Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion  CSPAN  January 20, 2015 7:00am-8:01am EST

7:00 am
f jefferson davis, robert e. lee clara barton and frederick douglass. this is about one hour. >> good evening. i'm tony clark from the carter presidential library. i'm really glad you guys are here. i have really been looking forward to this because this book, "houses of civil war america," is usually faceting. anybody i think the likes to travel, one of the things, i know i enjoyed is going to places where people lived that have been so tied tight in history. i just think of going to abraham lincoln's home and i can still, you almost walk in and some of the dark wallpaper and designs of the time it just kind of seems to take you back into the time and you can to get a sense of the people from the places they've lived. for more than two decades, hugh
7:01 am
howard has been writing about the past. and what is really neat is how he took on architecture. his first book, the preservation progress was a collection of essays and profiles, and then when he went right for right, that was with frank loyd wright taking a look at the architectural biography of frank loyd wright, and he partnered with roger strauss to take the photographs, and what followed is a series of books that are just not only stunning to look at but really faceting to be. we had hugh here before for the house of the founding fathers is one of the things. just an interesting look at the founding fathers and the houses they live in. he's written a number of books but this one is especially timely at the observance of the
7:02 am
anniversary of the civil war and as i say, the photographs are spectacular. the text that puts it all in context is really interesting so please join me in welcoming hugh howard. [applause] >> thank you tony, for those nice words. and thank you all for coming out this evening. in the months since i finished writing this book i thought a lot about what i wanted to say what it went out to talk to people about it and, frankly, i had a little trouble deciding what attack i wanted to take. i got a little break when an e-mail arrived from my publicist about a month ago, and she wrote to say she had just been hired away to another publisher.
7:03 am
community is turning. i liked her. she's about 25, really smart you know, full of energy. she's clearly on her way someplace. and i was sorry to see her go. i said as much i wished her well, and that i thought was that. however, i got another e-mail from her and she wrote i'm going to read you exactly what you said. dear hugh, i've never been one for history because i felt it lacked human characters. and have a special place in my heart for your book because you put the characters back in the story. well i was a little stunned. i was very flattered. it was this smart, talented intelligent young person who just said something very nice about my book. so thank you, amelia. but her words also got me thinking and she put her finger on what i think may be the central point of this book and a couple of other books that i'd
7:04 am
written, and that is that the past is about people. so again, thank you amelia. and now let's go meet some of the characters that she mentioned. first up matches mississippi. power to occupy the plate on the top rung of society. his wife julie grew up in the town. he was a graduate of university of virginia. he was a scientific thought that they would develop a new string -- opt out and. has large holdings included five plantations, three in louisiana two in mississippi along with 800 slaves to work more than 40000 acres. he wasn't a suspect a very rich man. he opposed secession would himself to confirm unions but papers and found himself along with secessionist friends enmeshed in a war.
7:05 am
in 1860 natchez had the highest per capita income of any city in the night -- united states that the war would bring the two shocking and. as potential but earlier and by the way, the story might also be called the tale of nutt falling. he wrote to samuel sloan. the time was right, he told the village of arc at it to build his transfer house and you need a plan that fits specifications. howard and judith chose an existing design this on earlier called the model architect and they want him to reconfigure design 49 looking at your from 1853 book, to accommodate their family seven children ages ranged from 18 to one year, with another expected a few months later. in us was to to be built on
7:06 am
almost 90 acres not far from natchez itself. it would be a bill of super vancsik, that is to say a suburban villa and it would be different from a lot of the other suburban houses in that it would be constructed as you can see a topic the side footprint. the details of the house would be different. rather than being billed in the regular so it would have other elements. the house is also distinguished by its scale. the plan for the made for featured four rooms that measure 20 by 34, there were four large verandas at the most impressive space of always in the center, was a rotunda 24 feet across and sordid sex stories. they thought large in every way but it would be $115 to 125 when does come 20 for closets and on
7:07 am
and on and on. at first construction proceeded normally as the greatest middle and existing house on the property and a team of 15 men and eight boys made bricks on site and guided by four philadelphia masons the walls soon began to arise. but as they did, shift in american politics was under way elsewhere on the continent. in illinois the rail splitter extensive into this territory the states made one for the presidency. that autumn so the arrival of the building site of millwood from philadelphia, shipments of more than 100 columns along with brackets doorframes, almost two miles of moldings. two miles of molding approach is really a lot of molding. but even those were continue to unfold because after lincoln's
7:08 am
november victory, south carolina secede from the union in december 1860. walls along would continue to rise steadily, the trim was applied like frosting to the cake and mississippi withdrew from the union in january of 1861. the for yankee masons left, but master carpenter smith worked along with a man from philadelphia. when the last of the yankees departed finally for good the envelope was completed was only a shell, a vast, empty interior. they left their workbenches behind and they remain to this day with paint pots and other paraphernalia assembled on their surfaces. he turned it into a livable space where he and his family moved in. but whatever his earlier dreams
7:09 am
remain an and grand historian of the house would never be finished. three generations of nutt to live in the house. he died in 1864, crushed by the pressures julie bullied of debt and poverty. her namesake daughter lived on and house after their deaths, and three grandsons would make the best of the basement quarters until 1868 when longwood became a museum and the most visited site in natchez a city where looking at antique houses is something of a way of life. the site there's formal designation as a national historic landmark, but it's also a place of personal heartbreak. it's not for us i suppose with hindsight a fortified entity of the century and a half to be bewildered that natchez do it and build we did on the eve of war. -- hugh built.
