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We all have the best understanding of America begins or so it seems to us with the realisation that this nation is young yet but she's still a new one unfinished that even. America is man's greatest adventure and talk. And speak. The University of North Carolina through a grant and aid from the National Association of educational broadcasters presents American Adventure a study of magnet in the New World a series made possible by the fund for adult education an independent agency established by the Ford Foundation.
Written by Johnny Lee directed by John Clayton today's recorded program. Charles had painted the big canvas stopped pacing. If you're not ready to report you're not ready. Sit down you look like an actor as he gives his daughter away to save the mortgage. I thought you and President Washington were friends acquaintances yes but to go in and see Mr. President beginning what you expect me to be finished you might as well just say it. Nobody's likely to for Washington you're no to great opportunities anyone has had in this world and I am not Mr President. Some friends are discussing the Federal City join them if you will. Yes of course I wait out here.
Mr. President no money has been allocated for this new city we are a poor country. We are small and why build a capital city when we have cities which can serve as capital. Philadelphia for example down here if you live Philadelphia sir Philadelphia is the largest city in the country. That means nothing to us in New York City I assure you. Size isn't anything. Gentlemen this argument is academic. Congress has decided to build a new campaign with the issue. But what kind of city can we afford to Bill Mr. Jefferson. I hope it will be an adequate city wouldn't you say. Mr. President I hope major law far will say so Tom. I had to see you again Major. Thank you Mr. President. The Major has for some weeks been drawing up a suitable plan for the capital city. He has come to show me his finished work. We gentlemen are interested you may remain. I think we're all indeed interested Mr. President I have seen the city hall the major design the New York City the finest building in America Mr. President and I've had
one too favorable reports concerning myself. I assure you a gentleman major will present to us a beautiful unfinished plan. Come up and take the floor. Yes gentlemen it's it's quite an honor to be here but I didn't expect anyone else would. I do want to thank you Mr. President for the current model. Not at all. Suppose you spread your map out here on the top of the desk major and get on with it. Yes. I just want to know did he do it to battle mark and this is what creek here this is I see where is the new city major. I don't have it. Not on paper. You see it is a terribly complex problem to be done right you have to plan for the city major what we have in my mind Mr. Jefferson. Where is the Capitol Building to be placed.
Deficit huge which could convey broad countryside about miles to the Potomac two miles but with a parking between two mile park yes. Where were the president's policies go next to the Capitol no step down another hearing here about the mind of a weary black major How can you get from one to another but I am quite aware that a man can go from one place to another by carriage. But why should we go to the expense of building such a street when the two buildings can be placed together it is not a street it is an avenue and what is the difference. My plan so a street is a hundred and sixty feet wide whereas an avenue is wide. Mr. President with all due respect to those gentlemen I have never heard of such a plan. Now I saw Mr. Jefferson's proposed plan which was very beautiful and certainly reasonable. Let's be reasonable gentlemen trying to design a city in Jefferson that was a city wasn't in Malaysia.
But but he's been known for centuries that you can mark off tweets in one direction and cost him was going to not have a city but Jefferson would you care to comment. A five year old boy might make a plan by accident. You'll have to pardon me for laughing too Billy totally beautiful said you must play with the Landon and the heels team which is far worse and by simple use of nature is Deborah she totally beautiful city. It work of it. Would you care to say anything. George I'm not a designer. I just heard Major law fall discuss that. What was said about my plan said somewhat more dramatically than I should hope. Necessary indeed apologetic Mr. Jefferson my temper miss you but actually by choosing a level piece of ground one may not to be sure have so dramatic a city but a city of more practical and serviceable one that is also beautiful and reasonable to
expand here here. Small nation cannot build a paradise. And frankly I rather hope we never need one. I hope you'll pardon my applause but never have I heard my own sort of month's voice so well by another. Needs more time to make changes corrections. It is a problem of correction one of purpose. What do you mean. I see capital city as something more than function more than a place to live and work more than a place to meet the needs of government do you. What else do you see a symbol or you people with a flag is a symbol. And so with a capital I think we should plan now would you feel as if you did a great nation is going to rise on this continent. To me when America is great we can extend the streets knowers small and poor. Are we poor to build this rich city or shall we wait until America is rich and then build a rich city. Probably talk about that too Mr. President Mr. President you must not dismiss him.
