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tv   George Washington Washington D.C.  CSPAN  April 10, 2021 5:24pm-6:01pm EDT

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so if you look at this courtney cole torpedo, it looks like a piece of anthracic coal, but really what it is is a hollow iron casting that they have then filled with gunpowder and explosives right and then they dust it in cold powder. so it looks like a legitimate piece of coal. so if a navel gorilla can get his hands on this what he might do is sneak a board ship deposit this cold torpedo in the cold bunker and then leave and then you've got the steamboat engineer who has no idea there is a bomb waiting for him. he shovels the piece of coal into the fire and the ship explodes. right, so this is going to happen quite. unintentionally on the part of the engineer, but it's clearly an act of sabotage. watch the full program today on the civil war at 6pm eastern three pacific here on american history tv. next on american history tv
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robert watson talks about his book george washington's final battle the epic struggle to build a capital city and a nation. he explains why george washington saw the creation of a successful capital city as key to the new nation's future. the national archives hosted this event and provided the video. i come to you from the national archives building in washington dc the federal city built on the site chosen by our first president george, washington the location for a permanent capital was hotly contested in 1790 in washington actively advocated for a site along the potomac river. not far from his own home of mount vernon. when the commissioners of the federal district named the new capital for washington in 1791. they not only honored the wartime commander in chief, but also acknowledged his guiding role in the selection of the young nations seed of government. although he did not live to see the government officially relocated here. his vision shaped the national capital for years to come.
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in george, washington's final battle robert watson highlights washington's political skills and reveals how we worked behind the scenes to establish the new city. robert watson is distinguished professor of american studies at lynn university and senior fellow at the florida joint center for citizenship. is the author of numerous books on history and politics including the ghost ship of brooklyn the nazi titanic and america's first crisis the war of 1812 and is the editor of two encyclopedias the american presidents and american first ladies. professor watson has served on the board of the harry truman foundation the calvin coolidge memorial foundation and the george mcgovern library and center for public service. professor watson has also served as a visiting scholar with many organizations including the truman presidential library gerald ford presidential museum, illinois, holocaust, museum and
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us military academy at west point. now let's hear from robert watson. thank you for joining us today. hello everyone. i'm robert watson. i'm here to talk about my latest book george washington's final battle the epic struggle to build a capital city and a nation so virtually any american school child knows that george washington was heroic and stoic. he was a great and courageous commander on the battlefield and of course our one of our greatest presidents who through his every action and inaction everything he said and didn't say pretty much carved out the precedence for the presidency, but what we don't always know is that george washington had another side doing this is typically missed in history. it could be a visionary and a dreamer and he also could be a political player if not a political chess mask by the same token. almost all americans have been to our capital city americans love their capital city. it's spacious brand boulevard
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memorials and monuments and majestic government buildings to treeline mall. very few americans know the story of how the capital city came to be and almost didn't come to be that's why we're here today to talk about. okay, so our story begins to backdrop for our story begins in newburg, new york. this is along the edge of the hudson at the end of the revolutionary war not too far today from fdr's hyde park or west point anybody's been there. so the main battle of the revolutionary war was the battle of yorktown, which was september in october 1781 after yorktown, that would be the last major battle of the war after yorktown for about two years. there was what we could call a cold war the british hunker down in new york city george washington and the americans went up the river to newburgh, but you see right here in my slides and for almost two years. they just hunker down there in this cold war. it would be washington's longest
