America's Classical Catalyst

While in Paris Jefferson sent home his design for the Virginia capitol, a building to be “simple and sublime . . . copied from the most precious [mode of ancient] architecture remaining on earth.” He wrote that from “Lyons to Nismes I have been nourished with the remains of Roman grandeur . . . I am immersed in [antiquities from morning to night].” Understanding that modern man stood on the shoulders of giants, men like Jefferson looked to the foundations of Western Civilization for guidance in their experiment in government.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

America’s Classical Catalyst

“We no longer characteristically study the ancient tongues. Greek has disappeared from most public education; Latin has shrunk to a shadow of its importance in the days when the founding fathers read it fluently; and though the vogue of courses in translation and of general education has restored a certain pale of vitality to the Greeks, it has done less for the Romans. For these and other reasons the notion that the classical past has exerted an important influence on the culture of the United States seems to many absurd.

Yet evidence of that influence lies all around us. Many villages, towns and cities have either classical names such as Rome, Troy, Athens, Syracuse, Ithaca, Utica, Alexandria, or Augusta, or names compounded, sometimes uncouthly, out of one or more classical elements, as Thermopolis, Minneapolis, Itasca, or Spotsylvania.

Our streets are sometimes known as Euclid Avenue, Appian Way, Acadia Drive, or Phaeton Road. The names of the States occasionally reveal classicism, as in the cases of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Georgia.

The American college occupies something called a campus, a word that came into American English in this sense in 1774. Fraternities and sororities display Greek letters standing for words known only to the initiate, as if the Eleusinian mysteries were still operative. Certain categories of students in high school and college are sophomores, juniors and seniors; the first of these Latin derivatives dates (in this country) from 1726, the third to 1651, and the middle term from some period in between.

Constitutionally we are not a democracy but a republic; that is, res publica, a phrase referring to the commonweal, which in the sense of a government by elected representatives came into English in the seventeenth century. The congress meets not in a parliament house . . . but a capitol, a word originally designating a citadel or temple on a hilltop, like the Jupiter Optimus Maximus which stood on the Capitoline Hill in Rome.

The great seal of the United States bears an eagle, a bird suggested by the eagle of the legions, the difference being that the American eagle is a bald eagle and not a Roman one. It clasps and olive branch in one talon, a sheaf of arrows in the other, emblems of peace and war . . . having classical connotations. The figure is surrounded by an enigmatic Latin phrase, E pluribus unum.

Our coinage, largely created by Jefferson, is decimal coinage . . . it was early agreed that our hard money would not show the head of any living president, partly because Roman coins had displayed the heads of deified emperors. The goddess [Liberty] persists . . . she is known as Columbia, but she is always a goddess. She is clad in classical garment; and on her head, or near her on a pole or standard she sometimes clasps, is a Phyrgian cap, worn in Rome by liberated slaves.

That the young nation should have accepted a set of classical coordinates to particularize components of its government and its republican culture is less astonishing than its failure would have been. To western man between the fall of Constantinople (1453) and the fall of Napoleon (1815) the classical past was perpetually a catalytic agent, a dynamic force so wonderful and so elusive that generation after generation of thinkers recast Greece and Rome in their own images.

If the humanists did not literally rediscover antiquity, they remolded it, they energized it, they caused it to shine upon the horizon of European culture with a golden splendor. [This study revealed to them] a world at once timeless and flexible, elusive and permanent, a lost Utopia of the west inhabited by noble beings – Aspasia, Pericles, Marcus Aurelius, Horatius Cato, Cornelia, Caesar, Harmodius, Aristogeiton – men and women capable of creating republics and extending empires, writing tragedies and concocting satires, codifying wisdom and anticipating modernity. They were the wisest and most beautiful of mankind.”

