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)

Nov 20, 2014 - Equality    No Comments

The Naive Argument of Socialists

The United States Constitution guarantees the right of all men to equal justice under law, but propagandists have carried the doctrine beyond equality of rights to equality of things, and “men are heard to proclaim human equality who would revolt at the suggestion that all birds, all fish, all cattle, all dogs or all race horses are equal.” All men are not created equal any more than animals. And even if they are created equal, that creation ends when life begins.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865


The Naïve Argument of Socialists

“Surely it is plain that to vest the legal title of residual ownership in the community has no necessary connection with the beneficial use of the property by the whole community. If it did, there would be no such thing as militarism in armies, as bureaucracy in governing departments, as profiteering by corporate officials and controlling minorities, as favoritism and patronage in the public services, as legalized raids on the public treasuries.

It is because soldiers, who do not own the army, develop special interests of their own that we have the phenomenon of militarism. It is because officials use the government service as a vested interest, though they do not own it, that we have a phenomenon of bureaucracy. It is because corporate officials and financiers and minorities use corporate property for their own benefit, though the residual owners are shareholders, that we have the phenomenon of corporate mismanagement.

None of these evils is presented by the fact that the beneficiaries do not possess the title deeds. The legal title does not even indicate how the property is to be administered for the beneficial advantage of the residual owners. Yet the whole promise of socialism rests on the assumption that property held in trust for others will be administered faithfully and wisely in their highest interest.

Though it is evident from all experience that there is no warrant for this assumption –though it is evident that property held in trust is not necessarily administered in the highest interest of the residual owner — the socialist naively argues that if all property were held in trust for all the people, all property would as a matter of course be administered in the highest interest.

And what is the communist conception of how collective propaganda should be administered? There is a “socialist” formula, declared in the present Russian constitution, which is “from each according to his ability, to each — according to his toil.” But this is regarded officially as a transitional formula to the true communist principle: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” But how are “needs” to be determined?

Since inequality has, on the Marxian premise, provoked all class struggles, the answer must be that the “classless” state will be one in which there is nothing to struggle for. The communists are driven to the notion that only if worldly possessions were “equally” distributed would men cease to struggle for more than their allotted share.

The whole premise of communism — that it can end class war, imperialism, national war, personal aquisitiveness and possessiveness — rests upon two suppositions: that equality of reward can be calculated and administered, and that it will be acceptable. So the correct way to state the communist theory is not that it means to abolish the private ownership of productive capital — that is merely a means to the end — but that it promises to administer productive capital according to the principle of “equal” rewards.

The fulfillment of this promise is of course dependent upon the ability of the rulers of a communist state to define equality in actual practice, to administer the economy by offering equal rewards, and to discourage, suppress, re-educate and if necessary, exterminate those who demand more than an equal reward.

Now it is no easy problem to deduce from the general principle of equal rewards the criteria by which they can be determined. I use the term “rewards” because it is evident the hypothesis could not be satisfied if all incomes derived from useful labor were equal in terms of money. Identical money wages would merely enhance the desirable advantages of inequality in other things.

In an army all private soldiers are paid the same wage, but it makes a vast difference to the soldier whether he is paid for service in the front line trenches or for being the chauffeur for the minister of war. It must be obvious, particularly to the communists who pride themselves on having a realistic appraisal of human selfishness, that only total and absolute equality of reward could, according to their theory, end the struggle for privilege.

The total satisfactions, the real income, measured not only in money, not only in goods, but also in place, power, repute, safety, adventure, interest, relief from monotony, would have to be equally divided that no one would wish to have any other job than the one that is open to him.

But though the communist diagnosis demands it, equality in this sense cannot be defined in theory or arranged in practice. The reason is that equality of reward has only a subjective meaning, whereas wage schedules, occupational requirements, the recruitment of labor, and the selection of managers and officials are objective decisions. The two cannot be reduced to a common denominator.

Thus if money incomes are equal, how shall the pleasure and pain of the effort expended be equalized? How many hours in a coal mine are equal to how many hours in a commissar’s office?”

(The Good Society: An Inquiry Into The Principles of, Walter Lippman, Little, Brown and Company, 1937, pp. 74-77)

Nov 18, 2014 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Democracy Comes to the Philippines

Democracy and equal opportunity were unknown in America’s new conquest, and in 1912 William Howard Taft warned his countrymen “that only 3 percent of the Filipinos voted and only 5 percent read the public press; to confer democracy on such a society was to subject the great mass to the dominance of an oligarchical and exploiting minority.”

Bernhard Thuersam, Circ1865


Democracy Comes to the Philippines

“On July 4, 1901, William Howard Taft took the oath of office as the first Governor-General of the Philippines, and control of the islands passed from the military arm of the government. Not all the problems [of converting the islands] had been solved.

