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tv   The Presidency  CSPAN  February 14, 2016 8:00pm-9:31pm EST

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close-ups, dolly shots. all these fancy things. santa barbara is now getting isolated. it started costing more to get things to santa barbara. everything can be bought in bulk in los angeles and taken to the studio. it had to be shipped by train or car up here. also, getting more and more actors involved. more actors wanted to be in los angeles. you could do a shoot for one company in the morning and another in the afternoon. so to get actresses and actors to santa barbara, they would have to take the entire day to get up here, shoot for a day, and then they would take the entire day to get back to los angeles. a began to flying fade to black, and in they had 1921, filmed the last movie. >> our city staff recently traveled to santa barbara, california to learn about its recent history. -- rich history. you can learn more about santa barbara and other stops on our tour at you are watching american
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history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> next on the presidency, a conversation about william leuchtenburg's new book, "the american president: from teddy roosevelt to bill clinton". douglas with historian brinkley about the president he has met and shares his insight on others like william taft, harry truman, and calvin coolidge. the new york historical society hosted this 90 minute event. [applause] good morning, thank you for being here. one public service announcement. we will be taking questions. when that happens, we ask you to just ask one question, tried to keep it brief, but also tell us your name. we will try to get as many people through the microphones as we can. two staff members will be on hand. we will be going back and forth
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and picking up people to ask questions. it is an absolute thrill for me to be here, because william leuchtenburg is a hero of mine. i did my doctorate in u.s. presidential diplomatic history, and his books were a seminal reading when i was coming through the ranks and getting my doctorate. i still now use and teach his books at my class in rice university on the american presidency. i found that one of his books about fdr, was just an absolute classic. you have not even considered understanding our modern times without reading that book. what a long legacy fdr passed on to our politics after his death. we want to begin today by asking
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you -- congratulations on the new book. it is epic. dream of yours, to write a book that covers all the 20th-century presidents? how did that idea come to you? mr. leuchtenburg: i was at a conference at the university of pennsylvania, about eight years ago. the conference was on the presidency. i was surprised and delighted to ofe a distinguished scholar medieval the elegy, to me, and say that the foundation wanted to commission me to write such a book. i couldn't get to it immediately, because i was finishing one book, and hadn't started another book. asked me tosinger write a short biography of
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herbert hoover for a series of published by times books, so i had to get that book finished in the next started and done before i could get on with this. being was a sense of given an opportunity for a capstone of a lifetime of writing about american presidents. that youroosevelt, have just written about, but to wellnd educate myself, as and all of the presidents, starting with the assassination of william mckinley and ending in january of 2001 with bill clinton's last night mr. brinkley: in office. mr. brinkley:we associate your career often with fdr. i know you are great friends with arthur schlesinger, and the
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two of you have dominated thinking on franklin roosevelt. well is your relationship with arthur schlesinger junior like? mr. leuchtenburg: i first onountered him when i was the national staff of americans for democratic action in washington. and then i was the massachusetts state director, and when -- a rocky mountain organizer for them. the first conference that was held in washington, in march 1947, i remember hubert humphrey, who is the 37-year-old young mayor of minneapolis on and saying he wished his parents could see him because they would not have imagined he and eleanor roosevelt were on the same stage. to arthur, i talked
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schlesinger junior about a research project that, i as a graduate student was interested in, and that started a lifelong friendship. not many years later, i was appointed to the faculty at harvard, and we were colleagues together. in the years i was teaching at columbia, he was in the graduate center and the city university of new york so we saw one another. mr. brinkley: the late historian stephen ambrose once mentioned to me, we use as a test, abandon the chronology at your own peril. bits go little chronologically today through the presidents in your book, beginning with the assassination of when -- william mckinley in theodoreand how roosevelt becomes president. how would you describe the personality of three door
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roosevelt -- theodore roosevelt? mr. leuchtenburg: [laughter] ofad the great pleasure working with ken burns almost from the beginning of his career. the most recent one appeared on screen, was "the roosevelt's." and in it, another friend tells the story of a man calling on theodore roosevelt, and explosive sounds coming from the room. afterwards, when the visitor walked out, someone said to him, "what did you say to theodore roosevelt?" the man said, " i told him my name." [laughter] people talk about the progressive era, and we talk about theodore roosevelt as being a progressive president. do you consider him a bleeding progressive?
