Revolution 250 Podcast

The Jeffersonians with Kevin R.C. Gutzman

June 13, 2023 Kevin R.C. Gutzman Season 4 Episode 24
Revolution 250 Podcast
The Jeffersonians with Kevin R.C. Gutzman
Show Notes Transcript

Thomas Jefferson called the election of 1800 a "revolution," meaning a return to the principles of 1776.  For the next twenty-four years, he and his close allies James Madison and James Monroe, would hold the office of President.  How well did they do?  Did their administrations fulfill the promise of the Revolution?  We discuss the Jeffersonians with Kevin Gutzman, Kevin Gutzman, historian, Professor of History at Western Connecticut State University, and author of The Jeffersonians:  The Visionary Presidencies of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. 

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 Whatever you want is fine with me.
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 Okay, well, welcome everyone to the Revolution 250 podcast.
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 I'm Bob Allison.
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 I chair the Rev 250 advisory group, and I also teach history at Suffolk University.
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 And our guest today is Kevin C.R.
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 Gutzman, who is a professor of history at Western Connecticut State University and the author so far of six books.
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 A couple of them have been bestsellers, and we'll mainly be talking about your most recent one, which is The Jeffersonians.
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 the visionary presidencies of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.
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 Although, of course, the careers of these three individuals take them both backward into the revolution and forward into the period after the presidency.
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 So, Kevin, thanks for joining us.
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 Happy to be here.
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 So what drove you to write about these three presidents, this triumvirate or the Albemarle dynasty, as one scholar called them?
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 Well, my book about Madison came out in 2012, and it was essentially
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 history of Madison as constitutionalist.
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 And I had Daniel Walker Howe, the Pulitzer Prize winning historian, write a cover blurb for me.
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 And when he gave me the blurb, he said, you know, I really liked your book, but I wish you had devoted more time to Madison's presidency.
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 And of course, the answer to that was, well, the book wasn't about his presidency, except insofar as his constitutionalism was implicated in that.
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 But when I finished my immediate preceding book, which was about Thomas Jefferson's political program, I got to thinking, OK, what about this question of Madison's presidency?
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 And so I did kind of preliminary reading about that.
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 And soon I realized that, well, you couldn't really tell the story of Madison's presidency without starting with Jefferson's presidency.
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 And similarly, I don't think
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 that the main movers thought that the effort really ended when Madison left office either.
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 So it just seemed logical that as they understood it, I should understand it as having been more or less one continuous effort essentially with exactly the same program.
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 And it happens that there hadn't been another book on this topic in forever.
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 So that's how I ended up with this subject.
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 It's an interesting one because there's only been two times in a country's history when we've had three consecutive two-term presidents.
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 Of course, the most recent one, they had different programs.
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 They had nothing in common, really, either.
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 They were running against each other, essentially, too.
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 So it's interesting to see this 16-year period, a 24-year period, where you have these three very close friends as well as political associates with a consistent program.
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 And how would you characterize their program, Kevin?
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 What was it they were trying to do?
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 Well, Jefferson laid it out in his first inaugural address, essentially.
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 What they stood for was a highly limited role of the federal government in American society,
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 very limited spending on the military, more or less complete decentralization of
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 government activity.
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 Jefferson said in his first inaugural address, we have called by different names brethren of the same principle.
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 We are all Republicans.
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 We are all Federalists.
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 People in the audience when he said this gasped because of course the political division of the previous
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 12 years had been so intense.
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 But it seems that Jefferson wasn't just making a characteristically fanciful statement.
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 He actually hoped there wouldn't be parties.
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 And I think Monroe, too, hoped there wouldn't be parties.
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 And by the time Monroe's second term began, there more or less weren't parties anymore.
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 He didn't really do much to keep the Republican Party going.
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 And the
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 Federalist Party had essentially withered into nothingness.
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 Yeah, he's pretty much unopposed when he runs for reelection.
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 Right, yes, he got all but one electoral vote and the one elector who voted against him was a fellow Republican who just didn't like his personality.
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 Right, yeah.
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 So this was fulfillment of their hopes.
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 Jefferson, I think in saying
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 We've called by different names brethren in the same principle.
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 What he really meant was, you know, we're all Jeffersonians.
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 Some of you have been mistaken about this for the last 12 years.
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 Now you've come to realize it.
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 And so this is really the way he understood things, I think.
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 Yeah, he talks about the touchstone of civic instruction.
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 And he gives in the last second, the last paragraph, that whole delineation of what our principles are.
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 And of course, those would include, again, highly limited military spending, respect of the state's rights and all their vigor and so on.
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 So, of course, to some degree, this program was going to prove highly maladapted to the period.
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 But because of several enormous territorial acquisitions that kind of fell into their laps, they became invincible.
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 And again, there are a lot of ironies in this, that the Louisiana Purchase Jefferson doesn't think it's constitutional.
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 That is, this is against the very principle he's espousing.
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 And of course, the embargo, the other episodes happen that really the ideology, there's a conflict between the ideology and the reality.
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 I wonder if we could talk a little bit about how they, do they remain true or do they just scrap the whole thing?
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 idea of limited government?
