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Interview With Professor Greg Jackson | 14


Hi I'm Lindsey Graham executive producer of eighteen sixty five in this bonus episode. I thought we continue to dive into the real history behind the show but this time with a real historian joining me today is Professor Greg Jackson. Hello Greg. Hey how are we doing when Greg is an assistant professor of Integrated Studies at Utah Valley University he received his bachelor's in history and a master's in French studies from Brigham Young University with a four point uh-huh. GPA Then Greg completed his PhD in history at the University of Utah with a three point nine five GPA proving Greg is slipping a bit. Yes no I have completely the as you can tell I was really phoning it in there well we we've not asked rank here just for his bona fides but but because he's also the host of the popular podcast history history that doesn't suck he and his team writer and researcher. Seattle Salazar an audio magician. Josh Beatty put together a biweekly podcast that investigates American history in a narrative story driven format and as the host of two other narrative story driven American history shows. I recognized immediately not just the depth of the scholarship behind history that doesn't suck doc but a storytelling craft that does not suck and in a fortuitous coincidence. Greg is just now covering the civil war in his podcast so he's the perfect guest asked to talk to today and along with today's of course Stephen Walters Co Creator and head writer of eighteen sixty five good morning steve. Hey Good Morning Lindsey good morning. Greg coming up are the final three episodes of eighteen sixty five and they're sort of a prequel of sorts to the events of them the the first thirteen episodes. I how do you describe Steve Well. Where's the main thrust of the first thirteen episodes of eighteen sixty five really deals with Lincoln Secretary of War William Stanton and the fight fight for reconstruction the last three episodes they really are a prequel they get into sort of question of you know what makes a man monster what drove John Wilkes booth to commit one of the most most horrific acts in American history and and you know it's a question about psychologically what motivated him but also and this is why I'm really excited to talk to greg historically quickly Incan textually what was going on in the country that that motivated him pushed him further and further and further towards that that infamous act yeah and before these bonus episodes air I thought he'd be kind of good to bring up some of John Wilkes booth own writings. He penned a famous letter the to whom it may concern letter it's it's kind of both a window into southern sympathizers feelings at the time but from a modern viewpoint it. It's just pretty strange. It's hard to find an entry into into this sort of thinking so I thought I'd I'd read a little bit of it here and hopefully it's not too long but it's it's a fascinating as as a kind of instrument of of weird morality than than I'd like to get you to to to talk to me about it. Here we go this country was formed for the white not for the black man and and looking upon African slavery from the same standpoint held by those noble framers of our Constitution I for one have ever considered one of the greatest blessings both for themselves elves and us that God has ever bestowed upon favored nation witness heretofore wealth and power witnessed their allocation happiness and enlightenment above their race elsewhere. I've lived in it and most of my life and I've seen less harsh treatment for master demand than I have held into the north from father to son yet having knows no one would be willing to do more for the Negro race I than I could I but see away still better their condition but Lincoln's policy is only preparing the way for their total annihilation. The South are not nor have they been in fighting for the continuance of slavery. The first battle of bull run did away with that idea their causes since for the war have been as noble and greater far than those surged our fathers on even should we allow that they were wrong in the beginning of this contest cruelty and injustice have made the wrong become the right and they stay and now before the wonder and admiration of the world as a noble band of Patriotic Heroes. I'll stop there There's a lot to impact here A. and like I said there's a moral complexity here. What does made the wrong become right mean well. I've got about twenty different thoughts. my goodness cygnus a going back to the American revolution which I think in some ways you kind of do if you're gonNA unpack what booth is getting at given that he is trying to lean on the authority the founding fathers which to me small side no I don't care for talking historical or we're talking up com upcoming presidential election next year whenever someone start sounding off about what the founding fathers thought it. It's a red flag for me there. There might be something that they're going to say. That's GonNa be legit but these these men disagreed on like everything so the idea that you're gonNA say some one thing unless it is that King George the third sucked or that George Washington was awesome and even then that could be problematic. You know you're probably GONNA be wrong but that side note made booth is saying something that it we hear other people in the era say as well. Stephen Douglas during the Lincoln Douglas debates he makes the exact same claim about the country being created by the white man for for the White Man which of course juxtapose to Abraham Lincoln having a different take on what it was created for it in fact citing the idea that all men are created equal equal to counter it so as we go all the way back to the the revolution and we really do see both of these ideas painfully coexisting in their non non ability to coexist even before the Revolution Happens Otis famous pamphleteer in Boston back when we're talking about the stamp act sugar act so seventeen sixty four seventeen sixty five when he's writing attracted decrying taxation he works into the pamphlet by the way obviously uh-huh paraphrasing but Prima says by the way black Americans have all the same rights as white Americans so we've got that in the dialogue you know a a decade before Lexington Concord is going to go down Thomas Jefferson his first draft of the declaration of independence it had a huge and of of course this is kind of some fun irony that probably have the time to get into today but it shows the complexity key as a slave owner has a long several paragraphs or so where where he goes on about how awful slavery is and he blamed the British for it. It's also kind of a way to deflect America having slavery. It's it's those British that brought this institution. Now we've been stuck with it but we need to overcome it so there we are in the in the birthing pains of our nation with breath. Even a slaveholding founding father say this