(O Strange New World, Howard Mumford Jones, The Viking Press, 1964, pp. 227-234)

Nov 23, 2014 - Lost Cultures    No Comments

Southern Conception of the Good Life

Author Donald Davidson wrote of the decline of Northern cities committed to progress and the past resistance of Southern cities like Charleston and Savannah to the relentless march of industrial capitalism. But, he observed the ruins all around us, “the ruins of societies no less than the ruins of cities. Over the ruins stream mobs led by creatures no longer really human – creatures who, whether they make shift to pass as educators, planners, editors, commissars, or presidents . . .” lead the way on the path to destruction.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Southern Conception of the Good Life

“Continuity of family, of family life, and family position – irrespective of economic status – was in fact a great distinction of Charleston among old American cities; for elsewhere that continuity had been generally broken by one cause or another. With this continuity Charleston had a stability that expressed itself in the pattern of its streets and the conservatism of its architecture. The map of Charleston in 1948 was not substantially different from the map of Charleston two centuries before.

If John Stuart, whom George III in 1763 appointed superintendent of Indian affairs in the South, could have returned in 1948 to seek his home, he would have found it at 106 Tradd Street, just where he built it in 1772 – for a brief occupancy, as it happened, since the Revolution ejected him, as a Tory, rather speedily from his new house.

The secret of Charleston’s stability, if it was any secret, was only the old Southern principle that material considerations, however important, are means not ends, and should always be subdued to the ends they are supposed to serve, should never be allowed to dominate, never be mistaken for ends in themselves.

If they are mistaken for ends, they dominate everything, and then you get instability. You get the average modern city, you get New York and Detroit, you get industrial civilization, world wars, Marxist communism, the New Deal.

Historians, noting that the antebellum South was in a sense materialistic, in that it found ways of prospering from the sale of cotton and tobacco, and relied heavily upon slave labor, have had the problem of explaining why that same South developed a chivalrous, courteous, religious, conservative and stable society quite different from that which obtained in the also materialistic, but more industrialized, rational, idealistic, progressive North.

The planters’ “aristocratic” leadership was the result, not the cause, of a general diffusion of standards of judgment that all the South, even the Negro slaves, accepted a basic principle of life. Mr. Francis Butler Simkins, in his book The South Old and New, has taken securer than the average historian when he notes that the South at the outbreak of the Civil War was almost the only true religious society left in the Western world.

That old, religious South set the good life above any material means to life and consistently preferred the kind of material concerns that would least interfere with and best contribute to the good life. Its preferred occupations were agriculture, law, the church and politics – pursuits which develop the whole man rather than the specialist, the free-willed individual rather than the anonymous unit of the organized mass.

[With] reference to material means of existence, such as money, one could clinch the discourse by pointing out the traditional attitude of the Southern Negro toward work and wages. If you paid the Negro twice the normal wage for a day’s work, you did not get more work from him – that is to say, more devotion to work within a given period, with increased production as the result. Not at all.

The Negro simply and ingeniously worked only half as many days or hours as before – and spent the rest of the time in following his conception of the good life: in hunting, dancing, singing, social conversation, eating, religion, and love. This well-known habit of the Negro’s, disconcerting to employers and statisticians, was absolutely correct according to Southern principles.

The Negro, so far as he had not been corrupted into heresy by modern education, was the most traditional of Southerners, the mirror which faithfully and lovingly reflected the traits that Southerners once all but unanimously professed.

That had been the idea in Charleston too. It was what Mr. Simkins in his book, perhaps being misled by his historical predecessors, had called the “country gentleman” idea. But Charleston, which had always been urban, always a town or a city of counting-houses, warehouses, factors, bankers, financial agents, and the like, was not a city of country gentlemen, exactly.

It had agreed with the country gentleman and with others of every sort, including the Negro, on letting the relationship between work, wages and life be determined by the metaphysical judgment indicated above. That was what made Charleston Charleston and not “The Indigo City” or something of the kind.”

(Still Rebels, Still Yankees, and Other Essays, “Some Day in Old Charleston,” Donald Davidson, LSU Press, 1957, pp. 221-224)

 

Nov 23, 2014 - Bringing on the War    No Comments

No Risking Profits for Sectional Harmony

It was the tariff issue which had driven South Carolina to nullification thirty years earlier, and ever since it was Southern pressure in Congress that kept the grasping Yankee at bay. With a tariff increase being one of the major planks in the Republican’s Chicago platform, the South was forced to recalculate the true value of political union with the North.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

No Risking Profits for Sectional Harmony

“At the March [1861] meeting of the New York Chamber of Commerce there was one item that hardly anyone noticed except the merchants. They were considering a proposal to repeal the Federal law giving American shippers a monopoly of the coasting trade and to open this lucrative business to the British on a reciprocal basis. Except to these commercial men the final disposition of the matter seemed to be of small importance during the dramatic weeks of the secession crisis.

