Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  June 23, 2012 9:45am-11:00am EDT

9:45 am
these and sending them into mexico. >> she is interviewed by major garrett sunday night at 9:00. parts of booktv on c-span2. >> steven jaffe talks about how new york city related to conflict from its earliest days as the dutch trading outpost through the nineteenth and twentyth century and how each conflict impacted the city including the american revolution when 18,000 american prisoners of war died in british prisons. an explosion in a harbor freight depot executed by german agents prior to participation in world war i. this was held in new york city, about an hour. [applause] >> thank you. a pleasure to be here. thank you for coming out tonight. i just want to second what morris was saying earlier.
9:46 am
you have not taken the tour of 97 orchard street which is the core mission of this museum to interpret that tenement house in 1863 and generations of immigrants that became a yorkers, we owe it to yourself. it is indispensable to understanding new york city's history in the early 20th century and really a gift to the city of new york that we have this museum. i encourage you even if you have taken the tour before to take it again because there are new to wars and the floors are changing and it is a wonderful experience. as morris mentioned, to talk about my book jackie 18, i will show you some images, some of these are in the book and others
9:47 am
are not in the book. the book itself really covers four centuries but starts with henry hudson bailing into the harbor in 1609 end initial encounters here. in 2001 and beyond. a narrow chronological focus of my presentation to really kind of make it go hand in hand with the period of 97 orchard street down the block which was built in 1863 by a german immigrant and occupied by successive generations of mostly immigrants.
9:48 am
a slice of the store from the civil war through the 1930s and the onset of world war ii. the book does deal with a bunch of overlapping themes like economics and political and defense and the fortification. what i want to do in addition to narrowing the chronological focus is to focus on one of the particular themes of the book which is that new york repeatedly through its history i would argue has been a city at war with itself. there is a paradox about new york's role in various wars and america generally. the only place in the united states this has happened but
9:49 am
wars are often an excuse for unity or cohesion. we are all in this together. we all got to win this together. we got to put our more parochial interests aside and pull together to win whatever work it might be. atar it might be. at the same time new york is a magnet for immigrants, lee place where three separate populations of newcomers have often brought their own political cultures and loyalties and allegiances and ethnic and religious cultures and end up jostling each other at times of war. i will show you these images starting with the civil war.
9:50 am
the book starts well before that but this is where we are starting tonight. this is april of 1861 after the confederacy fired on fort sumter and the civil war began. mass rallies in union square that in suit in new york in april of 1861 and you see this outpouring of patriotism and flag-waving and enthusiasm. within a few weeks, 16,000 men from that happen -- manhattan and brooklyn had enlisted and to guard washington d.c.. they hoped this would allow them to fight the war and support the war. what to me is ironic and a
9:51 am
harbinger of things to come a group of militiamen dressed in revolutionary war garb take them out. new york was a city with its own civil war during the civil war. to understand why we have to step back in history to understand free civil war new york. new york was one senator of the anti slavery movement, the abolitionist movement. this was the american anti slavery almanac which was an abolitionist periodical in new york and boston. weekend to think of boston if we know anything about abolitionism we think of wayne garrison and new england or philadelphia of the quaker population for being
9:52 am
in the forefront of the anti slavery movement. but there were a cadre of new yorkers, often wealthy, evangelical, evangelical protestants or quakers who felt very strongly slavery was an abomination and the brothers louis and arthur happen who were wealthy dry goods merchant who helped bankroll the abolitionist movement throughout the north, henry ward beecher in brooklyn became one of the focus men and protestant clergy men for the anti slavery movement. this showed the cover illustration that is hard to make out, showing a bounty hunters before the 1850 fugitive slave act but in the 1830s bounty hunters working for
9:53 am
southern slave masters would literally kidnapped fugitive slaves who had come to new york and spirit them to the south and grab people who were not freeborn and carry people back to a slavery they never even knew. new york is of battleground for the anti slavery movement. it is also home to a vigorous african-american community that is working with some of those wealthier professional and business abolitionists. this was lion who ran a boarding house for african-american daily on water street which no longer exists. it was subsumed into the knickerbocker houses when that project was built in the 20th century. south and east of us towards
9:54 am
east river. he ran a boarding house that was based on the underground railroad and he as well as other black-and-white people, both groups helped hundreds if not thousands and got them to canada. frederick douglass was one of the people who passed into new york out of slavery in the 1830s. there is another side to new york which is the side that is really embedded economically and politically in the slave system of the south. new york was critical financially and economically to slavery before the civil war. this is a painting showing
9:55 am
vessels -- we still that stops. [beeping] >> don't leave without buying my book. anyhow, this is a view of sailing ships from the south on the east river dock right before the civil war and new york was the place that bankrolls relieve the harvesting, planting and harvesting and shipping of southern cotton to the north and across the atlantic to liverpool where it was set in to the manchester textile factories in england so new york merchants, not the abolitionist ones by and large but pro southern merchants who had a vested interest in being pro southern played a role as middlemen between the slave
9:56 am
