Browsing "Lincoln’s Revolutionary Legacy"

Wilson's League of Economic Exploitation

Behind the façade of Woodrow Wilson’s utopian idealism at Versailles in 1919 was the reality of the victor’s retribution and the predictable result of their repressive terms for peace. Lenin was already consolidating his merciless regime in Russia, the British were busy seizing Middle Eastern oil fields as their own, and the French desired an independent Rhineland. General Tasker Bliss wrote his wife” “The submerged nations are coming to the surface and as soon as they appear they fly at somebody’s throat. They are like mosquitos, vicious from the moment of birth.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Wilson’s League of Economic Exploitation

“According to all the Paris dispatches, President Wilson has authorized the statement that the league of nations plan is to be an integral part of the peace treaty. If this be true, we regard it as a deliberate attempt to dragoon the Senate of the United States, and as such, a logical and fitting climax to the whole discreditable course of the Paris Conference.

It is a familiar trick of the “rider.” The people of this country want the peace treaty signed and out of the way, the business interests being especially impatient of delay. At the same time, they are very imperfectly informed about the implications of the league covenant, and reluctant to wade through the diplomatic jargon which half-conceals its sinister purposes.

We may be quite sure . . . that every agency at the disposal of the [Wilson] Administration will do its utmost to manufacture and strengthen public sentiment against the opposition of the Senate . . .

This alliance of victorious Governments, masquerading under the pretentious lying title of a league of nations, organized for sheer economic exploitation, has nowhere in its constitution sincerity enough to make fitting one single inch of furtherance by aid of any honorable means whatsoever. It should continue and end under no other that the auspices of its beginning.

[There is no reason economically for the league as] the removal of economic barriers and restrictions now imposed by political governments upon industry and trade would, we believe, at once effect the same free economic union among world states that now prevails among the United States of America; and we think that a free economic union is the only one that will have stability or permanence.

[The proposed league] has no quality or characteristic which essentially differentiates it from treaties that have heretofore bound the European states into competitive and predatory groups. The war has made the liberal spirit impatient of opportunism and compromise. If all the cost and sacrifice involved in the struggle to “make the world safe for democracy” have purchased nothing better than a rescript of old treaties, if it has not brought about the practical affirmation of a single democratic principle, we cannot see any place for opportunism in judgment. Faith, under such circumstances, is not faith, but indolent, shirking credulity.

What we have [in the league] is a calm, arrogant, and ruthless formulation of a plan of world-domination by the five conquering powers, a device for causing the exploitable territories of the earth to stand and deliver without the risk and cost of war.

The Governments of the United States, Great Britain, France Italy and Japan are the league of nations; they are the executive council; they appoint the dummy directors; they pass finally on the qualifications of candidates; they are, in short, an absolute and irresponsible oligarchy.

International commerce cannot be carried on except at their pleasure, under their jurisdiction, and, it is surely by this time superfluous to add, to their profit. Teleologically considered, we are offered an economic alliance which has as its primary object, in general, the exploitation of a property-less dependent class of the world over, and, as between nations, the exploitation of the vanquished by the victors, and of weaker nations by the stronger.

It is an organization of what Mr. Frederic C. Howe calls “financial imperialism” raised to its highest possibility. It contemplates only a political peace, and that a pax Romana. Of economic peace it gives no hint; on the contrary, it contemplates the inauguration of unprecedented economic war.”

(The End of the Means, Albert J. Nock, The State of the Union, Essays in Social Criticism, C.H. Hamilton, editor, Liberty Fund, 1991, pp. 76-77; 79)

Unrestricted Presidential Foreign Policy

Eisenhower was an internationalist and moved ahead of conservative Robert A. Taft for that reason by the GOP leadership in 1951. This successor to FDR and Truman would not relinquish control of United States foreign policy to Congress and helped organize opposition to the Bricker Amendment in 1953. For reference, Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution provides that the President “shall have the Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur . . .”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Unrestricted Presidential Foreign Policy

“[Eisenhower] usually had Democratic support for an activist, presidentially-dominated foreign policy. Many of his fellow Republicans, however, had a lingering fear from the Roosevelt-Truman years of the chief executive’s preeminence in international affairs. Such Republicans – basically the Midwestern and Western, formerly [Robert A. Taft supporter], element in the GOP – furnished most of the support for the effort to limit presidential power in foreign policy. That effort took the form of the Bricker Amendment.