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mr. leuchtenburg: i spent so many years teaching that progressive era, and i think -- i was mentioning, medieval the eology, trying to define what was meant by progressivism, it has interested me for a long time. i found out i would never define it. roosevelt a was change maker? yes, i think he was. it was one of the surprises in writing the book. many historians have said, the modern presidency begins with fdr. the more i wrote about theodore roosevelt, the more i read about him, the more i was convinced
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what i said was wrong. the real turning point in the wasory of the presidency when theodore roosevelt offense ascends toidency -- the presidency. that is when the american people have the sense that the man in the white house can shape the nation. that was a view that had never been held before. which heic way in presidentthe task for was actually more important than the specific legislation that especially the
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area you have written about. the impact he had on american conservation. be a mutual admiration society, but if you have not read " wilderness warrior," you have a treat ahead for you. mr. brinkley: thank you. what do you think of the accomplishments of the whatdents from 1901-1909, are the memorable accomplishments of that era? mr. leuchtenburg: i think one of the remarkable aspects of this a that we have never had president who loved war more than the indoor roosevelt. undert, nobody ever dies theodore roosevelt. save with respect to the
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insurrection that had begun prior to that time. was a a man who consummate war maker, but the first american to win the nobel peace prize. he is a welter of contradictions. but i think probably with respect to domestic policy, as to say what i said before, his extraordinary impact on american conservation, which affects not land and the saving of landmarks, in an imaginative way at pieces ofsed legislation designating areas of lesson all monuments with --
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areas of national monuments with a questionable view of the constitutionality of what he was doing, but something with which we bless him today. mr. brinkley: in your chapter on bill clinton, you have an interesting little page, where you are discussing bill discussing, whether he will be a great president, and theodore roosevelt gets the very near great category, meaning ranked fourth or fifth most historians. clinton is worried at that point, he's only in the middle, or that he's realizing he can never really be a great president, he doesn't have a major war, so he tries so become pr, maybe that is the marker you try to become a near great, not just average person. rooseveltnk you door
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-- theodore roosevelt was one of the great presidents? mr. leuchtenburg: i have no doubt. what we are talking about is what -- arthur schlesinger anior, in 1981, created diagrammatic way of looking at american presidents. are grouped as great, near great, average, below average, and failure. lots of historians are unhappy with that way of looking at greeting presidents, because there are opportunities offered to some presidents that are not offered to others, and greatness is an ambiguous term. you could be great by having an extraordinary impact on an era, or the worst. more or less, even historians
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who are unhappy with this kind zation, they use it in their heads even if they do not use those precise terms. poll has been taken more than a generation since then, and it only comes out the same way with only three presidents as great. abraham lincoln, franklin d. roosevelt, and george washington. he used to be lincoln, washington, fdr, but more recently it has been lincoln, fdr in washington. in the judgment of historians, likely to move into that top category. and then there is a group just below that of near a great.theodore roosevelt is always pretty much at the top of that group, or close to it.
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mr. brinkley: theodore roosevelt won a landslide election in 19 -- i mean, in 1904, but by 1908 he decided not to run. he left in march with of 1909, turning over the republican party to william howard taft. who was taft, and what were the virtues of his presidency? mr. leuchtenburg: he was a commissioner in the philippines , he had been a member of theodore roosevelt cabinet. when i was a graduate student, , always trying to do our elders one better, that taft was actually more of progressive than teddy roosevelt.
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more antitrust suits under aft proportionately then there were under teddy roosevelt. shaking, saying you don't understand, they had lived through that era. of course, they were right. maybe that is because i am an elder now. [laughter] teddyuchtenburg: so much larger , taft said that he never thought of anybody as the president but teddy roosevelt, even when he was in the white house. often, at contrast with progressives, teddy roosevelt,
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taft is thought of as there areve, although a number of ways in which taft did support progressive legislation and was far from being the right winger that he is often portrayed to be. nonetheless, there is a decided change of atmosphere in washington from teddy roosevelt attached. -- teddy roosevelt to taft. in that case, theodore roosevelt famously, part of his their chase hunting that famous scene in mississippi delta plan they had a ropear, and it around it, roosevelt said i will not shoot it, that is not
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hunting. there was a cartoon by a woman saying roosevelt draws the line in mississippi , and shell that bear writes, i would love to do a toy on that. and roosevelt said, you are welcome to, but nobody is going to care. but of course, the teddy bear becomes the most ubiquitous toy in history. part of the magic with teddy bears, they were dinners with a teddy bear as the centerpiece. william howard taft decided he needed to do something, and he created the billy possum toy. [laughter] none of you have one or have ever seen one, we have never seen anyone cuddle one. it was a hideous looking stuffed toy. the point being, it was hard to follow and act like theodore roosevelt, who had so much
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magic, and so many reporters and apparatuss, and press that backed him so much. ways.ft loved pr in many theodore roosevelt comes back and creates the most successful third-party in american history, the bull moose party, aimed at destroying taft. create the bull moose party? when rooseveltg: comes back from africa, when he went off to africa to shoot everyone was said that in wall street hope every lion would do its duty. [laughter] manages to dominate the newspapers by his exploits in africa during the taft presidency.