And yet nothing illustrated more clearly the real essence of sectionalism and the tendency of Northern compromisers either innocently to deceive themselves or deliberately deceive others.

Conservative New York merchants had spent three months passing resolutions, circulating petitions, and visiting Washington to advance the cause of appeasing the secessionists. Repeatedly they had professed their friendship for the South and their eagerness to defend her rights in the Union.

Now they had an opportunity to give tangible proof of their sincerity, not by the sacrifice of some remote territory to slavery but at the cost of risking their own profits for the sake of sectional harmony. For many years Southerners had protested against the monopoly enjoyed by Northern ship owners in the coasting trade and had charged that it was one of the artificial devices by which the [Southern] States were subjected to Yankee exploitation.

The repeal of the law would reduce the freight charges levied upon the planters by exposing Northern traders to foreign competition. It would have removed one source of Southern complaint.

Nevertheless a special committee of the Chamber of Commerce reported against sharing with Britain “our great and rapidly increasing coasting trade.” Rather, the committee believed, “our interests demand we should cherish this trade, and establish our own system, irrespective of this or other nations.” Ultimately the whole subject was indefinitely postponed.

This decision of the New York merchants was no isolated phenomenon. Throughout the secession winter, the Northern compromisers generally showed great enthusiasm for concessions on matters that seemed to have no direct bearing upon their particular interests, but they displayed an unfeeling obduracy toward concessions on subjects that touched them closely.

In Congress nearly every type of sectional legislation came up for debate; and Northerners, whether radical or conservative, Republican or Democrat, refused to surrender any law which brought special benefits to their constituents. Southerners could cry out against discrimination and Northern tyranny, but Yankee congressmen were unmoved.

As a result, when Congress adjourned, the navigation laws which benefited eastern merchants were still on the statute books. So was the grant of Federal bounty to New England fishermen. Even though an Alabama congressman bitterly called the fishing bounty a device by which Northerners were “permitted to fleece” his constituents, a Southern proposal that it be repealed was defeated.”

(And the War Came, the North and the Secession Crisis of 1861, Kenneth M. Stampp, pp. 159-160)

Nov 23, 2014 - Bringing on the War    No Comments

The War to Save the Republican Party

The young Republican party of 1860 was a polyglot of radical Jacobins and abolitionists, ex-Whigs, Free Soilers, Know Nothings, anti-slavery Democrats, protective tariff demanding Eastern manufacturers, free-trade Western farmers, hardened machine politicians of the North, as well as myriad visionary reformers. A war against the South was seen as the only way to save the party from post-election disintegration.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

The War to Save the Republican Party

“Just as politics had helped determine the outcome of the [sectional] compromise struggle it also played its part, openly or covertly, in shaping the final decision to fight for the Union. Sooner or later the Republicans were obliged to recognize that violence was the logical consequence of their rejection of [compromise with the South]. Some faced that fact realistically from the beginning; others tried to dodge it for a time with a course of “masterful inactivity,” or to disguise it with soothing words like “defense” or the “enforcement of the laws.”

But one thing the Republicans knew for certain: The acceptance of peaceful secession would demolish their party as surely as would the betrayal of its platform.

They realized, as one Democrat predicted, that Southern independence would cause the North to “look upon . . . [Republicans] as the destroyers of the Union of our fathers.” That would arouse “an agitation . . . that would know no rest, day or night, until Black Republicanism . . . should be effectually destroyed.” Accordingly, Republicans fully understood that the Union must be saved to make their future secure.

Some of Lincoln’s followers evidently believed that a war for the Union promised other political benefits. It appeared to many, in fact, as the only program that could hold their organization together. For what other purpose could the diverse elements of Republicanism cooperate?

[Salmon P.] Chase wrote apprehensively that the most dangerous disunion threat he perceived was “the disunion of the Republican party.” No sooner was the election over than many Democrats waited expectantly for the disintegration of their rivals. [A Stephen Douglas supporter noted that] “It is morally impossible for any man . . . to distribute his patronage and shape the policy of his administration as to gratify and keep together such a heterogenous combination of discordant materials as that of which the “Republican” party is composed.”