As early as 1951 Republican Senator John Bricker of Ohio had introduced a constitutional amendment which, though taking several different forms over the next three years, retained three main provisions: (1) The executive branch could enter into no treaty that conflicted with the Constitution. (2) Any treaty, to become effective as internal law in the United States, must have supporting legislation “which would be valid in the absence of a treaty.” (3) In addition to the constitutional requirement that two-thirds of the Senate must approve a treaty, Congress would gain the power to reject or regulate all executive agreements with foreign countries just as if they were formal treaties.

Although Bricker had originally offered his amendment out of opposition to Democrat foreign policy, especially the Yalta agreements, he revived the measure early in the Eisenhower administration with the backing of a majority of Republican senators. The amendment also had the support of the American Bar Association, the American Legion, the American Medical Association, and other powerful organizations.

It was the second article . . . evocation of States’ rights — that generated the greatest controversy, rallied the opposition in both parties, and eventually caused the amendment’s demise. The administration could charge that the “which” clause, by forcing the State Department to square every treaty with existing laws in every State, would reduce foreign policy to its feeble condition under the Articles of Confederation.

Contenting himself with platitudes and suggestions for compromise, Eisenhower shrewdly left the major attack on the Bricker Amendment in the hands of the State Department. Privately . . . Eisenhower exploded, “I’m so sick of this I could scream. The whole damn thing is senseless and plain damaging to the prestige of the United States.”

As the debate over the amendment dragged through 1953 into the next year, the administration finally succeeded in organizing the “internationalist” opposition inside and outside Congress. In the end the administration narrowly won its case [and defeated the amendment].

The failure of the Bricker Amendment left the Eisenhower administration with a relatively free hand in foreign policy. Building upon the inherited frameworks of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization of American States (OAS), the ANZUS treaty with Australia and New Zealand, and various bilateral pacts, Secretary [John Foster] Dulles brought into being an elaborate global system of alliances. Supplemented by more bilateral treaties, the expanded American alliance system encircled and pointed SAC’s nuclear power at the hearts of the Soviet Union and mainland China.

Moreover, while they paid more heed to congressional opinion than would their successors, the President and Secretary of State were usually able to commit American armed forces whenever and wherever they perceived a threat to the global status quo.

Finally, the Central Intelligence Agency, with Eisenhower’s full approval and indeed enthusiastic support, vastly broadened its role and functions. Under Director Allen Dulles the CIA went beyond its original statutory responsibility for gathering data on conditions in foreign countries (i.e., espionage) and became a powerful instrument for implementing American policy and objectives.

On a number of occasions the CIA intervened clandestinely in the internal politics of other nations, sometimes to shore up shaky regimes favored by the United States, or at times to subvert and overthrow objectionable governments. The first occasion was in Iran within six months after Eisenhower entered the White House . . . [when] key portions of the American national security bureaucracy had come not only to share the British view of overthrowing [Mohammed] Mossadeq was necessary to insure Western access to Iranian oil, but to believe that Mossadeq was sympathetic to his country’s Marxist Tudeh party and was moving into the Soviet orbit.

After Mossadeq refused to give in to the new administration’s threats to withdraw its aid, the CIA began working undercover to bring him down. Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and the CIA’s top covert agent in the Middle East, operated closely with the American Military Assistance Mission in Tehran, the Iranian capital.

Late in August the Mossadeq government capitulated, [pro-Western Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlevi] made a triumphant return, and an army general friendly to the Western powers was installed as premier.”