is bad and we need to stop it so obviously this does not jive with this idea that it's a country created by whites four whites here here you've got founding fathers who are saying we gotta overcome this and of course at the same time though we have other perspectives that are coming out when we get to the constitutional convention the delegates from Georgia and South Carolina. They don't beat around the Bush. I mean they're very clear. If slavery is touched in the Constitution they're walking so this whole thing's is gonna collapse and that's where we get some very uneasy comments from our founding fathers who are very opposed to slavery. Alexander Hamilton is very very upset with with this outcome and sees this as the only way to to Kinda. Keep things together. James Madison makes him similar comments again a southern slave holder but he essentially says slave awful seeing the union fall apart at Philadelphia would be worse though so it's a deal with the devil in his mind so you can see see this conflict all the way back to the beginning which means anyone by the time you get to the eighteen sixties. I think he's still see this. In twenty first century anyone who has a specific narrative they want rather rather than getting into the nuance and complexities and recognizing that it's a mixed bag they latch onto the to the one narrative that they want while conveniently ignoring and everything that is against it yeah and it seems it seems to me that the you know the contradiction the constitution is sort of CO mingled with this this idea of slavery and that contradiction being you know between the powers of the federal government and the rights of the states and it seems like you know. I think you're hard pressed Greg Yeah. I think you're exactly right. It seems in my in my reading of history. You'd be very hard pressed to find a moment in you know the early American Republic where slavery in some way shape or form was not not central to the political discourse that was happening across the nation. I mean like you said you mentioned the constitutional convention. It seems like slavery in the name of compromise was sort of kept kicking the can down the road but it always popped up. I mean in seventeen ninety. You've got Benjamin Franklin and the quakers bringing petitions before Congress to I believe that called called for abolition in the end of the slave trade and of course those things died in committee and you know the rights of the states the constitutional rights of the states where the sort of like banner enter under which they made the decision to shell those things and to kill those things and then you know you know right now. I'm I'm doing some research on the you know the eighteen thirties were of course once once again slavery rises to the surface and you know in the aftermath of the war of eighteen twelve you know giving rise to Henry Clay's American system that's sort of gets gets into the same sort of question of the rights of the federal government and the rights of the states and I think there's this John Randolph quote who is a congressman from Virginia. I I think Randolph is the one who said look if the federal government can intercede and impose its will even the name of economic development over the states they can emancipate every slave in the south and so these questions of the role of the federal government and how they relate to the rights of the states is always slavery is always right there at the heart of that sort of original contradiction in our political system it seems it's true and it's an unfortunate sidelining of one of the essential thoughts in my mind up from that early generation in our continual simplification of the past where we do start making these large arching claims of the founding fathers believed. ABC and whatnot we forget or conveniently ignore the fact that even the Constitution toossion. That was not a slam dunk. There were attendees delegates at Philadelphia who left in frustration. Rhode Island boycotted the whole thing. Didn't you send delegates there. Were a handful of men who on the fateful day of September seventeenth chose not to sign it and then the ratification process was was wrought with difficulty the famed Patriot Patrick Henry he railed against the Constitution and in a way was about states rights but it's not on the way that slavery is about state's rights. The American revolution is is fought to simplify things. I suppose to make this a one-sentence. Indi- comment like against the perception that the the crown is a tyrant and there was a fear among those who oppose the constitution that they were just going to recreate the same tyranny era Ni so it was important to them that as they saw it the thirteen colonies turned into thirteen sovereign states the reason we use that word state as opposed to provinces so the the constitution was kind of this moment where a number of founder sat down when okay. Maybe we've overstepped. Maybe it was a little crazy to think we should all be entirely independent dependent. We we do need a central government of some sort but then you had those other other founders who gonna no we. We nailed this. We should be independent. little countries. Greece so that that dialogue kinda gets usurped as the decades go on slavery continues to boil. It doesn't die out the way the founders thought it would ending the international slave trade in eighteen await doesn't kill this awful institution as they had expected and then then those who were interested in slavery the do start to latch onto it but at the same time you see them. Oppose State's rights when it's when it's not in the interest of slavery as happens with the fugitive slave law eighteen fifty yet. I feel like it's you know John. Wilkes booth is born in the eighteen thirties and so he is he's. He's he comes into to the world at a time where these compromises like you know the compromise over the constitution and the Missouri compromise in all of these different sort of temporary very band-aids that have been put on this problem are are sort of you know being stretched to their limits and the the the divisiveness in the divisions divisions between the regions on this question of slavery are really kind of bowling to the surface and I think that that booth comes into the world at a really interesting time for for the question of slavery absolutely to to be born Kinda right in between the revolution and the civil war you you've already got this established history of of these as you put it. You know I mean these failed compromises there. It's band aid after band aid and it's not really healing the wound. That's that's been there from the start even and even George Washington he only ran for a second term was because Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson in a rare moment of actually green on something something both told him if you do not run if you are not president again or we're GONNA fall apart in we're gonNA fall apart on a north-south divide so even back