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Crafty_Dog
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« on: June 29, 2009, 01:42:03 AM »

From the WSJ, some book reviews:

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1.The Journals of Lewis and Clark
1803-05

There are hundreds of books on the Lewis and Clark expedition— scholarly treatises, narratives, biographies, collections of maps. Engrossing reading, sure, but why choose them when the original journals by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark exist? Even if the prose is rough, the journals are an American treasure, a first-hand account of the discovery of a nation. There is a hypnotic, galvanizing power in the daily descriptions of rivers forged, buffaloes seen, Indians met, meals eaten, illnesses suffered, plants examined, rainstorms weathered and dangers overcome. No matter the hardship experienced over the more than two years they spent in the wilds, the two explorers always managed to update their journals, as Lewis did one winter day: “The ink f[r]iezes in my pen,” he complained, before continuing with his account. When Clark writes on Nov. 7, 1805, “Ocian in view! O! the joy,” your heart, too, will leap.


2. The Great Bridge
By David McCullough
Simon & Schuster, 1972

No other structure better represents American industriousness and ingenuity than the Brooklyn Bridge. In this magisterial account, David McCullough describes its design and construction with all the drama of an epic battle. John A. Roebling, the original engineer of what would be the longest suspension bridge in the world upon its opening in 1883, dies after being injured in a dockside accident as he scouted the construction site. His eldest son, ­Washington Roebling, takes up the cause, but frequent journeys below the murky East River waters to set the foundations of the bridge’s two massive stone towers leave him crippled with decompression sickness, or “the bends.” His wife, Emily, all but assumes command of the ­endeavor and sees the project through to its glorious completion.

3. Paul Revere’s Ride
By David Hackett Fischer
Oxford, 1994

David Hackett Fischer offers a bracing corrective to the ­traditional view of the lone silversmith named Revere on horseback alerting Massachusetts ­patriots with the cry: “The British are coming!” Paul Revere, the author ­observes, would never have warned of the “British” approach; the colonists still considered themselves British, even if on the cusp of revolution. A minor point, perhaps, but evidence of how legend becomes accepted fact. More important, Fischer shows that though Revere—a “gregarious man, a great joiner”—might have led the alarm-sounding effort, he was far from alone. Dozens of other brave riders set about the countryside on the night of April 18, 1775.

4. The Right Stuff
By Tom Wolfe
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1979

In Tom Wolfe’s chronicle of Project Mercury and America’s first manned space flight in the early 1960s, we have the perfect marriage of writer and story. With his unblinking eye, Wolfe reveals what constituted the “right stuff”—for test pilots like Chuck Yeager, and, despite the skepticism of some of those flyboys, the seven Mercury ­astronauts who vied for the chance to perch atop a rocket filled with liquid ­oxygen and go where no man had gone before. “It was not bravery in the simple sense of being willing to risk your life,” Wolfe writes, because “any fool could do that.” No, “a man should have the ability to go up in a hurtling piece of machinery and put his hide on the line and then have the moxie, the reflexes, the ­experience, the coolness, to pull it back in the last yawning moment—and then to go up again the next day, and the next day, and every next day.”

5. The Children
By David Halberstam
Random House, 1998

In a Montgomery bus station on May 20, 1961, a young man got down on his knees and prayed for the strength to love the racist mob closing in on him. “When he tried to get up, someone kicked him violently in the back, so viciously that three vertebrae on his spine were cracked.” This is one ­visceral scene among scores of others in David Halberstam’s “The Children,” a sweeping portrait of Nashville activists, most of them students, who brought courageous nonviolent protest to the civil-rights struggle in the Deep South. Halberstam covered the movement as a young reporter for the ­Tennessean, and when he wrote this book four decades later, the memory of those students clearly still burned in his heart.

—Mr. Bascomb’s latest book is ­“Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most ­Notorious Nazi” (Houghton Mifflin).


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By Michael B. Ballard
The idea is beguiling: a ­region in the South during the Civil War where the inhabitants, disgusted by slavery and unwilling to support the Confederate cause, take up arms as Union loyalists. Better still, for storytelling purposes, would be a charismatic leader who organizes the resistance.

Such is the legend of what became known as the “Free State of Jones,” a county deep in Mississippi’s piney woods. The area was one of many pockets in the state where dissatisfaction with the Confederacy boiled for much of the war, but only Jones County was elevated by folklore, ­especially in the decades after the war, into a scene of noble rebellion. It helped that the anti-Confederate ­faction there was led by a tall, stern backwoodsman named Newton Knight.

View Full Image

The New York Public Library/Art Resource NY
 
The Tishomingo Hotel in Corinth, Miss., was used at different times as a hospital by both Union and Rebel troops.
Book Details
The State of Jones
By Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer
Doubleday, 402 pages, $27.50
The operative words here are ­“legend” and “folklore.” Although Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer labor mightily in “The State of Jones” to make the case for Newt Knight and Jones County as emblems of ­enlightened “insurrection” within the Confederacy, the truth, alas, is hardly as inspiring as the authors suppose. Far from being a haven for the ­high-minded, Jones County was a magnet for Confederate deserters. Their hostility to being executed, ­imprisoned or pressed back into the service of a lost cause was the men’s animating principle.

Even among Jones County ­residents who were noncombatants, an antipathy for the Confederate ­government did not automatically translate into pro-Union feelings: The Confederacy was so preoccupied with prosecuting the war, and its finances were so precarious, that the government was scarcely able to protect ordinary citizens, much less provide basic ­services. Anger at one’s own bureaucracy does not mean embracing the enemy’s.

Still, Ms. Jenkins, a journalist, and Mr. Stauffer, a historian, have brought fresh attention to a little-known and interesting sidebar of Civil War ­history. They freely acknowledge their debt to Victoria Bynum’s “The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War” (2001), which is the most scholarly treatment of the subject to date—though, as the subtitle ­indicates, Ms. Bynum was also rather taken with the romantic notion of the troubles in Jones County.

Early on, Ms. Jenkins and Mr. Stauffer posit that Newt Knight and his neighbors were unusual ­Mississippians in that few of them owned slaves—and therefore had no reason to support the South’s ­secession. Jones County, though, was not in a cotton-producing part of the state and, like other areas of ­Mississippi where plantations were rare and the economy not dependent on slave labor, the lack of robust ­interest in the Confederate war effort hardly signaled anti-slavery ­sentiment; slavery simply wasn’t vital to life in these remote areas and didn’t seem worth fighting for.

 
Collection of Herman Welborn
 
Newton Knight, a Confederate medic and deserter.
Even if Newt Knight was ­unenthused about fighting for the South, he still enlisted in May 1862 at age 24 rather than face conscription. It helped, the authors note, that he was joined by “twenty-two of his ­closest relatives and friends, young men who hunted together, worshipped together, drank together, helped build one another’s homes, and even ­married one another’s sisters.” The men of Jones County were an insular lot—and it is this insularity that Ms. Jenkins and Mr. Stauffer seem to ­underappreciate in their portrait. The clannishness of Knight, his family and neighbors made them prefer an ­isolated life, and the war had ­disturbed their seclusion. They blamed the Confederacy and readily abandoned the army when Union forces marched across the South.

Knight told an interviewer in the 1920s: “I felt like if they had the right to conscript me when I didn’t want to fight the Union, I had the right to quit when I got ready.” It didn’t take long: Six months after enlisting and ­becoming a medic, Knight joined the thousands of Confederate soldiers who fled the war in Mississippi in the aftermath of the bloody fight at the important railroad-crossroads town of Corinth. He was captured and put back into action; Knight deserted again after the battle of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863. The Mississippi woods by then were teeming with Confederate deserters, and the roads were alive with soldiers sent to round them up. Knight made his way back to Jones County and vowed not to be forced back into service. He and fellow deserters organized to resist any such effort—and were soon fighting ­skirmishes with Confederate soldiers. It is here, with such fighting, that the legend of a “free state” was born.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2009, 08:56:04 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2009, 09:06:44 AM »

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
hen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2009, 08:54:10 AM »

Monday, July 1, was heavy and hot, and a full-scale summer storm passed through the city late in the morning. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania rose to speak. He knew he was endangering the respect in which he was broadly held, his "popularity," but he once again counseled caution: Slow down, separation from Britain is "premature," to declare independence now would be "to brave the storm in a skiff made of paper." When he sat down, "all was silent except for the rain that had begun spattering against the widows."

Then John Adams rose. He wished he had the power of the ancient orators of Greece and Rome, he said; surely they had never faced a question of greater human import.

 
Getty Images
 He made, again, the case for independence. Now is the time, the facts are inescapable, the people are for it, we are not so much declaring as acknowledging reality. "Looking into the future [he] saw a new nation, a new time, all much in the spirit of lines he had written in a recent letter to a friend: '. . . We are in the very midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world.' " Outside the wind picked up and the storm struck hard with thunder and lightning. Storms had in the past unnerved Adams, but he spoke steadily, logically and compellingly for two hours.

After nine hours of debate, the voting commenced. The yeses were in the majority, but there were more noes than expected. Someone moved a final vote be taken the next morning. Adams and the rest hastily agreed.

That night word reached Philadelphia that the British fleet, a hundred ships, had been sighted off New York.

The next day, July 2, the final voting began. It went quickly. This was a pivotal moment in the political history of man. A creative, imaginative, historically conscious person in the middle of a thing so huge and full of consequence will try to notice things, to keep them forever in his eyes and pass them on. Here is a thing John Adams would never forget:

At 9 in the morning, just as the doors to the Congress were to be closed, "Caesar Rodney, mud spattered, 'booted and spurred,' made his dramatic entrance. The tall, thin Rodney—the 'oddest-looking man in the world,' Adams once described him—had been made to appear stranger still, and more to be pitied, by a skin cancer on one side of his face that he kept hidden behind a scarf of green silk. But, as Adams had also recognized, Rodney was a man of spirit, of 'fire.' Almost unimaginably, he had ridden eighty miles through the night, changing horses several times, to be there in time to cast his vote."

All of these quotes are from David McCullough's "John Adams." More on Mr. McCullough in a moment.

The vote was completed: 12 for independence, New York abstaining, no one opposing. "The break was made, in words at least: on July 2, 1776, in Philadelphia, the American colonies declared independence. If not all 13 clocks had struck as one, twelve had, and with the others silent the effect was the same."

On July 3, Congress argued over the wording and exact content of the formal Declaration. An indictment of the slave trade was dropped. In all, Thomas Jefferson saw roughly 25% of what he'd written wind up on the floor.

On July 4, discussion ended, debate was closed, a vote on the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was called, and the results were as on July 2. Congress ordered the document be printed. They'd sign it in a month. For now, John Hancock and one other, Charles Thompson, fixed their signatures.

Those present thought the great day had been July 2—the vote for independence itself. John Adams, who'd emoted over the 2nd in letters to Abigail, didn't even mention the 4th , and Thomas Jefferson famously went shopping that afternoon for ladies' gloves.

But on the morning of July 5, the people of Philadelphia started getting their hands on independently printed copies of the Declaration, and the impact was electric: My God, look what they said yesterday—"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." And on the 6th, a local newspaper carried the text of what had been agreed upon on the 4th. And so the celebration of the Fourth of July as one of the signal moments in the history of human freedom, was born. And so we mark it still.

* * *

 
Getty Images
 
David McCullough.
On David McCullough: Almost all the details in the above come from his "John Adams" and "1776". He is America's greatest living historian. He has often written about great men and the reason may be a certain law of similarity: He is one also. His work has been broadly influential, immensely popular, respected by his peers (Pulitzer Prizes for "Truman" and "John Adams," National Book Awards for "The Path Between the Seas" and "Mornings on Horseback") and by the American public. It is not often—it is increasingly rare—that the academy shares the views of the local dry cleaner, the student flying coach and the high school teacher, but all agree on Mr. McCullough, as they did half a century ago on, say, Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg. He is admired by normal people and esteemed by the intellectual establishment.

Why? Here are a few reasons. He has the eye of a gifted reporter and the depth of a historian. He sees and explains the true size of an incident or endeavor, he factors in, always, the fact that we are human, and he captures the detail that is somehow so telling—it was a scarf of green silk, not soft muslin, that Rodney wore to the vote on American independence. He writes like a dream, of course. He is broad gauged and has range—the Johnstown flood, the building of the Panama Canal, the founders.

Mr. McCullough betrays no need to be contrarian but is only too happy to knock down history's clichés, to wit George III, the mad doofus, who was in fact "tall and rather handsome" and played both the violin and piano. "His favorite composer was Handel, but he adored also the music of Bach." He rendered "quite beautiful architectural drawings," assembled a distinguished art collection, collected books that in time constituted "one of the finest libraries in the world," loved astronomy, was nonetheless practical, and had a gift for putting people at their ease. He impressed even crusty old Samuel Johnson, who after meeting him called him "the finest gentleman I have ever seen." As for the famous madness, he suffered not during the American Revolution but later in life from what appears to have been "prophyria, a hereditary disease not diagnosed until the twentieth century."

One can't know if Mr. McCullough is correct in his judgment here, or fully so. One can know he inspected the available data, pondered it, and attempted a fair-minded assessment. He is reliable. (Of how many can that be said?) And he loves America. His work has gone to explaining it to itself, to telling its story.

More Peggy Noonan
Read Peggy Noonan's previous columns.

And click here to order her new book, Patriotic Grace. Almost two years ago, I was lucky enough to tour Mount Vernon with a dozen people including him. (If I were David McCullough I would know the date and time. But I know the weather.) At the bottom of a stairway leading to the second floor, we chatted for a moment, and I asked him how he accounted in his imagination for the amazing fact of the genius cluster that founded our nation. How did so many gifted men, true geniuses, walk into history at the same time, in the same place, and come together to pursue so brilliantly a common endeavor? "I think it was providential," he said, simply.

Well, so do I. If you do too, it's part of what you're celebrating today.

Later, after dusk, an unforgettable moment. The Mount Vernon Ladies Association, led by Gay Gaines, retiring after three years as one of its greatest regents—she'd worked herself like a rented mule to solidify and expand the operation—gave us dinner on a long table on the piazza, the veranda overlooking the unchanged Potomac. It is where President and Mrs. Washington dined. It was hot, and now dark, and David McCullough rose to speak of Washington, of his courage and leadership. A storm had been gathering all day. Now it broke, and as he spoke of Valley Forge there was, literally, a sudden roar of thunder, and lightning lit the clouds over the river. Mr. McCullough continued, with his beautiful voice, and we all got a chill: What kind of moment is this? What could we possibly have done to deserve it?

Nothing of course. Some gifts are just given.

That's what Mr. McCullough's work has been, a gift, one big enough for a nation. So thanks today to the memory of John and Tom and George, and old Ben, and John Dickinson, and Caesar Rodney too. Good work, gentlemen. You too, David.
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2009, 09:31:41 AM »

second post of the morning

By WILLIAM J. BENNETT and JOHN CRIBB
'I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence." This statement from Abraham Lincoln in Philadelphia in 1861 was no staff-manufactured line. It was an expression from a man filled with deep emotion at finding himself standing in the hall where a courageous band of rebels pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to a high and dangerous purpose -- American independence. We celebrate them on July Fourth.

Lincoln revered the Declaration and its ideals of liberty and equality. In an 1858 speech in Chicago, he said it was "the father of all moral principle" in the American republic, and its spirit "the electric cord . . . that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together."

He spent much time pondering the hardships endured by those who had fought for independence. In that speech he called them "iron men." As a boy, he read accounts of the patriots' battlefield struggles in Parson Weems's "Life of Washington" and thought, as he told the New Jersey state Senate in 1861, that "there must have been something more than common that those men struggled for."

Yet in Lincoln's time, the Declaration and its spirit was under attack. Proponents of slavery insisted that the Founders did not intend for the God-given right to liberty in the Declaration to apply to all people. The notion that "all men are created equal" was belittled by John C. Calhoun in 1848 as "the most false and dangerous of all political error."

The Declaration had its detractors abroad as well. Across Europe, members of privileged classes sneered at the thought of people ruling themselves. Many a nobleman viewed the Civil War as proof that the American democratic experiment would fail.

British statesman John Bright took them to task: "Privilege thinks it has a great interest in this contest, and every morning, with blatant voice, it . . . curses the American Republic. Privilege has beheld an afflicting spectacle for many years past. It has beheld thirty millions of men, happy and prosperous, without emperor, without king . . . Privilege has shuddered at what might happen to old Europe if this grand experiment should succeed."

Lincoln understood that if the American experiment of self-government were to succeed, the country must be saved on the basis of the Declaration of Independence. It was no accident that in the first sentence of the Gettysburg Address, he quoted the Declaration, reminding Americans that from the beginning the nation had been dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Lincoln also understood that the struggle over the Declaration was part of an eternal struggle between two principles at the basis of all government. "They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle," as he put it in one of his famous debates with Stephen A. Douglas. "The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings."

The struggle continues today. Terrorists and dictators hate the United States for its founding principles. They prefer to rob people of liberty, subjugate women, and spread their power by the sword. Yet America still has iron men and women who stand up to such tyrants. These iron men are now fighting on battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Declaration of Independence is not a legal document in the same sense as the Constitution. No one talks about a law being "undeclarational," or opines about their "declarational rights." Yet it remains the first and in some ways most universal of our great founding documents. As Lincoln said in Philadelphia in February 1861, there is "something in that Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time."

As long as the United States stands fast for the moral principles of July 4, 1776, we will continue to be the bulwark of freedom, the last best hope of earth.

Messrs. Bennett and Cribb are the authors of the "American Patriot's Almanac" (Thomas Nelson, 2008).
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« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2009, 08:24:08 PM »

In the debate over who deserves credit for causing the Berlin Wall to collapse on the night of November 9, 1989, many names come to mind, both great and small.

There was Günter Schabowski, the muddled East German politburo spokesman, who in a live press conference that evening accidentally announced that the country's travel restrictions were to be lifted "immediately." There was Mikhail Gorbachev, who made it clear that the Soviet Union would not violently suppress people power in its satellite states, as it had decades earlier in Czechoslovakia and Hungary. There were the heroes of Poland's Solidarity movement, not least Pope John Paul II, who did so much to expose the moral bankruptcy of communism.

And there was Ronald Reagan, who believed the job of Western statesmanship was to muster the moral, political, economic and military wherewithal not simply to contain the Soviet bloc, but to bury it. "What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term—the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history," he said in 1982, to the astonishment and derision of his critics. Now, there was the audacity of hope.

All of these figures played their part, as did a previous generation of leaders who insisted that the West had a moral duty to defend the little enclave of freedom in Berlin.

Fulfilling that duty came at a price—71 British and American servicemen lost their lives during the Berlin Airlift—that more "pragmatic" politicians might have gladly forgone for the promise of better relations with the Soviets. Not a few NATO generals thought the defense of Berlin needlessly exposed their forces in a militarily indefensible position while giving the Russians an opportunity to blackmail the West as they advanced on strategically more vital ground, particularly Cuba.

Yet if the West's stand in Berlin demonstrates anything, it is that moral commitments have a way of reaping strategic dividends over time. By ordering the airlift in 1948, Harry Truman saved a starving city and defied Soviet bullying. As importantly, he showed that the U.S. would not abandon Europe to its furies, as it had after World War I, thus helping to pave the way for the creation of NATO in April 1949.

By holding firm for 40 years, Truman and his successors transformed what was supposed to be the Atlantic alliance's weakest point into its strongest. To know what the West stood for during most of those years, one merely had to go to Berlin, see the Wall, consider its purpose, and observe the contrasts between the vibrant prosperity on one side of the city and the oppressive monotony on the other.

Those contrasts were even more apparent to the Germans trapped on the wrong side of the Wall. Barbed wire, closed military zones and the machinery of communist propaganda could keep the prosperity of the West out of sight of most people living east of the Iron Curtain. But that wasn't true for the people of East Berlin, many of whom merely had to look out their windows to understand how empty and cynical were the promises of socialism compared to the reality of a free-market system.

Yet it bears recalling that even these obvious political facts were obscure to many people who lived in freedom and should have known better. "Despite what many Americans think, most Soviets do not yearn for capitalism or Western-style democracy," said CBS's Dan Rather just two years before the Wall fell. And when Reagan delivered his historic speech in Berlin calling on Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down this wall," he did so after being warned by some of his senior advisers that the language was "unpresidential," and after thousands of protesters had marched through West Berlin in opposition.

It is a tribute to Reagan's moral and strategic determination, as it was to everyone else who played their part in bringing down the Wall, that they could see through the sophistries of Soviet propagandists, their Western fellow travelers, and the legions of moral equivocators and diplomatic finessers and simply look at the Wall.

