soldier with rifle american civil war THE
SESQUICENTENNIAL
EDITION

 


TAKE DOWN WASHINGTON'S MONUMENTS

I

Introduction

The black politicians and their white "progressive" pals, seizing control of local municipal governments in recent years, are on a crusade to destroy all public monuments dedicated to the memory of General Lee. Cranes have appeared in the night, in New Orleans, Birmingham, Baltimore, Chapel Hill, Dallas, and a dozen other places, lifting the monuments from their pedestals, dropping them on flat bed trucks and taking them away out of sight. Their justification for their crusade, simply put, is that monuments dedicated to the memory of General Lee "repulse" their constituents. Certainly this is a legitimate political reason for using political power to erase from the public landscape reminders that, in American history, a civil war erupted between the whole white people of the antibellum Union, because they could not bring themselves to accept the Africans living among them, as citizens in their communities.

Birminham AL Confederate MonumentTranslating the politics into law is an easy thing to do, if one recognizes the concept of the municipal government's "right" to free speech. In the recent case of State of Alabama v. City of Birmingham, for example, the majority of Birmingham's citizens elected a Mayor and City Councilors, who then voted to remove from a public park an obelisk dedicated to the memory of the Confederate Dead. The monument had been placed in the park by a white majority-elected Mayor and city Councilers, in 1905.

In 2009, the United States Supreme Court, ruling in a case involving a religious monument, held that "permanent monuments displayed on public property typically represent government speech" and, "therefore [the municpal government's] speech is protected, and citizens cannot force the city to propound speech or ideas with which it does not agree." (Pleasant Grove City. v. Summum 555 U.S. 460, 467-68 (2009).) So, applying this rule to the Birmingham case, it is impossible to reasonably argue that the "City," the citizens of which are seventy-two percent Americans of African descent, can be Birmingham monument shroudedcompelled by the State of Alabama to endorse the statement made by Jefferson Davis, which is inscribed on the face of the obelisk, that "the manner of [the Confederate soldiers' death] was the crowning glory of their lives." In its decision, ordering the monument removed, the Circuit Court ruled that, "It is undisputed that an overwhelming majority of the body politic of the City is repulsed by the Monument." (Order on Motion for Summary Judgment, 1/14/19. Case No. 17-903426-MGG) On that ground, who can reasonably deny the "right" of the City of Birmingham, Alabama, to erase the monument's message from its muncipal history?

Lee Statue CharlottesvilleBut what legal basis do the black politicians and their progressive pals have, to black out white American History, when the citizens they represent are seventy-two percent white? In 2017, the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, without the benefit of public participation in the form of a referendum, voted—three to two—to remove from a public park an equestrian statue of General Lee astride his great stallion, Traveller.

The park land had been donated to the City by a private citizen, in 1922. The citizen's Will, deeding the land to the City, included the implicit stipulation that the City accept Lee's statue for placement in the park. The City, composed then as now by a supra-majority of white citizens, accepted the land and the statue from the citizen's Estate and there it has stood to this latter day. Then the City changed its mind, when Councilor Bellamy, a black man recently elected to the Council, introduced a "removal resolution" at a council meeting in 2016, which resulted in a "blue ribbon commission" generating a 230 page report, in December 2016, that recommended the City Council consider two options: remove the statue to another park, or "transform" its message "in place." Instead, in the summer of 2017, the City Council voted to remove the statue from the park and sell it—and a few weeks later two opposing mobs of young white people appeared in the streets of Charlottesville and engaged in a riot, using sticks and clubs.

In the course of the mob violence, a person was killed by a motorist who drove his vehicle, apparently intentionally, into the crowd. The City Council is now enjoined from removing the statute by the Circuit Court, in a lawsuit brought by citizens of Charlottesville. In response the City has ordered that the statute be shrouded in black plastic wrap, pending the outcome of its appeal from the Circuit Court's ruling that the City's conduct is in violation of Lee statue wrappeda Virginia State statute which makes it unlawful for a city, once it has authorized the placement of a monument to a war, "to disturb or interfere with it."

Of course, what really counts in the end is not so much the constitutionality of the State's statute, but the political view of the seventy-two percent of the citizens of Charlottesville who are white—a view not established in the record, either by the three to two vote of the politicians on the City's council, or by the vote of the members of the "Blue Ribbon Commission" the politicians appointed. Recognizing that, ultimately the legal question turns on the factual question—What does a supermajority of the City's residents think?—the black politicians' white progressive pals have been writing "Op Ed" pieces in newspapers, to color the debate in white vs black terms, masking in the process the objective truth of American History that the Civil War was not "caused" by "slavery," but was caused by the whole white people of the Union—North and South—lacking the moral courage to deal with the Africans as they ought; that is, accept them as citizens into their respective communities. In their effort at propaganda, the white progressives do their pals—the black politicians—a sad disservice: for they are perpetuating the great historical myth of American History that the white people of the antibellum Union, living north of the Mason-Dixon Line, loved liberty and hated slavery so much, that they went to war with the white people of the South to liberate the Africans from bondage.

law professor SchaggerOne example of the spin is the Op Ed piece produced recently in The Richmond Times Dispatch by a University of Virginia law professor named Richard Schragger. Professor Schragger tells us the Virginia legislators should read the brief filed in the Charlottesville case—the brief authored by attorney William V. O'Reilly of the Jones Day law firm's 150 member Washington D.C. office. The brief is "an eye-opener," Professor Schragger tells us, as it "catalogs in detail how the Lee statue is not a war memorial at all, but rather a monument to white supermacy."

The Statue depicts General Lee to the viewing public as riding his stallion, Traveller, at the trot; his body language telling us the ride is in the field and has been long and wearing. How does this simple scene get transformed by the wonder of the Jones Day law firm into a scene of "white supermacy?" Because, the professor says, "the brief shows that the continued existence of the statute violates a central tenet of constitutional democracy; that government may not act with the purpose and effect of discriminating. The Jones Day brief "observes," Schragger says, "that the Lee statue was intended to, and did, send a message of intimidation, exclusion, and hostility to African-Americans in Charlottesvile, that the statue is a part of a regime of segregation that denied African-Americans equal access to government and public spaces [and] the statue still sends a potent message of hostility and exclusion today." This is poppycock.

The Jones Day brief Professor Schragger pins his rant on, is a polemic masquerading as a reasoned legal argument. It belongs on a news stand, not a judge's bench:

"The vast body of evidence [we] have gathered in this case shows the Lee statue to be a monument to the Lost Cause and white supremacy. First, the statue depicts an individual who has long embodied the Confederate cause; Second, the Confederate cause was slavery, and a core pillar of that system was the belief in the inferiority of African-Americans; third, Lee believed that the institution of slavery and the inferiority of African-Americans were ordained by God; fourth, Lee's statue was erected to promote the Lost Cause and a reasonable person viewing the statue, today, would see it as espousing Lost Cause and white supremacist ideology rather than memorializing Lee as a veteran of the Civil War." (See, Defendants' Brief in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motions for Summary Judgment, filed 1/11/19, Payne v. Charlottesville Case No. CL17-000145-000; edited for syntax and brevity, substance unchanged.)

William O'Reilly lawyer Jones DaySo, if the Jones Day brief is to be credited as expressing the objective truth of history, you stand in the park looking up from the pedestal to the massive stallion champing at the bit, his hoofs poised in space at the fast trot; and then higher still to the image of General Lee seated solidly in the saddle, the reins loose in his hand, giving Traveller his head, the expression on his face one of endurance and concern—and, instead of seeing the Confederate general leading the young Americans of his army to Gettysburg, you see a white man riding down the black man, believing he is executing God's will, fighting to hold the black man a slave. And you feel repulsion and you want your will to be the will of the community in which you live and to tear the horrible apparition of white racism down!

To trigger this emotional response in the minds of judges clothed in robes, however, is a bit more of a challenge for the rhetorician than inducing it in the ordinary person walking the city streets. And yet, in acknowledgement of the limitations of their "evidence," the Jones Day lawyers can do nothing more to support their case than cite the Court to the words of the popular historians and civil war writers of the day.

"Lee embodies a second struggle: to win the postwar peace by means of a false Lost Cause narrative that slavery did not cause the Civil War. Lee played an important role after the war in creating and perpetuating the Lost Cause narrative and in opposing Reconstruction and black citizenship. Virginia seceded because of the fear that slavery would be abolished and African-Americans elevated. Secession was necessary because the North was trying to make the black man a white man. When the armies of freedom found themselves upon the soil of slavery they could do nothing less than free the poor victims whose enforced servitude was the foundation of the quarrel. Lee reneged on his father-in-law's, George Washington Parke Custis's, promise to free his slaves and instead ripped many families apart and took legal action to keep those slaves in bondage. When some of those slaves attempted to run away, he had them brutually whipped. Lee permitted his army to enslave free blacks in Pennsylvania and bring them back to the South as property. After the war, Lee held the view that granting suffrage to the blacks would excite unfriendly feelings between the two races. Lee wanted the African race gone from Virginia." (Jones Day brief at pp. 11-17, edited for syntax and brevity, the substance of the points expressed left intact.)

Jones Day brief signatures

What Jones Day intentionally ignores, in cobbling together from various sources—dicta in court opinions, newspaper quotations, snippets of testimony at a congressional hearing, and fiction in books written as "history"—is that, down through the generations since the war, the nation's white politicians, white judges, and white teachers have hidden from the general public the objective truth of history that the whole white people of the antibellum Union were infected with the human disease of racism, that it was this disease and this disease alone that made it impossible for them—the whole of them—to deal with the Africans as they ought.

Every single charge of racism Jones Day throws at Robert E. Lee's character and reputation certainly and properly can be pinned to the chest of every single white person who lived in the British Crown colonies of America from 1620 to 1776, who lived in the American Union formed by the Articles of Confederation, in 1781, and who lived in that "more perfect" American Union formed by the Constitution in 1789. The plain objective truth of American History is that the whole white people, who inhabited the United "States," from 1789 to 1865, did not want Africans to be in their communities, much less be citizens in their communities. As for the white people of the North, the objective evidence of this is everywhere in the Nation's archives, in the laws of their States, in the recorded proceedings of their legislatures, in the Annuals and Journals of Congress, in the Congressional Globe, in the people's conventions of 1860-61, in the decisions of the Northern States' supreme courts, in the essays of the leading jurists of the times, and in the writings, speeches and actions of Abraham Lincoln.

The plain objective truth of the matter is, that each of the "compromises" generations of American children have been taught about in school, whether separately or collectively—the Constitution of 1787, the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the Compromise of 1850, the Compromise of 1854, Lincoln's offered Compromise of March 1861—were made by white politicians representing the Northern States, for the purpose of keeping the Africans locked into the Southern States, and thus reserve the Territories of the United States for the exclusive use of white persons—the white Europeans pouring by the millions and millions into their States and moving on through the antibellum times westward. Like the black politicians' progressive pals, Jones Day does the nation a great disservice, here, by reinforcing this fundamental lie sunken out of sight in American History.

The objective truth of history is that the white people of the North did not step into the fire of war, in 1861, to "free" the Africans, but were coerced by the Federal Government, intent on preserving itself, to conquer the white people of the South. By hiding this truth, Jones Day perpetuates the myth that the white people of the antibellum South, embodied in the character and courage of Lee, were bad and the white people of the antibellum North were good, that the Confederate cause was slavery and the Union cause was freedom; when the objective reality is that the Union cause was subjugation of a people against their will and the Confederate cause was independence. That there is irony in this, that the Union cause can be objectively justified by practical principles of political science, does not justify maintaining in our time the myth the white post war generations created, to hide the fact slavery, per se, had nothing to do with causing the war while Africans had everything to do with it.

 

II

TEACHING ROMANCE vs. REALITY

The hypocriscy that attaches to the black politicians and their progressive pals, when they chant the mantra of the "Lost Cause" silliness exemplified by the Jones Day brief, is clearly exposed in an Op Ed piece published in The Hartford Cournant, in 2017. In the piece a New England prep-school history teacher named Chris Doyle, claims "there is a powerful historical distinction between Washington and Lee." Chris Doyle"Washington," he wrote, "helped create a nation whose founding principles included liberty and equality. Jefferson first articulated those principles in 1776 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Washington and Jefferson were apologetic slave owners [and] were imperfect leaders of a political experiment for radically egaliterian goals. By contrast, Lee was a military figure, not a statesman, in a cause defined by its political leadership as a reaction against equality and liberty. The cause Lee fought for was anything but ambivalent about slavery. That's why public monuments to [Lee] are much more problematic than memorials to Jefferson and Washington. Getting the past right and being open to new ways of thinking about it are hallmarks of good history—something we need desperately now."

Avon old Farms logoMr. Doyle teaches history to a small class of privileged male teenagers who attend Avon Old Farms School in Connecticut, and whose parents pay $68,000 per year for their child to attend Mr. Doyle's History class. As do several other history departments in the Atlantic corridor, Avon Old Farms School puts on seminars that Mr. Doyle organizes for high school teachers, which focus on developing a story line to explain to students how it is that Robert E. Lee is the "bad" man—not worthy of historical respect; while George Washington is the "good" man worthy of historical respect, and, thus, justify why the nation's memory of the one must be expunged and the other, not.

Avon Old Farms semimnar description

At Avon Old Farms School, as Mr. Doyle's Op Ed piece illustrates, the teaching story line begins with the romantic view of the Declaration of Independence, and of the political nature of the "experiment" the white people of the thirteen American colonies formulated, first with the Articles of Confederation, in 1781; and then, in 1789, with the Constitution. Mr. Doyle offers his readers, and presumably his students, the pap that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson—who held between them through their life times over five hundred Africans as slaves—were "leaders of an experiment for radically egalitarian goals;" an experiment founded on the "principles of liberty and equality." Mr. Doyle's view of the thing has no foundation in fact: for the language Jefferson used in the Declaration has nothing to do with "radically egalitarian goals;" it is but one example, in a long line of revoluntionary declarations of earlier centuries, justifying the people changing their allegiance to a government without the government's consent. (See, for example, the documents Englishmen issued to justify deposing from their thrones: Edward II, in 1327; Richard II, in 1399; Henry VI, in 1460; Edward V, in 1483, and Richard III, in 1485; see also, Parliament's declaration of August 3, 1642, explaining the "Necessity to take up Arms" against Charles I; the Restoration Settlement with James II, and its proclamation inviting William and Mary to take his place, in 1689.)

