As an Idea, America Began in 1620, Not 1776 | Foundation for Economic Education

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Source: As an Idea, America Began in 1620, Not 1776 – Foundation for Economic Education

“After more than 65 days on a perilous, storm-tossed journey at sea, [the 102 English people aboard the Mayflower, four centuries ago] sighted land – Cape Cod – on November 9, 1620. They dropped anchor on November 11. In between, they produced a document to establish what historian Rebecca Fraser describes as ‘the first experiment in consensual government in Western history between individuals with one another, and not with a monarch.’ We recognize that 200-word statement today as the Mayflower Compact. Its quadricentennial should be noted and appreciated by freedom-lovers everywhere.”

I will be honest: as The Anglophilic Anglican, my sentiments with regard to those known as “the Pilgrims” are not unmixed. They were dissenters from both the Church of England and the English Crown, and were uncomfortably close spiritual kin to Cromwell and his minions, who wrought such havoc and harm against both during the interregnum (the Long Parliament and English Civil War, and the so-called “Protectorate”).

But the Pilgrims chose to leave England rather than try to change it to suit them, and for that I give them credit. And in the process, as this essay points out, they did much to lay the groundwork for our American Republic – of which I am a proud citizen, royalist proclivities notwithstanding:

“Compelled by circumstances (survival hung in the balance) to settle the issue one way or another, the passengers did the adult and civil thing. They put in writing a promise to each other to form a government of consent. Its laws would bind them all without religious or political discrimination.”

In 1620, that was no small thing! And it laid, as I say, the groundwork for the America we know – and many of us still love – today. For that, they deserve considerable credit; and, indeed, a debt of gratitude.

Glories of the West: Colonial Williamsburg from Above

From Colonial Williamsburg, which comments:

We’re loving this drone footage taken by one of the administrators of our Architectural Preservation and Research Facebook group, Director Matt Webster, for everyone missing the Historic Area. He says it was a little windy, so forgive the shifts in the video! We thought a little fife and drum soundtrack would go perfectly.

I agree: it does!

 

Faulkner: What happened to the “American Dream”?

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Source:  Being Southern in an Age of Radicalism | Reckonin’

“[William] Faulkner at the time of his death was preparing a book to be called ‘The American Dream—What Happened to It?’ He had written some parts of it and it is a pure expression of the Southern and Jeffersonian tradition, more so than he probably realized. In a speech a year after the Nobel speech, Faulkner said that the noble American principle of a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness had become nothing more than an excuse for materialistic ease. The early Americans did not mean just the chance to chase happiness. By happiness they meant ‘not just pleasure [and] idleness, but peace, dignity, independence and self respect,’ things that had to be worked for and earned. ‘We knew it once, had it once … only something happened to us.’ We no longer ‘believed in liberty and freedom and independence as the old fathers in the old strong, dangerous times had meant it.'”

— Dr. Clyde N. Wilson, “Being Southern in an Age of Radicalismhttps://alchetron.com/cdn/clyde-n-wilson-cd1d44e9-63c9-48ee-a408-2d936c59b98-resize-750.jpeg

Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina. He is the author or editor of over thirty books and more than 600 published articles, essays and reviews.

The Calhoun Institute also notes that he is a paleo-conservative political commentator, a long-time contributing editor for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture and Southern Partisan magazine, and an occasional contributor to National Review.

Wilson is best known for his expertise on the life and writings of John C. Calhoun, having compiled all his papers in twenty-eight volumes. He has been the M.E. Bradford Distinguished Chair of the Abbeville Institute, and an adjunct faculty member of the paleo-libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Virginia’s New Secession Crisis | The Imaginative Conservative

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Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, West Virginia. Credit: Kevin King. (https://wvrivers.org/2019/12/survey/)

The governor of West Virginia has invited the disaffected counties of Virginia to leave the Old Dominion and become a part of the mountain state. The loss of these counties and their “deplorables” would mark an end to what little is left of the Old Dominion’s influence in the counsels of the nation.

Source: Virginia’s New Secession Crisis ~ The Imaginative Conservative

To be honest, I have historically had mixed feelings about the very existence of West Virginia (despite my great love for John Denver’s splendid song about her) – no offense whatsoever intended to the good people living there!

But it is, to say the least, deeply ironic that the same Federal government which refused to allow the Southern States to secede from the Union – launching a horrific, bloody war to bring them back by force – was perfectly okay with allowing a separatist rump legislature to secede what is now West Virginia from the Old Dominion.