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he returns, he becomes considerably more radical, notably in a speech he gave in kansas. it was during the taft presidency. he is upset with taft, because , taft had taken tha a sign that teddy roosevelt was not only not progressive, but was disrespectful of his views. that he wasdecided going to run for another term. technically, at a time
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when the george washington example was still a strong move of not running for a third term, he had served-- two terms, but not eight years, so technically he was not violating it. was,ctually what he said it is true that i said i was not going to run for a third term, but that is like saying you are not going to have another cupcake. he tries to get the republican nomination in 1912, but taft having control of the party machinery, is able to send him off. and runs as a third-party candidate, as a progressive candidate.
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in a dramatic speech, he says, i stand at armageddon, and i battle for the lord. thethere is a notion of, band strikes up at one point, onward christian soldiers. it is that kind of element to it campaign that was saying, is the most successful third-party in history. in thetually runs third electoral college. roosevelt did not have enough to win the presidency. as a result, a democrat, who has , is 42% of the popular vote able to get enough electoral votes to slip in. that is how woodrow wilson becomes president of the united states.
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mr. brinkley: and theodore roosevelt takes the bullet from an assassin in milwaukee, he's bleeding, and he continues to speak. it takes more than a politico label moose. kill a bullor -- to moose. he went on for an hour before they took him to the hospital. you become a folk figure when you survived that. 1919, for all purposes, that was his last major big political act. it is now woodrow wilson's moment. link did soarthur many great books on woodrow wilson. did ailton cooper junior biography of
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woodrow wilson and theodore roosevelt. who was woodrow wilson? these having a moment now. hamilton is having a great moment. [laughter] woodrow wilson, there is a lot of controversy, where there is a woodrow wilson school named after him. but who was he, what should we know about him and admire about him? mr. leuchtenburg: when i was a student, i went to newtown high school in queens. teachers weremy shipped woodrow wilson --worshipped woodrow wilson. the great moment in their lives was the creation of the league of nations, and the failure of the united states to join. ifried to remember nowadays, i mention a certain event which seems important to me, and i get a blank stare from younger
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tople that what i am saying them is what my teachers were saying to me when they talk about bosnia-herzegovina. part oferzegovina was that whole mythos of woodrow wilson, and americans lost the opportunity to become a citizen of the world, and a belief that if only we had joined the league of nations, we could have staved off no nazism, and avoided the death in world war ii. that is something that all of us of my generation grew up with. there has been a different sense of woodrow wilson. he is not the world's most likable man. when you live with it as a , day in and day out --
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one journalist of the time said, when i think of theodore of anelt, i think exuberant, cherubic, larger-than-life figure. when i think of woodrow wilson, -- there is a narrowness of the personality. and yet, numbers of things do get created under franklin roosevelt -- pardon me, under woodrow wilson. system wouldeserve be one example. there was a far greater intervention in the economy in world war i than the country had ever seen before. legacy -- leave this
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it does leave this legacy of the league of nations. when word got out that woodrow wilson was dying, the numbers of in thelike pilgrims, snow, outside the windows of his home in washington, looking up at the window until the light that was at the window, that they had been looking at all the days since the end of his presidency, was extinguished. mr. brinkley: how do we judge wilson as commander-in-chief during world war i? -- evenuccessful as though the league of nations failed, how was he has a wartime leader? the americanurg: troops come in at a time of 1916, with a million casualties.
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the allied cause was reeling. have --ican troops spirit to theh allied effort. for the most part, not the kind of controversy about wilson's role as commander-in-chief that there is about other american presidents. period of intervention was relatively short, only from april 1917 to november of 1980, and it took -- 1918, and it took time for the troops to get overseas. the main sense that one has is that wilson went along with the
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general staff that he inherited, and did nothing to interfere either for good or bad. he was not a particularly significant figure as far as that goes. mr. brinkley: now if we go to the 1920 election, and we get now warren harding becomes president, that is the first election women are voting for president. harding?omen vote help how did the suffrage movement affect politics of this age? mr. leuchtenburg: for years i asked my graduate students, what was the main impact of women's suffrage? and i'm always surprised that the answer, which is that it swells warren harding's margin of victory. that seems so counterintuitive.
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how can a great progressive movement of this sort have that consequence? the answer is that it takes a while for any new group of voters to become acclimated. and the women who are most likely to vote in 1920 were well-educated, harvard-class women who were associated with the republican party. one of the main consequences. electoratento the women from different ethnic groups from different income classes who, until that point, had not voted. womenime, the impact of on the electorate has been decidedly more progressive.