7:10 am
should have known better? but that's probably not there. he didn't know what we know. instead, what we see at natchez is the unquiet ghost inhabiting what is nothing less than the perfect architectural metaphor for an historic moment when rules suddenly and a revocable he changed. -- a revocable change the war isn't about the combatants of course, and how the civil war they're not the only ones out of uniform. in our book photographer roger strauss that i visit the shakers of south union kentucky. we were drawn there in part by the diary that nancy moore kept for 1088 days in the civil war. her daily journal made it possible to make her a character in the story. but so did her circumstances. kentucky of course was a border
7:11 am
state south union, not far from bowling green was contested territory. optical terms what that meant was early in the war one day she woke up to find a colonel along with 86 of his cavalry men, had made camp on the shaker property. later in the war after the territory had changed hands of union soldiers felt himself to to induce provisions and livestock. though they were in the middle of the war like it or not. yet there were pacifists, sympathetic to the union, yet also celibate. these doubles there's actually reflect their asexuality. the left is for the sisters come the right is only for the brothers. meanwhile nancy recorded what she saw. she and her shake her family were caught in the middle, and i
7:12 am
think stories like hers are an important part of understanding the civil war era. i want to go next to a grand house, a single-family home where we will find a well remembered a man facing a dilemma. he did so on virginia's soil from the hilltop make sure that his wife had inherited with its panoramic view of the federal safety across the potomac. just days before the outbreak of the civil war, standing upon the cortical of the arlington house, of course it was called with its colossal columns, he gazed upon the unfinished capitol dome. that beautiful feature of our landscape colonel robert e. lee remarked to a visitor, has ceased to charming as much as normally. i fear that mischief that is brewing there. it is april 1861.
7:13 am
lee having graduated from west point in 1829 had done stints as a chief aide to general winfield scott in the mexican war. he had headed west point and also in command of the troops that agree captured the arsenal at harpers ferry ending john brown's attempt to foment the slave uprising. for his first 54 years, the sun had felt an absolute allegiance to the country that his father had helped found your and the light horse harry lee of course i fought with george washington during the revolutionary war winning him enduring friendship of the general and the first president. meanwhile on his wife's side mary's father, george washington custer had been raised infancy by george and martha washington. the events in charleston harbor,
7:14 am
and on april 14, the union surrender of the fort meant that lee had to make an unwelcome decision. because of recent days he received two job offers. the first on april 18 delivered by an intermediary inquired per order of abraham lincoln whether lee would accept command of the new federal army. as he recalled the conversation later i declined the offer, stating as candidly and as courteous as i could, that i could take no part in the invasion of the southern states. lee regard himself first and foremost as a virginian. in fact, he called the state is homeland, and attacking his people that was inconceivable to him. when he gave general scott is into, scott parnell himself was a virginian, the old commander bray i could not in anger and sadness. you have made the greatest
7:15 am
mistake of your life scott told lee that i feared it would be so. when he left scott's office lee speech was yet to be decided as he still faced another question if you couldn't oppose his region could join and fight the nation had served for all those years? he had been offered a commission as brigadier general by the confederacy a number of weeks before but he had refused at that point because virginia had yet to secede. he had dismissed the session. in fact, it was nothing but revolution. which brings us to the evening that lee learn in the days after the cannon fire at fort sumter and its surrender, the virginia delegates had finally voted to become the confederacy's eighth state. so we are here at arlington house, lee is upstairs pacing back and forth shaking his head, mumbling to himself.
