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tv   American Artifacts Pilgrim Story Mayflower II Tour  CSPAN  April 16, 2021 11:37am-12:19pm EDT

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we'll look back at the consequences with lucas dumovich. and on sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern, an edited version of the 1961 report, "cuba, bay of pigs." john f. kennedy's speech after the failed invasion. a compilation of newsreels from 1958 to 1961 of the bay of pigs invasion. and a 1960 broadcast, "cuba, the battle of america." exploring the american story. watch american history tv this weekend on c-span3. american history tv on c-span3. funding for american history tv
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comes from these companies who support c-span3 as a public service. next we'll tour the mayflower ii to see what life was like on board. >> i am richard pickering, deputy executive director of plymouth tucker museums and we are at state pier in plymouth, massachusetts. mayflower ii is behind us. a writer by the name of robert matthews gives them the name of pilgrim fathers which still, in the united kingdom today are called pilgrim fathers. we in america tend to call them
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pilgrims. the reason they are cited is they are referred to as pilgrims in poetry. people who went on a journey for religious reasons went on a journey for personal sdoefr. and so that use of the word pilgrim gives them a pilgrim identity. but we all need to remember that they themselves did not have a group identity. they were a very heterogenuous group that had to learn how to live together. aboard mayflower and the first few ships that would follow, there was upwards of 17 different dialect regions represented in plymouth, and they lived in an anyone prior to recording. very rarely, unless you were in a big city, did you hear anyone speak english in a way other than your own dialect or accent,
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so imagine what it's like to be aboard a ship where you're trying to figure out, what is she saying to me, because as moderns, we are accustomed to watch television to get our news. we're accustomed to hearing people speak differently than ourselves. that wasn't the case in the 1600s. there are vocabulary words, grammar practices. people might have been looking at each other thinking, what? the mayflower was originally supposed to leave england in july 1620 with another vessel, speedwell. when they got out to sea and proved that speedwell was very leaking, they had to turn around for england twice so were delayed leaving until early september, and they had no choice. there was no turning around. people had sold their homes, given up their businesses. some of them were religious dissidents.
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it was not safe to stay in england. so even though it was late in the year and they would be arriving as what they thought was going to be virginia late in the fall, they had to move forward. it took three years for them to find merchants to back the mayflower venture. there was no going back. the voyage was described in its earliest weeks as being fair and pleasant, but the second half they were troubled by constant tempests at sea. captain jones, who we would call the captain of the mayflower, brought them to england because he was trying to make speed. he tries to get down the coast only to discover new england's waters are very dangerous.
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mayflower is almost broken apart on the shoals and he refuses to go southward. so there is no legal document holding them together, and the most powerful men within the company of passengers, they create a covenant saying we will stand together until we can get new authority to be here in new england where we have to stay. ultimately the mayflower compact becomes the constitution for the colony, and for 72 years, it's the founding document, it's read at all of the court sessions. it's a very important example of american experimentation and self-government. the 400th anniversary of the mayflower compact is particularly important during an election year. because what you see are a group of strangers. there is a misconception that there were two groups aboard mayflower. the saints, who had come out of holland and had come for religious reasons, and the
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strangers, people they did not know who were brought to the party by the merchants, who had no interest in religion. and this is not the case. think of 102 people who didn't know each other well. yes, those in holland had been worshipping together for 12 years, but some of the people who joined them, they joined for religious reasons. they wanted the opportunity of america to worship as they wanted and to make a little money. so these are all people trying to figure out, can we get along? and then when there is crisis and some people in the group say, we're in new england, not virginia, i'm going to go off. i'm going to do what i want to do. these people, who did not have strong experience of government, drafted a document that held them together. and what to me is amazing is at the beginning you have a community that could have
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imploded. but only six months later when the first governor dies, there is safe transition of power. john carver dies probably of heatstroke after working in a cornfield and immediately power is transferred. the men gather and they approach william bradford to become the second governor. and to look at the skillfulness and to look at the practice of conversation and consensus. that was because they were trying to create a community. they wanted rules and they wanted the rule of law. and so they spent the time determining commonly what they would do together. when the pilgrims arrived in new england, they're anchored off what is now provincetown, massachusetts and it takes them a month to find what they discover. they do three levels of discovery in what we call the lower cape and a little bit of the midcape. on the third discovery they come
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here to plymouth harbor. and during the course of exploration realize they had found a place of constant water. that was one of the concerns about staying on cape cod was they couldn't find good water down there that they thought would be with them all year long. they thought the summer might be brackish. so they moved to plymouth harbor late in december. there is the traditional story they landed on plymouth rock and they began to build their houses on christmas day, 1620. and then essentially mayflower becomes a place where the colonists live until there is sufficient housing a shore for erv ef. the ships staying in new england
