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tv   Lectures in History Pilgrims and History Textbooks  CSPAN  April 16, 2021 8:09am-9:19am EDT

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test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test. test.
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that's what matters. again, this prefigures a written political, social compact that's going to come later to frame the nation. these are how the stories of the nation are being written. to review, what do these allow her to do? each is a break. each break can be a possible beginning. what it allows her to do is to say, yes, i'm moving chronologically through american history. but here are the moments to dwell on. here is the origin of something new at each of these key turning points. columbus is a section to himself. all these discoveries. jamestown is in the era of discovery. it's not in the era of the first
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political compact. that starts with the pilgrims. what does she say about these pilgrims? when they come -- this is what she writes about them. no part of the history of the united states, perhaps we may say of the world, does the eye of the philanthropist rest with more interest than on the account of the little devoted band now commonly spoken of as pilgrims. they have moral elevation than any who sought the new world as a residence. hello. stay with us, electricity. this idea of moral elevation. right? they came here unlike anybody else. right? everybody else came for gold. these people came for god. that's the sense of contrast. the hope of gain was the motive of former settlers. their character and their institutions, we behold the germ of the love of liberty. think about this for a second.
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the germ of the love of liberty. there's built into this idea a sense of germs or a seed that matures. we will see that again next week. this idea of germs or seeds, that a nation is what it is in infancy and grows or matures into what it was planted as or began as. those correct views of the national equality of man which are fully developed in the american constitution. this is the origin, the pilgrims. you can see the way she's establishing that. i said she's famous for introducing maps into american history. this is her introductory map. what's noteworthy is it not called the first map of american history. it's the -- the first map is next. the second one. right? the introductory map is a bunch of native americans. you can see the way in which
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this kind of history makes native americans into the backdrop against which the story begins. they are just part of the setting. this is just the setting. it's the introduction. this is what the world looked like before it began. you can see the way in which this kind of history maps very well on the beginning of genesis. anyone know how genesis begins? anyone here? spirit hovered over the void. then god said, let there be light. there is this sense in which there's a void or a vacant land or an emptiness that is just waiting for order, waiting for something to arrive. that's how a lot of these 19th century histories begin. turbulent waters of the native american tribes moving all over the place. there's no sense that any of
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these native american tribes owns that part of the land or possesses that or you would evict them or taking over what they -- this is just void and movement. right? this is an important map for thinking about how these histories incorporate native americans as a setting or backdrop. the first map begins here. this is gilbert's patent. this where you get the coming of the pilgrims, the second map. the mayflower compact up there, the arrival. you get more and more settlement on the east coast. you get the pilgrims at plymouth. notice here, between the maps -- we looked at how she erases jamestown from the history, more or less. she talks about them but only in the sense in which they are not a founding.
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that also means they're not going to appear on any map. 1578, they are not there. 1620, they are there. what does she say? the ship arrived in 1619. she paints a dutch ship with negros from africa purchased by the colony of jamestown. insofar as jamestown appears on any map, it's associated with slavery. which is why it's not -- she doesn't want it to be a turning point in american history. if it's the turning point in american history, you can't not talk about slavery. right? if you say the pilgrims came here for freedom, then you can first of all ignore the fact thatitans in new england had slaves, which they did. second of all, you can say that's not part of the essential identity of america. that happened down south. the real origin is up here with
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this morally elevated crew of people who came. right? these histories are creating a national story that's doing important cultural work in creating that sense of a national identity. incidentally, i was listening to lectures about the american revolution, which i do when i run sometimes. sorry. i'm very nerdy that way. they were talking about jefferson's draft of the declaration of independence and this famous elimination. he charges the king with having forced them in the slave trade. there's people in congress who feel a little tender about that, especially folks from georgia don't really want that in the declaration of independence. so they take that stuff out. what jefferson says about this is it wasn't just southerners who wanted that removed. it was northerners who wanted it removed.
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why? they are sea merchants making money on the slave trade. when we think about slavery as a southern institution, we are forgetting the fact that it was very much a northern institution, too. in particular through these merchants and sea vessels, but also the fact that it existed in puritan new england. these maps go on and on. you get to this point. you can see just -- let me give you this sense. there's a lot of maps between here. i want to give you the sense of the gradual ordering, right? if you think about -- to go back to genesis, you have void and then by the end of creation, order. right? look at these maps. here's is the introductory map. the first map. the second map. a series of other maps and then this. you have this gradual sort of development of order out of chaos in the sense of the history. this is 1789, the constitution.
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one of the notable features of this map is, where is the western boundary? right? whoops. you get this sense of a map that is not yet done being written. right? you also get the sense that built into these puritan roots or pilgrim seed is a maturation that needs to continue, that needs to continue expanding. that expansion is sort of natural to what it is. when you come with a morally elevated purpose of freedom, liberty, et cetera, that the natural thing for it to do is expand. right? you see that built into webster's speech. you see that here. what's so interesting is in a certain way the rhetoric takes over the speaker. the whigs were not necessarily
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expansionists. there were a lot of new englanders opposed to the annexing of texas. it was not just a given in this culture. there were a lot of people questioning the idea of american expansion. and yet when they turned to this rhetoric of puritan origins of pilgrim origins of why they came of this morally elevated rhetoric, then webster can't help but see it spreading to the pacific. why would you not want that thing that's so good to spread? that's what it has to do. that's its natural trajectory. all right. then that brings us to this guy george bancroft. if you win the big prize in american history, it's named after this guy, who wrote ten volumes of u.s. history over the course of 40 years. was sort of the major -- especially at the beginning, the major authority on american history.