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headquarters, but a new type of challenge emerged. that was the challenge of boredom without fighting the army had not been paid. they were hungry bitterly cold winter after another bitterly cold winter and washington was worried that the army would fall apart or mutiny just as we were ready to seize victory in the revolutionary war. so go ahead and go to the next slide. so what happened in here's images of newburgh in march of 1783 on march 10th, and the war would end that following fall on march 10th of 1783. there is a an unsigned letter circulated in washington's newberg camp. calling for a mutiny calling for rising up against george washington was alarmed to say the least it appears that this mutiny this insurrection is coming from inside his own headquarters and then on march
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11 the mutineers met. they met a large building called the temple. you can go to the next slide for this so called newburgh. conspiracy now washington decided to respond, but did so brilliantly by letting the mutineers the insurrectionists show their hand then on march 15th. he called for a meeting in the temple. they all gathered instead of washington being there early and he was always punctual he comes a minute late and comes in from the back door. he walks up in general horatio gates and others as shown themselves, and we're on the stage mut. washington demands that they surrender the stage he then as a two-part speech one he explodes you can see the wording here. patience to fortitude, you know, the long sufferings of this army are unexampled in history. washington is saying that the army has swords in their hand they are. ready their limits. they cannot take anymore next
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slide. and you can see her hit see here his his argument. there's an artist depiction of washington addressing the army. it would have been many many more soldiers, so it's not completely accurate this fiction washington says how inconsistent with the rules of propiety how unmilitary and how subversive of all order and discipline washington really lays it on he explodes like a volcano and you be a friend of the country if you are a mutinyere then after all that washington calms down next slide. washington calms down and says to the men i want to read a letter from a congressman jones from virginia. now the army had never seen washington wear spectacles the army had never seen washington appear week or older. he was you know, a man among children a massive and powerful man washington reaches in his pocket and pulls out this letter he wants to read like me the last few years who needs glasses. he holds it in arms like betty
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pulls out out spectacles and puts them on. no, one had seen him wearing the glasses washington shakes his head puts the spectacles in a letter back in his pocket and says gentlemen were you permit me to put on my spectacles for i have not only grown gray, but almost blind in the service of my country after he puts them back in his pocket. he asks the men from the heart that i asked only one more full measure of unexampled patriotism and patriotic virtue stay with me. we're going to win this a tear comes out of his eye and washington walks off the stain talk about the theatrics of the moment and letting the army down easy after he does general henry knox is artillery general takes the stage and ask the man if they would sign a document showing their support. washington they charge the front of the stage and signed a document. so that's the so called newberg mutiny or conspiracy almost an
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uprising at newburgh at the end of the war, washington. recently at theatrically puts it down, but what he realizes is this new government. this new country is going to be weak and fragile. it could be harder to frame a government and run a government and it was the fight and win a war for the opportunity the frame of government and after newberg, he doesn't have long to wait for another challenge next slide. this is the philadelphia mutiny, june 20th of 1783. just weeks later a group of several hundred unpaid this ronald veterans march on philadelphia to the building. we know today is constitution hall the pennsylvania assembly and some of our nation's elected officials are inside the building. it is surrounded by angry unpaid mutineers. citizens of philadelphia come pouring out a tavern's drunk and now you have a drunken unruly mob and angry unpaid soldiers.
