tv In Depth Annette Gordon- Reed CSPAN July 5, 2021 9:30pm-11:31pm EDT
>> next it is booktv's monthly in depth program at harvard university professor and historian annette gordon reed. her books include the pulitzer prize national book award-winning monticello and "on juneteenth. >> host: on the anniversary of 1776, we often tell ourselves we are or here. >> guest: we are certainly trying to be. >> host: in what way? >> guest: i think there are a number of people in society who are sort of working to make the ideals of the declaration a
reality. the ideals that are expressed in the preamblesu about equality ad about the pursuit of happyness. so we have that idea and we are trying to reach that potential. >> host: this is one of those silly questions but would the founders recognize who we are today? >> host: of course not. [laughter] some aspects they would but most of it anticipating in politics, blacks participating in politics, all those kind of things would have been of course and the power of the united states at the time we are talking about 1776 this is the colonies in the middle of nowhere. they don't have the power and we have become an empire.av so i don't think that they would have seen all that had happened to the united states up to this point. >> veprofessor have you weighedn on the 1776 versus 1619 debate that we are having in the country right now?
>> passing certain interviews and things like that but i haven't written anything about it. >> host: what are your initial thoughts? >> guest: kind of what i've said before that you need both of those things. 1619 is what you are referring to and talks about the beginning of slavery in the north american colonies and it's sort of sets the context of 1776. it's different because again it's a whatin we call the beginning of the country and so these people are acting in the, context that was important because there was slavery in all 13 colonies but 1776 introduces a new dilemma what people call a paradox and we can talk about that or not whether it actually is a paradox that this idea that
created equal in the society where people are enslaved. so there is no paradox and the dilemma. saying things about all men are created equal it becomes an issue. >> where didis that come from? >> guest: this was a way to portion congress. this was a compromise between the northern states and southern states concerned about who's going to have power in the society because they are different and they've come to gather about the regions were
different in lots of ways. they have their own ways of life. it's not just between big states and small states so this was a way of compromising to allow colonies that were used to being alone to come together. >> host: so this was not an easy. process. >> guest: not at all. we think of states as states within the union but they saw themselves as different places. when jefferson talked about virginia he talked about his country, virginia, because it had been a separate colony. so didn't create a nation all at once but created a union and that was a difficult process as we know a lot of compromise so
they came to a head obviously in the 1860s. >> host: one of those founders that you've written three books about, thomas jefferson, when did your interests start? >> in our classrooms we had a l separate library but in the back of the classroom, we had a library and it had the kind of books that you would expect for third graders. there were biographies of the various figures. dolley madison, booker t.n washington, george washington carver, thomas jefferson and. and i read a jefferson biography during that year into my third grade year and the book was to be a biography but something that was told by
jefferson's companion. and the book bothered me because it portrayed the end the slave boy as not wanting to learn because jefferson wanted to read and go to school and he enjoyed those sort of things. i knew at the same time that my classmates and the intent of the author was to sort of send a message i thought about black people. and at the same time that they were sending a message about the intelligence and curiosity. i thought of myself as intelligent and curious and i loved reading. i couldn't see why they had to be portrayed that way but that was my introduction and at that time i read other sort of age-appropriate books about monticello and a time to think
about slavery as well. here is a person that wrote the declaration of independence but at the same time was a slave owner.t what's that about? so it continued up until now. >> host: had you been integrated i or segregated? >> guest: i integrated the schoolol of my hometown in texas when i was in the first grade. by the time i got to the third grade, things had changed. there were more black kids in the school. i was there by myself at first but then there were supreme court cases and so forth that required the sort of immediate integration and at anderson where i was by the time i read
my first biography about jefferson but yes it was new at the time and i had been the person who started it in our town. >> host: you write that you integrated that school without the police escorts. >> guest: my parents and the school district and i suppose the school newspaper or the town newspaper decided we wouldn't make a big deal d about it, thai would just go and it would be as if nothing were unusual but of course it was very unusual. i remember during the first year the delegation of educators and people coming to stand at the doorway to look at us, me and these 25 or so young kids to see how this experiment was going so it was intends.
my mother said at one point i brokee out in hives which might have been a reaction to things. but i look back at that time period and i focus mostly on i remember some of the bad stuff but mainly my overall feelings which was excitement being in school and learning things. that is what galvanized. there were some kids who were not nice to me, but my teacher, my first and second grade teacher, these were the two who were just fantastic and wonderful to me. they did everything they could to makee everything work smoothly. but there were bumps as you can imagine. >> host: in her books annette gordon reed has written three about thomasn jefferson from 1997. thomas jefferson and sally hemmings. the second in zero eight, the hemmings' of monticello, the national book award andaw pulitr
prize for that book and her most recent, along with author, peter, is most blessed of the patriarch. why did jefferson refer to himself as most blessed of the patriarch? >> guest: he was comparing himself to the patriarchs. he had a farm and he had enslaved people in power. he had all these kind of things. he was the patriarch of this particular area and he saw himself that way. of course we look at that like what? so that's why i insisted we put that" and the books because we didn't want people to think we were calling him that, but it was his identity. now we look at this as negative and that is why i didn't want to be associated with calling him that, but he saw himself as a person who had responsibilities. that is what he said.
