tv Kate Masur Until Justice Be Done CSPAN April 12, 2021 5:02am-6:02am EDT
and a very enjoyable conversation for me. thank you all very much for the time and the terrific book. welcome to the library of philadelphia online. my name is marjorie and i'm the daughter of the late alex whom this has been named. this evening's program is made possible only with the support of caring individuals like you. we hope you will consider making a gift whenever you are able and helping the free library advance literacy learning and inspire curiosity for all
philadelphians. it is my sincere privilege to introduce kate this evening a noted professor of history at northwestern university with areas of interest and expertise in the united states in the 19th century with a primary focus. america's first civil rights movement from the revolution to the reconstruction is a groundbreaking history of the movement for equal rights that courageously battled racist laws and institutions, northern and southern and in the decades before the civil war, the antebellum movement that you describe lays the foundation for racial justice traditions that remain vital to this day.
publishers weekly has noted to tell this story that brings out the drama of charged racial politics while analyzing the states rights and black citizenship. we look forward to her talk tonight that will be a conversation with the board winning broadcaster and journalist. we are so pleased to have him here with us this evening. kate and tracy, the screen is yours. thank you for being with us this evening. and we are honored that we are among the first to be able to talk with you about your new book so congratulations on completing it and thank you for being with us. >> thank you for having me here and to the free library of philadelphia. it's a pleasure and honor to be here with you. >> your book is fascinating and
i for one learned a great deal and want to start off with one of the things that was most surprising to me that the so-called states where it was outlawed in the period living up to the civil war wasn't as free as we might have thought particularly as it relates. can we talk about what was happening and why that was? >> one thing people are often not aware of is that particularly in the midwest, and in the book i spend a fair amount of time talking about ohio and other places in the midwest especially illinois and indiana, these places were along with michigan and wisconsin part of the northwest territory. and ohio was the first state to come into the union after that big chunk of territory. when ohio came into the union in 1803, the state legislator began
passing laws that were discriminatory against african-americans, so before that, congress had outlawed slavery throughout the territory. it was a place where it was already practiced by the french and british in the 17th and 18th century so when congress began to organize the territory they outlawed slavery but that didn't mean, and this is important, that didn't mean the state legislators couldn't pass laws that discriminated against black people. so ohio led the way starting in 1804 and then 1807 passing these laws that were designed to discourage black migration north over the ohio river from neighboring states like virginia and kentucky. and they required african-american residents to register with county officials basically to show free papers and register their names and
usually to have land of owner post bonds promising the african-american person in question wouldn't become a public charge. the law also forbade african-americans from testifying in court cases involving white people and these had particularly terrible unjust consequences because it meant if a white person tried to rip you off in a labor contract or if you got beaten up, you couldn't personally provide testimony against that person on a court of law and eventually the states formed public school systems so public schools were for white people, why do children only and in addition, the states also usually by state constitution didn't permit black men to vote. they said it was for white men only. primarily ohio, indiana, illinois passed these laws that were again designed to
discourage african-americans from migrating into the state and make their lives difficult and precarious once they were there. that's not to say and other places like pennsylvania and places further to the northeast of there were not also some racially discriminatory laws, but the midwestern states kind of send a pattern in a particularly kind of egregious way. >> one of the big themes of the book is states rights and how that was sort of the prevailing way of thinking at the time. can you talk a little bit more about that and how that complicated the effort to win the civil rights for black people? >> absolutely. in a way that might feel unfamiliar to us today at that time what we consider to be people's basic rights to freedom, to enter into contracts and go to court and protect our interests to own the property,
all these things were regulated at the state level and local level and there was really no constitutional mechanism for federal oversight, so a lot of people immediately when we start talking about rights will go to the bill of rights. from the beginning of the united states, the prevailing view is all of those rights like the right to assemble and to petition and do the process of law and even own a weapon all of those were considered rights that the federal government could not in french but they were totally in frangible by the states and so the states had so much latitude to say, for example some state said we are going to legalize slavery. some states said we have certain laws to regulate african-americans. states could decide at what age you could vote and would go from being a minor to being an adult.
