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tv   The Revolutionary War Roots of the Civil War  CSPAN  September 1, 2019 12:00pm-1:31pm EDT

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created by cable, c-span is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span -- your unfiltered view of government. >> next on american history tv, pulitzer prize winning historian wood deliversn a talk titled the revolutionary roots of the civil war. ' viewcusses the founders on slavery and argues that the civil war was inevitable. the james madison foundation hosted this event. >> we are privileged to have gordon s. wood with us for this 2019 james madison lecture. professor wood is, i think it is fair to say, the dean of early american historians. he is the alva o. way professor emeritus at brown university. born in concord, massachusetts, where the revolutionary war
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began, he was raised in that commonwealth and graduated summa cum laude from tufts university. he then earned an ma and phd from harvard university, where he studied under bernard bailyn. he taught at harvard and the university of michigan before joining the faculty at brown in 1969. a prolific author, professor wood has won numerous awards. in 1970, his book "creation of the american republic, 1776-1787" won the bancroft prize. in 1993, his "radicalism of the american revolution" won the pulitzer prize for history. "the americanization of benjamin franklin" was awarded the julia ward howe prize by the boston author's club in 2005. his volume in the "oxford history of the united states" entitled "empire of liberty: a history of the early republic, 1789-1815" was given the association of american publishers award for history and
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biography in 2009, the american history book prize by the new york historical society, and the society of the cincinnati history prize in 2010. incidentally, professor wood, we heard from your former student jack warren, executive director of the society, last week. that same year, 2010, he was awarded the national humanities medal by president obama. he is a fellow of the american academy of arts and sciences and the american philosophical society, the country's oldest learned society. he and his wife louise have three children, two of whom are professors and all of whom are involved in education, so i know he will find a receptive audience here. please join me in giving a warm madison foundation welcome to professor gordon wood. [applause]
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>> well, thank you, jeffry, for that very generous introduction. i am delighted to be here to talk to so many teachers. i always -- my wife was a teacher, english teacher, and i always thought that she did much more to further education than i ever did. you know, professors profess. teachers have to teach. there is a big difference. when abraham lincoln was elected president in 1860 on a platform of promoting -- preventing the extension of slavery into the west, the southern states felt their way of life was threatened, and they seceded from the union. since many states, including
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those of new england, had talked of seceding from the union at various times in the antebellum, explaining the secession of the southern states is not, it seems to me, a major historical problem. we can fairly easily account, i think, for why the southern states seceded. what is more difficult -- what is more difficult to explain is why the northern states cared. why was the north willing to go to war to preserve the union? it was not because the north was bent on the abolition of slavery, at least not at first. many northerners, of course, were opposed to slavery, but what they were really especially opposed to was the extension of slavery into the west. northerners were opposed to the extension of slavery into the west because they knew that slavery would create a society incompatible with the one they wanted for their children and
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grandchildren, who they presumed would settle in the west. but this was not the only reason why the north cared enough for the union to engage in a long and bloody war that most northerners -- that northerners gave up several hundred thousand lives for. to fully understand why the north cared enough to resist the secession of the southern states, we have to go back to the revolution and the ideas and the ideals that came out of it. lincoln's words, which have been aptly called "his sword," were crucial in sustaining the struggle to maintain the union. with his words, he reached back to the revolution to draw inspiration and understanding of what the civil war meant -- meant for the nation and the world. he knew what the revolution was about and what it implied, not
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just for americans, but for all humanity. the united states, he said, was a new republican nation in a world of monarchies, a grand experiment in self-government, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men were created equal. the american people of 1860, said lincoln, deeply felt this moral principle of equality expressed in the declaration of independence, and this moral principle made them one with the founders, in lincoln's words, an incredible image, "as though they were blood of the blood and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that declaration." this emphasis on liberty and equality, he said -- he shifts metaphors here -- was "the electric cord that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men everywhere, that will link these patriotic
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hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world." now, with words like these, drawing on the meaning of the american revolution, lincoln expressed what many americans felt about themselves and the future of all mankind. liberty and equality, he said, were prominent not just for the people of this nation, but "to the world, for all future time." the revolution, he said, "gave promise that in due time the weight should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance" in the race of life. but if the american experiment in self-government failed, then his hope for the future would be lost. spreading freedom and democracy around the world had been an explicit goal of the revolution
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. it was what turned the americans' little colonial rebellion into a world-historical event, important for everyone throughout the world. americans believed that the french revolution of 1789 was a direct consequence of their revolution. and lafayette thought so too, which is why he sent the key to the bastille, the symbol of the ancien regime, to george washington, where it hangs today in mount vernon. but all the 19th century efforts in creating democracy in europe had ended in failure. americans had seen the french revolution spiral into tyranny. all attempts by europeans to create democracies in the revolutions of 1848 had been crushed. by the 1860s, as lincoln pointed out, the united states was a lone beacon of democratic freedom in a world of monarchies. on american shoulders alone
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rested the survival of the possibility of self-government. it was indeed the last best hope for the future of democracy. that responsibility, i think, was what sustained lincoln throughout a war, a war as he said in his gettysburg address, that was testing whether this nation, dedicated to liberty, equality, and self-government, could long endure. never we commemorate -- whenever we commemorate the civil war, we commemorate the revolution. indeed, in an important sense, northern success in the civil war was the culmination of the revolution. now how did this nation that had been so divided enough to defeat the greatest power in the world fall apart and engage in a long and bloody civil war? the seeds of the civil war were probably sown when the first
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roughtn slaves were b 1619, but no one send then that consequence was likely. even in 1776, when americans declared their independence from great britain, no one foresaw a war in the newly created united states. to be sure, the 13 separate north american colonies were not very united. that they were able to come together at all in 1776 was something of a miracle. before the revolution, the british colonies had little sense of connectedness with one another. most of them had closer ties with london and britain than they had with one another. until the continental congress met in philadelphia in 1774, more of its members had been to london than had been to philadelphia.
