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tv   Abraham Lincoln  CSPAN  March 2, 2013 10:45pm-11:30pm EST

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so those are the three areas that i have been interested in. >> he's going to be busy. >> i don't know. >> last thing, oscar pick for best picture? >> you know, would i have said "lengthen" up until seeing "argo" win all of these awards. i think it's between those two. i still think "lincoln" has a shot. i loved daniel day-lewis. i think he will win. i think he will win. i'm kind of partial to jennifer lawrence in "silver linings play book" which i liked very much too. >> ladies and gentlemen, rob reiner. >> thank you. thank you very much. thank you. thank you. thank you very much. [applause] >> our thanks to rob reiner. renowned actor, director, screenwriter, pro producer,
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political activist for sharing his thoughts on politics and entertainment industry. i think we can all agree, absolutely fantastic discussion. we want to thank our audiences here and on radio television and internet. i'm dan ashley. now this meeting of the commonwealth club of california, place where you are in the know -- >> here comes the gavel -- >> -- is adjourned. i always feel like a judge when i do this. thank you, rob. >> yes, author and historian harold hoelzer on the life of president abraham lincoln. and president obama participates in a dedication ceremony for rosa parks statue in the rotunda. after that a conversation and time with actor and director rob rhein are. and ron wyden, new chairman of the natural energy and resources committee, discusses energy
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issues facing the u.s. his jeapt for the commit -- agenda for the committee and president's choices to lead e.p.a., energy and interior departments. newsmakers sunday at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> at one point steinbeck had to write a small paragraph that said basically, people are asking what happened to charlie. this is after his wife joins him in seattle. when he says we, it's elaine and john. it's not charley and john. it's -- somebody must have said may, where's charley. steinbeck wrote about a page and a half of a legal tablet saying, people have asked what happened to charley. well, when my lady fair joined me in seattle, charley took his third position in the family thing, yada, yada, he's fine. obviously, that never appeared in the book. what they did do is the editors went in and expunged elaine
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entirely from the west coast, almost 30 days of elaine's presence with john on the west coast. they weren't camping out or studying america. they were basically on a vacation. >> author and journalist bill steigerwald said john steinbeck took so many liberties with the truth as "travels with charley," it can'ting sign fiction. more on sunday's "q&a." >> now a discussion on the resurgence and interest on the life of president abraham lincoln. from "washington journal," this is about 40 minutes. >> harold hoelzer joins us to talk about president abraham lincoln's influence on modern politics. mr. holzer is scholar and author and author of "how abraham lincoln ended slavery in america" and hering to fellow at the new york historical society. thank you for being on the
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program. >> my pleasure. why does it seem he is more pop among the general public? >> spielberg factor is at work here in a major way. movie has been a huge commercial success aside from the political claim its attracted and it seems to have lifted old boats as far as discussion and scholarship. president obama had a screening at the white house that was widely publicized and senate had a screening four, five weeks ago which i was lucky enough to attend and that was pretty amazing experience. >> it seems to be being invoked by today's political leaders more often. what was it about his administration that people both in the senate and in the white house are looking for? what kind of lessons? what kind of patterns that were set up by the lincoln
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administration that still hold up today? >> well, this is not a new phenomenon. if you go back even to the 19th century, republicans and democrats have been feuding over who has the bft claim on lincoln's legacy ever since thee door roozevilt and woodrow wilson battled about it. really 1912 bipartisan and multipartisan battle began. f.d.r., t.r., clinton, bush. it's extraordinary. and what they all believe lincoln shows them is the ability to succeed in a crisis. lincoln obviously faced the worst crisis in american history. and had a recalcitrant congress, which is not a new phenomenon and despite all of that imagined to steer us towards ending the union and slavery. model of success under pressure and success, unfortunately, that came at a great cost.