(Holding the Line: The Eisenhower Era, 1952-1961, Charles C. Alexander, Indiana University Press, 1975, pp. 71-74)

 

Writers and Journalists as Intellectual Terrorists

The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) lost many votes to an FDR who absorbed their policies and platforms into his Democrat party – something which deeply alienated conservative Southerners and led to the Dixiecrat party of 1948. The CPUSA of 1932, 1936 and 1940 presidential bid was led by William Z. Foster, then Earl Browder, and James W. Ford, the first black man to be on a presidential ticket.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Writers and Journalists as Intellectual Terrorists

“As the Communists rejected the middle way which was the New Deal’s faith, so they rejected the experimentalism which was the New Deal’s method. Browder condemned pragmatism as the philosophy of “the bourgeoisie in ascendancy.” Now that capitalism was in crisis, pragmatism was in crisis too; it “has failed its class creator’s in the critical moment. It is unable to give capitalism any answer to the question, “what way is out?” And its effect in confusing the working class, Browder complained, was “very poisonous.” In place of pragmatism, the Communists insisted on the dogmatism of dialectical materialism.

All this the New Dealer’s found philosophically absurd. “Let no man,” wrote Archibald MacLeish, “miss the point of Mr. Roosevelt’s hold upon the minds of the citizens of this republic.” Roosevelt fired the world’s imagination because mankind wanted to break out of the cage of dogma; people were sick of both the great bankers and the great revolutionaries, each resting their case on the idea of immutable ideology.

And Communist dogmatism was more than absurd. It was evil in the repression and persecution to wh ich it led. “Its leaders,” said MacLeish, “the writers and journalists who shape its thought, are for the most part intellectual terrorists.”

MacLeish derided the dream of “that far, far, distant classless society which Karl Marx permitted his congregations to glimpse over the million heads of many sacrificed and immolated generations – that classless society which retreats as rapidly as communism with its privileged class advances.”

“One hears from time to time,” wrote Felix Frankfurter, “much shallow talk about the elimination of politics, as though politics – the free exchange of opinion regarding the best policy for the life of society – were not the essence of a free and vigorous people . . . We have been nauseated by “purges” both in Berlin and in Moscow.”

“Like all civil liberties people,” said Upton Sinclair, “I encounter difficulties in defending the rights of Communists who themselves repudiate freedom of speech, press and assemblage, and do everything they can to deprive others of those rights.”

The essence of Communism was revolution . . . [MacLeish wrote that] the revolutionary movement was “a movement conceived , delivered and nurtured in negatives . . . Its one convincing aim is the destruction of the existing order. Its one vital dream is the establishment of repressive control.” Its portrait of the future is cruel and sterile.”

[The CPUSA] method was to invent or penetrate organizations dedicated to a plausible cause and to use agreement on this cause as a means of implicating people in a Communist-dominated movement. Between 1933 and 1935 the Communists concentrated particularly in pushing such organizations in the field of peace, youth and culture.

By February 1935 Browder could boast before a congressional committee . . . “If you want a gage on the mass following of the Communist Party, a better gage [than party membership] would be the membership of organizations which endorse the various proposals of the party . . . which number about 600,000.”

(The Roosevelt Era: The Politics of Upheaval, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Houghton-Mifflin, pp. 192-194; 198)

[BT1]

Nixon's Treaty of Fifth Avenue

The 1968 observation of presidential candidate George Wallace regarding the differences between the Republican and Democrat parties appears accurate, as both had similar policies to attract the same voters. The GOP leadership chose a man in 1952 with no known conservative principles over Robert A. Taft, a man with extensive and proven conservative principles. The liberal Rockefeller wing of the GOP acted in 1959 to thwart conservative Barry Goldwater’s candidacy and did everything to re-elect LBJ 1964.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Nixon’s Treaty of Fifth Avenue

“When the Republicans met in Chicago the next week, Richard Nixon had an even safer lock on the presidential nomination than Kennedy’s before the Democrats met. Anticipating Nixon’s nomination, [John F.] Kennedy had gone out of his way to attack [Eisenhower’s] Vice President as a young man whose ideas nevertheless belonged to the days of William McKinley, and as one who, unlike Lincoln, had shown “charity toward none and malice toward all.”

The closest thing to a serious challenge to Nixon’s claims on the nomination had come from Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, who did nothing to discourage efforts to boom him for the Presidency in 1959. Visits with Republican leaders around the country, however, had convinced him that he had no chance against Nixon, and at the end of the year he withdrew from the race. Shortly thereafter Nixon announced his candidacy.

