tv The Civil War Freedom and Equality after Emancipation CSPAN April 14, 2018 10:30am-11:42am EDT
this year marks the 150th anniversary of the 14th amendment to the constitution. it addresses citizenship rights. tv,, on american history civil war and reconstruction era historian david blight and another historian discover -- discuss the meaning of the quality in the wake of emancipation. the national constitution center in philadelphia posted -- posted this talk. let me do the honor of introducing our guest speakers. to my left, david blight, professor of history at yell university. and the study of slavery , theuthor of several books subordinate the civil rights era. is a professor of
history and african-american studies and population research institute in the program and women's studies. she has published articles and essays and is author of out of the house of bondage and co-editor of to live the freedom, a doctor many history of emancipation. i am sorry to say our colleague -- one of our colleagues was not able to make it. eric has promised to return on a different occasion. the top of every construction is second to none. to be able to talk to each of you about the book he contributed to at the beginning and we will move into a discussion about reconstruction generally.
>> don't worry about eric. neither of us is him. out as ahis book came book of essays. we sponsored it three or four years ago. it was an attempt by jim downs and greg downs. they came to me and we planted together. revisit scholars and get the best people in the room for two days. the great issue of emancipation.
been -- wellhad you worked on the free been papers project. emancipation has been a huge question among scholars for 40 30 and 40s because and 50 years ago we discovered thousandsight the upon thousands of documents in the national archives produced by the civil war and particularly by the military in the friedman's bureau. massive documentation. it is the most documented the midst patient of -- emancipation of slaves and world history. that is because armies create -- keep great records. if you're going to have emancipation have it during the time before. revisit this after many great books and the tremendous
documentary collection, which is still going on and revisit it from the point of view that perhaps, it needs a less , if that is the proper term, a somewhat darker, deeper, harder, look. -- look at what freedom meant, came, helloreedom was achieved and what the cost and consequences were of freedom . you will find essays in this fiamma on all sorts of elements of the emancipation process. it is treated as a process, not , moment, not at a of jubilee not just a legislative, executive act by president lincoln although it was that. it was treated as a great social process. and a process that occurs in the time of all-out war. it is a process that is in the
midst of a revolution. is theytions do challenge to say the least the social order. they bring about social chaos. they force political reimagining. they force constitutional reimagining. the effort of this book was to bring together up to 20 people, new actually who are doing work on such stories as the contraband camps. have known about contraband camps for a long time. there is remarkable documentation of them and the national archives. but they had not been studied much until the last i would say, 10 years. these were the camp's, refugee , very large with thousands of ex slaves and some of them smaller. mostly around the rim of the
confederacy. the famous one in washington, about onemeone writes -- these contraband camps or the sites to which slaves managed to get to and with time they became formalized places but still camps run by the war department. people studying this and some are in this book who are showing us that that process of emancipation was itself. bloody. deadly. disease ridden. goingot know the precise statistic is, but some of the people who have studied contraband -- another has a new book on them as do a couple other people -- is one of every
four refugee slaves who escaped to such contraband camps probably died in the process. book by carol lamberton, has a fascinating attempt to try to get that -- how do stories -- historians of study emotions? -we try to get at a story like grief and loss in the midst of this great human story of freedom? ways theion is in many pivot of american history. certainly in the 19th century. the freedom of the slaves and daesch in the midst of this war and the preservation of the union which becomes dependent on that freedom of 4 million people is the pivot of 19 century american history. you could make a case that it is the pivot of american history. but it is not just a happy story.
it never was. it never can be. downs, for example, the co-editor who did most of the book.n this, has done a he found records in the national bleak andhat were terrible health records to some of these contraband camps. he caused the emancipation process a public health catastrophe. this is not just an attempt by historians to dark in history, make it bleak and make you depressed which is what some people think we get up every day to do. [laughter] you about shame and things better terrible. it is not that at all. remember a war that
killed about roughly 750,000 -- and emancipation -- and emancipation process that occurred practically overnight filled 4 million people from centuries of bondage into something new called freedom that now has to be defined by the reconstruction process. it comes out as an all-out war between the largest armies ever assembled. it happens an enormous bloodshed. the story has got to be called -- told by the truth you find. i want to lay this on undergraduates. in it is a badm rhetorical question. why was the american emancipation the most violent? they cannot quite answer it.