But that’s history. And history, important (indeed, vital) as it is, is sometimes taken over by current events! Given the present situation, in which (as this essay notes)

“Governor Northam and the leadership of the misnamed Democratic Party [believe] they [are] in a position to issue diktats expanding abortion, curtailing the second amendment, and punishing those who dare to criticize them,”

I am now more than half-tempted to believe that West Virginia was actually saved by an act of Divine Providence to be – potentially – a safe haven for conservative counties now part of the Old Dominion (and perhaps my home State of Maryland, too).

Whether or not this will prove possible remains to be seen, but even the prospect is encouraging. And if it does (as, again, this essay points out),

“Virginia, which is now a microcosm of the country’s culture wars, could lead a new secession movement that could go a long way to relieving the considerable pressures along the fault lines of conflict in America.”

It is true that, as author John Devanny comments,

“West Virginia may not be acting from pure motives in encouraging the secession of Virginia counties from the Richmond Junta and into a union with West Virginia. Tax revenue, economic development, and congressional representation are at stake here. But so too are the important cultural issues.”

As he also accurately notes, America is a nation built on secession. “Secession” of settlers from their native lands, the great secession of the United Colonies from Great Britain – led to military victory by General, later President, George Washington (whose birthday today, February 22nd, is) – in the American War of Independence, and of course the attempted secession of the Confederacy from the Union, in the War Between the States (which this essay also discusses, as background).

In the mid-19th century, the great divide in this country was between North and South, and although slavery played a role, it was by no means the only factor, as Davenny recounts. Nor did the divide begin in the 19th century, nor was the South the first to consider secession – points which the dominant narrative conveniently ignores.

But now, the great divide is between the urban, mostly coastal, “elites” – what Democratic presidential hopeful and multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg has openly, arrogantly, and largely erroneously called the “intelligentsia” (with its implication that all who oppose this new quasi-aristocracy are unintelligent and uneducated, the “unwashed masses” his ilk were born to dominate), and the so-called “deplorables” (e.g., those still “bitterly clinging” to God and guns – my people, in other words) in what used to be called “America’s Heartland,” but is now disparaged by the “elite” as mere “flyover country.”

The divide seems to be growing and hardening, and if something doesn’t happen to change, could end up as bitter as the divide over States’ rights, the tariff, and slavery was in the mid-1800s. And if that happens, a similarly bloody outcome is not, unfortunately, entirely inconceivable. Are we seeing a glimmer of a way out, in which States and counties realign themselves into more amenable configurations? A rebirth of authentic Federalism?

It is too early to be sure, of course. The idea that whole counties might “vote with their feet” (as well as the ballot-box) and actually switch States would have been unthinkable even a few years ago; but with the Governor of West Virginia actively inviting it, and some Virginia counties apparently considering the option, it just might be the safety value we need to keep the pressure-cooker from exploding.

Speaking personally, as much as I love Maryland, I would be very happy to join a West Virginia that protected my Second Amendment rights, did not consider that killing unborn children right up to delivery (and in the case of some radicals, possibly even after) was somehow virtuous, and in general respected those of us the “elites” deplore.

That would be, shall I say…

Almost heaven.

 

“Of, by, and for the people”…? A reflection for Lincoln’s birthday

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Today, the 12th of February, is the birthday of one whom some celebrate as the “savior of his country,” while others of us excoriate as a vicious tyrant who may have “saved the Union,” but who in the process trampled the Constitution and destroyed the Constitutional Republic our Founders bequeathed to us. I refer, of course, to Abraham Lincoln.

Aside from the grossly misnamed “Emancipation Proclamation,” which “emancipated” not a single slave – it applied only to the Confederacy, and areas under CSA control, in which Mr. Lincoln’s writ did not run, and specifically excluded all areas (including those slave states which had remained in the Union, and also formerly Confederate areas then under Union occupation) in which it did – Lincoln is best-known for his “Gettysburg Address,” in which he claims, inter alia, that

“Fourscore and seven years ago, our Fathers brought forth on this continent a new Nation.”

In point of fact, of course, eighty-seven years prior to his 1863 Address, our Founding Fathers declared, in the Declaration of Independence, that “these United Colonies are, and by right ought to be, free and independent States.” Plural. That is something rather different. But of course Lincoln, frontier lawyer that he was, was never one to let truth get in the way of a good line!

He also piously proclaimed that this new Nation (first an alliance, then a Confederacy, and only later a Federal Union: now, arguably, not even so much as that) was “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” True, as far as it goes. But as one commentator has noted, it is interesting – and significant – that he did not follow that thought to its conclusion, in the Declaration, which includes these words:

“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it and institute a new Government.”

