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  David McCullough David McCullough

Wow.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Yes. Did -- did you…

  David McCullough David McCullough

I never saw all that.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

You never saw?

  David McCullough David McCullough

No.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

I want to ask you about something though because, and you may not like this. The last man on the screen was Joe Ellis, Joseph Ellis.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Is what?

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Joseph Ellis was the last man, the last historian on the screen.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes, right. Yes.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

And you talk about character and I'm not going to besmirch Joseph Ellis except to go back and remember the time in 2001 he won the Pulitzer and at the same time was -- the Boston Globe reported that he had lied to his students about serving in Vietnam, going in with the 101st Airborne, then taking the Freedom Marches to Mississippi. They suspended him for a year at Mount Holyoke but he got everything back. And he's a historian and now he's involved in politics. Why are we supposed to believe somebody that would tell students for 15 years those lies? And you write about lies in your speeches.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Brian, Joe Ellis is a friend of mine. And I can't answer your question. He is a friend and I won't speak negatively about him. There's much that I could say that's positive about him particularly as a historian and as a friend. He -- it came -- when the story broke, it came as a shock to me, serious shock. But I called him right away and said I just want you to know I'm your friend. And I'll stand by you and I have. It's happened to some other people, plagiarism charges and so forth.

  David McCullough David McCullough

I guess the answer to that is a historians are human. We're all with -- we all have our flaws and sometimes what we think will be kept private isn't and I think that as a -- well, a professional point of view, Joe Ellis is -- I've never sat in on one of his classes but he's probably as good as they get.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Let me just go beyond that because you write so much about character, character, character.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

What is character?

  David McCullough David McCullough

It's having the courage of your convictions. It's having honesty, you tell the truth. And at the White House a mantel piece in the State Dining Room there is a quotation from a letter that John Adams wrote to Abigail the first night he stayed in the White House. First president to live in the White House and she hadn't arrived yet so he was there all alone. And the house was far from complete, he was living under construction. And in that letter he writes, "May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof."

  David McCullough David McCullough

What is so important about that line it seems to me is he puts honesty first. The honesty is more important than brains, wisdom. And numbers of other people have said it too. Isn't it interesting that our first president was famous -- became famous for never telling a lie and to my knowledge never said anything derogatory or nasty about a rival, ever. I think and this came over me with particular strength when I was writing the -- my Wright brothers book. I think how we're raised at home is more important than we realize and I think that yes, our education is vital.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes, studying with brilliant people and having the advantage of access to great documents and books and libraries is all marvelous, but it's those fundamental values that you're raised and brought up on that you don't get too big for your britches. That you don't cheat. That you don't tell lies, that you're loyal to your friends and to your country. That you work hard, you're a hard worker and you have purpose in your life. You don't just drift along. You have purpose and if it's worthy purpose, you'll have a good life.

  David McCullough David McCullough

And those Wright brothers never had any advantages of material wealth. They never finished high school, let alone went -- ever went to college. But they were raised to work hard and to have purpose and to never belittle or smear a rival.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Other people who are in the aviation, pioneering era, would often take swipes, cracks at the Wright brothers. The Wright brothers never said any derogatory about those with whom they were in competition.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Now you don't learn that necessarily in college and you don't - you might learn it in grade school from a really good teacher. But it's what you get at home. And I just think we should know more about that.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

I want to stay with character for a moment.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

The President, Trump, got a lot of criticism from a lot of different areas about his attitude toward women.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

One of the heroes of a lot of people is John F Kennedy.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

And his relationship with women…

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

…not admirable…

  David McCullough David McCullough

Right.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

…nobody knew about it back in the 60s.