"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle," George Orwell once said. That is what the heroes of 1989 did with unblinking honesty and courage for years on end until, at last, the Wall came tumbling down.
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2009, 12:11:22 AM »

Thank you Crafty for marking Reagan in particular for his leadership that led to the collapse of the wall.  Much as Barack and Hillary think it is all about them and others think that everyone worked toward that goal, really most didn't.  IIRC, Reagan stood up to a Democratic congress over defense spending, he stood up to massive protests in Europe for the deployment of Pershing II missiles, he stood up to the objections of both Gorbachev and his own advisers regarding SDI at Reykjavik.  And he stood up to his own speechwriters and diplomacy team regarding the command to tear down the wall.
--------
The quote:  "There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"


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Keep in mind that the wall was in Berlin, East Germany and Mr. Gorbachev was the leader of the Soviet Union.  Reagan didn't even bother to call on East Germany to tear down the wall.   He was calling it out for what it what it was - a puppet repressive machine controlled from a distance and he was calling out his counterpart to back up his talk about openness and reform, glasnost and perestroika, with action and deed.

Here is an inside story written by the speech writer:
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2009/11/024922.php

Watch the video again with the sad thought in mind that the current first family never found any reason to be proud of America before Barack was nominated.  sad
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2009, 10:16:12 AM »

Saw this piece in POTH (NYT) today.  I have no idea whether it is leftist revisionist drivel or has merit.

==================================

Diplomacy That Will Live in Infamy
 

By JAMES BRADLEY
Published: December 5, 2009


SIXTY-EIGHT years ago tomorrow, Japan attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. In the brutal Pacific war that would follow, millions of soldiers and civilians were killed. My father — one of the famous flag raisers on Iwo Jima — was among the young men who went off to the Pacific to fight for his country. So the war naturally fascinated me. But I always wondered, why did we fight in the Pacific? Yes, there was Pearl Harbor, but why did the Japanese attack us in the first place?

In search of an answer, I read deeply into the diplomatic history of the 1930s, about President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policy on Asia, and his preparation — or lack thereof — for a major conflict there. But I discovered that I was studying the wrong President Roosevelt. The one who had the greater effect on Japan’s behavior was Theodore Roosevelt — whose efforts to end the war between Japan and Russia earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

When Theodore Roosevelt was president, three decades before World War II, the world was focused on the bloody Russo-Japanese War, a contest for control of North Asia. President Roosevelt was no fan of the Russians: “No human beings, black, yellow or white, could be quite as untruthful, as insincere, as arrogant — in short, as untrustworthy in every way — as the Russians,” he wrote in August 1905, near the end of the Russo-Japanese War. The Japanese, on the other hand, were “a wonderful and civilized people,” Roosevelt wrote, “entitled to stand on an absolute equality with all the other peoples of the civilized world.”

Roosevelt knew that Japan coveted the Korean Peninsula as a springboard to its Asian expansion. Back in 1900, when he was still vice president, Roosevelt had written, “I should like to see Japan have Korea.” When, in February 1904, Japan broke off relations with Russia, President Roosevelt said publicly that he would “maintain the strictest neutrality,” but privately he wrote, “The sympathies of the United States are entirely on Japan’s side.”

In June 1905, Roosevelt made world headlines when — apparently on his own initiative — he invited the two nations to negotiate an end to their war. Roosevelt’s private letter to his son told another story: “I have of course concealed from everyone — literally everyone — the fact that I acted in the first place on Japan’s suggestion ... . Remember that you are to let no one know that in this matter of the peace negotiations I have acted at the request of Japan and that each step has been taken with Japan’s foreknowledge, and not merely with her approval but with her expressed desire.”

Years later, a Japanese emissary to Roosevelt paraphrased the president’s comments to him: “All the Asiatic nations are now faced with the urgent necessity of adjusting themselves to the present age. Japan should be their natural leader in that process, and their protector during the transition stage, much as the United States assumed the leadership of the American continent many years ago, and by means of the Monroe Doctrine, preserved the Latin American nations from European interference. The future policy of Japan towards Asiatic countries should be similar to that of the United States towards their neighbors on the American continent.”

In a secret presidential cable to Tokyo, in July 1905, Roosevelt approved the Japanese annexation of Korea and agreed to an “understanding or alliance” among Japan, the United States and Britain “as if the United States were under treaty obligations.” The “as if” was key: Congress was much less interested in North Asia than Roosevelt was, so he came to his agreement with Japan in secret, an unconstitutional act.

To signal his commitment to Tokyo, Roosevelt cut off relations with Korea, turned the American legation in Seoul over to the Japanese military and deleted the word “Korea” from the State Department’s Record of Foreign Relations and placed it under the heading of “Japan.”


=============
(Page 2 of 2)



Roosevelt had assumed that the Japanese would stop at Korea and leave the rest of North Asia to the Americans and the British. But such a wish clashed with his notion that the Japanese should base their foreign policy on the American model of expansion across North America and, with the taking of Hawaii and the Philippines, into the Pacific. It did not take long for the Japanese to tire of the territorial restrictions placed upon them by their Anglo-American partners.

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Japan’s declaration of war, in December 1941, explained its position quite clearly: “It is a fact of history that the countries of East Asia for the past hundred years or more have been compelled to observe the status quo under the Anglo-American policy of imperialistic exploitation and to sacrifice themselves to the prosperity of the two nations. The Japanese government cannot tolerate the perpetuation of such a situation.”

In planning the attack on Pearl Harbor, Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto was specifically thinking of how, 37 years earlier, the Japanese had surprised the Russian Navy at Port Arthur in Manchuria and, as he wrote, “favorable opportunities were gained by opening the war with a sudden attack on the main enemy fleet.” At the time, the indignant Russians called it a violation of international law. But Theodore Roosevelt, confident that he could influence events in North Asia from afar, wrote to his son, “I was thoroughly well pleased with the Japanese victory, for Japan is playing our game.”

It was for his efforts to broker the peace deal between Russia and Japan that a year and a half later Roosevelt became the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize — and one of only three presidents to do so while in office (the other two are Woodrow Wilson and President Obama, who will accept his prize this week). No one in Oslo, or in the United States Congress, knew the truth then.

But the Japanese did. And the American president’s support emboldened them to increase their military might — and their imperial ambitions. In December 1941, the consequence of Theodore Roosevelt’s recklessness would become clear to those few who knew of the secret dealings. No one else — including my dad on Iwo Jima — realized just how well Japan had indeed played “our game.”
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2010, 03:43:36 PM »

From the Glen Beck website:
============

The Revolutionary Debt Bomb - And How the Founders Fixed It!
February 22, 2010 - 13:01 ET

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t think our fiscal house is about to slide into the ocean?

Whether one accepts the government’s estimates of a national debt that nears $10 trillion, or whether one thinks the numbers provided by Richard Fisher of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, which includes all the “unfunded” parts of Medicare (A, B, and D) at another $85.6 trillion, for a total of $95.6 trillion, the United States faces a staggering level of debt. And Fisher’s numbers do not include Social Security, which now, for the first time, has seen its out-flows exceed its income, and which adds another $10 trillion (at least) to the totals. The Medicare debt alone would stick each American family of four with a bill of $1.3 million, or about 25 times the average household’s income. Taken together, these levels of debt exceed the Gross National Product of probably half the nations in the world put together.

But history offers some hope. The young republic of the United States of America faced an equally daunting debt bomb in 1788, and, perhaps given the new nation’s utter lack of credit history, an even greater challenge than we face today. But the Founders dug their way out to the point of fiscal solvency fairly quickly, and within a decade the nation was viewed as a sterling credit risk. How was this possible?

It began with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton—often a punching bag for some conservatives because of his big-government proclivities. But Hamilton knew that the only way to establish credit was to pay your bills. The situation confronting the United States, coming out of the Revolutionary War and the Articles of Confederation, was this: states had issued their own debt—some more, some less than others—and the United States, through the Continental Congress had also accumulated debts. Hamilton insisted the nation had to pay them all, and that a policy of “assumption” was the only sure way to convince foreign investors that we were an honorable Republic and not a banana republic! Despite fierce battles, he carried the day in Congress: the U.S. would pay all debts accumulated by the national and state governments. But how? Hamilton’s genius showed in his next maneuver, as he knew he needed to attract the “monied men,” as he called them. He structured a “menu” of new bond/debt options, in which longer-term debts received higher returns. Thus, if an investor had little confidence in the United States, he took short-term bonds which paid off less; and if an investor thought the nation would survive and prosper, he bought long-term bonds with their higher payoff. Throughout it all, Hamilton, contrary to popular opinion, did not wish to see the country saddled with debt. He said debt “is perhaps the NATURAL DISEASE of all governments,” and his first actions as Treasury Secretary were designed to reduce the nation’s indebtedness.[ii]

Hamilton’s restructuring of the debt on the surface may have resembled what Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of “Koli-for-nya” did in 2004, but only on the surface. Hamilton ensured that payments on the debt went to the oldest debt first, and through a “sinking fund,” no new debt could be contracted until the old debt had been settled—in essence setting the United States up with an “American Express” version of credit instead of a Mastercard/Visa “revolving” credit line. So while the U.S. indebtedness remained at about $83 million when Thomas Jefferson became president, the payments on interest remained at a minimum.

In part, Hamilton also knew that he could count on those whom he knew well—President George Washington, plus John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson (two men quite likely to hold the office in the future)—to limit spending and to practice federal frugality. Indeed they did. They ran the government with a handful of secretaries and a few hundred public officials; they carefully watched expenditures, with the largest being the construction of four large frigates under Adams and Thomas Jefferson’s purchase of Louisiana for $15 million. Yet despite the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson still managed to slice more than one-quarter off the national debt.

All the Founders recognized that for the “monied men” to ally with the new nation, it had to honor its contracts (which it did through assumption); it had to establish a sound currency (which it did by adopting a gold standard and coining money along the Spanish system of tens and fives); and by paying its debts, which it did. By the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the nation had a surplus, but more important, it had a sterling credit record, and investment money flowed into the new nation. Hamilton, Washington, Adams, Madison, and Jefferson had all adroitly kept the “Revolutionary Debt Bomb” from exploding, and instead leveraged it for the growth of future generations. The key was confidence—confidence in the fiscal frugality and restraint of the leaders, confidence by the business sector in the government. Do either of those exist today?

While the numbers are staggering, like all numbers they matter little compared to the “animal spirits” of entrepreneurship, investment, and business growth. A sunny Ronald Reagan dug the U.S. out of deep straits just 30 years ago. The Founders, operating with even less, founded a nation on confidence and freedom, and the lessons of history tell us that such turnarounds can occur if the nation is determined to once again defuse its debt bomb.

Larry Schweikart

University of Dayton

co-author, A Patriot’s History of the United States


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

. Richard W. Fisher, “Storms on the Horizon,” Remarks before the Commonwealth Club of California, May 28, 2008.

[ii]. One of the best analyses of Hamilton’s program is in Charles Calomiris, “Alexander Hamilton,” in Larry Schweikart, ed., The Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography: Banking and Finance to 1913 (New York: Facts on File, 1990
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« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2010, 08:49:48 AM »

With the passage of the Health Bill an apparent certainty, this is a tad ironic.  Hat tip to Freki.


On this day 1765

Great Britain Passes the Stamp Act (1765)
Intended to help pay British debts from the French and Indian War, the Stamp Act established the first direct tax levied on the American colonies. It required all newspapers, pamphlets, legal documents, commercial bills, advertisements, and other papers issued in the colonies to bear a tax stamp. The act was vehemently protested by the colonists, and the Stamp Act Congress—the first significant joint colonial response to any British measure—petitioned for its repeal.
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2010, 07:27:26 AM »

By BURTON FOLSOM JR. AND ANITA FOLSOM
'He got us out of the Great Depression." That's probably the most frequent comment made about President Franklin Roosevelt, who died 65 years ago today. Every Democratic president from Truman to Obama has believed it, and each has used FDR's New Deal as a model for expanding the government.

It's a myth. FDR did not get us out of the Great Depression—not during the 1930s, and only in a limited sense during World War II.

Let's start with the New Deal. Its various alphabet-soup agencies—the WPA, AAA, NRA and even the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority)—failed to create sustainable jobs. In May 1939, U.S. unemployment still exceeded 20%. European countries, according to a League of Nations survey, averaged only about 12% in 1938. The New Deal, by forcing taxes up and discouraging entrepreneurs from investing, probably did more harm than good.

What about World War II? We need to understand that the near-full employment during the conflict was temporary. Ten million to 12 million soldiers overseas and another 10 million to 15 million people making tanks, bullets and war materiel do not a lasting recovery make. The country essentially traded temporary jobs for a skyrocketing national debt. Many of those jobs had little or no value after the war.

No one knew this more than FDR himself. His key advisers were frantic at the possibility of the Great Depression's return when the war ended and the soldiers came home. The president believed a New Deal revival was the answer—and on Oct. 28, 1944, about six months before his death, he spelled out his vision for a postwar America. It included government-subsidized housing, federal involvement in health care, more TVA projects, and the "right to a useful and remunerative job" provided by the federal government if necessary.

Roosevelt died before the war ended and before he could implement his New Deal revival. His successor, Harry Truman, in a 16,000 word message on Sept. 6, 1945, urged Congress to enact FDR's ideas as the best way to achieve full employment after the war.

Congress—both chambers with Democratic majorities—responded by just saying "no." No to the whole New Deal revival: no federal program for health care, no full-employment act, only limited federal housing, and no increase in minimum wage or Social Security benefits.

Instead, Congress reduced taxes. Income tax rates were cut across the board. FDR's top marginal rate, 94% on all income over $200,000, was cut to 86.45%. The lowest rate was cut to 19% from 23%, and with a change in the amount of income exempt from taxation an estimated 12 million Americans were eliminated from the tax rolls entirely.

Corporate tax rates were trimmed and FDR's "excess profits" tax was repealed, which meant that top marginal corporate tax rates effectively went to 38% from 90% after 1945.

Georgia Sen. Walter George, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, defended the Revenue Act of 1945 with arguments that today we would call "supply-side economics." If the tax bill "has the effect which it is hoped it will have," George said, "it will so stimulate the expansion of business as to bring in a greater total revenue."

He was prophetic. By the late 1940s, a revived economy was generating more annual federal revenue than the U.S. had received during the war years, when tax rates were higher. Price controls from the war were also eliminated by the end of 1946. The U.S. began running budget surpluses.

Congress substituted the tonic of freedom for FDR's New Deal revival and the American economy recovered well. Unemployment, which had been in double digits throughout the 1930s, was only 3.9% in 1946 and, except for a couple of short recessions, remained in that range for the next decade.

The Great Depression was over, no thanks to FDR. Yet the myth of his New Deal lives on. With the current effort by President Obama to emulate some of FDR's programs to get us out of the recent deep recession, this myth should be laid to rest.

Mr. Folsom, a professor of history at Hillsdale College, is the author of "New Deal or Raw Deal?" (Simon & Schuster, 2008). Mrs. Folsom is director of Hillsdale College's annual Free Market Forum.
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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2010, 10:12:39 AM »

By GORDON S. WOOD
Published: May 2, 2010
Providence, R.I.

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THE American public is not pleased with Congress — one recent poll shows that less than a third of all voters are eager to support their representative in November. “I am not really happy right now with anybody,” a woman from Decatur, Ill., recently told a Washington Post reporter. As she considered the prospect of a government composed of fledgling lawmakers, she noted: “When the country was founded, those guys were all pretty new at it. How bad could it be?”

Actually, our founders were not all that new at it: the men who led the revolution against the British crown and created our political institutions were very used to governing themselves. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams and John Adams were all members of their respective Colonial legislatures several years before the Declaration of Independence. In fact, these Revolutionaries drew upon a tradition of self-government that went back a century or more. Virginians ran their county courts and elected representatives to their House of Burgesses. The people of Massachusetts gathered in town meetings and selected members of the General Court, their Colonial legislature.

Of course, women, slaves and men without property could not vote; nevertheless, by the mid-18th century roughly two out of three adult white male colonists could vote, the highest proportion of voters in the world. By contrast, only about one in six adult males in England could vote for members of Parliament.

If one wanted to explain why the French Revolution spiraled out of control into violence and dictatorship and the American Revolution did not, there is no better answer than the fact that the Americans were used to governing themselves and the French were not. In 18th-century France no one voted; their Estates-General had not even met since 1614. The American Revolution occurred when it did because the British government in the 1760s and 1770s suddenly tried to interfere with this long tradition of American self-government.

Of course, a deep distrust of political power, especially executive power, had always been a part of this tradition of self-government. Consequently, when the newly independent Americans drew up their Revolutionary state constitutions in 1776, most states generally limited the number of years their annually elected governors could successively hold office.

“A long continuance in the first executive departments of power or trust is dangerous to liberty,” declared the Maryland Constitution. “A rotation, therefore, in those departments is one of the best securities of permanent freedom.” In addition to specifying term limits for its plural executive, the radical Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 required that after four annual terms even the assemblymen would have to give way to a new set of legislators so they would “return to mix with the mass of the people and feel at their leisure the effects of the laws which they have made.”

At the same time, the Articles of Confederation also provided that no state delegate to the Congress could serve more than three years out of six.

In the decade after the Declaration of Independence, however, many American leaders had second thoughts about what they had done amid the popular enthusiasm of 1776. Since many of the state legislatures were turning over roughly 50 percent of their membership annually and passing a flood of ill-drafted and unjust legislation, stability and experience seemed to be what was most needed.

As a consequence, many leaders in the 1780s proposed major changes to their constitutional structures, including the abolition of term limits. In Pennsylvania, reformers eliminated rotation in office on the grounds that “the privilege of the people in elections is so far infringed as they are thereby deprived of the right of choosing those persons whom they would prefer.”

The new federal Constitution, itself a reaction to the excessive populism of 1776, also did away with any semblance of term limits, much to the chagrin of Thomas Jefferson and many others uneasy over the extraordinary power of the presidency. Jefferson thought that without rotation in office the president would always be re-elected and thus would serve for life. When he became president he stepped down after two terms and thus affirmed the precedent that Washington had established — a precedent finally made part of the Constitution by the 22nd Amendment in 1951.

Although federal term limits have been confined to the presidency, the fear of entrenched and far-removed political power, as the present anti-incumbency mood suggests, remains very much part of American popular culture. Yet precisely because we are such a rambunctious and democratic people, as the framers of 1787 appreciated, we have learned that a government made up of rotating amateurs cannot maintain the steadiness and continuity that our expansive Republic requires.

Gordon S. Wood, a professor emeritus of history at Brown, is the author, most recently, of “Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815.”
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2010, 09:48:33 AM »

The tenderest words in American political history were cut from the document they were to have graced.

It was July 1, 2 ,3 and 4, 1776, in the State House in Philadelphia. America was being born. The Continental Congress was reviewing and editing the language of the proposed Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson, its primary author, was suffering the death of a thousand cuts.

The tensions over slavery had been wrenching, terrible, and were resolved by brute calculation: to damn or outlaw it now would break fragile consensus, halt all momentum, and stop the creation of the United States. References to the slave trade were omitted, but the founders were not stupid men, and surely they knew their young nation would have its date with destiny; surely they heard in their silence the guns of Fort Sumter.

Still, in the end, the Congress would not produce only an act of the most enormous human and political significance, the creation of America, it would provide history with one of the few instances in which a work of true literary genius was produced, in essence, by committee. (The writing of the King James Bible is another.)

The beginning of the Declaration had a calm stateliness that signaled, subtly, that something huge is happening:

"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to separate."

This gave a tone of moral modesty to an act, revolution, that is not a modest one. And it was an interesting modesty, expressing respect for the opinion of the world while assuming the whole world was watching. In time it would be. But that phrase, "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind" is still a marker, a reminder: We began with respect. America always gets in trouble when we forget that.

The second paragraph will, literally, live forever in the history of man. It still catches the throat:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

What followed was a list of grievances that made the case for separation from the mother country, and this part was fiery. Jefferson was a cold man who wrote with great feeling. He trained his eyes on the depredations of King George III: "He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns. . . . He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compete the work of death, desolation and tyranny . . ."

Members of the Congress read and reread, and the cutting commenced. Sometimes they cooled Jefferson down. He wrote that the king "suffered the administration of justice totally to cease in some of these states." They made it simpler: "He has obstructed the Administration of Justice."

"For Thomas Jefferson it became a painful ordeal, as change after change was called for and approximately a quarter of what he had written was cut entirely." I quote from the historian David McCullough's "John Adams," as I did last year at this time, because everything's there.

Jefferson looked on in silence. Mr. McCullough notes that there is no record that he uttered a word in protest or in defense of what he'd written. Benjamin Franklin, sitting nearby, comforted him: Edits often reduce things to their essence, don't fret. It was similar to the wisdom Scott Fitzgerald shared with the promising young novelist Thomas Wolfe 150 years later: Writers bleed over every cut, but at the end they don't miss what was removed, don't worry.

"Of more than eighty changes in Jefferson's draft during the time Congress deliberated, most were minor and served to improve it," writes Mr. McCullough. But one cut near the end was substantial, and its removal wounded Jefferson, who was right to be wounded, for some of those words should have stayed.

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.Jefferson had, in his bill of particulars against the king, taken a moment to incriminate the English people themselves—"our British brethren"—for allowing their king and Parliament to send over to America not only "soldiers of our own blood" but "foreign Mercenaries to invade and destroy us." This, he said, was at the heart of the tragedy of separation. "These facts have given the last stab to agonizing affection, and manly spirit bids us renounce forever" our old friends and brothers. "We must endeavor to forget our former love for them."