we look at the slaveholder and all those things. he saw it as here are the people i'm responsible for that i'm i supposed to take care of and that was his image of himself. so we felt that by fixating on that phrase, a couple times he called himself that, they meant something to him and the book is about trying to figure out what that actually was to try to unpack that to see what heth meant. >> host: how long have we known about sally hemmings? >> guest: it depends on who we are. people in the african-american community had this story is an article of faith from the 19th century and reference to. with the story came out in the 1790s and came with sally
hemmings name in 1802. both the story has been in the public sphere since the beginning of the 19th century. it was rediscovered in the 1950s when they found hemmings recollection. a novelist who was also a jefferson bus kind of person as well foundedrs and got the attention of jefferson scholars. it kind of gets a new life. they didn't talk about it explicitly in their book but it gets new light in the 70s when it was written about in the biography of thomas jefferson in intimate history and she put the recollections in the back of the book. in 1873 he said he was the son of thomas jefferson and sally hemmings. so, that recollection now unless
it was in the public eye, that is the first time that i read it when i was 14-years-old and the first time i'd seen a narrative by a former enslaved person and it interested me to think of someone in that kind of predicament and i knew slaveholder and enslaved women, there were children born of connection between these people and other kinds of connections. i knew that but to have it talking about an individual i had been interested before it's like a new twist on the story. >> how widespread are the descendents of jefferson and sally hemmings? >> guest: very widespread. hemmings had about 12 kids. i don't think his son had the children but his daughter had lots of kids so there were lots of people around the country who
are hemmings descendents and i met a good number of them and corresponded with a good number of them. i've been to a family reunion with them and including some people from jefferson's legal family, it's very widespread. >> host: have they been officially recognized? >> guest: i don't o think so. the association which is the association of jefferson descendents i don't believe theu have but i'm almost certain they would have because it probably would have been news i would w have heard something about but i don't know how many of them actually were seeking that recognition because they had their family story and that is their family story that's pretty
much their attitude about it. the c-span presidential historian the survey just came out. we do thisr every four years after an election and the two presidents you've written about extensively, thomas jefferson, came in at number seven again. he's been consistently number seven. the others you've written about, andrew johnson came in second to last right above james buchanan. do you p think those are pretty accurate? >> guest: i would say so. when my book about johnson came out, that is the one year that he was listed. always usually just above buchanan. that's pretty much right. he wasn't a good president. he was a terrible person to follow lincoln. the thing about the buchanan and johnson, they got lincoln they
both did things that mirrored being at the bottom of list of t of presidents. and jefferson should be at the top ten. >> host: why is that in your view? >> guest: it was his doing. now that is a controversial thing because they talk about what that meant for the extension of slavery and what it meant for indigenous people in that area. but you know, it is the beginning of the united states, the continental united states, and itto was a momentous thing. when i fill those surveys out, i don't think about necessarily about how i feel about a particular action or president in their policies. t i think about how they exercise
power in the office and things that were momentous that helped change the country so i think certainly that was a claim to fame for him and his first inaugural address. the second one there was the embargo and all kinds of issues and the second was perilous. but i think that he definitely belongs in the top ten. and i suppose because of the declaration because they were talkingg about he gets points fr that as well. i think it is sort of a cumulative score for him, but louisiana and some of the things he did in the first term and setting the tone, this idea of the people as the sovereign rulers, jeffersonian which definitely continues even after
he's president and his acolytes, madison and monroe take their place after him and jefferson who we didn't think very much of. jackson saw himself and admired jefferson even though he didn't admire him. so the influence of jefferson and that part of his presidency. >> were you asked to write to the biography by the american president a series or did you volunteer for it? >> host: arthur's lesson sure junior who was on the board of advisors out of princeton i knew him from that and the other editor had been the editor on the book i did with vernon jordan.
between the two of them asking to do this i said sure. it wasn't something i would have to out of the blue started doing but once i started doing it, i realized even though johnson isn't a terribly pleasant person which shouldn't be a part of the consideration but it always is if you want to spend time with someone writing about them, he was president during a pivotal moment and he made the decisions decisionsthat put in place othel decisions, so even if he isn't attractive as a man, as a character, the role that he played is pivotal and people should know about it because of that. >> host: the only southern southernsenator not to leave th? >> guest: that's why lincoln
traded his original because it was symbolic. lincoln wanted to sort of send a message. thi have a person who is loyally and we can go forward together with this but it was a disaster. >> host: the one thing i picked up in your biography as you referred to johnson's quirky independence. >> guest: he came from nowhere essentially. he didn't learn how to read until he was a late teenager. his wife apparently taught him how to write so we were talking about admissions and it's a good quality in some ways. the perseverance that he had, he
knew he came from a working-class background he would have been looked down upon but he b didn't let himself be hampered by that. he basically held every office that you could. he fought his way up and becomes president because of the tragedy. but yes he had great. other than hisoo loyalty to the union was important and that is a key thing. but his independent streak and loyalty to the union were things to say okay there is something there along with it as i said being in a pivotal role at a
pivotal time in the country's history. >> host: before we leave andrew johnson, i want to ask about dolly, the slave girl. >> guest: we don't know much about her. there are people who claim from johnsonhe through her, but thers not that much known. it's not like a hemmings story. because my book was basically about the presidency. to talk about the personal lives of the president but the main thing is to talk about their policies and workings of their presidency. i didn't go into detail in talking about enslaved people. >> host: back to the presidential historian survey of 2021 put out by c-span. andrew jackson has been dropping
steadily since 2011 when he was rated number 13 and he's down to 22. what does that say about history? >> guest: different people have generations respond to different public figures differently over time because we ask different questions and the same way historians ask different questions of people in the past and the situations in the past based upon their preoccupation and we have been very much interested in the question of indigenous people and the treatment of indigenous people and we were interested in the subject of race. jacksone is an interesting figue because we think of the age of jackson as the rise of american democracy and it was, but it was the rise of what people refer to and i'm not making this up, the
idea that white men should rule and so even in situations and places where blacks had the franchise and were able to vote it was taken away from so you have this situation where there is an expansion of democracy and classes are getting power that they didn't have before. by then they can all vote but it's a restriction so that's the problem. what does it mean and how do we celebrate the lies in one area and restriction on the other side. native americans, indian removal. the policy before jackson but jackson's treatment is seen as a problem. as you fixate and think of those
issues more, he looks worse than maybe he did before. when people are not thinking about raising a fortune of african americans under and during this time period, or just sort of assuming that there was only one way to handle the situation that he then becomes a problematic figure. if you have this notion of progress that inevitably is leading to better things than you can say it's okay they were taking the franchise away because eventually they would get it. as historians you know that there is nothing inevitable.
