tv 1776 Pennsylvania Constitution CSPAN May 7, 2017 12:00am-12:56am EDT
and thrown into jail, i heard all about that. she became at this time sort of a political icon. >> watch afterwords, sunday night on c-span twos tv. history, ares in class about the people and ideas that shaped the pennsylvania constitution. written in 1776 during thomas payne's cap lick sense this pamphlet common sense was published the same year, and the professor highlights his influence on the document. he also describes some of the documents of the constitution were radical for the time, such as voting rights for all men who paid taxes, without property or wealth qualifications. >> today we want to discuss the 1776 pennsylvania constitution.
what's we have been doing the last couple of days, we have been setting you up. for this discussion varied we did a lot of historical background of the history of pennsylvania politics leading up to the constitution of 1776. we want to think a little bit about the constitution, and in some ways, the lecture is going to set us up for the rest of the week. that's as we close out the revolutionary era. we are trying to think about pennsylvania history in its earlier history in the blocks. we talked about ideals of william penn, his values, what kind of colony he wanted to create, the peaceable kingdom, or whatever we call it. what was the next block that we discussed? this should all be review. ryan.
>> the colonial area between the revolution and penn's ideals. >> what are the dates we put on that? 1701 up to 1763. why is 1701 important? yes, the charter privileges, and then we ended in 1763 because that was the end of the french and indian war. what did we say about that period of pennsylvania history? this should all be review at this point. this is characterized by what devon? >> it was about penn's vision failing. >> the destruction of the peaceable kingdom. peaceable kingdom destroyed.
we talked about the political divisions emerging and the racial tensions within the colony, the violence on the frontier, and then, of course, the moment of the age of decline on the paxton boys riots. what we try to suggest, in the years between 1763 or the paxton riots, and the 1776, a group of politicians came together, described as whigs, and were able to overthrow the pennsylvania proprietorship under who? which family? the penn family. and also overthrow the power of the quaker assembly.
and thus, seize control of the pennsylvania government. at this point, establish a new constitution. all of that is background. none of that should surprise you. remember the parallel track that we are working on. the parallel track meeting the pennsylvania story running alongside of the national story if you will. the colonial wide story. and the colonial why do story and the pennsylvania story of revolution are happening, literally, where? in the same building. in the state house of pennsylvania. on one side of the house, you have a group of radicals, a group of wigs, radical whigs if you will, because not all wigs
are going to buy into this constitution. you this group of radical whigs on one side of the statehouse, they have overthrow the assembly, overthrown the penn family, and they are sitting on one side of the statehouse crafting a constitution for the state of pennsylvania while, on the other side, the continental congress is going. this is where i did the dancing class, as we know, there are some people who are in both groups. ben franklin being the most prominent who is running back and forth between the two buildings. that is the setup. today, we want to focus entirely upon the constitution that the radical whigs, if you will, are going to put into place. it is going to be a very
controversial constitution as we will see here in the second. before we get into the details, i think this quote by carl becker is best illustrating what is happening here in this constitution. the tension or the differences between what becker calls, home rule, and the question of who would rule at home. what do you think of the difference between these two words? anybody want to venture a guess? when you think about the revolution occurring. what did the colonists ultimately want out of the british? >> independence?
>> they wanted independence, not all of them, but they wanted no taxation without representation. what with the colonists want normally? representation where? in parliament, right? that is far from the truth in what they really want. they don't want to send some an over to parliament. if they sent a representative, that person is going to get voted down most of the time, it is not going to be very effective for them. they want home rule. they want to make their political decisions through their own governments, their own assemblies. they don't want -- when they say no taxation without representation, they're not necessarily talking about representation of parliament. they're talking about the right to make decisions based on their own representative bodies. that, ultimately, is what they get. including pennsylvania.
that is what they get in 1776, july 4. they get home rule. they will no rule themselves. now, that leads to the second part of the quote. who would rule at home? before we unpack what that means, we need to think about this in terms of a much larger question about the american revolution, and some of you were in my class last fall asking this question over and over again. how revolutionary? what? >> was the american revolution. >> was this just about breaking away from england? the most liberty loving country in the world, and just doing it better. pretty much putting the same
kind of government in place and being more consistent. is that what the revolution was about? or was the american revolution a social revolution? something that permeated every dimension of society. was it a revolution that set the slaves free? wasn't the revolution that would give poor opportunities that they didn't have? was it a revolution that was truly democratic? the infamous dword that many of the founding fathers were not big fans of. how are we going to rule ourselves? who is going to rule at home? is he going to be the educated, the elite, the gentile members of society, those in the proprietary party in pennsylvania, those who dominated in the quaker assembly like the galloway family, or the pemberton's, are they going to be the one?
