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tv   QA Holly Jackson American Radicals  CSPAN  December 8, 2019 10:59pm-12:01am EST

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sen. sanders: thank you very much. sen. sanders: thank you. >> [indiscernible] tonight, holly jackson discusses her book about the people inspired by the founding fathers who worked to spread freedom and equality in the united states during the 19th century. then, two democratic presidential candidates on the
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campaign trail. first we take you to new hampshire where joe biden spoke to voters, introduced by former secretary of state john kerry. after that, to iowa, where senator bernie sanders spoke to potential caucus-goers. ♪ susan: you have a new book called american radicals. what years does your book cover? prof. jackson: the earliest event in the book is 1817. it covers 1823 to 1870's.
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>> this is described as the second american revolution. why is that? prof. jackson: the radicals in my book were calling for a second american revolution based on what the revolution we know, fought by their father's generation -- many had grandfathers who fought in the revolution. they described that revolution as merely political. they felt it had accomplished a separation from england. it had accomplished the foundation of a new political system. but the social revolution they had in mind would have to follow that merely political revolution in order to really bring into american life the ideals of the founding that had to do with equality, with justice, that were glaringly not part of lived american experience, even in this new land. >> why was the declaration of independence so important?
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prof. jackson: it is kind of a touchstone in the book. a document that is quoted by all of these actors and is rewritten a number of times by the women's movement and by antislavery activists, by labor activists, by john brown, by a lot of different figures. in part, i think it reminds people that the very founding of the nation was done with a radical manifesto. it was an act of protest. i think -- they thought it was a powerful protest technique to hold americans to their own standard. to say, surely these are our values as stated in our founding document. they wanted to rewrite it to kind of extend -- they wanted a rolling revolution where the american revolution could be modified moving forward.
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they felt the founding fathers had built to in with the amendment system. i think it also brought attention to the fact that the country started as a kind of radical experiment. it was going to be a new kind of community. people would make it up together. it was very recent. we are talking about the beginning of 1820's, this is very recent for the people living at that time. there was a feeling that it could be better. susan: i will make the case for people listening to us. why would someone living today care about this period of time? why should they? prof. jackson: the civil war period -- i am a specialist on the 19th century, so i think it is the most important, crucial moment of our history that you really should know something about to think about america in any subsequent period.
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in terms of thinking about this period, the golden age of activism and social justice mobilization, we are living in another such moment where americans are coming out and getting engaged and politics are feeling a little bit less like a spectator sport for people on the left. a lot of the same social issues that the book covers are still relevant today. people in this book were outraged by issues like family separation and like sexual assault on women and the devaluation of black lives, etc. this period provides a really crucial precursor to our own moment. susan: a couple of touch points you write about that i wanted to put on the record. 1824, the first election without a founding father. why was that significant? prof. jackson: people think of
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the 1820's or the jacksonian period as a period of democratization in american politics. the requirements were loosening up so you did not have to be a property holder to vote. people were welcoming an era of universal male suffrage, which meant universal for white men. there was a feeling that -- kind of like a populist politics was taking hold in the 1820's. that election is also significant because the founding generation was passing away. the introduction starts on the fourth of july, 1826, which -- they called it the jubilee. the 50th anniversary of the signing of the declaration of independence. on that day, both john adams and thomas jefferson died, famously, which people took to be some sort of a message, a divine message.
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it also suggested a passing of the guard moment. people felt a great deal of anxiety. the founders had been there and seen the revolution, had engineered this new political system, then had shepherded the country through, for a period of time. this was a moment were a new generation was going to have to -- if the nation was to survive, a new generation was going to have to take on the challenge. it was a moment when increasingly the crisis over slavery was heating up after 1820. the obstacles to that continuity were felt very acutely. susan: it was during that time, marquis de lafayette made a triumphal tour of america. how widely was that covered in the american press?