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>> harold holzer is a scholar and author of abraham lincoln ended slavery in america and if you want to get involved in a conversation the number 202-585-3880. democrats 202-585-3881. republicans 202-585-3882 for independents. you can also reach out and touch us via social media. harold, tell us regarding president lincoln, how would he handle in your opinion today's fights like sequestration and partisan battles going on between the different houses of congress and between congress and the white house? >> however bad the blue and red or red and blue, whatever the combination is, have to get this white, blue grain is worse, obviously, because partisanship
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led to shooting wars in the 1850's in kansas and other places and ultimately throughout the country. so for all of our acknowledgment that lincoln steered is through a crisis, he was unable to achieve result in a fully national congress. he had just as much trouble as president obama is having. the only way, for example, the 13th amendment passed is because only northern congressmen and senators voted for it. the rest of them were no longer participating in congress. and it was still hard to get the two-thirds vote. it's hard to know what the answer is. what lincoln did that is the model and has become the model for presidents in the modern age is go directly to the people. he didn't make speeches he didn't do. and television opportunities and he did issue statements that were called public letters trying to get the country behind his agenda, which in very large
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measure -- and this is another thing we need to keep in mind, abraham living an didn't achieve his greatest successes through the legislative process. he did them by presidential order, both good and questionable. it wasn't a military order by the chief executive, commander in chief. his limitations on the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus were presidential orders, late ratified by congress. the whole run-up beginning of the civil war, calling up troops, allocating funds he did while congress was not in session. maybe that's the lesson. wait until congress is out and then do your thing. >> pro fezzer holzer is a scholar who spent four decades studying president lincoln and will be talking about president lincoln's surge in popularity and what lincoln's political legacy means in modern times. we will go to the phones and take some calls for harold. first one comes from paul in indianapolis, indiana, on our
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line for independents. paul, are you there? >> good morning. this is a great topic for discussion. it seems to me we on hear lincoln was against slavery and racist. the two shouldn't be conflated because it seems to me slavery is a very ancient institution. where as the scientific racism or social darwinism that ultimately ended in such horrors as auschwitz is a much more phenomenon and it seems lincoln got in on the pale end opposition of slavery which didn't end in china in 1954 but got in on the start of the scientific racism, unquote, which twisted western thought up
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in what's it called, eugenics and that kind of thing. seems to me there are two different issues. lincoln could very easily have been a racist but still hate the institution of slavery. >> harold holzer? >> indianapolis, great lincoln town, by the way. wonderful collection there. let me address what you said in lincoln's terms and in lincoln's world. he was, as he put it, anti-slavery. he was natural anti-slavery. he couldn't bear the sight of people being sold at auctions. something he witnessed as a young man and he philosophically opposed the notion someone who makes bread is not entitled to earn the money from making the bread, that he to give the profits or the yield from his efforts to a master, to another person. that he felt went back to the tenets of the declaration of independence. the matter of racism and race is trickier.
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lincoln was a man of the mid-19th century and group basically in all-white communities, was exposed to very few african-americans in his lifetime. and developed through the years when he met frederick douglass, sojourner of truth and other models, he developed a different attitude. he changed over his own lifetime. look at the statements between 1858 and 1865, his last year alive. in 1858 he said he would never countenance the idea of black and white people intermarrying or black people serving on juries. by 1865 he was calling for the right of african-americans to vote, first president to do so. so i think with lincoln it was an evolutionary process. he would be a racist certainly by 2013 terms but judging him by the standards of the 1860's, he was a rather enlightened white
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person. >> next up is jerry, also calling from indianapolis this morning on our line for democrats. you're on with harold holzer. >> how are you doing, sir. god bless you today. i'm jerry ingram, louisiana. your caller was talking about sneaking lincoln agreing with slavery. i have been collecting about lincoln since i was 20 and i'm 50. i have so many books about lincoln. lincoln helped the slaves. how people was treated so bad, lincoln stepped in and got him out of the situation they was in. we need to quit talking about slavery and come together. the president is trying to do the best he can. so the world got to coming to. i love lincoln. lincoln is a good man. lincoln did enough for the country. he did so much for the country. i got a book about lincoln standing at the white house and in the 18th century. >> going to move on in pontiac, illinois on our line for republicans. ron, your question or comment.
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>> i'm wondering about the makeup of the supreme court at the time of the dread scott decision. i know tehranny was a south carolinian. who was appointed by democrats? how were wig appointees? were there any abolitionists on the supreme court? that kind of thing. >> you're a little before my period of expertise. tawney lived on the southern shore of maryland. i think they were predominantly democratic appointees. no abolitionists on the supreme court in 1857. of course, it was an overwhelming majority declaring people of color could never be citizens of the united states and slaves could be transported anywhere. lincoln, of course, changed that by appointing republicans to the supreme court once he took office. >> what are some of the main qualities about prelincoln that leaders talk about and there are any mistaken assumptions being
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made by some of the leaders today, either in congress or at the white house about president lincoln and his legacy? >> the bible goes on about whether he belongs eternally to the republican party or whether his core values suggest today he would be a clinton or obama democrat. that argument is there. lincoln was definitely a spender and taxer. i don't think that's been accepted by the vast majority of political leaders or even historians. he imposed the first income tax. his policy was if america was fighting a war, we had to pay for it and we had to pay for it as quickly as possible. there were bonds but there was also an income tax, which was widely objected to. i think what president glomed onto was very personal often. president bush said to me once that abraham lincoln used the kind of executive power without congressional approval, that
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wasn't popular at the time -- in his own era but has been verified by the test of time. and he said, you see, my wiretapping and all he said my wiretapping and all that is very lincoln-esque. president obama sees the inspirational nature of lincoln and ethos of living up to the unchallenged. work of america. republicans and democrats can always find something in lincoln to inspire them. better they should emulate lincoln than coolidge. host: you bring up president bush. president george w. bush was at the white house during the tribute to lincoln that took place on february 11, 2005.
