Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 8, 2012 8:00am-9:00am EST

8:00 am
>> if you look at the early indications of how conficker would be infectious being leveraged, strong ties to date antivirus, strong ties to some type of affiliated program, the keyboard, the keyboard check is really interesting because nobody wants to be arrested by local authorities for compromising machines in the country. .. >> and discusses how this battle shaped the way we wage war
8:01 am
today. this program is just over an hour. [inaudible conversations] >> well, welcome to johns hopkins school of advanced international study. i am charles door ran, i'm the andrew w. melon professor of international relations here at sais. we are absolutely delighted to have you participate in this lively discussion of a very important book, "conquered into liberty: two centuries of battles along the great warpath that made the american way of war." we're going to start off with a little explanation of what's in the book by its author, eliot cohen, and then we're going to have some discussion afterwards, and then we hope to have some time for some response to those comments and maybe even a chance to hear a couple questions from
8:02 am
the floor. eliot cohen is the robert osgood professor of strategic studies at sais. he has served in the, on the policy planning staff of the office of the secretary of defense before coming to sais in 1990. he has also been an officer in the united states army reserve. from 2007 to 2009, he was a counselor, was counselor of the department of state serving as secretary condoleezza rice's senior adviser on strategic issues. and i must not forget he is also the founding director of the phillip merrill center for strategic studies here at sais. he also has dope a lot of -- done a lot of things in
8:03 am
academia, but i didn't add those things in. [laughter] our first discussant is tom ricks. he is the author of a number of very successful books on the u.s. military including, for example, these are the titles, "fiasco," "the gamble," "making the core." all of these have been bestsellers. he has served on the staff of "the wall street journal" for some 17 years. more recently, he's been with "the washington post." he is currently a fellow at the center for new american security and is a contributing editor to foreign affairs -- excuse me, "foreign policy" magazine of which he writes the blog, "the best defense." finally, our third participant, nicholas wester brooke, is an independent historian. he's the author of a number of
8:04 am
articles on american history. between 1989 and 2009, very significantly for this book, he was executive director of fort ticonderoga. and, of course, this location plays such a very significant role in eliot cohen's book. nicholas westerbrook previously was curator of exhibits for the minnesota historical society. he is, really, an expert on a number of aspects of locale and setting that are crucial to "conquered into liberty." eliot, tell us what your book is about. [laughter] >> will do. [applause] well, thank you. thank you for the introduction. thank you all for coming, it's so great to see so many old friends, former students,
8:05 am
colleagues that i appreciate everybody on the panel, particularly my friend, nick westbrook, for making the journal journey -- journey from the north country to come here. i'll say more thank yous at the end, but let me now say something about the book. those of you who are standing along the back wall, there are plenty of seats up front. the dean is lonely, you should keep her company. [laughter] okay. so in graduate school, like most students of international relations, the past that i studied was the second world war. and the present was the cold war and of our conflict with the soviet union. from 2007 to 2009, as professor doran has told you, i was counselor at the department of state, and i spent a lot of my time fretting about the taliban and al-qaeda and the iranian revolutionary guard corps. so after leaving government, i
8:06 am
came back and finished a book on america's most persistent, effective and, i would argue, important enemy of all; canada. [laughter] and that is the subject of this book, "conquered into liberty." it describes how the american way of war only mated during almost two centuries of contact with canada -- yes, canada. that northern border of ours was anything but the sleepy, relatively undefended frontier of today. it was a zone of raid and menace and invasion. "conquered into liberty" is, moreover, about a particular place, what native americans called the great warpath, andó that's that 200-mile stretch of water and woodland between albany and montreal. the book is framed by a series of battles.
8:07 am
to give you a feel for that, here's how chapter one opens. >> despite the bullet in his thigh, he had ridden six hours through knee deep snow. the mayor hastily convened a meeting of the aldermen to hear the exhausted man's grim news. just before midnight on the eighth, a party of french and indians had stormed schenectady killing most of the inhabitants, carrying off others and setting homes afire. in the following days, some 50 survivors trudged their way to albany. they eventually pieced together what had happened. we go from there.
