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The best understanding of America began or so it seems to us with the realisation that this nation is young yet that she's still new and unfinished that even America is man's greatest adventure and time and space. The University of North Carolina through a grant and aid from the National Association of educational broadcasters presents American Adventure a study of mine and the new world a series made possible by the fund for adult education and independent agency established by the Ford Foundation.
Written by Johnny led directed by John Clayton today's recorded program prisons the federal lion. This is the story of a lion. Or perhaps it's a true story about the federal government. No it's the story of people and their attitude towards the government. But but how going to be the story of people and attitudes and government at the same time be the story of a lion. I am over you in the car and on the cage says console. I suppose one might call that meant yes or. No. I think it's quite sane us all they came here to be secure. One of those people grinning and perhaps accusing his government appreciates this line they brought to the council but didn't accept it and I gratefully but firmly refute this one. Now console you and so you will tell them that the answer knocks you I want to
tell you it's young law because you are fit to let America know. You're going to see only truly what he said at that event over they were excited about as I tried to tell you console your attitude is an insult to them. The part of the expected tense in this line of Washington I can't get here in Tangier is either look terrified. Yes there they are. If they go back with a line to the Emperor he will understand it all. Would he do. The general feeling is he would kill the messengers believing they had in some way insulted you. Like is it a message of my own to correct this impression I wouldn't advise that consulate. It would seem to be the only human humane thing to do. If the Emperor realize that you refused his present which is the highest and most noble president his power to give. I'm afraid he might kill you. Oh well aren't you forgetting a diplomatic immunity I'm afraid. The Emperor of Morocco does not care as much about the fine points of diplomatic immunity as one might wish under the circumstances.
Well you got to profit from what he said. They said that a line is a present from the aircrew to the Emperor of your country and that you will not be permitted to refuse. He looks like he means it and he means it's Tell him that on behalf of the president that on behalf of the president of the United States except that. One. No no no I suppose this method won't do. Here we have a piece of paper. We are out of paper so I dispatched young men to buy some more in the market open at the fair American paper. You have used all the American paper writing this message I believe to be exact.
This is the 87 message you have written to the secretary of state. Yes but you see this printed form yes or an order from the present himself to accept no gifts yes or no have the right Washington say I have except to get on the Presidents behalf. Yes sir. It has been my experience with Alliance are that they roar after they eat. Not before the roar aides did the eat. We've finished all the meat that you bought last weekend but I bought 100 pounds of meat with that lion last week. Yes or and I believe today they started on the next hundred pounds of meat which I took the liberty to order. Oh how that how much is it costing me that is the State Department to feed this animal. You know I have no idea but a tidy sum well that decides it. We have to ship that lion to America as soon as possible. Yes. Of course the lion can't be shipped until winter passes in the States. That means we can enjoy the company of this good for several weeks here. Yes or no if I want your sermon this last message I rode
a step back over there and read it to me. Yes or over here. Dear Mr. Secretary no wait a minute let me sit down and leaned back as if I am secretary Van Buren. Now you're eight and we're going through the morning mail. Yes or let me get moved. I've just given some thought to the France situation yes and to the English merchant marine problems and now you say this is a letter from the Council of Ten. Yes Mr. Secretary read it read yes or it is addressed to the secretary of state and I have the honor to tell you that the highest gift within the power of the Emperor of Morocco has been bestowed upon the president of the United States. I had no alternative but to accept. I had no alternative but to accept this which is a giant male lion named men moon Bash our hot ally and yes Mr Van Buren and I go on the lion is something of a problem here at the consulate as you can imagine it is costing money to feed and care for the animals and though I'm told he's a beautiful lion
you will understand I'm sure if I give my personal opinion that his beauty hardly offsets other features which are not so attractive. Here you let me see that yes Mr. Bender. But this is amazing. That would be all for this time thank you ate. There are some other letters there and reports from abroad later later. Shall I answer the consulate. Oh yes we must get to that. But right now I'd better do some thinking about this lion. Do consider it a serious problem. I find it rather amusing. So would I if I thought President Jackson would. You go. Yes Mr. President exactly the very same step and I've got no time for jokes and neither have Mr. Jackson and this is no joke. He is
a large lion and he's now owned by you. He's a gift to you Mr. President. Well I don't know what sort of game you're playing mister but I'm not under any obligation to accept this line and I do not accept. Yes I I see your attitude will of course endanger our relationship with the Emperor of Morocco. Go if this is his idea of a president. But you realize that we have for some weeks been interested in a trade agreement with the Emperor. I hope that our Western aversion to lions will not come between yours and the undying friendship especially at this time. Your attitude could go a long way toward being disastrous Mr. President where your attitude isn't exactly clear Mr. Secretary you act as if when I took the oath of office I committed myself to accept whatever animal anybody in the world wanted to know. Not quite an A but you act as if I should receive a favor. Exactly
Mr. President. At the moment as if I should have more here in the president's house I would you rather have me send it to the Hermitage in Tennessee. I hope that we can keep our tempers on this Mr. President if we can establish a precedent with this. Maybe we can put him in one of the partners in the White House and so make it known to every emperor and bay and whatnot of the East that we that we would honor any gift of monkeys or elephants or tigers which they may get to make. Perhaps this can be the start of a great national menagerie I believe that idea across the mind of our council in Tangiers at the close of his letter he mentions I can reconsider and so can you Mr. Van Buren. That's the president. May I suggest that any case of difficult decision where precedent is not clearly established that this matter be referred to the Congress Congress. Yes Mr. President take care that Mr. van Buren send the matter to Congress.
