keep adding things until you like it the way you want. most americans treated that way. in diagnosing what needs to be done, it is only natural. but the times in which they live shaping what they find most important. to those for whom
1:45 pm
racial equality seems an outlandish notion, those who tried to further it looked like donkeys tilting at scientific realities or splenetic vindictive's, committing cruelty on the people of the south, by which they meant exclusively white people of the south, and really only the former confederate gentleman of property and standing. to those for whom racial equality seemed very much beside the point in an age of doubt -- of drought and depression, the mass unemployment and social ability, reconstruction turned into an
1:46 pm
lot of fun. really bad history, but a lot of fun. we have the beginning with abraham lincoln with the war over, informing his candidate of the great and it becomes harder to fight an enemy that defines nationhood by race to feel quite the same way about bowers' villains. their faces clearly turned scion
1:47 pm
word, and their faces seemed to entitle them of an endless stream -- endless dream. by the 1940's, reconstruction is beginning to end. by the 1960's, a new orthodox was taking its place. reconstruction is now seem quite differently is the first civil white revolution -- civil rights revolution, as a lost opportunity. by the 1970's, scholarship had been put used to force is not just those collected or produced by forgotten, but to that earlier generation of historians treated as largely voiceless, the entitled -- untitled and on property -- un-propertied americans. the real tragedy came from how far we fell in reconstruction, from the uncompleted promise of the day. it was, as eric stoner would describe, an unfinished revolution. keep in mind that
1:48 pm
term "unfinished. not an aborted revolution, not even a half-won revolution. unfinished, as if this is in some sense a continuous process in lightning the present day. in that term, fobnner and others pre-state not just the republic's future, but our own. i suppose when it comes down to it, it is progress that this has changed, even in terms of culture. i suppose it is progress that, for example, we no longer have movies glorifying
1:49 pm
the ku klux klan, such as "birth of a nation" would do, with a ride to the rescue of white southern womanhood with crosses in their hands and did those guilty of rape. i think it is -- and execute those guilty of rape. they at last have a voice, and their story is important. not great people, not elected people, but the people whose lives socially were dramatically so completely changed. we need to see it, in fact, in all of its tremendous power. we need to see the notices in the paper of former slave men and women, advertising the white , the child, the husband, the parents that had been stolen away from them. people who in the eyes they saw as joint to them
1:50 pm
forever. some of them would find them, and someone not. we need to see the story of reconstruction as the making of lack institution -- of black institution. it seems to be a tremendous progress that in movies, the whole stereotype of reconstruction is changed. how many of you have seen the movie "lincoln?" very good. my rule is that i never trust a movie younger than myself, but with the "lincoln" movie i make an exception. i think it is proper that the fellow uc the movie is not being played -- you see in the movie is not being played by
1:51 pm
released the same year. even if he takes a much more central role in making the 13th amendment, then the real stevens would have claimed for himself.
1:52 pm
is what the curtain does seem to say. this is a powerful story. existence of two lakh senators of the u.s. between frederick douglass, let us praise this. let us not kid ourselves. this reconstruction was not undone by its corruption. it was none -- not outdone by its incompetence. it was undone by terrorism. you would berism familiar with today. if you have any sympathy for the post war plan you must love isis. the fact of the matter is they will attack anyone and the more the better. someone ono after
1:53 pm
the public street. you pull them out of your house , tohe woods at midnight lash them, beat them or castrate them. that is how the south was perceived and we better recognize that. we talked about the 55,000 casual tees -- casualties. it would be easier to imagine many more than 50 5000 casualties in the second american revolution. these honored dead would not be honored for what the north take devotions from them. they would be dishonored, having been beaten and threatened and killed the conservative press would go to libel their careers and lives with every dirty lie they could find to show that these were dishonorable people, unfit to live on any terms or otherwise. that is the story of the clan. that is the story of the
1:54 pm
redemption of the south. that is nothing to be heroic about. ad much of the south it is revolution and we better see that. their wives, daughters, mothers, children, their schools and churches. that is a fact. we had better see that. we had better recognize it. look at this cartoon. this is based on a headline. black voter killed in richmond. one vote less. nice, isn't it. let us not think that redemption is worse in slavery. not be savedwere from them. the fact is the story is one of great and terrible and bitter tragedy. in this cartoon of democratic presidential candidate with
1:55 pm
six-seven black reform at hamburg, by white militia. it is valid right there. this reconstruction out there is a reconstruction not details of its own accord but one that finds itself beleaguered and beaten and a national government with all of its power to has not the forced to break it. not the forced to beat it. what can i tell you that's new? i am not his equal nor do i intend to be his equal. the fact is it is very good indeed and everybody should read his reconstruction. bookurse you should buy my as well, but you should read his reconstruction. i have a different kind of message.
