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tv   American History TV  CSPAN  January 2, 2015 8:00pm-9:06pm EST

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lamar at 8th and congress shot this enormous buffalo. from there he went to the top of the hill to where the capitol is. he told everybody this should be the seat of a future empire. >> watch our oh eventses from austin saturday at noon eastern on c are-span 2's book tv and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span 3. >> during this holiday season on c-span 3 american history tv. today's focus on spies and rogues. first a look at the relationship between benedict arnold and george washington. then a discussion about russia, cold war spies and the u.s. nuclear program. later, espionage during world war i. >> peterenriques looks at how arnold's's failed plan to
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deliver west point to the british offers insights. he talks about british and american participants after the plot was uncovered. this was hosted by colonial williamsburg. it's about an hour. >> thanks so much for that warm welcome. i'm really pleased to see as many people in the audience tonight when i was driving down from northern virginia through heavy rain it might be a biblical quote but fortunately that's not the case. you have to keep checking your assumptions. if your assumptions are incorrect it can lead you to some very wrong conclusions.
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i would like to illustrate that by the following story which i hope you will find somewhat humorous, although somewhat ribald as well. here's the story. the smiths were unable to conceive children and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family. on the day the proxy father was to arrive, mr. smith kissed his wife good-bye, said, well, i'm off nowment the man will be here soon. half an hour later, just by chance, a baby photographer happened by to ring the doorbell, hoping to make a sale. good morning, ma'am, i have -- no need to explain, said mrs. smith, embarrassed. i have been expecting you. have you really? did you know my specialtieses are babieses? that's what my husband and i hoped. please have a seat. after a moment she asked, where do we start?
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leave everything to me. i usually try two in the bathtub, three on the couch and perhaps in the living room we have room to spread out there. bathroom? living room floor? no wonder it didn't work out for harry and me. [ laughter ] well, ma'am. none of us can guarantee a good one every time. if we try several positions and i shoot from six or seven angles i'm sure you will be pleased with the results. my, that's a lot, gasped mrs. smith. ma'am, in my line of work a man has to take his time. it would be nice -- i would love to be in and out in five minutes but i'm sure you would be disappointed with that. don't i know it, said mrs. smith, quietly. the photographer opened up his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of baby pictures. this was done on the top of a bus, he said. oh, my god, mrs. smith. these twins turned out exceptionally well, especially when you consider her mother was to difficult to work with. difficult?
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i'm afraid so. i finally had to take her to the park to get the job done right. people were crowding around four or five deep to get a good look. for more than three hours. the mother was squealing and yelling. i could hardly concentratement when the darkness approached i had to rush my shots. finally, when the squirrels began nibbling at my equipment i had to pack it all in. mrs. smith leaned forward, you mean they chewed on your equipment? it's true. if you're ready, we can get right to work. i i will set up my tripod. >> tri? oh, yes. i need a tripod to hold my cannon. it's much too heavy to be held in my hand very long. with that, plt smith fainted. the moral is check your assumptions carefully.
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you know, it often puzzles me that there is a serious debate among historians about who is america's greatest leader. from my perspective as most of you know only too well, the evidence is simply overwhelming. george washington is america's atlas. the indispensable man in the winning of independence and the creation and sustaining of our during its critical years. in essence, george washington made america possible. without his leadership and vision, there would have been no union for abraham lincoln to save later on. many factors combined to make washington such a remarkable leader. that's a good topic perhaps for another talk if i'm lucky enough to be invited back. foremost among his talents was
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remarkable talent that lay closebeh= to the core of genius. this demonstrated itself in many ways, not the least of which was his ability to recognize talent in young men from various backgrounds. in using those gifted men to achieve the goals he had in mind. i think of some of the names that come to mind. henry knox, nathaniel green, alexander hamilton, lighthouse harry lee, thomas jefferson, james madison to name some. well, it might surprise many of you, but in many ways benedict arnold's name belongs on the list as well. there are so many dramatic and implausible events connected with arnold's conspiracy and his treason that the story reads more like a dramatic novel than a true history. all the elements are there. you have a brilliant but deeply disillusioned and disaffected american major general. a beautiful wife only half his age.