whether married women could own property. all of these were at adjudicated at the state level and there wasn't really the sense that the federal government had a role in that whatsoever and so it depended and we can think of examples similar to this now it depended where if you were somebody that wasn't a white man let's put it that way it depended where you lived what rights you would have, in what state and what kind of community. >> is that why activists turned to the privileges and immunities clause in the constitution to sort of chip away at that? >> exactly. as we are talking about in the united states constitution, if you're in the state and think they have these laws discriminating against you in various ways you can't make an appeal to the federal government. who can you try to get to promise you can have some rights
to travel freely to go to court, and so in some instances and this had to do with interstate issues, people looked at a different part of the constitution and that was the privileges and immunities. with those with your pocket constitutions out there, it's an article four section two. it's a part of the constitution that deals a lot with interstate issues and kind of how to deal you set up a form of government that has a lot of power so you have to think about how to end adjudicated and to deal with issues where people or goods are traveling across state lines. so the article four section two says the citizens of the states are entitled to the immunities of the states and i didn't just give a direct quote of it, but it really is confusing language and it would refer to this thing called state citizenship and
then if you are the citizen of a state you have different immunities other states and so a lot of what is going on in the period of the revolution to the civil war there's a lot of discussions about what this means for anybody and it has a lot to do with commerce actually of whether let's say a white male business owner can transact business in one state if he's from another state and questions like that that have to deal with kind of commerce but in the case of african-americans it becomes a serious questions about whether black citizens of a state have the right to travel to other states and be free and have certain rights of other states and this becomes a hot button issue over the period from the 1820s all the way to the civil war and reconstruction and i can give some examples of that if you want. >> sure. the most significant and poignant way that this comes up is if you think about
massachusetts and new york in particular and to some extent it was an issue in philadelphia but we don't see quite as much agitation around this issue as you do with boston and new york city so these states are sailing out of the port and they are working in a variety of industries including the commerce along the atlantic coast and so primarily from new york to massachusetts. but south carolina, louisiana, alabama, ultimately all of the slaveholding states passed laws directly saying that they are coming into southern ports and had to either spend their time
in port in jail basically be arrested and go to jail or they had to be kind of quarantines on their ship. or as best they could come on shore but they were vulnerable to being asked by white people the police or regular everyday people show me that you're free. so say in new orleans here's my papers hearing free, the authorities could say tear up your papers and cart the person off to jail and they could be literally sold into slavery and never really heard from again. what ends up happening in massachusetts in particular is people get galvanized by these stories. some managed to get out of the jails and they start telling
people this is what's going on. it's bad if they have to deal with sailors getting arrested and eventually so back to the privileges and immunities clause what they start claiming is they are being violated by these arrests and incarcerations and so they say let's look at the clause it says the citizens are entitled and in others you can't just restrict our liberty because we are citizens of our home state. in reality especially in massachusetts and new york the states did recognize public people as citizens. legislators recognized that and their governors made an effort to try to get people out of these southern jails and so
eventually in that instance people from massachusetts and the state legislature say to congress do something to stop south carolina and louisiana from doing this to our citizens and this gets brought up in the house of representatives and in the house there's a number of congressmen who are sympathetic to this argument and say congress doesn't have the power, we can't do anything because we don't see how we have the power to enforce the privilege of immunities clause and that gives you a sense of the impact that existed in a way in this period. >> and then as you write, massachusetts did pass legislation to free up funds so there was a point when the tide began to turn. >> absolutely. the thing that happens, this
movement to protect the rights gets enough traction in the states that they do everything they can at the state level. they pass legislation that allows the governor to get money and get people out of the southern prisons. they publicly denounce the states for doing this and then appeal to congress. they can't do anything more than denounce it saying it's terrible and then saying to congress there's one other thing they can do so they do appeal to congress and they say some of us think you have a good point but we don't know how congress can do anything to help and the last option is to file a suit in federal court and try to get the supreme court to rule that the laws are unconstitutional so that becomes a whole another
strategy that they use. >> i was fascinated because i didn't know until i read your book and it reminded me of the story depicted in 12 years a slave and i wonder in that larger effort to enslave people in a larger effort in the country at that time. >> in these two issues and then in the issue of the kidnappers in the north trying to grab people or exploit them as was the case they often came up together in abolitionist newspapers they would talk about the dangers faced in both instances whether it's as a sailor or working in the south were kidnappers grabbing people
and either way that kind of idea your state government would care about you and do something to secure your freedom is relevant and as you remember in the case after he is enslaved and basically imprisoned in louisiana for 12 years, he finally is able to get a letter back up to new york and if memory serves, the government does intervene on his behalf and they send someone to say he's free, he is unfairly enslaved and he does manage to get away but it took 12 years. >> there's so much you've talked about to unpack. you mentioned newspapers and i would love for you to talk a little bit about the role of newspapers because it seems then as now the media played a big role in shaping the public opinion and certainly slavery was a huge issue of the day.