As a matter of fact, in its argumentive structure, Jefferson's use of language in the Declaration's preamble is plainly based on the Plakkaat van Verlatinge (Act of Abjuration) published by the governments of the seven provinces of the Low Countries, in 1581, to justify their decision to seek independence from Spanish rule. Published throughout Europe, this "great appeal to the whole world" set forth "the first statement of the rights of man as formulated by a representative national assembly against a tyrannical ruler." A signal document in the development of political thought, the Plakkaat van Verlatinge was "the most explict statement of the doctrine of the right of a people to throw off a tyrant and establish government by its own authority until the Declaration of Independence." (See, John Motley, The Rise of the Dutch Republic (New York: Harpers Brothers 1883), 3:508; J. Ellis Barker, The Rise and Decline of the Netherlands (London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1906), 106-107.)

Plakkaat van Verlatinge, 1581

"As tis apparent to all, that a Prince is constituted by God to be Ruler of a People, to defend them from oppression and violence. . . ; and whereas God did not create the People slaves to their Prince, to obey his commands, whether right or wrong, but rather the Prince for the sake of the subjects to govern them according to equity. . . to defend and preserve them. And when he does not behave thus, but, on the contrary, oppresses them, seeking opportunities to infringe their ancient privileges, exacting from them slavish compliance, then he is no longer a Prince, but a Tyrant, and the Subjects are to consider him in no other view, and they may not only disallow his authority, but legally proceed to the choice of another Prince for their defense; and this is what the Law of Nature dictates for the defense of liberty, which we ought to transmit to Posterity, even at the hazard of our lives."

Declaration of Independence, 1776

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of Goernment becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

Though it is obvious Jefferson's masterful language of the Declaration is more eloquent than that of the Plakkaat van Verlatinge, there is an inescapable affinity between them. Both assert the concept of a political compact between the Government and the People in which the People pledge their allegiance to the Government as long as it protects their rights and privileges. When, instead, the Government becomes destructive of their rights, the people are justified by the "Law of Nature" to extinguish their connection to it and establish a new government as they please. Therefore, it is hardly consistent with the objective truth of history to assert, as Mr. Doyle does, that the political idea of the people possessing the "right" to throw off an oppressive government and adopt a new one that better suits them, was "radical" in 1776; much less "egalitarian," or had anything to do with the idea that men, generally, are supposed naturally to be "equal."

It simply is not objectively reasonable to assert, as Mr. Doyle and his crowd do, that the "nation's founding principles included liberty and equality;" much less make the claim that Jefferson's declarative statement—"All men are created equal"—was the assertion of a political principle "radically equalitarian" for 1776. On the contrary, Jefferson's statement is nothing more nor less than a slogan he adopted from the historical documents existing at the time, and from the political concepts expressed by John Locke, in his Two Treatises of Government published in 1690; and repeated by Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau in the 18th century. The theme of the Declaration, as Jefferson wrote it, was not about "Liberty and Equality;" it was about "Liberty and Property"—about the self-interest of men. Indeed, in the run up to the colonies declaring independence from the empire of Great Britain, it was not Jefferson who first adopted the statement to the colonies' political use, but John Adams in his drafting of the Declaration of Rights published by the First Continental Congress, in October 1774.

"Whereas, since the close of the last war, the British parliament has claimed a power of right to bind the people of the Colonies in North America by statutes for the express purpose of taxing the people of the said Colonies, under various pretences, but in fact for the purpose of raising a revenue. . . all of which statutes are impolitic, unjust, and cruel, as well as unconstitutional, and most dangerous and destructive of American rights, the good people of the colonies hereby resolve that... they are entitled to life, liberty, & property, and they have never ceded to any sovereign power whatever, a right to dispose of either without their consent." (Emphasis added; all Jefferson did, with the Declaration was change the word property to the word happiness.)

George Mason reinforced this plain political theme, when he drafted, in May 1776, Virginia's Declaration of Rights, and the record is plain that his use of the lauguage had nothing whatever to do with the idea of legal, political, economic, or social "equality" between different races of men and everything to do with the self-interest of men. In the colony and Dominion of Virginia the revolution against the authority of the British Government culminated, in 1774, when the House of Burgesses—an assembly of representatives of the property class of white male Virginians—publicly announced its solidarity with the people of Massachusetts who were then living under increasingly severe British military occupation. The reaction to this, by the Royal Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, was to dissolve the Assembly. The Burgesses defied the Governor's order to dissolve, and established themselves as a revolutionary government at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg. Seven months later, they assembled as a "convention" at St. John's Church in Richmond. A year later, in May 1776, they met in session in Williamsburg and, without the consent of the inhabitants of the colony, they declared Virginia to be, ipso facto, an "independent state," framed a constitution for the new state, and, to justify these actions, published the Declaration of Rights:

"A DECLARATION OF RIGHTS made by the representatives of the good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free convention which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government.

Section 1. That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety." (emphasis added.)

Madison's Notes Comparing Mason's Draft with Convention's Amendment

Madison's notes

On June 29, 1776, as the second Continental Congress was considering Jefferson's draft of The Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Convention adopted a constitution for the new State Government of Virginia, without obtaining for it the people's ratification. It reads:

"By prompting our negroes to rise in arms against us, those very negroes whom, by an inhuman use of his negative, [King George] had refused us permission to exclude by law, . . . (Emphasis added.)

By which several acts of misrule, the government of this country, as formerly exercised under the crown of Great Britain, is TOTALLY DISSOLVED.

We, therefore, the delegates and representatives of the good people of Virginia. . . do ordain and declare the future form of government of Virginia to be as followeth:"

It is reasonably clear from the historical record that Jefferson had a hand in the drafting of the Virginia Constitution and was certainly aware of the language George Mason had used in drafting the Declaration of Rights, as well as the language the Convention adopted in amending Mason's draft. Coupling these facts with the reality that Jefferson was also aware of similar language found in the historical documents published in the 16th and 17th centuries, adopting the political theory formulated by John Locke and the French philosphers, to justify the people summarily disposing of their King, it is hardly a surpise, therefore, to find him inserting the slogan—All men are created equal—in The Declaration of Independence.

The political principle Adams, Mason and Jefferson were expressing with their language had nothing whatever to do with liberty and equality in the sense Mr. Doyle claims and everything to do with the "right" of the white people of the colonies not to have their property taxed without their consent. And they, along with Franklin, Washington, and the Lees, used the language to mask their purpose in stealing for their progeny the North American continent from the British Empire. From the moment the inhabitants of Boston began to publicly protest Parliament's passage of the Stamp Act, in 1765, to the moment the colonies banded together in the guise of the "Continental Congress," in 1775, their slogan was Liberty and Property, not Liberty and Equality.

William Pitt, in his arguments with Britain's prime minister, George Grenville, during the debate over repeal of the Stamp Act, in 1766, emphasized the difference between the two slogans, when he said—"In an American tax, what do we do? We, your Majesty's House of Commons for Great Britain, give a grant to your Majesty, what? Our own property? No; we give a grant to your Majesty, of the property of your Majesty's subjects in America. It is an absurdity in terms. The distinction between legislation and taxation is essentially necessary to liberty. The commoners of America, represented in their several assemblies, have ever been in possession, in their exercise of this, their constitutional right, of giving and granting their own money. They would have been slaves if they had not enjoyed it. The gentleman [Mr. Grenville], tells us that America is obstinate; that America is almost in open rebellion. Sir, I rejoice that America has resisted. Two millions of [white] people so dead to all feelings of liberty as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to have made slaves of all the rest." (See, Journal of Debates of Parliament)

Finally, it ought to be obvious to every serious thinking student of American History that the silly slogan Mr Doyle waxes poetic about, is crap; pap for the ignorant masses, to distract their minds from the hard reality of the time; pap to make the student think the American Revolution was a noble enterprise instead of the blatent class warfare that it was—the push of rich propertied white men, relieved of the menace of France on their frontier and awake to the fact America was as Hercules in his cradle, to shed themselves of the "protection" of the British Empire and seize the continent as their own. To understand this, one need only take the time to read the written record of the deliberations of the first Congress convened under the authority of the Constitution upon its ratification by the people of the "States," in 1789.

In 1774, Thomas Paine came to America from England and went to work as a writer for Benjamin Franklin's Philadephia Magazine; writing in support of the nacent revolution his ideas evolved, by 1776, into a forty page political tract titled Common Sense that was widely read by the people and, some say, had an influence on moving their attitude toward acceptance of the idea of their colonies seceding from the British Empire. Later, after the Revolution ended in success, Paine went to France where he became for a time a hero of the French people in their revolution against King Louis XVI, when he published, in 1791, the tract titled The Rights of Man. In it, Paine repeated the shop-worn slogan Jefferson popularized with his Declaration:

Thomas Paine Rights of Man

Paine Rights of Man

Paine

Yet, six years earlier, in March 1775, Paine had published in Franklin's magazine a piece titled Slavery in America, in which he wrote this:

Paine Slavery in America

The contradictions inherent in Paine's expressions of the "unity" and "equality" of men, is reflected in the law the Quaker-dominated Legislature of Pennsylvania, in 1780, just a year after the people of the "United States" ratified the Constitution.

PA Act of Abolition

The Act specified that all Africans born in the state after the date of the passage of the Act were not to be recognized as slaves, but as indentured servants who must serve their master until they reach the age of twenty-eight years, at which point they are to be free to go where they please and live as they can, the master to provide them at that time with a suit of clothes, a blanket and a designated amount of cash.

And the contradiction is reflected in the reaction of the First Congress of the United States, in February 1790, when Benjamin Franklin, on behalf of the recently formed Quaker Society for the Emancipation of the Africans, submitted this petition:

Franklin's petition

Frankin petition

Here, at the very threshold of Mr. Doyle's "nation," setting forth on its course through history, the Congress of the United States was presented with the golden opportunity to invoke Doyle's radically equaliterian princples of "liberty and equality" that he tells us was the "Nation's founding principles" and do something to loosen, if not break, the chains binding the Africans to slavery in America. So what did the Congress do? Nothing; and it is easy for serious students to understand why.

February 12, 1790, Mr. Gerry of Massachusetts in the House

Mr. Gerry Mass

Gerry again

war debt graphHere it was! The first and greatest opportunity for the so-called "consolidated" Nation to face the horrible reality of slavery in America and begin to deal with it. How to deal with it, every single white man sitting at his desk on the floor of the House of Representatives, with the Constitutional power of the purse in his hands, knew: he might start the political effort, by consenting to the Government borrowing ten million dollars from the bankers, as Parliament was to do in 1838, to compensate British slaveowners in Jamica for its summary emanicipation of their slaves; or to authorize the issuance of bonds backed by the credit of the United States, to purchase the freedom of the approximate two hundred thousand Africans living in the America of 1790 as slaves. Who, living in the time, did not understand, it was pay this now, or pay something much more later?

table of pop 1787

Table of Population of the United States in 1787

Though the Treasury's war debt had been $200 million by the end of the war, in 1781, by 1790, the debt had been reduced to about $80 million. In 1783, with its execution of the Treaty of Paris, the British Government had ceded its claims to the territory south of the Great Lakes, north of Florida, and west to the Missisippi, to the "United States." And, in 1787-89, the States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia ceded their claims to the land between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi—based on their original charter rights—to the "United States." These cessions resulted in the Federal Government assuming legal title (nothwithstanding the Native Americans' objections) to 220 million acres of land. (See, Farley Grubb, The Net Worth of the Federal Government, 1784-1802: The American Economic Review, Vol. 97, No. 2 (May 2007) pp. 280-284.) The Congress, then, in response to the Quakers' petition, might have passed legislation which offered compensation to the owners of the slaves, coupled with provisions providing some financial support to the Africans the owners emancipated, to migrate from their states of residence to the new Territories of the United States, providing the migrating Africans with 140 acres of land and a mule. But is this simply more romancism, or is it an expression of the political reality?

Jackson of Georgia in the House, 1790

Jackson

Baldwin of Georgia in the House, February 1790

Jackson of Georgia

Tucker of South Carolina, in the House 1790

Tucker South Carolina

Franklin's petition was introduced into the Senate on February 14, 1790. The session of the Congress expired at the end of February without either chamber considering the petition further. (The Journal of the Senate contains no record of the Quakers' petition being considered by that body.)

All serious students, reading the objective record of the times can reasonably recognize the reasons why. They need only look hard at the census figures of 1790 to understand the immense chasm of ruin and despair the people of South Carolina would have objectively, not figuratively, fallen into; had the Congress passed the legislation described here. "Liberty and Equality," indeed. Recognize the Africans—the majority population in the State—to be "free" and what happens next? Who seriously cannot see?

Pennsylvania is hardly entitled by her Act of Gradual Emancipation of the progeny of 3,700 African slaves residing in her territory in 1780, to claim pride of place in the effort to free America of slavery. The white people of Pennsylvania had no crisis on their hands, as a consequence of the Act: the State's economy would feel nothing as the Act took its effect. The State's society would not be revolutionized. The white people's control of Pennsylvania's political system would not be threatened. For, the mere fact that the new born Africans would, in twenty-eight years, be free of their indentured servitude, did not mean that, ipso facto, they would be citizens of Pennsylvania in their freedom. This fact, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would make plain, in 1837, in the case of Hobbs v. Fogg, where it held, as the United States Supreme Court would hold sixteen years later, in In Re Dred Scott, that the emancipated Africans were not comtemplated by the State's Constitution to be part of the community of Pennsylvania. They were aliens with no civil rights recognized by the Constitution. (See, Hobbs v. Fogg 6 Watts 533 (1837); Eric Smith, The End to Black Voting Rights in Pennsylvania: African-Americans and the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention of 1837-38 (1998) The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.)

Africans picking cottonBut, in South Carolina, as the census record of 1787 shows, the white people were the minority race in the State. The Africans were the majority, which means that, with emancipation, suddenly the Africans would be on top and the whites on the bottom. And, when, in the wake of the Africans' freedom and their supposed migration out of the State, could it be expected that white migrants from the North, or immigrants from Europe, would arrive in time to take the African's place in the rice and cotton fields? In such circumstances, all reasonable persons, living in the time, would necessarily understand that South Carolina's economy would crash and all that had been built up, on the involuntary labor of the Africans, would be gone.

