tv Nathaniel Philbrick Travels with George CSPAN December 13, 2021 12:00am-1:01am EST
c-span.org/history. >> in "travels with george: in search of washington and his legacy," nathaniel philbrick discusses the historical journeys by george washington through the new united states and describes his own experience as he followed the same experience in the present day. nathaniel philbrick's progress and fox are conveyed in washington's own words and preserved in his diaries.
transcriptions of those diaries in his correspondence on founders online hosted by the national archives, through the national historical publications. founders online has transcript of thousands of documents written by and to the nation's founders. you can find washington's letter to his cabinet written in savanna, georgia, his itinerary and instructions should any serious matter occur in his absence. you can read entries from his diary recording places he was in, the conditions of roads and lodgings, the weather and the terrain and the crops of the area. following washington's path, nathaniel philbrick came to know our first president not as a monumental figure from history but as a man traveler like himself, and the words preserved in traditional and digital archives, we can become more familiar with washington
and the other founders. nathaniel philbrick is the author of award-winning books including new york times bestseller mayflower which was a finalist in 2007 pulitzer prize in history and the los angeles times book prize. his book in the heart of both the won the national award for nonfiction and was adapted into a film in 2015. joining him is evan thomas, the author of numerous books including the very best man, robert kennedy, sea of thunder, and john paul jones. now let's hear from nathaniel philbrick and evan thomas. thank you for joining us today. >> at national archives, we are delighted to be here, lots to talk about. we are veterans of the national archives and a lot of you are history buffs, so glad to have you. this is a departure for you. you've written all these books but haven't gotten your car
with your wife. tell us about your thought processes, how you got into that, how you went down this road and the cherry it. >> that is where it began. so great to hang out with you for this hour, to see you in the midst of the aftermath of covid. it all began for me during a research trip for my last book about the american revolution, in the hurricane's i, about the year of yorktown. there was a research trip to providence, rhode island, and made my way to the john brown house. this isn't john brown the abolitionist. this is john brown the opposite, slave trade around cofounder of brown university. in the back of his magisterial home is a little annex where
there is what is known as john brown's chariot and it is to our modern i tiny. i compare the forward facing seats to the backseat of the the w bug, a tiny little thing and according to family tradition when the newly inaugurated president, george washington, was visiting providence, john brown gave washington a ride in that cherry it down to the shipyard where he was building a ship named for the new president. that got me to wondering. in the book i was writing, washington visited providence several times but i had no idea he had come to providence once he was president. why? why was he there? that led me to realize he went on a series of presidential trips in an attempt to create a sense of nationhood among 13 former colonies.
finishing up this book of straight history, close to a dozen books i had written in the last 25 years. i live on nantucket island, 14 miles long, i grew up in pittsburgh, a sailor in the maritime capital of the universe and needed to sail. i used to love putting my sunfish on the back of my vw bug and driving all around the country for sailboat races and i was getting itchy after 25 years hold up on nantucket where takes 25 years to drive from one end of the island to the other and i thought i would love to go on a road trip. washington went on a series of tours across the country. my wife melissa had just retired and she could join me
and one of my favorite books of all time is john steinbeck's travels with charlie, where he famously gets in his ford truck with his faithful charlie, 10-year-old poodle at his side and they head out in search of the meaning of america and i thought what if we had a new puppy named dora, not a sedate 10 years old, this is a mouthful, no cisco -- nova scotia duck golden retriever, pretty hyperactive. what if the three of us went, did our steinbeck and followed washington across the country. it has been said over and over again we're in the midst of unprecedented political division and i thought it would be kind of interesting, what historical perspective what i get on where we are today by
following washington in his attempt to unite the country at the very beginning of our history. >> you were a warm and sunny guy, the message is one of unity and how did washington do it. moral ambiguity, and mayhem. this is a message of unity. it succeeds on this, and being drawn to the dockside. i'm a big stephen king fan. as my wife will attest, i do have a dark side, i'm fascinated by the darkness of
life and one of my books, in the heart of the sea, that lighthearted tale of survival cannibalism. i love this stuff. the story is i did not want to make this an inspiring story the climaxes with the first thanksgiving. it seemed to me other things as well. one of the convictions in writing history is there's this tendency to look at the past as a simpler time. people knew what they were about and seemed fated to make the journey in life that led to where we are today and that is hogwash. the past was just as conflicted and terrifying if the present is not more so.
