tv Book Discussion CSPAN January 11, 2015 6:45am-7:41am EST
they had a rapidly expandingpeople for commercially oriented and a government that was specifically set up to safeguard their own liberty. but that was an aspiration more than it was the fact. america was not at its infancy at its birth, country that was going to influence the rest of the world and its example. this is the cover of my book. for those of you in the back.
squint really hard. you might be able to see that there is a map in the background. you can stop squinting because his what the map actually is. if you can't read elections the title of the map is north america as divided among the european powers, 1770 format. you have on the map spanish french british and russian territorial claims in north america. this map is a much more accurate depiction about how the founding generation sal america. european monarchy, hostile to the idea of a republic had territorial designs on north america and were very ideologically suspicious of a republic. so when the founding generation thought about the world, it looked a lot less like this and much more like i do this. is a famous image of william
pitt and napoleon bonaparte carving out the rest of the world for themselves. or this where the european beast put himself across the atlantic to challenge america. internally america had problems of slavery at the threat of partisan politics from the beginning. neither of these were to a cute at the founding but both have the potential to rip the nation apart before they turn to any amount of horror. in addition to the external and interval challenges, adam of america what we might call a psychological problem. americans wanted to run. they wanted to sprint before they could even walk. that is they were so excited about the idea of republicanism in spreading the republic and supporting people claim to be republicans around the world that they might rush off and support than before that established their own
institution. that would lead them highly vulnerable. so to adams if his goal was preserving protecting and expanding the republic and the face all these threats his strategy, he thought the united states need three different things to become that powerful nation that could influence the rest of the world. national development physical security, and morality. that's the strategy i think it. let me talk about each one. first physical security. to achieve physical security, adams thought america needed to reduce the menace of europe and north america. think back to the map i showed you with all those other european countries claiming different territorial possessions in north america. spanish, french, british, russian. adams wanted to make those countries go away. most of this strategy would
occur by undermining their sovereign claims in north america. he thought most of this would happen naturally, it would begin to push out of those interest because they were an ocean away. but adams also caution that the country had to be very careful not to give you any kind of excuses or pretext to come over here and challenge them. think about this in the context in which adams was operating, ma particularly to because the world usually divided between france and england at this time. it was -- that meant if america wanted to stay neutral, if it wanted to be able to ignore either london or paris' claims, it had to have the means to do so. specifically that meant having a navy. this was somewhat problematic for the young nation as adams knew because americans back then hated taxing themselves.
very much has changed as you can do. adams was worried the nation absenting a major threat when it would be too late would not tax itself at a sufficient rate to build up a capable and deterrent force. adams cautioned his fellow americans that their unique experiment didn't come because they had a unique republican government. it came because they had a military establishment that could protect it defensively. but having a unique military establishment was not the goal. it was a means to an end. this is the end. this is a wonderful and to tell you that the what i'm now going to try to tell you. american hegemony on the north american continent. here's the american eagle spreading across the continent. if someone can tell me this isn't eagle i will be impressed because it looks more like the american pigeon.
