tv Book Discussion on The Invisibles CSPAN February 27, 2016 9:00pm-10:01pm EST
>> so there is the possibility that we are being too gentle about this and it is not appear accident there was a political subtext to the book but it is the political agenda driving the selection of the book. the national association of scholars is friendly to that point of view and said we would rather leverage it in our previous years of presentation on this and in some of the o op-eds we have been writing about it.
adapted for young people by warren st. john. it's been written down -- when you doubt that it's for young people. he took 100 pages out of it. so this is the shorter version. but the title rather nicely captures the spirit of this whole enterprise. the outcast united students are taught to think of themselves as outcasts. they're united in coming together in this oppositional enterprise in which they're going to generate a newer who
wholesome, culture, and that's a main reason why classic books written before they were born are so few. 91% of the books signed in common reading programs around the country this year were written after these children were born. 91%. so, it's as though the written word hardly existed before they did. there are few sort of hints there might have been something written down in english earlier, but you have to go to some pretty faraway colleges in southern utah and places like that, i would say there is a major exception right here in new york city columbia university assigned illyid. it's a story in which, what are we up to 350 colleges a year
that assigned this. the great majority of them have taken the easy path into a world in which the books are unchallenging, the constant of them is overtly political. there is a quality of intellectual call -- squalor that has overtaken the enter press. the national association of scholars, a duty to be optimistic to try to find something in this that can redeem thisser into price. -- enter prize. it coverages are not going to create a core curriculum, common reading me a only be a band-aid but at least it's a band-aid, and therefore let is find the best band-aids we can. certainly enrique's journey don't make the cut. we need something a little bit better than that, and some persuasion on the part of those who do like to read, can go a
long way. i imagine every single person in this room is here because books have changed your life. something that you read at some point, that turned on your life and made you somebody who wanted to read for the rest of your life. and you care about that. we want you to take that caring into the public discussion. it's great to publish a 200 page report about this and hang our heads and say, what a sad situation it is, but all of you have friends and influences and family members who care about these things, too. so we urge you to go out and talk about this. let gate conversation started in this country of better books for the beach, and maybe beyond the beach, not just sand castles. we're looking for something more substantial. i thank you for coming. thank you for having us. [applause] >> oklahoma land rush, i'm
giving away copies of my books as long as they last. i'm not sure if we're giving them away or selling them. you can make a choice. >> they're half price, actually. injury thanks again for coming. hope we'll see you at future events. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> booktv is on twitter. follow to us get publishing news, author information and talk directly with authors
during our live programs. twitter.com/booktv. >> i'll begin by saying i'm delighted to welcome jesse holland as he presents his second book "the invisibles: untold story of african-americans in the white house." holland is a nationally recognized journalist and media authority who has corrected hundreds of articles on african-american history, politics, news, in addition to the supreme court. he makes regular paneses on c-span's warm journal, news now, and evening exchange. also long-standing contributor and political reporter for the "associated press" and one of the supreme court correspondents. and his first book, "black men don't make capital" he pointed out buildings and monuments and structures, including the capitol dome statue of freedom, that were constructed at least
in part be enslaved black men. he focuses on overlooked roles that african-american froms have played in the history of the white house. of our first 12 presidents presf our country, each of them brought slaves to the capital. here holland documents the experiences of men and they're financiallies at 1600 pennsylvania and profiles attitudes towards race. the courage, expertise, and fortitude of the slaves held by u.s. presidents. calling them invisibles a contribution to a complete history of our complex nation, one that is worth savioring, and publishes -- savoring, and answer many hard history county questions and revealing how little tribute has been given to the conscious use of enslave
