tv The Presidency Most Hated Presidents in American History CSPAN December 21, 2021 2:21am-4:00am EST
>> and the founding director for presidential history at southern methodist university and you already know because you signed up for this webinar here to talk about presidents and hatred. to conceptual points that might be helpful from the start. i mentioned this to my daughter today or her first question was are you doing that because of president trump? i suspect that's why you want to do and the first place but we are talk about presidents in history. and then have a greater historical perspective.
that to say all presidents are disliked what we want to focus on? that is what we are exploring obviously even in the best of cases almost half the country probably didn't vote for you but that doesn't mean we have special cases with particular elements of the country that hate and despise more than simply disliking we will explore the difference between a president who is simply opposed and presidents who are empathetic all to the american way of life according to their critics so without further ado we will proceed in chronological order. talk about jefferson and lincoln and lyndon johnson and roosevelt and nixon you can see immediately why those were chosen and then we will begin with thomas jefferson by
starting with joanne freeman who is the class of professor of american studies at yale university and the author of affairs honor. she is the editor of hamilton and the most recent book that i highly recommend is violence in congress and the road to civil war. so join please tell us why we should hate jefferson. [laughter] >> okay. i always check when i do anything that everyone can hear me? so now i will discuss why certainly some people hated thomas jefferson. i want to begin by saying in recent years when i have been asked what moments in american history echoes this president want my responses is the late
17 nineties as an early american as i am aware the late 17 nineties does not have some of the pizzazz as the 18 fifties in the civil war but the intense polarization of federalist and republicans , the extreme of the ring as an american the press predictions on both sides of chaos and tyranny and anarchy with a burst violence as john adams later described as terrorism actually using that word, the echoes of polarization and hate between past and present are very real so what kind of historical feet offer in the way of insight? >> part of what i was discussing my brief comments some are more intense than others so i'm were more personal than others somewhere
more prone to weaponization. there are different flavors of presidential hatred and i use that word because there is something sensory. i am curious to see how that does or doesn't make sense with this roundtable jefferson was not new when he became president as the hothead of the republican party and prone to speaking large prone to making pride extremely ideological pronouncements people i disagreed with him often hated him for his ideas and the likelihood they often were extreme leading to a collapse. generally speaking federalist
believed republicans favor a dangerous degree of democracy. meaning on going above and beyond elections popular participation protest and otherwise in american politics. and certainly among them anything that jefferson that jefferson spoke about democracy was one of them and with the explosion of the french revolution. and then with the presidential mansion so that moment was very real. and then came the presidential election of 1800. with the polarization came to a peak. then with a time of extreme
polarization effort like a turning point. before and after the election of 1800 on the conviction that jefferson described by federalist as a french loving infidel radical way take the nation at this key moment of decision down a path of destruction. this was grounded on predictions and symbolism and ideology and campaign rhetoric rather than any actual actions he had a chance to take as president and you can see the free-floating us versus them hatred within the first year as president like the one informing jefferson of the
assassination plot brewing in new york and as he often wrote shocking nothing seems to have come of it but jefferson sees that not long after becoming president but then a little bit after that that referred to among other things you and your tribe are foreign outcasts and tommy jefferson's friend. so jefferson literally throughout that was the other representative was the outcast as well. looking at hatred through predictions and symbolism and ideology and campaign rhetoric. and that kind of fear
mentioning only shows the degree to which the echoes of familiarity that boils down to some pretty minor things that felt as though they had brought political and cultural influence one focused on jefferson's shoes as an indication of his ideology. they the statement that they made was a period it president for shoestrings when other presidents where buckles so jefferson is saying buckles are antirepublican that shoelaces apparently were favorable and in style in france so actually that is another anti- french statement that again other ring jefferson. so that flavor of hatred changed dramatically during the second term with that embargo act which cut off shipping exports in the
attempt to punish french and english interference with american trade and then with the disastrous impact and you can feel the impact of that hatred in jefferson's hate mail from this period like the anonymous letter from boston that read i've agreed to pay four of my friends $400 to shoot you with you if you don't take off the embargo if i have to work on my hands and knees for you are one of the greatest tyrants in the whole world worse bonaparte i wish you could feel as bad as i feel with six children around you asking for vittles and starving yourself that is profoundly personal insult. less specific but bursting with a similar sense of personal outrage and suffering are two remarkably concise letters i will be done in their entirety and one red you
are the damnedest full plant life and to guide damn you. that is it. [laughter] and one red go to hell. go to hell. that is intensity driven by a policy and the impact in the north. these are people that were so outraged and in a personal way that they spill that out onto paper that is intensity driven by real personal circumstances. that kind of hate is not as easy to weaponize as the hatred of us versus them symbolism. may have fair fear driven polarizing hatred in 1800 elections had new englanders burying their bibles so the infidel jefferson would not steal that but particularly because it's not personal and
not grounded necessarily in fact, that is easy to weaponize long after an election i'll be very interested in seeing whatever they want to call them in the weaponization of hate in the more modern times how that also plays out in my colleagues given the new forms of media and we will see introduce. and spreading that heat around. i will stop there thank you very much. >> thank you for giving us the concept of flavors as we go
forward so this is a roundtable discussion we are generally interested to feel questions go down to the q&a session and we will go now to the civil war with abraham lincoln now we have the chair of american history and then the sauce and your fellow at the radcliffe institute of advanced study and then quickly and 2016 the slave cause a history of abolition. remarkably easy to recognize so thank you for joining us and please tell us about the annals of presidential
