James MacGregor Burns
James MacGregor Burns
The Crosswinds of Freedom
ISBN: 0679728198
The Crosswinds of Freedom
James MacGregor Burns, author of "Crosswinds of Freedom," analyzed the past half-century of American history, beginning with Roosevelt's New Deal and concluding with the last days of the Reagan presidency. He also described personal experiences with presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Burns concluded by commenting on the uniqueness of the American experience and its "grand experiment" in freedom.
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The Crosswinds of Freedom
Program Air Date: June 4, 1989

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Professor James MacGregor Burns, in the front of your book this graphic is displayed. Your new book "The Crosswinds of Freedom" it says up at the top ---"Worlds highest standard of living. There's no way like the American way." Where's this from?

JAMES MacGREGOR BURNS, AUTHOR, "THE CROSSWINDS OF FREEDOM": This comes back from the New Deal period when there was a lot of optimism, after Roosevelt had been in for a while. And perhaps a little chauvinism.

LAMB: Why did you use this to open up your third in a three part series of American history?

BURNS: Because I remember that period as a young person during that period. It was a very positive period. After we got out of the Depression the contract with the Depression, the coming of World War II, the fact that we won the war means that whole period of optimism in there.

LAMB: How do you feel about this being a third in three part series on American history?

BURNS: Just so glad to get it done. It's been 10 years of penal servitude. I'm just delighted that I lived long enough. The publisher had to bring out a insurance policy on me and so on to be sure I kept going and all the rest.

LAMB: When did you finish this book?

BURNS: Last fall.

LAMB: And what is in this particular volume?

BURNS: Well this volume cover from the time when Roosevelt took office actually a little bit before that, the depths of the Depression March '33 and comes up to the eve of the Bush Administration right through the Reagan period.

LAMB: I'm gonna take you through your last chapter of this volume. It's titled "Memories of the Future: A Personal Epilogue." And I want to pull out one sentence and get you're reaction to it. "Moral passion in forming intellectual power harness securely to explicit overriding ends or values. This must be the essence of 21st Century leadership." Why do you say that?

BURNS: I say this because first of all, I think we lack that kind of great leadership and we saw it once in this country during the founding period. These men we read about --Jefferson, Madison, Washington and so on -- they are just as great in looking at them closely as they are looking back historically. I mean, if you read their correspondence and so on ... and I don't think we've had a period of leadership like that since. And I think today we badly need it. And when I talk about moral standards, I don't mean the private ethics kind of thing so much as I mean people who are willing -- as our great founders were -- to stake their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor on the things they believed in. And I think it's only when we get that kind of commitment again in terms of very fundamental values -- like the old chestnuts, but they're very important --- liberty, equality, justice. That's the kind of leadership we have to have.

LAMB: Have we had any leaders from you know during these 200 years that equal the early leaders?

BURNS: I would say not. Not the number of them. Incredibly during that founding period out of the small population we had not only the great leaders we read about, we had a cadre of perhaps 100 or 200 great leaders. And then when the state ratifying conventions met to ratify the new Constitution, out of the boondocks emerged men -- I have to say -- men in this case who debated on equal terms with the great Madisons and Henrys and the like, so that something happened back there that was quite miraculous. So I can't say we've ever had anything emulating that.

LAMB: Let me quote again from your book. "They were well-bred, well-fed, well-read, well-led, and well-wed." Go over some of those. What do you mean they were well bred?

BURNS: Thank you for plucking what I like to quote if you didn't. It's a summary of why these men were so impressive. They were well-bred in that they came out of very well educated and essentially affluent families with all the education that went with that. And that really also covers well-read. They were extremely well educated partly because they had tutors typically in those homes. They had the smallest teacher student ratio that can be -- sort of one on one. They were ... what's next on that little list there?

LAMB: Well, they were well-fed.

BURNS: Well they had the leisure for study. They were secure people economically in most cases. And then next is?

LAMB: Well-led.

BURNS: Well-led because the top people were magnificent leaders but the people coming up, the second generation of leaders, had this top leadership of, people like, Jefferson and Washington, so you get to the generation of Madison, later Monroe. You've got a very great follow-up generation of leadership after the first generation.

LAMB: All right. The last one is well-wed.

BURNS: Well-wed. Well, that's my favorite, because in those days, Brian, there was a nice tradition that if you married well -- and these people did -- your bride would bring you a few thousand acres of land in Kentucky or Tennessee or someplace. And that gave the man, the gentleman of the house the kind of leisure that he needed to do his corresponding and his reading and his statesmanship.

LAMB: Talk about Professor James MacGregor Burns for awhile. Williams College. Where is it?

BURNS: In the northwest corner of Massachusetts bounded by Vermont on the north and New York State to the west.

LAMB: You've taught there since 1941?

BURNS: Yes. And I went there as a student so that's my world.

LAMB: Why did you choose that location?

BURNS: It had a good reputation even then of being interested in politics, economics and history and had been the sight of very interesting conferences during the 1920's --something called the Institute of Politics where amazingly famous people would come and spend the summer talking and debating grand global policy. And it was in the country and it was a place I could ski and do all those things that I like to do.

LAMB: Where did you grow up?

BURNS: Near Boston in a town called Burlington -- 12 miles out of the center of Boston and in those days so small a town, so rural an area, that my nearest chum was two miles away. And you go back there now to Route 128 which is were it was located and it's completely transformed.

LAMB: What was your family like?

BURNS: Father was a businessman. My mother was a early feminist although she never would have used the word -- very outspoken, very strong person. My parents were divorced and my mother took me and my two brothers out to this little country town away from suburbia which she hated and she raised us herself.

LAMB: Were your parents -- you mentioned your mother was a feminist -- were your parents political in the sense they belonged to a particular party?

BURNS: Well, my father was sort of a conventional Republican. Not fanatically so, but you know in a rather nice quiet way he was a Republican. My mother was all over the lot, but came out of a very Republican family. So I came out of a very Republican atmosphere.

LAMB: Did you follow the same principles in those early days?

BURNS: Well, no. I rebelled early. One of my great memories is going back as a sophomore out of college -- and I'm sure completely obnoxious -- and there are all my Boston uncles and cousins and so on ... very conservative. They were reacting against the New Deal. And I got a lot of attention simply because I sat at the dinner table making these outrageous statements that they never heard anybody make face to face. So there were very, very -- and also I had differences with my brothers. There was a lot of very strenuous and sometimes very angry debate within the household.

