Thursday, April 29, 2010

America's First Woman President

America has our first African American president, the Democrats two front runners were he and Hilary Clinton a woman, but did we already have a woman as president years before? One could make a very strong argument that we had an unelected female president for two years.

It seems that President Obama and his policies and ideology seems to be causing many Americans to look back to another president who had very similar thinking and actions nearly a hundred years before, Woodrow Wilson. Wilson, for the most part had disappeared under the waterline of history for the last few generations of Americans. However, he was very significant in many ways, I am not saying significant in any good way, but significant just the same.

Wilson was the second American president who embraced this new political philosophy of Progressives. This was a political ideology that was sweeping across Europe, as well as through many of the Eastern "elite" in America. It eventually evolved into the Communist Russian Revolution in 1917, and eventually into the Nazi movement in the 1930's Germany. Those Progressives in America had far too many similar thought patterns as did those more famous European radicals. Ideas of Statist over Individuals, Eugenics were very popular with the leaders of all here and there. Wilson followed Teddy Roosevelt, with Taft between them, as the two most Progressive American presidents.

Wilson immediately called for a series of reforms, which he had called the "New Freedom" in his presidential campaign. During his administration the Federal Reserve System was instituted (1913; and the Federal Farm Loan Act, providing for loans to cooperative farm associations, was passed (1916). Wilson continued the policy of curbing monopoly by creating (1914) the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and expose unfair practices of corporations, pushed the passage (1914) of the Clayton Antitrust Act, and instituted antitrust proceedings in 92 cases. The Seventeenth Amendment, providing for the direct popular election of U.S. Senators, the Eighteenth Amendment, which instituted prohibition, and the Nineteenth Amendment, by which women received the vote, were all launched while Wilson was President.

After Wilson entered America into W.W.I, n addition to the establishment of a fighting force, war industries were placed under government control and the President was given wide powers over the production and distribution of food and fuel. Late in Dec., 1917, Wilson put the railroads under government operation. The Committee on Public Information was established to propagandize for the war.

As the war drew to a close and preparations were begun for a peace conference, Wilson was generally looked upon in Europe as the savior of the future. In the United States, however, he suffered an electoral setback in Nov., 1918, after appealing for the return of a Democratic Congress as an endorsement of his foreign policy; the Republicans captured both houses of Congress.

Shortly afterward (December) Wilson set sail for Europe as head of the U.S. delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. Angry at Republican criticism, Wilson did not include any active Republican on the peace commission. Wilson was received in Europe with warm ovations and set about trying to create a new world society, which would have an association of nations to maintain international justice. The resulting Treaty of Versailles where he secured the adoption of the covenant establishing the League of Nations.

In America opposition to the League had been growing, and when Wilson returned (July, 1919) with the signed treaty, his accomplishments at Paris were received with mixed feelings. In the Senate, quarrels over the ratification of the treaty and the proposed amendments broke out immediately. Nevertheless, the Senate would probably have ratified the treaty if certain reservations protecting U.S. sovereignty had been added. Wilson, however, refused to compromise and sought popular support by making a speaking tour of the United States.

He was on his way east from the Pacific coast when fatigue and strain brought on a sudden physical breakdown in September of 1919, and forced him to cancel his trip. In October of 1919, Wilson had a stroke, he suffered major memory loss and could speak only with great difficulty. First Lady Edith Wilson acted quickly to hide his condition from just about everyone. No one but the doctors could get in to see him. Even the vice president and secretary of state were turned away. Mr. Wilson took control.

During the five months the president was incapacitate, his wife screened everything he saw. She would meet with him i private, then come out and issue orders. She penned directives to government officials that began, "The President says..." She even co-wrote an inaugural message that went to Congress in his name. She claimed that she was just carrying out the president's wishes, but the truth is that he was nearly comatose much of the time.

Edith Wilson said she never made a single decision herself. However, others saw it differently. The Nashville Tennessean described her as "the nation's first presidentress." The Boston Globe said her title should be "Acting First Man," the London Daily Mail called her "the acting president of the United States" a verdict that is hard to argue with.

Vice President Thomas Riley Marshall was urged to undertake the duties of president during the crisis, but he refused. "I could throw this country into civil war by seizing the White House, but I won't." Senator Albert Fall of New Mexico said, "We have a petticoat government, Mrs. Wilson is president."

The irony is that First Lady Edith Wilson was a vigorous opponent of the women's suffrage movement. She called suffragettes who were campaigning for the right to vote "detestable" and "disgusting." However, she didn't have any problem with one running the White House as long as it was her.

Reading this do you, as I do, see the many similarities between Wilson and Obama. Both were Progressive ideologues, both wanted to remake America into a more European state, and both seemed to see themselves as president of the world instead of looking out for America first. Both grew government and government powers dramatically, both could be said didn't like Americans. Hopefully, Obama doesn't take the totalitarian steps against the American people as Wilson did, though not mentioned here.

Hopefully, more will be the same, where there was such a backlash against Wilson's policies that the voters took his Democrat controlled House and Senate away and gave back to the Republicans. Americans who had a real taste of Progressivism were so put off that Progressives quit calling themselves Progressives from then until it started to reappear in 2006 after they found that Americans were off put by their Liberal name change as well.

Whenever we forget our history we are doomed to repeat it. We the people forgot Wilson, and now we are dealing with the consequences.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

We Need To Learn From The Election Of 1800

The Election of 1800 was the first time in human history that power transferred from one political faction to another without the use of bloodshed. Yet the birthing was anything but painless. It nearly led to Civil War, but for the choice of one man.

The Founders had not planned for the people's voice to be heard in the selection of the president. However in the nation's second contested presidential election, the popular vote was crucial to the outcome. The Republicans had carried four of the five states where the electors were chosen by popular vote. Jefferson remarked that something "new under the sun" had happened in the election of 1800, the president of the United States had been chosen by "the suffrage of the people." The "nation declared its will," he added. He also remarked that a "mighty wave of public opinion" had determined the election outcome. Even giving Jefferson some hyperbole, he was right, and the people at the time realized as much. As one historian has noted, "the people who lived through the election of 1800 thought something momentous had just occurred." They believed that the people of the United States had peacefully ousted the president of the United States.

The election ending in a tie in 1800 exposed a massive flaw in the Constitutional procedure for electing presidents. The problem arose because the framers, having failed to foresee the emergence of political parties, gave each presidential elector two votes. The Framers had expected that it would be commonplace for no one to win in the electoral college. The Framers anticipated that the electoral college would in fact would often serve as a nominating panel that selected candidates who the House of Representatives would choose the president. The Constitution outlined the procedure that would be used to elect the president in case of a tie.

"if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representative from each State having on Vote."

That passage and existing law, brought several things about the election of 1800 into focus. The House was to decide between Jefferson and Burr. Also the States were to be equal in the House's balloting, each having one vote. This meant that all states with a multi-member delegation, all but tiny Delaware, would have to come to a decision on what its vote would be. The Constitution and election law stipulated that the votes of the electoral college were to be counted in the Senate on the second Wednesday in February and that the House was to act "immediately" to decide an unresolved election.

In 1800 the Union was made up of sixteen states, if each voted, that is, if none abstained, the votes of nine states would be needed to elect the president. The Republicans controlled eight delegations and the Federalists six, with two states deadlocked. One of those was Maryland, whose eight congressmen consisted of five Federalists and three Republicans, but one of the Federalists announced his intention of voting for Jefferson, while his four party members were committed to Burr due to their long time hatred of Jefferson.

Before Christmas there was talk of holding a second national election, but not only did the Constitution say nothing about such a procedure, the general thinking was that the Federalists has little to gain from another vote. At the beginning of January James Madison offered two commonsense solutions for breaking the deadlock. One was for the current House to adjourn in February and for President Adams to call a special session of the newly elected Seventh Congress to meet at noon on March 4th, Inauguration Day, the instant that his and the Sixth Congress's terms expired. From his perspective the beauty of this was that the new Congress would be dominated by Republicans assuring Jefferson's election. The second would be for the House to take one vote to determine if it is deadlocked, after which at noon March 4th Jefferson and Burr would jointly call the newly elected House into a special session. Jefferson ignored Madison's brainstorms.