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in recentn had voted elections, no democrat would have ever been elected. ins was first noted markedly 1988, a campaign when it was women voted against the first george bush because they reminded him too much of their first husband. [laughter] in fact, there were very good reasons. women orrly unmarried women who were the sole supporters of their children to
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be voting for the democratic rather than the republican candidate. helped thete impact republicans and that changed markedly over time. prof. brinkley: we were talking about these rankings where we do the great presidents. you usually see warren harding very low. sometimes at the bottom. i use as my marker you do not want to be right lower than william henry harrison, who was only president for a month and then died of pneumonia. if you are below harrison, you have problems. some have parting below william henry harrison. harding sotening -- bad in history's judgment? prof. leuchtenburg: he obviously served longer than the first harrison. , butd not have a longtime
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himself man who said of i don't belong in the white house. somewhere, if somebody could explain to me -- i am not smart , is a prophetic aspect of warren harding. patheticphetic -- aspect of warren harding. there were parts of him that were likable. the socialist candidate for president in 1912 opposed american activity in world war i and was sentenced to prison in
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an elective penitentiary. through the end of his presidency, woodrow wilson was asked to grant a pardon. by then, he had had a stroke and it was hard for him to wrote -- to write "denied." hen harding was president, not only pardoned them, but ask them to come by the white house and he signed it a bit early so that he could spend christmas dinner with his wife. said, ibounced up and have always wanted to meet you. wasgot a sense of a man who a man of goodwill, but very limited. the low ranking is not only
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of that, but the corruption of members of this administration. coolidgenkley: calvin was sort of forgotten for a while. i remember when ronald reagan became president, he dusted off the old portrait of calvin coolidge and re-hung it in the white house as the new conservative hero. almost a rehabilitation of his ,eputation by the republicans the conservative movement. what was his presidency like? what should we we remember about the coolidge years? prof. leuchtenburg: there has been an attempt to elevate calvin coolidge.
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i am not likely to find myself in that number that thinks like that. time of development of economic policies that helped lead to the wall street crash of 1929. , his recordpolicy was negligible expect -- except for minor touches, sending .arines into nicaragua the one good thing that came out of the coolidge presidency was that he had a classmate at , and he dwight morrow was the ambassador to mexico. he was the real star of the good neighbor policy, which begins not with franklin roosevelt, but 's sense of behavior in mexico.
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there is a lot to like about harding. i think there is a lot to dislike about coolidge. when i taught at smith college for a couple of years, i lived down the street from grace coolidge and i thought she was a wonderful woman. calvin coolidge behaved abominably toward her. speak.d never let her whenonderful moment came -- they met when she was a teacher at clark school of the deaf and dumb in new hampton. there was a press conference at which she felt she had to obey her husband, but she used sign language, which was able to defy
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him in that fashion. prof. brinkley: tell us about herbert hoover. you got to write a volume for the american presidency series. when you were writing that, you have obviously dealt with hoover a lot, but did you get any kind of new appreciation or herbert hoover as an american citizen, as a figure, or are you still fairly negative about him? i am leuchtenburg: i think negative with respect to his performance as president. if you look at the whole of his career, in the final paragraph of the book, i say he saved more people than anyone else in the history of the world. and that is true. and he often did not allow his political disposition to
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interfere with his humanitarian work. the soviet union, in the early 1920's, hoover, though he is -- loathedhevism bolshevism, provided so much aid -- he was written to say how many russian lives were saved by his activity. career, as an engineer, was in government. he headed the food administration in world war i. he was secretary of commerce through two administrations. he somehow convinced himself
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volunteerismvate ever achieved anything, contrary to all that he had achieved as a federal agent. when it came to dealing with the great depression, he was .ontrary to the usual a very active president, but only for a brief time, after which he last into the convention that voluntary effort was taking care of all the needs of the unemployed at a time when -- own age were telling him telling him that people were actually starting to this is the tragedy of his life, this perception. anybodyinkley: could
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beat franklin roosevelt in 1932? is it possible? should you think he could be a democrat in 1932? prof. leuchtenburg: the only possibility of defeating him would have been for the nomination. late,mocratic party, that still labored under two thirds rule. candidate, champ o --f missouri, garnered enough votes, but because he could not get two thirds, it went on ballot for ballot until woodrow wilson was nominated. validate went on -- the balloting went on for 103
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roll calls before they could find the president. fdr was a very popular, powerful two-term president from new york state. it was not clear that he could overcome that advantage. as against hoover, it was clear that any democrat was going to be the victor. puzzled something out that i had not seen elsewhere. franken roosevelt, in 1932, is the first democrat to enter the white house with the majority of the popular vote, 50% or more, in 80 years. that is how republican our country was. since franklin pierce in 1852, a few democrats slipped.