LAMB: Where do you think you got your independence?

BURNS: I think from my mother because if anything, she was an independent spirit.

LAMB: Did you talk politics in the early days at your dinner table?

BURNS: Very much so. That's what I say. It was mainly ...

LAMB: I mean with your mother. Early years?

BURNS: Yes she did talk politics with me and I have a very vivid memory of, I think it was 1934 or [193]5 when the world court got defeated. And I remember that coming in and my mother seemed very upset. She was very internationally minded too, and also took us to Europe on various trips. So the vivid memory of her disappointment about the failure of the world court to be supported by the Senate. And I remember sharing that moment with her. So that goes way back.

LAMB: Where do you think she got her independence?

BURNS: I don't know because she came out of a very conservative Westfield, New Jersey suburban family, married a relatively conservative man. Somehow, at some point, she rebelled against that whole world -- golf clubs, suburbia and all that went with it and she was an independent the rest of her life.

LAMB: I count here in the opening flap of your book, 15 books plus this one. Did you have any idea that you would ever write 16 books?

BURNS: Not really and that was not really my goal. It's just that writing is what I like to do and how I earn my living.

LAMB: When did you get the first inclination that that's what you were going to do in life?

BURNS: I think from a very good high school teacher who taught good writing. And she gave me one of the greatest honors in my life. I had an older brother who was in her class, he was a senior, I had her as a sophomore in high school and one day she read to the senior class a paper I had written as a sophomore. After that I thought writing was a great career. It did a lot for my ego. But she taught me good writing and people at Williams taught me good writing.

LAMB: Out of these 16 do you have a favorite?

BURNS: I would suppose the Roosevelt books because they got some nice awards and he was such a fascinating person to write about. He just gripped me the way he did millions of Americans. I think the most intellectually important book I've done is simply a book called "Leadership" on the question of leadership where I developed my whole theory of leadership.

LAMB: You won a Pulitzer.


LAMB: Was that on the Roosevelt books?

BURNS: It was on the second Roosevelt book.

LAMB: The National Book Award?

BURNS: Same one.

LAMB: Same one.

BURNS: Roosevelt the…

LAMB: What is it -- you know, over the years as you've written -- what is it that seems to get people's attention from what you've seen? Where do you see them saying, "I really like this book and this is the reason why ..."

BURNS: I think the personality aspect. And the story. My books, or most of them except for these very theoretical two or three books, are narratives. I love a good story. I love a good story out of history. There are fantastic stories in American history. I just love telling about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. We all think we know about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. We read about it in our ... When you actually get into the Lewis and Clark Expedition it's a fantastic episode. You know they were chased up trees by bears and you think, gee, these poor guys are for a year or two -- no women for a year or two. Well the squaws would, this is terrible, but the squaws would present themselves. They get there -- make their way all the way to the Pacific. See don't get me started because I love these stories. And there are just hundreds of wonderful stories in American history that do point up important morals that we really don't know much about.

LAMB: Let's talk about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. What part of the century was it from?

BURNS: Well, it's in the Jefferson period. It's one of the things Jefferson did as President -- took a gamble sending out this expedition. And it's incredible they went through every kind of adventure and peril including disease you can imagine. And one man died on the trip; I believe that was from appendicitis.

LAMB: Who was Lewis and who was Clark?

BURNS: Well, they were two Virginians who were good friends of Jefferson. They were in the Army and they were free spirits and the kind of men who could impress --young men, adventurous men.

LAMB: Where did their expedition go?

BURNS: Went all across the country ended up on the West Coast. They went over all those mountains in absolutely untracked country and did a wonderful job because Jefferson demanded that they do a wonderful job of mapping. And came back with a fantastic account of people they met, the animals, the flora, the fauna, the whole story. That's what Jefferson wanted.

LAMB: How many were with them?

BURNS: As I recall there were about 30 or 40.

LAMB: And no cameras, no audio recorders, no Sony camcorders, all that stuff. How do we know what we know today?

BURNS: Excellent journals. They just kept excellent journals.

LAMB: And when you go about writing your history in all these books, how do you do it?

BURNS: Well, I of course start with a great deal of reading, a great deal of outlining. I have a good library, working library at Williams. I can get the stuff out for days and I'm afraid to say -- sorry to say -- weeks at a time. And then I do an enormous job of collating material. I have to work both against a deadline and against ... even though these are rather big books, everything I treat I have to do in a condensed way. So I do a tremendous amount of organizing ahead of time. I think the secret of my writing, if there is one and it's very pedestrian, is lots of outlines and laying it out and then following those outlines as I actually write.

LAMB: You work alone?


LAMB: You don't have any assistants?

BURNS: I do have -- no, I work alone in terms of writing. I have wonderful research assistants -- always have had -- who help me get the material I want and get the material for me -- we work very closely together. I'm very dependent on my research help.

LAMB: Do you ever calculate how many hours a day you read?

BURNS: Well, to do this work I probably read five or six hours a day in terms of just plain reading and the rest of it's outlining and organizing and the like.

LAMB: Are you a fast reader?

BURNS: No. Unfortunately I get distracted or I get something interesting and I go off in a reverie about, and I have to force myself to get back to the book.

LAMB: When it comes to actually writing a book, do you have a certain place you that you like to write?

BURNS: Oh yes. In my study at home. I use only a typewriter. I don't use any of the new technology even though I'm constantly urged to do it. As a matter of fact, I wanted to go back, Brian, to the goose quill pen. I read these wonderful letters and speeches of these founding fathers. They're so eloquent, I thought maybe it's because it's slow writing. So to make a long story short, I bought myself a goose quill pen and the right kind of ink and all the rest of it -- the stuff you powder over it and it was an absolute disaster. It blotted the whole paper so I gave up the goose quill pen and went back to the typewriter.

LAMB: And when you write, what time of day do you do it?

BURNS: My best writing time is in the morning. Sometimes late at night. Mainly when I cannot be interrupted.

LAMB: Do you like to write for a certain number of hours at a time?

BURNS: Well I just try to put the time in because putting time in is absolutely fundamental with the kind of writing I do. Just getting these jobs done. So I try to put in the mornings. As a matter of fact, more literally, I get up at 6:00 get started around 7:30, work until about 12:00 or 1:00, put in the afternoon working outside in the garden or down at the college. Try to get back to my work around 8:00 or 9:00 in the evening and work until about I'm afraid till about 1:00 a.m. I usually take a nap during the day. So I put in a lot of hours. And I do this seven days a week.