we have to think about what is happening in that particular moment and what do we think about the fact that the blacks who could vote before now can't vote. what do we think about the notion of a white man government. how do we deal with what they are doing at that particular time not saying it's okay because eventually this is going tobe be all right? it makes sense that he would decline but who knows. certainly jefferson's fortunes have risen and fallen over the years. these things come and go and generations are interested in different things and who knows what we will be on to in the future. >> this survey is sent out to. about 100 historians nationwide and eight different criteria and areas. by the way this is all available
onon c-span.org. we do it every four years after the end of one president and donald trump is included for the first time on this list and he comes in the fourth from the bottom. 897 pointsln for abraham lincol, 312 for donald trump. is it fair to judge somebody six months after the end of his administration? >> guest: as a historian, i would say no. that's not really history. but you want time to pass to have some perspective, but i. think that some of the things that happened in the trump administration, the january 6th insurrection and people believed he was egging that on i think it's an extraordinary circumstance because if we are filling out a survey to come off
of something like that so quickly, i think the judgment comes from that. so, extraordinary events make people, they sort of shape the way people decided to do the survey and thehe way they answed it and i think that is one of the reasons. there's other things as well, the handling of the pandemic. i don't know that that -- you asked the question. and so they responded on the basis of what as i said before are some pretty extraordinary circumstances for the presidency. but ideally, you want time to pass because you don't know what the effect on the presidential actions will be so those judgments i think are less than judgments made about people further in the past by historians is my view of it.
political science may be different if you are thinking about the effectiveness of particular actions in escontemporary times. but with historians, you need more time. >> host: june 19th, 1865, quote, the people of texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the executive of the united states, all slaves are free. this involves absolute equality with personal rights and rights ofrm property between former masters and slaves and the connection here to for existing between them becomes that between an employer and hired labor. the freed men are advised to remain quietly at their present home and work for wages. they are informed they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness neither here or elsewhere. what is that? >> guest: general order number
three, the order he issues when he comes to galveston in 1865, june, 1865 to take control of that area after the final surrender of the confederate army. i so he issues this order and that's the day that we have come to know as on juneteenth that became a holiday. >> host: but the civil war ended in april. >> guest: they kept fighting. ..
>> but yes i did grow up celebrating juneteenth. people ask me when did i first? i don't remember a time whenam we were not celebrating our did not celebrate juneteenth. it was a family holiday, a community holiday. i don't recall talking about it in school but carried forward as far as i knew of people in the african-american licommunity. i thought it was a black holiday but that he became a texas state holiday in 1980. but this is when the slaves were freed is what i would have said as a kid. and we barbecued and did firecrackers as little kids
andr sparklers and that's what i remember. >> mostly they say it's just mash up. and that some people celebrated they weren't sure if it was the 18 or 191320 it. i don't know if i buy that. because general order number three is written. and it was announced and then on the invisible church in galveston so people knew what day it was but it's just a mashup.
host: you were recently in washington at the white house? >> i was. i was there for the signing ceremony. i was pretty confident it would become a federal l holiday but i thought it might be later and then i got an e-mail invitation or a text and then an e-mail to come down to the white house for the signing ceremony so i quickly hopped on a plane and made it in time for the ceremony. host: in your most recent book you write that there is so much to misunderstand about texas that stem from a general lack of attention to or even awareness of the states foundational aspect. what does that mean? >> someone that was the transplant people think of
texas of the land and of cowboys and oilmen that texas bois constructed as a white male in as a cowboy or reinsurers even though many are black that's not the hollywood presentation or they are all men and the giant exemplifies what people think about texas. they had their way of life and then the wildcat people came opin and nouveau riche people that challenge now they come together with this new texas. but they leave out the part about plantation owners and where the father of texas
doesn't bring people to texas to become cattle ranchers. he brings them and that slavery would be protected and texas would take its place as part of the cotton empire. the foundational aspects of a texas are things we don't think about very much for a slave society and it is clear and those that had declared slavery illegal. and then to be secure about that so that was one of the reasons they decided to leave they do theyen set up a constitution that has provisions that expressly protect slavery which prevent african-americans or african
dissent from immigrating there without permission same a can ever become citizens. not thinking about slave society people are confused about what they hear coming out of texas. what are these racial problems? talking about race? what is thehe problem? this is a place full of cowboys. it is not a space of african-americans or peoplet who have anything to do what we think about the old south. georgia and mississippi. not so much texas when it actually was. so the purpose of the book is to disavow of that notion it's all about the west.
but east texas where i grew up in a couple of cases from georgia and mississippi was the state society and it was dealing with all of that today. host: have you been able to trace back your family thoroughly? >> not thoroughly i can him another side in texas through the 18 twenties. my father side from the 1860s or a little before. i have deep roots in texas and my family the family and my mother's i did not join the black diaspora mainly they went to california and went west but there were other places as well.
they didn't stay there i am the anomaly to leave texas to go to school in new hampshire at dartmouth. but to live outside of texas. most of my family is in texas. when they left to go somewhere he went to dallas or san antonio. they did not come to new york or l.a. most of my family is still there. host: bacteria book on page t101 i was taken to see it with my best friend. >> it was a big deal in those days there is a little town
outside of houston now of course houston has reached out and encroached upon all of that area but it is an exciting thing and a tree to go see this movie about people we already knew about. jim, travis, davy crockett, these were names that were known to us. i knew who they were and as a semi- god black person. and in real life he would get into knife b fights and then to become famouse because of that so we go to see the film and it was a very heroic portrayal of the alamo is you would have
expected and there was nothing in there that surprised me and a character who was a slave and portrayed not in a way with that trope of loyal slaves but for the most part it was a her awake presentation to make this last glorious stand against the mexicans. nowen later on, when i was a teenager or maybe i was in college then i came to understand that the texans had reason to fight for their independence but one of them was to protect the
slaveholders and to make it as our republic. how am i supposed to deal with this? i am african-american. s my ancestors were enslaved in texas. how do i keep this heroic understanding about the alamo when i realize one of the things they were fighting for was to keep my people in bondage? so as a little kid i enjoyed the movie except that part it fell into all the rousing nature with a nice theme song in lawrence harvey was cute. but later i began to see the erproblems with it. so in the book i talk about if there is a way to reconcile this and how can you possiblyv do that?
host: good afternoon and welcome to booktv on c-span2. independence day, 2021. monthly program in-depth we invite one author to come on to talk about their work this month harvard goprofessor, pulitzer prize winning author, annette gordon-reed she began her writing career in 1997 thomas jefferson and sally hemmings.o: the hemmings' of monticello 2008. that one the pulitzer national book award. andrew johnson 2010. most blessed of the patriarchs.ut 2016 on juneteenth this year and annette gordon-reed has also co-authored of book with the late vernon jordan 2001. and edited race on trial, law
and justice of american history. this is an interactive programo and your voices are important. this is your chance to talk to professor annette gordon-reed. you can also send a text if that is easier. we will scroll through those numbers again in case you didn't get a chance to write them down or hear them we will give you a chance to do that.
annette gordon-reed in 2008 that you won the national book award i happen to be there at that presentation at night and you looked aht little that stand out what was happening when you want that night but we want to play just a little bit of your acceptance speech. >> i have to thank my mother and father who are not here. who are responsible for everything that is good. and then to be personal about it the journey that black people are on and that's what i have been trying to do with my scholarship and with this book they have gone on i they are looking at me and they would be very proud of this moment. host: who were your parents?