Africans siting at wharfFor that matter, why expect that the Africans would elect to leave the State for the harsh wilderness of the Union's western territories, when as the majority they might stay put and demand possession of the land they have been living on for generations, demand civil rights and begin to fight for them? And, if the white minority reacts with violence, the race war begins. A race war, in the irony of the thing, that would occur whether it was the Africans who were white and the whites who were black, for the disease of human racism would have produced the same result: enslavement of the one race for the benefit and security of the other.

The conduct of the Ashanti and Zulu kings tells us this: for, contrary to Thomas Paine's utopian dream of the unity of man, the many strands of the human race, from the beginning of its existence in the world, to the present day, have been driven by the primal instinct of self-preservation, to stick with their kind, their blood, their tribe; which explains why there are nation-states in the world constantly at war with themselves. (See, Sir Francis C. Fuller, Vanished Dynasty: Ashanti (London, John Murray 1921); Donald Morris, The Washing of the Spears: The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation (New York Simon & Schuster 1965.) And yet still, 1790, not 1861, was the time for the Congress of the United States to act: to face the great national disease of human racism head-on, to deal with it, to solve it, to resolve it, which meant to the minds of every white person living in the America of the time that the Africans being in, the nation had no choice but, sooner or later, one way or another, to bring them all the way in. This was simply, as a plain matter of fact, beyond their ken.

The politicians of 1790 have left us a scant written record of what was said betweeWar debt graphn them in the First Congress of the Union, but the snippets they left in the record for us to read tell the story truly: it was the Quakers of Pennsylvania who brought the issue to the table; and it was Massachusetts who opened the debate with the proposal of compensated emancipation; and it was South Carolina who closed it with the warning of civil war. In the course of the hours of unrecorded debate, one wonders: did the members in either chamber foresee that failure to bring the Africans in now would cost the nation in the future, the lives of six hundred thousand young Americans, whose sacrifice—at the call of their elders—would become, in time, a moral repulsion. That the failure would leave the nation three billion dollars in debt? So, why, if they did, didn't the Congress of 1790 deal with the Africans as the nation ought? Because the whole white people of the Union were infected with the disease of human racism: they simply could not bring themselves to live with the Africans as citizens in their community. So much, for Mr. Doyle's romance of America's founding principles being "liberty and equality."

III

The Father of our Country

INTRODUCTION

Washington bustUnlike R. E. Lee, whose ownership of Africans as slaves was limited to a male and female he inherited from his mother, in 1829, George Washington owned in his own name through his life time more than three hundred Africans and controlled through his wife's estate as many more. Unlike R. E. Lee, whose reputation has been tarnished by the mythical story he once whipped a slave, George Washington's personal letters make undeniable the fact that, not only was the whipping of slaves a standard operating procedure for him, in his running his five plantations, but also that he routinely broke up families, shipping unruly slaves off to the Carribbean islands for sale; that he routinely bought and sold slaves as a business practice for profit; and that he hired agents to track down in Northern states runaway slaves, kidnap them when found, and drag them back to him in chains. Unlike Lee, who spent his life—from the age of seventeen to sixty—as a professional soldier, Washington spent the greater part of his, amassing off the backs of his slaves one of the great Virginia fortunes of the time. Yet, it is the equestrian statues of Lee that the black politicians and their progressive pals destroy and not those Washington monumentof Washington. The plain hypocriscy of this objectively demonstrates that they lack the moral courage to publicly call Washington out for what he indisputably was: a slave trader, slave whipper, and slave chaser whose name does not deserve to represent the United States' seat of government and whose character does not deserve the recognition of a monument on the Capitol Mall. (See, The Slavery Blame Game and General Lee, Slave Whipper.)

 

Slave sale advertisement

And yet, if Avon Old Farm School's history teacher, Mr. Doyle, and the Jones Day lawyer, Mr. O'Reilly, are to be believed, comparing Washington to Lee is "a false equivalency," because Washington "helped create a nation whose founding principles included liberty and equality," while Lee was merely a simple soldier "in a cause that was anything but ambivalent about slavery."

It is certainly true that R.E. Lee was just a soldier, but is it true that, unlike the government Lee fought for, the government Washington fought for, was "ambivalent about slavery?" Hardly, in the only political sense that counts. One need only compare the Constitutions of the Confederacy and the Union of 1861 to recognize the objective reality that the governments they frame are substantially the sameexcept that, at the outset of the war between the Union and the seceded states, under President Abraham Lincoln's signature, there was an amendment to the Union Constitution, proposed by the Union Congress, and presented to the Union states for ratification that made slavery perpetual in the United States; while no such language can be found in the Confederate Constitution.

Proposed 13th amendment 1861

Lincoln refers amendmednt

And that Abraham Lincoln, as racist a white man as Washington and Lee, personally agreed with the text of the proposed amendment. The words he expressed in his First Inaugural Address ought to leave the black politicians and their pals with no doubt he meant his government to keep the white man on top, forever.

"I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. . . , holding such a provision to now be implied Constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable." (See, Perpetual Slavery: The Thirteenth Amendment and the Cause of the War.)

The contradictory ideas Mr. Doyle's word, ambivalent, must refer to, given the objective historical record, is represented by the idea of "freedom" for the Africans, on the one hand, and the idea of their "segregation" on the other. While it is certainly an accurate statement to say that the radical politicians of Lincoln's party wanted slavery, as an institution, to be extinquished, neither they nor the white populaton of the Northern states, generally, wanted to live with the freed Africans as citizens in their communities. What they—the radical Republican politicians—wanted, was that the freed Africans remain where they were, in the Southern states. Lincoln, in his words, makes this fact plain; again and again.

Lincoln imageAt Chicago, July 10, 1858: "[We] believe it is wrong [for African slavery] to grasp up the new lands of the continent, and keep them from settlement of free white laborers, who want the land to bring up their families on. (In other words, if Africans are there, whether free or not, the white laborers won't come.) We are often reminded that this government was made for white men. Well, that is putting it into a shape in which no one want to deny. I protest [,though,] against that counterfeit logic which presumes that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave, I do necessarily want her for a wife. . . as God made us separate, we can leave one another alone." (How so? The Africans must live somwhere, not alone.) Judge Douglas regales us with the terrible enormities that take place by the mixture of the races; that the inferior race bears the superior down. Why, judge, if we do not let them get together in the Territories, they won't mix there." (Applause).

At Ottawa, August 21, 1858: "I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position." (The Speeches of Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln Centenary Association, New York (1908).)

So, then, Mr. Doyle and Mr. O'Reilly, if we block the Africans from migrating into the Territories of the Union, and we block them from migrating into our Northern states, as Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania did, because we don't want to live with them in a state of equality, where are they to live but where they now are? Forever multipying in the Southern states we confine them Alexander Stephensin, generation by generation, their majority in the populations growing ever larger and larger; the social and political tensions escalating and escalating until there is an explosion. Under such objective circumstances, what reasonable Southern white person living in the time would hestitate, to divorce himself politically from a Government that is enabling such a policy? Certainly, if plain language is understood, Abraham Lincoln is saying exactly what Alexander Stephens said, in his so-called Cornerstone speech in 1861.

Stephen cornerstone speech

The only objective difference between the political positions of these two white men, Lincoln and Stephens, is that one of them thought the Africans ought to be free where they live, but not where he lived; and the other thought, since he was trapped living with them, that slavery is the only way to keep their kind subordinated to his kind. So much, then, for the proposition that the government Washington—the grand statesman—helped found, was morally superior to the government Lee—the hard core soldier—defended.

Since the objective record of history shows conclusively Washington to be no better a man in moral character or professional military conduct or accomplishment than Lee—how is it, then, that the national memory of him is expressed in the form of a towering obeslisk that dominates the skyline of the seat of the nation's government? Indeed, with a national memory of him that the black politicians lack the moral courage to destroy?

PROLOGUE TO REBELLION

George Washington's great, grandfather, John Washington, came from England to the proprietary colony of Virginia about the year 1657, and settled near the Potomac River in Westmoreland County. He married Anne Pope who produced two sons: Lawrence and Augustine, Washington's father. Augustine died near Fredericksburg, in 1743, when Washington was about twelve years of age. His mother, Mary Ball, Augustine's second wife, supported him and his five map of Mt Vernonsiblings on a farm located on the Rappahannock River across from Fredericksburg. In 1749, through his half-brother's, Lawrence Washington's, marriage connection to the family of Lord Fairfax, Washington was appointed surveyor of Culpeper County on the upper reaches of the Rappahannock, and over the course of two years he surveyed 60,000 acres of land, much of which he gradually was able to acquire over time. The farms of Mount Vernon belonged, first, to his father, and then to his half-brothers; and then passed by inheritance to him, in 1761.

google map of worldIn 1748, Washington, along with several of his siblings, bought stock in the newly formed Ohio Company, the business objective of which was to obtain from the British Government a grant of 200,000 acres in the Ohio Valley. At that time a war of global extent had been raging, hot and cold, between France and England for almost a hundred years. In the course of it, France had followed England to North America and claimed possession of the territory west of the Alleghenies; and, by 1754 her soldiers had built a line of forts extending from Lake Erie to the forks of the Ohio River, effectively blocking Washington's crowd from gaining access to the lands beyond.

map of America 1763

In 1754, Virginia's royal governor, Robert Dinwiddle—himself an investor in the Ohio Company—appointed Washington, who then was twenty-three years old, to the rank of major and ordered him to lead a regiment of the Virginia Militia to the fort the French had built at the forks, at what is now Pittsburg. Washington's instructions were to "talk" to the French commander of the fort, but Washington attacked the fort instead. The attack failed and Washington withdrew his force several miles eastward and constructed Fort Necessity in front of a gap in the mountains. Hardly was the fort built than the French attacked it, breaching its wall, capturing Washington and killing many of his men; and this sparked the beginning of the last phase of the war between France and Great Britain for commercial dominance of the world. Though Washington had bungled the operation, upon his return to Virginia the House of Burgresses acclaimed him to be a hero and he prudently tendered his resignation as an officer in the Virginia Militia and concentrated his attention on managing his property.

Edward BraddockThe military result of the action at Fort Necessity prompted the British Government to dispatch a recently promoted major-general in the British Army, Edward Braddock, with two regiments of the Coldstream Guards, to Virginia. Braddock arrived in Hampton Roads, in February 1755, and, after marching across Virginia and through the Cumberland Gap, his column was attacked by a combined force of French regular soldiers and Algonquin Indians as he approached the French fort at the Ohio forks. He and most of the members of his command were killed. Washington was with Braddock when he died: he had accompanied the column as an aide de camp and is said to have knelt down by the British general's side to hear his last words—"Who would have thought?" According to legend Washington had two horses shot under him, and four bullets passed through his coat and two through his hat. "By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence," he wrote to his brother, "I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation." (G.W. Parke Custis, Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington Derby & Johnson, New York (1860), p. 158.)

Between 1755 and 1763, the British Government supported approximately twenty-three thousand regular British soldiers in the New England region, manning forts in upper New York State and launching military campaigns against the French forces manning the forts in the Ohio Valley and along the St. Lawrence River, as well as Fort Tigconderoga at the southern end of Lake Champlain. In 1759, having gained control of the mouth of the St. Lawrence, a squadron of British war ships, with troops on board, successfully sailed up the river to Quebec, and fought the decisive battle of the war with the French Army, on a plain outside the gates of that city. Not surprisingly, the war cost Great Britain over one thousand soldiers killed or wounded, and a a national debt of £135 million.

Washington as farmerDuring this time, George Washington was a British subject, who owed allegiance to his king's government; a civilian, a resident of the Colony of Virginia; the husband of Martha Dandridge Custis, a rich propertied widow he married in 1756; a member of the House of Burgresses, and a planter; and then a farmer, who strictly managed a labor force of several hundred African slaves in the cultivation of the crops he grew and the animals he raised for sale, on the fifty thousand acres of land he owned spread through Fairfax, Westmoreland and New Kent Counties. In the end, he had amassed so much wealth that his estate, in conformance to his Will, was able to support every one of the hundreds of the Africans that survived him, to their graves. (So, the legend goes.)

As Washington managed his farms, partnering with others in the business of land speculation and the selling of slaves, the tide of the war with France turned in Great Britain's favor, in what now was a global war, stretching from the American wilderness to the West Indies, to the Mediterranean, to India. In London, in 1760, Benjamin Franklin, acting as agent for several of the American colonies, published a pamphlet which advocated the idea that, in the peace to follow, Britain take possession of Canada, thereby erasing from the political equation the military power of France as a threat to the security of the colonies.

"Here, in Britain," Franklin wrote, "we are separated by the best boundary: the ocean, and we have people in or near every part of our territory. Any attempt to build a fort must be known immediately and the agressors known. In America it is quite otherwise. A vast wilderness scarcely populated, conceals the march of the enemy. Forts can be built in a month at no expense which may cost a million to remove. Worse, the forest is inhabited by tribes of savages strongly attached to the enemy. So widely different circumstances authorize different demands of security in America, from such as are necessary in Europe."

Benjamin Franklin imageFranklin wrote the phamplet, distributing it to everyone of importance in London, because he knew the King's ministers, as well as influential members of Parliament, were wary of the colonies seizing the moment to take possession of the territory, if France ceded it to Britain. Putting them at ease, hoping to tranquilize their minds, Franklin acknowledged to his audience that the accession of the French territory would tend to increase the population of America faster than would happen if settlement were confined to the land east of the mountains, and that, though this would turn the table on the motherland, not to worry.

Franklin tract cover"The accession," Franklin wrote, "would make the comparative populations equal to that of Great Britain much sooner than it can be expected when our people are spread over a country six times as large. Our American colonies are the frontier of the British Empire. An attack on the frontier, therefore, is an attack on the Empire. Where the frontier people owe and pay obedience, there they have the right to look for protection. No political proposition is better established than this. It is therefore wrong to say the blood and treasure expended in the war is being spent in the cause of the colonies only, or to gratify their vain ambitions. It will be a conquest for the whole, and all our people will, in the increase of trade and the ease of taxes, find advantage in it. If ever there was a national war, this is truly such a one, a war in which the interest of the whole nation is directly concerned.

