Skip to main content

tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  February 20, 2016 10:00am-10:36am EST

10:00 am
program saturday at 2:00 him eastern here on c-span three's american history tv. >> each week, american artifacts visits a historic places. up next we'd traveled to learn , about congress hall, the meeting place for congress from 1790 until 1800. our guide is park ranger matthew ifill. >> we are standing in the house of representatives of the building called congress hall and was originally built as a county courthouse. in the years that washington, d.c. is being built, philadelphia serves as the temporary capital. the second floor was the united states senate. this room was the house of representatives -- each representative at that point in our history represented 130,000 people.
10:01 am
-- 30,000 people. we had a population of the first census of we had 106 members of 3.70 5 million. the house would fit in this room and eventually from 16 states. the story of philadelphia as a capital, we are taking the story of a new constitution and doing things like adding a new state to the original 13. also the bill of rights would become part of our constitution while philadelphia was the capital. secretary of state thomas jefferson would formally announce the commitment to the constitution by coming to -- the amendments to the constitution by coming to congress in this building and officially announcing we have changed our constitution, which of course, the bill of rights is a huge part of our history. but also the amendment process itself.
10:02 am
we are proving that part of the constitution works, that we can update and make changes to the constitution without having to start completely over from the beginning. but really this building, to a large degree, it is creating the american political system, the two-party system we know today is going to begin here and it's going to begin with issues, much as you would expect. early issues we had faced as the united states would the debt and spending arguments and debates in this building. it's not any different except for the details from what we do today in washington, d.c. we argued about that from the revolutionary war. our early government alexander , hamilton wanted all of the debt in the state to come through the federal government and then to use that debt, paying it off, to build credit for the young united states, and not everyone agreed with that plan. you start seeing division and
10:03 am
foreign policy questions would rise. britain and france go to war in the a lot of americans felt like 1790's. we owed france. they helped us in our war. we still do not like the british very much. but for george washington, the first president, the notion of neutrality was preferable. we didn't really have any money. we did not have a navy at all and our army was not much to speak of, so we were not in a position to go fight a war. certainly not in europe and probably not even fighting our neighbors and british canada in those days. so he serves with the neutrality proclamation which divides us into this question of, ought we be doing more to help france? in the same notion of keeping us out of war, george washington will send john jay, our first chief justice of the supreme court, send him to britain to negotiate a new treaty, again
10:04 am
with the idea of keeping us out of the war and settling questions of the border and these rights. -- and ocean rights that we were arguing with the british. been on the team that negotiated a peace treaty that ended the revolutionary war so he seemed like a good candidate for washington to send. the treaty he brought back becomes very controversial and really one of the tipping points in creating these two parties leading to what we know today. the treaty basically becomes publicly attacked in the press, in what would become the democratic, republican party, men like thomas jefferson, james madison would start vilifying this treaty. what is interesting is nobody has actually read it. it has not been published yet. and yet, it's going to be pilloried in the press to the point where a lot of people hate this treaty they do not know anything about.
10:05 am
the federalist side, they are in favor of the treaty, in favor of building the young economy of the united states, staying out of a war, trading with all sides in europe, not the limiting -- not being limited by a alliance with france. we see this treaty become a symbolic head point between these two sides. and the senate approves the treaty. according to the constitution, the senate approves treaties and they are done. the problem is, the house of representatives basically says we won a chance to discuss this treaty as well. -- we want a chance to discuss this treaty as well. this was our first treaty. and so, they demand to see all of the papers and so on. he says, no, the senate approves it, you have to deal with it. what the house is going to do, maybe what we will do is take away the funding. we won't pay for this treaty.
