tv Douglas Bradburn CSPAN February 17, 2020 2:21pm-3:00pm EST
room, very conversational style. reagan had that. for yourhat style candidate, your client, is very different, different for each of them. and with ford, it was very plainspoken. announcer: you can watch the rest of the conversation with craig smith author of "confessions of a presidential speechwriter" tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. from the ground of george washington historic mount vernon, we are mount vernon. bradford,ned by doug the president and ceo of george washington's mount vernon.
inst: this would have been host: however the duties he was about to step into defined at that moment when he was sworn in? guest: they were defined at all. the present did see brand-new institution. there had not been anything like it certainly in america, were in the world. of an a new experiment elected magistrate that at one point would be the head of state like a king, but at the same time also be the chief executioner of the law. the chief executive in this case. the chief policymaker. it was not exactly clear where the policies of -- powers of legislature in the president would be defined. created thatally office and many of the presidents, many of the things we come to think of as
presidential really come down from his example in the office. age 57 whenof 1789, he took the oath. what were his views at the time about expanding or restricting the power of the office he was stepping into? washington had already established the idea that civilians should be in control, that we needed to exercise restraint. he knew he wanted the ability to have one foreign policy that would number his office. he knew that he wanted to have one military voice in the country that would be in his office. he knew that the government would have to be able to collect taxes, things like that, that couldn't be done. he also knew he needed to represent the nation. the presidency is really the people's office in an interesting way.
it's the only office, of course, which represents everybody in the legislative branch. of course, the house of representatives, people represent their district. in the senate, they represent the state. and so as president he is the only elected officer that represents all the people. and so he also wanted to sort of embody and help create a national identity at a time when there really wasn't much holding these states together. host: george washington and the presidency is our topic in this hour of the "washington journal." and we tpwhesm our viewers on american history tv on c-span3 on this presidents' day. we're talking with douglas bradford, the president and c.e.o. of george washington ace mount vernon. taking your phone calls as well, as we talk about george washington and the presidency. if you're in the eastern or central time zones, it's 202-748-8000. in the mountain or pacific time zones, 202-748-8001. we'll also look for your text
messages as well. that's number 202-748-8002. douglas bradford, if george washington couldn't know at the time exactly how the office of the presidency would evolve over time, did he know that it wouldee sandrolve would he be ok with that? guest: well, that's a really great question. washington gives us a hint of what's in his mind with the presidency. he writes a great letter to katherine mcculley graham, an english historian, a woman, which is remarkable for the time, and she is -- she's a friend of the washingtons and a big fan of the american revolution and george washington in general. and he writes an extraordinary letter to her january, i think it's 9, 1790, after the first session of congress. the new session is coming back, and he wroits a letter in which he says i walk on untrodden ground. everything i do is subject to two interpretations. everything i do is creating a
precedent. so he understands very clearly that his role in that office is going set in train the next generation of how the presidency will function. he's worried about the news cycle on the one hand, like all politicians must. but he also really has his eyes on the long term, a long-term vision, you know, 30 years, what will this office of the presidency be luke? so he'spresidency be like? he is very aware of how important it is that he sets these precedents at works through them. a lot of the things we come to take for granted about the presidency he had to create. i will give you one quick example, the cabinet. the constitution says that from time to time, the chief executive can ask the opinion of these heads of the executive apartments. secretary of state, secretary of does not say anything about meeting regularly. washington stays strict with the rules, so to speak.
period of his presidency, he gets advice from his executive officers in writing. he asks questions, he has them respond in writing. about 1793, four years into his presidency during the crisis of the french , 1792, he starts meeting weekly with the cabinet. we have to think, it was obvious he would meet regularly with the cabinet. we take of the cabinet as this consulting body, but the constitution is not clear about that. management style in that regard helped create this whole function of the cabinet. there are 16 members of the cabinet today, how many members were there for george washington? guest: much smaller. he had the secretary of war, henry knox.
