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  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

You say that in the book more than once. Can you name somebody that helped you that otherwise you wouldn't have gotten to where you are?

  David McCullough David McCullough

My mother, my father, my brothers, at least three teachers in grade school, at least five teachers in high school, and at least seven or eight professors in college.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Is there a teacher that you've never talked about that you would could tell us about?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Well I've talked about many of them. (Miss Smelch, Miss Smelch) was a science teacher in grade school and (Miss Smelch) was a magical teacher. She got you interested in whatever it was she wanted you to be interested in. And she assigned one of her classes Pittsburgh is a city of bridges. It has, there are more bridges in Pittsburgh than there are in Paris. And, she got one of her classes building little match stick models of different bridges in Pittsburgh and those finished models were all around the windows in her room. And her room was my homeroom in seventh grade. And she, she was interested in everything. It wasn't just she taught science and whatever she taught, she made it interesting. And I can remember, we didn't build those little bridges, but I can remember being absolutely thrilled by those little bridges and got very interested in bridges and of course, would wind up writing one of my books about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge which was built by the Roeblings who came from town very near Pittsburgh. And the old man Roebling, John A. Roebling, built his first bridge in Pittsburgh. So it connects, no doubt about it.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

(Mrs. Smelch)

  David McCullough David McCullough

The teacher who really meant more to me in many ways than anyone, any of the whole chorus of great teachers was Vincent Scully at Yale who was, who taught the History of Architecture, Art and Architecture but mainly architecture. And I was, as were thousands of students over the years he taught, swept off my feet by his lectures. Unbelievable. He made it possible for you to see in a way you had never seen before just by showing you what he saw, what he could translate from the visual image for you in the English language, and he was, he was a genius, is a genius, he's still living.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Were you a straight A student?

  David McCullough David McCullough

No. I horsed around a little bit. But I, I, yes, I got a lot of A's but I wasn't very good in physics. I wasn't very good in the subjects being taught by teachers that I thought were boring.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Back in….

  David McCullough David McCullough

And it's too bad, I did fine. I graduated with honors and I was school could give a lot of awards. I loved to paint. I still paint all the time and my enthusiasm was somewhat divided between writing and painting, still is. For me painting is a release from my work because in painting you don't have to use any words.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

By the way, on that, your book on the Northwest Ordinance, what's the timetable on that one?

  David McCullough David McCullough

I hope to have it finished by the end of next year to be published in the Spring of 2018, 2019.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

November 1, 2000, you spoke at the White House about the White House, it's the 200th anniversary:

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

(Begin audio clip): John Adams could be proud, vain, irritable, short tempered. He was also brilliant, warm hearted, humorous, a devoted husband and father. And a life-long talker and an all out full time talker. (End audio clip)

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Are you a talker?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Oh am I ever?

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

When you said he was a talker, would you be the, if you two were together would it just be one, who would be dominating the conversation?

  David McCullough David McCullough

He would. Because I would respect him and try to hold back, reign myself in, yes. No, I think it's in our Irish blood. And I think that's how we survived all those hundreds of years with the (inaudible) that live on that much, we just kept talking. And…. My father was a great talker.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

What about your kids?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Oh, yes. I've got three or four and they're way ahead of me.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

How many of the 19 grandchildren, I assume some are very young, have read this?

  David McCullough David McCullough

One, so far, because they haven't gotten it yet. They are just getting it.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

And that one is how old?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Twelve.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

And the reaction?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Oh, the boy loves it.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Boy or girl?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Boy.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

What was his reaction to it?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Oh he loves it. He hadn't read all of it but he's read some of it. He's very interesting little man and I'm very pleased he likes it. My, I have grandchildren who are in their 30's and I have one who is 10. So they've covered a lot of time.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

How many, six kids?

  David McCullough David McCullough

We have five children.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

How many of the 5 children and the 19 grandchildren and the in-laws and all that have you found to be interested in history?

  David McCullough David McCullough

I would say probably such a very interesting question and I have never thought about it. I think probably 75 percent. But, they've had it pretty well drummed into them.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

How did you do that over the years?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Talking and taking them to historic sites when young. It's the best way of all to get them hooked and encouraging them to read good books. There's no reason in the world why history has to be dull. No reason in the world, no excuse for a history teacher to be dull. It's about people. It's about life. It's about cause and effect. It's about stories. Barbara Tuchman said there's no trick to teaching history or writing, tell stories. That's what it is. And I think that you have to bring the characters alive and you can only do it by really knowing them. And so you do that by working with original letters and diaries. The book I'm working on now about the Northwest Ordinance and the Settlement of Ohio, that's only been possible because I found this incredible collection of letters and diaries at the archive at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. Unbelievable, Brian. Written by the people who settled Marietta, Ohio.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

How did you find out that it was there?

