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tv   QA with Brad Snyder  CSPAN  May 1, 2017 6:00am-7:01am EDT

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>> tonight on, the communicators, we asked jeffrey we also do speak with chris lewis, their thoughts on the impact of the proposal. >> we think the rules that we got in 2015, the net neutrality rules are working. they are popular, the overwhelming majority of americans want have clear rules of the road for an open internet. we are concerned that he has gone down a path to review and potentially reveal -- repeal some of those rules. ,> from the internets inception it was free and open. there was not a problem. dystopianno controlled internet with anyone interfering with people's ability to post content or look at the content of their choice.
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>> watch the communicators tonight at eight eastern on c-span two. ♪ announcer: this week on "q&a," law professor and author brad snyder discusses his book "the house of truth, a washington political salon and the foundations of american liberalism." brian: brad snyder, your book is called "the house of truth." where did you get the title? mr. snyder: the title is what the people who lived there called the house in a self mocking way to characterize their debates.
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the people in the house that there was such a thing as truth, and that if you could corral and it -- corral enough experts and get the facts, you could arrive at the truth. this was part of their spell socko debate. -- their philosophical debate. brian: you said a couple of things, a salon and dupont circle. what is a salon? mr. snyder: it was a political gathering place. not a lot of automobiles, no television, little bit of radio. people entertain themselves by having dinner parties. in 1912, some disgruntled members of the cast -- the taft administration administration began inviting very prominent and not so prominent people over for dinner to discuss political ideas of the day. their main political idea was they thought that taft was a horrible president, and the way to save the country was to bring theodore roosevelt back to the white house. brian: why theodore roosevelt? mr. snyder: part of it was a
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cold personality, but also roosevelt saw the wisdom of their ideas about labor and minimum wage laws, the rights of labor unions. that was the principal issue around 1911, 1912, given the -- industrial accidents working conditions and low wages that were plaguing men, women, and children at the time. brian: where were you when this became an idea for a book? mr. snyder: i was living in a house not far from the actual house of truth. i was living at 1920 s street on the northwest side of dupont circle, about two blocks away. brian: when? mr. snyder: 10 years ago or so. brian: how did you find out about the house? mr. snyder: i found out about the house by reading history. ted white, who is a wonderful historian and biographer of oliver wendell holmes, wrote in his daughter footnotes -- in his
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bibliographical notes that not much has been written about the house of truth. a light bulb went off in my head. that i could use the house as a vehicle to discuss the evolution of american holiday and liberal law and politics. before the new deal. brian: before we talk about the individual, i want to put on the screen the ages of several of these men that were in the house at the time. one of the most interesting numbers is that oliver wendell holmes was 70 years old. and you have robert valentine, who was 37. guts and boredom --butzon borglum 44, louis brandeis 44, felix frankfurter 29. mr. snyder: holmes couldn't
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escape the shadow of his famous father who founded "the atlantic monthly." he was ready to go. then he meets this -- these ideas he didn't really believe in, but recognize the brilliance of the young men associated with the house. they recognized his brilliance as philosophy, his wit, intellectual curiosity, and they really bonded with each other. to the young people associated with this house, it took homes -- holmes from a relatively obscure justice in 1912 into a liberal icon by the time he leaves the court in the early 1930's. brian: you say that robert valentine was one of the most important people to get you the material you needed. who was he? mr. snyder: robert valentine has really been lost to history.
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he was tasked commissioner of -- indian affairs in 1911 he was living in the house of truth, which is 1787 19th street. his infant daughter had an undiagnosed milk allergy, while his wife and daughter went home -- to new england to nurse the child back to health, and he found himself a bachelor in this house. so he started inviting a few of his friends, one of whom was felix frankfurter, a future supreme court justice. the other was when for denison -- wynford denison. this is how the salon took shape. the reason why valentine is really important is twofold. he was really the visionary when it came to labor relations matters. he sort of set the agenda of the house. secondly, as you alluded to, his correspondence was incredibly important because valentine's
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writing on a daily basis to his wife, who is back in new england, about the comings and goings and who was at dinner at various nights of the house. a remarkable woman who i think in my management's -- i tha -- i thank in my acknowledgments -- valentines papers were languishing in a barn in vermont until they were rescued. we got a grant to process valentine's papers. it was almost like a diary of the house. brian: how did you find out about the valentine papers? mr. snyder: i just googled robert valentine papers, and this woman's linkedin page showed up. one of the things on her bio was archivist of valentine papers.