Here was a solution to the Republican problem: A stand for the Union would certainly bind all the factions together. More, it would provide an appeal which, properly stated, few in the opposition would be able to resist. With that in mind, one Republican urged his political friends to “drop the slavery question . . . & appeal to the national feeling of the North” so that Democrats would be “swayed to our side.” Republicanism and loyalty were soon to become synonymous.

It is impossible to determine precisely how prominent the political motive was in the calculations of Republican leaders. Simply to prove that the Civil War saved their party from disintegration, as it may well have done, would not be to prove that Republicans deliberately started the war for that purpose. Yet the evidence is conclusive that politics was at least one factor, and often a surprisingly conscious one, which directed some of Lincoln’s friends toward war.”

(And the War Came, the North and the Secession Crisis of 1861, Kenneth M. Stampp, pp. 205-208)

Nov 23, 2014 - From Africa to America    No Comments

The North's Bloody Shirt of Imperialism

A chief advisor to Theodore Roosevelt regarding federal patronage for black Republicans, Booker T. Washington gained great influence with Negro newspapers by guiding placement of white business advertising to them. He and those he ensconced in federal jobs “wrote Republican propaganda and placed Republican (paid of course) advertisements in the Negro press during election campaigns.”

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

The North’s Bloody Shirt of Imperialism

“Washington believed that Negroes belonged on the land rather than in cities, in the South rather than in the North. Now he called upon Negroes to “cast down your bucket where you are.” Southern whites, he said, would find his people “the most patient, faithful, law-abiding, and unresentful people that the world has ever seen.” Thus he seemed to endorse the doctrine of “separate but equal.” The next year the Supreme Court endorsed it too.

For three decades the ardor of the North for rights of Negroes had been waning. The Republicans no longer needed Southern Negro votes to win the Presidency.

And imperialist sentiment helped to swing Northerners into the anti-Negro camp. “If the stronger and cleverer race is free to impose its will upon “new-caught, sullen peoples’ on the other side of the globe, why not in South Carolina and Mississippi,” asked the Atlantic Monthly. Of the Northern reaction to Southern disenfranchisement of Negroes, the New York Times commented on 10 May 1900: “The necessity of it under the supreme law of preservation is candidly recognized.”

“No Republican leader, not even Governor Roosevelt,” exulted Senator Ben Tillman, “will now dare to wave the bloody shirt and preach a crusade against the [South] . . . The North has a bloody shirt of its own. Many thousands of them have been made into shrouds for murdered Filipinos, done to death because they were fighting for liberty.”

(Age of Excess, The United States from 1877 to 1914, Ray Ginger, MacMillan and Company, 1965, pp. 236-237)

Nov 23, 2014 - Indians and the West    No Comments

Trading Guaranteed Indian Land for Rations

By 1875 the remaining sovereign Indian tribes were decimated by the relentless hordes of army soldiers; loss of food and shelter, and kept constantly on the move and in fear of surprise attacks, they ultimately preferred the detestable reservation life to cold and hunger. Sherman and Sheridan’s total-war strategy against the American Indian had been validated.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Trading Guaranteed Indian Land for Rations

“The national stage of the United States in 1877 held a great variety of actors and actions. The values of the Indians opposed the values of white men. The purposes of farmer and banker, of factory worker and industrialist, of railroad president and merchant, often clashed. [This era saw] industrial bureaucracies such as Standard Oil [clash with] the hunting cultures of some Indians.

Crazy Horse was a great war chief of the Ogala Sioux. About 35 years old in 1877, he had been the leader of the war party in Wyoming in 1866 that left behind the corpses of Captain William Fetterman and 80 other soldiers. Through the next decade he fought white troops, down to that glorious day in June 1876 when he helped to wipe out the entire detachment of Colonel Custer.

Most of the Sioux were already in government agencies, but not Crazy Horse. After the Battle of the Little Big Horn he and his lodges went to the Black Hills, sacred to the Sioux. Then to the Tongue River, where several couriers from the government came to urge them to lay down their arms. At noon on 5 May 1877 Crazy Horse rode into the Red Cloud agency in Nebraska with 1,100 former hostiles, including 300 warriors. They had only 117 guns.