Some, though, only see self-interest. They see all the effort made by the colonies only in their own cause, to make conquests for themselves; that if they are allowed to spread and extend themselves in the country on the other side of the mountains, they should increase infinitely from all causes, live wholly on their own labor, and become independent.

I agree that, with Canada in our hands, the American people will increase amazingly. Their common rate of increase is doubling every twenty-five hyears by natural generation, exclusive of the accession of foreigners. In a century the population of America, therefore, will exceed the population of Great Britain till they perhaps reach a hundred million souls. (The United States reached one hundred million souls in 1915.)

Much of the apprehension is that the colonies' growth may render them dangerous. I have no fear of this, when I consider that we have already fourteen separate governments on the maritime coast of the continent. They are under different governors, and have different forms of government, different laws, different interests, and some of them different religious persuations and different manners. Their jealousy of each other is so great that however necessary a union of the colonies has long been, for their common defense and security against their enemies (France and the savages), yet they have never been able to effect such a union among themselves, nor even to agree in requesting the mother country to establish it for them. If they could not agree to unite for their own defense against the French and the Indians, can it reasonably be supposed there is any danger of their uniting against their own nation, which protects and encourages them, with which they have so many connections and ties of blood, interest and affection, and which tis well known they all love much more than they love one another? A union amongst them for such a purpose is impossible; and if the union of the whole is impossible, the attempt of a part must be madness as those colonies that did not join the rebellion, would join the mother country in suppressing it.

It is so difficult to overturn an established government, which teaches us that, if the visionary danger of independence in our colonies is to be feared, nothing is more likely to make that fear real than having France on the colonies' borders, ready to help them, giving either aid or an asylum. The Romans well understood the concept which teaches that security arises to the chief government from separate states among the governed. What, then, is the prudent policy of the mother country to keep security of dominion over the colonies? Some say leave France in place to check the colonies' growth. Which means the Indians will murder us. Viewed in such a light, will the colonies have reason to consider themselves no longer subjects and children, when they find cruel enemies halloo'd upon them by the country from which they sprang? The waves do not rise but when the wind blows."

google carranbean

William Pitt had the ministry of the British Government when campaigning against the French ended, in September 1760 with the capture of Montreal. In October King George II died, and, at the age of 23, George III assumed the throne. At the start of peace negotiations, neither Pitt nor the king envisioned keeping Canada, for the reasons Franklin listed in his pamphlet. The Government wanted to keep the rich sugar island of Guadeloupe the British Navy had captured during the war and, also, the rich fisheries off the coast of Newfoundland, but France refused to give either asset up and the parties broke the peace talks off. In September 1762, France entered a family compact with Spain—Spain agreeing to enter the war in eight months in exchange for a share in the fisheries—and this induced Britain to declare war on Spain. In 1763, as Britain prepared its navy to attack Martinique, Havana, and Manila, the King's new prime minister, Bates, approached the Fench to reopen talks. By this time, a majority in the ruling party wanted to keep Canada on the ground that this would guarantee the security of the American colonies, and open the way for the Empire to exploit the entirety of the continent as far as the Mississippi River.

By the Treaty of Paris, executed in 1763, France ceded all claims of territory in North America to Britain. She retained fishing rights off Newfoundland and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and received possession of the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon as drying stations, while Spain renounced her fishing rights, and ceded Florida to Britain. Britain returned to France Guadeloupe, and to Spain Martinique and Santa Lucia, but gained Grenada and three of the four neutral islands. Everyone understood France was not done. Though the loser, she was still standing with a powerful land army and, though diminished, her navy was still a challenge to Britain on the high seas. At the conclusion of the peace, France put a large fleet of war ships on station in the West Indies, with 23,000 soldiers.

The Government of Great Britain had now reached the crisis of its history. It had finally raised its country to be the dominant nation of the world, gathering to itself the commercial wealth of India, Africa, and America. But, how to secure the gain of North America with France removed from the continent? The political current flowing through the words of Franklin's pamphlet representation of America's fealty had been felt by the members of the King's ministry, in 1760; and now with the peace concluded, in 1763, they became determined in the view that the existing colonies should not be allowed to spread their populations across the Alleghenies into the Ohio River Valley. They would become too big to control. Indeed, by a long series of fortunate events and a train of successful industry, they had developed already a flourishing economy that provided them with a cultivated and rich life and, therefore, the interest and means of severing their political connection to the Empire. A new policy of regulation was required.

The cornerstone of the existing policy was the Navigation Acts which had been in operation since the close of the English Civil War, in 1621. These acts required that the American colonies export their produce and products only to England, or their sister colonies in the West Indies, using British ships and sailors. The people of the colonies accepted the constraint without complaint, because they were, in their origins, outcasts, not so much sent out as thrown out three thousand miles from home, on the bleak and barren shore of a desolute wilderness inhabited by savages, and needed the immense capital the King had the means to provide, to proceed with their economic activity at an accelerating pace, taking them farther, faster than the slow operations of unassisted nature allows. The Americans of 1763 accepted the Empire's monopoly on their trade as the quid pro quo for the protection Great Britain had provided them through the century of their development, but now, with France gone, how compliant with the system would they prove to be?

Pondering this, the British prime minister of the time, George Grenville, probably pushed to it by the King, determined to place a standing army in America; and to support it, he proposed a parliamentary tax on the issuance of stamps that would be affixed to every legal document made in the colonies. The Act was drafted in the fall of 1763, and introduced as a plan to Parliament in Grenville's budget speech, in March 1764. When objection was made that the colonies ought to be consulted, Grenville postponed Parliament debating the plan for a year, inviting other ideas. In February 1765, Grenville met with Benjamin Franklin, who then was acting as the colonial agent for Georgia, New York, and Pennsylvania, explained the Stamp Act plan, and asked for his views. Franklin's response was to ask that one of his friends be appointed a commissioner to issue the stamps for fees. When Franklin informed Richard Henry Lee of Virginia that the tax plan was in the works, Lee seized the moment to seek one of the commissioner slots, as did others among the colonies' propertied elite.

No one, it seems, among the Americans at that time, woke up to the fact that the tax represented a radical departure from the established policy of the past. At the close of the 13th century the idea that Parliament had to give consent to the financial demands of the king became an essential element in the granting of taxation. This happened when, as the result of the constant demands for money King Edward I had been making, to fund his wars with the king of France, Parliament passed a statute that required the consent of the people before the king could tax their property. The statute was reinforced in 1414 when the House of Commons stipulated that all grants of taxation were to originate with it. The political principle of no taxation without representation, then, became fixed as part of the evolving British Constitution, and it was confirmed again and again as the people exercised their ultimate rights of sovereignty against the succession of kings that followed Edward to the British throne.

Patrick Henry imageIn February 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, to become operative in November 1765, and Patrick Henry rants in the Virginia House of Burgesses and, as the stamps arrive in its harbor, Boston explodes. Henry was twenty-six, a lawyer, when he rose in the House as a recently elected member from Lousia County, in May 1765, and offered resolutions denouncing the Stamp Act as unconstitutional. Upon his offering the resolutions, he wrote later, "violent debate ensued. Many threats were uttered, and much abuse cast on me by the party for submission. After a long and warm contest the resolutions passed by a very small majority, perhaps of one or two only." (Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence and Speeches Vol I, p. 81 (Scribner's Sons 1891).)

The Virginia Resolves

"Resolved, That the first settlers of this colony brought with them, and transmitted to their posterity, all the privileges, franchises, and immunities that have at any time been held by the people of Great Britain.

Resolved, That the taxation of the people by themselves, or by persons chosen by themselves to represent them is the distinquishing characteristic of British freedom, and without which the ancient Constitition cannot exist.

Resolved, That the General Assembly of this colony has the sole exclusive right and power to lay taxes upon the inhabitants of this colony, and that every attempt to vest such power other than the General Assembly, has a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom."

Samuel Adams imageIn August, with the stamps arriving in its harbor, Boston explodes. Samuel Adams, a Harvard graduate, sometime lawyer, tax collector, and now publisher of the Boston Gazette, orchestrated political theater, when he encensed a crowd of the town's inhabitants to destroy the new stamp office that the colony's secretary, Andrew Oliver, had constructed on his private dock. The crowd roared on after, to Oliver's residence on Fort Hill; breaking the doors and windows, the crowd surged through the rooms, smashing furniture while Oliver's wife and children cowered upstairs. In the evening, the rioters were on the crown of the hill dancing around a burning effigy of Oliver hanging on a tree, shouting the huzzah of "Liberty and property." It was to become, Caherine Bowen writes, in her biography of John Adams, "the password for a revolution. Liberty and property were synonymous. The great John Locke had said it a century before; now a new world must prove it. What a man owned was his, as his soul was his. No prince, no king, no parliament could take it from him without his consent. `Liberty and property!' they cried, tossing their hats in the air. `Liberty and property! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!'" (John Adams and the American Revolution, at p. 271 (Little Brown & Co. 1951).) The colony's governor, Thomas Hutchinson, Oliver's brother-in-law, caused several persons to be arrested, but they were set free by a mob which forced the gaolers to surrender the keys.

Stamp ActThe Massachusetts General Assembly weighed in with a letter it sent to the assemblies of the other colonies, proposing delegates be selected to meet in a convention in New York, in the fall. Nine colonies sent delegates who agreed at the end of the convention to the publication of resolutions that mirrored those approved by Virginia's House of Burgresses.

The Stamp Act Convention Resolves

"That His Majesty's liege subjects in these colonies are entitled to all the inherent rights and privileges of his natural born subjects within the kingdom of Great Britain.

That it is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, and the undoubted rights of Englishmen, that no taxes should be imposed on them, but with their own consent, given personally, or by their representatives."

For the first time in the history of British colonial rule of America, delegates representing the colonies of New England had come together to discuss the adoption of a common policy to assert against his Majesty's government. The delegates, of course, did not represent the majority of the people inhabiting these colonies, much less a supermajority; but they were the public face of an nascent faction composed of business and professional men, led at the top by propertied elites, such as John Hancock, in Boston, and John Jay in New York, and their views were hammered home to the general public through the newspaper organs they controlled, with Sam Adams Boston Gazette being the shrillest voice.

Out of their effort came a general public sentiment, leavened to some extent with threats of violence to the nay-sayers, not to purchase the King's stamps. This meant that few contracts of trade were made; indeed, few contracts of any kind were made in the colonies in November, and, by December, the reality of the business stagnancy was felt in the pocket books of the British merchants in London, Manchester, Bristol, and Liverpool. The King's current Prime Minister, Lord Rockingham, was deluged with letters and petitions from the merchants, and William Pitt, out of the Government, opened a fierce debate in Parliament which went on for a month. "I rejoice that America has resisted," he intoned. "Two millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty, as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to have made slaves of us all."

House of CommonsBenjamin Franklin, the colonies recognized mouthpiece, was called into the House of Commons and cross-examined as if in court. Franklin massaged the situation, professing that the people of the colonies were not disputing Parliament's power, that they knew they had not the means to support a resistance to the British Empire by force of arms, that they could not subsist in the standard of living they enjoyed without the friendship and protection of the Empire.

The means of quieting the unrest in the colonies, Franklin told the House, was to allow each colony to send members to Parliament. But this was no solution every one knew; there were several hundred members already in the House. Thirteen more from the American colonies would hardly change the result of the votes, and the bills of interest to the colonies would be but a handful, hardly worth the time and expense of the six weeks' sea voyage necessary to attend the House's session.

From both sides of the House came the question, repeated in diffferent forms—Would a modified Stamp Act, or some other tax on the same principle, work? "No," Franklin said; "They will think them unconstitutional and unjust."

"I never heard any objection to the right of laying duties on regular commerce," Franklin went to say, "but a right to lay internal taxes was never supposed to be in Parliament, as we are not represented there."

"But, if the colonists are allowed to control the decision to lay taxes upon property within their colonies," came back the question, "might they make the same claim later, with duties laid on exports and imports?" "No," Franklin answered. "The difference is very great. An external tax is a duty laid on commodities imported. It is added to the retailer's cost and he makes it part of his price to the consumer. If the people do not like it at that price, they refuse to pay it. But an internal tax is forced from the people without their consent, if not laid by their own representatives. The Stamp Act says we shall have no commerce, make no exchange of property with each other, neither purchase nor grant nor recover debts, neither marry nor make our wills; unless we pay the tax. We will be ruined if we don't pay and therefore must." (See, Carl Van Doren, Benjamin Franklin, at p. 336-352 (Viking Press 1938).)

On the 18th of March, 1766, the House of Commons, by a vote of 273 to 167, repealed the Stamp Act. In the House of Lords the majority was 34. The King is supposed to have uttered, as he signed his assent to the repeal, "It is a fatal compliance." Franklin was chosen as agent for Pennsylvania and Georgia again, for New Jersey in 1769, and for Massachussets in 1770. As Carl Doren said, in his biography of Franklin, "he was an ambassaor from America before America had the right to send one." Lord Rockingham's ministry went out in July 1766, while Franklin was in Europe traveling. The King and Pitt, now made Lord Chatham, agreed upon a coalition cabinet, and Parliament went out of session, but not before passing an Act declaring that, under the British Constitution, it held the sovereignty over the Empire and all its constitutent elements "in all cases whatsoever." Then, the whole matter fermenting under the surface of things for a year, Parliament returned to session in 1767 and, in May, passed a series of Acts which laid new duties on lead, glass, paint, paper, and tea; the revenue stream obtained from these to be used to pay the royal governors, the judges, and the police officers of the American colonies.

What was happening here? What were these politicians—the Whig Oligarchy and the Tories—thinking, in reviving the Government's policy of imposing a tax upon the colonists, not simply to regulate trade between the colonies and the world at large, but to raise revenue to cover, first, the cost of its army operations in America, and, then, the cost of bringing the colonies' civil servants under its direct control? Despite the abstractions raised by the colonists—to support the argument that, under the British Constitution, Parliament did not have the power to tax them without their having seats in the House of Commons—in the real world of men the Government had the power to tax the colonists, because its sovereignty did not stop at the shores of England but extended over the whole breadth of the British Empire.