or is it going to be the people? those who argue that the constitution should be based on the people, are the ones who are actually going to gain control and help shape this constitution. they are going to take the revolution seriously. the ideals and the values of the revolution seriously. in other words, when thomas jefferson writes in the declaration of independence that all men are created equal, these guys, who crafted the constitution of 1776 are actually going to take that seriously. they're going to say, ok, if all men are created equal, and all men have rights, let's build the government around that. this also would be the philosophy of many of the members who wrote the andtitutional convention
are influenced by what english quaker? thomas paine. we would get to him in a second. even though he is not one of the people that wrote the constitution of 1776, he is probably the most influential thinker who influenced those who did write it. first thing i want to do, i want to think about who is in the room. who are the kind of people that are crafting this constitution? who are the people that are saying, how should we roll at home? we should rule democratically at home because we take the revolution very seriously. some of the background here, the pennsylvania constitutional convention meets from july 15 to september 28. here is a 1778 sketch of the statehouse. for our c-span viewers. this is known as what today?
independence hall. it wasn't called that event so that is why we are calling it the statehouse. this is where both the congress and pennsylvania constitutional convention meets. they convene because the continental congress have instructed after the july 4 declaration, instructed all of the colonies, now states, to form new government. the members of the pennsylvania constitution are taking this instruction seriously. again, what is fascinating about pennsylvania is that it's all happening in the same building. in boston, they are doing it too, but they are not running around with all the delegates of the continental congress. who are some of these people?
most of these people, i'm guessing, with the exception of one, you have never heard of, and that is because this is a constitution shaped by the people. these people, we don't normally think about. timothy matlack. i'm guessing none of you have ever heard of him. he was the clerk and scribe for the convention. he was a brewer, who sold beer for living in philadelphia. he was best known for having the best handwriting in philadelphia. in other words, he served with the continental congress, as their clerk for couple of years. the declaration of independence as we see it, we tend to think it was jefferson that wrote it. jefferson wrote it but it is in
matlack's hands. he definitely knows those guys on the other side of building. is that part of them but he is , one of these figures crafting the pennsylvania constitution. then we have robert whitehill, i think he was a lawyer, politician, and i'm picking random people that you might be interested in. there were dozens of people from all over the state who were involved in this. i picked whitehall, because if you'd drive down to harrisburg, you will pass this historic marker on the side of the road. whitehall moved out to the area and settled in camp hill. he was representing cumberland county. he is one of them. are you getting the trend here? like, who are these guys? i never heard about them but they were crafting the convention.
david rittenhouse, he is one of the more educated members of the convention. he is a graduate of the college of new jersey of princeton. do you know what he is famous for? >> i'm guessing astronomy? >> he was an astronomer, yeah. he developed one of the models you use at the science fair with the planets and the solar system. he built one of them which was the best one for teaching system. science in early america. in fact, at this point, princeton takes his or he -- princeton takes this and teaches about the solar system. he is one of the intellectuals. he doesn't have political
experience but he is a scientist. dr. thomas young, he is one of my favorites. he made himself in boston. he was part of the boston committee of correspondents. one of the primary organizers of the boston tea party. when things get really tough up in boston, the loyalists are persecuting him so he comes down to philadelphia. he is a boston radical coming to philadelphia, joins the revolutionary cause and finds himself in the committee. also a very devout religious man. -- a devout deist, rejects christianity. probably the most important person on the committee, george bryan. he is a philadelphia presbyterian. he is a businessman. the people who don't like the fact that all these unknown
people, business people with no experience in government are writing the 1776 constitution, they criticize george bryan because he does not "own a chariot." meaning he has to walk places or ride his horse. you see the kind of people. this guy doesn't even own a chariot and they are in their crafting a constitution? right? do we want to these kinds of people in charge? we can't ignore the fact that a ferry owner, a guy that makes his money ferrying people across the susquehanna river named john harris junior, is actually on the committee. you can still visit his house on french street. that's in harrisburg and he founded the city as well. he is representing the city of
cumberland county, which is different today. then, we have ben franklin. there is a debate on the role that he plays. franklin is immediately elected as president of the convention, but most historians suggest he played a very little role in the crafting of the documents. why might that be the case? why would he have such little time to get involved in the actual crafting, brooke? >> he was writing the declaration of independence? >> he is on the other side of the building, creating that, and he is also on the committee that wrote that. nevertheless, he is the president of the convention.