LAMB: Do you have to rewrite very much?

BURNS: No, because that's the point about organizing. To get it so well organized that ... sure I do some rewriting, but not as much as some people do.

LAMB: Who are your favorite historians?

BURNS: Well Hofstadter, Richard Hofstadter is one of our great historians. Woodward is a great historian today. V.O. Key, out of the south, who's mainly a political scientist but did an analysis of the south that stands up today. Richard Morris, who was my co-chair when we were running something called Project 87 to commemorate the Bicentennial of the Constitution. I got to know him and to read his work. He's one of my intellectual heroes. Another man who's not really primarily a historian but did a lot of history is Max Learner, who is still alive and writing his column. He was my mentor. I could go on but ...

LAMB: Where was he your mentor?

BURNS: At Williams. He was at Williams for awhile. And he brought me into the world, well the 20th century I guess.

LAMB: What in your opinion makes a good historian? Where do you recognize great historical work?

BURNS: Well, in terms of writing history as again, understanding it, I do think it's the ability to combine vignettes, stories with a theme. I think some historians simply tell the story. You read and it's quite interesting, but you go on and on about all the details of, let's say South Carolina politics in the 1830's. It's a historian who can make meaning out of this -- can stop and sort of direct the reader in a rather subtle way that this is where this is going. These are possible conclusions. Recognizing that the reader may disagree. So in brief it's combining narrative and analysis.

LAMB: Before we talk more about this, I'm going to hold it up and get Andy Young to get a close shot of this right here. You have dedicated this particular book here to, I think if I can count right, seven people. To the writers for the third century. Who are these people?

BURNS: Well Deborah Burns is my daughter and she's just about to have a baby so if I get a little emotional about this, I've got to call home after this program to see if it's happened. She did the end papers of the book and if you don't mind just flipping to ... is that possible ...

LAMB: Which way?

BURNS: ... to right in here.

LAMB: Oh yes.

BURNS: She did those and at the end of the book, too. So she's very relevant in this book. And a kind of an inspiration. So ...

LAMB: We'll come back to this when we have more time to look at it in just a second, but I want to go back so that the audience can see more of who these people are. Who's Stewart Burns?

BURNS: Stewart Burns is a son who did a lot of work actually in a collaborative way on the struggles that he was in in the 1960's. And he wrote about that from a student's standpoint. So that I have a kind of a direct participation of author collaborating with and I'm now doing, by the way, a book on the Bill of Rights. We're going into that commemoration.

LAMB: Where is he?

BURNS: He's in California and he's a doctor -- has a doctorate as a historian.

LAMB: Pronounce the next one Milton ... is it Jerk?

BURNS: Djuric. He’s of Yugoslav background. He is the most amazing researcher that was ever created. He can devour books. [inaudible] books as we call it. Digest books, give me what I need out of books. I then take his [inaudible]... and go back into the book with his guidance as to what I think is important. So I can use lots of book phrases.

LAMB: Peter Meyers?

BURNS: Peter Meyers is my stepson. Just passed his oral examination at Princeton for his doctorate in political (intelligible) theory. I have to look to him ...

LAMB: Trienah

BURNS: Trienah Myers. This is sort of a family thing. Trienan Myers is my stepdaughter. She's a lawyer in Williamstown and she advised me of some of the legal aspect. Wendy Severinghaus is a reporter with the Bennington Banner in Vermont, who was very helpful to me on certain problems in the women's politics area that came up. And Jeffrey Trout, a young lawyer who helped me with a earlier book and was so helpful on the earlier book I wanted to recognize him in this book.

LAMB: What did you mean -- "To writers for the third century"?

BURNS: Well they're all writers or potential writers. Deborah has done books of her own and I could go through them, but they're all writers.

LAMB: OK. Let's go back to the opening flap here, or this is on the front cover ... and tell us more about this. Andrew, get some good close up shots of this so that we can see exactly what -- try to see what's here.

BURNS: Well, if I could ... should I just point to ...

LAMB: You might look over to that monitor over there Professor, and you can see what's on the screen there.

BURNS: Yes. Well, that in the center is FDR eating a hot dog. And it doesn't quite look like Roosevelt, but it's such a wonderful informal portrait of him out campaigning and just having two minutes for a hot dog that I wanted to include it. I must admit that the man across from him was a kind of distant relative of mine, a Boston politician and lawyer. Then right below FDR -- that button -- "Every Man a King" is of course the great Huey Long slogan and he was a great opponent. First a friend and supporter of Roosevelt and then challenged Roosevelt from the left as a Populist and of course he was assassinated in 1935. So you get a kind of a summation of the early New Deal.

LAMB: Take a look across the page, Andrew, and see what else we can find on this page. OK?

BURNS: Well we have there, under "For Victory", we have women making gas masks during World War II ... Women coming very much into their own during the war with war jobs that had a permanent effect on American society. But also, to my mind, a very dramatic picture of these benign women doing this war work, particularly gas masks.

LAMB: And we have a headline here ...

BURNS: Then the NRA stands out very strongly there. That many of us who lived at the time … the impact of the NRA. It didn't last very long, but it helped bring us out of this period of sluff. Everybody felt involved. It was like being in a war. And then the headline above it is Roosevelt’s death. There's more summed up in that headline --"Roosevelt is Dead -- Truman to Continue Policies" as he did. And then a very important advance in World War II.

LAMB: Is this headline from the New York Times?


LAMB: We are, as we often are, live on tape with these interviews and your mic is about to fall off so if you'll reach down on your tie there and pull it up we can get ... when you get right in the middle of one of these programs ... there you go. Pull it up so that we can ... yeah. We want to be able to hear you clearly. Of all the Presidents in history, which one did you know the best?

BURNS: Well, actually I knew LBJ. I didn't know any President very well. I don't want to ... have been an intimate of Presidents but I did have contact and LBJ, I got to know rather well because he was the most revealing person to talk to. One evening I had with him at the White House up in the family quarters, he simply unburdened himself to me as he did to many, many people, and went through his whole early life and his relationships with his parents.