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i put on my journalist hat and started tracking her down. she was wonderful and incredibly helpful throughout the entire process because she not only had preserved the papers, but she -- two knew to generations of the family. she helped me fill-in facts which weren't always easy to fill in. brian: you talked about the massachusetts historical society. we've gotten a lot from them over the years. when you first showed up there, were they just inboxes? mr. snyder: they hadn't even arrange them in folders. they were kind enough at that early stage to allow me to look at the collection when it was unprocessed, which not a lot of archive institutions will allow you to do, but they trusted me to be able to do that. it was incredibly helpful because it allowed me to get the book rolling. once i realized i had valentine's papers, i realized i had a book and material that no one else had.
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brian: how long was this house of truth important? in writing the book. mr. snyder: it was about a six-year period to write the book. i sort of thought it would take me two to three years to write some of my prior books, but this was a four character narratives that spanned 20 some years. six years and two kids later, i was finished. brian: we talked about one of the people in this book. you have pictures on the cover of the book, and one of them is felix frankfurter. who was he? mr. snyder: felix frankfurter was a young idealistic lawyer who had gone to work for henry stimson, who was tasked secretary of war -- who was taft's secretary of war. he worked for him in the u.s. attorney office in new york.
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simpson had been the u.s. attorney. valentine' the visionary of the house, then frankfurter is the one who has the talent for bringing all these people into the house. he is a huge extrovert. he is incredibly interested in ideas. he really carries on the house . valentine passes away -- carries on the house. valentine passes away quite suddenly with other sitting around the table. it is frankfurter who carries on the house and helps found the new republic with the fourth person on the book, who is a very young and precocious man. brian: here is a picture of walter lippmann. who is he? mr. snyder: at the time he joined with this frankfurter new republic crowd, he was a kosher -- precocious is harvard college , graduate, and a socialist.
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it was when he joined the new republic with herbert croley, felix frankfurter, and others that he became more of a traditional liberal. overtime and during the course of my book, i discussed how lippmann makes the move from socialist too liberal to conservative columnist. brian: how conservative was he at the end? mr. snyder: pretty conservative. he was isolationist for world war ii. he wrote some columns about the he- not sees -- opposed fdr in 1932 for the presidency, and subsequently opposed him for reelection, so quite conservative. brian: why borglum on the cover? mr. snyder: what does the man who built rep must more -- built mount rushmore have anything to do with 20th century liberals?
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like frankfurter and lippmann, he was convinced that the or roosevelt should to return to the right house -- to the white house in 1912, and was very active in his reelection campaign. that is what brought borglum into the house. it wasn't just this one moment in time. borglum stayed friends with oliver wood homes. the book opens with him drawing on the tablecloth on began rotating lost his precursor to mount rushmore. holmes, who had been wounded during the civil war and really admired his confederate counterparts, was just astonished that the idea of carving historical figures into the side of a mountain. and his friendship with homes and frankfurter lasts until the very end of their lives. the day after holmes dies in 1935, borglum makes a death mask
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of his face. if not for fdr, there is no mount rushmore. he was able to bring huge amounts of federal funding that allowed it to be completed. brian: where are you from originally? mr. snyder: outside washington, d.c. in maryland. brian: where did you go for your law degree? mr. snyder: i went to yale. -- i went to duke university. brian: where have you been teaching? mr. snyder: i've been teaching for the last nine years at the university and wisconsin, and i will be starting at the georgetown law school. brian: what do you focus on? mr. snyder: the older i get, the less expertise i think i have. constitutional law is my main
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area of expertise. brian: you've done a couple of books on sports. mr. snyder: the first one was called "beyond the shadow of the center," about a baseball team in washington in the 1940's, and a second book called "a well-paid slave." brian: let's go back to this house at 1727 19th street northwest here in washington, d.c. you have a picture in the book of felix frankfurter standing on the steps, and it was a brownstone type. now it is painted all white. have you been inside the house? mr. snyder: i haven't. i am dying to be inside the house. i had pictures from the inside of the house at the time that i felt like, since the house had been remodeled a couple times, that it wasn't going to help me
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with finishing the book. but i would love to get inside the house and get into the crows nest where walter lippmann lived with his new wife. it would be fascinating for me to step foot in the house. brian: during this time period, how many people lived in this house? mr. snyder: it was longer than six years, from 1912 to 1919. once the run up to world war i starts, people start coming and going in the house. five to six people lived in that house at any one time. at the height of the house, you had felix frankfurter, robert valentine, when for denison -- a canadian citizen, and attache to the british embassy. that was five people initially. people were just coming and going. brian: i want to go back to that