secretary of state thomas jefferson, and then alexander hamilton, secretary of the treasury. edmund randolph, the attorney general at the time. interestingly, john adams who was the vice president was not a member of the cabinet. he was kept out, essentially. hehington saw him -- since was president pro tem of the summit -- senate, he saw him as a legislator and did not want to have the executive and legislative branch mitch together -- mixed together. it is interesting because the senate was supposed to be the consulting body of the president. the president is supposed to get advice and consent to get a treaty ratified in the senate, so they share the power to make treaties. point of fact, the senate was something that was too politico for it to be a good consulting body for washington. he could not get rid of
senators. he had no control over their appointment. they were not secretive enough. it would be too easy for arguments to spread and get out into the world. the senate clearly was a deliberative body, not a consulting one. it is interesting to see how washington made the cabinet into this consulting body that the senate was thought to be picked -- thought to be when the constitution. host: joining us from the mount vernon museum and education center. on the grounds of george washington's historic mount vernon. we are asking you to join us in this segment of washington journal. zones, or central time (202) 748-8000. if you have a question in the mountain or pacific time zones, (202) 748-8001. in this hour, we will explore some of the collections of the museum and education center there. i want to start with the copy of congress that george
washington owned and cared for. we visited the museum and education center back in 2012, just after that copy of the act's of congress had been purchased for some $10 million. i want to show viewers what it looks like and what george washington did to learn about the powers of the presidency. veryorge washington is exacting with his books. we see that he takes great care of them. glass them in beautiful shelves in his personal library at mount vernon. often putting a wonderful flourish of his grand signature in the upper right-hand corner of the title page, which he does with this. terrificften puts a bookplate. this is a bookplate that washington ordered for mcglynn. it is engraved. i think it was special to him because it has both his engraved bookplate from a signature on
the title page, but what is more distinctive and unusual is that washington makes notes in the margin. we almost never see washington writing any marginalia. in several places, he carefully brackets his powers and his role as president. one of thein article constitution here bracketing and writing the words "president," next to those duties he is to follow and how he is to follow the enacting of legislation. how you have bills that are ratified by congress in the house of representatives. and then sent onto george washington as president for either approval or veto. in article two, you see him bracketing not only "president," but "powers," an interesting word. toshows the powers he has
appoint justices to the supreme court, ratify treaties, and point -- appoint ambassadors. he is highlighting those powers that are his and those who must delegate to other branches of congress. host: doug bradburn. interesting seeing the first president's handwriting there in that clip. talk a little about how elsie learned about this office he was stepping into? guest: george washington had been in the positions of command and leadership since he was a young man. he had been the kernel of the virginia regiment at age 21. in the military physician, he had been in these roles. he also service the commander-in-chief of the american army for eight years which was as much a political as a military role. in that role, he basically represented the cause of the american revolution as the face of it.
he had to deal with all the different state governments as well as the continental congress. a lot of local committees of safety. probably one of the greatest politician generals we have ever had. he and eisenhower come to mind as the great ones. -- who were political generals, so to speak. he was also the president of the constitutional convention. he was there when the office of the presidency was being created. one of the things that is interesting to remember is that article one, which lays out the legislative branch, it is -- it strictly enumerates the powers congress has. congress is not in session all the time. it only does its work during certain periods of time. article three is all about the judiciary. there is only very narrow jurisdictions of federal laws of the judiciary. the federal judiciary could have the power to decide, and it is
restricted in when it meets its well -- meets as well article told -- article two defines the presidency is open. days asident is on 365 year, has the power to execute laws of the nation. george washington understood that he was entering a potentially very powerful role. there is a lot of latent power in that process. washington was careful to try to constrain not only by a strict attention to the way those powers are laid out in the constitution, the constitutionality of the office itself, but also in his decorum. his method of appointments, how he would choose to appoint people to positions. he made very careful study not only of the connections of the people that were being put up for office, but also their character. trust, heviolated his would get rid of them.