I should explain, Brian, that this was toward the end of his -- it was just before he announced his plan not to run again. And it was a very tough period during Vietnam and I think he almost needed somebody to talk to. Not that he didn't have many. I think he also wanted to talk to some academic to try to prove himself. In any event, he unburdened himself as to his early life and career and so on. Whereas people like Jack Kennedy -- whom I knew better in a sense, being myself a Massachusetts politician and I ran for Congress the year that he ran for the Senate the second time, and I was always allied with the Kennedys in Massachusetts and I still am for the Kennedys. Jack was much less forthcoming. He was not a sentimentalist. He didn't like to talk too much about himself or the family and so on. So even though we had even kind of a friendly relationship, it was not a close relationship.

LAMB: Why did you run for Congress?

BURNS: Well there's always been a very activist aspect in me. I've been active in politics ever since 1936 -- the Roosevelt/Landon campaign. I wanted to try some of my theories of politics out ... particularly running for office. I felt that most politicians ran rather inefficient campaigns and I thought I could do better. I'm not sure that I did. But above all, I wanted the learning experience. I was much more interested in running for Congress that I was in being a Congressman. I knew something about the life down here because I'd been a intern for a year and I'd actually served up on Capitol Hill. I knew that it was a pretty tough life. But the experience of first getting the nomination and then running for office was very educational -- and I should add that this was a district that had not gone Democratic. I was running as a Democrat since 1896. It did not change its mind in 1958.

LAMB: Did you change your views at all of leadership after running?

BURNS: I think I had a better sense of the pressures on American leaders. Why they tend to be so short run. So expedient, pragmatic as they like to say. I realize that it's one thing for me as an academic to urge greater leadership, leadership that rises above interest groups and the practical pressures. But when you're in the arena, it's not so easy. In fact, a very good example of this was what I would have done as a Congressman.

I'm a great believer in strong parties and I believe that men and women should act as good representatives of their parties and I constantly try to get candidates to run on the basis of party, and to be responsive to the party platform. But when I ran for Congress and the party gave me very little support -- not because it didn't want to but because it had no money -- but the interest groups came through. And the textile workers union came through magnificently.

If I had been become a Congressman and faced a very practical question of, let's say putting tariffs up on textiles, incoming textiles, and the party -- because it's supposed to be a low tariff party historically – had said to me, "Jim, as a Congressman you've got to live up to the party platform -- more trade," and so on. But the textile workers back home, these wonderful people who had knocked themselves out for me, they had said, look"Please protect our jobs here in the…." I would have listened to them. I would have voted their way against my party. It's that kind of learning experience.

LAMB: What about ...

BURNS: Let me just add that this brought me -- not to a feeling that one should always go along with local interests -- it brought me to the feeling that we ought to have a political system that makes it possible to stand for the national interests. Now our system makes it very difficult.

LAMB: Where were you an intern and when?

BURNS: I was up on Capitol Hill. I worked for a Congressman named Abe Murdock who later became Senator from Utah and this was in 1939, as soon as I got through college.

LAMB: Any other political experiences over the years that you think had a great impact on you?

BURNS: Well, I think working with the Kennedys and working with lots of other Massachusetts politicians ... watching them campaign state wide. Watching Kennedy develop his national campaign. Working with people like Ted Sorenson and others in a tiny office mapping out that whole brilliant campaign of Jack Kennedy in 1960. All this was a learning experience.

LAMB: How do you think he's doing in history?

BURNS: Not terribly well for two reasons. One is he didn't have a chance really to prove himself, Jack Kennedy, and that's the great poignant aspect, tragic aspect of his life. And also because for the first two years, he was such a frustrated President. He thought he could master the political system. He felt and he told the American people he could make the political system work. He couldn't. It's too intractable. But in his third year I feel that Jack Kennedy was headed toward greatness in the presidency. He finally found out what he stood for in terms of economic policy, particularly civil rights and foreign policy -- and again the tragedy of that early death.

LAMB: What do you think of all this talk now about his own social mores of the time as it relates to what's going on now in our country?

BURNS: Well, I think it's unfortunate in both that it happened and that so much is made of it. But whenever there's secrecy like that, when it finally comes out there's going to be a great deal of attention paid. I think it tells us a lot about the morals of this century and the politicians -- not just about Jack Kennedy. The other thing I feel about it is that it had absolutely no influence on history. That this was completely divorced from his public behavior. I think in Jack Kennedy's case you have to separate the private man from the public man very, very drastically.

LAMB: Will it have impact on the way future historians look at his presidency?

BURNS: Very little. I think historians tend to be very little interested in private morality of great leaders. We're all as interested because it's part of the story. If Jefferson, for example, fathered a child with a black slave woman that is very intriguing. It has absolutely no importance in terms of Jefferson's impact on American history. So I think that side of the story has to be told just out of sheer honesty. If Jack Kennedy was preaching morality, we should find out what kind of morality he was interested in. I think he showed great morality in his overall public career. Even though there were these failings of private morality as we define it.

LAMB: Let me show the audience the book that we're talking about and this is the third of a three part series -- books that you've been writing for 10 years.

BURNS: Right.

LAMB: "Crossroads of Freedom." James MacGregor Burns from Williams College -- a professor. And do you still teach?

BURNS: A little. But it's very hard to do full time writing and teaching at the same time. So what happened was that after some decades of full time teaching, I began to cut down on the teaching so I could do more writing.

LAMB: Did you like to teach?

BURNS: Yes, but it's a very hard job, particularly in a college where teaching is very highly valued. And the professors who are highly regarded are the good teachers. They don't really care so much about the scholars. They want to know who teaches well in the classroom. So you're in a very competitive teaching environment. So I enjoyed it but I felt competitive and felt pressured as a teacher.

LAMB: Where do you think the student learns the most? From what he or she reads, or from what the professor tells them in the classroom?

BURNS: The latter if one has to separate the two. But of course, the best thing is where there is a close relationship between what they're reading and what they're hearing and what they're discussing and what they're saying in the classroom.

LAMB: As you wrote your books over the years and you write history, are you influenced do you think in your own mind about what you think of politics and what you personally think?

BURNS: Well, I have to face the fact that I am and always have been a liberal Democrat, however that might be defined. I'm very conscious of this as I do history and I've met a kind of challenge on this, I think when it came to looking at the Reagan presidency. I have always taken Reagan seriously unlike some of my fellow Democrats. You know, early on they dismissed him as just an actor. From the very start I felt this man had great leadership qualities. And I spend some time in that book -- and maybe I lean over backward a bit -- to pay tribute to what I feel is not just Reagan's leadership but a very impressive performance by American conservatives during the 1970's particularly.