then you could see it then we get to the Missouri compromise and of course conference eighteen fifty Kansas Nebraska all these all these efforts to kind of duct tape superglue a car together and that doesn't work yeah and I think you know it's interesting to look at booth. Just you know the psychology of who he was and what drove him to do these things and what you know in my my putting up what made him the man that he was when made him the monster that he was and. I think that you know he is born. I mean he's an interesting case study because he's born into a family that is abolitionist right which wasn't necessarily commonplace for that time he's born into a family. That's prominent in the north his father's arguably the most famous actor during the country his other brother Edwin who's also this incredibly famous actor and and John Struggles he struggles. He doesn't have the talent his brother has he doesn't have the talent that his father has and I think even in the early days was forbidden to use the booth name when he went up on stage but in spite of all that he you know he keeps trudging ahead and he builds a career and I think actually in that to whom it may concern note. One of the things he says is that he's making twenty thousand dollars a year which in that time was a tremendous amount of money. Oh Yeah it's huge so he overcomes those obstacles and sort of rises to fame and stardom and that's the other shocking thing is that we have to remember the John Wilkes. Booth is is celebrity in his time right. I mean he comes from this famous family. He rises to fame wealth and stardom and he reflects back in that very same letter about John Brown. You reflect back on this man who was hung for what he believed in an in in this curious weird way he connects someone who is his ideological opponent who is willing to die and sacrifice for what they believed in to this decision that he's making to become an active participant in the fight to preserve the institution of slavery and it's really really bizarre well yeah. Let's go back and detail the execution of John Brown. Who was he he wanted to do. And how did he die sure so John Brown is an abolitionist and you know it's important to remember that abolitionist while today we look back back and say helplessness awesome that someone that I'd be on board with this were were considered radicals goals and you had a number of northerners who would even say I'm opposed to slavery but I'm not an abolitionist. You know that was important caveat. John owned it proudly Bradley. He was involved in Kansas when we have bloody Kansas he's third the man who took a broad sword with his sons and you know hacked up up some pro slavery people out there and then he is convinced that slavery needs to come to an end all and it can only do so through violent means and he is going to facilitate this you know getting this ball rolling saying he's GonNa do it by taking over the US arsenal that's at harpers ferry in what what was then. Virginia today it's West Virginia and then he's going to basically hide in the mountains and slaves will come to him. He's he's impeached. You know he's he's picture. This very grandiose thing where all these sleighs will run away join his army and essentially they're they're gonNA take war to the south so when it be a civil war in this north South Sorta way but civil war of African Americans fighting for their for their liberty and so he famously leads this raid on Harper's ferry it starts out okay for the first few hours but it quickly goes downhill those who do live are arrested and he he is very quickly tried sentenced to death but his death is sore thing movie about I mean he goes with such dignity to the scaffold and he's executed by the military because there's such a fear in Virginia that vigilantes are going to try and exact justice before the state can do it so he's kept on lockdown and present amongst the military that is putting him to death are some Virginia greys and among those ranks. We have booth so here. The great actor has front row seats if you will to you know and I think this is important. Let's remember that this guy's an actor. He's he's theatrical. He thinks in these sorts of terms. I like to keep that in mind even when I read his letters and think about him expressing himself. This is a guy who's given to hyperbole to being dramatic so he watches as John Brown ascends to the scaffold and I mean this is just about the most bad ass thing I think anyone can do their he asked him if he'd like warning you know before they're going to actually pull the lever and he's going to die and he just says no the lead me waiting forever but I'm fine then he stands there for ten minutes because the troops have to get into the right formation so they're all kind of moving around and he just stands there stoically ready for his death and all of this is being observed by booth yeah and you know he was Greg. It's I mean in my memory of it. I think he was doing a play enrichment. At the time that was actually ironically was produced by Mr Ford of Ford's theatre the site of you know his infamous assassination you can just play seven cents to Kevin Bacon with booth and all this you know it's just it's ridiculous. You absolutely can't yeah and he left. I mean he left. He missed a performance to go join those grays and he got on on the train with them and like you know I think that they even gave him a uniform and I think it was probably because he was famous that they allowed him to do it but I mean it's it's kind of remarkable remarkable to think that you know here's this guy who's devoted his entire life to being an actor who in this moment basically risks throwing his career away or at the very least damaging his reputation with Mr Ford who is a very powerful sheriff eater producer to go and be a part of this thing and and take you know take a very very dark and horrific role in a dark moment in American history so we have this rash impulsive dramatically inclined person who witnesses a a noble and theatric nick death of probably a rash impulsive dramatic person on the opposite side and is is moved by this commitment to his caused ause. Even though it's it's one that booth doesn't believe in so much that he this this incident ends up in in what amounts to much booths manifesto yeah this that maybe Ab then the inciting moment that radicalized booth but he is a a rich well-to-do famous northern man with no skin in the game name in terms of any economic system or slavery in the south but he is incensed. absolutely convinced that that Abraham Lincoln is is the instrument of tyranny and it's just doesn't feel right to any modern ears it. Might you know what is the terror of tyranny in the eighteen fifties sixties in in America you know as you're pointing out Lindsey even with this common giving booths background. He doesn't line up right. He doesn't make sense as a as a a southern sympathizer on paper honestly I I would in in my opinion. I'm I'm not GonNa say