we learn more who we are as human beings when we look at the dark side and there is light there and travels -- "travels with george: in search of washington and his legacy" is one of the few books where i wanted to purposely go out there and not focus on the division. we all know what is going on with the division. i to to know what is still holding us together. that is what i was looking for. or to the depth of the discord, what i wanted to know is what historical perspective could i get on time when washington tried is desperately could to pull it all together. >> for those who don't know, what was he faced with? >> it is a surprise for a lot
of people that we did not invent partisanship. from the absolute beginning when there was a revolution, patriots and loyalists, civil war as much as it was anything directed against great britain and what people don't realize is how much the constitution divided this country. it was a very controversial document. there were no organized political parties but they were two factions. there were the federalists who were fans of the constitution, the strong national government, and the fact that there was strong national government and these were known as antifederalists, believe the state should retain the power they had under the articles of confederation which the constitution supplanted.
two states in rhode island had not ratified the constitution, having participated in his election. there was a deep divide already in america and there was another overlay, there were procedural differences. the governor of virginia said my country, he did not mean the united states, he meant virginia and is held true in all the states. washington felt a real need to try to create a sense of nationhood and attempt to include both sides, those that were for his government, and off he went. >> i was struck when he gave his inaugural address, he was so staggered by the whole
thing, he fell off his chair. that's not my picture of george washington. >> guest: this is not the george washington on the one dollar bill, looking at us in almost judgment because i did it. washington was the most reluctant president we ever had. he sincerely did not want to become president of the united states. he somehow won the american revolution. he was a hero bigger than anyone else in the world. all he had to do was lose when it came to taking on the presidency of the united states. his diary account of his journey from mount vernon to new york which is the temporary capital of the country is one long lament of everybody applauding me now but man they
are getting -- they are going to be tearing me down as soon as i try to do anything. these people rebelled against the strongest military power on earth over the issue of taxation. and all the divisions were there from the beginning were late and everyone loved him. he knew those old divisions would come back. 15-year-old allies is off the roof across the street from federal hall, where washington is about to be on the second floor. immense crowd all around, everybody's excited.
he is terrified. he staggers back and falls into a chair and everyone goes silent. they know he's on the brink of a nervous breakdown. this is not the washington most of us grew up with. i had some people say that's not wise. this makes him all the more heroic in my eyes. if someone is blindly brave they are not experiencing the inner turmoil that goes with someone who knows the risks, is aware of them and goes forward just the same. >> i had that experience on the trail. some of them, bill clinton
loved it, he drew up and fell. other politicians, it was hard for them. richard nixon was actually a brave guy. every time he walked into a room he was brave because he didn't want to be there. he was shy and had to muster the courage. a more recent figure, john kerry, not somebody who loves crowds. i could see him mustering the courage to go out there and i admired him. one thing you get at and talk to us about is this interesting, you could be a guy who projects confidence like washington, but be insecure. those things are not a contradiction. talks was a little bit about washington's mix of insecurity and great security. >> guest: he spent eight years as commander in chief of the continental army. those eight years were the best
training anyone could have including putting a good face on a disaster. washington did not win the war, he survived it as did the united states. this was -- anyone who thinks this was fated that we would throw off the chains of british tear any, that is baloney. he knew better than anyone it could have been lost countless times and yet he also knew that everyone not only in his army but throughout the nation looked to him as the symbolic presence. if he should crack, if he should show a lack of optimism and strength, everything was done. he had spent eight years, this guy knew how to make an impression, he knew how to hide his innermost feelings.
he loved the theater. he wasn't an outgoing guy but had a sense of the dramatic, the theatrical and i her did he look at a mirror and try to say what is the pose i need to have here? i'm dying on the inside, how do i look, completely decisive, he had that and so here he is on his way, arrives in new york by water, the biggest party new york has ever seen and he has to get through the crowd to his new residence and is is packed. they were unable to go by carriage because nothing can fit down the road so he gets off the boat and there is the head of the militia to escort
him to his quarters and an officer says i fear to escort you and washington says thank you and then looks around and says, people are the only escort i need. that is theater, but as his diary reveals, that's not the confidence he sees. they are screaming for me now but soon they will be screaming against me. he saw these people as a force could go either way. this was washington's great gift. to hide that insecurity and project this are a of absolute visibility and not audacity
necessarily but when you hear people, people referred to constantly, he doesn't come off as a braggart or whatever, there is a certain modesty about him as well. >> host: tell us about the brown suit. >> guest: washington was, of course, a general from the revolution, people were used to seeing him in his general's -- that is what he wore during his preinaugural journey from mount vernon to new york. that is what he was wearing when he entered new york with this huge crowd. when it came time for his inauguration he realized i am now the leader of a republic. i do not want to project a sense of i am the dictator in waiting. i don't want to be accused of being a monarch. i to be seen as one of the people.