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it was great britain and its policies that created the colonists' sense of being americans. in fact, the british officials were the ones who first used the term "americans." until the last moment, the colonists saw themselves as englishmen. it was british tyranny, expressed in the coercive acts of that made colonists like 1774, patrick henry declare that they were not virginians or new yorkers but americans. the long and bloody war with great britain, in which all parts of the country suffered at one time or another, was a searing experience. more americans died in that war in proportion to population than in any other war in our history, except the civil war, in which both sides were americans.
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no wonder the revolution bred an overwhelming sense of unity. cause of the revolution united all americans. the revolution and the beliefs and ideals that came out of it -- liberty, equality, self-government -- created national bonds that were not easily broken. indeed, they are the bonds that still hold us together and make us think of ourselves as a single people. americans at the time of the revolution were aware of sectional differences, differences that were essentially based on slavery. although slavery in 1776 legally existed in all of the new republican states, 90% of the nearly 500,000 african american slaves, constituting about a fifth of the total population of the country, lived in the south, working in the tobacco fields of chesapeake or the rice swamps of south carolina and georgia. these southern states were
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obviously different from those in the north. in 1776, john adams worried that the south was too aristocratic for the kind of popular republican government he advocated in his pamphlet, "thoughts on government." he was surprised to learn that the southern states more or less did adopt the kind of popular mixed government that he had suggested and expressed relief in seeing "the pride of the haughty" brought down a little by the revolution. what adams was referring to was a slaveholding society dominated by planter aristocrats that contrasted with the more egalitarian small farm societies of the north, especially in the states of new england. but slavery was not inconsequential in the north. as you perhaps know, black slaves made up nearly seven
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percent of the population of new jersey and 14% of the population of new york city. nearly 12% of rhode island's population was composed of slaves. it was not just the southern revolutionary leaders, washington, jefferson, madison, and so on, who owned slaves. so did many of the northern leaders -- boston's john hancock, new york's robert livingston, and philadelphia's john dickinson were all slaveholders. on the eve of the revolution, the mayor of philadelphia possessed 31 slaves. nonetheless, the sectional differences were obvious. in the mid-1780s the boston merchant stephen higginson was convinced that "in their habits, manners, and commercial interests, the southern and northern states are not only very dissimilar, but in many instances, directly opposed." jefferson agreed and in 1785 he
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outlined to a french friend his sense of the differences between the people of the two sections, the two societies, which you tribute it mostly to differences of climate. the northerners were "cool, sober, laborious, persevering, independent, jealous of their own liberties and just to those of others, interested, chicaning, superstitious, and hypocritical in their religion." by contrast, said jefferson, the southerners were "fiery, voluptuary, indolent, unsteady, independent, zealous for their liberties but trampling on those of others, generous, candid, and without attachment or pretentions to any religion but that of the heart." despite his sensitivity to the differences, however, jefferson and most other southern planters did not as yet see these sectional differences as endangering national unity. now, since we know how the story
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turned out, it's easy to read back signs of what we know will happen, but it's a mistake to see too many anticipations of the civil war in the revolutionary decades. in the 1780's leaders from both the south and the north came to realize that the confederation createdgue of states in 1777 and ratified in 1781 -- wasn't working out and would have to be reformed or scrapped altogether. the slaveholding state of virginia took the lead in this reform and was supported by national-minded leaders from the northern states. the differences that arose in the constitutional convention and later in the 1790's were differences of ideology, not sectional differences. the delegates differed over the strength of the national government vis-a-vis the states. the split in the constitutional
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convention was essentially between the large states that wanted proportional representation in both houses of congress and the small states that feared being overwhelmed by the more populous states. james madison of virginia and james wilson of pennsylvania eventually had to surrender to the wishes of the small states and accept the so-called connecticut compromise that gave equal representation of two senators from each state. the issue, in other words, did not divide along sectional lines. although at one point madison tried to suggest that the real division in the convention was between the slaveholding and non-slaveholding states, everyone knew that this was a feint designed-- to get the convention off of
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this large-small state division that was undermining his desperate desire for proportional representation in both houses. so fearful was he of the power of the state legislatures to vitiate national authority by each state electing two senators that he regarded the connecticut compromise not as a compromise but as a major defeat. the party divisions that arose in the 1790's were not between north and south. the difference between the federalists and the jeffersonian republicans was over the nature of the national government and support for the french revolution. although the leadership and base of the republican party were located in the south, the party was not and could not have been exclusively a sectional party. the northern republicans were a very important and increasingly dynamic part of the party. jefferson rightly never saw himself as the leader of a sectional party. he was, as he said, the leader
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of "the world's best hope," a popular democratic republican government that was something "new under the sun" and that promised eventually to "ameliorate the condition of man kind over a great portion of the globe." no wonder that lincoln paid all honor to jefferson. his vision was essentially jefferson's vision. still, there was the serpent of slavery lurking in this arcadian garden of yeoman farmers that threatened to destroy the democratic-republican dream. at the outset, the revolutionary leaders were well aware of this serpent. they knew from the beginning that slavery was incompatible with the ideals of the revolution. indeed, it was the revolution that made slavery a problem for americans. before the mid-18th century most americans, like the rest of the world for thousands of years, largely took slavery for granted
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as the lowest and most degraded status in a hierarchical world of degrees of unfreedom and dependency. and few colonists had bothered to criticize the institution of slavery. but the revolution changed everything. all the revolutionary leaders realized that once that there was something painfully inconsistent between their talk of freedom for themselves and the owning of black slaves. if all men were created equal, as all enlightened persons were now saying, then what justification could there be for holding africans in slavery? since the american colonists are by the law of nature born free as indeed all men are, , white or black, does it follow asked james otis of , massachusetts in 1764, "that 'tis right to enslave a man because he is black?"
