tv Lectures in History 1890s Growing American Internationalism CSPAN June 1, 2020 12:47pm-2:02pm EDT
c-span3. >> c-span has unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house and the supreme court and public policy events. the presidential primaries through the impeachment process and now the federal response to the coronavirus. you could watch all of c-span public affairs programming, on television, online, on listen on our free radio app and be part of the daily washington journal program or through our social media feeds. c-span created by america's public television companies and brought to you today by your television provider. next, on lectures in history. baylor professor david smith talks about the international world view in 1890s world america. he argues that economic, moral
and political impulses caused americans to consider americans a larger role in the world for their nation. professor smith details the actions they took such as pursuing missionary work, arguing for the expansion of the navy and searching for new economic markets. this is just over an hour and 10 minutes. >> what we're going to do today is start something very new and very distinct in the evolution of the story we're telling. the 1890s becomes a distinct beginning of the way america thinks of itself in the world. in a very different way. if you want to understand the 20th century, if you want to understand the role that the united states assumes for itself and plays in the 20th century, the 1890s is the place to start. because the transformation, listen, the transformation that you see among the people and
their attitudes in the 1890s is little short of kind of amazing. remember this. remember that as far as you want to go in american history, okay, the idea has been that the united states and before that the american colonies, we're over here and the rest of the world is the rest of the world. there is this purposeful sense that we are us and the rest of the world can do whatever it wants, whatever it takes, whatever it is going to do, it is not going to affect us. right. i'm sort of dancing around the word "isolation" because that is a lot of baggage around it. but that is part of it, all right. that we were an isolated country. or if not isolated, if you don't want to use isolation, we could
pick and choose however much involvement we wanted and we usually didn't want any involvement. but then all of a sudden in the 1890s, one after the other, all of these things start impinging on american society and it's not that the government changes, it's that my opinions and your opinions and everybody in the public's vision of what the united states is going to be starts to evolve, all right? and there's a bunch of different reasons for it. and listen, i can't think of anybody who's going to be affected by all the reasons, all right? okay? there are a bunch of different reasons and one person -- you're not going to be affected by all of them. but i guarantee you you'll be affected by one of them, all right? so what i want to do is sort of run down these reasons and one by one by one and show you what they were.
and then by the -- really, by almost by the end of the decade, we wind up fighting a war in large part that is informed by all these changes that we've been through. does that make sense? all right. i think the place to start is probably the fact that in 1893, we wind up with a really big economic crash. it's the biggest one in a very long time. it triggers a depression that lasts for years, that probably would be known as the great depression, had the 1930s not happened. the panic of 1893 is a huge stock market sell-off. and it triggers some soul searching among businesses. and the question has got to be, why is this happening? what has caused this, why, suddenly, are all of the
factories having to lay off workers? why is it the case that the union pacific and the central pacific and the southern pacific and all the big railroads, why are they all having to declare bankruptcy? something's gone wrong, right? now, listen, there's -- there's one idea that starts sort of creeping to the forefront of people who think about business. if you don't think about business, this is not going to affect you. but if you do, if you're a leader of the business community, you're going to think, why is this happening and what do we do to fix it? got it? and gradually, all of the focus begins to settle on one particular word and that word is overproduction.
overproduction, what it means is that you remember how efficient american factories had become with tailorism and everything? they had produced and produced and produced and they made more and more and more and more and more stuff, right? no matter what it was, they made more of it. and finally they've reached the point, this is the way this is being thought out, right? we've hit the point where the american market can't absorb all the stuff that we're producing. that's what overproduction means. the american market's only so big, and you know, you've got sears catalogs going out to the four corners of the country and you've got farmers buying multiple shirts, remember? at some point, people are going to say, okay, i don't need anymore shirts. at some point, they're going to say, i've bought all there is to buy, right? and that becomes a problem
because you've got all of these factories still churning out stuff left and right, as fast as they can. and what winds up happening is surpluses start building up. and when surpluses build up, right, price begins to drop, profits begin to drop and then you've got a recession, right? well, the question would be, how do you fix that? what do you do if you've got a warehouse full of stuff that the american productive capacity has brought forth and no place to put it? well, companies today have to deal with this too, right? what do you do -- if you're a cell phone company, what do you do if everybody buys a cell phone -- once everybody buys a cell phone, and from where i'm sitting, everybody's got a cell phone, right? what do they do? well, i mean, today, what they've got to do is they've got
to convince you that your cell phone is now crumby and outdated and you've got to buy the new one, right? they didn't do that back then. that's a little bit too modern, right? we've got to find other places to sell our stuff. we've got to find other markets to get into. we've got to find places that don't have the domestic productive capacity that we've got here and then unload our stuff there. that's the way to do it. find new markets. if overproduction is the problem, find new markets, right? now, listen, the united states has always been an exporter -- the united states has exported stuff since the beginning.
