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tv   Thomas Jefferson on Declaring Independence  CSPAN  September 23, 2020 8:00pm-8:25pm EDT

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of eligible voters in the state. that doesn't sound like a lot, but in a close election, it can be important, and it is a growing population. the fastest growing hispanic population has been in north dakota and south dakota over the last 10 years. host: you can find more of the research done by mark hugo lopez and his colleagues at the pew research center, if you go to you can find more of the research done by mark hugo lopez and his colleagues at the pew research center if you go to pew research .org. we thank you for your time this morning. >> thank you very much.
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now in american history tv. a conversation marking patriots they. a massachusetts state holiday commemorating the battles of lexington and concord in 1775. we will hear a portrayal of thomas jefferson discussing the events that led to the 13 colonies breaking away from great britain. >> oh my, well i finished. good afternoon indeed. to all of our friends, welcome once again to our house, to monte carlo. mr. light, as you refer of course to patriots they, so we have heard it now referred to ourselves in virginia. nothing could please as more in virginia to be reminded, if you will, about our initial associations with massachusetts. yes, patriots day is something that we are happy to be
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reminded of as i know all of our friends in massachusetts continue to be reminded of that occasion in which the citizen body there stood staunchly against the further encroachments of the british upon their rights, upon their property. if i remember, it occurred in three particular villages. lexington and conquered and let it not be forgotten meta told me. i believe they now refer to it as arlington. i hope it's not forgotten because that is one of the three where the british actually surrendered. i think they lost about 25 souls that day, but overall amongst the three villages, 500 british lost their lives. i was here at monticello. i started on my way to williamsburg. from williamsburg i was then going to journey to philadelphia for the second
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continental congress. i had been very much, at that time, and the spring of 75, considering to remain an englishman. i was proud of it. i did not care for independency. i desire to continue dependency. great britain provided us safety and defensive, particularly on the frontier. but, it was that day in april of 1775 which i will never forget. you cut all the sense and the concerns for reconciliation and in its place caused a frenzy of revenge which was seized by all ranks of the people. that was the day, if you will, that i decided to cross the rubicon. i think so many of us as well decided here in virginia we would ally ourselves further with massachusetts. you next question, mr. light.
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>> yes. mister president. some may not realize that more than a year past me between the opening shots ... (inaudible) >> you ask me why did it take so long for us to begin to react, if you will, to what occurred in massachusetts that spring of 75 to what eventually became the decision to pronounce ourselves free and independent of great britain. well as you know, a history an improvement in progress is never lineal. things take time. may i be seated if you will? thank you. thank you mister white. i recall when john adams and i many years later had a conversation about when the american revolution actually began. mr. adams said he recalled that
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it began for him by bearing witness to the protests of his cousin sam adams there in boston. it was in protest of the stamp act. that was march of 1765. i immediately replied to him, mr. adams, i remember at the same time march of 1765 in williamsburg, virginia. the protests of patrick henri in opposition to the stamp act. mr. adams then looked at me as i looked at him and we realized the american revolution had begun ten years before lexington and concord. it began in the minds of americans. so you ask for that period of one year before we proclaimed independency after we learned of the actions at length 6:10, concord and meta told me. i can tell you that when we gathered in philadelphia and that spring of 1775 for the
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second continental congress, we decided immediately we must come together strong with an army. arm ourselves so all of the various colonial militias came together to form the american army. then i am proud to recall that we had to commission a general of our american army. the very first time that we commissioned a general. as englishman born in the colonies of great britain, we could never rise to the rank of general. we could only be kernels of militia. so we commissioned colonel george washington to be our general. we then, of course, wrote a petition declaring we had the necessity to take up arms. i was invited to ride it though i was sometimes harsh in my riding. so they gave it to jerry and they consider refined. they then ask me to write an olive branch petition and
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answer for the proposals for reconciliation. i was a bit more amenable in those jottings. so we sent both to great britain and waited for the reply of parliament. we waited and we waited go through the autumn and through the winter of 1775 and 1776. there was no reply from parliament. except what we read in english newspapers. i quote, these colonies are now officially in a state of rebellion. and so it was that virginia decided she would be the first. the first to proclaim her independence. on the 15th of may, 1776, i beg your pardon citizens, a virginian would always like to think they are the person