However, if the president wasn't selected by noon on March 4th, when Adams' term ended, the country would be without a Chief Executive for nine months until the recently elected Congress convened, as was prescribed by the Constitution. Jefferson, even though he wasn't interested in Madison's ideas, approached Burr in hopes of finding a solution. He wrote Burr a letter that suggested that if the New Yorker accepted the vice-presidency, he would be given greater responsibilities than previous vice-presidents had been given. Burr responded quickly and reassuringly, He spoke of "your administration" and seem to ask what authority Jefferson was ready to grant him, and appeared to be asking for a cabinet position as well. He swore that he would do nothing to "take a single vote" from Jefferson, or do anything to divide the Republican Party.

During this time the Federalists were discussing their option. Some thought tying up the House proceedings to prevent the election of either Jefferson or Burr. With no one occupying the presidency the rules of succession would kick in between March and December, leaving Theodore Sedgwick, a Massachusetts Federalist, the Speaker of the House as president through the balance of the year. This worried Jefferson to the point that he attended every Senate session in January and February to be on hand if he needed to vote to break a tie on this idea. Some Federalists considered using their House majority to invalidate several votes in the electoral college on technical grounds, a step that would make Adams the winner. Questions did exist about alleged voting irregularities in South Carolina and Georgia, but the evidence was thin. The idea of aborting the election of the Republican candidates was certain to bring on a crisis of alarming proportions that few congressmen were eager to face.

Another group of Federalists urged the party to throw its support behind Burr. Speaker Sedgwick championed this, even though he hardly was a fan of Burr. Sedgwick considered Burr as an "unworthy," "selfish," immoral megalomaniac. However he saw Burr, a native New Yorker, as experienced in politics of a mercantile state and more receptive than Jefferson to the notion of a strong national government. He reasoned that Burr would understand the needs of merchants and a far better bet than Jefferson to "justly appreciate the benefits resulting from commercial and other national systems," that had been put in place by Hamilton and Washington. Burr, said Sedgwick was the lesser of two evils, a scoundrel to be sure, but "a mere matter-of-fact man" who "holds no pernicious theories" beyond gaining personal power, and who had no romantic ties to any foreign nation.

Hamilton preferred Jefferson, he saw him as less of a curse than Burr. In January he characterized Burr as "the most unfit man in the U.S. for the office of President." "As to Burr there is nothing in his favour." Burr was "without Scruple," a morally bankrupt and "unprincipled,,,voluptuary" who would plunder the country. He was dangerously ambitious and when his enterprise was combined both with his daring and his "infinite are cunning and address," Burr had the potential to become a deadly menace. What Burr sought, Hamilton insisted, was "permanent power," and if he became president, he might destroy the Constitution and erect in its stead a "system,,sufficient to serve his own turn." Put Burr in the President's House, Hamilton maintained, and the result would be "Disgrace abroad (and) ruin at home," for "if he had any theory tis that of simple despotism." Hamilton admitted that he would relish the opportunity to "contribute to the disappointment and mortification of Mr. Jefferson" whose democratic "politics are tinctured with fanaticism" and whose character was shot through with hypocrisy, however Burr was the one man he could not support. Jefferson was "able," Burr was "dexterous"; Jefferson was "wise," Burr was "cunning." Jefferson had tempered his Francophillia and, thought misguided, was committed to the Constitution; Burr stood for nothing save personal aggrandizement, in short, Burr was the "most dangerous man of the Community."

Hamilton suggest to the Federalists to reach out to Jefferson and Burr to strike a deal. No stranger to backroom bargaining, he urged the Federalists to seek the following assurances; "1. The support of the present fiscal system. 2. An adherence to the present neutrality plan. 3. The preservation and gradual increase of the Navy. 4. The keeping in office all our Foederal Friends except" the cabinet secretaries. This had two advantages in Hamilton's mind. One is it could start to a contest between the two rivals that might actually tear the Republican Party apart. Two that it might secure and agreement that would permit much of the Federalists programs to survive. However Hamilton spoke that if Burr was the one who took this deal, "he will laugh in his sleeve while he makes them and he will break them the first moment in may serve his purpose." On the other hand, Jefferson, who had made the Compromise of 1790 with Hamilton on funding and assumption of the State's debt, would adhere to any accommodation reached.

There were hardly any secrets in Washington D.C., a very small town, were often up to thirty Congressmen and Senators would share the dinner table each evening in boarding houses and hotels where they stayed. Some of the rumors that flew about were that there were those in the Federalists who sought to assassinate Jefferson, in the fevered climate many Republicans believed this rumor. In the aftermath of a recent slave revolt in Virginia some Southern Republicans were willing to believe the rumor that the Federalists had armed rebellious slaves. Also many believed that Federal official, who of course were Federalist, had seized arms and artillery from local militia units, presumably so they could maintain control of the government of the United States by force if necessary. A Jeffersonian in Philadelphia reported early in February that at "no time that I can remember since 1776" have so many concluded that opposition to the national government "is a duty and obedience a crime." If the Federalists prevented the accession of a Republican to the presidency, he added that "day is the first day of a revolution and Civil War."

When two separate fires damaged the new War Department and Treasury Department buildings, one in November the other in January, some Republicans concluded that these were arson to keep incriminating documents from falling into the hands of the incoming administration. This was hardly likely, at that time all the papers held by the federal government could have been burnt in and average sized fireplace, but there were Republicans who believed the worst and wondered if the Federalists would go this far to keep Republicans from gaining control.

The Republican press leaped to the offensive, especially assailing the Federalist plans to thwart the will of the presidential electors. Albert Gallatin, the senator from Pennsylvania that Jefferson had already asked to be Secretary of the Treasury, proposed that the Republicans give way to letting the Federalists hold power until December of 1801, but in the interim all Republican states should nullify any Federalist laws that Congress enacted. Equally ominously, Jefferson make it known to some Federalists, including President Adams, that if the Federalists attempted "to defeat the Presidential election," it would "produce resistance by force, and incalculable consequences." Privately, however, there were times when Jefferson appeared ready to give up and go home. Virtually everyone in the capital exuded "bad passions of the heart," he complained, and many of the Federalists not only hated him but were of the "violent kind."

Jefferson's problems with the Federalists turned out to be just part of his challenge. After Burr's earlier promise to not strive for the presidency, he had a change of heart once he learned that he had a real shot of winning. Rumors buzzed that Burr was encouraging his Republican friends to seek allies among the Federalists and build a coalition that would result in his election.

Many Federalist were rallying behind Hamilton's bargain he had proposed for one of the candidates to accept holding the Federalists demands for their support. Jefferson mentioned that he had been approached several times on this idea, and had been assured if he would accept it the election would be his "in an instant." If he accepted this list of agreements Vermont Congressman Lewis Morris, would switch his vote to Jefferson giving him the nine states needed for victory. However, Jefferson rejected this deal saying he "should never go into the office of President by capitulation, nor with my hands tied by any conditions which should hinder me from pursuing the measures" he preferred.

Jefferson was playing a high risk game. Like President Adams who deplored the carnival of "Party intrigue and corruption" afoot in the capital, he knew there were men in both parties on the make. Jefferson believed that "Burr has agents at work," who were dickering with Congressmen from both parties, and he suspected bribes had been offered.

After we have witnessed today the bribes and pressure put on members of the House and Senate to pass Health Care, can you begin to imagine the pressure put on these men to determine the president? The man who was the biggest target was James Bayard, the lone congressman from Delaware. He held in his hands the sole determination of how his state would vote. He was a hard core ideologue Federalist, who championed the Alien and Sedition Act. He held all Southern slave holders with contempt as hypocrites who "counted in their train a hundred slaves," lived "like feudal barons," and looked on their neighbors as "the humblest vassals" while posturing as the "high priests of liberty." Early on he announced that he would vote for Burr, the lesser of the evils and most likely to consent to maintain the Federalist program.