americans. i present jesse holland. [applause] >> good evening, everyone. glad to see everybody survived the snow. i'm so glad to actually be here tonight. this is actually going to be my first time talking in public i made a couple of preparations to friends and peers but this is the first time i've taken the show on the road basically and i'm a little nervous, but i'm glad everyone actually came out to sit and listen tonight. the entitle of the book is "the
invisibles: the untold story of african-american slaves in the white house." a project i have been working on since 2008-2009. actually started out as an idea i had while i was writing on the -- righting on the campaign bus of then-senator barack obama. we were back in chicago, where he had gone for a weekend stay at his house, and i remember sitting on the campaign bus, and thinking, what am i going to write next? i had just finished up my first book, which was called "black men built the capitol: discovering african-american history in and around washington, dc," and i knew i wanted a followup, and everyone was talking about the historic barack obama campaign, that if he had won, if he wins, he would be the first black president,
the first african-american president to live inside the white house. and i knew there was something there but i couldn't put my hands on it. i sat there and thought and thought, and then it hit me, part of what i did in my first book was talk about how slaves helped build the u.s. capitol and the white house, and then my mind went a little further. well, if they helped build the white house, then they must have helped the white house run, because those same presidents who were slaveholders in their home plantations, they didn't stop being slaveholders when they moved to washington. they must have brought some of them with them. there had to be a story there. that meant that barack obama wouldn't be the first black man to live in the white house. he would just be the first president. but no one knew who these people
were. and i knew i had it right then and there. that is what i was going to write about. i was going write about the slaves who lived in the white house. now, after i had that -- i remember being so excited that i had this idea. i remember calling my editor and saying, this is what i want to write. this is what i want to do. she said, calm down. and make sure you're doing something that you think is worthy of spending time on. so, after i wrote my first book, i knew i wanted to become better at writing books, so i actually went back to school. i went to college, and made this part of my -- my people are here, yeah! so the invisibles started out as
my thesis. so i've been working on this since i entered college in 2012. i came out in 2012 -- entered in 2010, came out in 2012, and the thesis is the first part of the book, and i kept writing on it for a couple of years itch want to acknowledge one person here tonight before guy any further because all the time i took writing this book would have been completely impossible if not four the support of my wife, carol, who is sitting right there. [applause] but the finished project, "what the invisibles" does is, i hope, restore some of the dignity that these people lost through their circumstances. they were slaves. of u.s. presidents.
but even though they lived at the most famous address in the united states, very little is known about their lives. and even to this day, most of what we learn about them comes from what other people saw, because to the people in their times, they were property. they weren't worth recording. their lives weren't worth recording outside of ledge jersey, out of letter -- ledgers, outside of letters, so hopefully this brings a little bit of that dignity back to them there are couple of passages from the book i want to read to you tonight. i'll start with this one. over the last few weeks there's been a little trouble in the publishing world bat children's book about george washington slaves. there was a children's book going to be published about a
birthday cake for george washington and the book would talk about how happy two of george washington's slaves were for baking a birthday cake for george washington. and as you might not be surprised, people weren't very happy about the fact that they were going to write a book about how happy these people were to be enslaved and baking a birthday cake for george washington. when i heard i thought, wait a minute, know that name. the person that they -- the book was going to be about was a slave named hercules. hercules was one of these white house slaves i write about, and i want to read you a little bit about him because as you can see from the reading, hercules wasn't very happy to be a slave.
now, to set this up, george washington never actually lived inside the white house. he lived in executive mansion in both new york and philadelphia. and this -- at this time period, george washington is getting ready to end his second term as president. and he is getting -- and hercules is with him in the executive mansion, in the president's house, is actually still there in philadelphia. so i'll pick up there. hercules was a clear favorite of the washington family, who described him in glowing terms for years afterwards. quote, he was a dark brown man, little, if any. above about the usual size, yet possessed of such great muscular power as to be compared with his name sake of fabulous history.