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chart we showed of how old people were in 1911. and then i want to show a picture from 1925. first let's do the 1911, which lists all of the people that were in that house. there you have the age of people in 1911 that we have just been talking about. the youngest being walter lippmann, the oldest being oliver wendell holmes. then i want to switch to the 1925 photo of the u.s. supreme court. sitting there on the court is oliver wendell holmes junior, who is second from the left. but on the far left is james mcreynolds, and up top on the far right is louis brandeis. in the middle is the former president of the united states william howard taft. what is he doing there? mr. snyder: taft has the unique
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distention of being a former president sitting on the supreme court as chief justice. a move that people speculated might be in obama's future. i doubt it, but people speculated that. taft really helped remake that court into a much more conservative court. when warren harding becomes president and a liberals like felix frankfurter are kind of in the wilderness, harding, and a short period of time -- he only spent three years in office -- a point four members to the court, including taft. after that, he helps harding select very conservative people to the court and tilted in a conservative direction. these three liberals in that photo are brandeis, the man in the upper right corner of the photo, and some people would say that holmes is a liberal, although he is difficult to categorize. not liberal by today's
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standards. james mcreynolds, louis brandeis brian: they are both from , kentucky. tell us that relationship. mr. snyder: both of them nominees of woodrow wilson. mcreynolds was wilson's attorney general, who had a liberal reputation as a trust buster, both before he joined the wilson administration and while he was in the administration. he goes on to become one of the most conservative and supremely racist and anti-semitic supreme court justices in history. but just to tell you how diverse the people were who were dining at the house of truth, when mcreynolds becomes the attorney general, he dines at the house of truth. robert valentine comes down from massachusetts, and felix frankfurter arranges a dinner with reynolds. they get into this debate about civil service -- frankfurter and
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mcreynolds get into this debate about civil service. of course, frankfurter thinks people should be hired based on merit. mcreynolds says, but what about all these people who have been approaching me about getting their favorite political candidates hired? frankfurter's report was, attorney general, you are responsible for the american people, not the politicians who are knocking on your door for constituents to get in the justice department. brian: there are stories that meant that mcreynolds wouldn't even sit in the same room with brandeis to have a picture taken. what was that personal relationship? mr. snyder: that story is apocryphal. there is a wonderful article in the journal of supreme court history that there is no truth to the rumor that there was no photo in 1923 because mcreynolds refused to have his photo taken
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next to brandeis. that is not true. what is true is that mcreynolds was incredibly nasty to brandeis and incredibly nasty with sir goes out -- with zaragoza, the second jewish justice. that enmity is true. brian: harlan fiske stone had just gotten on the court in 1925. what was unique about his confirmation process? mr. snyder: he was the first supreme court justice to testify before the u.s. senate. he testified about a very discrete issue when he had been an attorney general -- had been coolidge's attorney general. he was the first person ever to testify. the first person to testify about any subject was felix frankfurter in 1939. after that, every supreme court nominee testified after frankfurter. he started the tradition, but
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the first person to testify was stone. he is sort of the shadow figure in the house, louis brandeis. his nomination by wilson, the liberals were sort of outraged by the nomination of mcreynolds. he became this huge conservative force on the court, and the people wanted a liberal. when brandeis was nominated, they were apparently gasps on the senate floor. they couldn't believe wilson had nominated someone who had such a radical reputation. one of the people most outraged about his nomination was then ex-president william howard taft, whose comments privately about the nomination or pretty ugly -- the brandeis nomination were pretty ugly. there were some anti-semitic stereotypes.
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i didn't say in the book that taft was anti-semitic. he was making become us to a jewish person. but the comments talking about brandeis and his theoretical research incision so he could -- theoretical recircumcision was pretty ugly. brian: brandeis has a university named after him in the boston suburbs. harvard. the president of harvard was anti-semitic, and they had a jewish quota. what was that about? mr. snyder: during the brandeis confirmation process, before merrick garland, brandeis waited longest for agents it is eerie -- for a senate judiciary committee hearing. no one had waited that long until merrick garland. there is a huge petition in boston led by lowell, the president of harvard, anti-semitic, asking the u.s. senate not to confirm brandeis.