1:56 pm
from the perspective of the past, the term reconstruction to talk about the remaking of the country began to appear in the newspapers before the first chapters of the civil war were revised. they talked about how you reconstruct the union, how you bring it together. and there were all kinds of plans. if you allow the border states not to go out of the union but the deep states will choose to come back in eventually. if you create several confederate -- deep south confederacy and ohio valerie confederacy, one could assume by kentucky. forces some day. this vision of reconstruction is constantly changing. that is really where i would suggest we could look at reconstruction differently. we can look at it in fact not
1:57 pm
simply as the week construction of the south in terms of race. but the reconstruction of the union, the reconstruction of the nation. of concentration on issues equality and civil rights is long overdue and it is good. it is not the only thing that defines reconstruction. look at this cartoon. this is close to the end of the war. how could people feel more better and after the murders and in slaughter a cold harbor at vicksburg in front of the fort. cartoon is lincoln inviting jefferson davis and robert e lee back to the table of the union. look at it right there and it is clear, this vision of a reunited country has deep resonance with the very cartoonists will be defending black civil rights.
1:58 pm
the vision of the prodigal son returning to the fold, the vision of all people being able to toaster because again as we can see it. the terms of these are clear. there are submission, and unconditional surrender, not give-and-take or a negotiated settlement out there. the terms of those of welcome. those terms are critical to understand. if anyone deserved being hanged as a warm criminal to be hanged as a traitor, it should have presidentman jefferson davis for the waging of war by the united states is white specifically what the clause is all about. two years after the end of the war jefferson davis walks free, never to find himself in prison again. byy'll money was raised northerners like the editor of the new york tribune, a voice for equal rights himself.
1:59 pm
there is an impulse there to bring us together and that impulse is crucial. at it allows jefferson davis to be free to give speeches of how right he was. an impulse out there that i love the alexander stevens to become a governor of the state of georgia again, free of all penalties and --. -- aient out there reconciliation up there too denies about -- that denies a vote to anybody. untill number are denied congress or moves its abilities and most of them will have those disabilities removed within a decade. we had better see that. we had better understand the society. like wade hampton
2:00 pm
and confederate general can end up being a governor and then a senator. it is where confederate senator of mississippi can end at they on the united states supreme court. white is at the republicans didn't try to block his the fact of the matter is, that was the reality out there. and already, this process is going on within a few months of the war. pardons by the thousands are issued by the president in washington to just about anyone who asks for them. that pardoning process may have alarmed much of the north, but there was no attempt to try to alter it, as well. if in 1868 the republican party could take on the democratic candidate for president, who is , i might add, the most remarkable candidate in the world. when he said he didn't want the job, he really meant it.
2:01 pm
horatio seymour of new york. look carefully at this picture of the devil out here, and look at columbia. the former confederate isn't seen as a villain. he is seen as a person who can be transformed either way back towards civil war and violence or towards peace and prosperity with everyone else. let us remember that vision. four that vision out there is critical to understanding not only why reconstruction turned out the way it did, but why in the end the north finally decided it could go no further to enforce black rights against the will of so many people in the white south. ultimately, you want to have one country again. you can talk about northern racism, and it's there.