The reason he did not point this out is obvious; but that he made the reference at all is indicative of the fact that he expected that, even then, not to many of his hearers would be familiar enough with our founding documents to make the connection. He was undoubtedly right, as his words – and not the full quote from the Declaration – have been slavishly repeated, ad nauseam, down through the 150+ years since he made that Address. And given the state of education, currently, there are even fewer now who would make it.

Thus me pointing it out!

He also made, in this Address, the outrageous claim that the War Between the States – the War of Northern Aggression, erroneously called by him (and again, echoed since) the “Civil War” (1) – was fought “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Nothing could have been further from the truth. As H.L. Mencken was later to accurately point out,

“The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history. Put beside it, all the whoopings of the Websters, Sumners and Everetts seem gaudy and silly. It is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost child-like perfection—the highest emotion reduced to one graceful and irresistible gesture. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous.

But let us not forget that it is oratory, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it.  Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination — ‘that government of the people, by the people, for the people,’ should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.

“What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i.e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and veto of the rest of the country — and for nearly twenty years that veto was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely more liberty, in the political sense, than so many convicts in the penitentiary.”

As the commentator noted above (whose whole essay is well worth a read) points out, “The states that left the Union to join the Confederacy did so in the true sense of the Jeffersonian principle of self-government, as stated in the Declaration. Lincoln’s invasion of the Confederate States stood that idea on its head.” And of course, “Representative democracy would have continued in the Union and in the Confederacy regardless of the outcome” of the War.

Far from preserving liberty, equality, or representative government, the precedent set – of control and domination over the States by the central, Federal government in Washington, D.C. – by that terrible War, which killed half a million Americans entirely without need (2), continues to echo down through the ages, to our detriment.

This is what you are celebrating, if you choose to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday.

Please – think about it.


1)  A civil war is one fought between two or more factions for control of the central government. The Confederacy had no desire to run the Union! It merely wished to withdraw from it, and to enjoy the freedom to work out its own destiny in peace.

2)  The ending of slavery was emphatically, and by Lincoln’s own admission, not the aim of the War, and even if it had been, is it logical that the U.S., alone among the nations of the world, needed a horrific and destructive war to end an institution all the others ended peacefully?

 

Why I am a Jeffersonian, part 2!

Screenshot_2020-02-02 (2) Tara Ross - Posts

Source: Tara Ross | Facebook

“On this day in 1816, Thomas Jefferson writes a letter to a friend. He speaks of the need to keep power separated between the national and state governments. Such a division of labor, Jefferson notes, protects liberty.

“Perhaps it would also help the country to be less angry at each other? Consider that if Texas and California don’t have to agree on everything, then there is less cause for upset. Each state can simply make its own decisions and live its own way.”

My goodness, what a radical concept….! Here is a fuller expression of the theme, from Mr. Jefferson:

“[T]he way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defence of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police… What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and power into one body, no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate.”

 

Jefferson vs Hamilton, and why I am a Jeffersonian

Source: Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution–and What It Means for Americans Today | Amazon.com

Reasons for my preference for Jefferson over Hamilton, aside from the former’s primary authorship of the Declaration of Independence, and his agrarian ideal:

“While Jefferson is better remembered today, it is actually Hamilton’s political legacy that has triumphed – a legacy that has subverted the Constitution and transformed the federal government into the very leviathan state that our forefathers fought against in the American Revolution. How did we go from the Jeffersonian ideal of limited government to the bloated imperialist system of Hamilton’s design?

“Acclaimed economic historian Thomas J. DiLorenzo reveals how Hamilton, first as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and later as the nation’s first and most influential treasury secretary, masterfully promoted an agenda of nationalist glory and interventionist economics. These core beliefs did not die with Hamilton in his fatal duel with Aaron Burr, but were carried on through his political heirs.

“The Hamiltonian legacy wrested control into the hands of the federal government by inventing the myth of the Constitution’s “implied powers,” transforming state governments from Jeffersonian bulwarks of liberty to beggars for federal crumbs. It also devised a national banking system that imposes boom-and-bust cycles on the American economy; saddled Americans with a massive national debt and oppressive taxation, and pushed economic policies that lined the pockets of the wealthy and created a government system built on graft, spoils, and patronage.”

Other than that, not a bad system… *ironic smile*

 

Thanksgiving 1861 | The Southern Agrarian

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Source: Thanksgiving 1861 – The Southern Agrarian

Stephen Clay McGeehee, of The Southern Agrarian, notes,

“During the Thanksgiving season we often hear that the first national Thanksgiving Proclamation was given by Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C. on October 3, 1863. What the northern history books fail to mention is that Lincoln, bowing to political pressure, copied the President of the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis actually had made the first national Proclamation of Thanksgiving two years earlier in Richmond, Virginia.”