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the revolutionary rhetoric made the contradiction excruciating for many americans, both in the north and even in the south. prominent southern slaveholders like jefferson declared that "the abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in these colonies, where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state." given the mounting sense of inconsistency between the revolutionary ideals and the holding of people in bondage, it is not surprising that the first anti-slave convention in the history of the world was held in philadelphia in 1775. if the revolutionary leaders, those founders who were otherwise so enlightened and farsighted, knew that slavery contradicted everything that the revolution was about, why didn't they do more to end the institution that they claimed to abhor?
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this is the question many historians and many people in society are asking today. that they i think didn't act more forcefully was that many of them, perhaps most, thought that time was on the side of abolition. as incredible as it may seem to us, who know what they could not know -- that is, their future -- the leaders tended to believe that slavery was on its last legs and was headed for eventual destruction. dr. benjamin rush was convinced that the desire to abolish the institution "prevails in our councils and among all ranks in every province." with hostility towards slavery mounting everywhere among the enlightened in the atlantic world, rush in 1774 predicted that "there will not be a negro slave in north america in 40 years."
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enlightened virginians also assumed that slavery could not long endure. jefferson told a french correspondent in 1786 that there were in the virginia legislature "men of virtue enough to propose and move toward the gradual emancipation of slaves." to be sure, "they saw that the moment of emancipation has not yet arrived," but, said jefferson with "the spread of , light and liberality" among the slaveholders, that moment was coming. slavery simply could not stand against the relentless march of liberty and progress. that the philadelphia convention of 1787 was scrupulous in not mentioning slaves, slavery, or negroes in the final draft of the constitution seemed to point to a future without the shameful institution. if the revolutionary dream that slavery would naturally die away had been realized, of course,
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there would never have been a civil war. this illusion that slavery would die a natural death led the revolutionary leaders to table efforts to abolish the institution. they thought that in time it would simply wither away. but slavery in the united states was not at all on its last legs. predictions of its demise could not have been more wrong. far from being doomed, american slavery, in fact, was on the verge of its greatest expansion. how could the revolutionary leaders have been so mistaken? how could they have deceived themselves so completely? for a full generation, the nation's leaders lived with the illusion that the institution of slavery was declining and on its way to being eliminated. of all the illusions they had about the future, and they had
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-- this was the greatest. but the founders' self-deception and mistaken optimism were understandable, for they wanted to believe the best, and initially there was evidence that slavery was, in fact, being eliminated and dying out. the northern states, where slavery was not deeply rooted in the economy, began immediately to attack the institution, and by 1804 every northern state had provided for the eventual end of slavery. the south, where slavery was much more deeply entrenched in the economy and the society, was slower to act, but even in the south there were encouraging signs of movement against the institution, especially in virginia. virginia was no ordinary state. it was by far the most populous state. indeed, by itself it made up a , fifth of the population of the nation. it was as well the largest state
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in territory and the richest. it's not surprising that four out of the first five presidents were virginians and the working model for the constitution was the virginia plan. during the first few decades of the new republic, virginia dominated the nation as no state ever has. as virginia went, so went the nation. there were signs in the 1770's -- 1780's and 1790's that virginia was trying to do something about slavery. if virginia could abolish slavery, it was assumed, then the rest of the south would surely follow. in virginia, the harsh black codes of the early 18th century had fallen into neglect, and by the time of the revolution, fraternization between whites and black slaves had become more common, both in sporting events and in religion.
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the growing of wheat instead of tobacco was changing the nature of slavery in the upper south, and many of the planters, now calling themselves farmers, began hiring out their slaves, suggesting to some that slavery might eventually be replaced by wage labor. other evidence from the upper south seemed to reinforce the idea that slavery was on its way to extinction. what could be a more conspicuous endorsement -- this is incredible when you think about it -- a more conspicuous endorsement of the anti-slave cause than having the college of william and mary in 1791 confer -- made of wealthy slaveholding planters -- in 1791 confer an honorary degree on the celebrated dish abolitionist -- british abolitionist granville sharp? that there were more anti-slave
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societies created in the south than in the north was bound to make people feel that the south was moving in the same direction towards a gradual emancipation as the north. in virginia and maryland, some of these anti-slave societies brought freedom suits in the state courts that led to some piecemeal emancipation. these suits may not seem very meaningful by our standards, but by the standards of the 18th century they were significant. if the slaves could demonstrate that they had maternal indian or white ancestors, they could be freed, and hearsay evidence was often enough to convince the courts. "whole families," recalled one sympathetic observer, "were often liberated by a single verdict, the fate of one relative deciding the fate of many." by 1796, nearly 30 freedom suits were pending in virginia courts. by the 1790's, the free black population in the upper south had increased to over 30,000. by 1810, the free blacks in the
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area numbered over 94,000, when even southerners like jefferson or patrick henry, henry laurens, and st. george tucker publicly deplored the injustice of slavery. from "that moment," declared the new york physician and abolitionist e. h. smith in 1798, "the slow, but certain death-wound was inflicted upon it." everywhere, even in south carolina, slaveholders began to feel defensive about slavery in -- and began to sense a public pressure against the institution that they had never felt. in the aftermath of the revolution, whites in charleston , south carolina expressed squeamishness now about the evils of slavery, especially the public trading and punishment of slaves. in the 1780's some of the carolina masters expressed a growing reluctance to break up families and even began manumitting their slaves,
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freeing more slaves in that decade than had been freed in the previous three decades. what helped to convince many people in the north that slavery's days were numbered was the promised ending of the despicable slave trade promised in the constitution in 1808. almost everywhere in the new world, slavery seemed dependent on the continual importation of slaves from africa. although this need for slaves from africa was no longer true of the upper south, indeed, far from it, south carolina and georgia were still importing slaves. the fact that the deep south and the rest of the new world -- the caribbean and latin america -- needed slave importations to maintain the institution deluded many americans into believing that slavery in america was also dependent on the international slave trade and that ending this
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slave trade would eventually end slavery itself. those who held out that hope were utterly wrong, as we know. they simply did not appreciate how demographically different north american slavery was from slavery in south america and the caribbean. they were blind to the fact that in most areas of north america, the slaves were approximating the growth of the whites, nearly doubling in number every 20 to 25 years. which was twice as fast as the europeans were growing. northerners had little or no appreciation that slavery in the south was a healthy, vigorous, and expansive institution. as far as they were concerned, the virginia and maryland planters, who had more slaves than they knew what to do with, were enthusiastically supporting an end to the international slave trade as the first major step in eliminating the institution of slavery itself.