8:08 am
the story, the burning of schenectady by a franco-indian party begins with a confederate raid on vermont in 1864 and a raid into canada by irish-american veterans of the civil war in 1866. some of the fights i talk about were very big. the attempt in 1758 by the british to storm fort ticonderoga in which nearly 15,000 troops were hurled back with horrific loss by barely a fifth as many frenchmen. some of the other fights i talk about were mere skirmishes. some of these battles were decisive, others were not. but individually and collectively they reveal a great deal about why the united states wages war the way it does, and that is why each chapter explores how these struggles of long ago are alive and in some ways even visible to americans today. a word about the title,
8:09 am
"conquered into liberty." i explain it in chapter five which deals with the american invasion of canada in 1735. launched, i would point out, before the united states had even declared its independence from great britain. it is the opening phrase of subversive pamphlet printed in french by order of the continental congress, and this was spread throughout canada by american agents, and begins "you have been conquered into liberty." that's a pretty interesting notion, isn't it? that people can be conquered into liberty. and yet it is an idea americans have pursued sometimes with great success, sometimes with failure, sometimes with uncertain results for a long, long time down to the present day. and it started here. in the case of canada, the americans failed. that was, it was probably inauspicious, the pamphlet was
8:10 am
not widely read because most of the population of canada were illiterate. [laughter] and neither the clergy nor the gentry were inclined to put subversive ideas into the heads of the -- [inaudible] george washington who had orchestrated this assault ordered his subordinates to subdue their deep-seeded mistrust of the catholic french. while we are contending for our own liberty, he wrote in his orders, we should be very cautious of violating the rights of conscious in others. ever or considering that god alone is the judge of the hearts of men, and to him only in this case are they answerable. george washington was motivated by some very hard-headed notions about power. he favored invading canada because he wants to push -- he wanted to push britain off the north american continent, but he was actuated by these ideals as well. by the way, washington did not want the french back in canada either, and he was quite willing
8:11 am
to double cross his protege, the marquis de lafayette, in order to keep them out, but that's a story in another chapter of the book. i describe benjamin franklin's journey north along lake channel plain in april, 1775, a real ordeal for a 70-year-old man at that time of year. and, in fact, he thought with perfectly good reason that it was going to kill him m -- him. his instructions make for fascinating reading. my favorite line is, "you're to establish a free press and give directions for the frequent publication of such pieces as may be of service to the cause of the united colonies." [laughter] franklin failed, but he gave the british quite a scare, and in so doing inaugurated an american approach to warfare, conquering into liberty, that is being played out -- as i said -- even today. let me give you one more example of how the book draws connections between the past and present. in the summer of 1777, american
8:12 am
forces evacuated fort ticonderoga at the southern end of lake cam plain in -- channel plain led by major general john burgoyne. the retreat turned into a rout. the americans lost their equipment, their stores and a lot of their self-respect. some of that self-respect was regained a few days after the abandonment of fort tie ticondea at the only real battle ever fought in vermont, the bloody little action at hubberton at which point the british pursuit stopped, and one of the chapters is about the battle of hubberton. though a year after these events a court-martial tried the commander of ticonderoga. he was a veteran of the british army, he was a real regular in his outlook and in his background. he had been at odds throughout the whole campaign with the militia, the part-time soldiers upon whom he had to depend, and in particular with one of the other figures in the book, the leading soldier of vermont, a
8:13 am
man by the name of seth warner. now, at the end of that chapter where one of the themes i explore is the relationship between the professional and the citizen-soldier, i bring the reader up to the president. up to the present. and i describe a trip i took to fort ticonderoga accompanied by my friend, nicholas westbrook, with about 40 colonels, and there, among other thing, we reenacted the court-martial of arthur sinclair. had some officers playing prosecutors, some playing sinclair and some of the witnesses. and the basic charge which we boiled down for the record was incompetence as a general which is what he was actually accused of. um, and at the end we took a vote, and he was acquitted by a pretty respectable margin of that charge. so here's how that chapter ends. having completed the exercise, the instructors made some final remarks, summed up the arguments on both sides, suggested
8:14 am
parallels with the kinds of problems the colonels might find themselves dealing with in the future, saying a few words about the carefully reconstructed site of fort ticonderoga itself. and then a poll. could all of you who voted to acquit sinclair, please, raise your hands again? about 25 of the 40 raised their hands. now, would all of you who would be willing to have your son or daughter serve under him, please, keep your hands up? [laughter] one by one the hands went down. [laughter] after a pause to digest this ambivalent outcome, the instructors recounted arthur sinclair's further career. after the revolution during which he continued to serve, but never again in command, he became in 1787 president of the continental congress for one year just as the new constitution was being drafted. thereafter, he was appointed territorial government of the northwest territory, founding member of the society of
