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tv   Henry Clay John C. Calhoun Daniel Webster  CSPAN  April 21, 2018 10:55am-12:16pm EDT

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between people and the natural .orld >> watch the entire program tonight at 8 p.m. eastern on onctures in history" c-span3. brands, author h.w. discusses henry clay, john c , and daniel webster. he describes why they were of 1812 between the war and the political compromise of 1850. mr. brand is a professor of at the university of texas at austin. this is 90 minutes. tonight, as i said, we are
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partnering with the howard stein center and they have a very distinguished record for bringing in diverse and intellectually challenging and informative speakers. tonight's program is no exception. if you have not heard bill brands speak before, you will be have been and if you here in the past, you're in for another treat. please join me in welcoming my colleague to introduce our speaker. [applause] >> thank you very much, elaine, for that warm introduction. appreciate our partnership with the ford. a treat.ays we will continue to bring you
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programs. happy washington's birthday to our c-span audience and our audience here at the ford. it's really unique to be here recognizing washington's birthday. it's always a pleasure to host bill brands. we have had him back to west michigan so many times i have lost count. he should be awarded a lifetime tenure award. i have probably personally introduced bill more than a dozen times. each time i go back and check his biography, i learn something new. i want to share those with you. you have probably heard me say that his formal name is h.w. brands. did you know that stands for history whiz kid? you probably have heard me say
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that he earned his phd masters in history, but did you know he also had a phd in mathematics? he know something no historians know, and that is if you multiply two negative numbers, like minus three and minus four, you end up with a positive. he is up with -- he understands things like that. you have heard me say that bill is the author of more than two dozen books, but do you know they have been translated to french, german, russian, japanese, korean, and haiku? maybe he will explain. you have heard me say a third of bill's books are devoted to the presidents -- jackson, wilson, fdr, ike, and reagan. know he has also dined with the presidents in the white house? you have heard me say that bill met long-lived ralph hall and stein for the first time at one of our events back in 2004 and
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they got along famously, swimmingly. but did you know that ralph urged bill to revise his studies of ben franklin and andrew jackson cents ralph knew both of them when he was a child? , youpeaking of childhood have heard me say that bill has three children, but did you know that one of them is a historian in his own right that teaches at johns hopkins? finally, you have heard me say an enthusiastic fan base around the united states -- indeed, i would say around the world. no surprise, because many of his books and of being a pulitzer prize finalist. but did you know his most diehard fans are right here in west michigan? ladies and gentlemen, bill brands. [applause]
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s >> you mentioned my son who is a historian. some of you in the audience appreciate there is nothing more gratifying for a parent who goes into a field. initially, he got a boost from being confused with me because he was going into this field. now, i get a boost from being confused with him. [laughter] he is the expert on that topic. it is a delight to be back. i see many friends from previous years. i am thrilled that you liked it enough last time to come back. fact thisly like the is a audience where i can try out ideas, where i can tell you about new stuff.
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he does not wait until the book is out. i have been giving the talk for a while. he asked me to talk about the book before it was finished. i wished they you had asked me to give this talk a few months ago. i just finished proofreading the book. they book is already been set in type. it has reached the point where i cannot make any changes. one of the reasons i like to i teach it to 500 freshmen every semester. it allows me to think in terms of the big questions of american history. i find my teaching is a boost to my writing because when you try to explain something who does not know anything about it and a lot of my students -- i do not studentsisrespect the that come from high schools in texas -- i'm not saying they do
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not know american history. i have international students. they have never taken any american history so i have to explain the civil war in 40 minutes. you have 20 in on what the big questions are. -- you have to zero in on what the big questions are. i like the chance to work through these projects in explaining them to people who are not specialists. it is one of the reasons i insist on teaching introductory students and i like speaking to groups like it because most of your not professional historians. if i can make something understandable to you, maybe i can make it understandable to my readers. i have each the stage with this particular book -- i cannot make up with a if i come brilliant insight i could have used in the book, you will see a
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grimace pass across my face because i could have used that. i will try not to be insightful tonight. it is out of self-preservation. i am going to tell you about this project i have been working on. andve written on presidents it is ironic that here i am on the birthday of the first president, speaking for one of the first times on the subject of presidents. this book that is going to be published in november makes a wonderful holiday gift for all your friends interested in history and even the ones who do not know they are interested in history yet. i am just getting. -- i am just kidding. it is a book about three members of congress, three senators.