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 Well, of course, Jefferson did think that the Constitution had not given the federal government or had not given federal officials authority to make the Louisiana Purchase.
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 And John Quincy Adams diary says that Madison told him had he Madison been on the floor of Congress at the time, he couldn't have argued that the Constitution given federal government authority to do this.
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 But the way Jefferson excused himself was by saying that, well, if you're the chief executive, occasionally there will just come time when you have to do particular things and just hope the people will forgive you.
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 So he, I think, was never persuaded that it had been exactly kosher, but he thought it was essential.
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 And, of course, he had hoped that...
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 The problem of having one of the great European powers immediately to the United States West would somehow be put behind.
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 That's what the Louisiana Purchase promised to do.
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 So it wasn't mainly that they wanted the territory.
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 It was that they wanted to remove this problem of having Spain, or it could have been France, in control of New Orleans, which would mean essentially having a chokehold on the American economy indefinitely.
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 What about the embargo then?
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 What's happening there?
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 Well, I think from the 1780s, Madison had had the idea that to some extent, economic coercion could be substituted for traditional balance of powers, military calculations in international affairs.
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 And Jefferson, I think, was persuaded of this.
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 It was common in Jefferson's thinking to let the wish be father to the thought.
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 And so they gave it a run.
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 And people in New England argued that it was entirely unconstitutional, besides which they thought that it just kind of played into the general tendency of the Republicans to take what amounted to a pro-French position anyway.
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 So one thing that this did was it spurred significant resistance almost to the point, well, arguably during the War of 1812 to the point and beyond the point of treason among leading figures even in New England.
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 And ultimately, Jefferson, for the last months of his administration, rather than go to Congress with the message, well, this has failed, we'll have to revert to some other approach, just kind of went home to Monticello and told
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 Madison Gallatin, his top two cabinet officers, hey, boys, you're going to be at the head of the next administration.
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 You figure it out.
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 So this was I think the whole thing was highly Jefferson's administration was highly ideological.
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 That is, it wasn't entirely what we would think of as responsible when it came to foreign affairs.
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 No, it isn't.
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 And Madison, though, one reason I think you devote little time to him, his presidency in your first book, is he's not really that good a president in a lot of ways, which is a... You're being kind.
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 I am, yeah.
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 Sometimes when people say, who are your favorite presidents, I could put him number one just so it's kind of a, to his credit, he does oversee a war without centralizing power in the executive or expanding the scope of the federal government.
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 um i don't know if that's an achievement necessarily because the country very nearly loses the war and loses territory but um anyway but you've now spent more time with madison as president than you had before so how do you come away thinking about madison as president well more or less the first thing that happened when madison became president was that his allies in the senate told him they weren't going to allow him to elevate
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 Albert Gallatin to the position of Secretary of State.
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 And rather than push the issue, rather than go ahead and nominate him and see whether Republicans would actually vote no, Madison just decided, okay, I'll appoint somebody else.
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 And the fellow he appointed was
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 Qualified for the post only by being the younger brother of a senator who turned out to be more or less hostile to Madison's administration, even though he was a Republican.
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 And the fellow was incompetent.
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 Madison ended up doing much of the work of Secretary of State himself.
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 Well, he had been Secretary of State already.
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 Right, right.
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 This is going to be typical of Madison's appointments.
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 In fact, when he was in retirement, Madison received a letter from a younger generation, Lee, who, like many second-generation Americans who were descended from or related to people who had been prominent in the Revolution, had turned to writing the history of the country.
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 And so they went back and forth a couple of times, the Lee asking Madison for details about events in Congress in the 1770s and 80s.
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 And finally, he got to the point where he said to Madison, OK, eventually I'm writing about your administration.
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 I'm going to have to say something about your appointments.
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 How can I describe them?
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 I can't think of, and he used some superlative, for any worse set of appointments in a Republican government anywhere ever.
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 You'd think Madison, being the venerable old man who had been the chief mover of the Constitution and essentially the author of the Bill of Rights, and one of the founders of the Republican Party would have said, okay, enough of this fellow.
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 But instead, he wrote him a long answer, apparently because he thought you and I needed an answer.
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 And so what he told him was, well, when you made a high appointment, you had to think about how the fellow was related to some particular part of the Republican Party in his state and how his appointment would affect
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 political calculations in Congress.
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 And he went through a long list.
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 Odenfellow had to be independently wealthy because there wasn't really much by way of pay associated with these positions at the time.
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 And what he never got to was you had to ask yourself, is this guy qualified to be the chief policymaker in this area?
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 Because that doesn't seem ever to have been his concern.
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 So Madison ended up with just
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 Oh, yeah.
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 Hideously bad appointments to the cabinet.
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 Really cartoonishly awful bad appointments to the cabinet and incompetent generals.
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 And the whole thing you have to say ultimately was not only his responsibility, but his fault.
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 I think it's just indubitable.
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 It's incontrovertible that Madison's presidency was the low point of his otherwise extremely.
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 accomplished political career.
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 If he had not been president, we'd have a much higher opinion of him.
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 Yeah, like Hamilton.
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 We're talking with Kevin Gutzman, who is the author of many books, including The Jeffersonians, The Visionary Presidencies of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.
