Joyce Appleby
Joyce Appleby
Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans
ISBN: 0674006631
Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans
Appleby presents a vibrant tapestry of the lives, callings, decisions, desires, and reflections of those Americans who were born after the Revolution—the first generation to inherit a truly new world.
—from the publisher's website
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TRANSCRIPT
Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans
Program Air Date: June 18, 2000

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Joyce Appleby, author of "Inheriting the Revolution." Where'd you get the idea for this book?
Professor JOYCE APPLEBY, AUTHOR, "INHERITING THE REVOLUTION": Well, it was a long time gestating--gestating. It--I'm an early American historian and so I'd studied 17th and 18th century America, the colonies, and then I'd particularly been interested in the American Revolution and the era of the writing of the Constitution and then I became very curious about what happened to this revolutionary heritage. How did it turn into a heritage? What difference did it make to the lives of those people who were the sons and daughters of the revolutionaries? And that--that was the beginning, that question, and it took me--it took me a couple of years to figure out the best way for me to answer it.
LAMB: So what period are you writing about?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, I'm really writing about--oh, the 1790s through the 1820s, a little bit into the 1830s. But, as you know, I'm writing about a cohort of people and so what I decided to do was to study those men and women who were born between 1776 and 1800 because they would not have any contact with--would not have had any contact with the colonial era. They would have none of the sensibilities of having been subjects to the king of England and they were the inheritors of the revolution and so I followed their lives and I really stopped when I figured that they were no longer the dominant force in public life. And that's--that's about the end, the late '20s, early '30s.
LAMB: Where did you find the material?
Prof. APPLEBY: Everywhere actually. I, first of all, just began to collect information about individuals. I knew I wanted to build it up through lives and so wherever--there were dictionaries, there were, you know, a list of West Point graduates. There were the, you know, pioneer ministers of the disciples of Christ. Wherever I could find information about individuals, I gathered it. And then I discovered that about 300--oh, about 350, 360 of these people in this cohort had written autobiographies and that was a wonderful resource. So I s--set about reading those autobiographies.
LAMB: Define the word `cohort.'
Prof. APPLEBY: Cohort is--well, you know, it's a military term. It--it means that people who have--a band of people who have a similarity. Demographers use cohort to mean people who are born at a particular time. So I use that--cohort interchangeably with generation. These people, as I said, who were born in the 24 years after the revolution.
LAMB: How many people lived in this country in 1800?
Prof. APPLEBY: In 1800, about eight million. The first census was 1790. It was just shy--oh, I'm sorry. No. No. No. Yeah--no. It would have been more like six--six million. The first census, the--the population was just shy of four million. And the American population doubled about every 20 years. So in between, as you're saying 1800, it would have been around six million.
LAMB: What--where did they live? I mean, w--or maybe where didn't they live?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, pretty much--well th--well--well, they lived in what you might call sort of the Appalachian shelf--that--that Atlantic shelf between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. That's where they started out living. It was--it was a little bit in the West, but not a great deal, because the revolution prevented migration into the West. But once the Revolutionary War had been won, then you had a outpouring of people from this little shelf--this confined area up and down the Atlantic Coast into the western parts of the original states. New York--western New York was the frontier of the 1790s, in the early decades of the 19th century, but also western Virginia, western Georgia, western Pennsylvania.
LAMB: What was the difference between the North and the South then?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well interestingly, the most important difference between North and South is a consequence of events that were--that took place after the revolution. After the revolution in--as--and it was no part of the revolution, directly at least. After the revolution, the states--the Northern states one by one found the means for abolishing slavery. Prior to that, slavery had been--existence everywhere though obviously much more concentrated in the South. So you could say that slavery was the big difference between the two, but there were lots of other differences. One of them is that the Southerners had pursued a very profitable intensive monoagriculture. Maybe it was rice one place or tobacco another place. That was different, where there was much more of a mixed economy in the North.

But I started to say about Northern abolition--that had a tremendous ideological and social impact on the North and differentiated it from the South in a very conspicuous way, because now it wasn't just the paucity of slaves in the North, it was an actual moral stance having been taken against slavery.
LAMB: How many slaves were there in the North?
Prof. APPLEBY: Mm. Goodness. That's a question I'm not prepared to answer. A quarter--let me give you some figures--a quarter of the working population in Manhattan was enslaved. I know that. In the New England states, it was about 4 percent to 6 percent of the population. If--in Pennsylvania, it might be 10 percent to 12 percent. New York: 16 percent, 18 percent. New Jersey--about that. So...
LAMB: What was the impetus to get rid of the slaves or take them out of slavery?
Prof. APPLEBY: I--the impetus was very much a sense of the contradiction between the natural rights affirmed in--in America's founding, in the Declaration of Independence. It was a--it was a--a dramatic move. It was the first legislative act abolishing slavery in the history of the world. It's in--interesting that England gets credit for being the first country to abolish slavery because the United States as a whole didn't abolish it, but these states had--the Constitution left the states in control of having laws that created property in human beings or abol--getting rid of those laws. So actually the state of Pennsylvania, in 1780, was the first political unit to abolish slavery.
LAMB: Why didn't that happen in the South?
Prof. APPLEBY: It didn't happen in the South because there wasn't the same drive to do it. There was a m--and there were many, many more slaves in the South--th--about 40 percent of Virginia's population, which is a--far and away the largest state in the Union was African-American. South Carolina had a slave majority--more like 60 percent of the population. So there were many more complicated problems associated with abolishing slavery in the South. And as I said, it didn't have the same group of--of reformers--anti-slavery reformers. But there was anti-slavery agitation in the South. North and South the contradiction between slavery and the Declaration of Independence was evident and spoken about, but it was just a much more difficult--th--in so many different ways it would have been harder because in the s--the North, there was a--a small free black population to grudgingly integrate into the white population.