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drives up the cost of the venture. so when it returns in april, that charter, think of the mayflower as a bus that's been hired to bring these people over. the charter is getting more and more expensive the longer the ship stays. she leaves april 5, 1621 and no one in plymouth returns aboard her. she arrives in new england in the middle of may. much to the distress of the merchants, she returns utterly empty with nothing to compensate them for the investment they've made. i can't even what the first winter was like. 102 passengers arrive in november, and by the end of february, half of them are gone. and we know from the writings of william bradford and edward wip slow that there were times in february when two and three a day were dying. their houses were incomplete. so imagine simple little houses
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that are clapboarded on the outside, and for some insulation, there's two or three inches of clay that are standing within a lathe, but people are watching that just wash away. so imagine the sickness, the death and houses literally melting in the winter weather. they set their seed in february because february comes beautifully like an english february. they didn't know it would be followed by a brutal new england march. the native people come to them late in march, and this is the first time they've seen each other. they've motioned to each other, but the first time they can actually talk is march of 1861 and they have a peace to be sustained for the next 55 years. squantum will remain with them
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and teach them how to plant the indian corn. there are native people living just on the other side of squantbrook. we would think of it as a harvest feast, but i think those words of rejoiing means it's part of that harvest feast edition. the neighbors across the way come, and for three days there are at least 90 native men. probably the women and children are coming from the other side of the brook as well. there are 52 living english men, women and children who, at a minimum, there are two native people to every english person.
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for english men, there wampanag men there. there is a long table full of english people with a couple native people at the end. flip that. it is far more native people, and english people, children under the age of 16 years old and some that are just infants. what we see in that first year in new england is an excellence of diplomacy. think about how much the wampanag suffered in the years before the english came. there had been a plague that took away upwards of 70% of the population from what is now portland, maine to the border of massachusetts and rhode island. some communities completely disappeared off the face of the earth. massasoit, when he came to the english in 1621, he was making a
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choice for the preservation of his people to get the technology of the strangers, because as power politics were shifting in native new england, that made him and his people a little more stable in that shift. and for the english, it gave him access to native technology, knowledge, entrance into the , for many that's confirmation of that treaty, the face-to-face encounters that kept alive the relationship they were able to sustain for 55 kbreerz. ship as it would have looked
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when she returned to england in april 1621. everything gone. i'm able to stand up aboard mayflower because, when the ship was designed in the 1950s t was understood eventually it would be a museum site and people needed to be able to walk comfortably. but really the height would have been a foot to a foot and a half less because ships are not made for people. they're made for cargo in the 17th century. and this ship is described as a 180-ton vessel. that's not ton in our modern sense of 2,000 pounds. ton is a type of cask about this high. and this ship could carry 180 tons. this area would have all been cargo. but was adapted. so, you need to imagine the passengers are bent over much of the time to get wherever they're going, if, indeed, they can get up on deck. for us, it's brightly lit. the gun ports are open. the grtings above are open.
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but in 1620 it would have been pitch black with the gun ports closed, the gratings covered, canvas over the top to keep them dry. imagine you have all these cabins running both sides. and then, in the middle, somehow there are pieces of a 33-foot long boat. and there are so many people down here that they have to sleep in the parts of the boat. so, there are mattresses in the different pieces. when they arrive at cape cod, it takes the ship carpenter to put the shell up together again for their exploration because it's been driven apart by people sleeping in it. think of how congested it was and the smells because the chamber pots are being emptied right down into the bilge. it's collected below.
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think how fetted the air was. when they were at cape cod, one of the first things they did when they got to shore was cut juniper because juniper burns so sweetly and with such a fine perfume, that they could actually fumigate down here. we know at least once they were at anchor in provincetown, they had braisiers to keep themselves warm. now think about what i told you about all of these cramped canvas and wooden cabins, bunks, people practically on top of each other, trying to get along with these people they didn't know very well. there was one family known as the billingtons. over time they would prove to be very troublesome. and we know while john billington sr. was ashore, one of his boys was in this cramped cabin and he decides to play
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with one of his father's guns. so, he sets off a musket and the gunpowder he was using spills. imagine, right nearby, there are people around a brazer trying to keep themselves warm and there is spilled gunpowder on the deck. the ship could have blown because of that boy. we also know, in the middle of the voyage, a young man went overboard. think about the size of "mayflower." in the period, if a man goes overboard, for the most part, they just keep sailing because it would take almost an hour for a ship to make a complete turn to get back to somebody. people don't swim in the 17th century. it was considered questioning god's will to put yourself in a situation of that kind of risk. but for some reason, we do not know, john halland is above grating and he washes overboard.