>> my father was alfred gordon and my mother was betty jean gordon. and then to be segregated society my father went into the army as an 18 -year-old after he graduated to help his sisters rather than go to school his mother had died when he was 11. his father was an invalid and then had awi series of businesses when i was growing up. my mother was a high school english teacher she went to tsu graduate school they got married in livingston they
knew each other as kids when mother had gone away to live in houston for a time that came back so they had been childhood sweethearts back got i married. and when i was six months old they moved to texas and that is the town i write about in on juneteenth. host: you saidhe your mother was a high school teacher the effects of integration on schoolchildren black-and-white has received a great amount of attention over the years what has been much less o considered is integration had a black teachers. >> yes. talking about the fact my parents were i believe idealistic when they sent me to anderson school in the mid- sixties. black people were on the move with the civil rights act andnd the voting rights act. i think they saw sending me to
integrate as part of the advancing civil rights. later on when they were disillusioned the way immigration played itself out in my town and across the south in general because they were very political people we talked about politics a lot and they would survey the scene not just in our town that all over the south they became disillusioned because it seemed to be black joining whites that whites didn't have to change anything so the integration of the teachers and so across the south many black teachers were taken out of the classroom. my mother remained and she loved teaching and stayed there, but i think there was a
bed of disappointment about that fact because she told me she had gone to college and school to teach black students she loved her white students so i have heard from her former students reverent to me and said how a much she meant to them as a teacher white and black. but she was a part of that generation that's themselves as the vanguard. they would afraid to uplift the race that they were there to prepare black students for what they would be facing in a segregated society and actually my sister to how to maneuver and make thingsn better for black people. so when there was integration teachers move from the classroom there was a number
of friends wonderful friendships grew out of that it was very different from what she had known as part of a group of black men and women who hadad a mission for these people who were imperiled in some sort of way. but the society was made for them so she did have to resort to anything other than filling the individual potential which she did but there was no notion that you are a group of people that have things to do we have been on the journey since 1865 formally. so i think she became a little disillusioned and the termsos upon which integration was carried out. host: why did you get a law degree from harvard? have you evertest practiced?
>> that's a long story. [laughter] i got the law degree for a couple of reasons. i think my experience integrating the schools of my town gave me an early look at law because i understood this is something that had been made by the courts and that lawyers were in the courts and the justices who were lawyers so part of this, i wanted to be a writer for most of my life for all of my life really but i thought law was the most practical thing for me to do so my experience of integrating schools that made me focus on law and the practicality of it plus my
father admired lawyers and i think if he had the opportunity growing up he would have been a lawyer so it was probably to please my father and what i went to harvard it's because it is harvard. and i knew lots of people who could do things or government officials, harvard is a place that appreciates public service so a lot of my colleagues were people who went back between government and academia. i practiced for three years at a wall street law firm then i
was counsel to a small city agency called the board of corrections which is the oversight agency to the department of correction that runs the jails in our job was to write minimum standards for the jails on rikers to make sure they were followed not a prisoners rights organization but it hadad that that the tiny agency that had a huge mandate and no money to carry it out but we did the best that we could do. i practiced for about seven years in private or government in new york. >> you are known as a historian and history professor. but did you me a new york supreme court justice at harvard law school? >> i did. robert reed, my husband, we iamet at the picnic the first week. a good-looking guy and we were in the same dorm and in the
same section your first year section is divided into four sections and he was in mind so we were in the legal method section so it seemed like fate so is to sit in the lobby of the dorm watching tv shows after he finished studying and and we gotd engage my second year and law school and then got married the day after graduation at the harvard methodist church on campus. host: a justice at the new yorkrk supreme court we be teaching in person this fall at harvard? >> yes. i will be back. i in the fall we are open for
business and ready l to get back to things i'm excited about that i will teach american legal history in the fall and i am chairing the entry level hiring committee again so i will have that class in the fall and then in the springtime i will be teaching a class with peter on constitution law and empire and legal profession which is legal ethics in the spring. host: peter is your co-author of the most blessed of the patriarchs. now let's hear from our callers jim from california you are first. >>caller: thank you very much for taking my call professor reed i have been fascinated listening to you. it has been wonderful. my question is about sally hemmings and thomas jefferson. what do we know about their
relationship?? obviously he owned her but was there love? she t was handy there were many women i'm sure would have been more than happy to be his companion. iif understand he promised his wife he would not remarry. but what do we know about the interpersonal? >> we don't know anything specific about the nature. there are people who say there could only, be rape because he owned her. but his great-grandchildren talked about how jefferson felt about her and he loved her dearly they said they
don't talk about how she felt about him. and once she comes back to the united states with him because this started when they were in france were sally hemmings anden her brother james could have taken their freedom there and of course she thinks about doing that but jefferson promises her that if she comes back she will live a good life at monticello and the children would be freed at 21. so she comes back with him. obviously she trusted him to carry that out but she is 16 yearss old. in 1860 is not as we think of today but there were still people who were young and impressionable. and when she comes back with him on that in fact what he
said het was going to do he did but we don't know anything more about it the most i have said is that this is all in his power once she comes back to virginia she's totally in his power so what strikes me as unlikely he would maintain a purely sexual interest in her for 38 years. is not the first thought you have ine your mind about the way people act in those circumstances. but we don't know. will have her words about him or vice versa but a great-granddaughter talking about the two of them when i mentioned that hemmings ran monticello that when he dies
she keeps what belong to him and gives it to her children as an heirloom i don't know what thatit means but i mention it because that's the only hiaction that we know besides coming back with him that we know of her relationship with him this is a mystery that it said novels as it has been there was a novel about sally hemmings in 1978 but unless we find some material we won't know much more about it. host: next color from texas. >>caller: i was going to ask another question but i heard that sally one - - sally hemmings was the half-sister of jefferson's wife. can you address that and then
