Skip to main content

tv   Panel Discussion on American History  CSPAN  December 25, 2013 10:00am-10:46am EST

10:00 am
and encourages us to tell those stories to really bring out with the society is about. >> do you have your either next project yet? >> i do. this is the pastor and congregation. william jernigan is a prominent minister here in washington d.c. for 46 years. he liked this is bethune was a figure. he sought to bring the idea and he's an amazing figure that is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. hopefully the past will gladly have the concept that is fair. >> thank you are a match for your time. >> thank you match. ..
10:01 am
[applause] >> good afternoon, everyone, and i'm sure you have any number of welcomes to the book fair but 're going to give you oneanay. we're very glad you're here. this is a discussion about who the most significant periods ere the -- before america first as a nation, and then the runup and the aftermath of the civil war, when america experiences near death as a nation. and bunker hill, nathaniel philbrick chronicles boston in 1775 when british troops occupied the city and engaged a patriot militia in the bloodiest battle of the revolution and the point of no return for the rebellious columnist. nathaniel lives in nantucket
10:02 am
where he is a recognized authority on the history of the island, though he told an interviewer i don't think it's possible to plumb the depths of this island's rich history, and obviously aficionado of sailing and sea-faring, his blues include mayflower, a final just of the 2007 pulitzer prize for history. in the heart of the sea he won the national book award for fiction. revenge of the whale, and sea of glory one the theodore and franklin roosevelt naval hit prize. holds a bachelor in english from brown and a master in american lilt tour at duke. at brown he was the university's first enter collegial all-american sailor. a month ago he won the new england award from the new england independent book sellers association, perhaps his passion for his subject can be demonstrated from the just 21st post from mystic seaporting when the attended the
10:03 am
launching of america as only surviving whale ship. he says the picture he posted on -- along with his blog was, quote, taken at the moment of impact as a christening bottle containing water from all of the seas upon which the more more began ever sailed was bashed against the bow. next i'd like to introduce brenda wineapple,en essayist, of ecstatic nation, a "new york times" reviewer noted that brenda takes the reader on a different road. the growing gulf between north and south, familiar scenery like the lincoln-douglass debates and suddenly the civil war. but instead of that usual ride for reviewer david reynolds, brenda wineapple takes us on a different ride, take the monaco grand prix, zigzagging and
10:04 am
hairpin turns, followed by straightaways where you reach 200. it's history in real-time, full of plans that backfired, schemes spoiled by chance. outliars who change everything, and happy endings that turn out no to be too happy after all. the size of ecstatic nation include white heat, the friendship of emily dickenson, and thomas wentworth hissenson, hawthorne, a life. she is a regular contributor to the new york times book review and the nations and editor of the select poetry of americans project project. in 2009 she received a push cart prize, a guggenheim fellowship, a fellowship from the american council of learned societies and two national endowment for the humanities fellowships among others. last year she was elected a fellow of the american academy of arts and sciences. a former director of the leon
10:05 am
leavy center for buying agraph in new york. she teaches in the msa programs of the new school glover columbia university school of the arts and has taught sarah lawrence college and union college in new yorkie she was washington irving professor of modern literary. please welcome brenda wineapple and nathaniel philbrick. [applause] >> on my way over here, nathaniel and i talked about how both of these subjects are obviously the most -- among the most notable eras of american history. how could we characterize a comparative deal between your book and brenda's when it comes to intensity, and relevance,
10:06 am
where both in the revolution and the civil war. there wasn't very much of a clear future in either era. >> i was thinking about this question when i heard about the great opportunity to be paired with brenda, and my bunker hill begins actually -- begins and ends with john quincy adams. it begins with him at seven years old, standing on a hill with his mother, then in her early 30s, on june 17, 1775, watching the battle of bunker hill from a hill about 12 miles away. and later in his life he would record in his journal that it was an experience -- an unforgettable experience. both of them were weeping as the watched the british navy unleash cannon balls on the patriots gathered on bunker hill.