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we're told by william bradford that he was fathoms below the ship, but he is able to catch onto a rope. and they pull him out. as men pulled up their trousers with belts, even in the past men had belts. and they were able to put a boat hook into his suit and pull him out. and he lived. one of the things to think about, if that man had not lived, if his wife, who had not survived the first winter, and she was the only member of her family to survive the first winter, there are 2.5 million americans today who would not be alive. not 2.5 million people over time. there are 2.5 million americans today descended from that one couple. had either one of them died, american history would be
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radically different. john howland and elizabeth howland were the grandparents of joseph smith. there would have been no church of jesus christ of latter day strants. there are strands of the roosevelt family, the churchill family, the bush family that would not have affected american history. and me a filmmaker, one of the great sagas, there would be no humphrey bogart because he is a howland as well. some of the crew were living history educators who had portrayed john hallen. and they talked about what it was like to be aboard the ship under sail and to be in the riggings, to be working the ropes and suddenly have these insights. they saw themselves as the ship was moving, how the ropes were moving, and the three young men talked among themselves and
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said, yes, they could see how if a ship is in dramatic water, the rope spills over and that's what it's doing in the water with john howland. the power of museums is we are experimentals, we try to recreate the work in the past. in that recreation we discover something about those people that came before us. so, sailing this ship gives us insight into the original 1620 voyage. and the restoration brings the ship closer to the original 1950's vision that william baker had for the ship. it's been newly ballasted so the ship rides differently than it has since 1957. it gives us closer to the physics of the ship. there is so much discovery yet to be done.
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the passenger's brought a year's worth supply with them because they knew they were going to have to depend on dried peas, dried beans, salted beef, salted pork to get them through until the first harvest could come in, so the deck below us was the hold. it was filled with supplies. and families brought their personal things. there is a tradition that families were allowed one chest and six feet of space. i have no idea where that tradition comes from. but it is so romantic and compelling. but people brought what they had because they were going to be removing their households from holland or england to here. there's furniture. there are linens. and what we know is one of the men who started out on the companion ship with "mayflower,"
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the "speedwell," his name was robert cushman. when it was decided only one ship could come to new england, that some people would have to stay behind, robert cushman is one that remained behind, not only for reasons of health but also that he could be helpful to those remaining behind. and robert cushman said, isn't it sad we are all students and there is no one to teach us. so, we know that the letters that go back early on, the colonialists in new england are writing to friends or those interested in coming to new england to say, this is what you should do. edward winslow wrote a letter in september of 1621 in which he advises, bring a kid goat that you can slaughter and have fresh meat halfway across. if you can, bring lemons or other fruits because these seem to fight off the scurvy.