my hometown is also your hometown. i am 84 i must of gotten some racism by osmosis because when i discovered a beautiful black woman in the uk at 19 or 20 that was a big shock to me that was even possible so that is my first big example of racism and i i have been working to get rid of it ever since. activist of the sixties. and here is my question. 's it was always a rumor that a black man was burned on the courthouse steps in 32. do you know anything about
that? in montgomery county conroe texas there was some violent racism. host: sally hemmings half-sister? and his implicit racism and the courthouse. >> first sally hemmings was the daughter john wales also the father of martha wales jefferson so jefferson's wife so she was jefferson's wife half-sister. that is the case with the implicit bias it is understandable if you grew up in a place. it was a town that has a very tough racial history and there was a man burned at the stake on the courthouse steps in conroe it was s reported in the newspaper a person accused of
doing something to a white girl in the words and was lynched essentially. and i talk about this in the book that conroe has instances ofac racial violence in the town that made it the kind of place that some relatives were not even spend the night there because of the racial path that this is a story that could be told about other towns. not making an excuse for my hometown that this story could be told in other places burning at the stake is medieval and happening in the 2h century and taking place but yes i had a very tough history. host: cicero indiana. >>caller: i am so impressed
with your entire presentation and you taking up a law degree very much needed it looks like you have witnessed in your lifetime. so my question is as a successful single black parent i became victimized by predators after almost finished paying for my home and which led me to be homeless and i have a healthy history of successful productivity. i know this was a worldwide scam iwa thought i was alone at first but the agencies i am going to forud help since the judge said the attorney misrepresented me allowing the forgers to take my home and forging my signature to get away with that.
host: we're getting a little off topic i'm sorry for your situation but what do you want to ask annette gordon-reed? >> because of her experience i'm wondering if she could guide me to the proper agency or resource. host: do you h have any words. >> i'm'm sorry for your situation but there has to beye legal aid clinics even the bar association in your area to connect to people that should help youio in that situation. if what you are saying is true it sounds like a miscarriage of justice i would contact a lawyer is the best answer i can give. host: fayetteville arkansas please go ahead with your questions or comments. >>caller: thank you for being on the program and for
having professor gordon reed. i strongly believe the desire onto protect the institution of slavery is one of the reasons we have the declaration of independence. and trying to read more deeply i have come to believe that. so today on the fourth of july i have mixed feelings i am trying to digest what this meansg at the beginning of our country this tremendous desire to protect the slaveholders and the institution of slavery. i am bothered by that so much. how should i regard this? i was influenced by learning about the james somerset case
and the 17 seventies and what was happening here and in north america. host: we have the point. >> there were people who wanted to protect slavery in 1776 looking at the constitution earning ratification they lay this out much more clearly see south carolina and the southern states that are adamant about coming to an arrangement protecting the institution of slavery. 1776 the revolutionte really started - - not in boston but new england. there were certainly people who were interested in protecting slavery. they were trying at first to
get a change in the situation. not just picking on the 13 colonies but reforming the empire in general but in the caribbean and all o the places and the american colonists were the ones that said we want to go and people in the caribbean don't do it they have slavery down there but they also have a majority of black people so that could be a reason they didn't want to go out. but there were mixed motives i don't think it was just about slavery some of it doesn't apply some centers slavery is so odious you have to have positive law to justify it. they were not doing this on common-law they actually had statutes. there was a code jefferson talked about some of that it
doesn'tes enter into any of his papers they are not sitting around worrying about that particular case but certainly yes. people wanted to protect slavery but also patriots were complaining about all of the changes the british empire was trying to put into place not just to reform the 13 colonies but the empire overall. host: is that part of your fall course on american law history? >> absolutely. host: we have a text from arkansas what is your interpretation ofn the current political acrimony over critical race theory? is someone who is used many different theories of theory and graduate school from feminist to queer theory i am shocked this has become republican one - - read me to
the republican base. >> it is perplexing because critical race theory one of my classmates kimberly crenshaw we were classmates together in the same section with my husband and the late derek bell who was a harvard professor they started this and the foremost proponents of it. this is a law school class and it's not taught in all law schools so i was surprised at the thought that critical race theory is taught k-12 it is law and despite changes law has embedded race in the legal system. and critical race theory is about trying to unpack those
issues. i think what people have done is make any talk about race, critical race theory. critical race theorist all talk about race but not all who talk about race are critical race theory is dead most of the people who are talking about race to the extent that they are talking about slavery and k-12 is not the theory that was six and seven -year-old and i am not being disingenuous. i don't think that's what's going on. i think there is a concern about talking from what i have read that makes white students feel bad so we talk about slavery and they know the vast majority of slaveholders were white in the united states so then they say africans have slaves and people that they
captured and sold to but we are talking about americans in the relationship we have to one another as citizens and what we have had since the time since 1776. but to say that you cannot talk about those things because it would make white students feel bad means you can't talk about history period. they are not responsible. no one should be teaching them that they did these things. but you have to say this happened. so how do you talk about the republic of texas without reading the constitution? if you read the constitution it talks about race and white kids might feel how did my great-great-grandfather if they were texans respond to this? they responded by saying yesck it was great.
black people should be slaves or they can't be citizens but i feel bad about it. that is part of life. is not about feeling good about yourself all the time andpp also to say those people t have ideas of which i disagreeable do better in different so it is a little bit off the question but i am as perplexed as you are other than a real concern about airing the stories because it does explain those inequalities that exist in society today and people don't want to admit the things that happen to african-american u people that were unfair and not lighten things that happen to other people. but i'm not saying we should talk about that either.