but almost all of the stuff that the u.s. used to export was agricultural products. like cotton, all right? and grain and dairy and whatever. all the corn farmers of the midwest, all the wheat farmers of the ohio valley, right? there's a lot of exports. but -- and i guess this is probably -- you probably saw this coming, right? with the productivity of american factories, you start to think exporting manufactured goods may be the future. and it's true that over the course of the 1890s, american manufacturing exports are just going to go through the roof, all of a sudden. and the united states becomes a very aggressive exporter of manufactured goods, but that sort of almost is like the midpoint of the story i'm telling. right now, we don't have in 1890, 1893, we've got to open
some new markets, got it? and the market that everybody thought of, sort of the utopian market was china. just like it had been in the days of columbus. if we can get into the china market with our sewing machines or our railroad locomotive or whatever it is, that would be the end of the depression and it would be -- it would be -- it would be rosy times from now on, right? the china market is huge. china was a very, very commercial society. a lot of buying, a lot of selling. but it wasn't industrialized. if we can get into the china market -- but there's always a "but," right? the problem with that is that china's kind of in a mess in the 1890s. china is really at risk of being
carved up among european powers and russia and japan. china is a -- the central government of china was weak and the british and the french and the germans and the italians and the japanese and the russians all started to sort of carve out spheres of interest along the chinese, you know, coast. and set up basically -- you know, it's probably not a stretch, almost, to call them colonies within china. and in 1893, 1894, there's no guarantee, honestly, that china is going to make it. the continent of africa -- the continent of africa is being carved up at the exact same time
amongst all of these different european powers, into very, very seclusiona a exclusionary zones of economics. the germans want to trade in the german zone, the british want to trade in the british zone, the french want to trade in the french zone and they don't want anybody else in their zone. so where this goes very naturally, if you're a business leader, thinking about the china market, we need to open up china and keep it open. we need the state department to do something about this to circulate notes between the other countries and make them keep china open for us. and this happens without you even realizing it, but think about that a second. if you're -- i don't know, andrew carnegie and you're
worried about your steel business and you're trying to think about the state department opening china, you've now got a really radically different idea for what the united states might be doing in the world. and it happens that easy. it happens that effortlessly. suddenly, you're thinking, wow, the state department really needs to get off its tail and fix this. and the state department hasn't really had to do that before. and you've just sort of stumbled into imagining a fundamentally different role for the united states to play within the community of nations. does that make sense? and this doesn't affect a whole lot of different people. people in waco, texas, from 1983 are probably not sitting around thinking, you need to open up new markets. but the people who are thinking this are pretty important,
pretty powerful, pretty influential. it's curious, because you've got a handful, you've got a couple of impulses that will influence just a small group, but a really influential group. and then you've got a couple of impulses that come along that will influence a whole bunch of people. anonymous, noninfluential people, but numbers. this is the first sort. the economic impulse to look outward, right? find new markets, be energetic with your foreign policy. and that's what it's going to take. because the world is being carved up. and it's happening as we watch
and this is the point at which americans think, we're going to be left out of this unless we're maybe a little more, i hate this word, proactive. i just want to say active. so far, so good? this is going to sort of plend pretty easily into the writing of this guy. alfred theyer mahan is a navy officer. he came out of the naval academy late in the '50s, early '60s, something like that. and he served in the civil war, he served afloat during the civil war and found that he hated to be on a ship, which is not what you really want in a naval officer. and he got sea sick easily. he was much more bookish than the normal naval officer.
he wanted to teach. he wanted to write books. he wanted to lecture. he had ideas. he winds up getting brought up to newport, remind, at a new school called the naval war college that was established in '84. and it was -- the purpose of the naval war college was to train navy officers in a more strategic way, to think about something other than just sailing and moving ships, right? how do you move fleets? what do you do with ships? and he really thrived with that. and he taught there for a while and then he started to realize that he could actually do more. he could reach bigger audiences. if he tried to.