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this assault on the overseas slave trade appeared to align the chesapeake planters with the anti-slave forces in the north and confused many northerners about the real intentions of their upper south, which in fact was in the business of exporting its surplus of slaves to the new -- to the lower south. all these developments misled many americans and allowed them to postpone dealing with the issue. like john adams and oliver ellsworth, who was the third chief justice of the supreme court, they thought that once the importation of slaves was cut off, white laborers would become so numerous that the need for slaves would disappear. "slavery," said ellsworth, "in time will not be a speck in our country." in the meantime, the initial differences between the two
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sections were rapidly and dramatically increasing, becoming more severe. during the three or four decades following the revolution, the north and south grew much further apart. both sections were american and republican, both professed a similar rhetoric of liberty and popular government, but beneath the surface they were fast becoming very different places with different cultures, different values -- one coming to honor common labor as the supreme human activity, the other continuing to think of manual labor in traditional terms as mean and despicable and fit only for slaves. when on the eve of the civil war the south complained that it had remained true to the 18th century republic and that it was the north that had changed, it was correct. in the years immediately following the revolution, the north was radically transformed politically, economically,
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socially, and culturally. it was not that the population growth in the two sections was different, although by 1810 new york had surpassed virginia as the most populous state. it was the varied nature of the growth in the north. the northern states were building turnpikes and canals, creating banks and corporations, and greasing the growing internal trade with paper money to an extent not duplicated in the southern states. everywhere in the northern states, farm families were buying and selling with each other. society was still predominantly rural, agricultural, but with no large manufacturing cities, but in many respects, many northern towns, people seemed to be doing nothing else -- doing everything else but farming. even the tiny town of
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mount pleasant, ohio with a population of only 500 persons andseveral dozen artisans manufacturing shops including three settlers, three hatters, four blacksmiths, three cabinetmakers, one baker, one apothecary, two tanneries, and one -- one will spinning spinner,s, one fleece and one nail factory. within a six mile radius of this little town, 500 people, there were nine merchant mills, 12 sawmills, and one paper mill. two -- mills. there is nothing like that in the south. nothing like this little ohio town. the north was becoming the most
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highly commercialized society in the world. the north was becoming increasingly dominated by hosts of middling people. who we would later call middle-class. commercial farmers, clerks, teachers, businessmen, industrious self trained would be professionals who celebrated money to the making of a degree unprecedented in the atlantic world. the celebration of labor, especially manual labor was important. aristotle, aristocrats and the professional labor, had held especially manual labor in contempt. even someone who ran a business, say a printing business with 20 employees was nonetheless considered to be involved with manual labor and thus, contemptible. livingn who work for a could never possess virtue and
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could never exercise political leadership. nothing came to separate the north and the south more than their contrasting views of labor. the south dominated by slave of -- could scarcely conceive of flavor as anything but despicable and shameful. centuriess it had for going back to the ancient greeks required a culture that held labor in contempt. scorn for work and the holding of slaves were two sides of the same coin. the north developed differently. in the several decades following the revolution, the middling men of the north using a gala terry and rhetoric of the revolution, launched a wholesale campaign they urge to shed their and rows apathy
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against those gentlemen who as one critic said were not under the necessity of gaining their bread by industry. they call them parasites. these aristocrats who do not labor but who do enjoy in luxury the fruits of labor these critics said, had no right to decide the losses they had in the past. of course, these american aristocrats were not european aristocrats. in the eyes of these sorts, these leisured aristocrats were more of what we might call elites. the 1% perhaps. they were the deplorables in the eyes of these elites. they were mostly members of the professions, lawyers, clergymen, government officials, professors.