2:02 pm
you can talk about, in fact, democrats would never reconcile the equal rights. the simple fact of the matter is, americans want to get back to a nation, a united nation under the constitution amended that they had known. you got an alternative by 1876. r alternative is you can assume and hope over time black rights will be restored and regained, and you have gained enough as it is. and let white southerners choose their own timetable and hope for the best, blindly and wrongly hoping, or you can decide that for all time to come, you are going to do the same thing. every time the republicans who have a majority of the votes in the south get in trouble, you will send the united states army down there to enforce it and see that the republicans win.
2:03 pm
how long are you going to have a constitution and a free government would something like that? with southern states always slightly unequal, always eligible to be sacrifice? it's a crucial issue. it is a hard issue. i do not say republicans made the right decision. i do not say that what happened in the end was not a bloody and a terrible and wrong result in many ways. i do not deny this fact. it is a simple fact. if, in fact, you can have a situation where the democratic party will have a newspaper issue a statement, it's the moral duty of democrats to cheat republicans and populists out of their vote any way we can -- rob them? you bet. what are we here for? that is not a situation we want. but the fact is, what is the alternative? the truth is the issue that union matters.
2:04 pm
and, finally let us not assume , that reconstruction failed in every sense. it did save and make permanent the union. the black schools may have been truncated, but they did not vanish. the black rights to own themselves did not vanish. the right to testify in court, the right to own property, the right to legal marriage, these were not removed, and something has changed dramatically if democrats, the great party of white supremacy, in state after state in the north, when charles sumner's bill ending segregation in public facilities is overturned by the supreme court, state after state in the democratic northern states, the governor will go to the legislature and say, these rights have to be protected for our black citizens. the right to be buried in any kind of cemetery.
2:05 pm
the right to go to school with white people, the right, in fact, to hold property, the right to go to hotels or restaurants -- we need a state law to do it. and those state laws passed. this reconstruction is not as much of it are he as it might have been, but it's a dramatic victory nonetheless. you can see its markers in the schools out there. you can see its markers out there in the creation of black newspapers in new orleans and elsewhere, some of which would end up lasting. you can see it in so many different ways. but ultimately, the issue out there, an issue that needs to be understood, to see reconstruction not simply from our perspective but from the perspective of those who have gone through the great and terrible war and did not want a big army. big armies turn you into prussia. they are the tools of would-be
2:06 pm
tyrants and napoleon and bismarck. the price out there is great, but i think that even all the kings horses and all the kings men could not have saved those governments of the south. i do not think it could've happened. when reconstruction comes to an and, in a disputed election, maybe the big thing is that in that disputed election, there is no civil war, and confederates would be the first to declare that even though their candidate was beaten, it would not be like 1860. it would not be like the election of lincoln. they would not make themselves arms, to be out of the union. the virus of secession was gone and for good, although we come back not just to that image of reconciliation and its value. not just of the vision of the handshake between blue and gray 50 years after gettysburg.
2:07 pm
in point of fact, we have to ask what happened to the ideal of liberty, and that brings us right back to not just the handshake and promise of liberty but to charles sumner. on the same day charles sumner offered his resolution to expunge the names of battles from union battlegrounds, charles sumner also rose with the civil rights bill to end discrimination on streetcars and in railroad mines and schools and cemeteries, hotels and restaurants, opera houses and play houses, throughout american life. two years later, the legislature of massachusetts, understanding finally sumner's idealism and realizing what a cherished value he was, and knowing he was an ailing man, rescinded their vote of censure. a resolution was read in the senate on march 9, 1874.