10:07 am
but really what hit him the most was learning a few days later that their family doctor, dr. joseph warren, had been killed at the battle of bunker hill during the last british charge, and this was devastating for john quincy, whose father was now penning more and more time away, actually on his -- then at the second continental congress 300 miles away in philadelphia. and the death of joseph warren that moved him so deeply that for the rest of this life, he would refrain from attending celebrations of the battle of bunker hill in charlestown, and so my book begins with that, and joseph warren is a major character, one i think a lot of us don't know a lot about. we think of the other adamses, john quincy's dad and samuel
10:08 am
adams, but the book ends with john quincy adams 68 years later, on june 17, in the 1840s, with the building of the bunker hill monument, built on bunker hill, and once again he refused to attend, and yet he watches once again from the family home where he sees the smoke of a cannon go off that reminds him of that time, and at this time in his life, john quincy adams, a president, is now a lowly u.s. congressman who is taken up the fight against slavery, because what he realizes is the work that his doctor, dr. joseph warren, and his father, worked so hard for, is not over, and we segway to brenda. >> very interesting. a pleasure to be here.
10:09 am
thank you for the introduction, grate to be here with nathaniel philbrick, and especially feel like as nathaniel was saying, baton has been passed, and the baton is john quincy adams and not necessarily a name that we conjure with anymore you think of -- i don't know -- washington and jefferson and madison and later, of course, lincoln, and even later than that, grant, and going forward. john quincy adams was not really known for his presidency. he was more known for what happened, as na thannal said for his post-presidency when he actually goes into the house of representatives. and also nobody as the man of refusal, and that word is interesting to me because one of the very last words that he utterred was, no. a word of refusal. and my particular book starts with the death of john quincy adams in 1848, standing up and
10:10 am
saying, no, as a particular issue that was a vote on whether or not to give more medals to mexican war veterans, and he had been john quincy adams had been opposed to that war and he was opposed to decorating generals who fought in what he felt was a greedy war and one that was continue ringing the death knell of the union because of the issuery of slavery and was not looking good for the country. and so here was a man who had served his country well, both as president and then in the house of representatives, userring -- uttering, no, and ending his life, and that was a watershed moment, not just because of the mexican war, but because john quincy adams was the descendent of john adams and all of the founding fathers, and we entered
10:11 am
a different world now. we're not in the revolutionary era. we can't look back in the same way we're looking forward, and what we have to look forward to is a series of refusals for good and ill that come to be known as the period before, during, and after the civil war. so, it's very interesting kind of continuity in that particular way that we see history asles being embodied by humans who have such a direct and powerful response to it. >> did you looks at how thorn and witness publish whittier and other genres contribute to your decision to write this book? >> absolutely. hawthorne, i'm also interested in the fact that nathaniel hawthorne, man who died during the civil war in 1864, was also man -- we also associate with
10:12 am
salem, the early witchcraft trials, was really -- 17th 17th century american, not 19th century northwestern, yet a man who met abraham lincoln. he called abraham lincoln not one of the homeliest men he ever met as a matter of fact, and if that wasn't enough, hawthorne was president of the united states, franklin pears, and when we think of hawthorne, we think of the writer and recluse and scarlet letters and we don't think of politics and he was very involved in politics, actually, and it was a very political time. whittier, just to finish up, answering the question, whittier was the quaker poet from massachusetts. we're both from massachusetts. i grew up in the town where whittier was from so i had whittier rammed down my throat
10:13 am
as a girl. didn't like him much, and when the library of america called me to do the book of whittier, thought, oh, well, all right. and i re-read him and he -- i had been too young for him, and besides being a very good poet, he was a wonderful man in many ways, and was a long-time abolitionist, which mean he was even more than antislavery. he didn't want any gradual ending. so i was interested in these literary figures and they're role in history. >> i think it's interesting, brenda and i kind of come from history -- come to history from a similar literary place. my graduate degree is in american literature, and i live on nantucket, largely because i really like moby dick. >> he does. it's great. >> i wrote a little book about that. >> i'm a fan. >> and -- likewise, but continuing the -- i was actually named for nathaniel hawthorne.