south and letting the southern planters profit, new yorkers of the middlemen between the slaves out that the industrial revolution. the english factories taking 7 cotton and turning it into context isles. new york -- many new yorkers in terms of the economic aspect have a vested interest in leading up to the civil war in this system. new york helped to create some of the most racist popular culture in america in the years before the civil war. a minister rules on pioneered on the stage of other theaters in lower manhattan. the other connection to the south was many new yorkers -- the democratic party had ties to the national democratic party which by and large was
9:57 am
proslavery and fro southern in the years before the civil war. new york got both of these things going on. it has an anti slavery movement but got a real reservoir of proslavery, pro southern, racist thoug thought. then you have 200,000 irish immigrants, a quarter of the city's population, 13,000 african-americans and these two groups are competing at the bottom of new york society for the poorest housing, lowest paying jobs and there is tremendous friction in many parts of the city economy between them. this is a view that is germane to where we are today. little a view of the five points
9:58 am
neighborhood ten blocks from where we are now. to the lower east side, first getting off the ships, crammed into these old colonial era would frame houses by the mid-19th century. it is lopsided and family after family is crammed into these things. what you do have next to it is these new tenement houses which the next generations of immigrants will occupy. you have at the bottom of new york city society racism, irish catholics feeling discriminated agnst by white anglo-saxon protestants, the irish becoming democrats and racial friction between these two groups at the
9:59 am
bottom of the hierarchy's. at the beginning of the work as i said newar as i said new yorkers volunteered by the thousands and they had a strong ethnic idea. they had irish regiments and a battalion that hungarians. polish contingent, german regiments and so on. by 1862 x -- the war is dragging on with no end in sight. in 1863 the lincoln administration passed a draft law. prior to this is all volunteer. 1863, requires men to register in new york and throughout the north it has this clause that if you pay $3,000 you can be
10:00 am
exempted from the draft and basically the money goes to pay for a substitute, poor man will take your place. $300 in 1863 was a phenomenally large amount of money. people making $1 day. they're being asked to take your -- a year's worth of your salary -- your wages that you don't have because you have been spending its of basically it is class legislation. ..
10:01 am
>> they also were fearful that with the emancipation prola mission which lincoln has already implemented, there's going to be a flood of freed african-americans coming up from the south to work in new york to take their jobs away from them, a fear that is fanned by some of the new york city newspapers including the new york herald. so you had this tremendous riot that starts and goes on for four days. it is, to date, the worst riot in american history. at least 100 people died, maybe as many as 500, we're not sure. over 100 buildings are burned down. and here you see the city and the state and the federal government ultimately had to bring up troops, union troops who had just won the battle of gettysburg a few days before in
10:02 am
pennsylvania up to quell this act of civil insurrection, and you literally have warfare in the streets of manhattan over the course of four days in the middle of 1863. you also have what becomes an anti-black to gram because, again, the racism results in indiscriminate attacks on african-americans. many people don't know that there was lynching in the streets of new york. but in july 1863 there was. this is the william jones who was lynched on clarkson street on what is now the lower west side. two other men, black men, were lynched. three other black men were beaten to death, and at least 18 african-americans -- men, women and children -- were injured during this outpouring of rage and racism. i should say that one of the things that i point out in the book is that there were any
10:03 am
number of irish new yorkers who tried to intervene to help african-americans. there are any number of white new yorkers. but the mob was just so out of control that they couldn't prevent tragedies like this from happening. so that, basically, at the end of the civil war the rioters to some extent had gotten what they wanted. many african-americans left new york not to return. this is the daughter of albro lyons, underground railroad station master, who i showed you before. lovely picture of her taken around this time, 1860s, when she was a little girl live anything that underground railroad station in lower manhattan. the family, basically, on the third night i think it is of the riot, their house, their boarding house is burnt down, and they have to remove -- they,
10:04 am
basically, move to providence, rhode island. and as she said in a memoir she wrote as an adult, we were living in exile from new york city. so there's a sense in which, in which this riot is so traumatizes the black community that it's not for a while before, um, the black population in new york starts cresting again in the later 19th century. oops. the years after the civil war brought new kinds of tensions. tension, actually, had already been building before the war. but even though the u.s. was at peace, there was no fan -- foreign war in the 1870s and '80s to speak of -- you have the sense of, perhaps, a class war in the making. new york, after all, is both the richest and arguably the poorest place in the country with all these immigrants pouring in, but
10:05 am
with wall street and manufacturing and shipping enriching minority of propertied businessmen and professionals in the city. this is the, and you get these extremes, conspicuous extremes. not only of wealth, but of poverty in new york. perhaps unparalleled by any other place in the country. so this is william whitney's drawing room of his mansion, fifth avenue and 58th street. it's not there anymore, one of those big fifth avenue participant buildings -- apartment buildings is there now. his daughter-in-law founded the whitney museum. william whitney became secretary of the navy, actually, for grover cleveland. but you see this is just an indication of the kind of great wealth that the successful, the haves, if you will, the 1% in new york in the late 19th century could enjoy.