you can see this most only when adams was secretary of state and he worked to push spanish british and russian interest out of or nearly out of north america. he did this by shrewdly combining diplomacy and force. if you're going to begin with the british empire, which is the strongest empire in the world you're probably going to shaw job and not world war. if you're dealing with the spanish empire, which was very weak at this point you're going to threaten to use force. is spreading across north america committed aggression adams also argued that it required constraint. when adams was suggested america was offered the opportunity at some took a to spread the republican values, spread liberty around the world. the greeks have gone into rebellion against the ottoman
turks. and south america got a lot of rebellions against the spanish empire. all of these rebels sent envoys to the united states. they claimed they had read the declaration of independence, they're doing exactly what we have done and they requested the support and assistance and the money and the arms of the united states. they were wildly popular causes in the united states. everyone wanted to support them. in fact, in munro's cabinet everyone wanted to support them except for john quincy adams. john quincy adams told them and said so in several famous species -- speeches, we wish you well. america goes not abroad in search of officers to destroy. what explains this restraint? i would argue the same thing that explains athens desire to push across the north american continent, undermining european
claims for territorial control in america. what adams argued was that if the united states were to support these rebels, if it were decent money, men and arms overseas, it would provide the pretext of a justification for any european power to intervene in north america. he also thought it was a destruction and a waste of time for the republic. the most important thing america could do was set an example of what a republic should you. going abroad was a distraction. what he said was for those with a much more aggressive foreign policy he said the example of america was in its example. not in its ability to intervene in foreign revolutions abroad. if america in fact wanted to provide this mission for the world about what the republic should do it would restrain itself and focus its resources at home. this leads to the second strategic goal of adams, which
is national development. and ideas setting up long-term drivers of growth for the american economy. adams wanted the united states to become the most progressive nation in the world and they would do this through investment, investment in infrastructure, investment in new industries and investments in what we would call today human capital. the republic citizens through education. he promoted when he was president the american system and broad strokes this was three interwoven policies. a tariff that would protect american industries. it was a series of roads and canals in infrastructure would link the country together and help bring new markets, new products to market. and a national bank that would promote and facilitate trade and commerce for the nation. i was just talking to strong foreign policy want to this is the flipside of that.
a strong and diversified american economy diversified agriculture, manufacturing and trade would make the united states more unified and richer at home, and more able to project force abroad. but adams, took one step further and he said that it wasn't the government's role to only promote the improvement of the american economy but in fact, to promote the improvement of the country's citizens in cultural, intellectual, even in moral terms. he really wanted to make the united states a positive example of what a state could accomplish. this is the theme of his entire presidency but in his inaugural address he added the word improvement 27 different times. i think he was the first or second most popular word that he used. i said this earlier that his program failed. his presidency really failed and we can talk about that later may be during q&a that it was the most progressive vision of government for more than 100 years. finally, morality.
from the start americans out of the country as an idea even as an ideology as much as it was a place. if this is going to be an idea that could be spread around the globe, it had to be both logically compelling and morally persuasive. and if it was going to happen, america's promise would have to be brought in line with the practice. if that was going to happen it would be america would eventually have to take on the problem of slavery. slavery, biggest understatement of the year was a big problem for the united states. it was such a meddlesome problem because slavery was woven into the fabric of america and yet so fundamental at odds with the countries aspirations. a declaration of independence promise of equality was in kurdish with the passage
approval of slavery in the constitution of the united states. as early as 1804 adams is saying and saying publicly that abolishing slavery will fundamentally strengthen the united states. but if you do it too soon, before the nation is ready it will rip the nation apart. adams when he does decide to take on slavery i think he waits and he says three things have happened before you ready to take it on. first, if you don't take slavery on it will betray the country's mission. if you wait too long to take on slavery, it will retard his progressive vision of what the united states is. and also if the country is not strong enough, defensively, and security terms those european powers will rip it apart when it takes on its own problems. when adams takes on slavery does so by picking to arguments that