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what did it mean to people? prof. jackson: it was the event. he was called the nation's guest. everywhere he went, the entire town closed down business and turned out. there were massive parades. he was welcomed in all the states. people were weeping openly. they were throwing flowers from every window. they were pulling him in six white horses and beautiful carriages. he was welcomed by the president and all the living presidents, the washington elite, the cultural elite everywhere. what is interesting about that is that he is a link, a personal link to that revolutionary history. when he came to the united states in 1824 to start this triumphant victory lap tour around the nation's 50th anniversary, he had as his secret guest, frances wright, who ended up being the most notorious activist and leftist
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figure of her moment. in all likelihood she was his young mistress. she was accompanying him in a secret way. they exchanged very intimate letters. in a way, that relationship provides at the beginning of the book, that link between the revolutionary moment in the history there, and she is kind of a starting point for certain genealogy of activism that looks forward from that point. susan: we are going to talk about wright later on. another frenchman made a tour of the united states. alexis de tocqueville, his view for europe of what was happening in the united states. how do americans view his work and his observations of our society at that point? was it impactful? prof. jackson: it is interesting. i guess he was here the same
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moment, and his work has been more lasting. if you look at tocqueville, you get the same view of america you get from -- there was a frenchman also traveling with fanny wright's party who was describing the tour of lafayette across the country, and his journal was a major source in trying to piece together where lafayette and fanny wright went. it is interesting to see european view of slavery, how that looks to tocqueville. with that and fanny wright's letters, it was the best way to understand how it must have looked to an outsider, as well as systems like voting and -- not exactly town halls, but
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community discussions around voting. you get description of the practice of democracy from tocqueville. if anything, that is -- it remains the kind of move, perhaps the most important political document because it is so interesting to have that outsider perspective, which certainly frances wright was bringing to the table. susan: you write that the quest for democratic reforms in france provided a cautionary tale for americans. how so? prof. jackson: americans were concerned about the threat that a continuation -- that any mention of a continuation of the revolution would lead to a longer period of instability and also violence and potential regime change that france saw after their resolution -- there revolution.
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there was a feeling that the united states had established a working system and social peace after the revolutionary period. there is a conservative period that was focused on state making that also really saw the de-secularization of america. there was a conservative turn. part of that was to say what the founders did his final, this is not a social system that can be remade with every generation, and that we need to freeze in amber what we have. the violence of france continued to be a cautionary tale. even throughout the century. in 1871, you had this scare around the idea of communism that really shaped the labor movement in the american context in the late century as well. also the mainstream response to those movements.
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susan: to understand the changes america -- you start with a snapshot of america is your story opens in the 1820's. how many states at that point? prof. jackson: there were only 24 states. it was not the united states that we know today. the 1820's was a period where we were seeing rapid westward expansion. part of what was causing the heightened sectional crisis around slavery, there were 2 million enslaved people when the book opened. that is a number that would double by the civil war. starting in 1820 we started to have this heated battle as new states like missouri came up for admission to the union. they had been territories, and as settlers moved west and the country expanded, there was always the question whether these new territories would be admitted as areas that would
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allow enslaved people to be owned as property and laborers or whether they would be free states. with each one of these, it gets triggered massive political disputes and the threat always of says session and of civil war -- secession and of civil war. the government and congress brokered a series of compromises that managed to kick that can down the road for decades, but it felt like a very incendiary, explosive kind of moment, even though -- there was this insistence on social peace, even punctuated by moments where it felt like it could have come apart at any time. susan: if slavery existed in the south and they were fighting over it in the expansion areas, what was the state of african-americans in the northern part of america at that time? prof. jackson: i started with -- i point to the free communities in cities like philadelphia and
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boston and new york city, as really the beginning of activist communities that the rest of the book traces. they were -- they were robust, healthy populations of free people in all of these urban centers, but to call them free is misleading because their lives were very constrained. they were not enslaved. there is a figure in the book, james forten, a major figure early on, his children and grandchildren stay relevant to the end of the book. he served in the revolutionary war. his father and his grandfather had lived in philadelphia, had not been enslaved. he himself was a wealthy businessman. he owned multiple properties. even for someone like james forten, who had the most privileged life imaginable for an african-american in the 1820's, his opportunities for