One thing--interesting things about Northern abolition is that it was gradual. It was peaceful and it was gradual. Typically, a state would, you know, pass a law that would say: All slaves will be--born after this date will be free when they reach the age of 21 for women, or 24 for men. So it was a gradual way. They--there--it would have been difficult to have a gradual emancipation in the South, or at least it would have been straining the moral and economic resources of the South in a way that it wasn't in the North.
LAMB: Did you write about people that were born in this country?
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes. There...
LAMB: They didn't--they didn't come here from somewhere else.
Prof. APPLEBY: There are a couple of people who float through who come--who immigrate in the 1790s, but it's--yes, primarily--overwhelmingly about people born here.
LAMB: How many autobiographies did you read for this book?
Prof. APPLEBY: I read about 220. The...
LAMB: How long were those?
Prof. APPLEBY: Oh, they could be 17 pages or two volumes. They get...
LAMB: And where--and where do you find them?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, fortunately someone before me has made a bibliography of American autobiographies, which I used to find them; though I did find some on my own. Some of them are still in manuscript, but most of them have been published. Sometimes they're published by grandchildren or they're published by an historical society.
LAMB: What was your biggest--or--or a couple of your surprises that--in them and what were the names of the people? Anybody.
Prof. APPLEBY: You mean in the lives of them?
LAMB: In all the lives you found.
Prof. APPLEBY: Oh, Icabod Washburn was a--had a life that I was bou--rather fascinating. Cumulative, there were more surprises. Julia Tevis was a big surprise. A really fascinating woman.
LAMB: Who was she?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, she was a--a young woman who was born in the Kentucky frontier, but her father was a German. His name was Aronamous, so she was born Julia Aronamous, and he had a very advanced idea of the importance of education for his children, including his--his daughters, and he brought--came back to Washington, DC, from Kentucky because he didn't think they could get the proper education. And then her father subsequently dies and a brother also dies, so she becomes the supporter of her mother and younger sister and she becomes a school teacher. She's converted by a Methodist minister and marries a Methodist circuit writer.

And the most amazing thing is that on her honeymoon she convinces her husband to give her the wedding gift from his family of a house and to turn that house into a school for girls. And she converts it into the Science Hill Academy. She used the word `science' because she wants to demonstrate that women can learn about science just as men. And for the next 60 years, she runs this school. Sh--her first child--she has seven children. Her first child is born a couple of months after the school is opened. But just this vision that she had and the determination and the sense that there was an opportunity and she figured out how she could act on it.
LAMB: Why did they write the autobiographies?
Prof. APPLEBY: I think they wrote the autobiographies for a number of reasons. One of them is that their lives saw dramatic changes. A--a--this is the age of invention. This is when people could--for--for th--be born and never see anything more complicated than a windmill and end up with railroads and steam engines doing everything. So there was--there were dazzling technological changes. There was a sense of being a part of a--of a new country and this American experiment. They--all of them were modest successes. People who are failures don't write autobiographies. So they wrote to tell generat--their family what they had seen, how the times they had a changed and also to register their accomplishments.
LAMB: Did they publish these autobiographies?
Prof. APPLEBY: Some of them do, but most of them are published after their deaths.
LAMB: So they were done for what reason...
Prof. APPLEBY: So it's a mixed bag.
LAMB: ...just--just to have on the record for the families?
Prof. APPLEBY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I think--I think Benjamin Franklin had something of a--of an influence. I think that--that was one of the first autobiographies and I think it was sort of a model. Here was an American that you would like to emulate, who had put down information about his childhood and what he had seen and how he had grown and developed.
LAMB: Can you parallel the public figures that were revolutionary vs. the ones that you're thinking about?
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes. Well, I mean, you know, there are all the--the John Adamses, Thomas Jeffersons, James Madison, all of those are--would be parents or grandparents of the people that I am looking at. The political figures in my cohort are the presidents: John Tyler, Benjamin Harrison, Martin Van Buren, John Calhoun, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay. These are the--the political stars of this generation.
LAMB: Where did you write the book--what part of the country?
Prof. APPLEBY: In Los Angeles--west Los Angeles.
LAMB: What do you do out there?
Prof. APPLEBY: I teach history.
LAMB: At--at...
Prof. APPLEBY: The University of California at Los Angeles.
LAMB: UCLA.
Prof. APPLEBY: UCLA, yeah.
LAMB: How long have you done that?
Prof. APPLEBY: I've taught history for 33 years and I've been at UCLA since 1981.
LAMB: Why history?
Prof. APPLEBY: You know, I think--I have a theory about people and why they become what they become. I think there are about four basic ways to understand reality or understand the world. One of them is, obviously. through measuring and it, you know, it appeals to people who are--who be--who become scientists of observation and measurement. Another one is clearly a religious sensibility. There's also, I think, a poetic and imaginative way of grasping reality. And another is to understand what has gone before--to see what human beings in very different times and different places have created out of this human potential. And there are just people who are naturally curious historically and I'm one of them.
LAMB: When did you start being curious?
Prof. APPLEBY: I--I was a history major as an undergraduate and I think I was curious before then, though I tended to satisfy my curiosity by reading novels. Nineteenth century novels taught me an awful lot about the past.
LAMB: What book is this, what number for you?
Prof. APPLEBY: Four and a third.
LAMB: What were the others about?
Prof. APPLEBY: I wrote one about economic thought in 17th century England. It was a kind of--that was the first book that I published. I did by doctoral dissertation on how the French used American ideas in their--the opening months of the French Revolution and that I published as articles. And then I did a study of economic thought in England which was tied into America. I was interested in--in how Americans had come to conceive of soci--society as having a natural harmony--what--what was--what was behind Americans' belief in limited government and an expansive ambit for voluntary action and individual ambition. And so it took me back to economic writings in 17th century England.

