232 Years Since Cowpens

Thursday, January 17, AD 2013

A very accurate video on the battle of Cowpens, January 17, 1781.  Brigadier General Daniel Morgan, the American commander, was an American original.  An ill-educated frontiersman, Morgan was also a natural leader of men, made easier by his height, well over six-foot, and his robust sense of humor, along with his willingness to use his fists to enforce discipline if necessary.  He served in the French and Indian War, being sentenced to 500 lashes for punching a British officer.  He later made a joke of it saying that in carrying out the sentence the count was one short, but it was a tribute to his toughness that he survived such an experience.  It is a pity that the late John Wayne, circa 1955, did not appear in a movie bio of this remarkable man.

At the beginning of the Revolution, Morgan led a company of Virginia riflemen to join Washington’s Army besieging Boston.  Volunteering to join the invasion of Canada, he led three companies of riflemen that quickly became known as Morgan’s Sharpshooters.  In the attack on Quebec on December 31, 1775, Captain Morgan led his men in ferocious fighting in the city.  The attack was ultimately defeated, with Morgan refusing to surrender to the British and instead tendering his sword to a French priest.

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2 Responses to 232 Years Since Cowpens

  • To have survived 499 lashes is amazing.

    American Cannae, maybe; American Hannibal . . .

    The contributions of men like Washington, Morgan, the Continental Regular, and militia (men like you and I) cannot be exaggerated.

  • One of the more brilliant examples of tactical planning in American military history–he made his own weaknesses work in his favor. The fact he’d worn out the British by keeping a step ahead of them for weeks didn’t hurt.

    If only William Washington had run Bloody Ban through–he wounded Tarleton, if I recall correctly.

    And the Cannae reference is dead on: during the Civil War, both sides would desperately look for battles of annihilation, but never come close to achieving them. With the partial exception of Thomas at Nashville, I suppose.

Girty the Renegade

Monday, January 14, AD 2013

And there was Simon Girty, the renegade, who saw white men burned at the stake and whooped with the Indians to see them burn. His eyes were green, like a catamount’s, and the stains on his hunting shirt did not come from the blood of the deer.

Stephen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster

In his short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, Benet has Satan conjure up the damned souls of 12 villains from American history to serve as a jury in the case of Satan v. Jabez Stone.  Only seven of these entities are named.  This is beginning of a series to give short biographies on each of these figures.

Born in 1741 on the Pennsylvania frontier, Girty’s life took a sharp turn when he and his brothers were captured by the Seneca and adopted by them.  It would be seven years before Girty was able to return to his family.  By that time Girty was a Seneca in all but skin color.  At the outset of the American Revolution Girty supported the patriots, but eventually became a loyalist.  Frontier patriots regarded him as a turncoat and renegade.

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2 Responses to Girty the Renegade

Thinking Rationally About Secession

Monday, November 19, AD 2012

Secession has been in the news lately. Well, not the mainstream news, for the most part, but local, Internet and alternative news outlets have been reporting a growing number of signatures added to secession petitions submitted to Washington (one has it at over 750,000 signatures). This began almost immediately after President Obama’s reelection, and while no one really expects this particular movement to go anywhere, people on both sides of our political divide take it somewhat seriously as a sign of how polarized and unstable our situation has become.

I’m going to tell you what I think about secession, and my hope is that readers will find it somewhat reasonable. In short, I reject the absolutely hysterical and frothing narrative that comes from some leftist quarters about the evil of secession. I don’t much appreciate the haughty dismissal and contempt that comes from some on both the left and the right, as if only a mental patient would want to secede from what America has become. Lastly, I don’t agree with the secessionists, but it has nothing to do with any sort of moral or philosophical objection to the principle of secession (I don’t think it is racist or crazy, in other words). Now to the meat and bones.

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145 Responses to Thinking Rationally About Secession

  • “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable,– most sacred right–a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government, may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so much of the teritory as they inhabit. More than this, a majority of any portion of such people may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled with, or near about them, who may oppose their movement. Such minority, was precisely the case, of the tories of our own revolution. It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old lines, or old laws; but to break up both, and make new ones.”

    Abraham Lincoln, January 12, 1848

    Lincoln distinguished between the right of revolution enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and a mythical right of secession supposedly contained in the Constitution, I assume, if it is smeared with lemon juice and held up to moonlight in a full moon.

    The right of revolution has important caveats able set forth by Mr. Jefferson:
    “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

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  • Mr Jefferson also said, “no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation: they may manage it, then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters, too, of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please. But persons and property make the sum of the objects of government. The constitution and the laws of their predecessors are extinguished then, in their natural course, with those whose will gave them being. This could preserve that being, till it ceased to be itself, and no longer. Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of thirty-four years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right. ” (Letter to James Madison September 6 1789)

    For reasons he gives at some length, he did not think a mere right of repeal to be a sufficient safeguard.

    Here in Scotland, with no weapon but discussion and no adversary but prejudice, the Scottish people have obtained from the Westminster government the recognition of their right of self-determination and a referendum on independence will be held in 2014 – The seven hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. Whatever the outcome, the principle is, on all sides, admitted.

  • I signed the petition at Whitehouse.gov for my State to secede frm the Union, not because I took the movement seriously, but because I despise and loathe that godless man of sin and depravity, and his demonic and diabolical Democrats who in their day some 150 years ago enslaved the black man just as today they murder the unborn:

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/peacefully-grant-state-north-carolina-withdraw-united-states-and-create-its-own-new-government/rx1KDYTs

    I just hope God has mercy on this once formerly Christian Constitutional Republic. I don’t really “believe in” secession, but I do want Barack Hussein Obama and the Democrats removed from power permanently. Other than that, I have nothing profound to contribute to this excellent post, with most of whose points I agree.

  • I signed the Oregon Petition. Sure, I would love a Catholic Cascadia- but it is never going to happen. I signed it for an entirely different reason:

    Memento Mori. When a general in old Rome won a great victory, a servant would walk behind him, continually chanting “Remember, O man, that you too are mortal”.

    That is what these uselss petitions on Whitehouse.gov are- memento mori to President Obama- remember that you too are mortal- that you do not have a mandate and stop acting like a dictator.

  • I agree with you wholeheartly sir, the petition to secede from the Union, will undoubtedly fail. There is no real dispute in my mind about that point. The Federal government will not willingly allow a section of the country just leave peacefully, as much as I would absolutely love a bloodless and mutual dissolution of the current Union, that simply is, just a fairy tale. However, the petition I think does serve a purpose.

    It is a rallying cry, if you will, to let other secessionists know that they are no alone in their sentiments. Indeed, I have found the petition most heartening in recent days since the election, hopeful that in fact there maybe brighter days on the horizon for those that espouse the sentiments set down by the Founding Fathers and our Confederate forebearers. That through hard-work, sacrifice and faith in God we can bring at least part of America back to the founding principles.

    The secessionist movement is not a new one, it has been an ongoing battle since our nation was founded. And over the years the Federal government has slowly gained more and more power, eroding the liberties of the people ever so slightly. yet since the Civil War, no one dared stand against them. I firmly believe that this is just the beginning. With membership of state militias on the rise and the increasing discontentment with the Fed, I think that we have a very real chance now to finally claim our independence which has been denied to us for so long.

    Deo Vindice, and God Save the South.

  • Bonchamps, I’m in 100% agreement with you.

  • I have a better idea. I am seceding from the ranks of those “pulling the wagon” and joining in the “wagon” the moochers and looters.

  • Taking this all out of the realm of theory, I would shudder at the idea of a Second Civil War being fought with modern weaponry, quite likely with nuclear weapons. We would have the additional horror of most states having blue and red areas within them, intermixed. What that would be like would probably be far worse than the worst of the partisan warfare in Kansas and Missouri during the Civil War.

  • That quote by Jefferson above, this is what I have heard. TJ may have in fact expected secession of States if a government started to act detrimental to the State of the Union.

  • I would like to believe that no one would actually use nuclear weapons, since they would likely be destroying cities and lands that they would one day like to occupy and control.

    I think a second civil war in the US would look like the Spanish Civil War, though. Bombed-out towns and villages, cities turned into battlegrounds, the lines of battle being mostly ideological and religious.

  • After watching There be no dragons, I read another book on the Spanish Civil War, 300,000 killed in a space of 3 years. I think that’s worse than our own Civil War.

  • I think there will be civil war, not that I want that to happen. Of course not! But there is no talking to liberals. There is no dialogue to be had. I just had to block a relative on Facebook because she is so in love with Obama and so hateful and spiteful against Romney, the GOP and anything conservative. Every discussion always turns sour. A rational person cannot reason with an Obama lover. And this woman claims to be a Christian while she proudly supports abortion as a woman’s right to chose. Sorry, guys. These people will never “get it”. Either thay have to be defeated peacefully via the election process (which we failed at this November), or they will start civil war with violence to shut us up.

  • “or they will start civil war with violence to shut us up.”

    I don’t think it will come to that Paul, but if it did I think they would find that they had “chosen poorly”.

  • Thank you, Donald. I do not want any violence. I just want liberals to leave us alone and in peace to practice our Faith as we choose to, instead of shoving their infanticide and sodomy down our throats. Sure, I have a mini-14, but if any violence did occur, then I would likely be hiding in my apartment using a weapon far bigger than my rifle – my Rosary. I am otherwise a coward, which is why I went on a Navy submarine – I didn’t want my behind shot off in the jungle or desert. And as to your comment about nuclear weapons, having been up close and personal with such weapons in the Torpedo Room on my old submarine, I can’t imagine the horror that might occur. Kyrie Eleison. Christe Eleison. Kyrie Eleison.

  • If I can put my tin foil hat on, do you think it’s possible that “The Powers That Be” put Obama in power for the purpose of destroying this country? Sometimes I think the left, outside of this country, sees Obama as their Gorbachev. As he presided over the demise of the Soviet Union, Obama will presided over the demise of the USA. It would explain, sort of, why he was given the Noble Peace prize – in advance?

  • I don’t think a violent secession could happen in the US, at least not before years of serious deterioration. Serious deterioration – think Haiti, not Detroit. I think our sense of national unity and belief in assimilation is so weakened, though, that a prolonged secessionist sentiment could gain sympathy. Hawaii, Alaska, Utah, or certain Indian reservations are the most likely initiators. Ballot support of mroe than 80% over several years would get noticed.