it is not a good teaching technique but it is fun because they squirm. emancipation's in the 19 century across the french empire, dutch empire, delta cuba and , why was ite 1880's only the emancipation in the u.s. happened? that does not mean that all were not violent. none of them whilst -- crossed this many lines. why? i have the answer i want. the answer is in part because the united states was republic -- a republic. decided to on the slaves. the slaves decided it was part part ofmerican union --
the american union was free to dissent. confederacy but the largest dissent in american history. slaves were freed against that confederacyall the which sought -- thought to the bitter end. part of american history -- part of our job is explaining -- why was our emancipation so violent? get legislatedst out of existence? ledges --ck just get why did it not just get legislated out of existence? this book tries to get at the deeper, less pretty, less fascinating elements of this story of emancipation. >> david, the fight to which you
are referring may not just have ended. the fight to which you refer may not just have ended. an introduction here. your essay with the powerful prairie found. can you tell us about that prayer? saying i frame it by began working on the question of refugees within the context of the american civil war -- actually i wrote my first article in 20,000 -- 2005. i had been working on this for a long time and at some point, it became clear to me that ignoredns simply had this huge story and also, it
became clear that i did not think i could tell it. dilemma for ange historian because we are trying to going to the archives to sit there for weeks at a time and fine one paragraph that is useful. american but the more time i spend in the archives, the more stressed i i am not supposed to be distressed. i am supposed to be scientific. reading a newspaper article from 1863, and it says said,s is a prayer and he -- that paraphrasing they are suffering and he in
particular is suffering as he carries his child from place to place and that is why people bury their children in the cold ground. i did not know what to do with that prayer. fit whendeep level, it everything i found in the national archives written by commanders and confederates, written by missionaries to help black people. i copied the prayer and put it wall in front of my computer at home. every time i sat down this book, i was confronted by the prayer and i was invited to the euro conference and i have been thinking about this prayer and -- my inability to come to terms with what the archives showed me. what i was seeing in the archives.
seeing thee between testimonies of other grief -- utter grief and heart ache. and the murders of women and children are described in that .iece one case of many in which children were shot down and they this swampy across area and the confederate soldiers on horseback were chasing them down and i tried to figure out how to tell that story. i write this essay about how hard it is to sit down in the archives in pennsylvania, and d.c., and mississippi, and texas , all across the country i am going to find bits and pieces of the story. breaking and it is
not supposed to do that. it is supposed to break in my personal life, not in my professional life. and so i read this essay about what that means and how i think it is impossible for scholars to read this kind of material and not be affected. i must say my sentiment is not shared by many historians. some historians, including some of the book, disagree. who think to deal with this kind of tragedy to write about tends to put too much focus on violence and it becomes gratuitous. i found that offensive. -- find that offensive. how can murder be gratuitous?
how many bodies should i not count for it not to offend you as a reader? i am speaking to you. , know this is a mixed audience jurors -- jurists, and legal scholars, scholars from every discipline. people who are scholars not a silly by trade but inclination. -- not necessarily by trade but inclination. when do you get tired of hearing 200 died here? site, peoplecular were burned in their cabins. when i read another essay in the same volume in which my essay it uses violence gratuitously, i am offended as a the wordecause
gratuitous means uncalled for. how much is uncalled for? essay -- wherehe it originates and what it is about. -- figured out how to tell the story. i am finding that story is essential to how we understand what comes next in terms of reconstruction. for example, many scholars for a long time have insisted freedom means -- to vote and so forth. what does that mean? which is that me three constitute one's family? a reconstituted family does not look like fight families.
