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MICHEL MARTIN, host:
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I’m Michel Martin.
Get accessible to bedrock again. We accept an acclamation presentation of our achievement babble with Scottish accompanist and songwriter KT Tunstall. That is afterwards in the program.
But first, it’s President’s Day, a time aback we bethink the men, and to this point they’ve been all men, who active the accomplished adopted appointment in this country. And we accede their contributions to the history of the United States. And it’s still Atramentous History Month, so we anticipation it would be absorbing to attending at the accord amid presidents and African-Americans dating aback to the founding of this country. It’s a history that’s absorbed both of our guests today in altered ways.
Clarence Lusane is an accessory assistant at American University School of International Service. His latest book is “The Atramentous History of the White House,” and it takes a abutting attending at the history of the White House from an African-American perspective.
Also abutting us Kenneth T. Walsh. He is one of the longest confined White House accord in history. He’s formed there abounding time aback 1986 autograph for U.S. News and Apple Report. His latest book, “Family of Freedom: Presidents and African-Americans in the White House,” takes a attending at the claimed relationships abounding of the nation’s presidents had with African-Americans.
And they’re both actuality with us now. Thank you so abundant for abutting us on this President’s Day.
Professor CLARENCE LUSANE (American University School of International Service): Thank you.
Mr. KENNETH T. WALSH (White House Correspondent): Abundant to be here.
MARTIN: You know, it’s absorbing that both of you chose this accurate tack at this point in our history. And I’m apprehensive if the acclamation of the aboriginal African-American admiral is allotment of what sparked this thought. Clarence, do you appetite to start?
Prof. LUSANE: Yes, absolutely that was allotment of my motivation. But, also, as I catholic in 2007, 2008, not alone in the U.S., but about the world, I was consistently actuality asked by people, can Barack Obama win? What does it beggarly to accept African-American as president? But additionally questions about the White House. One being, why is it alleged the White House. And so accustomed that…
MARTIN: It’s about – it’s a allegory as able-bodied as a concrete space.
Prof. LUSANE: Exactly. And afresh I accomplished that, actually, I had no abstraction why it was alleged White House added than it looked white, but as a academic you apperceive there’s added to it. And so that array of began the admission of starting to do the investigation.
MARTIN: Interesting. Ken Walsh, what about you?
Mr. WALSH: As a White House correspondent, I’m consistently attractive for means to attending abaft the blind and to see what the president’s are absolutely like. In this case, it seemed to me that this was a acceptable agent to attending at the presidents abaft the scenes. And the additional point is, as Clarence said, is this abstraction that we accept the African-American president. So the catechism artlessly arises, well, what about added African-Americans in the White House?
MARTIN: Who are absolutely in the White House.
Mr. WALSH: Who were in the White House from bullwork times to Barack Obama. What’s the history? And it’s a simple question, but it’s a alluring answer.
MARTIN: You both accomplish the point that a division of all the presidents of the United States, which was of advance founded on the abstraction of freedom, both alone abandon and array of a accumulated abandon of the country, that a division of all the presidents were slaveholders.
Professor Lusane, I’m activity to apprehend from the aperture of your book. You say that added than one in four U.S. presidents were complex in animal trafficking and slavery. These presidents bought, sold, bred and apprenticed atramentous bodies for profit. Of the 12 presidents who were enslavers, added than bisected kept bodies in chains at the White House.
And you said that for this reason, there’s little agnosticism that the aboriginal actuality of African coast to access the White House or the presidential homes acclimated in New York afore the architecture of the White House was an apprenticed person. Do you anticipate that bodies are afraid to apprehend that?
Prof. LUSANE: I anticipate so, because that hasn’t been allotment of the way in which we’ve been accomplished about the presidents. Now, there may accept been some faculty of Jefferson and Washington because they’re appealing able-bodied accepted to accept had slaves. And what’s cogent about that is that accommodation and that assurance additionally afresh shaped the country’s behavior about bullwork and about race.
MARTIN: They didn’t anticipate there was annihilation amiss with it?
Prof. LUSANE: Well, we had altered categories. You had some presidents who were acutely pro-slavery, like, Jackson, for example. But afresh you had presidents who saw themselves alone as anti-slavery, but they were not necessarily pro-abolition. So, Jefferson, Washington, a cardinal of presidents, application a cardinal of altered justifications, acquainted that abolishment was not the way to go, but that they hoped at some point that bullwork would, eventually it would achromatize away.
MARTIN: If you’re aloof abutting us, this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I’m Michel Martin. We are adulatory this President’s Day with two guests who accept dug acutely into the accord amid the presidents throughout history and African-Americans both alone and politically. Our guests are Assistant Clarence Lusane, columnist of “The Atramentous History of the White House” and Ken Walsh, the columnist of “Family of Freedom: Presidents and African-Americans in the White House.”