history. >> thank you for allowing me to be a part of that introduction. i will share my screen with you. just to start i have the confession and for the last few weeks i have been confused about my charge with the meetings in the pandemic it is team hate and for some reason to speak about andrew johnson through abraham lincoln and the most despised american president but then we consistently pay for the historian rankings is at the bottom lincoln is usually number one or two now luckily
i read the description from the one that i have sent before preparing my remarks today and i realized i was supposed to talk about lincoln when the most beloved presidents around the globe not just the united states. of course this was not the case when they hit president in 1860 he remains the only president in american history that has half the states in the republic to secede and inaugurated that blood he civil war claiming lives but just that fact alone wins the most despised category of us president. but abraham lincoln was not an abolitionist to believe in the immediate abolition of said
line of slavery and i should say before i continue slight i am showing right now is an excerpt from south carolina that shows or announces the union has been dissolved south carolina and seeded from the union one month after lincoln was elected followed by other deep south states so he was not an abolitionist but a republican elected on a platform. and that as some have recently argued could lead to abolition but it was not. throughout the 18 fifties lincoln a moderate politician this is the young lincoln lawyer he was antislavery
politician and then to the platform of the non- expansion of slavery the constitution the defensive position since the federal government has a target to end slavery. and competing loyalties in the constitution and as early as the 1930s and expresses that is any abolitionist. so the balancing act was expressed in qualified support from 1850 lincoln argued for actions must accompany the constitutionally mandated rendition and during the lincoln douglas debates 1858 which catapulted him to national fame that was the
long-held belief to hold it to equal citizenship and in here to colonization of the blacks back to africa so after the secession on his election lincoln was willing to compromise on abolition in the south but not on the non- extension platform of the republican party. healing the election as a victory and certainly more southerners viewed him as a step better than an abolitionist and an abolitionist in disguise. one of the most ardent critics argued for the first time in history the slave has chosen the president of the united states. and most slaveholders and democrats agree regularly race
faded republicans calling them black republicans to have a special fire i or for lincoln there was no republican mike lincoln who desired the ultimate extinction of slavery in the republic so that 19th century version of work politics in the north to create the support for lincoln and democrats argued with a racist elegance they were known for quote word on —- "the n-word is that of william lloyd garrison or frederick douglass those that claimed to meet the hamlin of maine was called aim a lot of african blood the abolitionist that
concluded i love everything the south hates and since they have evidence of the dislike i am bound to love republicans with all your support. with a slaveholders rebellion he can oppress lincoln on more than copperheads the northerners who sympathized with the confederacy democrats using states rights and those arguments long used to legitimize federal law and secession rather than the copier heads berated lincoln for the federal consolidation to make war upon the confederacy coming among fair amount of criticism during the wartime emergency including the chief justice of the supreme court and then to
point out that is favorably with most wartime personnel. and then with enslaved people german and southern unionist and confederate deserters with impunity the lincoln administration's track record was a more legitimate criticism of lincoln tends to have the biggest block on the presidential record and then in minnesota and states governor condemn 300 of them to execution he commuted the sentences of most of them to let eight to be executed still constitutes the largest mass hanging in american history. he was reviled by many contemporaries not for his policy for native american but from the adoption of
emancipation and then black citizenship during the war. here is lincoln as we all know him with a beard and this is the picture that i think was pre- prince of —- the three principles that guided him but it was really anti- slavery union and the constitution that was quite mindful of. so the civil war allows lincoln to the union and constitution with abolition. for lincoln it went from being competing two complementary values the slaveholders rebellion in the manner in which lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation to invoke the war powers to make sure the constitutional thoughts would not be challenged in this did not permit on —- prevent
copperheads racist or slaveholders or confederates from accusing lincoln of treason to the constitution and the union at nearly cost him the presidency in the 1864 election it is not clear whether emancipation would further divide the nation it was called the central active my administration and to create events of the 19th century the battle to secure the passage was to that determination for the abolition of the constitution make it irreversible lincoln's constitutionalism not just the anti- slavery moderation before the war but also the manner in which he promulgated to show the commitment to the constitution and that shaped
the various proposals with the content of the final proclamation the advocacy of the 13th amendment finally has support for limited blackmail citizenship every step he took however made antislavery the dominant principle of politics and brought him ever so closer to abolitionist ground and here is an illustration of lincoln's hand written version of the proclamation but also a cartoon made by a pro- confederate. and that wears this cartoon of him and then the devils flight
is on the bible. so if you talk about hate that is one way to portray an american president and this was an image that was quite widely circulated and found a lot of sympathy among them. >> and lincoln's proclamation had allowed the army black men and the recruitment into the army. this provision more than anything else help to convert the civil war into a revolutionary war that pave the way for blackmail citizenship the black man supported and led by abolitionist brings racial equality as the allies successfully have access even of black soldiers segregated units and helps to move toward
the idea of citizenship and one of the first black regiments and in 1863 that black union soldiers could aspire to the idea of american citizenship better than copperheads there will be some black men who could remember the silent tongue and teeth have helped mankind onto the great but there will be some that cannot forget that malignant card heart and that speech that they have strove so they hated lincoln saying they have malignant hearts.