he wanted to make sure that the early governments did not have a reputation for corruption and wanted to use his office to set that standard early on. washington understood power. he understood leadership. but, it was a new office. congress, the acts of the extraordinary copy of the constitution he writes in really shows the way washington, at the height of his powers, worked. every great leader understands where they fit within an organization, the trajectory of the organization and where they want to take it. we can see that at the moment washington is writing in that book. it is a great moment because it is on the eve of the first state of the union address. it is after he had been president for 10 months or so, and yet here he is sitting down rereading the constitution. rereading all the laws they pass in the last session and barking up the margins around those
areas of his responsibilities. i like the part in article two clause, "heke care shall take care -- he shall take care the -- he writes required. he is writing the constitution like he is using a highlighter. you see a man in focus there. it's like what we do when we want to focus on something, we highlight the passage. i think him writing "required" in the context of trying to understand what laws were passed and what he's duties were gives an insight into what he was such an effective leader at the creation of something. host: as the crowds gather at george washington's historic mount furman -- mount vernon this morning, the reenactors are there as well on the grounds of this president's day. crowds have gathered on our phone lines as well. tom out of hampton, connecticut. guest: -- caller: good morning.
and alsostory buff former member of the governor samuel huntington trust. huntington was president of the confederation congress when washington was still general. different, ie was am trying to do research on samuel without papers and i'm wondering how you used washington's papers online to find out more about samuel huntington, john witherspoon, and some other members of the continental congress? host: that is -- guest: there's tremendous resources online to do that research. online, ato founders free webpage, you can find all the papers of the founders that have been currently digitized and put up there. in washington's case, i think you are hampered because the revolutionary war papers are not quite done yet. throughthey are done up 1780, so you don't get the entirety of the war.
the story of the continental congress during that force fascinating and incredibly important. obviously for the future growth of political institutions at the national level. another great resource is the library of congress. it has letters to the delegates of the first congress. recordsl of the formal of the congress others well. all searchable, digital and online. back in the day when i did my dissertation, none of that existed and i had to go to the library and take all this out. that's why it took me a long time. you have the benefit now to use the great things that have been digitized and are available online. i am happy to say that mount vernon is part of that work. one of the documentary editors works here at our library. we work and great partnership with the papers of george washington at the university of virginia who are systematically transcribing and annotating, and
publishing all of the papers of george washington. it was or a markable to think that project started in 1968. it was thought to take 20 years. we just had our 50th anniversary of that project the year before last. i thicket is going to take another 10 years before they finally finished all the massive correspondence of george washington. host: might be a good time to talk about the education center. how long have you been around? inst: i came to mount vernon 2013 when the ladies association opened the presidential library for george washington. i had been a professor of history at suny binghamton. when the association was opening this library, they wanted an academic. a couple years ago i was made the president over the whole shooting match. mount vernon is a remarkable institution. it is totally private. we are not one of the smithsonian museums, not a national parks service.
we came about because a group of women in the 1850's led by and cunningham saved the house of george washington from destruction and made it a museum, made it open for the public. we are celebrating our 160th year of being a public history site whose mission is to preserve mount vernon and educate people about his legacy. we educate folks on the ground. today, we are going to welcome up to 15 thousand visitors because it is washington's birthday observed. president's day as you call it. we are excited for that. not only can people see the mansion and his tomb where he and martha washington are into them, they can come into this structure which is our education center. the museum itself is extraordinary. story of the enslaved mount vernon. not only washington's changing
attitudes, but biographies of some of the people enslaved here. where we are right now is basically a biography of george washington. folks don't learn enough about george washington and their traditional history classes. when they come to mount vernon we want to make sure they learn as much as i can. host: where going to show viewers a picture of mount vernon in near ruins just before the civil war in 1858. we did the effort to preserve mount vernon begin? guest: the effort really began in the 1850's. woman 1853, there was a -- a south carolinian on the potomac on a steamboat headed home who saw mount vernon in moonlight, and saw that it was physically dilapidated. it was in danger of falling down.
she asked her daughter to begin a movement to try to save mount vernon. last washington's who owned mount vernon was a family of john washington -- john augustine washington the third. he could no longer maintain the place. it was an expensive old structure built in the 18th century, never intended to last 70 years, let alone hundreds. so, it was in dire need of work. what is remarkable is that these -- john augustine washington try to sell mount vernon to the government, the state of virginia, but none of them would have anything to do with it. there was no national parks system. no smithsonian. together undere the leadership of cunningham and said if the men of america want save the father of our country's
house, the ladies shall. the ladies association still manages this place. they were able to raise $200,000 from all over the country. they raised it in one dollars, five dollars, little bits and pieces here and there. erased it with a lecture series, selling flowers, all the different ways people raise money today. able toly they were purchase the house. they came to a final agreement with the family in 1858 and open for business for tourists in 1860, on the eve of the civil war. host: back to your phone calls grounds ofn the george washington's mount vernon. this is reginald from houston, texas. caller: good morning i would like to know if george washington and these other orsidents had any remorse regrets about slavery.