On the appointed day, February 11th the vote totals were read in the Senate by the President of the Senate, the Vice President Thomas Jefferson. This was treated as what it was, a formality, once done the House members quickly move to their chamber. Two days earlier they had agreed to stay in session until the election was decided and take up no other business until the president was elected. Even though there was a major snow storm that day, it didn't effect attendance. Only one of the 105 members was not present, and his absence wouldn't effect his state's delegation. One congressman had gone to great effort to be there. Joseph Nicholson, a thirty year old Maryland representative who was seriously ill, knew his attendance would be crucial. A Republican, Nicholson arrange to have friends carry him on a stretcher through the swirling snow from his home two miles away. His wife accompanied him and remained by his side as he lay on a pallet in the anteroom. Each vote Nicholson wrote Jefferson on his ballot and his wife carried it to Speaker Sedgwick to be counted.

The House wasted no time, within in minutes the votes were cast and counted. Sedgwick announced the outcome; Jefferson eight, Burr six, two states (Maryland and Vermont) deadlocked. Jefferson was one state short of victory. The House immediately voted again, allowing no time for "out of doors" maneuvers. Nothing changed. Then another vote, and another throughout the long afternoon. By six p.m., nearly five hours later fifteen ballots had been taken, all the same result. They broke for dinner, they returned two hours later and voting resumed immediately. No change. The fast re-votes gave way to longer breaks allowing for bargaining to take place. Only four votes were taken in that seven hour evening session, the last the nineteenth was counted at three in the morning. No change, they broke for the day agreeing to reconvene again at noon, nine hours away.

They voted only once on Thursday, no change. They voted twice on Friday, and three times on Saturday, no change in tallies. The House had cast thirty three ballots in four days. While the House was idle on Sunday, the members were very busy.

Warnings had been commonplace for weeks that drastic steps might be taken if the Federalists denied the Republicans, or Jefferson, the presidency. After four days of gridlock in the House, the threats seemed more real. Talk swirled that Virginia would secede if Jefferson wasn't elected. The Republicans threatened to call another Constitutional Convention and dismantle the current Constitution "to re-organize the government, and to amend it," until it more reflected the proper "democratical spirit of America." Threats of the use of force were heard as well. Governor Monroe, threatened to convene the Virginia legislature if Jefferson wasn't elected, with a threat of Virginia using force to see Jefferson in office. Some were aware that Monroe was in contact with Republican governor, Thomas McKean, about having Pennsylvania acting in concert with Virginia should the need arise. McKean, in fact told Jefferson that he could arm twenty thousand militiamen and was prepared to use force. Rumors were rampant that Republicans in the mid-Atlantic states would take up arms if the Federalists didn't relinquish power on March 4th.

Jefferson kept the heat on full boil, sometimes pleading that he could not restrain his supporters and alternately warning that the provocative actions of the Federalists threatened "a dissolution" of the Union. President Adams was one who was shaken, he later confessed that at the time he had believed the two sides had come to the "precipice" of disaster and that "a civil war was expected."

Beyond these threats to the nation, there appeared to be incidents aimed at intimidating carefully targeted Federalists. A French informant in Washington reported that between the last ballot on Saturday and the resumption of voting on Monday, "two Federalist members of the House received anonymous notes threatening them with death if they did not vote according to the will of the people." He added that "stones were thrown against the houses where other representatives of the same party were living." (Federalists)

The first break in the election took place sometime after Saturday's last vote. Delaware congressman Bayard, knowing full well that he had in his power to terminate the contest, made an overture. He opted to see if he could arrange a deal that would enable him to abandon Burr and allow Jefferson's election. He sought out a Republican who was close to the vice president, almost certainly John Nicholas, a member of Virginia's House delegation, and proposed a bargain. If Jefferson would accept Hamilton's list Baynard would abstain from voting, taking the magic number to eight that Jefferson would need to win. Nicholas responded that these conditions were "very reasonable" and that he could vouch for Jefferson's acceptance. However, he didn't approach Jefferson with this offer. Later Bayard told Speaker Sedgwick of what transpired, who told him not to tell anyone until after the Federalist could caucus and consider it.

On Sunday February 15th, Sedgwick called the congressional Federalist to a closed door caucus. When Bayard's decision was announced it alit a firestorm. Cries of "Traitor, Traitor!" met Bayard, who described the meeting as one which the "clamor was prodigious. The reproaches vehement." The Speaker broke the meeting to give time for heads to cool and called another meeting for that evening. Not much is known of what happened, it was a secret session and it's secrets remain. However, it appears two decisions were made. Since letters from Burr were expected any day, Bayard agreed not to change his vote until the contents of Burr's letters were known. Second, the caucus directed Bayard to ask Nicholas to speak with Jefferson and secure his assent to the bargain. It was thought in a day or two they would know who of Burr or Jefferson would agree to the most.

Bayard's second conversation with Nicholas proved fruitless, Nicholas refused to meet with Jefferson on the deal. However, Bayard didn't give up. He then sought out Samuel Smith, the Maryland Republican who was close to Jefferson, as a fellow border at Conrad and McMunn's, and was widely viewed as Jefferson's spokesman. Smith agreed to meet with Jefferson and to get back with Bayard the following morning with his answer. On Monday morning Bayard later recollected, Smith, "informed me that he had seen Mr. Jefferson, and stated to him the points mentioned, and was authorized by him to say that they corresponed with his views and intentions, and that we may confide in him accordingly." The deal was made, at least to Bayard's satisfaction. Unless Burr offered more, Jefferson would be the next president of the United States.

On Monday at noon the house voted two more times, the thirty fouth and thirty fifth times. No change had occurred, after an hour or so, they adjourned for the day. Sometime that day the letter from Burr arrived, what Burr said remains a mystery, but must not have satisfied the Federalists. That evening Bayard told his wife that Burr "was determined not to shackle himself with federal principles." That same Monday evening Speaker Sedgwick, who passionately hated Jefferson, notified friends at home: "the gig is up." Jefferson was to be the next president.

On Tuesday at noon the thirty sixth vote was cast. This one was dramatically different. Delaware didn't vote, which in itself was sufficient to elect Jefferson. In addition, however, none of the Federalists from Maryland, Vermont, and South Carolina cast votes. This altered voting put Maryland and Vermont in Jefferson's column. Jefferson won 10 states to Burr's 4 with 2 abstaining.

Jefferson had won, peace was held, the worlds first peaceful transistion of power was accomplished. Had he won through a bargain with the Federalist Party? He always insisted that the allegations that he had entered into a deal was "absolutely false." The evidence suggests otherwise. Within days of the election Burr was told by friends that Jefferson had struck a bargain to win the presidency. Jefferson's actions as president give credence to the allegations that a bargain was made. Despite having fought against the Hamiltonian economic system for nearly a decade, Jefferson never touched the Bank of the United States, faithfully discharging the national debt, and tolerating continued borrowing by the federal government. Nor did he remove any Federalist office holders. His actions would prompt some friend sto suspect that he had made a deal with the Federalists.

Whatever happened behind those close doors aside the result was the most important election in all of mankind. Once again as we study our past we are seeing how we must learn for our present. We are now in a time more like we see here in this story of 1800 than at any point in history between.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Peaceful Transfer of Power, That Almost Never Was.

The presidential election of 1800 proved to be the most important in the history of mankind. It was the very first peaceful transfer of power from one faction or party to another anywhere in the world. Before that moment power only transferred to those from the same group of belief system peacefully, and change in power was always accompanied by blood. However, this election did not come about without great birthing pains, and was nearly still born.

This story is the topic of several excellent books, to uncover all the back stories and electioneering that the two new American political parties waged against each other would take much more space than I can allocate here. I recommend if you have an interest to read for yourself. However, I will attempt to set the stage.