i am as surprised by it as you are either feeling there will be some pushback will be declared unconstitutional and the teachers are a maverick bench. they will find a way to talk about it and as long as they tell the truth, it is the truth that there was slavery. it is i the truth there was jim crow laws. when i was a kid and went to the movies we had to sit in the balcony. when we went to the doctors office there was a separate waiting room. and there were people alive this actually happened if people are ashamed of it then that is a good response. because then you say were not doing this anymore we are not held hostage to the past we want to be better. host: the tv on c-span2
monthly "in-depth" one author, two hours, this month is harvard professor, pulitzer prize-winning historian annette gordon-reed. vic from san diego sends an e-mail. >> time we visited texas we noticed the texas state flag is flown above the american flag is there a mythology among taxes that looms larger than regional attachments and other states? >> i would say so. this is interesting. when i was growing up what i learned was that confederate battle flag only occasionally. the last time i was in texas not the very last but in the past few years i was in texas going around writing around and visiting.
i saw more confederate flags on that trip and i have seen in my entire childhood growing up. something has happened where the confederate identity. it may mean something different now because it is been attached to current day political things maybe that is what it is but when i was growing up its, was all about texas. in the united states yeah that is great. but the loyalty the fixation was on texas as a state and that chauvinism about texas as a state you see in white and ablack texans. somebody asked meso the other day a personer from another state who tolde me they celebrate emancipation day on apl different day of january 1st and then people in virginia do something in april.
and they said why is it texas? how do they manage to have their day is celebrating become a federal holiday? because of that tenacity and chauvinism i think a black texans who kept celebrating this holiday from 1866 through today and then when they left texas they would go to other states and say there is this holiday we celebrated and you should celebrate it to. i don't know if south carolinians when they go other places and says people celebrate a holiday that they celebrated in south carolina or florida but it is this mythology no question when i was growing up we were raised to think weci were special people because we were from texas. i think many black people took that seriously and many white people take that seriously.
i don't think it is in any coincidence we ended up with juneteenth as a holidayt because black texans kept it alive and we are very insistent it meant something and i think it does to the country as a whole. i hope that it will be an umbrella holiday for the celebrations of emancipation in other places as well but there is a texas chauvinism that shows itself pretty clearly. host: linda from san francisco thank you for holding. >>caller: it's a great program. doctor reed, you white american treasure. that's all i have to say. you mentioned earlier your surprise at the passage of juneteenth as a federal holiday. do you think this was a way to
appease black people to quiet the narrative of reparations or the asian hate crime bill that was passed unanimously and very quickly? what do you think about that i hear it on social media a lot. >> if people think that it is a very naïve thought. the passage of the federal holiday for juneteenth is important symbolically we live are importanty that voting rights those kinds of things, hate crimes, those are existential questions. and people might have thought that but it would be very naïve because i cannot see any way somebody would say we have
juneteenth so now we don't have to vote.o no. i won't underestimate what people sense of how they can get over on other people but that will not work if that is the hope it is naïve. i think juneteenth holiday almost became aam holiday last year i guess there was one senator blocking and this time he decided to let it go. when i said i was surprised i thought it might become a federal holiday but i taught it would be later in the year i wish is going on a virtual book tour and then on tuesday the house voted on wednesday the senate voted i do thank you will be well received but it was. so it was surprising the speed to say one day this might
be, federal holiday maybe later in the y year and then just like that it came to fruition in a blink of an eye. host: it was serendipitous your book came out right before that. >> yes. working on my book, back in the pandemic here in new york cityth i knew the holiday thing was out there but that was not my primary motivation for writing the book or thinking i could influence that but it was good timing. host: jackie from gary indiana talk about how your jefferson hemmings research has receivedan more acceptances the first publication why the writing of history has to be tested and rewritten. >> when my first book came out in 1997 about thomas jefferson and sally hemmings and more about the historical
profession and the way certain people who were writing about jefferson primarily handledhi the story. that was my real interest to say look. i was not interested in proving this one way or another but one thing i didn't know that historians had been treating madison hemmings recollections of other people in an unfair way so that is what my first book was really about that then coming out in 1988 corroborated what i was saying so that led to general acceptance of the story but then most people went on to talk about other things love the gender aspect and other aspects of slavery at monticello and the sea change taking place at that site and
the handling talking about slavery so it's something he said before people talk about revisionist history i'm sure they've heard that phrase but to say that as a pejorative but all historians, good historians are revising and don't just tell the same story over and over like you read to your kids at night. go back to that part they recognize they are seeing something different than what historians are doing. we are constantly finding new tiinformation and also we ask different questions if you're writing about the republic of ftexas and if you don't care
about a question of race for many years people have written about that and not fixated on the provisions on that constitution it explicitly promotes slavery or the provisions that african-americans can't immigrate there. if you don't care about those topics and for most of history people writing about the texas republic would not do well on matter think about it. i'm hard-pressed to think of any graduate student or any young person in the last 20 or 30 years or more than that you wanted to write about the republic of texas that they understand those provisions shape the society you cannot just say black people don't count. it doesn't matter we only talk about the thingss that deal with whites.
those words are in the document. this generation pay attention to that. may be in the future there will be other things maybe the pendulum will swing back and people won't be interested in that. but history is constantly evolving the writing of history is constantly evolving t and then to ask different questions and very often for what is taking place today. you think to ask what does it mean that people of african descent can't be citizens? how does it a shape the culture? what would it be like even of slavery is over? how do you get rid of that racial hierarchy? does it explain the lynching
burning somebody on the courthouse square or the other types of lynching? you see the connection between things happening today if you are expansive and understanding about the past so we're constantly looking for those things to explain the foundation or origins of a society. that's why history has to keep changing. host: 30 minutes left in our conversation with professor annette gordon-reed. the next call is from
maryland. >>caller: hello doctor gordon reed. why do you think the leaders ofhe the confederacy did not take more seriously the economic failure of the republic of texas where only cotton is a crop? one crop economy? >> and also those that were reluctant to trade with them because they were the slaveholders republic so this tries to hide slavery but the texas constitution is explicit about all of this. people are stubborn and also the plan indicates there were
people who always wanted texas to become a part of the united states a plan was to leave mexico hoping for annexation by the united states and then statehood. for those that wanted just the republic those that thought it would be part of the united states that they word even out by those protections of mexico o to join the larger economy and go forward as part of the united states of america. for lots of people that was the plan all along so the failures of the republic may not have been surprising because the ultimate goal was something else and that would be statehood. >>caller: i am a retired xahistory teacher in texas i have two points to make.