Diagram of British GovernmentThe Law of Nations, as it was understood at the time, recognized America as a dominion of Great Britain, and, therefore, the colonists were not "citizens" of the State but its "subjects; the difference is immense. The word, subject, derived from the latin words, sub and jacio, means one who is under the power of another; but a citizen is an unit of a mass of free people, who, collectively, possess the sovereignty. Therefore, as a matter of plain abstraction, and though the argument is complicated, the American colonists lacked the legal standing to claim their property could not be taxed by Parliament without their consent. This conclusion, of course, their emerging leaders—men like John Adams, James Otis, and John Dickinson—denied. (It is an argument that must take into account four hundred years of British history.)

But, the abstractions aside, why push a policy of taxation when Parliament knows the North American continent it holds in its hands, is an immensely valuable jewel in the crown of the British Empire? Why risk reviving the spirit of resistance to Parliamentary authority, why stimulate the spirit of cooperation among the colonies? Why give the rebellious factions the opportunity to gain supporters? And yet, the two millions of white men inhabiting the American colonies on the continent's Atlantic coast, anyone with eyes can see, had developed a standard of living which matched, if not exceeded, that of the great landed families of England, of the manufacturers of Manchester, and the bankers of London. The merchants of Boston and Philadelphia, the plantation owners of South Carolina and Virginia, owned warehouses, fleets of ships, lived in mansions, drove, like Washington, Cinderella carriages pulled by six horses, with a coat of arms on the doors. Englishmen pay taxes to support the Empire, in war as well as peace; why not the Americans?

Of course, the radical faction, the one made up of the colonies' propertied elites—Samuel Adams' crowd in Boston and that of the Virginia farmers, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, Benjamin Harrison and the rest—it saw the new taxes as a God-sent in its ambition to steal the continent from Britain. As Franklin wrote to a Scottish farmer at the time: "America must become a great country, populous and mighty; and will, in less time than is generally conceived, be able to shake off the shackles." (Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V, pp. 17-22.) Intercepted by the British Government's agents, the letter did not reach its addressee.

Franklin left England at this time and traveled to Paris, where he was introduced to King Louis XVI and his ministers. Meanwhile, in America, the political atmosphere was heating up. Along with the new Tax Act, Parliament had suspended the operation of the New York legislature until the colony complied with Parliament's requirement that it pay for the cost of quartering the British soldiers who were stationed at New York City. Parliament had also sent new commissioners of customs to Boston, instructed to put an end to the rampant smuggling by Boston's merchants, and to collect the new duties levied on imports. It also made the issuance of paper money illegal in the colonies. This required the elites to pay the revolving debt they owed to English merchants in species. As these measures began to take culminative effect, the colonists, especially the Bostonians, recognized that Parliament meant to tighten its hold over them; and they reacted with a burst of violence that soon swept away all pretense what was motivating their dissention.

In February 1768, the Massachussets Assembly sent a letter to its counterparts in the other colonies, proposing joint opposition to Parliament's policies in the form of petitions. Informed of this, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Hillsborough, instructed the Royal Governor, Sir Francis Bernard, to demand of the Assembly that it rescind its proposal, or be dissolved. The Assembly refused, by a vote of 92 to 17. Next day, Governor Bernard dissolved the Assembly. The Assembly responded with a petition addressed to the King, asking that Bernard be removed from office. The King's ministers threatened to bring the instigators of the Assembly's actions to England and tried for treason.

In June violence erupted in Boston, when the British Navy's frigate, Romney, a war ship of fifty guns, entered Boston Harbor unannounced, and anchored within rowing distance of a sloop John Hancock owned. Hancock's reputation as a smuggler was notorious at this time. A cargo of Madeira wine was supposed to be on board which, if landed through the Custom House, would draw on Hancock's wallet a duty of seven pounds per tun. No sooner had the Romney's anchor chain been played out than two boatloads of its sailors set out for Hancock's sloop; reaching the dock it was tied to, they climbed up and were met at the top by a hail of bricks thrown by a mass of angry men. As the sailors retreated to their boats, the growling mob seized a punt which a custom officer had moored to the dock during the affray, hauled it ashore, and carried it on their shoulders through the streets of the town to Hancock's mansion on Beacon Street, where they burned it in front of his door. In response, Parliament sent eight ships of war and two battalions of regular soldiers, later reinforced with four regiments, to Boston, to occupy the town and suppress resistance.

In September, delegates from nearly a hundred towns in Massachussets arrived in Boston to attend a "convention" the dismissed Assemby had called for. As the delegates began their meeting in Faneuil Hall, a message came from the governor, ordering them to disperse but they ignored him. The meeting went on for five days, until word came that six British war ships were entering Boston Harbor, and the delegates hastily removed themselves from the town. A few weeks later, there were twelve ships of war anchored in a row, and a regiment of soldiers landed and took possession of the town. A week after that, more troops arrived and British General Thomas Gage came up from New York and assumed command. The Virginia House of Burgresses, as well as the assemblies of several other of the colonies, responded to these developments by sending protests to the King which were ignored.

The next four years reads much like the years of civil disobedience that existed in the America of the 1960s, or, for that matter, like 2019 in Hong Kong. A Government asserting what is perceived by the people it controls as a policy of oppression, struggles to exercise its power to suppress the community's resistance to its will. In the struggle between the people of Boston and Parliament, it escalated to the point, in 1770, that the King's soldiers, in a panic, discharged their rifles into a crowd, killing civilians. In 1970, in the struggle between the young people of America and the Federal Government, it escalated to the point that the Government's soldiers, in a panic, discharged their rifles into a crowd, killing students. Hardly much difference when the nature of the struggle is reduced to a contest of human will. Then came the last straw for the British Empire's control of America, when, in 1773, the Bostonians threw three hundred and forty two chests of imported tea into their harbor, in defiance of Parliament's petty tax on tea.

The consequence was that Parliament made Massachussets a royal province, erased the legislature, closed Boston Harbor and made General Gage the governor. The members of the dismissed Assembly reacted to this, by reestablishing themselves as a revolutionary government. At the same time, Virginia's House of Burgresses, which had publicly supported the Massachussets crowd, was suspended by Governor Dunmore, and its members reestablished themselves at Williamsburg and called for a "congress" of the thirteen colonies which convened in Philadelphia, in September 1774.

In October, a majority of the delegates to the congress passed the Continental Association which was designed to produce a united front against Parliament and its laws, the major point of it being a boycott of British imports and a refusal to pay taxes, and they sent a petition to the King declaring their allegiance to him, pleading only that the Parliament's laws and the military occupation of Boston were unjust.

The motivation of the colonial elites, to initiate the hot war that was sparked the following year, when the so-called "battle" of Lexington occurred, had little to do with the abstractions of political science, and everything to do with their business interests, with money and power. With nothing much of material value to export to world markets, besides Rum, the New England elites made their money in the shipping business. Merchants like John Hancock and his crowd found their allies among those in Boston who worked as distillers, lumber jacks, and shipbuilders. In Virginia, the elites had wheat, rice, and tobacco to export, but they were burdened by debt they owed to British merchants and, like the yeoman class beneath them, they craved access to the western land beyond the Appalachian Mountains—a right denied to them by Parliament's expansion of the boundary of Canada and its prohibition of settlement in Indian land. What most all of the bankers, lawyers, journalists, and businessmen of the times agreed upon, was that, with France gone from the continent, and the base of British military power separated from it by two thousand miles of ocean, it was theirs for the taking—and from 1768 onward they meant in their minds to take it. To recognize this, one need only read what Franklin wrote to his son, John Franklin, who then was the Royal Governor of New Jersey, in March of that year:

"Benjamin FranklinThe more I have thought and read on the subject, the more I find myself confirmed in opinion that no middle doctrine can be well maintained; I mean, not clearly with intelligble arguments. Something might be made of either of the extremes: that Parliament has the right to make all laws for us, or that it has the power to make no laws for us; and I think the arguments for the latter more numerous and weighty than those for the former. Supposing that doctine established, the colonies would then be so many separate states, only subject to the same king, as England and Scotland were before the union. And then the question would be, whether a union like that, [between us] would be advantageous to the whole." (Writings, Vol V, pp. 113-115.)

Franklin was on board ship, heading home to Philadephia, when Lexington happened. Left behind, in his place, was Arthur Lee, Richard Henry Lee's brother, and a grand-uncle to General Lee. When Franklin arrived at Philadelphia, on May 5, 1775, the Congress Virginia had called the year before, was about to convene its second sesssion and Franklin was chosen by Pennsylvania's Quaker-dominated Assembly as a delegate. Several months later, as the Congress was debating what to do about the matter of independence, an agent arrived from the French Government's foreign minister, Charles Vergennes, a man Franklin had conferred with in London, secretly. The agent brought the message that Vergennes wanted the Congress to open the ports of the colonies to trade with France; in exchange for the colonies exports they would receive from France guns, munitions, shoes and other supplies which would give them the means of supporting the rag tag crowd of Massachussets men that were then digging trenches on the hill tops overlooking the defenses the British soldiers had erected in Boston.

King Louis XVIFranklin, along with Benjamin Harrison and John Jay, considered the matter in a secret committee on foreign affairs, while Vergennes organized a commercial company as a front for the French Government to use in furnishing the Americans with supplies. This device would preserve the appearance of neutrality and therefore the British would have no excuse to attack France's possessions in the West Indies. Though much of France's empire had been lost to the British in their previous war, the West Indies possesssions France retained were rich targets: through the labor of the Africans, seven hundred ships brought annually to France millions of pounds of suger, cotton, coffee, and cocoa. In April 1776, Vengennes wrote to the incorporators of the company: "We will give you one million. We will try to obtain an equal sum from Spain. With these millions you will establish a company and supply the Americans with arms, munitions, equipment, and all other things that they will need to maintain the war. Our arsenal will deliver the arms to you, but you will pay for them. You will not demand Richard Lee imagemoney from the Americans, since they do not have any, but you will ask in return for the produce of their colonies." (May 8, 1776; Archives Nationales K 184, No. 3.)

With the financial means, to support an army in the field, assured now, the last of the naysayers in Congress gave way and assented to the resolution Richard Henry Lee proposed, on June 7, 1776—"That these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that they are absolved of all allegiance to the British crown, and all political connection between them and Great Britain is disolved." (One wonders how a political scientist views this declaration as materially different from South Carolina's 1860 Ordinance of Secession.)

Richard Henry Lee resolution

Lee signature

 

WASHINGTON THE SOLDIER

When the delegates of the colonies met in their second session of Congress, John Adams, leading the Massachussets delegation along with John Hancock, was in a hurry to obtain support from the other colonies to drive the British army out of Boston. But he was thwarted in this, by the majority's unwillingness to resist the British occupation of Boston with force. In spite of Lexington, the Quakers of Pennsylvania, the Catholics of Maryland, and the planters in the Carolinas and Georgia were not ready for war with Great Britain. The delegates from these colonies, during the first week of the session, held the floor debating which side—the Massachussets men or the British soldiers—had fired the first shot at Lexington. The affidavit of one John Robins was passed about which resolved the issue: "On the 19th instant we were drawn up about sunrise on the Green, when suddenly the King's troops appeared huzzaing, with their officers riding galloping horses in front toward us shouting—`Throw down your weapons!' At which point we received a heavy fire from the soldiers behind and I fell to the ground, wounded." A British officer, one William Sutherland of the King's 10th Marine Regiment, however, had reported to General Thomas Gage after the affair, that the Lexington Militia men fired first and this was the story circulating in the New York press. (Lt. William Sutherland to General Thomas Gage, Apr 27, original in Gage MSS, Clements Library, Univ. of Michigan.) But what did it matter, who fired first; anymore than it mattered who fired first at Charleston Harbor, in April 1861? It mattered, in both cases, simply because it occurred—it marked the fact the use of force, to gain a political point, was at work.

About the same time the skirmish at Lexington happened, two hundred Vermont men rowed across Lake Champlin and, without much a struggle, captured the surprised British garrison at Fort Ticonderoga. And, at Boston, the British war ship, Cerberus, appeared in the harbor bringing the British general, Henry Clinton, and two subordinates, John Burgoyne and William Howe, to take General Gage's place. The peace faction in the Congress, led by John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, reacted to these events with the proposal that a petition be dispatched to the King pleading for negotiaton and "accomodation of the unhappy dispute." As the debate over the proposal raged, John Adams seized the floor and made the counter-proposal that Congress recommend to each colony that it institute an independent popular government, and that, as these governments were being formed, Congress organize an army, supply it, and appoint a commander-in-chief to lead it, and that it inform the King the united colonies would establish an alliance with France, if it was to be war between his government and the Americans. "Yes," Adams said; "alliance with France, with Spain, Holland, with any European power that cares to listen. Then, and only then, can we enter into negotiation with Britain and her ministers." But Congress voted unanimously, instead, for Dickinson's proposal.

The problem was, that three quarters of the delegates, sitting in Congress at the time, were by no means sure they desired to see a republican form of government spread over the continent. They were of the mind set, still, that their colonies should accept the King's governors as long as he consented that they govern according to the colonies' royal charters, leaving to the colonial governments the sole power to tax the inhabitants. Then came a letter from the rebel faction in Massachussets asking for help in forming a revolutionary government for the colony, the motivation for this being the fact that there was now an American army present in the colony without a civil power to manage or control it. Sixteen thousand farmers and townspeople were sprawled along a fifteen mile line, reaching from Cambridge to Roxbury, subsisting in increasing squaler, living in sailcloth tents and lumber huts, eating produce and animals taken from the surrounding farms. These men were then under the supposed command of Artemus Ward, who had experience as a militiaman during the French & Indian War; but he was old and sickly and, being a Massachussets man, not likely to generate enthusiasm among the men of the other colonies—especially of the men of Virginia and the Carolinas, without which there was no chance the war could be won.

On June 18, 1775, John Adams moved on the floor of the Congress that George Washington be appointed commander-in-chief of the Continental Army to be organized in defense of the colonial provincial govGeorge Washingtonernments then being formed. The motion was seconded by his cousin, Sam Adams, and debated hotly by the several factions during the remainder of the day and into the night. The following day, the debate renewed, until the motion was repeated by Thomas Johnson of Maryland, and the delegates finally voted, unanimiously, for Washington. Later, in his diary, Adams explained himself by recording his discussion with members of the Pennsylvania delegation at a tavern some time before: the delegates had pressed on Adams the view that Virginia, being then the largest, most populous and wealthiest of the colonies, would bring with her the support of the Carolinas and Georgia, and therefore whoever was to lead the Continental Army should be a Virginian. "There appeared so much good sense in this view," Adams wrote, "that, without it, Mr. Washington would never have commanded our army."

