tv Shakespeare U.S. Politics CSPAN September 14, 2019 11:00pm-12:02am EDT
senate finance committee democratic chief counsel michael hass discusses how the bard been invoked in historic congressional debate, in the political lessons that might he learned from his plays, especially the tragedies. >> today is very special. us, thens comes to graduate of salem state university, where he was just granted an honorary doctorate for his significant contributions to public service, so we can now call him dr. evans. [applause] small lawe went to a school called harvard, and from there, he took all that education and became a public servant. he served as the democratic staff chief cause celebre deputy staff director, has been involved as a senate staffer for more than 25 years.
but he is not here to talk about the senate or to talk about the senate finance committee, does, that one instead, to talk about his passion. has been writing, thinking and researching shakespeare in congress. he wrote something that nobody else would dream of writing. [laughter] >> shakespeare's guide to tax you of this taxation? published in 2009. if you are nice, he will tell you where to find it. before he became our chief counsel and deputy staff director for the finance committee, he worked for eight years as a democratic chief counsel at the senate environment and public works committee. so his experience in committee leadership is vast and broad. that now working on a book
is tentatively titled "shakespeare's guide to american politics." so we are fortunate here to have mike talk to us about how united states politics has been historically influenced by shakespeare, and how we might look at it from shakespeare's eyes. michael. [applause] evans fish thank you so much -- mr. evans: thank you so much, and all of the capitol hill historical society for holding this event. thank all of you for coming. two disclaimers: there will be no swordplay. for those of you who were hoping to get me to recommend some itselfearean influenced for you to fling at your political opponents, i'm going to stay away from that and stick
to the history. my interest in shakespeare came relatively late. , ihigh school and college read some of the place, but i never really got it. the language is hard to understand, and i couldn't tell my king richards from my king henrys, so the plots are hard to follow. almost 20 years ago i decided to give shakespeare another try. . people i respect it kept talking about how much they enjoyed shakespeare. maybe i was missing something. so i decided to give it some serious study. i quickly became entranced. i was struck by how profound, yet thoroughly enjoyable the plays worse. i was struck by how much on politicalocuses leadership. granted, it is not his only or
even his biggest theme, but it is there. many of the plays are about how a leader that she is, maintains, -- how in leader achieves come up maintains, or loses power. it traces the struggle of a crown when the beginning with henry bolingbrook opposing richard ii. a story which tells about how julie's user loses power -- julius caesar, and how brutus and mark anthony content for it. tragedies that tell the story of eacht, macbeth, and lear, a king or a prince who loses power. taking this all in, i wondered whether shakespeare can teach something to those of us who work in and around congress, after all, shakespeare was one of our greatest thinkers. when he talks about politics, we may want to pay closer attention.
i submit that there is indeed much that shakespeare can teach us, but first, i want to whet your appetite with a mystery. why is the greatest shakespeare library in the world, the folger shakespeare library, located not in london or stratford, but in washington, d.c.? it is essentially on the capitol hill campus. if you came over from the house side, he may have worked right past it. first, again,ons, why is the folger library here? second, why does it matter? why is it important that the world's greatest shakespeare library is an washington, d.c.? d.c.?in washington, and i should note, the wonderful shakespeare theater downtown? why does it matter that shakespeare is in our midst?