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cleveland twice, woodrow wilson, buchanan earlier, but not with .0% or more of the vote almost a landslide. i think hoover famously sled -- famously said that fdr was a chameleon. fdr himself called himself the jugular. you never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. ?ho was franklin roosevelt you spent so much of your life studying him. do you feel that you understand his personality and what made him tick? was theuchtenburg: this hardest chapter for me to write because i have written eight onks on roosevelt -- books roosevelt before sitting down to write this book. you try to figure out how to say
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something new. to look at him with new eyes. that was the puzzle. the notion that roosevelt was a chameleon on plaid, that he was a man of no firm views, that he said yes to every last person that he talked to, is so common in the literature. and i think it is wrong. in 1990 -- in the 1990's, there was a conference at cambridge university. i was just mentioning my book, "in the shadow of fdr." this was called "in the shadow of luxembourg -- of
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leuchtenburg." people talking about the influence i have had. they came all over the world for this conference. there was a british historian and he had had a little bit too much to drink. he kept saying something and people found it hard to understand what he was saying. but it was a speech that franklin roosevelt gave in 1912 in new york which gave a sense of the american state. unlike anything that any other american politician could imagine. he had a strong sense of affirmative action by the federal government, by the president. to opposition in congress and elsewhere. , he heldt his life
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firmly to this. death, it was said it , he would have moved in a conservative direction. was, well,sponse what we know about what roosevelt's beliefs were at the end of his life was the economic bill of rights. 1944, where he was talking about the extension of the new deal much more broadly than it had ever extended before. notion that fdr is a man who is attempting to please all people, who is a chameleon on plaid, is widely held an interesting. prof. brinkley: how would you
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assess the new deal? you are someone who has written probably better than anybody on the new deal. which of the new deal programs do you admire the most? one that really garnered your interest over the decade? the one thatnburg: , inmeant the most to me is the summer of 1939, i was going by the l-train to a college in new york. it was a very fine college, but i was hoping i could get to cornell. in august, with the summer cutbackout, there was a
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on my grandparents farm. there was a letter from one of my teachers saying that i had $100 a year toward tuition for four years at any college in new york state. there was another envelope from another teacher and it said i had $200 more a year for four years for cornell. it is hard to believe nowadays, but at an ivy league college, tuition was $400 a year. so i was $100 a year short. i had $300. i got a job riding a bike
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sunnyside. and humor cost us a dime the others cost us a nickel. day after day, i would sell him was nothing. registration was coming nearer and the repeated a young man told me franklin roosevelt was going to dedicate an extension of the boulevard. i completely sold out and got enough money to go to cornell. [laughter] incidentally, years later, i was commissioned to interview mario albany. i started one question by saying , now, you and i both grew up in queens. .e said, sunnyside
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i knew he had read the introduction of one of my books, where i tell that story. know, i never believed that story of yours. you must have had coke in that machine, meaning cocaine. [laughter] then i arrived at cornell and my parents gave me $15 a month for rent, food, everything. so i needed to find a job and anebody told me there was organization called the national youth administration and i could get a job. so i had learned in high school how to type papers. nya has meant a great deal to me. prof. brinkley: eleanor
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roosevelt, does she holed up in history as the great first lady? prof. leuchtenburg: absolutely. absolutely. i never really knew her to talk to, but i was in the room with her numbers of times. i always felt when i was with , a stirring in the crowd in london and the rumor goes out that royaltyowd has moved by. she was the most direct kind of person, the kindest woman. it was a sense of something special, something regal about her.
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it was wonderful to be in her presence. when fdr dies: and the united nations is born, harry truman was the president. very quickly, in the truman years, we have bombs being dropped on hiroshima and nagasaki. how do you assess his decision to use atomic weapons to win the war against japan. prof. leuchtenburg: it is something that bothered me a long time at the time and i have never been able to shake it off since. been so mucheady bondsation with ordinary -- bombs in japan, dresden, and elsewhere. we had not seen a very great step up beyond this.
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the more that i wrestled with it he was at i felt that a culminating moment. someone said that if he had not and there had been hundreds of thousands of more deaths, as there would have been , in the pacific, and it had been found out that it could have prevented those deaths by this single am a terrible act, he not only would have been impeached and removed in office, but should have been. i quote in the book one of the
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aides as saying it was a .orrible act he said the whole goddamn war was horrible. there was going to be an awful loss of life no matter what. does not seem as decisive a .oment as it once did george died last week. i read his obituary. he was a great naval aide for f dr. you have the only signed copy of the atlantic charter, the meeting in newfoundland, when roosevelt met churchill. it was actually a press release and that is all it was at that time.