Washington commission

Battle of Bunker HillWashington was on horse back, riding north through the New Jersey countryside, when a courier galloped up to him with the news that the British general, Thomas Gage, had attacked the colonial militamen at Bunker Hill. During the night of June 17, 1775, the Americans had massed on the crest of the hill, digging a trench line and throwing up earthen ramparts. The force of 2,000, led by William Prescott, meant to hold the hill until cannon could be brought to bear upon the British troops huddled in the town below. But the British launched frontal assaults on the hill at daylight, and, though suffering heavy casualties, they finally forced the Americans to retreat from the hill. Sobered, though, by the experience, the British command adopted thereafter a defensive posture, leaving the surrounding countryside to the colonials. Washington arrived in Boston, on July 2, 1775, and assumed command of an "army" of ten thousand men from MassachussContinental flagets, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The men were sent by county committees and town meetings, on various terms of enlistment and promises to pay. Over the trenches the Americans occupied, Washington ordered raised a flag of thirteen red and white bars, and in the canton was shown the red cross of St. George and white cross of St. Andrew.

Washington commanded the Continental army—never amounting to more than 15,000 men—from July 2, 1775 to December 23, 1783. During these eight years, he maintained a general policy of standing on the defensive, though there were isolated occassions when he assumed the initiative, sometimes with success, more often not. In opposition, the British commanders were essentially in the position the Federal Government was in, in the years 1965 to 1973, when, for objectively stupid reasons, it blundered in to Viet Nam's civil war.

map of Viet Nam

map of east coast

The military problem of conquering a people occupying a vast reach of territory distills to the choice between choking off their access to outside support, or destroying their cities and laying waste to their countryside, or doing both simultaneously—leaving them at the end, in either case, so diminished in the power to resist that they surrender. The British commanders, having the advantage of supreme naval power—the Royal Navy, in 1775, committed a fleet of 131 ships of the line and 139 other war ships to its expeditionary force—chose the strategy of occupying the major coastal cities in the colonies, with the objective of using the occupied cities as bases from which their army of 23,000 men might operate in the countryside to either support the loyalist population, which in several colonies was great, or attack and destroy the enemy if they were bold enough to mass in the army's front. However, because the mission of the Royal Navy required its presence world-wide—from America, to the Carribean, to the Mediteranean, to the Indian and Pacific oceans—its designated American fleet was not large enough to establish a blockade of the American coast as the Federal Government was able to do, in its war against the seceded states, in 1861-65.

In the execution of this strategy, Boston was the obvious first choice. It was America's busiest port and its harbor was superior to New York's. (Until the 1740s Boston's commercial connections to Great Britain exceeded those of New York and Philadelphia combined.) By the summer of 1775, General Gage had twenty veteran regiments in Boston and fifty ships of war anchored in the harbor; these were confronted by Washington's army on Dorchester Heights and in front of Roxbury. But Gage did not assume the offensive and Parliament recalled him to England, putting General William Howe, a grandson of King George II, in his place.

Howe decided that attacking Washington's lines would cost him more casualties than the effort was worth; since the British army did not have the means, given the terrain, to envelop the Colonial force, the most an attack might accomplish was to induce the enemy to move into the countryside, and keep moving if Howe followed, forcing him to lengthen his line of communication to his base; in a situation where the roads were primitive making the concentrated movement of heavy wagons and artillery carriages difficult if not impossible. For this reason, Howe chose, instead, to shift his base of operations from Boston to New York, with the idea of using the Hudson River as his line of operation into the interior, taking the main body of his troops to Albany, connect with a British force moving to that place from Quebec and, thus, using the line of the Hudson, cut off New England from the lower colonies.

Gen. Howe's 1775 plan

General Howe decided to postpone moving his fleet and land forces to New York, until the spring of 1776. The reason for this decision was the fact that, unlike with Boston Harbor, the New York harbor was difficult for ships of the line to enter, especially in the winter when the seas were subject to sudden changing weather and the waters of the harbor filled with large chunks of ice that, with the tides, slammed against the wooden hulls of the ships causing damage. Washington, for his part, took advantage of the frozen ground to move overland from Fort Ticonderoga a number of large cannon and he placed these on Dorchester Heights, bringing the British troops in Boston under their range. On March 5, 1776, with little ammunition to serve the guns, Washington opened a cannonade on the British troops and Howe responded with an assault on the Heights which he abandoned when a storm came up making movement of massed troops difficult. Ten days later, he moved the main body of his force by sea to the British naval base at Halifax, detaching part of his force, under Sir Henry Clinton, to sail south and occupy Savannah and Charleston.

In April, Howe's force arrived at New York with his brother's, Admiral Lord Howe's, fleet, crossed the bar at Sandy Hook and landed twenty thousand men at Graveshead Bay. Washington arrrived on April 23 with nine thousand men, and placed half of them on Brooklyn Heights, on Long Island, and the rest in lower Manhattan. On the 27th, Howe moved on Washington's men at Brooklyn Heights; marching on the coast road, he flanked them in the night and attacked at dawn, driving them back to the banks of the East River, where Washington ferried them over, and moved his whole force up the Manhattan Peninsula, stopping at Harlem Heights, making a stand, then moving up farther to White Plains. Howe occupied Manhatten and his brother's fleet moved through the Narrows into the upper bay.

Howe at Manhattan

Washington had the Hudson River passage defended by two forts—Fort Lee and Fort Washington—and Howe, in the ensuing several months, maneuvered up the Manhattan peninsula, attacked them, captured them, and drove Washington back on White Plains. Howe came on, broke Washington's defenses at Chatterton Hill, and Washington moved off with most of his force toward West Point to fortify that place. As these events unfolded at Manhattan, the British general, John Burgoyne, was arriving at Quebec, with a force of eight thousand men, Clinton had occupied Savannah and was moving on Charlestown, and Charles Cornwallis, detached from Howe's force, began moving a column of men southward into New Jersey, a solidly Royalist colony.

On November 1, 1776, Howe crossed the Hudson with his main body, with CornwWashington crossing Delawareallis's column in the advance. With Howe between his force and Philadelphia, Washington conformed to the movement, by crossing the river near West Point and, on December 8, he crossed the Delaware into Pennsylvania with three thousand ragged, hungry soldiers. When Cornwallis came up to the river the evening of Washington's crossing, Howe ordered the pursuit stopped. He thought it useless to waste the energy bringing Washington's nearly dissolved army to bay for a final, crushing blow.

 

Howe Plan New Jersey

At Philadelphia, Congress's reaction to the news Washington was behind the Delaware was to flee to Baltimore, where the delegates passed a resolution making Washington a dictator, and then they waited, panic-striken, for what might happen next. By the middle of December, with Washington apparently used up, Howe left a detachment of several thousand German mercenaries at Trenton and Princeton, to watch the river crossings, and he returned his main body to Manhattan where, in the interval, his brother had been refitting the fleet for another movement. As Howe's main body was on the march northward, Washington, with his little band, appeared out of nowhere at Trenton on Christmas Eve, surprising the Germans, killing a number, capturing a thousand, and immediately recrossed the river. When no pursuit developed, he crossed again at Trenton on the 29th. Cornwallis appeared on January 2, with eight thousand men, and that night, instead of again recrossing the river, Washington marched his men around Cornwallis's encampment and attacked the British detachment at Princeton.

There the fighting was intense between the two evenly matched Washington at Princetonsides. At one point in the struggle, Washington's men began to waver and fall back from the fire, and he galloped up, much like Stonewall Jackson did at Cedar Mountain, in 1862, took charge of the field, rallied his men within forty yards of the enemy main line, brought them back into the fire and in twenty minutes the enemy was on the run. The British lost two hundred killed and wounded and left three hundred behind as prisoners. Still, compared to Stonewall's and General Lee's encounters with the enemy, this was hardly more than a encounter between patrols.

Going into winter quarters at Morristown, Washington wrote to Governor Johnson of Maryland, asking for reinforcements: "I have no army," he said. "The men with me are too few to fight, and not enough to run away with." He urged Virginia Governor Patrick Henry and Connecticut Governor Jonathan Thrumbull in the same terms: "I tell you in confidence that after the 15th of this month, when the time of General Lincoln's militia expires, I shall be left with the remains of five Virginia regiments, not amounting to more than as a hundred men. The remainder are small parties of militia, from New Jersey and Pennsylvania who come and go as they please." For the moment at least, the British had effectively separated the lower colonies from New England on the line of the Delaware. But, somehow, by spring, Washington had cobbled together an army of forty-three regiments, and with these, when the word came that Burgoyne had captured Ticoderoga, he moved to Peekskill on the Hudson River, to block Howe at Manhattan from connecting with Burgoyne at Albany. Then, at the end of July, word came that the British fleet at New York harbor had put to sea, and Washington devined its destination was probably Philadelphia and he set his army in motion for that place.

On August 24th, ten thousand of Washington's men marched through Philadelphia and crossed the Schuykill River at Market Street and marched on to Wilmington. Encountering the front of Howe's army force on September 7th, Washington fell back to the Brandywine, a small stream thirteen miles north of Wilmington and stood on the defensive. Howe's force numbered 18,000; Washington's, 11,000. Much as McDowell did at Bull Run, in 1861, Howe crossed the stream beyond Washington's lines and came upon them from behind. Washington tried to change front, as Beaureguard would do at Bull Run, but his soldiers became confused by the maneuver, broke formation and ran back upon the reserves, throwing them in confusion and the whole mass ran, until Washington got them reorganized behind the Schuylkill, where he skirmished with Howe for a week, before Howe crossed and occupied Philadelphia. Much like General Lee at Cheat Mountain, in 1861, Washington made a final attempt to bring Howe to a battle at Germantown, by making a twelve mile night march in three columns, to converge on Howe's flank and rear but the effort failed, Washington's men routed.

With Howe now occupying Philadelphia, Burgoyne, by September 1777, was moving southward from Ticonderoga, and Sir Henry Clinton, returned from Charleston, which he failed to capture, moving by the Hudson River toward Albany, the fortunes of America were at their lowest ebb.

Howe's plan

 

Horatio GatesThe British generals had orchestrated the appearance of the coup de grâce. With Washington held at Philadelphia by Howe's occupation of the place, Clinton and Burgoyne were free to connect at Albany which would isolate New England, on the line of the Hudson, from the other remaining colonies; and, with Georgia in British hands, and the Carolinas having a large rural Royalist population, resistance to King George's government probably would fizzle out and the war end. But it was here that the men of New England stepped up: under the leadership of Horatio Gates, a British Army officer who had retired to Virginia after the French & Indian War, they rose en masse and rushed to Albany, bringing their own rifles and rations. As they gathered and got organized under Gates' command, Burgoyne, with 8,000 men, was winding his way down Lake Champlain, marching through the green wilderness. He wrote to the ministry back home that he was encountering on the march "a hardy, daring and rebellious race." When he reached the southern end of the lake and moved on through the wilderness, stretching to connect to Clinton's advance, the farmers of New England gathered around his column—front, flanks and rear. By the middle of OctobeJohn Burgoyner, as Burgoyne neared Saratoga, thirty-five miles from Albany, they were everywhere, untiring, relentless in their hit and run attacks on the stragglers, breaking into the weak points in the long column of British soldiers, cutting out wagons, obstructing the passage in the forest, ambushing the British pioneers attemping to open the way. On October 17, 1777, Burgoyne surrendered five thousand men to Gates, who had ten thousand men surrounding him at Saratoga. This was the great turning point of the war, because it was the event that induced King Louis XVI, against all his personal interest as a monarch, to authorize his ministers to execute a treaty of Alliance with America.

Louis XVIUpon the news of Burgoyne's surrender reaching Paris, King Louis XVI wrote the king of Spain: "England is beaten, but still has a great naval force untouched. I think it just and necessary to begin to treat with the Americans and to prevent their reunion with the mother country." (January 8, 1778) A month later, the French Government and America's representatives—Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee—signed two treaties, one of commerce between them and the other a military alliance in which France promised to support the American Revolution with its army and navy. The Bourbon king had judged the Americans a free people and, by his recognition, he gave them their nation. They repaid him, in 1782, by making a separate peace with England.

Apart from the expense of keeping the army and navy on a war footing, Louis's Bastillegovernment gave Congress, for Washington's use, 18 million fracs in cash and underwrote a number of loans made with Dutch bankers in about the same amount. The total cost of the war to France was 1 billion fracs, and this drained the French treasury beyond recovery and let directly to that day in 1789, as the Americans were ratifying their Constitution, when the Paris mob stormed the Bastille.

A year later, in July 1780, the French general, Comte de Rochambeau arrived at Newport, on board the Duc de Bourgogne, the flagship of the French fleet, and disembarked with five thousand regular troops. Several weeks later, British war ships and troop transports appeared, under Clinton, and an effort commenced to land the troops and attack the French, but Clinton abandoned the plan when word came that Washington was threatening an attack against the New York garrison.

Rochambeau met Washington at Hartford in September and conferred with him for several days, the two men going back and forth over the choice of a plan of operations: Washington wanted Rochambeau to bring his troops, which had been augmented with another three thousand, to New York and cooperate with him in an attack upon Clinton's defenses. Washington explained that his army was exhausted, at the end of its rope, that there were no supplies, no arms and few men, that everything required for an offensive must come from the French. Both men agreed it would take until the spring of 1781 to build the army up, and Rochambeau drafted a document reflecting Washington's laundry list and the military situation and sent it by ship through the British naval blockade to Louis. Six months later, a French ship arrived at Newport, bringing a courier carrying six million fracs to give to Washington as a gift. Without this money, Washington's little army could not have remained in the field. No more French troops were provided, however; for, now, Britain had declared war on Holland and France, the Austrian empress, Marie Therese had suddenly died, and the powers of Europe was involved in the throngs of war.