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education were constrained. in philadelphia, the quakers were such a presence he could get a good education. he had the opportunity to train for a trade. these were not opportunities that were open to all free african-americans. there is also the constant threat of kidnapping. one had to carry papers. these papers had to be produced on demand at any time. there was a threat that even though you were free and your family had been free for generations, people were concerned about their children and their children's' safety. i have tried to show how in that context of circumspection and threat, these communities flower and created community institutions like churches and mutual aid societies and also reading groups and literacy groups and they were building a community by which they could
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sustain one another in a context where the country was not doing much. susan: in regards to women, what rights did women have in the 1820's and 1830's? prof. jackson: at that time -- not that many. women did not have the right to -- certainly did not have the right to vote. there was no way they could go to college. women lost their legal identity in marriage, or it was subsumed under that of their husband. handling their own wealth, even if it was inherited wealth. all of these things were subsumed under their husband. there were not opportunities for lives other than a strict march from being a girl in your father's house to being a wife in your husband's house, whose
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identity was secondary to men all the way through. we see really striking change in that. frances wright is an early figure who defies that. by the end of the century we have a robust women's mute -- women's movement that has turned into a suffrage movement by the end of the book. susan: you write using a phrase called the women's sphere. what does that mean, actually? prof. jackson: in 19th century history, we think of the 19th century as a moment where an idea about gender and the organization of work and life emerge that people called the separate spheres. it is just the idea that women's sphere was the home and the family and domesticity. all these things in the 19th century are becoming increasingly sentimentalized.
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men's sphere with the rise of capitalism and the end of purely agrarian society where families were a unit of production -- once you have men working outside the home, the idea is that the public is the realm for men, for politics, for wage labor, etc.. the idea of the separate spheres was of course always to some degree -- because there are always working million. this did not apply to african-american women. it is the standard gender economic organization that one associates with the time. susan: you write that activism was in three areas of american society. what were they? prof. jackson: the ones i focused in the book were activism around slavery and race, around gender and sex, and around labor, economic issues, wealth, property, that sort of thing. susan: they seem like they have
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overlap. prof. jackson: absolutely. part of what i try to contribute is to focus on points of overlap rather than to do a deep history of any particular movement. rather to focus on unexpected accomplices between these movements. also, this was a moment for multi-issue activism. the personnel who would be the leaders of one movement -- they would be very involved with other movements as well. usually one issue was an entry into many others. once one had been radicalized or politicized around slavery, that might lead you to question things that are seemingly unrelated like religious observance or it might cause you to change your diet and stop eating animal products. this is the trajectory of many activists in this book. through this process, nothing was off the table. susan: what would be the percentage of the population
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that were in this activist group? were there any demographics consistent among them? were they all urban, country folk, whatever? prof. jackson: that is difficult to say. part of the story i want to tell in the book is how regular people came to feel this need to do something. on the issue of slavery, the number grows. the timeline is complex, because before 1830, even in the south and other places, there is a feeling that it was an unfortunate inheritance and that many people thought, this is really not right, but we have a tiger by the tail, and there is no clear way out of it. after 1830, in part because there was the rise of radicalized antislavery movements, they start to dig in and say, we will not grant that
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it is sinful. they were willing to defend it not only as an economic arrangement, but as a culture and worldview. the question after that point is, once the issue is really polarized, how does persuasion work? how does antislavery spread a message so that it goes from a really fringe position in the north to something that is mainstreamed. it's not to say that all northerners were abolitionists, but enough of the tide turned -- the country was willing to fight a civil war and to celebrate the end of slavery. even other movements, in terms of how many people were involved, the book talks about two waves of utopian socialism. even the wave of socialism under charles, the leading historian estimates at least 100,000
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participants. antislavery was much bigger than that. even by 1840, there were 200,000 members of the biggest national antislavery group. we are talking about many many people. all of these issues were, when they started, considered really out there, fringe movements, but their success is in part that we see these numbers creeping up and that now, many ideas in the book still seem out there like the abolition of marriage, but many of the ideas now seem like common sense. susan: it is really the trajectory from a group of activists to a movement that ultimately becomes mainstreamed over a long period of time. prof. jackson: they are able to convince people -- they are able to convince people to change their minds, but also they are able to put a narrative out there that it may be time not