8:15 am
cincinnati, organization of the former officers in the continental army, he helped found the city of cincinnati. and in the summer of 1791, he went to war again. the united states army against the northwest indians who in confederation had mounted a fierce opposition against the settlers pouring across the appalachias. the indians attacked sinclair and his army along the river on november 4, 791. 1791. neither the regulars nor the militia accompanying them could hold their ineptly-fortified camp. the indians pounced killing over 600 soldiers, wounding around 250, inflitting the greatest defeat ever suffered by the united states army at the hands of native americans before or since. after careful deliberation, washington replaced sinclair with none other than the defeated general's predecessor 15 years before at ticonderoga,
8:16 am
anthony wayne. in the meantime, congress once again investigated sinclair. once again, upon due consideration of the quality of his troops, the difficulty of his logistical predicament and the challenges of the terrain, he was acquitted. well, asked the instructor, whose fault was it? sinclair's or the people who kept him in command? there was a prolonged silence, and then pondering the last question, the reflective colonels filed off to a pleasant dinner in a comfortable dining room overlooking the dark waters of lake george and the green hills that loom over them. well, that chapter, like the book as a whole, does several things. it describes a dramatic event, it explores the choices and the personal conflicts that shaped the events and their consequences and suggests some of the enduring legacies and their implications. the book, i hope and i think, is
8:17 am
a good read. but it makes some serious agents. arguments. and as a close friend who read it, it's also a kind of love note to the great warpath which i've been visiting since i was a boy. let me conclude then where the book begins, with the author's introduction. after describing some of the big themes of the book, including that bizarre notion of conquering others into liberty, the last paragraph describes my deepest aspiration for its readers. and as for the charm of the subject, if this book prompts those who read it to explore for themselves some of the places it describes, i will be glad. they will discover, as i did, that with an attentive ear, a modicum of imagination and a wholesome curiosity about the past, one can still hear the echoes of musket and cannon shot, the shout of command, the creeking of oars, and even, with
8:18 am
some effort, the near silent padding of moccasin-shod feet. i hope you will read the book. and if you do, i think i can promise you that vicariously at any rate, you will hear some of those echoes.ê [applause] >> before we start, and i probably won't have a chance again to say anything here in this lively panel, i would just point out that for me one of th things that makes this book so fascinating is that eliot has really the eye of the historian, but he also has the mind of the centralist or the person in international relations, and those two kinds of things are unique, i think n authorship and add greatly to the book. tom, go ahead. >> thank thank you. i'm tom ricks, and as somebody who actually makes a living from his writing, i don't care if you read the book, i just care if you buy the book. [laughter]
8:19 am
actually, library. [laughter] what is really more painful is the guy who said i read "making the core," it was so good, i sat in borders the whole day and finished it. [laughter] eliot cohen has done something unusual and even daring here. he has made canada interesting. [laughter] after you buy and read this book, you will never again think of canada as homer simpson thought of it, america jr. [laughter] it's a terrific book. i've read it twice, once in manuscript, and i just finished reading the hard cover last night for my second read. it is a fun book. i actually found it even more fun the second time around because i figured out his racket. i was sort of playing chess the second time. okay, now, i've read the book, now where are you going to take us this time?
8:20 am
structurally, as an author, i found it really enjoyable. my favorite is the chant or on the battle of the snowshoes, chapter three. it's a lovely essay that takes you from the battle of snowshoes, mentally for me at least, to mogadishu. today's military. and again and again these the good points that early on that in america unlike in europe war became a year-round business. second, the french did better with the indians than the english and americans did. and this struck me because we continue to be flummoxed by tribes. it took us four years to engage7 them in iraq. he points out in other ways how as faulkner would say, the past is not the past, it's still with us in every way. like the code name he points out
8:21 am
that the navy seals gave to their target in pakistan, osama bin laden: geronimo. most striking to me is something i want to dwell on for a minute s professor cohen's theme that the first sustained campaign against americans was a terrorist campaign. this is the french-sponsored series of indian raids along the american frontier in places like deerfield, massachusetts, not far from where my family lived for many years. in his description the massacre at fort william henry had somewhat the same effect on colonial americans as the attacks on the world trade center and the pentagon did to americans ten years ago. a galvanizing effect that not only provoked a response, but provoked a certain type of response. and i've been thinking about this analogy all week as i've been working on my own book. it had me wondering how far can we take this analogy.