how did newspapers help to shape the public opinion around it? >> newspapers did a great deal and the early 19th century, most of the 19th century really was a period of tremendous flowering of newspapers of every kind. people even now talk about remembering the days when there were many more papers than today but even then there were more, tons of small towns had newspapers, towns and cities had multiple newspapers, they had different kinds of political views. they were very partisan and political. newspapers really shaped the conversation and one of the points i make in the book, i was really interested in how political change actually happens. like if you are a person who -- and i'm particularly interested in questions about racial
justice in the book if you have a very progressive or kind of marginal out their position on racial justice and black people and some white allies who believe things need to change but your pushing against the majority of the population or the majority of the population, how do you do it? how do you begin to make inroads, so these folks that i write about in the book they were very self-conscious about using the media, using the papers. they would purposely amplify controversy. so i would write about the case of a guy named gilbert horton who was a black sailor and ended up being incarcerated in new york and ended up incarcerated in washington, d.c. and some people he knew back in new york saw the advertisement that had been placed for him in the dc paper saying he's probably a fugitive slave somebody should
come and get him so they galvanized to get him out of jail but at the same time they just went bananas publicizing it in their newspapers and then the way newspapers worked even then they would reprint from other papers and so all over the northeast in particular the story of gilbert on horton and his unjust incarceration in dc became news and gave people a chance to talk about these injustices and violations and he was a very sympathetic character. >> there was a newspaper that you write about and sort of they walk a fine line around the issue of colonization. talk a little bit about that. >> i want to get to this next because what is known as the first african-american run newspaper was called freedom's journal and it was founded in 1827 by samuel cornish and they
were partners in that enterprise. cornish took over and proceeded to be publisher and editor of a number of black newspapers and that period. one of the things we are able to see in the development of freedom's journal is explicitly that black northerners wanted their own vehicle for getting their views out. they sometimes wanted to say thanks to the broad public that they were not permitted to put in white papers so there is evidence in the development of the freedoms journal that they had some black activists in new york and many were ministers who wanted to tell the world that they opposed colonization which at that time was this popular idea among white northerners that the best thing would be to leave the country altogether and
this was founded in the idea that the united states could ever really be a biracial or multiracial nation of free people. you have these white folks that are very philanthropic and often say it would be best for everyone if free african-americans would just leave. they end up forming the colony of liberia and a lot of free black northerners strongly opposed this idea and take a stand for their own americanness. they say we are americans, we are citizens, we belong and we are entitled to the fruits of the country's prosperity just as much as any other person and with the free formation journal they try to get the papers to publish the opposition and had
not been finding anybody that would be willing to do it and that among other reasons they were using the formation as a community building they developed people who were correspondence with the paper and who would distribute the paper in cities up and down the east coast so they were also using freedoms journal to know what other black people were doing in other places, to kind of lift up people's voices and spread news and create a community that transcended this one place or one city. so for all of those reasons really, cornish started freedoms journal in 1827 and then there were a lot of examples throughout the book of african americans starting newspapers to try to get their positions out into the world and also begin to kind of form communities. so there is a wonderful one that is short-lived out of columbus
ohio. >> when we talk about the colonization as a part of that, we have to talk about president lincoln because that was something that he espoused at least at one point. he certainly is known as the great emancipator but was a proponent of colonization. he said at one point he just couldn't see the quality so talk about how his thinking evolved over time as it relates to race. >> lincoln is really complicated, and i write a bit about lincoln and one of the chapters, well i write about him in the chapter on the civil war but also in the chapter that precedes the civil war. first of all, yes, lincoln was active in the illinois chapter of the colonization society, so this was a highly respectable