this is the Gospel Truth but I would tie this to his conception of what the United States was or maybe I should say were at that time. in this looser your concept of the balance between federal and state power tyranny is is the word for again going back to the revolution. It's the word for this larger entity. That's kind of overpowering the local mechanisms of republics. I mean for instance If we think about John Brown's execution again when he's executed. He's executed for being a quote unquote a traitor or rather an enemy. Excuse me to not just the Union but an enemy to Virginia now I. I just think it's very interesting that Virginia is stated kind ed this equal entity to the United States in eighteen fifty nine to me it kind of speaks to some of that same tension of locality versus centrality eighty. I think inside the idea Virginia though there's something psychological going on for booth as well because as I mentioned earlier his his his father dies and his mother for forbade him from using the family name and so booth is kind of you know he's basically being told by his mother and his brother that he's not good enough that he's never ever going to live up to his father's expectations that he's never going to be as good as his father was. He has no success early on in his career in the north. So what does he do. He goes goes out on tour and he starts touring the South and that's where he makes his first splash. In the industry. He's beloved in the south particularly in the state of Virginia and that's sort of where his fame and wealth is built and I have to believe. I'm an actor myself. I mean I started as a you know a theater actor and have done some film and TV work as well so I've spent life around actors and it may seem like an oversimplification to say that that he loved the south because they loved him but I definitely think that that's a part of the equation even inside of this this political world view that he's developing about this question of the federal government and the rights of the states I i. I think that's absolutely I mean again. We're we're kind of and this is fun to do and certainly worth it but you know the fact is we're never going to know at the end of the day exactly right what what was making him tick but I think that that has plenty of of credibility to it. Well talking about things that are fun to do Let's speculate some more but even further one would have happened if Lincoln had lived who boy well yeah all the depends on which which side of the throwdown you're on. You know it's it's fascinating the way that Lincoln gets remembered on on both sides for instance both Jefferson Davis and Frederick Douglass regret that Lincoln gets killed. I mean think about that for just a second Jefferson Davis Frederick after Douglas. Could you have two more different men when it comes to everything that civil wars about both of them are convinced that if Lincoln had lived oft then their vision for reconstruction would have gone better. Jefferson Davis was convinced Lincoln understood the south. I mean let's remember he the see these two men were born in the same state. They're both sons of Kentucky and he's convinced that Lincoln at the end of the day having overseen this war he understood the plight flight of the South End it would have made sure that things went smoother that that the north would have come in in a roughed him up in the the confederate perspective meanwhile while Frederick Douglass who definitely had a relationship with with Lincoln. He's convinced that Lincoln would have come in and secured the reconstruction reconstruction plan that certainly did not occur he would make sure that African American men would have gotten the vote that civil rights really would have become a thing thing and we could go on with example after example of people from Lincoln's cousin Dennis. Who's convinced that basically what what Johnson did the same thing Lincoln would have done the Lincoln would have done it better. You know whatever that means to other reporters and other. Republicans were convinced Lincoln would've live would have pushed the the reconstruction the more radical Republican reconstruction agenda with greater fervor. You know this this makes me think about Edwin Stanton this conversation so Greg Amini. If I say anything it's completely you know out of bounds. Let let me know I'm sort of at this point. It's impossible like his the history and facts and the story that we told her so angled that they sure are all talk about it. From the perspective of of the character that we painted of Edwin Stanton you know in our in our reading of him you know he obviously was somebody that really advocated for a more punitive stance to the south and you know he claims Stanton in claims that Lincoln that his malice towards none policy that his policy of pardon and amnesty that it was really strategic that it wasn't about being you know a benevolent that it was about bringing about an end to the war by extending an olive branch of mercy it was trying to encourage the the south to surrender but but stanton would also say that Lincoln fully intended to to prosecute reconstruction through the vantage point of being punitive of of having a progressive system of re admitting the South into the government and that it wouldn't have been this sort of malice towards non all is forgiven approach that it would've been a little more stern than than it was under under Andrew Johnson but also in my reading of Edwin Standard I kind of feel like I love him him as a character and I love the history of him in his story but I also know that I love what you guys have done with him by. Thank you throw that out the thanks but it's also like I kind of know it may be. He's not always the most reliable source of truth in veracity so you know I I i. I question that so I guess my question to you is is there any is there any historical basis for Stanton's claim that Lincoln would have been more punitive. I mean he says that Lincoln changed his mind in the final days of his life and told him in a private private meeting where no one else was around. You know what I mean like. It's dubious yeah. It's it's convenient right those private meetings where no one else exactly. I mean is there anything to it. Yeah no there there is and again. I don't want to overstate it but at the very end Lincoln his very last speech on April eleventh eleventh he does call for giving the vote to at least some African Americans to the brave vets who have fought in the war so so that's clearly a step in the direction out that we're talking about as opposed to what Jefferson Davis or Lincoln's cousin Dennis We're both thinking and William Stoddard. He said that Linkin told him to push. you know to to really make an effort to you. Get the vote for African Americans so you know you do have these these little I dunno glimmers of of evidence and this is something another thing that I think is really important to remember whenever we're we're talking about