lincoln made the last 20 announcement on citizenship just before his death and he suggested that very intelligent especially those who fought gallantly with the franchise it would help and in louisiana. lincoln argued it would prefer and those who have served as soldiers. in the informal space of the balcony of the white house to a crowd gathered the day before he was assassinated he became the first to publicly endorse citizenship and then
john wilkes booth a sympathizer and an activator on —- activist for the championship of the citizenship that is a last speech he will ever make. so really it is not only the emancipation by a black citizenship that ultimately gets him killed and talk about the vice president but if you are assassinated you are despised by some people and then reaching dangerous levels of emancipation and on the eve of the assassination the pronouncements of black males citizenship and then race baiting with lincoln's opponents calling him a general agent for the negro if
you can see it right here lincoln does the type of walk with the constitution with his balancing of an african-american man this is actually from 1860 the early election the cartoons in the race baiting got worse and with the union army. this is the time when lincoln and the republican party of misogyny should so this word was coined during these elections during the anonymous pamphlet making part of the lexicon talked about white supremacist in the south route the jim crow era on weekends
that and african-americans warned on good friday many of the opponents and confederates and then open the celebrated so if you did a google map search you will find is still a predominantly the over on —- the majority of them so one intricate researcher but the black county in millis mississippi is the exception to the rule so than one of the most beloved with the neo- confederate the most hated and i apologize but i must and with the bumper sticker that
it's my party and i will cry 512. and then now i will hand the floor back over to you thank you for that. let's turn to matthew sutton is going to tell us about that presidential of course was longer than anyone else. matthew avery sets in his edward art myers distinguished professor chair the history department at washington state university. his latest book is doublecross that missionaries just buy for the united states during the second world war. he is the author of numerous other books including once on the american apocalypse, a book on jerry falwell and another on amy simple
mcpherson. he's been a fellow and i happen to know he's working on a new, brilliant interpretation for a textbook for american history you should all expect to be purchasing in the next 18 months or so. without further due, matt i turn things over to you. >> thank you so much jeff. thank you to the panelists for putting this together. it is been interesting in the first couple of papers here and how it popped up. it's a topic i'm going to be focusing on in my paper today. as we all know, religion can inspire a lot of great behavior can also inspire lots of bad behavior. in fact but i will be discussing today how it inspires presidential hatred. this is not a surprise to anyone in this room i am sure. we can see how particular groups of religious activists who favored hillary clinton, barack obama, joe biden, i'm going to talk a little bit more of the roots of that, or
some of that hatred comes freud five focusing on franklin tilda roosevelt. one of the reasons it's not gone this much attention from historians as i think it probably should, as there has been a real problem in history augur for you, there has been a sense that when jerry falwell came on the scene in the late 1970s and organize the moral majority it was at that point that white evangelicals began to critically mobilize it. that is just wrong. anyone has read the literature knows that is wrong. but it perpetuates itself continues to spread that evangelicals are apolitical until the last couple of generations. what is going to show you today's how the rise of new deal liberalism inspired a new evangelical political activism which organized itself into real hatred for president franklin delano roosevelt. why did they hate roosevelt
what was the issue? the real issue behind this is they believed franklin roosevelt was ultimately setting the stage for the rise of the antichrist. diabolical world leader who's going to take power to the ends of times. they were convinced we are living at the end of history. so in their minds and their magazines and on the radio stations they were continuously looking for signs that would tell us how close we were to what the bible describes as the rapture, the armageddon the rise of the antichrist and the second coming of jesus. ultimately they felt fdr was preparing the 9 cents for those events where there is some debate among them whether or not he was doing it consciously and explicitly like was he purposely working for the devil because that's what he wanted to do or was he
naïve just not really aware behind the decisions he was making. roosevelt was a problem so let's talk a little bit might even general goals were growing and power all try to watch my language, i confuse the terms they use for themselves at 20s and 30s they called themselves fundamentalist to the 1940s today they tend to call themselves evangelical same group, same people many of them are exactly the same just trade them from the 1930s to the 1950s. what they believed is the way they were reading their bibles they thought you could see signs the bible had laid out, especially in the old
testament but also the new testament a series of events that would tell us when we were living near the rise of the anti- christ. it's kind of hard to track. it's kind of like loose morals the rise of the evolution of about women's suffrage and not in the rights until the 20s they word prohibition was not being enforced. but far more important and much more interesting to me, they were also closely watching global events. they were excellent students of foreign affairs better than almost any other group in america they understand what's happening in europe and africa and around the world. they laid out a number of expectations in the 1880s and 90s their preaching and preaching and then in the 19 tens, 20s, 30s they began to see some of these predictions fulfilled. one of the important ones was eight rise of a new restored roman empire. they believed one of the
things was a revitalized rome. and so when they sought mussolini consolidating power, taking power and standing influence for them this was a huge sign there at the end of times. they also looked at what hitler was doing for their very conscious of hitler's anti-semitism men punch up many have read, they believed another sign of the ends of times but they saw hitler as facilitating that. did not necessarily support it, endorse it or cheer it but they believe god was using him for the armageddon which would literally happen in palestine for it all the stuff is going on in the background which then takes us to franklin roosevelt. they looked at him and they understood him then and the context of all these other things going on. there is no doubt his campaign
and 1932 cut off to an ominous start. on the first set of a belt at the democratic national convention roosevelt received 666, 666 votes. when i first read that the fundamentalist magazine if it is too good to be true that could not be true. i went to the records and sure enough that was absolute the case. this already set fundamentalist on edge believing there's something weird going on here that's roosevelt with the antichrist. after the election they began to view roosevelt as other totalitarian leaders. and i've talked to my students about this roosevelt because such a weird person both because of world war ii but americans don't realize how much those who hated roosevelt in the 30s really truly despised him, could not stand him. when i saw letters written to roosevelt and letters shared among various american citizens. what they saw was a cell roosevelt consolidating power
office in the executive branch. they also saw a controlling congress. if you add to that his efforts to pack the supreme court this looks like someone who is a fascist, trying to do exactly what solon, franco, mussolini and hitler had all done. then in 1940 runs for a third term defying american traditions of stepping down after two terms is further reinforced that hitler is not a regular american present i'm sorry, roosevelt is not just a regular american president but that roosevelt was up to something far more sinister. and so this it framed the way they understood what he was doing and the more broadly new deal liberalism. they looked at specific programs and became particularly concerned those were helping prepare americans for the end of times. one was a national recovery act participate in the nra they had to show the symbol the blue eagle.