Even the agency Indians were wary of the army. The Federal government had recently decreed that no more rations would be given to them until they agreed to surrender much of their land including the Black Hills region, even though it had been guaranteed to them in perpetuity by a treaty of 1868. They also had been given the choice of removing to the Missouri River or of going to the strange Indian Territory (Oklahoma).

Crazy Horse brooded. Rumors held that he planned to flee with his warriors. Spies were set on him. His words were distorted in translation. On 4 September a large military force and some agency chiefs started from nearby Fort Robinson [and taken there after capture]. Entering a guardroom there the next day with some other chiefs, he drew a knife from his clothing [and] Crazy Horse was bayoneted in the stomach [and] died that night in the camp hospital.

Another chief, his hand on the breast of Crazy Horse, said: “It is good; he has looked for death.”

An era had died. With the suppression of the Nez Perce, the last of the great Indian wars had been fought. Instead of hostile Indians streaming across the plains, grasshoppers came, across Dakota Territory, Kansas, Nebraska, south to Texas, eastward to Missouri, north to Minnesota. In 1874, and 1875, and 1876, and 1877, when the crops were half grown. The cumulative weight of hordes of grasshoppers broke the limbs form trees [and] they ate everything [and] mowed crops to the ground. Against them there was no defense.”

(Age of Excess, The United States from 1877 to 1914, Ray Ginger, MacMillan and Company, 1965, pp. 3-5)

Nov 22, 2014 - American Marxism    No Comments

American Reformers and Communists

New England reformers intent upon abolishing sin in all its forms were for the most part responsible for driving the South to seek independence. Despite their dislike for foreigners they needed immigrants for factory labor, western settlers, and to become dependable Republican voters.  With those immigrants came revolutionary European socialism, future labor strife and a sea-change in American political traditions.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

American Reformers and Communists:

“From the colonists hoping to establish a Biblical commonwealth in New England, to nineteenth century reformers planning the abolition of sin, the Americans have always exhibited a strain of millennial thinking. During the [First] World War, dreamers who were busy reconstructing the social and economic order and the architecture of the Versailles Treaty aspired to inaugurate a “permanent and just peace.”

But during the decade that followed the Armistice the torch of idealism that had kindled the revolt of the American conscience at the dawn of our own century seemed to have pretty well burned itself. The returning soldiers were disillusioned about the crusade they had been sent off on.

The newly-formed American Legion became one of the chief exponents of the identification of patriotism with opposition to social, political, or economic reform of any kind. In some cases its members were even used against [labor] strikers. Foreigners began to seem a dubious lot anyhow; those from east and southeastern Europe were almost completely barred in 1924; American enthusiasm for the League of Nations petered out.

In the United States, there was neither a revolutionary movement nor a political party representing labor. The Socialist party, whose influence had been growing for years, notwithstanding the fact that it seemed foreign to the nature of Americans, suffered considerable defections when it decided not to support the war. The split with the Communists further weakened it. Eugene V. Debs, who was re-nominated for the presidency in 1912, gathered a vote of 897,000 and found himself jailed.

In 1919 the first serious strike in many years was launched to organize labor in the steel industry, which was traditionally anti-union….the [American Federation of Labor, the AFL] was poorly prepared [financially] to challenge this industrial giant whose treasury was filled to overflowing from far war contracts.

In order to cope with this situation, the Federation’s convention in 1918 passed a resolution introduced by William Z. Foster to form a steel workers organizing committee…One of the central body’s potent influences, [Foster], then posing as a regular trade unionist….went ahead with his plans [for a strike and] effectively shutting down the steel districts.

Ironically enough, management regarded the Federation as dangerously radical, along with the Communists and the “Wobblies” who were closely akin to the Russian Bolsheviks. They associated all unionism with collectivism. The object of all three, the Communists, the International Workers of the World, and the American Federation of Labor, was the over-turn of free enterprise. They believed the unions had no business in their plants.

As for William Z. Foster, he emerged shortly as a militant Communist leader, whose ultimate revolutionary objective tended to undermine the American labor movement as well as to discredit its leaders.