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they were the rock stars of their in europe. i could ask this question -- rock stars of their era. whyuld ask this question -- is it of all the presidents in the 19th century, nearly all of them are forgettable? some people will remember jefferson. jefferson is really remembered not so much for his presidency but because he wrote the declaration of independence. you jump forward to jackson. we will remember him and of course lincoln. who else? i am a specialist and i have to think carefully about, when was millard fillmore , zachary taylor. there is a reason and the reason is the american constitution was not written with the presidency at the center of american politics.
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constitutiont your , you will be reminded that the presidency is described only once you get to article two of the cost of touche and. -- of the constitution. article one is about congress and the framers assumed and ,ntended that american politics the american republic, was going to be driven by the representatives of the people. president was a chief executive. his job was to execute the will of members of congress. presidents were not expected to take initiative. they were not expected to drive policy. they were not expected to be the centerpiece of american politics. that was what was intended. the fact that it is hard to remember presidents from the 19th century is what james
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madison and alexander hamilton and all the framers of the constitution asked what we were aiming for. we want these people to be unmemorable. the stars of the show are going to be members of congress. i decided to look in on the three most noted members of congress during the first half of the 19th century. this was part of my continuing recovery from writing biographies. some of you who have been here ill know that for a while, had this long-term project of writing the history of the united states through biography. i eventually wrote six volumes in this collection. the six volumes begin with the new year and franklin and went to -- began with benjamin franklin, and went to ulysses grant, and abraham lincoln.
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they linked together to form a history of the united states from the 18th century to the 21st century. i thought this was going to be a great idea. i recommend it to all of you. every house should have the set. concluded byings i the time i got to the end was there are certain stories that are hard to tell if you confine yourself to biography and it has to do with the fact that if you are writing about presidents -- i did not intend to write about presidents -- the president is a convenient character -- there is a lot going on that you cannot get at. some of it has to do with the give and take of what goes on at
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the other end of pennsylvania avenue. the other thing was, when you write about a president, a biography of any kind, you cannot help but give the impression that the world revolves around one person. the world does not revolve around any one person. i thought, let's run things out. when i was here last year, some where heard me speak instead of writing about one person, i wrote about two people. the book is called "the general versus the president." this time, i decided to expanded more. one of the nice things is you can give two sides of the argument. you do not have to focus on one side and bring another one in. i could focus on macarthur and truman and they had this battle
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and by allowing myself both characters, i can tell the story and do justice to both sides. i decided if two is better than 1, 3 is better than two. there is another reason and that is that these three men were often called the great triumvirate of american politics. the term was not always intended to be complementary. remember the various triumvirate's were in rome when members were trying to subvert the republic. this was the intention of some of the people who call these guys the great triumvirate. if you remember your days from junior high school, you might remember that a relationship between two people, if there are two people involved, that is one kind of relationship but it gets
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more interesting when you add the third. there are all sorts of complications. that is exactly what i was looking for and that is how it turned out. from the standpoint of the author, they were thoughtful in the timing of their lives. i will tell you about them because i realized my characters , although household names, were more famous in the presidents, they are not household characters these days. the three men are henry clay, john calhoun, and daniel webster. henry clay accomplished a feat never repeated. he became speaker of the house, the most powerful individual on his very first day in the house. he was that impressive. role of speaker of the house, a role that is
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important to this day. henry clay was from kentucky, born in virginia. lawyer, after getting his training in virginia, he decided he would have better prospects as a lawyer by moving west to kentucky which had originally been the western province of virginia. andet up shop in lexington he went into politics at a young age. this is what ambitious young men did. there was a attraction of doing it in kentucky because kentucky was a new state. it was electing new members to congress, new senators. one of the main reasons people went west was the professions they were interested in was crowded in the east. it would have been hard to break into politics. you go to kentucky and everybody else is new so you can get a
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start. this is henry clay. john calhoun was from south carolina. john calhoun, like clay, was a lawyer. he was born in south carolina. he was educated at yale. he went to law school but returned to south carolina. 1800s, it was not out of the question. it was not unusual for a southerner to go north for education. usually, they came back home. south carolinians are very proud of their roots and calhoun was one of them. calhoun began by being a lawyer. being a lawyer involved people in matters of public concern.