they believed one of the things that would prepares for the end of times they thought it was possibly the mark of the beast the mark of the antichrist. or perhaps not that it was preparing americans to understand if you show this to do business. you look at social security their horribly critical of it. that's roosevelt with a socialist and communist program that it was contrary to the teachings of the word of god. they're very worried to join the report to serve them. that was a steppingstone to the antichrist. he opposed internationalism there never indifferent.
they're moving towards the cataclysmic events they should act. the very conscious very explicit about this prayer they believed when jesus returned with the second coming does happen he was going to hold them responsible for their actions were is going to ask them officially fed been good and faithful servants. part of being a good and faithful servant is waging organs the antichrist and the tools of the antichrist people like franklin roosevelt. until 1936 -- 1940 covid 1944 they were very active, mobilizing, getting people provoked. they are not partisan though. in the north and the west and many are republicans. the goal was to defeat a liberalism to go back to some more limited government conservatism. that becomes a political ideology that drives them as a political parties change
evangelical change with their parties. but they maintain these core values of being anti- government and also in foreign policy believing in the importance of american action abroad because they want the missionaries to have access but they went the u.s. acting unilaterally because they are afraid any unilateral action is going to compromise american sovereignty. world war ii and i'll end with this. a bit of a turning point for them. they begin to realize at that point they argue when jesus does return is not going to just judge individuals but he's going to judge missions. one is political activism with the christian nationalism something they had not done in previous decades of previous generations. they became increasingly focused and world war ii. not distant fighting the antichrist but also trying to remake the united states in their own image, believing as
they move for the end of times in the battle of armageddon they can protect themselves and protect our fellow christians abroad with a strong united states that represents their ideals. fdr is a steppingstone's continues to every nuclear president always present day without a metal tunnel turned back to jeff. so to get my mind around the idea that it could be contrary to the word of god. hopefully we'll get to that perhaps not in this panel but you and i another. let me just remind everybody there is the option of offering your questions at the bottom of your screen for there's also a function on their feud never seen it before you can give a thumbs up to other people's questions. let us know what you find
really fascinating for the questions it got so far been great. can't wait to get to them. therefore i'll stop talking and handed over too mark moran's fellow author and historian. i'm sorry no sharon you are next, sit tight market. as a post- actual fellow here at the center for presidential history at southern methodist university her research interest include civil rights movement, public history, and the presidencies of jon kennedy and lyndon johnson. she's currently finishing up lyndon johnson and the civil rights legacies and african-american imagination. let me say it's really good. so without further ado, the webinar is yours. clicks thank you so much jeff. thanks to all of my fellow panelists this has been so
riveting so far. as jeff said my interest has been an african-american civil rights. specifically the presidencies of john kennedy and lyndon johnson. point of privilege i would like to swipe joanne's formulation of how she wanted to talk about presidential hatred that's a really terrific way of narrowing our focus, just to note all of these presidents have their haters. they come in different flavors. one of the things i wanted to do with my session today was to talk a little bit about the way lyndon johnson was hated in particular by african-american voters. and to really focus in on that. even though there will be lots of parallels and reasons why other constituencies hated lyndon johnson. but it wanted to do this by
just starting with the obvious points of how lyndon johnson came to be president. of course he became president he's one of the accidental presidents. he emerged and ascended into the presidency with the assassination of his predecessor john kennedy. for african-americans in particular that way that lyndon johnson emerges as president is particularly problematic. it spanned a certain long-standing concerns that the african-american community had about lyndon johnson going back to his time in congress when jon candidate selected lyndon johnson as his running mate in 1960 at the democratic convention, average americans were particularly concerned and upset by that choice. it has to do with the lyndon
johnson long history as being seen as someone who was willing to compromise with his fellow democrats in the south to thwart progress on civil rights. while lyndon johnson was on the senate majority leader, he made it clear that he was trying to keep his coalition together. and in order to do that, he was willing to make sure that important civil rights legislation either never passed or what was ultimately passed was watered down so is doing the bare minimum. this was something african-americans washed with great concern while he was a senate majority leader so that when john kennedy selected as his running mate there's an outcry from the african-american delegates to the extent the candidate
campaign had to put together a special breakfast in order to try to win over the black delegates that were there to kind of reassure them even though it lyndon johnson had been a person of concern in terms of its advocate of rights he had come along with the platform of the party. so that concern was there in 1960. it did not go away over his time as vice president. even though he was playing a role in the kennedy as ministration as head of that presidency employment opportunity which was looking for ways in working with african-american constituents to ensure the government employment sectors was as desegregated as possible. only those people who were kind of in the room with johnson were won over and could see he was making a concerted effort.