I feel they did their homework. They had their foundations, their journals. They were thinking, they were arguing, they were debating. And Reagan took advantage of this, which I think was also to his credit. He made a very important and strategic decision in the 1970's to stick with the Republican party when a lot of people were telling him he should go into an independent movement. And he argued eventually that not only would he stay with the Republican party, but he would make it ... help lead it into conservatism, make it into the honorably, honestly conservative party of the nation. Everybody said it will be just another Goldwater debacle. He said no -- he would stick to this and he won. He showed you could be both. You could stand for something as a party and you could win. And I am very impressed by that. Now his Presidency is a very different story. But what he did with the Republican party I think will stand in history as a very impressive feat.

LAMB: Let's go back to something that caught my eye that you wrote about John Kennedy and I'm going to just read a couple lines here and let you tell the rest of the story. "You are like him in many ways, she wrote beguilingly. You know the hard parts and the pitfalls. Can't you see that he is exceptional?" The words of Jacqueline Kennedy before the 1960 campaign?


LAMB: Upset with you about something?

BURNS: Upset because she thought the book I did on John Kennedy did not do justice to the John Kennedy that she saw. Yes this is quite a story because I did something that's very dangerous and difficult to do and that is to write about a man who has not yet really established himself -- who was trying for the presidency -- and to do it as if I were writing a biography of a dead person. That is, I am writing about him in the past.

And a very important question came up, and that was whether I should show the manuscript to members of the Kennedy family. This is something one should not do. Typically, you don't let the people you're writing about read your manuscript. But I had a feeling of ethical responsibility here. I was not writing about a dead person. I was writing about somebody who wanted to become president and I felt that I might learn from that person his reaction to this. I knew that in the end I would control what I would write. So there was a very negative reaction in the Kennedy family to the book. And particularly eloquent was this letter from Jacqueline Kennedy -- really written from the heart in which she said at some length that I had underestimated him. She went through a long description of his learning experience. His exposure to some of the great leaders of the world as he went around the world seeing these people because his father could get access for him to them. And it was about as wonderful a wifely tribute to a husband that I've ever seen.

LAMB: She wrote, "I think you underestimate him. Anyone sees he has the intelligence, the magnetism and the drive it takes to succeed in politics. I see every succeeding week I am married to him that he was what may be the single most important quality – he has what may be the single most important quality of a leader -- an imperturbable self confidence and sureness of his powers."

BURNS: Absolutely right. She is absolutely dead on there.

LAMB: Did you think she wrote that?

BURNS: That's right.

LAMB: That is ... is that from her heart?

BURNS: Yes. Well, for one thing, this is a hand written letter on yellow ... you know, long yellow legal sheets written from Hyannis Port, Massachusetts where they of course have their compound. And it's very -- if I might say so -- is very wifely, feminine letter from somebody who knew him and had this kind of confidence in him.
LAMB: Are you still in touch with her?


LAMB: How do you think she's done in history?

BURNS: Well I think she was a remarkable First Lady. Again the brevity of the thing is what is ... she never had the chance really to carry out some of her dreams in the White House. But I think she's a more impressive person than people realize from the superficial views and from the very superficial coverage in the news you see about her.

LAMB: Are you surprised that recently there was a new book about her that's come out and it is on the best seller list in the New York Times, I think the first week? Are you surprised that people are still interested in her?

BURNS: Yes. I'm sorry, no ... I understand why they are interested. She is an unforgettable person. The image she created -- the freshness, vitality she helped bring to the White House. I don't think people will forget Jacqueline Kennedy.

LAMB: Since John Kennedy's presidency and even before that, as far as that goes -- you write a lot about Eleanor Roosevelt in your book. First Ladies have been the subject of a lot of articles. What role in history and recent history have the First Ladies played in your opinion?

BURNS: I think an increasingly important role. One thing that I hadn't realized until I visited the East Wing years ago, was how institutionalized the First Ladyship has become. Big staff. They are very important persons even aside from the relationship. So I think all the First Ladies are going to have impact on history. But since you mentioned Eleanor Roosevelt she is my true heroine of the 20th century. And the fact that she was in there so long and then she had this very important public career after her husband died. She has in a sense made it possible for later First Ladies to do almost anything they wanted because she did about everything that she wanted to do.

LAMB: Why did you like her so much? What else?

BURNS: Well, I did know her somewhat in various ways. Well, just one Washington story ... I was with a group of interns. This was still in the Depression period. We were all rather poor and I actually lived with a couple of interns around the corner from the White House on 8th Street. And she invited this group over for tea at the White House. Well you can imagine all of us coming in from the boondocks being invited to the White House. I have two memories -- one is of going outside the house and one of my fellow interns flagged a cab. And it was only around the block and I said, "Look, this costs 25 cents. I mean, you know, including a nickel for the tip, we can't afford that."

And he said, "You don't understand, Jim. All my life I've wanted to flag a taxi and say, 'To the White House, please.'" So we went to the White House and there was Mrs. Roosevelt. FDR was upstairs being president. We didn't see him. She was just as we all remember her. Gracious, interested in people, unostentatious ... and so a wonderful moment for us.

LAMB: You write some more here about something I want to get you to further discuss ... the grand experiment that transcended all others. This experiment was called freedom. Why? What's the difference about freedom here than anywhere else?

BURNS: Well, first of all because we professed it as a country, much more than any other nation has. In the Bill of Rights, in the Declaration of Independence we were talking freedom, talking liberty. Our first volume was called the "Vineyard of Liberty" because liberty, which I equate with freedom as a term. Liberty was on everybody's lips that was ... it was a gem.

It was something people felt was precious in our early national life. And this really has continued. Lincoln was eloquent on the subject. Wilson, FDR, now more the freedoms. The Four Freedoms. Constantly reiterating this in inaugural speeches, campaigns and so on. The great test is freedom. Roosevelt spelling this out in the Four Freedoms making it more articulate. In something he called the Economic Bill of Rights laying the whole foundations of this more recent liberal period. So we talk freedom all the time but the question is how much do we live up to it?

LAMB: If you had to leave the United States and you wanted to seek out freedom, what other countries would you go to that would have anything similar?

BURNS: Well, I would say in the old days England, but there's been a certain limitation on liberty as you know in that country. I would say perhaps Sweden. But I don't know of any country I would prefer to the United States on this test. If you had asked me this in the McCarthy days, I would have given you a bunch of countries, but today we're past that period and I think one of the great things about this country is that we are really trying to carry out the Bill of Rights today.