  David McCullough David McCullough

By working on Manasseh Cutler for the speech that I gave at Athens, Ohio. As often happens by talking to the archival, the archivist who runs the place, who is terrific and knows more about the subject than anybody, knows all these characters. I've got one who's a carpenter, a boat builder, and a furniture maker. One who is a minister and a doctor and a lawyer, that's Manasseh Cutler. Then there's another who's Cutler's son. His name is Ephraim Cutler and he eventually wound up in politics and there was a point after Ohio became a state when the big move in the legislature to scrap the, you know, slavery rule and let slaves be in Ohio.

  David McCullough David McCullough

And it went to a vote in the legislature and the deciding vote was cast by Ephraim Cutler, the sun.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Now if that's not a great story, what - and he wrote wonderful letters. And then there's another man, a doctor, named Hildreth who wrote a terrific histories of the town and wrote a lot of medical essays and pieces about various characters who had figured importantly in the town's story.

  David McCullough David McCullough

And then one day, I was there in the archive, Mariana (ph), and Linda (ph) this wonderful archivist brought over a big notebook like that, an old one obviously and said I think you might find this interesting. And I opened it up, and there were these absolutely exquisite watercolors of natural history phenomenon.

  David McCullough David McCullough

The caterpillar and his whole life cycle where he turns into the butterfly, all done in watercolors of such perfection they can be hanging in the Metropolitan Museum. And he's a doctor practicing medicine, with patients and all that, in this frontier town.

  David McCullough David McCullough

And, you know, woah, it's in many ways, humbling to realize what so many of them accomplished against - in spite of adversities of a sort we don't even have to deal with ever.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Here you are, in the speech from Boston College, back in 2008 and the title of it is "The Love of Learning".

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

(Begin Video Clip)

  David McCullough David McCullough

Facts alone are never enough. Facts rarely, if ever, have any soul. In writing or trying to understand history, one may have all manner of data, and miss the point. One can have all the facts, and miss the truth. It can be like the old piano's teacher lament to her student, I hear all the notes but I hear no music.

  David McCullough David McCullough

(End Video Clip)

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Explain the facts and truths and all, because as we know in politics, we're always hearing that's the truth but it should be factual. But you're saying they're not the same.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Well, they're not. We live in a - I'm told we live in the information age, and we get information in quantities such as what would've unimaginable in other times. And on a infinite variety of subjects, and all that can come instantly now electronically, and in many ways you don't have to really carry any of this in your head, you can just look it up.

  David McCullough David McCullough

So why learn it? Well, information is important, information is valuable. It can be worth a lot of money, it can be decisive in which direction one goes in one's life or which direction a country goes.

  David McCullough David McCullough

But it isn't learning. If information - I like to tell students, if information were learning, if you memorize the world almanac, you would not be learning. You'd be weird. If no computer ever has yet had an idea, they only happened here in the human brain, the human imagination.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Information isn't poetry, information isn't music, information isn't art or theater. It doesn't deal with the soul of our human nature. I am have always - long loved Dixie Land Jazz. I love it. And about nine or 10 years ago I was - we rented a house down in Florida and I was taking a walk one morning.

  David McCullough David McCullough

And I heard this incredible music, Dixie Land music coming out of a house with a lot of cars parked around it. It was about 8:30 or 9 o' clock. And I thought, boy they're playing that awfully loud. One of the neighbors don't complain, and then I realized, that isn't a recording, that's the real thing.

  David McCullough David McCullough

So the next day I was walking by the same house and found out the kid who lived was coming out, picking up the newspaper up off his driveway. And I said - and when I heard it the day before, I walked to back to the house and got Rosy (ph) and we got her in the car, and we came down and we just sat in the car outside this house and listened to what was a Dixie Land concert for about two hours.

  David McCullough David McCullough

He said, well, and I complimented him, and he said well next week, he said we do this every Tuesday morning. So he said, come on in, listen inside. Well it's - the band is composed of retired professional musicians.

  David McCullough David McCullough

And some of them are not performer professionals but they're good enough to have been. And you should hear them play. And some of them come in on a walker, or their canes, there's one man who's well into his 90's and they sit down and start to play and they're 45 or 25 again.

  David McCullough David McCullough

There's - if I ever saw the Fountain of Youth at work, it just lifts you right out of time and age. That's the power of music, that's the power of art. And that's not information, that's life.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

You talk about age, in July, you'll be 84.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

What's the impact of age on you?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Well, knock on wood, so far, very little.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Nothing's changed?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes, sure it has, of course it has. Time's more important. Material acquisitions of any kind don't interest me at all anymore. I much less desire to travel a lot because I've been to so many places that I don't feel it any motivation to go again. I'm not against traveling, but I don't the bug in me to get out and get on the move.