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his account of the pilgrims, which is very much like willards', gives you a sense of what is happening to this narrative as it's being developed. this is a bancroft quote. as the pilgrims landed, their institutions were perfected. think about that as an incredible origin story. what that sort of ignores is the fact that pilgrims and especially puritans are working out church/state relations over the course of many years. there's nothing automatically formed when they land. they have to work it out. working through all these sort of messy developments over time does not offer you a clean break. right? last week, you were reading about exceptionalism. one of the versions is a clean
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break. the past is the past. this is something totally new. here you get this sense of a clean break. the sense in which the moment they stepped ashore, everything was set in place. all that could be done then is for it to grow. right? or for it to mature or spread. you get this through scenes of gloom and mystery, they showed the way for an asylum for those who would go for the liberty. how much echos of reagan's farewell address are built into this language? this is 1834. in the history of the world, many pages are devoted to commemorate the heros who have besieged cities, subdued provinces and overthrown empires. in the eye of reason and truth, a colony is better than a victory. the citizens should cherish the memory of those who founded a state on the basis of democratic liberty. the fathers of the country, the
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men scattered the priniples of freedom and independence. this is what the pilgrims are, republican freedom and national independence. they are the origins of that. this is the way in which the pilgrims begin to become nationalized at this moment into a story. we're going to talk in two weeks, read another documents to think about that other aspect of willards' map. how do we get from that story to the spread of that story west? what's the relationship between manifest destiny and ideas such as that? let me leave it there and ask if there's any questions about this that you want to talk about. just to review on some of the important points, it takes cultural means to build a history.
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history doesn't just happen. it has to be written by somebody. it has to be spread in some kind of means. that could be speeches, memorials, textbooks, any number of things. it doesn't just happen. right? it has -- there has to be cultural intermediaries. if they are from a certain section, highlighting the importance of that section to the nation becomes one of the sort of crucial features of that. right? so if all the historians were from jamestown, what would our american history look like now? most of the historians were from new england. this idea of the importance of the mayflower becomes sort of crucial to the whole thing. any questions? any thoughts? any comments about all of this history business, textbook business? >> do you think the domination
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of the pilgrim and puritan narrative over jamestown was a conscious effort? do you think that was -- it just kind of happened naturally? >> i think two things. one, this idea of a local pride. one of the things you see happening is new england is not only losing out in pop u only losing out in poplation but political importance. four of the first five presidents are from the south. they are not getting the political significance they feel they are deserve. in a certain sense, they can give themselves the national significance of the history. yeah, the presidents come from down there, but the nation comes from up here. right? what it really stands for comes from up here. you see this sort of -- there's a compensation. i also think -- emma has a section called bad settlers. that's about virginia. right? i think there's something conscious about the idea that
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she doesn't like what they did down there. if american stands for that, then that's not really a nation you want to stand for yourself. right? if you could kind of talk about it in a way to move on from it and ignore it or say, that's -- that happened but that's not what the crucial thing that happened, the origin is really up here. >> if the textbooks had been written by southerners, the supporters of slavery, do you think they would have consciously left out the jamestown narrative, because it would seem >> it's hard to know. the fact is, one of the reasons why the puritans became such -- in many i mind, fascinating culture, is partly because they
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wrote everything down. -- inclu their own history. church records, everything. they have a printing press. this is crucial to them. they have a college and a printing press within a decade of getting here. a decade. that's like crazy. right? this doesn't happen in the south. so one of the reasons -- there's so much more written. if you are looking for the sources -- perry miller says -- i started with the articulate beginning and it was articulate because it was written down. he is conscious when he says virginia doesn't matter, puritans matter. why do they matter? because they wrote it down. he thinks about them because they wrote. any other last questions or comments for today? okay.
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i want to leave a little time to hand back your papers. we will wrap it up. weeknights, we are featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on cspan3. milton jones recalls his experiences as a u.s. marine during the vietnam war. he talks about his reluctance to serve in vietnam and his journey to meet his unit. part of vietnam war oral histories. watch tonight, beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern. enjoy american history tv every weekend on cspan3. american history tv on cspan3, exploring the people and events that tell the american
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story every weekend. 60 years ago this weekend, more than 1,400 cia-trained cuban exiles launched a failed invasion to overthrow fidel castro's government at the bay of pigs. live saturday at 9:00 a.m. history, on american history tv. we will look back at the invasion and its consequences with historian nicholas dumovich and sunday, four films on u.s./cuba relations. an edited version of the nbc report, "cuba, bay of pigs," president kennedy's speech after the failed invasion. a compilation of news reels from 1959 to 1961 on the cuban revolution through the bay of pigs invasion. a 1960 broadcast, cuba, the battle america. exploring the american story. watch american history tv this weekend on cspan3.


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