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tv   Call-in with Joseph Ellis The Cause  CSPAN  November 9, 2021 1:53pm-2:25pm EST

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and that leads us to tragedy. >> we've been in conversation with joseph ellis and that colonial period of time about his new book the cause. thank you very much for this conversation. >> thank you david. >> are watching book tvs coverage of this year's national book festival that was joseph ellis talking about his newest book because of the american revolution and itsdiscontents and now from vermont , professor ellis windows live to take your calls on the american revolution. the founding fathers, numbers are up on the screen.202 is the area code, 728-8400 for those of you in the eastern time zone. 748201 if you live in the mountain and pacific time zones and there's a third line set aside for text messages if you want to send a text message with aquestion
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or comment . 202 ex748 8903. reminder that that is only for text messages. please include your first name and your city. we will begin taking your calls in just a minute. professor ellis, you said during your interview with david rubenstein a little bit earlier that the american revolution or the american rebellion was a power issue i, not a money issue. could you explain that? >> i'll do my best briefly. the british attempt to tax the colonies and to impose 's latest mandates on them was officially was driven by the desire to increase revenue and reduce the size of the national debt was a big debt, 140 something dollars but in truth the amount of money collected was less than it
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cost to enforce it. the issue at stake for the colonists was not how much are taxing us but the fact that we have no say in that. and we are beingtaxed without our consent . so the underlying source of the crisis that begins in 1774. in the wake of the courses at his do you control us? and the british do we have the authority to govern and consolidate our empire in north america in a way that gives us control from london in a way that we never exercised before. >> when you talk about from london what was the oncommunication back and forth between the colonies and london at thatpoint . how long did it take to get answers etc.? >> i used to have to remind my students to remember they
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don't have cell phones and distance made a difference in the 18th century in a way that's hard for us to comprehend if we don't live in that foreign country in the past. but voids across the atlantic took six months one way, sometimes longer than that if you're going across to america. it depends on the season but that meant that it was often three months before something couldgo and you could get a response . and when adams, when abigail and johns were trying to mail letters across to each other across the atlantic it would often take almost a year for any kind of back and forth to occur. and sometimes abigail said i think i'm mailing my letters to the ocean .
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at any rate, distance and time were different then. and especially on americans who you're studying in the 18th century need to recognize that. >> how widespread was the popularity of the rebellion among the 13 colonies ? >> there's a famous quotation from john adams because he cited a lot of history books. he said one third, one third. one third work for it, one third were against it and one ,third wanted to be neutral . in fact he wasn't talking about the american revolution hawhen he said that. he was talking about the french revolution believe it or not. historians who have studied the lawyer less movement show at that point 20 percent, slightly less than 20 percent of the american population and as loyalists. there's spectrum within the loyalists community americans
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were much less than that and then there are people on the other side who simply wanted to remain neutral but some of the comments i made to david suggest you weren't allowed to remain neutral. that's one of the secrets of the cause. you were forced at the local level to take a position and if you weren't willing to endorse a commitment to the principles of independence, pressure was on that eventually force you to change your mind or two leave town or perhaps leave the country. at any rate, i think that about a third of the people would have preferred to remain neutral. and above the people after you get 76, 77 received from the national to the local level. n they're willing to fight as militia to defend their
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neighborhoods and their states. but they're not willing to volunteer for the continental army. so allegiances come more local than national. and valley forge is a good example of the sense that the army, the continental army is kept on life support throughout the war. and the people's people remember were without their lives and die within a three day horse ride. so their perception of america was quite vocal and not national. >> a long time professor at mount holyoke college also taught at williams, amherst and west point. he's author of 11 books including the pulitzer prize 1winning the brothers, revolutionary generation. his most recent is the cause. the american revolution and
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its discontents. now is your chance to talk with him vicki in austin texas, go ahead with your question or comment . >> a pleasure to speak with you. i think you answered this in part but maybe you could be a little bit more for specific. i'm curious as to the percentage of americans i guess you could say american men who actively fought versus those who start of stood by and waited for the outcome. you probably answered this already. second can you remind me more about what the truth was of heafrican americans who fought atyorktown . >> ..