let me start by giving you some background about shakespeare in american politics. america's european founders came from shakespeare's world. when the english settlement of america began in jamestown in 1607, shakespeare was at the height of his london career. , as his worksh became increasingly popular in great britain, his popularity carried over to colonial america. the first performance of a -- the firstlay american performance, was in 1750, and there were many soon after that in new york, philadelphia, and williamsburg. as the american nation developed, shakespeare's influence grew. two of the first distinctly american novelist, nathaniel hawthorne and james fenimore cooper, were heavily influenced by shakespeare. shakespeare's greatest
19th-century author, mark twain, -- an avid reader of america's greatest 19th-century author, mark twain, was an avid reader of shakespeare. huckleberry finn, the barnstorming rascals and showman, the duke and the king, performed a slapstick of mangled passages from various shakespeare's plays. the rumor, defense on the reader's familiarity, was shakespeare's original material. shakespeare's plays dominated american theater. in new york city, you could attend anyone of three performances of macbeth on the single evening in 1849. it wasn't just the eastern astes, th settlement moved west, shakespeare went along. alexis de tocqueville wrote,
there was hardly a pioneers hut that does not contain a shakespeare.es of . 's influence extended to politics. the leaders of the american revolution including john adams, george washington and thomas jefferson, or steeped in shakespeare's work, which they relied on to inform their political vision and sharpen their rhetoric. a particularly arresting image is from 1786 when adams and jefferson both serving in european diplomatic posts, visited shakespeare -- >>, they will be political enemies, but they were together at that point because they were fans of shakespeare. members of congress frequent returned to shakespeare's plays to express -- frequently turned to shakespeare's plays to express themselves more
eloquently. congress was determining whether to expunge its resolution censoring andrew johnson, the president acknowledged that those who wished to expunge the resolution appeared to have the votes. "that deedid, quote, allowed, done, that h which like the blood staining the hands of guilty macbeth our oceans waters will never wash away." another example occurred in 1846. rival factions seeking control of the new kansas government under the terms of the recently enacted kansas-nebraska act. politician who had reportedly been elected as kansas's first territorial delegate. his opponents argued his election was based on fraud. the called for a special
election to investigate. as of the debate unfolded, a congressman from ohio, samuel spiced up his argument with a quote from macbeth. he said "let that pernicious sed ontand accur our calendar." later that day, congressman john wilson of virginia took the floor. he also knew his shakespeare. he responded "the gentleman from ohio favored us with a quotation from macbeth. i will give him an answer in quotation from hamlet." even quoted from the scene in which ophelia's brother expresses exaggerated grief at her death by leaping into ophelia's grave. quoting from hamlet's reaction, hou come here t ine? i will rant as well
as thou." the most notable use of shakespeare in congress occurred debate during the famous between senators robert h ayne of south carolina and daniel webster of massachusetts. although ostensibly about public land or lessee, it was the first the firstlicy, it was debate about the relationship between northern and southern states. after webster gave a speech about of the glands policy -- public lands policy hayne argued that webster's stated object was a smokescreen. webster's real problem, he said, was the disintegration of a coalition that webster hoped to establish between the north and the west against the south. evoking a scene from macbeth in
which the ghost of the murdered bhanquo up years macbeth and lady macbeth but is invisible to the others who are sitting with them at a banquet table senator asked, "has the gentleman's distemper fancy been disturbed by the new alliances at which he hinted? has the ghost of the murdered coalition come back like the ghost of banquo to fear the eyeballs of the gentleman, and will it not down at his bidding our dark visions of broken hopes and honors lost forever, still floating before his heated imagination?" that was hayne. the next day, webster responded, after making some introductory remarks -- "the honorable gentleman was not entirely happy in his allusion to the story of
o's murder and ghost." hayne, webster explained that o's ghost was an honest ghost, it disturbed no innocent man, it appeared only to banqu o's assassins come macbeth and lady macbeth. by identifying with those who saw the ghost, webster argued, hayn hade slipped up, and unintentionally revealed his own sinister motives. after citing several lines from the play come webster asked, "those who murdered banquo, what if they win by it? power, or disappointment, mortification, dust and ashes, the common fate of balding itself."overleaping
then he said derisively, "i need person the illusion no further." to our many other examples congressman william jennings bryan began a speech by directing the house clerk to read the passage from merchant of venice. a manager of president andrew johnson sent an impeachment trial compared johnson's cabinet members to glorious and hamlet. anerences -- to pollonius hamlet. references to shakespeare were used in debate. there were over 159 references during congressional debate to shakespeare himself or to the place hamlet, macbeth, othello affiliate. let me add a fan fact about shakespeare in congress. -- shakespeare
american scholars was the chairman of the house ways and means committee during the fierce tariff battles of the late 1830's. after leaving congress, he became the editor of the first major american additional shakespeare's plays -- edition of shakespeare's plays. today, shakespeare continues to be invoked occasionally in congress. during the time i have worked in the senate, there has been one person who might give the house and way -- the house ways and means committee chairman robert plank a run for his money readnator robert heard shakespeare's plays throughout his life and he frequently used shakespeare to make a point during senate floor debate. fact, at one point or another during senate floor byrde in 1994, senator
quoted from each of shakespeare's 36 plays, even the bad ones. but senator byrd aside is a difference. when daniel webster delivered his reply to senator haynes, he knew his audience would understand the light macbeth passed on current events. shakespeare was a central part of what an historian called a rich shared public culture. today, that is less the case. when contemporary politicians invoke shakespeare, they are likely to do so superficially, grabbing a line from partitions on the internet in order to add sophistication to the argument. i suggest that if we lose shakespeare, something important our political life. the folger library is here to remind us of this. that brings me back to our mystery, why is the full july very here?