LAMB: What is the difference in the thinking of some of the other great countries of the world that doesn't give them quite the freedom we have here in your opinion?

BURNS: Well, for one thing they don't lay out their freedom systemically the way we do. Britain does not. It's sort of there somewhere in its tradition. Other countries like Russia have very great values in their constitution. Interesting to remember this today, the age of glasnost. They have a kind of a bill of rights in their constitution, but of course for decades did not in any way live up to them. India and some of the other countries preach about it but then will cut right down on freedom of assembly when it seems to threaten the state. So we have a very good record. I'm very critical of this country in many ways, but on the whole our record on freedom is pretty good I think is in the sense of the Bill of Rights.

LAMB: What's different about us and all the rest?

BURNS: Well, as I say partly because we have a standard we've set for ourselves that we try to live up to.

LAMB: Go back to what I was getting at. What is it ... where did that come from?

BURNS: Well, first of all we revolted against monarchical rule. So the revolutionaries of the 1770's could preach liberty against Britain. And that was then put into the Bill of Rights and then the Bill of Rights became a kind of test legally in the courts and rhetorically.

LAMB: Let me go back to what you said earlier. You said that 200 years ago we had some of the most articulate and best leaders we've ever had.


LAMB: Were we lucky then? Today are we lucky that those men came over here 200 years ago? Is that why we have the freedom today?

BURNS: I think we have the freedom for several reasons. One is the heritage from Europe and the fact that the British were pioneering on reform bills and rights bills and Magna Carta and all that for centuries. Even though they didn't completely live up to it. They set a standard for us. In a sense, the people who left Britain left England particularly to come to this land in the early decades were saying to the British -- why don't you live up to your own great documents. And they then established those great documents in this country. So we had a great heritage to begin with. These men were revolutionaries demanding their rights. They were operating on a whole new continent and they were brought up in ... with the Greeks and the Romans and the British and the French, Rousseau and so on. They were brought up reading the great theorists of liberty.

LAMB: Is there any thing we've done that will protect us from losing that freedom in the future?

BURNS: Yes. We protect ourselves to some extent through the Bill of Rights itself which has to be somewhat carried out by the courts. We have protected ourselves by being through a very difficult period a period of McCarthyism. We learned a great deal from that period that stands us in good stead today. We learned that you don't compromise on fundamental liberties. You fight for them at every opportunity you’ll get. And I think finally we've learned that we can combine freedom, liberty with a good deal of governmental intervention as long as that governmental intervention does not block off the methods of change -- it does not effect elections, and free speech, and the rest.

LAMB: Let me read some more from your book. "This experiment was called freedom combining as it did liberty and equality. And this doctrine of freedom was forged and promoted by liberals of all creeds. Liberals in both parties and third parties." You don't say anything in here about conservatives. Does that mean that conservatives were not interested in freedom?

BURNS: They were interested in a certain kind of freedom -- Individualism. As much protection of the individual against government as possible. And that raises very tough questions because those same individuals who are protected against governmental regulation themselves may be limiting other peoples freedom such as their employees.

LAMB: You mentioned liberals like Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie and Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits and Clifford Case. Democratic liberals like Wilson and Al Smith and FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt and Barbara Jordan, Truman and LBJ. Why did you pick Barbara Jordan?

BURNS: Well, she embraces both freedom in the broad economic and social sense as well as freedom in the more Bill of Right's sense. That is freedom of ... against government. That is, I think Barbara Jordan would be as quick as anybody to stand up against interference with somebody else's liberty to speak. Even if that person was a very conservative reactionary person. Barbara Jordan and people like her would fight as you or I would, would fight for their right to speak. At the same time she's shown how in her career one can stand up for freedom of speech and at the same time favor governmental programs that help people without interfering with the Bill of Rights.

LAMB: If you had to pick some conservatives in history that you admire would there be any? Who would they be?

BURNS: Well, I admire Ronald Reagan as I was saying earlier. I think the man did a great job and I won't say it again but one could look at people like Theodore Roosevelt in his earlier career he was something of a conservative, John Adams from my own state of Massachusetts was a incredibly intellectual and analytical type of political scientist very conservative in his social ways and so on. I admire him. Wendell Willkie I admired. Alfred Landon I admired. Dwight Eisenhower – if you can classify him as a conservative -- I admire. There are a lot of them.

LAMB: You say liberalism collapsed of over-extension ... Its over-emphasis on individualism and pluralism ... Its flabby appeal across the wide center of the political and intellectual spectrum it resulted in a lack of core value. You're talking about now?

BURNS: And in this century. Correct.

LAMB: Why? Why did that happen.

BURNS: First of all, because liberalism had a very mixed heritage. Liberalism in this century was a child of 19th century liberalism which was essentially protecting the individual against government. That's a very honorable thing to do. But then when it became necessary for government to help people as it had been doing or trying to do throughout the 20th century, it became necessary to combine that individual liberty against government with the whole job of achieving liberty or freedom through government -- through Social Security, through housing, minimum wages and all the rest.

And liberalism had a very hard time combining those two. I think they're combinable. I think Roosevelt did it in his Four Freedoms which are, first of all of course, freedom of speech and freedom of religion the classic liberal freedoms and freedom from want and freedom from fear. But many liberals were unable to make this journey into combining the two and ended up, liberalism ended up, as I say -- it is a very flabby doctrine ... over-promising, trying to embrace too many doctrines. Not developing a kind of a core that would be a really effective guide to public policy.

LAMB: Who are your favorite present day liberals?

BURNS: Well, I'd have to name my two Senators from Massachusetts who I think have very good voting records: Kennedy and Kerry. Mario Cuomo, Bradley -- I'm afraid I'd be naming some of the most prominent Democrats. Some of the more recent ones -- unfortunately they sort of disappeared from the Republican party -- would be people like Javits. I think one of the unfortunate things in the Republican party is that part of the price to pay for becoming the conservative party is that it's not attractive to very able people like Javits to become members of.

LAMB: Where do you think George Bush will fit in history?

BURNS: Well, I am one of those who despite all the talk about the 100 days that you can test a President -- in 100 days I think that analogy from the Roosevelt administration is misplaced. I think that was a very special historical circumstance. So I've not joined those who have been scrutinizing Bush after the first 100 days. I think he needs a year, maybe two years. If you ask in what direction I think he's going now, in his first few months I think he is still very cross-pressured as we say in political science. He is trying to respond to a bunch of constituencies. I've never seen in Bush -- and it may still come out again -- the kind of core of central ideas that give him direction, that indicate to us what he will do in a very critical period.