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a british general with an extremely appealing character. a daring plot to hand over west point. america's most important fort to the british. a set of circumstances leading to the inevitable plot but not before the young british gentleman is facing death. we can't tell the story in all the detail it merits. it is a fascinating one. i want to focus on primarily washington's connection, how it reveals aspects of his character, personality and leadership skills as he deals o.3s÷ with benedict arnold and the treason. the horrendous nature of benedict arnold's treason has led many people to ignore or minimize his contributions to
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the cause of american independence. in fact, they were very substantial. in my view, the two most significant were, first his actions in lake champlain. my wife and i are lucky enough to have a place there which friends who are in the audience were happy to have them visit us this summer. right near the island. this was in 1776. it is not a military victory. but it stopped the british from coming down lake champlain. postponed their invasion for a full year which turned out to be absolutely crucial. in that following year, 1777, benedict arnold deserves tremendous credit for his daring and decisive contributions that
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led to the sur is render of oh general bagoin's army at saratoga in october of 1777. an event equal in importance to america's victory at york town near the end of the war with. now washington early recognized that benedict arnold possessed a unique set of talents. a british his tore yan accurately summarized what washington saw in arnold. to a boundless energy and enterprise he united quick insight into a situation, sound strategic instinct, audacity of movement, a swift and unnering eye in action, great personal daring and true magic of leadership. washington and arnold were never personally close, certainly in the way he would be with someone like lafayette or henry knox. but washington is constantly working closely with arnold and seeks to help him.
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now, there is no doubt benedict arnold has the kind of personality. he's egotistical, arrogant, super sensitive to perceived slights to his honor, dismissive of legislative oversight of the military. that earns him a great many enemies. washington recognized that although arnold is flawed in many ways, he needs him. it's a good principle and washington follows it throughout his leadership career. we must make the best of man kind as they are as we cannot have them the way we wish them ly to be. in thinking about their relationship for my talk tonight, i was reminded of franklin roosevelt's comments about douglas macarthur and huey
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long. by the way, mentioning fdr, if you have not seen the pbs show "the roosevelts," the new ken burns production, it is well worth your time and effort. interestingly, fdr characterized long and macarthur in fdr's words as the two most dangerous men in america. particularly interesting in connection with macarthur. then he explained his goals to an aid. fdr said we must tame these fellows and make them useful to us. george washington is going to do what he can to tame benedict arnold and make him useful to the cause. when or thold was passed over for promotion in 1777, washington wrote him a tactful letter urging him not to let personal slights cause him to resign his commission, begging
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him don't do anything hasty. we can resolve this problem. he urged washington -- these are -- urged arnold. in washington's words, take comfort in a consciousness that you have not deserved the treatment for your exertions for the country. this is a paraphrase of washington's most famous quote from his favorite play by joseph addison. washington uses it to benedict or thold. arnold used it as well. it is a quote.xwr i think it is an excellent quote. it's not in the power of man to assure success. no matter what we do, we can't guarantee it will work. we will do more. we deserve it. that's what he's saying to < r arnold. stay with it. you know you have done the right thing.
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take comfort in that. behind the scenes, washington works tact fully to get arnold his promotion so he'll stay in the service. he has to do it carefully. arnold is dismissive of george washington isn't. one of his greatest contributions is civilian control of the military. but he writes behind-the-scenes to friends in virginia. for example to his good friend richard henry lee. he writes about arnold. he says this. surely a more active -- a more spirited and sensible officer fills no department in your army. he urged lee to speak with the fellow delegates to avoid the loss of such a good officer. as the campaign took place in 1777 and the need for militia, washington was always skeptical
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but knew this wases a case where they had to be employed. washington wrote hancock urging that arnold be sent north to do the job. he's active, judicious and brave. san offer with great confidence. i'm persuaded his presence will assist them greatly and spur them on. well, action with its promise of glory, frankly exhilarated arnold with his commission given back to him. he gives up the threat to resign and the stage is set for him to play the dramatic moments in the battles at saratoga that lead to burgoin's defeat. in this tremendous victory where burgoin and over 5,000 men are forced to surrender, it leads directly to france's recognition of the united states as an
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independent country. rather ironically it leads directly to benedict arnold to go down the road to conspiracy, to treason and infamy. had benedict arnold been among the slain he would have come down to posterity, not as a nefarious villain but a remarkable military hero. if he died at saratoga, there is a new book out. i recommend it. if you are not familiar with it. it's called "sons of the father". washington and his proteges. i have an article on washington and hamilton. quite similar to the one in my book. it has very good chapters. the one on jefferson is frankly the best of all. mentioning jefferson, i'm excited that i'm going to have a
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chance to reinterview thomas jefferson, bill barker, in april of oh next year. put april 15 on your calendar, come back and i will come through the worm hole and try to talk to him about his relationships with washington, et cetera. but if he had died -- of course he doesn't. he was severely injured. same left leg that was almost destroyed at ttattle of quebec earlier in the war. and he survives for the story to unfold. washington wrote letters of condolences, urged him to get better. said, i will find a good spot for you when you do. in may of 1778, and i think a significant date because it's right after france recognizes us as an independent country. washington gives to benedict
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arnold -- had received a valuable set of epaulettes and sword knots from an important frenchman. he gave a pair to benedict arnold as he put it as a testimony of my sincere regard and approbation of your conduct. in a way he's recognizing to arnold, arnold's great importance in the victory. george washington, as i said, is a man of wise judgment. but george washington is a man. like every man he screws up from time to time. he makes bad judgments. he made an horrendous misjudgment, i think, when he decided to take benedict or fold and give him command of the city of philadelphia after general howe's army with drew in 1778. one his tore yan exaggerates but makes the point when he said he could not have treated him more cruelly. to put this man with his grievances and condition in this situation, an ex-tory strong hold sets the stage for trouble.