And then I wrote a book about the Jeffersonians in the 1790s, the battle with the Federalists. The battle royal in American politics is the--is the battle that changed am--this--the direction of the American Revolution and has informed our political system ever since. And then my third book--that is to say my one-third book--I did with co-authors Lynn Hunt and Marcus Jacob and it's called "Telling the Truth About History." And it's a study of what we expect from history and historians, what kind of knowledge and truths we seek in the past.
LAMB: There were three little things--maybe they're not so little, but they're symbols that you write about that--for instance, was it John Adams that developed the Mister President title?
Prof. APPLEBY: Mm-hmm--no, he--no, he lost.
LAMB: He made th--it was--but it was decided during...
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes. Right. Yes. Yes.
LAMB: ...during--what--what did he want?
Prof. APPLEBY: Oh, I think he wanted `your excellently,' `his highness,' `the protector of our liberties,' something like that.
LAMB: Why?
Prof. APPLEBY: Because he believed as--he was a cons--he was a conservative revolutionary and he believed that order was fragile and that in order to maintain order, you had to en--create some awe between the people and their officeholders. And the president he saw as the pre-eminent officeholder in America and he thought that the president needed all the respect and honor, adulation and obeisance almost possible in order to keep this frail republic intact.
LAMB: Who--who beat him on this?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, the--the--the people who later became Jeffersonians. They weren't that yet in the first Congress. They came as just elected men from their neighborhood. They weren't clearly defined by party yet. But there were people like James Madison. Others just thought this was laughable. It was just ridiculous.
LAMB: Well, you say that--was it Madison or his wife that wanted the "Hail to the Chief"?
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes, that was later.
LAMB: And why was that? What was the...
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, let me--let me start with that. So--so they won the battle and--and they settled with Mister President. You couldn't have a--a--a sparer title for that. Then fast forward to the presidency of James Madison. James Madison was a small man. He was--people described him as sort of birdlike. Always in a black suit. And m--Dolly Madison noticed that when the president and she arrived at various receptions around Washington, that no one paid any attention to the fact the president had entered the room and this disturbed her. And so she arranged and worked with someone to have "Hail to the Chief" written and performed wherever there was a reception to--to which her husband was going. And so that's how "Hail to the Chief" came. But those--those are--they're similar, but they're also different. And--but, yes I guess you could say that she was concerned with the same issue that had bothered Adams, but after the informality had--had entered in to a degree that seemed alarming.
LAMB: And then you wrote about Thom--Thomas Jefferson being interested in getting rid of the wig, getting rid of the bow.
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes.
LAMB: What's that about?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, I think Jefferson was very, very shrewd. And he saw that if you wanted to have democratic politics and you wanted to have participatory politics where voters were not just opinion-givers at--on Election Day but active participants in the political process, informed and giving opinions and sharing information, that you had to collapse the distance between officeholders and voters so that there wasn't this awe that made people tongue-tied.

So he did everything he could to remove formality from the presidency. If the doorbell rang and he was near the door, he opened it. If he was still in his morning coat, he opened it still. He got rid of all the protocol. There was a--protocol at state dinners was that the president usually entered the dining room when the dinner was served with the wife of the ambassador of Great Britain on his arm, and then the ambassador would come with the president's hostess on his arm, a wife if there was a wife. Jefferson had the rule: He who is next to the door goes in first. This created a diplomatic flap because the ambassador of Great Britain was just outraged at this.
LAMB: Again, you--you're writing about people who were born between 1776 and 1800.
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes.
LAMB: So the focus--the years that you're really focused of them being old enough to be involved, would be what?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, I would say really the first three decades of the 19th century.
LAMB: 1800 to 1830?
Prof. APPLEBY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I have material on the 1790s because it's a very tumultuous decade and it's important, and there are some of them who, by that time, are in their 20s. But, yes, most of the action.
LAMB: Give us a profile on what the United States looked like in those 30 years: people, where they had come from, what their religion was.
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, to give a profile of a country that was as rambunctious as American society in those decades is going to be very hard. I can give you some snapshots. In 1810, a third of the Americans lived in new communities. Never have we had that many people in--on the frontier. So it was a--a society in motion, moving West, moving into the cities. The American cities double; they're--they're doubling in population every 10 years when the nation as a whole takes 20 years.

Religion, too, is just going through an exuberant period; it's what historians refer to as the Second Great Awakening. But what happened is that the old-line churches lost their financial support. In time, all churches in America are turned into voluntary associations. And the people are moving West, and there are no churches going with them. It's--it's expensive.
LAMB: What--what are the old-line churches?
Prof. APPLEBY: The Episcopalian Church, which was the Church of England; the Presbyterian Church; the Congregational Church is a dominant church in New England. Those are the old-line churches. The Methodists are a new group that grew--they began in the--the bosom of the Church of England, but they break with the Church of England, they break with Episcopalians, become a separate mesc--Methodist Episcopal Church in America.

And then the Baptists--now there had always been Baptists in America, but they were very small sects. But they--what's happened is that these--the Methodists and the Baptists have the means to reach the people in the West who are going west without churches and after five, 10 years, are unchurched. Their children are unbaptized; they're getting married without marriage ceremonies. And there is a thirst for religion. And you have these often unskilled--I shouldn't say unskilled--uneducated preachers; they do have a skill and a talent and a calling to preach. But you have them going into the frontier and preaching and creating converts and building new churches. So religiously for these--at this time, you have a proliferation of sects. They finally pull back and don't maintain the distinction between church and sect and call them all denominations.
LAMB: As you know, a quarter of the population today is Catholic, and about six million of the population are Jewish. When did the Jews and the Catholics come to the United States?
Prof. APPLEBY: There--there--the first Jewish congregation came in the 17th century, actually. It came from Brazil to New York City. But that population--the Jewish population, I mean, was very small. There's several people in my cohort who are Jewish, but it's very small. And that population, the real Jewish immigration doesn't come till the end of the 19th century.