here.ger library henry folger, one of the leaders of standard oil of new jersey and his wife emily, i'm last the world's finest collection of shakespeare's works, shakespeare scholarship and related artifacts. they owned, for example, more than a quarter of the first folios in existence. all of this piled up in the folger's brooklyn townhouse. eventually, the folgers decided to establish a library to make the collection available. after considering several locations, including london and ,tratford, henry folger said quote, "i finally concluded i would give it to washington, for i am an american." over eight years, henry folger quietly purchased a block of townhouses near the capital building.
but there was a problem. it turned out that the federal government was about to acquire the same property by eminent domain. work. sprang to he persuaded congress that locating a great shakespeare library on the site would benefit the nation. in 1928, while considering a bill of acquiring property for the library of congress, congress modified the bill to allow folger to retain the nd and e street come up with the understanding that he would construct his library there. it was, to use around terminology, special interest legislation, although, of a positive kind. that is why the shakespeare library is on capitol hill. but why does it matter?
what is it important, particularly to those of us who work among congress, that shakespeare is in our midst? reasons. two first the practical. in a handout that i think we have made available, or that we -- the greenilable paper -- ok. i missed tactical lessons i believe shakespeare teaches about politics. some lessons stressed the importance of good strategic thinking and good management decisiveness, pragmatism, listening carefully to advisors, and the deft use of subordinates. and other lesson stresses the importance of empathizing with, and persons, like prince how and unlike coriolanus. another lesson stresses that as with prince howe's transformation into king henry the fifth, a leader must
indulgence.sonal through it all runs of the constant theme of balance -- a leader should be decisive like henry v, but not reckless. pragmatic, again, like henry v, but not cynical like richard the third. above the crowd, but empathetic in lesson coriolanus never learned,. let us dig into two these lessons. one is that a leader must listen carefully, including to advise hear.she would rather not a good example is henry bolingbrook, who initiates the events that unfold throughout the english history plays. bolingbrook is in many respects a capable leader. and he has been wronged by richard ii, who unlawfully confiscated his land. is for richard himself,
all his faults the legitimate king under the english laws of succession. deposing him would undermine those laws and perhaps the very legitimacy of the english monarchy. iv of beginning of fact , henry bolingbrook is meeting with advisers, trying to decide how to deal looking richard, who has been defeated but retains the throne. bolingbrook exclaims -- "in god's name, i will ascend the legal throne." one of the advisers, the bishop of carlisle, objects saying -- "if you crown him -- bolingbrook -- the blood of english shall manure the grounds. o, if you raise this house against this house, it will the
division prove that ever fell earth." cursed bolingbrook ignores the bishops warning. richard is deposed him and bolingbrook becomes king henry iv. for all his skill, bolingbrook eventually fails. although he will remain king until his death and half the crowd down to his son and grandson. reigns eventually will devolve into a brutal civil war. this happens for reasons that were brought to bolingbrook's early attention by the bishop of carlisle, but bolingbrook would not listen. there are other examples. king lear divides his lands according to how profusely his daughters flatter him. and when the honest cordelia refuses to flatter, lear erupts in anger and denies cordelia any
inheritance and banishes her. an impetuous act that he will come to profoundly regret. julius caesar is warned by the soothsayer and others about the impending assassination attempt, but he ignores the warnings, saying, "am i not caesar?" as if he is immortal. witc tell him everything, including about his downfallhes. but he hears only what he wants to hear and discounts it. shakespeare's lesson is clear. when they achieved power, these leaders stopped listing carefully. we see the mistakes come the same mistakes every day. thrive and as honest cordelias are ignored.
another lesson that surprised me is that a leader must set personal loyalty aside in favor of pragmatism. the best example is henry v. he has many good leadership qualities, but he is no saint. he is utterly pragmatic. the most vivid example is the repudiation of falstaff. falstaff is one of shakespeare's greatest creations, he is a wit and philosopher. , glutton,unkard lecher, cowered in petty thief. he is a wonderfully rich character and has some of shakespeare's greatest lines. as he accompanies the prince through his youth. this makes falstaff's fate especially heartbreaking.