meanwhile the populace did not know lyndon johnson was making these efforts. over the course of the administration, the concern that black voters had over lyndon johnson never went away. so by 1963 justice john kennedy is making the case for why a new civil rights bill had to be passed, that does not happen until june of 1963, john kennedy finally makes a public plea based on the morality of the civil rights movement there should be a civil rights bill passed in congress. even at that point, lyndon johnson is seen behind the scenes that same individual that had been thwarting civil rights legislation. by november of 1963 when john kennedy is assassinated in texas, african-americans are incredibly concerned about
lyndon johnson are emerging as the nation's new president. many black reporters and observers are indignant there's a lot of concern about johnson. for one point, many of them believe the fact that since john kennedy was killed in texas was not a coincidence. many african-americans blamed lyndon johnson and founded theories as to why lyndon johnson was likely involved in president kennedy's assassination because he appeared to have the most to gain. letters came into mrs. kennedy condolence letters that would make this point from black letterwriters and telegram senders would essentially say they believed lyndon johnson was involved in john kennedy's
death. this is the state of things when lyndon johnson becomes president. now he does everything he can in order to try to reassure black voters. he realizes he needs to win them over because from the very beginning, lyndon johnson is well aware the election is coming up one year from just under one year from the moment he is sworn in as president. he is looking to build coalitions and reassure liberals and african-american voters. he calls people like martin luther king, the southern christian leadership council conference he calls young of the urban league he calls roy wilson of the naacp to try to reassure these folks pretty goes to congress five days after present case ssa tells congress and the world, let us continue john kennedy's policy on civil rights for he's trying to turn the page and
trying to went over black constituents from the very beginning. there is this nagging concern this thing he cannot shake from black voters that he is conniving and he's truly only doing this because he has to and he is desperately trying to win their votes. not because this is something innate in him but this is something he truly cares about. for black observers of the newly sworn in president, lyndon johnson is an opportunist who is desperate to win election. so over the course of lyndon johnson's administration he's trying to use a lot of the same techniques john kennedy has used symbolic acts like hiring people, appointments, he is seen in photographs with
african-american civil rights leaders. but lyndon johnson falls victim to a number of issues. number one, he is seen as many black observers believe was involved in kennedy's death. and secondly, there is a sense that he is again this opportunist. but, over the course of his administration something already happening in kennedy's administration, the movement itself is changing quite a bit. whereas there is a belief in august of 1963 the nonviolent movement led by doctor king could actually make the changes, things are beginning to shift for a more militant, younger activists crowd is less and less patient with the legislative approach that lyndon johnson is so comfortable with.
there is a sense it is taking too long, it's not going to change people's hearts. even though laws are being called for, those laws are not going to make real change in people's lives. and so when lyndon johnson pushes for passage of the civil rights act which it doesn't pass in july of 1964, there are people like john lewis saying yes that's great. but down here on the front lines is not making a real difference. we are still on the battlefront. there is a disconnect between what's happening in washington d.c. what's happening on the front line. a true conservative they're terrified of this they vote for lyndon johnson by about
95%. he went about 95% of the african vote which is unprecedented. but i want to read a quote that kind of indicates the problems for lyndon johnson. one of the things, even a make this incredible percentage of the black vote is april 2, 1965's are just a year after the passage of the civil rights act, this poll basically says look they cannot regret the almost incredible support they gave lyndon johnson over barry goldwater. their support is cool, logical and loveless in their hearts still belong to jon f. kennedy present black voters have made a choice a pragmatic choice to vote for lyndon johnson but their hearts really are not into it. so this harris poll which i want to correct myself was published in 19662 years after
the civil rights act and just a year after the voting rights act is supported, passed and signed by lyndon johnson, african americans still went and asked which of the last five presidents has done the most for nickel rights 9% of them choose john kennedy. only 15% choose lyndon johnson. and so there's a whole host of reasons why this is the case. this will continue to play out as a problem for lyndon johnson. certainly you have the shifting nature of the civil rights movement or the legislative victories are not deemed quite as poor important in some ways when faced with things on the ground. but also you have the vietnam war, that is forcing more and more african-american, men into war. even though african americans about 11% of the population,
they are being drafted at a higher percent. and they are being pushed into combat roles at a much higher% overall percentage of those folks in the war effort. so the war effort is taking a toll, not only in the fact the young black soldiers are heading over there, also the fact the war on poverty that lyndon johnson believes is going to change everything these kind of social programs kind of in the vein of fdr social program, the war on poverty is not being funded as a result of this war. so you begin to see the promise of the great society program really is not funded in quite the way benefits a
lot of african-americans. i want to point to a couple one being a book on selma to saigon which deals with the african-american role in the vietnam war efforts. but also the last point i want to make about why this doesn't play out for johnson in quite the way he wants to, is elizabeth points out in her book dealing with the way the war on poverty moves from the war on poverty to the war on crime is the way the unintended consequences of things such as these programs that are funding not only social reforms but also policing reforms in ways that the federal government is essentially funding the kind
of local policing of behavior and african-american communities that ultimately leads to some of the issues and difficulties with policing and expands the problems with policing. also the mass incarceration of african-americans. african-americans are looking at lyndon johnson and they see the promise of the war on poverty. but they have this in memory of him as a congressional leader and they view a lot of the assassination is less at lyndon johnson's adore and he is partially responsible. he also began to see things like the vietnam war's impact on the black community and the increased policing in the black community that results from this war on poverty in johnson's war on crime. and so over time, johnson's
legacy is really quite problematic among african americans to the extent that in the end as we all know by 1968 lyndon johnson who opens up his presidency with almost 80% kind of approval rating, drops to 35% by the time he is considering a run for election again and 68 to the extent have to drop out of that race. but ultimately, african americans still support lyndon johnson in some ways. but at the same time this long history of concern about him in the sense he's not a true advocate for african-american rights continues to play out. you see this even today things like the weight johnson is being depicted in things like the film selma, seen as being very confrontational and
