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tv   American History TV  CSPAN  January 24, 2015 11:43am-12:01pm EST

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aire heart collection. find the complete schedule at www.c-span.org and let us know what you think. call us, e-mail us, or send us a tweet. join the c-span conversation like us on facebook, follow us on twitter. >> this year, c-span is touring cities across country, exploring american history and next, look at our recent visit to wheeling west virginia. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. >> we are in the federal district court room of the united states customhouse of wheeling virginia, finished in 1959. that is now known as west virginia independence hall. this is the birthplace of the great state of west virginia during the american civil war.
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it will be the place where conventions are held that will form a new government for virginia, a government for virginia loyal to the united states and the union. this new government over virginia will then create the new state of west virginia. our nation was in the midst of a terrible civil war. those in eastern virginia, predominantly, were supportive of the confederacy. so, when virginia takes her vote for secession, the last vote on april 17, 1861, the majority of of the virginia delegates will vote to secede from the united states and to join the southern confederacy.
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those voters from northwestern virginia, who were overwhelmingly against secession, they would come back to this side of the mountains in west virginia. they would have mass meetings, public meetings, to decide what northwestern virginia would do and they decided they needed to have a place for a more formal convention and wheeling would be the place rest to have that convention. it would be safe, given that it is this wedge of land between the great and powerful union states of ohio and pennsylvania. there were safety there. it was a place for them to meet, to formulate a plan, and to embark upon one of the most incredible experiments in our american history, and the only successful secession movement in american history. there were a lot of issues that brought this thing to a head. it came about over decades. they had issues to do with taxation and representation. for western virginians who were not large slaveholders like eastern virginians were -- at the beginning of 1861, there were 475,000 slaveholders in the state of virginia before
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dismemberment, and only up rocks -- -- approximately 18,000 went with west virginia. slaves counted as 3/5 of a person toward the total of your representation. the more slaves you have in the area, the more people you get to send to the representative in richmond. if you consider the numbers i told you, 18,000 in western virginia versus 475,000 in eastern virginia, it is clear to see who has dominated the state legislature. that was an issue with western virginians. the other had to do with taxation. again, the laws of virginia gave an 80% tax break for the property of slaves. western virginians would also crop about this.
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they are not depended on that system. the number one property of eastern virginians were human beings and western virginians with their largely free labor system, they paid full tax on it. they cried foul about that. issues of taxation and representation. internal improvements. western virginians wanted roads bridges, canals. eastern virginians were more concerned with the agricultural south than western virginia's means. our social relations were all to the north and west. the commercial relations were to the north and west. all of our river ways, creeks, and streams flow to the north and west and we were separated from them geographically by the grand alleghany mountains. so, all of those things taken together over many years, they kind of came to a head. along comes the american civil war and reignite some of those tensions between east and west virginia and it would be here in wheeling where they would jump
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on that opportunity. that is one thing our story here has to teach everyone. when you are presented with an opportunity, you must take it, because if they had not, it simply would not have worked out. among the other things that would occur at the customhouse the formation of the restored government of virginia, the signing of the declaration of the rights for the people of west virginia. the name of our state was debated here in this room. the shape of our state was decided in this room. the constitution or our new state was also written in this state. and altogether we consider this to be the very birthplace of the state of west virginia. the gentleman here had no idea this would work out. the governor they would elect of this restored government of west virginia, he once referred to what happened here as "a fearful
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experiment," fearful being the operating word. they knew if the confederacy were to win the war, likely they would be seen as traders to -- traders -- traitors to in the 19th century, if you are guilty of treason, you will be hung by the neck until dead. that is what they had to lose in this and indeed when they signed that declaration of rights, all of these men signed their names, just as our founding fathers signed their names on the declaration of independence. the confederate governor of virginia put out a call for the capture, and so that is what they had to face in this fearful experiment, as the governor described. he was a lawyer from marion county, west virginia.
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fairmont is the city he lived in. pierpont never thought of himself as a politician. he never thought at the end of the war he would become the governor of a new government for virginia. he was a person placed in a set of circumstances to which he reacted. the reason he was unanimously voted by the body here to be the governor of this restored government was because he was the principal architect of this restored government. it was his idea. he was the one who set at home reading the constitution and came across the article that gave him the idea that they could use to form this new state and it said simply this. if you are going to make a new state from a parent state, the legislature of that parent state has to give its permission. what did western virginians do? we formed our own legislature, which then gave itself permission to form in a state.
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-- form a new state. that is how it happened. now you can scratch your head and say, how does that work? is that even legal? well, yes, because we followed the law of the constitution and thankfully for our story, the united states won the civil war. if they do not win the civil war, our story here is completely different. but this is the government for virginia here in wheeling that is the government recognized by the congress by president lincoln and eventually also by the supreme court. we are a state because of abraham lincoln. he was faced with the question of west virginia statewide. -- statehood. he was not happy, i can tell you, to have this bill on his desk. he had a pretty full plate at the time. lincoln had become -- it became a political decision for lincoln to create the new state of west virginia. he had a cabinet of six people. he took the question to his cabinet. he asked them to vote on the issue of west virginia's date -- statehood.