when falstaff learns that king henry the fourth have died, making the prince the new king am a falstaff thinks his ship has come in. he waits outside the palace expecting that when the new king passes by and sees falstaff in the crowd, the king will welcome himwith open arms and grant his due. king, seeing falstaff in the crowd, does not embrace him. delivers a speech that is shocking in its ruthlessness. thee not,-- "i know old man." and it concludes, "presume not wasn't.as disdained, i the ross shall see that i have turned away from my former self.
so will i those that kept me company." the young king orders falstaff banned. before long, heartbroken, falstaff dies. why did shakespeare subject one of literature's greatest characters to such a sorrowful end? to my mind, shakespeare is underlining this point -- as king, henry will forswear the wayward companions of his youth and adult the sober demeanor appropriate to leadership. to shakespeare, leadership overcomes friendship. even friendship with the character as endearing as falstaff. manyakespeare teaches practical lessons. again, they are listed in the handout. book is never finished, you can read them all
in detail. [laughter] turning from the practical, there's another and probably more important lesson in shakespeare's treatment of politics. in a recent book "the lessons of tragedy" the authors look at the ancient greeks. -- of the central events each spring, the citizens of athens gathered for celebration lasting several days. one of the central events was the public performance of one of the great greek tragedies like edifice wrecks, into ginny, or the persians -- oedipus re persians.e or the why make them the center of the celebration of the world's first democracy? the authors argue that these performances were critical to the success of inch and greek civilization. greeks,for the
theatrical and other dramatic representations of tragedy for public education. tragedies were meant to serve as both a warning and a call to action. they were intended to chased and and -- chasten and horrified the citizenry and in doing so, to inspire them. athens was capable of ascending to great heights but only if the tolic understood the depths which it might sink absent great effort, cohesion and courage." shakespeare's plays can perform the same function. shakespeare gives us many leaders who struggled to attain power only to realize that their power is empty or even .estructive generally speaking, there are no successful leaders in shakespeare, only different types of failures.
it is almost as if shakespeare is performing the role of the roman slave who follows behind a riding in a victory procession through rome, whispering in the general's ear, "all glory is fleeting." shakespeare's whispering to us. there is richard ii poetically realizing that his power is gone. there is the evil but irresistible richard iii railing against the fates at the battle of bosworth. and there is, again, bolingbroke's henry iv, the great usurper. as the civil war grinds on, king tired,v, now old and long as for the rest. headring, "uneasy lies the that wears the crown."
in shakespeare, political power comes at great cost. shakespeare's most specific essay about the cost of political power is macbeth. as a historical matter, macbeth was a warrior who having been cut out, of the line of succession, responded by murdering king duncan and successfully asserting his own ngship until he is killed by duncan's descendents. shakespeare transforms this material into a dark exploration of the danger that comes from the unbridled lust for power. towardeare's attitude macbeth is different than his attitude toward other unscrupulous monarchs like richard iii. when we observe richard, we identify with macbeth.
shakespeare pulls us in until we share macbeth's horror of what he has done and what he has become. also, unlike richard macbeth suffers from pangs of conscience. he also suffers from mounting nihilism leading to the great soliloquy about life being all sound and fury. signifying nothing. on,l, macbeth is impelled as he says, "blood will have blood." at the base, macbeth is undone inhibition. in american politics, the consideration of macbeth takes , to ourps surprisingly greatest president, abraham lincoln. lincoln was a deep student of shakespeare. as a boy, he recited many of the
great, speeches which he had in a volume. as a young lawyer, he traveled with a copy of shakespeare in his saddle bags. when he became president, he frequently attended shakespeare's plays in washington. in the white house, he often would read aloud from the great soliloquys. five days before he was assassinated, lincoln visited richmond, which had just fallen to union troops. he was greeted joyfully by soldiers and former slaves. he briefly sat behind the desk from which jefferson davis had led the confederacy. then he returned to a union riverboat to steam back north. along the way, he pulled out a thumb volume of shakespeare and read alouded to officers for more than an hour from macbeth, which was shakespeare's favorite play.
