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tv   Joseph Ellis The Cause  CSPAN  November 10, 2021 1:46am-2:18am EST

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mr. ellis your questions during a live call in segment. : : >> of the underprivileged today of the cause american revolution 1773 through 81783 welcome to our shows. >> a pleasure to be with you.
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>> so for those who don't know one of the leading scholars from the revolutionary war era and a person who has written and 13 books on the subject and winner of the american book award the latest book is an explanation of why we went to war with the british and why the british ultimately ended the war unsuccessfully from their point of view i have read all of his books i enjoy this one the most i learned more from this than any of thenk other books thank you for writing this. >> i am glad to hear that as the author perhaps the most myopic person in terms of understanding i am happy with that i hope other people agree
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with you. if you like the book founding brothers. this is the 17 seventies i didn't know what i was doing 35 years ago but it turns out i was trying to write the history of the american founding and it turned out i was doing a backwards. and the book should come first chronologically but i don't think i could have written it 25 years ago. i have learned something since then. so like a new child you hope it will do well and you send it out into the world. >> what attracted he was young man to devote your career to that period? >> i did not even major in history in college.
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going to graduate school i cannot afford to go to law school i got a scholarship but then at yale i came under the influence and was an early american nest and set me on my course i worked with him and asked if i could write my dissertation with jefferson and he said no you are not old enough to write a biography you have to live life a little bit more so i didn't try to do that for another 25 years. so i must've had some kind of influence. but i'm stuck with the late 18th century because everett biographies of threece
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presidents sometimes i could identify as a presidential historian. i don't think of myself as a presidential historian. and i have written about the 31t presidents. so at any rate letting me write the way i want to into teach in a liberal arts college allows me to work on my own style that is aimed at a general audience rather than professional historians. >> let's go through the key i points on my book and then they will be ten minutes where you can have your questions submitted in the chat room and we will be those subsequently.
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so what do t you mean by the cause? where did that phrase come from? >> that is a good question. in the early stages of the war for american independence, nobody called this american revolution the british call that the american rebellion. the colonists starting in 1774 or 1775 talks about the common cause which is when the colonies response to the british occupation of massachusetts and boston and to rally to support them in response to a course of act. and common cause is reduced for the cause. and that canopy of those at
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the different political agendas come together. they may not agree with they are for but they were against british policy in the attempt to enslave them. so the cause becomes a coverall o term and it is a convenient way for people to believe they all agree. >> that conventional view is the british want to pay for the effects with the french and indian war so they impose a lot of taxes and they were not popular. but with your point of view but the british wanted to make it clear they were in control of the colonies. is that right? >> yes.
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so great britain gets this huge area, including canada and they decide that up until now the phrase was denying neglect. and now to reach this level of willpower they have to act like one so then to impose taxes why it wasn't a money issue better power issue is the actual cost of enforcing the legislation putting troops there and collecting revenue was greater than the revenue raised by the taxes so they had 140,000-pound that they were hoping to reduce it but
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mostly to assume control over the colonies. the colonies perceived that control as they put it as an attempt to enslave them. there was some truth to that. not that the british tended to enslave but once you surrender control from parliament you could it should be sure how far they would go.e each70 move the british make seems to confirm the diagnosis there was a plot to enslave them. so bylo the time you get to 1775 the americans believed they were about to send all those to invade them great britain enslave them but what the british ministry would say
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as second-class british citizens to be sure but not slaves and unless that misunderstanding persist in the british decision to militarize the conflict is the greatest blunder in the history of british statecraft american readers may be able to understand the british thinking and dilemma in the war perhaps for the first time. put it t this way to have the willpower brimming with confidence, certain of the invisibility militarily to step into a quagmire of the unwinnable war. that sounds pretty familiar to me. >> so your point of view is the colonies don't want to be independent up until the moment of the declaration of independence. they wanted to have a
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relationship with the british government and basically each colony has its own relationship. is that right quick. >> yes. the reason i say that it is such a blunder because once the war starts to go badly for the reddish by 1778 and the british say wee will give you everything you wanted. we will not tax you we were even that you have a continental congress. if they said that we never would have had a revolution. but by then it is too late so many have been destroyed women raped and people have died and they have missed the opportunity. >> you point out today the american colonies were so valuable economically but in those days it was the caribbean colonies is that a
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fair understanding the british were more worried about their many in the american colonies is that a fair description? >> that is true. especially jamaica that is more profitable and all of the colonies put together and when they come into the war in 1978, the british developed the bulk of their resources to protecting in the caribbean and that is what they are most afraid of so again another contemporary term if you hear of the domino effect then canada will go the caribbean will go. so that taxation on the