to summarize, here are some themes. as we have suggested, they are not well known. they are not well known to us in the 21st century, but they weren't particularly well known in the context of the 18th century either. they have a long history of opposition and resistance to the pennsylvania colonial governments. they have opposed the proprietorship of the penn family. they proposed the wealth, remember a lot of the party were wealthy quaker merchants who controlled the quicker assembly, so they have a long history of opposing entrenched authority. traditional authority. that's in philadelphia and
pennsylvania broadly. you can imagine, a lot of them will be coming from what ethnic group? >> the scots irish. >> yeah. a lot of them are either scots irish and have connections of people on the frontier, or, they are sympathetic to the cause. the kind of people that we have seen, and again, we don't know who it was at this point or if any of them were involved, but there were people who might be sympathetic to the kind -- to what these scots irish did during the massacre. they might be sympathetic to a lot of the problems that of the scots irish, the ordinary settlers on the frontier are facing. connect to that with the kind of democratic nature of this
document. they have a long history of underrepresentation in the assembly. they feel like, because their communities are not as structured, they have not been given enough representation during the colonial period. so they have this established a beef against authority. they are very progressive. they don't like the way pennsylvania has always been. they are the ones who have suffered the most during that 1701 up to 1763. we have met these people before. yes? we have seen them and know who they are. as i mentioned earlier in the lecture, they are deeply influenced by the ideas of thomas.
remember, the dates, july 15 to september 28. does anyone remember when payne wrote common sense? when he publishes it? >> connor? january of 1776. what did we say about the influence of common sense in the colonies as a whole? >> it was influential. >> very influential. everyone is reading it in a common language. paine lays forth two ideas and common sense. some of you have studied it with me with professor snider. two main ideas, one is the arguments that we should do, what as the colonists? what is the primary purpose of common sense?
to convince the colonies to --? >> rebel. >> not just rebel or be revolutionary, but what? to separate from britain. we think today, of course, what's in there were other many people that pain was writing to that were not yet convinced of the idea. in common sense, pain not only is talking about why we should break away from england, that he also sets out, in what most people focus on too much who read common sense, he puts forth a frame of government. what do we know about thomas payne's view of government. what do we know of his philosophy of politics?
>> he is a level revolutionary of the time. he promotes democracy and one of the first people to promote freedom of slaves and women and the right to vote. >> he is way off the charts in terms of his social views. this guy thinks women should vote. this guy wants to defend the right of people to vote to don't even own land. this guy wants to free the slaves. because he believes all human beings are created with what? the title of his pamphlet. common sense. based on that alone, regardless of your social status, race, gender, who you are as a human being, you have common sense and, that is enough. enough for you to not only participating governments, but to also serve in it.
you don't need an education. you don't need to be part of an informed citizenry. who studies aristotle and plato and the enlightenment thinkers and montesquieu and locke very you just need common sense. you have common sense, you can vote and make decisions. you can see the relationship between this kind of common sense philosophy, and the dword. democracy. if you have this philosophy of common sense. which is dominant in scotland during this period. you're going to create a government that is democratic. the success of common sense, the way it proliferates route the entire colonial seaboard, especially in pennsylvania, is going to have profound influence upon ordinary people. common people.
especially among those in the statehouse in the late summer of 1776, crafting the constitution. payne is not there physically but he is there in spirit. his ghost lingers over the entire event. in some ways. those are the members of the convention. that is the summary in terms of their characteristics. let's talk about what others think about the people who are there. we have laid out who they are, and now criticism of the members. this is my favorite parts. you have reverend francis allison who is pastor in philadelphia, well educated man, but also scots irish. that is interesting. he says "who were the members of
the constitutional convention in 1776? they were mostly well meaning countrymen who are employed but entirely unacquainted with such high matters. they seem hardly up to the task of creating a government." these guys are not equipped says the educated. i love peter grub from lancaster. they were a bunch of numbskulls. what'll you tell us what you really think about them? alexander grade in later on is going to write, dr. franklin was implicated in the production. and his participation in it was roundly asserted by his followers. they all want to claim franklin. the defenders of the
constitution say dr. franklin was our president, he was in charge. he was on board with these ideals. and the people who didn't like the constitution because they thought it was too democratic, said franklin was there, but he wasn't really on board with all this radical stuff that they were doing. everybody wants to claim ben franklin in the 1790's and 1800s after he died, especially. i give you criticisms, to show you that there is an opposition voice out there. by the way, all of these people you see here, and i can list a lot more of these quotes, they were all for independence. they would've all supported thomas payne. where do they part ways with payne on his common sense democratic form of government?