strange place to turn during the terrible war. it hardly provides solace, at least in the conventional way, but perhaps macbeth fit particularly well, because lincoln understood, that as the english court wrote in shakespeare's -- english poet philip sidney wrote in shakespeare's time, tragedy shows up on how weak foundations builded.oose our lincoln had a deep appreciation of tragedy. we can hear it in the second inaugural address. after explaining that the military situation was well in hand, lincoln described the onset of the conflict, with war coming, even though both sides had tried to avoid it. then he cut right to the tragic heart of the civil war. he said -- fondly do we hope,
and fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. wills that it continues until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another, drawn by the onc said 3000 years ago, so still must be said, the judgments of the lord are righteous and true altogether. lincoln than most of his famous conclusion, beginning with malice towards not a charity towards all. by standards of conventional political rhetoric, this speech is extraordinary. on the threshold of a greek
victory, there is no triumphalism. not even a modest note of congratulation. instead, there is complexity, irony, and hard consequence. surely, lincoln was drawing on his close study of shakespeare. histories, which began with a grant of power that ignited a civil war that would burn for centuries. on king claudius and hamlet, who seized power and then discovered that he was cursed and could not pray. on macbeth, whose ambition imp held him on to his own distraction. lear, profound wisdom and mercy only after he had lost all power. second inaugural echoes of them all. this, i said just come the second lesson we should learn from shakespeare, and appreciation of tragedy.
, we shouldhenians remind ourselves that our blessings are not guaranteed. we may be tempted to think that our is on our side, but constitutional checks and balances will counteract any serious threats to our system of government. that it can't happen here. but tragedy teaches otherwise. liberal democracy is not guaranteed, it is fragile. without constant attention, including from those of us privileged to work in and around congress, we can lose everything. thatis why it is important shakespeare is in our midst, why we should read or even better,, watch king the year, richard -- org lear, richard ii, macbeth.
all this brings me, in conclusion, act to the folger library. in the west garden is a statue of the mischievous spirit from a midsummer night's dream, pock. he is facing the capitol. at the base of the statue is a quote from the play -- " o, what be." these mortals that our status here is precarious and requires immunity we are in the capital of a great nation. but even so, we are just a few steps away from the tragic mistake that makes our work all the more important. thank you. [applause]
>> hours figure has agreed to take some questions, so, it is 's role.audience please stand up. -- he wasmment that not standing victorious in the air and chanting, we are about to win this. i also want to comment on -- or ask you to comment on his residence. he spent many a day and night in the white house, but he also had residence, and i believe the horse-drawn carriages bringing the caskets of fallen soldiers were buried under his watch in his backyard, almost. i says it was that perspective as well, plus his knowledge of shakespeare's writings that gave him this perspective. i wondered if you would comment. mr. evans: i think that is a wonderful point about this
paradox of our greatest president being so steeped in tragedy. if you have been to the soldiers home, it is a wonderful place, perhaps the best place there is to get an unmediated sense of because it has been restored especially to the way it was when it was the summer white house for him. it is the same point, thank you. it is on the grounds of a cemetery, a military cemetery and a military hospital. to get a feel for how it was back then, when he was walking in the front yard, there might be, 50 yards away, imperial being conducted. there would be amputated -- there would be, 50 years away, a burial being conducted, amputated soldiers walking
about. that was his summer home where of the for arrest,, -- but hecumstances was comfortable being reminded of the tragic circumstances he was dealing with. i was surprised by how much lincoln was a schick spirit guide. if you go back to the stories we man a lincoln as a young from reading books everywhere, in the barn, under a tree, they have actually traced some of the books that he got, they basically came from his stepmother when she married his father. she brought with her a bit on -- a bundle of books. one of them was -- i forget the name of its author, but it called "lessons in eloquence," a collection of speeches. many of them were the great shakespeare speeches -- henry in
agin marc anthony at caesar's funeralcourt,. when lincoln was under that tree reading that book, he was often reading shakespeare. when he was president, he actually got in a bit of a controversy because he wants to see a famous actor playing the iv, of falstaff in henry probably at the ford theater, and afterwards, an actor named tt, afterwards, shakespeare wrote him a letter complimenting him on his performance and suggesting a couple of ways that lincoln might change things, if you were to do it. and hackett, of course, thought, this is cool, i got a letter from the president of the united states. he showed it to his friends and it got published somewhere -- abraham lincoln complimenting my
performance. lincoln actually became a controversy because some in the press criticized him for being so -- what they considered frivolous, during a time of war. paintedcarpenter lincolns portrayed in the white house, and he wrote a book about that. and he talked about how it one point, he was painting lincoln who was sitting there, and lincoln asked if he could rise. he rose and he delivered the opening soliloquy from richard iii, "now is the winter of our discontent," from memory. carpenter said he did it as well as any professional actor. lincoln and shakespeare is fascinating. the soldiers' home is one of the best places to get a sense of that. thank you. questions? yes.