to paste in what i am finding in the archives, trying to suggest we do not have to put black people into this framework. we do not have to insist in order to prove themselves worthy of citizenship and freedom, they have to establish a two-parent household. the reason i push this is is many womending who ran away and -- i should say we are only talking about 12% of the population who ran away -- but many women who ran away, ran away with their husbands who joined the army and died. what do these widows do? they form households together as widows. throughout these camps, these refugee camps, and the towns and
areas that grew up around places like memphis, women who are widows are farming with other women. young people who may be married -- of marriageable age but not interested in each other as marriage partners are forming households. to woman says i found a way buy this house and he found a way to buy land and so we are living together to share resources and working the land together. when federal officials came around, it looked weird and so they said, she must be a prostitute. newwas not, but it was a kind of family formation that grew out of that moment. that, -- when we
lose that, we risk not being able to understand what freedom looks like on the ground. all of thed about new work coming out. it is beginning to challenge this idea that freedom just , getting theland right to vote for men. it is tangible things. in my early work, to me freedom slave womanean a would be able to serve a time in her life, by her own dress. there is a wonderful example of a woman who bought a blue gingham dress and she was proud of that. that is freedom. ways inited about the which scholars are moving to
think what freedom could mean becominging about it freedom is a process. to lincoln's preliminary emancipation proclamation. if you begin about what he said, he said three important things. including that emancipation, he said should calm, but it should and the slave owner should be compensated for slaves. and that preliminary warlamation, that the
september of 1862, that the war is about the union. of thebout the state united states. --, he had decided because he wanted to come back and get their money. slavesded to create the -- emancipation proclamation. what always troubled me about the preliminary emancipation , was lincoln's willingness to allow the nationstate -- the united states -- to become the largest by the termsslaves he percent did -- presented.
he said explicitly the federal government would be the purchaser, the holder, of black people. astounding and it is a lot about not just where lincoln was in 1862, but his course for the nation in 1962 -- 1862. >> we are talking about serious things, many of which we do not know. many of which we are discovering for the first time. david, you point out history involves reinterpretation. new discovery. extent, when we learn about reconstructionist goals, little that why fingers snap and somebody -- suddenly everyone is free. that is not true.
the story is different. we start learning more about it. if you wouldn't mind sharing it. what are the different narratives reconstruction are? can understanding be greg instructed? -- be reconstructed? the distraction is the we usually date from 1865 to 1867. it is a parlor game among historians as to when did reconstruction really and and did it ever end? my graduate students will dated even earlier and so much later. dating is a parlor game. what reconstruction is a kind of national, social, political, and constitutional referendum on
what the war meant. reconstruction is this chaotic collective attempt to determine what was the verdict of appomattox. -- nott who one, but thatwhowout , that is a fact. the confederacy was defeated. big-time. is it going to be ex confederates? is only going to be northerners, so-called carpetbaggers? is it going to be blacks in rome with -- of equality with whites? was, who is going to rule in washington? or congress? this brings us the constitutional crises that ended up in andrew johnson's impeachment. the country never faced this.
there was no blueprint in the constitution where you could all totalu fight an civil war, one side winds -- would you do now? there is no blueprint in the constitution. they were fundamentally different visions of what a reconstruction after this war would mean. out in whatto play we tend to call congressional reconstruction led by the republican-- radical leadership of the original republican party. andrew johnson, who was not a the then but democrats. leniented a very reconstruction or is andrew johnson put it, the constitution -- the constitution as
it is and the union as it was. the union back together but do not touch the constitution. do not touch the idea of black rights. was whathird question black freedom mean? what were the dimensions of black freedom? 4 million people have been freed from slavery. who are they? of the going to be citizens? under what kind of definition? what rights will they have? what they have political liberty? who will protect that? these are revolutionary problems. problems that this represented the country with. we have them for a generation of more -- been calling for a generation or more a second american revolution. that language has gone into legal history for sure, the second constitution. written in washington as opposed to the one written in
philadelphia, which was in the 18th century. reconstruction is this tremendous challenge -- this referendum that the country has and you have to have it quickly. what did that warming? withre trying to do it degrees to it level of loss, suffering, and business and hatred americans and never experienced. the challenge of reconstruction is the challenge of what we do with challenge of what we do with civil war memory to begin with. one of the reasons it is never over. you have to have healing. the country had to be healed somehow. but you also have to have some kind of justice. for whom? who gets to decide? what does healing mean? or southgeorgians
carolinians who experienced shermans march and lost everything? what does healing mean for black families who had lost people as well, but were trying to constitute something called family and imagine getting land and making a life with dignity. freedom. one of the things you and up of dignity.the idea what did indeed a -- what did dignity mean to former slaves? respect. it meant someone considering you a citizen. it meant a school for your kid. are unprecedented problems for america. aroundould they look history? world history for the template for this?