Catholic population, there are some Catholics with the Irish population that came in the 18th century, but many more Scotch-Irish, as they were called, who were Presbyterians. Catholic immigration begins in the 1840s, with the potato famine and--and other dislocations in Ireland, and then also in Germany. So you don't have very much--let me just--this also is a period with the lowest foreign-born population in American--percentage in American history; about only 3 percent are foreign, and most of those are slaves who've come in with the opening up of the slave trade, the brief opening up.
LAMB: And I--I just saw a figure, I think it's like 9 1/2 percent now foreign-born in the country.
Prof. APPLEBY: Right.
LAMB: And there were times when it was a lot larger than that.
Prof. APPLEBY: Much larger. At the end of the 19th, early 20th century, it was--two-thirds of the people in American cities at the end of the 19th century were either foreigners or foreign-born.
LAMB: What did they do for a living?
Prof. APPLEBY: Who, all the people?
LAMB: Back in--back--back in those--those three decades.
Prof. APPLEBY: They farmed. They farmed; overwhelmingly rural. But it's the beginning of a shift out of the rural areas and into commerce and into manufacturing, into the professions, into preaching, teaching, becoming a lawyer. These are all growing, because the society is becoming more intensely commercial, and that's creating the need for an infrastructure of--of teachers. Literacy fi--is--is moving up. It...
LAMB: Was there electricity?
Prof. APPLEBY: No, no electricity.
LAMB: Were there railroads?
Prof. APPLEBY: No, not yet. The first railroad is, I think, 1832, the B&O. They're--you know, they're just beginning. There're canals. The Erie Canal was the great engineering triumph. It s--opened in 1825. That--there--and there're roads. There's a national road; there are post roads; there are toll roads. They're doing everything they can to connect the country in a transportation system. There is a steamboat which finally enables the--the Western farmers to get their boats back up the Mississippi and the--and the Ohio.
LAMB: You say that--that women and couples had lots of children, like there was a--once there was, I remember, as many as nine children on average per family.
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes, yes. There's a pretty high mortality rate, though. It's unusual to have a big family. The average number, I think the demographic figures, the average number of children is about seven point something at the beginning of the 19th century, and it's dropped to four by the end. So there are some big families. But there are also--I have lots of families that are just--children wiped out by diphtheria or tuberculosis or cholera. I mean, so it's--it's a mixed picture; it's not--it's not even. And that's true of just about everything about this generation.
LAMB: Who got educated?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, in the North, almost everyone, including free blacks got three years of three-month schooling. That was the goal, to teach reading, writing and ciphering. South, it would be many fewer, but there were lots of academies for planters' children in the South. What's fascinating about teaching is that--illiteracy--is that teaching was the great s--bridge for talented boys and even some talented girls to get off the family farm, then if they were good at book learning, they could become teachers, and then a year or two they could move into one of the new areas, perhaps become a lawyer, move on to becoming a newspaper editor, a clerk in a store. It's fascinating what teaching offered young people.
LAMB: How big was the military?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, the military was very, very small. It swells at the time of the War of 1812. I think at the end of the war, there were about 70,000 in the Army. They quickly d--demobilize and get down to a force of about 13,000, 14,000. West Point is founded in--in the first decade of the 19th century.
LAMB: And how important was the--if you were in the military back in those years, were you a big deal?
Prof. APPLEBY: You were in the War of 1812. It created a lot of--of particularly Naval heroes. I don't think so. I don't think it was terribly important. I think at time of war, yes, you had some heroes. What you did have the military doing is teaching men civil engineering, and the Army virtually lent civil engineers to railroad companies and to canal companies and to expeditions--expedition that found Yellowstone, Stephen Long's expedition. So there were many ways that military people participated in the economic life.
LAMB: Would you have liked to have lived back then?
Prof. APPLEBY: No. I love my own time.
LAMB: What do you think would be the major differences?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, a much more circumscribed role for women, which I couldn't help but think of instantly.
LAMB: Could you have taught school back then?
Prof. APPLEBY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm, but I couldn't have taught at the university. I couldn't have been a scholar. There are very--I don't think there are any women who were scholars. There were certainly some brilliant women.
LAMB: You couldn't have voted, or could you in some places?
Prof. APPLEBY: I could have in New Jersey for a brief period, if I had property and no husband.
LAMB: Why no property--I mean, why property and no husband?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, because the way the law was written, it would be--there was a property qualification, and they didn't put in that you had to be a man. And so women voted. But women only controlled their property if they didn't have a husband, and so it was mainly wealthy widows who voted. And then that was changed, and then `women' wa--was put in and the vote was taken away from them.
LAMB: How many states in the early 1800s?
Prof. APPLEBY: Oh, about 26. They move up to about 26. They're coming along very rapidly. Vermont comes in, Ohio and Alabama and Mississippi and Indiana and...
LAMB: Who could vote?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, that ch--the voting is determined by states, and so that d--could be--it'd be very different. African-American--free African-Americans vote in New Hampshire and Massachusetts all through this period. They voted in North Carolina, and then it was taken away from them. There is a movement to begin to have white male suffrage, but it--in 1850, Virginia still has property qualifications. Vermont comes in with no slavery and no property qualifications. So it's a patchwork quilt. But the--the move, the thrust is for free white men to be able to vote.
LAMB: Someplace you say that a black could not be a mailman?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, postmaster, I think it was. There--the--the Congress passed very--very differently--I mean, you--a black couldn't be in the Marines, but a black could be in the Army or the Navy. They were very different. Again, it's kind of featurive of the United States, and partly because we have states and federal government. It's--it's--has to be quite specific to the place and time.
LAMB: Don't know where the exact numbers are, but I remember you--back in those years, that a member of Congress represented something like 33,000 people where today it's over 600,000.
Prof. APPLEBY: Right. Right.
LAMB: And then you said there was a big jump between the number of members in the House. You know, there had been 435 members of the House since...
Prof. APPLEBY: Right. Right, right. Right.
LAMB: ...like, 1912 or something like that. But back then, it went from 100 to a couple hundred.
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes. Right, because they changed the--the--the proportions, and that often was done after the census was taken. But it was--what I estimated also, I think in that same business about 33,000 people, that the actual voters were more like 6,000, and the voting pool would be the candidate pool. And that's pretty--that's--you could know those people in your district. You could know all the voters if you were out there as a politician and interested.
LAMB: You built up a--a kind of a--a battle between the Federalists and the non-Federalists.
Prof. APPLEBY: Mm-hmm, that's right.
LAMB: Who would have been a Federalist back in those early 1800 years, and what would that have meant?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, the Federalist is the party that--that wrote the Constitution. Its most lu--illustrious members are George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton. And, by and large, these were men who were conservative. They wanted to retain what they'd gained in the Revolution, but they believed in order, and they thought that order was fragile. And they really wanted to have a Great Britain cleansed of the impurities and corruptions of Great Britain.