Rockefeller, though no longer seeking the nomination, was determined to influence the GOP platform. As critical as any Democrat of [Eisenhower] administration military policy, the New York governor strongly echoed the 1958 Rockefeller Brothers Fund report on national security, especially the recommendations for a mandatory national fallout shelter program, for accelerated ICBM development, and for bigger conventional forces.

Early in June he angered Eisenhower when, right after breakfasting with the President at the White House, he told newsmen that “our position in the world is dramatically weaker today than fifteen years ago . . . our national defense needs great strengthening.” He also urged Nixon to make known his views on all issues before, not after the convention.

Rockefeller was obviously in a position to make things difficult for Nixon if he wanted to. Two days before the Chicago convention was to open, the Vice President and the governor had a dramatic secret conference at Rockefeller’s personal residence in Manhattan. As a result of what the press dubbed the “treaty of Fifth Avenue,” Nixon agreed that the party platform then being drafted in Chicago should have stronger sections on both defense and civil rights.

Thus the platform, while mostly praising the policies of the Eisenhower administration, did call for faster development and deployment of missiles, and committed the GOP to a program of action in the field of civil rights while was fully as far-reaching as what the Democrats had promised.

Yet despite their radically contrasting backgrounds, personalities and political styles, in assumptions and outlook Kennedy and Nixon were not far apart. Both men were fundamentally cold warriors, dedicated to protecting national interests . . . Both were “internationalists,” strong advocates of the collective security orientation of American foreign policy since 1939.

Both wished to couple the continuing buildup of American armaments with a more ambitious program of nonmilitary aid in response to what Nixon termed “the revolution of peaceful peoples’ aspirations” in Asia, Africa, and South America. Both Nixon and Kennedy accepted the basic premises of the welfare state, although Kennedy favored a greater degree of federal intervention to foster economic growth and expand economic opportunity.

Finally, both believed in a powerful Presidency, dominant in domestic affairs and unchallenged in the making and execution of foreign policy.

The election was so close that, according to some estimates, a shift of no more than 12,000 votes in five States would have produced a different result. But Kennedy, by narrowly winning such populous States as New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Texas, managed to squeeze through. In a record popular vote of nearly 69 million, Kennedy’s margin of victory was less than 118,000, or about a quarter of a percentage point. Kennedy’s big majorities in the largest Norther cities, with their great numbers of Catholics and blacks, won him the Presidency.

(Holding the Line: The Eisenhower Era, 1952-1961, Charles C. Alexander, Indiana University Press, 1975, pp. 274-279)

 

Lincoln's Good Communists

Dr. Morris U. Schappes testified before a Senate Committee in 1953 and defended patriotic communists who served proudly with Northern forces during the War Between the States. He named Northern General Joseph Weydemeyer as an example. Weydmeyer is described in “Red Republicans” [Kennedy and Benson, 2007] as a “pioneer American Marxist” who was active in the 1848 socialist revolution in Germany, as well as a friend of Marx and Engels. In London, Weydmeyer joined the London Communist League with Marx, then moved to the United States in 1851 where he joined the Republican party.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Good Communists

Testimony of  Dr. Morris U. Schappes, Open Session of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations on April 2, 1953. Schappes was questioned by Senator Karl E. Mundt of South Dakota as to whether or not he [Schappes] knew of any “good Americans” who were also good Communists:

Dr. Schappes:

“Well, if you will look up the records and find the names of those Communists who died in defense of our country and were honored by Congress and by other institutions, legal, legislative, executive, military, for their services to this country, services that went back to the Civil War, when Communists fought in this country on the Union side, when officers, including officers of the rank of general, who were Communists, were officers of the Union Army, I think you can find adequate substantiation indeed in the records of our Government that Communists have been and therefore obviously can be loyal Americans.”