Here why must I not listen to the Major I don't know exactly except that now right now we have a chart which no nation has ever given itself the chance to build its capital city by plan rather than just by need or with enough to say that a city should be could be changed in at a time but it could not Mr. President because it would not. It is now that we must see here by deeds Markie we will demonstrate our fate and the future of his country. We will show you the Divell nation in the width and the length of our parks. We will call to rise here in India in our data beginnings of the city. Too big for us too but but not too large for our grandchildren. Don't you see gentlemen I tell you we must envision this nation as it is to be when all nations of the world is even England and France and Spain will stand and salute her and say look what brave men have done. Look at that rising from the Atlantic. A nation we. How can an American plan for listing greatness gentlemen at this time I
applaud them for rarely before have I heard another voice my own sentiments so beautiful. Thank you Mr. President. Thank you for your advice gentlemen there are some other matters I must attend to. So excuse me. I wish you luck miss your thank you Mr. Jefferson I think you were designing for us a beautiful city. Oh I hope so said. I assure you we share your dream of a great nation but the greatness of the nation is judged not by her cities nor by the buildings of her government but by the degree of freedom given her people from their government and from their neighbors. My vision is not so much of a nation as it is a man not of America so much as it is of the American free even to be wrong. Free to disagree free to condemn his government if he wishes. Neighbor if you dare. No that is a dream as great as your city might put it out to determine the extent of government Mr. Jefferson. But only two pennies to the beach will be flexible enough to serve whatever
size government you vote I understand it and I wish you luck and as you think you said. It was not long before the plan was completed the work began on the capital city and the people of Georgetown and the surrounding area looked with amazement as the men began clearing constitutes an avenue with other avenues for Massachusetts to come. And it's Maryland Georgia and the rest of the states of the great 13 and some of the people were impressed by the tremendous expenses and the plan to fulfill. Others were unimpressed. Mud hole that's what he's making Got so many mud holes you can't drive away going through in less than three hours a village a magnificent distance is that's what it is monumental town of houses without streets and streets without houses. So I saw this Frenchman sitting there on his horse watching the men clear and I want up to him and I said Pardon me sir. And I pointed to some workers a couple hundred feet away and said Could you tell me if this here Avenue is going to be longer and
from here to them man or is that the end of it. Well his eyebrows got heavier and his eyes got smaller like a devil he was and then he said calmly like that ain't the lank Monsoor that's the width that's the width he said that's a couple hundred yards away and that's the way. They see there is to be a wide avenue that goes from the president palace to the gap but they're building that avenue over a mile long and you can see one building from the other. They call this a Pennsylvania Avenue and it would doubtless become the avenue of state except that it is in good Siebel that tidy nation can ever afford the tremendous expense of a big such a log stretch of roadway carriage traffic would be impossible in the winter. Miss font please be reasonable with him trying to be
reasonable. Weeks you have consistently refused to cooperate with this committee I have not refused to cooperate. We are after all the legal commission appointed by the press by the president to work under the zine and beauty seek to debase to deny care under heaven the best suited I can and I will tell you bluntly L'Enfant that in the future you will cooperate with us reasonably and honestly though you will certainly be removed even in spite of President Washington. You don't like my work it is not a question of liking or disliking it. It is a question of SA is it not not necessarily but of organization. The president's advisers have said they like my city but do not come to you and say it is too big and too expensive to assert that there has been no criticism of the proportions of this it is. Well as to deny what the whole world is they would cut my tv down to death but truth is that we are responsible under law for this construction and the office of greed that this city must be adequate for future generations. It
was not in our mind that the whole population of the country was to live in this one place. But what about this waterfall Anyway long fall to fall. I know of no wall to fall. Here you plant a waterfall out in that cow pasture you're cleared before the Capitol built our pasture the day Palm it's a cow pasture if I ever saw one hawk. Well all I know is that cows are grazing out there and there's room for a thousand more. And a waterfall you mention it is not a waterfall It is a custom it is on fire and we are not interested in words but in fact figures prices reasons. Now this up cascade I understand has to be 150 feet long and forty feet high. Is that true. Idiots. Now just in case somebody might ask one of us commissioners what in the devil we have building such a cascade for. And where in the devil we're together this vast amount of water. Would you mind telling us it had to be a focal point laid a few blocks south of the Capitol building and it wanted to be brought in from the source is a ty Bell Creek. Now I hope all of us have memorized that answer because I'm sure we'll have need of it
in the coming days. You say this cascade is not to be in front of the Capitol building. It has to be at the intersection of North Carolina and New Jersey Avenue and make a note of that somebody. Well now that's five major. There might be one more question that will be asked how much is this cascade going to cause I do not know most here but do you think it would be possible to construct a capital city which did not have such a cascade. Yes miss you but not for discussion. I anticipated that feeling on your part is that it doesn't all the lots are to be sold come Friday. Are they all marked off for the auction. Yes. Will you attend the sale. Yes you will bring a copy of the plan with you to show to the people who are buying a lot. We can't expect them to buy a pig in a poke. Must you. I do not know does this pig in a poke. But I do know what I have said that no group should see these planted copies have been mailed to all sections of this country. But it only interested me have two by choice lots that is my position
position of this commission is that you will attend the sale. And there you will show the buyers your plan so that the buyers can tell where these lots are located in relation to the president's palace the capital various cascade waterfalls pastures parks avenues a question statues canals plaques and but there is nothing else. GENTLEMAN Good afternoon. He and someone temperamental impossible imbeciles. Where in the world did George Washington relocate him. No one future of Lafont plan was that from the Capitol building you might walk down Pennsylvania Avenue and see the president's palace which of course we today call the White House halfway between the two at the point of several springs Wilson planned to build five impressive so it's all very well but unfortunately Daniel Carroll of