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you've got to remember arnold is em bittered by what happens in the aftermath of saratoga where gates gets all the credit when he feels he deserves him. from his perspective, he sacrificed virtually his life for the cause.
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one of many quotes from arnold. having made every sack fees of fortune and blood and become a cripple in the service of my country, i little expected to meet the ungrateful returns i received from hi countrymen. he is frankly disillusioned with republican government. it seems, from his perspective it cease run by a group of short-sighted and mainly corrupt officials. feeling this way, concerned with advancing his own economic interest and or thold is always concerned about that. especially after he starts courting the beautiful peggy shippen, the teenage daughter of a wealthy loyalist family, arnold soon runs aground or -- what's the word? runs afoul is a better word, with civilian authorities. he finds himself facing numerous violations. arnold is going to clash. the head of the president of the pennsylvania council is named joseph reed. a very interesting figure in his own right. one of washington's early aids, later a critic. not a man to trifle with. he despised arnold. there's clasheses that leader arnold to be court-martialed on a number of charges which absolutely outrages arnold. and the court-martial takes a year before it can even be held. he's found guilty on two of eight counts. not super serious.
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one of them was denying -- allowing a pass for his shape, the charming nancy. he's in control of the port of philadelphia. he invested in the cargo, lets the ship go. doesn't let other ships go. he is found guilty. he censured him which he does in 1880. while many see the conviction and washington's he opened up a secret correspondence with the british earlier. promising, in effect, much if they would give him much. it is, i think, worth remembering that or thold enters into this negotiation shortly after he signs -- this is a photocopy of his oath of allegiance. denying loyalty to the king. at the end, promising to serve the united states in the office of major general with fidelity according to the best of my skill and understanding. sworn in 1778 with henry knox as a witness.
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now arnold's complicated dealings with the british are beyond the scope of this talk and frankly beyond the scope of my ability. as is the role of his very interesting, beautiful wife peggy shippen who was only a teenager when she marries benedict arnold. and many people see her as a prime figure.
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certainly she's involvedment the ke agree she's involved, take your pick. there is a new book i read "treacherous beauty." the book is better. sounds like what you would pick up for a romantic read on an airplane. it's not a badly researched book. it is interesting that arnold begins his overtures one month after he marrieses peggy. he uses her connections as the intermediary to make the contact with the british. now washington was naturally disappointed that arnold was guilty. he had to follow what the court-martial said to do. he wrote arnold a letter in which he said, i will furnish you as far as in my power the opportunity of regaining the esteem of your country.
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washington had not given up on him. knew his remarkable leadership abilities on the field. and soon fulfills his pledge as arnold begins to recover from his injury by offering benedict arnold command of the left wing of the newly reconstituted american continental army. this is a plumb assignment. arnold's reaction astounds washington. it only made sense in retrospect. later he vividly remembered what happened. arnold's countenance changed. he appeared quite fallen. instead of thanking me or expressing any pleasure at the appointment, never opened his mouth. pleading, lingering effects of his inquiry, as injury. washington learned that arnold would not accept and, indeed, would much prefer a less active role, command of the key fort at west point. he lobbies with general philip skylar wo had the ear of
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washington for this position. it's interesting that skylar writes to arnold. another example of how much washington still admires what arnold has done for thut['9qie9ñ skylar writes back to arnold and says, washington expressed a desire to do whatever is agreeable to you. dwelt on your abilities, merits, sufferings. on the well earned claims you have on your country. once in command of the vital stronghold which prevented the british ships from sailing upriver and basically splitting the new nation in two, arnold puts into motion the final stages of his treasonou uh s correspondence with the commander of the british forces, general sir henry clinton.