10:06 am
of course, the other extreme is this. this is a byron photograph, joseph byron photograph from about the turn of the century. kids in new york city playing by the dead horse. i don't know, i don't know if this is, the actual street has been identified. but in the, of course, was the other extreme of life in new york. and by the 1870s you have a growing sense of two new yorks which might come into collision literally in the streets of the city during the 1870s, starting in 1873. there's a bad recession. the recession of 1873 lasts for several years and brings some of these class antagonisms to a head. this is, um, 1874 thompkins square park, a location in the city which currently has been a site of controversy and con
10:07 am
froation -- confrontation between new yorkers. this was during the depression. various labor unions and working men's groups wanted the city to provide public works projects, to fund public works projects so people weren't starving. and due to a misunderstanding, they, the police basically attacked them as you see in the background, and you have all these labor radicals, labor militants and just reformers in some cases, basically, fleeing for their lives as mounted policemen club them. samuel gompers, eventually the founder of the american federation of labor who at this point was an immigrant, english cigar maker on the lower east side, was at this event. and it left a lifelong, indelible mark on him in terms of understanding class relations
10:08 am
in the city. so what do you do when the sense of a city of war with itself seems to threaten the property classes? and maybe even the government, the city government? um, this is, these are national guardsmen in 1895 who helped put down the brooklyn streetcar workers' strike that year. by late 1800s national guards units, which are state sponsored, often of wealthy businessmen and professionals who form or join these units, um, see themselves as kind of if there's a class war, we are going to be the front line of responsibility for property, for stability and for security of the city. and, of course, there's a physical dimension or an architectural dimension to this
10:09 am
which is the arm -- armories. which they're built partly with state money, city money, also with donations, contributions from, from the guards units themselves who occupy these buildingsings. this is the seventh regiment armory in its initial state on park avenue, since been altered, of course. but the whole point is to build these almost castle-like or fortress-like buildings where these national guard units can drill, have their headquarters and store their weapons. and some of the rhetoric that comes out on both sides by 1900 from labor activists saying these are the bastilles of death, you know, they're going to send the troops out to kill us whereas you have a spokesman for the guardsmen talking about, you know, when the revolution comes, if it comes, this is where we're going to shoot
10:10 am
down -- this is where we'll send the troops out from, but if we're attacked, we'll shoot down on the proletariats, so to speak, from these citadels. 1898 we enter a shooting war again. of course, the splendid little war which new yorkers played a very important role in promoting, the spanish-american war. as you probably will remember, the hearst and pulitzer newspapers in new york helped stir up a lot of war fever against the spanish, particularly in cuba. this is actually a stereoscopic screw, souvenir view of at the end of the war the celeb story parade for admiral dewey's sailors and u.s. troops in new york in 1899. of course, teddy roosevelt, a new yorker, played a key role in that war as well. it's important, um, to recognize, of course, there's a
10:11 am
lot of jingoism. here you have this industrial, financial, young nation, the united states, which is flexing its muscles. new york is, you know, perhaps the most muscular part of this country. and we need to expand overseas, take over colonies and markets that we deserve, and yet there's also while, again, there's a sense of unity around that, there are dissenting voices in new york from both sides. you have, for example, on the left daniel deleon of the socialist labor party, one of the most important marxists in america, new york-based, in this period. he denounces the spanish-american war and then the war against the filipino rebels in the philippines that seceded in 1899. he calls it these are wars started by our expansionist
10:12 am
capitalists. on the other hand, another new yorker, carl shirts who was himself a german immigrant, a liberal from the german revolutions of 1848 who came over, um, and became a republican, an anti-slavery activist, was certainly a liberal in the early stages of his public career in america. by the 1880s when he settles in new york city, however, he's become more conservative, and he's one of the anti-imperialists in new york. in other words, people who are saying not from the left that we shouldn't take colonies or extend protect rate status to cuba and puerto rico and guam and the philippines. he's against it from the right because he sees it as racially dangerous. he says it's dangerous for the united states of america to incorporate a subject population of spanish-americans with all
10:13 am
the mixture of indian and negro blood and malaise and other unspeakable asiatics. so even though new york is the great immigrant destination in this period, it's far from being immune from a racialist, an ethnically-discriminatory rhetoric and ideology. there's a long-term, um, jumping ahead a little bit chronologically, there's a long-term repercussion or ramification of the country's role and new york's role in particular, um, in taking over parts of the spanish overseas empire in 1898. um, certainly any number of new york businessmen wanted the sugar, they wanted to be able to have a captive market in the spanish caribbean for banking capital and so on. but you also have as a result new york becomes more and more
10:14 am
destination for puerto ricans under the protectorate, and new york becomes the great -- even before the 1940s -- is becoming the great diaspora city for puerto ricans the same way it had become the third largest german-speaking city in the country, the largest jewish city in the world. and so you have in the 1940s this gentleman, pedro campos, who's the great father of puerto rican independence nationalism, actually is spending the last two years of his suspended jail sentence in new york. and new york becomes a node of puerto rican activism for the ensuing decades. and if you want not to taint all
10:15 am
of puerto rican independence nationalism with a terrorist brush by any means, but if some of you may remember in 1975 the terrorist bomb that went off in lower manhattan that killed, actually, five people and hurt 53, um, that was a legacy of a tradition of militant puerto rican nationalism verging into terrorism that out of cam positive' -- campos' followers became part and parcel of new york's sort of covert political culture. so all of these ways in which new york is this place that's bringing people in, that's a magnet for people, um, gives it a turbulence and a recurrent turmoil that really passes on down through the decades. world war i, 1914, um, we have
10:16 am