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 And you take somewhat of a different line on Mrs. Madison than most scholars and most people who think at all about it do.
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 Dolly does entertain, and that is a high point of the administration, but then you're not as big a fan of Dolly Madison as you might be.
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 That's a fair way to put it.
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 I think that Mrs. Madison's attitude about being the wife of the president was highly self-centered, and I don't really appreciate her attitude about, say, the slaves in the household, for example, who had been
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 kind of backgrounded by President Jefferson and then were put right out front in the social environment of the Madison administration by Mrs. Madison.
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 I tell various stories about her interaction with slaves in the White House and after and
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 Besides that, of course, she ultimately, if we were to believe people who had known Madison, James Madison, she's the one who was responsible for the fact that the slaves on Montpelier were sold off to pay for her wastrel son's gambling debts when apparently she had agreed with James that she would free them.
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 So there are various other aspects.
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 aspects of her want to call it performance as the president's wife.
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 I don't know her, her time as the president's wife that I don't find very appealing.
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 Okay, fair enough.
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 And the, well, let's talk about the Monroe administration, because Monroe is different.
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 You mentioned an elector voted against him because he didn't like his personality.
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 And there doesn't really seem to be much of a personality for Monroe, but he makes very good appointments to the cabinet positions.
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 Yes, I think Monroe's is easily the most successful of these three presidencies.
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 And the main reason is that he puts two really brilliant people at the head of the cabinet.
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 One is the secretary of state, former federalist, son of the last federalist president, John Quincy Adams.
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 And the other one is the former president.
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 second leading Republican member of the House and also intellectual giant, John Calhoun from South Carolina.
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 He puts him in the war department.
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 And so the most recent biographer of Calhoun says, when the Civil War came, the South had Calhoun's ideas and the North had his army.
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 And what this amounts to is that Calhoun, as war secretary, saw, had seen,
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 because he was in the House and was one of the main supporters of the War of 1812, that the situation I was describing earlier, Madison's horrible appointments to be generals and so on, was a result of the fact that there hadn't really been an army structure.
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 So Calhoun essentially created the general staff, and he decided we need to have a professional nucleus of an army.
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 And he also was responsible for creating the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
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 Maybe the most significant advice he gave to Monroe in the cabinet was that he was the fellow who advised him that the most important thing about the Missouri controversy was to get it over with because it could break up the union.
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 People had argued in Congress that if the 36 degree 30 minutes line were agreed,
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 that this would mean the end of slavery.
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 And Calhoun knew that.
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 But he still told Monroe, you have to sign off on this.
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 So, of course, Adams was the fellow who I described cabinet discussions in which they finally come to the conclusion that rather than fire Andrew Jackson for going against Calhoun's orders and invading the Florida's,
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 They should use the fact that Jackson had easily conquered the Floridas to shake down the King of Spain and obtain the Florida for the United States, which happened.
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 And then, of course, Adams was also responsible for the Transcontinental Treaty and for
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 formulating Monroe Doctrine, and the two of them just did a superlative job, I think, at the head of Monroe's cabinet.
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 Monroe has to be given the credit for it.
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 He chose them.
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 He took this advice.
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 And as I say, I think this was easily the most
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 um the most successful of the three presidencies one way to distinguish but his from the previous two is i think the things i've said already in our conversation about jefferson's and madison's administration showed that they were highly ideologically driven they weren't they just were impractical to the point of irresponsibility but monroe is the opposite and this is i think not surprising because
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 As army officers tend to be, he was a non-ideological type.
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 And the other two guys had, of course, not been in the army.
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 Actually, Jefferson had ended up kind of embarrassed by what had happened when he was governor of Virginia during the war.
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 And so this is a significant distinction between them.
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 And I think Monroe should be more widely remembered.
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 I think he should be credited with significant accomplishments as president.
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 I think you're right.
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 Another just notable thing is it's the only time in our history we've had two consecutive presidential terms and the major cabinet officers remain in their posts for eight years.
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 And actually, another development that's similar to that is that we also have in this period the longest serving major cabinet officer in American history.
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 That was Albert Gallatin.
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 Gallatin was brilliant, like Adams and Calhoun, although, of course, not in the cabinet when they were.
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 But from the beginning of the Jefferson administration, well into the first term of the Madison administration, he's secretary of treasury with.
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 Madison, he's one of the two chief advisors to Jefferson.
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 And one thing that he was responsible for, Gallatin, was laying out the program that eventually extinguished the federal debt.
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 So people know that we had for a moment in the Jackson administration, we had one moment in the Jackson administration when the federal government had no debt at all.
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 So it's common, especially among libertarians, to say, well, they like Andrew Jackson.
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 And you think, well, why would a libertarian like Andrew Jackson?
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 And the answer is, well, because he paid off the debt.
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 But it just happened that he was in office the day that Gallatin's plan came to fruition.
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 And the debt was extinguished on precisely the date that Gallatin had planned for that to happen.
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 So Gallatin is a very interesting figure in this book, too.
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 He really is.
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 And he is another, like Monroe, he is someone who does deserve to be
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 more widely credited.
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 So how was it that they planned to pay off the debt?
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 I suspect this is a question we should continue to ask.