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they felt like he was dishonest and a trickster, and all the sort of stereotypes. with the new republic did which was really brilliant was show all the personal connections of all these people of this position -- of this petition. the new republic was really lippmann and frankfurt leading the charge for brandeis's confirmation showing that this was just prejudice. frankfurter was jewish, also, and lippmann was a bit of a self hating jew. they signed this petition for in group loyalty and nothing else. they tried to stay away from charges of anti-semitism. they do not want to make it into a jewish thing. brian: you get the sense that back in those days, some of the jewish people were anti-black or didn't care about civil rights?
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mr. snyder: i think everyone associated with this house, race wasn't a salient issue for them. they cared about the rights of workers. it took all of her wendell holmes junior and some of his opinions -- oliver wendell holmes junior in some of his opinions that found that the supreme court struck down a terminal conviction under the due process laws. that was a huge moment in putting fair criminal trials in the liberal agenda and linking the idea of fair criminal trials with race. brian: felix frankfurter became a justice in 1939. if you take brandeis's seats? mr. snyder: no, there was a clamor for brandeis to retire to make way for frankfurter. i am writing about this in my next book about justice
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frankfurter. when i am currently writing is a chapter about how and why felix frankfurter gets nominated to the supreme court. most people assumed it was just a done deal because of his close relationship with franklin roosevelt. that is just not the case. brian: when you hear judge gorsuch sitting in his nomination hearing say that the court is not political, he is not political, and then you think back to felix frankfurter and louis brandeis and oliver wendell holmes, what is your reaction? mr. snyder: holmes was the least political. he didn't read newspapers. his only source of news was the new republic. the reason he read "the new republic" was because he admired croley and lippmann and frankfurter. other than that, he didn't care about news or politics.
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frankfurter and brandeis were real local animals. -- political animals. i think all justices have certain constitutional values. brian: in the case of felix frankfurter, how close was he to fdr? mr. snyder: very. both brandeis and frankfurter are engaged in extra visual activity. -- extrajudicial activity. they were still active in political affairs in the executive branch while sitting on the court, which -- which today would be a gross violation of the separation of powers. back then people did that. herbert croley started it in 1914. really in conjunction with people who lived in the house, felix frankfurter who was one of the original incorporators of "the new republic."
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they found walter lippmann to be an editor of "the new republic." originally they saw it as an outlet. brian: this is the original 1914 cover. mr. snyder: originally they saw it as an outlet for what they regarded as theodore roosevelt ideas, this idea of a big federal government. they said hamiltonian means for jeffersonian ends. they believe they could help people through the federal government. brian: we will go back to parse that. hamiltonian means for jeffersonian ends. mr. snyder: which means you can protect people's liberty and freedom for a robust federal government. that was their idea. theodore roosevelt really embodied that idea. what happened is, after theodore roosevelt lost the white house in 1912, he became a huge critic of woodrow wilson, particularly his foreign-policy.
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woodrow wilson was elected in a four-way race. taft and roosevelt split the republican votes, and roosevelt -- and wilson was the first democrat since grover cleveland to be in the white house. brian: so all those folks that were in the house of truth, how many of them were for woodrow wilson? mr. snyder: brandeis was for wilson, and the others of the house were upset about that. they didn't like that he was writing articles in "harpers weekly" that they were pro-wilson ideas. they wanted an outlet for their pro-tr ideas. that is how you get "the new republic." it happens is they start being critical of tr. they see him as hypocritical on issues such as the german invasion of belgium. at the time tr said one thing
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and then later on he was , criticizing the wilson administration for not taking more forceful action after germany invades belgium before world war i. tr gets really angry at the criticism. he is really thin-skinned. he called the editor to the "republic" -- i think there was a lot of xenophobia. more and more jews were occupying high places in the government. people like louis brandeis, felix frankfurter. there was a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment at the time, and i think that was part of it. brian: you spoken a lot about that. did you do a book on that? mr. snyder: i didn't, but it is like a book was the book here in
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"the house of truth." brian: who was sacco and who was vanzetti? this picture has vanzetti on the left. mr. snyder: they are to italian -- to italian -- two italian anarchists who are convicted outside of boston of robbery and murder of a paymaster. they killed the company's payroll database deal a company's payroll and kill the guard. -- they steal a company's payroll and kill the guard. the appeals process goes on for six years and the trial was in 1921. it causes all sorts of national and international attention. the communist party was deeply involved in the case. it wasn't until felix
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frankfurter decided to read the record for what he had read, and that the prosecution and not be on the up and up. he writes a very long article in "the atlantic monthly" about the case. he turned that article into a short book. that really turns the case in 1927 into a national call to celeb. they -- the call was that they had not been afforded a fair trial. what was on trial was there italian anarchist believes -- beliefs. brian: you go back to the video and you see huge crowds. they march into the court, they are handcuffed. why were the crowds a big in those days? what was the issue for people who lived in the boston area? mr. snyder: it was a sensational case. it was one of the so-called trials of the century.