 

Red Cards in Minnesota

One of the most radical State leaders in 1934 was Floyd Bjerstjerne Olsen, elected governor of Minnesota in 1932. While a student at the University of Minnesota he tried to stir a revolt against compulsory military training and ended his private career on the Seattle docks and as a  labor union agitator. Lincoln’s army included many socialist refugees from Europe, including the “Swedish communistic venture [of Bishop Hill, Illinois which] raised a company in 1860, the Svenska Uniongardet . . .“ (Foreigners in the Union Army & Navy, Lonn). Scandinavian immigrants were scattered throughout the Northern army.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Red Cards in Minnesota

“For all his jauntiness, Olsen conveyed a deep and biting dislike for the existing economic system. “You bet your life I’m a radical,” he told one interviewer. “You might say I’m radical as hell.” And he rode upon a tradition of social conflict which had torn his State from the days of Ignatius Donnelly and the Populists.

The violent truck strike of the spring and summer of 1934 showed the degree of genuine class bitterness. In addition, even middle-class Scandinavians had long chafed under their exclusion from places of social and business prestige by the old New England families of Lowry Hill. Feelings were explosive and Floyd Olsen was prepared to give these feelings full expression.

Shortly after Roosevelt’s inauguration, Olsen told him that this was no ordinary depression but a collapse of the economic order. “If the so-called “depression” deepens,” Olsen said, “I strongly recommend to you, Mr. President, that the Government ought to take and operate the key industries of the country.”

Unless and until this was done, he repeated in August 1933, there could be no “economic security for the common man.”

He wanted the government to begin by using unemployed workers in production-fir-use factories which, by underselling private firms, would gradually put them out of business, until the major part of industry would be government-owned, producing for use, not for profit. At other times he talked of abolishing the profit system through the extension of co-operative ownership and control, presumably on the Scandinavian model.

Within Minnesota, he promised to call out the State militia if that were necessary, to see that the hungry were fed and the homeless sheltered. “I shall declare martial law. A lot of people who are now fighting the [relief] measures because they happen to possess considerable wealth will be brought in by the provost guard.”

“You go back to Washington,” he told an emissary of Harry Hopkins’s in the anxious days of 1933, “and tell ‘em that Olsen isn’t taking anybody who doesn’t carry a Red Card.” “Minnesota,” he boasted, “”is definitely a left-wing State.”

Such pronouncements were enormously exciting to American intellectuals seeking radical leadership. Here at last was a practical and successful politician, authentically American, governor of the very State which had inspired Gopher Prairie and Zenith, who yet saw clearly through the pretenses of capitalism and proposed his rough Midwestern way to build the good society.

By 1934 he was an object of attention in the national liberal press. He received the pilgrims from the East, signed articles for their magazines, and played affably with the general idea of a new party and a new society.

He declared that he was tired of tinkering and patching and wanted to change the system . . . he added, “When the final clash comes between Americanism and fascism, we will find a so-called “red” as the defender of democracy.”

(The Age of Roosevelt: The Politics of Upheaval, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Houghton Mifflin Company, 1960, pp. 99-101)

Postwar Gospel of Pecuniary Success

The United States of 1868 was unrecognizable to someone returning to this country after a ten year absence – the Founders’ republic had been replaced by a virtual military dictatorship of one-party rule, government informants and a nouveau-rich class of corporations and congressmen.  The adminstration of Grant — enabled by the military subjugation of the American South, enfranchising illiterates while disenfranchising literates, and fraudulent Republican regimes governing defeated States — became the first such in American history known for rampant corruption, vote-buying and outright incompetency.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Postwar Gospel of Pecuniary Success

“The great omnipresence during this pivotal decade [1860-1870] in American thought was, of course, the Civil War and its aftermath. In that crucible were produced not merely a new South but a new nation. Said Henry Adams, referring to his return to American soil in 1868: “Had they been Tyrian traders of the year B.C. 1000, landing from a galley fresh from Gibraltar, they could hardly have been stranger on the shore of a world, so changed from what it had been ten years before.”

The cataclysm had compressed a profound economic upheaval into a few short years; it had introduced almost overnight the vast complexities of an industrial society; it had bred up a new race of entrepreneurs who acknowledged no morality but pecuniary success. The nation had been brought to a point of ethical exhaustion.

“The old idealism had been burnt away, the hopes of the patriot fathers, the youthful and generous dreams of the early republic. The war, with its fearful tension, draining the national vitality, had left the mind of the people morally flabby.”