washington, the great role player realizes he needs to dress differently and he was great with symbolism. this is a new very embryonic cloth manufactory, textile manufactory in hartford so he gets from them to send them some dark brown cloth out of which he creates the suit in which he will be and i generated. it is as drab and nondescript as you can have. in front of federal hall to be inaugurated, to see him suddenly not as resplendent, with gold and a bullets on his shoulders now this drab suit as washington admitted, not of the greatest cloth whatsoever but
it was american-made and that was his point. washington from the beginning realized he was tiptoeing and wanted to project this are of being in command but also wanted to make sure he wasn't accused of being a king. he had to be of the people. presidents to this day are flirting with that edge. this is the nature of what was created in america. how you project this are a of command and yet to be one of the people and washington established, played that role beautifully. and thank goodness he was our first president because there are a few people capable of that kind of seeing it so clearly.
>> host: as a federalist he had to deal with the antifederalists. that was important. to not be big on compromise, on capitol hill, we live in an age where people are morally superior or better than you. that was not washington. talk to us about how he fit in on that. >> lincoln did not have a cabinet of a team of rivals, washington doing that. he brought aboard the two most brilliant people in america at that time, alexander hamilton as his financial treasury secretary, as smart as anyone,
eloquent, numbers guy, there was no one like him but also brought in thomas jefferson, a fellow virginian who had been an absolute disaster as a wartime governor, basically said i can't to do this and abandon the state of the worst of times but also a brilliant man. the declaration of independence, and he had spent the last five years as minister to france, what he had not participated in the constitutional convention, a huge supporter of it, worked in concert with hamilton and promoting the constitution.
washington decides, brings in hamilton but reaches out to thomas jefferson who had a great relationship with during the revolution but he recognizes his obvious gifts. in typical fashion jefferson takes a wild to respond. it is not until march, almost a year after washington's inauguration that he becomes part of washington's cabinet and from the start, he's very skeptical of what is going on. he distrusts this thing called the presidency with all that power. hamilton is looking through the british model when it comes to creating an economic basis for the country. washington and hamilton after fighting the revolution, if they lost, it wasn't what was happening on the battlefield
but because of british economic might, because they had a national bank, had the ability to borrow, they could outlast anyone economically, that gave them superiority. it is the strong economic basis for the country. after his time in france, jefferson seduced by the french revolutionary fervor. that is not what a republic is about. we don't want to be like england, we want to be passionate and idealistic. we know where the french revolution would go but that didn't bother jefferson. he was an ideologue. he was willing to ignore
reality. he would be happy today. >> host: he is so all in on twitter and social media. >> guest: and shame and people which he did with john adams accusing him of monarchy. john adams didn't want to create a king, but it was a tagline that worked. you say monarchy that is the kind of codeword but we have today. >> reassuring they were just as vicious with each other as we are today. they didn't have the internet to do it but they had pamphlets, ways of getting the message across. just as unreasonable and mean as we are today. >> guest:'s holy and underhanded. in jefferson's case, here he is in washington's cabinet getting
increasingly alienated by washington and hamilton's policies. doing everything he can to secretly undercut washington's administration. what does he do? he didn't have the internet, but the internet of the day was the newspaper so he hires a guy supposedly as a translator for the state department but his job was to start a newspaper that is critical of the government. it makes washington's life miserable, this paper. jefferson portrays no knowledge of what is going on and by this time he and madison are the ringleaders in organizing what will ultimately be the opposition party, the republican party.