Well. Talk of love was a little much for the delegates. Love was not on their mind. The entire section was removed.

And so were the words that came next. But they should not have been, for they are the tenderest words.

Poignantly, with a plaintive sound, Jefferson addresses and gives voice to the human pain of parting: "We might have been a free and great people together."

What loss there is in those words, what humanity, and what realism, too.

"To write is to think, and to write well is to think well," David McCullough once said in conversation. Jefferson was thinking of the abrupt end of old ties, of self-defining ties, and, I suspect, that the pain of this had to be acknowledged. It is one thing to declare the case for freedom, and to make a fiery denunciation of abusive, autocratic and high-handed governance. But it is another thing, and an equally important one, to acknowledge the human implications of the break. These were our friends, our old relations; we were leaving them, ending the particular facts of our long relationship forever. We would feel it. Seventeen seventy-six was the beginning of a dream. But it was the end of one too. "We might have been a free and great people together."

It hurt Thomas Jefferson to see these words removed from his great document. And we know something about how he viewed his life, his own essence and meaning, from the words he directed that would, a half-century after 1776, be cut onto his tombstone. The first word after his name is "Author."

America and Britain did become great and free peoples together, and apart, bound by a special relationship our political leaders don't often speak of and should never let fade. You can't have enough old friends. There was the strange war of 1812, declared by America and waged here by England, which reinvaded, and burned our White House and Capitol. That was rude of them. But they got their heads handed to them in New Orleans and left, never to return as an army.

Even 1812 gave us something beautiful and tender. There was a bombardment at Fort McHenry. A young lawyer and writer was watching, Francis Scott Key. He knew his country was imperiled. He watched the long night in hopes the fort had not fallen. And he saw it—the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

And so to all writers (would-be, occasional and professional) and all editors too, down through our history: Happy 234th Independence Day. And to our British cousins: Nice growing old with you.
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« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2010, 01:57:02 PM »

Interesting piece.  Granddaughter of the most senior surviving Titanic officer states he claimed two giant errors were made and covered up.  First the person steering the boat turned the boat the wrong way after the iceberg was spotted - as though he was steering a sailing and not steam vessel.  Then instead of stopping cold in the water they kept sailing effectively hastening the sinking of the vessel.  Even then they were afriad of lawsuits and covered up the truth - (assuming this is true).  I wonder if law firms have anyone they can sue now for the benefit of the descendants?

****Wed Sep 22, 11:50 am ET
LONDON (Reuters) – The Titanic hit an iceberg in 1912 because of a basic steering error, and only sank as fast as it did because an official persuaded the captain to continue sailing, an author said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Louise Patten, a writer and granddaughter of Titanic second officer Charles Lightoller, said the truth about what happened nearly 100 years ago had been hidden for fear of tarnishing the reputation of her grandfather, who later became a war hero.

[A brief history of the Titanic]

Lightoller, the most senior officer to have survived the disaster, covered up the error in two inquiries on both sides of the Atlantic because he was worried it would bankrupt the ill-fated liner's owners and put his colleagues out of a job.

"They could easily have avoided the iceberg if it wasn't for the blunder," Patten told the Daily Telegraph.


Click image to see recent Titanic expedition photos

AP/Premier Exhibitions, Inc.-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
"Instead of steering Titanic safely round to the left of the iceberg, once it had been spotted dead ahead, the steersman, Robert Hitchins, had panicked and turned it the wrong way."

Patten, who made the revelations to coincide with the publication of her new novel "Good as Gold" into which her account of events are woven, said that the conversion from sail ships to steam meant there were two different steering systems.

[Video: A closer look at the Titanic disaster]

Crucially, one system meant turning the wheel one way and the other in completely the opposite direction.

Once the mistake had been made, Patten added, "they only had four minutes to change course and by the time (first officer William) Murdoch spotted Hitchins' mistake and then tried to rectify it, it was too late."

Patten's grandfather was not on watch at the time of the collision, but he was present at a final meeting of the ship's officers before the Titanic went down.

There he heard not only about the fatal mistake but also the fact that J. Bruce Ismay, chairman of Titanic's owner the White Star Line persuaded the captain to continue sailing, sinking the ship hours faster than would otherwise have happened.

[The price of tickets, the case of the drunk survivor, and other fascinating Titanic facts]

"If Titanic had stood still, she would have survived at least until the rescue ship came and no one need have died," Patten said.

The RMS Titanic was the world's biggest passenger liner when it left Southampton, England, for New York on its maiden voyage on April 10, 1912. Four days into the trip, the ship hit an iceberg and sank, taking more than 1,500 passengers with it.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)****
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« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2010, 02:17:34 PM »

Titanic Shipwreck: New Revelations or Hype?
According to my trusted source, chairman of marine forensics for SNAME, naval architects concur that the Titanic could not have continued “full speed ahead”, as stated by writer Louise Patton–grand-daughter of 2nd officer Lightoller. The following article reveals  what  Lightoller supposedly heard during the original hearings. Ms. Patton is chosing to disclose this information to coincide with the release of her book–one which is based on family conversations.

Although it may be true that the steersman panicked and ordered the fatal turn, it is scientifically refuted that the ship could continue to sail after encountering the massive iceberg.


Titanic sunk by steering mistake, author says


Top of Form

Reuters – The RMS Titanic in what is thought to be the last known image of the ship as she sets sail from Queenstown …

Slideshow:Titanic expedition provides new images

– Wed Sep 22, 11:50 am ET

LONDON (Reuters) – The Titanic hit an iceberg in 1912 because of a basic steering error, and only sank as fast as it did because an official persuaded the captain to continue sailing, an author said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Louise Patten, a writer and granddaughter of Titanic second officer Charles Lightoller, said the truth about what happened nearly 100 years ago had been hidden for fear of tarnishing the reputation of her grandfather, who later became a war hero.

[A brief history of the Titanic]

Lightoller, the most senior officer to have survived the disaster, covered up the error in two inquiries on both sides of the Atlantic because he was worried it would bankrupt the ill-fated liner’s owners and put his colleagues out of a job.

“They could easily have avoided the iceberg if it wasn’t for the blunder,” Patten told the Daily Telegraph.

Click image to see recent Titanic expedition photos


AP/Premier Exhibitions, Inc.-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

“Instead of steering Titanic safely round to the left of the iceberg, once it had been spotted dead ahead, the steersman, Robert Hitchins, had panicked and turned it the wrong way.”

Patten, who made the revelations to coincide with the publication of her new novel “Good as Gold” into which her account of events are woven, said that the conversion from sail ships to steam meant there were two different steering systems.

[Video: A closer look at the Titanic disaster]

Crucially, one system meant turning the wheel one way and the other in completely the opposite direction.

Once the mistake had been made, Patten added, “they only had four minutes to change course and by the time (first officer William) Murdoch spotted Hitchins’ mistake and then tried to rectify it, it was too late.”

Patten’s grandfather was not on watch at the time of the collision, but he was present at a final meeting of the ship’s officers before the Titanic went down.

There he heard not only about the fatal mistake but also the fact that J. Bruce Ismay, chairman of Titanic’s owner the White Star Line persuaded the captain to continue sailing, sinking the ship hours faster than would otherwise have happened.

[The price of tickets, the case of the drunk survivor, and other fascinating Titanic facts]

“If Titanic had stood still, she would have survived at least until the rescue ship came and no one need have died,” Patten said.

The RMS Titanic was the world’s biggest passenger liner when it left Southampton, England, for New York on its maiden voyage on April 10, 1912. Four days into the trip, the ship hit an iceberg and sank, taking more than 1,500 passengers with it.



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« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2010, 07:18:31 AM »

Bookshelf By JONATHAN KARL
In 1936, Franklin Delano Roosevelt trounced Republican Alf Landon by 24 percentage points in the popular vote and won the biggest electoral landslide in American history. Equally impressive were the lopsided congressional victories that year: a 76-16 majority over the feeble Republicans in the Senate, a 334-88 majority in the House.

With such a mandate, Roosevelt set out to expand the New Deal and to give himself the power to make it work. He pushed bills to establish a minimum wage and streamline his control over the executive branch. To fend off a Supreme Court that had struck down key aspects of the New Deal, he tried adding another six justices to the court. Yet the popular president soon found that all his political capital wasn't worth much in Congress.

"Just nine months after Roosevelt's landslide election, opposition in his own party had grown assertive, militant, and confident—and the New Deal had come to a standstill," writes Susan Dunn in "Roosevelt's Purge." Ms. Dunn, a professor at Williams College, delves into a fascinating and overlooked aspect of the FDR presidency: Roosevelt's brazen effort to assert control over his own party in the summer of 1938.

Ms. Dunn has written an engaging story of bare - knuck led political treachery that pits a president at the peak of his popularity against entrenched congressional leaders who didn't like where he was taking the country and their party. FDR tried to use the power of the White House, and his personality, to run his opponents out of the Democratic Party. He failed miserably.

When Roosevelt's second-term agenda hit a brick wall of Democratic opposition, he first tried a charm offensive. In June 1937, he invited every Democrat in the House and Senate to be his guest for a weekend getaway at the Jefferson Islands Club on the Chesapeake Bay. (Well, not quite every Democrat—the six women in Congress were not on the list.) The president treated them to a weekend of skeet shooting, fishing, poker and skinny dipping. The New York Times reported he had done himself "a world of good," easing tension with congressional Democrats.

View Full Image
.Roosevelt's Purge
By Susan Dunn
(Belknap/Harvard, 361 pages, $27.95)
.Not really. When the skinny dipping and skeet shooting were over, his agenda was still stalled. Four weeks later, 70 senators again voted to block his court-packing bill. One of the few to support the president was Sen. Hattie Caraway of Arkansas, the only woman in the Senate and the only Democratic senator not invited to the president's weekend retreat.

It was time to play hardball. As Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau put it: "There has got to be a fight and there has got to be a purge." Roosevelt made a decision. He would drive the conservatives out of the party, beginning with those who faced competitive primaries in 1938. He had reason to believe that he could call the shots. He had won the South in 1936 by the kind of margins that would make a Soviet leader blush: 87% of the vote in Georgia, 96% in Mississippi, 98.6% in South Carolina.

One of FDR's first targets was Georgia Sen. Walter George. The senator had opposed parts of FDR's agenda but eagerly sought his support in his Democratic primary, even writing him a letter apologizing for his political transgressions. "I have never meant to be offensive to you," he wrote, adding that he had never "at any time felt anything but deep affection for you."

With much fanfare, FDR traveled to Barnesville, Ga., in August 1938 to dedicate a rural electrification project. Before a large crowd of enthusiastic FDR supporters and with George sitting a few feet behind him, Roosevelt went for the kill against "my old friend, the senior senator from this state."

"On most public questions," Roosevelt said of George, "he and I don't speak the same language." After lambasting the senator for standing in the way of progress, he told the crowd that if he could vote in the upcoming primary, he would "most assuredly" cast his ballot for George's opponent, Lawrence Camp. To reinforce FDR's popularity in Georgia, Ms. Dunn writes, "federal money rained down on Georgia, including $53 million in WPA funds for building projects in Georgia that promised to create thirty-five thousand jobs."

FDR did the same in state after state, endorsing liberal primary challengers against incumbent Democratic senators. The conservatives fought back hard. "Their attempt to pack the Court failed," one opponent said of Roosevelt and his team, "and their attempt to pack the Senate will fail." In Maryland, Sen. Millard Tydings turned FDR's support for his primary opponent into a central campaign issue, condemning the president's "invasion" of Maryland and declaring: "The Maryland free state shall remain free."

Tydings was perhaps the most anti-New Deal Democrat in Congress and the one Roosevelt wanted defeated above all others. He instructed Harold Ickes to "take Tydings' hide off and rub salt in it." But it was FDR who would be rubbed in salt. Tydings trounced his FDR-backed opponent in a 20-point landslide. A bitter Roosevelt refused to congratulate him.

And it wasn't just Tydings. All of the Democratic senators targeted by FDR coasted to victory in their Democratic primaries. The voters may have liked their president, but they didn't want him picking their senator. In the general election, Roosevelt didn't fare any better. Republicans picked up eight Senate seats and nearly doubled their numbers in the House.

For FDR, it may have been a blessing in disguise. As the focus of his presidency quickly changed to containing Nazi Germany, Roosevelt's closest allies would be the very conservatives he opposed in 1938. He would never again attempt to intervene in a party primary. He had learned a lesson that needs re-learning from time to time: Political purges are more effectively done by the voters, not by the power brokers in Washington.

Mr. Karl is senior political correspondent for ABC News.
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« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2010, 07:11:32 AM »

Vicksburg, Miss., Nov. 3, 1860


From “Ballou’s Pictorial,” 1855
 
Antebellum VicksburgDuring the last days of the campaign, while Lincoln stayed close to home and held his tongue, another man who would soon be president played somewhat less coy.
For six full weeks, Senator Jefferson Davis had been barnstorming through Mississippi on behalf of the Southern Democrats. The state was ablaze with excitement, even though — or perhaps because — most knew that the party’s candidate was bound for defeat. Amid torchlight marches, barbecues and fireworks shows, orators were preaching less about what would happen on election day itself than on what might follow it. At Vicksburg on Nov. 3, Davis told a crowd:

If Mississippi in her sovereign capacity decides to submit to the rule of an arrogant and sectional North, then I will sit me down as one upon whose brow the brand of degradation and infamy has been written, and bear my portion of the bitter trial. But if, on the other hand, Mississippi decides to resist the hands that would tarnish the bright star which represents her on the National Flag, then I will come at your bidding, whether by day or by night, and pluck that star from the galaxy and place it upon a banner of its own. I will plant it upon the crest of battle, and gathering around me the nucleus of Mississippi’s best and bravest, will welcome the invader to the harvest of death; and future generations will point to a small hillock upon our border, which will tell the reception with which the invader met upon our soil.

Not all of his state’s “best and bravest” shared Davis’s apparent eagerness to welcome federal troops to “the harvest of death.” The Vicksburg Whig’s editor denounced the senator’s oration as showing “how inordinate vanity, operating upon a moderate intellect, flattered by past successes, may influence its possessor to the most inflated of self-laudation.”

But death would indeed reap its ample harvest at Vicksburg, less than three years later.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2010, 05:18:45 PM »

Hat tip to BBG for this very nice little piece which I paste here:

Happy birthday, Stephen J. Field!
Today is the birthday of one of the great figures in the history of American liberty—Stephen Johnson Field, who was born on this day in 1816.

Field was born into an illustrious family; his brother, Cyrus, laid the first transatlantic telegraph cable (and is mentioned in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea), and his other brother, David Dudley Field, was perhaps the most famous and influential lawyer in his day. But unlike his brothers, Stephen came west to California in 1849, arriving in San Francisco, where he started a law firm. It failed quickly, and he moved to Marysville, where he was soon elected alcalde—something similar to mayor. After serving in the state legislature, Field was elected to the California Supreme Court in 1857, and soon achieved wide respect, although he clashed with his colleague, Chief Justice David S. Terry. When Terry shot and killed California Senator David Broderick in a duel two years later, Field replaced him as Chief Justice of California.

In 1863, needing a western Democrat for the Supreme Court, Abraham Lincoln appointed Stephen Field to the new 10th seat, making him the first Californian on the Supreme Court. Field soon distinguished himself as a defender of economic freedom and a friend to the Chinese immigrants who were so severely persecuted in California at the time. While riding circuit in the state, for instance, Field struck down the San Francisco “queue ordinance.” This was a law requiring any person who was thrown in jail to first have his head shaved. Although the government claimed this was a health measure intended to prevent lice infestation, Field recognized that it was really an attempt to allow the cutting off of the Chinese workers’ long hair braids, or queues, that they prized for traditional reasons: “we cannot shut our eyes to matters of public notoriety and general cognizance,” Field wrote. “When we take our seats on the bench we are not struck with blindness, and forbidden to know as judges what we see as men.” Ho Ah Kow v. Nunan, 12 F. Cas. 252, 255 (C.C.D. Cal. 1879).

Field was a champion of the individual’s right to earn a living without unreasonble interference by the government. (Which is why I dedicated my book to him.) In a persuasive dissenting opinion in Munn v. Illinois, 94 U.S. (4 Otto.) 113 (1877), Field argued that a law limiting how much the owners of grain silos could charge for storing grain was a violation of the due process clause, because it violated the owners’ right to do with their property as they pleased—not to protect the general public, but simply to benefit a group that managed to exercise greater political influence than their rivals. The Court majority devised a new test, saying that any business “affected with a public interest” could be regulated by the government in this way, but Field pointed out that the storage of grain was simply “a private business,” and if the legislature could dictate the prices owners could charge simply by declaring that the business is “affected with a public interest,” then “all property and all business in the State are held at the mercy of a majority of its legislature,” which might just as easily

fix the rent of all tenements used for residences, without reference to the cost...[or set prices for] cotton, woollen, and silken fabrics, in the construction of machinery, in the printing and publication of books and periodicals, and in the making of utensils of every variety, useful and ornamental; indeed, there is hardly an enterprise or business...in which the public has not an interest in the sense in which that term is used by the court...and the doctrine which allows the legislature to interfere with and regulate the charges which the owners of property thus employed shall make for its use...has never before been asserted, so far as I am aware, by any judicial tribunal in the United States.

Field rightly saw that Munn would open the door to a flood of government control over businesses, and in the decade that followed (virtually every state held a constitutional convention in the 1870s) legislatures declared industries willy-nilly to be affected with a public interest so that bureaucrats could control large segments of industry. Likewise, in what is probably his most famous opinion—his dissent in The Slaughterhouse Cases, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 36 (1873)—Field insisted that the privileges or immunities clause protected, among other rights, the right to engage in a business without unreasonable government interference—a right protected by the common law for more than two and a half centuries at that time.

It’s ironic that Progressive legal theorists like Roscoe Pound later accused the pro-free market judges like Field of being “formalists.” Field was anything but a formalist, as the quote from the queue case suggests. In Cummings v. Missouri, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 277 (1867), he struck down a Missouri law that required people to swear they’d never been a supporter of secession before they could take certain jobs. This scheme was just a clever attempt at double-punishment for the same offense, Field wrote, and

what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly. The Constitution deals with substance, not shadows. Its inhibition was levelled at the thing, not the name. It intended that the rights of the citizen should be secure against deprivation for past conduct by legislative enactment, under any form, however disguised. If the inhibition can be evaded by the form of the enactment, its insertion in the fundamental law was a vain and futile proceeding.

Field ended up serving on the Court longer than any other justice except John Marshall. (William O. Douglas later surpassed him.) During that time, his influence on American law was profound—far greater than is usually recognized by legal historians. Upon his retirement from the bench, Field explained that in his view, the Supreme Court was actually the most democratic of the branches of the government, because while the legislature represents the will of temporary majorities that change over time, the Supreme Court’s job is to preserve the Constitution—the true will of the people—and protect it from legislatures that often abuse their constituents and ignore their constitutional limits.

Field also had a very colorful personal life. He ran for President several times while serving on the Supreme Court, and he’s the only Supreme Court justice ever arrested for murder. David Terry—the Chief Justice of California who had resigned after killing Senator Broderick—threatened Field’s life after Field ruled against Terry’s girlfriend in a divorce case. Field was then assigned a bodyguard, a U.S. Marshal named David Neagle. Not long afterwards, when Field was traveling through Lathrop, California, on judicial business, he happened upon David Terry, who walked up to Field and slapped him in the face. Marshal Neagle immediately pulled out his revolver and shot Terry dead. Although the sheriff arrested both Field and Neagle on murder charges, Field was immediately released and never charged. Neagle, however, was charged, and appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that the Marshal could not be tried under state law.

For more on this remarkable figure, check out Paul Kens’ book Stephen Field: Shaping Liberty from The Gold Rush to The Gilded Age, or Carl Brent Swisher’s book Stephen Field: Craftsman of The Law. Field also wrote a memoir of his early days in California. And not long ago I visited his gravesite.

http://sandefur.typepad.com/freespace/2010/11/happy-birthday-stephen-j-field.html
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« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2010, 08:04:09 AM »

Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corp!!!   Thank you all!!!
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« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2010, 08:11:13 AM »

Georgia to U.S.: ‘Don’t Tread on Me’
By ADAM GOODHEART
Disunion follows the Civil War as it unfolded.
Nov. 9, 1860

Across the country, the day’s headlines blazed with reports of Southerners’ response to Lincoln’s election. Perhaps most disturbing to many Americans, though thrilling to others, was news of a mass meeting in Savannah, Ga., the previous afternoon. Thousands of citizens – the largest gathering that the city had ever seen, newspapers said – had filled Johnson Square at the heart of downtown, thronging around a monument to Revolutionary War general Nathanael Greene to launch a revolution of their own. The crowd cheered wildly as a speaker declared that “the election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the United States, ought not and will not be submitted to.” The shouts and whoops redoubled as a flag was unfurled across the white marble obelisk: a banner with a coiled rattlesnake and the words “SOUTHERN RIGHTS. EQUALITY OF THE STATES. DON’T TREAD ON ME.”