Now Thomas Jefferson wa--and--and I use him to stand in for other people, but he was so far and away the important figure here--saw this as a--just a terrible loss if the Revolution in America just stopped at being another Great Britain, and he wanted to see a revolution in the sense of creating a new kind of society that was thoroughly democratized, where there was political participation, where there was free speech. He wanted to animate the--the--the public. He--and he very much wanted religious toleration, and he was very interested in scientific speculation.

But he had this idea that human beings--and he--we have to say he really meant white men had been shackled down, they'd been burdened by hierarchies: hierarchies in the church, hierarchies at home and the father, hierarchies in politics. And if you could just get rid of those hierarchies, you would release the energy that's just bubbling in there, in each human being. So he challenges Washington's administration, and they do it around such issues as political participation, forming political clubs, free speech. The Federalists then pass laws to restrict free speech, alien sedition laws. So it thoroughly politicizes this generation, these battles of the 1790s.

And because democratic politics is new, men take political disputes as an inf--impugning their honor. I think you may have read in there how important dueling was; `important' sort of the wrong word, but how--what a prominent part dueling plays because these men aren't used to disagreeing. They don't have a concept of an issue, something that good men can disagree on.
LAMB: You wrote that it's something like 100 people in politics have been killed.
Prof. APPLEBY: That's--that's--that's what one of the newspapers estimates, and I find duels everywhere, and they're al--and the amazing thing is that three-quarters of these duels, according to contemporaries, were over politics. They weren't over gambling debts or women, which was typical in Europe. They were about politics--being on the opposite side in politics, getting up and--and--and slurring someone in a speech because of his support of a Navy or a salt tax or a--a road to be built a certain place.
LAMB: Alexander--I mean, Andrew Jackson.
Prof. APPLEBY: Andrew Jackson was--was known as a dueler.
LAMB: Killed somebody.
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes. Yes. Indeed. In fact, it was--this was particularly awful because the young man's gun--it was a much younger man--gun was--was--misfired, so he had to just stand there while Jackson points his gun and kills him. But, yes. I mean, so the--the Federalists--to get back to your question, so the Federalists in the early part of the 19th century were dramatically defeated by Jefferson. Not that it was a landslide; it was very even. But they're so astounded that they would be turned out of office, and then after that they are the conservers of a more traditional set of political values.
LAMB: You mention that after the War of 1812 veterans received 160 acres of land.
Prof. APPLEBY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
LAMB: How did that work? And what impact did that have on where people went in those years?
Prof. APPLEBY: It had a big--another surge forward into the West. Some veterans would sell those bounties--they might set up a store and sell the bounty. So there was always a brisk trade in the--the paper involved in--in land. But, in fact, most of them went west, and that's when you have these states of the Northwest and the old Southwest coming into the Union.
LAMB: There's a quote you have here from John Adams, "Americans are ambitious because the lowest can aspire as much as the highest." Why did that happen in this country and say, not in Britain or not in other European countries?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, I think in part because of this Jeffersonian challenge that just--it chal--it broadly challenged not only politics, but the social forms of hierarchy. Also, just as you asked me about how many people were living there, there were four million of them, they're on the edge of a very, very fertile continent, so they have the opportunity--indeed, everybody wants to see them be ambitious--and then the nation is--is forming at a time of economic development--the beginning of the--of industrialization, of trade, of finance, of the professions. So it's a very fortuitous convergence of developments.
LAMB: What impact did the printed word have back then?
Prof. APPLEBY: Enormous impact. And that's, I would say, probably as important a story as any that I tell in this book is the--the way in which Americans are knit together--this--countries were just scattered over this continent--is knit together with print. It's--the publishing becomes cheap, printing becomes cheap. America acquires all of the printing mach--machinery to do its own printing. Literacy is high. The importance of commerce means that people--boys and girls need to learn to read and write. And then they are l--reading is an entertainment. It br--85 percent of them live in rural areas. Books and pamphlets and--and songs--printed songs--brings the world into them--into the...
LAMB: Did anybody have an unusual amount of concentration of power back then in the print?
Prof. APPLEBY: No. No. There--there are lots of publishers, lots of printers. They tend to--oodles of printers. I started to do something on printers; there were too many of them to handle. There are just hundreds and hundreds of printers, and newspapers. In 1822, Americans are buying more issues of the newspaper than any country in the world regardless of size, regardless of population. It's just a phenomena. Foreigners are just dazzled by this. They say everybody reads the newspaper. The little African-American bootblack reads the newspaper, the woman who's hocking fruit reads the newspaper, fathers read the newspaper to their children at breakfast.
LAMB: You say there were 371 dailies in 1810.
Prof. APPLEBY: That's a lot. That--that's a coun--a country of eight million.
LAMB: What about education? How--was there college?
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes, there were seven colonial colleges, and then after the Revolution there are a number of new colleges that are formed. In my period you have the beginning of the state universities. So there are--I don't know--I don't--I hesitate to guess--probably 30 or 40 by the end of my period. And, of course, the religious revivals inspire colleges, because groups wish to have their boys and girls reared in the--in their church and learn th--do their actual secular learning in a religious environment. And then, of course, there are seminaries for preachers.
LAMB: There is not a chapter you have in here where slavery doesn't come up.
Prof. APPLEBY: No, it's everywhere.
LAMB: Was it everywhere when you found your material from back then?
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes.
LAMB: They talk about.
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes, they talk about it. It is the problem that they cannot resolve. Absolutely. It is fascinating. I think what's--what's--one of the fascinating things is that the Founding Fathers and the next generation, they knock out slavery where it's weakest and they leave it where it's strongest. And they almost make the Civil War inevitable by doing that.
LAMB: And how did that happen?