10:06 am
anything that has to be paid for we will just not spend the , money, therefore, the treaty will effectually die at this point time. so, the big fight in the house that's not necessarily a new strategy you see today. so, the big fight in the house of representatives in this room is whether or not to pay for this treaty. on the last day there is a big crowd in the public how can he. -- balcony. you have men like vice president john adams, supreme court justices sitting in the balcony, and of course, an era where we love our speeches, long political speeches, deep, infused with rhetoric. the best speaker of the time is a man named fisher ames. he is a federalist. he wants this treaty to survive. he has been ill. he has not said anything. everyone is waiting to see if he will speak on it. and he does. he says, if my strength will hold out, i will proceed to
10:07 am
speak. this is about an hour. i think it is about 55 pages in the congressional record. he collapses. at the and. he talks about the last war we fought with the british and do people remember the devastation and do we really want to do this again, fight a war for years? apparently some of the men had tears in their eyes, and when he finally finishes, the supreme court justice james iredell turns to adams and says, my god, isn't that man great? and adams says, yes, he is. the treaty will end up passing by just a couple of votes. at there is a committee of the one point, whole vote. the head of the committee was our first speaker of the house, frederick muhlenberg and he , breaks the tide. he is ostensibly on the democratic republican, jeffersonian side, so he should be against the treaty, but he is
10:08 am
convinced that maybe not going to war is a good idea, so he ends up voting to pass the bill and he is vilified. he is vilified that he voted for this treaty against his side to the point where he loses his seat in the next election to congress, -- his seat in the next election to congress, it even worse he is stabbed on the sidewalk by his brother-in-law. he survived. i am sure that family gatherings became a little awkward. it tells us how high our political tensions can be in the early days. and yet, and yet at the same time we are proving that new constitution, despite these difficulties, works. probably the best day in the history in a lot of ways is the day john adams is inaugurated by the speaker of the house. john adams will stand on that left one with thomas jefferson, also at the front of the room, outgoing president george washington, and this is a big deal. changing presidents for us is a
10:09 am
fairly normal thing. we have big parades and parties and it's a big thing, but this is a really important day, it is we were proving the system, where we, the voters elect our leaders and we change them when we vote, we are proving that system works, because the john adams election is a lot of first. is the first time we will not have george washington as our president. george washington was the only man to be unanimously elected for president. which he was twice. he did not run for office. at the end of his first term, he did not even run for a second term. he was talked into it. people on both sides talked them into another four years. he does not really run he is , unanimously reelected. at the end of the second term, people tried to talk him into a third, but he's not having it. he wants to retire. it's someone else's turn. he will step aside for john adams.
10:10 am
we do not know if this works. we have never actually changed our president. will the people accept this? we don't know. the other thing, john adams was contested in his election. he had to fight a battle against his opponent, who was thomas jefferson. these two were friends. obviously they wrote the declaration of independence together. now, opposite sides of the fence and i don't want to talk to each other. the election is ugly and nasty and very close. it is, for us, today, a normal presidential election. john adams wins by three electoral votes. we have never had a president who only got half the vote, we have never had a president who really had to fight for an election, and of course, the other problem in those early days, if you come in second, you are vice president, which means the new president is one party, the vice president is the other party. pick any modern election you like, but the two opponents together and you could see how neither of them would be
10:11 am
particularly happy. thomas jefferson and john adams are not happy to handing at the -- to be standing at the front of the room together. it was a whole house. there's a lot of curiosity. but you can also figure out half the men in this room are not happy to see john adams standing up there. the other half are not happy to see thomas jefferson sending up there. and no one is happy that george washington is leaving us at this time. john adams could look around and see a lot of people who were not very happy. there were people with tears in their eyes that washington was leaving them and he would later say if you look around, he only saw one person that day who looked happy, which was george washington, who had the look on his face that said, john adams, you are fairly in and i am fairly out. but washington would quietly go to private life and i think very happily withdraw from the scene.
