Our Unofficial National Anthem

I wish to live under no other government, & there is no sacrifice I am not ready to make for the preservation of the Union save that of honour. If a disruption takes place, I shall go back in sorrow to my people & share the misery of my native state, & save in her defence there will be one soldier less in the world than now. I wish for no other flag than the “Star Spangled banner” & no other air than “Hail Columbia.” I still hope that the wisdom & patriotism of the nation will yet save it.

Robert E. Lee, January 22, 1861

Something for the weekend.  Hail Columbia.  Composed in 1789 by Philip Phile for Washington’s first inaugural, and originally entitled The President’s March, lyrics were supplied by Joseph Hopkinson in 1798.  Hail Columbia functioned as the unofficial national anthem of the United States up until the 1890s.   Here is a scene from the John Adams miniseries where it is sung:

17 Responses to Our Unofficial National Anthem

  • Off current topic. With your history background, would you be interested in pursuing a suggestion that the Electoral College is outdated and unconstitutional ( and an awful distraction in the media and waste of cash for votes). One person one vote- thus a vote for a Donkey in Arkansas should be worth a ride on an Elephant in Ohio. One vote. lone citizen. States are equal in the sense that their citizens are not unmatched because one has more population ton than the other. It seems so, shall we say, un-democratically non-republican. No pun implied in that phrase Thanks you if you consider this topic. Francis

  • The Electoral College is clearly constitutional since the Constitution mandates it. It is one of the balancing mechanisms that the Founding Fathers put into the Constitution to ensure that one faction could not have too much power. It grants more power to the small states, in population, at the expense of the large states, and ensures that a Presidential candidate has to pay heed to the concerns of most of the states rather than amassing a power base in just a few states. Although my sainted Father disagreed with me and wanted to see it abolished, I have always been a big fan of the Electoral College.

  • The electoral college also has the advantage of containing the influence of one state’s vote count so the state can only determine its own electors. Without it, a state that fails to control voter fraud would pump up its numbers in the popular vote. Under the current system, the damage from vote fraud in a big state like N.Y. or Calif. is limited. Change this, and such states will have a powerful incentive to pump up the number of voters who are dead, illegal aliens, convicts, serial voters, or pets.

    A shift to a popular vote system would require a national ID system, national voter registration, national voter criteria, and national enforcement.

  • Getting rid of the Electoral College is a truly horrible idea. I honestly believe it would be the final nail in the coffin of federalism and bring about the demise of the Republic. What the direct election of Senators has done to so thoroughly damage our federal system is nothing in comparison to the damage wrought by a national popular vote for President.

    Direct democracy sucks.

  • In addition to what others have said, and along the lines of what Keith R says, is that the electoral college process prevents the headache of a massive recount across all 50 states. Imagine what happened in Florida in 2000 taking place in every single state, which is what would have happened considering the relatively narrow margin of the popular vote.

    Also, I am baffled how anyone could contemplate its being unconstitutional since it is specifically laid out in the Constitution. This is not some abstract application of the Bill of Rights or something really open for interpretation.

  • The Constitution did not establish a two-party system, neither did it ban slavery, and it presumed the top vote for POTUS and V POTUS #2 neither did it include my brilliant suggestion that POTUS have one five-year term (joke intended) I still wonder why the electoral college favours smaller states since their fewer citizens are outvoted in fact by states with larger populations. seems one vote, one citizen, ignoring state borders would be democratic. it works for different States/regions in Old Europe as Cheney dismissed them when France had more Wisdom to oppose Gulf 11 than POTUS BUSH ( his electoral college choice and his Daddy’s Supreme Court) and the Congress together.

  • No one has contended that the Constitution established the two party system. The Constitution does ban slavery pursuant to the Thirteenth Amendment, the Founding Fathers having established an amendment process in the Constitution.

    The Founding Fathers did not intend to establish a pure democracy but rather a free Republic in which no part of the polity could grow so powerful as to exercise a despotism over other parts. The Electoral College was part of their wise system of checks and balance.

    Citing France as an example is, to me, always an argument against whatever is proposed. :) In 2000 the Constitution worked precisely as the Founder’s intended, and a majority of the United States Supreme Court prevented the Florida Supreme Court from rewriting the Florida election laws in an attempt to steal the election for Al Gore.

  • The Constitution did not establish a two-party system,

    Beside the point, but we should ask ourselves if we would want a multiple party system

    neither did it ban slavery,

    Actually it did, under the 13th amendmebnt.

    and it presumed the top vote for POTUS and V POTUS #2

    Also changed through the 12th amendment. So two of your examples involve things that were changed through the constitutional process.

    I still wonder why the electoral college favours smaller states since their fewer citizens are outvoted in fact by states with larger populations.

    A straight popular vote would favor larger states even more. Consider the state of Delaware. Delaware has three electoral votes, or 3 out of 538. That is a larger share of the vote that its share of the population (something like 600,000 out of 3,000,000.

    seems one vote, one citizen, ignoring state borders would be democratic.

    We are a republic, not a democracy. Let’s keep it that way.

    it works for different States/regions in Old Europe as Cheney dismissed them when France had more Wisdom to oppose Gulf 11 than POTUS BUSH ( his electoral college choice and his Daddy’s Supreme Court) and the Congress together.

    This is incomprehensible babble, and a complete non sequiter to boot.