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blessing first, the rhode island judgment was comprised entirely of african-americans, by the advent of the work from the top combat group made played a role at yorktown would happen? they were freed. the terms of their service the service the duration of the war in rhode island you will be recognized as free. there is no research done on individual soldiers what happened to them in terms of what happened to their lives. if you want to do it, is an open field, i think what they were free. the early part of your question, only a small percentage of the
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population, male population eligible to serve actually did miss was sore for washington. washington believed he could easily build an army of 60000. he thinks 80 to 100,000 if we had that number, force everybody to serve who is eligible, we could have won the war in one or two years. hamilton agreed withit that. however, there was no draft and most of the people served one year terms they would serve in the army for year end then go back to that means by the time they learned the professional skills necessary to be an effective soldier, they left. washington wanted an army of 20007 for the duration, he never
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got. only 26% of army temperament army in the lower side of society. if you are a farmer, you can go, you served in your account as a militia. these were recent immigrants, servants, not the cream of the crop in one recent i think they need to be recovered notice as heroes in the war. i think i've dropped a portion of her question but i'll stop there. >> richard is in new york. good afternoon. >> thank you for taking my call. do you see any similarities medic committees on safety and expectant if you didn't support the cause and was going on
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today? >> i'm not sure what you have in mind in terms of shaming today, my tendency would be to compare not to today but what happened in the french revolution, one of the reasons it's so large a loyalist, 60 to 80000 that they weren't killed. if you refused to support the specific money and power, he went to the galaxy. so management was the third if you were a lawyer, your rights were not recognizing the way the tradition would have itld
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believed. there is no internet available in the 18th century the kind of shaming macros on an politicization that occurs now in those forms of communication simply don't exist so comparison between then and now are hard to make. >> a text message fromm nelson n baltimore, would you comment on the pieces that understand more about alexa for and personal responsibility and might be surprised by the present day emphasis on individual rights and the collective responsibility? >> i agree with them. there are divisions within the boundaries, coherent collective. jefferson would be in applicant
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or libertarian implications. even jefferson himself assumed washington and hamilton said unrealistically that people would internalize their obligations as a collective. jefferson would think all citizens would end up wearing a mask are citizens who would get inoculated. of course that's not true in all citizens didn't support the war the way we like. the reader's question is extremely timely and important. they're not attempting to create a democracy. democracy throughout the war and the sentry is not a positive term. you accuse somebody of being in favor of democracy, democracy is not. we create a republic, things of
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the public. the publicnt is the long-term interest of the people which a majority of the people don't see. the pond is believed we've created a society in which the public interest should take precedence over the privatehe interest or popular interest of the moment so i think based on what i hear from the listener's question that agree the founders would be surprised at the degree to which their current government and society doesn't embrace the public values they took to be central. >> if you want to dial in and talk, 748-8200 for those of you in the east and central time zones (200)748-8201.
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mountain and pacific time zone, third line set aside for text messages only including your first time in your city. 2027488903 text messages only. don is in texas. good afternoon. work on book tv. >> thank you for taking my call. our boys been fascinated with the founders and i'd like to ask about that. after we won the war, how long did the boundaries father's last? >> at the end of the war we want a nation. lincoln was wrong in the first sentence of the gettysburg address, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, they brought together
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sovereign state much like the confederacy of 1861, a league of nation. it's really the constitution you are asking about, how long dohi the founders think the constitution would last? jefferson battleship last no more than ten years, every ten years it should be redone. every generation needed to rethink it, every generation needed to be sovereign. of course that could affect a recipe for anarchy in madison was not happy with it. madison himself was asked in 1829, how long will it last? is no man by then and he says if we are lucky, 100 years so that would have meant 1929 so the question is right to think the founders would be stunned we
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still have the same documentaf they drafted. obviously it was amended and they thought we would have had at least one or two or three major revisions and i'm showing my own personal bias but for example, they be absolutely stunned to believe we still have the electoral college was never none of them really liked. to take something out of thehe current conversation, the way in which the senate functions now with a filibuster and one senator can require a super majority, they would be sent by that. unconstitutional from their view. so we are living with the oldest constitution in history and many of them will say -- none of them
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want their values to dominate for the rest of time they thought they've done the best they could for their time and it's our term to take over in the future. >> your book engine about 1783 but it wasn't until 1787 we had the constitution ratified, right? >> there three families from one independence and one we decided to do the constitution and one when we consolidate that constitutional government under the federalist. at the end of the war, hamilton writes to washington and says you can retire to mount vernon in victory and i'm going to retire from public service, things have to get worse before
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they can get better. we are sure they are going to get worse but this confederation will be able to govern and oversee the expansion into the western territories coherently. every state will have its own policy and it will lead to anarchy. probably a division of three separate confederation. northern, middle and seventh so one reason for the subtitle, one of the discontents is nationhood is a part o of the conclusion of the one and takes seven years before nonviolent coup d'état before leaving founders washington,, hamilton, j and madison to insist on constitutional convention. >> bruce is in connecticut.