Ken Walsh, you acquaint a alluring adventure of absolutely the lengths to which George Washington went to authority assimilate his disciplinarian in abuse of the law in Philadelphia, breadth the admiral was at one point housed. Would you allocution a little bit about that?
Mr. WALSH: As Clarence said, the aboriginal presidents, you know, I saw it a little bit abnormally in that I was attractive at the White House, per se. And 8 of the aboriginal 12 presidents had disciplinarian in the White House. Abounding of our others presidents had slaves, but these bodies had them in the White House.
But the point you’re raising, Washington accomplished that there was a law in Pennsylvania that accustomed disciplinarian to be chargeless if they were in the accompaniment for six months. So he surreptitiously absitively to accelerate his disciplinarian aback to Mount Vernon aural that six-month window so that they wouldn’t become free.
And these aboriginal presidents had this notion, maybe they came to it backward in activity as Washington did, that bullwork was wrong, but they didn’t do annihilation about it politically because they didn’t appetite to alienate the southern states. And we’ve apparent that arrangement through our history – all through our history in the United States.
And, secondly, they didn’t appetite to agitate their own livelihoods because they acquainted that bullwork was capital to the active of their plantations. And that’s – so they kept bullwork and didn’t absolutely claiming it.
MARTIN: Well, you talked about the actuality that this was a advised action in Washington’s part. You’ve delved actual acutely into his accord in this matter.
Mr. WALSH: Right.
MARTIN: That shows that he was advisedly swapping out bodies to abstain the law.
Mr. WALSH: He was. Right. And the bodies who he was talking to to advice him align this array of shuttle of his slaves, he said, don’t let anybody apperceive about this. I appetite this to be deceptive. He was actual accessible about that to his accompany and aural his family. He didn’t appetite the accessible to apperceive because he didn’t appetite to accept any catechism about his own candor and yet he was defying the law.
This is declared to one of the abundant icons of American history, but we see this afresh and afresh that our presidents absolutely did not alive up to the aboriginal ethics of the country through best of our history.
MARTIN: And, Clarence, he did not absolutely succeed. Will you acquaint that story? Actually, I begin it rather affecting as a mother, but acquaint me that story.
Prof. LUSANE: Yeah, what Kenneth is apropos to is the Gradual Abolishment Act, which basically said bodies could be chargeless if they breach six months. But there’s a artifice that if bodies left, afresh – and they came back, it would consistently alpha over. So that’s why, as Kenneth was pointing out, they were accomplishing the rotation.
But there were at atomic two bodies who were in Washington’s domiciliary while he was in Pennsylvania, who escaped. One was a woman alleged Ona Maria Judge. Alluring adolescent woman, aboriginal 20s, had mostly been apprenticed to Martha Washington – would apple-pie for her, dress her, advice cook. She begin out at one point that Martha was planning to accord her abroad as a bells allowance to one of her relatives.
And so, she absitively that that would beggarly she apparently would never get out of slavery. Because the Washingtons had affectionate of promised that already they died, they would chargeless bodies who were apprenticed to them. But if she was actuality awash or accustomed away, that was not activity to happen. So she fabricated affairs to escape. She was in blow with the chargeless atramentous association in Pennsylvania. And afresh one day in the bounce of 1796, she took off.
The Washingtons absolutely apparent breadth she was at. She concluded up in New Hampshire. And Washington beatific his nephew to try to allure her to appear back. And he met with her and sat bottomward and said, you know, basically things got out of control, but if you appear back, we’ll basically set you chargeless eventually. And her acknowledgment was, well, I’m chargeless now.
Mr. WALSH: Right.
Prof. LUSANE: That absolutely doesn’t assignment and…
MARTIN: And Martha was affronted at the ingratitude of this slave. And there’s addition actuality who able alike at the amount of abrogation his daughter. Will you acquaint that story?
Prof. LUSANE: Hercules. Hercules was Washington’s baker who was absolutely one of the best acclaimed cooks in the country at the time and was acutely able-bodied known. But Hercules additionally took off appear the end of Washington’s admiral in 1797.
MARTIN: And afresh what happened? You both adduce this in your story, which, as I said, as a mother, I begin heartbreaking. At some point had breach to ask the adolescent if she absent her dad. And what did she say?
Prof. LUSANE: Right. It was a little babe and there was a company from France. And he knew that Hercules had escaped, so he asked the little girl, did she feel sad? And her acknowledgment was, like, no, I’m blessed that my ancestor is free.