10:14 am
>> really? >> yeah. it said that his biography of franklin pearce was the biggest book of text he had written. >> it was, and he dedicatessed -- when he dedicated a book to franklin pearce, ralph waldo emerson cut the dedication out. so it was very interesting. so we have that similar background. nathaniel's books on the essex, the whaling ship. >> and whittier, to continue with that, he wrote a poem called, the exiles, which describe otherwise thomas macy, the founding english settler of nantucket, fled puritan persecution and got on a boat with his family and imagine cloy 12 other people and fled the puritans to found nantucket. so just down the street from where we live is the house where
10:15 am
supposedly whit you're wrote "the exiles." that's interesting. nantucket has a long-standing quaker community and frederick douglass, after he -- before he was well nobody, lived on nantucket, and the american antislavery meetings were often held there, and i remember -- i don't remember -- i wasn't there -- but i feel like i remember that he spoke in nantucket. >> we're very proud on nantucket that frederick douglass, the first time he spoke before a white audience was in nantucket, and his wonderful book, the narrative of his life, ends with that scene so on nantucket we take great pride -- >> and credit. >> right. >> looking at some of the figures who were known to people as established players, when the revolution finished as well as when the civil war was completed, george washington, for example, 1775, seemed to be
10:16 am
somewhat of an out lie -- out-ly 'er. >> when i came up with the book, my concern was, washington, the walking marble man, and what us he going to really be a buzz kill once he arrives on the scene after the battle of bunker hill. anything but. i mean, it's just fascinating to see washington. a man from virginia, arriving in new england. a couple weeks after the battle of bunker hill -- and this is a new england army. these are people whose idea of diversity is, okay, i'm from massachusetts but i'm willing to serve in an army with someone from new hampshire. and then to have this plantation owner arrive, and he realizes, this is an army that, because they have grown up with the new england town meeting -- which is
10:17 am
a wonderful form of government in which basically people argue until finally they come to a decision. the soldiers in this army, when given an order, would say, fine, that's -- we understand that's what you want us to do, but we'll discuss this before we agree to do that. and this drove washington crazy because he had arrived with the miss placed hope he was going to whip these people into a professional army, and it was -- god bless him, he stuck with it. it was not pretty, but with washington you see the beginning, where this very in-grown group of new englanders begin to think of themselves not just from massachusetts or new hampshire, but begin to realize, whoa, we have to think of ourselves as americans. >> and i get a similar question for the period you cover, 1848 to 1877. there were individuals who were
10:18 am
kind of out of sight, going in -- >> right. >> the conflict. >> those figures' insight, the opposite in some ways of washington, the man of marble, what are you going to do with him? you come at him as a writer. i had lincoln, which is the opposite in the sense that he is not a man of marble, a man who is headliner in movies -- he certainly was before. he is known, quoted, beloved, and i thought to myself, he can't possibly be as good as people make him out to be. and when i'm asked one of the discoveries of the book, and there were many for me -- one of the discoveries is that lincoln is bottomless and he is brilliant, he is as much a figure of history, too as a figure of literature, because he is a wonderful stylist and in many ways i think we wouldn't remember certain things in the way we do if it hasn't been for
10:19 am
his great literary achievement. at the same time, there were those outlyers as you're calling them, people who had been forgotten from history, and like lydia child, who was an abolitionist for a long time. when i grew up in massachusetts, she was known for poems and i don't think i can quite quote, over the hill and through the woods to grandmother's mothers we go. for thanksgiving or something like that. which is something that was said and i wanted to run away from as best as possible, but i fine out that not only was she an active abolitionist, but she fought to win -- for women's rights and indian rights and actually wanted to go down to harper's ferry to virginia in 189 and take care of john brun in fact,
10:20 am
and john brown wisely told her not to come, but what she did was engage in a series of public letters with the wife of the governor of virginia, and they were published, and it was -- these were letters about slavery. and they were talking about what john brown had done in virginia and the woman in the south was saying, you know, how -- you don't care about your workers in the north, but you care about southerners and what -- aren't you a mother? she wasn't. don't you care about children? and lydia marie charles would say, i care about children, but we don't sell our children. and it went back and forth in this particular way. and find out these are people who in some sense have been lost or sidelined, and they're so very, very important, and they were so famous in their own day. which is fascinating, too.