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just to hold private views you discuss with your family, that you hold privately and agree with what you read in the newspaper, but actually to act in the world. that has been an interesting question. what were those moments people became outraged enough? susan: you tell stories about real characters. i want to get a few of them on the record to entice people to the book. some are well-known. i want to start there. john brown. what inspired john brown's radicalism? prof. jackson: john browne's father had been an abolitionist. he was a singular, very orthodox christian who believe that slavery was a terrible sin in the eyes of god. he was motivated by religion in
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his antislavery views. he felt that he would be god's instrument. he had grown up in an antislavery family. he read publications like the liberator, and he had relationships with african-americans. he moved to an area of upstate new york to be part of a project called timbuktu that the philanthropist and activist garrett smith was running, where he was giving away large parcels of land to free families in hopes they would meet the property requirements for voting and that they could create sustainable lifestyles, and that their children would have a way to make money. he participated in that and he
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started over time to recruit black leaders and also white financial backers and started telling people over the course of decades that he had an eventual plan to go to the heart of slave power and to basically overthrow what he saw as a kind of usurping american government that was upholding slavery when it was opposed to american values and to christianity. this is the tension again the title of the book tries to capture. we are talking about earlier the declaration of independence. all the people of this book really saw themselves as the real americans, as representatives of real american values, even though the mainstream saw them as a threat to those values. john brown was executed as a traitor. susan: after his famous raid at harpers ferry, west virginia. prof. jackson: yesterday, december 2, was the anniversary of the execution. a major turning point for how
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people felt about slavery. it was one of those moments i was just referencing, where a critical mass of people thought, if john brown was willing to do this, surely i can stand up and say i oppose slavery. yes, he carried out this grassroots organizing campaign not on his own, but with the help of a number of black leaders in various cities and also canada. he traveled to canada, he held a convention there with black leaders, many of whom were exiled from the united states. he had six financial backers in boston called the secret six who were willing to give him money for weapons and for whatever plan he might have, they were secretive about it. he is the most famous, probably the most famous radical of this
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period, and attempted a coup d'tat that failed on the day -- basically he was able to hold a federal arson or -- federal arsenal for a couple of days. they track him, imprison him, and the ones who remained were executed, though some escaped. it was one of these cases where it seemed like a failure in the moment, but it worked a long term success. susan: he was willing to murder people on behalf of his cause. how should we remember him? prof. jackson: and he killed people. for the raid at harpers ferry, his claim to fame was a massacre. there was a period in the history of kansas and the history of the nation people call bleeding kansas. this was one of a serious in the 1850's, of actual violent skirmishes going on in the
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united states. the civil war had not been declared, would not be declared until 1861. many places on the ground, there were battles over this question of slavery. kansas was a big one. he was there. he was the leader of a group of men. he carried out at least one graphic massacre of proslavery men in kansas in part as retribution for the caning of charles sumner in the senate. and he was. in other raids, he killed a slaveholder in missouri. at harpers ferry, his men managed to kill some local officials. he felt that he was doing good. it is a major moment of change in the abolitionist movement. before john brown, many abolitionists had been sworn pacifists. there was a movement called nonresistance, associated with william lloyd garrison and the
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boston contingent of abolitionists. increasingly, activists were willing to entertain the idea that violence was a legitimate response to slavery. of course, the government ultimately took that view. susan: you mentioned william lloyd garrison. you described him as one of the most consequential activists in american history. why is that? prof. jackson: that's right. he was -- he is generally considered the head of the antislavery movement that emerged around 18:30. he took his cues from a pre-existing antislavery energy and movement among free people of color in the north. this is what set him apart from previous white americans who wanted to do something about slavery. he was really working with communities of color and he was
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backed by communities of color financially and had interpersonally to do the work he wanted to do. he was willing to accept mentors. what emerges is a new version of antislavery activism in the united states that is no longer willing to talk about compensating slaveowners. before this, we had had antislavery organizations that had called for a process of gradual emancipation and also the compensation for the loss of property that enslavers would experience with the abolition of slavery. around 1829 with the publication of david walker's appeal, an inspirational assessor text for garrison, and with the founding of his liberator, 1831 was also the year of not turner's revolt.