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these are the elites that were assaulted by the middling sorts of people. anyone who is not involved in manual labor in one form or another, in the eyes of these middling sorts, these elites seemed to do no real work. the celebration of labor inevitably made the south, with its leisured leadership supported by slavery seem increasingly anomalous. in reaction, southern aristocrats began emphasizing their cavalier status in contrast to the moneygrubbing northern yankees. they began claiming that they were the only true gentleman left in america. it is not just the brutal fact of slavery that mattered, it is what slavery did to the society. began ton the south create a different society, a different culture from the north. vetnorth was coming to
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neighbor as less -- necessary and fit for all social ranks much as the white population of the south was becoming more contemptuous of work and more desirous of leisure that slavery could afford. so great was the white cults of --olence, some southern it whether it is near gross slavery, there will be laziness, carelessness and wastefulness. not to much along the slaves -- among the slaves he said, as among the masters. .he south group and prospered but it's society remained traditional in many ways. during the antebellum decades when the north was commercially exploding, the south remained
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what it had been in the 18 century. , cottonolding society produce replaced tobacco and rice as the principal staple. the society, the economy, and much of the politics remained roughly what it had been during the 18 century. slavery determined the organization of the society. -- wealthy slaveholding dominated the society to degree. no growth -- no group to the north could match. they manage the overseas marketing of the staple crop for the small planters which reinforce the unequal relationship between patrons and clients. more important, their patriarchal system of slavery sustained a hierarchical society that was very different from that of the northern states. institutions that were springing up in the north had fewer counterparts in the southern states. the south did not have the number of banks, corporations,
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and paper money that the north had. fearing any interference with their institution, the planters kept government to a minimum. they taxed their citizens much less heavily than the northerners, and spent much less on education and social services than did the legislatures of the north. although most southern farmers were not slaveholders and many of the plain folk of the south surely may have worked just as hard as any ambitious northern artisan, these ordinary southern folk could never give the same kind of enterprising middling tone to southern society that existed in the north. there were fewer middling institutions in the south -- fewer towns, fewer schools, fewer newspapers, fewer businesses, fewer manufacturing firms, fewer shops, and fewer patents. there were fewer middling people in the south -- fewer teachers, fewer clerks, fewer publishers, fewer editors, fewer engineers, and fewer inventors. the antebellum south never became a middling,
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commercial-minded society like that of the north. it's patriarchal order of large slaveholders continued to dominate both the culture and the politics of the section. as james madison privately admitted as early as the 1790's, "in proportion as slavery prevails in a state, the government, however democratic in name, must be aristocratic in fact." as the north and south gradually grew apart, each section began expressing increasing frustration with the other, aggravating differences that had been present from the beginning of the revolution. northerners, especially new england federalists, began to complain about what they saw as the unjustified southern domination of the federal government. they focused on the 3/5 clause of the constitution that counted slaves as 3/5 of a person for assessing representation in the house of representatives and in the electoral college.
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the federalists charged that the 3/5 clause gave an unfair advantage to the republicans and was responsible for jefferson's election in 1800. thus was born the idea of the "slave power" that was unfairly usurping control of the national government from the free states. even more unsettling to some northerners was the gradual realization that slavery was not dying in the south after all. the earlier enthusiasm of the upper south to liberalize its slave system began to dissipate, especially following the news of the rebellion in the french colony of st. domingue in 1791. which became haiti. gabriel's conspiracy in virginia in 1800 further destroyed the hopes of many that virginia was gradually eliminating slavery. the earlier leniency in judging freedom suits in virginia ended,
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and manumission in the state rapidly declined. northerners -- southerners now began reversing their earlier examples of racial mingling. evangelical protestant churches ended their practice of mixed congregations. after 1800, the southern states began enacting new sets of black codes that resembled later jim crow laws, tightening up the institution of slavery, restricting the behavior of free blacks. indeed, because free blacks seemed to threaten the slave system, they were now compelled by law to leave the southern states. the final blow to all the illusions the founders had lived with came with the missouri crisis in 1819. the attempt by new york congressman james tallmadge and the house of representatives to attach a prohibition of slavery
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to the bill admitting missouri to the union precipitated a sectional crisis more severe than ever felt before. jefferson told john adams that "from the battle of bunker's hill to the treaty of paris, we never had so ominous a question. i thank god that i shall not live to witness its issue." the missouri crisis caused the scales to fall from the eyes of both northerners and southerners. the north came to realize clearly that the south was not going to abolish slavery after all, that it was aiming to carry the institution into the west. the south, for its part, came to realize more clearly than ever before that the north really cared about abolishing slavery and would never stop trying to end it and certainly did not want the institution to spread to the west.
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from that moment, americans saw the signs of a storm on the horizon, at first no bigger than a man's hand, but signs of a storm that would grow larger and more ominous every year. from that moment, from the -- the civil war became inevitable. thank you. [applause] >> i will be happy to take questions. speaking up the -- the conflicts that were happening at that time. today we are mired in conflicts over our heritage. how would you advise governments
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to deal with their statues, , of the legacies you describe? >> i am a historian. i believe that the past is part of our culture. i am uneasy about these efforts to remove statues and so on. it is not different from what the taliban was doing in the middle east. we condemned that because they had religious objections to the temples that were there. i think these things need to be explained, but part of our past, and we must confront that pass. remain don't have to wedded to that pass. thaterstand the objections young black students would have to a statue of a confederate
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general that was -- who was a slave holder and led the confederacy. somehow, that has to be explained. maybe the statues have to be removed temporarily to museums. and maintained there and contextualized. on. it is explained, and so i think it is a dangerous thing to start a racing once past. that is what the soviets did. do whenwhat ideologues they come into power. we don't want to be that kind of people. athink we know our history is mixed bag. i think there are other elements in it that redeem us. i hope. i know what is being taught in -- the taleties now
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of american history is a tale of oppression and woe. i think that is unfortunate. there are facts that are being emphasized, the feats of indians, the extent of slaveholding. there were other facts that also need to be emphasized. we need a balanced picture of our past. leave ourselves unequipped to deal with the world. we are not a terrible nation. we need to have some balance view of our past. it is, as you know a very complicated issue. very tricky. have any easy answers for this dilemma. thank you so much.
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your lecture was very informative. two questions. one, i have taught that eli whitney's invention was as powerful as the cultural standards in the south because it was the mechanism -- the tool that allowed for the importation of more slaves. the mexican american war in the new territories. would you give them equal weights? >> i think that whitney got credit for the invention. he is an engineer. there was a lot of money to be made to come up with a machine was in theat -- that cards, it was going to happen. that year, or the next year. somebody else was going to do it. doesn't get all the credit or blame for that, but that device was going to be invented by somebody.