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the connection between law and politics was established. calhoun decided to go into politics. he married well. that usually meant you married somebody with money. he did not really need to make much of a income. he could indulge his political interests. he, like clay, was elected to the house of representatives. this was pretty much where everybody got started. he was distinguished from early mind, hisincisive ability to make forceful arguments. he was a strong partisan. he was a member of the republicans. these say they are called the democratic republicans to distinguish them from the republicans of the 1850's that we have until today. henry clay was a republican. john calhoun was a republican.
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the third member of my treo was daniel webster. he was born in new hampshire. he became a lawyer. he was probably the most gifted of the three. probably ther is greatest oratorical in american political history. one of the things that drew me all threehree guys, of them were very persuasive speakers. one of the things that drew me to write about them was i'm a sucker for people who know how to use the language. i'm a writer. that makes me interested in that stuff. one of the things i constantly tell my writing students is there are styles of language, ways of writing, depending on who you are writing for or what you're trying to accomplish. i was going to be
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transported back to a time when political rhetoric was important. , to put itse bluntly, there was not a lot else going on. when daniel webster was going to give a speech, this was high entertainment. this was why, some of you will know of the lincoln douglas debates of 1858. this was a big deal in american political life in the summer of 1858. how many of you have read any of the debates? a few. those of you who have will know this is a tough slog. they would get up and speak. if douglas went first, he would speak for a hour and lincoln would respond for one hour and a half and douglas would get 30 minutes to finish.
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it was like going to a double feature of the movies. i'm back in the 1930's when people went to the double features. you might as well spend all afternoon in the theater. same thing was true with political debates. after a while, they get tedious. do you know why? they repeated themselves from one debate to the next. why? -- they were not recorded. thehe time you got to seventh debate, you could have this down. the other thing was, and this is the reason i was so intrigued by my characters, this was a time when political speech mattered. so i should say c-span and fans of your glue to cameras when c-span is covering congress. you will know you can turn on c-span during the week and you
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can see people giving speeches in congress. i am probably not giving away secrets to tell you if they pan the camera, you would realize there is nobody in their. they are speaking to the camera. we live in a time when american political institutions have matured. -- theye grown so rigid have a vault in a way so political decisions are not made on the basis of speeches made. political decisions are made for other reasons, having to do with party considerations, sometimes because of the effect of lobbyists. the decisions are not made there in the house and senate on the basis of who said what. we live in a mature system. in the days of henry clay and john calhoun and daniel webster, this was not so. we had immature institutions.
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when institutions are immature, the role for individuals is greater. when henry clay gave a speech, he did change minds. when henry clay would debate john calhoun and daniel webster would rebut the both of them, people listened carefully. as a sideline, the speakers would write out their remarks after they had given them and put them into print and sell them. they had a side income. when if youime, listen to henry clay talk about the need for protective tariffs, he was pro-tariff. he thought american industry needed to be protected from foreign manufacturers. you listen to daniel webster oppose this. one of the striking things to me is how sophisticated these arguments were.
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i probably give more time to the speeches then maybe i should have because i was very details, thethe insight of the arguments and how modern they sound. if you listen to henry clay argue in favor of protective tariffs, it is essentially the same argument, although i will , a hole no disrespect at more sophisticated than the argument donald trump makes for protective tariffs. when you hear daniel webster say , his arguments could have been used by advocates of free trade which have been general policies since 1945. one of theo say reasons i study history and one
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of the things i try to get across to students and why anybody should study history is to be reminded we are not the first generation ever to walk the earth. that tempting to think what happened before does not matter and our problems are going to be solved by us. everybody wants a time machine. most people want a time machine to go to the future. we do not have those and even if we did, there is a contradiction in terms. if you could see what the future was, you come back and change this moment and that was grew up the future. we do have a time machine machine and it goes back to the past and we can see how previous generations have dealt with difficult issues. was a minor issue for most of this time. it became a acute issue at a particular moment. i have introduced my characters
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-- clay, calhoun, webster. notice that calhoun is from the south. south carolina. the most southern of the southern states. from the standpoint of those looking ahead and knowing there is tension between north and south, it is south carolina where the tension starts. south carolina is the first to secede in 1881. daniel webster is from new hampshire. when he was trying to expand his ball practice, he moved to boston -- trying to expand his law practice, he moved to boston. he is the spokesman of new england which is the most northern part of the north. henry clay is from kentucky. kentucky is a border state, considered the west.