The election of 1800 was really begun during the election of 1796, the first truly contested race with the emergence of party politics. In it John Adams the Federalist continued in the power the Federalists had held for the previous eight years under George Washington with Adams as Vice-President. For the first time the opposition parties candidate, Thomas Jefferson, was elected as Vice-President.

The two parties vilified their opponents with wild accusations. Jefferson was painted as the Jacobian candidate who was such a Francophile that he would entangle us with the affairs of France at the expense of the United States. That he longed for war with Great Britain. That the object of the Republican Party under his leadership was to British rulers and assist the French. He was painted as anti-Constitution, and anti-business, warnings arose that if Jefferson was elected the nation would split along into two warring nations along the Hudson river. These were the nicest things being said about him.

Adams was under attack by the Republican press and campaign that he was a Monarchist who wanted to turn America into a British system with hereditary rights to rule. His signature on the Alien and Sedition Act was rightly attacked. Adams however, was treated more kindly by the Republican press than he was by the defacto leader of his own party, Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton published a 54 page attack called "The Letter from Alexander Hamilton, Concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams." The Aurora newspaper called it "the most gross and libelous charges against Mr. Adams that have ever yet to be published or heard of." Hamilton wasted little time in informing his readers that "there are great and intrinsic defects in his character, which unfit Adams for any high office."

Many people in both parties thought Hamilton;s spray of venom was the product of a "fevered mind," and many concluded that it "revealed that he had become an inept politician." Some historians believe that Hamilton wrote the letter as a cagey attempt to ensure Jefferson's election. The Federalists might then regroup as an opposition party as the Nationalists had done after the Revolution and reemerge stronger than ever in 1804. Hamilton gave credence to this theory, for immediately after the Federalists election disaster incurred in New York leading up to the 1800 election, he exclaimed he preferred Jefferson's election over Adams. "If we must have an enemy at the head of government, let it be one whom we can oppose and for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures." We heard the same argument being made by many in the GOP two hundred and eight years later regarding McCain and Obama.

However, I would contend that Hamilton did it for an altogether different reason. Hamilton hated to lose, and his actions normally resulted from carefully calculated strategic planning. He knew that he would have no influence in an administration headed by Jefferson, Adams, or Burr. Hamilton was used to and longed for that power he held during the eight years of George Washington, as Washington's most trusted and respected council. Hamilton had held Washington's ear since the days he was Aide de Camp for Washington during the Revolution. He held great sway as Secretary of the Treasury under Washington's first term, and he hand picked Washington's entire Cabinet for the second term with those totally loyal to Hamilton over anyone. Adams kept Washington's second cabinet, probably his biggest mistake of his presidency, but finally became furious with their total commitment to Hamilton over anything else and fired them, shutting the door to Hamilton's access to power.

I would contend that Hamilton's goal with the letter was, while risky, hardly irrational. He sought a three pronged strategy . First to ensure that Adams would not win in the electoral college, and his pamphlet was aimed at planting sufficient doubts about the president's character in the minds of the electors that one or two would turn from him. Second Hamilton sought electoral votes for Charles Pinckney. In 1796 eighteen New England electors who voted for Adams had withheld their second vote from Charles's brother, Thomas Pinckney. Hamilton went to New England in 1800 to campaign for the electors to cast their second vote for Pinckney, he knew it would be impossible to get those in New England to vote against Adams. If he could succeed in getting all those in New England to vote for Adams and Pinckney, and could get those in South Carolina to vote for Pinckney and Adams, the odds were good that the two Federalists would beat Jefferson and Burr, but finish in a tie. This is where the third leg of Hamilton's strategy came into play. His letter especially targeted the House who would decide the election in the event of a tie. His Letter was written in the fashion of a legal brief, it cataloged Adams' unworthiness while it expounded on Pinckney's strengths. Hamilton knew that Pinckney would count heavily on Hamilton's "wisdom and experience" to help guide him through his presidency, once again putting Hamilton in the center of power.

The election of 1800 unfolded in stages, electoral contests were scattered throughout the year, although most were slated for early autumn. The state legislators, including those elected in 1800, held enormous power over that years presidential election. For one thing, they chose the presidential electors in eleven of the sixteen states. Only five states were the electors chosen by popular vote. In many of the states the legislators could also decide if it would be a winner take all approach for the electors as well.

On Election Day, December 3rd, the presidential elector, according to the Constitution, were to "meet in their respective States, ad vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves." The electoral college ballots, by law, were not to be opened and officially counted until February 11th, but there was no chance that the outcome of the contest could be kept secret for ten weeks. In fact, within a day or two of Election Day the residents of the capital knew the vote totals for Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. By December 12th the National Intelligencer, a Washington newspaper, broke the news that neither Adams or Pinckney had received a single vote in South Carolina. Basing it's story on credible reports from thirteen of the sixteen states, only Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky were not heard from, all strong Republican states, the journal declared Jefferson and Burr the winners. Since the party had decided that Jefferson was their first choice, the newspaper added:
"Mr. Jefferson may, therefore, be considered our future President." Jefferson likewise thought that the case. Upon reading the National Intellegencer' scoop, he confided to his son-in-law that he believed he had been elected straightaway, as he continued to think that one or two votes would have been withheld from Burr in Georgia. "I believe we may consider the election is now decided," he happily remarked.

Mr. Jefferson was wrong though. When Georgia was heard from, it was learned that each of its electors had cast his two ballots for Jefferson and Burr and they had tied with seventy three votes apiece. This election could have gone either way with just a vote here or there in different states. Adams was the first presidential candidate to fall victim to the notorious three-fifths clause in the Constitution. Had slaves not been counted in the apportionment of state representation in the electoral college, Adams would have edged Jefferson by two votes. However, the flaw in the original idea of electing a president now would soon be seen as they tried to break the first and only tie.

Adams and Pinckney were beaten, yet this election remained undecided. Jefferson and Burr had tied with seventy-three votes each. Public opinion, as best as can be gauged suggested that it sided with Jefferson. Not only had he been the party's choice in the nominating caucus, but as Federalist Gouverneur Morris remarked,"it is evidently the Intention of our fellow Citizens to make Mr. Jefferson the President."

One formidable obstacle to Jefferson's election loomed. The Republicans lacked the voters in the House to elect either Jefferson or Burr. The Federalists would hold the hammer, and to some that influence offered enormous temptations.

There would be a second election day held in the House on February the 11th, and the inauguration was scheduled for March 4th. Those next few weeks found this young nation on the brink of war with itself. The peaceful transfer of power we are so accustomed to now was nearly something that never happened. We will discuss the next few days and their drama in my next blog, it is evident that just setting the stage was more than enough information for today.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

May 4th Indiana Primary

Less that two weeks away the Indiana Primary Elections will take place. There are several interesting races, I know I will be watching the returns to see who will be filling the GOP slate in November.

For the Senate seat that Evan Bayh is vacating, we have the national party's pick Dan Coats, the populist choice of Marlin Stutzman, John Hostettler, Don Bates, and the longest shot Richard Behney. Don Bates, a businessman, and Richard Behney, owner of Atta-Boy Plumbing and Tea Party Activist are both in their very first political campaign. Marlin Stutzman, a farmer who was the youngest person to win a seat in the Indiana House in 2002, currently a State Senator for Indiana, and John Hostettler, who was in the U.S. House from 1995-2007 are both running for their first state wide election. Then we have Dan Coats who was a United States Senator from Indiana from 1989-1999, obviously has the most name recognition and experience.

Frankly, there are several interesting candidates in that race. I have my favorite, I would love to see Marlin win, but I also worked for the Coats campaign to help him get his signatures to get into the race. I hoped that he would at the very least raise the level of attention the media would give to this race. Who knew it was going to work as well as it did, once Coats got his names turned in Evan Bayh ran away. I will happily vote for either this fall.

The 5th District House Race, is a crowded mess, and shouldn't have been. Those four candidates who chose to run against Dan Burton are not showing much political intelligence. They are definitely showing that they care more about their own egos than they do about America. They have sucked massive amounts of money out of other possible places it could have been used to help win seats away from Democrats.