among white northerners and border state. henry clay was a big leader and proponent of colonization, the most prominent senator from kentucky and many times over presidential candidate and so many leading white figures particularly people associated in the whig party were associated in one way or another with colonization and it's complicated because without excusing it at all in the present-day sense, they were more what we might call more progressive on issues of race than the people in the democratic party who were much more likely to say things that were like extraordinarily white supremacist and extraordinarily believed in the biological differences among races and racial hierarchy. democrats tended to be extreme
in their politics and then on the other hand they are also pretty racist but in a different and less flamboyant way so in a way what they are saying and this is the kind of guy lincoln was. again we don't see how we go forward in a multiracial society. there's so much racial conflict, racism among whites, somebody like lincoln acknowledged as well that actually going forward it's beyond our imagination to imagine that this could ever really work out and so, that's kind of where lincoln was. in some ways as the civil war started. but the other thing worth seeing and i think that this is to try to say it it seems complicated but a lot of those people, and i would include lincoln also thought as long as african-americans were here in this country, the basic civil rights shouldn't be violated and so you have lincoln saying even
before he is elected president he will say things like everyone is entitled to the fruits of their labor. nobody should be enslaved. everyone is entitled to marry. he has a kind of famous statement about interracial marriage and i would never want to marry a black woman and that is quoted but part of the statement is he thinks everyone is entitled to basic civil rights and no one should be enslaved. there are a number of moderates on race that i write about. from montgomery blair from the kind of family that they were big from both missouri and maryland helped out with dred scott's defense in the dred scott case and argued dred scott was entitled to become a citizen even though they were also associated with colonization so we have to kind of keep in mind these complexities about how some of these people who were
kind of middle-of-the-road to leaning progressive for their time saw things. a. >> i always like to add in a conversation like that that first of all it wasn't unthinkable to be the kind of racially egalitarian that we look for today. there are examples like william garrison and people that believed in full racial equality and of course many african-americans did, tomac so the idea that that vision that is more compatible with ours today was unthinkable back then or that we couldn't expect people to be any different, that isn't true. it was fully fathom level to imagine that it was just kind of beyond the imagination of most white americans. >> so, in 1866, congress did pass a civil rights act and that was over the veto of president johnson, lincoln's successor and it was a year to the day after the surrender which i did not
know certainly this was a big turning point for african-americans, dramatic change in the way the country now was beginning to think about equality. tell us what that legislation provided for. >> yeah. i got more and more appreciative of the civil rights act of 1866 the more i read about it. it is the first federal civil rights law so if you are familiar with the civil rights act of 1964, the biggest most significant civil rights measure of the civil rights movement, you know, that is our touchstone in a way for the federal civil rights law. this was the first time congress ever passed a civil rights measure designed to mitigate racial inequality and it happened in 1866, so this was designed to take the country from the abolition of slavery to
beginning to define what the basic rights of all free people should be. it was passed as you said it finally passed over the president's veto in april of 1866 but it first passed earlier than that in the winter of 66 and so this was just to kind of situate people. it was after the ratification of the 13th amendment, which had abolished slavery but it was before the ratification of the 14th amendment. and if so, what people in congress are looking at is we've decided we are changing the constitution, finally getting back to our earlier conversation like finally giving congress the unquestionable power to abolish slavery in the states which it hadn't had before. so, what is a post slavery country going to look like and what extent are we in congress, and this was a republican dominated congress, to what
extent will we let the states have as much control as they've always had over the lives of three people. everyone's going to be free and there's this moment in the summer of 1865 where there's a meeting, the evolutionists and frederick douglass was there, not surprisingly and garrison, the famous white abolitionists as well the 13th amendment is about to be ratified so our work here is done and frederick douglass says no, it is not because all we have to do is look at ohio and illinois and indiana to see that just because you abolish slavery doesn't mean you get rid of racist laws and he goes on to describe this history of the struggles that i'm writing about in the book of the northern fight against racist state laws and says if we don't push congress to act further, then we are going to be stuck with the same old in the southern states and probably the