some of them may had, but there were advocates of slavery. to this day, we do not have a museum talking about reparations. repentance, or remorse. i would like to know if all these presidential museums, where -- where do they stand on that? today, we still have another the of slavery going on in prison industrial complex and the military complex which eisenhower talked about was going to be the root of hurt in america following that. if there remorse and radio stands as far as this 400 years ofslavery about some type repair work? guest: that is a very good question. george washington was born into a word -- a world first slavery was legal and common. he inherited his first slaves
when he was 10 years old. washington came to see the institution is a problem, not only an economic problem, something he was early on frustrated with, but also a moral problem. the american revolution headed had its highest aspirations of equality and liberty. there were younger officers in his command like the lafayette, alexander hamilton, who were very much antislavery and pushed washington to do more to speak out against slavery. george washington in the 1780's did write about slavery being an institution of great regret. an institution he thought should be ended by legislation. the movement to create a new constitution was going to create a new union. a union of some states which were now free states, something that did not exist before the
revolution, the first emancipation movements in the country happened in the war for defendants in those early constitutions and the walker case of 1782 in massachusetts which freed all the slaves in massachusetts. efrain never have happened without the american revolution. you have a situation where the union was created built on compromise. you had states that still had slavery, and some that got rid of it gradually. washington understood that the -- the uniont have would not have existed in that form in that moment of slavery did not still exist. there were compromises made in their early years that washington in his public life felt he couldn't attack the institution because of those compromises. washington came back to mount vernon, he only lived for another two and a half years after the presidency. he did write a new will in what became his last year of his life, which he freed all of the
slaves that he owned. the only president to own slaves -- i think we had seven slaveowning presidents as a country -- that freed the slaves he owned in his will. clearly, washington was concerned about his own legacy for sure, but also the freedom of those individuals. he not only freed them, but provided for the education of young slaves come of the maintenance and care of older , his estate was paying out pensions until the 1840's. washington certainly did not do enough from the perspective of a 21st century person, but at the time, washington did what he thought what he was able to do. it is an important legacy we have to talk about. it is part of who we are as a nation. i think this up -- i think this debate about slavery is an important one. americans need to do it with education. that is one of the reasons here at mount vernon we tell the
story of slavery. everyday we give slaves towards. we have a memorial service for the enslaved everyday at our memorial. -- the first one built in the country to celebrate enslaved peoples. i think these institutions, mount vernon, monticello, montpelier, these institutions of our presidents, but also sites of slavery need to be forthright and to help educate folks so we can have useful conversations about this issue. host: east sandwich, massachusetts. caller: base for letting me ask a question. -- thanks. -- georgehaps washington was a gentleman and i understand throughout his life he had a pet greyhound. i think the implication by pq might have been involved in greyhound racing. what were the other bloodsport -- bloodsport's where he involved in? did he attend cockfights?
guest: i think it was a question about blogs or, did toward washington go to talk fights? that's a question i've never gotten. it's interesting for me to think it through. i think he did go to cock f ights. i don't know about greyhound racing. he was a great horseman himself. being a gentleman farmer in virginia, he was able to buy and sell horses, he was able to have an important knowledge of horse esh.h -- fl he stopped gambling around the time he and martha got married.
efforts afterore that. i don't think he won very often. she rained him in a little bit. that was important for the virginia planter class. meeting inony wide williamsburg, there was a horse race with that. the other great sport he was part of in this age was foxhunting. foxhunting was imported from great britain. he was left into it by lord fairfax. he lived in the shenandoah valley. colonel william fairfax. they kept pounds and george washington kept hounds or foxhunting. essentially, those with the sports that we know washington
was part of. host: with just half an hour left from mount vernon, we are joined by douglas bradburn. it is washington's birthday officially in u.s. code. washington's birthday is actually february 22. what should we be celebrating? guest: the federal code says iss a national holiday, it washington's birthday observed. the 22nd.brated again itself president's day creates a national holiday around george washington and lincoln, which are close together. forn't know if i care holiday that- celebrates all presidents. everyonenow that
should merit time off. we can give washington two days. i love the fact that mount vernon is able to be free on this day. we have to charge admission, we don't receive any tax dollars to do our work here. on the national holiday, it's and to allow families people to come to mount vernon to learn about george washington and have a great time together. this is one of my favorite days of the air. host: it's kind of you to allow the c-span cameras there as well. guest: they are floating around behind me here. host: they are already on the grounds, checking out the exhibits. mark is in the bronx. good morning. very much.nk you a lot of my questions have been answered.