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that is amazing footage. they were not actually sentence to death --sentenced to death until 1926. -- 1927. what came out was at the trial judge has made all these extrajudicial comments to people , during the trial and he would , say just wait and see what i do to these anarchists. brian: where were they from? mr. snyder: they were from italy. at think sacco was trying to repatriate back to italy before when he was arrested. brian: why did they come to the united states? mr. snyder: i don't know. brian: why would you be an anarchist?
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guest: they were against of the u.s. involvement in world war i. --mr. snyder: they were against the u.s. involvement in world one. -- world war i. the historical consensus was that sacco was innocent and vanzetti was not. a lot of witnesses were badgered into testifying. the ballistics experts for the state's testimony to mislead the jury about the bullets in sacco's possession. there is a lot of evidence that existed, even based on the
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transcript itself that the trial was not on the up and up. it would have today resulted in a new trial. that is what liberals wanted. frankfurter and listed everyone to try to save sacco and vanzetti. host: what were they like? he was 5'6", spoke with a slight german accent. he came to this country not speaking a word of english and then he was number one in his class at harvard law school. by age 30 he has worked for three presidential administrations. he was a prosecutor under theodore roosevelt and he worked
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in the taft administration. he also worked in the wilson administration. brian: would you have liked him personally? mr. snyder: everyone who knew felix frankfurter on a social basis like him. -- like tim. he was intense. there was an exhibit about frankfurt called a passionate intensity. brian: what was louis brandeis like? mr. snyder: he was a little bit more of a cold fish. brandeis had this real reserve. it was almost a studied reserve. he did not emote. even his letters, they are
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bullet points. one line after another, there is no feeling in those letters. brian: what was oliver wendell holmes like? mr. snyder: he was a lot like frankfurter. he liked to talk about ideas. they were attracted for many reasons. holmes had this twinkle in his blue eyes and connected with this younger generation. brian: i want to put up on the the stone mountain carving and there is a story here. what was it and what happened? mr. snyder: in their early teens, he begins at two cards of these confederate leaders into the side of -- to carve these
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confederate leaders into the side of a mountain and he also joined the ku klux klan. borglum had a falling out with the klan and he gets fired as the sculptor. he had to flee and destroy his models and he has to flee for his life. to the hills of georgia. into north carolina. he had finished two figures and was starting on a third. brian: were any of these people in this crowd involved in mount rushmore? mr. snyder: some would say he was just interested in people funding his big projects. borglum became a political animal.
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i don't think that is only the case. he was from the west, he was interested in the plight of western farmers and the plight of workers and his politics in many ways were aligned with people like felix frankfurter. there is a populism attached to his politics. and there were people in the roosevelt administration who helped him make mount rushmore. it was this project at the height of the great depression. coolidge gave him his initial federal funding. hoover carried it on a little bit but then he campaigned hard , borglum campaigned hard for fdr and fdr enabled rushmore to become rushmore.
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[video clip] >> with you think this work will be completed? >> i am trying to finish it so the figures will be done by 1975 sufficiently to allow the president to unveil it. >> and the inscription? >> that may take another year. we are planning -- to start this year and that may lead the work on till 1936. brian: have you been out there? mr. snyder: i have. the national park service runs mount rushmore. they also have archives of mount rushmore history. that was incredibly helpful. that was a great clip you showed. fdr does unveil the jefferson in 1946. it is a huge moment caught on the newsreels. there is a photo of it in my book. borglum never actually finished
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mount rushmore. the inscription never gets done. in 1931. mount rushmore was never finished in the elaborate way that he wanted. mount rushmore is this perfect symbol -- this is perfect symbol of american liberalism. -- it is an imperfect symbol of american laser -- american liberalism. some of the blind spots of liberals was race during this period. mount rushmore is carved on sacred indian land. mount rushmore is really celebrating our government but there is also a negative side to it as well. brian: going back to the new republican, is there anyway you can put that into the context of today? how big of a publication was it? mr. snyder: it was an insider's
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publication. litman -- he had amazing sources, especially in the wilson administration. in the run-up to world war i, that is when it was at its height. the exact figures i can't give you. i would figure 15,000-20,000. it was really an insider's publication. the republican presidential candidate charles edward hughes, past and future supreme court justice, he subscribed to the publication. the amount of people who subscribed was a who's who of washington. if you wanted to know what was happening in washington you read the "new republic." brian: anything like it today? mr. snyder: the news media was so democratized by the internet. washington is a different place today.