abraham lincoln will later be good vantage of. the first one is the founding document of the united states the founding legal document of the united states is not the constitution. it's a declaration of independence, and he says publicly for over almost a two decades, the judge read the constitution with a framework of a declaration of independence guiding and eliminating what it means legally. once you begin to read those two together and in tandem it becomes clear that direction american history is going to march in. the second argument he makes publicly again for all of 20 years is that only the federal government can do this. there for state sovereignty has to be coordinatcoordinat ed to federal power in order for this to happen. resolving this moral contradiction is not something that happens in his life but it is the third component of power that adams faced before they can become a power before influences the rest of the world. these three different components
of national power that i've been talking about, physical security, national development and morality i believe are linked, are prioritized, and they are sequenced. they go very far away and explain not only adams, the different stages of his career but the evolving strategy of the united states and also the link between the founding fathers and lincoln. so here's the $1 million question for historians. who cares? so what? interesting story from the 19th century right? adam's most famous words america goes not abroad in search to destroy. america was a small advising power that could ignore or stay neutral on events happening around the world that didn't affect its interest. wing-ism washington, d.c., adams also used to hop in the potomac every morning without any clothes on and go for a swim. it's hard to conceive of the
american president having the luxury of either of those two today. i would say there are four broad lessons i think are as applicable today as they were back in the 1820s, 1830s, 1840s. let me lay them out for you challenge me on them. first, embracing american power is conscious of its limits as of its reach. that means if you define american power as limitless paradoxically you are limiting american power. make no mistake, adams was not shy about promoting american values nor about using military force. he also worked at the same time throughout his career just give back what he thought were overbroad commitments. second, the source of american power is domestic. that's true in military, and economic and in moral terms. so before or perhaps as the united states project power abroad it needs to pay attention to all three of those
elements at the same time. third, regarding autocratic and tyrannical regimes adams wanted change but not of people. the people is every bit -- the people is every bit as dangerous. the best change, if the united states was one that was gradual and again. fourth, finally. sequencing. i call this you can't have everything at once principle. adams was pretty good about the stages of to vote he got a rising tide country. securing itself against foreign attacks, building up its own defenses making sure its resources our hardest probably for its own citizens, and gradually aligning its actions with its ideal. but somethings some things are more important than other things at different times. knowing which was which meant adams could not only prioritize
but also sequenced. what made adams such a great grand strategists and what makes them continue to be relevant now is that he projected and fought through a long-term strategy for the united states and that requires not only vision but also priorities and trade-offs. you don't have to take my word for this. we have cut off the slide all of its i read it. this is george kennan. perhaps america's greatest grand strategists in the 20th century, and writing after the end of the cold war in foreign affairs magazine in 1995 this is what he had to say about john quincy adams. this writer finds adams principles albeit with certain adjustments with certain adjustments to better present circumstances and commitments entirely suitable and needed greatly needed for a guided for american policy. i'm going going to stop speaking and upload it what's on your mind, what you would like to discuss. hopefully something other than his bizarre baking because you
the potomac, but please, let me turn it over to you. >> i would be curious about your take on the presidency in light of his legacy. we don't hear much about him someone so over qualified for the job. >> someone was asking me the other day who is your favorite president? we know the answer it's john quincy adams. no he's not my favorite president. his presidency really didn't get very much accomplished, even if it had great vision. but the sources of the city i think are really interesting. the first default answer is read chapter four of the book but it's got it all in there. but to summarize, a couple of failures that making i think fail in this job by succeed wildly in some other jobs. the reasons for the failure of kind of multiple and overlapping. personal, political and structural in american politics
but personally he doesn't do compromise well. he's an adams. if you are an adams is one thing you do know about an adams. they are the smartest person in the room. they've got the best and clear eyed long-term vision for the united states, they are so annoying everyone stops listen to them after but the first five minutes. which means to begin to lose control of their own policy. if you are an advocate, that is a great personality trait to have. if you're secretary of state and you're behind a very popular president that's a very good trait to have. if you're a president of the united states that needs to build consensus within your own cabinet and within the american quality, it's a less useful trait to have. he is predisposed against -- compromise.