to remember that when the great war, world war i, began in europe in the summer of 1914 the u.s. didn't join the war until 1917. so we remained the great neutral. and because of that, um, you have england and germany in particular really competing for the hearts and minds of americans and the way to do that is to propagandize in new york which is now the media capital of the country. um, and so in 1914 the german government covertly deposits a lot of german bank notes into a bank on lower broadway, and that money is used through the good graces of the german embassy in washington with its consulate offices in new york to start this magazine, the fatherland, george sylvester viric, a german
10:17 am
poet was hired, and this was basically a pro-german prop began da sheet, very cleverly done. claimed 100,000 american readers within a few months. um, now, obviously, a large contingent of the readers here are german-americans who feel proud. they see no reason to denigrate their home country's military ambitions. after all, france, england and germany can all claim -- and russia, tsarist russia -- can all claiming to be following their patriotic destiny. and, in fact, new york, what i was trying to say before, i think i misspoke. what i meant to say was by the turn of the century new york city was the third largest german-speaking community in the world after berlin and vienna. there's 750,000 german-americans in new york city. so there's a pride. this is also an attempt by the german government without being
10:18 am
open about it, because it is covert initially that they're funding this, to counter what is seen as the anglo-philia that they see as emanating out of new york city, out of its media, out of wall street in particular. but new york is, it's not so simple in new york. it never is. just germans versus england or germany versus france. the world war, the first war from 1914 onward, um, engages all the different ethnic groups, national groups in new york city. many irish new yorkers, um, are sympathetic with the movement for irish independence from england or at least for sort of a more emphatic home rule. um, and so they see no reason to be pro-allied. remember, the allies in world war i are primarily england,
10:19 am
france and tsarist russia. so there is pro-german or at least anti-english feeling in new york city very prominently among irish-americans. polish-americans are split, who's going to get us independence, is it going to be the czar, or is it going to be the kaiser? it's sort of like a toss-up, and there are actually different factions as in poland, as in the homeland. there are factions. and really each group has this, is looking across the ocean and really thinking about its national, um, ambitions. jews, the czar of russia is one of the principal allies. so you've got england with its constitutional monarchy, you know, the bulwark of liberalism in the world. you've got france with its
10:20 am
republic and in some sense its revolutionary tradition of liberty, equality and fraternity, and then you've got tsarist russia which is the most backward, corrupt monarchy in europe and is also, of course, bitterly anti-semetic. and a large reason why so many jews come over here from russia and russian poland, the ukraine, lithuania and so on, parts of the tsarist russian empire is because of those antisemitic policies and because of the pa grams and because of the draft, military draft in czar russia. so viric, running the pro-german fatherland, very shrewdly plays that card to try to get eastern european jewish immigrants in new york to be pro-german or at least anti-allied. and this refers to, this is supposed to be very ironic and sarcastic. the czars shield my beloved
10:21 am
jews. that's the czar, nicholas ii, on the left. and he's holding a shield with a jewish captive sort of bound on it. this refers to the fact that during world war i on the eastern front the tsarist troops would often go to jewish villages and sort of drive the jews out from those villages toward the german lines almost like a human shield as they moved forward, um, so that the germans would shoot the jews and fewer czar soldiers. so they're trying to mobilize, um, again, mobilizing hearts and minds in new york throughout the war is an ongoing business. the germans in addition to propagandizing for their cause covertly are sabotaging new york in a certain sense before we join the war because by 1915,
10:22 am
um, wall street and the railroads and the manufacturers who have headquarters in and around new york are selling armaments, weapons, supplies, food, credit and so on hand over fist to the allies. so that really, and the western front, on the western front where the french and the english troops are holding on desperately against the germans, wall street really is as important a place as london or paris for the allied war effort. and jpmorgan and manufacturers are making a lot of money. it's also putting a lot of new yorkers to work, a lot of working class new yorkers, this war economy before we were even in the war is good for new york in that sense. much of this stuff is being sent out of new york harbor from a place called black tom peninsula in jersey city that's now in the
10:23 am
middle of liberty state park. there's a little plaque about it sort of embedded in the grass that if you look carefully with a magnifying glass you might be able to find. i'm being sarcastic. you can find it. i'm glad that it's there. but you don't have a sense of the magnitude of this place, this compound, this depot on the harbor on the jersey side of the harbor where trains from across the midwest, the northeast, they're pouring into jersey city to this place unloading guns, ammunition, food, uniforms, mules, horses all of which are going to be loaded onto cargo ships, american and neutral and allied cargo ships, and sent to england and france to fight in the war to help the allies to continue fighting. in 1916 the german government enlists a small number of saboteurs who get into this place at night and manage to
10:24 am
detonate some explosives. and the whole thing goes sky high. and thousands of -- throughout the whole harbor area about five people are killed, only five, but window glass is shattering all over manhattan, jersey city, hoboken. it's a big mess, costs a lot of money. and what's interesting is at the time although the u.s. government was aware of some other german sabotage efforts going on, um, at the time the investigation, the inquest concluded that this had been just a freak accident. it was only after the war, after a very dogged investigation was it proven that the german kaiser's government had actually, had actually triggered this thing. um, that was decided by a joint german-american court in a court of inquiry in 1939. guess what? thinkday lofl hitler -- adolf hitler wanted to hand over money
10:25 am
for reparations? no. but the west german government did after the war, and the payments for black tom continueed all the way up until 1979. well, we finally entered the war on the allies' side in april of 1917, um, after the germans had resumed their submarine warfare against american vessels at sea. and, again, there's this sense of this moment of unity, of new yorkers and americans coming together. this is a photograph from june of 1917, new yorkers lining up to rebeller the to draft. i -- register to draft. my favorite thing in the picture is actually that hat that that woman is wearing on the right. [laughter] but the sense that we're pulling, again, we're all going to pull together here and win this thing. but as many of you know, it was not to unfold precisely that way.