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 Well, I mentioned when we began the conversation that one of the chief principles of the Republicans was highly straightened federal government spending.
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 And again, when it came to the military, to the point of irresponsibility.
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 Well, especially if you're going to declare war, you'd think first you should have some federal military spending and maybe construct a military apparatus before you launched into it.
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 Gallatin had been in the Adams administration, the John Adams administration, the chief congressional opponent of naval spending.
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 And he was the chief mover in eliminating most of the internal spending of the federal government.
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 So there was there was dedication of particular streams of income to debt extinguishment and ultimately, as I say, came to fruition.
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 It was really quite an achievement and Jefferson wanted it done more quickly, but then you have the purchase of Louisiana and the war, which both impact this in a big way.
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 and so it's another curious thing here is that in the 1780s madison and monroe had run against each other and then they were rival candidates in 1808 for the republican nomination so how is that relationship i mean because they hadn't always been marching in lockstep
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 Well, it's an interesting relationship.
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 Most accounts of the election to the first, of Madison's election to the first federal Congress have him and his friend Monroe traveling around their district giving speeches
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 uh which madison highly resented one at one point he wrote a letter to a friend and said i've today had an experience like i have never had before i stood up on a rostrum and her rang the planters right he did not like giving political speeches
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 But although the two of them had been drawn into this common electoral district after Madison had been defeated for the Senate in the Virginia legislature, they ended up in that position.
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 Still, they were essentially allies.
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 The reason was, I think, because they were both kind of clients of Jefferson's.
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 They were both friends of his.
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 Monroe was angry over the fact that he thought during the Jefferson administration, he had negotiated, he and Pinckney had negotiated what could have been a treaty that put the problems with the British behind.
 23:39.334 --> 23:46.036
 And Monroe thought that the only reason Jefferson had not submitted to the Senate was that he did not want Monroe to get credit for it.
 23:46.577 --> 23:47.577
 Monroe thought that
 23:48.677 --> 23:58.224
 Jefferson wanted Madison to succeed him as president and that Monroe would be a more likely candidate if he had this treaty to his credit.
 23:58.244 --> 24:07.891
 So as far as Monroe was concerned, the ongoing problems with the British were largely a result of the fact that Jefferson had not submitted his treaty to the Senate.
 24:08.291 --> 24:13.215
 And were there other reasons Jefferson wouldn't have submitted the treaty other than he wanted Madison to get the credit?
 24:13.895 --> 24:14.296
 Well, there...
 24:16.505 --> 24:22.152
 that one of the provisions that Jefferson had insisted on was not included in the treaty.
 24:22.892 --> 24:27.277
 But Monroe still thought, and Pinckney of course thought, that
 24:28.447 --> 24:33.709
 this treaty would have essentially resolved the ongoing friction with the British.
 24:34.429 --> 24:45.833
 And of course, in the wake of, from our vantage point, looking back on the whole period, we can see, well, it couldn't have turned out worse if they had gone ahead and tried to ratify the treaty.
 24:45.873 --> 24:51.335
 Yeah, so Monroe, I think, had a reasonable complaint in that connection.
 24:52.195 --> 24:56.337
 And it was, of course, widely known that Jefferson did want Madison to be his successor.
 24:57.237 --> 24:59.619
 So this this problem came up.
 25:00.180 --> 25:01.421
 Madison, I'm sorry.
 25:02.462 --> 25:11.250
 Jefferson, however, did finally manipulate the two of them into a kind of peace, political and personal.
 25:11.910 --> 25:15.613
 And Monroe ends up being a prominent player in Madison's cabinet.
 25:15.653 --> 25:17.215
 And apparently all was resolved.
 25:17.575 --> 25:17.795
 25:18.376 --> 25:30.172
 He kind of comes to the rescue, as you mentioned, the disastrous appointments that Madison made, and Monroe is serving as both Secretary of State and Secretary of War after those two guys had proven completely inept.
 25:30.669 --> 25:31.509
 Right, right.
 25:32.029 --> 25:38.431
 There is also is a kind of farcical situation when the British Army finally marched into Washington.
 25:38.451 --> 25:50.673
 A few days before that, Secretary Monroe had hopped on a horse with three young enlisted men and ridden out into the countryside of Maryland to find the British Army.
 25:50.693 --> 25:56.114
 So this was the situation to which the American military establishment had been reduced.
 25:56.694 --> 25:59.215
 There was just no army at all.
 26:00.096 --> 26:03.305
 And the war secretary had to go out and find the enemy.
 26:05.411 --> 26:06.013
 Did he succeed?
 26:06.960 --> 26:07.440
 Well, yes.
 26:08.361 --> 26:11.704
 But of course, they were on their way, even if he hadn't gone looking.
 26:12.164 --> 26:14.066
 Yeah, yeah.
 26:14.306 --> 26:18.389
 It is one of the major disasters, the burning of Washington.
 26:18.930 --> 26:22.893
 I think, was that the last time a president was at the front lines rallying the troops?
 26:23.133 --> 26:23.693
 I think so.
 26:23.954 --> 26:31.500
 And actually, I tell the story in the book of Madison's interventions on the battlefield at Bladensburg before the battle began.