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we have got this regional arrangement among the three. are kind ofe unstable, one of the parts of alliances, thee shifting alliances, among the three. at any given time, two are lined up against the other. which two depends on the time and the issue. at the same time, each one is ambitious. each one would love to be president. this is a interesting aspect of the story. influentialere more than all but a couple presidents of the united states. there's something about ambition that says it is great to be one by 1850, there were 60 senators. of one, to be president, even if they
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-- even if the presidency was not as big a deal as it would become. all three are trying to figure out how can i become president? part of it is representation of their section. john calhoun eventually becomes the spokesman of the south. daniel webster becomes the spokesman for new england and henry clay is the one trying to bridge the gap. characters. my story unfolds between the war of 1812 and the compromise of 1850. the war of 1812 begins in 1812. two of my figures are in favor of the war. they are called war hawks. henry clay and john calhoun are beating the drums for war. going tod states is
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confirm its independence of britain by going to war because britain has been preying on american commerce and doing various things that annoys people. they believe it is necessary for american pride and sense of self-worth to take on the british and when. -- and win. daniel webster is skeptical of this project. he believes john calhoun is part of this conspiracy to boost the fortunes of his political party. daniel webster is a spokesman of new england but also of the federalist party. this is where things get complicated. one of the things that attracts
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me to the study of history is that history is like a onion. you peel it and you think you see the situation. there is more inside. it is always more complicated than you think. webster is a spokesman of new england which has close ties with britain. new england is dubious about the project of war with britain, to and this isere where the story gets complicated. daniel webster becomes a spokesman for potentially the secession of new england from the union. secession as something the south did in 1861 that brought on the civil war. currents of myr
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story is this idea of what does the union consists of? what are the obligations of the states to the rest of the country? this was something that was in flux from the beginning. the fundamental question gives rise to the civil war. is wheng i should say i'm am writing my story, i try to forget i know what is coming. i am serious about this. the only way you can understand history is to abandon hindsight. how it is going to turn out, we do not pay attention to what it was like to live through it, to not know what is going to happen. i know that by the end of my story, the union is doomed. the civil war is going to come and it is going to have to be fought over to be maintained. i have to resist that knowledge.
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my characters did not know that. does of them were doing their best to prevent the wrecked they saw i had -- they saw i had. -- they saw ahead. john culberson was doing his best to create the wreck. -- john calhoun was doing his wreck.o create the recor do we have any southerners? we have got a couple. i will not expect a unanimous vote. it is fair to say most people in the north today think secession was a bad idea. i have been living in texas for 35 years and most texans acknowledge secession was not a good idea. state for you.o
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-- to speak for you. we associate this was something the south did but the first part of the country to talk about secession was new england and it was not over slavery. policy and ther fact the war against britain was destroying new england's trade. we lived by trade. you cannot farm well in new england. new england traded a lot with britain. the vote in favor of the war of 1812 did not include new england. , especiallystates when the war was going badly, said this was a lousy idea to go to war. maybe the union was a lousy idea. daniel webster, who had a keen, legal mind, started making the
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argument for succession -- secession. after andrew jackson miraculously won the battle of new orleans, webster would renege and start to backpedal. one of my themes is this question of -- is secession legitimate? can states interfere with the enforcement of federal law? this is going to be pinned on the south in the 1860's and this is the justification for the union fighting against secession. they came up first in the war of 1812. a came up a second time in the 1830's when south carolina threaten to leave the union over eight tariff -- threaten to leave it the union over a tariff. let me ask you, if you had to
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summarize the causes of the american revolution in a slogan words, what was the slogan? no taxation without representation. the american revolution was all about taxes. andle took taxes seriously south carolina was set to leave the union because they did not bill that ill -- tax congress had passed. hadle like john calhoun this well articulated theory of how the union had been created by the states. calhoun laid the groundwork for succession -- first secession based on the theory of states' rights. in underlying question is
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our federal system, we have a central government and state governments. which level of government is supreme? do the states get their way or does the national government get its way? the constitution is vague on this. at the extreme end, can states leave the union? can states constitutionally leave the union? the constitution is silent on this. why? everybody at the constitutional convention new this could be a this could benew a difficult issue. do know why they remained silent? -- do you know why they remain silent? they needed to get it done.