7:16 am
his wife is downstairs in the parlor. for hours she listens as he tries to make up his mind. it would be she recalled later the severest struggle of his life. now, we know the outcome of course. after breakfast on april 22 1861, robert e. lee wrote away from arlington house for the last of the he departed for richmond trust in a black suit with a silk hat atop his head. two days later he formally accept command of virginia's military force. now neither lee or his wife could know how dearly this decision would cost them. one of his consequences would be the loss of his mentor now better known as arlington house. arlington strategic overlooked over the capital amid the union simply had to take it over for
7:17 am
military reasons. union soldiers proceeded to chop down old, stands of old growth oak and justice to build barracks and to burn wood for firewood to keep them warm in the cold weather. they constructed access roads over the once pristine agricultural landscape. a hospital was constructed on the property, in 1863 the southern portion of the state became a freedman's village for thousands of runaway slaves. but sure enough it also became a burial ground and today it is the centerpiece, it is the centerpiece of arlington cemetery with that same panic -- panoramic view of the capital. i think it's one of our nation's most important palaces. >> and natchez the town fathers were wise enough to surrender, so no battle, no civil war battle took place on the streets of natchez. the same cannot be said of the
7:18 am
hamlet of sharpsburg maryland. it is there that what we call the battle of antietam that we can make the claims of one clara barton. for months, men of military had been telling her that women would skedaddle and create a panic at the first sight of again. one general labeled a barton and unreachable metal somebody, but the 40 year-old barton would not take no for an answer. she had witnessed the arrival of the wounded working in washington from the second battle of manassas, and the full 10 days have been required to get all the wounded from the battlefield to hospitals in washington. she knew the wounded simply could not wait that long. so she acting related medical supplies, and by the time she found a quartermaster willing to listen, she had filled three
7:19 am
warehouses with hospital distortion first of. her chance to put them to use a ride with the secret message written by hand and although she would live another 50 years she never revealed who was who said that the message informed her that robert e. lee's army of northern virginia was marching from maryland. with the help of a teen star assigned by the sympathetic or domestic, barton and her assistance act of army wagon with bandages, dressings and food. the teamster held the reins the small woman wearing a bonnet was running out of time. determined to advance replace angel mcleod's supply line from she awakened the driver at 1:00 in the morning on tuesday september 16, 1862 and in the darkness they took to the road passing some 10 miles of park supply vehicles. by don the countup with a horse-drawn artillery.
7:20 am
in the early hours of the following day the battle of thank you to begin with the boom of cannon fire. despite the deafening work of art made her way toward the lines battle to she found addressing station, melbourne and she found a doctor that she knew but he showed her the four makeshift operating tables. we have nothing but her instruments he told her, and the little chloroform we brought in our pockets. in the absence of proper bandages they were using green corn leaves to dress the wound. so lenin in barton's wagon is put to good use. never before had men looked so white. the fight of course raged for hours to barton administered for form distributed food stanched wounds, and at the insistence of one soldier, excised a bullet from his cheek using a her pocketknife. i do not suppose a surgeon
7:21 am
would've pronounced it a scientific operation, she said. she felt her sleep twitch, the men quivered, then slumped. they both had passed through the crook of her arm during a hole in her sleep before ripping into the man's chest, killing him and an instance. ms. barton was not one to panic and skedaddle. the end of the day found a barton's face blackened by gunpowder, her skirt tailed around her waist, her hair jumper when doctors complained of lack of light for surgery she summoned lanterns from the wagon. i wonder, i suppose, that when doctors who wrote to his wife, in my feeble estimation, general mcclellan with all his laurels sinks into insignificance beside the true heroine of the page the angel of the battlefield.