you kind of evaded the issue that critical race theory is going to be coming up this month in the state legislature and they want to forbid it. i thank you should cut on your joan of arc armor and come to austin to speak about the issue. here is a stopping block and you glossed over it but i have a concern so when is it age-appropriate to bring up these issues? the true history? we have books that say forget the alamo to come up with the true history that you mentioned the state constitution that is much too high of a level for gradeschool kids to be reading i don't want you to say it now but i do think that would be a
crucial question that someone from the republicans here in the state want to hear from you. >> when is it age-appropriate to talk about race and history? there is a book written about jefferson for people who are between five and seven years old and she talks about slavery and sally hemmings and she does it in a way that is brilliant and completely age-appropriate. i don't see why you cannot talk about or raise the question of the texas republic in younger grades i don't think there is a problem.
not reading the constitution but there are ways to write anything. i have seen really good books for young people and kids certainly through elementary school or middle school a wonderful use biography of thomas jefferson in an age-appropriate way. i think there is a way to do that that coming down there to talk about this i think there are plenty of people in texas you can hold down the for that matter. have gottenople very aggressive about this but it's for the citizens of texas to stand up against censorship and the idea that i am of the
problem or issue with that. i don't have a problem with of the jefferson school so long as people talk about all aspects of jefferson's life because he is a person who had such an affect that it's hard to move him to the side a in a way so i am for that situation if you name of that to keep that name if you want and on the other hand jefferson himself says every generation has the right to pick your heroes and if you are doing somethingg that represents your
generation and your place better, then i would probably say do that but i wouldn't see it as imperative on the d naming versus renaming. jefferson hemmings i wouldn't be opposed to it but i don't think it solves the problem. >> host: kate from sacramento her question is your thoughts on removal of statues of honored confederates. >> guest: i've said on the record i don't see any reason why there should be statues of confederates in public spaces in america.
can't getd better from other people. we always talk about robert e lee and jefferson davis and what happened with their secession from the union. i would be for removing those from public spaces. right across the river here from dc in arlington virginia, the jefferson davis highway existed until axixi year ago?
>> guest: it doesn't surprise me but it gives the chance to reconcile a country that has been torn apart but going too farr not thinking about the feelings indivisibility's of the citizenry of african americans s have been enslaved in the confederacy. when you talk about johnson that was a good point that he believed in the american union. >> host: might i suggest clara barton or lucy stone, both outspoken abolitionists.
i really want to knock this out pretty quickly. i basically collected all of his writings, significant writings on race, not just those of native virginia but looking at his books and memorandums, his letters for the discussions and comments about race. i do commentary about these kind of things, so that's what i'm working on and my editor has been asking me for a while to do a book about texas. this will take a career to do all these things and those are the next things in the fight. >> host: johnson in new york you are on the air with annette
gordon a reed. before we begin, turn down the volume on your tv otherwise were get an echo. >> caller: yes. >> host: john is gone. let's try evelyn in philadelphia. you are on the air. hi, evelyn. >> caller: yes, i have a question. two comments. i've been doing genealogy research and ofif my husband, hs father was killed by the troops for stealingt horse corn and tht made national attention we found from the articles of "the new york times." i'm going to stick a pin in that. but my concern is the fact we are both in our 80s and we tell the story every chance we get the about our ancestors. i found a dna testing that my
father was married second time, amarried to my mom the third time. she was from pittsburgh and got involved with the leasing system. my father was born in 1894 and he was jailed for three months in a coal mine. i've been doing research on that. they talk about the 13th amendment and how that abolished slavery, and it did not because of that leasing system people were put back into bondage and treated worse than under slavery times, so can you speak to that and why we always say the 13th amendment got rid of slavery, because it did not. could you respond to that, please?? i'm sitting here right h now wih "on juneteenth."
>> host: can you tell us a little bit about you and your husband? >> caller: we've been married 65 years. we were very close to our grandparents. when we were coming up you asked elderly people questions. but one day i said to my grandma were you a slave and she said no i w was not. but i had to wash a white woman's feet and i said to my grandma you had to wash the white woman's feet? i didn't have the wherewithal to ask her the ladies name, but i found out, you know through the research, and as i said we travel all over the world and do research on black people when wc travel but getting away from my story, i had a nephew that had a dna test and this young lady reached out to him and they communicated back and forth and finally she said i'm looking for my grandfather and he said yeah and she asked these questions
and he said you need to talk to my aunt, that's what she does. so, he said can i get your cell phone number. so he gave my cell phone number and she called and we talked and talked. finally she said i'm looking for my grandfather and wondered if you can help me. i said let me get my pencil and paper. she said i will e-mail it to you, so she did and my husband was on the computer and said are you sitting down? he gave me the paper and i found out that this young lady, her grandfather is my father and that is what started me doing the research. i got records and he was arrested for vagrancy. so you know, we've got stories to tell and we are trying to get our program together and our paperwork together so we can pass this on to our future generations, so that's what we do. then we teach it to senior
centers and go to school and teach kids and then we just if someone says we are looking for so and so, i had research for a lady who was prominent in this area and i'd never done research on a slave related to someone who gave a narrative under that -- >> host: thank you for that. >> guest: it's an interesting point. i think it's being arrested for vagrancy that they tried to enact laws that brought them closely back to slavery as possible which we will talk about in the aftermath of the civil war down in the south. i think the principal difference
is it allows people to be looked at the will of others. one of the things that was important to them was the end of the legal ability to sell people children or houses were brothers and sisters away from one another. it was working without pay but being labeled a property. they would live in different places and people would be separated from their families.