    Among the problems an amicable split would face: currency, debt, citizenship, government.

  • Two additional thoughts.

    The model for secession wouldn’t be the US South, but the northern Roman Empire – de facto independence due to severe contraction.

    There’s no place in the US which, if it seceded, would become more Catholic. Boston and New Orleans aren’t leaving. A second Mexico would be possible, but at the cost of becoming more a Central American country than a North American.

  • When Texas is ready to secede, I’m ready to go. Until then, some of my family is looking at moving out of this country, if they can find a country that fits their criteria. How sad t;his whole situation is, but I am a Catholic child of God before I am an American. And America is becoming intolerable.

  • I think the proper role for any patriotic American is always to stand by the country and to fight for what the Founding Fathers intended: a free people and a limited government. I am going nowhere and I will not allow some Leftists to destroy this country.

  • Secession isn’t going to happen.

    I agree with Donald, stay in our country, reproduce and educate our children, and demographics will work itself out in the future.

  • This is the most startling thread I’ve read.

    I, for one, will stand with the United States against any and all comers, foreign or domestic. I cannot conceive of the circumstances under which I would turn against her and would take up arms to defend her against anyone who did.

    I would happily count the most thuggish union enforcer as my brother if it was to put down an armed movement to rip the Unitd States apart.

    This secession movement is a bizarre knee-jerk reaction to things not going our way. It is beneath contempt and I sincerely hope that no fools pull a Ruby Ridge and get themselves and some good cops killed over this insanity.

  • Looking at it from the distance of 3000 miles across the pond, one would hope that while the idea of secession was the tool to get Federal attention, States Rights was the more immediate and acceptable goal. Having that national debate is the necessity, because that is what the system was set up for. The more people who know and talk about the Constitution in the face of positivist interpretations of it, the better. Knowedge is power.

  • The problem with idle threats comes when someone takes them seriously. We have unsanctioned states militias all over the US. For the most part they are harmless enough, a group of citizens letting off steam. In that grop though are hardcore survivalists, white suppremists and neo-nazis, and bona fide mentally ill people.

    Give them a cause and the trappings of justification and they will work all kinds of mischief. At the least they’ll get themselves arrested. Rememer the Lyndon La Rouche insanity and the “income tax is unlawful crowd”. I don’t think the daft bastards who bought into that nonsense did themselves any favors.

  • My sentiments are with the secessionists, for various reasons, one of them not yet broached here. I think that a “democracy” of 300 million persons is an absurdity, a contradiction in terms. The federal government has grown so metastatic, that the actual political life of the average citizen has been reduced nearly to zero. We’d be healthier if we were four or five nations, just as California would be healthier if it were broken up into three states. One of the salutary effects of such fragmentation would be that people in our largely dysfunctional cities would have to come to terms with everybody else; there wouldn’t be so many and so various places to hide.

    Or do the thought experiment in reverse. Imagine belonging to the European Union. Or imagine that everybody in the world gets to vote for our archons in Brussels. Fat lot of good that would do. Give me back a little bit of political liberty, please. An aside: there’s not one Founding Father, not the most centralizing among them (say, Hamilton), who wouldn’t have found what we have now to be monstrous and tyrannical. That sound you hear isn’t tea splashing in the waters of Boston Harbor. It’s our Founders, retching.

  • ” I cannot conceive of the circumstances under which I would turn against her and would take up arms to defend her against anyone who did.”

    Natural rights are more important, sacred, and valuable than any particular political entity or government, which exist for no other reason but to protect those rights. Obedience to God may well one day require you to disobey, resist, refuse and even fight with the federal government. I don’t say that it is today. But it may be tomorrow. We are not morally bound only to our duty to resist, either – it is within our right to establish new political bodies to secure the natural rights for which all governments exist to protect.

    If this frightens you, then I have to ask, what is your guiding philosophy? Legal positivism? Nationalism?

  • “”If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation…
    to a continuance in union… I have no hesitation in saying,
    ‘let us separate.’ “- Thomas Jefferson

    Ron Paul, Secession is a deeply American Principle!

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/84058.html

    “Paul wrote that secession must still be an option to be used as leverage to make sure the government doesn’t “encroach” on Americans’ liberties.

    Paul wrote that secession is a form of American freedom.

    “At what point should the people dissolve the political bands which have connected them with an increasingly tyrannical and oppressive federal government?” Paul wrote.”

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/84058.html#ixzz2CiW6ANYc

  • Ron Paul is absolutely right ::braces for the “Ron Paul is a treasonous kook” comments::

    What kind of historically ignorant foolishness imagines that a nation can’t dissolve, especially when it has become the enemy of the very ends for which it was instituted?

  • “Secession isn’t going to happen.”

    Quite right Tito. I might add that our enemies around the globe would love nothing better than to see the United States dissolve into a group of weak squabbling Republics.

  • It is difficult to say what I woulddo if my government became an oppressive regime. Not only are far from that point, I don’t honestly believe we can get there.

    The US Constitution is a subtle and powerful instrument for good. I consider it inspired, a thing of rare genious. It survived slavery, that birth defect that threatened to kill our nation and it survived the Roosevelts. Even Obama, that hubris ridden fool who believed he could subordinate the Constitution to his hoards of deranged followers, is receiving a well deserved thrashing.

    As an intellectual exercise, let us assume that Executive Orders and Regulations continue to grow in importance and, thus, overwhelm affirmative law. The President would then, in a Chavez like fashion, assume full rule-making and enforcement powers, checked only by the courts, cowed though they be.

    I might very well find myself jailed and dispossessed. Me and mine might be jobless and friendless in an alien nation that hates us. I like to think that, even then, I would not take up arms against her.

    I note that we haven’t let Christ speak in this discussion. Why is that? Is the recognition that He accepted death without justly striking back, even for justice, too much for us? The Apostles too; they could not know that humbly accepting the judgment of man would bring mighty Rome to her knees. And the early church, did she rise up in defense even of the innocent? No? Well then, there must be a lesson in there for us.

    No. The evil you postulate is a figment of your imagination and the intellectual exercise is flawed in its articulation. It is a flight of fancy and one that could lead to great mischief.

  • It isn’t going to happen any time soon. But ever? There is no rational basis for faith in the permanence of the United States of America. Countries come and go, empires rise and fall. The Holy Roman Empire was around for about a thousand years but it too was eventually dissolved.

    God is permanent, and the rights with which we are endowed by Him are permanent, and any body of armed men that was once instituted and consented to for the protection of those rights that later begins to trample and oppress those rights can wield no legitimate authority. Our our federal government, if it hasn’t passed this marker yet entirely, has passed it at least in part.

    When the HHS mandate goes into effect, and Catholic institutions are closed down after bishops and priests are dragged off to prison by Obama’s gendarmerie, do you not believe we will have reached such a point? Even if the response is not the secession of the states, it will be a kind of resistance that more or less adds up to the same thing in terms of social and political strife. Or at least it ought to be, and one hopes it will be.

  • ” The evil you postulate is a figment of your imagination and the intellectual exercise is flawed in its articulation. It is a flight of fancy and one that could lead to great mischief.”

    Well lay it out for me then, as a defender of the status quo – what evils postulated by myself are figments, exactly? What part of my intellectual exercise is flawed? Do you even care to try and point out my errors, or are you just blowing smoke?

  • Was the resistance in the Vendee nothing but “mischief”? How about the Cristeros? Do you dismiss them as well?

  • “I might very well find myself jailed and dispossessed. Me and mine might be jobless and friendless in an alien nation that hates us. I like to think that, even then, I would not take up arms against her.”

    You know what? That’s your choice. But don’t you dare suggest that the rest of us are insane or immoral for not submitting to the same dispossession and tyranny.

  • 1st off, these secession petitions were for doing such peacefully, let’s not bring in talk of the Militias and Minutemen at this point. Someone wisely said that perhaps if a State voted on this numerous times over a course of years, they might soften the resolve of the federal government.

    The rights of States, okay, Slavery was wrong and it’s easy to see that nowadays but other things, the pro-life issues, marriage laws and others could easily be left up to the States. There is no reason for Utah and New York to have the same laws, yes, they are changed up a bit but still.

  • I hope that Tito and Donald are correct when they wrote that secession isn’t going to happen, at least any time soon.

    I fear Bonchamps is correct when he writes:

    “Natural rights are more important, sacred, and valuable than any particular political entity or government, which exist for no other reason but to protect those rights. Obedience to God may well one day require you to disobey, resist, refuse and even fight with the federal government. I don’t say that it is today. But it may be tomorrow. We are not morally bound only to our duty to resist, either – it is within our right to establish new political bodies to secure the natural rights for which all governments exist to protect.”

    Bonchamps’ analogy of the Cristeros is most appropriate and serves as a warning. Already my company requires gay-friendly on-line training classes for all employees. It’ll become a demand to sign papers in support of gay rights as a condition of employment. I think that will happen within a year or two. From there it’ll just get worse. Priests and Bishops will be sued and then arrested for speaking out against homosexual marriage and abortion on charges of hate speech. That’s happening to a certain extent in England and Canada. It’s all down hill. But maybe Donald’s optimism is right. With all due respect, that optimism wasn’t right, however, with respect to the prognostications for the last election.

    As far as I am concerned, if the good Lord lets Amerika get away with this sexual filth and murder, then He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah (as well as ancient Athens and Rome). Sorry. Don’t mean to be a pessimist. But I do not want to be a part of this godless national democracy – two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner. I want the restoration fo our Christian Constitutional Republic, and I think the American people are just like the children of Israel in 1st Samuel chapter 8: too stupid to know what’s good for them and too arrogant to care.

  • “With all due respect, that optimism wasn’t right, however, with respect to the prognostications for the last election.”

    It would become tiresome Paul if one were right all the time! 🙂

    My optimism was fully rewarded in 2010 and we will see what happens in 2014. I would note that the Republicans currently control 30 statehouses and retained 550 of the 690 legislative seats in 2012 that they gained in 2010.

  • at first, I thought you had linked to my blog (http://imperfectfollower.blogspot.com/2012/11/what-were-already-folding.html) because I had the petitions at 750,000+ signatures almost a week ago. Whoops

  • If Arizona were populated entirely with Third Order Franciscans with nuclear weapons and a good understanding of economics, then maybe this conversation would be worth having. It’s not.