he writes this book called the influence of "sea power upon history. and it comes out of his lectures. it comes out of his vision of what the world is today and how the previous centuries inform it. how what has happened over the course of the millennia make us what we are today. specifically the influence of sea power on history. and he says, look, you go back to the days of the romans and what made the romans great? the roman empire feasible. it was the fact that the romans controlled the mediterranean. it was the fact that the romans could use the mediterranean anyway they wanted to. and that's what made the roman
empire great. if you look through times, since the days of the romans, there's always been one nation, it seems that was the leader in that was powerful and influential. and she brings us all the way up to the 1700s and great britain is a tiny population compared to russ russia. the sun never sets on the british empire, why? because they have command of the sea. and if the united states -- now,
he doesn't flat-out say this, but this is sort of what he's getting into. if the united states wants to be great and influential, it's going to need a navy. it's going to need a navy better than what we've got. it's going to need a navy that is built to -- and here's a phrase i want you to sort of file away. this is a phrase that the 20th century is going to be filled with, all right? we need a navy that can project power. we need to think of our navy as not -- listen, as not being something that just sits at our shore and waits to be attacked. we need a navy that can go out and champion pour interests, right? away from the coasts of north
america, because that's where our interests will ultimately lie, got it. what i want you to be able to do right now is see, oh, wait a minute, i see a connection between this and overproduction. because if we are going to make markets open, we're going to have to be able to project power. and we're not going to be able to -- in a world of power politics, you're not going to be able to go up to great britain and say, hey, will you open your market for us? especially if you don't have anything behind that, right? and mahan's thought is, look, we have a navy that can project power. we will be able to -- excuse me, we will be able to project influence. and we will be able to get done what we want to do, all right?
a lot of influential people read this book. a whole lot of influential -- especially people in the snad, people in the government, people in the navy department, obviously, ate it up, because they'd been waiting for years for somebody to say something like this. future president theodore roosevelt reads this and just sort of goes nuts for it and becomes one of mahan's champions. now, he -- mahan also decides, i want to write for the public, as well. and i think this is -- this is the point at which he becomes sort of even more important. he starts writing essays for public -- what would -- public magazines, like "the atlantic." i can think of one article that
he wrote in "the atlantic" in december of 1890. and "the atlantic," you can go to barnes & noble and get "the atlantic" today. and he wrote this article in the december 1980 issue of "the atlantic" called "the united states looking outward," right? and that -- that was an eye opener to a lot of people. and the title's perfectly chosen. the united states looking outward. it's not this -- i mean, we have been focused here, right, we've been focused domestically since the declaration of independence, you know? and we've had this challenge and that challenge and we've done this and we've done that and we've done a bunch of different history stuff, but it's always been here. it's always been us, right? and mahan says, the world's a big place, and we need to be a
player in it, okay? let me mention this word real quick, imperialism. because this is an era of imperialism and it's -- that concept, that term is behind a lot of stuff. and there were a lot of people in the united states who watched other great powers carve up the world in imperialist fashion. and you can sort of have one of two reactions to it. i don't know if you could be neutral about this. i don't know, maybe you could. people can be neutral about all sorts of things? but in general, your reaction would be, we need to get in on this. or this is bad and we need to know why it's bad and we need to speak out against it.
listen, the thing about that is both of those options, both of those impulses are going to make you look outward, right? both of -- whether you're -- whether you're a wannabe imperialist or whether you think it's a terrible thing and people should know how terrible it is, both of those things will make you pay attention to something other than your backyard, right? and that's -- you know, when we have a bunch of stuff, when you have your world in your cell phone pocket -- when you have the world in your cell phone and your cell phone in your pocket, you can get in a bubble.
and no one went around talking like this in the 1890s, i don't think. maybe we should get out of the bubble and pay attention to what's happening in the world and be aware of the plight of china. maybe we should be aware that africa is being carved up by imperial powers. maybe we should be upset by it. maybe we should be -- maybe we should get in on it, right? it doesn't matter, you're suddenly looking outward. that's something that everybody can do. got it? any questions so far? so i think, if you're looking for sort of a neat way to -- neat as in tidy, not neat as in, wow, neat, maybe a military
impulse to look out for. although i'm not happy with describing it that way. clearly, this is an economic impulse. this is sort of a military impulse. and by the way, when the 1890s start, the united states has -- depends on how you count, the united states has something like the 13th largest navy in the world, which means there's 12 above us. and i'll spot you the first five. but i'm willing to bet that you would have trouble thinking about who else? the chilean navy was bigger than ours. so far, so good. so you get this fleet built up in the '90s that can project power that can project power to do things like keep china open. make sure that the state department's in treaties to
other countries have a little muscle behind them. so far, so good? look, shift gears. this guy, frederick jackson turner, frederick jackson turner is a historian, a historic historian, right? he taught, i think, at the university of wisconsin, but i'm not 100% sure. i think so. he was a -- he was an american history historian, looked over big trends. by the way, remember darwin? remember the implications behind the way darwin looked at the world? the big, long story that unfolds, okay? turner is going to be -- all of this stuff sort of fits in with darwinism. all of this stuff fits in with darwin. we are at the tip of a big, long story that is going to continue forward and we've got a long
history behind us. this -- that's darwinistic in that it takes the whole sweep of history, all right? frederick jackson turner thinks that way, too. let me tell you what he says in this really gang buster article called "the significance of the frontier on history." and i'm going to describe this and tell you why this fires people up, and then what i want you to do is cook up some label for this. i usually call this philosophical, but i'm not happy with that. it's not really philosophical, i don't think. but it's got -- it's eaten up with darwinism and social darwinism, too. okay, look. what turner says is that if you look back through american history, from the very beginning, from the puritan days, all right, if you look back throughout american history and you sort of look at a map where people live, there's
always been a frontier line between what people thought of as civilization and what people thought of as the wilds of the world. there's always been a line of demarcation between civilization, boston, philly, pittsburgh. and the frontier. and people knew it. people knew where it was. it was always there, okay? and the thing about it was, it represented something formative in the american character, okay? the presence of a frontier, the presence of the frontier determined american characters throughout time because the frontier did sort of two things.