northern states so we have to have a level of federal authority for the first time that it sets up a baseline of civil rights beyond just saying there can't be slavery anymore. >> and it certainly turned out to be prophetic in a lot of ways. >> the legislation was also noteworthy for what it did not include. what was not in that legislation? >> one of the things about discussing civil rights is there's always a question of what is included in that term and certain things i think people agree on about what is the civil rights and things we have eluded to. the right to enter into contract, to sue and be sued and go to court and for personal liberty meaning to travel from place to place. what else beyond that was included in the term was up for debate so at that time, most people didn't think the right to vote was a civil right. they thought that it was
important but they didn't categorize it as a civil rights so when the civil rights act passed in 66 it says basically all citizens of every race or color have the same rights to contract, sue and be sued as white citizens do and it enumerates a number of things that everyone should have the same rights as white citizens should have, but it isn't clear for example whether public accommodations are included so it certainly says you can't just say it's going to imply that the state can't say you know, it also includes criminal laws of the state can't say the punishment for stealing his five dollars but for white people it's a three-dollar fine, that's off limits now. you can't have these kind of explicitly racist laws. but can you have if you are a
railroad company, can you have a car for black passengers and in separate for white passengers? if you are a theater in ohio or baltimore, do you have to admit black patrons to the same sections. technically from the legal perspective when you buy a ticket somewhere, that is a contract you exchange money and get the promise of something in return so it was arguable that outlawing the contracting meant everybody had to have access to the same kind of contract but it wasn't clear that was going to be a winning argument so right after the civil rights act passes, african-americans in a variety of different places all over the country south and north start to test the law and they go to theaters and they get on railroads and they beat the argument that all of those places really should be included in their civil rights. they should be places where they
have civil rights and how that shakes out is it's complicated. in the end though, congress decides and is led by black activists and charles sumner the senator from massachusetts that they are going to pass another civil rights act which is the act of 75 that explicitly outlaws racial discrimination in those types of spaces, theaters, railroads and stuff like that so they decide to secure those rights they will need yet another several right law. >> part of the story is quickly in 83 the supreme court declares that a second civil rights act unconstitutional. >> so, we have lots of questions stacked up from the audience but quickly before we get to them just thinking as i was listening to you just now thinking here we are in the 2021 is still fighting a lot of these battles.
i'm thinking right now about voter suppression and efforts to try to address that, gerrymandering and so forth, so just interested in your take on the fact that now here we are 2021 and we are still fighting some of the same battles. >> i feel like i go back and forth between and my response to this is it's both horribly demoralizing but also heartening in a way because the way that i frame this is we are still grappling with the legacies of slavery. and if you think about it like that, that there were 250 years of slavery in this country and it was an institution that was
horrendously violent, powerful in this country and then the northern states got a head start in getting rid of it but you can see how hard it was to then reconcile themselves to what we would see as a pretty minimal version of racial equality then you have the full abolition of slavery in the southern states and civil war. this is a long-term project and i think it is just looking at the way to not be completely demoralized and feel like it is never ending to just think about the magnitude of the damage and the kind of institutional entrenchment of the damage and then it feels like it's no wonder it's taking so long and we are not where we always have been. things have changed and i don't want to say always for the
better, but there are more protections for rights. we are not living in the same racial situation as we were in 1865 or 1890. and yet you're absolutely right that a lot of the fights feel so similar and a lot of the arguments people make for instance about voter fraud is so familiar from reconstruction when people who want to disenfranchise voters said it's not really about race it is just about trying to protect against fraud so some of it is just incredibly familiar. but maybe knowing that it's familiar and people keep going back to the same is also empowering for us now. >> we have a lot of questions from the audience so we will start off with one from brenda who asks if you will talk about the role of philadelphia specifically the quakers during this time.