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a escape if there was clause, that would ruin the whole project. the project was to create a stronger government. if they said you cannot leave, half of the states would not have signed. they deliberately fudged this and they kicked the can down the road. guys and it to my their generation. the title of my book is going to be "heirs of the founders." one fundamental problem they had to deal with is what is the nature of the relationship between the federal government and the state? the second one is going to be the other fundamental flaw in the constitution. a lot of people like to revere the constitution and it is a big step forward from the articles of confederation. the framers knew there were two
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fudges in the constitution. one is this question of when a conflict arises, who wins? becauset that silent whatever they said, it would screw up their project. the second one is how does slavery exist in a republic? a republic is based on the will of the people. political power is supposed to emanate from the will of the people. with a this coexist system of labor mobilization that says 4 million people are not people at all. the framers knew this was a problem. why didn't they deal with it? again, because they would not have gotten their constitution if they had answered this. what did they do? they took the position that benjamin franklin articulated and he said, this is not a
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perfect constitution. it is the best we can do under the circumstances and we will leave it to our heirs to fix the problem. they had come a long way. they knew they had not finished it and there was work to be done. the work was done by my guys. , i wouldll you that say they did their best to the extent that people who are ambitious, people who have strong opinions, people who are torn by personal tugs on professional accomplishments -- these are strong-willed people. my story progresses from the war of1812 through the crisis 1833.
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my story culminates with the compromise of 1850. it is called the compromise because people on both sides had to compromise their issues to come to a agreement that would not blow up the union. this gets at what i will call the underlying moral question of this story. one of the reasons this story continues to have resonance, leaving aside the political aspect -- the question is this -- it is most clearly personified by henry clay. who is ay is somebody contradiction in terms. --as a a mansion patient is emancipationist slaver. how does that work?
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andy clay inherited slaves where this a society was the way work got done. he believed slavery was bad for slaves. he believed slavery was bad for slaveholders. he believed slavery demeaned manual labor and it was going to be a problem. it was going to be worse than a problem. it was going to be a continued peril to the union. he tried again and again to get kentucky to end slavery. he did not win the argument. yet, he continued to work against slavery, even has he worked -- even as he worked to hold the union together. whos a question for anybody
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lives in a democratic, political system. when you believe that your community, your country, your state is doing something fundamentally wrong? it might be simply misguided. it could be downright evil. what do you do? do you throw up your hands and say i have no responsibility and chart your own path? not if you're someone who believes there is a role for states. slaveryay believed that would, must disappear from the union. he was also one who disagreed with abolitionists who said slavery has to end now. clay understood that if the abolitionists had their way and if congress could vote to , 30 secondsery now after that, a war would break
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out between north and south. henry clay believed as bad as slavery was, it was not as dangerous to personal liberty -- as the destruction of the union. almost any compromise was acceptable to hold the union together. the union that he and his other contemporaries had inherited from the likes of george washington. he said we need to preserve the union. the union is the surest guarantor of personal liberty and if we have to compromise, we will do that. going to give much away when i say that henry clay was the model of what abraham lincoln wanted to become. who alsoincoln was one believed we have to hold the union together.
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if we hold the union together, we can get rid of slavery, preserve american freedom. if the union falls apart, all bets are off. for me with the story of the compromise of 1850 which is this effort to solve all the problems confronting the country. deal andis big package all sorts of issues were tied up and henry clay believed it was the great accomplishment of his career. the union did not hold together much longer. die within about 18 months. i'm not going to say if they had lived, things would have been different. henry clay's hope for the union election ofn the abraham lincoln and the secession of the south.
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, in partop there i am working on a sequel which is going to carry up to the civil war. i will leave you all hanging at the end of the book. guess what? i want time for questions. i will repeat the question so everybody can hear. rate here -- right here. >> you're leaving out john marshall. what is the relationship? >> the question is what about the third branch of the government. you mentioned john marshall. other people would call it the judicial branch. this period,, in john marshall is the judicial branch.