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they're ready to take legislators hostage. congress is worried in the pennsylvania assembly is worried that they have to flee for their lives. they asked george washington to put down this mutiny. washington tells the mutineers go home. just go home. he pardons people and that for a second time. he brilliantly handles a near mutiny by this time washington realizes this new experiment in popular government is going to be very difficult to run next slide. washington starts to put together a vision a dream if you will for what kind of nation we need to have so the war ends at fall of 1783 and pretty much the question is now what what happens next we had a political and economic and a civil vacuum the loyalists the royalists those who were proted loyal to the crown they left and that meant the physician the bankers
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the architects all left this new young republic has little on the way of schools and colleges and museums and libraries few trained professionals. the country is war-torn veterans have not been paid. the currency is worthless. so everybody on everyone's mind is the question now one and few at an answer except washing next slide so washington puts together what's known as a circular letter to the states. this is basically his farewell and newspapers around the country print this letter and you can see the beginnings of washington's vision for a strong nation a capital city and the kind of robust and vigorous government that we would have washington says we have a debt of honor. we need to repay our veteran. we need a national governing body. we need more trade. we need positive relations abroad we need peace and mostly we need to be united we need
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this nation needs a sense of national identity if you were to take a time machine back to 1783. and ask thomas jefferson about his nation. he would answer virginia. it wasn't a sense of national identity. not a capital letter u united states the small letter u the states, so washington new we needed a sense of unity. we need a sense of national pride national spirit we needed to come together as a nation. otherwise, this will never ever happen next slide. so this country went from 1775 the start of the revolutionary war all the way until 1800 25 years a quarter of a century without a permanent capital city without a seat of government. that's no way to start a nation but not having a capital city. i made a list here. you can see some of the possible cities that were considered over 30 cities were considered as a
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possible seat of government or possible capital. here's the problem. everyone in connecticut wanted hartford or new haven everyone in delaware. wanted wilmington everyone in massachusetts wanted boston parochial interests reigned. nobody wanted to capital to be in another state. they all knew that political power would follow the capital. that would be an economic boom and no one wanted another city to have a leg up. everybody wanted its own city and for 25 years. there is a fight over where the capital city should be next slide. or a function in government. we were working under the articles of confederation a loose quote unquote league of friendship. you know, it took several drafts and years to even ratify the articles the problem the articles didn't have a president didn't have courts. it had a unicameral legislature. that's it. they couldn't raise money to pay back the veterans. they couldn't govern it was
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utterly and holy and effectual so we lack the capital city. we lack the functioning government. good luck with that. and this is what washington responds to next slide. on everyone's minds and it was written in newspapers. have we fought for this washington weighs in says we are either a united people that are united for federal purposes or we are 13 independent sovereigns contradicting each other washington notes to friends and speaks and says i see no greater evil than this union. political factions, but we know as parties start to form the north against the south the eastern seaboard against the west more urban areas versus more rural areas and within these factions the federalists and the anti-federalists instead of one being an opposition party much like recent years. it's an obstructionist arrangement with gridlock washington is upset about this
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and in this vacuum in this crisis, this is where he emerges next slide. we have shay's rebellion. in the 1780s farmers are rising up ready to declare war against their own government, pennsylvania, new york are almost fighting one another states can agree on how to trade whiskey or corn across state borders. washington says we have errors to correct. we need a stronger government washington asks alexander hamilton to get involved and in 1786 hamilton calls for a convention in the city of annapolis in maryland the problem. only a handful of states showed up everybody argued and embarrassingly walked out. that's no way to start a government washington stays with it and pushes along with hamilton for a convention. the following year 1787 they're going back to philadelphia. hoping that lightning strikes twice. they have errors to correct.
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they have to improve the articles. they would ultimately create a new constitutional system of government strength in our government and find ways of moving forward in a more unity united way next slide so what we don't know is people know all about the founding debates over slavery over the electoral college over. how do we pick a president? but there was another i always call it the other founding debate and that was over. should we have a capital city? should we have multiple capitals? where should it be? what should it look like? it's nature the size of it, you know, they couldn't even agree on one capital at one point to try to satisfy everybody. even ben franklin throughout the idea. we should have multiple capital the joke was because it's congress. nobody would want congress to come to their city. the joke was like ancient, you know the trojans they would get a horse make a giant trojan horse in congress would hide in it and then after wheel. it on and congress would get out