Some of these candidates have embarrassed themselves to the point they may never be considered credible candidates again. The lone exception has been Luke Messer, at least for the most part. His campaign has mostly been positive, his commercial focuses on him and who he is. I have heard that he has dredged up some of the half truths and mendacious claims against Dan Burton that John McGoff used in 08 in a mailer, but since I have not seen it, I don't know if that is true. I hope not, but heard from a solid source.

Just this week I was telling someone how proud I was of John McGoff for not stooping to the lies and half-truths he built his entire 2008 campaign around. Then I saw his new television commercial, which isn't nearly as slanderous as it is stupid. It told me that if John McGoff actually approved and paid for this commercial it shows a very poor level of judgement. If he would spend his own campaign money so poorly, what would he do with our tax money in D.C.?

Mike Murphy's campaign has been disgraceful, the very core of his campaign is mendaciously trying to accuse Dan Burton of being a big spending liberal because he was in the House while Nancy Pelosi was spending money. Under this logic Mike Pence is equally culpable. This is absurd, who could actually take Murphy seriously now, his campaign makes him look like a lying politician or a fool, or both.

Brose McVey has seemingly had a difficult time deciding if he should spend his money bad mouthing Dan Burton, or Luke Messer, or the candidate du jour.

For me, I have to agree with Congressman Mike Pence, who endorsed Dan Burton at the Hamilton County Lincoln Day Dinner last Monday evening while all the above candidates and their campaign teams had to sit and watch.

There is no advantage to unseating Dan Burton by any of the other candidates. None would vote any more conservative than Dan Burton has proven in his career. None can be used by the GOP as Dan can as an attack dog against the left. Burton has no interest in any higher office, or staying in office much longer than this term. He is uniquely qualified to take on those who use Alinskyisms to attack those who confront them. All of the candidates who are running against him would not put their own political careers at risk fighting those fights.
It is very important that Dan Burton continues to represent and reelected this fall.

Hopefully the 7th District Race will produce someone who can beat Andre Carson this fall. Marvin Scott is running once again against Carlos May, either one would be a massive upgrade over Carson. I have my favorite, but won't speak to it yet. I just want the one that the voters in the 7th District will embrace this fall.

It seems that Mike Sodrel will come out and be going against Baron Hill again this fall, where he should be able to win easily in this climate. I hope that Mark Souder will win once again in the 3rd. The 4th District with the newly open seat of Steve Buyer should be quite a race, I would think that Todd Rokita would have an inside shot, but with that many running it could be a wild ride.

It is one of the more interesting primary seasons we have seen in a long time. As for me, I can't wait to see what happens once the smoke clears so we can all come back together focused on winning in November.

See you at the polls!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Suggestions For Surviving The Obamaconomy

As we all try to learn how to navigate the Obama economy, there have to be paradigm shifts in many of our plans. Even the Obama administration has been telling us that they expect this to be a "jobless recovery" whatever that means. They are warning us that this might be the "new economy" where 10% unemployment is the new "normal."

With the policies that this administration is applying they may well be right, hopefully they aren't being simply overly optimistic. There are some things that suggest that soon we will look back at 2009 as the good old days economically. If Obamacare passes Constitutional scrutiny in the Supreme Court, it is going to cause our taxes, and expenses both personally and our businesses to increase dramatically. If Cap and Trade passes, even Obama has said that it will cause our electric rates "to skyrocket necessarily." The consensus is that the average American family would see somewhere between a 1,700.00 and 3,500.00 energy tax increase per year. Then you add a Value Added Tax (VAT) would cause all food and manufactured goods to jump 18-25% in cost due to these "hidden" taxes.

The news today has shown us that home foreclosures are setting all time records. Do you remember what happened with less foreclosures in 08? We are hearing how Obamacare is causing companies large and small to have to write down huge losses this year already, and expect to look to start shedding more jobs due to these added costs. If Obama's new "Financial Bill" passes it will cause banks to quit lending if they are to be forced to write down principle on loans, who would take that risk?
There are many in the Health Insurance industry who believe that many if not most of them could well be bankrupt in 24-36 months under Obamacare.

When you look at the unemployment rates today hovering around 10% under today's new way of counting started under Bill Clinton. If we used the old way of counting before the Clinton Administration's changing the accounting rules, it would be between 17-20% when considering those who have run out of unemployment insurance or who have given up looking. How does that compare to the Great Depression?

Unemployment During the Great Depression:

1930: 8.7%
1931: 15.9%
1932: 23.6%
1933: 24.9%
1934: 20.1%
1935: 16.9%
1936: 16.9%
1937: 14.3%
1938: 19.0%
1939: 17.9%

This also proves that FDR's New Deal big government programs didn't work, just prolonged the Depression, just as Obama's are.

Then let's look at some basic math. Under Jimmy Carter his 24 months of deficit spending caused the Fed to have to print 13% more money into the system. This increased money supply caused 12% inflation, to correct that high inflation Paul Volker and the Fed raised interest rates to 21% to pull that excess cash back in.

During Obama's first year, his deficit spending has cause the Fed to increase printing money by 120% in just one year. What does that mean to coming inflation and interest rates? Can anyone say Wiemar Republic?

What I have been telling Realtor and Lender friends who have been telling me their fears and concerns is "you have a good opportunity with a paradigm shift." Most Realtors and Lenders most love their jobs because they get to help people get their dreams. It is normally a very happy time as people anticipate moving into the new home. However, today, more and more the people at the closing table are not all that excited. If however, the Realtor and lender thinks like a stock broker where you get your fees per transaction if their investor makes money or loses money.

There is going to be a massive amount of REO and HUD as well as short sale homes for the next several years. These homes will find buyers, bargain hunters, and investors who see them as rental opportunities or possible flips. As a Realtor and Lender there is still commissions to be made. There are many people who have done a good job being prepared for this down turn keeping financially liquid who are going to become wealthy out the other end. During the Great Depression those who had the cash to buy up properties for pennies on the dollar became fabulously wealthy.

If there is anything to take from this, it would be to find fun in figuring out a way to succeed if the process is fun or not. If we can turn this administration out of office and strip the programs funding we can turn things back around and have a prosperous country once again. Now is the time to hunker down and find our living and fun where we can, with hopes and dreams of better days to come!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

NCAA Basketball Tournament Expansion Idea.

There is little doubt that the NCAA will expand the Basketball Championship Tournament adding more teams. There is discussion as to increasing it from 64/65 teams to 96 to maybe even 128 teams.

It is always a risk to change a format this is so popular, however this is about money. From what we are hearing is that CBS is not making the money they need to continue with this tournament contract. The thought of adding teams would potentially add the fan bases of each, at least in the early rounds. However, aren't college basketball fans already watching? If CBS wants this, and if the NCAA wants this change you can bet it is going to happen.

In a discussion with my son, we came up with an idea that would work and might make people stay even more interested in the tournament even after their team lost. You would have to suspect that rating drop around the country as the teams different areas follow are eliminated. Finally by the finals you find those who are college basketball fans and those following the teams still playing. Just look at how inexpensive the championship game was for scalped tickets this year after many West Virginia and Michigan State fans sold their tickets and went home.

Why not do the tournament like a wrestling tournament with a double elimination? This way if a big powerhouse with a massive and rabid fan base get beat early like Kansas, Kentucky, or Syracuse, they would drop down into the "wrestle back" brackets and keep playing trying to reach a 3rd place finish.

This format should incorporate the NIT Tournament into the NCAA. Expand it to 128 teams, all into the NCAA. Then when teams lose they drop back into the play in bracket and that would become the NIT, the "Champion" of that bracket would place 3rd in the NCAA and would get the NIT trophy. These playback games would be played on Mondays through Fridays on the home court of the highest seated team just like the NIT. The Winner's bracket would still continue the same format of playing on the weekends after the first round.