The effect of the war . . . was not only to waste away the old democratic values of American life, but to raise up new gods and new ideals in their vacated places. The new capitalism required a gospel of assertion as well as of negation; its position would not be secure if it rested only on moral indifference: it needed discipleship.”

(American Conservatism, In the Age of Enterprise, 1865-1910, Robert Green McCloskey, Harper, 1951, pp. 100-101)

 

States Rights' Cornerstone of the Republic

Barry Goldwater criticized both Eisenhower and Nixon for claiming to be conservatives on economic issues but liberals when it comes to human problems. Goldwater believed that man “cannot be economically free, or even economically efficient,  if he is enslaved politically; conversely, a man’s political freedom is illusory if he is dependent for his economic needs on the state.” As the Founders’ believed, the State’s were the bulwark against an oppressive federal government in the hands of political opportunists.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

States’ Rights Cornerstone of the Republic

“The Governor of New York, in 1930, pointed out that the Constitution does not empower the Congress to deal with “a great number of vital problems of government, such as the conduct of public utilities, of banks, of insurance, of business, of agriculture, of education, of social welfare, and a dozen other important features.” And he added that “Washington must not be encouraged to interfere” in those areas.

Franklin Roosevelt’s rapid conversion from Constitutionalism to the doctrine of unlimited government is an oft-told story. But I am here concerned not so much by the abandonment of States’ Rights by the national Democratic Party – an event that occurred some years ago when the party was captured by the Socialist ideologues in and about the labor movement – as by the unmistakable tendency of the Republican Party to adopt the same course.

The result is that today neither of our two parties maintains a meaningful commitment to the principle of States’ Rights. Thus, the cornerstone of the Republic, our chief bulwark against the encroachment of individual freedom by Big Government, is fast disappearing under the piling sands of absolutism. The Republican Party, to be sure, gives lip service to States’ Rights. We often talk about “returning to the States their rightful powers”; the Administration has even gone so far as to sponsor a federal-State conference on the problem.

But deeds are what count, and I regret to say that in actual practice, the Republican Party, like the Democratic Party, summons the coercive power of the federal government whenever national leaders conclude that the States are not performing satisfactorily. Let us focus attention on one method of federal interference — one that tends to be neglected in much of the public discussion of the problem. In recent years, the federal government has continued, and in many cases, has increased, federal “grants-in-aid” to the States in a number of areas in which the Constitution recognizes the exclusive jurisdiction of the States.

These grants are called “matching funds” and are designed to “stimulate” State spending in health, education, welfare, conservation, or any other area in which the federal government decides there is a need for national action. If the States agree to put up money for these purposes, the federal government undertakes to match the appropriation according to a ratio prescribed by Congress. Sometimes the ratio is fifty-fifty; often the federal government contributes over half the cost. There are two things to note about these programs. The first is that they are federal programs – they are conceived by the federal government both as to purpose and as to extent.

The second is that the “simulative” grants are, in effect, a mixture of blackmail and bribery. The States are told to go along with the program “or else.” Once the federal government has offered matching funds, it is unlikely, as a practical matter, that a member of a State Legislature will turn down his State’s fair share of revenue collected from all of the State. Understandably, many legislators feel that to refuse aid would be political suicide. This is an indirect form of coercion, but it is effective nonetheless.

A more direct method of coercion is for the federal government to threaten to move in unless State governments take action that Washington deems appropriate. Not so long ago, for example, the Secretary of Labor gave the States a lecture on the wisdom of enacting “up-to-date” unemployment compensation laws. He made no effort to disguise the alternative: if the States failed to act, the federal government would. Here are some examples of the “simulative” approach. Late in 1957 a “Joint Federal-State Action Committee” recommended that certain matching funds be “returned” to the States on the scarcely disguised grounds that the States, in the view of the Committee, had learned to live up to their responsibilities.