 26:31.600 --> 26:34.162
 He told Monroe he had to go
 26:34.702 --> 26:39.807
 do something about the dispositions of the soldiers that had already been made by the commanders on the spot.
 26:40.347 --> 26:45.932
 Monroe, by all accounts, made suggestions that weakened their array.
 26:45.952 --> 26:51.858
 And then, as we know, this became the Bladensburg Races, the British
 26:52.518 --> 27:20.197
 chase the americans from the field so madison proved it just an incompetent military leader yeah it's unfortunate and then uh shortly after this when new england is threatening to secede and monroe makes some comment about he will personally go and subdue them and some what the new england press says he'll need a faster horse right harkening to this moment this really um moment so
 27:21.318 --> 27:29.062
 Madison, though, at the end, in January of 1815, we get the news of New Orleans and the news of the Treaty of Ghent.
 27:29.202 --> 27:34.585
 And so it seems like we hadn't really lost the war, even though the capital had been burned.
 27:34.665 --> 27:46.171
 And in the late summer of, say, 1814, everyone anticipates that the United States is going to lose this, that the British Army is going to the Mississippi River and others coming down Lake Champlain.
 27:46.211 --> 27:49.433
 And then there's this third one rooting around the Chesapeake.
 27:50.074 --> 27:51.235
 27:53.736 --> 27:56.337
 How do we turn this around?
 27:56.377 --> 28:01.459
 I mean, the guys do manage to hold on, and then Monroe has a successful administration.
 28:01.799 --> 28:09.543
 Well, there are a couple of people in high positions in the Army who prove competent.
 28:11.068 --> 28:15.751
 One is Andrew Jackson, who famously wins a battle outside New Orleans.
 28:16.531 --> 28:29.921
 And the word of the treaty, which restores the status quo antebellum and of the victory outside New Orleans, gets to the East Coast towns more or less at the same time.
 28:30.481 --> 28:34.164
 So people have the impression, well, we've won this battle and now we have this treaty.
 28:34.204 --> 28:34.964
 We've won the war.
 28:34.984 --> 28:35.065
 28:35.905 --> 28:37.926
 even though the British gave nothing.
 28:38.086 --> 28:45.411
 They did not concede any of America's demands that led to the declaration in the first place.
 28:45.471 --> 28:51.634
 The Americans finally just decided, well, there's no reason for this to continue on our end.
 28:52.315 --> 29:00.600
 And the British, apparently there was discussion among high officials in the British government over the possibility of sending an army and conquering the United States and
 29:01.400 --> 29:11.732
 Maybe it's an apocryphal story, but supposedly the Duke of Wellington said to the Prime Minister, well, you give me an army and I go to North America, I conquer the United States and then what?
 29:12.740 --> 29:17.365
 And so then supposedly the prime minister said, well, I guess we'll have to have a treaty.
 29:17.866 --> 29:19.567
 So there really was there again.
 29:19.587 --> 29:24.593
 There was nothing positive in the statecraft of James Madison in this.
 29:24.933 --> 29:25.153
 29:25.193 --> 29:26.355
 That's just kind of happened.
 29:26.575 --> 29:26.795
 29:27.296 --> 29:33.762
 And he also sent a very high powered negotiating team to get John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Albert Gallatin.
 29:33.862 --> 29:34.143
 29:34.203 --> 29:34.803
 29:34.843 --> 29:35.024
 29:35.564 --> 29:35.764
 29:36.405 --> 29:48.736
 We're talking with Kevin Gutzman, who is a professor of history at Western Connecticut State University and the author of, among other books, The Jeffersonians, on the visionary presidencies of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.
 29:49.336 --> 29:56.723
 And Jefferson referred to the election of 1800 as a revolution, by that he meant a returning to these original principles and
 29:57.443 --> 30:04.206
 sent letters to John Dickinson and Samuel Adams and other people who had been involved in the revolution of 1776.
 30:04.926 --> 30:09.768
 And he saw this as a fulfillment of the revolution.
 30:10.008 --> 30:11.369
 Is that the way we should see it?
 30:13.350 --> 30:23.394
 Well, I've already said that I think that the degree to which Jefferson wanted to straighten federal government spending was
 30:25.074 --> 30:28.837
 ideological to the point of being just self-destructive.
 30:30.097 --> 30:39.444
 And so it's hard to argue that the revolution had been fought in the name of leaving the United States defenseless.
 30:40.705 --> 30:45.388
 So I guess to that extent, I'd, I'd want to disagree with him.
 30:46.008 --> 30:49.451
 On the other hand, what he meant was that he thought and, and,
 30:50.071 --> 31:00.241
 Hamilton had said this, he had thought in the 1790s that Hamilton's program was intended to some extent to assimilate the United States to the British model.
 31:01.002 --> 31:07.408
 And Jefferson thought that the quote unquote revolution of 1800 had been about undoing that effort.
 31:08.189 --> 31:09.591
 So I do think that
 31:10.990 --> 31:26.675
 Jefferson was largely right about the impulse behind the Hamiltonian program, even if to some degree, as Madison would more or less concede by the end of his presidency, some of Hamilton's initiatives had been necessary to the functioning of the government.
 31:27.635 --> 31:30.236
 It's interesting.