historical figure. You don't even have to get into counterfactual stuff. We have a tendency to want to say you know. This person was a this person was be and we don't WANNA complicate them. More people evolve and change so while someone I'm on like I'd Dennis looks back at Lincoln's comments in the Lincoln Douglas Debates where he's he knows that being a strong ardent bent abolitionist is going to hurt his chances for election in fact Stephen Douglas his actively trying to depict him as an abolitionist to that end in order to defeat him it. Lincoln is talking a more mild a more chill anti-slavery but well. You know we're we're not we're not going to to end. Slavery in the South is going to contain it. That's his narrative right so once again southerners who want to look for a kind Abraham Lincoln they can point to these earlier words whereas it sounds like he's kind of ramping up at the end of in yet another complicating question is when was Lincoln really saying saying what Lincoln thought right so was he putting on an act in earlier years in order to get elected even though he had more radical views or you know toward the end was was he ramping pin up and I'm not trying to say honest. Abe wasn't honest but these are games that if if we are going to be honest we have to acknowledge. The politicians do have to play from time to time right yeah. I mean and I think you're a that's a that's one hundred percent. How I feel about it. I mean I think Lincoln clearly did change. He clearly did evolve or at the very least if his true feelings in his heart of hearts remain remain the same certainly what he was willing to say talk about change yes. It's also tie this back to booth. It's it's interesting that as Lincoln pushes the the needle further and further and further it drives booth further and further and further towards radicalization and that speech you mentioned where he called for citizenship and for were the vote I is is that that was the last speech that Lincoln made right as yeah. I believe it was yes and booth famously said right after that speech he was in the the audience listening to that speech and he said by God. That's the last speech that man will ever make and ironically there is another person in the audience that day whose name was John Mercer Langston. WHO's a character in our show as as well but I just think it's that's that's also an interesting dynamic and so one of the things that Eric and I and our sort of deep dive into the subject kind of latched onto is like Stanton Danton is pushing Lincoln towards you know first identifying the wars to fight for emancipation and then pushing him towards speaking about citizenship and equality and all these things so as Stanton is pushing. Lincoln Lincoln is pushing booth in kind of the the circle of that is like a character dynamic is the thing that we were the most interested in as often happens in in any a historical discussion and we we use certain terms of arts you know we'd probably know what emancipation means and we'd probably know what suffrage means described the the the consequences for the south given emancipation which we pretty much understand slavery turns into share cropping but an emancipation is not citizenship and suffrage. That would have been something altogether. Yes yes in fact this is. This is an interesting thing. If you want to really connect global dots for a moment at this same time period in going into the next few decades European powers have massive colonial empires France Britain. You know you've probably heard the old adage. The Sun never percents on the British Empire spoken between say World War One up up to World War Two and we use this term called decolonization to talk about those. NPR's falling apart will one of the things that both of those empires tried to do in an effort to keep their empires together as they're starting to crumble amble it was extend limited rights to the to the colonized so for instance in France which controlled Algieria a a country northern Africa and they considered Algeria a full integral part of France but the only the only gave the vote to white men Arab men did not have the vote then they started to extend it to quote Unquote Frank gallicized basically French styled Arabs so I see Zia similar. I I draw a parallel there where there's some language of sure we can emancipate the enslaved but that doesn't mean that they get full enfranchisement. It doesn't mean that they're full. You know first class citizens. They're they're kind of a a a second class citizen. I mean I'm actually taking language almost straight out of French empire documents where they they even say it in the nineteenth century document document that the Algerian is French. He is a citizen but you know there are some limitations. Well okay well. What does it isn't even mean so there you know there. There's this space to navigate if you will and that's exactly what we see happening in in reconstruction right. We we get these new constitutional amendments that I mean every time I read them. You'll even as I understand history. I almost have to scratch my head in new and say how the hell did we need. You know further legislation. This is so clear as day and yet we did because the link you know I it was so warped and an abused in such a way as to you know push to share cropping and to essentially deny rights for yet another century yeah and I think for John Wilkes booth. I mean this this question of of the definition of citizenship post the mansor patient is really straw that breaks the camel's back. I mean it's really the the final nail in the coffin at absolutely pushes off the edge when Lincoln calls for citizenship for or suffrage in that speech it's it's it's a bridge too far for booth and his plan escalates of course plan started as a kidnapping plot and you know the goal was to kidnap. Lincoln taken South below the Potomac and hopefully arrange a troop exchange so that some of the southern AH soldiers that were in POW camps for lack of a better term would be released in hopefully the confederacy who is kind of losing the fight would be able to get back into it but when he hears Lincoln Talk About Citizenship when he hears them talking about full enfranchisement and full citizenship and equality the plan escalates it goes from kidnapping plot to a plot of assassination what this is interesting interesting because it brings up the question of was stanton right and was the confederacy really involved with the assassination of Lincoln or was it a you know a a lone wolf decision on on booths part to to escalate on his own accord. It does seem like the the the kidnapping plot may have at least been tacitly be approved by the south so we have some some conspiracy how far did a- was the south involved well. I just I want to start off by saying you know I'm not. I'm not sure sure that that's something that we know the answer to. I think if we take people at their words at face value then I think the answer is you. WanNa quickly no but