But Congress was not to become entangled in this matter. They were the problem quite deep in a convenient committee and it was still there when they adjourned. Meanwhile the consulate Tangiers awaited expectantly for spring. He and his household and as soon as practical the federal line was put aboard the United States brig William Tell which some weeks later put in it New York the lion and two black Arabian horses which the emperor also sent along were transported noisily to Washington. Gentlemen I don't think we ought to take any more of this cabinet meeting to talk about that. I'm afraid the Emperor will be peeved Mr. President if his embassy here reports that the animal is being left in storage. Where can we put it. Could you give it to somebody might be able to get rid of it by attaching them to a post office appointment. You can't give it to anybody Mr. President. What do you mean. First it doesn't belong to you. You can't accept gifts without permission of Congress. Also the constitution
clearly says no members of Congress did it jump at the chance to give me an African lion vote until they do it isn't yours. I haven't the slightest idea. Perhaps the attorney general has an idea as to that. Gentlemen it is my opinion that moon Bashaw is a lion without a country. Yeah actually I believe a case similar to this came up in Jefferson's administration. Did they give Jefferson horses Arabian horses. They enclosed two of those for you Mr. President with the shipment of the lot. What did Jefferson do. As I remember he sold the animals and put the money in the Treasury with Congress. As I remember yes and Constitution where a horse or a lion. Nothing significant in politics you know that Van Buren. Mr. President. When the framers of our great Constitution put in this clause that you couldn't accept gifts without the consent of Congress
they had no idea at the slightest that a president would ever be faced with a law of course. Now obviously the proper action is to dispose of these animals by the simplest and quietest way possible and deposit the money to the people who took out cotton found I thought you just told me I don't know you don't legally sell them without owning them. Well so far as the improv Morocco who is probably the owner at this moment so far as he is concerned you own them. And how is Congress not even George Washington was ever sure of that Mr. President I won't touch it. I don't want to discuss it any more. If we don't own that line I don't own him and I don't want him but the Emperor of Morocco had better keep quiet Mr. van Buren I will not sign that pact he wants us to. It's we who want him to sign it. Mr. President well send this problem to Congress Van Buren tell Congress this lion is the president to the American people from the Emperor of Morocco and
prompt action is necessary lest we hurt either of their royal feelin's. Karen Mr. Chair The chair recognizes the senator from Alabama. Mr. Chairman I move the matter of the Federal land into two Arabian horses be referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Mr. Chairman the gentleman from Kentucky Mr. Chairman I feel that the proper committee for this problem is the Senate's Committee on Agriculture. Mr. Chairman the problem is obviously one concerning foreign relations. Mr. Chairman the animals in the city. So they are no problem of domestic affairs. We must determine what must be done with them here not in Morocco. Mr. Chairman Yes Senator. Mr. Chairman I'm willing to yield in this and let the matter go before the Committee on Agriculture. I don't know about the line but the gentleman from Kentucky unquestionably knows more about where horses ought to go than ID.