Prof. APPLEBY: Wa--well, it happened because they--there were reformers who took the initiative and abolished slavery in the North, and the absence of slavery in the North not only meant that they didn't have slaves, it meant that it freed Northerners to imagine a world without slaves, to write critically of slavery. If slavery had still been in the m--in their midst in the North, you wouldn't have had people being so freely critical of it. I--so I think it's both the absence in the North and the presence in the South that keeps it in the public eye. And then, of course, there are vocal anti-slavery people. Congress opens each session, and there are a bunch of petitions, some of them from free blacks, some of them from Quakers. They can't get away from it. Southerners are just enraged that this--that this, their institution which they understand and want to wall off, is--is having--you know, is being examined and criticized by former slaves.
LAMB: What was the American Colonization Society?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, that's a group that forms to resettle free blacks in Africa. They're actually the founders of Liberia on the west coast of Africa, like Sierra Leone was founded by Great Britain in order to prev--provide a haven for former slaves that the British freed in--during the--the American Revolution. The Colonization Society attracted a lot of attention as a possible solution to the problem of slavery in America, because the problem was twofold. It was not only the existence of this hideous and degrading institution, which was now being publicly exposed, but there was a problem of white America's disin--being disinclined to live in a biracial society. So the thought was, `Well, what if we repatriate free slaves, send them back to Africa?' And indeed a couple of thousand do go back and form the nucleus of Liberia. But it's--it's--it's a fantasy solution. The population of slavery is, you know, doubling every 20 years.
LAMB: Some big names in history--Henry Clay and later on Abraham Lincoln--were for this idea?
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes, they were. It's...
LAMB: Why do you think they were for it?
Prof. APPLEBY: Oh, Clay, I can sort of understand. Lincoln is more difficult. I--it--I suppose it offered some hope of solving a problem that--that seemed too big for anyone to solve. It's--it's perplexing to me, it really is, because it is--if you just sat down with a pencil and paper and counted up the number of slaves in America and the number of boats it would take, wha--there was no organization that could have transplanted all of the slaves back to Africa.
LAMB: And the total number of slaves in the United States in these early 1800 years?
Prof. APPLEBY: A million moving to four million by the time of the revo--of the Civil War.
LAMB: Now I remember a figure you had in here of 197 free blacks--197,000 free blacks.
Prof. APPLEBY: Right. Right. There are about 500,000 by the end of my period.
LAMB: By the end of your period?
Prof. APPLEBY: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: Could have the s--they have the same rights as everybody else?
Prof. APPLEBY: No. Their s--their citizenship is circumscribed very definitely, again, depending upon the states. They could not serve in the militia, and this often prevented them from voting. It was really a catch-22. They couldn't vote because they couldn't serve in the militia. And also the--they were often in the--in court action. They couldn't be witnesses against a white person, which was very difficult for people in business, because if they didn't have a bill paid to them, they didn't have the same access to the courts. In other--free blacks, their lives, their civic personality was circumscribed dramatically.
LAMB: You write that Washington Irving coined the phrase `the almighty dollar.'
Prof. APPLEBY: Yeah, isn't that interesting?
LAMB: What was the reason?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, I think that--that Americans w--contemporaries said they were money mad. Does that surprise us? I mean, it--it was a very ebullient economy, they were all--there was this release of ordinary ambition and there was this sort of scrambling for land. In the South you had a scrambling for land and slaves. But the Southerners managed to keep this out of public view. In the North it was much more open, and this was new; this was novel. It wasn't refined. It wasn't restrained the way it had been, and people were shocked at this open avidity for gain.
LAMB: Where did it come from?
Prof. APPLEBY: `Almighty dollar'?
LAMB: No, the idea of...
Prof. APPLEBY: The--the--the...
LAMB: ...the--the rush for money. I mean, that comes up in your--materialism.
Prof. APPLEBY: I--I think it came from the absence of restraints. I think it m--it meant that people could follow their ambition and they could be--they could brag about it at the tavern, they could talk about it in the parlor. And maybe there were some people who were outraged that they were doing this. I mean, people of taste, no doubt, you know, were offended. But it was the--the arbiters--the social arbiters had been dismissed. They had been sent home, sent away, and the public was pretty much open to whatever group was out there and wanted to do something in the public.
LAMB: Any other place in the world like it then?
Prof. APPLEBY: I don't think so. No, not at all. I think it was remarkable. And foreign travelers attest to its remarkable status. I mean, they were fascinated.
LAMB: Did you read the Franny Trollope stuff and the...
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes.
LAMB: ...Charles Dickens? And what did they find when they came here?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, they found much of what I'm reporting. They found a society that was intoxicatingly free. They saw things that they--that they loved. They s--they loved this outpouring of human energy. They loved to see these associations that were forming. But they were appalled at--at other things like the scramble for money or the--the servants' lack of respect appalled everyone. Servants in America were saucy. They wouldn't accept the word `servants'; they were `help.' That was an Americanism that the British thought was just ridiculous; you don't have servants. So they--there was a mixed report. It--it was a society in which the--all the arrows were not pointing in the same direction.
LAMB: Where did the rush for temperance come from?
Prof. APPLEBY: I think it came from--well, obviously, the religious revivals had a lot to do with it, because you're not in control of yourself if you're--if you drink too much. And--and the Revolutionary generation drank a lot, way more than we drink today. And so I think there was this desire for more control; the control had religious impetus, but I also think that it had to do with ambition. If you have a plan, a life plan, and you want to succeed in that life plan--this is not an easy society to get ahead in; it takes a lot of hard work--it's incompatible with drinking in the morning or drinking in the afternoon, whereas in the old society, in an artisan's shop, as a printing shop, the youngest apprentice went out at--at 10:30 and came back with a bottle of--of liquor, and then at 2:00 they went out. I mean, there--no one ever built a ship or raised a house without providing liquor for the--for the workers.