In this atmosphere, Rochambeau and Washington met a second time in Connecticut. At the meeting Washington proposed that the time was ripe for his planned attack on Clinton's position at New York; but Rochambeau declined; his main ground being that the assistance of the French fleet was crucical to the success of Washington's plan and its ships were too heavy, drawing too much water, to cross the bar at Sandy Hook; and, even if the bar was crossed, the shoals and shifting current in the lower bay were too treacherous, requiring sharp maneuvering to reach the narrows, and thus the enterprise too dangerous. Washington insisted and Rochambeau appeared to give in, leaving Washington thinking an agreement had been reached. But, when Rochambeau returned to Newport, he sent a frigate to the French fleet's commander, Francois De Grasse, at Santo Domingo, that the French-American army was "very weak," that sucess in the common endeavor depended upon De Grasse arriving with the mass of the French fleet from the Carribbean, and that Rochambeau was leaving it to De Grasse to decide whether to sail to New York, or to the Capes of Chesapeake Bay, where, by this time, it was plain Charles Cornwallis's army of eight thousand men—operating for a year in the Carolinas, was headed.

In July 1781, with no word from De Grasse, Rochambeau set his five regiments of regulars on the march to join Washington's army in the hills north of New York. When he arrived, he found Washington had but 3,500 men. Not only was Congress not responding to Washington's calls for support, the colonies, now calling themselves "states," were not producing men to fill Washington's depleted regiments. Then, on August 15, De Grasse's reply to Rochambeau's message arrived at Army headquarters, informing Washington that De Grasse, already at sea, was sailing for the mouth of Cheapeake Bay, bringing with him 3,000 soldiers, seige mortars, field artillery and one million fracs. De Grasse expected to be at the Capes by the end of the month and warned Rochambeau that he had to return the fleet to the Carribbean no later than October as a British fleet was menacing an attack on the French-held islands.

De Grasse's choice of destination confronted Washington with a very dangerous strategic situation. The British had at New York a fleet of ships of war, under the British admiral, Sir. Thomas Graves. If these ships—nineteen ships of war and seven frigates, reached the Capes first and entered the bay, anchoring in Hampton Road, the American army's five hundred mile march overland to that place would be a wasted effort, as under such circumstance it could not overpower Cornwallis's troops at Yorktown. The guns of the British ships, standing in the York and James Rivers would prove too much for Washington's men to handle. Making the situation worse, was the fact that the British fleet in the Carribbean, under Admiral Romney, might be sailing north to join Graves, doubling Graves' strength and rendering the whole enterprise unlikely of success. Still, too weak to attack Clinton's lines at New York, the prospect of concentrating, for the first time in the war since Ticonderoga, a numerically superior force against the enemy, with the means of overpowering their resistance with a superiority in artillery, left Washington at the end of the analysis with no other practical choice but take the chance coordination between his army and the French fleet would be successful, while the enemy's counter-effort might fail.

map of sea routes

 

Ships in battle lineIn the event, despite the increasing urgency of the situation from Cornwallis's point of view, Grave's fleet was cruising the seas before Boston Harbor, on the look out for French ships that were rumored to be bringing troops and supplies to that place. At the same time, fourteen ships of the line from the British West Indies fleet, under Sir Samuel Hood, arrived at the Virginia Capes, on August 25, before De Grasse's fleet, which was enroute to that place on an indirect track. Not finding Graves present, Hood sailed on to New York; arriving there on August 29, Hood found Graves's ships present in the lower bay, but most of them were no longer fit for sea. On August 31, Graves brought five of his ships of war out the lower bay, took command of Hood's fourteen ships and sailed south to the Capes; reaching the entrance to Chesapeake Bay on September 5, he was met by De Grasse's fleet of twenty-four ships, sailing out in battle line form Hampton Road and an engagement ensued between the two fleets which extended over a five day periodShip cannon shot, ending with Graves breaking off and sailing north.

As these events were occurring at sea, Washington and Rochambeau, marching their men in parallel columns, reached Philadelphia on September 3, and marched on to Baltimore on September 5. During the engagement between the two fleets at sea, Washington's army boarded transport ships at Annapolis, came down Chesapeake Bay and landed at Williamsburg on the James River, on September 15. Meeting them were the 3,000 French troops that had disembarked form De Grasse's ships, along with siege artillery and ammuntion.

 

Sea Battle

Charles Cornwallis found himself the loser at the climax of the war, because of a series of misunderstandings with his superior, Henry Clinton. In May 1780, Clinton had organized an operation against Charleston which resulted in the capture of the place, a week after Rochambeau set sail from France for Newport. When Clinton learned of Rochambeau's arrival, he left Cornwallis, with twenty-five hundred soldiers, and returned to New York with the rest. Clinton's departing instructions to Cornwallis, was to operate in the countryside for the purpose of subduing the rebel population in order that the royalists in the community could emerge in public and take control of the order of things. Cornwallis marched out from Charleston and met a rebel force, under Horatio Gates, the victor over Burgoyne at Saratoga, and defeated him. Then, he marched into North Carolina where he encountered a rag tail force, led by Nathaniel Green, and defeated it at Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781. Green's men faded into the forest, moved around behind Cornwallis into South Carolina and suppressed the royalist party's effort at comeback, while Cornwallis, now saddled with heavy casualties from the two battles and running out of supplies, headed for Wilmington where he met a ship sent by Clinton bringing him reinforcements. Cornwallis then decided to march into Virginia and chase down Lafayette who was at Richmond with fifteen hundred men. At this point, Britain's war secretary, Lord George, opened direct communication with Cornwallis, bypassing Clinton, giving instruction that Cornwallis establish a base on the Yorktown peninsula. The result was Cornwallis taking position at Yorktown and fortifying the place, with the understanding that Clinton would support him with the British fleet.

By September 28, Cornwallis, with nine thousand men, found himself confronting Washington's army which had ballooned in size to sixteen thousand men, nine thousand of which were French. In addition to this, there were nineteen thousand French sailors manning the ships of De Grasse's fleet in Hampton Road. Much as McClellan would do, in April 1862, Washington spent a month constructing a series of trenches, redoubts and artillery implacements, under the guidance of the French engineers attending Rochambeau's force, around Cornwallis's defenses. On October 9, the French artillery opened a barrage which continued to October 11th, at which point, Washington dug more trenches bringing his soldiers into storming position one hundred yards from Cornwallis's men, and Rochambeau's grenadiers charged like lions and, losing in the process a third of their numbers, gained possession of Cornwallis's key redoubt on the bluffs of York River, the same redoubt McClellan's bombardment of 1862 deciminated in the attack that overran the place. On the night of the 16th, Cornwallis began an effort to pass his army over the river, to escape northward; but General Lee's father, Harry Lee, stormed the opposite point with his cavalry and blocked Cornwallis from proceeding. On October 19th, Cornwallis surrendered to Washington and active fighting between America and Great Britain came to an end.

Yorktown

Fourteen years later, on April 4, 1794—the day Danton went to the guillotine—four commissioners of the Committee on Public Safety presented themselves at Rochambeau's château at Vendôme, in the Lorie Valley of France, and arrested him. In those fourteen years Rochambeau had risen to the rank of major-general, spending much of this time at Calais, rebuilding the defenses that had been destroyed as the consequence of the treaty France had executed with Great Britain at the close of the French & Indian War. He was taken to Paris in handcuffs and incarcerated in the Conciergerie on the Quai de l'Horloge, the most infamous prison during the Reign of Terror. The books of the Conciergerie record this entry by his name: "the last Marshal of France by the appointment of Louis Capet, the last tyrant."

Conciergerie

 

RochambeauBy the time Rochambeau was imprisoned there, the people of Paris were calling the Conciergerie the "vestibule of the guillotine." Every day, during the Reign of Terror, the tumbrils came for victims: politicians, orators, courtiers, priests; and as many aristocrats as Robespierre could get his hands on. After a time, a bailiff served Rochambeau with a writ of accusation, and he was taken before the Revolutionary Tribunal and subjected to examination. His entire military career was scruntinized in detail, the questioning going on for hours. At the end, the public prosecutor—the hated Fouquier-Tinville—summed up the facts he had elicited for the court: there was no case against the Rochambeau at all. Since resigning from the army the year previous, with a Marshal's baton in his hand, he had been living at his country home, having no contact with émigrés, and his son, now a general in the army, was at this moment serving the Republic in Polynesia.

Taken back to his cell, Rochambeau heard nothing about his case for four months. So, in September, he wrote to the president of the court—"I cannot believe that in this era of equality a former aristocrat has no rights except to march to the scaffold an innocent man. This is not the principle I Marshal's baton learned from Washington, my colleague and friend, when we were fighting side by side for American independence." (Rochambeau, Mémoires, II, 40.) So much for the rights of man. On the sixth Brumaire (October 27), after his lanquishing in the cell for six months, the Revolutionary Court sent a writ to his guards and he was released. In 1801, Napoleon, then the First Consul, received Rochambeau, an infirm man now at seventy-one, at Fontainebleau in the presence of Berthier, Murat, and Ney. With a glance around, holding Rochambeau's hands in his, Napoleon said to him: "General, here are your pupils."

 

THE FATHER OF THE PEOPLE

 

George Washington profileDuring the last years of the war, following the British surrender at Yorktown, the adversaries concentrated in their strongholds and did little fighting, as the mood of Parliament swung toward ending the war. This happened, formally, on January 14, 1784, when Congress, now operating under the Articles of Confederation, ratified the definitive peace treaty that had been signed in Paris on September 3, 1783. Washington had spent the intervening years in New York State, camped near West Point on the Hudson, doing his best to hold his evaporating army together as the tensions wound down and the men began walking away.

On December 23, 1783, he appeared before Congress in session at Annapolis and returned his commission as Commander-in-Chief, making a short speech in which he said he was returning to his employments in private life. George Washington led the Continental Army to victory in the longest war in American history before Viet Nam, overcoming political and organizational obstacles which at times seemed insurmountable. The fact that, much as General Lee did in 1862-65, he molded a rag tag crowd of farmers and clerks into a professional fighting force, and held it together in the fire of war against the odds, is a testament to the tenacious strength of his character. But, like Lee, Washington at his core was infected with the human disease of racism, and this aspect of his character rose again into the light of history when he returned home to Mount Vernon and resumed his private life as a Virginia planter and owner and whipper and seller of African slaves.

For five years Washington pursued the endeavor of amassing the great wealth he would leave at his death: buying and selling Africans and land, managWashington at table with Africaning the herds of farm animals—cows, sheep, and pigs; producing tons of meat sent to the smoke houses each year; producing huge quantities of flour, vegetables, milk and butter, selling the surplus. His dinner table sat twelve and the seats were always filled during these years, with the seven white people living with him as family; and with guests, foreign and domestic, who were constantly appearing at his door with servants, who he built a dormitory to accomodate. Claret, Madeira and brandies disappeared during these candlelit dinners in large volume as Washington's servants placed fish from the river and game from the marshes on the plates; the dinners lasting course after course deep into the evenings. The Africans were there all around him: in the fields and pastures; in the barns and coops and kennels; in the mansion. But their humanity was invisible to him.

 

Mount Vernon at Christmas time

Mount Vernon at Christmas Time

The monument accumulation began at this point. An artist named Joseph Wright appeared at Washington's door, asking that he submit to the making of a life mask in plaster. Then came a Mr. Pine who spent three weeks painting a portrait of him. In 1785, the French sculptor, Antoine Houdon, arrived, retained by Thomas Jefferson, who then was playing in Paris with his African mistress slave, to create a statue of Washington "in the finest marble," to be paid for by the Legislature of the State of Virginia and placed in the State's capitol rotunda.

Washington statue Virginia capitol

(The inscription reads: "in tribute to Washington who established the liberties of his country.")

By 1786, just two years into Washington's retirement, the new country he was credited with establishing, appeared to be collapsing. There was insurrection in Massachussets and waning interest among the States in executing their responsibilities to Congress, under the Articles of Confederation. In reaction to this, the Virginia General Assembly resolved that five Virginians, among them James Madison, Edmund Randolph, and St. George Tucker, be appointed commissioners, to meet with similarly appointed men from the other "States;" to consider "how far a uniform system in their commercial regulations may be necessary for their common interest." Delegates from five states met with Virginia's commissoners at Annapolis, in August 1786, and unanimously agreed to a report, prepared by Alexander Hamilton, which recommended that a convention be held in Philadelphia in May 1787, "to take into consideration the situation of the United States, to devise such other provisions as shall render the constitution of the federal government adequate to the exigencies of the Union." Upon the receipt of the report, the Virginia legislature immediately passed an Act calling for the convention to take place and appointing Washington to head a delegation of seven Virginians to represent the State.

In May 1787, Washington led the delegation to Philadelphia and was unanimiously chosen to as President of the Convention, and, upon its commencement, Edmund Randolph offered Virginia's plan for a national government to be invested with "all the relevant powers vested in Congress by the Articles and, in addition, the power to pass laws where the States were not in harmony. All state laws that contravened the terms of union could be "negated" by the "National Legislature" which could "call forth the force of the Unon against any member failing to fulfill its duty under the articles thereof." Virginia's plan was attacked in several respects by factions among the delegates—the most important of which was the question whether the authority of the national goverment the plan envisioned must necessarily be to coerce a State to obey its laws? Indeed, why should the new government, the factions asked, be national? Why not let it remain as it was, federal, with the largest freedom of action with the states, great and small, and not the new government? Three months later, with the Convention having produced a Constitution, the gavel fell—with the answers buried in the shades of meaning words possess, that James Madison wrote into the instrument; and no one of the delegates through the Convention's duration voiced Mr. Doyle's silly idea of "liberty and equality" being the foundation of the new government.

In January 1789, nine States having ratified the Constitution, rendering it operative as to them according to its terms, the first session of the first Congress of the new Federal Government convened at Federal Hall in New York City. In February, the Congress received the ballots cast by the electors chosen in the nine states, to vote for the first President of the United States. Among the candidates was George Washington and, when the Congress tabulated the ballots, it was found that Washington had been elected unanimiously—this despite the intensifying division of the political community into factions. John Adams was elected the first Vice-President of the new Union. Richard Henry Lee and William Grayson were elected the first senators from Virginia. Harry Lee, General Lee's father, and James Madison were elected to seats in the House of Representatives.

