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tv   Book Discussion on Through a Night of Horrors  CSPAN  August 28, 2015 6:42pm-6:52pm EDT

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of juneteenth. so he introduced a law making that a paid holiday. there were only eight african-american legislators black legislators in the legislature. and this bill passed. and it was signed into law. and it went into effect june 13, 1979. it was mainly here in the south where the celebration was -- you had a major celebration. today you have big celebrations in milwaukee. you have los angeles, washington d.c., new york, you know san antonio. there are a lot of -- over 40 states. we've been told that there are at least five foreign countries that even celebrate the juneteenth emancipation day. this date is very important
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because it showed that even though texas is a southern state, it had compassion for the african-americans' struggle of slavery. >> the c-span cities tour visits literary and historic sites across the nation. to hear from local historians, authors and civic leaders, every other weekend on c-span 2's book t.v. and c-span 3's american history t.v. this month, with congress on its summer recess, the city tours is on c-span each day at 6 p.m. eastern. >> hey... look at me. hurry!
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come on! come on! wait for it. wait for it. wait for it. >> welcome to galveston on book t.v. located on an island off the gulf coast of texas, it was the main port for the texas navy during the texas revolution and served as the provisional capital of the republic of texas. today it's visited by over six million tourists. with the help of our cable partners, we'll learn about the history of this coastal city from local authors. we begin with casey greene on the 1900 storm that decimated galveston. ♪[music]♪ >> the 1900 storm struck galveston saturday, september 8 1900. the storm began at noon
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increased in dramatic intensity and then finally tapered off toward midnight that evening. this hurricane was and still is the deadliest recorded natural event in the history of the united states. the destruction totaled about $28 to $30 million. certainly it was a destructive hurricane. there was major damage. but the death toll was why we remember the storm more than anything. it can happen again. saturday september 1900, people thronged to the beach. and the rising tide, the rising wind certainly drew them. they watched in amazement as pottboth of these physical factors
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battered the beach structures. at that time we had wooden bath houses out over the gulf of mexico. and we also had piers and we even had a huge pavilion called olympia by the sea. as the storm increased in intensity, these beap beach structures literally were turned into mashed decks by the hurricane. the problem is, people didn't realize that the storm would increase so rapidly. so they took refuge in their homes. especially outof broadway, our major thoroughfare. they thought their smaller homes would offer them refuge from a storm. little did they know that the storm would increase in ferocity. one gust was estimated in the neighborhood of 120 miles per hour or more, with a max storm
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surge of almost 16 feet. and by the time they realized that they had better leave their place of residence and move into the interior of galveston, it was too late. this is a panoramic map called a bird's eye map of galveston in 1885. it was drawn by cook. it gives us a pretty good idea of the physical layout and the buildings in galveston at that time. you will notice that the port of galveston, the harbor, is at the bottom of the map. and the gulf of mexico is at the top. you can also see the wood bath houses and a hotel here. the beach front. really, there wasn't much distance between the beach front and the city itself. broadway was and still is the major east-west thoroughfare
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through galveston. the city had stoutly built brick buildings north of broadway. but south of broadway, the houses were smaller and more flimsily built. the massive loss of life occurred particularly in this area. now, you can see that a hurricane coming in from the gulf would have swept over the city in one massive blow. well, typically after a major cataclysm, natural or man-made, there's a period of silence. people got up that sunday morning and it was just deathly still. and they went outside. we have an account that refers to the foul-smelling slime that covered galveston. but literally, at points in
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galveston south of broadway you could see nothing but an empty plain or a vast field, just literally houses and other buildings, smashed to matchsticks. this was a total loss. the city's infrastructure was destroyed. that includes streets telegraph lines, trolley lines trolley cars. literally the whole infrastructure houses, pets. literally the whole city was under water. much of it was destroyed. and the rest suffered physical heavy damage. there were massive casualties. most testaments place the loss of life in galveston at 6,000. i should mention that in the year 2000, galveston commemorated the centennial of the 1900 storm.
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"through a night of horrors" is a book that i and my coeditor, shell henley kelly, put together. it has survivor accounts. we estimated the loss in life on galveston island at approximately 8,000. many people were in town in galveston at that time. we have businessmen conducting their business that weekend. and you had vacationers, who wanted to wade in the gulf of mexico see the beach front, and they're included among the several thousand people we can't account for. there's no accurate or complete 1900 storm death list. we only have about 199 official death records. many of those bodies were unidentified. most of the list of people who died in the hurricane were
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prepared from anecdotal sources word of mouth. then there were several thousand more casualties up around galveston bay, up towards houston. this was a storm that was rapidly evolving, rapidly acting, but did a heck of a lot of damage and destruction in its wake. the recovery was a homegrown effort. of course, there were physical or i should say technological changes that happened as a consequence of the 1900 storm. but thousands upon thousands of workers came to galveston to remove the debris, to burn the bodies, for the bodies posed the threat of pestilence disease. at the same time, they provided housing for the


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