The steel and coal strikes….frayed the nerves of the industrial leaders, to whom the spectacle of the Bolshevist overturn of capitalism in Russia was frightening. Lenin and his fellow revolutionists were a far distance from American shores, but the basic theory of Marxism was one of world revolution and already there were stirrings of unrest on labor on this continent.

While communist Russia was relatively weak in 1919 and offered no threat to the United States, it succeeded in establishing a Fifth Column in the American trade unions and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters was not wholly immune from it.”

(Portrait of an American Labor Leader, William L. Hutcheson, Maxwell C. Raddock, American Institute of Social Science, 1955, pp. 118-123)

Nov 21, 2014 - Prescient Warnings    No Comments

Patrick Henry Fears an American King

Patrick Henry opposed the adoption of the Constitution as he feared the consolidating purpose of it.  He foretold that the growing power of the federal agent would oppress the States  and “use a standing army to execute the execrable commands of tyranny”; he warned of leaving the agricultural States of the South at the mercy of the trading and manufacturing States of the North through treaty and protective tariff bills, as well as “an army of Federal officers” sent forth to harass the people and interfering in their elections.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Patrick Henry Fears an American King:

“The great danger to the country lies in the temptation to the political party controlling Congress to so manipulate the elections as to perpetuate its powers. Another danger in Federal elections, foreseen by Mr. Henry, was the improper use of money. He predicted that rich men would carry the elections and constitute an aristocracy of wealth. Bribery in elections has become open and shameless, and the most conspicuous corruptors of the people, instead of being relegated to infamy, are too often rewarded by high official positions.

The conduct of the Northern members of the Congress, especially in the matter of the Mississippi, induced Mr. Henry to predict, that under a government that subjected the South to the will of a Northern majority, that majority having different interests, would never consent to Southern aggrandizement. The history of the country may be appealed to for the fulfillment of this prophesy, and the justifications of the fears he expressed.

Mr. Henry’s declaration that the Federal Government “squints toward monarchy,” is now, after a century of trial, admitted to be true by writers on the subject. Professor Hare . . . after stating that in England the prime minister is the responsible executive officer, and that he is controlled by the House of Commons, adds:

“Our system, on the contrary, intrusts the executive department of the government to a chief magistrate, who, during his term of office, and so far as his power extends, is virtually a king . . . When President Polk precipitated hostilities with Mexico by marching an army into the disputed territory, Congress had no choice but to declare war which he had provoked, and which they had no power to terminate . . . A chief magistrate who wields the whole military, and no inconsiderable share of the civil power, of the State, who can incline the scale to war and forbid the return of peace, whose veto will stay the course of legislation, who is the source of enormous patronage which is the main lever in the politics of the United States, exercise functions more truly regal than those of an English monarch . . . every inch a king.”

(Patrick Henry, Life, Correspondence and Speeches, William Wirt Henry, Volume I, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891, pp. 404-406)

 

Funding the French in Indochina

It is said that the United States fought the Japanese in World War II to protect English and French colonial interests in the Far East, and the United Nations was viewed as a safeguard to future wars. Few Americans in 1950 knew how much of their money was going to prop up the French colonial regime in Indochina saved from the Japanese, never imagining that over 55,000 Americans would later die in Vietnam for a still-elusive object.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Funding the French in Indochina:

“Whatever the formula for peace, the French Government recognized that it was no longer entirely a free agent in Viet Nam. Even in 1953, at the time of the Viet Minh invasion of Laos which occasioned so much alarm abroad, when certain members of the French Cabinet were reported to favor a request to the United Nations for help, they were overruled – partly to avoid foreign discussion and intervention in the affairs, not only of Indochina, but of the French Union generally; and partly out of fear that the United Nations intervention would precipitate Chinese intervention on the side of the Viet Minh, creating a situation similar to that which had prevailed in Korea.

At the same time, however, the French Government sought and received aid from its allies (from the signatories to the North Atlantic Treaty in 1952 and from the British and American Governments on various occasions and at Bermuda in 1953) an endorsement of its war effort as vital to the defense of the free world. And it also sought and received substantial military and economic aid, mostly from the United States.