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they try to teach those that will follow them in the record. but they bring everything they have, but they didn't have as much as we do today. there are probate inventories that exist. plimoth started writing down everything a deceased own so estates could be divided equitably. this is a perfect catalog of households in the 1620s. they didn't have a great deal. rooms weren't full of furniture as our rooms are full of furniture. beds are mattresses that go down to the reeds and off on a barrel in the corner to get out of the way so families have spaces to move about. but they did everything with forethought. three years of planning to find the merchants, to find the voyage to america and then reading about what had happened in virginia, learning from the
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virginians as they planned this particular voyage the best of their ability. one year's supply, all of their personal goods coming. and we even know that books came over on "mayflower" because libraries were also inventoried. it's entirely possible that a copy of "the prince" came over on the "mayflower." it's possible the captain, the man chiefly possible for the defense of the colony, we know he owned the earliest english translation of the ilead and cesar's commentary on the gaelic wars. not only furniture and linens and food, but also this was a place of thought. these were people who read and brought their libraries with them. the deck we're standing on would
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have been filled with things that were needed every day. linens, canvas beddings stuffed out with straw, curtains to give families a little bit of privacy in their small bunks. we're not sure how they fed themselves. that's still a matter of controversy or up for grabs. we don't know whether the cooking is being done by the ship's cook and then food distributed among the passengers to keep down the dangers of fire. at one point it was thought possibly there were sandboxes with little brasiers used for cooking during the voyage. we don't know. the record isn't thick enough for us to get those kind of details. you might have had cooking implements here on this deck but we don't know. we do know john alton who was a
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cooper, made barrels, took care of barrels, he was given the responsibility of under supervision going down and getting the allotment of food so that the supplies would last and that they would stay free from saltwater and being ruined while they were in the cargo, but we don't know. was that supply divided up among the different households who would have opportunity to cook or did it go off to the ship's cook and redistributed to the passengers? these are mysteries still. everything down below is everything that would remain in new england. you can see the grating right below me and there's a grating up above as well. once they were in plymouth harbor, it was the job of the sailors to remove everything from tween decks, using cranes to lift everything up, over and
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out. then everything would go into the shallot, or into the ship's boat to get it mile and a half to shore, the cow's yard, the part of the harbor where the ship was down to town brook, where the village was sited. it is often imagined that the mayflower compact was signed above in master jones' great cabin because of the fact that we now think of the pilgrims as so important, we think that in their day they were considered important. for master jones and for his crew, they were cargo that needed to be moved from point "a" to point "b." the paintings you semajing the mayflower compact, they always look like the signing of the declaration of independence except with everybody a little closer up. probably the mayflower compact is signed down here, tween deck, where we are. also it's possible that the
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leaders are carrying the document from cabin to cabin, talking one-on-one with the men and getting them to sign it, or if they could not sign it, to make their mark upon it. but it was determined no one was getting off the ship until every man had signed, representing his household so they would be bound together by a covenant. they had lived together under a church covenant for more than a decade. they agreed that they would walk together commonly in the way of christ. what they wanted to do was take the church government and bring it into the civil world, tying all of the households together that they would walk together civilly. can you imagine going cabin to cabin, trying to negotiate the shallot that would have been very here. maybe they were carrying a lantern with them. because, none of these lights
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were here. it was dark as pitch down here. so, not the kind of glorious, glamorous signing of the declaration of independence, but something cramped, something one-on-one, conversations and pressure, because there are some men who did not want to sign that document. what happened down here was political drama of the highest order. >> so, "mayflower ii" is reproduction of the original mayflower that was simply a cargo vessel, rented or leased like you rent a u-haul to bring the pilgrims and other passengers to the new world. "mayflower" was a typical early 17th century merchant vessel. this ship is what we call 182 tons burden. that is how many one-ton barrels the ship could hold. so, it's a volumetric measure.
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it didn't matter if there's feathers or lady in the barrel but it could carry 180 tons of those barrels of cargo. typical size. kind of small. very small by today's standards. well, so, we have some pretty cool parts on the ship that we use every day here. today, when we sail the ship, it's a fully operational vessel. this is the cab's den. in is used for loading and unloading cargo, used for lowering and raising yards which hold the sails of the ship. any type of heavy work is done with the capstone. i'm sure everybody has seen in the movie, this is a capstone bar. we've all seen sailer ises working around the capstone. what you'll do is wrap your rope
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around the drum, and we simply walk around the capstone. with two capstone bars up here on the main deck and two down below on the tween deck, we can put as many as eight or ten sailors on these capstone bars and do some very heavy lifting work with this capstoep. capstan. it's for raising your anchors. when they're vertical like this on a ship, it's called a capstan. when it's horizontal, which we can look at on a tween deck, it is called a windless, but both the same jobs. >> the steering wheel wasn't in general usage on ships until about 1690 by the dutch, so around 1620 and earlier, ships