10:21 am
>> the news obviously has been chockablock with 50th 50th anniversary and discussion to look back to the kennedy assassination. 1865, after abraham lincoln was killed, who was it that took us forth in light of the assassination, to essentially bring forward social policies that take you up to the end point of the book, 1877. >> well, one couldn't have avoided, probably didn't want, to the last week of commemorative programs about the assassination of john f. kennedy, and some of you probably have heard or have heard, the work most recent book on johnson, and one of the things he talked about i find very interesting, is the transition of power from, of course, kennedy, to johnson, and
10:22 am
the fact that was such a seamless transition because you had this horrible event, and suddenly -- and the government doesn't crumble. and of course, when that is going on, i, who lived in the 19th century, think about the lincoln assassination, and the transition at that particular time to another johnson, andrew johnson, from tennessee, who was put on lincoln's ticket in 1864 election. i don't think anyone would have thought -- maybe they did -- lincoln was always thinking more of the thought, understandably but that andrew johnson would be president, there was a great deal of talk he was drunk at the inauguration, so, there was a transition which was right after -- days after -- it's hard to imagine -- days after appomattox. days after the war, and some in the south were actually still
10:23 am
fighting. they didn't want to stop fight, and andrew johnson is the next president, and a lot of knee. congress, called the radical republicans, they looked to johnson and thought johnson would be a good guy and one of them, would actually implement the social policies that so many people had fought for, and they were sadly mistaken in him as it turned out, and in fact johnson was almost impeached, just about a couple years later. so, it was a very rocky transition in this particular case, not because the government didn't work, but because you're just coming out of a dreadful, horrific war. >> that's the theme that i came to recognize in my book as well, that all of these things we see as inevitable, whether it's the revolution, the rise of george washington, lincoln's indispensability, all this stuff. once you get in it, as i know
10:24 am
you do in your book, you begin to realize how messy everything was. there was no sense of destiny. everyone was seized with doubt and concern and anxiety, and all of these things merge in a way that is eerily reminiscent of any time, particularly our time. it wasn't a time when they were more clear-sighted and better than us. they were living in extraordinary times and they were ordinary people, doing the best they could. and i find that very heartening in that, whether it's washington, the man of marble you begin to realize, no, he was a human being, put in a very difficult situation, that challenged the very nature of who he was, and somehow began to re-enew jersey a do -- reemerge, and washington was an incredible leader because he had the unusual ability to realize, i have to change course here. lincoln could improvise in a
10:25 am
way. and then had this tremendously pragmatic sense that these -- this is the right thing, but to achieve it, we're going to have to make it work, and that's so unusual, is that you combine a real sort of ideaistic vision with a sense of, okay, people really only do things they want to do, and how do we use that to make this higher good happen? and then those kinds of leaders are so rare, and i think one of the amazing things about american history is they seem to appear just when we need them. >> hopefully. one can only hope. the wonderful word he uses, it's so useful, is improvisation, that someone like washington is. providing, and history is not static, and may flower is not static, the bunker hill is not static, revolutionary period is not static, and people are us in a sense, and we are improvising.