see that you can be a diehard supporter of independence from the crown, home rule, you want home rule. you don't like the fact that all these democratic people who follow thomas payne are doing what? >> [inaudible] >> the other side of the quote. ruling at home. right? ok. take out your copy of the constitution. let's talk a little bit about it here and try to break down what is so radical about this constitution. we know we don't have time to discuss the entire constitution, but i want to point out the most controversial themes within the constitution and why this was so much discussed and debated. so you have a copy of the constitution in front of you. i listed here the first four sections, but looking at you, where is power invested within
this constitution? in the legislative branch. totally invested in the assembly, the legislative branch. in fact, that is pretty much the only place where there is power. what is the structure of government? is there an executive branch in the pennsylvania constitution of 1776? read the text. i mean, look at section three. is there an executive branch, ryan? it basically can't do anything without the legislative branch go-ahead. it doesn't have any power. john fea: is there a governor? in the new government? no.
so it has broken with the colonial past on that front. instead, there is a plural executive, right, a certain number of men, 12? i think it is 12 if fire member correctly, who are going to be in charge of the executive power, but they have no veto power over the assembly. they don't have the opportunity to create legislation for themselves. that is in the hands of the assembly. there are judicial courts, but the assembly controls them as well. this is what i need my unicamerally. one house, one house legislature, but technically, and this is where you are hesitant, technically they are branches of government, executive and legislative, but they don't have a lot of power. power is in the people of the legislative branch.
i will test your knowledge, your memory. in the charter of privileges, 1701 colonial government, was the unicameralism in that document? the government, or member the charter of privileges, 1701 and 1776? were there to houses or one? no, there was one house, the quaker assembly. this is not a change. they have had unicameralism. they are not shifting tears with what they had in the colonial period. however, there is a profound
change when it comes to -- this is kind of what i just summarized, supreme power invested in the house of representatives, no governor, no upper house to check the assembly. they did have that in the colonial period, only one house. but under a system of checks and balances, not only do the three branches of government check each other, but the upper house always checks the lower house. the lower house is always the house of the people, the upper house is the unelected and make sure that people don't do anything stupid. here you have one assembly. what is most controversial is the nature of that one assembly. somebody read section six of -- again, we are moving past the bill of rights and into the frame. some but section six for me. let's get back over here. >> 21 years, having resided in
the state for one full year and paid public taxes during that year shall enjoy the right of an elector. john fea: stop right there. is there anything in that statement second just read that suggests you have to have wealth or land in order to vote? you already along with her. no. so this section is radical for what it does not say. in other words, pennsylvania of all the 13th constitutions that are formed after independence, cap pennsylvania is the only one that did not have a wealth or land requirements. whenever the charter of privileges? was there in land requirement, remember what it was? 50 acres or 50 pounds worth of
an estate. that is wiped off the books. now nothing. you do have to be male, right? but any male who pays taxes convoked. there is no other constitution in the world at this point that allowed what was referred to later on as universal manhood suffrage. right for everybody to vote. that is democracy, folks. we don't just want the wealthy. we don't want people who only and or people who have some semblance of power. anybody, any male can vote. by the 21st-century standards, it does not look very democratic. women can't vote, slaves can vote, african -- you get -- actually african-americans can vote under this. they don't need to own land, so they can vote. but by 21st century, it does not look democratic, but think of
the context of the 18th century. everybody can vote. elections are held every year in the assembly. that means every year if you are a member of the assembly, what do you have to do? get reelected. what does that mean? you need to go back and convince people, the people, that you are worthy. you don't get to sit there like the u.s. senate today for six years before you have to go back to the people. this is even lower than house of representatives where it is what? two years. this is every year. you have to check in with the people. am i doing a good job? if i am, i will get reelected. if not, i am out. someone read section 13 for me. who wants to read? raise your hand so we can get a mike.