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the only thing that remains is a face to face meeting with clinton's operatives to give them the plans for the fort, finalize the price for the treason which is extremely high and, frankly, ensure to the british that this is not some kind of tricky american counter espionage plot but arnold is arnold in what it is planning to do. arnold had developed connections?0&mli with one of the more interesting parts of the story. a young lawyer named joshua smith who is 31. his brother was the chief justice of oh new york state. william smith. smith is one of the figures that is controversial. arnold's aides were convinced he was a tory, that arnold and he were engaged in illegal trade orju@
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something. smith conducts -- let me see, if i move over here.k - this is a good map. can you hear me okay? let's see if i can fool around with my -- there we go. i don't know how well you can read that. is that clear or not? i don't know whether we can make it clearer on this thing. we have to do the best we can. this is smith's home. about 15 miles south of west point. and he meets with smith there. then tells smith to get a pass, go out. this is where major john andre is on the british warship, the vulture. hopefully they will finalize the deal and the trade. arnold tells smith the reason you're going, you're going to
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meet a british merchant named john anderson. john anderson is going to help us get back. this is the robinson house, the home of a tory that arnold has taken over for his headquarters though it's on this side of the river. and what he expects to do, he says we're going to make a deal to get robinson's back to him which in some way, completely unclear to me will help the american cause. under that ruse, smith goes out with a pass to get a pass and brings back major john andre thinking he is a british merchant by the name of john anderson. andre is, in fact, the 30-year-old general of the british army in charge of their espionage and the particular favorite of general clinton. they come ashore.
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they meet, discuss plans, then go to smith's house, continue to discuss and it is ultimately determined the vulture, this british ship, had been driven downstream. that andre can't go back by water. he's going to go back by land instead. and that sets the stage for these dramatic moments that are going to occur. arnold says to smith, "give anderson your coat, he's dressed in a british uniform." why would a british merchant be dressed in a british uniform is a fairly good question. to ask, i would think.
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but he puts on smith's coat and begins his role back by land to british controlled new york with a pass from benedict arnold to guide him through any stops on the way. well, near the town of kerryton, after smith takes him halfway and goes back home leaving him alone, he's stopped by a group of three men, heroes, highwaymen, depending on who you read. they stop him and arnold -- excuse me, andre makes a fatal and really hard to understand mistake.
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seeing that one of the men were wearing a coat like the hessian soldiers wore, in the excitement of the moment andre says, i'm with the british. well, these men were with the americans. once he realized that and tried to bribe them, they didn't accept the bribe and by the way, later got mel talls from the continental congress and pensions. but in retrospect you should have said you're with the americans. if they are with the british you can convince them. if you're with the with americans you get by. but he didn't. that quick moment, as washington expressed it, he said only an unaccountable deprivation of mind in a man of the first abilities led to the unraveling of the conspiracy. ultimately washington could only understand it as divine providence to save the american cause. he later expressed it in no instance since the commencement of the war as the interposition yd8cw
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of providence appeared more conspicuous than in the rescue of the post and gar ary son at west point from arnold's villainous purvey. they bring arnold to a colonel, a man named john jameson. not the brightest bulb on the tree. read it is pass, says someone is forging arnold's name and wants to let bin depict know this is going on. so he sends the pass to arnold. indeed initially he was going to send andre. luckily, one of the more 4>ñ experienced officers came by, benjamin talmidge and said no. keep andre with us. send the correspondence to george washington. you've got two things going on at once. a note going to arnold saying someone is forging your name and here is the pass and the incriminating papers on the way to find washington who, interestingly enough, is in hartford, connecticut, copping back from a meeting, will stop at west point to examine the fort.s hoping to capture washington as
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well as give away the fort. it's conceivable but probably un likely washington himself. missed washington with the papers. had to go all the way to the robinson house. he reads it. realizes the plot is up and that allows him just enough time to run up, kiss his bride who has just given birth to their first child, says it's up, races out, gets the men to row him. he's got to get back to washington.-bm he says you can have two choices. join the british navy or become prisoners of war. they wouldn't join the navy.