10:26 am
you don't know what is going to happen next, and especially in the time of the war, whether it's the revolution or civil war or battle of bunker hill or gettysburg. >> don't know how -- you don't know how it's going to turn out and you're left with a whole different political climate perhaps. i was just thinking about sherman taking atlanta, and in some sense that secured lincoln's election in 1864. it turns the tide because people suddenly feeling good, we can go forward. we don't have to negotiates a peace. >> brenda, as a fellow writer, i have a question for you. i know when i -- some of my books are about very iconic things-it's the may flower, the pilgrims, bunker hill. we know how it's going to work out. i find myself, when i'm actually writing the book, when i'm really there and a chapter when everything is up for grabs, that
10:27 am
in that i'm feeling like, my gosh, what's going to happen next? you get that kind of sense of, i'm in there, that this could go anywhere? >> yes. first of all i want to say that it's a great feeling have when i read your books. i mean it as a highest compliment in the sense we do know how certain things come out. we do know who won the war. this war, that war. we do know that washington becomes president. all of those things. so, the trick in writing history is to write it as if you don't know it, and in a certain sense when you're on the ground, and that's what i mean about my living in the 19th century -- the way in which you don't know it, and it's because you're not -- i think it's because -- i would ask you this -- because we don't think of outcomes. we think of process. we think of how we get to that outcome. so, i'm fascinated. i sit -- lunatic but i sit and i read the congressional globe,
10:28 am
which is like theater, really. it's like reading plays because this one is thaddeus stevens speaks, and sumner -- it's a lot of people speaking, and even though it's been cleaned up, it's not -- they didn't have tape recorders -- you feel that people aren't thinking on their feet so you forget about the outcome. you're involved in the way people see events in real-time. >> yeah. it's completely -- as a writer, i was trained as a journalist, and what i'm often finding is for me, in journalism, you try to come up with a sense of howl life is lived in the present, and my relationship with the past follows that kind. i'm just trying to figure out what happened? as best i can, and given the fact that sources are not always there, and there's always questions of evidence and all those things, but that's what
10:29 am
you're ultimately trying to do, is get a sense of what was it like when all of this was happening? and peel back that sense of destined people, and realize how messy it was, and how easily it could have gone another way, and i think it doesn't -- i have a -- with each book i don't come away with, oh, you know, this is how we should go in the future. we're, as myon tick and confused as they were then. the question is what you do when you're in the middle of it. >> different kinds of questions, for example, bat war for me was, i -- you know issue can tell you what happened at bull run. i'm not a military historian and that doesn't move me, but then it suddenly occurred to me, how did people know what happened at these various places? how did they get their information? who were the journalists on the ground.
10:30 am
speaking of journalism remainedded me of that. how did they dispatch their stories? what happened? did they -- were they ever captured? there were a lot of questions. was the coverage in the south the same as the north? so when you start asking those kinds of questions as well as questions about motives, i think you begin to find different pathways into the past and as i said, you begin and you certainly do this in nathaniel's book, you live there with him. >> so often, both writing at well-known topics, walt amazes me is how little i know about every topic. in fact each book is out of my ignorance i want to figure out what happened. but you find that testimony. for example in bunker hill, i was describing the day after lexington and concord, and we speak of that shot heard around
10:31 am
the world, everything is going great for the patriots, but if you go into the town of boston, everyone is terrified. so immobilized with terror that some people literally can't walk, and i found this journal of a woman who was there at the time, and that was her situation. she and her female friend, they were so terrified, they wanted to get out, anything to get away from these 9,000 british soldiers in boston. but we can't literally walk, and so finally her husband puts them in a carriage and took them out and basically left them at the door of the minister in rocks bury, and off they go. you just begin to realize, what the emotions people were feeling. a. comes to me is a real revelation, that it it isn't just connecting the dates of events. it's -- you realize that the human costs not only in terms of lives but how traumatic. look at john quincy adams.