These are the areas in which the States were learning to behave: “vocational education” programs in agriculture, home economics, practical nursing, and the fisheries trade; local sewage projects; slum clearance and urban renewal; and enforcement of health and safety standards in connection with the atomic energy program. Now the point is not that Congress failed to act on these recommendations, or that the Administration gave them only half-hearted support; but rather that the federal government had no business entering these fields in the first place, and thus had no business taking upon itself the prerogative of judging the States’ performance.

The Republican Party should have said this plainly and forthrightly and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the federal government. We can best understand our error, I think, by examining the theory behind it. I have already alluded to the book, “A Republican Looks at His Party,” which is an elaborate rationalization of the “Modern Republican” approach to current problems. (It does the job just as well, I might add, for the Democrats’ approach.)

Mr. Larson devotes a good deal of space to the question of States’ Rights, thanks to the Tenth Amendment, this presumption must give way whenever it appears to the federal authorities that the States are not responding satisfactorily to “the needs of the people.’ This is a paraphrase of his position, but not, I think, an unjust one. And if this approach appears to be a high handed way of dealing with an explicit constitutional provision,

Mr. Larson justifies the argument by summoning the concept that “for every right there is a corresponding duty.” “When we speak of States’ Rights,” he writes, “we should never forget to add that there go with those rights the corresponding States’ responsibilities.” Therefore, he concluded, if the States fail to do their duty, they have only themselves to blame when the federal government intervenes.

The trouble with this argument is that it treats the Constitution of the United States as a kind of handbook in political theory, to be heeded or ignored depending on how it fits the plans of contemporary federal officials. The Tenth Amendment is not “a general assumption, ” but a prohibitory rule of law. The Tenth Amendment recognizes the States’ jurisdiction in certain areas. State’ Rights means that the States have a right to act or not to act, as they see fit, in the areas reserved to them.

The States may have duties corresponding to these rights, but the duties are owed to the people of the States, not to the federal government. Therefore, the recourse lies not with the federal government, which is not sovereign, but with the people who are, and who have full power to take disciplinary action. If the people are unhappy with say, their States’ disability insurance program, they can bring pressure to bear on their State officials and, if that fails, they can elect a new set of officials.

And if, in the unhappy event they should wish to divest themselves of this responsibility, they can amend the Constitution. The Constitution, I repeat, draws a sharp and clear line between federal jurisdiction and State jurisdiction. The federal government’s failure to recognize that the line has been a crushing blow to the principle of limited government. But again, I caution against a defensive, or apologetic, appeal to the Constitution. There is a reason for its reservation of States’ Rights.

Not only does it prevent the accumulation of power in a central government that is remote from the people and relatively immune from popular restraints; it also recognizes the principle that essentially local problems are best dealt with by the people most directly concerned. Who knows better than New Yorkers how much and what kind of publicity-financed slum clearance in New York City is needed and can be afforded? Who knows better than Nebraskans whether that State has an adequate nursing program? Who knows better than Arizonans the kind of school program that is needed to educate their children? The people of my own State – and I am confident that I speak for the majority of them — have long since seen through the spurious suggestion that federal aid comes “free.”

They know that the money comes out of their own pockets, and is returned to them minus a broker’s fee taken by the federal bureaucracy. They know, too, that the power to decide how that money shall be spent is withdrawn from them and exercised by some planning board deep in the caverns of one of the federal agencies. They understand this represents a great and perhaps irreparable loss — not only in their wealth, but also in their priceless liberty. Nothing could so far advance the cause of freedom as for State officials throughout the land to assert their rightful claims to lost State power; and for the federal government to withdraw promptly and totally from every jurisdiction which the Constitution reserves to the States.”

(The Conscience of a Conservative, Barry Goldwater, Victor Publishing Company, 1960, pp. 24-30))

 

Barden's Conservative Approach to Education

Conservative Southern Democrat Graham A. Barden of North Carolina was skeptical of President Eisenhower’s plan to revamp American education after the launch of Russia’s Sputnik spacecraft. Barden said on February 21, 1958 that “Somebody around [Eisenhower] apparently is of the opinion that all you have to do is drop a few million dollars into a slot machine, run around behind and catch some scientists as they fall out. That is not [only] oversimplifying the situation but foolish.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Barden’s Conservative Approach to Education

“[Barden[ stated, “I think that the Russian Sputnik flew too low over Washington and bumped some heads. Suddenly they said the American education system was no good. The trouble was everyone wanted quick [education] legislation.” The quick legislation to which Barden referred was specifically HR 13247, just reported out of his own committee. “That bill covers just everything,” he noted. “It’s like taking a man with some minor ailments and putting him through major emergency surgery . . . surgery that may kill him.”