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john marshall was chief justice of the united states. he created the modern supreme court and he created the idea that the supreme court should stand in review of the actions of the legislative branch and the executive branch. the judicial branch is the one that gets to say, constitutional, unconstitutional. it, i'm not going to say cloth but it would have shocked the framers of the constitution. it is not written in the constitution. john marshall has to work between the lines to come up with that and his principal collaborator was daniel webster. daniel webster was the most celebrated and the most compensated constitutional
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lawyer of his day. days, he woulde go and argue a case before the supreme court and in the afternoon, he would give a speech in the senate. the story of webster and marshall and the creation of what you would call modern judicial nationalism, the idea that the constitution is as strong as it is going to become, owes to john marshall and daniel webster. it demonstrates webster at his finest. -- he webster arguing argued a whole bunch of cases -- one was the dartmouth college versus woodward case. he was brought in. webster was a hired gun who would be brought in to argue before the supreme court because he was such a powerful speaker. he would follow the case casually and he would come and
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speak for four hours and would whisper rise -- would mesmerize the audience and would freeze the justices. in the case of dartmouth college, his speech was so yale law there was a ale professor who went to watch. he knew john marshall was not a pushover. he heard webster try to play on emotions -- tried to play on emotions. he goes down and watches. and he sees the members of the court are mesmerized. when it comes to the end when it is a small college but there are those who love it, speaking of dartmouth college. , when webster has
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concluded, he sees to his amazement that john marshall is weeping. daniel webster had that effect on people. it is a important -- a large part of my story. some of the else had a question. -- somebody else had a question. the country was changing and becoming more industrialized. [indiscernible] do think society would be where
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we are today without the civil war? >> we would be further along. i cannot prove this but i can argue. this is something that henry clay was hoping for and counting on. henry clay, being from a border state, being a slaveholder who did not believe in slavery and hoped slavery would go away. slavery wasborn, allowed in every american colony and in every state. gradually, the north ended slavery. often, it was phased in emancipation. new york ended slavery but their world still -- but there were still slaves in new york as late as the 1830's. it was phased in. immediate emancipation would be unfair to all sorts of people, starting with the slaveholders
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and including the sleeves. if you are a 65-year-old slave, what can you do? henry clay believed that the north had emancipated its slaves not out of any fit of philanthropy but because the northern economy no longer found slavery profitable. to put it another way, every one of the framers generation, george washington, all the slaveholders in the 1780's leaved slavery -- believed slavery was a necessary evil. they could not how to -- they could not figure out how to run the economy without it. they get folks on the evil part of it. washington, jefferson, henry clay all hoped slavery would become anachronistic. this is what henry clay said after the compromise of 1850. he had been the author of the
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compromise of 1820 that resolved the issue of slavery in the western territories and it held for over 30 years. he said of this held for over 30 years, we will have resolved the problem. he saw the industrial revolution coming and the revolution was what ended slavery. it ended slavery in other countries. think about it. in 1800, nearly every country in the world allowed slavery to exist legally. most countries thought, no big deal. that is the way the world works. 1900, essentially no countries in the world allowed legal slavery. slavery disappeared. it was only in the united states that the ending of slavery seem killedire this war that over 600,000 people. you've got to start thinking
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maybe there is a way to end slavery without a civil war and clay thought there was if we could keep the union together. come toers would have the same conclusion that northerners had already come to. we do not need this anymore. if you will indulge me, if the south had ended slavery without it being imposed by the north, without the need for our 13th amendment. it did not require the 13th amendment for massachusetts to free its slaves. had freed the slaves on their own, then opposition to things like education for the former slaves would not have been seen as a badge of southern honor. anything that gets imposed by the outside is something that patriotic southerners will be able to resist.
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until the 1960's, southerners did not like the idea about being told what to do on race relations. if southerners had been allowed the time to conclude on their own slavery was a bad deal, they would have had a incentive to invest in the education of the former slaves. thatot trying to guarantee would happen but there is a alternative scenario. this is what henry clay was aiming for. 1850's, this is what john calhoun was hoping would not happen. he had already concluded that south carolina must leave the union. he was simply hoping for a excuse to do it and the excuse came with the election of abraham lincoln, more on the book i am going to write about abraham lincoln. in the back. [indiscernible]
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to remove the name of john c one of their schools. >> the question is, what about universityn at yale to eliminate john calhoun's name from one of the colleges. i do not remember how far along they are. calhoun attended yale. he was considered a distinguished alumnus. these days, john calhoun is seen as the arts typist for slavery. my general view of a racing names from buildings and taking skepticales is to be of this and i will tell you why. i teach at the university of texas and there were corrected in the 1920's statues honoring
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heroes of the confederacy and following the shootings in charlottesville, the administration at the university of texas decided the time has come to take down the statues. my first thought was, i do not like the idea of a racing history-- of erasing because there is no end to this. if it is today confederate heroes, tomorrow it is going to be thomas jefferson and how is if theing to work capital of the united states is named for a slaveholder? if we try to impose standards of the present on the past, there is no end. thinking of those people most in favor of this, there is a perfectionism that if these people are bad, there is
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somebody else who is bad on another score and i would despair of putting up statues to anybody for anything. however much a model citizen they might be today, i can guarantee you the people who honored john calhoun, he is still one of the two statues in the capital. they are not trying to poke a finger in the eye of anybody else. john calhoun was a important figure in the history of the united states. that this modest proposal i propose to the president of my university. i said, do not take down the statues. make a modest change to each statue and put a small plaque about this big that has the year in which the statue was erected and all of a sudden, i have got this outdoor history lesson. that the statue