10:32 am
70 years after the battle of bunker hill, he still sees it in his head, and that's informing what he is doing when he is looking at this challenge of slavery. >> we have approached and come upon question time from the audience. if you have any questions, please good to the microphone and identify yourself and pose a question to either nathaniel or brenda. >> we should be ecstatic today to have you two here, and to think across the street we have t.t. holmes, whose book founding florida, is brilliant, and any citizen of the sunshine state should be reading that book, as well as all of the other session waves had today. in reading your books i think there's one constant theme that struck me, and that is the theme of racism. and how deeply seated it is in our history. for example, nathaniel in the
10:33 am
mayflower, how quickly our colonial forefathers and mothers were against the indians. the number of families that owned slaves in boston, completely unaware of that. i think you do a brilliant job of tracing racism and another tip of the hat, i think your book will be recognized as landmark in history because you provide a continuity between the ante bellum civil war and reconstruction and you have done a very good job pulling that together. but again, the theme seems to be race, and we take it to one other level which i think is laudible. it's not only race but the threat of the vote. of extending the right to vote to nonwhites and to women. my question is this. do you have any thoughts in terms of what are some of the
10:34 am
root causes of that racism in our american history? and when things used to be very much alive today in terms of what we're fining in many states, including ohio, in trying to restrict that right to vote. thank you. >> briefly, you're right. i think you can generalize it to intolerance. looking back to the pilgrims. they cam not looking for religious freedom but to worship as they wanted to, and they wanted to make sure everybody else did, and ultimately that it kind of attitude -- they were bumping heads with the native americans who kept them from dying that first winter, and then with bunker hill, one of the things that -- i think if you have to look at where america becomes america, it's washington realizing that on november 5, 1775, all the officers in his army, from
10:35 am
massachusetts, want to celebrate something called poke night. it's basically an anticatholic demonstration, in which embarked in the north and south end, would have their open cart waifs -- carts with a clark tour of the devil and the pope and the point was to steal carts and beat um people. and this is what the officers wanted to celebrate on november 5th as their presiding over the siege of boston. and washington writes a resolution that says, ruff -- are you kidding? we're in the middle of the war. we want catholic france to come in on our side, and you have the audacity to pull something like this? and what he is saying is, it's those old prejudices, whether it's racial, it's not going to work, and i think looking -- and slavery is that ultimate one, and it's -- america is in the process of hopefully grinding
10:36 am
those down until we're all looking at each other as human beings. >> creating america is both a process of -- making a nation, as nathaniel nation, and also redefining citizenship, which happens in the 19th century, and you see it because it becomes more and more complicated, who is a citizen, when you emancipate the population, black population, in the south, how do you make those people citizens? what are the qualifications for citizens? then if the qualifications for citizens are extended to black men, what about black women and what about white women? are they citizens? then our native americans citizens? should they be citizens because they're native americans, after all. but i think that nathaniel says intolerance and what we have a sense of -- i've always understood the kind of racism that you're talking about is broader, is a sense of fear of the other, fear of otherness,
10:37 am
and you see that in nativism, that was in the middle of the 19th century. the political party that was called the know-nothings, and they were based on the nativism. they were based -- an anticatholic party,, so that its really kind of astonishing, and so that, yes, we hoped that these prejudices are ground down, but i think the idea of citizenship voting, voting rights, is something that we have been discussing for very, very long time, and is constantly being reconsidered and refigured, and you certainly see that in the contest after the civil war between when black men are pitted against black women and white women about who gets to vote, and it's interesting and creepy in a certain sense.