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they were prisoners, but fairly soon they were released. in the meantime, washington's coming to west point. arnold's not therement again, he thinks in retrospect, as i'm quoting washington as he later recounted, the impropriety of conduct when he knew i was to be there struck me very forcibly. but it's only when he arrives at the robinson house and the messenger comes with the thing then it dawns on him. sometimes we have information coming, if you think one way, you just miss things. then everything is clear in retrospect.vr if you don't suspect something, rd you can see how shg like this would happen. all of the sudden, everything falls into place. and the realization that major general benedict arnold, who washington had done so much more, and had such confidence in had gone over to the enemy.
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hit george washington with a force of a body blow. remember, he prided himself on his ability to judge men. he once wrote to lafayette, i'm mortified when i find myself mistaken. he was mortified. he took arnold's betrayal not only against the country, but really as a personal betrayal. for a moment, despair overtook the great general. whom can we trust now, he said? according to lafayette's reck litigations, as recorded by robert dale owen -- whether these are exaggerated, i wouldn't doubt it. it's hard to know . but according to owen's recollection of what lafayette said, the great general in an ungovernable burst fell on his friend 's neck and sobbed aloud.
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lafayette said, i believe this is the only occasion throughout that long and sometimes hopeless struggle that washington gave 4 way, even for a moment under a reverse of oh fortune. perhaps i was the only human being whoever witnessed in him an exhibition of feeling so foreign to his temperament. almost immediately, however, and this is the key point, his excellency's remarkable ability to think clearly in times of crisis and danger took over. this is another one of his many talents. most people in times of tension, gun fire, excitement. you don't think clearly. washington somehow has the ability to do that. he immediately moves to strengthen the fort for the possible attack.
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he explores vigorously how widespread the treason was and is. interestingly, over time it was demonstrated, not a single other officer or soldier was involved in arnold's plot. once he learned that, he worked hard to stop a witch hunt. this the moment of -- you're nervous, fearful. we understand fear. look at ebola. fear ebola as someone put it. who else is guilty? there is a rumor that an american general robert howe might be disloyal. washington quickly moved to squelch it and wrote words that are well worth remembering. it will be the policy of the enemy to distract us as much as possible by sowing jealousies. if we swallow the bait, though character will be safe. nothing but mutual distrust. in another interesting footnote,
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richard verik's arnold's aide. when washington finds he's innocent, he's a capable man. he makes verrick his personal secretary as a testimony. he's the man in charge of organizing washington's war records which historians are eternally grateful for as they work through the revolutionary war. the incident also demonstrates washington's force of personality, his capacity for anger and his ability to make tough if controversial decisions. he never got over his anger to washington. when an aide later said, i think arnold is suffering mental he ll for what he did, washington wrote back and said, i'm mistaken if at this time arnold is undergoing the torment of a mental hell. he lacks feeling. he seems to be so is hackneyed in villi, lost to sense of honor
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and shame that while his faculties will allow him to continue his sordid pursuits there will be no time for remorse. later accounts of arnold in great britain before he dies, putting on his american uniform, saluting the flag as you might guess, pure b.s. now washington desperately wants arnold to pay for his life, for his betrayal. whether he actually ok'd a back channel deal, you want to save andre? give us arnold. you can't do it. somebody did it, but of course from clinton's point of view, much as he wants to give them arnold and save andre, you can't give away the most important person that's ever betrayed the country. who else would betray the country. it comes. washington does authorize a very
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daring plot by a lieutenant by the that i mean of john champion of louden county to pretend to desert the american forces. he was almost shot doing it. joining arnold's regiment, following him, learning his habits with the ideañ,hkidnap o o[ him, bring him back. washington didn't want him assassinated. he wants to make a public example by hanging arnold if he could do so. as he expressed it. no circumstances will obtain my consent to being put to death. i want a public example. the plot narrowly fails. it's sad. maybe arnold said providence was on his side, i don't know. he escapes. are a advantages connecticut and virginia during the war and is
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never captured. will outlive washington before dying in great britain in 1801. now certainly joshua smith, who i mentioned before feels the full force of washington's anger and wrath. he writes a memoir in the early 1800s about what happens to him. you have to treat it carefully. but it's an interesting memoir. it reveals -- you know, washington, some of you were at the talk i gave before on the tougher side of washington. this man has a tough side. he could not do what he did. that's part of the reason for success without a certain toughness. when smith is brought face to face right in the midst of what's going on smith presented -- i'm innocent. benedict arnold asked me to do it. he's a general. i did it. i didn't do anything about this. washington wasn't buying it. he warned smith nothing can save him wu a full confession including the identities of his acome pariss. he told smith i have the
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authority to hang you right now. he didn't. but washington is capable of shading the truth if it will make an important point for his cause. later on, smith chastises washington for his -- he called him his prosecutor and declares -- chastises him for his fury, e=3pc malevolence and revenge, later declaring that washington anxiously mediated my destruction. i don't have time for great detail. a lot of people think he was innocent. washington didn't. he was found not guilty. washington wrote the head of the legislature in new york. i'm going to have to let smith go unless you charge him with something else. they got the hint. they charged him quickly.