2:08 pm
sumner was there to hear it when his colleagues did it. later in the afternoon, he complained of a tooth ache in his heart. that night, he was struck down on the floor of his library by a massive heart attack. he was a dying man, and everyone knew it. the next day people came to , visit and paid their last respects. his funeral would be the biggest since lincoln. but to everyone who came sumner , had the same plea. my bill my civil rights bill, , don't let it fail. reconciliation and civil rights were not incompatible. they were reconcilable with each other. in fact you could not have a , true reconciliation without those civil rights. that was sumner's warning. a warning not heeded. for those who wonder about keeping alive the memory of the civil war, one last epilogue that goes back to sumner.
2:09 pm
sumner's resolution was not the first time he did it. in 1865, when the question came of painting the united states capital, while the war was on, sumner offered a resolution that no painting in the capital would commemorate this war. that there be no reminder in that capitol for each other. this is the man even then fighting and battling for the end of slavery, fighting and battling for the right of black people everywhere to vote. what he proposed instead was that there should be a civil war painting that commemorated america's advanced towards equality. four years after his death, that painting, the painting by carpenter of the emancipation proclamation being read to lincoln's cabinet, would be put and dedicated to the cause of freedom and to the cause of both reunion and equal rights.
2:10 pm
what i say right here is in fact we have to remember that, not simply to look at the past for messages about the present, but to remember it in many ways, as they saw it, and to remember something else you will find over the next several days. and that something else is pretty critical. the story of reconstruction did it surewith sumner, and as heck did not end with me. it can be constantly reread and recalibrated. you can look for examples for reconstruction in the north. you can look for examples of reconstruction as it affected out west. and it did. you can look how it took the blood and fire out of the manifest destiny that made us want to swallow the entire caribbean, as in fact was the case. i can you, in fact, -- i tell
2:11 pm
you, in fact, my best lesson on this is that questions of reconstruction are never fully answered. new ones will constantly be offered. when it comes to that, no library of reconstruction survey can match the tremendous unbibliography of books not yet written and deserving notice. as calvin and hobbes would've said, there's treasure everywhere. thanks very much. [applause] >> so, i guess, folks, if you want to ask questions, ask questions. but you have to get to the mic in order to be able to do that properly. let's see what we can do. if anyone wants to come up and ask anything of one kind or another, preferably not about, eign ofame first, the rie
2:12 pm
maria theresa or not -- >> i am from evanston, illinois. the picture you layout of, could we have had in soldiers -- soldiers in the south indefinitely. it's kind of like a static image that assumes the present situation would continue forever, but rather, what if we had just used those soldiers -- i believe if we had done that for the first five or eight years after the war and had protected black elected officials and created a civil society -- we are talking about nationbuilding, but there was no infrastructure. had there been black sheriffs, black local officials, they couldn't have waged that terror as easily. it would not have necessarily required union soldiers. >> the answer to that is, as a
2:13 pm
matter-of-fact, they did use troops over and over for the first 10 years of reconstruction and there were lots of black officials. there were even black militia, southern state militia out there, but you can't cope with the guns in the hands of white folks. it is not gettysburg, and you don't have no round topped out there. what you've got out there is individual people, sharecroppers on the edge of the plantation, and they are alone. they are going to be visited at midnight by about 30 or 40 masked people. you will find no jury, no sheriff that is going to convict them. it's not going to happen. law enforcement officials are powerless, and the united states government, yes, it could've sent down troops, but in fact, it did. once the troops go away, the same kind of attrition happens. and by 1875, the north doesn't want to see this go on any further.