the frontier was where you could go to start over again. if everything went wrong, if everything just fell apart, right, you could go to the frontier and remake yourself and there's a bunch of stories sort of wrapped up with like andrew jackson is sort of replete with this, right? he was born in north carolina and winds up going to tennessee and making his fortunes. the same thing with andrew johnson. born in raleigh and runs off to tennessee and becomes a political figure in tennessee. the frontier was always this ever-present place where if you screwed everything up royally, you could go out there, right? and start over and the idea was is it makes us -- look, i don't know if this is right or not, and it sort of doesn't matter if i think it's right or not, people then thought it was spot-on accurate. it made us more willing to take
risk risks. now, the other thing is, and i've mentioned this a couple of times, this has to do with social darwinism. the presence of the frontier made us rugged and tough. the frontier was where you could go to prove yourself. the frontier was where you could go to get away from the luxuries of life in 1824. and you could go out to the frontier and chop down trees -- and nobody would do it for you, right? if you go out to the frontier, you better take care of yourself or you're going to be in a world of trouble, right? you've got to go out there and chop down trees and build a log cabin and you've got to wrestle bears or whatever and you don't, you've got to be tough or you will be destroyed on the frontier, right? remember the whole bit about
rugged individualism? turner says, this is where we learned as a society to value rugged individualism. you don't learn to be tough and rugged in a drawing room in philadelphia. that's not tough, right? daniel boone, davey crockett, these frontier people got it. given that, then, this is -- this is good. given that, turner begins looking at census data. and he says that every ten years, you know, the u.s. does a census. every ten years, you can plot on a map where people live. and every ten years, you can see just as clear as day, probably
on a map that's bigger than this, you can see a frontier line, okay? the frontier is not just an abstraction, it's a line, it's on a map, right? you go to here and you say, if i take one step over, i'm crossing the frontier. and it goes west every year, right? by the way, remember dime novels and westerns? this plays into that. but then the census of 1890 happens. i'm going to talk about two different years of a census, when we're in here together. not today, but today is 1890. the other big shot census is 1920. this is the first one. and turner says, the census of
1890 shows that there's not a frontier line anymore. this is a really big deal. there's not a frontier line anymore. you can now get on a train in boston and you can go all the way across the continent and you can get off a train in san francisco and you have never crossed a frontier, right? it will be telegraphed lines the whole way. it will be steel rails the whole way. it will be general stores and sears catalogs the whole way. got it? he says, the frontier has closed. it's gone. it's disappeared. and it's -- it can't come back. and listen to this, with the closing of the frontier, a
chapter in american history has ended. and this is when the angst starts to build up when you're listening to him talk. i know that -- you listening? that which made us what we are is gone. that which made us tough, rugged individuals, that's gone. so what do we do? and that's for you to worry about, right? he says, i'm a historian, not a futurist, or whatever. profit. all i know is what i can see from history.
and i'll tell you what, if you're a social darwinist, you're going to sort of be upset by this. if you're somebody who has been looking for a chance to sort of kick back and put your feet up, then you're okay. if you're one who says, hand me that bag of potato chip, which is an invention at this time. put your feet up, ah. i'm glad -- see, if there's not a frontier line, it absolves you from doing a bunch of stuff. i don't have to go to the frontier. i would go to the frontier, but there's not one anymore. i missed it. well, too bad. this is when somebody like theodore roosevelt comes into the picture. theodore roosevelt would read turner's idea and say we've
got -- you ready for this, we've got to find a new frontier. we've got to find a new frontier. we can't kick it back and be lazy now, right? if you remember the competitive nature of social darwinism, the world works that way too. nations are competitive. nations are socially darwinistic. there was a speech he gave just a gangbusters of a speech in 1899 that could have come almost straight from the -- it's like he read turner and went to give this speech. and he says, the 20th century looms before us large with the fate of many nations. if we stand idly by, if we seek for ourselves merely slothful ease and ignoble peace, the more energetic of the world's nations
will pass us by. and seize for themselves in the new century the mantle of true greatness. there's a long sort of story in here about luxury and self-government and the strenuous life. and you could go back in history. you could go back in history and you could read people like james madison, a little bit of thomas jefferson. and every once in a while, you would pick up worries about luxury, and self-government not being compatible with each other. luxuriousness, luxury bred laziness, which bred complace y
complacency. which you cease to be interested in the way the world works, which you cease to be interested in how things are happening. i know you can't imagine this at all. we need a new frontier because that frontier is why we are who we are, got it. if you know sort of cultural history, right, that phrase, a new frontier, it sort of rings through american history like a bell. john kennedy used it at some point and got a lot of traction with it. we need a new frontier. and you don't even have to be specific what it is, right? we just need a frontier. where? i don't know, alaska, maybe. nobody's going to alaska yet. it's cold, there's bears, frontier, right? space, the final frontier. the human heart, the depth of the ocean. it doesn't matter, we need a frontier.