Gentlemen of the Senate Committee on Agriculture there's been a great deal of public comment about this lie and my moon Bashaw and a couple of stud horses. This is not or so it seems to me one of our more important matters so let's move right along. The House has passed a resolution authorizing the president to sell the lion and horses and put the money in the treasury Mr. Chairman the senator from New Jersey. Mr. Chairman I have a motion which I will make before this meeting is adjourned to the effect that the lion should be presented to the proprietors of Peale's Museum in New York City and the two horses should be given to some New York agricultural societies to Germany. The gentleman from Louisiana Mr. Chairman these animals are public property and as such belongs to all of people. Certainly they shouldn't be given to New York the richest state in the union. I agree with the general. I was that's under more I said Alabama. Mr. Chairman New Jersey is perfectly willing to give the lion to Alabama or to Louisiana. Mr. Chairman under no circumstances will Alabama accept that line then why do you object to
giving it to New York. But we will take those two horses Mr. Jim I do love to have those two Arabian horses in Alabama. So with me in New Jersey I wouldn't object to giving the line to New Jersey senator waterholes to Louisiana on one host Alabama. Perhaps we can swing that Senator more Mr.. All right Senator Poindexter of Mississippi. Mr. Chairman let's not argue over a line. I feel that in the light of the recent refusal of a European government to pay the debt which they justly rightfully and obviously owe us we give this line as a gift to Louis Philippe of France. Yeah yeah we did that in the form of a motion. I'll be happy to make the motion as I get a vote on that motion Mr. Chairman. I'm a gentleman Mr. Senator Cannon of Pennsylvania I think it would be interesting to give this line doing but I'm sure you'll agree if you consider for a minute that Lou is likely to take it as an open declaration of war. You probably don't want to see this country
go to war over a line. OK yeah I can see the slogan now except my movie or die. Mr. Chairman Senator let's give it to anyone. We haven't had a fight with England in quite a while. Sergeant would you close that door please. Now gentlemen I think this is very funny. And of course I'm not trying to be an old fogy about this an object of humor but we are senators and this is the Senate Committee on Agriculture and we do have to give away or sell these animals Mr. Chairman Senator from Maine. I wonder I say I wonder nobody made it through. I wonder if the power of Congress under the welfare clause of the Constitution extends the gratuitous gifts of public property of the United States. Surely Senator you know that question has been before the Senate and the American people for 15 years the age of the question is not what bothers me Mr. Chairman. I'm wondering if the animals do not have to be sold since they are certainly public property
but Senator where in the Constitution do we find authority to give away public property. Does anybody object to going along with the House resolution and have the president sell these animals. What are you going to do with the money Mr. Chairman. Put it in the treasury. You know that that's constitutional to take public property and sell it to replenish the Treasury. Well that may be your opinion Senator but I know nothing in the Constitution would indicate that you can rob the public domain for temporary tax relief. If we need higher taxes then let's vote on them. Here again gentlemen we're digging up old arguments concerning government policy on public lands. This is a lion but we might set a precedent here I don't see that it matters much what sort of precedent we set as to getting rid of African lion what you can do with a lion. Mr. Chairman you can do with public land. I don't know what the gentleman's experience may be with public land but he's certainly no authority on lions.
Well it's my opinion that we can't sell this animal no matter what we do with the money. Why not. Well one principle of common law in order to legally dispose of property one must first be able to hold it. And I don't see any want to here who could possibly hold this lion. Mr. Chairman Mr. Clay how many motions are before this committee. I think only one Mr. Clay. Well then let me suggest rather than move this compromise that we sell the horses and give away the line. That's the answer Mr. Chairman that will ensure us of being either doubly wrong or right. Let's move to a vote. First the beginning I think I voiced an opinion about giving federal property to any of the rich states or to know what they perhaps a western state would be a fitting compromise to lie on. Let's not worry about who wants the lion gentleman let's dismiss all this right now by putting it down that President Jackson is to dispose of the lion as he thinks best just to shake the legacy.
What do they mean is I think best I don't think best about lions at all. Why couldn't Congress dispose of this line. There was some political considerations Mr. President of course but I suppose they preferred to direct you to handle matters. And who is Congress to send such directive I'm not subject to the whims of Congress every time some potentate gives this country a creature. Yes Mina wrote the Constitution had no intention of empowering Congress to tie up the executive branch so that I could not administer the orderly process is a government Yes Mr President. I mean no I don't I don't. Somebody has to feed shall I notify the secretary of agriculture. No you show not nor anybody else in the executive branch. It's up to the congressional committees to feed him it seems to me. Yes. What color is he. I believe all Lions are brown. You know it's a funny thing I passed the problem to Congress and Congress back to me. I wouldn't be surprised if that doesn't end up the property of the Supreme Court.