Library of Congress
 
The first flag of Southern independence, raised in Savannah, Ga., on November 8, 1860. CLICK TO SEE FLAG DETAILRelated
Civil War Timeline

An unfolding history of the Civil War with photos and articles from the Times archive and ongoing commentary from Disunion contributors.

Probably no one mentioned the ironic fact that this Southern banner, one of the very first flags of secession, was raised atop a monument to a Northerner: General Greene had been born and raised in Rhode Island. Like many Americans of the founding generation, he had harbored mixed feelings about slavery – to say the least. “On the subject of slavery, nothing can be said in its defence,” he wrote to a Quaker acquaintance in 1783, while he was in the process of moving to Georgia to take possession of a large plantation and its hundreds of enslaved African Americans, a gift from the state of Georgia. Greene justified this acquisition by claiming that he planned to treat his new chattels kindly. Two years later, just before his early death, he still harbored vague plans to free his slaves and keep them in a system resembling medieval feudalism.

 
Cleveland Plain Dealer headline, Nov. 9, 1860
In 1860, however, Georgia’s leaders felt no such ambivalence about human bondage. As the secessionists gathered in Savannah, Governor Joseph E. Brown issued a proclamation vindicating Georgia’s right to withdraw from the Union rather than submit to “proud and haughty Northern Abolitionists.” Brown, who came from a family of hardscrabble farmers in northern Georgia, struck a populist tone, as he often did, reminding the South’s poor whites how much better off they were than Northern factory workers:

Here the poor white laborer is respected as an equal. His family are treated with kindness, consideration and respect. He does not belong to the menial class. The negro is in no sense of the term his equal. Be feels and knows this. He belongs to the only true aristocracy, the race of white men. …

These [laborers] know that in the event of the abolition of Slavery, they would be greater sufferers than the rich, who would be able to protect themselves. They will, therefore, never permit the slaves of the South to be set free among them, come in competition with their labor, associate with them and their children as equals – be allowed to testify in our Courts against them – sit on juries with them, march to the ballot-box by their sides, and participate in the choice of their rulers – claim social equality with them – and ask the hands of their children in marriage. …[T]he ultimate design of the Black Republican Party is to bring about this state of things in the Southern States.

But the crowd in Savannah on Nov. 8 probably needed no reminder about the current state of race relations. One of the largest slave pens in Georgia – a business establishment where hundreds of people at a time were often imprisoned, awaiting sale – faced the Greene Monument across Johnson Square.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sources: New York Times, Nov. 9 and Nov. 12, 1860; Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nov. 9, 1860; Macon Daily Telegraph, Nov. 12, 1860; Terry Golway, “Washington’s General: Nathanael Greene and the Triumph of the American Revolution”; Gerald M. Carbone, “Nathanael Greene: A Biography of the American Revolution”; George Washington Greene, “The Life of Nathanael Greene, Major-General in the Army of the Revolution”; William W. Freehling and Craig M. Simpson, “Secession Debated: Georgia’s Showdown in 1860”; Walter J. Fraser, “Savannah in the Old South”; Malcolm Bell Jr., “Major Butler’s Legacy: Five Generations of a Slaveholding Family.”


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Adam Goodheart is the author of the forthcoming book “1861: The Civil War Awakening.” He lives in Washington, D.C., and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where he is the Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.

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« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2010, 01:19:41 PM »

As he stepped gingerly from a launch onto the wharf, few of those watching could have imagined that this man would, within a matter of weeks, become the most famous military officer in America. None, surely, could have guessed that women would soon beg for locks of that meticulously combed gray hair, or that woodcuts of that bland, impassive face would appear on the front pages of magazines around the nation and across the Atlantic.

Everything about him seemed middling. He was in his fifties, of intermediate rank, medium height and moderate demeanor; circumspect in his political opinions; pleasant-mannered but lacking in charm; handsome without the slightest degree of magnetism. He was known in the service mainly – to the extent that he was known at all – for having translated certain French artillery textbooks into English. Even his name was nondescript, easily forgettable: Maj. Robert Anderson.

Library of Congress
 
Robert AndersonAnd yet here was the person to whom the United States government had just entrusted one of the most delicate military and political assignments in American history: command of the federal garrison in Charleston Harbor, the very epicenter of the exploding secession crisis. Perhaps more than any man except Abraham Lincoln himself, Anderson would set the course of events in the months ahead, and would make decisions that fixed the country on a path toward war or peace.

Within a fortnight after Lincoln’s election, everyone in America was aware that South Carolina would soon attempt to leave the Union; its legislature had already set a date for a “secession convention” in less than a month’s time. As soon as the formalities were complete, all federal property within the state’s borders would be, at least to the seceders’ eyes, subject to immediate confiscation. In particular, the three forts guarding Charleston Harbor – of which Anderson was about to take command on behalf of the United States – would immediately become foreign military bases within the sovereign Republic of South Carolina. Would they surrender peacefully – or, by resisting, bring war?

Luckily for the founding fathers of the nascent republic, those three citadels – Fort Moultrie, Castle Pinckney and Fort Sumter – “guarded” Charleston in only the most figurative sense. Waiting on Moultrie’s parade ground to welcome Anderson was a tiny detachment of soldiers that could scarcely even be termed a garrison: just two companies of barely 30 men each, not counting a small brass band.

And these were anything spit-and-polish troops. Their outgoing commander, Lt. Col. John Gardner, 67 years old, had been shunted off to Fort Moultrie as a none-too-demanding spot where he could wind down an army career that had begun in the hazy days before the War of 1812. Not surprisingly, Gardner was far from a martinet, and his men spent more time attending local cotillions and barbecues than they did taking artillery practice. Drifts of sand half-covered Fort Moultrie’s outer walls; grazing cows sometimes wandered blithely across the battlements.

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Civil War Timeline

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Visit the Timeline »
.The two other two forts posed even less of a threat to the forces of secession. Fort Sumter, built on an artificial island in the harbor’s mouth, sat unfinished after decades of start-and-stop construction, and it housed just a few military engineers supervising some civilian workmen. Castle Pinckney, though its guns overlooked the town itself, was under the protection of but a single ordnance sergeant.

The cautious, temporizing administration of James Buchanan, the lame-duck president, may have appointed Anderson because he seemed as unthreatening as the forts themselves. Born in the border state of Kentucky, he detested secessionists and abolitionists in equal measure. The major personally owned no slaves, but his Georgia-born wife had inherited quite a number, whom she later sold off; Anderson once quipped dryly that “the increase of her darkies” had made him rich. He knew both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line well: his long career had seen him posted to Maine and Florida, New Jersey and Virginia. When the War Department plucked him out of the middle ranks of the officer corps for the Charleston appointment, he was serving on a commission to revise the curriculum at West Point, where he had once been an instructor.

Anderson had fought the Seminoles, led troops in the war with Mexico, and been brevetted for gallantry at Molino del Rey – but, as a devout Christian, he loved peace. Indeed, he loathed violence with the certitude of a man who had seen far too much of it already. The Buchanan administration believed it had found a soldier incapable of any rash act, one who would put no American lives at risk either to disrupt the Union or to defend it.

But the officers and men who welcomed Major Anderson to Charleston inspected their quiet new commander with searching eyes. They knew that in a certain sense, he – and they – would hold more power in the months ahead than President Buchanan himself. “The truth is we are the government at present,” one of them would soon write. “It rests upon the points of our swords. Shall we use our position to deluge the country in blood?”

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« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2010, 11:20:10 AM »

Today, Dec. 15, is the anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to our Constitution, as ratified in 1791.

The Bill of Rights was inspired by three remarkable documents: John Locke's 1689 thesis, Two Treatises of Government, regarding the protection of "property" (in the Latin context, proprius, or one's own "life, liberty and estate"); in part from the Virginia Declaration of Rights authored by George Mason in 1776 as part of that state's Constitution; and, of course, in part from our Declaration of Independence authored by Thomas Jefferson.

Read in context, the Bill of Rights is both an affirmation of innate individual rights and a clear delineation on constraints upon the central government. As oft trampled and abused as the Bill of Rights is, Patriots should remain vigilant in the fight for our rights.

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« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2010, 11:48:34 AM »

NY Times

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW published his best-known poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” 150 years ago tomorrow — the same day that South Carolina seceded from the United States.

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear/ Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.” Before Longfellow published those lines, Revere was never known for his ride, and Longfellow got almost every detail of what happened in 1775 wrong. But Longfellow didn’t care: he was writing as much about the coming war as about the one that had come before. “Paul Revere’s Ride” is less a poem about the Revolutionary War than about the impending Civil War — and about the conflict over slavery that caused it. That meaning, though, has been almost entirely forgotten.

Longfellow, a passionately private man, was, just as passionately and privately, an abolitionist. His best friend was Charles Sumner, for whom he wrote, in 1842, a slim volume called “Poems on Slavery.” Sumner, a brash and aggressive politician, delivered stirring speeches attacking slave owners; Longfellow, a gentler soul, wrote verses mourning the plight of slaves, poems “so mild,” he wrote, “that even a slaveholder might read them without losing his appetite for breakfast.”

Still, publishing those poems cost Longfellow something: a piece of his privacy, with pressure from fellow abolitionists to enter politics. “I should be found but a weak and unworthy champion in public debate,” he demurred. Asked to write once more about slavery, he refused: “I think no one who cares about the matter will be at any loss to discover my opinion on that subject.”

Yet Longfellow’s abolitionist zeal didn’t abate. He secretly spent money he earned from his best-selling poems, like “The Song of Hiawatha,” to buy slaves their freedom. In 1856, when Sumner gave his famous “Crime Against Kansas” speech in the Senate, Longfellow congratulated him: “At last the spirit of the North is aroused.” That speech nearly cost Sumner his life — it so incensed a South Carolina representative, Preston Brooks, that he beat Sumner with a cane on the Senate floor.

The next year, Longfellow wrote to Sumner calling the Dred Scott decision heart-breaking, and wishing he could find a way to write about it: “I long to say some vibrant word, that should have vitality in it, and force. Be sure if it comes to me I will not be slow in uttering it.” On Dec. 2, 1859, the day John Brown was hanged, Longfellow wrote in his diary, “This will be a great day in our history, the date of a new Revolution quite as much needed as the old one.”

Pondering that new Revolution, Longfellow got to thinking about the old one. In April 1860, he began writing “Paul Revere’s Ride.” While he worked on the poem, he worried about the fate of the nation. Around the same time he went to see Frederick Douglass speak and read Sumner’s latest speech, which predicted that “the sacred animosity between Freedom and Slavery can end only with the triumph of Freedom.” In November, weeks after finishing “Paul Revere’s Ride,” Longfellow rejoiced in his diary that Lincoln had won the presidency; echoing Sumner, he wrote: “Freedom is triumphant.”

“Paul Revere’s Ride” was published in the January 1861 issue of The Atlantic, which appeared on newsstands on Dec. 20. It was read as a rallying cry for the Union. It is a poem about waking the sleeping, and waking the dead: “Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,/ In their night encampment on the hill.” The dead are Northerners, awakened, at last aroused. But the dead are also the enslaved, entombed in slavery — an image that was, at the time, a common conceit: Douglass called his escape “a resurrection from the dark and pestiferous tomb of slavery.”

Much of the poem echoes stanzas in Longfellow’s earlier abolitionist verses, including “The Witnesses”:

These are the bones of Slaves;

They gleam from the abyss;

They cry, from yawning waves,

‘We are the Witnesses!’

Thanks to poems like “Paul Revere’s Ride,” Longfellow was once the country’s most respected and beloved poet. But, beginning with the rise of New Criticism in the early 20th century, literary scholars have dismissed his poetry as cloying, drippy and even childish. Generations of schoolchildren have memorized “Paul Revere’s Ride”; critics have barely read it.

Yet neglecting Longfellow, taking the politics out of Longfellow, thinking of Longfellow as childish, have both occluded the poem’s meaning and made it exceptionally serviceable as a piece of political propaganda. It is, after all, a rousing call to action:

In the hour of darkness and peril and need,

The people will waken and listen to hear

The hurrying hoofbeats of that steed,

And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

With the history of the poem forgotten, this became all-purpose stuff. “We still need some Paul Revere of conscience to alert every hamlet and every village of America that revolution is still at hand,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1967. In 1971, the Vietnam Veterans against the War marched Revere’s ride in reverse; four years later, Gerald Ford quoted Longfellow to call for renewed pride in America.

This year George Pataki came to Boston to unveil an organization called “Revere America”: “We’re here today to tell the people of America,” he declared, “that once again our freedom is in danger” ... from health care.

A century and a half ago, there was quite a bit more at stake. “The dissolution of the Union goes slowly on,” Longfellow wrote in his diary in January 1861. “Behind it all I hear the low murmur of the slaves, like the chorus in a Greek tragedy.” They cry, from the abyss.


Jill Lepore is a professor of history at Harvard and the author, most recently, of “The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History.”


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« Reply #22 on: December 26, 2010, 07:37:22 AM »

Charleston Harbor, Dec. 26, 1860

The rowers strained at their oars, gasping with exertion, their breath visible in the chill night air. By good fortune, the water lay almost flat, with just the slightest rolling swell, and each pull drew them several lengths farther on.

None of those men knew that their brief but perilous transit would end up changing American history. Their only thought was of swiftly and silently reaching their destination, barely a mile across the channel: Fort Sumter.
In the second of the three longboats crouched Capt. Abner Doubleday, scanning the moonlit harbor around him. Ahead, in the lead boat, he could make out an unmistakable figure, hawk-like with its beaked nose and enshrouding cloak, clutching something tightly under one arm. This was the garrison’s commander, Maj. Robert Anderson. For weeks, as hostile secessionists drew an ever-tighter cordon around their tiny Union force, Doubleday had speculated endlessly about his close-lipped superior’s intentions. Did Anderson plan to stay put in their pathetically indefensible little citadel at Fort Moultrie, docilely awaiting orders from Washington, until the enemy overwhelmed him? Was the major, a known apologist for slavery, scheming to betray his loyal men to the rebels? Or could he – as Doubleday fervently hoped – be plotting somehow to slip the trap and make a run for the far more secure position that Sumter offered?

The moment of truth had arrived only an hour or so earlier, back at Moultrie. As the sun set over Charleston Harbor, the officers had gathered for their customary late-afternoon tea with the commander. Arriving slightly late, Doubleday greeted his comrades and was met with distracted silence. Then Anderson rose and approached him.

“I have determined to evacuate this post immediately, for the purpose of occupying Fort Sumter,” the major said quietly. “I can only allow you 20 minutes to form your company and be in readiness to start.”

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.Anderson had not previously confided his intentions even to Doubleday, the garrison’s second-ranked officer. He had told only a couple of trusted staff members, whom he’d instructed to charter some vessels, ostensibly to carry the fort’s women and children out of harm’s way. (Many of the men, including Doubleday, still had their families living with them.) On Christmas Day, with Charlestonians distracted by the festivities, crates of essential supplies had been loaded aboard, on the pretext that these were only the noncombatants’ personal effects. A couple of local busybodies showed up at the wharf to supervise the preparations – barring them would have put the secessionist forces on alert – and became suspicious when they saw a crate marked “1,000 ball cartridges” among the cargo. They were quickly assured that this had just been an error, and left after seeing the box offloaded.

As Doubleday realized, the major’s stubborn sense of military honor had trumped his political sympathies. To save his force from ignominious surrender, he would defy the express wishes, if not the explicit commands, of his own superiors in Washington, who wished to do nothing that might offend the aggrieved South. (Anderson, ever the careful West Point academic, had discovered a slight ambiguity of phrasing in the orders that could serve as a loophole.) He would also defy the local secessionist authorities, who had put Moultrie under round-the-clock watch, with armed steamers patrolling the channel between the two forts, under orders to stop or sink any vessel carrying Union soldiers to Sumter.

So now Anderson and his little garrison – barely six dozen officers and men – were crossing just that stretch of water. He had left a small detachment back at Moultrie, manning six heavy cannons. These were loaded, primed and pointed at the channel, ready to fire at any rebel vessel intercepting the troops.

Staying close together, the three boats crossed the broad belt of moonlight, hastening toward the deep shadows cast by Sumter’s hulking walls. As Doubleday peered at the fortress, a strange thought came into his head, one that had occurred to him before: it looked like a prison.

Then, off to one side, he saw a smaller black shape, drawing swiftly closer across the water. Doubleday recognized it: the rebel steamer Nina. An ordinary packet boat in peacetime – a decade earlier, she had borne the body of John C. Calhoun to Charleston – she had recently been pressed into patrol duty. She would be packed with armed militiamen, he knew.

Anderson’s boat and the other one were already veering away, making for the dark shoreline of nearby Sullivan’s Island. Doubleday ordered his own rowers to turn sharply and follow, but the soldiers, inexpert at the oars, bungled the maneuver, leaving their boat flailing in the path of the oncoming steamer.

The Nina drew closer and closer. In an urgent whisper, Doubleday told his men to take off their uniform coats and drape them over their muskets, lest the moonlight reveal the telltale glint of a brass button or polished bayonet. Perhaps, the captain hoped, the rebels might mistake their boat for a civilian vessel. It seemed a desperate, feeble improvisation, but it was now their only hope of escape.

The anxious soldiers saw the Nina’s paddlewheels slow, then stop. Someone aboard seemed to be scrutinizing, pondering. Doubleday’s men, for their part, did not pause; finding their rhythm once more, they pulled hard at the oars, passing within 100 yards of the enemy’s bow. Then the Nina’s engine let off a puff of steam and her wheels turned again, carrying the vessel placidly past.

Minutes later, Doubleday’s boat bumped against the wharf at Sumter. Here his party would have other opponents to contend with. Though the fort was still federal property, not yet seized by the Carolinians, it was superintended by just a single military engineer who oversaw a large team of civilian laborers at work on the fortifications. Many of these men were known to be secessionist sympathizers.


Library of Congress
Entry of Maj. Anderson’s command Into Fort Sumter, published in Harper’s Weekly.And in fact, they were now crowding through the gate toward the wharf. Doubleday saw that many wore blue ribbon cockades, badges of Southern radicalism. “What are these soldiers doing here?” someone shouted angrily.

The captain ordered his small squad into formation. Before his antagonists knew what was happening, they were facing a bristling thicket of bayonets. The startled laborers stumbled back into the fort as Doubleday seized control of the guardhouse. Shortly thereafter, the two boats carrying Major Anderson and the other troops pulled up to the wharf. They placed the disloyal workmen under guard, to be sent ashore to Charleston in the morning. Anderson entered the fort, carrying the bundle he had been holding in the boat: a tightly folded flag.

From the ramparts of Sumter a signal gun rang out, its sharp crack echoing across the water. The detachment back at Moultrie would know that its comrades had arrived at their destination.

As for the secessionists over in Charleston, they would soon awaken to a very unpleasant surprise. “They must have looked upon us as a mouse to play with and eat up at leisure,” one of the Union officers gloated, “but we gave the cat the slip however, and are now safe in our hole.”

At the two forts, men labored through the night, bracing for the fast-approaching moment when that startled cat would unsheath its claws. Midnight passed and dawn approached: one of the last days in a waning year.


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« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2011, 12:14:18 PM »

Given the recent tendency to romanticize resistance, it may come as a surprise to learn that throughout history slave rebellions have been comparatively rare, especially in North America, where slaves constituted a minority of the total population. (In Central and South America they were often a majority.) One reason for such rarity was the skill with which masters controlled their workers and suppressed revolt.

Peter Charles Hoffer and Daniel Rasmussen separately tell the story of two of the largest slave revolts in North America—the Stono Rebellion of 1739 in South Carolina and the Louisiana Slave Revolt of 1811. Neither event plays as large a role in the popular imagination as Nat Turner's rebellion in 1831, but each proved a major test for the power of slavery's supporters to enforce their regime and repel the threats to it.

In "Cry Liberty," Mr. Hoffer, a historian at the University of Georgia, offers a novel reinterpretation of the Stono Rebellion and challenges writers to rethink how they portray the resistance it displayed. The rebellion began soon after midnight on Sept. 9, 1739, when a group of some 20 slaves broke into a store along the Stono River near Charles Town (now Charleston), S.C.

Two white men were in the store. The rebels killed them and displayed their heads on the store's front steps. Then they stole some guns and, after killing three more whites, turned south along the main road, beating drums, bearing a flag and crying for liberty. Presumably their destination was Spanish Florida, which had promised freedom to Carolinian slaves. By mid-morning they had recruited another 40 to 80 slaves and killed 18 more whites. They almost captured South Carolina's lieutenant governor.

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.Cry Liberty
By Peter Charles Hoffer
Oxford, 173 pages, $19.95
.American Uprising
By Daniel Rasmussen
Harper, 276 pages, $26.99

Then whites sounded the alarm. A large Presbyterian church interrupted its Sunday service, and the men formed a militia. They found the rebels resting in a field and attacked, killing 14. "The mortal wound had come," Mr. Hoffer writes. When order was finally restored, 23 whites and roughly 100 slaves had been killed, and some 30 slaves were "rewarded for protecting their masters."