 31:31.382 --> 31:41.545
 What about the Monroe Doctrine and how does that, Monroe never calls it his doctrine and it seems every president since has wanted to have a doctrine.
 31:42.045 --> 31:42.365
 31:42.865 --> 31:51.747
 So what is it that makes it still to us something we refer to almost as much as we refer to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence?
 31:53.707 --> 32:00.389
 When is it made and who do you give credit for making this policy statement?
 32:01.095 --> 32:08.500
 Well, I mentioned a few minutes ago that Monroe had these two brilliant cabinet officers, Calhoun and Adams.
 32:09.521 --> 32:16.045
 Adams was chiefly responsible for the Monroe Doctrine in the shape it took.
 32:16.826 --> 32:25.552
 So as you know, what happened here was that the British felt out the Americans about the idea of having a joint declaration that
 32:26.601 --> 32:35.223
 the two powers would not tolerate any European countries recolonization of formerly Spanish territory in the world.
 32:36.143 --> 32:47.966
 And when they discuss this in the cabinet, apparently the way that these cabinet discussions had worked since the Washington administration was they would start with the least senior member and go all the way up.
 32:48.006 --> 32:50.807
 And so the secretary of state would be the last to speak.
 32:51.861 --> 32:56.564
 And when they discussed this, apparently people were enthusiastic about it.
 32:56.604 --> 32:59.947
 Calhoun liked the idea, for example, of joining in this declaration.
 33:00.067 --> 33:10.974
 When they got to John Quincy Adams, he said, well, essentially, if we join in a declaration with the British, we'll just be a little bark following the British man of war.
 33:11.314 --> 33:15.337
 It'll be their policy and we'll be bound to help them implement it.
 33:15.917 --> 33:19.562
 On the other hand, he said, if we don't join them, we could make a separate statement.
 33:20.102 --> 33:30.635
 And someday when the United States are a great power, which he thought was going to happen, we will be able to say all the way back in the Monroe administration, we weren't going to allow these things to be.
 33:31.095 --> 33:33.117
 So what ended up happening over time?
 33:33.718 --> 33:37.180
 the course of American history was that Adams' forecast proved correct.
 33:37.340 --> 33:53.887
 The United States soon became the great power in the Western Hemisphere and has used this as a justification or an explanation of its various interventions in other Western Hemisphere jurisdictions to prevent outside domination.
 33:55.488 --> 34:00.711
 This worked out more or less the way John Quincy Adams said it would, and it has been
 34:01.491 --> 34:09.315
 I think an essential part of American defense policy, American foreign policy generally since then.
 34:10.295 --> 34:20.960
 Of course, there was the other piece of this, that the United States also wouldn't intervene in the civil war going on between Greece and the Greek-Turkish war, and essentially in European politics.
 34:21.180 --> 34:27.563
 Right, and there was an impetus in the House in particular to become involved in that.
 34:28.403 --> 34:33.184
 Henry Clay in particular was highly sympathetic with the Greeks.
 34:33.685 --> 34:35.725
 Most Americans were sympathetic with the Greeks.
 34:37.086 --> 34:37.706
 Who wouldn't be?
 34:38.886 --> 34:49.209
 But it seemed to the majority of Jeffersonians to be kind of far-fetched to want to take a role in that.
 34:49.289 --> 34:56.031
 So Americans ended up being emotionally involved observers of the Greek revolution.
 34:56.690 --> 35:19.471
 yeah it's interesting we're talking with kevin gutsman author of the jeffersonians the visionary presidencies of jefferson madison and monroe in many ways much of what you know when i first was looking into this period we get a lot from john quincy adams's grandson henry adams who wrote this wonderful history of the united states and the administrations of jefferson
 35:20.413 --> 35:27.354
 and Madison in, I don't know, we only have a few minutes left, but I didn't, I could ask a broad question.
 35:27.654 --> 35:28.355
 Was he right?
 35:28.815 --> 35:31.415
 How do you disagree with, how do you differ with Henry Adams?
 35:31.515 --> 35:37.496
 And should people read your book first or?
 35:38.737 --> 35:43.898
 Well, I don't want ever to be understood to have suggested not to read Henry Adams.
 35:46.678 --> 35:52.880
 Well, obviously, he leaves off at the end of the Madison administration, and that's not what I would think he should have done.
 35:52.900 --> 35:57.521
 On the other hand, it's obvious why he did that.
 35:58.001 --> 36:07.143
 To have written an entire book that would be largely about his grandfather might have been a difficult kind of task to perform.
 36:07.263 --> 36:10.484
 He never wrote about the earlier period either, again, for an obvious reason.
 36:11.304 --> 36:17.069
 So Henry Adams, I think, is the greatest historian in American history.
 36:17.149 --> 36:18.691
 It's a monumental work.
 36:18.771 --> 36:25.817
 He had access to records that maybe nobody's had access to since or certainly nobody had access to before.
 36:25.877 --> 36:31.562
 His writing style was excellent literary.
 36:32.182 --> 36:33.143
 What more can I say?
 36:36.658 --> 36:36.958
 36:38.939 --> 36:53.923
 When it comes to the military aspects of the story, he had access to primary documents in the British archives that was given to him, especially because he was the descendant of John Quincy and John Adams.