  • I don’t know Pinky, some of these governors made the move to ?? get control of their own gold from the Fed. Does that mean secession? No, of course not but I am getting weary if the law of the land becomes one party’s platform that has some intrinsic evils in it, who landwise, are indeed smaller than the rest.

  • “If Arizona were populated entirely with Third Order Franciscans with nuclear weapons and a good understanding of economics, then maybe this conversation would be worth having. It’s not.”

    Are you sure you know what the conversation is about? Because I was pretty clear on my own position. Even if secession isn’t viable, some of the basic principles behind it are entirely justifiable. Even if secession isn’t the answer, civil disobedience and mass resistance to the dictates of the federal government may be morally required in the near future. You can pull out of the conversation but you can’t hold reality in stasis. Something’s gotta give.

  • I have my own take on secession.

    Texas has the world’s 15th largest economy….bigger than Russia..on its own. In 1846, the Republic of Texas was deep in debt and headed for failure unless it joined the United States. Well, that is not the case now, is it? Now, we have an out of control Federal government that behaves as a national government and refuses to abide by the Constitution that was enacted in order to create it.

    Why should Texas accept gay marriage because Massachusetts started it?
    Why should Texas accept Obumblercare when it is clearly a violation of the 10th Amendment?
    Why should Texas not be allowed to enforce its border with Mexico since the Federal government sees poor illegal Mexican immigrants as a source of Democrat votes?

    Should Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana tell Barack Hussien Kardashian Obumbler (a/k/a The Empty Chair) to shove it I will be there with them. Secession need not be Constitutional since so much of what comes out of Washington is not Constitutional. The Constitution has been shredded already.
    President Empty Chair would not lift a finger to stop Texas because Obumbler is an empty suit…and an empty chair. He would probably not notice.

    A second Civil War? No. Many of the states who formed the Union in the 1860s are now populated by Medicare recipients and countless people who want government to give them what they want. They won’t fight.

  • My Dear Bonchamps, you throw out a challenge and I intend to meet it, as best I can with the humble tools in my possession.

    Let me reiterate though, at the outset, that I have the utmost respect for your intellect and writing. Though at odds often enough, your writing challenges me and I have immense respect for both the gifts you have been given and the exercise of them that you display.

    I will confine myself to your post and not to the comments. Though my previous replies were generalized to respond to both, responding to your post alone is a Herculean task in the comments section.

    First, I agree with you on two predicates that you lay out: that the petition movements aren’t going anywhere and that petitioning the State to leave is absurd. You articulate both ideas well and I have nothing to add to either of them.

    I cannot improve on Abraham Lincoln’s response to secession. The National Park Service explores the issue well. (Search by Lincoln+secession.)

    Let me note what Lincoln does NOT say: that there is no right to rebel or throw off an oppressive government. Secession is an entirely different animal though, no?

    You note that some of the founders of our republic may have intended “some kind of ‘right to secede’” but expressed doubt that it was intended to be a legal right to do so. I entirely agree but I will go farther, I think that a fair reading of Jefferson is that he thought that the government itself would, from time to time, be disbanded and a new government put in place. He certainly wasn’t thinking of secession because he presumed a complete overthrow of government – the inherent right of men to choose for themselves the government by which they will be governed.

    This idea is at the core of my understanding of both the second and tenth amendments. I believe that it was with a mind to preserving the power to oppose government, by force if necessary, that the first government of the United States reserved in the States and their peoples the ability to oppose the federal government.

    It is here though that we appear to split.

    We start from the same crown but take divergent trunks. You seem to be saying: since the United States government will never cede its power over its territory or its people and the people reserve in themselves the right to choose their own government, there is a requisite right to dismantle the United States through secession. I am saying that: since the United States government will never cede its power over its territory or its people and the people reserve in themselves the right to choose their own government, there is a requisite right and duty to remove that government, by force if necessary.

    You speak of a right to secede; I speak of a right to revolt.

    At its core, the Confederate States of America had the argument and their analysis of their rights wrong at inception. They asserted a right to secede where no such right existed. They failed to assert the right that they actually possessed: to ride on Washington, strip the federal government of its powers and insist on a new government.

    You make the same mistake.

    As for the means for bringing the dispute to a head, I can think of dozens of mechanisms, some moral, ethical, lawful; many that are downright evil. And that is my problem with the discussion as it matured.

    There is a nexus between attractive theories and action. We saw it with the La Rouche movement and the arguments that income taxes are unconstitutional. The sovereign citizen movements and the racist movements in the inner cities and rural America are similar. It takes only a seeming sound argument to drive a small group of people right over the edge.

    Let me take on one more point: I meant precisely what I said, that the US Constitution is an inspired document. It has been one of the greatest forces for good in human history. I have fought for the principles articulated therein and would do so again, without a moment’s hesitation – against any enemies, foreign or domestic.

    So long as I was fighting to preserve the principles of the Constitution, I would be willing to bleed for or kill for my country. Dissolve the Constitution – which is the horror that we were addressing, an American tyranny without a valid constitutional government – and my allegiance to THAT government dissolves.

    I like to think that I would fall back on my Christian beliefs and quietly and prayerfully go to the gallows for my faith. I tend to think that I would do so if it were only me but be less inclined to sacrifice my family to the vagaries of tyranny. My guess would be that I would join a movement to directly dissolve the government. I would not, however, seek to pick off a piece of it in some vague and delusional hope that I could create a paradise on earth that would not be immediately overwhelmed and driven into the history books as a mere footnote.

  • G-Veg,

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    Let me just say that I take no options off the table, nor do I insist upon only one option. At this time, secession is not viable. At some time in the future, it might be. If I think it is the best way to protect our natural rights, I will endorse it. If I think that there is a better way to preserve our natural rights, I will endorse that. Secession or revolution, the difference is almost entirely semantic and would result in virtually the same thing.

    What I will not do is put a political entity, i.e. the USA, before natural rights. And I fear that we will become prisoners in our own country not too long from now. Just today a Facebook friend posted something about Dan Savage and it reminded me how much the secular left, and the homosexual radicals in particular, hate us. It is a murderous, fanatical hatred that, if allowed to run its full course, would leave smoldering churches and murdered believers in its wake. It would be like France in 1789, or Russia in 1917, or Spain in 1936.

    Don’t fetishize the Constitution either. The state constitutions are also good, and in both cases they arise from a history, from a tradition, and from a faith that still exists. As long as these things exist we will establish legal documents that will reflect and hopefully protect them. We can lose the US Constitution and come up fine if we remember where we come from.

  • My reaction to this conversation is to remember Jeremiah, and his advice during the Babylonian subjugation and exile. He reminded the people of their responsibility to be personally moral and to live a good life in obedience to their covenant with God. They had slid downhill. They had responsibility for the moral decline and their own resulting weakness and exile. They had over the years turned their back on their own founding “documents” the book of the Covenant.
    Living a life of faith daily in the middle of the pagan society is a witness to the Truth. Ultimately this would be the route back to their own ideals (and home)
    Living in and among the pagans but keeping and building their own faith made them a light, not only to the pagans, but to their own people in exile and to the upcoming generations… winners while losing.
    As the iniquity of the nations plays out we have most of all to remain true to God and our own covenant with Him. America has a special calling in the world– and we -each- as Americans are to live up to that calling and I think we have to take a long view. We may think we are living in Babylon right now, and a smarter more subtle “secession” of non participation in the pagan culture around us coupled with earnest rebuilding of our own civilization of love within the world may sound crazy and pie in the sky; but it just may also bring about change and help us get back to our own foundational ideals.

  • The base problem is that over the years, the Federal govt has usurped more and more of the various states authority, and , as a total outsider who does not really understand US politics ( the complexity of it drives me nuts 😉 ) the individual states that run their own affairs properly are frustrated at the Federal govt which has become totally socialstic under O’Bumbler are running the country into ruin.

    I agree with Don and others who say, don’t run away from the problem – face it and fight it. Otherwise I’d have to think that you yanks are a bunch of wooses (;-).

    And I’d be, of course, totally wrong – wouldn’t I ?

  • I live in Amish country anzlyne and their communal life, or at least an idealised version of it, is attractive to me. It is interesting that the Left has no cognizable interest in Amish America, even though the strictures of their faith require spanking of children, acceptance of one’s lot in life, the subordination of women, etc. I’ve thought many times “we should become a separate people unto ourselves, living apart and obeying our own rules.” The Hasidim live thus too and, arguably, many recent Indian spirituality groups live apart but among the broader society.

    What is common to all of these geoups is the use of shunning. Any group member who strays from the visible path of right conduct is cast out and further contact, even by close family members is barred. This forces conformity and it appears essential to the long term existence of such communities.

    I do not reject this position. Our RadTrad brothers and sisters have moved that direction though I would argue that they are not as separate as they need to be for the movement to maintain itself beyond this JPII generation. However, Christ calls us to be the leaven of the world. That seems to imply mixing and mingling with it doesn’t it?

    As for standing and fighting, I’m going to treat your rhetorical question as an answerable one.

    I think American bark a lot at first and that scares many off. Then we go silent as we start to get serious about the matter: a dog circling in the shadows. The foolish interpret the silence as cowardice and approach, then all hell breaks loose.

    What worries me is that those more strongly inclined to libertarian ideals have legitimate complaints that have gone unaddressed for too long. As we have been dragged left by the nanny-state folks, the injuries have piled up. These libertarian-minded floks have been barking louder and louder. At some point, they will fall silent. The American Left are just tone deaf enough to interpretthat silence as consent and will boldly step up on the porch. God help us all if we get to that point.

  • “We would have the additional horror of most states having blue and red areas within them, intermixed. What that would be like would probably be far worse than the worst of the partisan warfare in Kansas and Missouri during the Civil War.”

    Guerrilla/partisan warfare in border states is an aspect of the Civil War that, I believe, gets less attention than it deserves — perhaps because it doesn’t fit into the conventional narrative of noble Johnny Rebs and brave Billy Yanks marching off to fight the great battles immortalized in history books, novels, and movies. Few people like to think about Johnny Reb and Billy Yank living only a few miles apart and conducting organized campaigns of harassment, deception, robbery, torture and eventually murder against one another and their families.