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-- maybe we were -- maybe we still are, but we were a very expansionist nation. it was demographic imperialism. we had people moving at tremendous rates. we took a huge chunk of territory from mexico. some mexican citizens, but not -- not huge numbers. we were not taking fully inhabited land. but, we wanted that territory. there was no doubt. as the number of mexican immigrants comes to the united states, they might say, we would like to get that back. the immigrants become americanized, they would probably say well, we are not going to go back to mexico. there is a major part of that
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country -- texas, new mexico, southern california all belonged to mexico. we took it in a war. consequences. the same would be true of the indians. almost a century andnst the indians essentially destroyed them. worse f consequences. wars have consequences. the germans have lost a huge amount of territory as a result of world war ii. of peoplef thousands were moved after world war ii. i don't hear a lot of complaints. maybe some german citizens i hundred years from now would say, we used to have conus berg, that is where kant was born, why
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can't we have it back? we were involved in certain major demographic changes, geographic changes that are part of history. the dynamicof character of this nation. >> thank you for being here. looking back, are there steps that could have been taken that alleviated concerns of southern slaveholders and alleviated concerns of northerners that might have staved off or prevented the civil war? >> i do not excel.
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i think the institution was too deeply entrenched in the southern economy and society. the numbers were too great. 40% of this state, virginia, or the state of virginia, you are in the district, but the state of virginia was made up of black slaves. those proportions are so high. it is difficult for me to see how the problem could have been solved. minds thought things were going the right way, but they really did not know the reality. illusions.with we live with illusions, too we just don't know what they are. historians will look back and say, how could they be thinking that? futured not know their
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anymore than we know ours. we have all kinds of predictions, and we are in better shape to make those predictions, but we really can't be sure what it is going to be like at the end of the 21st century. they did the best they could. given the circumstances. it looks easy when you look back and say, why couldn't he have done that? it just was not going to happen. i do not think there was anything that could have been done to solve the problem. -- as i say,going by the time you get to the missouri crisis, that is it. the war is inevitable. stop is just no way to dissections from clashing. all those compromises were just postponing the inevitable. the war came, as lincoln said.
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>> i found it interesting that you say that the moment of no return is the missouri compromise. but i was thinking about was the northwest territory and how we go from the thrust ordinance which outlawed slavery -- from the northwest ordinance which outlawed slavery, and is reconfirmed as states rejoin the union, how do we go from the northwest territory which puts a value on no slavery and publican -- public education to the missouri compromise? >> the northwest is settled by new englanders. they were sending hordes of people out west. new england's economy was unable to sustain its rapidly growing population, so sons and daughters left by the thousands. -- if it had been
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settled by southerners, -- indiana was a very divided state. illinois too. they had fights -- demographic fights. if you had more slaveholders, the state might have gone slave. fortunately, i think for both of those states the northern antislave people had the numbers. slaveholders, and slavery was existing despite the northwest ordinance there. the states, when the territories became states, they took action and forced the slaveholders either to give them up, or to move out. demography, and the movement of people is more determinant of events than any laws. the constitution that prohibits the states from printing paper money. if that had been enforced --
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that was a principal reason why the convention was held. madison and the other leaders hated paper money. paper money was the source of commercial dynamism of the north. they needed that paper money. got aroundthe states that prohibition by chartering banks which issued paper money. horses will find a way around the technique -- forces will find a way around the provisions. the people who were slaveholders, simply stayed away from the northwest and went into the southwest. second row, there.
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>> hello. i had a question about your interpretation of the revolutionary founders and their ideology regarding slavery. you said they believed it was on its way out, that is why did not take stronger steps to abolish it. i was thinking about connection to abraham lincoln and how lincoln many times made unpopular choices under the idea of compromise. would haveouglass liked lincoln to be more forceful. do you think it had to do with the fact that they had so many things to think about and they were able to compromise? for example, to get the constitution ratified, similar to lincoln being willing to compromise? . >> lincoln was a politician. order when you think about it. he was a democratic politician.
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he had to do with realities. unlike many of our present-day politicians, he transcended that reality in his rhetoric and language. she was a man of prudence. which is a critical -- principal quality needed. he was willing to compromise. he said on the eve of the war, look, i am not out to destroy slavery in existing states. i and the republican party will guarantee the existence of slavery in the existing states. it is the west we want guaranteed. that became the crucial issue. lincoln said himself that if slavery could not expand, it would die. by taking that stand he hope that -- but he was willing to compromise. he actually supported an amendment to the constitution that would preserve slavery in existing states.
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isability to compromise important if you're going to get along with your opponents and have anything get done. it is one of the problems we are having, as you know. getsrtisanship overwhelming and compromise becomes impossible, then you will have great difficulties. they laid behind her willingness to compromise. it was the sense that slavery was going to die away. if they had not had that, i think there would have taken a stronger stand. the virginians were ready in 1787 to make a lot of concessions to northern opinion. it is south carolina and georgia that are really resisting. -- was an air tent, he was a new yorker.
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georgia and south carolina said they would walk out of the convention. that would have really affected the union. it would have collapsed. there were people willing to compromise on that issue. in retrospect, it looks like, why did they do that? i think at that point, they thought that union was more important than slavery because slavery is on its way out anyhow. if you do not believe that -- that is what they lived with. this illusion that it was dying. they sincerely believed that you can find in a norma's number of statements in the literature. -- an in norma's number of statements in the literature. they were all wrong. [laughter] >> you began your lecture by
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saying it was onset prizing at the south -- and then you said that the civil war was inevitable after the compromise. what is the factor that leads lincoln not to compromise? the compromises later, but ultimately decides to preserve the union. >> it is his vision. lincoln is talking in the aftermath of the failure of the revolutions of 1848. we can't appreciate those revolutions, but the whole of europe was monarchical. all of a sudden, you have a series of rebellions in every country except england, which has its own smaller disturbances. but, democracy is racing through germany, france, italy, switzerland. all having upheavals. it is much more pervasive than saying, we got so excited about the arab spring. this was the european spring, it
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was really exciting for many people in america. example, the hungarian patriot came here and raise money. he was celebrated everywhere. we were enthusiastic supporters of that rebellion. ministero-hungarian complained to daniel webster, secretary of state, he said, mr. country isour supporting these revolutions abroad. , thel diplomatic situation secretary of state would probably have garbled it up and played it down. his reply is extraordinary. yes, we are. source of all those rebellions that are occurring. we are responsible for. he goes on this tirade attacking the austro-hungarian minister the saying -- taking full responsibility, which of course we were not, but that's how we thought about revolutions that were republican.