created by african-american director and presented in that way. so i will leave it there. hopefully that's enough to spark some conversation about the ways lyndon johnson has been perceived by african americans the long history behind that. >> thank you. your reminder of what we learn from elizabeth book and also from our conversation reminds me one of the most in important things you and i have done over the last year's cohost a podcast on presidents and race relations going from abraham lincoln all the way up to joe biden looking at every single one it has been an amazing learning experience for us to encourage others to check that out if they would like. now return finally to market is currently the director of the lbj library and museum in
austin, texas is associate professor at the university of texas. he teaches on american international history and is the author among several books assuming the burden, europe and the american commitment to war in vietnam. also he is the author of a marvelous short history of the vietnam war which i use in my classes and i highly recommend to others. now is coming out with another book and finishing proofs and that look for it on shelves pretty soon entitled the end of ambition. the united states and the third world in the era of vietnam. and today he's going to tell us about presence of the arab vietnam one who has no reputational problems whatsoever, richard nixon. >> thank you will be very short talk. i would like to never hear me? i would like to start with a
story that takes us into the arena of the nixon presidency that may not be terribly familiar. may not be one that springs to mind. the subject is the relationship between the united states and brazil the story begins on december 13 covid 1968. that was the date when the brazilian military eliminated most remaining elements of brazilian democracy and a crackdown on every asset of civilian society. it started as it turned out a new era of economic prosperity badly worsen economic equality in the country. beginning to of widespread torture to ensure obedience of the regime. the johnson ministration suspended aid but left it largely up to the coming nixon to decide how to proceed. his answer came pretty quickly in may 1969 his administration restored aid to the resilient regime.
the group partly from the new administration broader effort to lower american ambition, to reshape brazil. and for that matter other developing countries in the world. nixon said in a nationally televised speech that the united states was entering a new era in which it could not hope to do everything. could not hope to promote democracy and development all over the world. and the democrat predecessor had done. not only that but he promised the united states as he put it deal realistically with latin american governments no matter their character remain clear the united states had moved on from this burden had come before us only a small number of years before. nixon decision may will have spode from a sympathy for the brazilian dictatorship and even for dictatorship as a form of government. if brazil was a dictatorship
on one occasion, captured on the taping assistant it should be said in order to cope with the disorders both internally and throughout latin america. now, even as human rights groups seized on the ute brazil congress open investigations into u.s. support for the regime, nixon doubled down on his partnership. when the brazilian president visited washington the administration praised brazil as a staunch ally and welcome the determination to fight at home and throughout the hemisphere. documents declassified only about ten years ago revealed the full extent to which nixon and his counterpart went in affirming their determination to overthrow fidel castro. but especially chile which is of course form some of the backdrop of the ultimately successful coup. and from this relationship
sprang the siege of operation condor the hemisphere wide scheme of cooperation among security services that went on to wage a campaign of counterterrorism for years to come. well okay, this is the kind of story that has long infuriated critics of richard nixon and i hasten to add his partner in foreign policy henry kissinger again to nixon was focused on the president a moral approach to foreign policy. his prioritization of stability above all at the expense of a concern with democracy for human rights or even economic development. what counted for nixon in other words was the extent to which a foreign nation served americans geostrategic interest rate the nature of the government and their attitude toward their own people mattered hardly at all amid what social sciences have
taken twitch hardheaded notions of national interest trump allegedly softheaded notions of democracy or social justice. so this kind of thing is of course one of many reasons why richard nixon has been the focus of so much disdain if not in fact hatred over the years. it is true that all of the news is not bad for richard nixon and his legacy, recent polls of presidential accomplishments ten presidential standings reveal nixon sometimes falls in the lowest but usually lands somewhere in that third and the company of safe martin van buren, zachary taylor, herbert kruger, jimmy carter. but clearly many of these men i've just named at the visceral dispassion first-year malevolence, dishonesty,
self-serving cunning bit is long hung around richard nixon. rick wilson sums it up says nixon is the modern exemplar of course at the heart of the judgment stands the sheer dishonesty, the illegality epitomized by the watergate break-in, the cover up running through any number of other episodes of richard nixon's long political career. and it speaks to his line of criticism. of course there's more to it than that. the anti- semitism, the racism that has been revealed on the recordings from the white house attest to a deeper kind of character problem that has
fueled a lot of nixon disliked or perhaps hatred. there also seems to me a third piece of this. nixon's distinctly paranoid style of politics. in the anti- instincts he seems to have embodied. in public opinion was for nixon often a force to be held in checked or even bypassed in order to free himself to proceed as he wished. so my brazil story speaks to some of this. some of the speaks different about richard nixon. it muddies the waters a bit and enables us to see the phenomenon of nixon hating part in a more complicated life in the realm of foreign policy after all is the realm weren't nixon would seem to be on his strongest footing. with the many champions point
out he achieved great accomplishments include the opening of china and the superpowers with the soviet union. what are consistently in all of the boldness of vision and risk-taking they embodied but also the dedication to peacemaking they seem to imply. and yet nixon hating us powerfully over the years by uglier developments in the international arena print in vietnam for example, dixon is often claimed to carry on the war for four years longer than it really had to be carried on at an enormous human cost only to achieve basically the same peace deal that was achievable when he first came to office in 1969. nixon's expansion opens an entirely new theater of horse elsewhere nixon through
american support for double down on american relationships with authoritarians and places as diverse as brazil, chile, pakistan on and on one could go. for many commentators this tolerance for brutality and they turn away from democracy provides a major reason to despise nixon. jimmy carter gave a classic formulation in his famous 1977 speech at notre dame university pretty said in part for too many years we have been willing to adopt a flawed and erroneous tactics of our adversary sometimes abandoning our values for theirs. vietnam he said was the best example of the intellectual and moral poverty of u.s.