I think it's a little more complicated located that with the from my perspective is a writer writing about Edwin Stanton was crystal clear to me is that he believed it you know he he absolutely believed that. I don't I think it was political carry on his part. I don't think it was a game that he was playing to achieve political ends which is often how he was painted in history books particularly particularly history books following the reconstruction era where he's kind of painted is this kind of one dimensional. Machiavelli and figure. That's you know pulling the strings strings to achieve the outcome. He wants at no matter the cost in my reading of it. I think that Stanton believed it do you. Do you think that's right greg. I mean do you think that Stanton believe elite or was he playing a game that that is the hard piece I mean I I one hundred percent agree that we can't prove this one way or the other in I'd even site for those listeners who who would like to continue studying up on this more David Herbert Donald. He has an amazing biography on on Lincoln. He agrees as well. He says we just can't prove it that lower levels of the secret service knew about the kidnapping plot but there's just zero approve that it was known on the higher echelons and definitely when we get to the to the assassination. That's that we'll never know but it has for Stanton. Where was he actually at. I mean it kind of pins on which day you ask me you know as you even said. I just a little bit earlier. Steve Stanton who I like very much as as a historical figure he's a he's a fun character to get to know. This is a guy that you know he. He knew how to maneuver. He knew how to say what needed to be sad at times right. You know he wasn't well. You know there's a reason he didn't get the nickname honest stanton. I'm trachoma liar per se but he get what I mean. I do so oh so it leaves a huge question mark for me. I don't think I can really definitively say one way or the other of he really bought it or if this was about about you know prosecuting the south in the way that Johnson wouldn't do it yeah and that's why I always sort of pull this modern day. That's why I always bring up. Dick Cheney when I talk about about Stanton because I think it's an interesting. It's not obviously it's not a one for one but it's an interesting analog because you know here's this this horrific incident this horrific attack on the core of the American government and here's this man who really doesn't actually have the authority to do what he does but steps in because there's a void to be filled the and fills it and makes decisions really early on about who's responsible and commits those decisions of course. Dick Cheney and Edwin Stanton or not not exactly politically aligned they probably would disagree on almost everything but they they adopt very similar tactics in the pursuit of what they believe is justice. I've always found it fascinating to see how we tend to. I don't know but both sides of the political spectrum whether you're talking historically in the president seemed to have this perception that quote unquote their team has a certain way of going about things but at the end of the day this way that politicians kind of beat because that's just the mechanisms of the game. There's their ways that politicians sort of have to maneuver if they're if they're going to if you will for lack of a better word win so you know yeah you're going to see Stanton Cheney any they're in different eras but you know to twitter degree they do or don't a line. I think that's even we might even call in irrelevant issue. The fact of the matter is both of these were men that Saad their nation in in a vulnerable position and both of them were convinced that they could step up and alleviate those those problems that they could make things better install step right on in and did what they thought was right. Whether we agree or or disagree with with either I'm always intrigued by modern parallels the fraught drawing connections between eighteen fifty and nineteen fifty or any sort of connection like this but I think if we're honest the this is what the pursuit of history really is is therefore it's to inform us here in the present age age. It's certainly not just swashbuckling stories of heroes and all three of us are engaged in this type of bringing the past to the present and but in a consumable storage of manner yeah so I want to bring a this conversation back to just just the importance of history and you know podcasting on casting is not particularly easy and certainly historical podcasting is even more not easy. Why did you start your podcast the the million dollar question or the sixteen eighteen dollar quite honestly you really hit it on the head to me. History is absolutely crucial. It's it's something that everyone needs to understand frankly to fulfil their obligations. Your your duties as a citizen you you do need a basic understanding of where the country's been and you the what what scar tissue we bring with us what victories what losses and I feel like we we live in a time. Where you know. I'm very intentionally a political on history that doesn't suck I have. I have no interest in and I feel the same way in the classroom. I have no interest in telling my I wonder. It's my podcast audience or my students my classroom what to think. My job is to convey nuanced complex accurate information and then the listener can use their critical thinking skills to decide what what that means about what they should think but we live in a time where information is readily readily available. You can get anything you want to know. We all have supercomputers in our pockets and yet we've perhaps never more doubted the sources that were turning to so to me. I kinda got the sense of I can humbly. try to step in into this this arena. I guess that is the public sphere sure and you know I. I kinda come to to know myself. I know my strengths. I know my weaknesses and thankfully avenue a great team that helps too sharp some my weaknesses but I know I am you know sarcastic and I guess entertaining enough in the classroom. I've come to learn that over the years that I felt it would be appropriate given my background to try doing a story based. basically survey of the United States to to help people better but are no because I do feel I you know I I will mildly eh one and respectfully. I'll take my profession to task a little bit. I don't think that we always think about whether or not we're really a plane history out there that that's going to well we can get esoteric. I think that's the best way to put it. We can get into our towers and contact to each other and forget to talk to everyone else an expect people to understand what we're talking about when we s Terek and so naturally I completely understand where the average person says I'm not going to go by eight hundred page book on wheat cultivation in Nebraska between eighteen forty a in the spring of eighteen fifty three You know you're