places legally, where they could look in the past. the smartest of them. here's what they faced. how do you have healing and justice? the world is still trying to figure that out. we have civil wars around the world right now, and they will and somehow, and that society will face and justice. -- face injustice. we can get into more specifics if you want about how the reconstruction plan evolved. this third big challenge, what does black freedom mean? thegreat contest between radical republicans and democrats and andrew johnson is ultimately about, what does black freedom mean? they don't always put it that way.
is the south going to re-create a white supremacist society? regime, if the slave not worse? or will it have a whole new experiment in racial democracy, which many radical republican leaders truly tried. that they did not entirely succeed is part of the story. >> picking up on the third question, site -- many are asking in a different way, when you talk about reconstruction and study it. it seems to go without second thought that of course it is about race. but is it just about race? to what extent does gender become a factor? whichthings like family, i know you studied in detail. thatems to be something
goes beyond race, at least to some extent. >> the way i would answer that is that it is about more than race. to get back to -- in order for the mission to heal. in order for there to be meaning behind what lincoln called -- of freedom. we have to think of it as more than "black freedom." we have to think of it as a human right. and as long as we think about freedom and compartmentalize it as black freedom, we forget that the emancipation of enslaved people required there be an adjustment in what freedom meant for white people as well. so the whole notion that freedom is something we are wrestling with because black people become
by theould be tempered fact that freedom is something that we are wrestling with as a beenrn democracy, and have wrestling with. i tell my students that the civil war is not the first civil war that americans fought, right? did some extent -- to some extent, the revolutionary war was a civil war. that was not just about trying to find out what freedom meant. 1865, the freedom of black people called on the nation to reconsider what freedom for white people meant as well, not just in the south but in the north as well where you still had discriminatory laws, where black men could still not vote everywhere. it is not just about gender, race.
ofis about a national kind reconceptualizing of the very meaning of freedom. you can't determine what black means, what black freedom unless you know what freedom means for the country as a whole. and we didn't really have that. we don't have to just go to black people. that we didn't have this national understanding of freedom. you have the plight of poor white men, who for a long time did not have the right to vote. yeoman whiteof women who had a different struggle from -- were they free? that decided they would have nothing to do with the confederacy, but resisted by hiding out in the swamps in the woods and deserting. did they have the same idea of freedom that slaveholders had? no.
it is much more complicated than a juxtaposition of black versus -- freedom. >> we hope for a deeper, richer sense of reconstruction. reconstructionut , is it possible to look at what is happening post-civil war, as some affirmation of the failure of -- grappling with freedom and equality, huge forces intertwined with this. people about to amend the constitution through the 14th-15th amendment is that the federal may have failed. first -- worst mistakes we could make, to assume that the war and reconstruction were not about civil rights and federalism.
there's no question. at the heart of the coming of -- andil war, reconstruction are two fundamentally different visions of federal power and state power. now, you've got a group of republicans, so-called radical republicans, who for three minutes in historical time had control. in activist interventionist government. iat is actually a term learned from eric. i don't know who he borrowed it from. activist interventionist government. remember this is a republican to 1867.1866 the great civil rights act of 1866.
which andrew johnson will famously veto. look at what they have done. they have just one bank and highly war by centralizing the central government because they had to. they fought the biggest armies in history, created something corps,a -- quartermaster a federal agency that delivered and negotiated all the business contracts. all material for grant and sherman's army's. it was the second largest employer in the country by 1864. the only larger one was the union army. there had never been one. the homestead act which will revolutionize how people get land in the west. land-grant colleges. i went to michigan state, the first land-grant college.