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he was in prison for nine months. he escapes, gets to new york city. goes to great britain ultimately. seeks compensation as a loyalist. was he guilty? i think he was, myself. at least guilty of knowing what's going on. when you read the court-martial records, smith is a remarkably smart guy. i say does it make any sense to a remarkably smart guy that the british are somehow openly going to try to help william robinson get his home back in a way that's going to promote the patriot cause? as i indicated earlier, the idea that a british merchant, hey, i'm going on the american side, can i wear your uniform please? i feel happy and proud to do it. it's not logical. one person said the choice seems
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either smith was guilty of treachery or stupidity. he was not stupid. so you can draw your conclusion from that. the real challenge facing washington involves this remarkable british general john andre. for our purposes, you need to remember three things. first, andre's guilt under the rules of war is difficult, indeed virtually impossible to refute. andre doesn't come ashore under a flag of truth. if he had -- truce. if he had he would have returned the same way. he was clearly engaged in the espionage plot. he was definitely captured behind enemy lines out of uniform which made him a spy and not a prisoner of war. the accepted punishment for espionage was hanging. but there are two complicating
8:44 pm one is that, as i indicated, he is the absolute favorite of sir henry clinton. clinton loves andre the way washington loves lafayette, to give you a comparable sense of importance. he's going to move heaven and earth, if he can to save him. indeed, clinton had written andre, under no circumstances are you to get out of uniform. andre does things he wasn't supposed to do. but the other complicating factor, frankly, is major andre himself. this young man is clearly a remarkable individual. almost the epitome of a british gentleman of 18th century liberal enlightened gentleman. painting, music, poetry. learning.i
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john laurens is a fascinating figure. could have been a james madison or alexander hamilton. so brilliant. shot and killed in a very obscure skirmish near the end of the war. a great loss. andre, you'd think hamilton is in love with the guy. he writes page after -- he's the most remarkable guy. typical quote. andre did this sketch of himself just before he was taken out to be executed. he gave it to his prison guard. >> andre united a peculiar elegance of mind and mannerers and the advantage of a pleasing person. his knowledge appeared without ostentation, embellished by a diffidence that rarely accompanieses so many talents
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and accomplishments. goes on and on. when hamilton writes his fiance, he says i wish i could be like andre. andre knows he's doomed. he only has one request. he writes a moving letter to george washington -- shoot me like a soldier. don't hang me like a common thief or a spy. ast as most of you know, washington hung him in a very emotional hanging indeed. this is a contemporary drawing. benjamin talmidge, a very interesting person. he said he was never moved by any man as much as he was moved by meeting andre who he was in charge of him as a prisoner. he wrote, when i saw him swinging it seemed for a time that i could not support it. all of the spectators seemed to be overwhelmed by the spectacle and many were suffused with tears. washington is severely criticized for this.