>> cordelia, who you mentioned as a positive figure, are there any other women, roles in shespeare's plays that might inform th political leadership? mr. evans: that is a great and troubling question. shakespeare writes mostly about men. which is interesting, because, of course, queen elizabeth was the principal ruler at the time. vi is argaret in henry strong, strong figure. cleopatra in anthony and cleopatra is fascinating. she is the better politician than marc anthony by far. course, the comedies are
different. they are frequently starring but, in the, histories, it is mostly male figures because of the times. that is something that we have to try to overcome as we read it. joan of arc. joan of arc is a figure in henry vi. there were three parts of henry vi. iv, bolingbrook takes the throne. he dies oftil i natural causes. him, v, his son, succeeds a very effective king. but he does very young. his young son, henry vi succeeds, and is a disaster.
it is interesting the way that shakespeare presents him, because he presents him -- and history supported this -- as a very good man. one of the three parts of henry vi is actually sometimes titled "the history of good king henry vi." at one point, queen margaret says, "you should be pope rather king." because good is, he can't make difficult decisions, and things fall apart. there is a rebellion in england and the french take back a lot of the land that henry v won. french, joan the of arc is a very important and attractive character, as she leads the french in taking back land in france that henry v had
taken. >> i apologize, i came in late. you might have addressed this, but if you haven't, i am sure the audience would be interested in knowing how someone would shakespeare often gets alluded to or quoted in the congressional register, or any other notes of debate. how do you go about -- it cannot be just a straight up word search, i mean it is impossible, thousands and thousands of lines in shakespeare. so how do you go about that? mr. evans: sometimes you come across them in history. hayne debate is an important part of the civil war era, it really is the first time senators from the north and the south confront each other on the senate floor
about in essence, slavery. and i happened to read that at the same time that i was studying macbeth. way.ame to it that some of it also was senator byrd. fan.a senator byrd i love sonnet process and procedure, and he was a great defender of the institution and its processes -- senate process and procedure. i read a lot about him, and i came across one of the eulogies to him quoting from each of the 36 plays during debate in 1994. so i have read a lot of those. they are never throw away quotes , it is not a rose by any other he gets into it. how the play
reflects on what you're doing here today. so i have come across them in in differentces, aspects of history. i have had to look a little bit. too.some searches, >> do you have any examples for us from the attorney first century, references? that should you have any examples from the 21st century, references? mr. evans: current politics. but i will sailing from anything that is too close to home. [laughter] there was a law in england during shakespeare's time that you cannot write a play that featured a living politician. it is good advice for me to stay pretty close to that, too. [laughter] but i will give you some examples from american history
of where some of the lessons teach us in american history. that comesexamples from richard ii is, you have to understand the source of your authority. thinks that because he is a legitimate king, that is it -- i am a legitimate king, what can happen to me? but he does not realize that he also has to be an effective king. that is the cause of his downfall. there are others like that -- i mentioned julius caesar, who, five lines before he is assassinated, he is talking about how he is the immortal caesar on the senate floor. lear, thinking he can invest himself of his land and keep his authority, all these leaders who think that because you have the title, they have the power.
we see that a lot. anytime congress changes hand, you have new chair men and , andmmittee chairmen they think they can do all they want. they don't realize that all they an do is reserve a few places for their staff in the parking garag but there is a lot of hard work. in american history, i think you have seen it in the supreme court, the supreme court thinking that because it was the supreme court, it could do what it wanted without regards for the source of its power. and example, dread scott, were just as teeny thought he could resolve the issue of slavery just because he wanted where taneycott, thought he could resolve the issue of slavery just because he wanted to.
so institutions getting too big for their britches. others in the 20th century -- adventism. knowing the best way -- pragmatism. to my mind and my experience, the best example, bob packwood during tax reform in 1986. he was said, "i like the tax code away that it is." but when his effort to write a bill disintegrated in the senate finance committee over several weeks, and the world is watching , he completely reversed course, ew out all the provisions he had previously sponsored, and went for a clean tax reform bill. he was pragmatic. he wanted to win. that was the way to win.