Certain highly-placed French officials were once reported as fearful of allowing American aid to reach fifty percent of the total French military effort in Indochina, on the theory that the United States would then be in “the zone of political demands.”

By 1954, the American Government was paying about eighty percent of the total French military expenditures in the Associated States. American aid, which began in 1950, had averaged $500 million annually and included ammunition, vehicles, aircraft, naval vessels, small arms and automatic weapons, hospital supplies and technical equipment, which were delivered directly to the French Union forces under the supervision of an American Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG).

In 1953, on the basis of military plans drawn up by General Navarre and a French pledge “to intensify prosecution of the war” and make “every effort to break up and destroy regular enemy forces in Indochina,” the United States promised France an extra $385 million.”

(The Struggle For Indochina, Ellen J. Hammer, Stanford University Press, 1954, pp. 313-314)

Nov 20, 2014 - Equality    No Comments

Equality Ends at Birth

The old Soviet Constitution provided the “Equality of rights of citizens of the USSR irrespective of their nationality or race; in all spheres of economic, government, cultural, political and other public activity”; the Constitution of the United States mentions nothing of the kind, and no evidence exists that any delegates to the 1787 convention believed in a doctrine of human equality.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

 

Equality Ends at Birth

“[The] “basis and foundation” of the first free government in America [Virginia] was equality of freedom and independence, while the [Thomas] Jefferson perversion was equality at creation. The Declaration of Independence does not say that all men are equal. It says that they were created equal. There equality ends.

All America thought alike on the subject in 1776. Benjamin Franklin, a few days after the Declaration was promulgated, helped to write a Declaration of Rights for the State of Pennsylvania. He copied [George] Mason’s original Virginia Declaration of Rights almost verbatim. His first paragraph was:

“That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inalienable rights, amongst which are, the enjoying and defending Life and Liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”

So the basis and foundation of Franklin’s government was the same as that of Mason’s Virginia. It was equality of freedom and independence.

The Massachusetts Declaration of Rights contains the phrase “All men are born free and equal . . .” The Writings of John Adams (Volume 4, page 220) reveal that the original draft prepared by the Committee of which John Adams was chairman, in 1779, exactly copied George Mason’s original with the words “That all men are born equally free and independent.”

Before the Massachusetts Declaration was officially adopted John Adams embarked for France and on the twenty-ninth day of September, 1779, the Convention struck out the word “equally” and the word “independent” and substituted for the word “independent” the word “equal” making the clause read as it now reads: “All men are born free and equal.” John Adams was embittered by the change and, as we shall later see, had he been present it would not have occurred.

No other State adopted a human equality clause of any character until after 1835.  New Hampshire and North Carolina also copied Mason’s original while not one of the thirteen copied from the Declaration of Independence.

When the United States Constitution was under discussion at the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787 not one delegate from any of the twelve States represented suggested that “all men are equal” either at creation or in life. On June 26, 1787, on the floor of the convention Alexander Hamilton, the patron saint of the Republican Party, said:

“Inequality will exist as long as liberty exists. It unavoidably results from that very liberty itself.”

Apparently every mind in the Convention assented, because not a word may be found in all the Notes of Debates to indicate that any delegate believed in the doctrine of human equality in 1787.

So far as we have found, the doctrine of human equality was not suggested by anyone in the battle that raged over ratification and a bill of rights. In the South Carolina Ratifying Convention of 1788, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a member of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, explained that one of the reasons why no bill of rights was adopted in Philadelphia which “. . . weighed particularly, with the members from this state” was that “such bills generally begin by declaring that all men are by nature born free.

Now, we should make the declaration with a very bad grace, when a large part of our property consists in men who are actually born slaves.” If “born free” was rejected in Philadelphia, what chance would one expect for “created equal”?

The Constitution proclaims in its preamble that it was established “to . . . insure domestic tranquility . . . and secure the blessings of liberty.” Nowhere does it hint a purpose to insure or impose equality of men or things. The due process clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, which render liberty and property immune from attack except by the orderly processes fixed by law, insures that American governments may not impose equality.”

(Equality Versus Liberty, The Eternal Conflict, R. Carter Pittman, American Bar Association Journal, August 1960)