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and do its business. so this was the other founding debate. we have multiple quotes from george washington another framers that the debate over a capital city was even more heated even more contentious even more potentially ruinous and all the other founding debates at the constitutional convention in philadelphia the debate over the capital city almost undermines this nation just as we're getting started. so those are the other founding debates next slide. enter into this vacuum george, washington who has his vision country washington state's with our fate will the destiny unborn millions be involved. he called it the most intense and explosive debate of the entire session of philadelphia that being the fight over the capital city selecting the seat of government washington said is proving to be pregnant with difficulty and danger. so washington was very cognizant of the fact that this debate
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could undermine the country yet without a strong capital city. he did not know that this country could endure so washington is as a vision. he proposes the following things. i have them on your screen number one a strong national government. number two. he wants the unite the behind a national character. only a capital city could imbue us with that national parrot. our government is not seen as credible in the eyes of the european powers a great and glorious capital city will give credibility to this new fledgling. republic washington wanted a grand capital city a city. he said for the ages thomas jefferson, and others wanted a simple brick federal town. no washington wanted rome built on the potomac river. he wanted it near the potomac river washington had but other founders would joke and call potomac fever. george was not well traveled washington thought that the potomac was equal to the sen the
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thames the danube the rhine all put together. like the potomac but it's hardly equal to any one of those yet alone all of them, but the potomac connected the community next to it the future capital city with the chesapeake which meant access to the atlantic rivers were important in a day of primitive transportation and rudimentary communication. also the potomac flows westward. it will unite, maryland, virginia, pennsylvania and the roads from the edges of the tributaries of the potomac would run west into what is today the ohio territory pittsburgh and so forth and so on so the potomac would then connect north and south as it was equal distance between two at east and west i would serve to function if it serve the unite the new capital city with the atlantic ocean and so on and so forth. that's washington's vision next.
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now in the constitution over the debate over the debate over the capital city article one section 8 it agreed that the capital city should be 10 miles square. it's 100 miles what it means is that this capital city almost laughably. this capital city will be larger in paris london the great capitals of the world yet. it would be built out of bogs and and woods the question remain. however, where would these 10 miles square be next slide? so the initial argument was new york city would serve as our interim capital washington is inaugurated. it's supposed to be on march 4th 1789. he's late. it's not until april 30th. 1789 and this is washington arrives even later yet. maybe she was still getting dressed. so washington is inaugurated in. new york in 89 new york city at
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federal hall and you can see the picture of it here and on the right is osgood's home on cherry street or washington news. that's his residents a new york city would be but it interim capital. no one seemed happy with new york city new york city was slow to ratify the constitution. this is why hamilton and jay and madison wrote the federalist papers. they didn't know that new york city would even ratify it washington was worried will i go to new york city for my inaugural? it's not even ratified as a state with that undermine everything. could i even be the president? don't have a city. nobody see it seemed like new york city unlike today where everybody likes new york city thomas jefferson claimed that new york city said spring and fall. they never have as far as i can learn. they have 10 months of winter. only two of summer they would agree right now as i'm taping this with the snow in the cold fish your aims a set of new york city. he longed for the company of springfield. he described new york city as
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overrun by hogs dogs and garbage and not much else. so no one like new york city. they spent only months in new york city and then there was a deal cut next slide. the deal would be cut new york city on june 20th 1790 and what is probably the second most famous dinner party in history, i guess behind the last supper the dinner party was between and you can see the pictures there jefferson madison and hamilton madison and jefferson were allies anti-federalists. hamilton was their nemesis as a federalist. two big issues that they're trying to contend with one is where should the capital city be and in the other issues? how should it? look? how do we build it? should it be a simple brick federal town or glorious romance capital the second argument was debt assumption. we were in debt after the war. so jefferson calls for the dinner party ian madison are
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going to team up and they're going to defeat hamilton what would happen at that dinner party was they would resolve all these issues they would decide basically on where the capital would be and hamilton would end up playing jefferson and madison like a guitar. he played victim and got everyone wanted so on the debt of virginia said we're not paying our debt the south didn't want to pay the debt hamilton. wanted to debt to be paid. so he surrenders and says, okay. you don't have to pay your debt little did jefferson and madison know if the south is not going to pay its debt what that means is the federal government and come in and assume the debt under the treasury and who's the secretary the treasury hamilton would become one of the most powerful americans the hamilton wanted a stronger federal government government jefferson wanted a week of federal government. i hamilton giving up the fact that virginia in the south wouldn't have to pay its debts.