7:22 am
by way of the site this is a series of pictures that alexander garter took off the battlefield. when it was put on display in new york at matthew brady's new yorker galler and it wasn't anywhere -- is much smaller, people used magnify classes to look at it in the very very detailed images were the source of the scene that suggested a terrible carnage of the war. in antietam along the casualties amounted to 25,000 men. the images i've been showing about what our of clara barton's house in political maryland to get postdates the war but then so did her days as the founder of the american red cross in 1881. [inaudible] >> is that a little better? now it's time to get to the most important player, like it or
7:23 am
not. british journalist he came to america today that the two but he wrote about what he saw described his travels in strange lands of canada and the united states including a stop in wartime washington. he found willard hotel comfortable. he thought the unfinished capitalist beauty proportion to. while in america he had two goals in particular. personally want to see niagara falls, but the other thing he wanted to publish was to meet abraham lincoln and to accomplish that he prevailed upon a new friend to arrange a visit with the president. a plan was soon laid for the government undersecretary of the treasury to take his upon the evening to lincoln's country seat. their destination was not a
7:24 am
great country house of the sort that his aristocratic countrymen inhabited. true it stood as a reporter in a sort of park committee observed that it was guarded by a regiment of troops encamped picturesquely about the grounds that the principal building on three of those acres of the so-called soldiers home was action and institution building of disabled army veterans. but the first families inhabited this gothic revival structure to help out properly to them simply an escape from the heat and humidity of summer washington. arriving after dark they could see little of the houses exterior but a servant i should get into a neatly furnished drawing room. had no prearranged deployment of lincoln suit appeared. athol lanky figure with hair
7:25 am
ruffled anheuser sleepy but although they had gotten out of bed, he was so surprised that he was wearing carpet slippers. he was very solemn very ugly and awkward and ungainly, but there were handshakes all around and he found all my uneasiness at all vanished in the moment before the region of the president and the genial smile which accompanied it. a brisk conversation ensued, lincoln asked his guests what he thought of her great country. he spoke of england's political aspects and constitution before discussing in detail points of difference between the governments of the two countries. bjork thought his commentary very lucid and intelligent. after an hour or so bjork and his companions rose to go. thanking us cordially for coming to see them, lincoln gave us each a hardy group of the hand. it was much more than a shake
7:26 am
and we were through. now, seems like lincoln had one over a skeptical journalist and in fact, bjork report as much as his book published a year later in london. sit down and talk with him for an hour, bjork challenge his british readers, and note the instinctive time is of his every thought and word and say if you've known a warmer hard nobler spirit. but before we leave, lincoln cottage where lincoln played checkers with his son, tad it was here in my opinion at least that the outcome of the war became inevitable. in the summer of 1862 according to mary todd lincoln was always a chronic insomnia slept hardly at all.
7:27 am
he took late-night rambles around the soldiers home property which is just good declared a national cemetery. and, of course, there he saw the fresh graves of the boys that he sent to war. the site helped galvanize him draft emancipation proclamation. and that document was again, in my opinion but we like today to call the tipping point. for the first time it established that for both the north and south this was a war about slavery. the proclamation also meant the south could not get national recognition from great britain or france which became a moral imperative for them to resist the south. so with no help coming from those quarters, the out i would argue was that the south could not win. there are also those who disagree and i think it's a very worthy argument, i found inviting every book that it's an opportunity to go back to
7:28 am
school, and certainly this one was no exception. the biggest lesson i learned was that just as symphonies and paintings can be left unfinished, so can wars. a disagreement and debate over what happened and why still goes on when it comes to the civil war. for example i was taught growing up in new england that massachusetts went to war to end slavery. i imagine those of you who are educated in the south were thought that the war was about states' rights and not slavery. as it happens i think we're mostly misinformed on both parts. in lincoln scott is one of the many good places to begin understanding how because for lincoln the war was about unions. until it became expedient to make it about emancipation. the evolution of his racial think it was an ambiguous journey you might say. and the emancipation proclamation drafted as it was
7:29 am
during those june and july weeks on that hilltop in 1862 was primarily a war measure designed to staunch the loss of life and win the war sooner by hobbling the confederacy's war efforts which relied upon slaves for support. but i need to move on. since this is a complicated argument, it could go on and on as indeed it has. in fact will come back to it from another angle in a minute. next i would like to take us to an unexpected presidential place. we are in biloxi, mississippi a spectacular spot overlooking the waters of the gulf of mexico. it gained the name this house did, when a new owner first gazing upon saltwater seas and live oaks, cedars from from
7:30 am
kelly of the house state of the obvious what a beautiful view, and decided on the spot to rename the estate. the main house together with the pair flanking cottages, was completed in about 1863. the windows and doors are trimmed. the main house stands atop brick appears that you can't quite see. activity advantage of being a little bit of high water, not hot enough to protect it from katrina as it happened, but high enough to offer cooling breezes which could pass beneath the house making a pretty have a place even in the hot summer. the house has a very clever for plan with the galleries and porches functioning as connecting hallways. later, for a dozen years after the war 1877-1889 to be exact, it was home to a former president agree to such visitors are there as joseph pulitzer