There is no evidence that the slaves had planned to rebel before breaking into the store. Yet previous accounts have assumed that rebellion was the slaves' aim from the outset. For Mr. Hoffer this reasoning "turns causation around" and ignores the role of chance. Might the saga have begun not as rebellion but as a plan to steal food? What if the tipping point was the discovery of the two whites in the store, prompting a sudden change of plan?

Addressing such questions, Mr. Hoffer structures his book as an elegant and intricate detective story. Along the way, he neatly captures the texture of South Carolina's Low Country in 1739. It was a time when the slave population had almost doubled in a decade, owing to the influx of slaves from Angola. Blacks outnumbered whites by a 2-to-1 ratio. Masters got rich from slave-grown rice. And "death was everywhere." Slaves "reckoned that old comrades and new friends would die before they could start families." In this environment, "something had to give." It did.

Mr. Rasmussen, a recent graduate from Harvard, has turned his senior thesis into "American Uprising," a book on America's largest, and little known, slave revolt. A crisp, confident writer, he tells the story with verve, though ultimately he overreaches by trying to connect his story to 200 years of American history, as if the Louisiana Slave Revolt of 1811 was somehow central to the Civil War, civil rights and national expansion.

On the night of Jan. 8, 1811, 40 miles upriver from New Orleans, some 25 slaves entered the home of Manuel Andry, the parish's largest slaveowner. After wounding Andry, who managed to escape, they killed his son. The slaves' leader, Charles Deslonde, worked as a driver on Andry's plantation and knew it well. He and some comrades donned Andry's military uniforms "to lend the revolt authority." Then they stole Andry's guns and horses and headed south. "On to New Orleans!" Deslonde yelled.

The rebel army quickly grew to between 100 and 500 slaves, according to eyewitnesses. But Gov. William Claiborne called out the militia and federal troops, and within days the rebellion was crushed. While only two whites died in the affair, some 100 slaves were killed and dismembered, their heads put on poles that dotted the roadside for 40 miles, a grim warning to other slaves.

Even had the rebels reached New Orleans, it is unclear what they would have done. No doubt they had been inspired by slaves from St. Domingue, who a few years earlier had fought off colonial armies, abolished slavery and established the black republic of Haiti. Perhaps the Louisiana rebels hoped to create an American Haiti. A few said that they wanted to "kill all the whites." But whites were not their only enemy; many slaves and free blacks aligned themselves with the planters.

In some ways the Louisiana rebels resembled those from South Carolina. A disproportionately large number were Angolan migrants, who beat drums and waved flags as they marched. To recruit adherents, both rebel groups threatened or killed slaves who refused to join them. Any chance of success hinged on the use of terror. Yet both books also dramatize why slave rebellions were almost always suicidal. The violence of the rebellion begat more violence. It is thus no wonder that so many slaves protected their masters and informed on fellow slaves; it was the easiest way to gain power and even freedom.

Mr. Stauffer teaches history and literature at Harvard and is the author of "Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln."

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« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2011, 10:50:48 AM »

Charleston Harbor, Jan. 9, 1861

Capt. Abner Doubleday rose early and went up to the parapet of Fort Sumter, scanning the surrounding waters with his telescope. He had seen something flashing out there the night before: a pilot boat signaling that a vessel was approaching Charleston Harbor in the darkness.

Since their move into the fortress two weeks before, Doubleday and his comrades in the small Union garrison had been looking out over that harbor in despair, as the besieging Carolinians were joined by volunteer units from across the Deep South. “If we ascended to the parapet,” he later recalled, “we saw nothing but uncouth State flags, representing palmettos, pelicans and other strange devices. No echo seemed to come back from the loyal North to encourage us. Our glasses in vain swept the horizon; the one flag we longed to see was not there.”

Library of CongressThe Star of the West enters Charleston Harbor, from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.
But now, in the morning sunlight, he suddenly saw that longed-for flag, the familiar Stars and Stripes. It was coming across the harbor, fluttering atop the mast of a large merchant steamer making her way up the channel. Doubleday quickly realized which vessel it was. He and the other officers had learned of this steamship and her top-secret mission to Fort Sumter the day before – from an article in a newspaper.

A week earlier, President James Buchanan, prodded into action by the general-in-chief of the Army, Winfield Scott, had at last decided to send reinforcements and provisions to the beleaguered Sumter garrison. Scott had urged that every possible step be taken to keep news of the expedition from getting out. Instead of using a Navy vessel, he chartered an ordinary steamship, the Star of the West. She was to clear New York Harbor as if bound on a regular voyage to New Orleans. Arms, ammunition and 200 federal troops were loaded by tugboats when the ship was discreetly out of sight of the city’s wharves.

Library of CongressHeadline in the New York Herald, Jan. 8, 1861.But the plan had sprung a leak. Actually, multiple leaks. New York longshoremen and tugboat pilots were not noted for their discretion, and by the evening of the Star’s departure, word had reached the city’s newspaper editors – for whom a scoop easily trumped any mere issues of national security. “SECRET MOVEMENTS OF UNITED STATES TROOPS,” blared a headline in the Herald, above a story describing the expedition down to its last detail. Similar reports appeared in papers from Massachusetts to Georgia (including The New York Times).

By that point, however, the secessionist authorities in South Carolina were already fully informed. Buchanan’s secretary of the interior, Jacob Thompson of Mississippi, had learned of the plan, resigned his post and promptly telegraphed Charleston.

The mission’s intended beneficiaries – the loyal troops at Fort Sumter and their commander, Maj. Robert Anderson – were among the last to learn of it. Washington had no secure telegraph line to the garrison, and so the War Department had mailed Anderson a letter. It traveled more slowly than the Star did. When Sumter’s officers saw a newspaper report of the expedition on Jan. 8, they “could not credit the rumor,” Doubleday wrote. “To publish all the details of an expedition of this kind, which ought to be kept a profound secret, was virtually telling South Carolina to prepare her guns to sink the vessel.”

Now the captain watched in astonishment as that very ship – the supposed journalistic figment – puffed laboriously up the channel. Then the crash of a rebel cannon split the morning air.

Doubleday, without waiting to see where the shot hit, rushed headlong downstairs to alert Anderson, who was still in bed. The major ordered his men to their battle stations. They hurried to load and prime Sumter’s cannons.

The Star was still under fire. Solid shot hurtled toward her from a battery on Morris Island manned by teenage cadets from the Citadel, the local military academy. Luckily, the youths were far from expert artillerists, and their cannonballs mostly splashed harmlessly into the water; one or two struck the steamer but did little damage. The American flag on her foremast dipped and rose again, as if the captain were trying to signal the fort. Clearly he expected Sumter’s guns to open upon the rebels and protect him.

Almost at that moment, more cannon fire boomed out, from a different direction: Fort Moultrie, across the channel. The Carolinians were attacking from two directions now. And still Sumter’s gunners stood watching, immobile, awaiting orders; clutching the lanyards that they might pull at any moment to set their own cannons roaring in reply. The entire scene seemed surreal, almost unbelievable: a citadel that had very recently been their own fortress was now firing upon the American flag. One of the lieutenants – a Union officer who bore the improbable and unfortunate name Jefferson C. Davis – begged Major Anderson to unleash his guns on Moultrie.

Anderson hesitated and seemed about to give the order. But another lieutenant, the Virginian Richard K. Meade, began remonstrating with Anderson, reminding him that the first shot from Sumter would mean civil war. Just then, across the channel, the Star began to swing her bow around into a turn.

“Hold on; do not fire,” Anderson said. “I will wait.”

Across the harbor, from the Charleston waterfront, an anxious Carolinian was watching the drama unfold. He was William Henry Trescot, who until recently had been assistant secretary of state in the Buchanan administration, but had just returned home to cast his lot with the rebellion. Now he stood, shuddering, as he thought of Anderson’s garrison and the fate that would befall them if a full-scale artillery battle began. His summer house was a few hundred yards from their former quarters at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island; the Union soldiers had been his friends – occasionally his dinner guests – in peacetime.

“Almost every summer day after breakfast, I used to light my cigar, walk over to Fort Moultrie, sit down in the piazza, and talk away the long morning,” Trescot wrote soon afterward. “It is mortifying to send a cannonball into bowels which have digested your hospitality gratefully and thoroughly. To kill them is almost as bad as to be killed ourselves.”

But the Star of the West was heading out again toward the open sea. The guns around the harbor fell silent, giving way once more to the cries of seagulls and the muted sigh of the waves. Trescot would have no reason to be mortified. Not yet.




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Sources: Abner Doubleday, “Reminiscences of Forts Sumter and Moultrie in 1860-’61”; Samuel Wylie Crawford, “The History of the Fall of Fort Sumpter”; New-York Tribune, Jan. 9, 10, and 14, 1861; New York Herald, Jan. 8, 1861; Macon Daily Telegraph, Jan. 7, 1861; Boston Evening Transcript, Jan. 8, 1861; New York Times, Jan. 7 and 10, 1861; Maury Klein, “Days of Defiance: Sumter, Secession, and the Coming of the Civil War”; William W. Freehling, “The Road to Disunion, Vol. 2: Secessionists Triumphant.”


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« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2011, 04:42:51 AM »

THE announcement that Representatives Heath Shuler of North Carolina and Jason Chaffetz of Utah are planning to wear guns in their home districts has surprised many, but in fact the United States has had armed congressmen before. In the rough-and-tumble Congress of the 1830s, 1840s and 1850s, politicians regularly wore weapons on the House and Senate floors, and sometimes used them.

During one 1836 melee in the House, a witness observed representatives with “pistols in hand.” In a committee hearing that same year, one House member became so enraged at the testimony of a witness that he reached for his gun; when the terrified witness refused to return, he was brought before the House on a charge of contempt.

Perhaps most dramatic of all, during a debate in 1850, Senator Henry Foote of Mississippi pulled a pistol on Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. (Someone eventually took it from his hand.) Foote had decided in advance that if he felt threatened, he would grab his gun and run for the aisle in the hope that stray shots wouldn’t hit bystanders.

Most famously, in 1856, Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina caned Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on the Senate floor so brutally that Sumner had to be virtually carried from the chamber — and did not retake his seat for three years. Clearly, wielded with brute force, a cane could be a potent weapon.

By the 1850s, violence was common in Washington. Not long after Sumner’s caning, a magazine told the story of a Michigan judge who traveled by train to the nation’s capital: “As he entered the main hall of the depot, he saw a man engaged in caning another ferociously, all over the room. ‘When I saw this,’ says the judge, ‘I knew I was in Washington.’”

In Congress, violence was often deployed strategically. Representatives and senators who were willing to back up their words with their weapons had an advantage, particularly in the debate over slavery. Generally speaking, Northerners were least likely to be armed, and thus most likely to back down. Congressional bullies pressed their advantage, using threats and violence to steer debate, silence opposition and influence votes.

In 1842, Representative Thomas Arnold of Tennessee, a member of the Whig Party, learned the hard way that these bullies meant business. After he reprimanded a pro-slavery member of his own party, two Southern Democrats stalked toward him, at least one of whom was armed with a bowie knife — a 6- to 12-inch blade often worn strapped to the back. Calling Arnold a “damned coward,” his angry colleagues threatened to cut his throat “from ear to ear.” But Arnold wasn’t a man to back down. Ten years earlier, he had subdued an armed assassin on the Capitol steps.

As alarming as these outbursts were, until the 1840s, reporters played them down, in part to avoid becoming embroiled in fights themselves. (A good many reporters received beatings from outraged congressmen; one nearly had his finger bitten off.) So Americans knew relatively little of congressional violence.

That changed with the arrival of the telegraph. Congressmen suddenly had to confront the threat — or temptation — of “instant” nationwide publicity. As Senator John Parker Hale of New Hampshire reminded his colleagues within minutes of the Foote-Benton clash, reports were “already traveling with lightning speed over the telegraph wires to the remotest borders of the Republic.” He added, “It is not impossible that even now it may have been rumored in the city of St. Louis that several senators are dead and weltering in their blood on the floor of the Senate.”

Violence was news, and news could spawn violence. Something had to be done, but what? To many, the answer was obvious: watch your words. As one onlooker wrote to the speaker of the House shortly after Sumner’s caning, “gentlemen” who took part in the debate over slavery should “scrupulously avoid the utterance of unnecessarily harsh language.” There was no other way to prevent the “almost murderous feeling” that could lead to “demonstrations upon the floor, which in the present state of excitement, would almost certainly lead to a general melee and perhaps a dozen deaths in the twinkling of an eye.”

Unfortunately, such admonitions had little effect. The violence in Congress continued to build until the outbreak of the Civil War.

Today, in the wake of an episode of violence against a member of Congress, we’re again lamenting the state of political rhetoric, now spread faster than ever via Twitter, Web sites, text messaging and e-mail. Once again, politicians are considering bearing arms — not to use against one another, but potentially against an angry public.

And once again we’re reminded that words matter. Communication is the heart and soul of American democratic governance, but there hasn’t been much fruitful discourse of late — among members of Congress, between the people and their representatives or in the public sphere. We need to get better at communicating not only quickly, but civilly.


Joanne B. Freeman, a professor of history at Yale, is at work on a book about violence in Congress.

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« Reply #26 on: January 15, 2011, 01:32:48 PM »

It was not quite a full-blown temper tantrum, but Mary Todd Lincoln’s outburst during a mid-January shopping trip raised eyebrows at a time when her husband did not need any more problems. And it signaled that the president-elect would have his hands full governing his own household, on top of everything else.
For him, the early weeks of 1861 were consumed with cabinet-making and the last remnants of the amiable politicking that had characterized so much of his time in Springfield. He still received many visitors, and the journalist Henry Villard marveled that “probably no other President-elect was as approachable by everybody.” He greeted friends and neighbors, and told his jokes, and tried to act like the person they had known for years. (Villard records the unusual spectacle of Lincoln laughing at one of his better punchlines: “A high-pitched laughter lighted up his otherwise melancholy countenance with thorough merriment. His body shook all over with gleeful emotion, and when he felt particularly good over his performance, he followed his habit of drawing his knees, with his arms around them, up to his very face.”)

Yet as March 4 drew closer, and secession loomed larger, it was becoming clear that his life had changed forever. He could not keep up with the huge volume of mail. Some of it was disturbing — crude drawings of skulls and bones, a sketch of Lincoln’s head in a noose; an actual noose itself. The crowds of office-seekers and thrill-seekers were relentless, and he began to restrict their access to him. In many ways, he was already becoming the president, well before the March 4 transfer of power. On Jan. 19, a Mexican diplomat came all the way to Springfield to pay his respects, a sign that the rest of the world was not so far from the prairie. Lincoln’s two assistants, John Hay and John Nicolay, were acting as the White House gatekeepers they would become. And Lincoln was beginning to compile the thoughts that would cohere into his inaugural.

The nearness of the White House was just as keenly felt by his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, only 42 years old. She had wanted this for as long as anyone could remember. When only a girl in Lexington, Kentucky, she rode her pony to the house of Henry Clay, and announced to his dinner party that she would enjoy living in the White House someday. As a young belle, freshly arrived in Springfield, she famously declared her intention to marry a president. Now, against all odds, that prediction was coming true, and she was determined to make the most of it. And to look as good as possible while doing so.
Lincoln, a lifelong advocate of enlightened government, was reluctant to impose it at home (his law partner, William Herndon, complained, “He was the most indulgent parent I have ever known”). If Mary felt a growing urge to cut a national figure, he saw no reason to restrain her. And so, on Jan. 10, she left Springfield on a shopping trip to — where else? — New York City, where she intended to make purchases for the White House and, perhaps, one or two items for herself. She was accompanied by her brother-in-law, Clark Smith, purveyor of “The Best Ladies Goods in Illinois,” and they did the town up in style. She visited New York’s huge department stores, bought jewelry and dresses, mixed and mingled at tea parties and talked gaily to all within earshot.

This was perfectly in character for a woman who had always loved society, and had been bred to it in a way that her husband most certainly was not. She was a gifted conversationalist, spoke French, and as a young lady had dazzled her suitors (including Stephen Douglas, a near-president). This side of her had never been able to flourish during a long and sometimes troubled marriage with a rusticated genius who liked to read books lying on the floor, and cared little for the social graces. She detested the comments that were already appearing in the press, insinuating that she and her husband were Western rubes, and she was determined to bring grace to the White House. The expected transformation would be all the more striking for the fact that James Buchanan’s White House had no First Lady at all. (His niece, Harriet Lane, acted as hostess.)

The problem, as is so often the case in politics, was the timing. It struck some observers as strange that she was shopping so conspicuously in the grave days of secession, and it was even worse that she talked so audibly. “Within earshot” turned out to be a wide arc indeed, and her casual remarks began to seep into the papers — one reporter called it “shocking” that she was “kiting about the country and holding levees in which she indulges in a multitude of silly speeches.”

Her judgment was off, too — she was overheard commenting on the reasons that Lincoln had appointed Seward his secretary of state, and she visited a naval vessel when her husband wanted to avoid all talk of war. Perhaps most ominously, she accepted the unlimited credit lines extended to the wife of a president-elect, with no urgent plan for repayment. In other words, she had not yet grasped that she lived inside a fishbowl. A few months later, a British journalist wrote, “If she but drives down Pennsylvania Avenue, the electric wire trills the news to every hamlet in the Union.” It’s an old lesson: be careful what you wish for.

To make matters worse, she was never able to govern her famous temper, which led Hay and Nicolay to nickname her “The Hellcat.” As she made her way back to Springfield, it erupted. Americans had to change trains more frequently then, and when she arrived at Buffalo, the State Line Railroad had the audacity to ask her to pay for her passage! Didn’t they know who she was? Fortunately, her son Robert was there to calm things down. With polished diplomacy (he would enjoy a long and successful career in the railroad business), he went to the superintendent and said, “My name is Bob Lincoln; I’m a son of Old Abe — the old woman is in the cars raising h-ll about her passes — I wish you would attend to her.” The plea worked; both Lincolns were granted passes.

But unfortunately, that account, hyphenated “h-ll” and all, appeared in The Baltimore Sun, and it was not helpful to Lincoln to have additional bad publicity in a city where a serious assassination plot was being hatched against him. Paradoxically, it might have helped if Mary’s occasional propensity to utter pro-slavery sentiments had been conveyed there (she once said, “If Mr. Lincoln should happen to die, his spirit will never find me living outside the boundaries of a slave State”). One brother and three step-brothers would fight for the Confederacy. But she was a loyal wife, and like so many others, affirmed, “my husband is my country.” For her, it was truer than most.

Lincoln probably knew little of the train episode, and one suspects that he wanted to know even less than he did. He simply wanted her to come home, and for three nights in a row, he went to the train station in Springfield, standing in the rain and snow, hoping she would appear. Finally, on Jan. 25, she did, and all was right again. Villard wrote, “whether she got a good scolding from Abraham for unexpectedly prolonging her absence, I am unable to say; but I know she found it rather difficult to part with the winter gayeties of New York.” With at least one union restored, their last days in Springfield dwindled down, and they savored the precious family time left to them, before the fates swept them up and took them away forever from all that had been normal in their lives.

Sources: Henry Villard, “Memoirs of Henry Villard;” Harold G. and Oswald Garrison Villard, eds., “Lincoln on the Eve of ’61;” Jean H. Baker, “Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography;” Catherine Clinton, “Mrs. Lincoln: A Life”; Justin G. Turner and Linda Levitt Turner, eds., “Mary Todd Lincoln: Her Life and Letters;” Daniel Mark Epstein, “The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage;” William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, “Herndon’s Life of Lincoln;” David Herbert Donald, “Herndon and Mrs. Lincoln;” Harry E. Pratt, “The Personal Finances of Abraham Lincoln;” Earl Schenck Miers, ed., “Lincoln Day by Day.”
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« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2011, 12:40:06 PM »



 Disunion follows the Civil War as it unfolded.

The featureless flat plains of West Tennessee seemed an unlikely locale to harbor a “Southern Black Republican.” But his political opponents routinely hung this epithet — and worse — on Rep. Emerson Etheridge. That’s because, unlike many Southern antisecessionists in early 1861, Etheridge continued to proclaim unconditional loyalty to the Union. Even worse, he ridiculed the idea that the Republican Party intended to interfere with slavery. Secessionists and Southern Rights supporters sputtered in frustration. Etheridge, they said, had fallen into “the depths of disgrace and infamy.” He appealed only to the “ignorant and blind lick-spittles” rather than to “the slaveholding and enlightened portion of the people.”

A 40-something widower with two young daughters, Etheridge had an easy charisma and a compelling speaking voice. His young colleague, Robert Hatton, newly elected to represent an adjacent district, quickly developed a fast friendship with Etheridge. “If he was a woman,” Hatton gushed to his wife, Sophia Hatton, “you would be certain we were dead in love with each other. . . . We eat together, walk to and from the Capitol together, sit in the House together, room by each other, [and] are alike in politics, in religion, and our feelings and sympathies.” Both stubbornly shunned alcohol and the other vices of Washington life.