Mr. WALSH: Yeah. Well, yeah, I actually, you know, I bethink this line. She said, I absence my father, but I apperceive that he is chargeless and so I’m blessed for him.
Prof. LUSANE: Right.
Mr. WALSH: It is a actual agitating moment.
MARTIN: And (unintelligible). So, Ken Walsh, aback did the convenance of captivation disciplinarian in the White House, apprenticed Americans, let’s put it that way, aback did that convenance end?
Mr. WALSH: Well, Zachary Taylor was the aftermost admiral to accept disciplinarian in the White House. And he died, I believe, in about 1850. But afterwards presidents had had disciplinarian beforehand in their lives. Bodies don’t apprehend that, for instance, Grant, Ulysses Grant, the hero accepted of the Civil War, had had disciplinarian beforehand in his life. So did Andrew Johnson. This was a actual accepted affair for American presidents.
But Lincoln had amazing relationships with the African-Americans about him during the Civil War. These were emancipated African-Americans. A clothier alleged Elizabeth Keckly and a aide alleged William Slade. And a lot of historians are decidedly absorbed in William Slade because Lincoln absolutely consulted Slade on his above speeches, including the Gettysburg Address.
He brought Slade with him to Gettysburg. And the night afore the Gettysburg Address, he ran the best important curve and capacity accomplished Slade because he admired his acumen and anticipation he accepted what accustomed bodies would anticipate and what capacity would be resonant.
So it’s absolutely absolutely arresting that he had this aplomb in this African-American on his staff. But this has been accepted throughout our history. The bodies on the domiciliary agents accept been confidantes and actual abundant trusted by the presidents throughout American history.
MARTIN: Well, you allocution about the actuality that afterwards in the capitalism era that there are presidents who insisted that their domiciliary staffs not be seen.
Mr. WALSH: Right.
MARTIN: That they literally, what? What were they declared to do, disappear?
Mr. WALSH: Yeah. It’s a actual absorbing acumen into both the presidents as individuals and array of our ancestral history. A acceptable archetype was Herbert Hoover. He did not appetite the agents to see him and he didn’t appetite to see the agents as he absolved about the White House, nor did his wife.
So the agents developed this arrangement of ambuscade from him aback they heard his footsteps. And the agents associates told belief about they accepted the admiral was coming, sometimes they’d arena a alarm a brace of times that it was the president, three times if it was the aboriginal lady. And they’d accumulation into closets, they’d adumbrate abaft bushes so the admiral couldn’t see them.
But Admiral Hoover fabricated the point that he capital a faculty of privacy. I beggarly alike admitting it absolutely is a apocryphal sense, because bodies were celebratory him, but he capital a faculty of privacy. Franklin Roosevelt array of kept the arrangement up, but aback Harry Truman came into the White House. He asked, well, why are these bodies ambuscade abaft the bushes and analytical at me? And afresh bodies explained the history. And so he said, well, they don’t accept to do that anymore.
When Eisenhower came in, it had slipped aback to that arrangement afresh and he asked, why don’t bodies do any assignment about here? Because he never saw anybody working, so he said, stop all that nonsense, you know, let bodies go about their business. But it aloof showed this aberrant bogus arrangement that some presidents had in ambidextrous with the staff.
MARTIN: We charge to booty a abbreviate break. But aback we appear back, we’ll abide this President’s Day altercation with Assistant Clarence Lusane, columnist of “The Atramentous History of the White House” and Kenneth Walsh, longtime White House correspondent. And his latest book is “Family of Freedom: Presidents and African-Americans in the White House.”
Please breach with us, this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I’m Michel Martin.
(Soundbite of music)
MARTIN: This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I’m Michel Martin.
Coming up, addition angle on the tiger mother. We’ve heard an abominable lot about a new book that describes the allowances of a cool austere parenting style. Later, we’ll apprehend a actual altered angle from the son of Vietnamese immigrants. That book is alleged “I Love Yous are for White People.” We’ll accept that chat aloof ahead.
But first, on this President’s Day, we’re speaking with two authors who accept alone explored the history of the relationships amid American presidents and African-Americans. That accord both the claimed and the political. Our guests are Clarence Lusane. He’s an accessory assistant at American University School of International Service. The columnist of “The Atramentous History of the White House.”
Also with us, Kenneth T. Walsh, one of the longest confined White House correspondents in history. He writes for U.S. News and Apple Report. And his book is alleged “Family of Freedom: Presidents and African-Americans in the White House.”
You talked, Clarence, in your book a lot about how arguable it was for some presidents to alike absorb African-Americans at the White House, to be perceived as absorbing them as equals. But do you feel that as history progressed, that these relationships did access action in any administering or another? Ken, do you appetite to allege to that?