Philippine society remained ill suited to the concept of representative democratic government, primarily because it is not one culture, but several. An election in Zamboanga was decided by which Filipino shot the other candidates first.

The Filipinos in the northern islands were Tagalog Christians, those in the south were Moro’s (meaning “Mohammedan”) who had long resisted Tagalog encroachment. A tribal people, they were fiercely jealous of their semi-savage freedom. Wisely, the Spaniards had left them to their own devices; but the Americans wanted to clean up and educate everybody.

So the [American] army established a garrison at Balangiga, on Samar, in he south where Magellan had sighted the Philippines and where he was to die at the hands of natives. On September 1, 1901, the natives from the surrounding hills of Balangiga fell on the American garrison, and in a devastating surprise littered the street with the heads, brains and intestines of the soldiery.

This was the beginning of a religious war with the Moros, one that took longer to settle than the war against Aguinaldo’s insurrectos. The fight became a struggle to win the minds and hearts of the villagers, who supplied the guerrilla bands and offered them bases and sanctuaries.

What was called for [to control the Moros], Pershing decided, was to disarm the entire Moro Province, to confiscate or buy every rifle, pistol, campilan, bolo and krise on the islands. It was not an original idea.

General Leonard Wood, who left the Philippines in 1910 to become Chief of Staff advised Perching: “You cannot disarm the people. It means they will bury their best arms and turn in a few poor ones, especially some who want to make a show of obedience.”

Moros who surrendered their arms were victimized by those who had not . . . it is as hard to disarm a people as it is to make them give up a religious belief.

In a letter to Avery D. Andrews, (General) Pershing put succinctly the apostolic creed to which he himself subscribed:

“It has been urged by some people at home that the Filipinos should be given their independence. Such a thing would result in anarchy. To whom should we over the government? Tagalog, Viscayan, Igorrote, Macabebe or Moro? No one can answer that any of these tribes represents the people in any sense, any more than the Sioux represents all the Indians in America. There is no national spirit, and except for the few agitators, these people do not want to try independence. They will have to be educated up to it and to self government as we understand it, and their education will take some time and patience. It is a grand work cut out for us from which there should be no shirking.”

The Americans stayed on, Pershing said, because “the American people being obsessed with the idea of maintaining their new position as a world power, insisted on keeping the flag flying over a territory once it was in our possession.

In the long run, the only advantage the United States or the Philippines realized from the occupation was the military mission. The archipelago was never destined to become a great way station to exploit trade with the Orient. America and the world economy were finding uses for Philippine products, especially hemp, sugar, timber and minerals. But as the world was discovering these products, the Filipinos were discovering corruption.

By 1920, Wall Street learned that the directors of the [Wall Street-capitalized Philippine National] bank had dealt out so many unsecured loans that $24 million had simply evaporated. The bank’s reserves, which should have been retained in New York, had also vanished in alarming fashion. Similarly, American rail industries had capitalized the Manila Railroad Company, which piled up astronomical losses in only eight years.

By 1921, the islands were insolvent.

“The idea that public office is a public trust,” Taft said, “has not been planted in the Filipino mind by experience and the conception that an officer who fails in his duty by embezzlement and otherwise is violating an obligation is difficult to grasp.”

(Pipe Clay and Drill; John J. Pershing, Richard Goldhurst, Readers Digest Press, 1977, excerpts, pp 100-153)


Nov 18, 2014 - Democracy    No Comments

Fears of Descending into Democracy

“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a two-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind.

And when the drums of war have reached a fever-pitch, and the blood boils with hate, and the mind is closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all their rights unto their leader and gladly so.”    Julius Caesar.

Fears of Descending into Democracy 

One of John C. Calhoun’s greatest fears was that democracy in the United States would evolve into a class warfare system whereby the taxpaying class would be perpetually looted by the tax consuming class.

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by dictatorship.”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, 1787, on the decline and fall of the Athenian Republic


“…He announced that democracy itself had created a new tyrant—public opinion. Tocqueville saw the powers of this strange new democratic monster. “The majority lives in the perpetual utterance of self-applause, and there are certain truths which the Americans can learn only from strangers or from experience. Democracy not only infuses a taste for letters among the trading classes, but introduces a trading spirit into literature. The ever increasing crowd of readers and their continuing craving for something new ensures the sale of books that nobody much esteems.”

Daniel Boorstin, Introduction to Democracy in America.


“Our real disease…is democracy.”

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804)


“Democracies have even been spectacles of great turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 10.

“Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that found between order and chaos.”