I think that was in Kennedy and showed itself in his third year. In Roosevelt it showed itself. In Reagan it showed itself. In LBJ it showed itself. It's not showing itself in Bush and he may feel that he can go on moving back and forth across the political spectrum. I don't think history will allow that. Finally a President has to show where he stands broadly in a political spectrum. But he's got more time and I'm going to wait patiently for him to show that he knows where he stands.

LAMB: What's it going to take for the Democrats to get back in the White House?

BURNS: It's going to take for them to learn the Reagan lesson. It's going to take Democrats to realize the achievement of Reagan in making his party helping make his party a principled party of the right. The Democrats will not -- they may gain power but they will never exercise power. They will never have an impact on history until they duplicate what Roosevelt did and Wilson earlier and that is to become the responsible party of the left, if I might use that term --the liberal labor left party of this country. As long as the Democrats think they can be the Centrist party -- that they can wallow back and forth, shift back and forth across the political spectrum the way Bush is doing, I think as President they're not going to find themselves. They're not going to impress the American people. They're not going to help bring tens of millions of Americans back into the polls. And they are going to wander in the wilderness.

LAMB: Show the audience your book again. We're talking with Professor James MacGregor Burns who has just completed -- or just in the book stores, the third of a trilogy on the American Experiment "The Crosswinds of Freedom." Professor Burns has been at Williams College since 1941. He graduated in 1939 with a bachelor’s from that same school and then went on to Harvard University to get a PhD and a master's in ... ?

BURNS: Political Science.

LAMB: Political Science. Think Political Science is a good major today?

BURNS: It's a good major but I'm always impressed by these students who do double majors. History and Political Science and sometimes they do sort of crazy double majors like Political Science and Physics or English and Chemistry. But that is how you develop really creative minds forcing them to go back and forth among these disciplines.

LAMB: Do you think ... and you dedicated your book to people you think will be writing in the future, people in the family. What do you think of writers today -- the new writers and books and learning and education?

BURNS: Well, I think there's a great tendency today in almost all fields of thought to specialize. To take some individual incident and to make it into a book. And those are fascinating books, but what I think is more necessary and what I've tried to do and others will do it better, is to synthesize history. To bring together Lewis and Clark on the one hand, and the great philosophies of the founders on the other and to make American history in the books more like what it was in fact -- a great tapestry, a tapestry with interrelated events. And the more history of that sort the better. Today the historians really tend to specialize, I think excessively.

LAMB: Let's go back to your book and read a little more. "In the late 20th century, many Americans sense an intellectual, cultural, and political fragmentation and trivialization that pervades our public and private lives." You say that they sense an intellectual, cultural, and political fragmentation and trivialization. Is it in fact true that we're getting this?

BURNS: Yes. I think we're trivialized and fragmentized first of all governmentally and politically. We have that kind of system. But secondly our thinking tends to be, again as I was saying a moment ago, very specialized. We don't seem to have today the kinds of broad thinkers in so many different fields. You take a Walter Lippmann. I often disagreed with the guy, but you had a sense of a man who was thinking across a great body of thought. And some of the great philosophers of earlier days. To put this more broadly Brian, I like to play a kind of a parlor game with people and that is to ask them if they are in a particular specialty -- who do you remember? ... whom do you think will be remembered from this era 50 years from now in your field as we remember people from say 50 years back? As we remember, say, Lippmann, John Dewey in philosophy and architecture Frank Lloyd Wright; in musical comedy some of the great music ... you can go right across the board. It's quite fascinating and it's very hard to think of the people who will stand that test of time today.

LAMB: Anybody in your opinion?

BURNS: Well, I think there are people in the graphic arts. I thinks some of our great cartoonists and caricaturists will be remembered. I think Herblock [Washington Post editorial cartoonist] will be remembered. I think the Doonesbury cartoonist [Garry Trudeau] will be remembered for very creative different types innovative work in the graphic art. But beyond that it's very hard for me to think of any people who stand that test of time.

LAMB: You also write about musicians and poets in your book here. You like to go back and quote some of them. Some of them, a lot -- you know, are not so young anymore but some of the ... from the '60s. What kind of influence do you think music had on us in the last 20 years?

BURNS: Well, I think music's another example of this fragmentation. We now have so many different types of music and technologies of music that I don't get any sense of coherence. But I don't profess to be an expert in music or perhaps anything else. But I know somewhat more about literature. And I would ask you, because I'm sure you're interested particularly in this field -- where is the Robert Frosts speaking of poetry or John Dills Parcels or the Steinbeck, or the Faulkner or the Hemingway today in our novels? We have wonderfully brilliant novels writing about these individual scenes. We have nobody who sticks in our memory the way in Russia, lets say a Tolstoy. Or in the old days -- a Hawthorne or a Melbourne. Why did they stick in our memory? Not as great story tellers but there was some kind of grip on the human imagination and behavior that I don't think our present writers capture.

LAMB: It's probably hard for you to comment on, but you look over you're own history and the way people describe you as one of the most outstanding historians of our time, someone who's written 16 books. How do you think you'll be remembered? Think people will read you 100 years from now?

BURNS: I don't think so. I think they might because I think they will be looking, if only for very narrow purposes, for something that will pull all this random information together. But I doubt that I will be remembered as a great historian the way we remember some 19th century people as great historians. But maybe I'm being unduly modest. I have my hopes.

LAMB: What do you think of times like this -- here you are talking about what you do for a living, writing. Do you like to do this?

BURNS: I find it very hard - writing.

LAMB: But I mean, do you like to talk about it?

BURNS: I love to talk about it. It's so much more fun to talk about it like this than it is to actually do it. I love to tell people how I write and my problems in writing and so on.

LAMB: Are people interested?

BURNS: Not very often. I think they're bewildered. They don't quite understand how a person can live by writing. So they don't know quite what to ask.

LAMB: Have you made a good living over the years? And I'm not about to ask you to disclose your financial where-with-all, but have you made a good living writing?

BURNS: These days evidently you're supposed to disclose your ... yes, I made a good -- not great -- living by modern standards. But I should explain that I've not made much of a living from books like this. My trade books have not sold all that well. I've made a living mainly by collaborating with two other political scientists on a beginning American textbook that's very widely used by the government, by the people. That has been wonderful because it made it possible for me to cut down on my teaching so that I could do more writing of the kind I want to do like this book.