So drink was--was, you know, just implicated in all the--it--everyday routines, and I think it became incompatible with many people's sense of--of how to--how to get what they want, how to get ahead, how to do what they--activate their plans.
LAMB: How far did the restrictions go?
Prof. APPLEBY: Restrictions on drink?
LAMB: Yeah.
Prof. APPLEBY: It was all voluntary. It was...
LAMB: They did--they didn't s--it wasn't like Prohibition?
Prof. APPLEBY: No, no, no.
LAMB: They didn't--they didn't stop?
Prof. APPLEBY: No, no, no. No. No. The only thing I know that was sort of violent was--that was--may have been …--they--once the temperance for--once they formed associations, then they wanted to get rid of all liquor, and they cut down hundreds of apple trees to get rid of apple cider which was fermented, and hard apple cider was one of--one of the liquors. No, it was all voluntary, but I--you know, this--we conform to the social mores if we see that something is going to get--earn us frowns and--and--and ugly looks, we'll move away, just like smoking today. The poor people who smoke and have to huddle up against business buildings outside, you know, that--that's a miracle of the anti-smoking campaign in the last 30 years.
LAMB: What was the Sabbath Crusade?
Prof. APPLEBY: Sabbath Crusade was to stop all business on Sunday, and--and this--most churches and churchgoers observed that; they observed the Sabbath and they didn't do any ordinary work on Sunday. But as the tempo of commerce increases, post offices stayed open on Sunday. And the worst thing is that the Erie Canal ran on Sunday 'cause you couldn't stop the Hudson River and the other rivers from flowing; you couldn't stop the canal.

So this upset people, and there was a move to get the federal government to enforce the Sabbath in the ways that it could. One of them was to--to not deliver the mail on Sundays, and the--and this failed. A--in this case, the churches were beaten back by those people who argued that the government shouldn't interfere in this way.
LAMB: You write up Richard M. Johnson...
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes.
LAMB: ...the senator, who is himself con--controversial, but...
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes.
LAMB: ...did he kill Tecumseh?
Prof. APPLEBY: I don't know. I don't know that--I don't know that anyone knows. He was in battle. He was alleged to have. I don't--I'm not even certain that he claimed to, but other people claimed for him, and it gave him a certain--he was certainly there. It gave him a certain ......
LAMB: Went on to be vice president. You find--did you find much about him?
Prof. APPLEBY: Not a lot. Y--you remember, he was the--the--he was such a hero that the--that--that when he was a congressman, they got him to put forward the bill to raise the salaries, the congressional salaries.
LAMB: And what happened?
Prof. APPLEBY: And just--people were just outraged that the congressmen were going to vote themselves a raise. I think it was a 25 percent raise. And they--the people rose up and--as I say, locally and formed associations and--and defeated all the incumbents--not all of them, but just an--an incredible number of incumbents the next time around, and got the--their congressmen to pledge that they would repeal the act, and they did.
LAMB: When you did your research, could you find newspapers from this period?
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes. Yes.
LAMB: Where do they keep them?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, the American Antiquarian Society has a wonderful collection of newspapers. It's--it's in Worcester, Massachusetts. And actually, the nephew of the founder of the American Antiquarian Society is in my book. So they have a--they have a great collection. They're in the Library of Congress. I read most of the autobiographies in the Library of Congress.
LAMB: Now one of the things you--you mentioned in here Thomas Paine in your book, and I was--because we were having a guest on our program from TomPaine.com, saw your name on the advisory committee.
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes.
LAMB: What's that?
Prof. APPLEBY: What is TomPaine.com?
LAMB: Yeah, and how did you get involved in that?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, I'm not deeply involved in it. I'm sort of there as an adviser. It's--it's a Web site where opinions--pieces are posted and letters are invited, and it--it--they produce editorials that are concerned with issues--public issues of the sort that Thomas Paine might be--might have been interested in: good government, you know, the watchdog on--on our governors.
LAMB: What role did Thomas Paine's writings--and I know they came mostly before this period--what di--role did they have in the thinking that went on in the early 1800s?
Prof. APPLEBY: Hard to say. I mean, "Common Sense" does articulate the idea of a natural social harmony of a society of limited government in which the people's cooperative--natural cooperative instincts are brought out. But you know, Paine went on to write "The Age of Reason," which is an attack on organized religion. So when he--he does return to the United States many years later, and he's not warmly received because he's then seen as an infidel; he's seen as someone who's attacked religion, and the country has become a great deal more religious than it was during the Revolutionary era. So he comes back and--and really is in--and--is--just lives in obscurity and dies in New Rochelle.
LAMB: Because of the TomPaine.com, are you an activist in the world out there, or...
Prof. APPLEBY: I certainly care a lot about a lot of things. I don't know that I'd characterize myself as an activist. I march occasionally and--and, you know, participate in discussion groups and lend financial support to causes that I care about. But I--I don't think I could be characterized as an activist now.
LAMB: Are people more or less active today in things like this than back in the 1800s?
Prof. APPLEBY: I think--oh, I think less active. Oh, definitely less active.
LAMB: Why?
Prof. APPLEBY: I suppose because there's so many more things for them to be active in, so many more recreational pursuits, so many other intellectual interests, so many other tastes to indulge, so much just pure recreation to enjoy. And there wasn't that. But also I think this generation took very seriously the fact that they had inherited a remarkable revolution, and they wanted to demonstrate to a world of monarchs and monarchies what democracy--what a democratic society could truly be.
LAMB: So looking back to this time period, who do you--who would you th--name as the most responsible for what we are today? Back in, you know, the--the activists back in the 1800s.
Prof. APPLEBY: Mm. You know, there are--there are a number of them; I don't think there is any one. I would say that Thomas Jefferson's influence was the most pervasive in this generation. They frequently talk about him. As a hero, Henry Clay looms large, as does George Clinton and--I'm sorry, not Clinton--George Clinton; his nephew DeWitt Clinton, because he was the one who championed the--the Erie Canal. So those figures in my generation are important.