    Although Civil War battle reenactment is a cottage industry of sorts, I doubt that even the most hardcore reenactors care to recreate incidents like William Quantrill’s 1863 raid on Lawrence, Kansas (in which 150-200 residents, mostly men and young boys, were killed) or the 1864 massacre at Centralia, Mo., led by “Bloody Bill” Anderson (which started with a train robbery/hijacking and ended with more than 100 Union soldiers being slaughtered and mutilated), or the execution by Union military of 10 randomly chosen Confederate POWs at Palmyra, Mo., in 1862, in retaliation for the disappearance of a local Union militia leader (it made international news at the time but is pretty much forgotten about today). Not to mention thousands of smaller incidents in which bushwhackers or jayhawkers or whatever they called themselves at the time functioned as death squads wandering the countryside robbing, torturing or killing anyone they knew or suspected to be sympathetic to the other side (with the definition of “other side” subject to change at any time).

    I suspect this aspect of the war has been neglected because most people who lived through it just wanted to forget about it when it was over, and if they participated in it, took no pride in having done so, with a few notable exceptions such as Jesse James (who is more associated with the Old West than with the Civil War in the popular imagination). However, I think we neglect it at our peril, because if it happened before, who’s to say it couldn’t happen again?

    The book “April 1865: The Month that Saved America” by Jay Winik, which I’ve referred to before on this blog, sums up its review of Civil War guerrilla action with a quote from a Union military officer who had served in the Kansas/Missouri border area: “There was something in the hearts of good Christian people… which had exploded.”

  • The question of secession raises an obvious question: is the United States a nation?

    In Europe, nationality is defined by descent and birth, and it is neither revocable nor is it attainable at will. A Pole, for example, may lose his citizenship – as happened in the three partitions of Poland – but not his nationality. The term nationality, as we understand it, does not refer to citizenship and legal status, but to ethnic characteristics that are transmitted through descent. Underlying this is the assumption that the nation is a unit of common descent and blood; not of voluntary adherence and of association. As Mazzini put it, “They speak the same language, they bear about them the impress of consanguinity, they kneel beside the same tombs…”

    That is why we can speak, for example, of a Hungarian minority in Romania or a Swedish minority in Finland

    How do Americans see themselves? This, surely, has a great bearing on the question of secession.

  • “Was the resistance in the Vendee nothing but “mischief”?”

    No, but think what provoked it. The nobility had been overthrown, the king had been beheaded and the Republic proclaimed, the Non-Juring priests had been expelled. This had been resented, but the people never stirred. Then, on 10 March 1793, the conscription began.

    As Acton says, “the demand that they should go out, under officers whom they distrusted, and die for a government which persecuted them, caused an outbreak. They refused to draw their numbers, and on the following day they gathered in large crowds and fell upon the two sorts of men they detested—the government officials, and the newly established clergy.”

    They did not take up arms spontaneously, but, compelled to fight, one way or another, they chose their side.

  • I (am not too rational) think a solution may be to expell banal, bankrupt blue states . . . before they drag down the rest of the states.

    Consider: John Hinderaker at Powerline:

    “For a century or so, guided by brilliant private sector leadership, California was a beacon to the world, a land of opportunity such as never had existed in human history. Unimaginable wealth was created. Yet it required only 40 years of liberal governance to bring the whole thing crashing down. Today, California is the most spectacular failure of our time. Its government is broke. Productive citizens have been fleeing for some years now, selling their homes at inflated prices (until recently) and moving to Colorado, Arizona, Texas and even Minnesota, like one of my neighbors. The results of California’s improvident liberalism have been tragically easy to predict: absurd public sector wage and benefit packages, a declining tax base, surging welfare enrollment, falling economic production, ever-increasing deficits. Soon, California politicians will be looking to less glamorous states for bailout money. Things have now devolved to the point where California leads the nation in poverty.”

    In fact, We’re (CA) Number One!!! Number one in public debt; number one in welfare (one-third of all US welfare, one-eighth of US population); and We’re number 48! California’s eighth graders read better than those in Mississippi and Washington, DC.

  • Also this on California:

    “If you think that I’m wrong on this immigration business and Republican outreach, I want to give you California. California is the future of the country. Do you realize between 1952 and 1988, 1988’s the important year, that is when massive immigration began in California. Between 1952 and 1988, Republicans won every presidential race except 1964. Democrats have won the last five elections. What’s the difference? Between 1952 to 1988, Republicans won every presidential race. The Republicans were, to one degree or another, relevant players in the politics of California. And then the floodgates opened in 1988. And I’m sure the Republicans in California thought, “You know what, if we reach out we can get some of these people to vote for us.”

    http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2012/11/13/history_shows_amnesty_won_t_win_hispanic_votes_for_republicans

    But this really goes on more with the Pat Buchanan books. Any one of his last several books.

    I am for compassion but also, another bad thing is when a State wants to enforce and guard their borders and you have a Federal Government trying to intervene on the issue as with Arizona.

    Hispanic households unfortunately, tend to have a much higher welfare rate or maybe public assistance than any other group.

  • This talk of secession, as partial as I am to it, is not likely to go anywhere. What is likely is the collapse of the central government (China will eventually come a-callin’ or simply refuse to lend anymore, US credit rating will further drop, we will have to go to war w/ someone – anyone – to scare the world into propping us up, none of which is good). After the collapse, then the state governments, at least those with intact economies, will step in and take over the reigns of their local constituencies. In a sense it will be “peaceful” because there won’t be any central government left to oppose it, but it will be painful because of the economic, political and social upheavel that accompanies any dying regime.

    A prudent state government would be preparing for this eventuality.

    The only uncertainty at this point seems to be the timing.

  • G-Veg said “…the US Constitution is an inspired document. It has been one of the greatest forces for good in human history. I have fought for the principles articulated therein and would do so again, without a moment’s hesitation – against any enemies, foreign or domestic.”

    At the age of 17 I took an oath to defend the constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I agree with G-Veg that our constitution is an inspired document. The writers of it based it on a worldview that recognized the existence of God and the sinfulness of man.

    To declare an oath to a set of supreme laws and not to a man, to a group of people, or to a chunk of real estate is something that I think set us apart from other nations; it was part of our exceptionalism.

    But in essence the constitution of our country no longer exists. When the words of the document have no meaning, when the reasons for their inclusion in the document are ignored, then we might as well not have a constitution.

    Increasingly, judges make rulings based not on the law, but on the desired outcome. This is why Roberts is such an incredible disappointment. He knew the outcome he wanted and he ruled accordingly, constitution be damned.

    At the tender age of 17 I was mostly ignorant of politics, much less the “constitution in exile” phenomena. Any person who takes an oath to defend the constitution, in this generation, is taking an oath to defend a blank piece of paper.

    I am amused at those who so stridently claim secession will not happen. Forget the shock of Obama winning a second term in contradiction to all conventional wisdom and economic indicators; I have seen enough changes over the last 30 years, both inside and outside my country, to finally innoculate me from thinking that any political contortion is impossible.

    In 1986, when I was playing the cat and mouse game with Soviet subs, if someone had told me that in five years the Soviet Union would cese to exist, I would have turned them in for drug testing.

    Just five years ago, if I had been told that my country would elect a man as president with the middle name of Hussein, a man who was mentored by a black liberation preacher, a man who was best-buds with a domestic terrorist, a man whose only skill seems to be the ability to read from a telepromptor, (and oh, by the way, he’ll get re-elected after presiding over the worst economic performance since the Great Depression, running deficits equal to about 10% of GDP four years in a row, openly championing for gay marraige, and forcing abortion funding down the throats of religious institutions) I would have said you were telling me one of those stories that conservatives tell their children at bed-time so that they will be sure to grow up and never vote liberal.

    To those of you who think seccession is impossible, I would like you to perform this exercise for me: Imagine you are sent back in time 20 years (assuming, like me that you are middle aged). Imagine meeting your younger self and explaining the state of the present day United States. Tell him the percentages of people on public assitance, tell him about Obamacare, tell him about our national debt, our bond rating, try explaining the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tell him about this latest political campaign and what the Democratic Party pushed as its agenda, and tell him what TSA agents will do to his wife and daughter before they are allowed to board a plane. Does your younger self recognize this country? Would you have thought any of this, not alone all of it, as a possible future for the United States?

    My crystal ball is cloudy and cracked, but there are items in the not so distant future that will put tension on our present political condtion: The looming bankruptcies of some blue states like California, Illinois, and Connecticut. Our national debt explosion. Inflation. The fracturing of the Democratic Party Grand Coalition Of Pandered Groups when the liberals realize there isn’t enough money to buy them all off (Jonah Goldberg predicts they will split seniors vs minorites). And finally, no one likes to admit it, but we really are at war with Islam; eventually they will get their hands on a WMD and approbriate delivery system and use it on us. Each of these is a political singularity, just as 9/11 was. Being able to predict what lies on the other side is imposible for all but God.

    If you are curious about what others have speculated about our country in a future state of extremis, I suggest “Empire” by Orson Scott Card and “The Last Centurion” by Johnny Ringo (sexual content warning for the Ringo book).

  • Our constitution is not an inspired document. It is a law delineating a particular political architecture which has some advantages and some disadvantages.

  • Art Deco: “Our constitution is not an inspired document. It is a law delineating a particular political architecture which has some advantages and some disadvantages.”

    Interesting statement that makes me remember:

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”- John Adams

    This does not negate what you say, however, I think one can look at a number of statements per the Founding Fathers and wonder if the Constitution might be somewhat “inspired.”

    Quotes can be trotted out pro and con. I don’t think the question is definitely answered one way or another.

  • “Tell him the percentages of people on public assitance, tell him about Obamacare, tell him about our national debt, our bond rating, try explaining the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tell him about this latest political campaign and what the Democratic Party pushed as its agenda, and tell him what TSA agents will do to his wife and daughter before they are allowed to board a plane.”

    Tony, I’m not trying to pick a fight, but other than the national debt and bond rating, none of that would have surprised me in 1992. I’d have applauded our airlines for finally getting serious, although I would have been justifiably worried about what might have inspired them to do so. I wouldn’t even say that our Constitution gets noticably less respect than it did in 1992.

  • This does not negate what you say, however, I think one can look at a number of statements per the Founding Fathers and wonder if the Constitution might be somewhat “inspired.”