why? because that's what shapes us. right? that's what he's saying. we can't -- this sort of forces our hand, right? if i'm right about this, we have to look someplace else. if i'm right about this, says turner, the future has to be out there, got it? and mahan -- right, nah hahnmah the back of the room saying, you're going to need the navy, right? and you have andrew carnegie or the businesspeople, right, saying, oh, we could sell things on the new frontier, right? it saw sort of flows in together. so far, so good? yes? so going back to like about the navy, would that help the economy at all? because then they would have something new to produce? >> that's a good question.
would a new navy help the economy? absolutely. especially it will help the steel industry. because the kinds of ships we're going to build in this new navy are very different. they're big steel ships and for a while, the worry was there weren't any steel factories that could make the kind of steel the navy needed for armored ships. and the first few ships of the new navy, they were steel hulls, but they weren't armored. and a lot of the people in the navy department said, we really can't do this until we can be sure that the u.s. steel industry can keep up with what we want, right? and the u.s. steel industry said, you order the ships and we'll keep up with it. and yeah, that's such a good question. that's such a good way of tying these things together. yeah, the construction of the new navy was an economic boon
for a lot of places. jake? >> did that have an effect on the stock market crash? like, is that -- is that helping that or only hurting it? >> it's not helping or hurting at all yet. i mean, the stock market moved a little bit more slowly back then, right? and the moves weren't as big as they've been recently. but ultimately, it will. ultimately, it will help the steel companies be more secure and be a better investment and people will start to sort of investment in the stock market and it will come back up again. by the end of the decade, the depression is over and it has rebounded and the economy is growing real well for a couple of different reasons we can talk about later. so far, so good? anything else? okay. okay. shift gears entirely.
the people you have been talking about may not have read the book by josiah strong called "our country." but a lot of people did. he wrote this doozy in 1885. sk and there's a lot in this book that you would read today and think, gee, this guy is kind of a nut. it's a diagnosis of what's wrong with the country in 1885. and he gives you a really long list of stuff. you know, there's too much money, there's too much greed, there's too much socialism, there's too much labor -- you name it -- there's too much whiskey. he's against a lot of stuff, right? but i can't think of a book that's more different than mahan, right? this reasoned look at history. and our country is sort of just this pan thing about the country is falling apart, we've got to
fix it, got it? but tied up in it, if you can manage to get to the end of it and read one of the last chapters, he talks about the spread of christianity in the world. and if you read it, you've got to think, i know where he's coming with this. and basically his penultimate chapter says, if you look back over history, there's always been one people that carried the christian gospel to the world. and now it has fallen to the americans to do it. kind of a big deal. the british did it for a while. this is -- this is this whole the torch is being passed to a new carrier kind of thing.
and strong, who's convinced that the lack of goadliness was behind a lot of the troubles says that americans need to become more, what would the word be, evangelical? americans need to go and spread the gospel now because the british have done all they can do. and there's a little bit of a darwinistic trajectory in this too. and this coincides, listen, this coincides with a flowering of missionary work in american churches, all right? especially american protestant churches like baptist and method dises. they go all into missionary work in like the 1890s, okay? one of the things that has happened, and i'm not a medical person, so i can't get into the
way this really evolved, but one of the things that has happened is they've -- they're getting close to a cure -- they're getting close to a treatment, if not a cure, for some pretty ravaging diseases that were considered tropical. yellow fever, malaria. they're getting close to figuring out how to treat it? so that going to the tropics is no longer seen as a death sentence to people who aren't from the tropics. and the notion is you can go to places like equatorial africa or south asia or south america, even, the caribbean and hope to live to tell the tale, right? and then came christian
missions. missionaries. and this is, i think this is probably the movement that influences the greatest number of people. just out of pure numbers, all right. and you know why i think that, in part? it's because you can go -- you can go to almost any little church in any mid-sized town that was around in the 1890s and you can dig through your records and stuff and you can find pictures of missionaries. that look just like you. you can be looking through the old scrapbook with its yellowed pages and stuff and pull up a black and white photograph of a guy in a nice suit.