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which was put up to jefferson davis on the campus was erected in 1929. what does that tell us? texans in the 1920's were trying to make a political point by recognizing jefferson davis. it tells us when this went up. it also absorbs the present of the responsibility for these things that went up 100 years ago. this is a justification for taking down the stuff. we do not want this generation to be seen as honoring these people whose values we do not share and that is fair enough if you are putting up something new today. yale or the university of texas would not erect a statue to jefferson davis today but to pretend it never did, it does a
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disservice to my history on thes, if only because campus, there used to be these confederate statues. since they went up, there are statues to martin luther king, barbara king, a black congresswoman from houston. there is a statue of cesar z.abbos -- chave you can walk around and see what the administration valued at different times. and i like inound teaching history to my students but we learn a lot about history the our environment and if environment says there never was a civil war, slavery never -- the fact you can see jefferson davis honored in the and the great granddaughter slaves honored in
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the 1990's, that says something about the history of the state of texas. that is my long-winded answers. other questions? response to this idea that the statues, you mentioned 29, this is the time they were put in public stations to make the statement to the black statueson and those into the preserved museums and preserve them there. what is your response? >> there is a separate argument as to the artistic merit of the statues. these included some that were by a distinguished sculptor, he did a lot of stuff in texas.
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it would have been a artistic shame if the statue had been melted down. jefferson davis was moved into a museum on campus and there is something to be said for that. there are two things to be said against it. one is my students, they avoid museums like the plague. they will never see that statue. otherwise, they had to walk past jefferson davis everyday. the second thing is, statues are go up on statues they pedestals, are designed to be seen on pedestals. i will give you one example. my older son who we mentioned who is a professor. when he was a little kid, there was a moment when texas and the state of texas was refurbishing the capital. on top of the capital is not this winged victory.
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it is the goddess of liberty and this white statue is 14 feet tall and it is designed to be viewed from the top of the capital and you are below. it was the day when they were going to take the statue down and get one of those big helicopters. they were going to lifted off. he was about four years old. we watched as the helicopter put the cables over the statue and they are tugging away. the statue is stuck. everybody is asking, is this going to happen? they yank it free and they fly it around. they lower it down onto the grass of the capitol grounds. kids able to make use of my and say, can we get in the front? we work our way to the front and he takes one look at the statue ,nd bursts into tears because
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are there any lila love it fans -- lyle lovett fans? he has this song and he sees his woman from behind and he goes on and on. andhe end, he comes around this would not pass muster in but day and age and he says she was ugly from the from. there is this female voice that comes in and says you ugly, too. when he saw the statue, it was ugly. why? because it was designed to be seen from 400 feet away at a angle of 45 degrees. it is like stage makeup.
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it is supposed to be seen from the last row of the theater. i have been to see jefferson davis in the museum and he is ugly from the front. the larger reason is you take them out of their native environment and it solves the problem but not really. aptly that it was created to say we are in favor of segregation but i want my students to know there was a time when the university they attended was run by people in their section of the country that was in favor of segregation. if you believe in progress, you have to know where you are progressing from and there is no historical memory against which to judge. the fact that martin luther king has a statue, big deal. it is a big deal because that would not have been placed there
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60 years before. that is why my suggestion of putting the timestamp it was rejected and the statues went down. >> i need to get somebody else. >> erdogan talking about a gentleman who went to represent the senate did did that affect the relationship -- senate. did that over -- did that affect the relationship? went to the one executive branch. and john calhoun was one who was the sneaky us to one in the sense of succeeding. clay was the one who came closest to being president. kerry are in a presidential library sponsored by presidential study center. there have been two people in american history who are three-time losers for their party, as nominees for their
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party. in was henry clay, who lost --4 who's the only other three-time loser? william jennings bryan. case, but longer the are there any baseball fans in being a 20 game winner used to be the standard of excellence. you may think how you become a 20 game loser? to beve to be good enough in regular rotation and bad enough to lose 20 games. that accounts for three-time losses. managed to be vice
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president of the united states. the first party system had been broken down. the second party system hadn't emerged. groups could nominate whoever they want. john calhoun realized he wasn't going to make the final. be thebe known he would number two spot. that into to leverage john quincyon and adams. he wanted to run again in 1828. 1824 is when jackson was the plurality winner of both the
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electorate and popular vote but did not win when they race went to the house of representatives. calhoun is thinking you never know, the president might die. he manages to finagle his way onto the ticket of both john quincy adams and andrew jackson. it's the only case in american history where a president of one party becomes vice president of immediately of the other party. meanwhile behind the scenes, conspiring in the undermining of federal authorities. and the climax of the tension occurs when it is on a jefferson
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day dinner. they met every year. eventually they became jefferson and jackson day dinners. do they do it anymore? jefferson and jackson day anyway, in 1832 when the crisis over south carolina , they all get and they toast to thomas jefferson and on the principles of which the union is based. indicate their position on various events of the day. those people who support south carolina, they endorse jefferson's kentucky resolve.