this is going on in washington's cabinet and it baffled and infuriated him, because he had no stomach for this kind of ideologue - hamilton was just as bad. he was on the other side and had his letter to hamilton where he says basically, dude, when you are this far on one side and another guy, jefferson, is that far on the other side may be a middle course is the one that is best. doesn't that sound familiar? this is where washington was. he didn't care who was right, who was wrong, he just wanted to make things work. >> host: my favorite song in the show hamilton which i'm sure a lot of our viewers have watched is where hamilton comes in all hot about jefferson, he is quitting and hamilton wants to get him and washington
says:down. let's sit down and have a drink and talk about this and show them how it is done, one last time. i am re-signing. i'm not going to run again. we are going to peacefully turnover power here. we are not going to have a fight. we will show how it is done. democracy can go on after i left the stage, you can still have a country and it made me cry, such a powerful scene. made me wonder what made washington so wise and so selfless that he could give up this lust for power that animates most politicians. how did he do that? where did that come from? >> it seems enigmatic but this is my take on it. i think washington was the most
ambitious person we have ever seen, but he knew how to hide it. he was swinging for the fences. he wanted to be remembered, as he is largely remembered today, as someone who was above the fray, who always looked to what was better for everyone rather than himself and i think he honestly wanted to be remembered as that. basically he is going for political immortality. you can say yes, he is being selfless and all of that but i also think at some point in his life he said i to be remembered as that person who never wanted anything and yet there's a part of him who did once - and i am
probably being a little cynical but i think there was a part of washington, washington was hugely ambitious, it was prosperity. he didn't need to have the power now because he wanted to be remembered in future generations. that is a deep game. most of us want it now. we don't have enough faith in the future or in ourselves to do the right thing because it is right. washington is doing it for all the right reasons and yet there's a part of him. i'm not saying he is manipulative but a part of him knows if i want to come off the way i want to come off i can't want something.
i need people to ask me to do it. >> his experience in the revolution that you have written about so well of playing the long game, he is not winning battles but he is analyzing and playing a rope a dope strategy with the british of staying just one step ahead of them waiting for his moment, for the french to arrive. he stays alive and keeps his army together, incredible patience when a lot of others wanted to fight the battle and come on, let's have it. he had to learn how to be modest. one thing that interested me, he's the one framer who hasn't been to college and he has a kind of modesty about that intellectually. he is insecure about it but there's a kind of modesty he
gets from his minor attainments. i wonder if that helps him. >> guest: absolutely. you see people, abigail adams has this wonderful description soon after she met him, came to boston during the revolution as the new leader of the continental army, just is taken by him about how there is a reserve in him and yet a modesty about him. you don't feel your close to him and yet you revere him. she even says love him. i think that really comes back, people who insight that kind of response in people project and element of modesty and i think it comes from washington.
his father died when he was 11. he did not go to the finishing schools in england that his stepbrothers went to. so he has this sense of being abandoned. he had a very strong mother which he had a very conflicted relationship with but it was one of these things where he has that sense of not measuring up. like tom brady when he wasn't drafted until the thirtieth round or something like this, the chip on his shoulder for the rest of his life. washington had some of that. he desperately wanted to be part of the british regular army. that was denied him. he didn't go to college. people like jefferson and adams
would refer to that in all sorts of ways. he doesn't know his latin and that kind of thing and yet washington, we don't think of him, he wasn't the way hamilton and jefferson and madison were but he was a great thinker. the battle of monmouth, it all goes very well for washington and that night he sleeps on the field of battle with his men, with his cloak, under a tree, and an officer at midnight comes up and hesitates to wake him. go ahead, i am not sleeping, i am here to think. that is washington. he would just think about things and it had a lot to do with how our cultures have changed. we are in the twitter world
where things, no one has any kind of ability to concentrate on anything. washington had this incredible ability to dial up the static and figure out the most important thing for me to do. that is incredibly in any age but it gets back to his lack of formal education. this is a guy who as a young surveyor spent countless nights out there in the wilderness just thinking. that is how he got through the revolution and would be a big part of his presidency. >> to sit under his fig tree and thing, you would think it would be all great but it is not. you have this scene of him thinking in mount vernon
towards the end when he is troubled. talk to us about that. what is he troubled about? >> guest: throughout three books about the revolution i kept wanting washington to have a high five moment where he said yes, i did it. it never comes. never gets that sense of satisfying accomplishments because always another catastrophe looming. for washington i said he was swinging for the fences when it comes to posterity. one of the things that bothered him more than anything was his involvement with slavery. it was a pernicious institution, this is a guy who became a slaveholder at age 11 when his father died. he had befriended lafayette,
the idealistic frenchman, hoping to create a country of slavery i never would have lifted my sword in the cause of america. washington overheard, this was recorded in jefferson -- jefferson right to down saying at some point in his presidency if slavery should divide the country, i will go with the northern part. that is a statement from a virginian. there are 300 and enslaved people, half are owned by washington at half by the state of martha's did deceased husband and become the property of grandchildren. responsible for all this. washington decided he's going to free his slaves.