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it was nothing signed by fdr. he was the young naval aide and he got the press release and asked fdr to sign it. so he had a signed atlantic charter document as a collector by franken roosevelt. fdr died in 1945. churchill continued. churchill came to the u.s. and he got to see churchill, handed him the atlantic charter and churchill looked at him and say -- and said, young man, you have a lot of value here if i sign this. you have the only signed copy of the atlantic charter. he went ahead and signed it. so he kept that document his whole life as a special heirloom. march through these other presidents. let me just ask you to name a couple of the accomplishments of truman that you admire, things 1945-1953 thatm you think were spot on. prof. leuchtenburg: some people have asked me what -- if you
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read the book, what surprised you the most. many of these are around harry truman. , i impact on history is think, not sufficiently known. someone described him as being the caesar augustus to the changes wrought by franklin roosevelt. it was during his administration that the executive office of the president really expanded. so many of the institutions that live on today, beautification of the armed forces, the department of defense, the cia, the atomic energy commission, the council of economic advisers, all began under harry truman. if you look at the impact on , the creation of
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the united nations, the end of world war ii, the occupation of germany and japan, the berlin airlift, the truman doctrine, the marshall plan, the north atlantic treaty, the korean war. all of this happens under harry truman. most important of all, the civil rights messages. there is a civil rights committee and then his message to congress. on the fields staff of a civil rights organization in washington. those of us on the staff could not sit down at a drugstore and
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have lunch together. we had to walk four blocks to an auditorium in order to be able to eat together. this in the nation's capital in 1946. inman's civil rights message -- his appointment on the committee in 1947 and his 1948.e in february of after that, the intervention and a numberriefs of civil rights cases before the supreme court. that transformed the whole political landscape of civil rights. dwightrinkley: eisenhower had his civil rights moments. earl warren being appointed to the supreme court. but how do we look at eisenhower
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used to be when i was going to grad school. there was a feeling that eisenhower farm things out to john foster dulles in foreign affairs and was golfing a lot, reading. now there has been, in the last decade, the revisionism. he was very hands-on, in charge of everything. do you consider yourself part of that wave of revising? did you miss something on eisenhower back then? do you think there is more to eisenhower than you thought? prof. leuchtenburg: yes, certainly. , alls said that eisenhower memos were only a paragraph long so that his lips would not get tired. [laughter] there were bumper stickers
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if we are going to have a golfer in the white house, why not elect ben hogan? [laughter] this was the view at the time. particularly that john foster dulles actually ran american foreign policy. the was all before eisenhower opened in abilene. now it is clear that eisenhower was a man who controlled foreign policy and the dulles was the second in command. i think that this rehabilitation of eisenhower has gone too far. voted.nd how i it is said now that he brought
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down joe mccarthy, that he is responsible for the warren court , that he was an advocate of civil rights who sent proofs to little rock. iso not think any of these correct. he caved in to joe mccarthy at the last moment, only when a general was attacked did he intervened. the appointment of warren was the biggest mistake he ever made. was -- when he was forced to send troops into little rock, he wanted to make it clear that he was not doing it because he believed in integration. he was only doing to uphold the federal court.
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you are right that there has been a rehabilitation. think it was excessive. prof. brinkley: sputnik occurred in 1967 and eisenhower created nasa. theppose some people credit building of the st. lawrence speedway and interstate highway system. just talk about space for a moment. nasa was created under eisenhower. john f. kennedy comes in and he gets us alan shepard and john glenn and now we are going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade and we do. why do you think kennedy got so involved with space at that time in his presidency and kind of ratcheted things up? he had achtenburg:
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great sense of the importance of american prestige being upheld. he said, if there is somebody who can tell me how to put a man on the moon, i don't care who he full.will back him to the he was afraid, at a time when so many new nations were created in the late 1950's in the third world, that america was losing out. sputnik was the prime example of this. eisenhower,under when one effort after another saying,little kids were 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, nuts. [laughter]
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thought that kennedy believed it was conceivable that america could do something that the soviet union had never succeeded in doing. if the united states did so, it would move ahead of the soviet union in international standing. prof. brinkley: do you remember where you were for kennedy's inauguration? were you moved by his inaugural as a new generation taking charge? know, iuchtenburg: you followed -- i did not follow that very closely. that he would seize upon an opportunity as the first democrat in the white house since truman to do something forthright about civil rights. speech was about
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the cold war, about foreign policy. it is a scary speech when you read it. i knew ted sorensen, who wrote it a little bit. i liked him very much and admired him. but i did not care for that famous speech. tooought it was warmongering, paid too little attention to america's troubles at home. there were other things that kennedy did that i admired. prof. brinkley: was martin luther king jr. your hero at that point or one of your heroes westermann -- your heroes? prof. leuchtenburg: definitely. prof. brinkley: what about the death of kennedy, when he was killed. do you have any recollection of ?ow you process those grim days prof. leuchtenburg: i suppose
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all of us in this room knew where we were or how we felt. i taught at columbia for 30 years. and i knownew york each of us has a story to remember where we were. i went down to a shoe store in hastings, where shoes were being repaired the i talked to the man. he did not talk to me. he stared. i thought he was having a psychotic episode. then he told me what had happened. i remember driving the car on the way home. racing, racing, turned on the television, and then hearing the cronkite, the president.