looking for something. That's that's that's quicker paced and again. I'm sure someone out some historian out. There is going to be offended I by no means any offense and this isn't everyone the profession but we need more historian are willing to do these sorts of things in my in my take so so I went ahead and put it out there. I think important to go to mediums that people use podcasting is is taking off. It's a way that people can get a free education if they know that they have a legitimate source so you know I I wanted to do do all that in here we are and Steve You come at on pretty much the same conclusion but from from a different angle I mean you you are an actor playwright screenwriter in Ryder leaving Los Angeles and yet you've decided that history is kind of your belly wick as well yeah and I you know my my sort of I don't Oh my core value. I think I've said this before and some of the inside the episodes is my core. Value is is that you know what's GonNa. What's going to save our democracy? What's going to make make the world a better place to live in. This is a lofty thing to say but he's radical empathy and radical empathy especially for those with whom you disagree and I think that the reason that I inside that the reason that I turned to history is not just because I believe that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it. Although I think that's true but I think at our discourse today it's like although the labels change the terminology changes you know all those sort of superficial elements change the the ideas behind them are the same and have have been the same from the beginning and I sort of like through the prism of like empathy I might my hope is is that even a story like eighteen sixty five. That's divisive and it gets. It's into some really hot topics politically today. My hope is is that we can better understand each other or at least understand the historical context of the ideas that were advocating for and the ideas that are being you know pushed in our direction by others. I just hope that it elevates the discourse a little bit I mean even if it's in lake tiny microscopic ways you know. I grew up in the South Group in Texas. you know in a very conservative family similar to my partner. Erica Chila and you know we talk about this all the time you know we're very different by the way Eric and politically you know we we look at things from a completely different our perspective and we've arrived at some very different conclusions and that's meant it. You know through the course of even the research that we've done that. Sometimes we're seeing things in different ways. You know in in inside of this moment where it's like. What is you know we're questioning now. What is fact what is truth. What what is history. I don't have any clear answers but I know I can and look this creative process that I experienced with Eric. Somebody who I don't always agree with about every single issue and I know that we've have mutual respect for one another we understand and each other and I have to say that wasn't always the case for me before I mean of course I always respected Eric. He's a great guy but I didn't always understand some of the things that he was saying gene and through this examination of this very complicated historical subject we were able to find common ground and I think that's why I gravitate towards it because I feel like if we can understand each other. If we can empathize with one another then we can understand that were allies not enemies and once we understand that then we can we can bridge gaps of lack of understanding of you know on these complicated questions for the answer's simple Steve. Can I say Amen and Amen to all of that. I mean you answered the question way better than I did. I it's it's the that is I think as soon as you start talking and that was the other point I meant went to make I mean it's about empathy. I you know you describe different. polls enforces in your life. I think I'm really happy happy about this. I have have happened to have lived in very conservative. Area is very liberal areas to have people in my life. Life were very conservative very liberal and I'm really glad for that because it has I've been able to see the the different ways that both of these groups view themselves and view each other and I'm constantly left with the sense of of the need for for greater empathy and history. You know it doesn't mean that you're going up in. I agree with with someone necessarily. Sometimes you know your views do shift and get more nuanced and that's great but yeah taking the time to actually understand the origin of different thought processes and where where the where other people are coming from it. You know it can elevate the discourse that we can actually talk about the issues. I guess as the expression goes and what I love about your podcast. What I love about history that doesn't suck as it really doesn't suck and you're you're doing on such an amazing job of elevating right if like showing people how exciting engaging and beaten and frankly character-driven it really is and Lindsey us well on on American Merican History Tellers and scandal. I think these these shows are really important because they're engaging and I think that that's the the myth about history that it's boring is is not not true. I mean just like you know. Pick any year in Google that year and just find out what happened in that year and if you go down that rabbit hole you will be fascinated by by the amount of crazy things that have happened and also the amount of triumphant joyous things that have been our country towards social justice. I mean those things are equally true. We are as screwed screwed up as we are amazing you know and it and I think that's a fascinating thing and I think it's important for us to be able to own both of those things at at the same time rather than either denigrate ourselves or pat ourselves on the back to just be able to recognize that tension yeah his constantly been there and it's it's my hope that were ever moving that needle more towards the the things that are worth patting ourselves on the back four and leaving behind the our sins and truly making him something of the past that that is crucial to me that we can we can hold onto both yeah we can look at both sides of the coin here rather than just focusing in on on the narrative yeah so that's that's the mission statement of of Our podcasts radical empathy or that history is human but of course there's the the actual mechanics of podcast and I made a joke that that podcasting is a sixteen dollar never but unfortunately for many of us that's that's actually true and both eighteen sixty five and history that doesn't suck have decided recently that we need more of our listeners to participate and our ability we to keep telling these stories we both have Patriot accounts. We both need Patriot accounts because at the moment the the the the sponsorship driven revenue model that most podcast