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saying,the message by besides, the austro-hungarian empire has been a spec on the earth's surface compared to the great united states. they all fail. , this isn when he says it. we are the last best hope. if we fail, then the dream fails. the democracy fails. it might never happen again because if this nation falls apart, this dream that had been destroyed in europe will never be revived. it will look like democracy doesn't work. i think in that context you have to understand the gettysburg address and his rhetoric. he believed that. it was true. democracye only major all of these rebellions which
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seem so full of hope all feel. in france, -- all failed, in france, you have napoleon the third. he looked so promising and ended up being second napoleon. it seems like monarchy was here forever. i think that is the context for understanding lincoln. says thecere when he united states is important in his mind. not just for his fellow americans, but for the history of the world. he gives you that worldwide context because he had the same vision that jefferson did. that the whole world it's eventually going to follow our leadership and become democratic. he said if we fail, then the dream is gone. that is the way to understand lincoln. yes ma'am.
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your point're making about the different ideals regarding labor, i was wondering how you fit the jacksonian democracy into that? is he a champion of the common man who wants equal opportunity, or is he the person protecting slavery? exist together in him, or is he an enigma. >> jackson took slaveholding for granted. i don't think that's what his administration was about. he is a very trump like figure. probably, the president closest -- in the past, who has that to somed of reputation, extent that trump has. hated by northern elites. john quincy adams refused to go to his inauguration and was
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his dearat his -- that harvard would give jackson an honorary degree because he was a vulgar man without education. but, jackson stood for common people. he voiced this democratic rhetoric, and he was a union man. he stood up. he was a slaveholder, too, but i don't think that's what he was about. i don't think that's what he thought he was about. theas defending against threats from the south. calhoun, and breaking up the union. for defending the common man. his rhetoric -- he is scarcely understood. he is not a learned man. he does represents democracy. that was the moment when authority of all sorts was being
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questioned in america. in that respect, it is very similar to the present. system illogical doubts. what is true? this is the era of pt barnum. barnum worked on this, he was a genius. he would say look, i have got this woman who was a mermaid. she has a fishtail. it is in my museum. but, he would plant a story in the newspapers. who could believe that? how could that be true? of course, people would flock to go because they said well, i can only trust my own eyes. i don't believe what elites tell me. has -- thesay mold moon has green cheese on it and elites would say of course the moon does not have green cheese. but, barnum would waste the question, how do they know? how can you know anything? you only know what you see and feel. of course, as hermann melville said, that is what common people think. that they have to trust their
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own eyes and ears and senses. learned people have reason, and they can transcend their senses. that was the crisis in that point -- period. we have the same kind of problem with social media. any old crank can get himself .urt -- heard the same thing was happening in the 20's and 30's with people questioning elites and authority of also's. how can he trust them? mistrustve the same for elites now. therefore, all kinds of rumors spread. fascinations, all kinds of things spread because nobody trusts authority anymore. that is a real crisis. the only. in our history that is comparable is the jacksonian. had an epistemological
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crisis. that's why you had edgar ellen poe, thegar allen success of barnum is a genius because she understands the public he is dealing with and really exploited that mistrust of authority. >> yes, sir. -- yes her. >> thank you. i have got one quick question. when you began to talk about differences in culture, north and south, would you like to comment in regards to the religious background behind each of the developing systems? a calvinist? --ms to be very strong calvinist northern church of england south? >> of course they were baptists in the north and baptists in the south, and telik came to the civil war there were baptists, but then they broke. church, of course,
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-- wasre conservative very conservative. as far as i know, did not have a northern -- -- a minor church in terms of numbers in the south. religions broke but there was no religion as far as i know that was confined to the south and the north. baptists, northern baptist, southern baptist. but, that comes late. 1840's and 50's they begin to break apart. not sure, just by your question. >> [indiscernible] >> oh, that. that's a little misleading because the puritan work ethic is often associated with capitalism.
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the puritan certainly did -- that. they did not sort of celebrate work ethic, but as a way of keeping the lower orders busy so they would not get into trouble. the interesting question is, when does the celebration of work come from? the united states celebrates work in the antebellum. nothe antebellum period replicated anywhere else in the world. one of the things -- when he comes here in the 1830's is the extent to which people are celebrating work. even the manual labor. he says, and the making of money. which elsewhere among aristocrats -- elites, is held in contempt. says look, frenchmen like money too.