10:26 am
a lot of anxiety, a lot of fear, a lot of even paranoia about the mixed nature of american society of which new york city was the most salient example of all these different immigrant groups, how do you unify them? and while the germans are actually working to sabotage and spy on us as we speak. and the war period, that brief period we were in the war, 1917-1918 with woodrow wilson's administration leading the charge, um, there is a real vehement effort to sort of intimidate, deter and cow, really to shame german-americans and anyone else who might dare to question our entering the war on the allied side. this is a newspaper cartoon with
10:27 am
the enemy alien menace looming over, you know, the wool worth building and the singer building and the old post office that used to be there on lower broadway, just south of where city hall is. and what's interesting, of course, the actual title of this cartoon is "the breath of the hundred." the hun being the german threat. but this sort of spilled over into, for example, real, you know, the wilson administration and congress passed an alien act, a sedition act which, um, really cracked down on anything that smacked of radicalism, of pacifism, of resistance to the war, um, and true to form the most, the most careful scrutiny or the most critical scrutiny was aimed at immigrants not only germans, but the sense that, for example, jews might be because
10:28 am
they were anti-tsarist might be pro-german enters into sort of the public consciousness in new york. also the very real threat that the germans may actually attack. the german military from outside, that a german fleet might sail in, um, and this is actually a joseph pa knell, it's one of the war bomb liberty loan posters from 1918 which is, you know, trying to get you to be patriotic and buy war bonds to help fund the government's war effort by showing this sort of scare image of the statue of liberty destroyed, in the background on the right maybe hard to see, that's supposed to be lower manhattan in flames. the notion is this is a german u-boat, and the germans have managed somehow to send planes over here to bomb and destroy new york, and here's the head and the crown of the statue of liberty down here. reminds me of, you know, charlton he heston at the end of
10:29 am
planet of the apes. but anyhow, this wasn't -- as farfetched as this was, and everyone realized this was a long shot that anything like this would happen -- the germans did sent u-boats over to the american coast in 1918 which took out a lot of cargo ships. um, one of the u-boats got so close to new york awe off of the narrows, off of long island that the guy, one of the crewmen later wrote i looked at night and saw the lights of manhattan on the clouds above. just over the horizon. and that was sort of tantalizing. and ironically enough, you have a german in 1942 saying exactly the same thing when the nazi u-boats came back to do precisely the same thing in the next war. there was, actually, a scare, um, in 1918. the rumor started in the newspapers that, well, maybe the germans can put -- they figured out a way of putting planes onboard these u-boats.
10:30 am
and if they can do that and get the u-boats off of new york or other american cities, they can send these planes and bomb us. after all, the germans had already been bombing london, paris, antwerp and other allied capitals during world war i. and there were actually siren alerts in manhattan where people in 1918 according to "the new york times" are freaking out and saying maybe, you know, the alarm went off, and maybe it's an air raid. so we think of, we don't think of that. but people are already worried about this new form of warfare actually being able to bridge the atlantic by the end of world war i. but this, of course, just enflames the sort of anti-german feeling in terms of germans in new york. and in 1918 this is a nationwide thing. but the wilson administration, um, has all german non-citizens, that is german immigrants who have not taken on citizenship, unnaturalized, are supposed to go to their local precinct and
10:31 am
be fingerprinted and identified and a record kept on them. this is profiling, of course. but it's also meant to deter any wrongdoing by these, you know, they're saying, well, these germans, a lot of german-americans became citizens, immigrants, and some of them are serving on the western front. so we don't distrust those, but the guys who didn't take out their citizenship, what's holding them back? so it's a presumption of guilt, it's a presumption of the notion that these guys are maybe a threat. this is a picture in new york, in fact, it's hard to make out, but the poster in the background of the cop who's fingerprinting him is partly yiddish. so, um, but it's a german-american being fingerprinted. the law actually required the wives of non-citizen germans in the u.s. to be from time to timed too. fingerprinted too. that meant that even if you were a native-born american woman with no german connection at all, that you had married one of these guys, you still had to be
10:32 am
fingerprinted. so it's a climate of suspicion, of fear, of great tension. and i should say before i move on from that just briefly, very apropos to this museum, this spills over after the end of the war into, again, well, we -- the nazi, excuse me, the kaiser couldn't fight anymore, the war's over, but there's been a russian revolution. and you've had radicals take over in russia, communists. and one of the u.s. army intelligence officers stationed in new york city during world war i, a guy named john b. trevor who had spent the war, you know, tracing german spies and saboteurs and so forth, um, decides by 1919 that the next threat is going to be that the jews of the lower east side are all bolsheviks since, after all, communism is a jewish plot, he's decided. he gets the defense department
10:33 am