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anything. virginia was not the first to proclaim her independence, it was rhode island. we rhode island about a month before in april of 1776 proclaimed her independency, those solely on behalf of herself. a month later, virginia provided the resolution for independency on behalf of all of our colonies. next question we. >> yes. i (inaudible) >> you ask how i was chosen to be the author of our declaration. well, first of course, we had to decide how we would react to the resolution of virginia for independency. that was read by my countrymen, colonel richard henry lee. if i remember it was the 7th of june. then the continental congress in philadelphia. it caused an immediate
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consternation, particularly amongst the smaller colonies, rhode island included, let alone delaware. how would they be expected to follow the resolution of virginia? we considered ourselves the largest and most populated and wealthiest. president john hancock created the entire continental congress as a committee of whole to gather amongst ourselves in individual caucuses and decide how we should proceed. do we really want independency. he then appointed another committee of five men. we in order to draft our declaration of independence-y. mind you, this was not a fatal conclave. we did not know that the congress would vote for independency, but we wanted to be prepared. of the five men appointed to the committee we, reflect for a moment that mr. john adams is from massachusetts. mr. rogers sherman,
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connecticut. robert are livingston from new york. doctor franklin from pennsylvania and mr. jefferson, virginia. i was the only one on the committee south of the line drawn by mason-dixon. we all hoped that dr. franken would be the author. he was our mentor. but franklin cared not take on that responsibility. i think he replied, gentlemen i care not for anything else i'm a right to receive the scrutiny of a ... he looked at me and it was mr. adams, john adams, who suggested that i be the author. i said no mr. items, you must write it. he said no, you must write it. i said no you. mr. adams replied i am generally considered obnoxious and disliked. you have quite the flair for fluid and felicitous riding. i think you should write it. besides that he said, a virginian ought to be at the
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head of this business. yes, we had put forth that resolution for independence eat first. your next question. >> what sources? >> you ask me what sources of inspiration did i draw upon in drafting our declaration. i've firstly will tell you that i still right. i still right on this lap desk. this slope if you will. you can even refer to it as a laptop. this is my design and it was created by my cousin, a cabinet maker in philadelphia. it was created in 1775. i said about on this not to write anything new or original. i drew on the sources of the
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just indian code of the sixth century. i drew on the sources of the writings of john lock. i drew on mr. thomas pains pamphlet, common sense. all of this together provided the foundation act. nonetheless, the virginia declaration of rights written by my friend george mason, he wrote it at the same time that i was writing our declaration of american independence. further question if you will. >> how long did he take you to drafty document? >> that's a very good question. if i can recall, it took me sometime. you ask me how long it took me to read the declaration. well, i believe it took me three days. three days to write that declaration. in fact, i have here one of the first drafts, there were several drafts. three days to write the
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declaration on four sheets of paper. many of you may wonder, mr. jefferson, that is quite a long time to simply write a declaration of independence. as you just said, everything was there for you to utilize. you are not designed to put forth anything new or original. but citizens i will tell you, i'm guilty of something that you all are guilty of. not one of us can escape. i make mistakes and it is not easy to erase ink. so when i go back over what i wrote, i would cross out what i did not care for. i would write the correction above or beneath. i would try inscribe that later in the evening and the next day i would make more mistakes. that continued for a good three days. i then had to hand my draft to the other four gentlemen, to the committee. they were extensive hours of
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labor. they're in that little room on that second floor of a newly-built brick town house in philadelphia city. i believe it was on the corner, the southwest corner of seventh and high street. i believe they call high street market street now in philadelphia. thank you mr. light for bringing back those memories of quite a labor on paper. next question, sir. >> in philadelphia there was another man who company do. (inaudible) >> you ask me about robert hemmings. robert hemmings, who accompanied me to philadelphia,
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those years of 75 and 76. do i remember him? do i consider that as he was my property. as his family were my property. that it is a terrible contradiction to the principles of our declaration. mr. light, i can assure you that i had inherited, if you will, the hemmings family from my late wife. they were part of her dowry. they became my property in 1772 when i married. if you will, those few years later in 1775, yes, robert cummings was my coachman. he drove me up to philadelphia. do you know he was only 15 years old at that time? i remember as we enter this city that one of my first interests was to have him inoculated against the smallpox. so i paid doctor williams to pursue that inoculation. the doctor had inoculated me