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Rep. Emerson Etheridge of TennesseeEtheridge’s personality and oratorical power made him a natural leader of the close to two dozen members of the House of Representatives who called themselves the “Southern Opposition.” All were former Whigs, almost all from the Upper South. The opposition bloc held the balance of power in the House, which was closely divided between Republicans and Democrats. And they used that influence during the first few months of 1861 to keep the Upper South from seceding – a fact that explodes any notion of the white South as a unified region hellbent on leaving the Union.

Etheridge made one of his most important speeches against secession on the floor of the House on Wednesday, Jan. 23. He charged that secessionists had fabricated a mass delusion: “Thousands believe honestly that Lincoln and his cohorts are coming down to apply the torch and the knife to the dwellings and people of the South.” But that was just baseless hysteria, he said; Republicans had already renounced “any desire or any power to interfere with slavery in the States of this Union.” He scorned the idea that the South needed to expand slavery to the territories, or that the North had defaulted on its obligation to return fugitive slaves. The evils that secessionists pretended to fear were flimsy or imaginary.

Just then a thin, reedy voice demanded, “I merely wish to know whether the gentleman is speaking on the side of the North or the South?” The interruption came from Shelton Leake, a Virginia disunionist.

Etheridge shot back immediately: “I am speaking on a side that has few representatives on this floor. I am speaking on the side of my country!” A reporter for the Cincinnati Commercial described Etheridge’s retort as a “clincher”—“The noble, exalted tone and emphasis in which this was uttered, rang through the hall.” A resounding applause rang through the galleries.

The speech struck people outside the Capitol as well: a groundswell of support soon developed in the free states to find a position in Lincoln’s cabinet for Etheridge. His “unswerving patriotism” and his “sterling, practical qualities” stood out, said one such advocate. “No better Southern man could be found.”

Etheridge wasn’t alone. His address opened the floodgates to a torrent of Southern Unionist speeches in late January and early February. Few of his allies in Congress were quite so ready as he to give the Republican Party a clean bill of health, but they heartily agreed that secession was a virulent epidemic that would sicken or kill its host. It threatened to ignite a civil war that would destroy slavery. Rammed through with hot haste, it confronted the Upper South with an outrageous fait accompli. Just as delegates from the Deep South were meeting in Montgomery, Ala., to organize the Confederate government, Robert Hatton charged that disunionists were “practically our enemies, as truly as the most unprincipled fanatics of the North.”

Members of the Southern Opposition bloc pleaded with Republicans to take steps that might reassure nervous white Southerners. Most wanted to see the Crittenden Compromise approved, which promised to protect slavery in territories south of 36° 30´, including those “hereafter acquired.” Rep. John A. Gilmer of North Carolina reasoned that secessionists clamored for protection not because it was “really valuable to the South,” or injurious to the North, but rather in the hope that Republicans “will refuse it, and by your refusal, they hope the South will be inflamed to the extent of breaking up this Government.” The most stringent protection for slavery in the territories would be no more likely to create additional slave states, Gilmer insisted, than “the drying up of the Mississippi could be secured by act of Congress.”

But no Republican could countenance Kentucky Sen. John J. Crittenden’s insidious formula. To do so might open the door to a slave empire in the Caribbean and Central America — and much more immediately, they feared, it would tear apart the Republican party. Conciliatory Republicans instead offered to admit all existing territory south of 36° 30´ into the Union as the slave state of New Mexico, and to amend the Constitution to forbid interference with slavery in the states where it already existed. Abraham Lincoln passed word that he could live with these concessions — and so did some Southern Unionists. Forget about “hereafter acquired,” they suggested. Give us New Mexico and the constitutional amendment, and we can hold the Upper South.

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.Voters in the Upper South had their say in February 1861. In state after state, starting with Virginia on February 4, emphatic popular majorities opposed secession. This outcome resulted in part from a massive mailing of pro-Union speeches. Night after night, Hatton reported to his wife, he and other Southern Unionists in Congress stayed up late franking thousands of copies of their oratory for free postal delivery. When given the opportunity to do so, voters in North Carolina and Tennessee even opposed letting a state convention meet. But Unionist victories were conditional, based on the assumption that Republicans would offer concessions and, most of all, that the incoming administration would not use armed force against the Deep South.

When Lincoln took his oath of office on March 4, eight slave states, home to two-thirds of white Southerners, remained in the Union. An uneasy peace prevailed. Tennessee Congressman Horace Maynard beseeched Republicans to act cautiously. “Believe me,” he pleaded, “the moment you wage war, you array the entire South, as one man, in behalf of the portion that is attacked. It is as when a brother is assailed, all his brethren rush to his rescue, not stopping to inquire whether, in the contest, he be right or wrong.” Maynard exaggerated. His home region of East Tennessee would not follow the secessionist lead once the war started, and Maynard himself ended up an unconditional Unionist and a Republican. But Maynard, on balance, knew much about how the future would unfold.


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Rep. Robert Hatton, in Confederate Army uniformOf course, when push came to shove in the Upper South, and its citizens no longer could avoid the dread matter of choosing sides in a war, slavery did much to determine the outcome. Though Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia all seceded, regions with few slaves resisted. Although Emerson Etheridge owned 10 slaves, most of the voters in his district owned none. He stayed loyal to the Union and many of his constituents volunteered for the Union Army. But regions with more substantial slaveholdings — even Whig-Opposition enclaves that had stoutly resisted secession before mid-April — suddenly gave way and embraced the Confederacy.

On the other hand, Robert Hatton represented part of the fertile Cumberland Basin, where many families held slaves. Seventeen men, women and children were listed as his property on the slave schedule of the 1860 census. Notwithstanding Hatton’s pre-war Unionism, he volunteered to organize a regiment for the Confederate army and was promoted to command a brigade. On the last day of May 1862, at the battle of Seven Pines east of Richmond, Va., General Hatton was instantly killed by enemy fire while leading his troops across an open field.

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Sources: Cincinnati Commercial, Jan. 26 and Jan. 28, 1861; Congressional Globe, 36th Congress, Second Session; James Vaulx Drake, “Life of General Robert Hatton, Including His Most Important Public Speeches; Together, with Much of his Washington and Army Correspondence“; Daniel W. Crofts, “Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis.”


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« Reply #28 on: January 27, 2011, 10:24:16 AM »

Its POTH, so caveat lector.

=================

Americans have always obsessed over their nation’s history, even when there wasn’t much to obsess over. The founding generation had barely passed on before politicians began scrambling to claim their legacy – and at no time was that more true than during the Secession Crisis. Secessionists claimed to be emulating the revolutionaries’ struggle for liberty against a tyrannical central government, while Northerners were determined not to let disloyal rebels tear down the noble republic the founders had created.

But the dynamics of secession also drew attention to a more recent historical event – the Nullification Crisis of 1833 – and brought back to the center of debate that most controversial of early Americans, Andrew Jackson. Conflicting interpretations of his legacy tell a lot about how the North and South – and Democrats and Republicans within the North – saw the crisis.


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A portrait of President Andrew Jackson, along with his famous quotation from the Nullification Crisis, “The Union must and shall be preserved.” CLICK TO ENLARGE.The tumult of the Jacksonian era was still fresh in America’s collective mind. He was the last president to serve two terms, and much had changed during his 13 years on the national political scene. When he first ran for president in 1824, there was only one national party, and Americans, taught by the founders to distrust parties as the tools of ambitious demagogues, relished the absence of partisan conflict. By the time Jackson left office in 1837, national politics was dominated by a thriving two-party system. The underlying reasons for this change were numerous, but the immediate catalyst was the impulsive, provocative Indian- and British-fighter from Tennessee.
To his supporters, “Old Hickory” was the quintessential Washington outsider: a tough, bold Westerner with patience for neither political maneuvering nor legalistic hairsplitting, a triumphant warrior who pursued corrupt politicians and elite bankers and industrialists with the same grim-faced resolve which had brought him victory over Indians, the Spanish and the British. To these “Democrats,” as his new party was called, Jackson was the champion of the common man, and they followed him into battle against powerful centralized government and the would-be aristocrats who sought to profit from it.

His enemies said Jackson was a loose cannon, a hot-tempered demagogue who shamelessly courted the masses with no thought to constitutional principles or the rule of law. They denounced him as an aspiring “King Andrew I” and styled themselves “Whigs” in emulation of the American Revolutionaries, who in their own fight for liberty had labeled themselves after the British opponents of absolute monarchy.

Muddying the Democratic purity of Jackson’s memory was the Nullification Crisis of 1832 and ‘33, in which the explosive executive displayed the unyielding decisiveness that his followers admired but also revealed the limits of his support for state rights. When the South Carolina legislature responded to a new protective tariff by “nullifying” it (that is, declaring it unconstitutional and therefore void), Jackson issued a blistering proclamation in which he condemned nullification as a treasonous attack on the Union. Privately vowing to lead an army into South Carolina himself and hang the nullifiers, he sent arms to local unionist military forces, reinforced the navy detachment at Charleston Harbor, made arrangements to collect import taxes at the harbor’s forts and requested that Congress give him whatever authority he needed to make South Carolina back down.

Jackson also worked behind the scenes for compromise (although in the end it was legislation negotiated by his rivals Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun that enabled South Carolina to stand down without losing face). Nevertheless, it was his resolute public stance for the Union that frustrated, resentful Northerners seized upon during the Secession Crisis. Ironically, Republicans, most of them former Whigs, were vociferous in their call for a strong Jacksonian response to secession, while most Northern Democrats – citing Jacksonian ideals of respect for local government and condemnation of antislavery agitation – called for compromise.

Northerners likewise summoned Jackson’s memory as a standard which their own president was failing miserably to meet. In the wake of Major Robert Anderson’s daring transfer to Fort Sumter, James Buchanan’s comparative impotence led Northerners to moan, “Oh, for an hour of Old Hickory!”

On Jan. 8, the anniversary of Jackson’s triumph at New Orleans, state and local leaders across the North ordered commemorations – a common practice, but one that took on thick political overtones in this climate. In Massachusetts the newly inaugurated governor, John Andrew, ordered 100 guns fired on Boston Common to honor both the Battle of New Orleans and Major Anderson. In Chicago, Mayor John Wentworth ordered business suspended so that people might gather to express their devotion to the Union, with cannons firing and bells tolling throughout the day. In Auburn, N.Y., home of procompromise leader William H. Seward, a hundred guns were fired “in honor of the memory of General Jackson as the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, and as the defender of the Union against nullification and treason.”

Even Jackson’s bitterest opponents rallied around him. In the 1820s and ’30s, General Winfield Scott had wrangled with Jackson both professionally and politically, their feud at one point nearly resulting in a duel. But in mid-December, with South Carolina’s secession looming, Scott pointedly reminded Buchanan of Jackson’s vigorous actions in 1833, emphasizing Jackson’s view that he was merely defending the government, “but that if So. Carolina attacked [federal officials] it would be So. C. that made war upon the U. States.”

Scott was far from alone: Despite the large number of former Whigs among their ranks, it was Republicans especially who embraced Jackson’s legacy. Party newspapers reprinted the Nullification Proclamation, praising its forceful response to South Carolina’s treason. Over and again editors, speakers and correspondents urged their leaders to take “a firm Jackson stand” against secession and hoped that Lincoln would be “another Jackson.”

The president-elect himself was closely examining Jackson’s record. In the 1830s, echoing the warnings of arch-Whig Henry Clay that a “military chieftain” like Jackson had no place in a republic, the young Lincoln had warned against the rise of “an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon.” But in composing his strategy against secession, Lincoln turned to the Old Hero’s Nullification Proclamation. Its ideas would be prominent in his Inaugural Address in March, including its claim that the Union predated the states, its insistence that no nation has within its fundamental law a provision for its own destruction, its emphasis on the obligations imposed by the president’s oath of office, and its declaration that any use of federal force would represent not aggression but self-defense.

Democrats, who blamed Republicans for the crisis and urged compromise with the South, struggled to maintain a claim on their party’s founding father. Democratic newspapers pointed out that not only Jackson but Whig idol Henry Clay had sought to defuse the situation through concessions, and they tried to align Republicans, with their state-level resistance to the Fugitive Slave Law, with South Carolina’s 1833 stand. “If nullification be odious in South Carolina,” demanded the Daily Ohio Statesman, “is it not equally so in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Ohio?”

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.The entire debate bore little, of course, on the actual question of the Secession Crisis. Few Northerners considered how closely the new crisis actually paralleled the earlier one. Indeed, there were a number of fundamental differences between the two, prominent among them three decades of mounting sectional tension, which had made Southern defensiveness stronger and more widespread while desensitizing Northerners to disunion threats.

But the most important difference stemmed from the strategy of Southern radicals. The chief reason South Carolina nullifiers backed down in 1833 was their realization that none of the other slave states supported them. But they also saw how Jackson’s forcefulness frightened and alienated those same moderate Southerners. In 1860 the radicals did not wait for cooperation among the slave states; rather, South Carolina’s secession was calculated to generate momentum that would either carry the rest of the South out of the Union along with it or pressure the federal government to carry through on the forceful response that Jackson had only threatened, thereby winning over the less-committed slave states.

It succeeded brilliantly in doing both. Over the next six weeks, despite varying levels of secession feeling, every other cotton state followed the Palmetto State’s example. And when the tidal wave of disunion broke against Unionist majorities in the Upper South, the mere existence of the seven-state Deep South Confederacy would impel Lincoln’s April decision to reinforce Fort Sumter, sparking open conflict. Once he called on the remaining states to help suppress the Deep South’s rebellion, four more slave states, including all-important Virginia, seceded and joined the new Confederacy.

In other words, it was neither Republicans nor Northern Democrats who had learned the most important lessons of Andrew Jackson and the Nullification Crisis: that honor belonged to the fire-eating radicals who controlled his erstwhile opponent, the South Carolina state government.

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Russell McClintock, a history teacher at St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, Mass., is the author of “Lincoln and the Decision for War: The Northern Response to Secession.” He is writing a biography of Stephen A. Douglas.

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« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2011, 03:24:18 PM »

Looking into the past in order to understand the present.....
(link at the bottom)

 

How to Think About the Tea Party « Commentary Magazine

Paul A. Rahe is a professor of history at Hillsdale College and the author, most recently, of Montesquieu and the Logic of Liberty and Soft Despotism, Democracy's Drift."

On February 19, 2009, when the finance commentator Rick Santelli indulged in a rant against the newly unveiled "stimulus" bill on the CNBC cable network and called for a demonstration in Chicago modeled on the Boston Tea Party, he fired a shot heard round the country. Santelli's diatribe was focused on the fact that Americans who had played by the rules, had saved much of what they had earned, and had paid their bills on time were being required to bail out fellow citizens who had gotten caught short in purchasing a domicile they could not afford or while speculating in real estate. In the weeks that followed, ordinary citizens spontaneously gathered in towns and cities across the continent to organize Tea Parties in protest against what they took to be an unjust redistribution of wealth from the industrious and the rational to the greedy and improvident. The mainstream media treated them with contempt, and most Republicans kept their distance. Leading Democrats denounced them as frauds and ignoramuses and sought to brand them as racists. Even when the president of the United States used the obscene epithet "teabaggers" to refer to them, however, the adherents of what was coming to be a full-fledged movement—the Tea Party movement—stood firm. And in the course of the summer of 2009, as Americans began to grow fearful of the scope and intrusiveness of the Obama administration's health-care proposal, that movement's numbers grew. In August 2009, when congressmen and senators held town halls to discuss the proposed bill, ordinary Americans showed up in droves; and, to the evident dismay of their representatives, they bluntly spoke their minds.

By January 2010, when the unknown Republican Scott Brown defeated the well-known Democrat Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts race for the seat in the Senate once occupied by Ted Kennedy, it was clear that the Tea Party movement was destined to become a powerful force not only within the Republican Party but in the country as a whole, and patronage-minded Republican senators and congressmen who hoped to be re-elected in 2010 began to get with the program. Republican candidates who were not quick to do so soon came under fire. A three-term senator from Utah who failed to take note was denied his party's nomination for re-election at the state's Republican convention. A senator from Alaska, the scion of an entrenched political dynasty and a member of the Republican leadership, suffered the same fate in her party primary. In Delaware, a popular nine-term congressman who had served two terms as governor lost his party's senatorial primary to an insurgent who had never held political office. In Kentucky, the same fate met its secretary of state. In Florida, a former state senator came from nowhere (the first poll had him at three percent) to force a popular sitting governor to abandon his quest for the Republican senatorial nomination. And in the Republican senatorial primaries in Colorado and Nevada, Tea Party–backed insurgents defeated a lieutenant governor and a former party chairman.

It is perfectly understandable that Republican regulars thwarted in the primaries, Democrats defeated in the midterm elections, and adherents of both parties who found themselves suddenly deprived of political influence should find these developments disconcerting. It is equally understandable that those who find unpalatable either the Tea Party's approach or some of the more colorful and/or questionable candidates to emerge victorious as a consequence of its rise might consider this leaderless and inchoate force's impact worrisome or even frightening. In point of fact, however, this sort of upheaval is nothing new. Such forces have risen periodically throughout the history of the United States and have their antecedents in 17th- and 18th-century England.

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In his 1748 Spirit of Laws, the great political philosopher Montesquieu attributed the recurring turmoil that had long beset England to the separation of powers between the executive and the legislature. The Tudors for the most part had been able to sidestep the problem in the 16th century because Henry VIII and his children had sufficient wealth in the lands he had seized from the Catholic Church to cover most of their needs. But their Stuart successors in the 17th century found that those resources had been largely exhausted; and to cover their expenses and those of the government they directed, they were compelled to have frequent recourse to Parliament for revenue.

To their dismay and that of their ministers, what soon came to be called "the Country" rose up in high dudgeon time and time again to denounce on the floor of the House of Commons what was perceived as favoritism, corruption, arbitrary rule, conspiracy, and papist predilections on the part of a Court thought to be intent on encroaching on the rights of ordinary Englishmen and the prerogatives possessed by Parliament. These tensions produced the English civil war of the 1640s, the execution of Charles I in 1648, the rule of the Rump Parliament and the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell in the 1640s and 1650s, followed by the Restoration of the monarchy in 1658, which was in turn followed 30 years later by the Glorious Revolution.

By the time Montesquieu arrived in England, things had settled down. The political tensions that had periodically given rise to turbulence and bloodshed were now being resolved peacefully through electioneering and balloting, and monarchs now found themselves forced to appoint as ministers those who had the confidence of Parliament and were not simply tools of the Crown.

Montesquieu found the dynamics of English politics both instructive and amusing. "The hatred" that had long existed between Court and Country he regarded as a permanent feature. This hatred "would endure," he observed, "because it would always be powerless," and it would be powerless because "the parties" inspired by the separation of powers would be "composed of free men" who would be inclined to switch sides if either the executive power or the legislative power appeared to have "secured too much."

The English were a commercial people who lived in what Montesquieu called "a republic concealed under the form of a monarchy." The regime under which they were reared, being neither republican in the classical sense nor genuinely monarchical, did little to inculcate in them a spirit of self-sacrifice and even less to inspire in them a love of honor and glory. Instead, it left Englishmen to their own devices; and in the absence of direction from above, they tended to succumb to the restlessness and anxiety that Montesquieu called inquiétude. In such a nation, he remarked, the charges lodged by the party that stood in opposition to the executive branch "would augment even more" than usual "the terrors" to which a people so disposed were naturally prone, for they "would never know really whether they were in danger or not."

Ordinarily the legislature, which enjoyed the confidence of the people, would be in a position to moderate their fears. "In this fashion," Montesquieu noted, when "the terrors impressed" on the populace lacked "a certain object, they would produce nothing but vain clamors & name-calling; & they would have this good effect: that they would stretch all the springs of government & render the citizens attentive."

And if the terrors fanned by the party opposed to the English executive were ever "to appear on the occasion of an overturning of the fundamental laws," he observed, "they would be muted, lethal, excruciating & produce catastrophes: before long, one would see a frightful calm, during which the whole would unite itself against the power violating the laws."

Moreover, he added, if such "disputes took shape on the occasion of a violation of the fundamental laws, & if a foreign power appeared," as happened when the arrival of the Dutch political and military leader William of Orange in 1688 triggered the Glorious Revolution, "there would be a revolution, which would change neither the form of the government nor its constitution: for the revolutions to which liberty gives shape are nothing but a confirmation of liberty."

Over the past generation, historians have tended to interpret the American Revolution similarly as a clash between Court and Country. The pattern described by Montesquieu was duplicated in colonies such as Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York in the 17th and 18th centuries. Moreover, the charges leveled against King and Parliament by the American colonists in the period stretching from 1762 to 1776 were a compendium of those lodged long before by the critics of James I and Charles I; the opponents of the Long Parliament, the Rump Parliament, and Oliver Cromwell; the proponents of the Glorious Revolution; and those who subsequently became disgruntled under the rule of William of Orange following his installation as William III and those who followed him over the next century culminating in the reign of George III.

