America: Predicated on a Creator

Discussion in 'History & Past Politicians' started by usfan, Nov 20, 2019.

  1. An Taibhse

    An Taibhse Well-Known Member

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    To understand the the Declaration of Independence and the thinking of those that participated in the drafting of the Constitution you have to have a concept founded in the context of the their shared understanding the salient historic events that shaped political philosophic thinking of their time. I would suggest that one key to the understanding of their thinking would be in the understanding of of the analog to their quest for separation from the English monarchy lies in an understanding of the English Civil War, it being a rejection of Monarchy and the notion that the King was God’s appointed earthly representative for unquestioned rule. The English Civil War was an evolutionary progression that established the underpinnings of shifting ruling authority of a King appointed by God to that of governance by the consent of the Governed.
    Reading the Grand Remonstrance created by John Pym listing the grievances attributed to Charles I, the document that became match that lit the fuse for the conflict that follows, read in structure very closely to that of the Declaration of Independence. Even phrases, often thought by many to originate from political philosophers like John Locke who wrote after the conclusion of the war, such as the suggestion ‘all men are created equal’ were derived from other, such as John Lilburn who popularized the notion of the rights of ‘free born citizens’, of which the notions of individual liberty, equality, and others protected by the later draft of the Bill of Rights. For those that struggle with how could the Founding Fathers advocating all men being equal while being ok with the institution of slavery, consider, their thinking would have been shaped by Lilburn’s assertion that it was all ‘free born citizens’ that fell under his notion of equality of men, and slaves were neither considered free born, or citizens, or men for that matter... they were property assets. Even some of the grievances list in the Grand Remonstrance were similar to those of the Declaration of Independence, such as those referencing taxation, arbitrary punishments for arbitrary laws, and forced quartering of soldiers.
    Some of the the concepts the founding fathers found resonated with them were products of the struggle between parliament and King Charles I, something that most of the founding fathers were but a single generation of the events and also contemporary to the political philosophers who penned their ideas in the wake of the successful revolution in governance in England in the mid 1600’s. Ideas of individual liberties, right to trial by peers, democracy, concerns of tyranny both by a king and then latter by parliament when they achieved power. Even the concepts surrounding the idea of a militia were forged at the time when the 1641 Militia law was passed to essentially function to remove the King’s military authority, along with the notion of an informal militia derived from armed citizens as a counter to tyranny which was exemplified by the one that arose in defense of London from the King’s military threat in early 1642.
    In the wake of the civil war, Parliament seized power and became an instrument of tyranny in its own right, something noted by the French philosopher, Montesquieu, who understood the danger, and developed the theory of the separation of power in the few years just before the Constitution’s drafting that was borrowed by the Founding Fathers in their prescription for a governing framework.
    The idea of the divine source of the rights of man can be seen from the perspective of a few things. To challenge the supposed divine right to legitimize a monarchy’s authority, a vehicle was needed to counter that premise by grounding John Lilburn’s assertion of the equality and rights of man with equal divine authority. Then too, given the time, few outside the circles of the rich or the clergy could afford the education and books to understand the philosophies, principles, and concepts that were being proffered to galvanize colonists to cause beyond the discourse of taverns. At the time, churches and the clergy were one of the main forums for shared community news and interpretation of such ideas the founding fathers were crafting, so linking concepts and their justifications with scripture created a natural alliance with the clergy to propagate the words and ideas to build common cause among the distributed communities. Getting people to accept ideas is far easier when those ideas are wrapped in something familiar and understandable.
     
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  2. An Taibhse

    An Taibhse Well-Known Member

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    That you think you’ve seen it, doesn’t make it a universal truth. I do not hold myself to a higher authority than my honor system which from my observation, is far more immutable than the selective situational adherence to the moral code of most I know the profess to be holding themselves accountable to a higher authority. If, the occasion would happen, I come face to face with such a Higher Authority, I figure my adherence to my code will put me in good measure for judgement. Then, it will be my turn to judge.
     
  3. Talon

    Talon Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Brilliant post, and what a rare treat to find someone posting about Freeborn John. :beer:

    Sadly, the English Civil War, Lilburne and the Levelers don’t receive much if any mention in American history classes, so the connection is lost to many of us. Neither will you hear about Algernon Sydney, who was as influential as Locke to some of the Founders, most notably Thomas Jefferson.