over here. >> the doors of the house which a representative to the people of the state shall sit in general assembly, shall be for all persons who behave decently, except when the welfare of the state may require the doors be shot. what was just read? what did logan just read? summarize it in english, or 21st century english. >> people have the right to know what their government is up to. john fea: literally, people can walk in. the doors are opened, the people can watch the proceedings. this is a new idea as well. the people need to constantly be in the loop. as we read sections 14 and 15, i will not have someone read it for time, but what does it summarize? section 14 to 15, how might this be corrected with democratic
ideals? >> it is the right to information or the right to know what people are doing. it is basically freedom of information, nothing gets withheld. >> in other words, the decisions that the assembly makes will be published in the newspapers for everybody to be aware of before they are decided upon. again, this sounds like standard stuff the 21st century, but there are no governments. we will tell the people what we are talking about and have a say before we make a final decision. this is democracy at work. thomas paine is probably loving all of this. they took my ideas. i think paine would try to push this even further, but nevertheless the people's assembly, religious freedom.
here, the declaration of rights in section two, i will put this powerpoint on the canvas. total religious freedom, so this is similar to william penn's charter of privileges. this is a thing we often see in pennsylvania, but here is an interesting one, section 10. and each member before he takes his seat shall make and subscribe to the following declarations. and here is the oath you have to say in order to serve in the assembly, the unicameral legislature. i believe in one god, the creator and governor of the universe, the reporter and punisher of the wicked. no further other religious test shall ever be required for any civil office were registered in
the state. let's look at this middle paragraph here. who does this paragraph keep out? and please don't say anybody who doesn't believe in -- but what kind of people does this leave out? it leaves out jews, because jews can't uphold what? the division of the new testament, and anyone from any religion other than christianity. this is the irony of it all. a lot of my colleagues write about the constitution of pennsylvania and say the pennsylvania constitution was the most democratic constitution on earth. and it was. however, they come to the religious test, it is pretty limited into who can participate. they just want christians. and i think a lot of this has to do with recent research.
a lot of this has to do with how many presbyterians, scots irish, were on the committee, but a lot of scholars are questioning that out. the constitution is passed, then the criticism takes place. i will read through some of these, but benjamin rush, benjamin rush, signer of the declaration of independence, a good whig, but he parts ways with the painites, with the radicals on the constitution. one take away from this lecture, you can support independent and still reject the democratic nature of the constitution. everybody with me? here is rush. the pennsylvania constitution substituted a mob government toward the happiest governments of the world.
it is mobocracy. do we really want these people running the show, this unicameral legislature? we find the uncontrolled power of the whole state is in the hands of one body of men, no checks. one body. by the way, these people are just common people. they don't even own land. it was dangerous to the safety of the community. if you put the power in the hands of the people according to rush, it is more dangerous than if you have a king. that is how much a lot of these guys fear the d-word, they fear democracy. here is one more, and the idea of making the people at large judges of the qualification necessary for magistrates were
judges of law, the checks and assemblies proceed that mankind is all alike, and have equal leisure. this government that they created, rush says, it assumes everybody has common sense. it proves everybody is equal. that is not true. we don't want to give people the right to govern themselves because they have common sense. we want wise people, just people, men of leisure. i love william hopper. i quoted him before. the pennsylvania constitution was an extra democracy. it will shake the beast. >> a legislator without end, executive.
john fea: without any checks. a beast without a head. then there is john adams. john adams, not from pennsylvania, but probably one of the strongest critics of the pennsylvania government. and two, one of the greatest defenders of mixed government. massachusetts, when they write their constitution, adams is the primary author, it is governor, upper house, lower house, all checking one another. adams is conservative in this sense. he is about order, structure. with adams in favor of independence, of course. the parts ways with pennsylvania. we live in the age of political experiments, many will fail, some will succeed. but pennsylvania will be divided
and weakened. no fan of democracy. no fan of giving the people so much power. we have got to love adams on the pennsylvania constitution. people cannot be free or happy whose government is one assembly. totally right to the pennsylvania constitution, a single assembly is liable to all devices, follies and frailties of an individual. subject to fits of humor, starts of passion, enthusiasm, partiality, prejudice. focus on the word passion for a second. adams knows that every human being has two faculties. it have a rational faculty, and they have their heart, their passion.