The NIT Championship Tournament could be in Madison Square Garden and feature three games to determine 3rd and 4th, 5th and 6th, and 7th and 8th. Each team would then receive All American status as the top 8 in the NCAA. The winners bracket would be just the same as it is now.

If they wanted to add some more drama, they could have the first round be single elimination where if you lose your done in the first game. That might be a good idea to get rid of some of the teams with that big of an expansion of the tournament that simply aren't very good. Or they could all be double elimination and those bad teams would get "double dipped" a wrestling term for losing their first two games and out.

This is a very easy format to run, nearly any wrestler in America could set up the brackets for you. It would allow teams like Kentucky, Kansas, and Syracuse to see if they can regroup after losing a shot at the title and refocus to work back to the NIT Championship and 3rd place in the NCAA. More importantly their fans could keep spending their money and stay glued to their televisions.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Is This Story Live, Or Is It Memorex?

This story is remarkable in it's timelessness. The names of the players will be held to make the accounting of this story more difficult to discern when it took place, until after you have digested the events.

Throughout that spring and summer the Republican press blasted its opponents, causing a strong reaction from the party in power soon. The leader of the Republican Party held out hope that the majority party who held the Presidency, and both the House and Senate and could "carry what they please," would overreach and suffer a fatal self-inflicted wound. He did not have long to wait.

Amid open talk among those in the ruling party about those speaking out against them and their president and policies, they wanted to silence this criticism. The ultra-partisan leadership of this party acted swiftly and harshly pushing into law measures that curtailed civil liberties. This Act, was an outright step toward silencing the opposition press, the most oppressive of the four measures provided fines up to 5,000.00 and jail terms of up to five years for those who uttered or published "any false, scandalous, and malicious" statement against the United States government or its officials.

The president had not requested this legislation, even the behind the scene leader and head of the majority party didn't want this, "let us not be cruel or violent," he pleaded to the party members, warning that "there are limits which must not be passed." "Let us not establish a tyranny," he feared a backlash. If the government "breaths an irregular or violent spirit," its conduct "will do harm to the cause." He said that he feared the zealots in his party would "push things to an extreme" and once again "give to faction (the Republican Party) body and solidarity."

Those in leadership in the House majority saw this as "a glorious opportunity to destroy the Republican Party. Many of the newspapers who supported the majority party demanded that "traitors must be silent." The Gazette of the United States came up with the slogan: "He that is not for us, is against us." And additionally said: "It is patriotism to write in favor of government, it is sedition to write against it." This was their hour of opportunity, under the cloak of national security, to settle old scores and to lay low a political opponent.

The president signed the bills into law, a step that would later be considered the greatest blot on his presidency. He did not defend his actions at the time, and later never offered a convincing defense for accepting these repressive measures. It was consistant with his style of governing which was to allow Congress to make most domestic agenda decisions while he focused on foreign policy decisions.

The leader of the Republican party looked on in horror. He gloomily remarked that the Majority party was emulating the radical French. He considered the majority's plan was to create and maintain a crisis atmosphere, for the people were easier to manipulate in the supercharged air of heightened tensions. He was despondent that his rivals now held the presidency and the Congress. They had ground the Bill of Rights under their heels and were certain to keep "warring against" the "real principles" on which the nation stood. He shuddered that there was "no length" to which they would not go, and "no event, therefore, however atrocious, which may not be expected." However, through it all he remained optimistic. Time and events ultimately would "bring round an order of things" synonymous with the spirit of 1776. It had to occur, he said, because most Americans yet cherished the true meaning of the American Revolution.

Who, What, and When of this story:

John Adams................the president.
Alexander Hamilton........the leader of the Majority Party in power.
Thomas Jefferson..........the leader of the Republican Party.
The Alien and Sedition Acts...the Acts.
Federalist Party..........the majority party.

The more we know our own history the more we see it being repeated. However, it also should infuse you with hope. We have had close calls many times in our history, and yet America has prevailed. Together We The People can and will do so again!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mike Murphy Thinks You Are Stupid.

The commercial campaign that Mike Murphy is running as a candidate for the 5th Congressional District are the very worst example of misleading and slanderous attack adds by any politician. I am personally ashamed of him being in the Republican Party with his campaign. If he had any sense of decency he would be equally shamed by having his name attached to them.

It is obvious that Mike Murphy and his campaign staff believe that you, the voters of the 5th Congressional District in Indiana are too stupid to not be fooled my his nonsensical assertions.

The commercials try to blame Congressman Burton for run away government spending. He actually says that "as a leader in big spending Congress Dan Burton has given us staggering deficits, massive unemployment, and uncertain future."

He's kidding right? Murphy is trying to say that Burton voted for any of this, instead of leading the fight against it, so does that mean that Mike Pence is also part of the big spending problem in Washington? Was Reagan? This is pure nonsense aimed at what he must believe are truly stupid voters. I am infuriated how Murphy is showing his disrespect for the voters of Indiana. He is acting like a Congressman, he is acting like those Democrat Congressmen who have no problem lying to their constituents assuming they are ignorant to know the difference.

Mike Murphy, if you want to run a campaign against Dan Burton, one of the most consistent strong conservative leaders in all of D.C., why don't you take the hundreds of votes that Dan Burton has made in the last year and a half and tell us how you would have voted differently in any one of them? That would be of value to your voters it would show them where you would actually make a difference, if you would. If you had voted the same as Dan Burton did in each of those votes, and if you are truly a conservative, you would have, would that mean that you would have been to blame that you were out voted by more democrats?

Ronald Reagan gave us the 11th Commandment, "Thou Shall Speak No Ill of Other Republicans." Not only have you smashed that one, you are simply lying to the people, while that is a very Democrat thing to do, it shouldn't be accepted by any Republican.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jefferson vs Hamilton For The Heavy Weight Championship!

Thomas Jefferson freshly home in Virginia from his duties in Paris as Ambassador to France, he found an invitation to join George Washington's administration as Secretary of State. This wasn't part of Jefferson's plan, he hoped to try to get his finances in order and return to his post in France in time to observe the French Revolution. However, he accepted Washington's request and joined them in New York in late March, just two months after Alexander Hamilton banking and national debt strategy was first announced.

Jefferson had put his trust in his friend and mentoree James Madison. Madison got what he wanted in his negotiations with Hamilton, consummated at a dinner party at Jefferson's home. It was there that Jefferson brokered a deal with those from the South who were standing in the way of Hamilton's banking plans. When Hamilton guaranteed that the new national capital city would be in a spot of Virginian George Washington's choice in the South, Jefferson and Madison got the Southerners to agree with Hamilton's plan. It wasn't long before Jefferson questioned the wisdom of his allowing this bargain. He believed that Hamilton's plans were much more than first met the eye.

Jefferson believed that too many Americans, especially in the North had lost their republican values and were too close to re-embracing an English style monarchy. His biggest issues were with Hamilton along with his followers, Jefferson believed, their "ultimate object" was to "prepare the way for a change, from the present form of government, to that of a monarchy, of which the English constitution is to be the model." He believed that the Hamiltonians were "panting after, (and) itching for crowns, coronets and mitres." Jefferson believed that the Treasury Secretary's envisioned economic revolution was part of transformation to the British way of things.

The Hamilton's funding program fueled a speculative craze in New York and other commercial cities. Jefferson exclaimed that America was being transformed into a "gaming table." He believed that the new national government was in great peril due to the new financial mania, with a "corrupt squadron of paper dealers," whom he labeled as "stockjobbers" driven by pecuniary interests had surfaced in Congress. He believed the day was coming when they and their kind would have the resources to sway a congressional majority. Jefferson cautioned that their gamester ethic would corrode the traditional frugality and industry that had defined the American character. Jefferson believed that Hamilton and his followers were driving America into the same sordid path that of Europe.

During 1790 Jefferson decided that unless Hamilton was stopped, America would someday would be dominated by huge financial institutions, commercial avarice would dominate the nation, and even larger chunks of the American people would become property-less "denizens of vast, squalid cities. This Jefferson believed to his very soul, was no way for free people to live. He believed that such a checkered society would not be free, and as they lost their independence, republicanism would be relegated to the scrap heap of history.