    As for how Washington, Jefferson and other Founders reconciled their lofty ideals about natural rights with their ownership of slaves, I don’t know if Lilburne had anything to do with that, especially when prominent Americans such as James Otis, Jr. proclaimed that Blacks had the same natural rights as Whites during his arguments against the renewal of writs of assistance in Paxton’s Case in 1761. They all knew slavery was wrong and Jefferson openly expressed his fears that it would end badly for the United States, which it did with our own bloody and destructive Civil War.

    To your point about the pre-revolutionary clergy in America, many consider that the first shot of our war for independence was not fired from Lexington Green in 1775, but from a pulpit in Boston on January 30, 1750 where Reverend Jonathan Mayhew delivered a sermon that was dubbed “the spark that ignited the American Revolution” by our second president John Adams - A Discourse concerning Unlimited Submission and Non- Resistance to the Higher Powers: With some Reflections on the Resistance made to King Charles I. And on the Anniversary of his Death: In which the Mysterious Doctrine of that Prince's Saintship and Martyrdom is Unriddled:

    More here with selected quotes:

    Mayhew's Case for Revolution
    https://mises.org/wire/mayhews-case-revolution

    This confirms what you correctly pointed out about our Founders’ awareness of the English Civil War and the ideas that animated Charles I’s opponents. Another famous example is the fiery speech that Patrick Henry gave in the Virginia House of Burgesses against the Stamp Act of 1765 where he declared:

    “Caesar had his Brutus, Charles his Cromwell, and George the Third may profit by their examples.”

    Of course, the Founders’ knowledge of British history and law extended beyond the English Civil War, and being students of Classical history many of them were influenced by philosophers such as Marcus Tullius Cicero who articulated the concept of natural law that would be further developed and adopted by its proponents during the Enlightenment:

    True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions. And it does not lay its commands or prohibitions upon good men in vain, though neither have any effect on the wicked. It is a sin to try to to alter this law, nor is it allowable to attempt to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is, God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst penalties, even if he escapes what is commonly considered punishment. . .
    —De re publica, Book III

    And here's a little historical fun fact: I live in Virginia where our nickname "Old Dominion", coined by Charles II, and the names of our cities, counties and colleges read like the shifting personal and political fortunes of 17th Century England, from James County to Charles City to the colleges of Hampden-Sydney and William and Mary. I was raised in Fairfax County, which is named after a descendant of Sir Thomas Fairfax's family.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
  4. (original)late

    (original)late Well-Known Member

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    Good thread, about the OP..

    The wars that happened due to the Reformation were not ancient history to the Founders. For a number of reasons, they wanted a separation of church and state.

    We have a secular government. That was on purpose, to avoid the conflict that sectarian rule inevitably creates.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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  5. An Taibhse