2:14 pm
because they really see in america where the army is going to play a real role in the nationbuilding. and so on, and it frightens them. it's no closer to an end in 1976. -- 1836. if anything, it has gone worse. some people think it could've saved itself. i have a very nice friend about that. i've got a nice colleague and friend named michael fitzgerald. he thinks if the prosperity of the 1870's had gone on, reconstruction might have had an outside chance of surviving. the moment there is panic in the depression and everybody is mad and paying taxes, and a lot of people lost their jobs and they want a scapegoat, it's over. i think it's over by the end of 1868. i think the message by the end of 1868 is, there isn't an army big enough to protect every black everywhere, and the south
2:15 pm
knows it. and that means you can keep on killing congressmen, state representatives, local leaders, and it happens again and again. i, i wish i could say that the army would've made a difference, but with only 25,000 soldiers, a lot of them out on the frontier, i just don't think it could happen. i don't think a good. -- it could. i am afraid i am much more grim about this than anybody else. thanks for the question. it's a valid one to ask. anybody else? >> john, wilkesboro, pennsylvania. you talked about a number of blacks being killed. has anyone looked at the number and white republicans killed in that period between 1865 and 1877? >> nobody has made an estimate on the number out there. i can tell you in georgia in 1868 that the free men tried to
2:16 pm
make a list of blacks who had been killed the state of georgia in 11 months, and it came to over 100. the guesses are maybe 2500 killed in louisiana that year. in texas, it was worse. remember what general fill sheridan said? if you had a choice between living in texas and hell, the governor said he would rather live in hell. one historian did an article some years ago taking certain counties in upstate louisiana, and his calculation that a black male between 18 and 64, the number killed was about 20%. that will give you some kind of inkling. it's not a small number. fire away. >> melissa williams. i am an english teacher in new york. i have a question, something i have never heard about sumner wanting to erase glorification of the war.
2:17 pm
what is your opinion on the issue of removing anything that has to do with the confederacy today? >> that is a fine question and a tricky one. i know what the result of this is. i will irritate and exasperate everyone. in my town, they are trying to remove the statue of john c breckenridge. and john hunt morgan. i think it is punishment enough that he is riding a horse of the wrong gender. the horse is female, but if you look at it clearly -- a female out there. i don't approve of doing that. i think there should be statues to people that new england yankees like me are ashamed of. i think the most obscene thing has to do with calvin college, -- calhoun college. one of the colleges near yale. there used to be a stained glass window of john c calhoun with a constitution on the table. people love this.
2:18 pm
in the 1990's, they removed the slave so he is there with the constitution. i would rather have it with the entire thing, as a reminder of what john c calhoun's constitutional principles meant. it i think that ought to be there. let me offer a caution. sumner was not saying, get rid of all memories of the war. he was not saying that tokens on state banners should be removed. and he wasn't saying that battle monuments should be removed. he was saying, in the united states regiment, not the first massachusetts infantry, but in regiment, --ates there may have been seven of them -- should have these removed. the reason has to do with -- you guessed it -- honor. the argument was very simple. how can any southerner in the future, any white southerner, in the future, serve in a regiment under a banner that celebrates victories over him and his people?
2:19 pm
let confederate states have what they want. let union states have whatever banners they want. let there be monuments everywhere, but the united states itself should not be committed to this. that is the kind of message. i don't have to tell you that i think sumner was absolutely right, and one of the leading abolitionists of his time , wendell phillips, also thought sumner was right. he was a believer in equal rights beyond anything one could ask for, but he said, this is something you simply don't do to commemorate. does that answer the question? >> thank you very much. >> my pleasure. fire away. >> you mentioned earlier nationbuilding. my question is more or less, to what degree would you put reconstruction on the same level of nationbuilding as, say, the
2:20 pm
current events in saudi arabia -- i'm sorry, afghanistan and iraq -- would it go on the same list of nationbuilding always failing? is failing forit different reasons. i'm not sure it's quite the same. history doesn't repeat itself really. , in many ways, it's like a corkscrew, twisting and coming in different ways all the time. a colonial historian i had in college was once asked how theodore roosevelt's policies differed from those of benjamin franklin, thomas jefferson. he said, i don't know, anything after the 1900s is current events. i'm cautious about that. nationbuilding in the south is kind of different. you've got a long-standing tradition of, on the face of it, democratic institutions, and you are not trying to create new democratic institutions.