    Britain has a body of constitutional law salient portions of which antedate our constitution. The Dutch constitution was enacted in 1815. Are either of these ‘inspired’? Why or why not?

  • Tell him the percentages of people on public assitance, tell him about Obamacare, tell him about our national debt, our bond rating, try explaining the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tell him about this latest political campaign and what the Democratic Party pushed as its agenda, and tell him what TSA agents will do to his wife and daughter before they are allowed to board a plane. Does your younger self recognize this country? Would you have thought any of this, not alone all of it, as a possible future for the United States?

    1. The most destructive public assistance program in 1992 was Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Its successor enrolls about a third the number of people who were enrolled in 1992.

    2. Poorly structured public medical insurance has been on the books since 1965.

    3. We were in a state of belligerency in Iraq in 1992. Please note, the devotion of available resources to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan does not exceed that do devoted during the VietNam War and the death toll of American soldiers is currently running about a tenth of that.

    4. IIRC, the Democratic Party and its news media auxilliaries were quite successful in 1992 in persuading a decisive share of the public that a mild business recession experienced between August of 1990 and April of 1991 was a.) ongoing and b.) some sort of economic cataclysm of a severity not seen in decades.

    5. Metal detectors and occasional pat downs have been features of air travel since 1973. They have grown somewhat more time consuming and thorough, for good or ill.

  • “Britain has a body of constitutional law salient portions of which antedate our constitution. The Dutch constitution was enacted in 1815. Are either of these ‘inspired’? Why or why not?”

    We owe our tradition of law to Great Britain, none the less, the Founders left their for certain reasons.

    ““It can not be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!”” – Patrick Henry

    And Blackstone is British, correct?

    “The Founding Fathers got most of their ideas about government from people such as William Blackstone, who got most of their ideas from the Bible. Even the concepts of private property and free enterprise are biblically based.

    In 1844, the U.S. Supreme Court studied the subject of the nation’s spiritual roots and concluded, “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based on and must embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind.” The Court cited 87 different historical and legal precedents from the Founding Fathers, the Congresses and the state governments.”

    http://www.choicesforliving.com/spirit/part4/america4.htm

  • Do you have an answer Taylor?

  • The triumph of the Union in the Civil War (or better put the war between the states) was what really secured our independence, not so muc the war of 1812. The reason I say this is because Britain was ready to recognize and, if I am not mistaken, supported the Confederacy. Why do you think they did that? They saw a divided America ripe for the taking back. The loss of the American colonies was only about 80 years old at the time and Great Britain was far from being over that loss. It seems clear to me they wanted them back. Perhaps this was one of theings Lincoln had in mind when he said “a divided house cannot stand”.

    What does this have to teach us today? Well, I would say that there are many less benovolent countries that would like to take our place as a superpower. And the threats we face face today are far more malevolent than they were in the 1860s. That alone should be a sober proof text that any talk of sucession on the part of any states is not only stupid, but extremely dangerous.

    I will say this does bring to the fore that this country has serious problems. Waht divides us, in my opinion, is an agressive left against a right that refuses to fight, by and large. We put up weak candidates like John McCain and Mitt Romney. We incessantly cry about the media. But yet Ronald Reagan won two landslides with the same media working against him, but without the massive conservative talk radio network at his disposal. No Fox News Channel either. On that note whoever the GOP nominee is in 2016 needs to insist as non-negotiable that someone form FNC be able to moderate the presidential debates in the fall. And we also have to stop letting ourseleves be intimidated when the left plays the race card and begin painting them as the racists they are.

    With all due respect Bonchamps, joining forces with the pro-dope legalization crowd is not a step in the right direction. I find it peculiar that libertarians who claim to be anti-big government plump for something that is sure to invite more government invlovement like the legalization of drugs and prostitution.

  • Well, I’m a Ron Paul “isolationist”, as you would say, so I really don’t care about who fills what void in what part of the world. As long as they don’t try to invade the United States, it isn’t my problem or my concern. This idea that we need a presence on the world stage simply to prevent other powers from rising is what is really stupid and dangerous – countries inevitably rise and fall, and all we can really decide is how painful our own retraction is going to be. Maybe our time has come and gone, just as the British Empire’s came and went. The UK still exists, and we will still exist. But really I view people who want to spend trillions of dollars just to propagate an ideology abroad as no better than domestic leftists who want to spend trillions of dollars interfering with our lives in this country. It’s a waste of resources in the reckless pursuit of an unattainable idealism.

    You should support anyone who is battling for state’s rights against the federal government. And I am really astonished that you or anyone could believe that legalizing drugs or prostitution could give us more government than we already have now. On the contrary it would cut miles of red tape, it would remove the courts and the police and the social workers from the lives of millions of families, it would save countless millions spent on the entire process from arresting, holding, arraigning, trying, convicting, sentencing and imprisoning people for victimless crimes, it would mean fewer SWAT teams kicking down doors in the middle of the night as if we were in Stalinist Russia, and so on. Nothing but good would come of it.

  • “On the contrary it would cut miles of red tape, it would remove the courts and the police and the social workers from the lives of millions of families”

    Not really. For example, I have been the court appointed counsel for a mother who is a drug addict. So is her husband. They both are on disability. Their kids were taken away from them because they are abysmal parents. That has necessitated court hearings and social worker involvement for three years. They constantly engage in crimes in order to feed their addictions, along with domestic batteries they inflict on each other and third parties when they are high. Mom was just sentenced to two years in prison for a string of robberies. In my experience drug addiction is usually only a symptom of pathologies that usually end up in expensive state interventions. Drug legalization would end none of this and doubtless would increase the number of people who devastate their lives with drug addiction.

  • I am not convinced that illegal drug use and prostitution constitute victimless crimes. Drug use gives rise to a far greater incidence of addiction which has a devasting impact on families, marriages, employment, etc. Drugs like heroin and cocaine are almost always addictive, and while many say that drugs like marijuana are not addictive, virtually every user of harder drugs started out on marijuana and few marijuana users do not eventually try harder drugs. Prostitution also has its victims with husbands, children, etc. The lesson of Hosea and Gomer should be enough to convince us about how prostitution is hardly victimless.

  • I agree with Donald. Those who do not know anything about addiction would do well to go to a few open Narcotics Anonymous Meetings. You can find meetings at sublinks here:

    http://www.na.org/

    Until one takes care of a Daddy going through drug withdrawal while his kids have no hope recovery will ever take, one has no idea what victimization is. Been there. Done that.

  • Don,

    If we’re talking about meth addicts, people hooked on synthetic drugs brewed in some guy’s basement, that’s one thing. I’m mostly talking about people entangled with the system over marijuana, which isn’t physically addictive and which does not generally cause people to engage in violent crime (while alcohol certainly does). The state doesn’t need to be involved with anyone’s life because of marijuana, and probably a few other drugs as well. Others such as meth, I would agree are a public menace.

    Paul,

    Much of what you say may be true, but I don’t believe it is the responsibility of the state or the burden of the taxpayers to deal with these problems. Can marijuana lead to other drugs that are worse? Perhaps. So can alcohol, and it can lead to many other terrible things as well. Does prostitution mess up families? Sure. So does adultery, which is never prosecuted as a crime.

    I don’t object to localities – cities and counties, perhaps even states depending on the issue – enacting penalties against all of the above or none of the above. But I do object to the idea that there ought to be one mandated way of life for the entire nation, enforced by the federal government. There’s no escape unless you leave the country, which means there’s no escape for most people.

    I have faith in the natural law, and that in a free competition those who live clean and sober lives will outlive and outlast people who degrade themselves with vice. But all of this statist interventionism to “save people from themselves” ends up punishing, not helping, those who want to live clean and sober lives, because it is THEIR tax dollars that have to flow into this system of punishment and “corrections.” They’re Sumner’s “Forgotten Men”, but we ought to remember them.

  • I’ll also add that to criminalize prostitution while pornography is legal is an insane double standard. Its like alcohol and pot; legalize them both, or legalize neither, or allow the smallest levels of government to choose what combinations, but end the blatant and obscene hypocrisy at the state and federal levels.

  • “I’ll also add that to criminalize prostitution while pornography is legal is an insane double standard.”

    I agree on the pornography part of what you say. But eactly how does legalizing protitution make things any better?

  • Greg,

    I only I get to insult people on my posts. You want to take potshots at me, get your own blog and fire away. So that post was deleted.

    I think localities ought to have the right to decide how they want to arrange their affairs. I don’t like prostitution, but I don’t think any taxpayer money ought to be spent saving people from themselves. People need to make their own decisions, and Christians, if they want to live in a Christian culture, need to be public and active about it. Private organizations including and especially churches rescue people from themselves all the time and I think that’s fine and great, because the people who go to them want to be saved.

    But I do object to nannyism and paternalism in government. The best thing governments can do is not persecute faith-based organizations that exist to help those who wish to be helped. Government exists to protect natural rights, to protect life, liberty and property from force and fraud. Anything more than that ought to at least be a local matter, not a national one.

  • I disagree with you about marijuana and alcohol, Bonchamps. Libertarians have long tried to tie the two together. I am not buying it.

    As for isolation, the United States tried that. We are in the world, like it or not, Pat Buchanan kvetching or not. Isolation almost got the US clobbered by Japan….if they had nailed the aircraft carriers, Japan could have sailed across the ocean unopposed.

  • “The state doesn’t need to be involved with anyone’s life because of marijuana”

    Probably not, although I would note in Illinois it is rare for anyone to go to prison for marijuana unless they have a very long record indeed, or were involved in shipping a truckload of it, as occurred in my county a few years ago. The drugs of most addicts in my county tend to be heroin and meth.

  • “The looming bankruptcies of some blue states like California, Illinois, and Connecticut”

    Ok everyone, repeat after me: states CANNOT declare bankruptcy, because they are sovereign entities. Municipalities (cities, towns, counties) can declare bankruptcy because legally they are mere creatures of the state in which they are located and have no existence apart from it. A State (or Commonwealth, if you live in KY, VA, PA or MA), however, has a degree of sovereignty and does have the power to impose taxes if necessary. It is NOT possible for any state to legally “declare bankruptcy” in the sense of having all its debts erased.