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jefferson in 1798 argues to determine the constitutionality of federal law in response to the alien act, which is an egregious violation of the first amendment. yetsupreme court hadn't declared the principle that we get to determine constitutionality. jefferson and james madison, who did the same thing for virginia, they say states get to be the one to do this. some are in favor of the kentucky resolution. this is an indirect support for calhoun. climax comes when the president of the united states is going to speak.
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the president didn't always attend events. jackson made very clear that he was not going to let the union be broken up. up. jackson stands everybody looks at jackson, what he going to say echo jackson is showing his age. he never was a public speaker. he was no match for clay r webster or calhoun. the audience is bigger than this. everybody is absolutely silent to see what andrew jackson is going to say. jackson holds up his glass and says, while steering at john staring at john
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calhoun, he says, our federal union, it must be preserved. calhoun is up next. he has to answer andrew jackson. calhoun is trying to think on the fly because jackson hasn't said what he was going to say. calhoun has to figure it out on the spot. he's thinking about it a little bit. says,ses his glass and "the union." everyone thinks he capitulated. union, next to our liberty most dear." it's at that point jackson decides calhoun has to go.
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it is complicated by a story that is almost absurd when i related. the wives of the members of jackson's cabinet cannot have been a long. woman was -- , don't know how to say this but she was prettier than the other members. in.also grew up in and in, the hotel.y she got better tips. she was seen as this woman of loose morals. a guy who became a member of jackson's cabinet, then the
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otherwise of the cabinet members refuse to attend dinners. and the ringleader of this opposition was john calhoun's wife. this was the start of white andrew jackson never for gave john calhoun. it started because as jackson saw it, calhoun could not control his wife. his wife was casting aspersions on peggy. to tell ares me little bit about his personal story with women. his mother died rescuing him from a prisoner of war camp in the revolutionary war. jackson believed his mother was
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a saint. then his wife died because she was slandered during the -- under the strain of all this criticism she had a physical breakdown. as a result of this jackson could not stand the idea that defenseless woman would be defamed. if jackson would have been alive today he would have said i believe the woman. when peggy said she was blameless, jackson said i believe you. so he couldn't fire his whole cap and it, eventually he did. the cabinet was paralyzed. the business of the united states can't go forward because
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there is this fight among the women. this is part of the story. i will say andrew jackson is one of the major subsidiary characters. he didn't have much in the particular against daniel webster. in if i could live again, i would shoot henry clay. you are about to hear from a group that is going to honor ralph.
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and mostly through the center. i was privileged to meet ralph. i came to learn about his fascinating and important career. i was interested in what ralph had to say. my first book was white -- was eisenhower. in trying to re-create the man from the paper trail left behind. there weren't very many people left.
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and for the historian that can be crucial. alive.was -- hearet ralph somebody i could actually ask questions of. and basically to fill in the personal human details, it often falls between the crack's and was immensely valuable to me. i wish i had known about eisenhower. to talk to, hel was very approachable. you will hear more about his career. i will say for all the good work he did when he was alive, his good work continued.
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had a chance to know him, but i can say i had been a great beneficiary. and directly through anybody who is interested in world war ii. that's my two cents. thank you very much. you've been a wonderful audience. >> you are watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span3. like us on facebook at c-span history. >> connect with c-span to personalize the information you get from us. and sign up for the emails. word for word gives you the most
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