8:22 am
for example, the colonial war with indians lasted for decades. now, general officers will tell you repeatedly americans don't fight long wars. well, the historical evidence that eliot presents here is that they do. not only are they comfortable fighting a long war, they're comfortable fighting a long, limited war that is not what douglas mac arthur believed. so one question i'd like to hear professor cohen address if he has a chance is, does the american response to the war on terror have more in common with the campaigns he writes about in this book than it does with our big wars of the 20th century that loom so large in our historical imagination? finally, um, one last point, and can that's about the future. this is a book about the past, the second time, yes, quite a feat
8:23 am
to write a book that makes us take canada seriously. but it is clear when you read this book that our ancestors did. and i wonder as i finished it if our descendants will as well. if global warming and energy they will have in the coming decades, then within a few decades southern canada may become more livable than the southern united states. and then once again canada would be a prize worth fighting for. [laughter] thank you. >> there goes my canadian book tour. [laughter] >> i did you a favor. [laughter] >> our next discussant is nicholas westerbrook. go ahead. >> a few acres of snow, as
8:24 am
voltaire said. eliot cohen's "conquered into liberty" sweeps up and down the forested valleys of lake george and lake channel plain and across more than three centuries of conflict to tell the story of the contest for empire and freedom that shaped the destiny of america. with a boyhood enthusiasm for the romance of forest warfare, and we heard that in the closing words of eliot's introduction, cohen also manages to focus the cold, analytical eye of the modern strategist operating at the highest international levels, the grand drama is played out by dozens of remarkable characters captured in witty, nutshell portraits. eight major battles and two periods of extended strife and uncertainty send tremors and quakes across a complex web of diplomatic and political maneuvering. repeated efforts at grand strategy are dissolved by ego, contempt for allies, personal,
8:25 am
personal courage and cupidity and the often competing psychologies of tradition and defeat. sometimes selfless valor, personal courage and enormous perseverance save the cause, and from those basist and best capabilities in human nature americans fashioned a new way of making more and striving for peace. this is a book about a place, and i'd like to take you to that place as europeans were taken there for the very first time. and to do that we need to reach back 150 years earlier than that chapter on the french and indian raid on she knechtty -- schenectady that took place in early february of 1690. i want to take you back to the st. lawrence river in 1535 onboard a tiny little ship, jacques cartier is exploring the
8:26 am
st. lawrence river and goes to the point where the river meets the rich el rue river and is draining north into the st. lawrence. 1535. jacques cartier talks toss the natives who happen to live there in the area and gathers as much geographical information as he possibly can. he doesn't plunge into lake channel plain, he is collecting oral geographies. jacques cartier's geographical report gets turned into a grand compilation map prepared for king francis i in 1550, and by 1567 europeans are seeing for the very first time in printed form on a map the interior of
8:27 am
north america and this great warpath that eliot's book is all about.g 1567 it appears for the first time, definable place in the cater's map doesn't show us the hudson river, it doesn't show us long island, it doesn't show us cape cod, but by golly, it shows us that st. lawrence river down to the place where the waterway forks. at that place where the waterway forks down to the south, the place of the mohawks, the mock what. this is america's warpath. often that distance is the place where we will meet our enemies. france is not able for a variety of wars of religion taking place in france to follow up on jacques cartier's exploration at that time.
8:28 am
it takes almost 75 years before penetrates into the lake which he modestly named after himself, lake channel plain. [laughter] the great explorer, we all learned, but he was an explorer by force, not by choice. he was being taken as a willing captive, a willing prisoner by a party of huron, algonquin and -- penetrating the length of lake champlain, the iroquois lake, down to that place where the mohawks live. and the reason the hurons were taking champlain and his two french companions was because
8:29 am
they had firepower. they could use their firepower for the first time ever in the champlain basin to make a power play, a power move against the mohawks. and in an illustration in champlain's book published that year, 1609 when he returns to france, he illustrates the site of that battle and the fort that is built by the mohawks on land the night before the battle. the first known victorian representation of a fort in the interior of north america, and it's on the shores of lake champlain, on the shores of this great warpath that connects the native people living in the st. lawrence valley with the mohawks and the other members of the iroquois confederacy. that's the prequell to eliot's book, eliot's tale of the next
8:30 am
200 years. so we've talked a little bit about place and the long history of america's great warpath. so we can talk about grand geography, grand international alliances, strategies. those alliances between the huron, the algonquin and their forced french allies in driving the mohawks out of that end of the, the southern end of lake champlain. but war, as you all know, is a story of individuals; individual individual memories. want to just wind up by sharing with you the story of one young man who was born the year of the fort william henry massacre 1753, born in new haven, connecticut. noun man joins a connecticut
8:31 am
regiment two weeks after the concord and marchs off with daniel worcester's regiment to lay siege to the british trapped inside boston. he spends the summer helping to build the american fortifications around boston, and then when the drum is beat to recruit men to follow benedict arnold on a crazy marcv through the maine wilderness, benjamin warner signs up for that effort and marchs to lay siege to quebec. that invasion of canada, as eliot has hinted -- i don't want to give away the whole book -- but that american invasion of canada, the attempt to conquer them into liberty was an abject failure, and they retreated back south to ticonderoga. benjamin warner went home after that failed invasion, but his country called him again just three months later, and he signed up with washington's army to fight defense in the battle
8:32 am
of long island. benjamin warner went back to war three more campaign years before the war was over. we have in the fort ticonderoga museum collections a great treasure, a simple canvas knapsack made out of linen painted barn red about this big, and inside that knapsack is a penned note written with a quill pen by a very old man in his 80s, benjamin warner. he tells us in that penned note this knapsack i carried through the war of the revolution to achieve the american independence. i transmit it to my oldest son, benjamin warner jr., withx, directions to keep it and transmit it to his oldest son and so on to the latest posterity. and whilst one shred of it shall remain, never surrender your liberties to a foreign invader or an aspiring demagogue.