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washington, in clinton's mind, this is premeditated murder. inexcusable and never to be forgiven. a widely read poem at the time said this about washington. oh, washington. i thought thee great and good. nor knew thy nero oh thirst for guiltless blood. severe to use the power that fortune gave. t hou cool, determined murderer of the brave. pretty tough. hamilton wrote to his bride and said, i must inform you that i urged the compliance with andre's request to be shot. i do not think it would have had
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an ill effect. but some people , i.e. george washington with, are only sensible to motives of policy and sometimes from a narrow disposition mistaken.6y when andre's tale comeses to be told the present resentment is over oh. refusing him the privilege of choosing the manner of death will be branded. in a sense, washington has a heart of stone. he doesn't have a heart of stone. sometimes a leader has to act like he has a heart of stone. as douglas freeman rightly points out, i think, it was the duty of general washington to see that sentiment did not prompt leniency toward a man engaged in the most dangerous conspiracy that the war had yet hatched. washington is a stickler for discipline. once you start violating the rules, you open a pandora's box
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of all sorts of other problems coming. he admired andre as a person. he has no ill will toward andre. he thinks he's a victim of circumstances. he's not a guilty man. when he was -- he never interviewed andre. he didn't respond to his letter g.x so he'd give him hope at least up until the last minute rather than ruin him earlier. he didn't go to his execution either. he wrote that andre has met his fate. with that fortitude which was to be expected from an accomplished man and a gallant officer which he recognized. but washington felt he had to hang him and he had the courage to do so. to view washington through the events surrounding arnold's treason, i think gives us just one more little window into the
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character of america's matchless man. the story reveals the very human side of washington. he made serious errors of judgment regarding arnold. he revealed his anger and forceful at times, almost frightening persona in his treatment with joshua smith and his desire to punish arnold. as morris said, he was a man of tumultuous and violent passions. then to prevent witch hunting in the aftermath of it. he had i think the strength of character to make the hard but ultimately correct decisions
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regarding andre and willing to take the severe criticism for his action. benedict arnold's treason in 1780 is one of a number of events that threatened america. this is a very dark time for the american revolution. washington had a patient in suffering. washington was able to inspire his men and can still inspire us. keep the face -- faith. convinced in time we keep the faith with providence as help the glorious cause will, in fact, not be lost but will be victorious. he couldn't know that only a little more than a year from this time yorktown would occur and the tide would turn and independence would swing the american way.
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thanks for your good attention. [ applause ] anyone who needs to leave that's fine. we usually have a time for question and answer. i always kind of start out -- you can ask want. lots of questions i can't answer. i don't mind you asking. we are being taped by c-span. i don't know what they will do with the first joke. at any rate -- if you have a question, there are people with a microphone on the side. they will bring it to you< you can ask the question in the microphone so that they will be
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able to hear it clearly. and we will go from there.d people will pass things along to them. >> i know this is a lot of conjecture i'm going to ask you. but without benedict arnold winning -- at least succeeding and then also helping determine what happened at the battle of saratoga, do you think america could have won the revolutionary war without those two things that i just mentioned? >> i spend little time figuring
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what would have happened if something else had occurred. certainly, saratoga was crucial. french support for america is essential for us to win our independence in a formal end of the war fashion. i think the british could have ultimately given up and not won the war. but we wouldn't have ended it with a treaty of paris recognizing boundaries acknowledging american independence. so the likelihood of a much more divisive group of little countries would be much more likely. in that sense, it's very important. i'm not a military historian. i don't know enough specifically on andre's contributions, whether we could have won saratoga without him. certainly major contributions. it was a crucial event. he played a viewq shall role in it. that is worth remembering.
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>> i assume arnold remained in great britain. was he treated with honor and respect? was he looked at as somebody who had acted treasonously toward his country? >> the question basically was whether arnold -- what happened after? how did the british treat him? he was to become a again in the british army. there are secret orders to his subordinates they have the right to arrest him if necessary. no one likes a traitor. they will use him. no one likes him. john andre has a wonderful crypt in london in memory of him. he becomes a hero for his patriotism.
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arnold is a wheeler dealer he invests in land. runs into trouble. actually ends up with an illegitimate child that undoubtedly caused peggy a certain amount of heartache. she stays with him throughout his life. he does get a significant amount of money even in failure and a pension. his life is not a happy one. there's a letter that she wrote i forget to whom that i read in this book. her life with him does not turn out to be very happy either. although, she certainly loved him and they have a close loving relationship in the early years of their marriage. >> wasn't peggy -- wasn't she involved in thish3zi conspiracy? it sounds like we should feel
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sorry for her. i don't. >> george washington felt sorry -- what was peggy's role? no one is sure. with the discovery of the clinton papers there's a book "the secret history of the war" makes clear that peggy was involved to the degree -- she's not involved where benedict arnold, i want to be a good patriotic soldier you betray or i won't sleep with you, it's not that -- she doesn't have that power. but she is a tory. she feeds on his frustration. the fact that he does it so soon after marriage. and although he writes a letter to washington saying, peggy is absolutely innocent, it's clear it's a lie. she acts crazy. george washington comes in. she has a child at her breast and it's not clear whether sheatfz bares her breast. she says there are people --
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washington is trying to kill me. there are people coming out the ceiling at me. washington writes -- alexander hamilton writes, this is a shame. aaron burr says she's guilty. but he knew a lot of women. at any rate washington is sympathetic to her, allows her to go back to her family in philadelphia from which she then goes and joins arnold. we know more than people did at the time. washington -- in terms of actual judgment, there's another case where he didn't judge correctly. in the framework of the 18th century, he did almost the inevitable response to her distress. any other questions? there's one here. >> i know very little about -- i was going to say hamilton.