their these accounts of washington at the fireside with his family at mount vernon, is not there looking back with a benign smile on his face. his lips, his wrestling with what do i do when it comes to slavery? didn't want create a situation for martha, it was so complicated. i think he recognized this would be the biggest challenge, his involvement with slavery. one of the things i did people to get from this book is a sense of how far washington travels not in terms of miles across the country but as a human being. he is almost born into the institution of slavery.
he comes to doubt the assumptions of his childhood. but he's not able to completely free himself from them given the entangled nature of his personal life and yes, he freezes enslaved workers, the only slave owning founding father to do that. and yet in the final year of his life he is actively pursuing the enslaved servant of martha's who have escaped from philadelphia to portsmouth, new hampshire in search of freedom. how to reconcile? washington is a paradox like all of us. he's not consistent like all of us. i don't think it negates everything he's working towards. the concept of the union that
would inspire lincoln to issue the emancipation proclamation was what washington was working so hard to create during his travels in his presidency. >> host: it is not always a pretty place. talk to was about washington's teeth. a little grim. >> guest: one of the things, there are a couple historical jokes associated with washington. one is washington slept here. that sort of sleeping around but following washington, came to realize each one of those was not -- this was not fun for washington. he was working tremendously hard to pull the country together. the other joke is washington's teeth, dentures made of wood. he had dentures, they weren't made of wood. they were made of teeth from various animals, from ivory,
the hippopotamus, even before he ended up with those dentures, in desperation, only a few teeth left in his mouth by the time we see the revolution -- back at mount vernon, a new technology, dentistry with two transplants, a dentist would extract the tooth, the diseased tooth and a person would be paid enough to donate their healthy tooth the was then extracted and stuck into the jaws of the person paying for the procedure. it almost never worked. sometimes the tooth would hang in for a year, sometimes five years, sometimes it would be rejected from the beginning but
washington at some point invite a french dentist to mount vernon and this is -- very recently we have become aware of this, mary thompson, a fabulous researcher at george washington's mount vernon and uncovers this evidence of that he paid several -- it seems clear they must have been enslaved workers to donate their teeth, nine teeth. what happens? the scenario is obvious, they were inserted into his jaws, one of these scenarios that is awful, awful, to contemplate. i purposely include this in the book. this is where i come from with history. you have to look into the deep
dark recesses of the past to put what happens in a positive way in the proper context. this is part of washington that speaks to the original sin that is still plaguing our society today. >> host: and interesting moment when you are driving back and she says we have this diary but i'm not sure i know what he is really thinking. we touch on this a little bit. as a fellow popular historian, the writers craft, you don't really know and in the diary he says i slept here or i ate here but doesn't really reveal thoughts, what is that like for you? what do you do then? how do you proceed when the record is pretty bare-bones and you are trying to get in their
head. >> you can't make it up. >> host: i need to interview for second. a lot don't understand that but there is historical fiction where people do make it up. that is another genre that does do this. in our trade you don't make it up. >> guest: you can speculate but you have to have a basis for it. one of my books, in the heart of the sea, that is the thing with history, it is all in the evidence. so often there are situations, you and i tell narrative history, we are telling the story and there's a plot and often there is in the evidence to fill in what must've happened there.
what i would do in a lot of my books is say we don't know what happened here but in a similar situation this is what happened and try to insert that into the narrative without breaking the historical period in which you are writing. those are the challenges i enjoy and when it comes to a historical personage such as washington or george armstrong custer in my book about the battle of little bighorn, inevitable, what were these guys thinking? you can't make it up and so i find myself doing is saying this is what was happening around, this is what they would do, this is what perhaps they were thinking. you have to have evidence to go on.