10:12 am
adams would be inaugurated. he would have a difficult presidency because now we're seeing the throes of political fighting going on, but it happened peacefully. we proved to the constitution works and we could continue in times of difficulty with the system in place. in 1800, they would leave this building and moved to the current capital of washington, d.c. adams and jefferson would have another difficult election, this time jefferson winning and he would be inaugurated in the new capitol of washington, d.c. but this is setting the tone for our early history all the way up to today. so, the room itself will start out as a courthouse. this would have been a courtroom, but around the time this building has finished construction, when it finishes
10:13 am
construction, i think they're hoping if we're really nice they will stay here and not go down to that city along the potomac. they end up expanding it to make a little more room for congress. we think the setup looks like this. we have a seating chart. from one session of congress that shows the design of the desks. we do not have any desks that have survived. we are fortunate we have some of the chairs. we have 30 houses of congress. most of them we don't know which house they were in. and as far as original items goes, the chair on the platform for the speaker of the house is in original. we have three cheers exactly
10:14 am
like that. -- three chairs exactly like that. we do not necessarily know which was which. we have one for the speaker of the house, one for the vice president, and one for the chief justice of the supreme court. we do not know which one is which. what we can fairly say is somebody important sat in that chair for speaker of the house. as far as this room went, it became a courthouse again. in the early 1800s after the federal government moved out. this was divided into two double rooms for a lot of years. they built a hallway down the middle so they can have two courtrooms. about the time of the first world war, the city government have left this block and the city is recognizing the historic value of these buildings. they want to turn them into museum space. it has some restoration work. if you visited this in the years
10:15 am
of the first world war, he -- you would've seen the room restored back to the big single room it would have been, but it would've just been a room filled with old stuff. the old-fashioned museum. after world war ii, again the goal is to try to get them back how they look to in those important days. that's where we try to study how they had the seating set up. we have one chart we have been able to find. itone of the members drew showing who was sitting where, , one snapshot for congress. we have enough sketches to show the platform for the speaker of the house, enough original furniture where we can match up things that we think were here. unfortunately, a lot of the items that were here, if the city needed them, like chairs, desks, they use them. things that the government
10:16 am
might've owned -- for instance, the library of congress started in this building. they started buying books for the library of congress. in philadelphia. a lot of things that went to washington, d.c. are burned when washington is burned in the war of 1812. we lose a lot of those early things. -- that is one of the challenges is you do not necessarily have all of the things. but you do what you can to give people the sense of what it looks like when men like james madison or young andrew jackson are sitting in the room as members of the house of representatives. we are in the senate chamber here at congress hall in philadelphia. the senate is quite a bit more grand than the house of representatives would have been. there is a couple of reasons for that. our roots as a nation go back to
10:17 am
when we were british. the british have a parliament with two houses, the house of lords, the house of commons and there's definitely parallels with our congress. the house is very similarly set up to the house of commons, and the senate therefore would be based on the house of lords. obviously, we will not have dukes and girls with noble titles but we have states in every state is equal in the senate, so the state takes the place of the house of lords. the british, using that green color government, the colonies would use it, but the red would be much more that house of lords kind of color, so you will see red in the early senate here in philadelphia. it definitely has that kind of look to it that seems a bit on the higher end. the interesting thing about the senate is they are created with a bit more power, power they tied to the president.
10:18 am
that the house of representatives does not have. treaties in the united states are with the advice and consent of the senate, approve with the advice and consent of the senate. so they have to approve all treaties and the house does not. so there is one power and also any time the president makes an appointment to his cabinet, and ambassador, supreme court, of course, those people would have to be approved by the senate, or rejected. here in philadelphia, we have our very first treaty approved by the senate, which was the jay treaty, and that led to a big fight in the house of representatives about whether or not to hate for it. -- to pay for it. over that same issue we have the , worst rejection of a presidential nominee by the senate. john rutledge, who was one of the signers of the constitution, one of washington's first choices for the original six justices on the supreme court.
10:19 am
he accepts, but then resigns the post without ever having served on the supreme court. he will become the chief justice of the south carolina supreme court. when john jay resigns, he is elected governor of new york. he leaves the post of chief justice. that leaves it empty. washington will tap john rutledge of south carolina. rutledge will come back to philadelphia and serve as chief justice. he was appointed during a recess of congress. he actually serves the session of the court as chief justice. when the senate comes back later that year, they then take up the question of approving john rutledge. now george washington never had
10:20 am
anyone reject did so this is never happened in our young history. john rutledge has a number of things going against him. people think he is crazy. he has definitely had some strange things to say. he has a reputation amongst some people. but also, where he will also get into trouble, and he made pointed comments about that jay treaty negotiated by his predecessor. he made some speeches. he was very critical. they were rambling speeches. he made some comments about the senate itself. the senators would rate the -- read the newspapers and they would read what the south carolina supreme court justice would have to say about them, and they would remember these things and they would decide perhaps this is not the best guy to be chief justice of the supreme court. even though he got to run the court for a while, but he was sent packing back home.