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right around 1830, people date the emergence of a call for the immediate end of slavery, come what may, no compensation, no excuses, and also the demand that african-americans stay in the united states and not be deported to liberia or any other colony, plans to deport free african-americans. any african-americans left the united states. from that point, the liberator, his newspaper served as the main organ for the movement. he was a very effective organizer. he was part of a group that founded a national organization that brought together black leaders and their emerging white allies. they would meet in new york city and come from all over the north. the numbers started growing so that after the organization had
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existed for 10 years, you had 200,000 members. 10 years in they had a falling out in 1840. susan: two names we are going to hear a lot about as we get closer to the anniversary of women's suffrage, susan b anthony and elizabeth cady stanton. people who managed to stay known in current history books are much more public characters than the couple of lines we learn about them. these women are examples of that. what makes them more complex? you talk about how they were willing to denigrate the rights of african-americans in the pursuit of rights for women. can you explain? >> both of them had really come out of the antislavery context. elizabeth cady stanton's cousin was garrison, the antislavery philanthropist and activist.
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her husband was a very active career abolitionist. susan b anthony -- they actually met at an antislavery convention, these women. the story of collaboration between those movements and the emergence of the women's movement from antislavery, it is one of those really inspiring moments in the history of american activism of coalitional thinking and this multi-issue interest in freedom and justice. but as we go through the decades the book covers, it turns into one of the most appalling failures of that kind of work when, for instance, you have a figure like frederick douglass, who at the seneca falls convention of 1848, which is normally people think of that is the beginning of the women's movement, ends up being the suffrage movement, the women at that convention were ready and poised to abandon suffrage as a
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goal. they thought it was too out there and would make their goal ridiculous. they wanted to be able to be public authorities, they wanted equal pay for equal work, they wanted educational opportunities. they wanted to speak as religious authorities. they were concerned about psychological warfare. the vote seemed very -- they thought it would be too much. really safe and in the debate and said, no, this is the right by which you can obtain the others. if you get the right of suffrage, elected officials will have to listen to you. they kept suffrage on the platform and really when we talk about stanton and anthony now, we know them as the leaders of the suffrage movement, but in the postwar moment, this kind of multi-issue activism that was --
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that had really forged this period turned into a land grab for rights. they were really furious when it became clear black men were going to get the right to vote before white women were. they turned increasingly to really vera lint -- virulent racist rhetoric. they were arguing for women's suffrage instead of black male suffrage. they were willing to reproduce terrible rhetoric to make that claim. we definitely see a falling out. susan: how should we remember them as the anniversary draws near? prof. jackson: i think that in the suffrage commemorations, which are very important, we should -- we have to think of -- really all the figures in this book, i have tried to suggest that they are all flawed.
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they all had blind spots. some of them had previous -- grievous ideological errors that informed their politics, like elizabeth cady stanton had. on the other hand, she was a breathtaking activist and what she accomplished was amazing. we should remember her as having that kind of -- as a person and in terms of her single ideology, we should be ambivalent about the role racism played in the women's movement. i think we should fight for the continuation and the broadening of -- in the same way they wanted to move forward from the revolution, we have to be the ones to fight for the suffrage rights they normally -- and nominally gained and also the expansion of that movement beyond voting rights to a more broadly inclusive movement.