edgar williams, minister to rhodesia. well, probably no missionary to rhodesia -- what? >> my great grandfather was a missionary to rhodesia. >> really? >> i have been waiting for you. >> from 1930 to 1970. >> is that right? >> yeah. well, he was the descendants of these people. and image -- i'm glad you told me that. wow, and i've been using rhodesia for, you know, decades, as an example. and nobody's ever said anything about it. >> wow, that's crazy. >> i can hang it up now. maybe i'll pick a new country. a minister to some other -- anyway. ima imagine this, okay? imagine you are sitting in a pew at first baptist waco, right? and you're there every sunday and you sit in the same place, right? because that's the way you do it. and then you notice that that nice young couple that used to sit at the other end of the pew, you haven't seen them for a
while. and you, you know, you wonder what happened to them. did the husband get kicked by a cow, all right, whatever. and then you finally sort of work up the nerve. whatever happened to those nice people that used to sit at the end of the row. she wore those green dresses and he wouldn't stop talking, but he was a nice guy. oh, they became missionmissiona. really? where w where? rhodesia. and then you think, oh, okay, well, what was his name? edgar. i can't remember. edgar and betty. edgar and petty, rhodesia. and when you're told that, you know, after the closing hymn on sunday morning and you're thinking about where you're going to go to lunch, and you answer it, rhodesia, yeah, rhodesia. and then what you do, you know, after lunch, you run home, what was it?
rhodes rhodesia. good god, it's in africa! they're in africa? africa. and then, guess what, you now know somebody in africa. and then, of course, bob and -- what are their names? i can't remember their names. edgar and betty, they become your best friends. oh, i've got friends in africa. you didn't even know his name. and then, right, from the pulpit, and from sunday school, we have to pray for our missionaries in rhodesia. what were their names? we don't remember, but they were that nice couple, right? and we got a letter from them last week. and this is all going down in a little church in a little town in the middle of texas, right? and suddenly, everybody in this congregation knows somebody in south central africa.
and world gets that much smaller, right? and the little kids in sunday school save their pennies and take up offerings for our missionaries in rhodesia. and they grow up thinking that central africa is not that far away, because people from our church go there. yeah. >> so were the missionaries taking, like, the cures or the treatments to people who needed it? >> well, no, no really. the missionaries -- i mean, i guess if we could have equipped them with vials of malaria serum, they would have gladly have taken them, but that might be a little bit beyond their capability. >> were they just taking them for themselves? >> if they get sick, yes. but the -- they're taking the gospel. they're sharing the gospel. that's what it is.
and missionary work tended to be a little bit more gospel centered, right, bible centered than humanitarian centered, but we're going to get to humanitarians here in a minute. it's a good question. anything else? so now you know somebody in rhodesia. and what happens after they've been gone a year or 18 months, right? if you're in a church, you know this. they come back, they've got a bunch of stories to tell, and then you have dinner on wednesday night and you listen to them, right? and it goes on and on and on. and they've got a powerpoint presentation or the 1890s version of a powerpoint presentation. here's a sketch i made of the village, right? and then you could be a maragos t missionary too, right? they still need help. and this is going on all over the country and suddenly you
have i don't even know the number, hundreds of thousands, millions of people who are thinking about what americans can do in south central africa. it's hard to get across the magnitude of this today, right? because the thing is, if i asked you, how many of you have been to africa, i wouldn't be surprised if half of you raised your hands. but if you ask that in the 1890s or 1880s, nobody, right? i could probably find it on a map, but, you know. maps make things alien.