upon alice's death, martha washington orderedded that hercules be given three bottles of rum to bury his wife, and his skills and discipline in the kitchen were legendary. this quote, the chief cook gloried in the kingliness and nicety of the kitchen. under his iron discipline, woe to his under lings if speck or spot could be discovered on the tables or dressers, or if utensils did not shine like polished silver. with the luckless white's who had offendses these particulars there was no arrest or punishment, for judgment and execution went hand in hand, custus said. because of this skill, hercules got privileges other slaves could only dream of. there were tickets to see a play in the theater, and spectacular riding acrobatics see circus,
hercules was allowed to own his own business in philadelphia and keep the money he made. the slave chef sold the leftover foods like animal skins, used tea leaves, and rendered tarow that were not used in the president's mail to outsiders, apparently with the washington family's blessing. and four a slave who was unused to having any money of his own. hercules' little side business was apparently very lucrative. money, quote, from the slops of the kid, were one or $200 a year, cust just reported. what did hercules do with the money? he decided he was tired of the clothes that washington provided him and went out and purchased all new clothes of his own. his -- linen was of unexceptional whiteness in quality. then black silk shirts, did to
waistcoat, ditto stockings, shoes highly poll issued and a large buckle. blue cloth coat with velvet color and bright metal buttons, a long watch change dangling, a top hat and gold-headed cane completed he grand costume of the celebrated dandies; for there were dandies in those days of the president's kitchen custus said. hercules soon became known for his dapper wardrobe, in which he would stroll proudly down the streets of philadelphia to see and be seen. many were not surprised on bee holding such extraordinary a personage, while others, who knew him, would make a formal and respectful bow that they might receive in return the salute of one of the most polished gentlemen and the very -- of nearly 60 years ago.
hercules status was at the top of the slave society, and into thieves white american society. there's a portrait believed to be of hercules paint bid gilbert famous painting of george washington. hercules gazes out across history, quote, a large cinnamon colored man in immaculate chef whites with a kerchief around his neck, and a toke, says an historian and author of "the welcome table." african-american heritage cooking. but despite his fancy clothes, and wonderous culinary creations for the presidents, his family and their get guests, hercules was still a slave. he chafed at his life's restrained, one of which was his frequent back and forth trips to mt. vernon required by the from assure that his philadelphia slaves never became free, and
then only judge escaped from the president's house which apparently changed washington's attitude toward his beloved slaves. judd's shape brought questioning of the rest of the president's house slaves about their loyalty to their master. they obvious hill knew about the six-month time limit but hercules tried to quell any doubts that washington had about whether he was thinking about following judge's example, according to lear, washington's secretary in 1791. quote, some day i presume somebody, i presume, insip waited to him that the motive for sending him home so long before you was expected there, was to prevent his taking advantage of a six-month residence in this place. when he was possessed of this idea he appeared to be extremely unhappy, and although he made not the least objection to beginning, yet he was more
identify a suspicion could be made to his fidelity. so much did the poor fellow's feelings appeared to be touched, to show him there was no an preparation of that kind entertained of him, mrs. washington told him he should not go to that time but might remain until the are and racing of the six months and then -- expiration of the six months and then go home to prepare for your arrival there. he has accordingly continued here until his time and tomorrow takes departure for virginia. and then there was richmond. hercules' son was clearly not a favorite of washington's. around 14 when he came to philadelphia, richmond only lasted one year, and was sent back to mt. vernon in 1791. and because of richmond, washington got his first inkling that hercules might not be as content in captivity as the president thought. richmond was caught stealing money at mt. vernon in
november 1796, according to a letter washington sent while the president was wrapping up his affairs in philadelphia. washington clearly hoped that hercules had nothing to do with it, but decided to warn the overseers just in case the slave cook was concocting something with his son. quote, i hope richmond was made an example of, for the robbery committed on the saddle bags, i wish he may not have been put upon it by his father, although i had no -- never had any suspicion of his dishonesty of the latter. for the purpose, perhaps, of a journey together, washington said in a throat william pierce on november 14, 1796, quote, this will make a watch with it being suspected by or intimated to them necessary. nor i would have the suspicions communicated to any other lest it produce more harm than good. richmond was eventually demoted to simple laborer, but now