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three for three against. his cabinet was evenly split. so, it would be abraham lincoln who would be the deciding vote to create the state of west virginia. now he got the bill for west virginia statehood in the middle of 1862. he signed it on december 31, the very last day that he could have signed it, he did sign it, and it is an important note that a few days later he would issue the emancipation proclamation. for abraham lincoln, the issuing of west virginia statehood followed by the emancipation is a one-two political punch. wheeling is the first capital of the new state of west virginia from 1863 until 1870. then it will go to charleston. there it will be for five years. they will bring it back to wheeling for the second time in 1875, and it will remain there for the next 10 years until 1885 and then it goes back to charleston.
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because the records went up and down the river, it was known as the floating capital. the customhouse was never the capital of west virginia, but for 2.5 years, it was the capital of the commonwealth of virginia -- that means the whole state, from charleston to the chesapeake. if you are loyal to the union, then this was your government. wheeling was your capital and this was your government. if you are loyal to the union. if you are not, you recognized the government in richmond. the richmond government did not recognize this government, this government did not recognize the richmond government. the important thing is the united states of america recognize the restored government in wheeling as the legitimate government of virginia. by the way, that brings up an important point. this is the only city in our nation that can say it was the capital of two different states.
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it is incredibly important story. it is important story not just for wheeling, not just for west virginia. this is an important story for our nation's history, because it is unprecedented. it had to do with the terrible tragedy of the american civil war. but it teaches that again, and you are presented with those opportunities, you have to do -- you have to take them. >> find out where c-span's local content vehicles are going next, online at www.c-span.org/local content. you were watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3.
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>> each week, american history tv is real american -- reel america that help tell the story of the american experience. this is a 1978 film the traces the history of energy sources and the night is aids from human and animal power -- in the united states from human and animal power to gasoline and nuclear. >> using energy freely to live and move, make and produce. ♪ the hopes of the past are overflowing -- four overflowing abundance are seeming real. the very control over nature and our forefathers worked so hard to achieve has led to a crisis in our time, different than any they had encountered. the fuels they thought inexhaustible are being used up, rapidly.
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america is running out of gas. and it is our turn to seek new ways to generate power. each time we have shifted to new sources of power history tells us, it has taken 60 years. america cannot afford to wait. ♪ to promote a national effort, a federal agency has been created to plan the best use of our present resources. to mobilize science, industry, and government, to develop new sources of energy. and to accomplish this without injuring the environment. it's an american tradition confidence in man's hours of invention.
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every promising sources being explored, from machines that drop our out of the free-flowing tides of air and sunlight, confusion, our massive effort in the complex field of nuclear reactions. with the promise of power that is truly limitless. producing more energy would be meaningless without conservation. a major study focuses on america's favorite means of transportation. searching for engines that will go much farther, for much less fuel. battery-powered cars are being tested, and a variety of other power plants to save energy. the interest of future drivers show is more than curious, it's a look into the next 20 years. still another long-range effort -- studies how to extract oil
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trapped in layers of rock, oil shale. what prospectors of the past thought worthless is crushed and processed in a pilot plants, a small-scale trial of full production that a 19th-century capitalist would have envied. what comes out is oil, along with the data on recovery that will guide further development. >> here are some of our featured programs for this begins on the c-span networks. on c-span2, tonight at 10:00 former governor mike huckabee on america's current political and cultural landscape. sunday night at 11:00, princeton university historians examine lyndon b. johnson, as part of his great society.
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on american history tv on c-span3, tonight at 8:00 eastern, the university of california davis professor on the role of the british royal air force and allied strategy during world war ii. sunday evening at 6:00 on american artifacts, the archivist at the purdue university special collections to ours the amelia ehrhardt collection. find the complete television schedule at www.c-span.org and let us know what you think about the programs you are watching. call us, e-mail us, or send us a tweet. join the conversation, like us on facebook. follow us on twitter. >> author john mckee barr talks about "loathing lincoln: an american tradition from the civil war to the present."
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he says in order to understand why lincoln is revered, it is important to understand the criticisms of his detractors. including the charge that he exceeded the powers of the presidency granted by constitution. the lincoln group of the district of columbia hosted this one hour 20 minute event. >> good evening. i am former vice president of the lincoln group and the district of columbia. it is my honor and privilege to invite tonight's speaker, john mckee barr, a professor of history at lone star college kingwood, for the past seven years, teaching among other things a class on darwin and lincoln, who were born on the same day. that is a pregnant historical coincidence. before that, he was a high school teacher in the houston public school system. that is good preparation for the kind of flack he has to put up

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