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tv   The Oil Industry Christianity Politics  CSPAN  August 24, 2021 10:45am-12:03pm EDT

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>> next, university of notre dame professor darren dochuk talks about the oil industry's impact on american religion and politics. he's the author of "appointed with oil: how christianity and crude made modern america." the southern methodist university center for presidential history and clement center for southwest studies co-hosted this event. >> good evening. thanks so much for coming. this seems particularly appropriate given the subject of today's lecture to encourage you to pretend as if you are in church and to move in, scoot in, if you would, to give folks not necessarily late arriving, but
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people who are fashionably on time room to sit. i should say that this answers an age-old question for me, which is if there's anything that can depress the turn out for a lecture sponsored or co-sponsored by the center for presidential history i think we have the answer which is no. it was raining cats and dogs a few minutes ago and i wondered, will there be people here? sure enough, here you all are and i tip my cap to all of you. you are in for a treat this evening. thanks again for coming, my name is andy graybill i'm the director here at smu. i'd like to thank the many people who have helped make this evening possible starting with our friend the center for presidential history with whom we are co-sponsoring tonight's event thanks to jeff engel who directs the cph and especially and above all ronna spitz who along with the center's ruth
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ellmore has done all the logistics. we received an anonymous $500,000 gift in honor of governor bill clements who had died earlier that year. the donor wanted to hear our ideas about how we would put those funds to use before they were transmitted. naturally i proposed that this money be applied to my mortgage. he passed. the benefactor liked much more the idea that we used the money generated by this endowment to convert one of our so-called junior postdoctoral fellowship lines to one that would support an invited senior scholar who cost more and who are harder to pariah way from their home institutions. so with that settled, i turned to my associate director at the time, sherry smith, for suggestions about whom we might target as the inaugural recipient of this senior fellowship.
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and she immediately proposed darren dochuk who was then on the faculty of washington university at st. louis and was hard at work on what sounded like an absolutely fascinating book about oil, religion and politics, right up our alley given its southwestern focus. because of other commitments darren could join us only for the spring 2013 semester, but we loved having him with us, in part because of this winning personality, you will get a taste of that in a moment, but especially so we could play some claim to the book that resulted from the time he spent here. it's a true pleasure to welcome him back to smu this evening having come full circle since he has finished that book. darren grew up in edmonton, albert at that, listen for the vowels, you will know what he mean. though he will probably murder me for saying this, although i did clear it with him, started his college career as a scholarship volleyball player at george mason university in fairfax, virginia. decided that the d.c. area was
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too much for him -- i'm making that up, but for some reason he returned home to his native canada and finished his ba at simon frazier university outside of vancouver which he followed up with a ph.d. in history from the university of notre dame. darren started his teaching career in the midwest at purdue before a brief stint as an associate professor at the john c. danforth center at washington university. proving that you can, in fact, go home again darren moved to notre dame five years ago where he is an associate professor of history. his first book "from bible belt so sun belt: grassroots politics and the rise of evangelical conservatism" published in 2011 won several major awards including the ellis hawley prize from the organization of american historians. it's a wonderful book. i have used it so many times in teaching, both graduate and undergraduate classes that i've got three copies -- i'm not
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going to volunteer them away from you but i have a lot of free copies. darren has also coedited a volume that emerged from a clement center symposiums called "sun belt rising the politics service space, his research has been supported by the national endowment for the humanities, the american philosophical society and the rockefeller foundation. he is here tonight, of course, to discuss his latest book, "annointed with oil, how christianity and crude made modern america." following his lecture, he'll be happy to take your questions and afterwards to sign books available for purchase right outside at the book stand. off to the left is a place where darren can sign them for you.
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please join me in welcoming him. [ applause ] thanks, andy. thanks to jeff engel and ruth ann to the clement center. as you just heard, the support of smu over the years has been tremendous and i am eternally grateful. it's always nice to be back on campus in dallas, even with this unusual weather. it's a real privilege to be with you today, especially because we are on an oil patch. i have spent a good amount of time over the last few months talking to audiences on the oil patch, whether here in the southwest or in alberta, canada, places where there is just a bit of oil and just a bit of
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religion. it tends to be a good conversation. again, it's also really special to be here because i spent so much time as a fellow, as andy just pointed out, doing really the kind of first wave of research for this project. during that productive four or five months here was able to pour through the gallier papers, the petroleum pamphlet collection, which is tremendous, and also do quick trips to other archives around the state. no surprise that texas looms so large in my story. being introduced along the way to so many colorful characters. the apostle played by robert duvall, someone who was
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absolutely convinced that he could prophecy where oil existed. he sure enough came through in january 1901 predicting the site where the spindle top discovery well would erupt, really putting him on the map. geologists such as william fletcher cummins. this is a methodist circuit preacher, who during his travels on horseback in the southeast portion of the state during the 1880s and 1890s would look for oil and sure enough predict where it was going to be and then would move into mexico to serve as a geologist, someone who combined his vocations as a cleric and a geologist.