8:33 am
benjamin warner lived for another nine years and then was buried in ticonderoga, and he has a very simple epitaph on hi, gravestone, 1846. benjamin warner, a revolutionary soldier and a friend of the slave. those are the stories that eliot's telling in this grand,0j grand book. thank you. [applause] >> well, thank you. those were such interesting, um, comments on the book. let me start with nick's then go to tom's. um, my oldest son and i, he actually is a veteran, were in a discussion this morning about veterans day and what should be the meaning of veterans day, and
8:34 am
is veterans day about today's veterans. and i, i felt at least that, um -- and one of the points that ralph made is, well, we have a memorial day for people who fell in battle, so then what exactly is veterans day about? it's presumably about the people who didn't fall in battle. and i think the conclusion i came to after quite an interesting discussion is that what veterans day should be about is not just the veterans of today although it should be, obviously, about that, it should be about all going back to benjamin warner. because if it weren't for the willingness of the benjamin warners to go and fight and go home and then come back when the country called, we wouldn't be here today. um, to respond to tom's question to me, is the american response to the war on terror kind of more in common with some of the themes talked about in the book, i would say, yes, in actually a number of ways.
8:35 am
i'll just try to mention, mention some of them. the first actually cues off of nick's earlier description of champlain's very famous battle with the iroquois, and when you read the best accounts of that, you realize it's not so much that champlain is the actor, it's actually the indians who are the actors. and the indians are manipulating him and using him as much as he is using them. and one of the, i think one of the really interesting things about contemporary historiography about native americans is, you know, it makes it clear they were in some very important ways actors and not simply victims. i think in a very similar way as we think about the different ventures that this country's been on in the last ten years, it's really important to remember that, you know, we may think we're moving the chess pieces around the chess board. actually, we're a really powerful piece often being moved around their chess board.
8:36 am
so i think there's a similarity there. the second thing, one of the underlying themes of the book -- the book has, i would say, the first two-fifths to half of it are really about the contest with french canada. and from schenectady, from the schenectady massacre through the seven years' war. and one of the points that i make is, actually, the french -- there's this question, why is french canada with only about 80,000 people at the end, able to hang on against these colonies which have something over a million? and there are a number of reasons for that, but one of them was the french were so much better with dealing with the indians and had so much better understanding of the indian culture and able to work in the indian cultural context. but what you eventually got on the side of the english and the americans and scots and irish
8:37 am
and all the rest was a good enough ability to deal with the indians. and i would say that's sort of where we are. it's not as if we naturally have rapport with the locals, but with a lot of effort and in a variety of ways, we can kind of do well enough. a third thought is it seems to me that the book is, talks about a number of different dimensions of the american way of war, some of which are, essentially, irregular in nature. you mentioned roger's action, the battle on snowshoes, which was a skirmish, it was a bloody little fight which takes place on snowshoes. and is a disaster for roger and his men, but also talks about some things which are really sort of industrial warfare as when benedict arnold built this amazing fleet at the southern end of lake champlain out of
8:38 am
virtually nothing in 1776, and then this is repeated later on in 181 when the united states navy builds a more substantial flotilla on lake champlain and completely defeats a slightly superior royal navy flotilla on lake champlain. so i think one of the things that the book brings out, i hope, is the sort of multiplicity of that. and that remains true today because even as we're doing all the things that we've done in iraq and afghanistan, you know, we're also getting ready for much larger kinds of conflicts with much more conventional kinds of forces in other places. >> well, good. um, we actually have a little time because of the efficiency of the panel, and so we might take a couple of questions from the audience. if there are such. go ahead. >> eliot, i'd be interested in what the sources --
8:39 am