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of this size were still using a whipstaff, which is this vertical stick that you move from side to side that's attached to the rudder or the tiller one deck below that goes out to the rudder. and as you can see, you can't see much here. but we have a compas and we have a hatch grating here where the officer of the deck would be up on the half deck, giving steering commands. the helmsman down here would be using a magnetic compas to be steering north, north by northeast, whatever directions he was given by the officer of the deck. if you look at some of the colorful geogeometric patterns you think, why such colorful paint with the geometric patterns? that's so you could identify a
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ship over a long distance. if you're looking across a mile or two, you have no cell phones, no vhf radio for communications, you can look at the specific collars and patterns of the way a ship is painted and say, oh, there's "mayflower." when ships are in port, of course, the crews get together, all the captains know each other. when they're all in port next to each other, then that's how they would get to know which ship is which ship and then be able to say when you're out sailing, oh, there's so and so. back here we have this is the master captain. this is where christopher jones would have ship. he was master of the ship and one quarter owner of the ship. christopher jones would have had other furnishings for him to do work at a desk and probably a
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hanging cot or bunk for him to sleep in. just coming back from the restoration, we still have not gotten all of the furnishings sorted out yet. he might have had a couple of gentlemen in bunks back here with him, but no ordinary sailors. all the ordinary sailors would sleep all the way forward in the folksal and all the passengers, 102 passengers, all would have slept down below in the tween deck. so, many different jobs for the sailors on the ship. every ship, of course, the most important one on the ship, you think is the captain. well, the most important person is the cook because the ship's crew runs on their stomach. and we always joke about that, so the captain will have a couple of mates or officers of the deck that ran the sailors and were in charge of the vessel as the captain gave different
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orders to tach ship or ware ship. you would have had a sailmaker on the ship to help effect repairs on your ship. you would have had specific top men who were the ones that went aloft and furled or took sail. and you would have mast captains for each mast. for the main mast captain and foremast captain that would run their little group. you can see here, hundreds of different lines used for actively sailing the vessel and moving the sails and the yards around. can be a little overwhelming when you think, yeah, there's three miles of rope or lines on the ship. and when you take it one at a time and you have each sailor has his designated duty on braces, lifts, sheets, tachs,
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bollands, when you break it down that way, it's like -- hopefully we like to see it as a well-oiled machine and the mast captains, mates and captain are the ones who orchestrate this team to make the ship sail safely and effectively. the sailors would have been broken up into two watches and they would have been called the starboard watch and the larboard watch. today we use starboard and port designating the sides of the ship. and also designating the different crew and what they do and what their duties are. many crew might go to sea as early as 10 years old. and the old salts probably would not have been much more than 40. the sailors, certainly more of the experience the sailors, might have already been to the new world. the english had been coming to the new world for quite a while. just no settlements yet.
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in 1602 bartholomew gosnal came here on a journey. we don't know the exact makeup of the crew, but i can say for the crew, sailing across the ocean or long distances, probably no big deal. they felt very comfortable sailing a ship like this on the ocean. they did it every day. but i'll tell you, for the passengers and the pilgrims, it would be like you and i going to the moon. that's the fear and uncertainty coming to the new world. "mayflower ii" was conceived and came about through the work of sir warwick charles in england. the ship was actually built and given to america as a gift of appreciation for our help during world war ii. warwick charlton in england was built in brixham, england,
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conceived of the idea when he was on his way home from world war ii. he was in the africa campaign with montgomery. and on this side of the atlantic we had henry hornblower, who started plimoth plantation, now plimoth patuxet. he had already contracted with henry e. baker to have plans drawn up. the two got word of what each other were trying to do. they met, they got together, and hornblower said, we have the plans. warwick charlton said, i'll build the ship if you guys will take care of it. and plimoth plantation has taken care of it for the last 40 years. we just finished a massive restoration of "mayflower ii"
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and just got back here on august 10th from a three-year restoration at mystic sea port in mystic, connecticut. i hope that people get the same sense of history that i do when i look at this ship. and for us, keeping the knowledge, skills and abilities to be able to sail a ship and maintain a ship of this age as well as tell the multiple stories that plimoth patuxet has to tell, all the good, the bad and ugly of all aspects of history is so important to where we're going. for me, of course, the maritime part of the ship itself and again, the knowledge, skills and ability necessary to build, sail and maintain a ship like "mayflower ii" is very, very important.
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weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. tonight, milton-jones recalls his experiences as a u.s. marine during the vietnam war. he talks about his initial reluctance to serve in vietnam and his journey to meet his unit in the caisson. part of vietnam war oral histories conducted by the atlanta history research for the veterans history project. watch tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern and enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span3. american history tv on c-span3 exploring the people and events that tell the american story every weekend. 60 years ago this weekend, more
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than 1 40ishgs 0 cia trained crew ban exiles launched a failed invasion to overthrowfy dell castro at bay of pigs. we'll look back at the invasion and its consequences with former cia historian nicholas dumavich and sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern, four films on u.s./cuba relations. an edited version of the 1961 nbc report "cuba:bay of pigs." a compilation of universal news reels from 1959 to 1961 on the cuban revolution through the bay of pigs invasion. and a 1960 broadcast "cuba: the battle of america." egs exploring the american history. watch american history tv this weekend on c-span3.


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