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or jake simmons, the most prominent african american wildcat oilman, got rich in the 1930s and used his wealth to build an empire, using his money to promote civil rights. and others who i will not speak about today. she would be responsible for taking down standard oil, forcing the government, really compelling the government to take apart the standard monopoly in 1911. again, these are just a few of the characters i got to know better at smu. each individual saw oil as more than a material resource.
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for them, it was a gift of the divine and a vocational calling that transcended base workings of business. petroleum was their annointing by god, their call to uplift humanity. my goal was to explore how it is that oil has enraptured americans and imprinted itself on the american soul with real lasting social and political consequences for people certainly in the pulpits and pews of this country, but also those beyond. someone else who recognized that oil was existential, even theological for americans is president jimmy carter, whose words are appropriate for opening this talk. in summer of 1979 carter delivered his infamous speech. it is one of his most important addresses as it came amid
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revolution in iran and an energy crisis. he pleaded with people to support his energy conservation agenda. as i was preparing to speak, he ex explained, i began to ask myself the same question that i know has been troubling many of you. why have we not been able to get together as a nation to resolve our serious energy problem? here you can picture him slamming gently his fist on the desk before him. it's clear the problems are deeper than gasoline lies or energy shortages, deeper than inflation or recession. it is a crisis of confidence. it is a crisis that strikes at the heart and soul and spirit of our national will. in the days to come, he implored, let us commit ourselves together to a rebirth of the american spirit. those of you who are aware of carter's career know that he
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spoke often on energy. in fact, he opened up his presidency in the spring of 1977 with an energy program, at which time he said that the fight for renewable energy supplies and new alternative sources amounted to the, quote, moral equivalent of war. those who are aware of the 1979 crisis speech also know that its evolution was uneven. many of his advisors advised him against preaching and sermonizing to the people. they wanted him to show confidence and that he had answers, not to draw them into despair over the moral or lack of moral kind of fortitude of the nation at that time. but carter did not budge and went ahead anyway. the main take-aways of that speech, therefore, remained his to make alone. first, that the united states had lost confidence in itself and its global standing.
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the crisis wasn't just energy related. it was a spiritual crisis as well. carter's speech points to a couple of my book's core questions. how did oil get grafted onto the soul of america and pave the way for what would become known as the american century. in an effort to address this, i want to just offer in the minutes we have today a sample of a glimpse of a couple of facets of what i call a religious biography of oil. i'm going to focus on the heart of the 20th century from the '30s to the '70s. i'll begin by glancing at how some american power brokers from the beginning of the industry envisioned the petroleum industry as essential to the
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rise of american political exceptionalism on an international stage. then i'll cut to the local level and focus just on what might be familiar to you, one familiar oil patch and that is east texas in the 1930s. then i will finish by summarizing some of the political legacies of these crude awakens in modern america. petroleum achieved unprecedented status between the '30s and the '70s as leverage for america's authority in the hydro carbon age. but it first captured america's heart in the 19th century as the fuel that would light cities and grease modern machinery and economic ascent. particular in its arrival, democratic in its privileging of individuals' free labor, oil registered as modern america's life blood. its discovery during the civil
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war is perceived regenerative properties as a healing balm for soldiers on the battlefield as well as for a nation seeking healing. all of this underscored oil's nature for a society on the rise. this is abundantly clear in the popular literature of the time. it's boilerplate for the american petroleum industry, but it also connected the property of oil, the materiality of it to religious allegory and dreams of american providence and destiny on an international stage. it lights the temples and mosques amid the ruins, it is the light of abraham's birthplace. it burns in bethlehem.
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it has penetrated china and japan, reached australia and shed its radia over many a dark african waste. it is omnipresent and omnipotent. bold, yes. as much as u.s. oil was mythologyized -- into real corporate structures and outcomes. their efforts were evident in early generations of the oil industry, but they carried special weight as u.s. influence spread globally in the 20th century. two sons of missionaries serve as illustration here. consider the first picture.
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this is henry loose, whose parents were missionaries in china funded by the rockefellers. in february of 1941 he used the pages of life magazine, which he owned, to beseech americans to recognize their status as protector of the free world. he had actually tested this charge a month earlier in the a talk at the american petroleum institute. he praised oil men for being the vanguards of america's expanded role. it follows that you do not stop at the frontier of mountains or sea or jungle, nor at the man made frontiers of knowledge or tradition or hope. i salute you. luce was ennam mo ennamorred.