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we will show our viewers a bit of president bush talking about his admiration for president lincoln. [video clip] >> the civil war was decided on the battlefield. the larger fight for america's soul was waged with lincoln's words. he set himself squarely against the culture that held some human beings were not intended by their maker for freedom. as president, he acted in the conviction that holding the union together was the only way to hold america to the founding promise of freedom and equality for all. that is why in my judgment, he was america's greatest president. host: harold holzer, you were involved in that event at the white house in 2005. talk to us about the prospective and context under which this speech was made and what the
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relationship was between president george w. bush and president abraham lincoln. guest: we had a program which to run the country for five or six years called "lincoln seen and heard." the portraits and speeches were recited by the great sam waterston. we did it at the bush library. according to white house sources, president bush called president bush and said you have to do this at the white house. it was the most incredible day of my life rehearsing at the white house. we used the map room as the staging area and then performed for members of the cabinet, senate, president, and first lady.
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it was interesting watching the reaction, what they reacted to and what they did not. every time the might of the union is being addressed, every time he is issuing a presidential order, president bush was deeply engaged. when lincoln was making anti-were statements during the mexican war, saying war is folly and ends in showers of blood, there was a more glum reaction. it is interesting to watch presidents react to lincoln. host: go ahead, rick. caller: george bush was talking about lincoln being the greatest president. he will probably go down in history as being the worst. what lincoln did had nothing to do with being a democrat or republican.
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it had everything to do with being a true christian. he was a true christian. when lincoln freed the slaves, the republican party became the democratic party. with the civil rights act, the democratic party became the republican party. we have races of people that have still carried on their ancestors beliefs. the bible says the sons will pay for the fathers' mistakes. host: talk to us about lincoln's faith and how that worked into his administration. guest: abraham lincoln was a man of faith, but he was also a man of politics. he was a partisan politician. his goal was to create a republican party that would succeed national and to reward
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republicans with patronage jobs to make sure the party grew and expanded nationally. he came from a very partisan era. as a man of faith, he was an interesting progression as well. he never belonged to a church. he was accused in his earliest political days of being a skeptic. he had to answer that charge during one of his legislative campaigns and assure people he was a believer. he never did join the church, although he attended. he was very literate in the bible. he read it. he knew it. he studied it. biblical phrases enter his speeches. as he goes on in political life, he becomes more deeply religious. it is almost as if it was impossible for him to accept personal responsibility for 750,000 deaths in the united
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states to save the union and end slavery. it is almost too much for one man to bear. he shares the burden with god. if god wishes that every drop of blood shall be repaid by another. the judgment of the lord is true and righteous. that is where he begins saying. he puts it off on divine will. host: jeremiah is calling from michigan on the line for republicans. caller: i am not versed in this era of history much. what strikes me is you mentioned how he had to suspend habeas corpus, raise armies, all of these things without congress in session. it seems the way the 13 colonies formed united states, they were sovereign states and should have the right to secede. it is a voluntary union.
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his actions on that point set the stage for modern politics where we have presidential powers. correct me if i am wrong. the entire executive branch, the president and wage war in pakistan without congressional approval or declaration of war. we have come to this point because of lincoln's example. if the system was not designed for the president to be able to make war on states in the union, that is kind of the dark side of abraham lincoln in american politics. guest: his administration and use of executive power certainly signaled a shift in presidential authority in crisis.
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it was a model created by adrian -- abraham lincoln to meet an emergencycontingency. he would disagree with you about whether the union and compact of states was voluntary. as he put it, a husband and wife may divorce, but the state cannot. the union is perpetual. that is what he based his presidential campaign on. that is what he based his presidency on. eventually, congressional approval did come for all of the allocations for war and the raising of troops. abraham lincoln met an unprecedented emergency. without a response, we might have balkanized countries on this continent. he preserved the union for a better day. fundamentally, he would say the union was perpetual and deserved to be fought for. host: the caller said he was not well versed in this era.