you say he was the greatest horseman, i read that. horseman, greatest his valet what have been the greatest horseman because he had to keep up with him. do we have any idea what happened to mr. lee when washington let him go? guest: yes. that's a great question. william lee was george washington's slave valet. he is one of the great heroes of the american revolution. he was there through it all with washington. he knew him as well as any man. he helped dress him every morning. he took care of his horses for him. vernon,njured at mount i think he broke one of his kneecaps.
he injured the other knee later on. it became difficult for him to have his traditional role. making1790's, he was shoes. he was freed in george washington's will. he was freed automatically and george washington's will. he was given the opportunity to leave mount vernon or to remain and receive a pension for the rest of his life. he chose to remain and he received a pension for the rest of his life. he lived here. he would often tell stories about the general when people came. matt burton had become a pilgrimage site for american since the 1780's. george washington was the most famous man in north america. that continued after george washington's death. william lee was one of the early
tour guides at mount vernon, telling stories about the general. he was visited by old comrades in arms. host: this is dan out of homer, new york. caller: this is a great show. i read a lot about george washington. i read a story one time that after he retired from the presidency, he would sit on the porch at mount vernon and men that he had served with during the revolution would pass by. drivewayd come up the and sit down and talk to him. go along. chat and i always thought this was such a remarkable image, to think of
someone who would been the president and founded the country just chatting with these guys who were enlisted men and officers that served with him. that's a really good question. george washington was visited regularly. he complained in a letter to his mother that it was like a well resorted cavern. there were no hotels around the area. if you could get a letter of introduction, you could stay at mount vernon. they would give you the run of the place. of course, a lot of folks who served in the revolutionary war had met george washington. that was enough.
if you have any acquaintance with him, but they talkedre fst. george washington saw himself as a farmer. he loved to talk about his wheat crop and the flower that was destroying his wheat crop. a number of stories of people who visited mount vernon complained that all he wanted to talk about was weak. he didn't talk about the war or reminisce about the battle that a lot of combat veterans did. he didn't want to talk about politics very often. said wouldt what he end up all over the place. he was very careful. be thenever going to most talkative person at a party. that was not his way. he had no teeth left. he was very self-conscious.
showing some images from the porch overlooking the potomac river. is that one of most popular parts of the visitor experience there? guest: we call it the ps it. -- piazza. that view is of maryland. it's important to recognize that view has been preserved. when there was a lot of suburban growth around d.c. going on after world war ii, there was danger there might be a big sewage treatment plant or oil holding areas of the river. the ladies association successfully helped create a national park across the river. there are hundreds of people who live across there. conservation pieces on
the property. people can't cut down the trees, they can't build buildings. viewe can experience that in a way that george washington and the millions of people who visited mount vernon have experienced. it's a remarkable example of conservation and preservation and the power to help people connect with each other. we are really proud of our leadership. host: plenty of people are doing that. we have live pictures from mount vernon. good morning. caller: thank you for taking my call this morning. i have two quick questions. giving george washington the oath of office? do we have the bible that he took the of?
serving asington was president, who managed mount vernon for him? thank you. i think that's three questions actually. the of the first was who is giving george washington the oath. i believe it was chancellor william livingston, chancellor of the state of new york at the time. the bible is owned by, i cannot remember the exact name, but by a masonic lodge in new york city. it was taken from that lodge because it was a big grand bible, so they loaned it for the inauguration. another question was about who managed mount vernon when george washington was away. it was a series of different people. manng the war, it was a -- >> we will leave this but you can find it online at c-span.org. live, hearinom