The same pattern manifested itself also in the political disputes that followed the founding of the United States. To be sure, when Thomas Jefferson and James Madison organized the first American political party, they did not accuse Alexander Hamilton and those who came to be called the Federalists of papist predilections. But they did assert that the economic program proposed by Hamilton in his capacity as George Washington's secretary of the treasury amounted to a conspiracy to overthrow republicanism in America and consolidate power in the hands of an irresponsible executive indistinguishable from a monarch. That is why Jefferson spoke of the election of 1800 and his own ascendancy to the presidency as a second American revolution.

Similar rhetoric was deployed by the movement that sprang up against the so-called "Tariff of Abominations" shortly after its passage in 1828. Andrew Jackson articulated much the same argument in the battle he undertook in his second presidential term (1832-36) against Nicholas Biddle's proposal for a rechartering of the Second Bank of the United States, and so did Abraham Lincoln and his fellow Republicans in their quest in the late 1850s against what they called "the slave-power conspiracy."

One could hear echoes of these earlier controversies in the campaign mounted against the railroads and banks by the People's Party in 1892 (the force widely considered the originator of what has come to be called "populism"), in the presidential campaign undertaken by the insurgent Democrat William Jennings Bryan in 1896 against the tight-money fiscal policies that he said were crucifying America on a "cross of gold," and in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's assertion at the Democratic Convention in 1936 that "a small group" of economic royalists was intent on concentrating "into their own hands an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor—other people's lives." And, of course, it is a similar suspicion that has given rise to the Tea Party movement.

Consider what Barack Obama and the Democrats did over the past two years—with their so-called stimulus, health-care reform, and reform of financial regulation. Each initiative involved the passage of a bill more than a thousand pages in length that virtually no one voting on could have read, and no one but those who framed it could have understood. Each involved a massive expansion of the federal government and massive payoffs to favored constituencies. And each was part of a much larger project openly pursued by self-styled progressives in the course of the last century and aimed at concentrating in the hands of "a small group" of putative experts "an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor—other people's lives." Without quite knowing whom they are evoking, Tea Partiers are inclined to say, as FDR said in 1936, that if they do not put a stop to what is going on, "for too many of us life" will be "no longer free" and "liberty no longer real"—for otherwise the bureaucratic busybodies ensconced in Washington will deprive us of the means by which to "follow the pursuit of happiness" as we see fit.

The only difference is that FDR's assertions demonizing the "economic royalists" were demonstrably false, and when the Tea Partiers make comparable claims today, they are, alas, telling the truth.

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« Reply #30 on: February 13, 2011, 03:26:02 PM »

American liberty is more fragile than we are inclined to suppose. The Framers of the Constitution were well aware that the republics of ancient Greece and those of medieval and early modern Italy were situated on diminutive territories. They knew that Rome's expansion had eventuated in Rome's loss of liberty, and they understood why Montesquieu had initially argued that a republic could not be sustained on an extended territory. A government set at a considerable distance from the people over whom it rules is apt to become a despotism, for it is out of sight and out of mind, beyond reach and beyond control. This the Framers understood. They took heart, however, from the French philosopher's suggestion that a federation of small republics could overcome this geographical imperative. They were reassured by his tacit acknowledgement that, by way of the separation of powers, the "republic concealed under the form of a monarchy" that had emerged in Great Britain had overcome this imperative as well. And they themselves observed that the religious and economic diversity that had followed from America's territorial extension were successfully subverting the force of faction.

In the early 1790s, however, when James Madison began thinking about the political consequences inherent in the ambitious program of economic development charted by Alexander Hamilton, he had occasion to reconsider Montesquieu's warning. He believed that "a consolidation of the States into one government" was implicit in Hamilton's assertion of federal prerogatives. And he feared that such a consolidation would neutralize the expedients suggested by Montesquieu and instituted by the Framers and leave "the whole government to that self directed course, which, it must be owned, is the natural propensity of every government."

First, Madison thought, the separation of powers could give way to centralized administration of the sort that typified despotism. If federalism were subverted in this way and the national government by one means or another took over the prerogatives of the states and the localities, the legislature situated in the new nation's capital would quickly prove to be incompetent "to regulate all the various objects belonging to the local governments," and this "would evidently force a transfer of many of" those objects "to the executive department."

Second, Madison contended, because the state and local governments are close to the people—in sight and in mind, within reach and control—they and not the federal government are the natural instruments of civic agency. If, however, they were made to be dependent on and subject to the national government, they would cease to serve this function, and the sheer size of the country would stand in the way of concerted popular political action. It would prevent the exercise of "that control" on the national legislature "which is essential to a faithful discharge of its trust, [since] neither the voice nor the sense of ten or twenty millions of people, spread through so many latitudes as are comprehended within the United States, could ever be combined or called into effect, if deprived of those local organs, through which both can now be conveyed." In such circumstances, Madison warned prophetically, "the impossibility of acting together, might be succeeded by the inefficacy of partial expressions of the public mind, and this at length, by a universal silence and insensibility." It was the absence of effective popular checks that would leave the national government to a "self directed course."

Madison, Jefferson, and their heirs in the Jacksonian period were arguably wrong about the political consequences implicit in the program proposed by Hamilton in the 1790s and revived by Henry Clay in the late 1820s. Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans implemented a policy indistinguishable from Hamilton's program and Clay's American System, and that policy did not have the consequences that Madison, his associates, and their heirs feared. But the prospect that Madison imagined is, in fact, the prospect the world's most venerable democratic republic now faces.

Over almost a century, under the influence of the Progressives and their heirs—the proponents of the New Deal, the Great Society, and Barack Obama's New Foundation we have experienced a gradual consolidation of power in the federal government. Legislative responsibilities have been transferred to administrative agencies lodged within the executive—such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and the vast array of bodies established under the recent health-care reform—and these have been delegated in an ever increasing number of spheres the authority to issue rules and regulations that have the force of law.

In the process, the state and local governments have become dependent on federal largesse, which always comes with strings attached in the form of funded or unfunded "mandates" designed to make these governments fall in line with federal policy. Civic agency, rooted as it normally is in locality, has withered as the localities have lost their leverage. The civic associations so admired by Alexis de Tocqueville have for the most part become lobbying operations with offices in Washington focused on influencing federal policy, and many of them have also become recipients of government grants and reliable instruments for the implementation of federal policy.

The Tea Party movement is, however, testimony to the fact that all is not lost. When confronted in a brazen fashion with the tyrannical impulse underpinning the administrative state, ordinary Americans from all walks of life are still capable of fighting back. It is easy enough to mock. Like all spontaneous popular movements, the Tea Party has attracted its fair share of cranks: it would have been a miracle if it had not attracted those who are obsessed with the question of Barack Obama's birth certificate or the heavy-handed and ineffective procedures adopted by the Transportation Security Agency.

_____________

But it should be reassuring rather than frightening to the American elite that at the dawn of the third millennium, Americans know to become nervous and watchful when a presidential candidate who has presented himself to the public as a moderate devotee of bipartisanship intent on eliminating waste in federal programs suddenly endorses "spreading the wealth around" and on the eve of his election speaks of "fundamentally transforming America." It should be of comfort to them that a small-business owner in Nebraska believes he has reason to express public qualms when a prospective White House chief of staff, in the midst of an economic downturn, announces that the new administration is not about to "let a serious crisis go to waste" and that it intends to exploit that crisis as "an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before." And it should be a source of pride to elites that the philosophical superstructure of the United States demonstrated extraordinary durability when a significant number of their fellow citizens refused to sit silent after an administration implied the inadequacy of the founding by promoting itself as the New Foundation, and after the head of government specifically questioned the special place of the United States in the world by denying "American exceptionalism."

Most important, it should be humbling to those elites that ordinary American citizens choose spontaneously to enter the political arena in droves, concert opposition, speak up in a forthright manner, and oust a host of entrenched office holders when they learn that a system of punitive taxation is in the offing, when they are repeatedly told what they know to be false—that, under the new health-care system that the administration is intent on establishing, benefits will be extended and costs reduced and no one will lose the coverage he already has—and when they discover that Medicare is to be gutted, that medical care is to be rationed, and that citizens who have no desire to purchase health insurance are going to be forced to do so.

In 1776, when George Mason drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights, he included a provision reflecting what the revolutionaries had learned from the long period of struggle between Court and Country in England and in America: "that no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles." What we are witnessing with the Tea Party movement is one of the periodic recurrences to fundamental principles that typify and revivify the American experiment in self-government.

These developments are never exclusively salutary. The people sometimes err, as Montesquieu understood and as, I believe, has happened with considerable frequency in our nation's past. But as Thomas Jefferson observed in the wake of the rebellion mounted by Daniel Shays in 1786, if the "turbulence" to which popular government is "subject" is regrettable, "even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs." In Europe, Jefferson explained, "under the pretence of government, they have divided their nations into two classes, wolves and sheep." He feared that the same would in time happen in America. If the people in the United States should ever "become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I," he wrote to one correspondent, "and Congress and Assemblies, judges and governors shall all become wolves."From the outset, Jefferson feared that in this country the government would eventually find its way to what his friend James Madison would later call a "self directed course." It was with this unwelcome prospect in mind that he asked, "What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve their spirit of resistance?" In the end, then, one does not have to agree with the Tea Party movement in every particular to welcome its appearance.

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/how-to-think-about-the-tea-party/
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Freki
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« Reply #31 on: February 15, 2011, 08:10:32 AM »

Very nice piece, it fleshed out my understanding.  Thank you  I had always heard of tory or whig but had not put it into country and court categories.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2011, 10:25:05 AM »

Is Napolitano correct that the C. was formed by the States?  Or was it formed by the American people?  Is the claim that slavery in The South was susceptible to withering away as it did elsewhere correct?  Was succession triggered by the entry of non-slave states into the Union, thus leading slave states to demand more slave states?  What of the federalism principles in light of the Dred Scott decision's imposition of requiring northern states to enforce southern slave claims within their (northern) territories?

Maybe BigDog will weigh in here , , ,
===============================
Judge Napolitano on Lincoln
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

The recent discussions in the media about Ron Paul's comments regarding Lincoln and his political legacy got me to thinking, wouldn't it be great if Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst, would weigh in on the subject. I had this thought because Judge Napolitano included a chapter entitled "Dishonest Abe" in his brilliant book, The Constitution in Exile. Judge Napolitano is a very busy man, hosting a radio show as well as appearing on television, making speeches all around the country, writing books, and practicing law — in addition to (hopefully) having a private family life. Since I am a big fan of his writing I thought I would try to pique our readers' interest in what the judge has to say on this subject.
The first two sentences of the "Dishonest Abe" chapter of The Constitution in Exile are hard hitting: "The Abraham Lincoln of legend is an honest man who freed the slaves and saved the Union. Few things could be more misleading." He then goes on to say exactly what Ron Paul told the Washington Post, and which seemed to mystify and confuse Tim Russert in his "Meet the Press" interview with Congressman Paul: "In order to increase his federalist vision of centralized power, ‘Honest' Abe misled the nation into an unnecessary war. He claimed that the war was about emancipating slaves, but he could have simply paid slave owners to free their slaves . . . . The bloodiest war in American history could have been avoided." And, as Ron Paul would likely add, all the other countries of the world that ended slavery in the nineteenth century, including Britain, Spain, France, Denmark, the Dutch, did so without a war. This, by the way, included the Northern states in the U.S. There were no "civil wars" to free the slaves in Massachusetts, New York (where slavery existed for over 200 years), or Illinois.
Lincoln's "actions were unconstitutional and he knew it," writes Napolitano, for "the rights of the states to secede from the Union . . . [are] clearly implicit in the Constitution, since it was the states that ratified the Constitution . . ." Lincoln's view "was a far departure from the approach of Thomas Jefferson, who recognized states' rights above those of the Union." Judge Napolitano also reminds his readers that the issue of using force to keep a state in the union was in fact debated — and rejected — at the Constitutional Convention as part of the "Virginia Plan."
He also discusses Lincoln's Confiscation Act of 1862, under which "any slaves behind the Union lines were captives of war who were to be freed and transported to countries in the tropics. This was in keeping with Dishonest Abe's lifelong position (his "White Dream," according to Ebony magazine managing editor Lerone Bennett, Jr, author of Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream) of deporting all blacks from the U.S. "Colonization" was the euphemism that was used for this.
"The Confiscation Acts," writes Judge Napolitano, "show that Lincoln did not have much concern for the slaves. He did not suggest to Congress that freed slaves should be granted civil rights or citizenship in Northern states. Once the freed slaves were transported out of the United States, they would no longer be Lincoln's problem." This is also why Lincoln tinkered with proposals for compensated emancipation in the border states while they were under U.S. military occupation during the war. These proposals included immediate deportation of any freed slaves. He saw the occupation of the border states during the war as an opportunity to begin ridding the country of "The Africans," as he referred to black people, as though they were from another planet. Judge Napolitano quotes Lincoln in one of his debates with Stephen Douglas as saying what he repeatedly said throughout his adult life: "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races — that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes." "Lincoln was more concerned about the failure of [the seceding] states to collect tariffs than he was about slavery, " says Napolitano.
Unlike all those hopelessly miseducated neocon pundits who sneered at Ron Paul's statements regarding how Lincoln did tremendous damage to the principles of the American founders, Judge Napolitano is well schooled in constitutional history. He writes of Lincoln's complete trashing of the Constitution by "murdering civilians, declaring martial law, suspending habeas corpus, seizing . . . private property without compensation (including railroads and telegraphs), conducting a war without the consent of Congress, imprisoning nearly thirty thousand Northern citizens without trial, shutting down . . . newspapers, and even deporting a congressman (Clement L. Vallandigham from Ohio) because he objected to the imposition of an income tax."
"Saying that Lincoln abolished slavery and calling him the ‘Great Emancipator' are grossly inadequate mischaracterizations," writes the judge. "Lincoln was interested in promoting his political agenda of centralizing government power, and freeing the slaves was only a means of advancement of that end."
Lincoln destroyed the union of the founding fathers. He "replaced a voluntary association of states with a strong centralized government. The president and his party eagerly lifted the floodgates to the modern thuggish style of ruling that the U.S. government now employs" (emphasis added). This "opened the door to more unconstitutional acts by the government in the 1900s through to today."
The next time you see Lincoln's portrait on a five-dollar bill, the judge concludes, "remember how many civil liberties he took away from you."
« Last Edit: February 21, 2011, 10:36:15 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
G M
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« Reply #33 on: February 21, 2011, 10:28:04 AM »

So, owning a slave was a civil liberty?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #34 on: February 21, 2011, 10:52:27 AM »

Now, there is a pithy rejoinder!  cheesy

Anyway, posting this piece from POTH/NY Times, but the main subject presented on this thread at the moment should remain the Napolitano piece:
=============
MOUNT VERNON, George Washington’s bucolic estate in Northern Virginia, has been an American shrine since his death in 1799. But after the Civil War, when its historic restoration began, the image of the first president began to be outshone by that of the 16th, Abraham Lincoln.

True, Washington’s portrait still adorned classrooms from Maine to Mississippi, and his birthday remained an unofficial national holiday. But Washington seemed “formal, statue-like, a figure for exhibition,” wrote Representative Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio, the future president, who visited Mount Vernon in 1866.

Lincoln, on the other hand, appeared more human, a man who had paid with his life to reunify the country and free millions of slaves. “Lincoln is overshadowing Washington,” Hayes declared.

Today, of course, Washington is again at the center of the presidential pantheon. For that he can thank an unlikely group of allies: former slaves who worked at Mount Vernon in the late 19th century and who helped shape our modern beliefs about him — but only by hiding his complicated views on slavery behind the illusion of an Old South plantation.

Everything about the restored Mount Vernon was designed to render Washington a noble but approachable figure. Visitors could wander through his dining room and peer into the second-story bedchamber where he died. Another floor up, they saw the room where Martha Washington supposedly spent the rest of her life after his death, gazing out the window at her beloved husband’s gravesite.

The estate was governed by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association of the Union, but much of the daily work was performed by African-Americans who had been owned by Washington’s descendants. They guarded the premises, sold souvenirs and refreshments and spoke with visitors about bygone days.

Gray-haired Edmund Parker, who had been brought to Mount Vernon as a teenage slave in 1841, stood at the tomb, recounting Washington’s last days and the history of his final resting place. At the old kitchen, Parker’s niece Sarah Johnson sold glasses of milk.

Parker, Johnson and others fostered an image of Mount Vernon as an antebellum Eden, complete with happy, welcoming slaves, an impression that sat well with post-Reconstruction America, where civil rights had taken a back seat to sectional reconciliation.

Living links to the past, they held forth with visitors on a range of subjects — but not the painful realities of slavery. Parker never mentioned the grueling field labor he had once performed, or that he had run away to Union lines during the Civil War. Sarah Johnson didn’t explain that Washington’s heirs had sold her and her 6-month-old child in the first year of the war.

And they did not disclose that their ancestors had not belonged to Washington at all; rather, they had come to Mount Vernon after the president died, brought by Washington’s nephew and great-nephews, who had inherited the place. When asked about their origins, the former slaves would simply reply, “Belonged to the family.”

These and other omissions helped paper over Washington’s views on slavery, including his hope that the institution would one day disappear. Black employees sold copies of his last will and testament, but they never mentioned that Washington had used that will to free his own slaves.

However, if Parker and Johnson played down Washington’s anti-slavery legacy for white visitors, they honored it privately by building new, financially secure lives for themselves. When Hayes returned as president for an overnight stay in 1878, Johnson served him a simple meal in Washington’s small dining room. Earlier that day, she and her husband had managed the estate’s crowded lunchroom, coordinating a team of waiters and collecting money.

A few miles off the historic grounds, the black employees of Mount Vernon sent their children to public school, attended a new church and shopped for staples in town. And they saved their earnings to purchase land of their own: when Johnson left Mount Vernon in 1892, she owned four acres just up the road.

Washington probably would have appreciated the sight of freed slaves pursuing their own goals on his estate. As an innovative farmer and astute observer of human nature, he had no wish to make Mount Vernon a shrine to a bygone past. He might instead have challenged white tourists to question why, in an era of supposed racial equality, its black employees felt the need to mask their life stories and aspirations behind a veil of old-style servitude.

The new Mount Vernon humanized Washington, but only by eclipsing the true meaning of him and his home for a changing nation: not a refuge from modernity but an incubator of it.


Scott Casper, a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Reno, is the author of “Sarah Johnson’s Mount Vernon: The Forgotten History of an American Shrine.”


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bigdog
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« Reply #35 on: February 21, 2011, 01:17:33 PM »

Is Napolitano correct that the C. was formed by the States?  Or was it formed by the American people?  Is the claim that slavery in The South was susceptible to withering away as it did elsewhere correct?  Was succession triggered by the entry of non-slave states into the Union, thus leading slave states to demand more slave states?  What of the federalism principles in light of the Dred Scott decision's imposition of requiring northern states to enforce southern slave claims within their (northern) territories?