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brian: does it these folks who we have been talking about, did they marry and have children? are any of the ancestors still around? mr. snyder: walter lippmann never had children. his wife was at the first woman to live in the house of truth. felix frankfurter had met his wife at the house of truth. they never had any children. oliver wendell holmes and his wife never had any children. brandeis had children. he had two daughters. elizabeth and susan. some of his grandchildren are still living and one of them used to teach at the university of wisconsin multiple. -- wisconsin law school. brian: did you know him or her? mr. snyder: i have met him.
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there is some offspring of the house of truth. borglum married and had two children. i have met some of his offspring as well. his great-granddaughter was incredibly helpful to me in writing this book. brian: he named his son lincoln, did that have anything to do with what he was doing at mount rushmore? mr. snyder: i think he named him lincoln because he loved lincoln. he did an amazing carving straight out of marble of abraham lincoln that sits in the u.s. capitol rotunda today. son robert said it was the best likeness. brian: i have to ask you about walter lippmann's second marriage and how that happened. mr. snyder: walter lippmann was having an affair with the wife of his best friend, helen. it is what it is.
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his first wife and he were really mismatched. his first wife like the theater and was not interested in politics. she was more of a new york person and lippmann lives and breathes politics. his best friend was a foreign policy person and he was having a long-term affair with his wife. it was not until their love letters were discovered that they went public with the affair. it cost him some dear friends. people for a time severed his friendship with lippmann. brian: who was leonard hand? mr. snyder: one of the great federal judges never to be on the supreme court of the united states. brian: what makes him so great? mr. snyder: he was a really great writer. he had a way with language. holmes was a beautiful writer.
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and also. he was one of the integral members of this crowd. he would come to the house of truth. he was friends with holmes and frankfurter and lippmann. hand was all in favor of tr in brian: being the founder? 1912. mr. snyder: of "the new republic" and others. brian: where did they get the money? mr. snyder: there were a couple of financial backers. huge financial backing. one was an associate for jpmorgan, you had whitney, who had a huge fortune. brian: not unlike today where a lot of these magazines have billionaire backers? mr. snyder: yes, like jeff bezos backing "the washington post."
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brian: also all the websites. the weekly standard as well as mr. snyder: "the new republic" was never intended to be a profit-making enterprise. croley knew the magazine was going to lose money and he is quoted saying dorothy, she is going to get a little education for her money but was not going to profit. brian: when you started reading -- did you have to go to massachusetts? mr. snyder: a great place to do research. brian: when did you go up there? mr. snyder: 2010, 2011. brian: did you have full run of the boxes? mr. snyder: i had enough of the correspondence that i knew i had all the correspondence not only between valentine and his wife
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. winnifred dennison was one of the original members of the house. they were all writing each other as well. frankfurter was writing to valentine as well. i have all these overlapping correspondence. it gave me a lot of the pieces of the puzzle. brian: when you are doing your research, what do you do with all that information? how do you catalog? mr. snyder: i take digital photos of the documents and then i organized the digital photos according to boxes and folder numbers as they are arranged so i can find them again. just reviewing those the documents on your computer, reading those letters takes time because most of them are written in longhand. it is reading other people's mail or reading someone's diary. it is really fun.