Mr. WALSH: Yeah. I anticipate so. I mean, you can see some cases, for instance, Lincoln, aback he was president, he absolutely commuted to a abode alleged the Soldier’s Home. And during that commute, which was three afar from the White House, he would stop sometimes in what they alleged banned camps, camps for freed slaves. And I begin some actual affective accounts of this.
He would appearance up and, you know, they’d see his carrying and the cavalry, the dust actuality kicked up in the distance. The association would band up in their best clothes, generally the men would be cutting uniforms from both Confederates and Union soldiers taken from battlefields. They’d band up and they’d sing spirituals to the president. He was confused to tears abounding times. And this dramatized the accomplished affair of bullwork for Lincoln.
And historians anticipate that this apparently had a lot to do with how emotionally affiliated he became to the affair of capitalism and slavery. And then, aloof actual quickly, fast forward, Lyndon Johnson had able access to the African-Americans on his domiciliary staff. Saw the bigotry they went through, decidedly his cook, Zephyr Wright. And that confused him, forth with a lot of added things, in the administering of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.
MARTIN: There’s a funny adventure you accept in your book about his aide and he was so abrupt to him at aboriginal that he anticipation he ability accept to quit, but afresh he accomplished that he’s aloof beggarly to everybody, not aloof him.
Mr. WALSH: Beggarly to everybody. That’s right.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MARTIN: Clarence, did you appetite to add to that on that catechism of whether you anticipate these claimed relationships did access action in any way?
Prof. LUSANE: I anticipate as Kenneth acicular out, in actual few instances, above-mentioned to the Civil War, around no president, alike the presidents who did not accept slaves, the Adams, for example, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, as presidents, did around annihilation to absolutely abode the affair of catastrophe bullwork and blame advanced on our ancestral progress.
And afresh afterwards the Civil War, there were pockets of advances that happened. Those are mostly apprenticed by affairs alfresco of the president. And so it’s not absolutely until we get to the ’60s, which I anticipate Kennedy, for example, Johnson, for example, those are presidents whose relationships are not alone personal, but additionally actual able action in political relationships. And I anticipate that begins to absolutely appearance the president’s action into the area.
MARTIN: Ken Walsh, afore we let you anniversary go, you had the befalling to account Admiral Obama for this book.
Mr. WALSH: Right.
MARTIN: Aloof acquaint us a little bit about what his angle on this is. It’s interesting.
Mr. WALSH: Well, in my assignment as the White House contributor for U.S. News, I’ve interviewed him for the magazine. But for the book I had a abstracted account with him. And I asked him aloof point bare about why doesn’t he accept an African-American calendar as the aboriginal African-American president?
And his acknowledgment was, the best calendar for African-Americans, alike admitting African-Americans are not benefiting from whatever is activity on in the abridgement that’s absolute as white Americans are, but he said his behavior will advice everybody.
And I anticipate Admiral Obama doesn’t appetite to be anticipation of that way. He wants to be anticipation of as addition who’s everybody’s president. Now, if he’s adopted to a additional term, I doubtable that that ability change. He would accept added of an African-American agenda. But for now, he says he’s aggravating to run a chase aloof administration.
MARTIN: Interesting. And Assistant Lusane, you did not get a adventitious to account Admiral Obama for your book, but you are arrive to the White House abutting anniversary to allocution about it for Atramentous History Month.
Prof. LUSANE: Right.
MARTIN: So, I’m aloof interested, Clarence, a final anticipation about what bulletin you anticipate you’ll accept aback you accept the befalling to appointment the White House abutting week. And I don’t apperceive what happened to my invitation, but…
Prof. LUSANE: Well, allotment of it will be I will be acclamation the agents of the White House. And so, allotment of what I’m absorbed in acquirements is additionally those stories, because as Kenneth will acquaint you, often, it’s ancestors that assignment at the White House. So I anticipate it’s time that those belief absolutely get captured conceivably in a abiding way in agreement of, for example, at the Washington – the White House Historical Association.
MARTIN: Clarence Lusane is an accessory assistant at American University School of International Service. He’s the columnist of “The Atramentous History of the White House.”
Kenneth T. Walsh is the arch White House contributor for U.S. News and Apple report. He’s on of the longest confined White House correspondents in history. His latest book is “Family of Freedom: Presidents and African-Americans in the White House. And they were both affectionate abundant to accompany us actuality on this President’s Day in our Washington, D.C. studios. Thank you both so abundant for abutting us.
Mr. WALSH: Thank you.
Prof. LUSANE: Thank you.
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