John Marshall, US Supreme Court Chief Justice.


“In the strict sense of the term, a true democracy has never existed, and never will exist.”

Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, III, 1762.


“In the degenerate state to which democracy never fails to reduce a nation, it is almost impossible for a good man to govern, even if he could get into power, or for a bad man to govern well.”

Gouverneur Morris, May, 1812, to DeWitt Clinton.


“Morris spoke out against democracy in every branch of government. This was not an unusual position at the (Constitutional) Convention: “The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy,” Elbridge Gerry said roundly during the Convention’s first week. But Morris added a twist of his own. A broad franchise across the board would empower the rich, who would control poor or fickle voters. “The people never act from reason alone. The rich will take advantage of the passions and make these the instrument for oppressing them. Give the votes to people who have no property, and they will sell them to the rich who will be able to buy them.”

(Gentleman Revolutionary, Gouverneur Morris, The Rake Who Wrote The Constitution)


“The United States, by trying to survive as a republic, was defying one of the most certain laws of history. As thinkers then interpreted the past, republics seemed sure to die because self-government could last only as long as the populace possessed enough virtue to voluntarily sacrifice private interest for the public good. The example of previous republics showed that a free people would eventually grow selfish and prefer their own ease to vigilance on behalf of liberty.

Thus the people would become corrupt, and economic dependence would lead to political subjugation and to tyranny. Republics, like people, had an ineluctable life progression, and with the onset of corruption, liberty began to die. Americans had no guarantee that their new republic would not repeat this familiar cycle.”

(Light Horse Harry Lee, the Legacy of the American Revolution, Charles Royster, 1981)


“Besides the unsuitableness of the republican form to the genius of the people, America is too extensive for it. That form may do well enough for a single city, or small territory; but would be utterly improper for such a continent as this. America is too unwieldly for the feeble, dilatory administration of democracy. Rome had the most extensive dominions of any ancient republic. But it should be remembered that very soon after the spirit of conquest carried the Romans beyond the limits that were proportioned to their constitution, they fell under the despotic yoke. A very few years had elapsed from the time of their conquering Greece and first entering Asia, till the battle of Pharsalia, where Julius Caesar put an end to the liberties of the country.”

Anonymous, The True Interest of America Impartially Stated, 1776.


“We are now forming a republican government. Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.”  Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) Debates of the Federal Convention, June 26, 1787.


“One of the worst forms of government is a pure democracy, that is, one in which the citizens enact and administer the laws directly. Such a government is helpless against the mischiefs of faction.” James Madison, The Federalist Papers, 1787.


“The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be, liberty.” Fisher Ames (1758-1808) Speech in the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, January 15, 1788.


“When a people shall have become incapable of governing themselves, and [are] fit for a master, it is of little consequence from what quarter he comes.” George Washington (1732-1799) Letter to Marquis de Lafayette, April 28, 1788.


“It has been observed by an honorable gentleman that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position in politics is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure, deformity. When they assembled, the field of debate presented and ungovernable mob, not only incapable of deliberation, but prepared for every enormity.”

Alexander Hamilton, New York Ratification Convention, June 21, 1788


“The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind.”

Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Hunter, March 11, 1790.


“When the Constitution was framed, no respectable person called himself or herself a democrat.” Charles Beard


“Washington, Jefferson and Hamilton were republicans, but never democrats. Hamilton openly repudiated any democratic affiliation; Washington did not go that far but he was frankly distrustful of democracy; Jefferson accepted its principle and argued eloquently for the theory, but his conception of democracy was fantastically far removed from the ideas of his successors. It never occurred to Jefferson to doubt that while the people should rule, they should exercise their power through representatives drawn form the gentry—not indeed gentlemen by heredity, but those who had earned the title by their own demonstrated quality. Jefferson believed in an aristocracy of brains and character, not of blood; but he believed in aristocracy.”

Gerald W. Johnson, American Heroes and Hero Worship, 1941.


“It is the almost universal mistake of our countrymen, that democracy would be mild and safe in America. They charge the horrid excesses of France not so much to human nature, which will never act better when the restraints of government, morals and religion are thrown off, but to the characteristic cruelty and wickedness of Frenchmen.

The truth is, and let it humble our pride, the most ferocious of animals, when his passions are roused to fury and are uncontrolled, is man; and of all governments, the worst is that which never fails to excite, but was never found to restrain those passions, that is, democracy.

It is an illuminated hell, that in the midst of remorse, horror and torture, rings with festivity; for experience shows that one joy remains to this most malignant description of the damned, the power to make others wretched.”

Fisher Ames, The Dangers of American Liberty, 1805.