[inaudible] obviously, you weren't interviewing for this book. [laughter] >> no. we'd have to go through an institutional review board at johns hopkins university -- [laughter] people from the medical school would be passing on whether, you know, i could use human subjects, and it's much easier to work with dead people. [laughter] >> but what are -- are there around kyl materials -- archival materials? >> no. this is not, as i said, it's a real book, you know? not notes, foreign languages and everything. [laughter] and in washington that's sometimes a rare thing. no, it is, i very much tried to use primary sources and not entirely, there is -- one of the joys of this book and of going into this world although also one of the things that's very scary about it has been different pieces of it have been the subject of fabulous historians over the last century plus. and it's, you know, there's
8:40 am
frequently i found myself saying, you know, what on earth are you doing trespassing on their turf? so there are wonderful historians and wonderful histories, and i drew on that. but i really did try wherever possible to use documentary collections. you don't, for a book like this, you don't go to a single archive. there are different collections of documents which were published at different times. there's a massive documentary collection, the documents relative to the colonial history of the state of new york which is assembled in the 19th century. there's a similar set of collections which is used by all students at the american revolution which covered peter force's american archives which covers 1774-'76. thank goodness a lot of that stuff, increasingly, some of that stuff is on the web. and you can tap it there. and then there's other stuff here and there. so it requires a more not
8:41 am
scatter shot, but you're going lots of different places. there's no central, there's no central repository that you can go to, but there really are some quite wonderful documentary collections. and in the same way that when you look at the ground, the ground thefer looks the way it's depicted in the books, when you look at the documents, they reveal a slightly different world than the books would have you, would have you think. and the most notable cases, one of my obsessions is benedict arnold, and i do my level best to rehabilitate his reputation. my former colleagues in government are rolling their eyes and shaking their heads as i say that. [laughter] one of the things that really strikes you is when you read his correspondence during the '76 and '77 campaign and you read his letters, all you see is a shrewd commander and a truly
8:42 am
gallant patriot. and which makes, of course, the puzzle of his treason, um, even, even greater. but it really hits you when you see these letters that, you know, even with the benefit of hindsight, you feel it couldn't really be improved upon, his assessment of the situation, his recommendation about what ought to be done and on. so it's very much a book using documents, including french documents. >> okay. way in the back. >> [inaudible] >> eliot, what impression did you come away with about george washington as a military commander and as a strategist? >> oh, good. i'm glad you asked about george washington. [laughter] so, um, there are, um, there are two chapters about conflicts that never happened. and, um, i think this is one of the ways in which having been in
8:43 am
government affected how i wrote the book, because one of the things i took away from my own government experience is a very powerful sense of the reality of the things that don't happen. as strange as that may sound. well, one of the things that don't happen, and there's a chapter called "phantom campaigns," and it deals with two things. one was an effort to make vermont an independent republic under british protection through a series of negotiations conducted by ethan allen of all people. not the furniture company -- [laughter] the rather outsized figure from vermont history. which take place in 1780, 1781. and there's a fantastic intelligence story in all this which is in the chapter. the americans get wind of this because new york in particular has spies all over vermont, and this is reported back.
8:44 am
and washington is brought into this, and he writes a letter to the governor of sat, thomas chittendon who is very much a part of the negotiations with the brits, and the letter reads like something out of -- i hate to say it -- michael corleone. [laughter] it's, you know, it would be a truly awful thing if all of the states had to turn on one of their brothers. because that would mean the utter ruin of that state. [laughter] and that's all he has to say. and, you know, no, no, no, we are with the united states of america. the other one is, the other phantom campaign actually takes place before that, and that is the second invasion of canada. the first invasion fails in '76 for a variety of reasons. there was an idea about one in
8:45 am
'78, but there was a really serious consideration of a second invasion in 1779. the idea would be that a french fleet would sail up the st. lawrence and attack quebec, and an american army led by the march key delafayette would march north along the great warpath. and benjamin franklin was really keen on this, the continental congress was really keen on this. and, in fact, at the end of his life he says this is my only regret, that i didn't get to bring canada into the united states of america by the force of french arms which i would have led. french aristocratic stuff. and the story there is how washington really does him in. and he very quietly kind of goes behind his back to the president of the continental congress and says we have to stop this.