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but they don't ever say that they like it. they always hide that fact. says,really surprised he she went to albany and he had a whole list of offices from the mayor, and they all list their salaries. he says, this is unprecedented. he is overwhelmed by the celebration of labor. people want to know. one of the big sociological questions comeau how come we never had a labor party develop? people in the north -- the north was so celebrated that even the professionals like edward everett has to say who wants to run for office. he says look, i have a law office and i worked just as hard as you do. he asked to celebrate but he does as labor. somehow, if the whole society is laboring, where's the labor party? it's because in england you had a proletariat, and the
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aristocracy was separated. is anlebration of leisure aristocratic element. you have seen downton abbey. [laughter] dear member maggie smith? this is in the 20th century and she is still living in the 19th century, and she does not understand why her new grandson in law, who has inherited the estate come up wants to keep his job. he can't do that. he has to run the estate. that's what aristocrats do. they don't work. should that for size d scriptwriter -- was very insightful. he knew his history. he has are saying, what is a weekend? she has to understand. aristocrats do not labor. they do not work for money. their income comes without exertion. to thees back constitution. one of the reasons why we don't
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have a lot of tenant tree. unlike england. -- they lived by lending money out and living off the interest from the loans. they had money, but they didn't have land. they cannot access landlord's because people -- there's too much land available because -- so people are not going to put up with tenants. so what these elites are doing, northern elites as well they are renting money out and getting the interest back. madison in particular is upset with paper money. a lot of them are upset with paper money. paper money is depleting the debtors arethese paying back to their creditors, the elite, a fraction. they're back in paper what was lent out in gold and silver. they are really upset by that because it is destroying not
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just the problem of money, it is destroying the capacity to be leaders. to be aristocrats. that is one of the factors that lies behind the obsession with paper money that goes into the convention. veto given over all state legislation. one of the things who want to get rid of was unjust laws, particularly paper money. he does not get his veto, because they are impractical. imagine if every state had to send in its laws to the congress forgot approved? wiser heads prevail on that's -- article one section ted and the the hittion prohibits states from doing certain things. they can pass tariffs, they cannot print money. that is probably a good thing today. north would never have succeeded as well as it did , then except getting by going
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around this provision. so, you had millions of dollars of paper money flying around. it was incredibly complicated from -- four businessmen. nonetheless, they succeeded. it must have been an awful thing. i get a note -- we are in virginia here, you get a note , 100 dollars, it says a bank in albany will deposit your silver. you may not want to go albany come see discounted. , merchants had books that they would open up and say albany, that is not a good reputation. i'm going to discount this bill tomorrow want to take it. that is the way it operated. there is a very different business for a retail mentor to operate. the plant -- in the present, the cell phone had that problem.
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english merchant is going to accept any paper. his going that she has got to have gold, silver, or a bill of credit. he has got to have something more substantial. for internal trade, trade between york pennsylvania command philadelphia, paper money was perfect. it fed the economy. anyway, that is getting beyond the -- >> one more question. >> i want to express my thanks to express my thanks you for coming. i wanted to risk off of the idea crisise epistemological -- i was wondering your theory, or theories on the source of that crisis? >> what crisis is this?
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>> the epistemological crisis. >> how do you know anything? theories of knowledge. know? you trust what you physician -- someone you trust says vaccinations are good, but if you come to doubt this authority, you do not believe it, then you have got an epistemological crisis. you're not sure what is true. how do you test things? that is what was happening in the 1830's. and it's happening us today. not to the same extent, we are much -- we still have a lot of authorities we respect. most people do. but, there are pockets. you know the internet is flooded with this stuff. it creates doubts everywhere. people are really
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mistrustful of the world that most of us except. politicians,st the you can't trust people in authority. it is very difficult. this is a world where you lose trust. you can't verify everything. you have two trust somebody. if some details you that mount everest is 29,000 feet, you can't go count, you take their word for it. if you host of thing take people's word. if we come to doubt their words, you have a real crisis. we have a crisis of authority. it is not just politicians, it is everybody. physicians, bankers, corporate leaders. you get politicians attacking your leaders and saying -- essentially saying they're a bunch of flyers.
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then your mr. trump -- your mistrust rose. people are playing with fire. it is a tricky issue. they think 30's were the far worse. of course, they had their own newspaper, but they didn't have anything comparable to social media. no one crackpot could have his voice hurled -- heard, usually. that is how i defined it an epistemological crisis how do you know what is true or not true. >> i can't hear you. >> [indiscernible] arehe anti-elite arguments
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so forceful, elites were on their heels in that. . they sibley never knew. rising up with ordinary people,'s -- celebration of extent unprecedented in the history of the western world. trust -- elites were having a very hard time justifying themselves. to some extent, that is one of the problems we had today. -- some inse, trump congress are calling faller's jacksonian. that is appropriate because etiquette is similar. with obviously a genius social media. . he has got some kind of success
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to the culture that is puzzling to him -- too many of us. it is incredible what is happening. i think the jacksonian. as a comfortable. . [applause] [applause] >> labor day weekend on american history tv. today at 4:00 p.m. on railamerica, the 1950 army found invasion of southern france. on monday on labor day, 8:00 p.m. eastern, the commemoration
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of the 400th anniversary of virginias first general assembly held at jamestown. explore our nation's past one american strategic every weekend on c-span3. >> each week, american history tv's railamerica brings you archival films that provide context for today's public affairs issues. like the rest of us, i blew .y top too i will never forget these days. i'll never forget the day after either. almost overnight, take-home pay shrink from 30% to 50%. how could we manage now?
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[singing] >> from our ranks, rose one common cry, defeat the cut. we waited. d. ple we negotiated and renegotiated. we cooled off until we were frostbitten. i suppose the $52 billion the company start up during the war them in different to this but we were in. -- in the spot we were in. it became clear there was nothing left to do but go out on strike, and strike waited. -- strike we did. just the biggest strike america ever saw. ♪ here,have a slogan down the longer the picket line, the shorter the strike.
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♪ >> never before had we been so united, never before a spirit so high. we are all here, communications, auto, electricl, and radio, maritime, clothing workers, packinghouses, building trades, textiles. all here. common ground -- common problems, common action. it is simple. you have to eat. even western union cannot tell us get out of that.
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♪ coat donated by a local merchant. it made all the boys a little warmer. picketing is no bed of roses. weeks dragged on. watched like hawks looking for signs of a crackup. they do not have much to report on those lines. plants were shut tighter than a bullseye in the flight time. we did not shut them. the owners did. they did not seem to mind. could it be because the government guaranteed their prewar products come hell or high water? that did not make things easier for us. we never expected it to be easy.
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>> next on american history tv, catholic university of america religion and culture professor compares thes early 19th century transcendentalism in the 1960's counterculture movements. the smithsonian associates hosted this event. dinges is a professor of religious studies in the religion and culture program at the catholic university of america. he received his phd in american studies in 1983 from the university of kansas and has an on the faculty of catholic university for the past 35 years. and interest include a variety of teaching and culture topics. fundamentalism, religion in american culture, religion in globalization, andel


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