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what i really get from it and i think a lot of people this of this is robert valentine wasn't before 1939, there was no more important influence on frankfurter then valentine. brian: he died what year? mr. snyder: 1916. brian: his wife died in 1953? mr. snyder: yes. she was sort of carrying a torch for him for the rest of her life. she was a sad story. she was raising her daughter and she was really good friends with frankfurter's wife marion. marion described her as a shadowy, with the figure --shadowy, whispy figure. one poignant moment, sophia valentine stays in washington and retraces the steps of all the places she and her late
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husband had been. marion frankfurter stayed with sophia valentine into the 20's. brian: do you know who owns the house now? mr. snyder: i do not know. i'm tempted to just write an anonymous letter. brian: do you know how many people have of that house? mr. snyder: the sticker price -- it is a white and blue house now and it was red brick at the time. brian: it is shown to be worth 1,000,005. mr. snyder: back in it. less money but i knew i did not have that much money. brian: let's go back to the original list of how we showed
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how people were back then. i want to ask you a question. you can see the age ranges from 22-70. if you put valentine, homes frankfurter, lippmann and , the others in that house today, what would their politics be? mr. snyder: i'm not sure. their politics were different. louis brandeis was more suspicious of a larger federal government. he backed woodrow wilson. you had felix frankfurter he was pro-theodore roosevelt. valentine leaves the taft administration, it is on the first page of the paper because he is the highest in the taft administration to leave and work for the newspaper.
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host: what would they think about our election this year? guest: when he loses the republican party candidate, he runs as a third-party candidate. you have a socialist party candidate who we have not even talked about, eugene debs gets 900,000 votes in that election and then you have the former president of princeton, governor of new jersey woodrow wilson -- he becomes the first democrat in the white house says grover cleveland. -- since grover cleveland. that is a much more chaotic election.
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brian: who is responsible for naming the house of truth and was it serious? mr. snyder: it is a completely self mocking name for the house. the one who is attributed to the name of the house is holmes. he had a gift for language and could turn of phrase. the person who holmes thought name to the house of truth was a guy named denison. along with frankfurter and valentine, started the house. brian: how hard was this book to write? mr. snyder: it was hard to write because i felt like i was telling four books in one. i was telling all their stories during this period. i tried to make their stories
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flow and not repeat myself but i still wanted to chronologically proceed with the story and the political and legal developments and the way that change over time occurred from 1912 until 1932. brian: what do you want this book to do? mr. snyder: i want to show people that liberalism did not sprout up with the election of franklin roosevelt in november . brian: are you a liberal? mr. snyder: i guess so. liberals have rebranded themselves as progressives. i certainly call myself -- what happened was liberals began to form these networks. networks of politicians, lawyers, journalists and artists. even though they were not in political power all the way up until 1932, these networks were doing a lot of work for them.
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they were undertaking a lot of political change. that is the major contribution of this book, to show the early developments of american liberalism, a lot of which took place at this house. brian: is there anything like this going on today? mr. snyder: this is a quintessentially washington story where young, idealistic college graduates come and live in a house together and have dinner parties and to network with various people. they might be working on the hill are working as counsel to a senator. this is in some ways a quintessential washington story but in terms of forming networks that are changing the world, i think they -- i think the conservatives have done a good job with this particularly with the federalist society. starting in the 1980's,
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conservatives have built some incredible networks that have resulted all the way to the nomination of judge gorsuch. brian: oliver wendell holmes was on the court for 2000 some days -- 10 thousand some days, what would be his biggest legacy? mr. snyder: his free speech of dissents. brian: what would have been louis brandeis' biggest legacy? mr. snyder: free speech, this idea of a constitutional right to privacy which he had written in his on dissent. brian: did conservatives not believe in free speech? mr. snyder: the peoples who free speech -- whose free speech they were protecting were people
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who were not popular and were being prosecuted under the espionage act. brian: how far away are you from this other brooke -- of this other book being completed? mr. snyder: probably five or six years. felix frankfurter's legacy was a profound believe in the federal government and what it could accomplish during periods like the new deal. brian: of all these people you read about, who do you think you would have least liked? mr. snyder: lippmann. i admire him, he is a wonderful writer. i felt like walter lippmann was out for walter lippmann. brian: how much did you find that had already been written about him? mr. snyder: there has been a lot written about him. others are still writing about him. what makes my book different than other books about them is
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relationship with each other and how these relationships with each other impacted their lives. brian: you are married and where did you meet your wife? mr. snyder: i met my wife in washington in dupont circle not for -- not far from the house of truth. about 10 years ago. brian: how many children do you have? mr. snyder: two. brian: how old are they? mr. snyder: one is four and the other is six. they help me keep it real. brian: the name of the book is "the house of truth: a washington political salon and the foundations of american liberalism." our guest has been brad snyder and we thank you. ♪
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