7:31 am
the newspaper magnate john adams son charles francis came to visit the even oscar wilde came knocking on the door. they all came to see the retired presidents jefferson davis. it offered davis the tranquility in his last years to write the history of the nation he attempted to found. in a different way today, i think the place offers us a suitable setting to contemplate the cabin between delays between his admirers and those who still see him as the enemy. it's a bold and call of multiuse building all the jefferson davis presidential library that you see on the right here and you can barely glanced behind the house but it is been recently constructed after the previous structure was obliterated by
7:32 am
hurricane katrina. it's got a gift shop and auditorium of the facilities. for those of you jeff davis at the support central dutchmen samore anthony roux and i think that a fair number of you still do, the library is of a peculiar paradox. davis never won the presidency of the united states so he could hardly be entitled to the honor of a presidential library. on the other side of the divide stands the sons of confederate's. this is the division to the organization that operates the jefferson davis on as presidential vibrant has a shrine. there was a shrine. consistent with the deed by which the sons of quite the house in 1903, they maintain the property as a perpetual memorial sacred to the memory of the jefferson davis the only president of the confederate states of america, sacred to the memory of his family and the
7:33 am
lost cause. so where does that leave us? it leaves me not buying either side of the argument. because for me the house represents lots of things. for example, all the story opens i look for in picking places to put in my books. it has a narrative because davis' life is a tragedy. in the 1950s jefferson davis masterminded raising of the capitol dome. for two decades the village of assert his nation as associate justice center, secretary of war. i don't think he was terribly likable, but few who know his story would dispute at least until early 1861 he had the respect of his peers towards and south as a patriotic american. however after reluctantly leaving the u.s. senate, and by
7:34 am
the way, includes the he gave a speech that left some of his yankee peers in tears running down their cheeks, he became president of the confederacy. four years later, war ended with his arrest and he became in effect a political prisoner. his legs in shackles, and many north by the way wanted a noose around his neck or his present role in lincoln's murder. there was evidence against him nevertheless he would spend two years in fort monroe, the album of the tower of london. the house tour also was family, and here they are. that would be jeff davis his wife, daughter, grandchildren, i'll post on the porch. the house has its share of teachable but. perhaps it's the perfect place
7:35 am
to go back to what i mentioned a couple of minutes ago the lost cause. the conceit of a lost cause is the great good in shinjuku care of the old south was unfairly wiped out by war. in fact, it's almost as old as the war itself because the term was first used in a book titled the same thing, titled lost cause, published in 1865 by a newspaperman. he argued the south soldier were notably superior to the unions that the confederate army wasn't beaten but overwhelmed, the robert e. lee was godlike, and stonewall jackson a true christian martyr and ulysses grant a butcher. contrary to what winston churchill much later said the victors get to write the history the lost cause would actually animate mainstream text for most of the 20th century.
7:36 am
many school tax north and south had it as scholars would have at the that's changed quite a bit best the research finds that the store in north and south discount the claims. and the most essential of his assertions that the seceding states went to war not to preserve slavery but states' rights is now regarded by most historians as i'll put this carefully, a disingenuous overstatement. one who bears some responsibility for that incomplete use this jefferson davis himself. he lived in this house his picture over the mantle there because tellingly it is 1881 memoir, the rise and fall of the confederate government, which you wrote here, he originally wanted to call our cause, evolution i'm sure. all of which is to say the lost
7:37 am
cause is the flipside of the misunderstandings i grew up with about why my ancestors put on blue uniforms. just if it ain't i want to take a quick detour. one of the places i visited in researching the book was concord, massachusetts. this is the home of ralph waldo emerson and it was here that i really grasped how wrongheaded it is to be some that average mid-19th century farmers and factory workers in new england harvard, abolitionist sympathies. they didn't. just the word abolitionist make people angry in that age in the north. in fact, in the a congregational church of my childhood in central massachusetts, the archives reveal the church founders excommunicated the dean of the church about 1850 because they that his abolitionist sympathies were too extreme. to most northerners of the time, the goal of abolitionists seem to be to solve other people's
7:38 am
problems at the expense of their own prosperity which, of course, relied upon southern cotton to fuel them. emerson himself who already revered as united states greatest philosopher, discovered for himself the depth when he went public with his opinions in 1844. the townspeople were reluctant to let them speak in the first place, and when he did calling slavery the habit of oppression he was labeled a phonetic and many people shunned him. this picture was taken much later in 1879. by then his remarkable memory and mind were failing, and walt whitman put it rather well when he wrote in his essay misses his photograph that this photograph was taken that he found the old philosopher and a modest rated twilight of his old age. a rather kind of label i would say from what was very likely what we call alzheimer's.