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and then remembering that .errible weekend that followed happened. else that the next week, i went into my graduate lecture course at columbia. there was a large group of students. obliged to go on with the class because that is why you are here. i am going to say a few things first. anybody who feels it is inappropriate to carry on with class and wants to leave, please do. afterwards, there was a woman in the class, an older woman, whose magazine and fine
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that took excerpts from unusual sources around the country and printed them. when she went home that night, she told them what had happened. he decided to do a special issue on kennedy, figuring there were people like myself who, all around the country, had said some things and wanted to get them down on paper. prof. brinkley: civil rights was such a big part of your being. you had some disappointments with kennedy, although he did not come around and do some things reluctantly. with lyndon johnson, you got kind of a jackpot on civil rights. what is your assessment of lyndon johnson and the civil
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rights movement? once again,enburg: there is criticism of johnson .hat should have gone further he got so absorbed in the vietnam war that he did not carry on the crusade for civil rights with the intensity that he did earlier. that is not altogether untrue. my main view of johnson is very positive. on some other things, but on civil rights. overwhelmingly the great figure in the presidency. after doing all that writing in the new deal, are they book ends of the mid-20th century, the 1930's
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connecting the 1950's? do you see similarities between the two movements? very much.tenburg: when johnson was in congress in dies,of 1945, when fdr new york times reporter comes hen him and he is in tears said that fdr was a daddy to me, always. he had first come to congress in 1937 in the midst of the controversy over the supreme court plan. in a field of man 10. nobody knew much about him. he came out in favor of the court plan at a time when polling was not nearly as well developed as it is now. there was a large question in the land about what does the country think?
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won thatlyndon johnson opportunity, altogether unexpectedly, it was taken as evidence that roosevelt had the country with him. point of made a inviting him aboard his campaign train and giving him tommy to get him aber choice committee assignment when he entered congress. he felt all along that what he was doing was carrying out the unfinished business of the new deal. some of this may people take
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part in the circle around fdr in the 1930's. prof. brinkley: there is some scholarship going on now that calls nixon the last of the new dealers. the theory is that nixon continued to create government programs. wasexample, the epa, water pro-affirmative action. the spectrum of the new deal society continuation? i think theenburg: nixon presidency certainly is. the epa, osha takes place in the nixon years. it is not because nixon himself was particularly interested in age his
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all he wanted them to do was keep them out of trouble. he left them with enough leeway so a fair amount was achieved. it is also true of the supreme court. people may be inclined to think that knowing all of the great , that a number of the supreme court decisions of the1970's were part of warren court. roe v wade did not take place under warren. not directly because this was nixon's intent. far from it. of things continuity
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that had begun earlier in the 1930's. prof. brinkley: would you rather have dinner with nixon or harding? [laughter] prof. leuchtenburg: one of my has been reading my book and he e-mailed me a couple of days ago and said, i just read your nixon chapter. after you wrote it, did you wash your hands? [laughter] i was going to dodge the question. i said that the one person i did have dinner with was jimmy carter. presidency at the
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smithsonian, in washington, we were on a panel together. i said, i would not want to have dinner with jimmy carter. in many ways, and admirable man. with the possible exception of , the mosty adams admirable ex-president we have ever had, but spent the whole just the way we think of him. smile. and he never said a word in two hours. president carter has been combating cancer in his 90's. what do you think will be his legacy? what is the positive aspect that comes out of those years? prof. leuchtenburg: in the carter chapter, borrowing from
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something somebody else said, it seemed like "the wizard of oz." at the end of the film, dorothy realizing that he is a humbug. says, you are a very bad man. frank morgan says, i am not a very bad man. i am a good man. i am just not a very good wizard. and that is jimmy carter. ford, andkley: gerald i know your friend david mccullough says gerald ford should get a little bit more ,ppreciation, pardoning nixon the cost of the election possibly in 1976.
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that he is underappreciated? prof. leuchtenburg: i think ford, as a human being more than a president. he certainly was abused by the media during his presidency. the term of lyndon johnson's saying that ford could not chew gum and walk into a room at the same time. actually said something more vulgar than that. he played tooat much football without a helmet.
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who had this is a man gone through the university of michigan as a football player and had gone through yale law school. as tough a law school as there was in the country. he was not the dummy that he was said to be. i always thought that the notion that he was clumsy, constantly falling down out of airplane steps. he himself said that when he was golfing, people who were accompanying him deserves combat . that this was unfair. i was watching a conference with him and it was lunchtime.