  David McCullough David McCullough

And I want to spend what time I have doing the work I want to do. My joy is in the work. I think what one finds that your work, your family, your friends and needless to say, your health are what really matter.

  David McCullough David McCullough

I do not like to waste time, I haven't got time to waste time. And I get very impatient when I'm with some people who've long sense retired and all they talk about is their golf game or their knee operation. And, no that's not for me. I like learning. I like finding out about something that I don't know anything about.

  David McCullough David McCullough

I was raised on curiosity is a good thing. And the curiosities is what separates us from the cabbages. And it does. I also love to make something, I love to make a page or five pages or a chapter or a eight chapters or a book. I love to make a painting.

  David McCullough David McCullough

I love to make all kinds of things, if I have the right materials to work or I'm with somebody who knows how to really do it. I like to finish the day thinking I've done, that if I hadn't been around, it wouldn't have happened. And I'm pleased that I did it, pleased that I've spent my day, or much of my day, doing that.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

I have wanted to ask you about this for several months. And before I do, I want to run some video.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Oh, OK.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Of you, in the year 2016, and I want you to tell me why you did this.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

(Begin Video Clip)

  David McCullough David McCullough

President Dwight D Eisenhower, who so admirably served his country his entire career, said there were four key qualities by which we should measure a leader. Character, ability, responsibility, and experience. Donald Trump fails to qualify on all four accounts.

  David McCullough David McCullough

And it should be noted, Eisenhower put character first. In the words of the Ancient Greeks, character is destiny. So much that Donald Trump spouts, is so vulgar and so far from the truth and mean spirited, it is on that question of character especially, that he is not measure up. He is unwise, he is plainly unprepared, unqualified, and it often seems, unhinged. How could we possibly put our future in the hands of such a man?

  David McCullough David McCullough

(End Video Clip)

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Let me say, I've interviewed you lots and lots of hours. I have actually no idea what your politics is and it surprised me when I saw this and I thought what, why did this historian do this?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Because I felt that the -- we -- he was the least qualified candidate for the presidency in our history and that he not only has had no appropriate background or training and has never done anything for his country on his own or on volunteering, and that he is one of those people who uses fear and smear and -- and slander as his weapons for succeeding. And I -- I really was worried and I still am about what the consequences are going to be.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

How did you or did you lead this and organize the historians together?

  David McCullough David McCullough

No, I didn't. Well, yes and no. Ken Burns and I did and we both said we got to do something. We can't -- the -- the traditional place that historians take in a political contrast -- contest or country has been to stay out of it. To maintain neutrality because it would appear to violate your ability to make fair judgment and to not be mislead by your own political opinions or emotions. And so I've done that often. I grew up in a very Republican family. I was a great admirer of several Republican politicians then of past and present.

  David McCullough David McCullough

I voted for George -- Gerald Ford. I quit my job in New York to go to work for John Kennedy when he called on us to do something for our country and I have registered as an Independent but I've crossed the line many times and I've certainly been exposed to dear friends and members of my family who disagreed with the position I took. That was fine, I didn't mind that. This time I thought it was an emergency and if we could somehow reach out to people who maybe were on the fence at that point, it might make a difference.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

I want to show some more video from the other historians just briefly so people can see the extent and these are -- I would suggest almost all Democrats except one you'll see and I want you to tell us about.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Sure. Right.

  David McCullough David McCullough

(Begin Video Clip)

    KEN BURNS

There comes a time when I and you can no longer remain neutral, silent. We must speak up and speak out.

    RON CHERNOW

Like many other historians, I have been deeply disturbed by the Trump Campaign.

    ROBERT CARO

History is full of demagogues who rise sometimes rise to the very heights of power.

    CRAIG SHIRLEY

Nobody's saying -- Clinton -- only I can solve these problems. Nothing is more antithetical to America's founding.

    WILLIAM LEUCHTENBURG

What's especially different about Donald Trump is that he's not a patriot.

    SEAN WILENTZ

One of the things that Donald Trump is not is a populist.

    NELL IRVIN PAINTER

Donald Trump is attuned to the white backlash against a black man in power.

    DAVID NASAW

He's Melvin's confidence man. He's the Huckster, the shark.

    EVAN THOMAS

I don't know as much about Trump's temperament but he seems like a narcissist.

    JOSEPH ELLIS

No nominee has devoted his entire public life so completely to self-aggrandizement and self-promotion without even an inkling of civic responsibility.

    JOSEPH ELLIS

(End Video Clip)

  
  
  

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