washington was worried about hercules. so during his final months in philadelphia, when he sent his slave back to mt. vernon to ensured they stayed his property, he ordered that hercules be left behind when it came time to take his ann entourage back to philadelphia. this had to come as a shock to the chef who by now had become accustomed to city life. hercules, who had been known for his fine silk clothes, suddenly found himself that november in the course linens and woolens of a field slave. washington ordinaries him placed out in the field with the other slaves, digging clay, for 100,000 bricks. spreading dung, grubbing bushes, and smashing stones into sand, to coat the houses on the property, according to farm reports and a november memo from washington to his farm manager, quote, that will keep them out of idleness and mischief,
washington wrote. by february 1797, hercules had had enough. before dawn on february 22, 1797, the slave chef made his break for freedom from mt. vernon. interestingly enough, hercules chose george washington's 65th 65th birthday as the day of his escape, perhaps hoping the festivities going on around the president's celebration would mask his disappearance, or perhaps think can that anyone who saw him out on the open roads would assume the well known chef was out to procure an item for washington's party. regardless of his reasonings, hercules' plan was successful. he simply vanished. with no one the wiser. there has not been found any evidence of a manhunt or even an acknowledgment of hercules' departure for at least four days.
february 25th, 1797, weekly farm report discovered recently by mt. vernon historian, mary thompson, simply says: hercules absconded four days ago. maybe he was going out 0 get to some stuff to bake that birthday cake. so, this is what life was really like when people were trying to write a book saying that george washington's slaves were happy to be there, and glad to be baking him a birthday cake. well, you know, i don't think hercules was very happy to be there. there are stories like this all throughout the white house slaves. a lot of them were just victims of circumstance. they were born into slavery. a lot of them didn't like and it
made the best of the circumstances as they could. everyone who -- every slave who worked in the white house wasn't happy. most of them weren't. there will exceptions, though. out of all of the slaves' lives i've looked at in the white house, there was at least one person i found who actually wouldn't scene even when given the chance help decided it was better to be a slave in the white house than be free, and i want to read you about him. this is one named elyas polk. because of this popularity after
jane polk's death we know nor about elias polk's life outside of the white house. he was born in north carolina in 1805 and moved to tennessee when he was just a baby. polk would brag for the rest of his life that he had encountered every president from john quincy adams through grover cleveland, including tennessee celebrity andrew jackson, who made a great impression on the young slave. quote. it was his delight all his life to tell how the famous soldier noticed him. general jackson -- when he was ready to leave, elias was sein sent around for his horse, big gray animal. old hickory, after he mounted, reader back and putting his hand in his pocket, put out -- pulled out a six and four pence which he gave to the little seven year fellow. elias polk was given to the
future president when he was 12-year-old child, and james polk was headed to college, after serving as a valet and body servant for polk, elias polk started driving his master to washington, dc and staying in the capitol with him. having spent his entire adult live with polk, elias polk became very attached and wouldn't leave even when given the chance. while on his way to washington for the first time as president, the polks were right aboard the steamboat china when it docked in cincinnati and a group of abolitionists boarded. the men and women demanded to know whether polk had any slaves aboard because their intent was to free them. a friend of polk went to the president elect to tell the president elect what was happening, and the president elect sent back this message:
mr. polk wishes -- he thinks eating their dinner. he says that you are at perfect liberty to interview them and offer them whatever inducement you like. the says, furthermore, that should his servants wish to go with you, they are free to go. but according to author romeo garren, the slaves were not ready to go. expecting to be hailed at delivering angels and thanks with shout's hallelujah and praise the lord, the abolitionists were first bewildered and then irate. they could not persuade the pair to leave their master, he said in the book, the president and the negro, and today's parlance, elias polk would have been a complete uncle tom. a black man more in love with his own cappers than with the idea of freedom. elias polk proved over and over where his loyalties were, even
when given a chance to be free. quote: it was elias' custom to drive his master in his carriage to washington. the first journey was made in 1826 when james polk was elected a member of congress. on one of these trips after the tennessean had become president, a night was spent at wilkes -- barre, pennsylvania. the next day several white men roosevelt him and asked him if he didn't know he was slave. he was in state where a man could not be held a slave and all he had to do was believe his master couldn't do a thing. quote do you think i want to go back on the president that way? no, sir, you don't know me. i'd sooner doo die than run off. the president happened to be near and heard this. he was greatly pleased and the next day surprised his faithful valet by speaking of him and told him whenever he wanted his freedom, he could have it.