Jefferson and Hamilton had one thing in common, their deep ideological rivalry. They both believed the other not only wrong, but dangerously wrong and it brought about a titanic struggle between these two passionate and brilliant men. In large measure it brought to the politics of 1790s a passion only occasionally equalled in America, just as we see today. What occurred is something that any political activists understand, it was a political war to shape the American future, possibly for all time. There is the theory the politics of the 1790's took on a super-charged quality because those participating were in fact veteran revolutionaries. Those such as Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and those in Congress and the State governments had played an active role in the American Revolution. They had a revolutionary mentality.

Jefferson sought to learn more about his rival Hamilton. He put together a network of friendly congressmen and capital insiders who would report to him about whatever Hamilton that they heard. Between these reports and what Jefferson read into them, along with Hamilton's own published reports, Jefferson soon decided that his rival posed a grave danger to the American Revolution. He also feared the close economic ties to England, believing it would make America nothing but a British puppet state.

By the time they all moved to Philadelphia with the National government Jefferson's and Madison's relationship had changed. By then Madison's esteem of Jefferson could be considered worshipful, and with that accepted Jefferson's assessment of the threat posed by Hamilton. Even together they couldn't stop Hamilton's next program, to establish the Bank of the United States. With this "loss" Jefferson no longer believed that Washington could be counted on to rein in Hamilton.

Jefferson believed that most Americans still didn't like a strong central government, so he formed the first American political party. The day after Washington signed the Bank Bill, Jefferson took the first steps to establish a newspaper dedicated to a ceaseless opposition to Hamitonianism. The fall of 1791 the fist editions of the National Gazette was rolling off the press. It was edited by Phillip Freneau, a college buddy of Madisons. Jefferson set him up to counter John Fenno's Gazette of the United States, which was little more than a propaganda rag for Hamilton's Treasury Dept. Jefferson wrote to many activists in several states warning of the "scrip-pomany" his term for capitalism. Calling them to action to help fight to stop Hamilton and his plans.

Jefferson and Madison took off together on a "botanizing tour," to tour the flora and fauna. Hamilton's spies kept an eye on them believing that it was a political not sightseeing tour, and they were right. The back country that this tour took them through was were the strongest Anti-Federalist emotions were fervent with the people. Jefferson's trek displayed a telling grasp of politics, not only a sense that the popular will could be mobilized but the knowledge of how to begin to organize those who hoped to halt the further expansion of national power.

Upon returning home, Jefferson urged Madison to take up his pen in a growing newspaper duel against Hamilton. Jefferson claimed that he never engaged in newspaper politics, it was true, he always had someone else do it for him. Madison wrote at least nineteen pieces for Freneau's paper in 1791-1792. Madison painted Hamilton and his adherents as mostly "men of influence, particularly the moneyed" class, he said as a self-serving, anti-republican elite that thought the people incapable of self-government. Assuming that the citizenry "should think of nothing but obedience, leaving the care of their liberties to their wiser rulers," these elitists believed that the people need know only one word: "Submission," They exercised power "less to the interests of the many than of a few, and less to the reason of the many than to their weakness." Their ultimate objective, he insisted, was the "government itself may by degrees be narrowed into fewer hands, and approximated to an hereditary form." To fight this threat, Madison announced the need to create a political "party." He was the first to use the word party, and he said it should be called the Republican Party.

Hamilton, always the personality of a fighting rooster, countered with a barrage of his own. His fiery essays targeted Jefferson, not Madison. He knew who was leading the opposition and he coolly recognized that Madison was the "General" while Jefferson was the "Generalisimo" of the enemy camp. Hamilton's essays raised questions about Jefferson's judgement by pointing out his failures as a wartime governor reminding everyone of Jefferson's running away leaving the governor's mansion in Virginia at the first threat of the British Army in 1781. Hamiliton's response was so brutal it was obvious that he realized the danger to his programs Jefferson represented.

Hamilton and Jefferson probably understood each other, their passions, their ambitions, and egos better than anyone else. Because they were as if looking into the mirror and seeing their own reflections. Jefferson was so impressed with the Herculean effort Hamilton produced writing under the pseudonym Camillus, he said about Hamilton, "Without numbers, he is an host within himself."

This is a story that continues through both terms of George Washington and of John Adams. Jefferson's victories came even after failing to stack the House and Senate with his Republican or Anti-Federalists over the next election. Hamilton won his victories keeping his programs in place, until his nonstop political meddling bit him by his own machinations causing Adams to lose to Jefferson in the election of 1800.

If you have read this far, have you noticed how much our times are similar to those of our founders? How the political passions are ignited again to mirror those they battled? If for no other reason, it gives me hope. This is not the first time, and may well not be the last time that the two dominant political ideologies we have had since the beginning will debate at the top of our lungs. We the people have overcome and come together on each occasion, and we can and will again.

My thoughts on Hamilton and Jefferson, I think time has proven them both right, and both wrong. America would never have become the great nation it has become without the efforts of both of them, all while they were trying to stop each other.

There is so much more to learn about this exciting and pivotal time in our history, so many back stories and intrigues. If you think politics are dirty today, they are very polite compared to the 1790s. If you want to know more I recommend "The Summer of 1787," "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow, "The American Sphinx" by Joseph Ellis, and of course the "Federalist Papers" by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Alexander Hamilton Creates American Capitalism.

Once the Constitution was ratified, and Washington was President, his Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton was bent on making the United States safe from foreign threats, capable of protecting its commerce, and strong enough to secure and even expand it's boundaries. Hamilton understood that national power would grow as manufacturing did. He longed to use the resources of the national government to aid the establishment of mills and factories. His first problem was to deal with the 76 million dollar debt that the nation and states had from the war. He knew that revenue was needed, and he favored tariff that would fall equally on imported items from all nations, and an excise tax on distilled liquor.

It was going to take more than taxes to achieve what Hamilton wanted to create. He knew that private investment was essential, and that most would have to come from overseas since the United States was nearly destitute of capital. His plans were to get most of the needed capital from British investors. A key element of his plan was to have the national government to assume the debts of the states, a step that would set in motion the liquidation of those debts, and would demonstrate the ability of the new national government to accomplish something that was beyond the capacity of most states. This was just the beginning of Hamiltonianism.

The revenue from the taxes and tariffs would in part be applied to debt reduction, but it would also help capitalize American entrepreneurs, and jump start the economy and industry. Hamilton had discovered through the British model a way to increase wealth. He wanted to refinance debt, foreign, national, and state, by issuing new securities to replace the old. The sale of national securities would immediately produce capital to be applied against the debt and the certificates themselves would constitute a lucrative investment. The possessors of these securities would be tied to the new national government, whose viability alone guaranteed their investments.

Hamilton hoped to mend fences with Great Britain to end the strain going back to the Stamp Act of 1765. If he could get a more friendly relationship with England, he was convinced, would reap many benefits. Britain's imports would increase, its ports would be opened to American merchants, and its capitalists would be enticed to invest within the United States. This was truly an amazing visionary at his best, it was such an innovative concept that now through the benefit of hindsight we see that it constructed the superstructure of America's modern economic system.

In January of 1790 Hamilton began asking that all the state debts be funded through the national government. This alone was a scheme for the complete transformation of the American economy into capitalism, since his plan would infuse the economy with capital. It came at no surprise when his plan found fervent opposition. However, what did surprise Hamilton was his old partner in selling the Constitution and co-author of the Federalist Papers, James Madison, led the opposition. Jefferson said that Madison was "very little acquainted with the world."

Madison was acting to mend fences in Virginia due to his leadership of the Nationalists during the Constitutional Congress and ratification, it had cost him dearly politically and he lost the Senate seat he wanted, and to position the debate so that they could get the National Capital located into the South. His goal was to rally sufficient southern opposition to stalemate Hamilton's proposals, with this he hoped to work another compromise like those reached in the Constitutional Convention. The deal he dreamed of now was to allow the northern commercial interests to get the Hamiltonian financial program and for the South to get the Nation's capital.