you have to go there, as someone writing about history. to leave it a blank is to leave out what it is like to be alive at that time. we come from a journalistic background where we are creating a sense of life is lived today as a journalist and the way we both tell history we are trying to create a sense of lives in the past because for me the past is only is relevant as can be related to us by now. >> host: things were different back then. they thought differently. if you were writing before the thirteenth century totally animated by religion. that is the way they think. that's true for some of us but
we live in a secular age. the interesting translation problem, you write about the eighteenth century and the nineteenth. what are some of the challenges of conveying the way they were thinking then? >> guest: the biggest challenge with that was writing about the mayflower, but the plymouth colony. as you were saying before, religion was everything to them. that is why they got on the mayflower and sailed across the atlantic, a sense of spiritual destiny that very few people in the 21st century have experienced firsthand and how do you get into that world, how do you write about their actions and do justice to what is the most important aspect of their lives?
for me it was in that instance you try to use their own words. william bradford's plymouth plantation, he's constantly translating what is happening in 2 terms of the new england puritan who sees everything in terms of god's judgment. if it goes well for you it is god is on your side. if it goes bad for you it is a judgment upon you and perhaps a test and you are trying to interpret this kind of things so it is a huge challenge and for the past to be relatable there has to be some common ground between then and now and yet to do justice to the men you have to push it to a point where most of us go anything i
can relate to, that is the trick. >> host: human nature hasn't changed too much. >> guest: that can be lost. you can deny the fact that we have any access to that passed but a historian who claims that they just through sheer archival work, you need to have that and some sense of our common humanity. >> host: a few questions from the audience. how would washington use social media if it was available during his time? imagine washington using social media. give that a try. >> guest: good thing there
wasn't trip advisor. any diary is one long lament about his accommodations. the food is terrible. that would not reflect well on washington. the whole pace, this is where we are treading on difficult ground because washington lived in a completely different time with a completely different pace. in talking with dean melissa, the retired washington interpreter at mount vernon he talks about what a pleasure it was inhabiting washington because you're in that passed where there is no bubblegum of the mind, social media and all that. washington was very sophisticated in his time.
he used the technology of his day to his advantage particularly when it came to the industrial revolution. in his new england tour of massachusetts, the tech capital of the world, he saw that and he loved all the technology that was all over the place when it came to mount vernon. if he was here today and had grown up in this he would have been a highly functioning person who would have figured it out but that's not the washington who was then. to plant someone from that age here, blood would start coming out of their ears. what has happened in the country we started's 230 years
ago, i think washington might have been a professional athlete if you brought him here today, incredibly physically gifted. >> host: another question. washington's humility, why he declined to serve more than two terms not because he felt he shouldn't be president for life. >> guest: i think it was exhaustion more than anything. he didn't want to run for a second term. by that time, hamilton and jefferson were at each other's throats but both sides, federalist and anti-federalist will tear the country apart if there is an you there as president and it is just you -- he gets elected and the opposition party takes congress and his life is hell for the next four years. as things go from bad to worse.
i just can't go on, and refused to. by that point, he was done with it. he was done with it. the humility at that point, he was exasperated, exhausted and wanted to get back to mount vernon and hang out with martha. that's where he was. he didn't - any sense of yes, i have done this. i've got to move on. >> host: you will probably run into myths and fables, washington slept here, just a man, all that, useful but made up. an interesting question to the
degree to which we need things. history, your history, true history, you go to the dark side when you have to and are fascinated by it but talk to us whether there's a place for path apology if you will because we live in a funny age where people are making up a lot of stuff. i'm a little torn by it. countries need myths but the -- i'm going to shut up. tell us what you think. >> guest: i know exactly what you are getting at. we need some shared basis of fried about a government and the nation. we live in a nation where our origins were recorded with documents. so we know the gritty, ugly truth of so much of what was
once mythologized into this inspiring tale of national origin. when you go to england and france, 2000 years ago, horrible things were happening, it is such a distant past, there is that element of it. when it comes to america i have no patience with looking back and insisting it was great and everyone was full of light and all of that. i have no stomach for that. we cannot hold historical figures, a litmus test derived
in the 21st century that tolerates no deviation from what is now considered acceptable behavior. 100 years from now they will be looking at a saying what were they thinking? no one measures up to this. i don't think any of us, we look back 20 years ourselves and say oh my god. this is the nature of being allies on this planet. we need to look at our past with as much clarity as possible but you also have to be able to recognize the times in which they operated and give people -- they were doing the best they could under the terms they had, and give them some credit for that rather than expunging them from the record for not towing the line.
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