the corrupt bargain so this is in 1824 president election there's no clear winner. andrew jackson come out of nowhere and, in fact it's a tossup and
gets thrown into the house of representatives. the way this happens there are four leading candidates, john quincy adams, andrew jackson william crawford and henry clay but you can only have three so henry clay gets thrown out. he happens to be the speaker of the house and is the most influential person. the corrupt the alleged corrupt bargain is free trade but if you swing the house to vote for me because you know andrew jackson is more popular i get to be secretary of state. there is no compelling evidence that this took place although there is some suggestive evidence. i showed you pictures of john quincy adams diary where he writes pages every day. the night he meets with henry clay is a page and a half that is blank. historians have speculated for
ever clearly we all know what this means. but i think it's a step back from this. it doesn't matter whether not it was quid
pro quo. henry clay would never have supported him to jackson. he had been making speeches for the previous five years that this is julius caesar, he will drop a republican turning into a tyranny. william crawford, the other guy he was a front runner but it suffered a debilitating stroke during the presidential race. henry clay didn't like me would. as americans is to talk about it's henry clay's idea. john quincy adams supported early some of the policies but they see the way the country needs to develop similarly. for personal and political and policy regions -- reasons they are a natural fit. he becomes president. so from the beginning before it even takes office, this is a tainted presidency. jackson got more votes than he
did. jackson was a much more popular bigger than he was. look what he did. whether or not it ever happened, look what he did. taint was part of what the administration had to deal with from the beginning. john quincy adams wasn't a good idea with this, i should say also. it's worth noting will think of american politics, two-party system. at this time goes by the two-party system. there was only one party, the federalists had shot themselves in it of the war of 1812 the there was only one become the national republicans. it was beginning to so fissures within the it but there was really only one party at this point. while john quincy adams is president, the opposition, the andrew jackson supporters, stand up a political party but it's the birth of the second party system, what we call in american history. is your john quincy adams, you feel stuck on the horns of dilemma. what are going to do? you don't like the idea of party politics. you don't think of yourself as
being a party politician to you are an adams. you been called the office. what do you when another party arises? you have one of two choices. you either engage in politics yourself, which adams wishes to do because that would paint his income or you leave the playing field to them. politically these have a lot of trouble from the very beginning your when he is told by his cabinet members hey, they're standing up a political party they are reporting their people, they are backstabbing the administration as it is he doesn't fire anyone. he doesn't want to be seen as playing politics. so politically has a big problem. the only other ones i mentioned our structural construction with the united states is changing at this point. different states are rewriting their constitutions at this point and what the qualifications are to vote are tainted. and becoming much more broad. the franchise is broadening at this point the adams versus
jackson, he doesn't have a chance to the democratic party the party of the common man is something that would shaping these are forms against that the latest john quincy adams who went to harvard and was a professor. this is at least a campaign dirt that is thrown out against them. the other thing slavery begins to enter the national conversation more at this time. the majority crisis hits during 1820, and goes away because it gets to the north what john quincy adams, of all those virginia presidents and your john quincy adams, so you begin to hear rumblings he seems to want to increase executive power. what does that mean for the interests of the south? he doesn't attribute to which the slavery but retrospectively he thinks a lot of the southern interest are building against the presidency at that time. that's a long winded answer for why his presidency failed. other questions?
[inaudible] still monsters overseas. today i think today, even the american people today are saying hey let's take care of ourselves and let's not deal with these monsters overseas. what do you think adams would be thinking about that? >> i think i'm very cautious about answering that question. and here's why. i think anyone who tells you can even summoners written a book on john quincy adams, what john quincy adams would you about isis, how he would respond to vladimir putin or how you deal with the south china sea and china's aggressive behavior, you might hear a load of stuff come your way which may or may not be true. people like to cherry pick quotes from the founders to support any position. on the one hand, john quincy adams we know as you pointed out would be against all forms of intervention. america goes not abroad. that's in 1821 when he says
this yet two years before he is supporting aggressive military policy expansionist military policies into florida which is spanish florida at this time. because preemptively he can begin to match the threat of military force spanish power out of florida to make sure falls into our own orbit. i would say just as a caution for begin to consider your question be wary of understand what john quincy adams would say about a threat today. that said with all that background, what would john quincy adams say debate about the threat of going abroad? i don't know if you would be against it, nor can it really tell you he would be for it. by think he gives us some good caution to think about. i wanted to make the point with my very bad joke about him going swimming naked in the potomac the circumstances in the united states are fundamentally different now than they were yearning his time. if america is a rising power, if
it's not the anchor weight of what we see as the international system great britain is at the time, he can't ignore foreign revolution because they barely threatened his interest. now can america ignore things that they might not, not threaten its interest? that's a much more open question. so i think in broad stroke because i don't want to channel john quincy adam i think it's bad history but i think would caution very much if something is a clear threat to the united states and its interest, no matter whether this, i think he would not be as opposed to as we might think. but at the same time he would always caution us to think about what our capabilities and what are other images are and to concentrate on home at the same time. so that's where some of the answer to your very good question.