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pretty much a guarantee that hamilton we get a strong federal government a bank and a strong treasury. so hamilton gets whatever he wants even though he plays that he lost. the second argument is where is the capital going to be jefferson and madison wanted it in the south in virginia? but they didn't know is what hamilton knew george washington had already pretty much decided. that the capitol should be in virginia nearest home. so hamilton gave up that the capital would be there. he gave up something that was already done. so he plays jefferson and madison. ultimately jefferson wants a simple federal bricktown of only a few acres. so hamilton agrees that they could have a design contest jefferson could share the committee that picks the winning design. appears that jefferson submits his own design anonymously for a little brick town and then picks it. what jefferson didn't know was even though he said here's the design when it went to washington washington said nope. we're going to pick my romanesque capital. so there you go the residence
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act of 1790 solidified or codified the straight compromise. the capital would be in virginia, but ten years later in the mean while in the interim. it would be in philadelphia while they have build city that would eventually be named for george washington and that's the residence act of 1790 the votes on a lot of these difficult measures fail and here you see george washington playing political chess mass when washington wanted to flip a vote you bet. he did washington's strategically picked a couple of members of congress met with them personally and flipped every single vote to get the votes. he needed to get his capital city next slide. washington then would play a further role washington not only helps pick the location of the capitol. he picks the architect you're looking at a long font. he picks the architect for the president's house open washington helps survey the land washington helps sell the plots
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washington helps raise money washington helps to decide what buildings would go in it. so washington it is his pet project, it is his near obsession. so washington picks the brilliant frenchman law enfant which was a great selection law of thought was possibly educated most importantly for washington. he shared washington's vision of a romanesque grant capital with large boulevards public squares filled with monuments and memorials. he did not like jefferson's vision of a small federal town. so long font. does washington's bidding and brilliantly designs the capital. unfortunately long form will answer to no one but washington and turns out to be more difficult than he was worth some accounts suggested. he was fired others said, he quit they both happened about the same time. so the answer is see all of the above next slide. here's the image of law and faust capital city, which you
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all recognized today right there running diagonal horizontal on next to the potomac river near the pea and potomac is the national mall that recognize today, you can see the great squares and grand boulevards at intersect named for the states and so forth and so on law enforest part inspired by rome and part inspired by paris and even though he would be fired it's his design that continues to define this great city today next slide. washington not only picked a foreigner long font a frenchman, but he picked the open an irishman the design the president's house open was also well educated and it designed beautiful buildings and charleston and south carolina washington immediately fell in love with the design it reminded him of rome. it looked like marble so washington then pushes by hiring hope and they build what they refer to as a presidential palace now they run in the
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construction problems and funding problems. so there's good and bad news here. they found brilliant scottish stone mason, so they brought more europeans and however tragically they would rely on slave labor. so yes slave labor built a good deal of the capital the president's home and the capital city because it was cheaper and they ran out of funding for next slide. here's the image. you can see it recognize you recognize that of the white house today. this is hoban's original design, which pretty much held constant next slide. and let me bring this to a close by simply saying they weren't sure what they were going to name the city, but everybody knew it was going to be named for washington. somebody proposed washingtonopolis now part of me thinks it's ridiculous the other part of me thinks i like that name george washington's legacy is multiple. he would win the revolutionary war and resign from power once. leaving king george the third to
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say washington is the greatest man alive because he did but no man did voluntarily voluntarily relinquish power washington would do it again after the presidency leading king george the third to revise a statement said, washington. is the greatest man of all time he carves out the presidency. he is the father of this nation. but think ultimately one of washington's great legacies. it was his vision for the capital city. it was washington's every action is stewardship is is oversight that produced this great and glorious capital city and in doing so it helped to imbue us with the sense of nation of it it gave americans a sense of american identity, which we didn't have. it helped unify the country. a degree of civility it gave our government legit legitimacy in the eyes of the world. and today we have this great and glorious capital city. we always like to say washington slept here slept there and pounds around the country. it would be the one place.