>> sure. the book jumps around a bit from place to place because as we have been talking about, the struggle is different in places like massachusetts as compared to ohio, so i wanted to capture that. in the place where philadelphia really comes in as a question kind of eludes to is in the late 18th century when philadelphia has this incredibly vibrant black community. we see the foundation of the ame church and this kind of blossoming of african-american institutions and white quakers who are there also promoting these ideas about freedom and equality. i was interested to find some of the networks were operating in philadelphia, so if you know philadelphia history you probably already know this, but a group of african-americans from north carolina and up in philadelphia because the quaker american revolutionary period freed them and then the state of
north carolina was trying to enslave them so they migrated north to philadelphia to get away from that because of the quaker connection so you have a vibrant philadelphia and we write a bit about his protest against what would have been black laws in the state of pennsylvania so as they are spreading from ohio to illinois, to indiana in the territories that are becoming states it's kind of a trend to introduce in the state legislature racially restrictive laws like the ones the western states had and this trend comes to pennsylvania and the legislature starts to consider the law like that that would have done similar things to what they did in ohio, and in philadelphia the black and white community, he's really at the forefront of protesting that and that's where his famous letters from the man of color comes from
and if you know philadelphia history you're going to be familiar with that because it is one of the earlier kind of writings that we have and it's lengthy and it's just kind of a remarkable document, but i thought it was really interesting to see in the context of the spread of these anti-black laws and his pamphlet which was published in newspapers illustrates both what's wrong morally, why is it immoral to make the distinctions based on race and also the practical negative consequences on african-americans if the laws are passed and he talks about corrupt officials will try to take advantage of them. they will incite white people to violence because they will see us as people that are vulnerable and who really don't matter and so it's this kind of amazing exposition. the earliest i found from an
african-american person explaining exactly why these laws are both wrong and also really damaging. >> robert has a follow-up to that. what were the sources of the racially discriminatory laws in the northern states? was at sympathy with slavery, born of white supremacist ideology, historical practice? and then a question jumped on me, economic advantage over african-american employees, did the laws pass on the surge of wide popular support for them in your is today did they pass because the voting population, white men was initialed to them and also can you make any generalizations about where the established churches were on the matter of these racially discriminatory laws? a lot going on in those questions. i will let you take that. >> another great question. i would say that of the list of
reasons why states adopted these laws, first of all they were closely thought so for example, ohio when they made the constitution in 1803 it was proposed to put this type of discriminatory provisions in the constitution itself and that was shut down and so they do have the voting for white men only but they shoot down all of these laws they made in the past and then the past first in 1804 and 1807 and i think we don't know that much about the legislative debates about those laws but they never were completely unopposed and so you always find some pushback. in the ohio legislature in the 18 teams there was a little bit of a push to repeal them and so why did people want them?