-- and theybout passed the transcontinental of thed, possibly one most corrupt deals between the federal government and private enterprise ever, but nevertheless, it came by subsidies of the federal government to build a great dream of the transcontinental railroad. though a lot of them may not have believed they had done it engineeredey just the largest confiscation of private property in all of american history in the emancipation proclamation. they are going to confiscate $3.5 billion worth of robert property to win this war. of property to win this war. and i forgot, they managed a revolutionary form of currency called the greenback dollar,
which financed this massive war. which cost $4 million a day by 1864. whoever imagined federal government on this scale? sometimes i run into people who want government limited, they don't like government, and sometimes i want to grab them by the lapel and say "were you -- would you prefer to lose the civil war? how about world war ii?" that was a big one, too. it is a good thing we won that one. here we are in 1866, and they are responsible for emancipation. john bingham of ohio. christian, republican. he was not a radical abolitionist, but he served on tribunal that investigated
the lincoln assassination, even shared it. bingham wrote article one. michael is the expert here. but it is arguably the most important thing in the civil war constitution. if there is anything that can truly hold us together, it is section one of the 14th amendment. that birthright citizenship and equal protection under the law. in speech after speech after speech in congress when they were debating this historic amendment, to really change the nature of federalism, bingham over and over got up and said " what we are doing is federalizing the bill of rights." firstry to our 80-something years of history, the bill of rights, those first 10 amendments, are now enforceable by the federal government in the state."
it has not always work out that way historically, but that is what he intended, and he was not alone. and basing it on the facts now that we have just one bank -- this war of necessity. we were responsible now for the rights of these people, whatever we determined those rights to be in the states. now, think what that means. that means the states are not supposed to have jurisdiction over any jurisprudence about the bill of rights. the federal courts will. it is not going to happen that way, because americans -- it is a long story -- american jurisprudence was not prepared for that kind of fundamental shift in federalism. it is too bad, but it is true. reconstruction is a huge tug-of-war between -- it is as old as our original constitution. the struggle. what exactly are the powers of the federal government and the
states? and those powers got vastly changed by the civil war. the question was -- will they stay changed? or would the power of state sovereignty, especially when used now by resurgent democratic party in the south and its vision -- let's just be honest, its vision was a virulent white supremacist vision, which was not going to tolerate black civil rights, or for that matter, even black land ownership. in the 1870's, beginning in 1871 1875-76, all of the ex-confederate states except three had been taken back -- control of those states had been taken back by the southern democrats, and they were, in effect, defeating the
reconstruction process that had been put in place. we have not explained what that process is yet. andrew johnson's vision of reconstruction was, once again, the constitution as it is, the union as it was. he was willing to accept the end of slavery, but that is it. whereas the republicans of that time, by and large, were saying no, no, no, the constitution must be changed, and they will do it in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, and the union as it was, but only after the constitution was changed. michael: you mentioned historians are bleak and depressing, there is nobody more depressing or bleaker than constitutional law people. i asked about failure.
you told me quite well what is going on to complicate reconstruction. prof. blight: the court. michael: that is where i am heading. the part of failure in the background of reconstruction is not just that of the states. that of the supreme court. the supreme court made a horrific decision. scott ruled that african-americans are not citizens and could never be. that portion is overruled by the 14th amendment. the very first case decided by ,he supreme court after the war it could not possibly be that something radical is going on to change federal -- you can't conceive of that. then that of course now leads to the question -- does that leave us to conclude that reconstruction is a failure? is that how we should look at it? >> no.
the civil war established the sovereignty of the nation-state. and that is important. so while states still have rights, it is the federal government that has extended its cover to people, to individuals through the 13th, 14th, and even to some extent the 15th amendment. so reconstruction was a moment -- and some people call the reconstruction another civil war, but it was a moment that -- moment in which black people began to experience freedom, however we may do find it -- however we may define it, in all places.