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rebellion is based on the belief if they let that happen the entire empire may collapse. >> in your book sending in treaties to king george while he would handle the problem appropriately they think he was worse than the parliament. >> that it is our body may begin the argument that george the third doesn't know what parliament is doing when it the early revolutionaries develops this argument but over time but it is a hopeless
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cause and when the war is over and share pastor don but they didn't they passed on to the generals not so much cornwallis because if you pass on george the third it's a whole empire so it any rate he doesn't lose his mind but before he becomes mentally depraved he exercises the greatest imperial power of any british king since the glorious revolution and he is
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the real scapegoat on —- scapegoatt. >> or was he just lucky they bungled the effort to win? or was that those? >> they said they were partly lucky like it was a standing miracle. like providence was on his side. so as a general washington was not that effective he lost more battles than he one if you think about m it most of the great generals starting with hannibal and rommel and robert e-on —- robert e. lee
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washington wasn't a great general that handed up the winner but ater some point he understood the basic strategic reality that became all-consuming and crucial in he didn't have to win the the british had to win the war it's a a lot easier not to lose as long as he kept the continental armyg in tact. tayedd him, the british cause and he was right about that but there is a kind of resilience to him and to the ordinary troops in the continental army, my real heroes in this book a film about ten - 15 percent by the way work african-americans. and they are the ones whose deserve the real credit. and set seven or have your long marathon. and it is a war that is more,
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barbaric and then we imagined. we had matthew grady photographs of this war as we did of the civil war we think of it differs differently. mid artists. we think of it differently but more americans died in the american revolution in per capita than any war in american history stay in the civil war and if you get to understand, is really barbaric. >> the final battle of the war, metal at yorktown george washington in effect gives wallace to surrender by the french were indispensable for the navy and why were they so interested in helping the americans and today have an ulterior motive rated they think the british were like us pretty. >> mostly the latter, it's payback time for coming last printed indian war and the americans proposing to the british, or opposing it the
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legal academy on france and it turns out by the way, the french spent so much money helping us that they begin to go bankrupt for the reason they have to call the state general this what * * french revolution but the french, both in the war and especially last bottle of the work, yorktown, we could not have won the war at that moment and i don't think we would've lost it but yorktown is mostly french operation and french navy arrives just the right time and french warfare and moving up to canada and there is only one american military activity during the battle and the attack and is led by the rhode island regimen which is regimented and highly african-american
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soldiers. 150 of them to becomes illini combat unit in the army mostly black. they take the rest of it is a french victory and operation. and when the american expedition forces arrived in france in 1917 to the french, where the staff officers were general pershing said lafayette we have arrived. and it's our turn to pay back. >> so the battle of yorktown happens in 1781, when wallace's to praise too embarrassed to show his face at the time of the surrender so he does not do that. but the british surrender and what it takes two years to negotiate the treaty of paris what was going on and that two years. >> it does take two more years and there are scrimmages that
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keep going on and people are continuing to die especially lawrence, he one note to kill the would-be become one of the major figures like ron. and it a war for emancipation of blacks. the americans have to decide whether to sign a separatist treaty with great britain because the french dragged down by their obligations etc. and because it is dragged down, the continental army's just north of west point and newburgh, and as i think you know from the book, the newburgh with the call almost description putting army asking washington it lead them if they not been paid for over a year and they're starving. and i think wendy or hundred work and is, the lose any
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leverage to get there pensions and they're probably right about that so they threatened to exercise a coup in washington appears before them and gives one the moremost important speeches in his life effectively saying that we cannot and will not lead to you this and ask you to tell you you must not do this. and they follow it at that moment. it's one of the first george washington refuses to become a dictator george the third said that if he does that, to be the greatest man in the world. but at that moment, he was an think about it, this was caesar did rommel dead or what napoleon will do or others will do or castro will do. they tend to believe that they are the revolution, dictators do
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have a difficult separating themselves from it. >> okay we have questions from those viewing and i'll begin with some of them, fermanagh, listen to the path of becoming an historian and what sparked your interest in history. >> gosh, i think reading biographies, can history through biography and through lives and i love biographies since there was always a center of topic and i sort of thought look will come into this world the same way really the same way. what can we learn by people who lived before of this and some of them a thousand years before us so this perhaps an adolescent way to come to this but as i said, i didn't major in history predict i majored in philosophy and i decided to go forward in history because for many reasons, because it couldn't pay
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for law school. but also because through history, you can raise the intellectual questions that i thought philosophy usually addressed and i thought that was an intellectual historian, whatever that meant. so strange path but it worked out for me. >> for markley in question, what role it freed african-americans play in the american revolution. >> freed african-americans, well, especially new england and, the greatest number of free african-americans, served in both the new england militia and then in the continental army. and that at about 10000 overtime. in roughly same number of free blacks, who escaped to the