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it was at this time the seven sisters, as they would become known, which included five major u.s. oil companies, gulf, texaco, standard new jersey or exxon, standard new york mobile. this is the moment at which these companies were turning towards south america and the arabian peninsula, urged on by washington to secure new fields before domestic reserves ran out. we've had several cycles of peak oil over the last 120 years. this was coming in the wake of fears over peak oil and anticipating what was going to become next as the automobile industry continued to expand in the post war period. for luce, their corporate labors
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when harnessed by god fearing patriots held the capacity to transform the world. he drew on metaphor to encourage his compatriots. it served as the pillar of the american century. but luce, the very architect of the term suggests that a religious of ecumenical outreach. william eddy pictured below kneeling was the son of presbyterian missionaries in the middle east. his parents were among a generation of american missionaries who moved to beirut. there they spread mission bases but also developed hospitals and schools such as american university in beirut. trained at princeton, eddy went onto teach at dartmouth before
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accepting the presidency of hobart college. he was a man of protestant confidence. in 1940 while traveling, recruiting for financial support for his school, he lectured on the power of god and the sec secular world. you and i who believe in christianity are not doomed to weakness. we who follow christ need to cover ourselves with tolerance and charity and then we shall find ourselves standing on holy ground. within months eddy was acting on this imperative serving as an officer with the office of strategic services, eventually the cia, to survey arabia for
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sub surface crude, gain knowledge of its people and bring the u.s. into union with this rising kingdom. five years after proclaiming allegiance to a totalitarian christianity -- installing the u.s. in the region for good. again, doing so truly committed to what he saw as a religious alliance, a moral alliance between people who shared faith in monotheism. he promoted peace between western and saudi interests by way of mutual ambition and shared respect for the divine. through aggressive proliferation of corporate promotion as well
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as practical instruction on how to live and labor, eddy wrapped aramco in a myth of corporate benevolence. he also animated ground level operations with a tenor of ecumenical exchange. one of the more fascinating lines of work that my research took me into was looking at kind of the interior lives, the internal workings of aramco. there william eddy and several other managers, many of them coming from missionary backgrounds devised really a whole institutional structure by which islam and protestantism could create a shared knowledge of one another. they established the arabian affairs division and housed it
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with leading scholars of islam, responsible for education and for creating a sense of internationalist ecumenical exchange. they also created secretively, because they were not allowed technically in this islamic country, morale groups, small groups of christian worship. again it's a system that proliferated in the shadows, but reenforcing their own religious commitments to this enterprise as something more than the pursuit of black gold. by the late '50s there were at least 5,000 workers attending the catholic morale groups. thousands of other doing so as well for other groups. finally at the highest altitude
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they called for a moral alliance of america in the arab world, linking americans with muslims, again, based on shared monotheism. eisenhower wanted to create a christian america to bring people together to reenforce a sense of purpose always in the face of communism but also because of the lobbying of these arabs in aramco wanted to include muslims with broader international political implications. eddy and luce's sense of vocation spoke to the aspirations of a whole cadre of visionaries. they adhered to what i call in the book a civil religion of crude, a confidence that big
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religion, identified as ecumenical, internationalist, civil and cosmopolitan, wedded to big oil, defined by integration, combination and collective effort between state and company in foreign fields to guarantee this nation's global influence. the linchpin was alluded to the rockefeller family, a family known to support missionaies in china and those working in a much tougher soil in the middle east. in the realm of corporate influence to keep employees, stockholders and the public inspired to advance petroleum's
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humanitarianism. his five sons founded the rockefeller brothers fund. nelson rockefeller here pictured with the pointer, whose work with inter-american affairs placed him in the forefront of u.s. plans in south america. we don't have time to go into just the influence that he had within major oil circles. his work in venezuela in the late '30s really was crucial to his own kind of career development. he insisted that his oil company hone its kind of human relations policies and deal with locals on a more equal playing field. at the heart of that was also a sense of embedding kind of religion on company compounds to help provide a foundation for