to send him, in washington, to send him 5,000 springfield rifles to new york just in case the lower east side explodes in revolution. um, and, of course, it doesn't. but the punchline to the story is that trevor in 1924 along with madison grant, another new yorker, are hired as consultants to congress when they draft the national origins act which is the keystone of the 1920s u.s. immigration revision. which is, quite frankly, meant to keep inferior immigrants out of the country. that means jews, italians, catholics generally, anyone who might be a radical. it's based on a new racialist sense of a hierarchy that's become prevalent among some americans in the early 20th century, the notion that anglo-saxons and perhaps even germans, iconically enough,
10:34 am
nordics are superior. madison grant with trevor helps draft this legislation in congress, gets fan -- actually gets fan mail from adolf hitler before hitler takes power. and they basically draft, help to draft a law which severely restricts who can immigrate into the country until 1965 when the law is then reformed again. but you have new yorkers both immigrants and very much anti-immigrant in this, in this period really affecting public policy for the nation. jumping ahead to the '30s, these are american nazis marching on east 86th street. in 1939 this is the german-american bund, really a minority within the german-american community. world war i was so traumatic for german-americans that a lot of german-american willingness to
10:35 am
sort of get out there, um, and be nationalist had been quelled. there was a small group of german-american nazis. most of them were immigrants or recent immigrants from germany. and they marched on 86th street and held big rallies in the madison square garden. and so on. this period in new york is really a period, the '30s is a simmering period where because of the depression and people's feeling economically stressed, competing for jobs and because of the international situation with the rise of naziism, with stalin in control of the soviet union, with mussolini in control of italy and invading ethiopia, with the japanese invading china, i mean, wherever you look in asia and europe, the spanish civil war in 1936, it stirs things up between these
10:36 am
different not only the ethnic communities, but the political communities. so you have the german-americans, obviously, you have the jewish community in new york protesting against this, sometimes getting into fistfights with these guys. in italian harlem and black harlem, african-americans and italian-americans are fighting in the streets because mussolini has invaded and conquered ethiopia and africa. you have demonstrations in chinatown against the japanese invasion of china and so on. and this just sort of keeps the pot stirring. some new yorkers as well as other americans take this outside the country, they take it to spain in particular in 1936-'37. these are members of the abraham lincoln brigade, mostly communists although not exclusively so who went to fight against general franco's rebellion against the spanish republic.
10:37 am
franco was joined by hitler and mussolini, and the republic was supported by stalin and the soviet union. so you have sort of a dress rehearsal for world war ii being fought in spain. about 3,000 americans go to fight, as many as a fifth to a third of them were from new york city. um, and so new yorkers are putting themselves, again, on the front line of international conflict. from 1934 the mayor of new york, laguardia, is a vocal, one of the country's most vocal anti-nazis. and he gets into this amazing transatlantic shouting match with berlin that goes on for several years. he publicly declares hitler to be a perverted maniac and a fanatic who endangers the peace of the world. he makes these statements very publicly to the press. berlin is not amused, and
10:38 am
dr. again les, you know, propaganda ministry responds with things like this. in 1937 it became, it became public knowledge that laguardia who, of course, was italian-american, that his mother had been, was italian immigrant, but she was jewish. and so the nazis jump, of course, all over this. and so one response to this is this german publication that is the jews in the united states, and it's a very uncomplimentary photo they found somewhere of laguardia who enjoyed food at a picnic, and they found the nastiest picture of him. and the whole point is look at this jew, and he's the mayor of new york, and this is why we're going to be on the march. and this kind of went back and forth across the atlantic for several years. i'm running out of time here, but i just wanted to tell you the one anecdote where the german government protested to
10:39 am
the roosevelt administration in the late '30s about laguardia. can't you shut this guy up? we're not at war, you know? and roosevelt turned to the state department in one meeting and says, yeah, we'll discipline laguardia. like this. you know, we're not, we're just going to make a little, you know, go through the motions. and the next time laguardia came to the white house to meet franklin roosevelt, roosevelt went heil. [laughter] and they had a laugh about it. so just brings us up to the war, and i'm going to cap this in a moment. laguardia, of course, was one of the great proponents of civil defense. this is even before pearl harbor. this is 1941. thousands of new yorkers in early '41 volunteered to be air raid wardens or to help air raid wardens. the notion is if they can come over here and bomb us, who
10:40 am
knows? we don't know. probably not, but why take risks? of course, a way of mobilizing public opinion behind the allied cause before we're actually at war officially with the axis. by the end of the war, something like 400,000 new yorkers took part in civil defense initiatives either as, you know, neighborhood wardens during air raid drills or scanning the skies for bombers. my father-in-law did this as a 13-year-old in brooklyn. i had an uncle who did it in elm hurst queens. and they had laguardia, of course, looking on at these efforts. and, in fact, this is a civil defense poster from world war ii. the nazis did want to bomb new york. hitler was very clear about it. there's a remarkable transcript from the mid 40s from, like,