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he didn't sleep washington would die on december 14th, 1799 a little less than a year later on november 1st. 1800 is when the capital city would open up washington's last words with his well and one can only imagine that he was thinking about his wonderful capital city that he invested so much of himself in and that's his true legacy. thank you everyone. sunday david vassar taylor recounts his time as a clerk in the us army during the vietnam war. once ones are accommodated oneself to the climate. and to the idea that you were in vietnam. and you were working in their rice paddies where walter cronkite was reporting nightly. this was the real world. and that night you the unit could be attacked was attacked, you know. once you began to realize that this was your a lot. everything had to fall in line. to the extent you could but what
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i was not prepared for was the kind of segregation that began to take place. after five o'clock black troops and back the barracks and hung out together. and listen to soul music and talked. white troops went back the barracks. back to their groups and talked we might share a drink. in the mess hall or the place where we were able to do that. but there was a sense that there was unequal treatment and resentment directed at the leadership. for fostering or not dispelling
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the business that was developing and i think what it was occurring was that. black soldiers were being reprimanded and reduced and rank. and given dishonorable discharges for infractions of military law in purport this proportional and white troops could do the same thing and get a hand slap, you know. and so, you know, okay. i'm a smoke. i'm gonna hang out i'm going to is not my war. these people don't care about me. you know, they're not. beating my ego at all. and so we had two different perspectives on the war and if i'm black troops this kind of not all black troops.
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but those that and the greatest number of social problems themselves just shutting down. watch the full program sunday at 2 pm eastern 11 am pacific here on american history. this week we're looking back to this date in history. that virtually every american is familiar with the tragic environmental disaster. in alaskan waters and more than 10 million gallons of oil have been spilled with deadly results for wildlife and hardship for local citizens. we all share the sorrow. concern of alaskans and to determination to mount a sustained cleanup effort our ultimate goal must be the complete restoration. of the ecology and the economy of prince william sound. including all of its fish marine
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mammals birds and other wildlife the exxon corporation is acknowledged responsibility for this bill. and its liability for the damages. exxon should remain responsible for both damages and for employing civilian personnel necessary to control further damage however exxon's efforts standing alone are not enough. and after consulting with the congressional delegation senator ted stevens. senator frank murkowski congressman don young i have determined to add additional federal resources to the cleanup effort. follow us on social media at c-span history for more this day in history clips and posts. american history tv on c-span 3 every weekend documenting america's story funding comes
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from these television companies and more including comcast. are you think this is just a community center? no, it's way more than that comcast is partnering with 1,000 community centers to create wi-fi enabled lift zones. so students from low-income families can get the tools. they need to be ready for anything comcast along with these television companies supports american history tv on c-span, 3 as a public service. up next on the civil war southern utah university professor laura, june davis talks about confederate boat burners and naval guerrilla action on the lower, mississippi river during the last years of the civil war. she describes how after the fall of vicksburg in 1863 clandestine confederate forces targeted commercial steamboats in order to disrupt union supplies and cause panic in the north. virginia tech center for civil war studies hosted this event in an hour 15 minutes, jayne
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zanglein talks about her book the girl explores the untold story of the globetrotting women who trekked flu and fought their way around the world. we hear the story of the early members of the society of women geographers and in two hours american university professor joseph campbell teaches a class about what's known as the 1968 cronkite moment arguing that the impact of walter cronkite's comments regarding the war in vietnam has been vastly overstated and is merely a media myth. todays event. we're very fortunate to have dr. laura june davis as a speaker tonight. she's an assistant professor of history as well as culture of women's studies at southern, utah university. she's got degrees from cornell, texas a&m george mason and the university of georgia. and right now she's working on a book fascinating book about sabotage irregular naval warfare and masculinity


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