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british army, served in the british army in the british army, they were not allowed to serve on combat units in the american army, they were. in the service of african-americans, was the last time that they were generally integrated military forces until the korean war. so i featured billy lee in the book is a profile, george washington's manservant with him through the whole war. in washington freeze him in his will. on the other side, a man named kerry washington, he was serving as a british and in south be evacuated out if you new york at the end of the work and going to nova scotia and eventually interesting pattern but one black man, serves the cause with the commander-in-chief and the other goes and pursues his own
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freedoms with the british and eventually achieves it when he gets to sierra he helped lead a movement and resistance to british rule climbing to be taxed without their consent. it is two different black men choosing different courses for the same reason. >> okay, by the way, suppose we had lost the war the neck and sauce work, how would history be different because when we eventually become free pretty thank you so too early or too hard to predict. >> if we had will depends on how he lost my philosophy in a real military way, good lasted at the battle of new york and long island, then there would've taken all the american leaders including washington and jefferson carried them over to england and give them a trial and hung them and put their
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heads on spikes around the west minister. and if they lost the war towards the end, and the american army just disintegrated in yorktown didn't happen, it would be a more peaceful negotiation and we would've began to seep 50 years earlier if the creation of something called the british commonwealth. and like canada and australia new zealand it to remain in the economically empire and we have our own political defense rated. >> so there's a question fermanagh can you tell us about what you're working on now and what you are currently reading. >> when i working on now, while to be the becoming about half finished, the publisher want you to go all over the place advertising and am working and thinking about the next book,
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i'll share it with the audience. it asked the questions, why the founders failed to incite i think they do failed, that's a tragedy. and what i do think there among the greatest leaders in american history, and political terms integrated terms i think they failed to that all-important issue. i want to know why. there are reasons that i think of it not come about. and what am i reading now pretty and trent. i'm writing a book about the red sox in the glory years in the pennant race and turns out of what they do this year. >> this for marion, what would you say john adams most important contribution and why was he chosen to be the first white president. sina actually adams most important contribution was made early in the game in 1760s,
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and early 70s, even see this in the film in the play of 1776, he's recognizing that americans is inevitable and that america was looking for a messiah that would never come. and later on, he becomes vice president because he gets the second number of votes after washington and the election of 1789. and he hates the vice presidency and he said has the most ridiculous idea ever invented in the minds of man and one of the things that some listeners might be surprised by is that the first presidents, washington, adams and jefferson. and madison, they did not regard the presidency as the capstone of their careers, they regarded it as an epilogue. and adams thought his greatest
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contribution came in the revolution in washington thought it was during the war to win the war and jefferson believed his greatest contribution was the declaration of independence and that is the leading up to the constitutional convention. and we overvalue the presidency then and also make the case in my own view but none of the early market presidents whenever run for president and the kind of political conditions required now. they would've regarded that as an act of prostitution pretty. >> we just have two minutes less, how or where was the average american after the war as it was being fought given that actual battles are mostly small in time and geography printed. >> i'll try to be brief because our time is limited but at the local level, what happens is safety and inspection are created and 75 that make the
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impossible for somebody living anywhere in america, no matter how far away remaining neutral during the war. that would probably be the biggest group, but your required to make a commitment if you don't make a commitment to the cause, that's for the cause, this phrase again, your neighbors are going to shun you and you eventually will be banished you're not going to be killed but you will be forced to face the fact that you would be cast out of the congregation. and it's because of that the british can never win the war because they can win every battle as soon they leave the other side takes over unless they will be punished and so it is the war the ground level in the countryside the makes it impossible for the british to win the war and ordinary americans are forced to take a position in a way that many of
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them may not have done pretty. >> we have 30 seconds left, what is main message of the scope that you would like somebody to take away from this book. >> we are fortunate to have had a group of people leaving us a beginning through the party rather than the popular interest in charge and is a republic but not a democracy and as much as we owe the ordinary soldiers in the continental soldier undergarment, we should go back to them and capacity for irony and paradox, and this is why the sometimes healthiest in its discontent. when we end the war, we are incapable of dealing with the native market issues effectively and the slavery issue effectively because the government is a confederation of sovereign states and it is
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nobleness and during the united states is a plural noun, not a single noun and that leads us to tragedy. >> okay, we been in conversation, one of the countries leading historians the revolutionary and more in colonial work. and about his note book, cause". joseph ellis. >> thank you pretty. >> in your watching book tv coverage of this year's national book festival and that was joseph ellis talking about his newest book "the cause" the american revolution and its discontent and is now, professor joseph ellis joins us live in will take your calls in the american revolution, founding fathers in the numbers are up on the screen pretty 202 is the area code 8200 for you in the eastern central time zones and 748-8201 of you live out in the mountain pacific time zone and that there is a third line set aside


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