a couple of others -- i think -- i mentioned lyndon johnson. lyndon johnson to my mind is shakespearean in two respects, one positive and one negative. when we talk about a machiavellian shakespeare, richard iii, iago, always, always coming up with treacherous ways to get ahead. that is early lyndon johnson. robert kanner writes brilliantly about all of that. but there is also another johnson. in less than shakespeare teaches is that you must have empathy. iv, the princery before becoming king, henry iv
lived with the common people. that is an important part of his connection to the people. the night before the battle of kincourt now he is can, henry the fifth, he puts on a cloak and discusses himself and he walks among the troops as a common soldier, not as a king. shakespeare is teaching the importance of empathy. with coriolanus, one of my favorite place, a great warrior who can't stoop to the rituals of democracy goes he thinks they are beneath him, we see an example. to my mind, lbj later gives us that after montgomery bridge, when he, at a moment of national crisis, gave a speech which is one of the greatest in american andory, about civil rights, how we were all in this together, and how we were all
there at the bridge. it compares in a sense to king lear. king lear fell from power. he was foolish and he was powerful. as he fell from power, he grew in wisdom until he is there on the heath in a storm and he's being pelted, he is in rags and has nothing. -- "if point, he asks only i had known more about the poor, if only i had known more about mercy, if only i had done more for those lesser than me." in his powerlessness, finally its use was dumb. i see that in lyndon johnson late in his career. ar, in his powerlessness, finally achieves wisdom.
i see that in lyndon johnson late in his career. i talked about the repudiation of falstaff. i sometimes -- when i think about that presidential ,andidate barack obama in his in essence, repudiation of jeremiah wright in order to show that he was prepared to take over that next step, he had to step away from an old friend and spiritual advisor. , those are some. i am thinking of others and always looking for suggestions. i hope you can come up with some of them as well. do i have time for another -- >> one last question.
>> i will go a different direction. shakespeare wrote these plays in elizabeth and times, certainly an unsettled time in england with a lot of constraints. in your article, you pointed out that sx was considering trying to run richard ii before he tried to overthrow elizabeth. what is your perception, particularly in the histories, of the political pressure shakespeare was under as he was writing these plays, knowing that this was not a time of freedom of the press or a playwright's, and things could happen to him that would not be good? mr. evans: such as losing his head? [laughter] when the earl of essex tried to start a rebellion against queen elizabeth, or her advisers, one of the things he did was commission if performance of richard ii the night before the rebellion, because richard the
second, remember, shows bolingbrook deposing the legitimate king. all the members of the company that performed it were imprisoned, except shakespeare. he was very, very careful. at the time, every play had to be reviewed first before it could be performed in london, by the master of the rebels, who made sure it was politically correct. moreover, shakespeare performed his play -- his company eventually was called the king 's men. it was sponsored by king james and was performed a few times a year in the court. so people were watching. his political views had to be expressed, shall we say, very carefully. he could get away with a few things, like macbeth.
macbeth is clearly about king james, it is about the trouble that comes from assassinating .llegitimate ruler catholics had just tried to assassinate james by blowing up -- catholic conspirators had tried to assassinate the new king james bible and the parliament. james was scottish. shakespeare writes this scottish play in which james's side of uo's side,, banq everybody looks good. it was easy to see what he was talking about. in others, he had to do it much more carefully. some of his contemporaries were jailed or killed because of the plays they wrote. marlowe.
that is the reasons why it is hard to tell about shakespeare's political ideology. he teaches about political leadership, you can't really tell about his political ideology. as far as i can figure it out, and this is a deep disappointment to me, but it might come helpful, as far as i can tell, shakespeare was no liberal, but he was more a conservative in favor of conserving the existing structure. he is what i would call and dmund burke, george will-kind of conservative. you see it in his plays. for example, he is very afraid of the mob. and parts oflanus, julius caesar. and parts where there were speeches about the importance of
maintaining the existing hierarchy. so he was very careful. but he also was in the midst of it. center.as the political he was writing and his company was performing before the crown. and many in his audience were going to the plays to try to get some sense of how to appreciate country -- current events. so a lot of it is there. the ideology is difficult to understand, but the lessons easy toadership are see. thanks to all of you for coming. [applause] >> thank you so much. sheets, come back and join us.
thank you all very much. [chatter] announcer: you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on .-span3 next on "lectures in history, emory university professor teaches a class about anti-semitism in america and holocaust denial. she shares the story of her 1996 lawsuit against holocaust denier david irving, which was turned into the 2016 movie -- "denial appear, she also outlines answers to frequently made by deniers. what i'd ternoon
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