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this vision. he reached out to his coexecutives and managers and called on them to be secular missionaries, if you will. nelson's agenda would assume an urgency in the early '40s as latin america becomes a site of political contest, the fear of commuism looming large. he said american foreign policy had to focus on economic uplift in a vision of developing the globe to win hearts and minds through the application of economic know how. this was coming out of nelson rockefeller. aramco would build its model in some ways drawing on the same lessons learned that nelson
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rockefeller would offer in venezuela. nelson was not outspokenly religious but he was a man who longed to reshape the southern hemisphere in an image of christian democracy. he believed it would stymie communism's influences and ensure america's place at the head of the new international order. big oil may not have worn biblical convictions on their sleeves. they were willing to drop it for the sake of brotherhood. yet however much they were drained of its dogmatism, oil's promise continued to inform their actions. its solicitation to extract god's bounty from the earth with a higher sense of being. the civil religion of crude is
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one thread in oil's biography. if we want to understand, we must also look to the american oil patch, a unique landscape out of which stirred an irreversible challenge to the rockefeller, eddy, luce gospel. there countless citizens stirred up with spiritual ardor have long held a potent gospel of their own, one that i call wildcat christianity. the progenitors of this faith for wildcatters, independent oil hunters. emboldened by oil's rule of capture, the legal code which granted any man authority to tap sub surface crude, wildcatting lent the industry a manic and cut throat essence that would
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endure. for john d. rockefeller senior, that rule of capture was wasteful. he assumed good capitalists would uphold rules of calculation and control. whereas rockefeller sought to dull oil's laze fair free for all, considered their rule of capture sacrosanct. they revels in risk taking and pusued profits. it also captured the resilient utopian expectations that accompanied their quest to
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drill. amid their cycles, their faith offered meaning through a theology that nurtured personal mystical encounter with soil and an active higher being. at the turn of the 20th century, wildcat christianity was forced out of its original home in the alleghenys by the rockefellers and relocated west of the mississippi. those of you familiar with the history of oil know this is a story of migration. western pennsylvania would flourish into the 1890s, but soon of course the epicenter of american oil would shift west. it would do so much to the surprise of the rockefellers. john famously said in the early 1890s that he would drink every gallon of oil west of the mississippi. this is how sure he was that oil
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did not exist there. the small producers who were forced out and decided to go hunting for it with their devices, prayer and whatever geologist knowledge they had into western terrains. there they would discover oil in southern california, central and south texas with spindle top really putting texas on the map and starting the texas gusher age. then it would of course culminate in many ways in the east texas strike of the 1930s. the story doesn't end there. it goes to west texas and elsewhere. i'd like to pause now and just flesh out what does this wildcat christianity look like on the ground. i've talked about the executives and managerial class but i want to give you a sense of what i think are four facets of wildcat christianity as they appeared in east texas in the 1930s.
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i know we have at least one person here from east texas somewhere in the audience. how did wildcat religion come to define the western oil patch in potent and lasting form? well, let's take a look at this briefly. how did it start, first of all. it started with davie bradford, a christian woman who recruited to find oil on her farm. a self-made prophet from alabama, joiner would only work shallow pools. he was certain god would guide him to crude. with word of something brewing, people dressed in their sunday best would make their way to bradford's farm to watch the magic man at work. on october 5th, 1930, audible
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gargling could be heard. oil, they cried, oil! some jumped up and down with joy. one crewman pulled out his pistol and shot at the oil spray in the sky, was quickly tackled of course, danger all around. joiner simply turned pale at his creation almost in disbelief. what came true was epic in proportions. the east texas pool was to be discovered as the largest up to that point ever discovered in the world. it was a lake of 43 miles long, 10 miles wide containing 5.5 billion barrels. what happened overnight is booming population with this new booming economy. workers from all over the region poured into east texas looking for employment.
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what else is going on at this time? the depression. here you have in the poorest counties of one of the poorest regions all of a sudden this explosion of possibility. people are ready to take full advantage of that no matter the cost. more jobs, higher incomes, prospering heart land towns. this was the odd circumstance that made east texas an island during the entirety of america's decade of depression. the excess of abundance led to its acquiring a larger than life feel. what did it create culturally in the pews and pulpits? four essentials to the wildcat faith. enraptured with the black stuff, east texas's citizens revamped a wildcat system of belief, association and politics that would legitimate their ownership of this new material form of wealth.