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if he wants to become were well versed, the caller would do well to try and find one of the many books authored by harold holzer, author and scholar. his most recent "help abraham lincoln ended slavery in america." next up is alex on the line for independents. caller: i am 26. i do not know much about lincoln. i called because i wanted to thank him for having some kind of freedom of speech, on the freedom of slavery. he changed the times of all caucasian americans being in charge at that time. host: regarding the issue of
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slavery, we have a tweet. harold holzer. guest: history tells the story. abraham lincoln's election in 1860, what he said and was set for him in the campaign is all that the republican party opposed was the spread of slavery. keeping slavery where it was protected by constitution and placing it on what lincoln called the ultimate course of extinction. just the idea of preventing new pro-slavery is senators was enough to drive the southern states into confederacy determined to fight for slavery. it is important what is being said. people say the war was over states' rights versus presidential power.
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they are truly missing the point. the point is brought home nicely in the steven spielberg movie. the book is a young adult companion book to the movie. lincoln did the emancipation proclamation by executive order. he fought a heroic and questionable battle to get the votes rounded up to end slavery through the 13th amendment. host: harold holzer was also a script consultant for the steven spielberg movie "lincoln." >> that was fun. >> anthony is our next caller on the line for democrats. caller: think you for spending time with us. i commend you for your body of work.
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hopefully you can comment on this statement. i believe it was abraham lincoln who stated he had the confederacy in front of him and the bankers behind him. for his nation, he feared the bankers. could you connect that to what we're up against now? we have this military-industrial complex invading impoverished nations. do we not have to fear the more than we do these nations we are attacking and waging war on? this might not be something you would want to comment on. i hope you would in clarify mr. lincoln's statement. guest: among the countless apocryphal quotes attributed to lincoln are a body in which he fears big business interests.
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as far as i know, that is not something he wrote. lincoln was a supremely confident political leader. people who met him were astonished at how confident and almost egotistical he was. some people expected to be able to dominate him by virtue of education or experience. they were often astonished at the strength he showed in their meetings and the dominance he should. -- showed. i do not think he feared bankers or the confederacy. he was determined to preserve american democracy and majority rule by whatever means he could reach for. host: president obama reference to president lincoln and at the national prayer breakfast. he talked about being sworn in with one hand on the lincoln bible and how lincoln found
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strength during his presidency. [video clip] >> to see this country torn apart and his citizens waging a war that pitted brother against brother, that was as heavy a burden as any president will ever have to bear. we know lincoln visited troops and wounded. he honored the dead. as the toll mounted week after week, you can see in the lines of his face the toll the war cost him. but he did not break even as he had to bury his son. he did not break as he struggled to overcome melancholy and despair. he did not break.
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we know he found solace in scripture. he could knowledge his own doubts. he was humbled in the faith of the lord. that allowed him to become a better leader. host: why do you suppose the president used this reference to president lincoln during the national prayer breakfast? guest: he is under enormous pressure as all presidents are. remembering lincoln's strength and reliance on prayer, but also remembering his political leadership skills make a good combination. i hope for any president of any party, it strengthens their resolve to bear these almost unimaginable burdens. when lincoln was asked about one
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of the border states, he said, i would like to have god on my side, but i must have kentucky. a man of faith but a man of political reality also. host: the next call comes from michigan on the line for independents. caller: i am wondering if abraham lincoln continued to be a whig after the founding of the republican party. did he continue to be as much of a whig as zachary taylor? guest: their arguments made he was very whiggish. he did make several important speeches during his presidency. his unprecedented use of executive power during the civil
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war quickly took him out of the whig realm. he embraced the cause and idea of federal authority to stop the spread of authority. that made him a republican. host: john is calling from massachusetts on the line for republicans. the question or comment for harold holzer? caller: good morning. i come from a point of view where my least favorite president is lincoln. i sit along with the opinions on lincoln. one of my heroes was andrew spooner who was more into-slavery than lincoln.
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i think the war was a result of economic issues because of the cotton gin and things of that nature. the slavery issue was solved around the world without killing 800,000 americans. i think lincoln is a prime example of government being overrun. i think this lincoln propaganda for the most hated man of the century, and rightly so when 800,000 americans were killed in the slavery war. the slavery issue was solved from a world without this kind of death. host: john, we will leave it there. harold holzer, go ahead. guest: there has been a robust anti-lincoln tradition that
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insists the war was fought for in cities reasons that have nothing to do with slavery and had everything to do with the economy and vague notions of economic dominance there were going to be imposed by industrialists in the north. history does not bear this out. history bears out lincoln really desired to see this union of states continued, for majority rule to continue, and for slavery to be eradicated. this idea he used power for the sake of power, i think it is absurd. to show how far we have come thanks in part to lincoln, the bible that president obama has taken two oaths on, it was not really lincoln's bible.