7:39 am
by then, of course the war was long over. reconstruction was sending. views of those aboard were shifting in both the north and the south. all of which is to say president davis' story isn't a simple one, and it's a mistake i think to believe that it's all been nicely resolved and compartmentalize from either a northern or southern perspective. that's true of the civil war and maybe for that matter race relations of the 21st century america. we don't have time to visit a fraction of the sites i would like to take it you, nor is it time to introduce more than a few of the other characters. but in a freewheeling way i would like you to meet marina howell davis. a natchez bell, she married death to jeff davis.
7:40 am
she would be a great asset as a political wife in washington later, first lady of the south i'm sorry. and in this book we see are both at their house and at the white house in the confederacy in richmond. but my favorite pieces occurred later after her husband's death. she was approaching the end of her own life having moved to new york with their youngest child. though she had met and befriended another new york widow one of ulysses s. grant the she made her husband staunchest defender but should also become a very good writer and writing in a more many articles, but on her deathbed having lived long eventful life in which she knew high times in the hard ones her sense of humor seems to have survived her tribulations. lying on that bandish offered some right advice to her only surviving child and how she should be more when she is gone.
7:41 am
don't you wear black, she told her. it's bad for your health and will depress your husband. thanks to doris kearns goodwin's, team of rivals a bestseller, and steven spielberg's movie lincoln, based on the book, william henry seward has been rescued from obscurity. he was lincoln's secretary of state and we fully expected when the president himself in 1860 committees is survived by his family some in upstate new york. but the image i like best is not of the south but of the man himself. here he is looking a bit disheveled, this photograph by matthew brady going to support them at this time the words come from historian henry adams to he said of seward that had a deep and those shaggy eyebrows, and orderly hair and clothes.
7:42 am
adams concluded, mr. seward looked like a wise macaw. two enough, don't you think? i like the old aphorism about john keller's political clout as a wit of the day when calvin took snuff south carolina sneezed. when i look at this i think i can believe it. and by the way given the determination on the face i could almost hear him during his words, slavery is a good dish is good a positive good. his old plantation home survived but it's called fort hill. after his death the property came to his daughter and son-in-law one thomas clinton. upon their deaths clinton's will bequeath his substantial estate to the state of south carolina to the establishment of a technical and agriculture college, today clemson university is the result where present terms of clinton's will
7:43 am
be old calhoun house is an unexpected survivor within the larger landscape of a world-class research university. in doing my research about calvin, i came across one of those ironies that if i were writing fiction i'm not sure i could have made it up. in 1988, the university celebrated the centennial of clemson's generosity. one of the events was a symposium about victorian women in the south with a number of fine scholars delivering papers on the studies decorative arts and culture. but it wasn't what the professor said that caught my attention. the very week of the conference that years ms. clinton was chosen homecoming. are pretty and popular taste of course a door to the front page of the student newspaper. she was maybe you guessed african-american. one can only wonder what the old virus reaction might've been.