  • I recall posts from you before this and recognise your superior attitude. “incomprehensible babble.”
    I taught this stuff and know what was changed by Constitutional Amendments. My comment about Europe was not a non-sequiter as I understand democratic-republics and their system of incorporating it. Each citizen of the various old kingdoms and states, often at war with each other with varying degrees of population vote for a political party to rule them and that winner rules or forms a Coalition. In the USA, which is you see above my last quote I describe as a democratic-republic, so feared the People, who actually are the Divinely recognised owners of political power go through the charade of Electoral College voting to avoid the obvious direct vote of the people to get the man who leads the Executive Branch while Europe elects the Party whose head is the Prime Minister and their major proponent of their budget and that Party, led by him, decides taxes, expenditures and rises or falls as the People decide five years later or earlier if it fails. That beats a divided Congress where the POTUS can only propose a budget, the House controls it, both sides fight with each other or one of them which is in the POTUS’ Party fights with the other or both houses fight with him. I am not by any means denying the genius of the US system or trumping it with the European. I am suggesting there are other valid models of democratic republics. And suggesting the Electoral College could be abolished. If the Constitution was amended to fix past perceived errors, why not do it for an un-democratically- non-republican Electoral system. As for a Third Party, the present gatekeepers have it so rigged it is seemingly impossible. Why must one abstain from voting in the primary if the Governor or POTUS or candidate from one’s registered Party is an advocate of an a-moral anti-Natural law violator of the trust placed in him, especially when he decides to take a drone attack on the First Amendment and lie about iT in public debates.

  • DONALD; Presume you read THE NINE and saw where that Supreme Court regretted giving the vote to “W” in part because of having J Ashcroft as AG. It was then then-Secretary of whatever a GOP devotee, who stole our FL vote to give it to “W” and the US Court gave it to w anyway. Raw politics. I lived in FL then. When there was a question of how to bring democracy to Iraq after the WMD, was blasted there, aka Bush-Cheney and the neo-cons I made a very democratically-republican suggestion; Count the popular vote, won by Al Gore, give the job to the man who lost the State whose Governor was his brother, then let the High Court appointed largely by his father give the job to the losing popular vote candidate. Worked for the USA!

  • “DONALD; Presume you read THE NINE and saw where that Supreme Court regretted giving the vote to “W” in part because of having J Ashcroft as AG.”

    Even if what was reported was true, it would have zero impact on the Constitutional questions addressed by the Court in Bush v. Gore. The Supreme Court could not allow the Florida Supreme Court to rewrite Florida election law after a Presidential election was held in order to benefit one candidate.

    “It was then then-Secretary of whatever a GOP devotee, who stole our FL vote to give it to “W” and the US Court gave it to w anyway. Raw politics. I lived in FL then.”

    Rubbish. It was the Democrats who attempted to rewrite Florida election law via the Florida Supreme Court in order to steal the Florida election.

  • On topic: From a comment (SuperGreatSphinx) on YouTube for “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.”

    “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean” is a United States patriotic song which was? popular during the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, especially during the Civil War era. It may have functioned as an unofficial national anthem in competition with “Hail, Columbia” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” until the latter’s formal adoption as the national anthem of the United States during 1931. For some years the song’s melody was used as the Voice of America’s interval signal.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siHfQGn3JTs&feature=fvwrel

    Back to off topic: Forget about the Electoral College.

    The government has usurped relatively unlimited power. The “thing” is: (as we see in NY with Sandy and earlier in NO with Katrina) unlimited government is limited in the good of which it is capable; but relatively unlimited in the evils (depression, envy, inflation, mass misery, recession, regulation, taxation, unemployment, wrath, etc.) which it has inflicted on we the people.

  • Good to see you back T.Shaw! I was concerned as to how you had weathered the storm.

  • Thanks for the concern, Mac.

    By the Grace of God and the constant intercessions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our home was not materially damaged and the electricity was back by Thursday night.

    Ma and Pa Shaw missed this one.

    Our US Army son was TDY at Fort Leavenworth, KS for a week (!) from Japan. We needed to see him there, or wait another year-plus. We flew to KC, MO at 0600 hours on Sunday last. Blew back in last night with minimal adventure, except the NYC yellow taxi ride . . .

    Our youngest son rode out the storm in the dark in the basement. We spoke to him Monday evening. He said it was gruesome.

    Ma needed to see her boy.

  • Hail, Columbia is fascinating. Good work bringing it to people’s attention even though the comments got derailed. In 1889, the Navy ordered that Hail, Columbia be played at evening colors while The Star-Spangled Banner would air during morning colors. Four years later, Hail, Columbia fell from favor and only The Banner remained. Unlike Key’s song, which uses lyrics from a bawdy british barroom ballad, two Americans wrote Hail, Columbia, which is currently used as the Vice Presidential counterpart of Hail to the Chief.

  • Back on topic, Thank you Donald McClarey. I really enjoyed the banter on the electoral college and the video. Living in the blue state of California, I fear my vote won’t count. While not wanting the dissolution of the electoral college, I do favor a percentage system. If one candidate gets 50% of the popular vote, he or she gets 50% of the electoral votes, 48% gets 48% of the electoral vote and so on. Many people feel their votes don’t count because all the electoral votes go for the winner even if he doesn’t get 50% of the vote. A 49-47-4 would result in the 49% receiving all of California’s electoral votes when clearly 51% of the people did not want that person.

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