Click to the link to read President Davis’ Thanksgiving Proclamation.

In fact, of course, the very first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation was issued by George Washington, on 3 October 1789 (see also here, for more background).

And the first Thanksgiving itself, on what would become the original 13 Colonies, later 13 States, was actually held in Virginia, at a place called the Berkeley Hundred, a year before the Pilgrims reached Plimouth (as it was called then)!

That was held on 4 December 1619. It was more about prayer than feasting – which may explain why it has not gotten the societal traction of the Pilgrim’s event – and the foods that were served were probably ham and oysters, not turkey and dressing.

Interesting history of this day, in any case!

Gettysburg Address: Still Balderdash After 150 (+) Years | James Bovard

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“I am mystified by all the whooping on the… anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. Most of the commentators seem to believe that Lincoln was an honest man touting the highest ideals.”

Source: Gettysburg Address: Still Balderdash After 150 Years – James Bovard

November 19th of this year of grace 2019 was the 156th anniversary of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.”

Along with his “Emancipation” Proclamation, which did not emancipate a single slave (*), it is the basis for the Northern/Federalist mythologizing of both Lincoln as the preserver of the Union (which is true, although at gunpoint, and at tremendous cost to the Founders’ vision of that Union) and liberator of the slaves (which is a bald-faced lie), and the War Between the States as a “civil war” and a conflict between freedom and oppression.

Well, it was not a civil war: a civil war is a war between two or more factions for control of the central government; the WBTS was an invasion of a group of States, who wanted only to be left alone, by another group of States – at the behest of the Federal government – which was violently determined not to leave them in peace.

It was, in fact, a war between freedom and oppression; but not in the way the Lincolnites and supporters of the “Glorious Union” would like us to believe. As one commenter has accurately noted, H.L. Menken had Lincoln pegged 100 years ago:

“The Gettysburg speech was at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history… the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense.

“Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination — that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth.

“It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.”

(For a more detailed treatment of Mencken on Lincoln, go here.)

And as the linked essay points out,

“Massachusetts abolitionist Lysander Spooner” – of all people! – “offered the most concise refutation to President Lincoln’s claim that the Civil War was fought to preserve a ‘government by consent.’ Spooner observed, ‘The only idea . . . ever manifested as to what is a government of consent, is this – that it is one to which everybody must consent, or be shot.'”

That was certainly the case with the Federal Union, in the War Between the States (a.k.a. War of Northern Aggression)! And it has been, by and large, ever since.

On the subject of liberating the slaves: I wonder how many people who hail Lincoln as “the Great Emancipator” realize that his much-vaunted Proclamation did not emancipate a single slave. And why? Because it applied only to areas – Confederate-controlled areas – in which his writ did not run.

It specifically did not apply to any area in or held by the Union! And why was that? Because, as he was very well aware, slavery was still PERMITTED BY THE CONSTITUTION in the “Glorious Union,” and he had absolutely no authority to change that, short of a Constitutional Amendment – which did not occur until after the War (though passed by a Congress in which the Southern States were not represented early in 1865, it was not ratified by the requisite number of States until December 6th of that year).

Now, granted, he did a lot of other things he had no Constitutional authority to do! But I think he was smart enough to realize that if he tried to end slavery inside the Union without an Amendment to the Constitution, he’d be losing several more states, and most likely, the War. And he had already made it clear that he didn’t give a hoot about slavery, one way or the other, as a matter of policy – just about keeping the Union together.

The “Emancipation” Proclamation was a very narrow and (I’m sorry to say) well-designed political and military “poison pill” to make it look like he was doing something about slavery when, in fact, he wasn’t; and to dissuade nations like Britain and France who were debating coming in on the side of the Confederacy, but didn’t want to look like they were defending slavery.

Lincoln was an @$$hole – pardon me – but he was a clever @$$hole… We sometimes forget, I think, that before he was President, he was a frontier lawyer! As one might expect of such an individual, he was very good at manipulating both facts and people to advance his agenda.


Side note: Washington, DC, emancipated its slaves in 1862, with the DC Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862, passed by the Congress and signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The act ended slavery in Washington, DC, freed 3,100 individuals, reimbursed those who had legally owned them and offered the newly freed women and men money to emigrate.

A good example of the correct way to do it, as distinct from what actually happened in the aftermath of the WBTS…