but polk wouldn't larry -- wouldn't hear of it and stayed with the president for the president's entire life. quote, he was always a trusted and faithful servant, said sarah polk. so as you can see there were at least one person who was a white house slave and wouldn't take freedom even when it was offered to him, at least twice. but the majority of these men and women didn't want to be there. this was their life. this is what life handed them. and they made the best they could out of the life they had. part of the reason why i got into this project is because these people's lives were truly invisible. we didn't know anything about them. we didn't know where they came from or where they went after the finished their time at the
white house with the president. most of the presidents told their slaveses that they would be freed after the presidents died, and many of them kept those promises. some did not. some presidents even said that we'll free you after i die or after my wife dies. now, while that may seem to be altruistic on the part of the presidents, many of the first ladies who outlived their husbands had at problem here. the people who were cooking their food, living in their house, who they depend on for their day-to-day lives, all they had between them and freedom was one person's life.
so quite a few first ladyies freed the -- treated their household slaves before they died, and a couple of them even mentioned it in their letters they thought it was prudent not to quite wait so long to keep -- to free their slaves. now, i've had a couple of people ask me since the book has been published, why is the book called "the invisibles"? part of the reason why i'm doing this is that a lot of these stories were not readily available. because these people were enslaved, their lives were literally invisible. to find their story wed lad to
go back and look in ledgers. we lad to go back and read between the lines of presidential memoirs, read between the lines of presidential letters, to try to piece together some of these stories, to give some of these people their names and their dignity back. a lot of the work is here, but one of the things i continually say is this is still just the first step, because despite this being history, we're still finding out new things every day. i actually had someone e-mail me just two days ago with a painting she thought she found that could be our first time finding a true painting of hercules, that she found when she was in italy. so we're still finding out new
things every day, and so by collecting these stories, by talking about these people, we're giving these men and women these slaves who lived inside the white house, a little bit back of what was taken from them. we're giving them a little bit of their history back. we're giving them a little built of their life back, giving them a little bit of their dignity back, and hopefully the more we talk about this, the more people read this, this will be a new chapter in our country's history. when we look and talk about the white house, we don't see just the president, way don't see just the first lady or the first family. we see the people who made the white house work in their earliest days of this country. thank you. [applause]
>> we'll have a question and answer session. >> hi. i find this really fascinating. i have two questions. one, it's not clear from your presentation when slaves started at the white house? your reference to washington was that it was new york and pennsylvania and hercules wasn't in the white house yet, so it's unclear to me, did it start with adams or jefferson or madison or when? and then the second question is, who owned the slaves? was this owned by the united states government? >> good question. good question. george washington, is a said
earlier, lived in executive mansions in both new york and philadelphia. now, the only two of these first -- the won of the first presidents to not own slaves were john adams and his son, john quincy adams. they were quakers, so because of their religion, they didn't believe in slavery at that time. so the first slaves who actually lived inside the white house belongs to thomas jefferson. john adams moved into the white house first, but thomas jefferson actually was the president who started the tradition of white house slaves. and believe me, john adams complained bitterly about the fact that the white house, which frankly is a southern mansion, by the way, was a huge place but at that point congress didn't provide funding for a white house staff, so unlike george