>> given that he had been at the founding all the way to the midcentury and had seen why slavery had to be compromised with us funds the government goes, did he ever write down or ever come up with a how is this going to end peacefully or not this fully? did he ever write down anything on predicting how this would be? great question. did he ever did he ever have prescient view about how this would and? s. it's very interesting to speculate where it's anti-slavery gives come from the you can actually but perhaps a lot to his mother abigail. when the schools up in braintree, massachusetts, during the american revolution freed black citizens and john offer the continental congress to the townspeople came and said we don't want me.
abigail don't argue with abigail the matter what you do. she reminds them the townspeople very strangely let's remember what the american revolution is about. and shames them into integrating the school. whether or not that translates directly to john quincy adams, who knows? it is interesting to note that john quincy adams private is making a lot of observations about slavery. publicly he is much more equivocal it is because he's a politician. while he has a lot of private thoughts about this if you are a politician seeking to be elected not to massachusetts but for the entire country and slavery is legal you will temper your thoughts or you won't be elected. it's very interesting, in his inaugural address, there's only one party, i said that in his inaugural address the main buzzword in it is monroe, munro,
munro, and more munro. i'm a legacy president everything he did i will do and i will be, he uses the term a strict construction list, which is a bit of a nod nod wink wink i'm not challenging slavery. its first annual address, saving the union where use this word improvement all the time, this is a very different vision of the government. he stop saying i'm just going to do what munro did and is about 35 different policies he's going to roll out which gets a lot of southerners very nervous wreck quickly. let me backtrack for one second. i think the most important moment for answering the question comes in 1820. so in 1820 this question of missouri's dissension of the union will be debated. it is being debated and the most important question that comes up is is is a quincy slave or free? can the federal government control and dictate what it will
be? the way things are done and president abbas at the time is there's only one party so cabinet secretaries really are meant to be indicative of different parts different parts of the entire country that john quincy adams of new england, a southerner, a westerner, someone who represents agriculture and someone who represents commercial interest. policies need to be done by consensus or he solicits the opinions of all secretary. john quincy adams is dead set against the dissenting of slavery and argues vociferously to the cabinet and he was overruled decisively. what is fascinating is his diaries, i haven't read all 17,000 pages. i've read many thousand pages the most anguished passengers i can find are on the night following the cabinet debate. he's writing three, five 15 pages about how awful this is
and how he didn't understand slavery might have southerners did. his best friend the person who has the same vision of him in the cabinet is his good buddy the old national war hawk john calhoun who was more secretary. if you know his history, they go in very divergent paths later. window talking about that debate happening slavery, calhoun says look, let's take a long walk or two around washington and let me educate you on how we see slavery in the south. what john quincy adams here's shocks, really shocks him. 10 to 15 pages in here to enter question he says i am secretary of state. i have made that argument, and i've lost. what he doesn't say is i'm also going to run for president so there's so much i can do.
but this is clearly going to be the make or really the break issue for the union. it's very clear that someone needs to start thinking about what arguments are going to be rolled out against slavery. he starts doing at that point. in his private diaries. it is not public pronouncement. to answer your question even more specifically what does he see as the end of two this? nothing good. pcs this as a bloody civil war that will come over this. and what it will be to him and when it will come he's not sure. this feeling only grows as he is a congressman, particularly with the issue of again the united states expanding. texas, oregon, this question comes up again when he is in that's why he is so, it's interesting why he is so against the policies he praises he was so for. he promoted physical expansion
across the north american continent to push of those european powers. what he probably had that conceptualize at that point or maybe it's a second order effect it comes from is as you push out your creating more territory. a lot of that is below the majority line. that means not only we get more slave states but you think about texas, a big chunk of land that's a lot of state and that means they will have a lot of voting power. it would be that much more firmly embedded in the united states of america. so yeah, he really does think about that. other questions? [inaudible] >> -- was it the slavery issue? >> so what were the issues in 1828. you got on the first part of the question but to answer to but it was a jackson. i talk about the corrupt
bargain, gentlemen, gentlemen in a republic to not run for the presidency. you will sit on your porch, not even the. you don't even put your name forward. because of the second party system is just starting at this time, andrew jackson about one day after he loses the 1824 election, is running in 1820. the story is low more complicated than that. he is a senator in washington at the time and he resigned the seat and goes back home at which point everyone who didn't like adams, martin van buren was in the late and a bunch of other start coalescing around jackson, tracking and if you run for president, starting 1824. america has never seen an election like that. we are used to permit election cycles. this was not the case back then. the issue became adams adams and adams.