Jefferson was crossing the Atlantic while Hamilton was drawing up his plans. Our next blog will pick up his return.

Summer of 1787 = Summer of Compromises.

Continuing the story of how our Constitution was formed, and what the main players where trying to achieve, let's look at the interaction between James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. Though the Nationalist Movement was larger than Hamilton and Madison during the disunionist scare in 1786-87, they played critical roles in directing and selling the cause of a stronger national government. It was they who actually brought off the Constitutional Convention.

The group of Nationalists who met in Philadelphia during that hot summer of 1787 were aware that this might be their last chance t achieve their goals and save the Union. They further came prepared to make compromises with interests from other states. During those four long hot months the delegates drafted a charter for the strongest central government that they believed they could possible sell and hopefully get ratified. Their goal was what their foes called "consolidation."

They wanted to move much of the authority previously vested in the individual states and consolidate it in the national government, whose will was to be the "supreme law of the land." It was to have the authority to tax and regulate commerce, and it would enforce its laws through coercive means if needed. The states were to be forbidden to restrain interstate commerce, coin money, impair contracts, or permit the payment of with anything but gold or silver legal tender. The national government would not have total authority over the states. A federal system along the lines that Hamilton had envisioned in The Continentalist in 1781 was to be erected. The states were to be left with with whatever authority that was not given explicitly to the national government.

To achieve all of this, concessions had to be made among the Nationalists. The South agreed to the principle demands of the northern commercial and financial interests. These northern interests in turn not only conceded to the South federal protection for slavery, but to allow the South to count the 3/5ths of the slave population in a compromise for allocating Congressional seats. As a result, the South, where 41% of the nation's white population lived, would have 47% of the seats in the House of Representatives and similar advantage in the electoral college in voting for the president. The northern delegates found this the most difficult compromise to deal with but saw it as the price that had to be paid to hope to get the Constitution ratified.

The campaign for ratification was brutal, there were probably a majority of those who opposed it for the presumed ills of centralization. The Anti-Federalists railed at the intended emasculation of the authority of the states, that were, "totally subversive of every principle which has hitherto governed us."

Most Americans were prepared for change and wanted to believe that a constitution that was supported by heroes like Washington and Franklin offered hope for a prosperous and secure future. Also, twice in recent memory the American people had fought long wars, the French and Indian War and the War of Independence. The people were ready for a government that could act with sufficient energy to protect American security and effectively wage war when needed. However, of equal importance they believed that this consolidation must be accompanied with adequate safeguards for the protection of individual liberties.

To avoid making this too long, I will continue tomorrow night with the duals between Hamilton and Jefferson to the direction of America under this new Constitution. If you would like to read some great books on this topic. I strongly recommend "The Summer of 1787" and of course the "Federalist Papers."

Friday, April 2, 2010

What Was Madison Trying To Do In The Constitution?

It is so inspiring to hear so many people today discussing our Founding Fathers, what they said, what they believed, and how they would react to the debate we find ourselves today. Just recently I read a book titled "What Would The Founder's Do," maybe we should buy every member of Congress, Senator, and President a wrist band with WWFD.

With the renewed focus on our founders, if we will actually study them and their prodigious writings, we will see that the essence of the debate has never changed, just the scope. I believe that they would all be appalled at where we are today, except maybe John Adams, he had a pretty low belief in the intelligence and character of the masses.

After the revolution, for that matter during the revolution, it became increasingly obvious to a handful of America's leaders that the Articles of Confederation simply charted a far too weak central government that would be doomed to fail. When a group of debt-plagued farmers in Massachusetts led by Daniel Shay revolted at the prospect of losing their farms. Massachusetts was able to quell the uprising, but it sent shock waves across all of the States who realized that if it hadn't been there was no provisions in place to stop such anarchy. George Washington simply said, "Good God!" upon learning of the violence in New England. Though he had been reluctant to speak out earlier against the Articles of Confederation, he thereafter signed on to attend the Constitutional Convention, the impact of General George Washington joining this cause can not be overstated. He cranked out letters warning others that there were "combustibles in every State, which a spark may set fire to." The potential kindling of which he spoke included debtors everywhere, disillusioned settlers in trans-Appalachia, and in his neighborhood sullen slaves.

Benjamin Franklin pronounced the Constitutional Convention "une assembl'ee des notables." It was attended by notable Nationalists, this was the all star group of those who many had learned the need of a stronger government as officers in the Revolutionary Army with an army starved of supplies, food, and men by States who wouldn't send their quotas to the cause, or even stop the local farmers and merchants from not filling their orders to the American Army and selling their goods to the English who paid more for it.

The author of the Constitution, James Madison, was trying to bridge a gap between the Nationalists or Federalists, and the State rights advocates who were against and any strengthening of the central government, also known as the Anti-Federalists. Most Americans would have easily have fallen into the later group. However those pushing for the Constitution Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Jay, Mason, Franklin, and Adams among others were larger than life and carried great weight.

During the American Revolution, Madison's personal political outlook was transformed by the war and the myriad problems that carried into peace. He initially was an advocate of a system of a system of virtual state sovereignty, Madison's horizons were broadened during 1780 and 81, when Charleston fell to the British army and Virginia's vulnerability to British raids became readily apparent during Jefferson's governorship. Aware that the South needed assistance that could be provided only by an efficient national effort. Madison gradually moved toward the notion of granting Congress greater powers. His transformation into an unabashed Nationalist was completed by the crisis of the Union that was brought on by the abortive Spanish-American negotiations in 1786.

Madison understood that the Union was crucial for protecting American security and opening the newly acquired West. A strong a sovereign national government that was capable of disallowing state laws wold have the additional advantage, at least in his eyes, of reining in the exploding "leveling spirit" that fueled democracy and aroused fiscal irresponsibility.

He sought some way to balance safe government with "energy and stability in government," to erect a government that could act vigorously, yet not ti toward despotism. He also sought a means to assure that the national government would be in "safe" hands, as the colonial governments once had been. He wanted to protect against what he called the "dark and menacing evils of democracy." He needed to balance that the interests of the propertied elite would be safe from those who were lower in social and economic strata, and that the minority South would be safeguarded from an energetic national government certain to be dominated by northern interests. The one thing that he knew for certain was that change was inevitable; either the national government would be strengthened or the Union would come to an end.

Madison's plan called for a reconstructed national government where authority would be separated and balanced between judiciary, a strong executive, and a bicameral legislature armed with powers of taxation and the regulation of commerce. With so many branches, such a government would constitute a firewall against rapid and drastic change, while it's extensive election districts would function as a filtration system to weed out upstarts and ensure that the "most considerate and virtuous citizens" predominated. Above all, the national government was to be a sovereign. Having little use for the states.

His design was to assure the northern mercantile interest and social conservatives everywhere, but he also wanted to safeguard for certain minorities in which he was interested, the landowning elite and southern slave-owning planters. Madison also realized something that most had overlooked; the vast size of a republican United States would stymie profound change. The United States more than ten times the size of France, with such diverse interests would exist that no single faction could hope to predominate. Those separate interests would have to forge coalitions in order to attain power. Extremists-democrats and social levelers in his time, would be politically disarmed , making it very difficult for them to bring real change. Madison considered adding radical change to prevent radical change. He had sought a means of saving the Union and preserving what had been achieved in the American Revolution. The means he found created a system that the peaceful attainment of truly drastic reform would move with the speed of a glacier, to nearly impossible altogether.

What Madison didn't expect was American voters to give such huge advantages to any one faction in the House, Senate, and the President greasing the sled and allowing massive changes to breeze through. Madison and those brilliant founders in the summer of 1787 intentionally created a Constitutional Representative Republic, fearing anything close to a Democracy. We hear Americans complaining on how slow the government works, and all the gridlock. What they don't understand is that is exactly how it was designed to work, critical to maintaining our liberty.

Today we are seeing the efficient government that terrified our founders.