    An Taibhse Well-Known Member

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    It is rare to find others that go beyond learning specific historic land mark dates of common the narratives and myths taught in school to attempt understanding the contextual framework of the influences and the socio/political/economic environment not only of those writing but also as mundane as the discourse of in a pub... where many become educated (peer indoctrinated). Many in the US are not well educated in their history, certainly not to a point where they have the remotest grasp of the influences that shaped the thinking of either recognized leaders or the average person of the time... history is a subject you do just enough to get your grade. Beyond the stuff of Hollywood, it’s not something most see as relevant to their everyday life, yet what happened back then impacts people everyday. But then, the US educational system....
    As far as Jefferson and Washington reconciling their ideas of natural rights against, say, that of extending those rights to all, and judged by the 20/20 hindsight and the morality of projected by the modern pundants that relish vilifying them in their graves, these were two very different men in different circumstances.
    With Washington, on the charge of his use of slaves, very few people realize that nearly all his slaves were product of his marriage. Second, as a citizen of Virginia, in the context of the time and even after the ratification of the Constitution, he was bound, as a good citizen, to follow the laws of the state (the supremacy clause had not been tested yet) and Virginia had very strict and complex laws concerning slavery, among them, he was not free to easily emancipate his slaves as many might suppose (they were of his wife’s estate, not his) and simply freeing them would have resulted in being in violation of the law. To do so, outside the context of his will, would have required him, in essence, to reconcile the estate against that which was rightfully (by the law) that belonging to his decedents... meaning he would have had to financially compensate them... something that would have caused him to liquidate his entire estate... basically, a damned if you do, damned if you don’t proposition, leaving his decedents with nothing (I suspect, Virginia’s laws were intentionally designed to be so punitive in nature as to discourage those landowners with large slave holdings to emancipate them). Still, Washington was not a fan of slavery, and immediately after the war, had a number of discussions with La Fayette regarding a potential scheme and experiment to free his slaves, keep them on and pay them wages in working the farm. Both he and La Fayette held the hypothesis that this option held potential both ethically and financially. But, he ran into the issues of Virginia's Estate and slavery laws, ultimately the scheme dying on the vine. But, he did emancipate his slaves in his will.... he could do that without penalty.
    Jefferson was a different animal. Despite his borrowed ideas for the Declaration of Independence, he did own slaves, one of which he had romantic interests. He took Sally and her brother to France. He made a deal with her brother that if James learned French cuisine returned with him and taught other of his slaves, he’d free him. Funny, and a bit sad, once on French soil, both Sally and James could have availed themselves to the French, and by law would have been emancipated by French Law. Though, James did learn French cuisine, ultimately bringing it later to the White House, Jefferson broke his promise.
    Jefferson claimed not to be a fan of slavery, but, perhaps because of Sally, he did not free his slaves. I suspect, his larger interest was to get the union rolling of the issue of slavery. However, on the signing of the Declaration of Independence, he and Franklin staged an agreement that 8 or 10 years (don’t remember which) after the signing, the issue of slavery was supposed to be resolved with intervening years providing time for the southern states to adjust their economic issues plaguing. Obviously, that was ultimately successful opposed by the Southern states, though, a law was passed to prohibit ‘Legal’ importation of new slaves to the US.
    While Jefferson might not be seen as a saint of the ‘Liberty’ for all ideals, his plagiarized words in the Declaration, did lay the foundation for ending slavery in the US by war. Flawed, perhaps. But, without the Declaration of Independence, how long would slavery have persisted in parts of this Country? 1960? Sometimes saints are just men. If all were angels....

    I am fairly familiar with Fairfax County, and how the many interesting historic salient events were unveiled within it’s bounds, particularly in the first 150 years just before and through civil war years. Lots historic ground there, though where I was raised in Europe, some of our new was measured in centuries.
     
  6. An Taibhse

    An Taibhse Well-Known Member

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    When your King can proclaim authority directly from God, whose word only you are ordained to interpret...
     
  7. Derideo_Te

    Derideo_Te Well-Known Member

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  8. Phil

    Phil Well-Known Member

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    Just for the record, when Bushrod Washington (Supreme Court Justice 1798-1829) inherited Mount Vernon he ignored uncle George's will and kept the slaves.
     
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  9. Farnsworth

    Farnsworth Active Member

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    the difference is Czechs were a people long before the Christian religion came along; they had tribal bindings and a language bond both before and after. It is only to be expected they would retain some Christian traditions afterwards as well, on top of others.

    More of them were 'religious' than @Bjorn would like to believe; I live just north of a large region in Texas heavily settled by Czechs, and has the largest Czech language newspaper outside of Czechoslovakia itself, at least it did a couple of decades ago, and they have many fine old churches in their towns.

    Jefferson didn't feel the least bad about slavery. He in fact owned over 600 of them, and bragged to his friends about how good an investment they were over farming. Never be misled by what politicians say, thinking they practice what they preach; Jefferson was hired to write the DOI because he was noted as a skilled propagandist already as a young man, and continued to be one throughout his career. Everything he wrote for public consumption was for political expediencies of the moment he was writing in. He himself never committed to anything definite, which is why he was called 'The Sphinx' in his lifetime. Like many he burned most of his letters before he died; those would be the ones that would have told how he really felt about anything, not the ones that survived.

    I probably won't be back to this site soon, so no need to waste time trolling me, for those so inclined, unless you just really can't help yourselves and have the usual mod support here for 'special people' and your posts are normally a waste a time anyway, lol. I just wanted to add some historical counterpoint to the usual Xian bashing rubbish and trolling.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2020
  10. Phil

    Phil Well-Known Member

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    My question remains: is there any evidence Jefferson thought blacks were men? Does the word, "Persons" in the Constitution imply humanity to the slaves-or other persons such as illegal immigrants-or is it just a copout? Obviously persons did not refer to embryos, human or subhuman, so if they didn't think blacks were human-for legal purposes-how does that impact abortion law? Did Harry Blackmun mention this matter anywhere?
     

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