“A democracy cannot last. Its nature ordains that its next change shall be into military despotism, of all known governments, perhaps, the most prone to shift its head and the slowest to mend its vices.

The reason is, that the tyranny of what is called the people, and that by the sword, both operate alike to debase and corrupt till there are neither men left with the spirit to desire liberty, nor morals with the power to sustain justice.”

Fisher Ames, The Dangers of American Liberty, 1805.


“Remember, democracy never lasts long . . . There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy.”

John Adams, Letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1812.

Nov 17, 2014 - Emancipation    No Comments

The First Emancipation Proclamation in America

The first emancipation proclamation in America was issued by Lord Dunmore in 1775 to acquire needed troops and incite race war among the American colonists and African slaves.  The second emancipation proclamation in America was issued by Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane on 2 April, 1814 for the same purpose. The third came from Abraham Lincoln who was probably aware of the first two.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865


The First Emancipation Proclamation in America

“John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia . . . In April, 1775, when a patriot throng was threatening to seize a store of ammunition in Williamsburg . . . suggested that slaves who rose up against their patriot masters and bore arms for the king might gain their freedom. “By the living God, if an insult is offered to me or those who have obeyed my orders,” the governor warned, “I will declare freedom to the slaves and lay the town in ashes.”

A recurring fear among wealthy landowners of the South was that a ferocious slave rebellion would explode across the region. Janet Schaw commented in the summer of 1775 that the Whigs were insisting that the British had promised “every Negro that would murder his Master and family that he should have his Master’s plantation.” In June of that year the Wilmington Committee of Safety sent out “Patroles to search for & take from Negroes all kinds of Arms whatsoever.”

On November 7, 1775, safely aboard ship in Norfolk Harbor, the governor issued a proclamation announcing that all able-bodied, male slaves in Virginia who abandoned their Whig masters and took up arms for the king would be free . . . ”Negroes and others (appertaining to Rebels) free, that are able to bear arms, they joining his Majesty’s Troops as soon as may be, for the more speedily reducing this Colony to a proper sense of duty to His Majesty’s crown and dignity . . . ” “Hell itself could not have vomited anything more black than this design of emancipating our slaves,” wrote a patriot newspaper correspondent.

In May 1775 . . . South Carolina [Whigs] reported that word had arrived from friendly sources in London that the British were concocting a slave uprising and an Indian assault against the colonists. “Words, I am told, cannot express the flame that this occasioned amongst all ranks and degrees; the cruelty and savage barbarity of the scheme was the conversation of all companies,” proclaimed William Bull, Royal governor of South Carolina.

Moderates such as Robert Carter Nicholas in Virginia, who had been most reluctant to sever his ties with Great Britain, became convinced of the need for separation because of Lord Dunmore’s disregard for the right of property . . . Even the yeoman farmers of Virginia, the two Carolinas, and Georgia, most of who had no expectation of owning slaves, were now more likely to accept characterizations of the Virginia governor as a sneering, leering tyrant who epitomized the insolent, uncaring British bureaucrat.”

(Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution, Dan L. Morrill, N&A Publishing, 1993, pp. 31-33)


Nov 17, 2014 - Aftermath: Despotism    No Comments

The Shameful Period of Reconstruction

The following is excerpted from a Tuesday, 31 May 1892 address by Col. Alfred Moore Waddell of Wilmington, before the Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina. His address was entitled “The Life and Character of William L. Saunders,” and Waddell described the postwar experience administered to the South.

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865

The Shameful Period of Reconstruction

“[Reconstruction] constitutes the one indelible and appalling disgrace of the American people—the one chapter of their history which contains no redeeming feature to relieve it from the endless execration of the civilized world.

A distinguished orator from a Northern State declared in Congress in 1872 that one-third of the boundaries of this Republic had been filled “with all the curses and calamities ever recorded in the annals of the worst governments known on the pages of history,” and attacking the authors of these calamities, he exclaimed:

“From turret to foundation you tore down the governments of eleven States. You left not one stone upon another. You rent all their local laws and machinery into fragments, and trampled upon their ruins. Not a vestige of their former construction remained.” And again he said: “A more sweeping and universal exclusion from all the benefits , rights, trusts, honors, enjoyments, liberties, and control of government was never enacted against a whole people, without respect to age or sex, in the annals of the human race. The disgraceful disabilities imposed against the Jews for nearly eighteen hundred years by the blind and bigoted nations of the earth were never more complete or appalling.”

Those old enough to remember that most shameful period of our history will readily recall the degradation, the crimes against civilization, and the terrorism which then prevailed, and how, amidst the general dismay, the faint-hearted stood helpless and silent before the arbitrary and reckless power exercised over them.”