washington, who was able to just bring in slaves from mt. vernon to philadelphia and to new york, john adams had to go out and hire people to work in the white house as domestic staff so he was spending money out of his own pocket for waiters, for maids, for cooks for the white house. so, when thomas jefferson moved in, he basically fires all of those workers that john adams had brought in to work in the white house, and brings in his own slaves because for him it's cheaper. it's cheaper to bring someone you don't have to pay than to go out and hire someone. that is a thread that i found throughout the book, looking at almost all of the presidents. many of them, frankly, most of them, at some point in their life, said, this is wrong. they knew it was wrong. thomas jefferson himself
defended and worked against the idea of permanent slavery in virginia before he started buying slaves, but the rope they kept slaves is because that's how they made money. the slave brought free labor for their farm. the only way they could stay rich, frankly, was to keep slaves. this is why many of -- why i think many of them wanted to free their slaves after they died. because then they wouldn't nimoy anymore so-so you can be free now that it don't need you anymore but most of the presidents knew during their lifetime that slavery was wrong james madison knew it. pretty much all of the signers of the declaration of independence pretty much knew that slavery was wrong, but to save -- decided they would
rather be slave owners if not if i it meant the difference between being rich and being poor. >> who owned the slaves? >> i'm sorry. the slaves werely owned by the president's personally. now, as far as we can tell so far, only a couple of presidents bought slaves while living in the white house. andrew jackson actually purchased slaves with his money, while working at the white house. another president who did as well was james polk, but james polk did it secretly because by the time polk becomes president, the civil war is getting closer, and the country is being divide over the idea of slavery. so, polk didn't want people to know that he was buying slaves. so he would pay a middleman to go down south and buy a slave and then transfer the slave into
polk's custody. and polk made sure that he never used any of his money that he got as from buy slaves help used only his personalman think that if the people phonal out they would see a difference between polk, the person, buying slaves, and polk, the president, buying slaves. people never found out, but the slaves were all personally owned by the presidents. as far as we can tell -- i debt with part of this in my first book "black men built the capitol." as far as we can tell the u.s. government itself never owned slaves. that presidents did. >> i was with a group called seeking change. would you clarify the government prophetted off of people who were slaved, the government made taxes -- >> of course. >> so i wanted to mention that
who things i'm glad you mentioned about hercules in the book. the book was actually published -- a quick note that people would be interested in knowing -- that scholastic released the book "a birthday cake for george washington" on january 5th and had already received very negative and legitimately negative reviews but scholastic defended it to the hilt. it was not until a widespread protest was lodged by early childhood educators, black lives matter movement activists, librarians, that after four days they re-called it and they're now -- people will probably see the discussion is still going on. ron charles just reported on until "the post." scholastic version. they're now saying that they didn't re-call it because of the protests. they didn't re-call it because of the critique. they re-called it because of their own high standards, which is -- yes. and it's totally -- the reason
it's important to mention to folks here is there's a crisis in children's book publishing. fewer than 10% of children's books published are by or about people of color, and show to fact that the protest was successful led largely by women of color is a big deal, and for scholastic to make that history invisible, just like your book -- your book title. they're making the history from a week ago, let alone the history from years ago. i wonder if you could comment on clarence's black history of the white house -- >> great book. clarence's book, i read his book and loved it. it's really good book. he is actually one of the people i wanted to meet and have not had a chance to. there have been some greet books written about the white house.