my sense is the sort of prevailing view and this is why they were so much more significant in ohio, illinois and indiana, the states that border on the ohio river as compared to michigan i won't go into that, but they were much more prevalent in those midwest states. people that supported the law wanted to stem the tide of migration out of the south, so they wanted to make -- they wanted to telegraph that african-americans were not welcome. why were they not welcome? it was a combination of let's just put, the racial part is this kind of belief that we are a white country or community and black people don't really fit in and if they are around they can't be fully invested members of the community. they also sometimes talked about economic competition with whites and sometimes black criminality
and the kind of suppose that negative impact of black migrants on white communities and white youth and then the other thing i did pay a fair amount of attention to because it struck me they fit the arguments against migration into these long-standing ideas about the poor in general, so the united states in the legal tradition inherited from great britain poor laws and these ideas that if you are a poor person, going back to england where it wasn't about race, this poor people did not have the same rights as generally free people had. they could be removed from communities and this is all about fear of people being dependent on public resources and so when you get to a place like ohio, they actually overlay the antiblack laws and they are administered by the same people the overseers of the poor, the officials and so some of the discourse is also about fear of
the poor. they will be poor, dependent, we don't want them around because it will be a drain on public resources and so some of this language really is because it is. it's familiar in a way that people have long maligned african-americans in this country in ways that have to do with poverty and it also is familiar to the way anti-immigrant sort of rhetoric has been in the last five or more years which is to say immigrants who come to this country are a drain on economic resources and so on so there's a lot of through lines in that. >> a couple of questions here i'm going to combine them regarding reparations. what are your thoughts about the reparations and acted just this week in the city of everest and that provides redress for the historical discrimination in housing. she says she grew up and went to
high school in evanston and joe wants to know do you think african-americans should receive reparations so we will roll this into one and you can take it there. >> so, yes, evanston became the first municipality in the united states to have adopted the reparations program and last week decided officially decided how to distribute the funds that are coming in through a particular path on actually legalized marijuana it was legalized and then the city decided a portion of the taxes taken by the dispensaries are going to go to reparations. and then it was decided that by a committee formed by the city government that the reparations would kind of connect housing discrimination. i can't remember the date but basically in the era of redlining so between the 1930s and the 1960s. i think the entire thing is, bottom line it's a wonderful thing for a community to try to
do and to try to sort out how to do it. there's been controversy in evanston among the african-americans about how the best way to do it and towards the end when the decision was about to be made, there were people organizing to say that they didn't want it to be associated with homeownership and so at this point you can apply to get the reparations benefit if you are a homeowner or to help purchase a home but the people that don't already own homes were unknowledgeable and so there was pushback against this plan saying that it should be open to a broader swath of the community and cash payments as opposed to help with a mortgage or home repairs, and i think in a way it went through with the plan anyway and i think what that debate illustrates is the complexity of trying to figure out how to do it and that is a complexity that the whole country will have to wrestle with as well if we ever truly
do, but i don't think that arguing that reparations is complicated is a reason to not do it. i think it is when you make a commitment that something needs to be done to repair past damages that you begin to have more concrete productive conversations about the best way to do it and they are not irresolvable. probably a situation where everyone is happy is never going to happen, but i think if people keep -- in my circles, people are often saying how once you really take the full measure of the history of this country, you have to come to the position that people were robbed, people had their livelihoods and their lives and families stolen from them and you have to from a moral standpoint come to grips with that and that's where i think we kind of need to start and that's why knowing history is really important. >> greg says i love this focus on the first civil rights
movement. can you speak more about the years making up this first movement, when did the first civil rights movement and in your reading and give way to the second and is the jim crow era decision still part of this first movement? >> that's a great question. i find this study goes through the revolutionary reconstruction and i see this as a wake-up phase and it can be divided into sub phases, but it is where you get the founding of the united states and then you get the growth of a larger and larger free black population because of the states abolishing slavery during the revolution and things like that. >> so all these questions arrived that people are grappling with after the revolution into the 19th century about what is the order going to look like because we were in a proslavery order in some places just not in others.
why that comes to an end with ofthe civil war and reconstructn is that this movement got a lot of what it wanted in the civil war and reconstruction. when you think about the civil rights act of 1866 and the amendments, you have on the national space ways people could have never predicted in the 1840s were the 1850s. you have a when for what they wanted in terms of making explicitly racially discriminatory laws unconstitutional and so i think we can safely say that this marks the end of a certain phase in the struggle in that where the struggle was going to have to pick up again is first trying to get enforcement of the reconstruction measures which is i guess what happens during jim crow and then by the 1950s and 60s moving forward to a new regime of equality that is much more comprehensive than anything that was even dreamed of in the 19th century.