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susan: fanny wright, you have mentioned a few times. how famous was she in america in her day? >> she was infamous. when she was doing projects, when she was initially involved with robert owens' project of new harmony, i don't think she would have been particularly well known, but after she extended -- her project was outside of memphis and she decided she would create this experiment in which enslaved people could work out the cost of their purchase and she would train them, educate them, and they would pay for their own passage out of the country. this is a flawed scheme. part of the tragedy of fanny
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wright is she came right up against the free communities already working on these questions. she wanted her own grand adventure. after she published a defense of -- in which she -- it is clear she not only wanted to end slavery, she also was a freethinker, meaning she was atheist, and she also thought marriage should be abolished, that men and women should be equal, and ultimately she was also advocating interracial sex, not just social equality. she thought interracial sex was a perfectly legitimate way to imagine the end of racial stratification in the country. all of this was a third rail of american thought. she was notorious. just the name of fanny wright, being a fanny wright man, long after she is dead, this is a refrain in the press to say that anyone interested in progressive politics believes in these very french at the time issues.
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it was used as a scare tactic, mainly. susan: today she is memorialized in a highway marker. prof. jackson: yes. and all the figures in this book, they are ambivalent figures when you look at what they accomplished. she is a cautionary tale in the book. she purchased and enslaved people in her plan to free them. she left them for a couple of years. she went on a speaking tour. she moved to new york. she was editing the radical magazine and working with the labor movement on working men's rights. eventually she finally went back to memphis and took the people she legally owned to haiti, but
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-- she is one of these figures, she was, again, a breathtaking, unusual life, but ultimately pretty flawed. susan: who was anthony burns? why do you think he deserves a marker on the freedom trail? prof. jackson: anthony burns was a fugitive from slavery and he had made it to boston and had been living in boston for a couple of years when in 1854 he was leaving work and a slave catcher which had been sent to get him tapped him on the shoulder and some guys jumped out and detained him. this was the third very publicized, very famous slave case in the city of boston. after the compromise of 1850, part of that compromise between
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the north and south, there is another of these attempts to forestall civil war by maintaining the balance between slave states and free states. part of what the north had agreed to was a stricter state law that had criminalized aid to fugitives. basically everyone in the north was a deputized slave catcher. if you offered help, if you did not go to the authorities, you are aiding and abetting a fugitive, which was a crime. this became a huge -- this was the third one of these cases that was really famous in boston. it was also the home of the largest antislavery movement in the country. the question was, would local officials in boston bow down to the slave power and bow down to federal law even if it was wrong?
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increasingly peaceable -- people in boston and the north were feeling, no. they had in mind what they called the higher law. they felt there was a higher law in the human conscience and that the constitution and supreme court and the president of the united states told you to do something immoral, you should break that law. susan: 50,000 people came out to protest in boston. >> that is right. they held him in a courthouse. he had not committed a crime, but he was being held. before that 50,000 strong protest, there was a direct assault on the courthouse where he was being held captive. a famous building in boston, there is an antislavery rally, and they sort of rallied the crowd to flood down the street into court square, and there was a group there, they had hatchets, someone had asked in which the streetlights, and they
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eventually had extinguished the streetlights, they found a battering ram and smashed through the door of the courthouse. one of the men who had been deputized was killed. this was kind of a big moment. in boston, at least, abolitionism was associated with pacifism. this is the first moment when we really see abolitionists directly willing to be violent. the city is essentially under martial law after that. the president was franklin pierce. he was -- basically all the presidents of the 1850's were northerners who were friendly to
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the confederacy, what would become the confederacy, friendly to slave power. he sent the militia -- he sent federal troops to back local militia and to occupy downtown boston. they had weapons of war and they trained them on civilians who continued to turn out every day while there was a trial. the trial was to determine his identity. on the day he was to be remanded to slavery in virginia, 50,000 people were packing the streets and hanging from every building, hanging the american flag upside down. they had constructed a coffin and labelled it liberty. they were booing and hissing. in first-hand accounts, it was for a number of bostonians, the first time they felt they were on the others of the law. it's another one of those moments of radicalization where they thought, if my belief, that