And the congressman added, “The bill’s scholarship provision will mix politics with education, something we just don’t want to do.” When asked by an interviewer what politics would be involved in a Federal scholarship program, Barden replied: “When you give, say, five scholarships to a county, the man running for office next time will offer the people ten.”

[A letter to friend Herbert Herring at Duke University] contained a most concise statement of his political and educational philosophy:

“. . . I am totally out of patience with the so-called cash scholarship proposition, for I am definitely of the opinion that it will not work, it will do more damage than good, and once adopted will never be abandoned because of the politics involved. To me, if a student does not have the real desire for an education and is not willing to make a sacrifice for it, whether it be necessary or not, he is in my opinion a bad risk. I am thoroughly fed up with a large part of the press of this country that persists in extolling the virtues of the Russian system, while at the same time they denounce, criticize, and abuse our own educational system.

I sometimes wonder if those who are so persistent in the views concerning the Russian educational system are not really trying to lay the foundation for the adoption of not only a part of their educational system, but much of their economic system as well.”

[Barden] earnestly believed that once started, a system of federalized scholarships would never be terminated. The cost, in his opinion, would run into billions, and independent or State-supported institutions would become completely subservient to the bureaucracy in Washington which he predicted would quickly establish its self-perpetuating existence.”

(Graham A. Barden, Conservative Carolina Congressman, Elmer L. Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1979, pp. 129-130)

Georgia's Corrupt Carpetbag Regime

The rampant corruption of carpetbag governors like Rufus Bullock below fostered the seedy environment in which vast railroad frauds were perpetrated upon disenfranchised American Southerners.  They watched helplessly as their already-bankrupted States were burdened with heavy debt, and their lands seized for non-payment of exorbitant taxes.  An excellent read on this topic is Jonathan Daniels “Prince of Carpetbaggers,” the story of New York General Milton S. Littlefield and his corrupt railroad bond schemes.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Georgia’s Corrupt Carpetbag Regime

“[Georgia’s new 1867 Constitution] had been written by scalawags and carpetbaggers and Negroes, the conservative Democratic white mistakenly having abstained from the voting for [convention] delegates, and while it was not too radical, it was not the kind of constitution they particularly desired.

For the gubernatorial election…ex-General John B. Gordon, was defeated in April by Rufus B. Bullock, the Republican candidate, a Northerner who had come to Georgia before the war, and who remained Governor from July 22, 1868 to October 1871.

The Bullock regime, like most carpetbag governments, combined social progressivism – as in education – with political corruption. Its most flagrant irregular practice was that of issuing State-endorsed bonds to one railroad company after another, on the flimsiest security, and very often before a foot of track was laid. There was evidence, latter adduced, showing that members of the legislature were shadily involved in these transactions, being bribed to vote for certain bond issues.

The State-owned railroad, the Western & Atlantic, was manipulated by the regime for all it was worth, and had always at least three times as many employees as it needed. Bullock himself had been connected with the southern Express Company before the war, and his government, in contradistinction to prewar Georgia governments, was one in which economics ruled.

Its point of view was that of making money and maintaining itself in power so that it could make more money. In order to remain in power it was eager to meet illegality with illegality.

When Bullock called a meeting in January 1870 of the legislature elected in 1868, this fact was rendered obvious by his “purging,” with the aid of General [Alfred] Terry, the [Northern] military commandant, a certain number of Democrats and replacing them with Republicans. He also saw to it that the Negroes who had been expelled in 1868 [for being unqualified by State law to hold office] were reinstated, and so assured himself a solid Republican majority, which immediately ratified the Fifteenth Amendment.”

(Alexander H. Stephens, A Biography, Rudolph von Abele, Alfred A. Knopf, 1946, pp. 266-267)