ed hoss ling did a lot of good work on finding, frankly, the first receipts we have seen from the slaves who actually built the capitol, but there have been -- i actually feel unfair for me to name some of the -- just name the few of the books i have read dealing with this subject because there have been so many people who worked on so many different parts of this history. i actually did get to meet will heygood two or three moms ago in the summertime. he wrote "the butler." it's great now to see a lot of attention being brought to these time periods inside the white house. i'm actually -- i was just reading today about the movie coming out, "the birth of a nation." a great movie. i'm so glad to see that these
stories are now being told. i actually got -- asked by an interviewer the other day that when i talk about these stories, the interviewer said, it sounds like you're smiling and happy, talking about these stories of slaves, but people like randall robinson, when they talk about slaves, they're angry, they're mad, but you're smiling. you're happy. why? well, my answer to that is, i'm happy because these stories are finally being told. yeah, i'm mad at the situation that these people had to live through, but you don't know how many people have worked -- how hard so many people have worked to get these stories out. i'm smiling and i'm excited because i'm getting to tell the stories i've wanted to read my entire life. i'm excited because these are the type of stories that people
not only want to read but they should read. i'm not going to sit here and be mad because i'm telling a story i want people to hear. >> thank you so much for your work. it's so important. i wanted to know about your process, how you decided when you had enough material to start writing, did you research, write in parallel, sequentially? just speak about your process, please. >> um, my training is as a journalist. so i've been a journalist with the "associated press" now for almost 24 years. so i started out my research is
a would researching any story i was writing 0 for a. p. i started out by calling the people who i thought knew the most and talking to them. one of the things that i had to learn -- for me, this was the biggest difference between being a journalist and an author -- was that as a journalist, i can write a story in my head -- imusually writing around 700, 800 word, i can keep that organized. i know where i'm going from beginning to end. but as an author, i had to relearn how to outline, and i e wasted about six months before i realized that i had to sit down and plan out where i wanted to go. and it's really sort of -- i was going to say funny but sort of sad. my mother is ang english
teacher. she taught english in mississippi, and one thing she taught us was outlining. and so i remember the phone call i made back home, and i said, you know, mom, remember what you said to me about outlining? when i was in the eighth grade? can you repeat that to me again? she just laughed. but one of the first things i did was, frankly, just make a timeline. this is what i want to say. this is where it goes. and then research, research, research. i spent about a year just doing nothing but research. frankly my first year at goucher college -- the beginning of this -- with my teacher adviser at goucher and i spent that first year just researching, and this involved spending hours and hours at the national archives,
hours and hours in the lie library of congress, phone calls between me and historians at monticello, sherwood forest, at the hermitage, at mt. vernon, and i have to say here that people will help you, even when you don't expect it. i truly didn't expect researchers at presidential plantations to want to talk about slavery, to want to rehash what for them had to be an uncomfortable part of their president's history, but everywhere i turned, no matter what question i asked, i always found that people were willing to help. so, after the research came the -- getting the research done
came the writing, and frankly, for me, the writing part was the most difficult because as a journalist i'm so used to just dealing with straight facts. this is what happened. today this is what happened. but this story deserved more than just a factual re-telling. so i had to create a narrative for each slave, and then figure out how all these stories fit together into a whole, and that is where i will admit i had the most help and the greatest help from my mentors at goucher college. they were fabulous and they helped me piece this together interest i hope an acceptable whole. now, where in there was your answer -- somewhere in there was your answer. sort of a scatter shot, but if i had to give anybody advice -- this was advice given to me by another friend of mine, who is
also an author -- your book is only as good as your outline. because if you don't know where you're going, i promise you in a project that's 80,000, 90,000 words. if you don't know where you're going by the first 100 words you're lost. work on your outline as hard as you work on the become and you'll be fine. >> time for two more questions. >> hi. so, i was wondering what the most significant research difficulties were that you faced, writing about people whoa by and large didn't leave written records and also what were the largest questions that you had that were unanswered after finishing the book. >> one of the biggest challenges of doing a project like this is that it's going to be difficult
to find out the information that you want. when i originally proposed doing this project, was hoping to find a family who worked in the white house as slaves, hopefully then continued the tradition as freed men, and worked in the white house as a butler, find a family who bridged both of those time periods. i couldn't find that. what i ended up doing was looking at each president and finding -- trying to find someone who was enslaved by the president, who represented the time period and what i wanted to say. it's very difficult -- i will admit it's difficult because quite a few of the people i
feature in the book didn't write anything about themselves during their lifetime. there were some, like paul jennings, a slave of james madison. he actually wrote the first tell-all book about life in the white house. so i actually had a book to look at that that point, and owney judge, famous for escaping george washington, was actually interviewed by newspapers later nonher life. so that gave plate bit work with. but a lot of what i had to deal with were just lines in a ledger, or mentions in a presidential letter to someone, and piece those bits and pieces together into a coherent story line wasn't easy and, frankly, took a long time. but hopefully if you can put little pieces of story -- a little piece of the stories together, you get to a larger cohesive narrative, which is what i hopefully have done here.