10:41 am
'42, '43 if we develop the technology, the long-range bombers with the fuel tanks which can do this -- which was the problem, getting them across the atlantic and back at this point -- if we can do it, we're going to bomb, two principal targets: the new york city docks which made sense because as in world war i new york harbor's the great supplier to the allied western front, um, and we're going to get the docks and the jewish neighborhoods. i mean, that's what they were obsessed with, you know? and new york is the, again, the ethnic history, the immigrant history of new york surfaces again and again and again in this military history. so that's really brings us up to the war. if you want to know about before the civil war and afterworld war ii -- after world war ii, get the book, but i'd be happy to try to answer any questions. thanks for being a patient audience, and i hope i haven't
10:42 am
spoken too long. thank you. [applause] >> yes, sir. >> submarines? >> oh, absolutely. >> i've been up in maine, on the coast of maine, and they've got some of those old lookout posts up on cliffs. >> oh, absolutely. absolutely. and for good reason, because, you know, the nazis landed eight, um, eight saboteurs, four at am began set in the hamptops -- this is the summer of '42 -- and four near jacksonville, florida, with these sort of half-baked kind of kooky plans to have them infiltrate or be predators on various industrial plants. they wanted their targets supposed to be the railroad station in newark, new jersey, which was a freight conduit. and, again, if they had any money or if they had any supplies left over, any explosives left over, they were supposed to blow up -- i'm
10:43 am
laughing, but they were supposed to blow up jewish department stores. so there was, the subs did land people, but also in the beginning of '42, within a few weeks of pearl harbor, they send subs over, and they're taking out, they're torpedoing cargo ships right off of long island, off of montauk. they hit one off of atlantic city. they, and basically so that was a real fear. and what's interesting -- not to go on at length about this, it's in the book, but the point that's always interesting to me is the blackouts and the dimouts and the various measures during the war to keep the lights low so that enemies can't see you, um, was only partly about the notion that, you know, well, if the lights are on, they can bomb you if they somehow manage to get over. it was really about the lights of the city provide a backdrop. if you're a u-boat coming in off the atlantic and you've got the
10:44 am
american coast, you've got new york city or atlantic city or what have you, rockaway beach in front of you and the lights are on at night which is when you want to, you know, surface and send your torpedoes at the enemy, those lights silhouette any kind of american ship or allied ship that's going parallel to the coast. so the notion was let's dim the lights to keep the u-boats away. anybody else? >> talk about -- [inaudible] so it just occurred to me when we went into world war i with all that german indifference why -- [inaudible] this is why this is so complicated when we went in on the side of the allies. why did we, or why wasn't there more -- [inaudible] >> well, because -- that's a
10:45 am
somewhat complicated question about american foreign policy in the wilson administration and how the war unfolded, but the fact is, i mean, try to give a short answer. um, you know, part of it had to do with the fact that the germans were sending out before we entered the war were sinking american shipping. and, of course, the lucetania in may of 1915 which was a british liner but over 100 americans died on it, um, you know, you can answer it on several levels. woodrow wilson tried hard to keep us out of the war, but by 1917 when the germans resumed, you know, the germans get it that what's keeping the western front, what's keeping the english and the french fighting on the western front is this transatlantic convoy of ships that can supply them. and so the germans resume after german government, actually,
10:46 am
disputes the higher military level the army and the navy as as -- has a big fight about this, but they resume submarine warfare. you have something called the zimmerman telegram at the same moment in early 1917 which, i think, it's the british cryptographers decipher it's a message from the german foreign office in berlin to the mexican government. basically, it's a secret saying, you know, why don't you join -- if you join us, mexico and germany, maybe we'll get japan involved too, let's all invade -- let's all attack america. and so all of this, the buildup of actual -- and there were, i mean, i very much condensed the story which i tell at greater length in the book that not only is there black tom, this explosion which they can't figure out exactly what happened. by 1916 there are numerous examples of german sabotage in new york and elsewhere, ships
10:47 am
catching fire, things like this that are, become investigated and it becomes clear. so the tensions are building. let alone the fact that the dominant culture is anglo. you know, germans are about a fifth of the -- you know, it's a huge, it's amazing to think that at the turn of the century the german population is about 20% of the city. but it's only 20%. and, you know, the powers of the establishment, the wall street, the press, government is very, um, anglo phile. yes. well, thank you very much. >> thanks for joining us this evening. we have books -- [applause] thank you for joining us. >> thank you very much.