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it was one they scurried around to find on inauguration day. it was the bible used in the supreme court. it was read every morning in court. the bible president obama took his oath on is the bible that roger taney relied on to say that african-americans should never be citizens. host: how was lincoln viewed by the press at that time? what do modern presidents learn from that experience? guest: he was an extremely controversial figure. it was a 50/50 split. lincoln only got 40% of the popular vote. he was ridiculed by the press. he was lampooned. he was caricatured.
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at the same time, he had a cadre of people that adored him. by 1864, he puts together a majority of northern voters. in the instance of the 13th amendment, he uses all of that power and good will. we hear sally field say you are the most loved man in america. he was the most hated, but he was also the most loved. we will be screening the spielberg movie at the hotel where the lincoln family estate in the 10 days running up to the first inauguration. it is very historic and evocative. i guess they have not forgiven him for running out on the bill. host: we're going to go to benjamin from rhode island on the line for democrats. caller: good morning.
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i am very inspired and happy you are going to have such discourse and take questions this morning. you listen to someone like ken burns and get the impression lincoln was reluctant to sign the emancipation proclamation. yet you listen to someone like chomsky and get the impression that his real cause was about the mill worker. he was very dedicated to their cause. i am wondering about your take and analysis on that. what was lincoln's purpose? guest: he was dedicated to the idea of the mill worker owning the mill.
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he put it slightly differently. the idea upward mobility is what informed his anti-slavery. i take issue about what he said about him being reluctant to sign the emancipation proclamation. the cabinet was composed of more radical abolitionist who insisted he table it until there was a union victory. the only reluctance he had of signing it in 1863 was that his hand was so sore from shaking hundreds of hands at a new year's day reception that he wanted to wait until he could massage it back to normalcy so his signature and will not look tremulous. he said his whole soul was in it. i believe him. host: david is on the line for republicans.
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caller: could lincoln have avoided the civil war by requiring federal minimum wage for all workers? the slaves would have been paid. there would not have been any were necessary. eventually, they could be owners of the mill and such if they had done that. that is my question. guest: that is a new one. that is a good one. slave power was deeply entrenched. slavery was not only about the subjugation of human beings. it was also about economics. slaves were property. they were human property. in the eyes of owners, there were less than human property. they represented the biggest economic silo in the entire southern economy. there was no way lincoln could say you should pay these people because they were owned and clothes and fed by their owners.
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there was no way to compromise and end slavery in the 19th century until the tug had to come. time to have a cliff, a fiscal cliff or slavery cliff where you say this cannot go on. the greatest presidents came to that cliff and did not let us fall over. host: tell us about the event taking place today and who else will be there today. guest: steve from this network will be an interlocutor after the screening of the movie. some elected officials from the district, some television folks from other networks will not
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mention. it should be a nice crowd. we will see the film. i bet most of the people coming have seen it twice or more. then we will have a discussion. host: harold holzer, thanks for being on the program. >> a house divided against itself cannot stand. i believe this government cannot endure half slave and half free. i do not except the union to be dissolved. i do not except the house to fall. but i do believe it will cease to be divided. it will be one thing or the other.
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old as well as well as north and as well as south. >> you can find out more about our 16th president online at the c-span video library. >> tomorrow on "washington journal" will rahn. allison young talks about her recent articles in security lapses in labs for disease of center control.
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"washington journal" live at 7:00 eastern on c-span. >> next president obama and congressional leaders participate in a dedication ceremony for rosa parks. after that author and historian in the life of abraham lincoln. >> today a new moon is in the sky. it is placed in orbit by a russian rocket. one of the great scientific feets of the age. >> there was a rapid mobilization of resources in the united states to catch up. we could have put the first
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satellite up but we weren't in a rush until the soviets did it. and for the next few years, there was a real race going on with the united states states -- attempting to put a man in space, the russians did it first. then to put two people in space, the russians put a woman in space first. they had a succession of missions in the 1960's and it took about five years to catch up to the feaths of the soviet -- feats were putting up in space. the ultimate race was to go to the moon. >> from the dawn of the space age from the smithsonian's space museum on sunday. part of american history tv this

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