  David McCullough David McCullough

We didn't know about it. I was in the Kennedy Administration, or in the very low ranking role to be sure.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

But what's the difference a JFK and a Donald Trump when it comes women and character?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Kennedy was a gentlemen. Big difference.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

But he had a 19 year old that was in the White House and…

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes, I know, but he didn't - he didn't smear her. He didn't talk about any of the women he was involved with in a derogatory or a masculine superiority fashion.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

But we as people thought this was Camelot.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes we did. But, remember, the exposure of the full story of presidency is a relatively recent development, happened our lifetime.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

is that good or bad, by the way?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Well I think in some ways it's not good. I think the decline of privacy in our way of life isn't just in the White House. It's everywhere now. And it's getting worse because of electronic snooping and spying.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

In your lifetime, and you've been very much involved in Monticello and Jefferson. The whole Sally Heming's relationship, as we talked earlier about his…

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

…image right now, was not exposed. And they fought hard to not expose it.

  David McCullough David McCullough

That's right.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

And so what impact should that have on Jefferson's image? It's character.

  David McCullough David McCullough

He already has had it. It always will. Well and the fact that he was paying a reporter, so called, to smear John Adams, he was funding that. Not the way - not the rules of the game.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Jefferson destroyed every letter he ever wrote to his wife and that she ever wrote to him. What do that tell us about him? I don't know. Washington did the same thing. It's a shame because we can't really know those men as I wish we could.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Because of that. Whereas you take the Adam's favors, there're over thousand letters between John and Abigail Adams. And they're marvelous, touching, reviewing letters. If only we had some similar window on the lives of Jefferson, Washington. They're always in debt.

  David McCullough David McCullough

John Adams, never in debt, but he never had any money. It was a different ethic. I think we need to know more about the Puritans. The Puritans were not what most people imagined, and I'm finding that out with some of the characters I'm working on. I knew a little bit about it before.

  David McCullough David McCullough

The idea they all dress in black and never smiled, and didn't like having a good time and all that, not true. And, their values were admirable in the extreme, in particularly, their attitude about education.

  David McCullough David McCullough

And fairness, legal fairness and the rest. And the snobbery was bad for them. You don't act that way. And you're not vulgar. My grandmother - great grandmother was German and she used to talk about the vulgar rich.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Vulgar, vulgar, people who had so much money, they were making fools of themselves with their materialistic showing off.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

In this book, "The American Spirit" you have 15 speeches. What's the best, in your opinion, the best speech you've ever given?

  David McCullough David McCullough

I can't answer that. It's a little bit like asking which is my favorite child or grandchild.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Which one did you work the hardest on? And you told us that One in the House.

  David McCullough David McCullough

I worked very hard on the speech I gave at Dartmouth about the presidency. And I worked very hard on the speech I gave in Ohio at the university there.

  David McCullough David McCullough

I worked very hard on the speech that I gave at Lafayette College about the connection between France and United States. Because I think that's an aspect of our story that is not as well understood as it should be.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

When was…

  David McCullough David McCullough

You know there are 60,000 Americans buried in France? More people - more of our people buried there than any other country in the world expect our own.

  David McCullough David McCullough

And when you think about the Louisiana Purchase, and the service that the French played, the part that they played in the revolution, I think there's a very good case that we would not have won the revolution, had it not been for the French. Both financially and in military help.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

Running out of time, I want to ask you when was the first time that somebody said they wanted to pay you to come make a speech?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Yes.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

And what was your reaction?

  David McCullough David McCullough

Oh I'm sure I loved it. I had a lot of tuitions to pay and survival, for many years, as an independent writer, was no easy matter. But I also look back on it as a very happy time in our lives.

  David McCullough David McCullough

And I have a wonderful wife. And when I said I'm thinking of stopping my job as an editor in New York and see if I can make it on my own as a write, she said great, go for it, do it. And…

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

But you don't remember the first speech you were paid for?

  David McCullough David McCullough

No I don't. It was probably at a college or a university. I wish I had - that's a very good question but if Rosy (ph) were here, she'd know.

  Brian Lamb Brian Lamb

We're out of time. The book The American Spirit, who we are and what we stand for, 15 speeches from 1989 to 2016, by our guest David McCullough and we thank you very much.

  David McCullough David McCullough

Thank you Brian.

  
  
  

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