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i think i butchered the name of your town, i apologize. >> it cheshire but anyway, your book on jefferson, why isn't adams on mount rushmore in place of jefferson or at least next th him? >> i do think he should be? >> john adams looks like he did all the hard work in europe, here, it seemed like he was the bulldog during the work jefferson purchased the fluff doing no hard work. [laughter] >> the people at monticello want to agree with you but i am an adams fan we testify in congress trying to get him a monument or memorial and i have said i believe there are to be an adams memorial on the basin as
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sufficient distance from the jefferson that they take turns casting shadows over each other's façade. adams is long overdue. i don't want him to replace jefferson and i think the correspondence in their twilight years between 1812 and 26 is the culminating correspondence of a revolutionary generation and in some sense, revolution is not complete unless they are together so i want to leave jefferson, there's no place for adams but i think a stone monument will do him justice. but i appreciate the man's interest in recovering adams memory. i think is very much on the way
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back, alex brooks in the series in a way he hasn't been throughout much of history. >> jackie from gary, indiana. so few men joined the federal fight against the british. was there insight between sides for and opposed in the local areas? >> yes. every town is different and therefore almost impossible to make generalizations. different neighborhoods have different ways of dealing with it it's hardly typical but we know so much about it because they preserved local records. what's surprising is the way in which people who actually supported them during the war
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walked back and become mayors of the town or leading citizens in the governing of the time and other places it different indeed especially in the south, but seven states where there are terrorist groups on both sides throughout the war atrocities committed leave a lingering tribalism so the story varies place to place but the war is a traumaticc experience and takes at least a generation for people to come together without the wounds of the war afflicting their interaction. >> peter, you are on with joseph ellis. >> thank you. how important your opinion was
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the one the west, eventually the northwest territory and ohio country? >> at there new york. native americans of the confederation tend to flee to canada so there's not a huge casualty ratelt but it's an eary review of indian removal. the war never gets far beyond the atlantic coast for a reason to british army, once it goes inland is vulnerable.
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once it removes itself from the protection of the british fleet, it could be a war that gets used, the goal is to trap the entire army and basically what happens at yorktown even though it's on the coast. the west becomes important, extraordinarily important in the 1780s and 90s, through the 70s and it not a central theater.ea >> next call is from tuscaloosa, alabama. please go ahead. >> i'd like for mr.ll ellis to comment on slavery. we've heard from historians recently, colonials wanting to fight the british, they thought british were going to take slavery away. i would just like his opinion on
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that. >> affected -- i could add on to this, maybe comment about it in general. >> let me locate myself in the sense that is believe slavery is america's original sin racism is it toxic residue impact effects. i disagree with the historians who believe were argued the colonist came together primarily to save slavery. in my judgment, is historically inaccurate. they came together because they were being oppressedll and invad by a hostile army. by the time they vote for independence and you can read what they say in response to a resolution, adams sends out in may of 1776, every county in virginia up and down the coast
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tells you why they are going to work. they are going to war because they have no choice, george the third disowns them and they've already watched the town from apartment being burned to the ground and about to be invaded by an army, famous for not taking prisoners and raping women and that's on their minds at the time. in the course of the work, the same number, eight to 10000 african-american serving the american army and british army, if you are a slave in monticello or mount vernon and british army comes by and you can escape, many of them to or try to collect didn't have to read the declaration of independence to know you want to be free. on the other hand, there is also african-americans fighting for the a cause, washington's manservant, the most famous
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african-american around at the time because he's washington's manservant, slavery becomes crucial shortly by the time the constitutional convention. i believe, this is where i part company with the 161976 people as the american revolution was a war fought on the basis that were incompatible with slavery and the prominent american leaders to include all slave owners, washington, jefferson, madison, they all said that, slavery is a contradiction and the great historian of slavery said, he coined a phrase called the parish ability of revolutionary time for as long as you deliver the cause and that cause was more than a member still burning. you believe slavery was
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contradiction and had to be on the road to extinction. they failed to do that but the cost itself was committed and established, the basic principles of equality but on the basic upper civil rights movement there is a reason why martin luther king when he stepped onto the lincoln memorial steps and said i've come to collect on promissory note written by thomas jefferson tricycle revolutionary war black rights and end of slavery, not the other way around.as >> joseph ellis, his newest, across the american revolution and discontent 1773 -- 1783. he's been our guest on this call and problem for the national book festival. thank you for your time. >> thanks for having me. >> now book tvs covering of the national book festival continues
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