 36:54.083 --> 36:57.624
 So nobody else had these records.
 36:57.664 --> 37:01.605
 And he provides long accounts of
 37:02.265 --> 37:08.588
 The after action reports of naval officers and so on that I think nobody else had seen.
 37:08.628 --> 37:11.209
 And I think a lot of them nobody's seen still.
 37:11.489 --> 37:13.470
 So it's a superb book.
 37:14.891 --> 37:18.472
 But then again, you'd have to have an entire summer to read it, I think.
 37:18.693 --> 37:18.913
 37:19.113 --> 37:19.793
 37:19.853 --> 37:22.354
 Well, I could spend the summer in worse ways.
 37:22.654 --> 37:22.914
 37:23.195 --> 37:23.755
 Well, that's true.
 37:24.275 --> 37:27.958
 Just as you can spend a week in worse ways than reading The Jeffersonians.
 37:28.058 --> 37:29.319
 It's a wonderful book.
 37:29.800 --> 37:30.280
 Well, thank you.
 37:31.041 --> 37:39.227
 And it just occurred to me, too, speaking of people who have written about this, Theodore Roosevelt wrote a book about the Navy in the War of 1812.
 37:39.267 --> 37:42.110
 I wonder if you can tell us if you have any comment.
 37:42.890 --> 37:50.877
 This, by the way, isn't going to be an historiographic session where I go through the reading list or the bibliography and ask for an annotation.
 37:53.988 --> 38:04.153
 Well, Theodore Roosevelt is, I think it's fair to say he's angry with Jefferson and Madison for the spending program we talked about earlier.
 38:04.433 --> 38:15.218
 And as you could tell, I too am unsympathetic with their excessive paring back of the federal government.
 38:16.979 --> 38:20.881
 Even if you wanted to have a program of paring back the federal government to the bone,
 38:21.341 --> 38:24.424
 you might think, well, okay, that could work in peacetime.
 38:25.284 --> 38:29.388
 The error they made was to declare war on Britain without preparing for it.
 38:29.668 --> 38:34.952
 So famously, George Washington said, if you want to avoid war, prepare for it.
 38:35.773 --> 38:40.417
 And it seems that Jefferson's position was, if you want to avoid war, just try to avoid war.
 38:40.777 --> 38:42.158
 You don't need to be prepared for it.
 38:42.659 --> 38:44.700
 In fact, preparing for it would be a waste of money.
 38:44.780 --> 38:45.881
 That was his position.
 38:46.142 --> 38:49.424
 And also could get you into a war because you have all this equipment you need to use.
 38:49.444 --> 38:49.785
 You'd think...
 38:50.385 --> 38:50.985
 You'd think.
 38:51.625 --> 38:54.846
 But they were determined to try this experiment.
 38:55.026 --> 38:56.727
 And it didn't work out.
 38:57.227 --> 38:58.227
 No, it was really pretty.
 38:58.587 --> 39:04.549
 And Jefferson also had this idea with the big ships in the Navy, we can take them apart and put them together again if we need them.
 39:04.709 --> 39:11.791
 Or use smaller gunboats, which is to guard the harbors and rivers.
 39:12.111 --> 39:13.672
 which proved totally useless.
 39:16.112 --> 39:23.275
 We were talking with Kevin Gutzman, author of The Jeffersonians, The Visionary Presidencies of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.
 39:23.835 --> 39:27.356
 Now in the 19th century, calling someone a visionary wasn't a compliment.
 39:27.416 --> 39:29.416
 Is that the way you're intending that?
 39:29.877 --> 39:32.017
 Or is there more nuance to it?
 39:34.258 --> 39:34.718
 Oh boy.
 39:35.818 --> 39:36.879
 Well, I think
 39:37.967 --> 39:38.747
 There's a little of each.
 39:39.107 --> 39:39.947
 There's a little of each.
 39:41.368 --> 39:45.129
 It's an attractive vision for the country that they have in mind.
 39:45.969 --> 39:49.830
 And to some extent in the Madison administration, it worked out the way you might expect.
 39:50.570 --> 39:57.191
 By the end of the Monroe administration, you'd have to say that the whole 24 year effort had been a huge success.
 39:58.051 --> 39:59.992
 So it's it's odd that you could.
 40:01.272 --> 40:16.500
 Come to an appraisal of the three presidencies as a group that says they were a large success when the Capitol had been burned down and the president had had to hop on a horse and ride out of town, had an invading army, but that's what happened.
 40:17.340 --> 40:22.526
 So it really is an odd thing to try to take in.
 40:22.866 --> 40:24.768
 We can't really imagine it today, of course.
 40:25.489 --> 40:35.459
 But I do think you'd have to say that the overall venture was successful, even though there was this enormous blot in the middle of it.
 40:36.087 --> 40:47.134
 Yeah, and Gallatin, looking back, will say that, look at Jefferson's inaugural address, essentially saying this has guided American policy for the last 40 years, essentially.
 40:49.048 --> 40:56.232
 program or principle he sets out, even though it's kind of disastrous in some episodes.