8:46 am
and the congress is really swiewz christmasic. they say it makes complete strategic sense, and he finally just goes up in person, and he says, let me tell you, you cannot trust the french. even if they act with the genuine intention of turning canada over to us, once you have a french fleet there and a french army, their view will change. and by the way, the march key delafayette says this is his idea, i'm not so sure. and then he encourages lafayette to take a long-awaited trip back to paris. lafayette never knew it was george washington who really put the kibosh on this project of his. washington being washington, he had a very devious side. he did, however, use this for disinformation and deception purposes against the british. so he puts the word out that this is actually going to happen
8:47 am
because he wants to divert british forces to canada where they can't do any damage, and the march key falls for it. so washington is, washington -- who did not visit the great warpath until after the revolution -- is actually -- >> [inaudible] >> nick just whispered to me, when he was shopping for property. [laughter] actually has a very interesting influence on what happens there. >> okay. our dean has a question. >> first of all, congratulations. we're all basking in your hail low tonight. -- halo tonight. two-part question on some of the international partners you just spoke of. you will be going to canada on a book, and you'll be in britain, maybe in france as well. so i want to know what do you expect your most learned or most knowledgeable french, british and canadian readers, um, how do
8:48 am
you expect them to react? and second, which only you woulx be able to figure out soñx quickly, um, you've taught añx generation of students about how difficult alliance wars are. is there anything in this book that you think would have helped, um, when the allies wer÷ struggling their way around -- [inaudible] >> yes. going back to a trip dean, the dean took with us, one of our annual staff rides. um, well, let me, first of all, tell you what i think non-knowledgeable readers both here and abroad will say if they pay attention to this, and that is warmonger, neo-con, adviser to condoleezza rice -- [laughter] now advising mitt romney, does
8:49 am
tom hawks, says canada ultimate enemy. [laughter] oh, my god, oh, my god, oh, my god, make this stop. [laughter] so i think i can put that into a tweet. [laughter] and i expect that that will be out there. but if it sells books, texas okay. [laughter] d it's okay. i think, i hope knowledgeable readers will from those countries, particularly canada, will feel that i gave their side a pretty fair shake. um, because i really do my best to kind of throw myself into a very varied array of characters. one of the most sympathetic characters just to talk about canada for a moment for my money is justice sherwood who you never heard of who was one of the founders of the green mountain boys with ethan allen
8:50 am
and seth warner, so he's a vermont hero. but when the revolution comes, he cannot bear the idea of breaking with the monarchy. his family's persecuted, he's thrown into what i call the gulag of the american revolution in connecticut, that was like going to siberia. you weren't coming back. he escapes, and he becomes the head of the intelligence network that the british are running out of canada. and he's conducting these covert negotiations with ethan allen. and as i say at up with point in the book -- at one point in the book, he's a decent man in an indecent business. because this is, you know, real kind of skull skull dug erie. but i think i portray him -- i admire the guy in many ways, i think he was an admirable character. and there are others. one of the things i do also, i hope, is restore some interest in the part of americans in french-canadians because some of these french-canadian figures,
8:51 am
including the villains, are just fantastic characters. they do extraordinary things. i'll mention my favorite villain who's this french, he's this french-canadian. he shows up in three of these wars. he, the -- he becomes the real bogeyman of the americans because he was a brilliant leader of indians from different tribes, but he could get them to do what he wanted them to do. he may have been responsible for the fort william henry massacre, there's disputes about what exactly his role is. after canada falls to the british, he decides he's going to go home. he sails in a leaky old ship which catches fire three times as it's sailing along the st. lawrence. he gets to what's now cape bretton island, a storm blows up, the ship is wrecked, there are about 120 people onboard. all except six drown, including his two sons who slip out of his
8:52 am
arm. six of them get, get ashore including the captain who's now completely useless. he organizes the six so they bury the dead. he then builds a fire. he goes into the woods. he finds some indians, persuades the indians to take care of these five survivors, makes himself some snowshoes and walks 1500 miles to quebec in the middle of winter. quite a guy. [laughter] he then, he then makes his peace with british. and by the way, when the americans invade, he offers his services to the americans. the americans don't trust him. he then goes back to the british. he's with gerald burgoyne when he invades, he quickly gets a sense -- this is just before saratoga -- this is not going to turn out so well, so he just dematerializes before saratoga, and he ends up with a beautiful
8:53 am