10:38 am
you see that same kind of factionalizing in 2008 in the primary when barack obama was pitted against hillary rodham clinton. they're both in some sense on the same side. people who were displeased with both of them wanted to see them as adversaries and in certain senses they were. so it's complicated and ongoing, and i think it is in every culture, bill the way. i think that -- it's certainly part of our legacy but citizenship is constantly -- france, other places, constantsly being reinvestigated. sorry to go on. thank you. >> could you discuss the role or lack thereof, among political opponents of compromise during the times you looked at, and how it relates to today, to political factions you see compromised equivalent to treason. >> i think that's for you. the subtitle of my book is
10:39 am
"confidence, crisis and compromise." and one of the white motifs, one of the themes that goes through the book, is the issue of compromise, because not only do we hear about the compromise of 1820, 1850, but the actual word was constantly being ban died about and you have people shouting in the senate, or in the house of representatives, i will not compromise. or william lloyd garrison saying no compromise with slave-holders, and so the whole issue of compromise was a contended issue in the same sense it is today, because in some sense you could argue that someone like garrison is staking out a moral position, an absolutist position, and once you -- very absolutist when its comes to abolishing slavery but absolutist positions mean you can't compromise so what about positions that are not quite
10:40 am
absolutist? where do you become practicing mat tick? that's where lincoln comes in. he was a pragmatist and was willing to compromise. that's why many men and women who are more radical than he was thought he was a little bit tardy and slow with regard to emancipation, but he was working slowly because he believed in pragmatic approach to government so you could get a real lasting peace and you could actually abolish slavery. so compromise is an interesting issue, sometimes pragmatic, sometimes works, sometimes necessary, but sometimes so flaccid and meaningless as to become terrible as in the compromise of 1876 when you have the contested election, the election of ruthserford b. hayes who did not win the popular vote. but then again, many people were not allowed to vote in the south, so this so-called
10:41 am
compromise was to get him into office as long as he pulled out the federal troops out of the south, so that it would end reconstruction. so it's not -- compromising people's welfare in that particular case. so we're debating those issues today, and i don't think there are easy answers to them. >> we have time for one more question. >> you mentioned lincoln's bottomlessness, and if wonder if you could say a little more about that in the context of the evolution of his views on slavery, and a general question for both: given the very interesting comments about how all times are messy when you look at them, in the present, as you do, an illusion we look back and think of things has having been much clearer. what kind of perspective does that give in terms of so many people feeling we have such a dysfunctional government and how do we go forward, but with
10:42 am
thetive you have from having looked at periods that seemed equally hopeless. what's the future look like? >> one of the things i'm amazed at is the dysfunctionality of times that we look back at as functional. between lexington and concord, and bunker hill, we think of them as all resolute and knowing where they want to go, but you see the provincial congress dithering, not knowing what to do, do we make an army? but, wait, we don't trust armies. but we need an army. my gosh -- all of those kinds of things. and my only takeway is when you look at -- it's so dangerous to make close parallels with the past because people had very different points of view, and whole -- their whole sense of reality was different. but the one thing i come away with, you just got to be humble about the present and not think
10:43 am
that there's anyone who has it figured out. you need to find the -- in terms of leaders you need to find the people who can do that juggling act of pragmatic include achieves things that are for a greater good, and it's not -- it cannot be this stand-off, i'm right, you're wrong. it has to be, let's begin a conversation and resolve this. as the main aim, and that's the one thing i saw with this revolution, was they had to resolve it because they were in the midst of a war, and it's a wonderful -- what it does, it creates -- requires people to come up with something. otherwise it's over, and i think that sort of is why our two books exist, is trying to make sense of that. >> absolutely. the only thing i would add in that case, about lincoln and that particular context, is that
10:44 am
one of the things he represents, seems to me, one of the things he is able to do -- two things -- they're very important -- one is to empathize, even hawthorne, who called him the homeliest man he ever met and wasn't really a republican, wasn't at all a republican, found in his brief meeting with lincoln a man of real kindness and people often said that. doesn't average come through history, kindness. it meant he was able to empathize with people from different walks of life, different color, different circumstances, and be able to see their point of view, and i think that was enlarging to him and ultimately enlarging to the country and that's very important. i think the other thing that becomes important and i think we write history or think about is, we don't have predictions of pronouncements for today, but i think what is significant is also the ability people could --
10:45 am
the interesting people, people who made the changes often are people who have the capacity to change their mines, -- minds, ad one of the thing people say about -- go back to lincoln -- was the capacity to grow, and grow means changing your mind and revisiting opinions of view you had earlier and seeing that perhaps they were time-bound, or bound by where you were, but you're willing to say, no, i think i'll move in a different direction, and i think that is what we need always. ... our time >> thank you very much and best wishes to both ofl you. [inaudible conversations] >> this program


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on