    That said, this statement is true if we are using the term “bankruptcy” in the figurative or symbolic sense of “running out of money to meet its obligations without imposing ruinous taxes and/or budget cuts”. However, I think we need to be clear that we are not talking about literal bankruptcy as most individuals and businesses know it.

  • Bonchamps,

    I would agree that the regulation and “illegalization” of drugs like heroin, cocaine, etc., should be done not at the Federal Level, but at the State level. I will also concede that making a drug illegal never stopped an addict from obtaining said drug for his addiction. But I have also seen lives wrecked and families destroyed because of drugs. I know of no case where use of cocaine or heroine was innocent and without consequence, and yes, I think States should keep them illegal. I hear that marijuana use can be innocent and without consequence, but every instance with which I am familiar resulted in a gateway to harder substances, but of course my experience is not definitive nor representative of the population at large. I also concede that there is one and only one solution that I know of which works to relieve the scourge of addiction: the 12 Steps. There may be other solutions. I do not know. But in spite of that I think that legalization of hard drugs will only exacerbate an already bad situation. Let the States have the power to regulate as each sees fit without mandates from Washngton, DC. And doesn’t that lead us back to the topic of this post – secession? I signed a secession petition not because I really want secession, but because I want Washngton, DC out of my business. “My 12 Step meetings, and Confession and Mass at my Parish work very well for me, thank you very much, Washington – now bug off with your sexual filth, your baby murdering and your godless liberal insanity!”

  • True Elaine, although I can imagine Congress creating in the years to come a special type of bankruptcy for States. The Federalism problems with such a move are immense, but when the money runs out for Illinois, California, et al, and they are unable to borrow sums to continue robbing Peter Taxpayer to pay various Special Interest Pauls, Congress will have little choice but to set up a mechanism for the States to continue to function.

  • Penguins Fan,

    What don’t you buy? I tie them together because they’re both largely recreational drugs that make people do stupid things when done to excess and generally cause little if any harm when consumed in moderate amounts. In the United States all kinds of narcotics, including pot, were legal until the early 20th century and somehow we survived. The main point is that there is no reason for the state to be involved with marijuana, and I object to one red cent of mine being confiscated to support the persecution of something that people harmlessly do on their own time in their own homes.

    “As for isolation, the United States tried that.”

    And non-interventionism, as we call it, was working fine, as far as I’m concerned. Of course we have to defend ourselves when attacked, which is why I want troops on the Mexican border to destroy the cartels when they encroach on our sovereignty (which they do, by the way).

    I don’t even want to get into the whole WWII debate. I will say, though I think maybe if we didn’t get involved in WWI, there wouldn’t have been a WWII – no Versailles, no Nazis, no Hitler, no Third Reich, no death camps, and a lot of other nonsense besides. Wilsonian idealism had nothing to do with American principles, with the Founding Fathers, with classical liberalism or classical republicanism.

    After Pearl Harbor there wasn’t going to be pure non-interventionism. An old rightist like me understands this. But we didn’t need Korea, Vietnam, Serbia, the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, and Libya, and we sure as heck don’t need to be involved in Syria or go to war with Iran. Even if I thought it was morally justified, and I don’t, we can’t afford it. A society as deeply dysfunctional, polarized, and indebted as ours cannot rule the world. We have no moral right to rule, and if you doubt that, turn on the television for a little while.

  • I have a disconnect on vice crimes. At an intellectual level, it seems plain that drug and prostitution enforcement have failed and, like Prohibition, greatly increased and externalized the costs. Instead of a buyer destroying their own life with an addiction, there are untold costs visited on innocents at every stage of production, delivery, and consumption. However, proximity to vice breeds vice. You mention pornography and I think that a good example of my concern. I think the explosion of pornography is directly related to availability on the internet. Make drugs as available and I have to think a similar explosion in use would occur.

    This is tough stuff, not at all like Delaware’s trip down Nanny Lane in outlawing spankings.

    I don’t have answers, just questions.

  • “After Pearl Harbor there wasn’t going to be pure non-interventionism. An old rightist like me understands this. But we didn’t need Korea, Vietnam, Serbia, the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, and Libya….” – Bonchamps

    ————

    It really seems we are in a new era and it’s too bad in that W. Bush often gets tabbed as starting these wars but it really seems like we are in a new era… but if we ever let down our defenses, if we are seriously attacked, it could be pretty bad and I do feel like Washington, DC is a bit lax in security alright.

    I hate saying it but maybe these wars you mentioned will look in the future as what us “white Americans” did. I don’t know and I don’t want to say anything untoward.

    On the other hand, with 911, we had to go to Afghanistan, my view we had to go to the Gulf War though the subsequent Iraq invasion might be questionable.. the Communists were a threat and we had the Vietnam war and Korea was a sad earlier action involving the UN seems to me.

  • Art Deco: Your welcome. I thought those answers were comprehensive.

  • Art Deco: I guess it depends on what you mean inspired, the FFs, the majority of the Founding Fathers were guided by Biblical Principles. That sounds inspired to me. Inspired isn’t a hard threshold to cross really. Perhaps the Dutch and British were inspired too.

  • I’m sure a lot of people know this here and it was on Relevant Radio a few months ago where I first hear it, George Washington “may have been visited” by an Angel or even the Virgin Mary.

    http://www.spiritdaily.net/georgewashington.htm

    “For decades — actually now centuries — rumors have swirled that George Washington, the father of our country, experienced an apparition of an angelic female and possibly the Virgin Mary herself during the harsh trial at Valley Forge.

    Whether the vision was authentic and if so whether the figure he supposedly saw in it was Mary are two matters that will probably never be answered.

    There are, however, some intriguing hints — and at the very least Washington (known to offer up his suffering and to have a woman “say the beads” for him) was far more spiritual than most of our history teachers taught

    Most tantalizing was a report in volume 4, number 12 of an old nineteenth-century veterans publication known as the National Tribune. Now known as Stars and Stripes, the publication quoted a man named Anthony Sherman as describing a vision that allegedly occurred in 1777. ”

    A lot more on the web about this.

  • This was actually a tall tale written by Charles W. Alexander in 1859. It was published in a magazine in 1861. It is fiction that people who are not aware of its background sometimes mistakenly accept as fact. Go to the link below to read all about it:

    http://www.snopes.com/history/american/vision.asp

  • Art Deco: I guess it depends on what you mean inspired, the FFs, the majority of the Founding Fathers were guided by Biblical Principles. That sounds inspired to me. Inspired isn’t a hard threshold to cross really. Perhaps the Dutch and British were inspired too.

    Those chaps were disproportionately deist. That aside, the intellectual life of Europe prior to about 1715 was steeped in the study and discussion of Christian texts (and not in attempting to debunk them). Are you going to call any surviving document from that era is ‘inspired’?

    And you keep evading the question. The salient period for the development of parliamentary government in Britain was during the ministries of the younger William Pitt (1784-1801). That is to say, it was contemporary with the composition of the U.S. Constitution and its initial amendments. Why is our constitution ‘inspired’ and British parliamentary practice something else?

  • I accept reading the Snopes link left by Mr. McClarey and would not argue it. I also did some bing websearches and came up with this post from this blog in 2009: http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/11/05/george-washington-and-catholics/

    I have read things and heard things about George Washington and it does appear like they embellish the truth. You will not read these things in “accepted” historical sources of George Washington so they may well be tall tales.

    Mr. McClarey is surely well informed on these things. Here is another I will say possible embellishment of George Washington: http://freemasonrywatch.org/george_rc.html

    But you certainly do hear these stories out there.

    —————-

    On the topic of Masons/Freemasons, I have to tell my tale on this real quick, there is a Catholic School, Junior High, here and at the same time, oddly enough, there seems to be a Masonic Temple/Building on those same grounds. The Mason Building doesn’t have windows just like they say. I’m pretty undecided about this and it’s not real important to me. I did however exchange emails with one of those authors that has written on this topic and he is very weary of them.

  • I don’t believe Washington was visited by an angel or the Blessed Virgin.

    I believe that Washington and the Continental Army won our Indepenendece with Divine Assistance.

  • “I believe that Washington and the Continental Army won our Indepenendece with Divine Assistance.”

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/general-washington-and-the-lord-of-hosts/

  • I’m afraid my use of the word “inspired” was unfortunate because it sent usdown a rabbit hole. I meant it to be non-specific in the sense of “your version of the piece was inspired” not “the Bible is the inspired word of God”.

    Our constitution contains ideas from a range of sources, some ancient, some contemporary.

    Taylor isn’t wrong though in suggesting that Providence was active in and among the Framers. I see no cause to ridicule his attribution and, it seems to me that one must ascribe the confluence of characters and ideas that framed out such an “inspired” document to either favorable chance or Providence, depending on your spiritual inclinations.

    As for the predicate and underlying assumptions that the Framers worked with, it is ahistorical to suggest that they did not assume that nearly all of their countrymen believed in and feared God. Indeed, one would have to be a madman to craft a constitution that maintained maximum liberty for the majority of men if you believed that they did not share a common value system; in this case, a decidedly Christian one.

    Imperfect the Framers were but they were not crazyor deluded. They had a pragmatic and clear sense of Man’s fallen nature and crafted a separation of powersthat used those flaws and base inclinations to guarantee liberty.

    You are anxious to win us over to the view that the Framers were deists and there is no doubt that prominent members were. However, the most outspoken deist of the day was Thomas J and he was in France. I suspect the Constitution, if written at all, would have been very different and far less stable if he had been in the US at its negotiation. It may be that the compromise that saved the convention would never have come to be if he had been present. One thing is certain though, there were far more devout Protestants at the convention that deists and the document cannot help but carry their ideas, assumptions, and prejudices forward. I note, for example, that the Constitution’s assumptions about the base nature of Man in his fallen state have a decidedly Calvinist feel.

    This is a fascinating topic and it is a testiment to the robust, durable nature of the Constitution itself that everybody sees so much of what they personally want in it without having to change a word or puncuation mark. I remain optimistic about my nation and do not share any pf the pessimism of commentors on this thread precisely because the Framers did such a fine job and, in my view, produced a document of such profound beauty and practical application that it can only be termed “inspired”.