the terrain seemed a bit more even, but still wobbly. time, using the forces -- democrats to reclaim the control of states and local governments in the south. of thert, if we think war as having brought about this federal sovereignty, then the court is part of that federal sovereignty, including the supreme court. have is ae don't federal government that is willing to enforce its laws. it is willing to enforce the civil rights act of 1866. it is willing to enforce the 14th amendment. and the courts are not willing
to [sighs] -- they are not willing to explicitly say that the rights of -- the rights to freedom and citizenship do not matter or can be extinguished. but they are willing to define ways to go around it, which opens the door for things like poll taxes, the grandfather clauses, and so forth. but even with the sort of -- as david described it -- by 1877, white southerners had retaken control. despite that, i would not consider reconstruction a failure. it did not live up to its promises, but it was not a failure. the same way some people could say that emancipation was "a
nonevent." that is crazy. [laughter] prof. glymph: but it is a huge argument. it was a "nonevent" just because black people did not get everything they thought they should get. so that would be -- prof. blight: it is worth pointing out that federal power , by the, for example grant administration to in -- go after the ku klux klan. he passed three klan act in 1870 and 1871. >> and the freedmen's bureau. >> it doesn't get talked about in relationship to the
freedmen's bureau, which is seen as a massive government handout. the base funding came not from taxes of ordinary citizens, but taxes levied on black women and black men during the civil war. millions of dollars remained from that fund, collected from their raises during the civil put into something called the freedmen's fund. and what was left was used to find the freedmen's bureau. prof. blight: which amounted to what it cost to find one day of the war. the total budget from the freedmen's bureau for four years was about $4 million. prof. glymph: it was a bit more than that, because they got that much when they restarted. prof. blight: ok, maybe three days. i have got to work on that statistic. [laughter]
>> i agree that it is not much. michael: that takes us to the next historical period, although everything is connected in certain respects. david, you wrote a great book which talks about this period, among other things. we are going to follow reconstruction. you talked about competing narratives. that competition continues beyond the reconstruction. tell us about that competition. >> the short version of that is the struggle over the memory of the civil war begins as soon as the war is being fought, but it really kicks in and the -- in the 1870's, 1880's, 1890's, the lost cause tradition, the cluster of police, the story, the narratives that e x-confederates developed became
a powerful ideology, a powerful set of stories. it was rooted first in this idea that someone had to explain. southerners had to explain defeat. or talk about the germans, france in the franco-prussian war. we were never entirely defeated on the battlefield, the story became. we were defeated by the yankee leviathan, as robert e. lee put it. were defeated by industry, greater resources. the most powerful part of the lost cause argument that got ,riven into the american soul that the war was not about slavery. that it was about state sovereignty, about homeland. of course it was about heart and homeland, but it was also about slavery.
anyway, by the 1890's, in the great monument-building era, which you have been hearing about in recent weeks, from roughly 1890's through the 1920's went about all of confederate monuments were constructed, the lost cause became a story not about loss at written in memoirs or short stories, huge numbers of northern readers. story of the faithful, contented old aunt harriet and old uncle jimmy. it was no longer about -- it was a story about victory over reconstruction. it was a victory narrative.
the victory was not just the south's victory, it was the nation's victory over this awful experiment in racial equality and racial democracy. i am simplifying it that, but that is what happens in deep mythologies. stories get simplified. it does not mean the union victory narrative, where i called in the book, the emancipation nest -- narrative.nist it did not die at all. this cultural struggle over a memory of this defensive event, it is still high multiple voices down into the 20th century, and a new generation would pick it up with dubois and others in the 20th century. but this is the most divisive event in american history. that how do you put a nation back together? how do you heal? you have got to find some kind of unifying narrative.