being there or knowing somebody who has been there makes it real, got it? and the whole phrase "make the world smaller," that's been done to death. but that's what it was like in the 1890s, all right? and if the world is smaller, you care about it more. you're more interested in it. and you can imagine a role that you could play in it. that changes the way americans look at their place in the world. that's looking outward, right? and then -- you sort of hinted at this, right? what if you're not necessarily religious? what if you just want to do
good? what if you want to spread medicine? what if you just want to take the blessings of modern society to places that are without the blessings of modern society, right? you're reading that book about electricity. what about electricity? what about light? now, we're always a little bit hesitant, right? we don't like to talk about primitive and advanced. but in the 1890s, people didn't have any hesitation to do that. they talked about the obligation, and i don't know if this existed, but i know they meant it, the obligation that advanced societies have to help primitive societyies if we've gt electricities and phonographs and recorded sounds and nickelodeon -- oh, take them
dime novels, right? we have an obligation. see how easily it sort of into that? we've got this great stuff. take it. we need to help people. we need to go forth and, like non-religious missionary work. a lot of this went on. and if you can imagine the christian missionary impulse with a lot of people really getting them fired up, this humanitarian impulse tended to other people, too. if you're not particularly christian, you're not interested in evangelism and stuff, well, what about -- like you said, what about medicine? what about coca-cola. and then you had this gazing
upon a map, imagining people that you could help. exploitation and sorrow and trouble that you could alleviate, right? and look, if you're against this, i'm talking to you, right? because you can help people. what is it, lauren? >> so had the economy like already gotten better, because i would imagine it would be kind of expensive to go to africa and if everyone's losing jobs, they probably wouldn't be thinking about going -- >> that's a good question. if everyone in the church is unemployed, they're not going to send you to africa. i don't know. all i know is that it must have not been that big of a barrier,
because i know it happened. whether the economy is rebounding to allow this to happen or whether or not -- i mean, whether or not the depression was -- i don't know how many people in waco felt the depression of the 1890s. you know, i know that big companies did, but i don't know if people here did. but i know that -- i know that it was enough to send missionaries out to places like that. that's a good question. i'll see if i can come across the answer, if you remind me to at some point. so far so good? if you want to help, if you want to do good, if you're looking for people that need american assistance and they were, you don't have to look very far. you only have to look 90 miles off the coast of florida. you only have to look down to
the island of cuba in the caribbean to find people who are under the heel of an imperialist power. there's been a cuban revolution, a cuban revolutionary independence movement firing up in cuba off and on for quite a while now. cuba is part of spain, part of the spanish empire. it's part of the spanish empire -- part of a spanish empire that used to go from northern california all the way to tierra del fuego. that's a lot of land. and that spanish empire over the centuries has shrunk and shrunk and shrunk and shrunk until now it's cuba and puerto rico. and spain doesn't want to let them go. and the cuban revolution would flare up and the spanish army
would come to cuba and crush it. and then a couple of years later it would flare up again and the spanish would crush it. and then they started putting into effect these relocation camps in which they gathered up people from the countryside and put them in these camps to isolate them from the rebels, right? and then, the newspapers in america started covering this really diligently. and they found out that there was a readership in new york, especially, that was fascinated by this. and you wind up with a particular kind of journalism came out of this. a journalism that comes to be labeled yellow journalism. of the new york world was one of the leading newspapers. the new york journal was another of the leading newspapers. another was owned by a guy named
hearst and another was owned by a guy named pulitzer and they were fierce rivals, those two newspapers. they were, i don't know, the fox and the cnn of their day. and they competed with coverage in cuba. and they both realized, i don't even want to say it, the more sensationalistic the story, the more sales you got. the bloodier the story, the more copy you sold. and then the coverage of the events in cuba and the revolution, it gets worse and worse and more lurid and the american press nickname the general in charge the butcher of cuba. all right? and people read these things and they read these stories, and you know what they think, right? they think what every american everywhere at all times has always said, somebody ought to do something about this!
rig right? i mean, it's like they're p putting the ball on a tee for it to be hit. here's cuba, go to town. we ought to do something in cuba. what? well, we've got to stop the revolution. wait, we can't stop a revolution. we were freed by a revolution. oh, yeah. we ought to back the revolution! hold on a second, what do you mean? i don't know what i mean, but we ought to do something! grover cleveland was the first president to really have to sort of cope with this. grover cleveland was elected in '92 and this is about '95 or so. and you would think that because of the economic depression cleveland is looking for anything else to think about and
talk about. what do you think we should do, mr. president? mr. cleveland? now, cleveland is a levelheaded guy. i like grover cleveland, and not just because his i like grover cleveland, not just gaus because his name is grover, which we will never have another president named grover, i suspect. he sympathizes with the plight of the rebels. he wants spain to layoff. he wants spain to stop with the relocation camps and stop giving our newspapers the excuse to call your man in cuba the butcher, for crying out loud. do you back human independence? oh, geez. now we are going to have to talk about cuban independence. i am going to tell you what cleveland thinks, but i don't want you to jump to a conclusion too much. what cleveland is worried about in the caribbean is stability, okay?
he wants -- he wants the caribbean to be a stable, quiet place. he doesn't want some big european scramble for influence in the caribbean like is going on in china. okay? this is the source, you know, almost 100 years earlier of the monroe doctrine. right? cleveland thinks it would be best for everybody if spain hold on to cuba, but just treated it nicely. and look, if you are somebody who is fired up with righteousness, that's not going fly with you. freeing cuba, right, becomes something of a popular cause in the united states, the cause of a free kruba.