the purpose of education is to create what? the rational. one of the reasons you train the rational faculty is that when you make choices for the public good that will affect other people or even choices that affect your own life, your rational faculty, which you train through education and reading like a muscle will control the passion. when you are born, which faculty has the power? the passion. someone in my class the other day said, think of a baby. baby is screaming for her bottle, not making a rational decision, not knowing that mom has to run errands, so that is not why i will get my bottle now. we do not apply reason to the situation. no baby has reason because their passionate faculty dominates, but as they grow and educate themselves, they educate the rational faculty to control the
passion. with all that in mind, and enthusiasm is another thing. the passions lead to craziness, enthusiasm. you follow your passion in an irrational way, john adams has that as a critique. connected to what he does not like this form of government. someone other than ryan. connor. >> it is too close to the people, like the emotions of the people and their prejudices'are going to lead the people. so rational -- john fea: we want to put the government in the hands of people that that their passion control there and not the reason, uneducated people? let's wrap it up here. some conclusions.
one, the battle between the framers meeting the framers of the constitution of 1770's, and its opponents -- we saw some of them already, beast without ahead, passion, the battle will rage. for the next 14 years. and create intense political factionalism. you thought it was bad in pennsylvania in the 1750's and 1760's, wait until the next two days of class and the defenders of order, defenders of balanced government go head-to-head with defenders of the d-word, right, democracy. the battle over the pennsylvania constitution, and i want you to see this bigger picture, the
battle over the pennsylvania constitution of 1776 was ultimately a battle over the meaning of the american revolution. it was a battle between overrule and who would rule at home. what is this revolution going to look like? are we going to establish like john adams did, a balanced, mixed government like they have in england? we will just break away, get home rule, set up the conservative kind of government that protects liberties, but nothing too radical, or is this revolution going to destroy everything in the past political life of pennsylvania? will it be democratic? is the revolution going to be
revolutionary? those are the big issues not only facing pennsylvania but facing the colonies as a whole. so will the radical vision win? right now the radicals are in control. we would give them a positive spin. those numbskulls or defenders of thomas paine, the painites, they are spending a lot of radical time. but will these common people win the day? will pennsylvania become a democratic society that takes the idea that all people are equal seriously, or will the conservatives, who are also gladly broke away from england, will the conservatives win the day? comeback on wednesday. we have two documents for next time, so we will continue the story on wednesday.
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sunday on the presidency, historian annette gordon reed talks about thomas jefferson and his relationship with the enslaved hemmings family who lived and worked at his monticello virginia plantation. here's a preview. one of the reasons it was easy to dismiss the story of the hemmings family was because people did not know anything about the hemmings family. other than that there was a scandal and they knew the name sally hemmings. and men knew her brother james hemmings. by and large people did not know much about the family. thinking that if i could tell the story in a way that made people feel that they had a stake in them, that it might give people pause in the future about dismissing the story of
enslaved people. , and partlynhattan in cambridge. city, sorty, crowded of an anonymous city. when you meet somebody in the neighborhood, i immediately began to see them after that. you see them all the time. you have been walking past them before but you did not know them. once you begin to know them you notice their children come you notice where you expect to see them. they become a part of you win away. that is what i wanted to do with the hemmings family was to give people a stake in the family. >> watch and that gordon reed on thomas jefferson at the makes family in its entirety sunday at iraq p.m. on the president here on in history tv only on c-span3. he once called for the
removal of bhutto as a planet. on sunday, author and astrophysicist neil the grass tyson will be our guest on in-depth. >> allow me to tell you that our moon, as small as it was compared to earth, is five times the mass of bhutto. -- pluto. welcome to the company of informed people. during our live three-hour conversation we will take your calls, feed and faced questions. he is the author of several books in called -- including welcome to the universe area and his most recent, astrophysics for people in a hurry very watch neil tyson live on sunday.
>> all weekend long, american history tv is joining our charter communications cable partners to showcase the history of reading, caliph you. visit c-span.org/cities tour. we continue now with our look at the history of reading. >> at the height of the gold worse, this little town of shasta had saloons, bars, wholesale business. see the shell of the businesses across the street, ones that were oftentimes abandoned between the 1870's and the 1880's when the county seat moved from the courthouse in this building into downtown redding.