young wife 35 years younger than he is and as the second richest man in canada dying of old age. [laughter] you know? what a guy. [laughter] and other figures too. i mean, people like the governor of canada during the french and indian war, and i really, i try to rehabilitate his reputation which has been, actually, denounced by the french. so i really do my best to try to be -- i tell my students i think one of the great streej virtues is empathy. and i try to make this book as empathetic as i possibly can. a lot of the book is about coalition warfare, actually, although it's more about coalition warfare between, with very, very different kinds of people. and it's particularly different between the indians and the europeans and the, both the americans and the canadians. and a lot of it, i think, is about the difficulty of really
8:54 am
understanding how even an allied culture views war and what they think war is all about. and so i think, you know, to the extent that it cultivates that, i think that's a good thing. eliot, i think i must admit something to this group. most of of you probably know this already. i have been and am the director of canadian studies here at sais for a long time -- [laughter] and i have to tell you, i think you are exactly correct when you say that you are everyone nettic and fair with regard -- everyone nettic and fair with regard to the canadian perspective. but one of the things i'm wondering about is this. in, of course, different periods there really is not a canada per se -- >> right. >> -- there is a group of people living in canada who are associated with the foreign power, either france or britain depending upon which period your looking at -- you're looking at. now, i'm just wondering, when --
8:55 am
have you identified a sense of, of independence, a sense of somehow being canadian, canadianness in any of these periods? prior to 1865 when, of course, canada did become independent? or somewhat independent, i should say -- >> well, that's an interesting question. i think the french residents already had a sense of themselves as not being simply frenchmen quite early on. i think the english who settled there after the seven years' war don't really. where, and i think it's the canadian story. and i think it's basically true that after the war of 1812 where you to have french canadians -- you do have french-canadians fighting alongside english-canadians, that there's a sense of canadianness. but even canadian independence is basically a story that is driven in large measure by the
8:56 am
threat of invasion. something canadians are very well aware of but almost no american i've ever heard of is aware of is in 1863 there's a substantial incursion into canada by something like a thousand very mad irishmen. [laughter] who were veterans of the union army following a plan that was devised by one of william tecumseh sherman's commanders who was also irish with a view of creating new hibernia which was probably not the most sensible strategic notion that they could come up with. and i think it's part of that crisis, it's part of what begins to consolidate that, the canadian sense of who they are. >> okay. we have time for maybe one last question. okay, right here. >> [inaudible] >> i'm feeling just great actually. [laughter] >> really looking forward to reading the book.
8:57 am
i'm from pennsylvania originally, and we didn't learn anything about -- we didn't learn anything about new england book. but i have two questions. one is, was the st. lawrence river always a natural boundary between canada and the english colonies? weren't there, were there ever a lot of, like, french-canadians who lived on the southern side of the st. lawrence river? >> yes tbl. and the second question is, where did new hampshire come from? [laughter] >> [inaudible] >> yeah. well, the french settlement of canada is really along the shores of the st. lawrence and doesn't actually penetrate in terms of settlements very deeply. now, quite early on you have people trading with the indians who go very far west, that's why some of our western towns have french names which we tend to forget.
8:58 am
but the st. lawrence was not the boundary. the boundary was actually this ill-defined woodland, and there's a very fine american historian by the name of alan taylor who's written a lot about this kind of middle space where you have people with different kinds of allegiances and loyalties. one thing i should point out, the great warpath is not a, it's not really a commercial route. this is a route of warfare. i mean, if you're canadian, you're looking to the west for the fur trade and so on, you're looking along the st. lawrence to france because one of the points i try to make in the book is we are very much connected to the french, what becomes the americans are very connected to the atlantic system. but the border land is really quite mixed, and people with mix and uncertain allegiances. new hampshire is another one of the colonies. the interesting story is really vermont which is in this kind of contested space which the new
8:59 am
yorkers think belong to them. but the settlers of sat, many of whom -- of vermont, many of whom had come from connecticut, up the connecticut river, had been getting these grants from wentworth who was governor of new hampshire, they insist it's theirs. and that's a long and interesting story, but something tells me we don't have time to do that now. i would hike to make just some concluding -- like to make some concluding thank you remarks if you don't mind, and this is really stupid, but could i borrow a coup of the book? [laughter] -- a copy of the book? i forgot to bring it up here. so i just want to say some thank yous. first person i'd like to thank is the person who's trying to shrink out the door, but don't. [laughter] the students here all know her as the program coordinator of the strategic studies program. not only has she orchestrated this whole event and made it


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on