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first, amid the excitement of this gusher age, they intensified a spiritual outlook which saw god as the reason for their escape from affliction into abundance. they also embraced the mysteries and curious workings of chance. in keeping with their gospel, celebrated the speculative and supernatural dimensions of faith, oil and the market. good christians were to spend more energy riding and maximizing the winds of oil than trying to control them. several features of this booming landscape kind of reinforced this mindset. the landscape itself, of course, once farmland is now a jungle of derricks. i think the joke in one of these towns is that you could jump from one derrick to the next and travel for blocks on end, which was not so bad when you're trying to escape a fire. the rise of the wildcat personality, the wildcatter. perhaps many of you have read
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about the big rich. there have been books written about others who hit it big here, reenforcing the ability of the independent oilmen to dream big and have others dream with them. there's reasons for this. at the first outset of the strike, first discovery, major oil company standards refused to go in. their geologists said, no, this is a small little pocket, don't worry about it. well, you've got all these small producers, again, still using a range of devices to find oil, continually striking another well, another kind of expression of oil wealth. so why is this important? as late as 1935, independence l will manage more than half of
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the operations in east texas. the power of the independent oilman and the wildcatter now assumes a new form. church life itself would change. the oil derricks around this church property in long view not an unusual sight. many churches saw this as a way to gain riches. they would bring in, lease their land out. often they would open up by consecrating their land and spud the well. one church didn't have to wait long for the riches to pour in. new buildings would follow. there was a revival in gothic architecture throughout this region. even the poorest churches of christ, pentecostals could now pour their money into incredibly impressive architectural forms. the windfall for east texas's lucky citizens also created a second effect, a leveling of
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class or new populist dream and a rise in conviction that a plain folk could finally realize their destiny as equals, that the rockefellers no longer had their grip on them. one writer said here was a democratic opportunity that pushed social frontiers far beyond adam smith's wildest dreams. oil saturated with riches pouring into their offering plates, even the most marginalized folk could enjoy the launch into this new social order. they too could contribute into sending their riches into small christian colleges to support them during the depression, taking ownership of religious institutions beyond the four counties of east texas. bolstered by the success of their communities looking to future gains, east texas church folk knew that oil was impermanent. a local captured this sentiment when he titled his memoir, where
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oil flows, joy curiously mingled. this was the tradeoff of life in an oil dream scape where the frailty of everything and an inevitable future of depletion always clouded the soul. when you strike oil, he said you let loose hades. it is ultimate devastation occurred at the new london school. it was the envy of school districts around the country. in one of the classrooms there was a plaque to which students would look on a daily basis. oil and natural gas are east texas's greatest mineral
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blessings. without them none of us would be here learning our lessons. one day at the end of the class day someone flicked on a switch in the mechanical room and what immediately happened was beyond belief. one of the school's brand new building literally exploded into the air. we have stories of children in the other building looking, one minute seeing a building there and look up again and not see it anymore. for the next 18 hours oil workers poured into the town, hoping to find the children buried beneath the rubble using their hands to claw out. workers coming from safety workers coming from dallas, media as well including a young walter cronkite. the end was 300 children dead, one-third of the town's average population. it would be the reason why the
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federal government would mandate natural gas. this is life in the new oil patch of east texas. for many east texans the calamities generated new end times thinking. there was a mentality that defied confidence in the gradual betterment of humanity and accepted the reversals of an apocalyptic mode. local pastors urged citizens to renew their faith in a christ who expected them to use what prosperity they had in their passing moment to prepare for his return. surely god is beginning a revival here that is destined to sweep america.
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we can go back taking about the fight against standard at the federal level. really the 1930s spark this rebellion in full. we already know that it's at the new deal where kind of the rise of the post war conservatism takes root, largely in reaction to franklin d. roosevelt's policies on labor, for instance. i argue in the book we need to also understand how central oil and texas oil is to this movement. the revolt intensified in the 1930s and '40s, partly in response to new deal policies, trying to curtail some of the excesses of east texas and the chaos, but also in reaction to u.s. oil's shift abroad, which was encouraged by the secretary of the interior pictured below on the right. unable to tap far away pools, frustrated by washington's
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investment in foreign instead of domestic production and feeling abandoned, independent oilmen responded politically. instrumental in this counter action and ill lus j. howard pugh assumed the seriousness of his father. one senator once quipped that he not only talks like an affidavit, he looks like one. he was a serious looking fellow with some bushy eyebrows. this was a man who preached a sermon at the company christmas party every year insists on why you had to use the king james version. a smart, conservative serious businessman and christian.