My aide said you wanted to talk to me about this federal law and Mrs Brown said yes Mr. President that I may have misunderstood him but I think he said you wanted the lie. Yes sir. Now go on with your story if you will I would be happy to listen to you. Well Mr. President I represent the city often asylum. And I was wondering if a lion wouldn't be just the thing for the children. Well this would make us the only often much in the world so far as I know that owns a lion. I wouldn't be surprised he would be an excellent diversion for the children and he's something we could share with the Catholic often and he had to. He might serve to bring us closer together. There are a few enough ties between the Protestants and the Catholics don't you think. I never make comments on questions like that Mr. Bamford. Oh I'm a politician. I see in fact the minute you said Protestant and Catholic I began to think now with a Catholic orphanage feel slighted if I were to give this line to you and not them
why I don't know whether they want a lion or not. I see. Maybe we ought to look into that. I tell you what I could do I could give this line to the two often ages and then it could serve as a real tie between you. Goodness I'm not sure so at least as much of a time as any line can be. Yes I suppose and then I would be clear clear as to press the fact grants we could do more with this gift and we're planning to Mrs. Bamford in a political way I mean how about a parade. So yes I can see a parade very clearly in all this. We can get him in Navan to furnish the music. We can call out a regiment or so of troops put that line in his cage own away and put the kids from the too often the Jews into wagons or more perhaps on hate like in a hay ride. Mr. Jackson what do you say do you love parades and I could put a big sign on the side of that lion's cage moon Basho give to Van Drew Jackson to Washington City orphanage Protestant and St. Vincent off needs Catholic then we
could roll that kid right past the Capitol as the senators come out the bands play and you know but. Mr. President could anyone see the line through the song. Well I'm not trying to show the line I'm trying to show the sign. Why Mr. President. Oh politics I suppose. Get it Mr. Bamford I'm just being a politician I guess I want to sit back down here and become president again. But I do love politics. Don't you think Mr. President that politics makes a sort of comical sometimes. Yes I suppose it does permit us to take our government seriously does it. Well I tell you ma'am it tends to keep us from doing that but I'm not sure we ought to go around with the way the government seen in the furrows of brows. After all this is a cumbersome system we've got here in this in a democracy all the
checks and double checks and balances in passing around a problem BSP we didn't smile sometimes it might get to look stupid might start looking as if we needed a more simple system one knots a cumbersome. Well there's a little something to that. I suppose Mr. President might seem like we need to smooth operate an absolute monarchy which we don't want to over here. Then I found that sometimes we laugh at what we're the fondest of I've I've heard people laugh at our political confusion and made an issue. But it it was an affectionate sort of laugh as if to say this is ours and we love it. Well I'll be happy to give this line to the to orphanages Mrs Bamford thank you Mr. President and perhaps the United States government can get back to normal.
It's just Mr addressed to me Carter tangy is this or this here we are pleased to notify you that the lion you accepted on the Presidents behalf some time ago has been disposed of in the most practical way possible. You want to be complimented on your initiative displayed in this particular matter excellence but you are again reminded of the State Department rule to avoid accepting any gifts no matter how delicate the situation. Van Buren secretary of state yes. I tell you clerk make a copy of this and file one under citation and the other under reprimand. One might think that this is the end of the story of the federal lion but not quite so because President Jackson gave some more thought to the orphanage proposal of a lion to some kids like that one of when I'm just too close to him. What if he bites one up. Kids can play with lines he's not a not a kid he can't
you know be terrible for the little kid be bad publicity too. No I think I think the thing to do is to send him and then let the orphanages take the money and buy ponies something new kids can afford to fool around with. Kids could ride around on ponies all right over New Jersey or to have some ponies around the place. Don't you think ponies would be better than a lion. So President Jackson ordered the lion to be sold at auction and the Moomba shot was bought by the Boston menagerie company for the surprisingly high price of three thousand three hundred fifty dollars. But then one would expect a federal land to have a high price with me. But even this is not the end of the story. Ally and John are lyin. I bought that lion see him out there in the car. You bought a lie and I'm just a liar and I mean I bought that last look at him look at that
had all the Iowan am hot it we own him. Why John I'm going to put him on display here at the end in this cage right out there. You see people are already gathering while you watch and see a percentage of those people will be in here directly to talk about that live one to another and to me See the talk now and want to say why don't we continue our conversation over a mug of ale. Get out the mugshot. But John I have to put an ad in the papers and perhaps he can advertise himself. Yeah he has a line. I didn't see him and have a drink. And so the federal land became in a sense an assistant bartender. And and out of there lived a happy life in a world of beer ale wine laughter and sun and that's the end of the story. The.
American Adventure is written by Johnny Lee directed by John Clayton produced by the communications center of the University of North Carolina American Adventure is a study of mad men in the New World. His values and his characteristics who he is what he believes. The series is made possible by the National Association of educational broadcasters and the fun for adult education and independent agency established by the Ford Foundation. In the federal law and Johnny Lee was Jackson Fred Young was secretary Van Buren. Charles Hadley was the consul of Tangiers and Dorothy O'Sullivan was Mrs. Bomford. The entire cast was composed of students faculty members and townspeople of the University of North Carolina community American Adventure is produced and recorded on the campus at Chapel Hill.
American adventure
Federal lion
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University of North Carolina
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-9882ph0h).
A dramatization of a situation where President Andrew Jackson was given a lion as a gift by the Emperor of Morocco.
This series studies the values and characteristics of notable figures from America's early years. It is written by John M. Ehle and directed by John S. Clayton.
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Actor: Young, Fred
Actor: Ehle, Gail
Director: Clayton, John S.
Host: Kasell, Carl.
Producing Organization: University of North Carolina
Writer: Ehle, John, 1925-
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 54-12-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:11
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Chicago: “American adventure; Federal lion,” 1954-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 21, 2021,
MLA: “American adventure; Federal lion.” 1954-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 21, 2021. <>.
APA: American adventure; Federal lion. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from