being sure the Pennsylvania Avenue would never develop to any extent proceeded to build his house the place of these springs on a foundation which had been laid before the federal city was started and warned him that completing the house was an advisable. But then there were Carroll and his wife wanted a new brick home they built it and when the phone sent word for them to tear it down they rather pointedly refused so they were not to have done to him sound as if they indicated that that was their general feeling at the moment. Why did you tear it down. I said I was sure of a C and you said they would tear down their house that they had put it in Pennsylvania Avenue and what it did say they said where is Pennsylvania Avenue. Here is the house. But we don't see an avenue. So so I said the Avenue isn't here yet but it's on the way and it has to go through your house. What they said is the avenue supposed to serve the houses the houses the avenue I wanted to say I told them as the avenue was supposed to serve the whole concept of the city
which is a quotation from you and didn't want to ask me what that meant and didn't say anything but I don't know what it means. You have visited me as my first man and you know the concept of what this city is certainly here but Pennsylvania Avenue to be used by the delegates from Congress if they go to wait upon the president palace and it's just swell from its course to go under house and one of the fountains five impressive fountains what a dim. I don't care. Just tell me what to do when the laborers get the avenue clear down to the house. Just tell me what would you do to how to 18. I would be astonished if you have a tree you do not cut it down. If you say so I suppose I would take the house down at all. All right Pierre and the commissioners they must not know until we are no way I would be out of town and write him a letter. We'll get it later. Yes. Be sure to have good carpenter who will do a little damage to the material as
possible but turned it down. But the commissioners were notified of the plan. Hardly had the workmen begun tearing down the Carroll home when the commissioners stopped the operation. Yeah many miles away purchasing a quarry from which the white stone for the Capitol and president's house were heard soon enough official with his Continental anger fully aroused he wore out one of the best horses in America getting back to the sprawling capital city. He reined up in front of the Carroll house and Marshall his workman. I want you to take defended you out of the house and sit under the tree and and I want to carpenters and masons to go to work at once to take off the roof and bring down the sads. And it's a commission I do not like it let them go to Philadelphia and talk to President Washington.
So the man went to work tearing down the Carroll house. Good American labor has never torn down a hospital. Fact is not many houses that ever been torn down in this whole continent except. Good Masons are awkward and taking a part of solid masonry wall and carpenters moved slowly when taking the molding from around the fireplace. But down came the house down to the foundation. Down to the cellar where the wind would have kept summer dried tears. Down to the line that was no clearly drawn between the commissioners and Truong said Mr. L'Enfant. Q I coded to my office to state Mr. L'Enfant that the commission is displeased with your recent action in one of the deposit in Washington I made clear that my own wire of your letter we hope that you were aware of President Washington's letter to use stating that your actions are to be under the control of this commission is that
your only comment I have here some plan for the winter work. Mr. L'Enfant Are there any more houses that are standing in the way of your plan. You have not the young must come down to eat and perhaps seven years or so would be time enough. We must write Mr. Young and relieve his mind about that. I have already written him. You have written him. Who are you to write it. I see many know my commission my commission should write him not you. I have to plan here for the winter work Major with this attitude there isn't going to be any went over the activities of the Federal City are approaching a standstill. This commission is going to have authority over you. If we must stop work on the federal study entirely we are going to have authority over you. A few weeks later as tension continued long men were discharged and L'Enfant overseer was in prison for breaking the new rules of the commission. The work on the federal city
was stopped. President Washington has called a special meeting of his advisors Mr. Lovell. He told me to talk to you and report back with the work stopped laborers discharged construction at an absolute standstill. And you were in the commissioner's writing letters about each other I never did in personalities Mr Lee. Be that as it may I'm here to state that the president feels this entire matter can and must be worked out but no reconciliation can be reached if you refuse to work under the commission as law of Congress directs you must do commission. But under the commission these commissioners will not be removed I promise you. Surely your grievances are not so great right. They are beyond great when you take my plan without my permission and to make changes. A man who knows nothing about city they take my plan and when they have tweeted me copies of it around the world under survey I had his name put on it without question Major that is a serious grievance. Perhaps a personal
apology is not my main gripe and it is a very great grievance but not integrated. Please what is the greatest. I was bored the next day to get back in time for the cabinet meeting. I do not know my main reason I beg your pardon I said I have no idea how to tell you but I do appear before the cabinets and say What am I to say I don't know it is difficult to explain even to myself but it comes to this. I am asked to design a city. I do something beautiful evolved in my mind I can put it all on paper. I see it evolving not as a finished work and even such things that I see you will not go on paper without becoming words the figure you want to stare at in my mind I see the beginnings of a beautiful city. So in this country to look at my city planet to see nothing of beauty to see only only word sketches Lions budget indexes and they see do away with. Now we'll hear a bit too much. The changing figures on
paper but actually they are changing the features of my city. I printed out a pretty it is it becomes clear and then I say no you cannot do this and this is why I may not be authorized by Congress and it becomes time for me to speaking of a bottle but I cannot understand. Not in this light you see I am a markedly clear but nobody understand Major I think you may be saying something but what I cannot expect any better. But what are you explaining after all most of the commission's criticism comes down to your disregard for their authority not of this. My father always said to me use a big canvas not paint except only began there have been paintings on small canvases which are rather good it seems to me that appealing Warsi. I have no doubt that they killed more Frenchmen in his painting and all of these enemies which is why even his paintings were Fiesta were powerful they were confident they were victorious.