now your second question is, what is the biggest unanswered question i had at the end of the project? die remember that right? -- do i remember that right? i had my way -- if i had my way i wish i would have been able to find more about the relatives and the people who were related to the slaves i feature in the stories now. i wish i could find the faucet faucet children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren now the rope i say that is because joseph phau set was the first slave who -- fawcett who was the first slave who escaped and was caught on the white house ground. he escaped monticello and ran to the white house because thomas jefferson was using his wife as a cook, and he had gotten word
that she was sick so he ran away from monticello to get to the white house to see bat his wife, and he was captured the white house, and sent back to monticello. i wish i had -- i wish i could connect a lot of these stories to people, to have found their people and the families today. that one of the things i wasn't able to do. because a lot of the records of where these slaves went after their presidents who owned them died, it's very hard to trace them through to today. some of them we can. i think there's at least -- there's been at least one slave family, one family of descendents of a slave, who have been invited back to the white house. i believe they're paul jennings' people have been invited back to the white house.
but they're the only family of a slave that has actually been able to set foot back in the place where their ancestor was enslaved. so i really wish i could find more of the people who were related to the people i feature in this book. that's one of the things i wish i had the time and the resources to do. >> last question. >> thank you. i just wanted to clarify, when you said the federal government didn't own any slaves, was that just in the white house or, like, any slaves in congress snow you said they're building g the capitol. were they federal slaves. >> no. they were being rented by the federal government. the federal government didn't buy any slaves at all. now, with the construction of the white house as well as the capitol, frankly, if you think back during that time period, washington, dc was basically a swamp, and no workers wanted to
come live in a swamp. so, what the federal government did is they rented out slaves from slave owners in virginia and maryland, and they brought them here to work on the white house and the capitol, but the federal government never actually purchased them. they only rent them for that time period. so, the federal government was responsible for basically feeding them and giving them a blanket, and the work that the slaves did, all the money went to the slave owner. but they weren't -- they never were actual property of the federal government at that time. >> thank you. [applause]
>> we're entering the signing portion of our evening. i was very much -- want to find more about this history and encourage you to do the same. we have thee the signing right over here and we're free to get a book signed up here. thank you for coming out. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> now, on bookbook tv's afterwards, former cia and nsa director michael hayden provides an inside look at national
security. he is interviewed by james woolsey, former cia director in the clinton administration. >> colonel hayden, very fine book. >> thank you. >> going to start right off with a couple of interesting chapters in the middle. one about pittsburgh and your history of growing up there in the same neighborhood for many years, and the other about your family and what it's like to have a family in the midst of espionage, and i thought you might want to say a word about those before we jump into things like metadata and the rest. >> well, first of all, thank you. i didn't have a chapter on me in the book. i kind of had the manuscript -- the publisher says, what about you? so i went ahead and put one together, and as you suggest i put it near the end.
it all began on a dark and stormy night or anything. it's tied to a speech i gave at duquesne university in 2007 after was director of the cia to the graduating class. the folks also duquesne, my mall matter. i used that to pivot -- mall matter. i used that to palestine off my pittsburgh experience and brought that with me to the cia. catholic, liberal arts education, i mention in the book i was in america's air force before i was in a class classroom that didn't have a crucifix in it. wonderful, broad, culturally based historically based education which stood me in agreed stead. values based from the paroll rockieal school to the catholic high school to duquesne university and of course from my parents and then it was in pittsburgh which is a blue color town and a white collar economy and