poverty choices. but he blessed nixon's decision-making more generally and embrace of any dictator joined us. it kind of criticism perhaps peaked in the early 21st century with the publications the trial of henry kissinger which proposed no less than prosecution for the decision making during the nixon presidency. expressions of hostility nixon had departed from honored american traditions both in the content of his policies, especially the low regard as either practice or goal in the cynicism that lay at the heart of his political style. this is something critics on
both left and right agreed on. it's worth pointing out nixon's record particularly in the foreign policy realm is repute in some republican circles as early as 1976 and over time the gop would move further and await further away from realism and a moralizing approach to foreign policy that became with ronald reagan. but at the heart of this was the senses a moralism outside new traditions outside as jimmy carter might have put it in during american values. the unfortunate outcome as i think many moderate analysts of nixon's presidency might say is the throw into deep disrepute any reasonable sense of limits and interests might
have served the united states well at many points across american history. the real tragedy to put it differently of the hate surrounding nixon may be the sheer difficult sense of resurrecting fundamentally sound policy ideas that sat at core of nixon's presidency. so encrusted those ideas have become and the reputation of the 22nd president. i'll stop there there and turn it back to you. needless to say we never have as much time for discussion as we want. going to start us out with what i call a semi- speed around. feel free to answer if you think it's pertinent after that i've got a couple present questions for speed around. this first section is a volunteer if you will.
asked a fascinating question about an hour ago. he said attacks on the president were published in gazettes. the idea of how familiar americans both literate and illiterate were with this negative information. want to expand that just a little. office of the was directed at professor freeman. but i think it really speaks to the question of mass media and the ways in which flawed assessments of character are developed within the political electorate. so, for all of us, how did the media how to the public image of the president alter people's sense of like and dislike? >> that's a great question. i will say a couple of things. one of the facts they were worrying about in this early period, i guess i would say is a concern forever but in the early. it was on a really basic
level. that is a public opinion governs a republic. that is a truism. but what does that mean? who is the public? what do they think question marchetti figure out what they think? there's a hyper awareness in this early. as to what the public was thinking. and also a hyper awareness as to an invalid to define who that public was. some people like jefferson would have been very aware of what was being said. the public would have known. someone asked a question whether jefferson was criticized for his sexual life. there were curtains about his relationship with sally hemming for example. they were aware of things being said. presidents and politicians were aware it mattered but there is not a meeting point for what that meant yet. so, for that reason i think the early presidents for hyper alert to it and not sure what
to do with it yet. what's interesting to hear what everyone else is saying is in later times as the media becomes more sophisticated they understand with a pragmatic realism that the public and what they think as a very dramatic impact that in my early. was hard for them to judge. if somebody else want jump in on that media question about presidents hatred? matt? >> they were really successful at crafting their own media that's what part of what gave the movement shape and life their pioneers and radio they develop their own magazines they had very extensive networks among different denominations really can communicate back and forth. they could also do really biting curtains to illustrate their views. they really ran the whole spectrum and communicating their message. >> we show we are going to?
>> by the 19th century prince is being absolved by a large facets of the public. this is not just white mail citizens and a few african americans to the north. it is broadside its newspapers it's a petty press, it is an enormous more than we would imagine today of production of political cartoons. and even racist ones. african americans have their own which is pretty vigorous. and so there is a mass consumption of these. by the 19th century cap 78 -- 80% of those predominantly men vote at that
time. and politics is a mass entertainment think about all the iconic descriptions of the lincoln douglas debates people are coming and the professors of rhetoric and speech started paying far more attention to speeches also from that time. embers of congress who use their privileges to send out thousands of pamphlets to their constituents. it's absorbed in a sense not the way to do social media but it is far more than we are aware of it. people. >> i would add to that, when it comes up to the 1960s and lyndon johnson i think everyone knows how aware johnson was of the media and he had televisions everywhere and he was constantly commenting on what was written about him.