he is illegitimate. on top of that if you have a president who has 18 of that on income or at least his opponent put out then you point to all this policies that have failed because you have made them fail, you can get to tar him with branch of failure as well. this is what happened. you are right. it's not a landslide to adams makes a pretty decent showing but he does not win and it's not that close either. >> held a lot of high level postings. is any indication in your read of memoirs and your assessment of his performance what post was most successful in achieving this strategic vision? or which one brought the most satisfaction? >> the question was which of his many multiple posts achieved
the most securing his strategic vision or that brought them the most personal gratification so the answer is different for those two parts of the question. the first part is i talk about a grand strategy that has a bunch of different components but also talk about sequencing, that you have to know what to concentrate on win. so his different roles in different places gave him different strategies that were appropriate to what he was working on executing at a particular time. i don't think, i think to answer the question directed at which they when his secretary of state with the primary goal really being driving american hegemony on the north american continent. that was largely successful. it wasn't always morally attractive, some of the policies he pushed but he was a successful in securing that objective. i think he had the vision thing for what you want while he was president but no execution what
you just talked about what this gentleman's question. and on slavery i think he had the vision thing that the country was not there yet. strategy means more than one thing but it does me only having a vision. it's having the ability to convert your vision into actual policy. so it depends. we might be led to say based on that part of the answer equity was most satisfied with the secretary of state. if you read his official pronouncement, that's a true. he's writing unofficial campaign biography to raise newspapers and has these letters what he thinks is such good fodder for camping is redirected to newspaper and he said if anyone is going to talk about the successes of the monroe administration, they will point squarely at the department of state and those are the only successes i had to say where me that achieved all that. but i was also talking about
some of his failures at that point. slavery is not the main issue is working on at this point but he loses that cabinet to me. personally, from a satisfaction point of view adams is are happier when they're in opposition. they aren't new englanders -- they aren't new englanders. i think being a national politician that has to smooth things over and reflect interest that you feel a little queasy about is always a precarious position. he can do it, he wants to do it but when you can argue full throated and vociferously against something that you think is not only bad but is a moral evil, that feels much better for you. for both john and john quincy adams they have a way of interpreting their own popularity but it means you're doing the right thing. sometimes that's true and sometimes that's a very self-serving type of
justification. in terms of what he feels the most gratification on, i think it's when he is no longer national politician but i think it went he's a congressman who can rail against slavery but he feels liberated in some sense. he doesn't have to make excuses or justification. in some ways all his failures as president he is not good at consensus building, he doesn't have to be anything. so from a personal motivation point of view i think he is happier in that but i used the term with caution because he is and adams. whether or not he is ever happy is another question. any final questions that people might have? with that let me think of one very much. let me thank island books again for hosting me. i will stick around if you further questions ever want to talk about what he would do to vladimir putin, i will answer those once the cameras are off. thank you very much for coming. [applause]
>> every weekend booktv brings you 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books on c-span2. keep watching for more television for serious readers. >> reuters legal correspondent joan biskupic is also the author. her most recent book "breaking in: the rise of sonia sotomayor and the politics of justice" joan biskupic what are we learned about sonia sotomayor? >> we learned what she's been doing shoe been on the court for the last five years. this book is a political history that tells you how she got on the supreme court and the life has been like since. it picks up where her memoir left off. so you learned in the opening chapter how she persuaded her fellow justices to salsa with there. ripping off the learned how how