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a man is not a piece of property, means i break the law, i have to break the law. institutions like the court in the military and etc. were on the wrong side of the issue, perhaps on another side of the issue, so they were increasingly willing to take a revolutionary step. susan: how did mainstream america react to radicals? what kind of pushback was evident? prof. jackson: the media in boston and new york called them traitors and said they should be not only arrested, but tried for treason, executed for killing a deputized federal marshal, also for defying the constitution. they were regarded as traders who wanted to tear the union of the constitution apart. they met with opposition of
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every kind. the press enjoyed lampooning them, but the press also called outright for violent opposition, so you have in many cases -- in the north, the media sort of saying these antislavery people are going to be having a convention in philadelphia and all the levers of the constitution should turn out and let them know how you feel. you would have massive mobs. pennsylvania hall was a beautiful new lecture space that had just been built. it was burned to the ground by one of these mobs. antislavery activists were killed. they were assaulted, they had things thrown at them. there was also opposition from -- there were crackdowns on free speech. there was a gag rule in congress, meaning any antislavery petition would be tabled. that clampdown continues at the
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end of the century with anti-obscenity laws. people trying to circulate birth control information could be arrested on these obscenities charges. there was really this opposition. there was opposition in every way from mainstream america all the way through. susan: what was the role of churches? prof. jackson: it is interesting. part of the reason antislavery activism opened up into questions about organized religion had to do with the role christianity played as either a quiet and noncommitted voice in the slavery discussion, or even it was often used -- the bible and scriptures were often cited in proslavery rhetoric. one kind of impulse i have been interested in was what they
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called come outerism. this was the idea people had to come out of the churches. there was a feeling that if you were a christian church and you were not taking direct aim at this humanitarian crisis, this disaster, what were you doing? there is one activist, i talk about stephen foster. he was famous for direct action protests in churches. in new hampshire, maine, he would come into churches on a sunday morning and sit quietly with congregations through the beginning of the service, and he would wait for the minister to begin, at which point he would stand up and interrupt the service and get a loud barn burning abolition speech until he was ejected from the church
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building, usually beat up, etc.. he was one of many antislavery activists who were really active against the organized practice of christianity, but throughout the book, one of the introductions i tried to make us previously, historical accounts of reformers in this period tend to think of the second great awakening as a motor for reformist zeal. it is important to notice how secular these groups were and that many of them felt religion was a conservatizing force in american life. it is true of martin delany, who was an activist and then a civil war officer. they spoke about the role religion can play in quieting social unrest. even people like john brown who was devoutly religious, he wanted alternative liberation theology mainstream christians not recognize -- did not
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recognize. susan: african-american men got the right to vote. ultimately women had suffrage after the turn of the next century. did these movements peter out as their objectives were obtained? what happened so that society moved onto another period? prof. jackson: it is an interesting question. suffrage dominates our understanding, i think, of reform movements. this is the suffrage centennial. it is also the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment next year, for blackmail suffrage -- black male suffrage. this dominates our understanding of the work they were doing, and these groups did after a certain moment want certain legal
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reforms, but they wanted something so much broader. they wanted cultural transformation and they wanted to educate the conscience of americans. in that sense, their work was partially achieved, but never fully achieved. i have come to see suffrage movements as -- when these groups did accomplish suffrage, it almost came to seem like that was the goal in itself. but of course the reason why these disenfranchised groups wanted the vote was to leverage political power to achieve other aims. the right to vote was itself not the prize, right? the goal was to be able to speak for themselves as american citizens. voting rights themselves, we are in a moment of a crisis of confidence in elections in america and also of widespread