7:44 am
pretty hard not to love histories juxtapositions. i want to and with the and. that is appomattox but want to look at much later in 1850 to be exact. the eminent historian friedman was at the podium. before him 20,000 people crowd the streets gates were fourscore and five years earlier to generals met to end a war. as the april breeze flutters the flags, many of them out of flags, he describes the final days the army in northern virginia. and lee schleswig in uniform he pursued a strategy to form a junction with the army of general joseph e. johnston in north carolina but lee have found that for every turn, the scouts front word me and his
7:45 am
audience to the a blue line ahead of us. the author of a four-point biography of the south great general, robert e. lee published in 1934, five, our speaker brings great authority, more in fact i might be expected even of the pulitzer prize-winning historian. because for him this is also a family affair. his father walker freeman a twice wounded better at age 22, had stood with lee at appomattox. on april 8, 1865, walker freeman hungry exhausted without attempt to sleep in at appomattox court house had climbed a nearby hill to the site of countless federal campfires brought him the realization he later told his son that maybe even general lee couldn't get us out of this one. the site for the much later appomattox address the and freeman delivered is the whoa
7:46 am
moment clean house, centerpiece of the appomattox courthouse national historic monument. than a clean house looks new in 1950. the paint barely dry due to a meticulous reconstruction engineered by the national parks service. as doctor freeman speaks of the reunion of brothers, to listen hold a particular honor. brigadier general ulysses s. grant the third, retired steps by the effect of both world wars. remember, this is 1950. when freeman finishes speaking, a 25 year-old salesman from san francisco named robert e. lee for snps the red, white and blue britain officially opening to the public the mclean farmhouse. i find that coming together generations after the war ended here he and yet rather wonderful. in the years after the dedication of course appomattox
7:47 am
has become a place of pilgrimage, yet in examining the civil war literature, vast as it is, recent scholarship concerning appomattox, both the historic site and events that unfolded there suggests how problematic our remembering can be. i will give you one tiny example. the man who owned the house where lee and grant met face hard times after the war. he made a pretty good living during the war speculating in sugar but he was casting about new source of income, and he settled upon publication of a surrender picture. he wrote to lee asking if he would grant him a couple of sittings. lee declined because he truly wanted the war behind him and wrote no memoirs, unlike so many of the participants from the north and the south. but mclean carried on with his
7:48 am
plan borrowing money commission and printed an image. is room in the mclean house at appomattox as it is officially titled proved no bonanza and it didn't even make back his investment. still the print is of no small interest. mclean karr the architectural particular for this house correct, but you should've done but to spite the fact he was there, he confused the cast of characters as reproduced by the new york, lee and grant are pitched with lee's aid and grants generals including george armstrong custer but custer wasn't there. he was miles away during the actual surrender with his troops on the field the in addition the wrong clerk is pictured riding out the terms of surrender. it should, in fact, have been native american the life. it may seem minor but there remained symptomatic of a larger
7:49 am
carelessness of the troops dashed up the truth. appomattox was and is a retrospective place as all the plays i've talked about and written about in this book the all are suitable setting for considering the humanity of the men and women as they wrestled with the war over race and the union. in making the queens of the civil war players, we see that embrace contradictory positions but equally it's clear that you understand them they must not be seen through the lens of the self-satisfied nor the righteousness more of the south mythmaking. to employ a loose paraphrase of an often put award for british novelist hotly, the civil war era is after all a foreign country, and they do things differently there. our grasp on how differently can be tenuous.
7:50 am
history is a mix of indisputable truths, emotional truths, of interpretation of unsolved mysteries of myths come all of which can be colored by regional subjectivity and selectivity. we need, in short, the question continually what we've been told, what we are being told that because the pictures almost certainly more complicated than what at first glance we thought we saw and what we thought we understood. the time i spent visiting this has left her with a deep respect for the passions and courage of both sides and most of all with a new appreciation for the simple truth that the past is hardly a fixed destination. yet traveling there is very worth the effort, that i am firmly convinced. thank you for joining on this
7:51 am
little journey. [applause] >> we have time for some questions. any questions from the audience? >> we have a microphone coming your way. >> there was a small controversy the past week. there's a marker outside the property here on copan hill honoring the start of sherman's march to the sea. hot gross, the head of the georgia historical society, took the lead in trying to set the record straight as he was quoted in the paper saying that sherman really didn't destroy all that much arbitrarily along the route. he was practicing hard war. did your research into the civil war shed any light on how much destruction was perpetrated against the houses and other properties from here to submit a? and what did you learn?