10:21 am
the first rejection of a presidential nominee. again, you are seeing the constitution in a lot of different directions being explored, and you see other occurrences where this happens. another thing that will not get exercised in philadelphia is the power of impeaching -- if the president is impeached, the house would vote to have an impeachment, the senate would basically be the jury in what is essentially a trial to decide whether the president should be removed from office. you look at the powers of the senate and you see things that they can do that tie them to the president in a lot of will -- and you see the things that they can do that type into the president in a lot of ways that gives them an advantage over the house. finally, the other thing about the senate that makes it a bit unique is you get that longer-term.
10:22 am
the longest elected term in the united states, six-year term, but early on, senators were not even elected. senators were appointed. originally, senators were appointed by their state legislatures. senators do not have to run for office. as a result, senators in philadelphia met in private. they did not meet in public. the house of representatives always did. now the senate starts getting into the room controversial bills like the jay treaty. one of the early senators sent -- that is sent by pennsylvania, a man named albert gallen, probably most famous for being secretary of the treasury of the republican side -- on the federal side of the early
10:23 am
senate, looking at the strict rules would say he has not lived in the united date the requisite number of years to serve in the senate. so, the senate voted him out. he is rejected from the senate. he is later elected to the house of representatives by pennsylvania. naturally they want to know why the senator was kicked out of the senate. you get this growing public feeling, we want to know what happens when the senate meets. and obviously, they have guys sitting in the balcony watching the house. is they want guys watching the senate, because that is news. and i'm sure there are people in the house of representatives going, why do these guys get to meet and private while we have to meet in front of all of these people? finally after five years of meeting behind closed doors, the
10:24 am
senate relents and builds a small balcony and starts to meet in public. that's one of those long-standing traditions. but when you go back to our earliest days, this is where you are seeing they do not have everything that is set in stone. the constitution is only four pages long. these men have to figure out what they are about based on a few lines. george washington basically invents the job of the president going off a few paragraphs of the constitution. what do i do every day? when he was to negotiate a treaty with various indian tribes, what he will do, he will come into the senate and sit down and say, well, i'm supposed to do treaties with your advice and consent, so i want your advice and consent on these issues. i want to discuss. the senate goes, we are not
10:25 am
really interested in talking about that with you in the room, why don't you give us some stuff and come back later? that's when the president comes and goes from the senate. now for washington, he is not a guy that likes cons of, you -- tons of, you know know, , public accolades and he does not like to give a lot of speeches if he can avoid it. he will do an address to congress every year. at they do not call it the student of the union yet. -- they do not call it the state of the union. but he will come to the senate for his inauguration for his second term as president. he keeps it low key. he does not do the bigger events that we saw downstairs with john adams, which was a big deal. washington, starting his second term, more or less goes back to work. he did not want the day public ceremony to take place.
10:26 am
that would happen with adams' inauguration. and when you move down to washington, you have an inauguration at the new capitol building. so, again we are growing into what the united states would be today. when you look in this room, a lot of guys in the senate were the architects of our constitution. the senators being chosen by their state, a lot of these guys had an impact on writing the constitution would be sent to their states by philadelphia. -- by their states to philadelphia. james madison runs into the problem in virginia that patrick henry is one of the great powers in virginia. henry is not a great fan of madison. and his role in the constitution. madison, even though -- we called him the father of the constitution -- the obvious problem of getting a seat in the senate does not happen for james madison. he has to suffer through being elected in running for office and being a member of the house.
10:27 am
as for election of senators, that is a recent phenomena and in our history. that would be the 19th amendment. -- the 17th amendment, 1913. only just over a century ago. all of the men prior to that just had to court their state legislature. the lincoln douglas debates over the senate, they are not debating for people to vote for them. they are debating for people to vote for the state government to vote for them. it's a very complicated system. which is why when you get into the 19th century, you get people going, we want to vote for our own senate. that's one of the changes. you have to grow into how these things work. the remarkable thing is when you go back, most everything does operate the same way. we are pretty much using the system designed in independence hall that they taken to this building and use and continue on
10:28 am
when they were when to washington in the 1800's. when you look at this room, unlike downstairs in the house of representatives, the second floor of the building with the senate is a lot more original in terms of how the building goes. we had 32 senators. we started with 26 representing 13 states, and with new state -- vermont, kentucky -- comes into the union, they add new senators. when they leave for washington, 32 senators would go. the room would turn into a courtroom, and eventually it was the united states federal district court room in the 19th century -- they do not necessarily need this upper tier. -- the stuff that's here. desks go away. we do not know what happened to them. this is our best guess. chairs you always need.