  • G-Veg, I am not anxious to win over anyone to any views about the Framers, nor am I particularly concerned with their views on much of anything. One was Catholic, some were protestants of varying degrees of observance, some were deists. John Adams was a formal affiliate of the Unitarian Association later in life. Does not much matter. The intellectual architecture they crafted was what it was without regard to their thoughts on metaphysical questions. (Intellectual history is not something in which I have more than the laconic interest).

    It does concern me how people think about our political institutions. Most of the discourse on this topic works against any sort of clear thinking about problems in political economy. Taylor’s meandering is just another diversion. I’ve seen worse.

  • Excuse me, the institutional architecture they crafted.

    I remain optimistic about my nation and do not share any pf the pessimism of commentors on this thread precisely because the Framers did such a fine job and, in my view, produced a document of such profound beauty and practical application that it can only be termed “inspired”.

    Well, you do have a problem when people’s thinking on this topic is entirely configurative and given to genuflections such as this. You know, there are about two dozen countries in this world which have had constitutional government since the 1st World War or thereabouts interrupted only by wartime occupation. Perhaps two make use of separation of powers. Is it your point that the experience of the other 20-odd is of no account or that their constitutional law is written in ugly language?

  • Art Deco: No one meandered. How Rude. Of course, I didn’t read your subsequent post because my point was proven and backed up with facts.

    As it is, you make a statement: “The intellectual architecture they crafted was what it was without regard to their thoughts on metaphysical questions.”

    Now, this is funny, you can not substantiate this. This is totally made up. You can not answer this. It’s too bad, we find so many Catholics that want to argue.

    Insult people if you must, I have better things to do.

  • G-Veg: “There is a nexus between attractive theories and action. We saw it with the La Rouche movement and the arguments that income taxes are unconstitutional. The sovereign citizen movements and the racist movements in the inner cities and rural America are similar.”
    The word “sovereign” as in “sovereign citizen” caught my mind. There is one person not mentioned in this post and he is the sovereign person, by whom, of whom and for whom our nation was founded and for whom our founding fathers wrote our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
    A government that refuses to acknowledge the Person of God refuses to acknowledge God’s creature, the sovereign person and the personhood so endowed. It is not the people who will secede but the government that has discarded its sovereign citizens. There is also a Ninth Amendment that comes before the Tenth that tells the people that they have rights not yet enumerated.

  • Art Deco: You have been grasping at straws on the inspiration point, it was totally shot out of the water and you come up with a most ludicrous assertion yourself.

  • Bonchamps,

    I have hears the libertarians tie marijuana to alcohol for all my adult life. It is patently ridiculous.

    I am sure you don’t want to go into WWII because isolationism almost cost this country everything. As for WWI, Woodrow Wilson is not one of my favorite historical figures, but he did favor the reestablishment of the Polish nation and I thank God he did. Germany had bad apples in charge then and worse ones later. There is a book by Hew Stratchan that cited a German plot to invade the US in the first decade of the 1900s.

    Having military bases overseas is not the same as having an empire unless you are Pat Buchanan.

    Back to the original subject of secession – I do hope something comes of it. For far too long, the federal government has encroached upon people’s rights – speech codes, an overbearing EPA, Obumblercare, etc. and there are far too many people who want something for nothing. It must stop and stop it will.

  • Dear Mary De Voe, your writings on this site are refreshingly focused on the substance of our faith and I am grateful for the reminders. I do not doubt and continue to argue that Providence is necessary for prosperity. It is my firm belief that God has withdrawn Providence from the United States because of rising secularism, like a good father who leaves his son to discover the error of his ways because the boy just won’t listen.

    Keep throwing God back into our over-intellectualized conversations. It is where He ought to be.

  • Mary De Voe and G-Veg may then appreciate today’s Gospel reading from Luke 19:41-44:

    As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace– but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

  • Art Deco, I admit that I am befuddled by your earlier response.

    First, it seems strange to say that you are not trying to win others over to your way of thinking. If you are not, then what is the point of this discourse? You have much to say of great interest and write with singular clarity and skill. I should not like to think that this is merely prideful disputation. I choose to think that you are, in fact, seeking to win us over to your view and that your comment about not caring what others think relates to your later point that what was going on in the minds of the Framers is not relevant to understanding the Constitution.

    Addressing that narrow point, I do not agree. That is applying the Scalia approach to legal interpretation – an approach I favor for affirmative law analysis – to the Constitution. It doesn’t work.

    First, note that the approach you use directly conflicts with Chief Justice John Marshal’s exclusive use of the Federalist Papers to interpret the Constitution. To abandon that consistent framework for constitutional analysis at this point is to turn constitutional law on its head. I am certainly willing to consider the argument that Marshall was wrong but that is a different topic, too far afield from this discussion to be relevant.

    Suffice it to say that the Constitution does not and cannot mean only what it didat the Ratification or at any point of formal adoption of Amendments thereafter. The Constitution is thereby rendered static and not-adaptable to the changing circumstances of life. Approaching the Constitution like a piece of legislation, applying Scalia’s approach by saying, in essence, “we don’t know what was going on in the minds of the Framers or signers of the Constitution so we have to take a strict interpretation of the document at the point it became effective” leaves us in an impossible position, unable to adapt the Constitution and, so, having to accept Thos. Jefferson’s approach – constantly rewriting it.

    Thus, I conclude that what was going on in the minds of the major players of the Constitution is extremely relevant to discussion. If we want to know why there is a 10th Amendment, we have to look at the Virginia delegation, et al to see how their concerns about a strong, centralized federal government under a single man worried them. If we want to understand the Electoral College, we have to consider the concerns of Delaware, et al and their worry that large populous states would overwhelm the interests of small states.

    Carrying this thinking back to the center of our discussion, you greatly minimize the influence of faith on the Framers, Delegates, and signers of our Constitution. You seem to be saying, and I very mich want you to correct me if I misunderstand and, therefore, misstate your position, that what the men who created our government assumed about its people isn’t important. If I have it right, you couldn’t be more wrong.

    Finally, with regards to my “genuflecting” to the Constitution, you do me a great disservice, Sir. I know well to whom I owe ultimate allegiance and the only figure worthy of falling on my knees to. I am, first, a man who fears his God. After that though, I am free to adore and serve whom and what I may so long as that service does not conflict with my duties to God.

    I love my country and will serve her to my last breath. I believe that God greatly influenced her creation and that the Constitution is inspired and part of His plan. I worry that He has withdrawn His Providence becaus of our collective rejection of Him but believe that the Constitution is so well formed and wisely constructed as to weather any storm I can think of.

    I believe I have been quite clear as to where I stand. Where do you stand against her enemies, those from within or without who threaten to tear her assunder or corrupt her through her institutions?

  • Penguin’s Fan, First, Iam entirely with you with regards to encroachment on states rights. Iam more concerned with Executive encroachment on Legislative powers. We have both a profound verticle and horizontal encroachment problem. The solution for both rest in a better quality of encroachee than in controlling the encroacher if you get my drift.

    Take, for example, education. What justification exists for the federal government under our constitution to direct education? The answer is “none” which is why the states are, in effect, bribed to apply federal standards. They don’t have to. If they had any intestinal fortitude at all they would refuse the money and take care of their own people. Highway money, welfare money, medical insurance, housing grants, etc… All encroachments consented to by the states; and the remedy for all is to refuse to participate.

    The good news? The US is going bankrupt so we cant continue this profligate spending indefinately.

    On the horizontal encroachment problem, Congress is the preeminent power in out system of government and I cannot fathom why they tolerate Executive Branch encroachment. They need to stand up on their hind legs and tell the President to shove his Executive Orders, Regulations, and Operating Instructions someplace unpleasant.

    Were I in Congress, I would begin by refusing to receive the President’s budget and would schedule Department Head budget meetings directly with the Senate and the House. The message would be clear, ” you ask US for money, not him. WE authorize expenses, not him. You seek OUR authority to represent the Untied States because you have NO authority but what we extend to you.”

    It galls me to see presidential candidates saying “when I’m President I will….”

    “You will what? You have no authority to do anything but enforce the laws that Congress passes in the domestic sphere so don’t tell us what kind of energy or education or roads or benefits we will enjoy under our regime you tyrannical schmuck!”

  • G-Veg, whatever you have to say, it is not a reply to anything I have said. The political theory or religious notions of 18th century politicians do not interest me much. The only ‘view’ I am trying to promote is that it is the actual institutional architecture erected, not the antecedent professions and interests of those writing the laws, that is of interest. What does our experience tell us about how this thing works? How James Madison speculated it would work or what John Adams or Dan of St. Thomas Jennifer thought about the world in which they lived are of academic interest.

    As for Mr. Justice Scalia, I am baffled. Just how did we get on the subject of the finer points of rules of construction?

    I think we are going to learn the hard way in the coming years that the institutional set-up we have is in need of revision and repair. The trouble is, people approach this discussion with antecedent assumptions which prevent even a discussion of this. The Constitution is not Sacred Scripture. It is a law and not much more.

  • Jefferson gave his reasons for thinking that the power of repeal was not equivalent to a law of limited duration.

    “But the power of repeal is not an equivalent. It might be, indeed, if every form of government were so perfectly contrived, that the will of the majority could always be obtained, fairly and without impediment. But this is true of no form: The people cannot assemble themselves; their representation is unequal and vicious. Various checks are opposed to every legislative proposition. Factions get possession of the public councils, bribery corrupts them, personal interests lead them astray from the general interests of their constituents; and other impediments arise, so as to prove to every practical man, that a law of limited duration is much more manageable than one which needs a repeal.”

    The ideas that all political power comes from those over whom it is exercised and depends on their will; that the earth belongs to the living and not the dead and that the past may instruct and warn, but cannot guide or control; these were the common currency of the Enlightenment, both in Europe and America

  • My reply was exactly on point and I have been fairly explicit. i clearly have not communucated my point though so let me try again.

    You seek to disconnect the Constitution from its base and then analyze what was “wrong” with it from looking at the intellectual rubble left over.

    The Constitution is both a text and a framework for analysis. You MUST have both to properly analyze it. Youl cannot look only at the institutions created by the Constitution and ask “how could we frame out a better government for America” and call that an analysis of the Constitution for it is not. It is an intellectual exercise of great curiosity but it isn’t an analysis of the Constitution. Constitutional analysis begins and ends with the Constitution, not with what we might do to create abetter form of government.