7:52 am
>> you know, this is an area where lots of people and asking lots of questions and then some good research. and to summarize what i've read which is by no means all of the work that has been done but the amount of a, i think it is true that in general he paid very little he tried to avoid private property, but anything that any military value he felt was very much fair game and it was appropriate to destroy it in some way. i think that was probably true of both sides, servitude and both sides of the war at first times in various campaigns. i think interestingly james mcpherson points this out in one of his books, when it came to south carolina, he was a little tougher i think because there was a perception on the poor, and it wasn't so which he was a little tougher but a number of his pen were a little tougher some more things to get damaged once they hit the seat
7:53 am
in savannah at a left hand turn and went north. because it was perception among yankee soldiers that their work that south carolina had really started the war. so i think this is a very complicated area. i think a lost cause, had a certain impact and probably exaggerating the damage that sherman had done. on the other hand, there were some individual units that probably committed more mayhem than he would have approved a. but that it was not slash and burn campaign itself has some have characterized. >> following up on that, are the houses, where their houses that you wished were still there that you would have liked to have profiled in your book, but they are for whatever reason no longer there? >> you know, i don't know of any that were demolished that we
7:54 am
would've liked to have seen, but, of course, the majority of my research begin with what's there. we always look at finding a mix of interesting players, you know, players who can add to the narrative and places that are interesting architecturally. there certainly are some that are gone. it was a place called middleton place. in fact, there was a house in south carolina that is in the book that is in the same family as nuthouse called middleton place that was burned by the yankees in 1965 one of the great 18th century houses which is gone. that would have been fun to see. no doubt there were others but i really don't know. any other questions? [inaudible]
7:55 am
>> the question is where was the white house of the confederacy? it was enrichment and is now called the museum of the confederacy. it is restored to more or less the status the condition that it was in when jefferson davis resided there between 1861-65. it's a lovely house, grand house that was built by a male family that owned substantial mills and other properties, and it was leased by the confederacy for use as their presidents house. >> maybe we can finish up with one, i have one last question. you profile a number of houses in your book. did you find that you a favor whether it is from the architectural standpoint or the character of the person who lived there? >> well, i guess it's hard to
7:56 am
pick between those children which is kind of what this is because you know what you do, spend the time that i can looking at these places. you know i think from an architectural standpoint, it's hard not to stand in awe before longwood that great natchez octagon. in part because it's an empty it is a skeleton. it is a shell and yet it has survived. and it's this enormous place that boggles the imagination how grand the house would've been with those enormous rooms and all those details. on the other hand, much over places have great appeal, too. you know, i love the shaker community in south union. and also very simple places like we're one of the stops that we made was in connecticut at
7:57 am
harriet beecher stowe's house and as we can set up on meeting her, so this is the lady who started this great big war. that's a rough paraphrase. she lived in a very modest comfortable middle-class house in hartford, connecticut. so you know there were yankee houses and the our houses down here that are quite wonderful and quite revealing and help tell the story of this very complicated war. >> yes? >> are any of these places, homes available to be seen today? >> yes. everyone in the book is. we chose those specifically because they are museum houses and they can be seen and visited come and you can have the experience for yourself. i recommend it. i think it's a wonderful way to immerse oneself in the past to wander into these houses the that are so different and those characteristics and the decorations and the colors in the future. and these are all significant
7:58 am
worthy structures. >> talk about architecture. i noticed one photo had a column in the background in the photo. is there a reflection of people having an affinity for columns so much that they would put a column in the background of a family portrait? >> you know, i think you might be talking about the davis image. that does have a column. that's a classic way of painting a portrait, very lives in england in 18 century and they carried through here. but also its versatile innocent of the greek revival was the predominant architectural style in 1820s '30s '40s into the '50s. so in the years leading up to the civil war, so columns the architectural language the people spoke at their most family with was with the greek
7:59 am
revival. so very suitable and familiar and culpable. people would recognize it. it added a kind of status and sense of taste, which does everyone want to convey that in the fortress that they just commission someone to paint of them? >> as i said if you haven't already seen his book, it is really fascinating, both with the stories and the photographs. hugh howard is going to be signing copies of them in the lobby. so let's give him a round of applause. thank him for his wonderful trip tonight to the houses in the civil war america. thank you. >> and the very much. >> and you all join us in the lobby. thank you very much. [inaudible conversations]
8:00 am
spent coming up next on c-span2 supreme court oral argument in a case that questions the church's first amendment rights. then at 9 a.m. eastern we will take you live to the u.s. chamber of commerce where senate finance committee chair orrin hatch will talk about the committee's agenda for the year ahead. .. >> the c


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on