tried to follow is very difficult to make sustainable at our at our scale. So what is Your Plan Greg. You have a drive to start to get more patrons. here's your opportunity to pitch absolutely so you know we are actually coming up on the the two year. Anniversary of history doesn't suck existing and we certainly do we do need the the support financially but we also need it as as a community. We've come to really appreciate that our patrons they their friends you know and this is a place for us to even banter ideas in a think about whether it's extras we should be giving or even talk. Abou different angles in you'll stories that were considering a down the road route so as we come up on our our two year anniversary we'd love to have two percent are are so of of our listeners. I join our community which puts out about two two hundred patrons if we got our math correct so two years two percent two hundred that that's kind of what we're shooting for here in the next few weeks. We'd we'd love whether whether you're a new listener you're longtime listener even a a former patron in even if it's just a dollar a month this this all you know it makes a difference. Please come come join our patriarch community at Patriotic Dot com forward slash history that doesn't suck and and you'll help us continue to tell these stories and you know we're we're upping our game a bit. Josh who he does our sound. He's he's been perch. I seen all sorts of new sound effects and were were kind of as we get new software and hardware. It's it's as you both snow where I it the cost can add up quick so we'd we'd love the support from this growing community and I just wanted to piggyback on that I I in the amount of time the Gregoire talking and actually much much less. I I became a patron member of history. That doesn't suck it. Literally you go to go to Patrie on Google history. That doesn't suck it. It comes up in it. The whole process will take you about two seconds whether you go now. We need one ninety nine yeah. You only need one nine. That's right. Thank you Steve. We appreciate the love Hey. I'm glad to give it to you. I think your shows incredible and really important to know thank you yeah I. I just want pat you guys on the back as well. I mean I mean I cannot tell you how much I've enjoyed listening to your work. I hope my earlier comments doesn't overly upset my colleagues a you know it was meant. I'm in good fun and part as well but you telling stories is what is it really matters to people who who aren't academics and and we can learn so much through stories we we are a story based society. You know species and I just have such admiration for the work that that you're doing. I am rivetted. I know how the story ends and yet I hang on every word whether it's coming out of Lindsay's mouth or ended. Steve's pros or whatever the case may be is just excellent. Well thank you yes eighteen. Sixty five is also trying to get more patrons of but the interesting thing about eighteen sixty five. If if I'M GONNA put on my podcast business hat is that it's a it's a limited series and this presents some challenges It's really hard to do because it's a full cast lots in complete sound design wall to wall music the whole bit it is a you know fundamentally a Hollywood production but it only lasts sixteen episodes as it's a historical fiction really that's. That's the end of the story Lori we I mean we could perhaps go on for a bit or or tell the next chapter but they would be different characters. this presents a business problem because an ongoing podcast has the opportunity to to gather patrons who will from month to month and hopefully year to year continue to support this artwork. Eighteen sixty five is not in that position. I'm not honestly I. I'd like the conversation to happen. I'm not sure the Patriots is the place for it. There is an opportunity for those of view who who wants to support eighteen sixty five to make a one time donation of any amount but the infrastructure isn't there to get all the bonus stuff you know like the the Soundtrack Calvin and and all the the behind the scenes early episodes stuff that we plan for the patrons anyways. I think the model is still evolving. We definitely need your support report to do the next chapter of whatever storytelling experience where we're going to embark on so I would just like to make a heartfelt plea. Please join us and talk to us. I think greg is completely correct in that. This is not just a revenue question. This is a community question and I I'd love to hear more from our fans. The hands who especially the ones who are committed enough to be part of it yet Lindsey that's exactly right. I think the number one reason to join eighteen sixty five on a Patriot on is is to be a part heart of defining and deciding what the next chapter of the story is going to be. I mean really the possibilities for us are endless. I mean maybe maybe we'll tell for a second season. We'll tell the story of of Edwin Stanton's during the civil war or maybe we'll tell a story about an early trial that he was a part of as a trial lawyer or maybe we'll jump one hundred years in the future. Intel a story about nineteen sixty five or two thousand sixty five or maybe we jump back to the American revolution and so you know what we really want our patriots to do in in supporters to do is to is to engage with us in a conversation about what those stories are going to be any get some cool content bonus stuff along the way and speaking of cool content. I WanNa thank Professor Greg Jackson for speaking with us today. He's the host of the engrossing entertaining podcast history that doesn't suck a biweekly show surveying American history from the very beginning there currently just on the civil war era so would make a great companion to eighteen sixty five open up your favorite podcast APP and search for history that doesn't suck doc listen and subscribe Greg. Thank you so much for joining us. Today is an absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me and of course thanks also to Steve Walters co-creator and lead writer on eighteen sixty five absolutely and thanks to all of you who are listening eighteen sixty five and shows like it survive nearly solely with your support. The very easiest thing you can do is subscribed so you don't don't miss an episode. The next best thing you can do is recommend us to someone else. Share your enthusiasm for the show with friends and coworkers in real life or on social media where you I didn't find us at eight hundred sixty five podcast and if you WANNA go even further go to eighteen sixty five podcast dot com to become a patron of the show with a five dollar monthly pledge or to make a one time donation of any amount your support manners will go a long way allowing us to continue the storytelling journey. Thank you so much for listening. I'm Lindsey is a gram and this has been a special bonus episode of eighteen sixty five.

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