>> question from catherine who says she wants to know if the previous research in dc led to this current book and also congratulations on the great review in "the wall street journal." >> thank you so much. you know, one of my stories for this project had to do with my first book which was on washington, d.c. and it started out as my doctoral dissertation and i was -- the book is about the civil war and reconstruction in washington, d.c. and part of the point of writing about washington as it was a laboratory for experimentation by congress because congress has exclusive jurisdiction over the district of columbia. it's not a state as you know if you're following the news right now and so you can see dc as a kind of example for what congress would have wanted to do if it had control everywhere. it's exclusive control and i'm
finishing up that book and was writing the introduction and sort of right in the part where it says the republicans in congress had a vision of a certain vision of racial equality and of course they were going to try to implement in dc and that's where the story picks up. then i thought to myself where do they even get that idea of equality, like how is it that a bunch of white men republicans in congress in 1861 are poised to do things like not only abolish slavery in dc but get rid of and implement racial equality before the law and create public schools for black children and then i thought somebody's written about that, surely there is a book that explains how you get to the point where the republicans in 1861 are thinking about these things and that there wasn't, there wasn't like a book i could cite and so it wasn't that much of a linear story but really this book in some ways is
answering that question. >> there was so much that i learned from your book and i know that the audience will as well. what surprised you the most from the research that you did as you put this book together? >> i have to say the whole story about black sailors i didn't know that that was going to be a story in the book. i thought everything i was going to be writing about was going to be sort of state-level struggles in different states and then i happened to be in massachusetts and i went to the state archives. i don't know what i was looking for, petitions or just to see what was there. there was all this stuff about activists petitioning and prepping the state legislature on behalf of the rights of the free black sailors. i kind of knew this story about the law themselves and these
kind of oppressive southern state laws that were known to historians and have been written about by historians most recently in a good book by a historian named michael so we know that about these kind of oppressive laws and a southern n white people's fears of free black sailors but what hadn't really been documented was a fascinating successful movement in massachusetts to change the course of the state legislature and then all these other things started to appear like the privileges of an immunities clause and getting congress involved and here it is again in the records of congress and so that it takes up a chapter and a half in the book and then it comes back and it turns out when they are talking about the civil rights act of 1866, people in congress are talking about those issues in the massachusetts campaign and so it is a thread throughout that i didn't know it was going to find and it's really fun to keep finding those
connections. >> and it was fascinating for us as well for all of us i'm sure who will be reading and enjoying your book. thank you for writing the book and sharing the insights with us. until justice be done, america's first civil rights movement from the revolution to reconstruction. you have taught us so much through this book. thank you. >> thank you for having me. it's been a pleasure. >> and thanks to the audience for the great questions, for being with us tonight and participating in this conversation. i want to thank marjorie weingarten and their support of the library. laura and andy and jason from the event team, thanks to all of them for bringing all of us together. i hope everyone has a good night. please, stay safe, have a good night and we will see you next time. thank you for joining us.
during a virtual event, whole foods ceo john mackey spoke about his approach to leadership and business. here is a portion of the program. >> capitalism or the word innovation is is the greatest thing humanity has ever created. go back 200 years ago when innovation began to pick up steam, 94% of everybody on planet earth had less than two dollars a day, 94%. that's in today's dollars. the average lifespan 200 years ago was 30 now it is 72.6 and advanced countries closer to 80. literacy rates 200 years ago across the planet were 88% now they are 12%. if you read steven pinker's book
and my demint now you will see documentation after documentation of documentation how the world has progressed. it has been science and technology combined as the entrepreneurs took the scientific discoveries and operationalized them to make our lives better. it's the greatest thing he's done. business people are not the villains of the story they are the heroes of the story.