unfortunately, the tragedy of america's struggle over civil war memory is our unifying narrative became the narrative of white supremacy. it became a narrative that wrote black people almost out of the story. it certainly wrote the achievements of this reconstruction era largely out of the story such that by the 1930's, something like "gone with the wind" could seem like common sense. story, anto a great great epic. and you've got a national mythology. there is a line i wrote in the preface of "race and reunion," which i now have reporters reading back to me, which is one of the thrills my life, they say "you say here, as long as america has politics of race, we have politics of the civil war memory.
is that true?" uh, yeah. here we are again, struggling, trying to figure out. why don't we get over this? why do these monuments matter? who put them there? why did they put them up in the first place? problem,ve an internal how we remember the civil war. as long as we have federalism, racism, will have it -- will have the problem. it's remarkable to have you sitting here in such a collegeial way. david is going to write the book about who w
-- about who won. i want to bring up the point about monuments. your university, like my university, has had recent struggles about monuments that relate to the civil war period. what is your opinion about the monuments? and whether they stay ago. prof. glymph: that's not fair. [laughter] >> i could ask a different question. prof. glymph: as a historian, i would just echo what david just said. i mean, we spent the last year or so talking about when they went up, who put them up who pay them, which ones should come down? is robert e. lee in the same category as thomas jefferson? all of these questions, people who have been on the campus for decades discovered there was a robert e. lee statue at the
chapel. erection oft the this statue was a thoughtless process. the campus was being constructed in 1924. the philadelphia architect said, shouldn't there be, like, monuments around this chapel? which religious figures should be up there? which secular figures? the philadelphia architect's did not have any expertise, so they went to not historians, but scholars at vanderbilt who said "robert e. lee. put him up there." so they did. and then when the construction committee at duke found out that robert e. lee was going up, they were like, "hmm, is that a good idea?"
and they decided it was not. so if you read their minutes, -- say if anyone asks, let's just say it is not lee. [laughter] prof. glymph: let's just say it is just a random guy. that the company that built the statue, instead of putting -- on his belt buckle, they put "u.s.," so that helped. [laughter] prof. blight: he spent more years in the u.s. army. prof. glymph: exactly. it was one of duke's unthinking decisions, and i think we are ,ucky that our new president vincent price, went directly to the board of trustees and
said let's act. and they acted without a great deal of -- they just took it down. which doesn't mean we are free of the problem of monuments. we still have a confederate soldier at the chapel. but because he is not well known, he gets a brief reprieve. but i'm about to call him out. institutions, we just commission that had issued a report. , and i'mtudents working on duke history. laces like chicago, duke. we don't have any connection to slavery because we are a 20th century institution. which is --
is trinityecessor college. link to trinity college, which is a methodist , and the president owned slaves. so we have a great deal to talk about. but briefly, i know we are running out of time here -- michael: there is no rush. prof. glymph: briefly, in terms of monuments, the robert e. lee statue down at duke, so we struggled with, should we put something else in it? i think not. people have suggested patty murray, booker t. washington, martin luther king. a number of people. i think its most effective use would be a blank space, which is
kind of our teaching potential. i am not an enthusiast of sort of willy-nilly trying to compete with the confederate landscape by putting monuments up to black people. i think we have to think about what monuments are designed to nationstated of message they interact. the confederate monuments, as david pointed out, they were not just monuments to the confederacy, but they were also monuments to a particular conception of the u.s. as a nationstate. so there are monuments that i would have no trouble saying, oh, take it down. because those are like statues that look alike and overall
are cheap and ugly. and even if they were , they aret persons ugly cases of art. important wet is are having this conversation about whether they go or stay. and some of them will come down, and some of them will remain. and we can't. the hard part for me -- [sighs] -- even if we committed to taking every confederate name statue down, even if we took to removing the name of every confederate-named military fort, .treet, town every mountain that has a confederate linkage. we would be here forever. it we would -- i don't think will happen. we are going to have to figure out, how do we live with some of it?
living with some of it means how do we use these monuments that are on our landscape to transmit history to tell a different story from the story they were intended to tell back in the 1890's or in the 1920's. michael: i appreciate that. i'm going to end with a -- i hope a fair question. we have a lot of great questions in the audience, and of course we do not have time to ask all of them. one of them asks how you would suggest or how you would go about teaching the history of slavery and emancipation in a more honest way in our elementaries and high schools? that we are here because we care about education. that is a big focus of what we do here at the national constitution center. what suggestions do you have? prof. glymph: the same approach that college teachers use.