Washington English coachOn April 17, 1789, Washington set out from Mount Vernon on the journey to the seat of the new government in New York City, to attend his inaguration. He rode in his cream-colored English coach, pulled by six blood bays, with his coat of arms shown on the door, and a liveried footman and driver attending; the one standing on a board at the rear, the other handling the ribbons in the elevated open seat. Behind Washington's, came three other coaches: two of them carrying the family members of his retinue, the third, six of his African slaves. Behind the carriages came his two pure white stallions ridden by their African grooms, their saddles gold-trimed with leopard-skin seats and the halters trimmed with silver. The night before the entourage left Mount Vernon, and those that followed during the journey, the grooms covered the coats of the two stallions entirely with a paste of whiting, swathed them in cloths and left them in stalls with clean straw. The next morning, the grWashingtoin on white stallionooms rubbed the paste into the animals' skins, then curried and brushed them, giving them the glow of glossy satin. They blackened and polished the hoofs of the horses, and washed and picked their teeth clean. Unlike General Lee's Traveller, the white stallions were parade horses, which Washington rode in the journey through the cobbled streets of Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Trenton; from the ferry landing on the Hudson at New York, he rode the one called Prescott, through Wall Street to Federal Hall—the chosen charger prancing, mane and tail ruffling, his mouth open, champing at the bit; his nostrils distended in his snorting; his Arab eyes flashing fire under long lashes, feeling the glorious weight of his master on his back.

All along the way, great crowds of men, women and children smarming, met Washington at the gates to their villages, towns, and cities and escorted him through archways made of evergreen branches and pillars, shouting and clapping as he passed. It must have been the same for Grant and Eisenhower in their time.

Pennsylvania Packet newspaper

Pennsylvania Packet Newspaper, April 21, 1789

George Washington served his people as President of the United States, from 1789 to 1797. During these eight years, he functioned much as he had done as the commanding general of the Continental Army. He was the person who turned a paper plan for a national government into a reality. In his first inagural address, he expressed his essential idea of the nature of the government he had been elected to lead.

"[What] I humbly conceive as essential to the existence of the United States as an independent power is, first, an indissoluble union of the States under one federal head; and, second, the prevalence of that pacific disposition, among the people of the United States, which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and politics, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general posterity, and, in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community. Theser are the pillars on which the glorious fabric of our independence and national character must be supported. Liberty is the basis and whoever would dare to sap the foundation, or overturn the structure, will merit the bitterest execration, and the severest punishment which can be inflicted by his injured country."

On the balcony of the old City Hall, Broad and Wall Streets, New York, Washington was sworn in as first President of the United States, April 30, 1789. He wore a suit of dark brown with buttons stamped with his arms, white stockings, and his shoes had silver buckles; at his side hung a dress sword and his hair powdered in the fashion of the time. He laid his hand on a bible offered him and repeated the words of the oath, clearly enunciating, "I swear;" adding in a whisper, with closed eyes, "So help me, God." Nothing he said, from this, his first presidential address, to the last, raised the subject of what to do about the Africans. The national problem was politically unsolvable for the white people of the time. Indeed, there is no evidence Washington thought about the Africans as human beings until he faced the end.

Washington appointed the best of the men available to the key positions in the departments he organized for the new government: Edmund Randolph, who had refused to sign the Constitution at the conclusion of the Convention, he appointed as Attorney General; John Jay of New York became the first Secretary of State; Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury. Henry Knox, the first Secretary of War. During his two terms Washington did not propose policies to Congress; leaving the formulation to his executive lieutenants, he worked, much like Lyndon Johnson, behind the screen, encouraging consensus among the increasingly hostile groups into which the original unanimity among the members of Congress fractured into. In 1790, when Jefferson, having taken Jay's place as Secretary of State, along with Randolph and James Madison, then majority leader in the House, opposed Hamilton's plan of a national bank, Washington backed Hamilton, got the plan passed in the Congress and signed it into law.

In the first session of the new congress, a resolution was introduced and passed that proposed a place be selected for the permanent seat of the government. In the second session, after much heated debate, the land on the Potomac near Georgetown was chosen, and Washington was given funds to buy the land and have a plan drawn for its streets. In the journal entries recording these events, the "seat of government" is referred to, as "the Federal City" or the "District of Columbia." Washington selected three persons to act in committee with him in the purchase of the land and the organization of the lay out of the public buildings and, during the 4th Congress, the committee submitted a report of their work which introduced the name of the Federal City, for the first time it appears, in 1796, as that of "Washington."

Without question, Washington's great popularity among the people was based on the plain fact that they trusted him, above all men available for the task, to get the job done, to put their new government together, fill the places with the best men, get the bills passed that would put the government in running order, get the revenue collected, the bills paid, the debts under control, the military organized, treaties executed with the Indians and foreign powers, and to establish eventually a permanent seat of government. In eight years Washington did all these things and, then, at the age of sixty-one, complaining of waning memory and poor hearing, he refused to accept a third term and retired to Mount Vernon where he died in December 1799, and the place fell into ruin.

Mount Vernon in ruins

 

Then Came The Deluge Of Monuments

When Washington resigned his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, in 1783, the Continental Congress had resolved that an equestrian statue be erected, but the matter was postponed indefinitely. The statue was to be supported by a marble pedestal on which were to be represented the principal events of the war, in which Washington commanded in person: the evacuation of Boston, the capture of the Hessians at Trenton, the battle of Princeton, the action at Monmouth and, finally, the surrender at Yorktown. An inscription on the upper part of the pedestal was to read: "The United States in congress assembled, ordered this statue to be erected in the year of our Lord 1783, in honor of George Washington, the illustrious Commander-in-Chief of the armies of the United States of America, during the war which vindicated and secured their liberty, sovereignty and independence."

Journal of congress banner

Journal 1783

Journal entry

Then, at the time of Washington's death, Congress appointed a joint committee to devise a monument, "by which the nation should express its feelings" of the man. The committe reported the following resolution in 1799: "Resolved that a marble monument be errected by the United States at the city of Washington, and that the family of General Washington be requested to permit his body to be deposited under it; that the monument be so designed as to commorate the great events of his military and political life." But, as with the equistrian statue, this monument was never built. The arch antifederalist, Thomas Jefferson, was now the President of the United States and that the great events of the political and military life of Washington should be commemorated, could not have been pleasing to Jefferson's party who had condemned at its end, the whole course of Washington's administration. Though the resolution passed both houses of Congress by unanimious vote, the session ended without funds being appropriated.

But Washington's friends, led by General Lee's father, Henry Lee, offered a resolution in the House, shortly before the first aniversary of Washington's death, that proposed a marble mausoleum be erected within the federal city which would contain Washington's remains.

Henry Lee resolution 1800

Lee resolution part 2

It appears that the location Henry Lee expected the mausoleum to be placed, was where the Washington National Monument is located today. Lee's proposal was considered by the Congress for a time, but when it became apparent that the executor of Washington's will would not consent to the removal of his remains from the crypt where they reposed at Mount Vernon, the proposal was not pursued. During the time the proposal was active, though, a design came forward which contains the element of a tower which, in time, would be developed by others into the concept of the obelisk that exists today.

mausoleum

Sixteen years then passed, the founding generation slipping away, before Congress returned to the matter of a national monument for Washington.

resolution 1816

Nothing materialized from this, until 1825 when John Quincy Adams, then sitting in the House, raised the matter again.

Adams resolution 1825

 

Horatio GreennoughCongress took no action on Adams' resolution; instead it passed the matter to a newly formed private organization titling itself The "Washington Monument Memorial Society," offering in the process to provide the society with a location within the federal city where a monument could be placed, at the society's expense. At the same time this occurred, a similar organization was at work in Boston, developing a plan to erect a monument to the patriots of the Revolution, on Bunker Hill. The Boston society, led by Daniel Webster, had invited artists to submit designs for the proposed monument. Among the Bunker Hill Monumentdesigns submitted was one by a recent Harvard graduate named Horatio Greennough. Greennough provided a model of his design—that of an obelisk—which won the approval of the committee and a long process occurred in which land on Bunker Hill was purchased through donations and construction of the monument began. The cornerstone was laid in 1825 and the capstone placed in 1842. As the Bunker Hill monument was being erected, Congress, in 1832, finally authorized the funds to erect a statue of Washington, to be placed in the Capitol Rotunda. Greennough, who had taken up residence in Rome, to pursue his interest in sculpture, won the assignment, and, at about the same time the Bunker Hill monument was finished, Greennough's statue arrived at Washington.

 

Washington roman statue

Greennough's idea is Washington as Cincinnatus returning the sword to the people, warning them to heed heaven.

The politicians looked agast at Greennough's statue when they saw it, and in the acrimony that followed the poor thing was shuffled from one space to another within the Capitol, then dumped outside on the plaza where it remained until 1908 when it was trundled down the Mall to the Smithsonian Institute where it can be seen, today. But, Greennough's original idea, of using the obelisk, in its ancient classic form, to represent the grandeur and spirit of the American Revolution, was adopted by the Washington Monument Society as its choice for a structure memorializing the memory of Washington—magnified to a colossal scale.

In 1848, their minds no doubt infected with the pride of place the nation had achieved in the world, by its theft of 525,000 square miles of land from Mexico, the Congress finally approved the idea of a monument to Washington. The site Congress selected, was where the monument now stands. President Polk, on the authority of Congress, executed a deed of the site to the Washington Monument Society, in 1849.

resolution 1848

House bill

The bill to erect what became the Washington Monument passed, during the time the great old men of the Senate—Webster, Calhoun, Benton, and the young ones to be: Douglas and Davis—were angrily debating whether slavery should be prohibited in the land the Federal Government had stolen from Mexico.

Daniel Webster, 1848

Daniel Webster

Webster

Webster

Stephen Douglas

Webster

John C. Calhoun

John C Calhoun

Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis

davis

davis

davis

davis

North Carolina Senator Clingman

Clingman

And in the House of Represenatives, at the same time, the foremost Radical on the question of slavery, Josiah Giddings of Ohio—the man who would fund John Brown's insurrection in Virginia, in 1859, was echoing the view held by all of the emerging Republicans—Chase, Seward and Lincoln—that the political problem of slavery, the problem of how the nation is to emancipate the Africans and bring them into the national community as citizens, is not the nation's problem, is not the responsibility of the white people of the Northern states to help resolve; it is strictly the problem and responsibility of the Southern states to deal with, alone. So much for the silliness of believing the United States of 1848, much less 1860, was, as Washington wished, a consolidated nation; was a nation dedicated to the principle that men were equal.

Josiah Giddings 1848

Giddings was a Hypocrite

negroes in ohio

negroes

It took about forty years for the obelisk to materialize to its full height on the Capitol Mall. The primary reason why, was the question of money: where would it come from? The original idea was that the general public would come up with the dough, but when the Society began soliciting for subscriptions in earnest the generation that lived through Washington's time was gone from the earth, and the mass of the new generation were foreign born Germans and Irish with little grasp of American history and no particular reverence for the accomplishments of Washington. The solicitation program ended in controversy and degrace as a speech Ohio Senator Thomas Morris made in 1838.

Senator Morris speech

Sen Morris

sen Morris continued

 

Alabama stone for monumentThrough the 1850's and into the 1870's, the construction of the monument proceeded as money accumulated in the treasury of the Monument Society, so that by the outbreak of the war its foundation had been laid, granite blocks delivered to the site by the States and private citizens, and with these it rose slowly to the height of 150 feet and there it stopped, until 1873, when the Congress took control of the Society and appropriated the money to reconstruct the foundation, which had proved too weak to support the structure, and completed the monument's erection. The capstone was set, in 1883, at 555 feet.

The monument was dedicated by President Arthur, in 1885: "In the completion of this great work of patriotic endeavor," the President said to the crowd of white people around him, "there is abundant cause for national rejoicing; for while this structure shall endure it shall be to all mankind a steadfast token of the reverent regard in which this people continue to hold the memory of Washington. Well may he ever keep the foremost place in the Illinois stonehearts of his countrymen."

How the black politicans can rationalize their hypocriscy, in passing Washington's national monument each day, on their way to their seats at the Capitol, who can say? But, when its shadow covers them for that brief moment in their passing, they might think on the fact it was the God of War that made their ancestors, citizens of the United States and nothing else.

 

House bill 1873

House bill 1873 part 2

NY Sun 1885

There are many, many monuments dedicated to the memory of Washington, and many equestrian statues of him seated on his high horse, that the black politicians can tear down, by inciting their pals to riot if the monuments' caretakers refuse to take them down. Every one of the old states that shared the experience of the American Revolution are filled with them.

Masonic Temple Alexandria

Boston statue of Washington

Boston

Newark Statue

Newark

Philadelphia monument

Philadelphia

Baltimore monument

Baltimore

Richmond monument

Richmond

Trenton monument

Trenton

Washington DC monument

Washington D.C.

New York monument

New York

Washington statue South Carolina state house

In the spring of 1865, Sherman's soldiers destroyed the South Carolina State Capitol, burning and looting the place. In the course, they broke the cane Washington is holding, in this copy of Houdon's statue placed in the Virginia State Capitol, in 1796.

Washington on his knees

Washington at Valley Forge, praying to his God in the snow, his big stallion tethered to the tree behind him. The irony is that Louis Capet saved his ass.

And when they come with their hand out for those reparations, the black politicians might start at the Boston City Hall. For over fifty years, between 1700 and 1754, the white people of Boston made their living transforming 2 million gallons of molasses every year, into Rum; and their merchants, John Hancock leading, transported the Rum on Boston-built ships, to the Gold Coast of Africa; and the captains made deals with the Ashanti kings, and hundreds of thousands of Africans were exchanged for the Rum and the Boston ships carried their new cargo on to the West Indie islands, where Great Britain, France and Spain were working to death hundreds of thousands of African slaves, to turn sugar cane into molasses. And, when they reach in the pocket of the American tax payer, claiming he is responsible, ask them to go to the Southern States, instead; as the plain objective fact of history is, that the Constitution gave Congress no power to interfere in the domestic laws of the States. Then, have them go to the Northern states, pointing out how they blocked their gates with their laws against the Africans the Southern states freed. And they will be answered: a civil war that cost the nation the lives of six hundred thousand young Americans, and $3 billion in 1865 dollars, is reparation enough. It is as Lincoln said: "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." So let it be.

 

Triangular trade