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disenfranchisement. we have seen how easily voting rights can be stripped away. how easy it is to not let people exercise the rights we presumably have two vote. when we think about the legacy of those movements, we have to think of a couple things. what is it they want to use the vote to get? where are we with these issues? also, how did these disenfranchised groups for so long exert change without the vote? it may be with these waves of disenfranchisement we have to think again about how to make social change beyond the ballot box. susan: in your acknowledgment to describe this period of time as shocking. you have described a few shocking incidents. occasionally funny and profoundly consequential. tell me an occasionally funny story? prof. jackson: i think the free lovers. many of them were very serious,
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at least for a time. there is a man named marx lazarus, a character in the book who has a very interesting biography. he was the son of a very wealthy slaveholding jewish southern family. he came north and he joined up with the utopian socialists. he had a brownstone commune in new york city. he was part of a wave of reformers who followed the graham diet, meaning they were vegan, avoided alcohol, caffeine, sugar, anything with flavor. susan: the graham cracker? prof. jackson: sylvester graham was himself a conservative, really, but his most ardent followers, much to his chagrin , the characters in my book love his diet. many followed his diet.
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many were vegan for other reasons, but -- so, he had a commune in new york city. they were into the water cure. there were some of the only 19th century americans who believed in regular bathing. they wanted to abolish marriage. he wrote this long, 400 page tome -- he wrote many books -- and he was really kind of out there. his most famous book was called love versus marriage, and it was about how passional attraction should not be limited to marriage and marriage should be abolished. this book was debated in the new york tribune by people like henry james senior and horace bailey.
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-- horace greeley. it was fairly well known. but this whole time, he was kind of panicking over nocturnal emissions. this is a big story in the book about the free lovers who are ultimately afraid of sex. that is part of the comic relief. susan: i want to get a little bit on the record about yourself. you teach english. this is a history book. how did those fields come together? prof. jackson: i have always done -- i have had an archival and historicists approach to the 19th century. literary scholars will look at a number of texts in addition to imaginative literature. things like legal decisions or scientific text. these are on the table for literary scholars.
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also that line between literature and -- corporate culture and politics is blurry, as we see with things like the liberator and the radical press that rises at this period. the novel of the century was uncle tom's cabin, an antislavery novel. my courses and my work, it's kind of about cultural history with literature being part of that. susan: who got you interested in academics? another long story -- prof. jackson: i will say my teaching at umass boston, the most diverse institution in new england, boston's only public research university, i have had the opportunity to collaborate with the boston public library and other institutions that have amazing collections. they have artifacts, commune records, and really that --
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teaching this history to the people of boston may be -- made me interested in writing books. susan: it made the smithsonian's top 10 history books for 2019. thank you for spending an hour with me. prof. jackson: thank you. ♪ [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> all programs are available on our website. >> next week, a professor of medicine at columbia university takes a critical look at cancer treatment in the u.s..
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>> as house democrats start to create articles of impeachment, monday. a live hearing watch it on c-span. or listen with the c-span radio app. the house judiciary committee has announced the names of the witnesses for monday's hearing. is asking which issues should the candidates address. >> the top issues for this
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elaine -- campaign cycle is the national debt. i think it should be curtailed. >> i would like washington to address some of the foreign policy issues. i am currently pleased with president trump's choices and his actions in that area. i don't want to follow him blindly. i would hope other politicians would do something. >> the candidate should address some of the crises in the u.s., namely climate change.
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we are at a crossroads between a potential disaster and something that can work out for everyone. pusht candidates that will to make everything better for everyone, not just a few people. >> voices from the road on c-span. former secretary of state john kerry has endorsed joe biden for president. the two former senate colleagues spoke at a campaign stop in nashua, new hampshire. mr. kerry: i'm looking out there, i see some very friendly faces. good morning nashua. [applause] mr. kerry:


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