2:21 pm
you are widening the vote. the second thing is, you've got an awful lot of southerners, perhaps a majority of them, if you count white and black, who are in favor of precisely this kind of nationbuilding. you may have read the new york times a few days ago. there is a new movie coming out about a confederate dissident. my wife's response was, wow. i didn't know any southerners supported reconstruction. well let me tell you. , there were 40,000 in the state of north carolina, probably more in tennessee, tens of thousands in arkansas. union people and people who for many reasons wanted to see a new and better and different south. as for black people, african-americans, male and female, they are unanimous in that regard. remember in south carolina, you , may not know it, but you probably do -- south carolina won the civil war. it's true. but in a different way than you think.
2:22 pm
inr typical south carolinian 1865 is black and a slave. three out of every five people in south carolina is black. in point of fact, equal rights is a victory for south carolina. in point of fact, in just about every state out there -- maybe there is a black majority in louisiana, maybe mississippi, as well. democracy is something that means letting the people rule. you've got a much larger group of active nation builders and state builders than what we are facing over there. but again that is current , events. what do i know about current events? it is something where i could say all kinds of crazy things, and you would think i was running for president. [laughter] ok what else? , [applause] >> i accept your nomination. [laughter] ran, i would run as the
2:23 pm
head of the futilitarian party. not everything but show up the way you would expect it to. [laughter] >> hi, i'm with the thaddeus stevens society. i appreciate your enthusiasm in this lecture. and i noticed early on you had a picture of a great commoner with darth vader. can you expand upon that image and talk about what i see as a propaganda effort against him up through the 1960's and whether or not you think there is hope for resurrecting him as one of our great heroes? >> that is a very good question. and, in fact, you all know that the street down there is named after thaddeus stevens. >> he also helped to found this college. >> he also helped to found this college. the only great person to ever come out of lancaster
2:24 pm
pennsylvania in the 19th century , -- i might add that as were james buchanan also lived. as i have said often in my class, james buchanan declare that if he came back in another life, he would like to come back as a frog sitting by a quiet mill pond where nothing happened, which shows he doesn't understand trans migration. you have to be good in this life to come back as a higher form of being. sorry, i had to insult him somewhere. thaddeus stevens, you'll notice i brought him him twice, the first time with darth vader, but the second time as the night -- knight fighting the dragon. i take the good guys view of him. thaddeus stevens, because of his belief in inequality, because of having a non-white housekeeper who was reputed to be his mistress by democratic slanderers and the like, was seen as the epitome of evil all the way up through the dunning school and
2:25 pm
beyond. a vicious, ferocious fanatic fueled with hatred and resentment. let me tell you several basic facts. thaddeus stevens, well before slavery became an issue on which pennsylvanians cared at all, at least in terms of the slaves, was defending fugitive slaves and taking no fee. if i am not mistaken, in the constitutional convention, when pennsylvania decided to take the right of voting away from blacks who until then had had that right, there was one member who refused to sign that constitution, and that was thaddeus stevens. the father of the public school system pennsylvania. the great voice for equality, the great commoner, he is a man that deserves great credit and honor. and i don't have to tell you as well, that thaddeus stevens, when he died in 1868, would tell a reporter of the great city of his life where i have lived so
2:26 pm
long and so uselessly, because he believed even then reconstruction would not be able to survive. the commitment was not there. and when this man died, he had himself buried in the black churchyard. and there, on his gravestone, you can see some words pretty close to the following. "i reside here in this quiet spot not for a desire of seclusion, but finding that every other cemetery makes a bar on the basis of race, has determined in death to be as i was in life, to speak to my great belief in the equality of man before his creator." that is thaddeus stevens. [applause] >> you are watching american
2:27 pm
history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. csp us on facebook at anhistory. announcer: next, author richard brookhiser discusses alexander hamilton. he argues that the economic achievements, including his support for building domestic factories and debt reconciliation, were key components making the fledgling american democracy self-sufficient and prosperous. the alexander hamilton awareness society hosted this event. this is about 45 minutes. mr. scholet: welcome, everybody, to the celebrate hamilton 2016 events. 12th anniversary of alexander hamilton's passing that happened in 1804, at the young age of 47.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on