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as a result of sunoco's rootedness in texas, its first leverage saving the company would come from moving from spindle top to beaumont. even though it was based in pennsylvania, sunoco would become really the square dealer, a family run company of east texas. j howard pugh assumed the role of wildcat political warrior naturally. what were some of the initial political victories? here will take us to the present moment in the next few minutes. how does the spirit of rebellion manifest itself in a broader political movement? some of these pivots are hidden ones in our history. a first victory for the pughs
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and the wildcatters of east texas and texas as a whole was their dissension among the petroleum agreement as a way for the federal government to align with the british and large oil companies to take new steps in the post war period to manage the pools and drill sites coming online in the middle east. he saw himself as being one of the leaders of this coalition. as he saw too, this was an attempt to further the internationalist oil ambitions and the civil religion of crude that he shared with eddy and luce. thanks to the pughs this would be a failed attempt. his plan would place the oil industry under the control of
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the federal government and expose it to foreign interests. as a result of this protest roosevelt would shelf the agreement in 1945. truman would kill it later. because of their alliances and the mandate to work only in arab muslim oil producing states, the majors could not move into israel. who does israel turn to led by a number of oil executives with american oil experience? they would turn to the independents of texas and the independents from texas would welcome the opportunity and off with their prophecy and bibles in hand would travel to the holy land to use scripture to hunt for crude. it would be a frustrating journey at first, but this is one that continues for many independent oilmen and strengthening once again this relationship with israel.
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pugh would have other means of promoting his politics. one would be the formation in 1948 of the pugh charitable trust and especially his own trust within this, which was in his words, quote, to acquaint americans with the values of a free market, the paralyzing effects of government controls and the interdependence of christianity and freedom. again, nothing subtle. the third victory and really the key victory to getting us closer to what happens in the 1960 and '70s culminating in 1980 is is the tide lands controversy. this would lead to a revolt of unprecedented nature among independents. they would fight back. they would fight in 48 in some
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cases on behalf of the dixiecrat party. we know about the issue of race and civil rights and how that sparked strom thurmond's alternative to the democratic party. more importantly it would lead to 1952 and the work of wildcatters and their allies in the church, especially evangelicals in the southwest, especially evangelical preachers like the emerging star evangelist billy graham. but it would be this alliance of an emerging evangelical movement, which again we know the political outcome of to some degree and wildcatters that we would see the revolt really come to fruition in 1952.
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churches and oil associations behind the eisenhower ticket, being instrumental in wooing dwight eisenhower to the republican ticket. the result would be an eisenhower victory on a platform of handing back control of the tide lands to the states. this was a valuable commodity. much of the leasing was funding public education in texas. again, so the fight for control of tide lands was also kind of a family values political issue as well, forging this alliance that would have lasting effects. this is billy graham's ministry started a movie company in the early '50s. his first movie was mr. texas, his second was out town usa, celebrating the potential of the wildcatter should he come to christ and personal salvation to
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use that wealth and riches to promote the gospel that billy graham preached to large audiences throughout the world. what were some of the next steps beyond this? the unabashed evangelical for petroleum. many power brokers threw support behind barry goldwater, which caused liberal critics to rail against extremists on the right. there was no question who was on the wrong side of the spectrum, rockefeller republicans. beside conjuring up bad memories of one family's near destruction of another's sustenance -- i
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know much about nelson rockefeller, pugh wrote privately. he would be the worst man i could think of for president of this country. to put a republican in as president like nelson who supports all the evils which brought this country to its knees would be the most tragic thing that could happen. goldwater's vanquishing of rockefeller gave pugh great pleasure. goldwater's acceptance speech trumpeted the wildcat ethic. let me remind you that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. having defeated their arch rival, goldwater and his acomp lices assumed control. in one of the most impressive
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was the great canadian oil sands project built in 1960s by j. howard pugh in partnership with the evangelical premier of alberta at the time whose friendship was shared thanked to billy graham. kind of a triangulation here of politics, religion and oil. in 1952 pugh would invest $250 million in the the oil sands. this would be the largest private investment of its kind in canada at that juncture. 54,000 acres out of which they wanted to draw oil. the project began in 1964. at least it was christened in 1967. the opening ceremonies was a great celebration full of prayer and singing almost like a revival. this venture combines drama and science, man against nature, daring the risk of large financial resources.
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great canadian oil sands stood as a tribute to man's inventiveness and the signal that the dawn of a new age had arrived. richard nixon would rely on this same system of support to win his victory in 1968. his vision was tightly attuned to the religious topography of the oil patch. through his ties to billy graham and sunbelt based ministries, he gained access to the aspirations of an ascendant force that would soon redefine the american political landscape. the energy crises of the '70s would empower this southwestern based evangelical and oil movement and republican right. the global ruptures of a decade and the struggles of major oil companies to handle opec and the question by arab oil undermined the multinational corporations
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and the civil religion of crude that rockefellers had once stood for. on the other, the prosperity gospel and crisis that captured the southwestern oil patch mind set in the '30s now bloomed on a national stage, propelling the evangelical movement that was associated into the national consciousness. one magazine declaring 1976 the year of the evangelicals as well as oil funded super struck which you are -- structures all symbolizing the rise of this oil fuelled evangelical movement which was really by this point the beating heart of wildcat christianity. evangelicals purchased books that pinned the energy crisis on u.s. reliance on muslim controlled oil, reliance created by the rockefellers.