Even the battles with the history books and they lost my father pleaded and victorious in defeat. Love disappears in their face I wonder if we could come back to the subject I have heard critics come to my father and say look you know we're not all that good you know he really and my father would be appointed stepladder petang he's sold on a big can and he would peer down at him and say we will be what we envision. Major long I would like to hear more about your famous father but at another time. What can I tell Mr washing you might say began versed in an opportunity to say in a city what his father said in battle that this nation can be had to go back to see George Washington Thomas Jefferson Alexander Hamilton and the other founders of this nation and tell them that you are worried that the United States can become whatever it envisioned you were addressing through me the final authorities on the vision of the United States.
Now sir please tell me what you have to say about the commission. Tell me what I am absolutely clear but I'm not understood. I have tried to explain myself and I have this and that I've explained myself to myself it was clear to me long ago. I have to do all I can say you know I have heard all that I want to hear about this matter. Is that your word for General Washington. Believe me he is not a man to be played. He wants you to stay and your president has I will not officiated by destruction of my work. Let him find someone else to love this city for him to see mudhole does something other than they are to sit in your state will be loading soon. A letter from Jefferson cleared up the entire matter. By dismissing. Actually there was no other place. But of course in the political turmoil we try to reason
with the plan of caramel foam was falling on the lights. Some changes have been made down through the years many of which are now seen to be a mistake. But still Washington is built around the plan of a lawful and he's buried now in Arlington Cemetery where he can look out over the city he designed this man of the new world. This artist who saw everything on the rock who painted only on the big canvas who symbolized in a plan the greatness of the coming nation. And as you stand beside his grave as perhaps you will some day you will look out and see the monument that commemorates lying stretching on the banks of the Potomac on one of the largest of canvassers. You will see the village monumental the town of magnificent district. It's the most beautiful city in America.
Wash. 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 man 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 fund for adult education and independent agency established by the Ford Foundation. Many of the programs on American Adventure are taken from actual events as was the one just
presented. Others are not where we touch history we try to touch it accurately. But our chief purpose is to study themes not incidents. Nine professors of the University of North Carolina service consultants for American Adventure. They do not always agree on the content or merit of the scripts but the series is indebted to them for their criticisms and suggestions. They are Dr Bernard broidered chairman of the Department of Religion Dr. John Gill and professor of anthropology Dr Fletcher Greene chairman of the Department of History. Dr Everett W. Hall. Chairman of the popular philosophy Dr. Frank W. hat professor of law Dr Clifford Lyons dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Howard Oldham chairman of the Department of Sociology Dr. William Pitt teet assistant professor of philosophy and Dr. Clemens Sommer professor of art history and American Inventor is based on a proposal prepared by Robert Jenkins. In paint the big canvas. Charles Hadley was long gone. The entire cast was composed of students faculty members and townspeople of the University of North Carolina community. American adventurous
American adventure
Paint the big canvas
Producing Organization
University of North Carolina
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
A study of visionary planning. The story of Pierre L'Enfant, designer of Washington, D.C.
Other Description
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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Social Issues
Founding Fathers of the United States.
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Actor: Hadley, Charles
Director: Clayton, John S.
Host: Kasell, Carl.
Producing Organization: University of North Carolina
Writer: Ehle, John, 1925-
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 54-12-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:18
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Chicago: “American adventure; Paint the big canvas,” 1954-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 19, 2022,
MLA: “American adventure; Paint the big canvas.” 1954-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 19, 2022. <>.
APA: American adventure; Paint the big canvas. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from