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not hamilton, arnold. i want to know why was he not promoted in the beginning? wha-k(d happened that he did not get his promotion? second of all, is there anything written that maybe he was just a sociopath or a psychopath? i would not say he's a sociopath or psychopath. my son was a psychiatry -- psychology professor at james madison describes man as the justifying animal. benedict and has arnold has a wayn)
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he rubs people the wrong way. it's a complicated story which i don't know all the details of. but the main thing is look the fact that you are mistreated in the army that doesn't justify you becoming a traitor to the enemy. he was -- there's a book by james kirby martin, who is a friend of aqdxmine, on benedict arnold, it's probably the best view of arnold. he's more sympathetic to arnold than i am. he feels that arnold becomes convinced that the american government is a failure. republicanism cannot work. and if it cannot work, the french are likely to end up taking us over. the better course of action is to reassess our relationship with great britain. when he signs some of his early correspondence with great britain, he signed the name monk. general monk was a british
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general after kromcromwell's civil war broke up. restored charles the second and becomes a hero. in his mind he sees himself doing a kind of restoration to the proper relationship since this system is not going to work. that's the way he sees it. i mean he cannot get over the personal. and he's a very greedy man. i mean, you read these letters. the way he negotiates for money, we're talking about in terms of1)g modern money millions of dollars he hopes to get for this. not at the time but if you try to ratchet it up. there are a -- the book i like best actually is an older book by willard wallace called "traitor's hero." i think that's a pretty good treatment. james -- there is a book by david palmer, a military retired
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military general on arnold and washington. that has some interesting points in it as well. if there's another question, go ahead. >> what role do you think played into benedict arnold's treacherous behavior was based on his inability to pay his troops? >> to pay his troops? i can't answer that with absolute specifics. he is constantly complaining about that. sometimes advancing his own things and wanting to be reimbursed. it's just a general growing disillusionment of a man who sacrificed almost his life. these were not minor leg injuries. these are severe injuries where he will be crippled for the rest of his life.
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and then to be treated from his perspective so poorly kind of justifies his action. might have time for one or two more questions. i'm going to close up shop. it's just about 6:30. did i see one more question? >> i wanted to ask you if you could speak with either of those gentlemen today -- i use gentlemen term loosely what question would you ask of mr. washington and what question would you ask benedict arnold if you had the chance to talk to both of those gentlemen today? >> probably, if i hadd to talk to general washington, i probably wouldn't ask about benedict arnold. how much have i screwed up my interpretation of you so i could get it right in the future. and benedict arnold, you know, guilty. you have -- it's always a joy
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for me to come. you are a friendly group a knowledgeable group. i hope i have the chance to keep coming back in the future. thanks for your attention. [ applause ] you've been watching american history tv on c-span3 and we want to hear from you. follow us on twitter@c-span history, connect with us on facebook at history where you can leave comments and check out and check out upcoming programs. every sunday eastern on american history tv, it is "reel america," featuring archival films from the government, industry and educational institutions. taking viewers on a journey through the 20th century. "reel america," every sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3. the 114th congress gavels in on tuesday at noon eastern. we'll see the swearing-in of
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members and the election of the house speaker. watch the house live on c-span and the senate live on c-span2. with the new congress you'll have the best access on the c-span networks with the most extensive coverage anywhere. track the gop as it leads on capitol hill and have your say as events unfold on tv, radio and the web. next on american history tv, it was a great surprise to the u.s. government when the soviet union tested its first atomic bomb in 1949. an historian with the international spy museum, vince houghton, talks about how it may have led to the atomic bomb. the spy museum and smithsonian co-hosted this 90-minute event. >> we are delighted today to have our o


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