LAMB: This is very elemental, but if you were a young person watching and they were interested in political science and writing and all that would you recommend the kind of life you've had?

BURNS: Yes, I would. I'd recommend that they be activists as well as writers. I would urge them to join the party of their choice as I have many of my students. I don't care which party. Work for a candidate, be active, run for office locally. I would urge them not just to be theorists and writers, but to become part of public life. You learn a lot from it.

LAMB: Go back to your ... if you don't mind talking a little more about this -- your book.

BURNS: No, I don't mind a bit.

LAMB: We were talking earlier about the intellectual, cultural and political fragmentation and trivialization of the 20th Century. Has television helped do this?

BURNS: Well, I hate to join all the hordes that denounce television for being trivial and episodic and ephemeral. I hate to do it but I have to. I'm very much concerned at this point actually with getting more into television and into serious television and what television can do as an educator. I want to ... you can't lick it. I want to join television. I had the experience of working with David Rintels on a program called "Day One" you may have seen it -- about how the atomic bomb was brought into being. And I saw what could be done with serious, although very expensive television if it's dramatized and still authentic. So much can be done. It's a wonderfully educational instrument. But I see very little of that on television. So on the one hand I think it's not good, on the other hand I think all of us have more of a responsibility.

LAMB: Let me read again from your book. “The two leading culprits” about this whole trivialization, you say, “are the mass media and education since there is a reluctance to challenge the independence of the media given its protective position under the Bill of Rights.” You stop there. Why is there a reluctance? If the Bill of Rights is so powerful, why don't you just criticize like crazy and not worry about it?

BURNS: Because we're afraid that might lead to regulation and regulation of the media might go contrary to the Bill of Rights.

LAMB: Is the media then too powerful and does that worry you?

BURNS: Well it's powerful because it's sort of untouchable. If you have Bill of Rights protection, as they should, and this is true of the whole media, then it's almost impossible to challenge it directly and say you cannot do this, you cannot do that. We've done that to some extent with the movies, as you know. So what you have to do, I think, is to build other institutions that are very strong to deal with the media. For example, the parties. The parties today are very much the instrument of television. They run conventions that are adapted to the media rather than to the needs of the party and the people. I'd like to see the convention turn back into a decision making instrument -- and by the way, once it became a decision making instrument where you actually have a roll call vote and you're hanging on Alabama and Colorado and so on, the parties will establish themselves as strong institutions. I think Congress should do the same and the rest of our whole system.

LAMB: You write once again, "In the most recent “crisis of education” all the old moth eaten solutions have been trotted out. The most popular one is that we must read great books. As a former teacher of some of the greats who believes that there should be at the heart of every liberal arts or humanistic curriculum, as one who know the great philosophers offer profound exploitation of human nature and moral values and political power, I balk at this cheap over selling of the classics." Why?

BURNS: Because it's a quickie. It's a gimmick. If only you read Plato if only you read Rousseau, Locke, Hobbes, Hume and so on you'll get some kind of divine inspiration or tremendous intellectual advantage. These were human beings. They were groping. Many of them were wrong in many of their premises and their conclusions. I think again that the reading of the great theorists has to be combined with practical experience. And that's the genius of our framers. They were tremendous readers of these philosophers but in their daily lives they are out there running the states and revolting against Britain. So again it goes back to effective combination of theory and practice.

LAMB: If again you were able to do it over again in education alone, and you were going to study political science, how would you set up your own education?

BURNS: I don't think I would do much differently from what I was lucky enough to get a very good high school education in Lexington, Massachusetts and went to a very good college and to a very good graduate school. I would ... if you want my one sentence answer to the question of education, it's the teacher student ratio. I've had the benefit of being in small classes and teaching small classes. It's not just the classes, Brian, it's how much time you can spend with these students outside of class. I mean Max Learner and some of these other famous teachers were able to give me time outside of class as well as in class. And that's how you learn.

LAMB: Should a student expect a professor to spend a lot of time with him?

BURNS: At Williams College they do, yes.

LAMB: How do you mean? Do you literally ... in their office for an hour or so a week?

BURNS: Oh yes, they'll come knocking on the door. We may have office hours, but they'll stop you in the corridor and you're supposed to be very accessible -- and by gosh, you are accessible.

LAMB: What would you say to a student who goes to a large state owned university or a large university where the student teacher ratio is a lot larger? How do they fend for themselves to get a good education?

BURNS: Well, I think they could do a lot more by just pursuing the professor. I think some of them give up too easily. Often there's a secretary barring the way. Well, note when the professor leaves his office and fall in with him as he walks home or she walks home. They could be much more aggressive. The other thing is that when they get to be voters and taxpayers to remember their plight in University and try to develop small classes and much more individually ...

LAMB: How do you personally educate yourself on a day to day basis? What do you read and listen to and watch to stay up to date on current affairs.

BURNS: Well, I read two or three newspapers. I read two or three news type magazines and as much else as I can read and I browse a lot in our library among all the periodicals. Having said that I don't read nearly as much as I would like.

LAMB: Do you still have a lot of conversation with people?

BURNS: Not as much as most people do because I work up on the side of a hill on the side of a mountain in a study where I'm very much by myself. But I actually deal a lot with correspondents because I get calls a lot from newspaper correspondents working on something and I usually tap their brains more than they tap mine many times.

LAMB: What role -- I know you write about this in your book -- what role has living in the Berkshires had on the way you think and your private time?

BURNS: I think very inspirational. That's why I conclude the book on looking out my study at what I see. And I see a very history-drenched area. And also just in a very physical sense, the ability if I get frustrated writing to go out and hoe my garden and take it all out on those weeds is a very nice catharsis to get me out of my doldrums.

LAMB: Are you at all surprised -- and I'll show the audience so they can see for themselves -- that you ended this book of your three volume set with this particular stanza from a famous song?

BURNS: Well, as I say in the book, we sing this at every commencement and every convocation and I find myself getting a bit teary. I look out on the student audience and look out on the hills through the windows of the hall and it's so evokes freedom that even now as I look at it I tear up a little bit because I think it's an absolutely beautiful set of lines. It evokes nature, and good Lord, and freedom and us of thee I sing. So I just feel very moved by it. And I stole it for my conclusion.

LAMB: Professor James MacGregor Burns, thank you for your time and conversation about the "Crosswinds of Freedom."

BURNS: Thank you.

Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 1998. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.