Maybe BigDog will weigh in here , , ,
===============================
Judge Napolitano on Lincoln
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

The recent discussions in the media about Ron Paul's comments regarding Lincoln and his political legacy got me to thinking, wouldn't it be great if Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst, would weigh in on the subject. I had this thought because Judge Napolitano included a chapter entitled "Dishonest Abe" in his brilliant book, The Constitution in Exile. Judge Napolitano is a very busy man, hosting a radio show as well as appearing on television, making speeches all around the country, writing books, and practicing law — in addition to (hopefully) having a private family life. Since I am a big fan of his writing I thought I would try to pique our readers' interest in what the judge has to say on this subject.
The first two sentences of the "Dishonest Abe" chapter of The Constitution in Exile are hard hitting: "The Abraham Lincoln of legend is an honest man who freed the slaves and saved the Union. Few things could be more misleading." He then goes on to say exactly what Ron Paul told the Washington Post, and which seemed to mystify and confuse Tim Russert in his "Meet the Press" interview with Congressman Paul: "In order to increase his federalist vision of centralized power, ‘Honest' Abe misled the nation into an unnecessary war. He claimed that the war was about emancipating slaves, but he could have simply paid slave owners to free their slaves . . . . The bloodiest war in American history could have been avoided." And, as Ron Paul would likely add, all the other countries of the world that ended slavery in the nineteenth century, including Britain, Spain, France, Denmark, the Dutch, did so without a war. This, by the way, included the Northern states in the U.S. There were no "civil wars" to free the slaves in Massachusetts, New York (where slavery existed for over 200 years), or Illinois.
Lincoln's "actions were unconstitutional and he knew it," writes Napolitano, for "the rights of the states to secede from the Union . . . [are] clearly implicit in the Constitution, since it was the states that ratified the Constitution . . ." Lincoln's view "was a far departure from the approach of Thomas Jefferson, who recognized states' rights above those of the Union." Judge Napolitano also reminds his readers that the issue of using force to keep a state in the union was in fact debated — and rejected — at the Constitutional Convention as part of the "Virginia Plan."
He also discusses Lincoln's Confiscation Act of 1862, under which "any slaves behind the Union lines were captives of war who were to be freed and transported to countries in the tropics. This was in keeping with Dishonest Abe's lifelong position (his "White Dream," according to Ebony magazine managing editor Lerone Bennett, Jr, author of Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream) of deporting all blacks from the U.S. "Colonization" was the euphemism that was used for this.
"The Confiscation Acts," writes Judge Napolitano, "show that Lincoln did not have much concern for the slaves. He did not suggest to Congress that freed slaves should be granted civil rights or citizenship in Northern states. Once the freed slaves were transported out of the United States, they would no longer be Lincoln's problem." This is also why Lincoln tinkered with proposals for compensated emancipation in the border states while they were under U.S. military occupation during the war. These proposals included immediate deportation of any freed slaves. He saw the occupation of the border states during the war as an opportunity to begin ridding the country of "The Africans," as he referred to black people, as though they were from another planet. Judge Napolitano quotes Lincoln in one of his debates with Stephen Douglas as saying what he repeatedly said throughout his adult life: "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races — that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes." "Lincoln was more concerned about the failure of [the seceding] states to collect tariffs than he was about slavery, " says Napolitano.
Unlike all those hopelessly miseducated neocon pundits who sneered at Ron Paul's statements regarding how Lincoln did tremendous damage to the principles of the American founders, Judge Napolitano is well schooled in constitutional history. He writes of Lincoln's complete trashing of the Constitution by "murdering civilians, declaring martial law, suspending habeas corpus, seizing . . . private property without compensation (including railroads and telegraphs), conducting a war without the consent of Congress, imprisoning nearly thirty thousand Northern citizens without trial, shutting down . . . newspapers, and even deporting a congressman (Clement L. Vallandigham from Ohio) because he objected to the imposition of an income tax."
"Saying that Lincoln abolished slavery and calling him the ‘Great Emancipator' are grossly inadequate mischaracterizations," writes the judge. "Lincoln was interested in promoting his political agenda of centralizing government power, and freeing the slaves was only a means of advancement of that end."
Lincoln destroyed the union of the founding fathers. He "replaced a voluntary association of states with a strong centralized government. The president and his party eagerly lifted the floodgates to the modern thuggish style of ruling that the U.S. government now employs" (emphasis added). This "opened the door to more unconstitutional acts by the government in the 1900s through to today."
The next time you see Lincoln's portrait on a five-dollar bill, the judge concludes, "remember how many civil liberties he took away from you."

The first half is largely nonsensical.  Some sticking points: 1, South Carolina secceeded before Lincoln was sworn into the presidency, effectively limiting the possibility that President Lincoln could have freed the slaves by paying the owners.  2, Lincoln could not have paid the owners to free the slaves.  Congress is responsible for outlays, and the idea that the president would take a unilateral action of the type described here did not really occur until several decades later, even with the powers Lincoln used during the CW.  3, the states did not ratify the Constitution.  The people of the states did.

That said, much of the discussion is right on point.  Lincoln did, at the very least, wage a war of questionable constitutionality.  Judge Napolitano is right in saying that the actions of Lincoln did lay some groundwork for future presidential actions and national centralization.  This is not to say, as GM points out, that the holding of slaves was right, with or without the permission of the Constitution.   In the end, was the freeing of slaves, whether intentional or otherwaise, worth the cost of the war?  I think many, myself included, would say yes.  In much the same way, I would argue that WWII was worth the fight no matter what the consequences of, for example, the United Nations (even if you disagree with the organization its roles globally).   
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #36 on: February 21, 2011, 04:18:19 PM »

Thank you BD.

May I ask you please to expand upon the basis for thinking Lincoln's waging of the war unconstitutional?
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« Reply #37 on: February 21, 2011, 05:22:52 PM »

Thank you BD.

May I ask you please to expand upon the basis for thinking Lincoln's waging of the war unconstitutional?

Yes sir.

1.  President Lincoln did, in fact, wage a war without congressional approval for months.  Congress was in recess, back when that meant something, and despite the presidential power to recall it to Washington (U.S. Constitution Art II, section 3), he did not.  That said, the majority opinion in the USSC's The Prize Cases, penned by Justice Grier, makes a very fine statement (one which was used by the Bush (II) adminstration to defend its powers in the war on terror, with the caveat that civil war not present): "As a civil war is never publicly proclaimed... against insurgents, its actual existence is a fact in out domestic history which the Court is bound to notice and to know."  However, note that Congress is given the power to suppress insurrection (Art. I, section 8, clause 15).

2.  Lincoln did suspend the right of habeus corpus, which is allowable in a time of "rebellion or invasion."  However, as that power is present in Article I, section 9, the intention was that only Congress could suspend this right.  The power of the president to suspend habeus corpus was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Ex parte Milligan (1866). 

Is this discussion the type of thing you desired, Guro? 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #38 on: February 21, 2011, 11:49:39 PM »

Very much so.  An imperfect student in these things that I value so highly, I am grateful for your extensive knowledge and perspective in these matters and your integrity in how you present the various POVs.
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bigdog
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« Reply #39 on: February 22, 2011, 04:43:05 AM »

Very much so.  An imperfect student in these things that I value so highly, I am grateful for your extensive knowledge and perspective in these matters and your integrity in how you present the various POVs.

Thank you, sir. 
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bigdog
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« Reply #40 on: March 04, 2011, 08:14:26 PM »

http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/article_854e3070-45b9-11e0-800c-0017a4a78c22.html

Sixty-five years ago, Winston Churchill gave a landmark speech here in Missouri about the Iron Curtain that had descended in Europe, and the long history and future of the strategic partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom. His speech at Westminster College in Fulton focused on an alliance that delivered jobs, security and economic growth - the very same issues that tie together our two nations today.

I'm coming to Missouri to mark the anniversary of Churchill's address on March 5, 1946, and to visit businesses and universities with strong links to Britain. Throughout my time here, I'll be making a modern version of the case Churchill made on the lasting importance of the U.K.-U.S. relationship.


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G M
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« Reply #41 on: March 04, 2011, 08:34:00 PM »

You might want to send a copy to the white house.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #42 on: March 04, 2011, 08:34:26 PM »

Something our President would do well to appreciate.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #43 on: March 07, 2011, 07:41:15 AM »

The First Trick
By JAMIE MALANOWSKI
March 2–9, 1861

The Old Public Functionary attended his last public function this week.

Delayed a bit by a rash of last-minute bills that needed his signature, President Buchanan arrived at Willard’s Hotel a little past noon on Monday in order to escort his successor, as tradition demanded, to his inauguration. Together they were an incongruous pair: the outgoing president, short and round, wore a swallow-tailed coat and broad-brimmed silk hat, while the new president, long and lean, wore a black cashmere suit and his trademark black stovepipe. Mrs. Lincoln and her children had been escorted on ahead.

Traveling in the presidential barouche, they were followed by a long parade: bands, floats full of pretty girls, mounted marshals, color guards, honored veterans and a phalanx of cavalrymen. On this sunny, festive day, President Buchanan’s feelings must have been bittersweet. At the head of a similar parade four years before, he began his presidency as one of the best-prepared political leaders ever to have assumed the office; he exits, after an economic panic and mounting sectional strife, with the country teetering on the brink of civil war so precariously that the rooftops of the buildings lining the route of this procession are crowned with sharpshooters, and artillery pieces command the avenues. Buchanan’s reputation is in ruins: almost daily he suffers to see the words imbecilic, moronic and traitorous affixed to his name. “My dear sir,’’ he at one point addressed Mr. Lincoln, “if you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man indeed.’’

“Mr. President, I cannot say that I shall enter it with much pleasure,” Mr. Lincoln graciously replied, “but I assure you that I shall do what I can to maintain the high standards set by my illustrious predecessors who have occupied it.’’

Few of the other remarks that President Buchanan happened to utter prior to the ceremonies has been shared; no doubt his comments would be full of the punctilious pleasantries the former ambassador perfected at the palace of St. Petersburg and the Court of St. James’s. But it would be what he was thinking as he sat on that exalted rostrum and listened to his successor’s address that one would dearly love to know. He, after all, has been scorned, and Mr. Lincoln celebrated, by the very same editorialists. And yet a number of their key statements have been nearly identical.

For example, when Mr. Lincoln said, “The Union of these states is perpetual. . . no government proper ever had provision in its organic law for its own termination,’’ Mr. Buchanan no doubt recalled his annual message that he sent to Congress last December, where he said, “The Union of these states was designed to be perpetual. . . .Its framers never intended the absurdity of providing for its own destruction.’’

There are other parallels. Where Lincoln said, “No state upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union,’’ Buchanan said, “No state has a right upon its own to secede from the Union.” Where Lincoln said, “I shall take care that the laws. . . be faithfully executed,’’ Buchanan said, “My province is to execute the laws,’’ and while Lincoln said that the would use his power “to hold, occupy, and possess the property belonging to the government,’’ Buchanan offered a bit more flourish in saying, “It is my duty at all times to defend and protect the public property.’’

Of course, the parallels did not continue all the way through. Mr. Buchanan may have been waiting for Mr. Lincoln to imitate him, and offer an explanation of the origins of the conflict that would prominently feature a sharp and lengthy condemnation of a quarter century’s worth of abolitionist provocations. Instead Mr. Lincoln was succinct. “One section of our country believes slavery is right and out to be extended,’’ he tartly summarized, “while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended. That is the only substantial dispute.’’


His tone left no doubt which opinion he held. And while Mr. Buchanan may have expected something similar to his long, lawyerly explanation of why the Constitution left him powerless to prevent states from seceding, Mr. Lincoln, though not overtly threatening, was nonetheless clear that he felt far from impotent : “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to `preserve, protect and defend’ it.’’ Mr. Buchanan found no authorization for action in the Constitution; Mr. Lincoln sees one in his constitutionally mandated oath.

Reaction to Mr. Lincoln’s address has run the gamut, not only among political views, but within them. The abolitionist Frederick Douglass was disappointed, telling friends that the speech, in which Lincoln “prostrated himself before the foul and withering curse of slavery,’’ was “little better than our worst fears.’’ The equally ardent abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner, however, approved of the way the speech showed “a hand of iron in a velvet glove.’’

Most of the voices in the seceded states, predictably enough, condemned the speech, with the Atlanta Confederacy calling it “a medley of ignorance, sanctimonious cant and tender-footed bullyism’’ and the Charleston Mercury saying that a “more lamentable display of feeble inability to grasp the circumstances of this momentous emergency could scarcely have been exhibited.’’

And yet Alexander Stephens, the newly minted vice president of the Confederacy, is reported to have privately admired the address as “the most adroit state paper ever published on this continent.’’ The smirking secessionist Senator Wigfall, the fire-eating Edmund Ruffin and the legalistic disunionist Thomas Cobb have all concluded that Lincoln’s words mean war. But Lincoln’s old adversary, Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, disagrees. “He does not mean coercion; he says nothing about retaking the forts, or Federal property,’’ said Douglas in response to queries. “Every point in the address is susceptible of a double construction, but I think he does not mean coercion.’’ And there are many editorialists, not from northern cities but from Chattanooga and Raleigh and Lexington, all in slaveholding states that have yet to secede, who agree.

It is to these men, the pro-unionists of the upper south, and especially to the delegates of the Virginia Secession Convention, to whom Lincoln was speaking when he said in the address, “My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it.’’

Call it coincidence, but when Mr. Lincoln faced a different conflict this week, he took the same approach. Consider: Senator Seward, the man long-designated as Mr. Lincoln’s secretary of state, at the last moment withdrew his name from selection, apparently in protest that the new Cabinet would include Senator Chase of Ohio and other ironbacks who advocate taking a tougher, less conciliatory approach to the South than Mr. Seward prefers.

Was it principle? Pique? A power grab? Regardless — rather than confront Seward’s demand directly, Mr. Lincoln responded with a two-prong approach. He made it clear to a group of Seward’s friends that even though it would be regrettable to lose Seward, he was prepared to name to the State Department William Dayton, the attorney general of New Jersey; and of course he would keep Chase. At the same time, Lincoln wrote to Seward, requesting that he reconsider his withdrawal. In other words, he took a position, and waited for Seward to make the next move; and Seward, of course, acquiesced. “I can’t let Seward take the first trick,’’ Lincoln told a confidant.

Lincoln hoped to do something similar with the seceded states: take a strong position, and then wait until they either came to him on terms he found acceptable or took responsibility for starting the conflict. Shockingly, Lincoln’s plan was dead before he could articulate it. Two hours before the swearing in, President Buchanan received an urgent message from Major Anderson at Fort Sumter, informing his superiors that he was running out of supplies. If not relieved — and Anderson estimated that because of the Confederate forces massed on the shore, it would take 20,000 men to accomplish that mission — he would have to surrender the fort in six weeks. Lincoln had devised a strategy that could be expressed in one phrase: Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. Now, suddenly, time was running out.

This news did not reach President Lincoln until the afternoon following the inauguration, when the outgoing secretary of war, Joseph Holt, gave him a complete report — complete, that is, with explanations and assurances that the previous administration knew nothing of Major Anderson’s difficulties, that he had submitted no request for supplies, nor for reinforcements, nor had he warned about the construction of the rebels’ works. By that point, Buchanan was on a train, on his way back to his beloved Wheatland.
He had spoken to Lincoln since receiving the news; at the reception at the White House after the inauguration, the two men had a tete a tete. Buchanan was observed to be doing nearly all the talking, holding forth with urgent animation. Was the outgoing president imparting some final advice, sharing some guidance that would prove vital in the days ahead? Indeed. “I think you will find the water of the right hand well of the White House better than that at the left,’’ an eavesdropper overheard Buchanan say. Insights about the pantry and kitchen followed. The state of Sumter was never a topic.

Sources: To learn more about these events, please see “President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman,’’ by William Lee Miller (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008); “Lincoln President-Elect,’’ by Harold Holzer (Simon and Schuster, 2008); and “Days of Defiance,” by Maury Klein (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997).
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bigdog
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« Reply #44 on: March 10, 2011, 05:10:52 AM »

The presidential election of 1800:


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Freki
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« Reply #45 on: March 10, 2011, 08:50:47 AM »

Nice find grin
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bigdog
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« Reply #46 on: March 10, 2011, 08:53:10 AM »

Nice find grin

Thank you, Freki.  And let me say that I thoroughly enjoy your contributions on the Founding Fathers/American Creed. 
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ccp
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« Reply #47 on: March 10, 2011, 01:51:53 PM »

If only Sally Hemings saved her dress with the stain for 200 years:               
 
****Y-chromosome studies indicate that Thomas Jefferson may very well have had children by the slave Sally Hemings.
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Did Thomas Jefferson Father Slave Children?
Back to Build a Family Tree

The first American presidential sex scandal never went on trial, but rumors have persisted to this day that President and founding father Thomas Jefferson had an illicit relationship with his slave mistress, Sally Hemings, that bore him children. Jefferson never responded publicly to this attack on his character nor denied the accusations.

The circumstantial evidence is suggestive. Jefferson, who traveled extensively for long periods, always happened to be in residence nine months before the birth of each of Sally Hemings's seven children. Some of Hemings's children were said to bear a striking resemblance to Jefferson. And in an 1873 interview, Sally's fourth son Madison stated that his mother had been Jefferson's "concubine," and that he and his siblings were the president's children.

The Y chromosome keeps its family secrets and now, nearly two centuries later, DNA evidence has unequivocally linked a male descendant of Sally Hemings to the house of Thomas Jefferson.

To a geneticist, the obvious solution to resolve questions of paternity going back generations is to compare Y chromosomes from living descendants of the father in question. Because the Y chromosome is passed virtually intact from father to son to grandson and so on down the line, it traces the father's male side of the family tree.

 Jefferson's slave records listing the names of Sally Hemings and her sons.
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If Jefferson fathered a child with Hemings, all his male descendants should carry a nearly identical copy of his Y chromosome. Investigators tracked down living male descendants of Hemings's sons and compared their Y-chromosome DNA to that from male descendants of the president's paternal uncle, Field Jefferson. (Thomas Jefferson's only legitimate son by his wife Martha died in infancy.)

The story the DNA told was that the descendant of Eston Hemings, Sally's youngest son, had the same genetic signature as the male descendants of Field Jefferson. But the descendants of Thomas Woodward, Sally's first son, did not share a genetic signature in common with Thomas Jefferson. The DNA data clearly shows that one of Sally's sons, Eston, born during the president's second term in office, was a Jefferson offspring. What the data cannot resolve definitively is whether Thomas Jefferson or another male relative on his father's side of the family was Eston Hemings's father.

It is noteworthy that the same Y chromosome type existed just 20 miles away with Thomas Jefferson's brother Randolph and his five sons. The historical records indicate that Randolph and his sons occasionally spent time at Monticello, the presidential residence, but the trail of evidence disappears there, leaving Thomas Jefferson as still the most likely father of Eston Hemings Jefferson.

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ccp
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« Reply #48 on: March 10, 2011, 07:43:44 PM »

was in Wisconsin:

***The Origins of the Republican Party
Trying times spawn new forces. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 divided the country at the 36° 30' parallel between the pro-slavery, agrarian South and anti-slavery, industrial North, creating an uneasy peace which lasted for three decades. This peace was shattered in 1854 by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Settlers would decide if their state would be free or slave. Northern leaders such as Horace Greeley, Salmon Chase and Charles Sumner could not sit back and watch the flood of pro-slavery settlers cross the parallel. A new party was needed.

Where was the party born? Following the publication of the "Appeal of Independent Democrats" in major newspapers, spontaneous demonstrations occurred. In early 1854, the first proto-Republican Party meeting took place in Ripon, Wisconsin. On June 6, 1854 on the outskirts of Jackson, Michigan upwards of 10,000 people turned out for a mass meeting "Under the Oaks." This led to the first organizing convention in Pittsburgh on February 22, 1856.

The gavel fell to open the Party's first nominating convention, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 17, 1856, announcing the birth of the Republican Party as a unified political force.

Horace GreeleyThe Republican Party name was christened in an editorial written by New York newspaper magnate Horace Greeley. Greeley printed in June 1854: "We should not care much whether those thus united (against slavery) were designated 'Whig,' 'Free Democrat' or something else; though we think some simple name like 'Republican' would more fitly designate those who had united to restore the Union to its true mission of champion and promulgator of Liberty rather than propagandist of slavery."

The elections of 1854 saw the Republicans take Michigan and make advances in many states, but this election was dominated by the emergence of the short-lived American (or 'Know-Nothing') Party. By 1855, the Republican Party controlled a majority in the House of Representatives. The new Party decided to hold an organizing convention in Pittsburgh in early 1856, leading up to the Philadelphia convention.

As the convention approached, things came to a head — and to blows. On the floor of the Senate Democratic representatives Preston Brooks and Lawrence Keitt (South Carolina) brutally attacked Charles Sumner with a cane after Sumner gave a passionate anti-slavery speech which Brooks took offense (he was related to the main antagonist of Sumner's speech, South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler). Both representatives resigned from Congress with severe indignation over their ouster, but were returned to Congress by South Carolina voters in the next year. Sumner was not able to return to the Congressional halls for four years after the attack. Brooks was heard boasting "Next time I will have to kill him," as he left the Senate floor after the attack.

On the same day as the attack came the news of the armed attack in Lawrence, Kansas. As a direct outgrowth of the "settler sovereignty" of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, an armed band of men from Missouri and Nebraska sacked the town of Lawrence and arrested the leaders of the free state. The anti-abolitionists had made it clear that "settler sovereignty" meant pro-slavery. Labeled only as "ruffians" by Southern politicians, Horace Greeley was quick to decry both events as plots of the pro-slavery South. "Failing to silence the North by threats. . .the South now resorts to actual violence." The first rumblings of the Civil War had begun. The stage was set for the 1856 election, one which held the future of the Union in its grasp.

Read the Republican Platform of 1856

And what of the nickname "Grand Old Party"?
The nickname of the Republican Party didn't get attached to it until 1888. Previously, the nickname had been used by Southern Democrats. After the Republicans won back the Presidency and Congress for the first time since the Grant administration, the Chicago Tribune proclaimed: "Let us be thankful that under the rule of the Grand Old Party ... these United States will resume the onward and upward march which the election of Grover Cleveland in 1884 partially arrested."
 Copyright ©1999-2010 by the Independence Hall Association, a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, founded in 1942.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #49 on: March 11, 2011, 01:33:39 PM »

CCP wrote: "first republican party meeting was in Wisconsin"

Very surprising that would be the center of action then, much less now.  Besides the State Capital crisis, today the new national R party leader is out of Wisconsin, it is home of the biggest senate seat shift, a fiscally sound businessman Ron Johnson in for Russ Feingold.  And one of the only conservative influential members of Washington media is from Green Bay, Wisc, WSJ Editorial Page Editor: Paul Gigot.  If not for Packer fans (like Steeler fans clinging to God, guns, gays...), a beautiful part of the country.
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