 40:56.612 --> 40:56.832
 40:56.912 --> 41:15.581
 Well, that gets to the fact that Martin Van Buren, who's going to be the father, along with Thomas Ritchie and Calhoun of the Democratic Party, referred to this idea that I mentioned earlier of getting rid of political parties as, quote, the Monroe heresy.
 41:16.161 --> 41:20.685
 So Van Buren associated this idea of a party-less country with Monroe.
 41:20.705 --> 41:26.630
 Of course, as we were saying before, it really was also Jefferson's idea, part of his program.
 41:27.190 --> 41:31.414
 But we know Van Buren created the Democratic Party.
 41:31.614 --> 41:40.081
 And what Gallatin must have had in mind is that the Democratic Party essentially in its beginnings was dedicated to the same principles as the Jeffersonians had been.
 41:40.101 --> 41:42.123
 That's interesting.
 41:42.714 --> 42:06.629
 We've been talking with Kevin Gutzman, author of The Jeffersonians, The Visionary Presidencies of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, as well as other books, James Madison and the Making of America, Thomas Jefferson, Revolutionary, A Radical Struggle to Remake America, Who Killed the Constitution, Virginia's American Revolution, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution.
 42:06.930 --> 42:08.351
 Are you working on anything new, Kevin?
 42:09.111 --> 42:09.411
 I am.
 42:12.415 --> 42:13.442
 What I have in mind is a
 42:15.239 --> 42:18.661
 an account of the relationship between Calhoun and Adams.
 42:19.121 --> 42:19.721
 Oh, wow.
 42:19.782 --> 42:23.584
 It'll start with their meeting each other in the cabinet.
 42:23.884 --> 42:33.849
 John Quincy Adams wrote a lengthy diary entry in which he described his early impressions of his fellow Monroe cabinet members.
 42:34.029 --> 42:39.232
 And when he got to Calhoun, he said something to the effect of Calhoun is brilliant.
 42:39.792 --> 42:42.154
 His analyses are always crisp and correct.
 42:42.734 --> 42:44.275
 He always gives the right advice.
 42:44.295 --> 42:54.300
 And then a few months later, the two of them apparently were walking home from the White House to their boarding houses, and they got into a discussion of slavery.
 42:55.260 --> 43:05.465
 And Calhoun said to him something like, well, in South Carolina, in light of the the climate and the heat, especially, there is some labor that white men just won't do.
 43:06.365 --> 43:07.946
 So we have to have slavery.
 43:08.947 --> 43:11.528
 And in his account of this, Adams says,
 43:13.961 --> 43:19.084
 there was a clear demonstration of the way these Southerners think.
 43:19.624 --> 43:26.087
 And he said, I think that a career devoted to opposition to slavery would be a worthy career.
 43:26.987 --> 43:38.792
 So he had gone from this extreme admiration of Calhoun, famously in Quincy Adams' diary, there's almost never anything positive about anybody who's not named Adams.
 43:38.932 --> 43:39.212
 43:39.352 --> 43:46.558
 But he had this just superlative description of Calhoun in his first several cabinet discussions.
 43:47.700 --> 43:49.201
 Adams is highly complimentary.
 43:49.581 --> 43:52.844
 But then he's just revolted by what Calhoun says about slavery.
 43:53.264 --> 44:00.591
 So what happens over the following several decades is the two of them become these competing figures.
 44:01.071 --> 44:02.633
 They're often butting heads over this.
 44:02.973 --> 44:04.514
 over the slavery question.
 44:04.594 --> 44:14.076
 So I think, well, the study I'm working on now, it's highly preliminary at this point, but is a kind of dual biography of them.
 44:14.577 --> 44:19.078
 And well, starting with their their superlative service to Monroe in the cabinet.
 44:19.138 --> 44:24.520
 And then, of course, Quincy Adams dies on the floor of Congress giving a speech against slavery.
 44:25.160 --> 44:30.642
 And Calhoun famously is involved in the discussion of the Compromise of 1850.
 44:32.322 --> 44:41.728
 And he, his last speech is read for him by a Virginia senator because Calhoun's unable to deliver it himself.
 44:42.408 --> 44:52.294
 And it's about the necessity of the North's conceding further protection of slavery to the South.
 44:52.655 --> 44:57.198
 So I think this is just a fascinating subject.
 44:57.238 --> 44:59.919
 And that's what I'm thinking my next book will be about.
 45:00.019 --> 45:00.179
 45:01.380 --> 45:24.831
 well that sounds great we should let you get to working on it it sounds like a great book so thank you so much for joining us kevin this has been fun interesting and look forward to talking to you again and i want to thank so thank you and thanks to jonathan lane our producer the man behind the curtain and our listeners in various parts of the country in the world and if you are in one of
 45:25.629 --> 45:34.496
 These places, send Jonathan Lane an email, jlane at, or if you have an idea for something or someone we should talk about on the podcast.
 45:34.516 --> 45:47.285
 So this week, I want to thank our friends in Boston, regular listeners, and in Providence, in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, Calgary, Alberta, Delhi in India, and Union Bridge, Maryland.
 45:47.366 --> 45:54.371
 Thank you to all you folks and everyone in other places, and I look forward to talking to you again, and now we will be piped out on the road to Boston.