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washington had fore saken the interest and values of independent oil. his 1970s text armageddon challenged environmentalist which had made america dependent on nonchristian others. in alaska underneath southwestern oil and the shale deposit offense colorado and wyoming, he asserted they might yet survive another day. pairing understandings of time with fears of peak oil, arab muslim control of oil and the threats to israel and the decline of american power, evangelicals in the southwest oil and church associations forcefully sold the message that it was the patriotic
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independence that would save its slide into godlessness. wildcatting oil's warriors did not just want revival. they wanted to bring their family values to the white house. jimmy carter would feel the effects of that ambition. to be sure and as historians have emphasized throughout social politics looms large here as well. carter's support of equal rights amendment and women's rights all wrangled evangelicals who by 1979 had come to see jimmy carter as anything but evangelical. independent oilmen were among those who led the fight for social conservatism. with j. howard pugh deceased it was up to other wildcatters to bankroll the cause. the junior hunt endorsed the campus crusade for christ which proposed a 1 billion venture and sponsored francis shaffer whose
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manifesto sparked the anti-abortion crusade. not much triggered rage more than carter's energy politics. the president's support of e.r.a. and abortion rights infuriated them. carter bemoaned the lack of conservation. the attack on oil made in moralistic terms was, in their mind, the final straw. over the course of the next year ronald reagan inflamed their anger running on the slogan let's make america great again, he won the hearts and mind of the american oil patch. quote, we must remove government obstacles to energy production, he declared. malaise had no place in reagan's
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vocabulary. he promised the nation would be great again as soon as wildcatters opened up new frontiers and god fearing pioneers raised their children. the institutional structures of wildcat christianity would indeed welcome and amplify reagan's fuel and family values message and prove key to his win in 1980. reagan would reward his supporters by making one of them his secretary of the interior. james lot would see to it that evangelical's longstanding fears would find policy outlets. in the spirit of the southwest wildcatters who had fought against the new deal order, he would promise to restore custodianship of the oil patch to the people who had long
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worked it as theirs. although watts' career in washington would be short, his revolt would continue right to today. each step for republicanism would mean a step back for men like william eddy. festering worry about liberal drifts in energy policy, heightened tensions and suspicions that america's turn to foreign oil in 1940 was at the root of shortages of the 1970s intensified an anxiety that the gop's new elite used to undermine the rockefeller vision. by the 1980s with the saudi arabia the soul owner of aramco the company's morale groups disbanded. one could say at this juncture
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that henry luce's american century and oil and religion had succumbed. there were other signs as well including the persian gulf war. today it's very clear that the exceptional authority luce proclaimed is no longer america's to enjoy alone. that highlights an irony in play. major oil's ambassadors helped spur other theologies of oil's blessedness and other myths of exceptionalism. one could consider current politics as the wildcatters day in the sun. mike pence headlined fund-raising dinners whose seats were filled by oilmen such as evangelical wildcatter tim dunn. we're putting energy first, pence proclaimed in midland while touring a rig. he heralded the three pillars of
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american greatness, faith, freedom and the vast god given natural resource rs and promised that developing them will make america great again. it is a familiar refrain, one that j. howard pugh's peers in 1930s east texas would recognize. at the same time the picture of the oil patch as static is also misleading. as much as i've emphasized two of the 20th century's gospels, other gospels have created legacies as well. recent battles over energy and environment have exposed dissent within oil patches over the efficacy of the wildcat imperative. evidenced in children of the wildcat gospel and the oil patch rallying against the keystone pipeline and the alberta oil sands. one young evangelist among them states it simply.
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i see it as a moral issue. another promises a power shift brought on by revival on behalf of the planet. in yet another twist, joining the rockefeller brother's fund to finance this anti-alberta oil sands protest is the pugh charitable trust. it is now under attack from another of his institutional legacies. finally as much as wildcat religion continues, oil's effects on spiritual health is being debated. one thing remains consistent with the past. it is a dynamic that president carter perceived in his 1979 speech, that energy debates in this country are as animated by
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competing world views of the here and now and thereafter as they are by sheer economics and that for combatants across the spectrum waging them is the moral equivalent of war. thank you. [ applause ] >> we have a few minutes for questions. >> thank you very much for your talk tonight. it was the event of the new london school explosion. by the way, i'm a registered professional engineer in the state of texas.