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me and irashed into got angry. i turned around and it was gerald ford. something. was i do not want to leave gerald ford without saying how much i admire that he forged -- betty ford. she was annexed for nearly -- an extraordinary woman. going to the ford museum in grand rapids, you can find on tape some of the great videos of about herkenness addiction, mastectomy. prof. brinkley: we are going to get ready to open this up for questions. a couple of questions. if you could use the microphone. we did not get to ronald reagan and we did not get to the last
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couple, but we got far. in -- clintonton in the q&a if he would like. >> you mentioned harry truman's accomplishments. could you address the election of 1948? prof. leuchtenburg: yes. i do not know if you all heard, the question is would you address the election of 1948? that was a vivid memory. i was sent into kansas city that to work in the campaign of which are going -- of richard boveing. he had a distinguished career in the house. office inck to my i likedon saying that
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bowling very much and hope he would be elected in congress. the only thing that worries me he sometimes that acted as though he thought harry truman was going to be elected. i thought there might be something wrong with his political judgment. on election night, the returns came in and early on, it was clear that he had one -- won. got phone calls from around the country in what was expected to be a terrible year for the democrats. douglasevenson and paul and williams from michigan, and everybody won. about 3:00 in the morning, i closed up shop and said to a , it is really too bad about harry, isn't it?
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i got up early the next morning and i went to a drugstore counter for breakfast. tout 9:30, they were saying my surprise the election is still in doubt. about 10 minutes later, they said they have now determined that everything hinges on ohio. ballots ford cuyahoga county, which is to say cleveland, which is to say democrat, which is to say truman had one -- won. astonished than anyone else in the country when i knew 100%. prof. brinkley: go ahead, sir. >> my name is norman and this is my question. being very disappointed in the quality of the debates now going on for the presidency today and
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hearing your disappointment with respect to the presidency of william howard taft, i would the to know what you think knowledge of the constitution and appreciation of the constitution has a factor in deciding who should be the next president. i am notchtenburg: sure i can put together all the parts of your question, but what is striking is between the candidates who were debating as recently as this week and with theoward taft extraordinary move to the right with respect to politics and also the extraordinary move away from civility.
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one cannot imagine that william howard taft would say any of the sorts of things we have been hearing for months in this campaign. with respect to the constitution , i envy the chapter on roosevelt -- i ended the chapter on roosevelt and taft by highlighting the differences between their presidencies. lectures, a series of particularly at columbia, saying that he thought that teddy tooevelt was taking expansive a view of the role of the president and that he was finding powers that a president could exercise which would get us into trouble in later years and that was the ruling. himself went on to be chief
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justice of the united states. he always felt that this was the ,ost important role in his life as though he had a flexible view of the constitution, as he showed in some of his rulings in the 1920's. it is also thought that there are limits that we needed to abide by. prof. brinkley: the last chapter on his book on bill clinton is just unbelievably interesting. i hope you all get the book to find out his take on bill clinton. we are going to have to wrap up, but we are going to take a question over here and both of us will be around to answer lessons when we are finished here. >> my name is tom. thank you for an enlightened conversation. would you comment on the whole process by which we have the selection of presidential candidates. what would you recommend would be an improvement to the system
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by which we select presidents? prof. leuchtenburg: that is a very good question. i think my whole impulse has been in a more democratic, populistic -- direction. i employed the choice of -- weential candidates mentioned harding. the famous line was harding being chosen in a smoke-filled room at 2:00 in the morning at the blackstone hotel in chicago. it seemed as though it was a great move forward to move away from conventions to popular primaries where people could make the decision. becauses back on this
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it has not worked out the way i thought it was going to work out . a lot of us hoped it would work out. i just do not know how we will ever get that genie back into the bottle again. prof. brinkley: let's give it a round of applause. -- give a big round of applause. [applause] >> thank you so much. yes, we need a part 2. absolutely. please stay for the book signing. you do not want to miss out on the clinton chapter.
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i also just want to make an announcement for those of you who attend our film series. 29, wills, a generally come do the opening marks -- remarks for "dr. strangelove." that is a great film to come to. we do want to have you back. this was great. thank you all for coming. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] day,is presidents' american history tv on c-span3 will feature special programs on the 1990 -- 1966 vietnam hearings. the hearings include testimony from witnesses who opposed or defended president johnson's actions in vietnam. we will first hear from former ambassador to the soviet union .eorge didn't
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then, retired general james gavin. followed by questions from senators, including j william fulbright. air and naval power alone cannot win a war and adequate ground forces cannot win one either. it was incredible to me that we had forgotten the bitter lesson so soon and we were on the verge of making that same tragic error. general, as far as you know, all of the conditions in indochina are different today than they were at that time. we will also year from general maxwell taylor and secretary of state rusk. for the complete we can schedule, go to >> monday night on "the communicators," the longest-serving fcc commissioner's talk about major
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, includingons issues net neutrality rules, and unlimited screening of some video by a few internet providers. >> we should always be evolving, improving, and always attempting to bridge gaps so people can help themselves. this is about enabling individuals to help themselves, providing them with the technological means to get in touch with that educational options where they might not have certain language or certain courses in their schools. bridge those gaps, not only the opportunity divide -- >> watch "the communicators


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