most of my students come from high schools where they have had almost nothing about slavery or even the civil war. they know more about the civil war because of going on field trips to gettysburg. or something. for me, it is not about getting in front of my students and giving them a lecture about what happened, it is about carrying them to the archives and having them read the primary sources themselves, printed diaries. now they can find material online. students, when they go to the archive for the first time and they open a box and pull out a diary, you know, a letter from 1864, and they understand when you read someone's writing on the page, and they turn it
around and they write this way because paper is scarce, it teaches them something about time scarcity.ar but it is just the feel of this document, to have it in your hand. students are just taken with that. i think they are taken more with doing research projects. so i give them diaries instead of secondary sources. . don't assign my book i assigned the books i used to write my book. michael: thank you. prof. blight: you asked about elementary. oh, lord. i know a lot of teacher institutes have been doing it for 20 years, in the summer, primarily with high school and middle school,
-- there is social scientific research now, i was at a conference in boston, and a little bit was about this -- that says we can all recover from whatever we learned elementary school. [laughter] prof. blight: one answer is don't worry too much about it. it has to be stories. for stories.red there is lots of nero science -- neuroscience for this. i used to say that as a question. i do not think it is a question anymore. you and i, human beings, are wired for narratives, for stories. what do we do with kids, children, young ones? we tell them a story. some of the stories stick. i have a hard time remembering what stories i learned in elementary school. enough i could probably come up with some of them. it has got to be news stories.
based on the best research. ago and weteam years , were each given two or three elementary textbooks, two or three middle school, two or three high school textbooks to examine them, read them, reviews them for how they did american history. what i remember is that the elementary texts had almost no history at all. the junior high texts by and large had some history, but disappointingly, but they had a lot about what products are grown in new england, where cranberries come from and on and on. the high school textbooks were a mixed bag. some were not bad. i was sort of pleasantly surprised. but kids at a young age can think historically. they can think about the past. if you do nothing with a fourth grader but give them a sense of it does not matter
what past. i was enthralled with ancient history as a kid. i wanted to go to rome one day. olds enthralled with civilization. anything old was cool. it is a huge problem of resources. if you work with teachers, you realize what they are up against. some of you are probably teachers. you are my heroes. i was a high school teacher for seven years and survived to tell it. , at theot to be stories more historical you make the story. plant them in time. time travel. it is what we do anyway with the past. we are just supposed to have evidence for it. i should tell everybody our guests will be outside to sign copies. somebody who teaches
constitutional law, i'm like a kid in a candy store with guests like you. it is a great honor to me for people who enlighten the understanding of history and the constitution. thank you for being a part of this terrific conversation, which we will continue in the future. thank you for being here. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> sunday on 1968: american turmoil, conservative politics. when perceived liberal excesses and disenchantment with political excesses -- republican presidential victory, ronald reagan made his debut as a presidential candidate,
foreshadowing the conservative revolution to come. our guests are -- the american president in the eyes of historians. and a professor, author of "the right moment." watch 1968: america in turmoil, live sunday at 8:30 a.m. eastern on c-span washington journal and on american history tv on c-span3. on american history tv, historian mark philip bradley of the university of chicago discusses the vietnam war. he explains why teaching the vietnam war has changed and reflects on u.s. vietnam relations today. we interviewed him at the american historical association's annual meeting and washington, d.c. this is about 15 minutes. susan: mark bradley teaches history at the university of
specialty, as a studies the history of vietnam and human rights. i would like to talk to you about vietnam. it's an anniversary year. it's a good year to be a vietnam historian. lots going on. how has america's understanding of the war changed over 50 years? mr. bradley: i think the crucial shift has been more recent and -- in certain kinds of ways. wayng the war itself, the academic historians wrote about war, vietnam was a mistake.