10:48 am
[inaudible conversations] >> we'd like to hear from you. tweet us your feedback. >> what are you reading this summer? booktv wants to know. >> robert caro, volume four. one of the very few books i buy both for my kindle and the book itself just sort of as a tribute to bob caro, and the thriller i am most looking forward to is alan fur srx, the. he writes atmospheric thrillers about paris usually before world war ii, and he has a new book called "mission to paris" which i can't wait to read. >> for more information on this and other summer reading lists, visit >> so my history of financial
10:49 am
institutions is a history of learning about these things. so, for example, in 1811 new york, the state of new york, created a few securities law -- a new securities law which did two things. first -- i mean, a corporate law. it allowed anybody to set up a corporation with minimal restrictions. you used to have to go to the legislature and get special permission. and secondly, they created limited liability for investors. and what that meant is that if you invested in a company and the company was later accused of wrongdoing, the complaints, the lawsuit could never go after your assets because you invested in the company. before that people were afraid to invest in companies they didn't really know. so it made everything like a family business. you had to have people you trust. the law changed everything, and
10:50 am
it was copied over all of the world. now, david moss, who studied these carefully, what i think it did is it created a sense of pleasure in investing. it made, people used to invest in lotteries. they loved to gamble, that's another human trait. they love the excitement of finding out whether your number came up. by creating limited liability, it became fun the same way a lottery is fun. i mean, this -- people have to enjoy life, right? there has to be something that makes you get out of bed in the morning and gives you some excitement. so we design things that give you that feeling. that securities law has been the source of a lot of our innovation because now investors -- it looks like they're playing a game. it looks a little selfish, but it drives our economy. other people, karl marx looked at it and said it's gambling, and he thought we should shut it down. worse than that. worse than that. but after years of experimenting
10:51 am
with that, people think, well, maybe we have to let people indulge in these feelings. so, okay. so let me, um, move. i have another, i'll go for another 10, 15 minutes. i wanted to talk about the future and about some of the ideas that i talk about. i'm going to start from tomorrow -- [laughter] and then move a little bit more and more into the wild future. what happens tomorrow is president obama has said that he will sign the jobs act. that name for the act was a little bit misleading, maybe for some political reasons. it's not about jobs. it's called jump-start our business start-ups, that spells jobs. [laughter] and what it is, it's controversial. i like it though. notably, as an experiment it may
10:52 am
or may not work well. but let me tell you what is the most interesting part of the jobs act. the jobs act was created in response to requests from internet web site providers who wanted to create a crowd-funding web site for entrepreneurs. so you, if you're trying to start a business, you can put it up on their web site and say i'm looking for money and then thousands of investors or millions all over the world can send money, and you can start a business. now, this is a wild-sounding idea, isn't it? but it's endorsed by a lot of internet people. i think it's just about as wild as wikipedia sounded at the beginning. if i came to you -- when did wikipedia -- i don't know, say before wikipedia started and said i'm going to open an online encyclopedia, and i'm going to let might anybody in the world o
10:53 am
it, my first reaction would be, that's a dumb idea. [laughter] but it's just, we learn something about how people can work together through wikipedia. so i think this is a good experiment. now, what congress has done is they're worried that it's going to be, there's a lot of cheats out there, unfortunately, and someone is going to steal money from someone else this way. so one thing they've done in the legislation is that for people -- you have to document your income to the web site, and for people with incomes up to $40,000 you can't invest more than 2% of your income which is, what, $800. so it's small for each individual. and that protects people, right? it can't go that bad. and i think the maximum is $10,000 that you can put in if you have a higher income. so it's designed to protect people. but, you know, even if people can only invest $800, if you get enough of them, you've got real capital.
10:54 am
>> you can watch this and other programs online at >> what are you reading this summer? booktv wants to know. >> well, i'm an avid reader, and this summer i'm focused on chris matthews' new book on a personal presidential favorite of mine, john kennedy. and i have the book here. it's "jack kennedy: elusive hero." and one of the great things about being chairman of the caucus is that we get to bring people in to talk about their books. and we've had chris matthews in. he also came and spoke at the library of congress with all of the spouses as well in what was an incredible evening where people got to ask questions, etc., and see the personal side of jack kennedy. and matthews has done such
10:55 am
incredible research and interviews that it's a book that you can read over and over again, and so very appropriate for summer reading, especially with president kennedy's affinity and love for the sea as well. all we would need would be to read it on -- [inaudible] so that's okay. another book i'm reading is "the assassins of the turquoise palace." again, an extraordinary book and, again, come before our caucus. now, her own personal story as someone who grew up in iran, a woman of jewish descent who grew up in iran whose family had to flee, but it follows the events that go on in iran. and while this is fiction as the old saying goes, more truth is
10:56 am
said in fiction than not, and especially with the assassination attempts that took place in germany that she chronicles so well in there. also the relevance today especially as we look at our dealings with iran, and it's a revealing look at the culture and at the, at the system and current regime in iran as well. so this is fiction, but it makes for interesting reading. something that's certainly of light reading but also focused reading is our own tim ryan has just produced a book, and we had a little reception for him where he got up and spoke about his book as well.
10:57 am
and i think it's thoughtful advice for anyone in congress, but people in general just being in the moment and being more thoughtful with some really practical advice. but also, i think, lessons in life learned from everyone from john wooden to, excuse me, from john wooden to presidents and to gandhi. and so tim has this very thoughtful side about him, and i think it was nice for his colleagues to see that as well. so i would, i would recommend this book. and, of course, john lewis, the legendary john lewis, has just come out with his book, "across that bridge." he was recently the keynote
10:58 am
speaker at the university's graduation, and honored to receive the autographed copy. and as you're probably aware, john does a pilgrimage every year where they reenact the crossing of the bridge in that famous march between selma and montgomery. it's this very compelling story and, of course, across that bridge, again, features that incredible journey of this incredible american hero and civil rights leader. clearly, an inspiration to us all. so those are four books that i would recommend and that i'm reading, and then i would be remiss if i didn't want say almost every -- if i didn't say almost every summer, and i just happened to see my english teacher in high school on saturday at an event. and, of course, my favorite book
10:59 am
and largely because of this teacher is ""the great gatsby"." and it always makes for great summer reading and, of course, taken from the 1920s and during the roaring '20s and the jazz age and the time of elusive dreams. and, of course, the language of f. scott fitzgerald, the way that he is able to write both symbolically, but also with mixed metaphors as he describes the gambler eating with a ferocious delicacy. and so this is always a great read, and i hope that it has some influence on my children. in the category of favorite book and movie, of course, would be "to kill a mockingbird." and the high


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on