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it was that one event that they implemented the licensing of professional engineers that designed and built public infrastructure. that was another outflow from that one tragic event. my grandfather grew up in east texas, long view on the farm. at that time all the farm boy were flooding from the farms to the work in the fields. and quickly the mothers, particularly, reeled the boys back in because there was such massive loss of life and limb in that type of occupation. luckily, i'm here because he migrated and left to feel a safer employment. but was there anything in your research that talked about trying to reconcile the religion
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with this extremely dangerous -- >> great question, great point. >> and certainly i brushed over in an effort to show how enchanting this oil boom was. and people knew there was the flip side to this. i could have gone on about this. those that went to kilgore and long view didn't always get jobs. they often found themselves in food lines. that didn't line up with the prosperity fwausple. the destruction of lives was profound. and i write in a book about other instances and almost on a daily basis hearing of someone else killing themselves or empailing themselves.
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even the down sited, the dark side of the oil boom, even the bus cycle, ultimately reinforced this religious world view that came to expect the calamity. not welcoming it but expecting it as part of a new reality. it's the supernatural workings of god. but it's also a gospel of healing rgt right? healing revivals, which spread for this very reason to let average people handle the grief and handle the bloody bodies that were around them on a daily basis. so, thanks. >> my grandfather worked in the texas ranger --
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>> right. >> [ inaudible ]. >> oh, yeah. for sure. [ laughter] >> thank you very much for your talk and this may be a basic question but can you talk about what was driving the demand.
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was the heating oil? you've talked mostly about the supply side. >> that changes over time. it's mostly illuminant. as the while industry dries, there needs to be other alternatives. lubricates for the machinery. and by the turn of the century, fume, of course. famously churchill turning the british naval fleet to oil, rather than coal. which comes to a whole host of geo political strategies. and the automobile, 1920s and especially 1950s with, as we were talking about, the dawn of the hydro carbon age and the age of freeways and rapid expansion of subways and so forth.
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fuel of all kinds, right? in pact, as much as pugh hated harold digies, he loved getting the federal contracts during world war ii. and they produced refined, i think more high-quality aviation fuel than any other company. i think if not matching but beating standard new jersey. so, thank you, government, for those contracts and it allowed pugh to come out of the war, better positioned and implements. yes. >> i recently finished rachel
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maddow's book "blowout." have you read it? >> i should probably just sit down and read it. >> i was going to ask you to comment because i'm sure she read your book as part of your research. rrs but she further connects the dots of big oil with the far right. also into countries that aren't democratic because where people have a voice, they make them clean up after themselves, etc. >> thanks. good question. i hope she's read my book. i've been at few of these talk wheres they're like you have to send your book. i've sent her my book. obviously, she's on the mark. and what you heard today and will read through the book is, you know, i think -- how to put
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it? giving the subjects at all levels somewhat the benefit of the doubt. trying to show through the textured detail of how oil is certainly been a destructive force globally. and the same companies have done great damage, something that rachel maddow highlights. but i'm trying to explain how people were willing to take on those costs, even at a personal level or what were their motivations, intenlt. and i'm not trying to roam antsize but i've highlighted work that stemmed from pretty profound personal convictions. and they wrestled with the muddiness of middle eastern politics. william eddie would die a very bitter man because he saw the
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american government shifting course from this moral alliance towards support of israel. and so he saw how this region was erupting. he grachal would the fact high was partly responsible for bringing oil to the region. that is it the dark and important facet of this story. and i'm glad rachel maddow has told it and i'll go read her book now and see if she told it well. >> do you envision an adendm to this book with a so-called singialator of producing our own oil? >> hopefully there is an adendm. the adendm will include fracking, perhaps.
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and i declare the american century over, as the way i see it. but of course, after another fear of peek oil in the early 2000s. what's happened? well, there's plenty of gas and oil now and american energy independent is secured more than before. that would be one aspect of it. the ways in which alternative energy sources are going to be expanded on account of a same kind of entrepreneurialism in the yeser year. certainly the large national companies, the scale now of oil on a global scale and the politics of that is also going to become and saudi arabia with the most profitable company in the world. all of these are things to watch in the coming years.
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but honestly, iive enjoyed my time in oil. i did enjoy being in texas. i got to still find a way to come back. thank you. >> so, that obviously concludes our event. a reminder there are books outside and daren will be available to sign them. thank you for coming.
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john f kennedy was the first catholic president to be president. they feared the tletd of the pope and catholic church on his presidency. democratic nominee, john f kennedy on the topic of church and stated, religious freedom and tolerance. he spoke to a group of ministers, paid by the texascome pain committee t includes an extensive question and answer section. and parts were later used as campaign ads.


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