Interestingly enough, Andrew Jackson doesn't figure as a--as a great hero. I'm sure he was to people, but he doesn't seem to be to the people that I've read. But Jefferson was important because he so clearly articulated a different conception of what a republic could be, and a d--and he had a different vision of how human beings--how--could participate in their society. And this--people refer to him throughout this period.
LAMB: Where are you from in the country originally?
Prof. APPLEBY: Omaha, Nebraska.
LAMB: How long'd you live there?
Prof. APPLEBY: Seven years. So...
LAMB: Where from--where did you go from there?
Prof. APPLEBY: I went to Dallas, Texas, and then to Kansas City, Missouri, and then to Evanston, Illinois, and then to Phoenix, Arizona, and then to Pasadena, California.
LAMB: Why all the moves?
Prof. APPLEBY: My father was with a large corporation, and they were transferring him.
LAMB: How about your mom? What'd she do?
Prof. APPLEBY: She was a homemaker and voluntary worker.
LAMB: Who got you interested in--i--or--I don't know if it's a person, but in--in the history thing in the first place, do you think?
Prof. APPLEBY: I don't know. My--my father had two very radical, talkative a--sisters who were my aunts, and they were very interested in politics. And this was during the Roosevelt era. And they would argue with my father about Roosevelt. And he would--he would argue and sort of goad them. And I realized that they really cared, and he was sort of teasing them. And I...
LAMB: What side were they on?
Prof. APPLEBY: Oh, they were always on the--my father became increasingly conservative as he became part of the business community. And so they were always on the radical side of Roosevelt's administration. And there was a divide in 1936, '7, and they were always on the more--the more radical side.
LAMB: Where'd you go to college?
Prof. APPLEBY: I went to Stanford.
LAMB: And how about what--the rest of your degrees?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, I got a master's at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and I got my PhD at Claremont Graduate School, which is the graduate school for the Associated Colleges of Claremont, Pomona College now.
LAMB: And what about students today and when you teach your history? Do they--do they care? Are they interested?
Prof. APPLEBY: Yes. Again, it's back to my ideas there are different ways that people understand what it is to be human. There are always going to be people who understand that by looking at the past. They just have--it's just a cast of curiosity. And, yes, they always find them...
LAMB: Now what courses will you teach them?
Prof. APPLEBY: Well, I'm teaching a course now on the impact of the Enlightenment on American nation building. That's a--a seminar that I'm teaching. I teach the introductory course in 17th- and 18th-century America. I teach upper-division courses on the Revolution and the writing of the Constitution. That's, you know, a mix, but almost always 17th and 18th century.
LAMB: You say you've been at UCLA since 1981.
Prof. APPLEBY: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: What's changed in 19 years of teaching at UCLA?
Prof. APPLEBY: I don't know that the teaching has changed. The--the quality of interaction of the students has changed, and it's just--I l--I really love it. UCLA is an extraordinarily diverse campus. I mean, we're just every ethnic group, every religion, every race. And I--over the 18 years, 19 years, I have seen the students become more and more at ease with each other. It's--it truly is wondrous to watch their interaction. There was always I--a lot of goodwill, but it--but it tended--there was a certain formality, and that's just gone. They're just college students.
LAMB: You mentioned in your book the Second Great Awakening, which was back during this period. What was the first?
Prof. APPLEBY: First was a religious revival in the 1740s, the one that's associated with Jonathan Edwards. And it was much more confined and it was much more intellectual. It ha--it was a--both of them were efforts to go back to recapture religious experience, a really intense zeal, an intimate personal experience of God. Both--that was a common feature, but the first Great Awakening had its intellectual disputes, and it tended to end, whereas the Second Great Awakening never really has ended in the United States. It--it created American Christianity, with its emphasis upon the, you know, evangelizing, reaching out to people, upon the personal experience of sin, about being an active soldier for Christ in society. That is there in the Second Great Awakening, and I don't think--and it left a f--a--a--interlocking groups of churches in America that persist to this day.
LAMB: You told us you probably wouldn't want to go back and live in that period, but of the things that you learned about that period, what would be your favorite if you could capture something that happened back then or, you know, the way they lived back then that they don't now?
Prof. APPLEBY: Oh, I think the--the--the voluntary association, the zeal that just, you know, getting people together and forming a society to determine America's national character or to get rid of liquor or to honor the Sabbath or to whatever, just the idea that there was--that these people could move for women's rights, which of course happens in the next decade. I think that voluntary spirit was--was wonderful because it did create a--the--the social integration that I think is sometimes lacking in our world today.
LAMB: You have another book in ya?
Prof. APPLEBY: I don't know. I...
LAMB: If you--if you'd had time, what would you write?
Prof. APPLEBY: I don't--I really don't know. I'm sort of eager to find out.
LAMB: This is the book we've been talking about by Joyce Appleby called "Inheriting the Revolution"--that period back there--"The First Generation of Americans" born in this country somewhere between 1776 and 1800. Thank you very much.
Prof. APPLEBY: Thank you.
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