those kind of actions were traumatizing and after the end of slavery one of the first things people decide to do is go to the friedmanng bureau and hae their marriages is to look for relatives. it's kept alive is that it is a family holiday. people come together and gather together and can go through airports in the summer and you will see black people walking around with t-shirts on. to grow out of the trauma and the desire to keep people together because for hundreds of
years in slavery, people could be separated. in the narrative you see that never to bell seen again. when we lose relatives to death and sometimes estrangement not somebody coming in and saying. people have been trying to recoup and regroup from that. >> host: era nata and the doctor are a retired couple in the san antonio. i've met them several times at texas book festival. missus pierce e-mailed meto separately to say the texas
state history museum has abruptly canceled the speech by the authors of the new book on the alamo. i don't know if you are familiar with that book and texas is trying to keep the truth from competing. this is crazy and related to censorship. i wanted to acknowledge the e-mail. >> guest: i've heard about that situation. i think when you draw attention to things like this, this will probably make people go out and read the book even more. people don't like things kept from them but that's an unfortunate situation from some of the things i've read about it. i haven't read the book. that should be on my nightstand next. >> host: will you be on the
book festival circuit this fall? >> guest: i'm supposed to be on the book circuit this fall. i am hoping to be able to be there in person my question for professor gordon read is related to sally hemmings. we all know the name sally hemmings, and we know a story. what i miss is a visual and image, a depiction of sally hemmings. you see from time to time
descriptions and that she had long straight hair down her head and was three-quarter european and a quarter african. but i don't see many sketches. i don't see many images. i don't see many pictures that depict sally hemmings. can doctor reid say something about that for me, please. >> host: thank you. >> guest: we don't have any depictions of her. people have sort of imagined ideas of what she looked like and they do those reproductions of her, but we don't have any pictures. otthere's nothing to go on. we don't have any images of jefferson's life. it may be a couple of
silhouettes. obut strangely enough, the portraits were destroyed. her father's home was destroyed byir fire but it's interesting s people of that class would have done so we don't know they are only descriptions of her so this is kind of and all the thing.if they are at completely different places in the hierarchy and neither of them do we have a visual image of. maybe not sally hemmings, but the first images are of her grandchildren. but we don't have portraits of martha or sally. >> host: this is a text from a high school social studies
teacher at hamilton high school. my tenth grade colleague and i have assigned on juneteenth for our honor students and making the decision regarding this year's assigned book we had conversations with students mostly white who were involvedin in local human rights committees. a few students expressed they felt strongly that book's assigned about race, gender or identity should only be assigned from authorsld who identify as a part of the community they write about. as a teacher i respect and understand where the students are coming from but i disagree with the arguments and want to explore that this summer and wonder about your thoughts. that's a lot to digest. >> they want books by people
writing about a community they come from. >> host: i think that is where we are headed here. >> guest: these are young people. i don't agree with that. it's about slavery for example. i understand their desire to use people writing about personal issues that are part i of the community. on juneteenth is a history book and a memoir as well and to talk about growing up as a black person in texas i could understand why. talking about history, white authors write about black
people. i d mentioned the book about frederick douglass and i write about thomas jefferson but the memoir part ofr it is more personal. i understand why they would have that particular view. a number of people call me doctor annette gordon reed. i am not a doctor. i am fortunately an appointment in history -- even though i don't have a phd, i am a jurisck doctor -- i wrote my book's first and then got into the literature department. so i'm just professor gordon read or just annette gordon reed or depending on how well you know me. >> host: the next call is in bell gardens maine. go ahead, martha. >> caller: hello, peter. i missed part of the program, so i hope i'm not repeating a question from someone else for
professor gordon read. i'm a retired teacher very upset about the controversial 1619 project and the pulitzer organization offering $5,000 to underpay teachers to teach, whatever that is supposed to be. i'm quite upset about it and i would like her knowledge or her opinion, please. >> host: thank you, martha. >> guest: i know that this is a controversial subject for people. i don't know aboutpe paying people. i don't know anything about that program or what it is that she's referring to. i think that it's a point of discussion. the project from what i've read
is a number of essays. i know the lead essay causes problems for a number of people that was problematic for one reason or another. i think it should be discussed and there are other parts that shouldst be illuminating to students with opposing viewpoints than that could be discussed as well. i d don't think and we were talking before about forget theg alamo. but i don't think stopping things is the way to go. students at an appropriate age should be aware of those kind of things and discuss it. if there are points that you
think are problematic, you can raise them and bring opposing views. i think that it's much better to discuss things. that's sort of the bottom line that i have. >> host: we are going to close with this text. remember me, david huber, conroe hi, 1977. i just texted mark evans to say you were on. question, have you seen your mural on the square? what did you think? love your work. >> guest: we were very good friends. i've seen the mural and i've also learned that they are going to name a school after me in my ethometown, which shows you some of the changes taking place over the years. i'm very for that and very supportive -- >> host: we have 30 seconds left. give us a history of this mural.
>> guest: some admirers and my mother's friend scott people to put up a mural in my hometown. i went down and i wish my parents were there to see all of this. >> host: which school is going to be named after you? >> guest: the elementary school that they are building. >> host: we often ask our authors who are on their favorite books and annette gordon reed sent this list notes of a native son, hg wells experiment in autobiography by octavia butler the little prince and a single man by christopher. currently reading a book called the hidden history of women led to slavery revolts by rebecca hall, the cruelty is the point by adam seward and the papers of
thomas jefferson, the prize is another book she's reading. annette gordon reed has been the guest for the past two hours. we very much appreciate your time. >> host: thank you for inviting me. >> the world has changed. today a fast reliable connection is something no one can live without so wow is there for the customers with speed, reliability, value and a choice now more than ever it starts with great internet. >> wow along with these television companies supports c-span2 as a public service.
during a virtual event, philosophy professor offered his thoughts on the importance of free speech. >> it's whether we should have protections for free speech, so we have the first amendment that guarantees the protection for free speech but what is much more interesting is the kind of pressure people feel to not to disclose their opinion and that is what i focus on in the book. it's increasingly relevant because polls show most people are afraid to share their opinion when it comes to contested issues and one disturbing pattern the higher educated people who are more hesitant about talking about
their ideas and one shows that this is three times its height compared to mccarthy and so on so the number of people that said they are hesitant to speak their mind or say what they think, that number is more than tripled now. what does this mean for humanity going forward and policymaking. that is where i think the interesting question is. and what should individuals do if we find ourselves in this kind of situation where there is no cost to expressing your opinions so i don't like to use the word but that's the kind of way people have been talking
about it. what will my colleagues think and then the real fear so what should we do as individuals is kind of my focus in the book. >> next, breitbart editor in chief argues the mainstream media has destroyed its credibility. interviewed by a magazine editor at large and roundtable podcast host matt welch. >> what do you hope to accomplish? >> i hope it will accomplish a few things. i know realistically it is going to be read by more conservatives than