10:29 am
in the mid-1800s when people start thinking about american history, like we do so much of today, they start saying, we need to start collecting things for independence hall. somebody says, we've got a bunch of these chairs. at some point, someone thinks, maybe they were the chairs of the continental congress. they stuck them in the room. they were the chairs for the federal conference but either way, they were displayed on independence hall for a long time. fortunately, when we restore congress hall, to look as it would have, we had 29 original chairs and some of them were probably in the house they stone simple proportion. a couple of them were marked senate and a couple of them had a different color upholstery so we figured it out to they had a different color one in the house. we said let's put them all in the senate chamber so we will fill the senate chamber with 29 of the 32 chairs being original.
10:30 am
the eagle on the ceiling, we are not 100% sure of the date on that. i can tell you there is 15 stars above it so it is somewhere after the 15th state enters the union. when, butknow exactly it is sort of an artistic rendering of the state of the united states -- seal of the united states. on offng that had worked and on throughout the revolutionary war, different committees, and it kept changing a little bit here and there until they worked out the final version of the seal. we have a carpet on the floor that is a reproduction of the original carpet. it more than likely went to washington when they moved but whatever happened to it, we do not know. it was made specifically for the room here and there was actually
10:31 am
enough written description of exactly what it was, it enabled us to create -- re-create the carpet. it would have been encircled by the original state seal. chain, at up as a pretty common motif of the time, chaining together the states to create this bigger thing, the united states. those symbols, whether for the states themselves or the united states, have their roots here in philadelphia. the one original desk we have is the secretary's desk, and the vice president would sit in the back of the room. we are going to start with john adams, who was succeeded by thomas jefferson, they would be here a good bit of the time, probably a lot more than today. today, the vice president can literally sit in the senate any day they want but early they
10:32 am
made it clear that they did not want john adams speaking a lot. he was the first but certainly not the last vice president to complain about the limitations of that job. tois allowed to vote only break ties. the vice president is always the tiebreaker, so any big day, any big vote, the vice president will be there. adamsthan that, john would find he was kind of stuck in philadelphia running a bunch of meetings with a bunch of guys who would not let him talk. when thomas jefferson was vice president, his opponent was the president so he does not even agree with a lot of the policies that he has to be executive over. it is a difficult system, that leads to the system where we elect a president and vice president more carefully. guy with the most
10:33 am
votes as president and the second-most votes for vice -- it is not the adams election but the jefferson election in 1800, when they are packing and moving to washington, d.c.. they will pretty much start meeting and the new capital december of 1800. we aremidst of this, electing adams versus jefferson, but the two sides have learned their lesson. when jefferson wins the election, technically he ties his own vice presidential candidate arab or, -- aaron burr , a senator from new york. with them being tied, the election goes to the house of representatives so the first thing we do in our new capital is the house of representatives
10:34 am
has to elect the new president and they have devote more than 30 times before the tide can be broken. we have learned our lesson of, so the 12th amendment comes along to straighten it out. these earlyback at days, and they are managing to find out what does not work, which is not much, and find out that most of the constitution does. we are able to look at a room that is much smaller than the senate today, that the senators who sat here for any much do the same thing as the senators in washington today. >> each week until the 2016 election, "road to the white house rewind" features archival coverage. of presidential races.
10:35 am
the 1990 six news conference by republican pat buchanan in columbia, south carolina. the night before he won a never victory overarrow gop front-runner bob dole. he hopes to continue his campaign's momentum in south carolina with the endorsement of eagle forum founder and president phyllis schlafly. but 10 days later mr. dole won a , decisive victory in south carolina and then won every primary except one on the road to the republican or presidential nomination. bob dole lost to bill clinton, the incumbent. this event is about a half an hour. ms. schlafly: good morning, everyone. i am phyllis schlafly, president of eagle forum, and from the national pro-life organization.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on