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nearly ten years earlier. robert returned in 1776. he remembered all of those individuals. all of us who met there in the old state house and philadelphia. he knew who they were. he perhaps knew more about them than i did. he continued to be my coachman until i went to france. after five years, returning here to monticello in 1789, i learned that robert cummings had married. he made oh woman then living in fredericksburg. her name was dolly. robert then accompanied me the following year, 1790, when we went to new york. that was where i was a government was first seated under our constitution. it was during that time, about 1790 if i remember, that robert
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desired to live with his wife. she had moved to richmond at that time and so he went to richmond to be with her. he became acquainted with a doctor, a doctor strauss i believe his name was. he was a french emigrate although he was of german lineage. several years later, robert asked if he might be with his wife entirely. that he might be free. so i think it was christmas eve 1794 that i freed him. he was the first of all of my people that i freed. there could have been many more. you asked me if this is all a contradiction to our declaration of american independents. of course it is.
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we all know it is. i fear that not one of our generation is going to live to see us own up to these principles that we might not all be free. we are born free, each and every one of us, under eyes of ancient good. but lamentably, lamentably we are born into the laws of man. it is a drastic contradiction and i do trust that the future, the future will judge us most harshly. your next question mr. light. >> what did the declaration represent and 1776? >> you asked me what did our declaration mean in 1776?
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it meant to be a recognition of what i just referred to as the natural rights of man. the inherits right of man. the rights that are given to mend by not any government or any ruler. the rights that are given to man by nature and nature's god. everyone is entitled to this and this is why governments are created. in order to protect and defend these inherent rights of every individual. that means equal and exact justice. but again, improvement and progress is never lineal. this is what we continue to argue and debate. we desire to put this before the world in clear and some people form and terms and expression of the american mind. thereby gain the ascent according lee of man.
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do you have another question for me? >> you asked me how do i hope future regeneration's will look back on our declaration of american independence? how they will judge us. i answered that i hope future generations will continue to read our declaration of american independents. there were many people when i read that document they cannot read. i'm hopeful that in the future we may have a universal system of education so that everyone will have that opportunity and read and read our declaration. i wrote it in order that it could be publicly read. let us never forget those occasions as well. let us look forward in the future to a continual recollection.
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a refreshment of these rights. the inalienable rights of mankind. let us realize that all eyes are opening and will continue to open to these rights. let us realize, if you will, that that steady stream of the light of science will move us forward to recognize the palpable truth. that truth is simply that the mass of mankind have not been bored with settles on their backs, nor a few booted and spurred ready to ride him by the grace of god. no. let the future continue to work and argue and debate to make the principles of our declaration universal, not only for ourselves, but for the family man across the globe. i thank you mr. light. i thank you my fellow citizens for this opportunity to enjoy our conversation today.
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i think now, if you would allow me, i should like to need the post writer so that i might deliver to him this letter i just delivered to mr. adams. we have been enjoying the most delightful correspondents these last several years. and imagine that in another six years, it will be the year 26. an anniversary, if you will, of our declaration, let alone the independence of our remarkable nation, which i have always referred to as the world's best hope. mr. adams and i have often had differences of opinion, but we realize is americans that a difference of opinion ought never be a difference of principle. and though he may have opinions of a particular political nature, and i may have my own put peculiar opinions of an opposite political nature, there's one thing that mr. adams and i recognize.
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let us not be known for party. if we ought to be known by any party or the label there of, let us simply be known as the spirit of 76. i look forward to meeting you all again and showing further of your questions. i take a leave now in order to continue my communication and i look forward when we may meet more personally. i remain your humble and obedient servant, thomas jefferson. godspeed.
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