starts to percolate. yes? >> i think -- i don't know, just a reason or a way to not look at the civil rights issues that americans were still dealing with, like let's just look somewhere else and ignore what's going on here? yeah. i could totally see that. my answer to that would be, no, because they are not looking at it anyway. it is not like we are focus on civil rights in 1885, right? we know that plessy versus ferguson is churning through court system and it is going to come out in '96. and there are people who are paying attention to that. but a lot of people in the united states aren't paying attention to civil rights. if -- if they were, maybe the answer would be yes. and from our standpoint, looking back, why resident you paying attention to civil rights? they just weren't. and of course, right, why would you think about this in cuba and to the think about it in the
south. americans are funny. i don't know. so far, so good? then cleveland is out, and in 1896, william mckinley comes in. william mckin she a republicly from ohio. he has been in congress a long time. we will meet mckinley several times, actually. he does a lot of stuff. and mckinley -- oh, gallony, mckinley, when a character. god love him. mckinley has a hard time making up his mind. and it's not because he's slow or -- you know, he's not stupid. but he thinks things through so much. and he -- he likes to listen to other people's opinions, and other people's opinions can sway him. all right? if you are the last person to talk to mckinley, chances are, he will do what you suggested.
one of the jokes of the day was, how is mckinley's mind like a bed? and the answer was, it has to be made up for him every time he uses it. which is a pretty good joke. you can use that, you know, with some of your -- i don't know, your rivals or something. it comes out that mckinley sort of favors the rebels. and mckinley thinks that the way -- the way to solve the problem in cuba is for spain to just let it go. okay. so what could we do? what could the united states to to sort of prod that along? at one point -- listen. at one point, mckinley even thinks, maybe we could pay spain
to let cuba go. and one of his advisers says, let's not do that. that would not go well. you know, we are not going to try to buy greenland. we are not going to try to pay off spain to let cuba go. well, what can we do? well, let's monitor the situation. then, he takes office in '97. in december of '97, the riots start flaring up in cuba again, the pro-independence riots. a bunch of property damage. think stamp act riots in 1765. and then -- oh, what happens then is that american interests in havana start getting burned, american sugar warehouses down by the docks are put to the torch. and then -- you know what happens then. american businesses start pushing on the administration to
protect american business interests in cuba and that turns the heat up on mckinley. then you have got people saying, this wouldn't happen if spain could be, i don't know, driven out of the island. maybe we should help the rebels in this thing, right? and what you are dealing with now, what you are seeing now is the united states getting pulled into the cuban revolution. maybe we could throw them out. and the imperialists are saying, whoa, hold on a minute, no, no, no, no, no, no. there have been people in this country for decades trying to get cuba. we are not an imperialist power. we are not going to take cuba. right? and then congress starts thinking, okay, well, i tell you what. if we do have to go to war -- wow, we are already talking about that. if we do have to go to war, we will foreswear taking cuba. we will say up front that we are not going to. that will prove ourselves
innocent, i don't know. in january -- i guess we will probably close with something like this. in january, mckinley decides on the advice of his adviser, send a battleship to cuba. send a battleship. send a tangible sign, right, that we're paying attention and we're not happy. don't send flowers. send a battleship. different messages, right? the "uss maine" has been afloat since 1895. and it's -- it's pretty cutting edge. it's pretty impressive looking. and mckinley ards the "uss maine" to havana in january of
'98. and the maine -- the last photograph of the "maine" afloat shows her coming into havana harbor with the ancient spanish castle in the background. it is a great picture. and it seems to work. for a while, havana quiets down. then on the night of february 15th, the tap tan of the" maine" is in his cabin writing letters. it is a quiet night. if you are walking the deck, the only sound you would hear would be the -- sort of the thump of the water up against the hull. and then suddenly there is this then durro-- thunderous explosid the "maine" goes down.
250 sailors and marines killed. the secretary of the navy is awakened at 2:00 a.m. with the news that the "maine" has exploded in havana. and the next morning, the new york city newspapers have headlines blaming spain for it. and that is where we will start on tuesday. right? this is thursday? okay. whew. good to know what day it is. so i will see you tuesday. remember the "maine". here's what's ahead on c-span3's american history tv. next, a program on rosa parks
and the montgomery bus boycott n. an hour and 15 minutes we will take a look at early cold war ideology. and then a discussion on african-american, emancipation, and the meaning of freedom. tonight on american history tv, a look at western history beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern, with university of arkansas professor elliot west lecturing about the environmental impact of the california gold rush. he describes how 19th century mining practices led to deforestation. mercury contamination, andset sediment-clogged rivers. watch american history tv tonight. and over the weekend, on c-span3. > . c-span has unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events from the presidential primaries through
the impeachment process. and now, the federal response to the coronavirus. you can watch all of c-span's public affairs programming on telephones, on line, or linen our free radio app. and be part of the national conversation through c-span's daily washington journal program or through our social media feeds. c-span, created by america's cable television companies as a public service and brought to you today by our television provider. next on lectures in history, a college professor debuchgs some of the myths about rosa parks and the montgomery bus boycott. she says she was not the first american woman who refused to give up her seat and that the boycott had planning and precedent. she also explores why a simplified version of this history has become so