but also these issues he was dealing with, civil rights or vietnam and have protesters outside of the white house screaming hey, hey, lbj company boys as you kill today? that is going to make a difference. i think for lyndon johnson in particular the give and take of what he is seeing on tv and how it is influencing him they also control that message is something continues to resonate i think today. >> on nixon i would just add it was clearly a hyper attentiveness to media coverage like lbj. and yet, i think one could also say and again there may a close parallel with lbj a mishandling of the media and a way that ultimately redoubled
their reputation and image. it's interesting to think about maybe these two characters as early political career took place at a context of a very different relationship between political elites and that media of new technologies, the vietnam war, lots of other reasons it really changes. it seems like these guys were not very successful. i'm going to abuse a question offered by one of our anonymous attendees. and transform it a little bit to ask if any presidents and certainly those on our list have received a lot of hatred from within their own party. clearly we are seeing today there is a split in the republican party at the very least. i'm curious if you have other historical precedents of
presidents being so despised not from without but within? >> if i could pipe it really quickly just on jefferson, their northern republicans of his party they were not thrilled of that idea of the embargo. i would not said they were venting hate in the same way they were politely internally trying to champ that down. i think precisely because parties were not the norm in that. so there was no assumption about what was holding people together or not. probably for that very reason the boundaries were not as clear. people are a little less easy about that kind of within a party or than a group of people being held together informally tossing around that kind of hate. >> as far as lincoln is concerned he had his critics
especially amongst the radicals both of the issue of emancipation. but interestingly enough the relationship they've had was pretty constructive. i saw them as part of an antislavery alliance. has a visceral hatred of lincoln that his opponents did. later on some started backing off a little bit when they realized that lincoln was going to move ahead with emancipation and he was going to move ahead with recognition of that right. so radicals were critical. in 1864 there is a run-through of abolitionists who floated the idea of replacing lincoln with a more radical on the ticket.
as an ardent abolitionist like garrison are so prone lincoln that in the end all the abolitionists fell in line. as the great black abolitionist pennington put it lincoln is the only american president is given any recognition to african americans and have met with them in the white house and has listened to us. the idea of replacing him seems foolhardy. in the very and even these radicals who were critical of lincoln and buying into garrison's a notion to be part of this grand antislavery alliance in which we as a vanguard rebuilder dragged lincoln with us. >> fundamentalists, many is easy to hate fdr for there's a real discussion among the southern fundamentals they were instructing their congregants to both the democratic ticket in state and local elections but not in the
national election. basically said he can be a good democrat like your father, like your grandfather and not vote for fdr. there is a effort to break the local alliance with the national party. >> like lincoln i think lyndon johnson certainly was getting pushed from those who felt he was not acting quickly enough or responding soon enough to issues that were happening and civil rights. i think that just across the board he was catching it from the last from progressives but also from the right. this is partly why his poll numbers sink over the course of his administration. just because he's losing support on both ends which is ultimately unsustainable. >> mark on nixon? >> as i mentioned quickly in my presentation, nixon was
eternally criticized from his own party you can see that as the watergate crisis develops. you can also see it in a broader sense as the 1970s advances in a different brand comes powerfully to the floor that is quite critical of what he stood for foreign policy is the best place to see that. it's pretty broad critique of this relatively moderate style of politics and foreign policy and reagan does in a different direction. i would not call it hatred. i think it would call it something more like indifference or a desire to distance oneself from what had come just before but there certainly individuals who might be characterized as having hated nixon. barry goldwater gives us some of the most colorful language that anyone has given us and criticizing richard nixon. >> let me offer if i may a
bonus president bill clinton during the era of impeachment obviously he was justified by his enemies throughout his presidency. once he was impeached i think the senate democrats in particular wouldn't say they would go so far to say they hated clinton for what he did there recently disgusted by it. it's one of those cases not unlike our recent impeachments are the votes secret and were devote less scripted by party i think we would've gotten a much different vote in the end. this is our speed round if you will. everyone is got to answer. that question comes in from david long i love this question. in the final analysis, right person and his style of governing or the policies the president ex-spouse that led them to be so hated? we will go in reverse
chronological order to spin things up. so nixon? >> really the same question. in the interest of the speed round i'm going to say mostly it is the person. but i think the policies have been underemphasized as a reason for the hatred over time. >> johnson? >> i think it is a combination of both. if you look at something were johnson commissions this group to look into the reasons for some of the riots that happen in american cities with the best of intentions, but ultimately ignore the findings. the policy it seems to be there, but ultimately the personality gets in the way. >> roosevelt? >> i would say it was both he smoked, he drank, he was divorced to his spouses and all the things cause problems. he is also particular policy
in a global context. without them there would not have been as much fear of roosevelt or hatred. interesting, interesting. and abraham lincoln? >> yes the southerners did make a lot of fun of lincoln for being a person who chopped wood. it did to the northern masses. i would say it's far more policy. in here i'll take the opportunity to address one of the questions about race. was lincoln hated because the criticism of them was racist? : : :
so i think that connection between racism resettlement and policies takes us to the lincoln administration and reconstruction and gets redirected in the 20 century when it comes to people like johnson and nixon. >> i would say i'm going to offer a third option. jefferson not necessary policy that politics put himself forward as embodying his sword of small d democratic politics so he was needed in a sense for that combo. >> interesting. as is always the case there's so much more to say which is why we keep saying it. i want to thank our panelists for joining this roundtable.
obviously we would much rather have done these things in person and we look forward to doing them again in person but it was a wonderful conversation my thanks as well to a.j. aber doing these webinars over the last several months of the year. with that i will turn it back over to debbie. >> thank you. i just wanted to thank again our generous sponsors, the national endowment for the humanities, the stennis foundation the history channel and oxford university press. thanks to everyone who submitted questions today and finally a vice president to succeed a