    Scalia fits in nicely to the constitutional analysis discussion but I readily admit that it has no bearing on the question of what the alternatives to our for of government might look like if we were willing to abandon this Republic and institute another form of government. Again, you can’t talk about the institutions of our government in a vaccuum because unhinging them from the underlying historical analysis eliminates the concerns that those institutions address, namely preventing tyranny by the mob on the one hand and the national executive on the other.

    Finally, please do not put words in my mouth. I meant no more or less than I said and, since I haven’t called the Constitution “scripture,” I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t pretend that I did. This is a fascinating discussion and I want to continue it but it does not help in communication if we misrepresent what one another says. Where I have done so, please setme straight. I will afford you the same courtesy.

  • Penguins Fan,

    Just saying something is ridiculous doesn’t make it so. Articulate some reasons or drop the subject. Of course the substances are not identical, but again, pot was legal for a very long time in the U.S. without the complete destruction of society resulting from it. There’s no justification for locking people up or otherwise interfering with their lives over it.

    I don’t share your assessment that “isolationism almost cost this country everything.” I don’t believe this country was ever “isolationist.” I believe “isolationist” is a cheap smear word that aggressive interventionists apply to their opponents that does not accurately describe the views of the vast majority of non-interventionists, who embrace diplomacy and trade with other nations (neither of which true isolationists would do). As for WWII, I don’t want to discuss it because it can’t be discussed rationally without all kinds of name calling and accusations. It is pointless.

    As for evidence of a German plot to invade the US, yeah… I don’t think so. Read General Smedley Butler’s “War is a Racket” if you want to know what I think about WWI.

    And I like Pat Buchanan. And Ron Paul. And Murray Rothbard. I’m Old Right, my friend.

    One of the reasons I support state’s rights over federal power is that only the federal government can launch international wars. A true federalism among the states would mean only a pact for self-defense, which is what the Constitution’s primary practical aim was at the time it was ratified. There wasn’t any anticipation of or desire for a world police force meddling in world affairs and spending billions of dollars and millions of lives deciding which tribe would temporarily possess which worthless scrap of sand and rocks ten thousand miles away.

  • The legalization of marijuana or prostitution are darned complicated issues.

    They are muddled states rights issues, muddled security issues, muddled policing issues, muddled international affairs issues… Just muddled, muddled, muddled.

    There are issues that are deal-breakers for me in terms of politics – religious liberties, abortion, the 2nd Amendment, and the redistribution of wealth come to mind – but legalization of marijuana or prostitution are not in the same league. It isn’t that I don’t care (vice should concern us all) but that the benefits of legalizing these vices as we have alcohol (I’m with Bonchamps on that one) are not clearly greater than seeming benefits of strict enforcement of the bans. Nor do I consider opposition to such legalization as a powerful reason to vote for someone.

    This is complicated stuff and, forgive me for pointing it out, I don’t think anyone has laid out the states rights argument for legalization for us. I would very much like to see a compelling argument for legalization. Perhaps Bonchamps could lay one out for us and Penguins Fan could give us an opposing view.

    Very interesting topic, that.

  • Oh yeah… With regards to isolationism, I entirely agree that it is a term too long abused to have much meaning. It is noteworthy that it makes its reappearance as a weapon by both the Left and the Right to oppose precisely the kinds of wars that their side was accused of on the previous go-around.

    I think it tragically amusing, for example, that the Left was all up in arms about the US invasion of Iraq because it was “merely” a “war for oil” – as though securing energy was not a legitimate state interest and as though there were no other legitimate reasons for the conflict. It is amusing in its hypocrisy because there isn’t a peep about Libya or our more active and clandestine involvement on the Arabian Peninsula, even those conflicts were every bit as much, if not more, “wars for oil.”

    We would all be better off if we said what we meant rather than resorting to the use of badly abused terms which, if they had meaning at one time, are so encumbered with historic misuse as to be unintelligible.

  • G-Veg

    I agree that securing energy is a legitimate state interest.

    The trouble is that such interests can so easily lead to mission creep. In the 19th century, Britain, a manufacturing country that depended on imports for half its food and on its exports to pay for it felt it necessary to have an invincible navy to protect its sea-borne commerce, “the life-blood of the nation.”

    This, in turn, required overseas bases – Gibraltar, Malta, the protectorate in Egypt and the Sudan and Aden to protect the route through the Suez Canal, the Cape of Good Hope to protect that route, bases in Canada and the West Indies &c, &c

    There is some truth in the saying that Britain acquired its empire in a fit of absence of mind.

    Is the US in the process of doing the same?

  • That’s the problem with “enlightened self interest” isn’t it; our circle of interests seems ever increasing.

    I don’t thnk though that the US is in an expansion mode. I think the recent election signals that the public has become more focused on domestic that foreign policy. Except for the general sense that China and India have stolen US jobs, I don’t think Amercans care all that much about what is happening abroad. Perhaps we reached the point you describe and didn’t notice but i tend to think in terms of ebb and flow rather than stages when it comes to US interventionism.

  • Has this comment thread set the record for the longest TAC thread that doesn’t mention Mel Gibson or Sarah Palin? (Until right now, that is)

  • I think that Sarah would be opposed to secession unless it involved a reality show. Mel would be all in favor of secession from reality.

  • G-Veg wrote, “I don’t thnk though that the US is in an expansion mode…”

    That may well be so. I was merely trying to indicate the lines along which commercial empires (think the Carthaginian or the British) do tend to expand – a net-work of scattered bases and their hinterlands, as opposed to land-based empires, like the Roman, the Russian or the Ottoman.

    As a European, I am more than happy for the US to police the world’s sea-routes, but I can well understand why the American taxpayer may think differently.

  • I am very uncomfortable with the military retraction. It seems to me that there are at least two types of projection of military power:that which is used to secure remote interests long term and that which is interventionist for perceived immediate gain. Renegotiating US and NATO exclusive access to the air bases on the Azores is of the first type and securing Iraq gains and friendships is of the second type.

    Both are, to my mind, legitimate projections of power and essential to our long-term security and the short term benefits in savings terms are dwarfed by the costs of reestablishing control once lost. I is like having the tires replaced on your car; expensive? Yes, but a whole lot less so than paying the costs associated with a significant car accident.

  • Once again, Bonchamps, you confuse having military bases overseas with having an empire. I became nauseated with Buchanan after reading some of his columns blaming Israel for the constant Middle East state of tensions. Buchanan’s rant about Poland joining NATO was another. Another one was Buchanan’s desire to come to an accomodation with Islam. After that, Buchanan became an old crank, another Washington talking head blowhard in a city with far too many Washington talking head blowhards. Buchanan, a self-proclaimed Traditionalist Catholic, must be blissfully unaware of Islam’s attacks on Christian Europe. Buchanan must know nothing about the Spanish Reconquest, Lepanto or Vienna. What a fool. Islam has changed tactics but not goals.

    Ron Paul’s domestic agenda was fine. His foreign policy ideas were nuts.

    I have no interest in the USA being the world’s policeman. Where you and I digress is that the USA does have legitimate interests in the world.

    I don’t like the UN. The US should kick them out. The US has/had no business meddling in Serbia, Libya or other places. Dubya wanted to let the Middle east sort out their own problems at the start of his first term. Bush blew off Tony Blair when Blair urged more American presence at the always failing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Bush wanted to have better relations with Latin America, which is usually ignored by official Washington.

    Well, President Klintoon ignored al Qaeda and the rest is history, ain’t it?

  • I thought Ron Paul (R-Jupiter) gave an excellent retirement speech. Only issue I had was it came 10 years too late.

  • P. Fan,

    To reply to your points in order:

    I never said a word about military bases. I could have mentioned them, but it is sufficient to stick to military campaigns and occupations to demonstrate the fact of American imperialism. So I don’t know where you are getting this line about military bases.

    I don’t worship Israel. I don’t care if someone assigns them their rightful share of the blame for the conflicts they are embroiled in. You can’t expect to just settle millions of people from an alien and foreign culture in the middle of a completely different part of the world and not have any conflicts. So, you can forget trying to guilt, shame and insult me into Zionism.

    I think you’re the fool if you assume Pat Buchanan doesn’t know the history of Western civilization. It’s possible for two people to know the same things and see different implications. I’m not aware of any particular argument he made for accommodating Islam. But to attribute all problems to Islam is simply ahistorical and absurd. Much of the 20th century was not marked by Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East, and many of the conflicts we see today have their origins in disputes between secular regimes with Islam intermingled. Arafat was a secular Palestinian leader – Israel helped CREATE Hamas in order to weaken the PLO. This is a documented historical fact. Google it and you will find articles not on conspiracy websites, but the Wall Street Journal, detailing this history.

    The US, UK and Israel decided to help in various ways Islamic fundamentalists gain power, weapons, and influence in order to combat who they thought the greater threat was – the secular regimes and parties of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, the Palestinians, etc. This is the mess our governments made. This isn’t Vienna or Lepanto, these are groups that our own government continues to supply with money, arms and support to fight regimes they don’t like, i.e. Assad’s regime in Syria.

    I think YOUR foreign policy ideas are nuts. There, see? I can dismiss everything you think and believe with a silly insult too.

    I never said the US didn’t have legitimate interests. I don’t think those interests include the security of Israel, or Japan and South Korea, or Russia’s attempts to retain its sphere of influence. Israel has nukes. It’s time for Japan, with the third largest economy in the world, to get its own military. And Russia due to its history will always want, and in my opinion, deserves a sphere of influence and a buffer zone, and has no obligation to acquiesce to the rapacious demands of the West. None of this poses any threat to me and mine. But the narco-terror organizations south of the border do pose a direct threat to us all.

  • “I don’t worship Israel. I don’t care if someone assigns them their rightful share of the blame for the conflicts they are embroiled in. You can’t expect to just settle millions of people from an alien and foreign culture in the middle of a completely different part of the world and not have any conflicts. So, you can forget trying to guilt, shame and insult me into Zionism.”

    Genesis 15:18-20 – 18* On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

    God does not revoke His promises – ever. But I realize that most here won’t agree with this. So go blast me. But I won’t change my opinion. Nope. Not at all. That land belongs to Israel. Not the Arabs. Not the Gentiles. And that’s the way it is, because God said so. And I won’t debate it, or respond to any comments otherwise. Not worth the effort.

  • Ok Paul. Don’t respond. I’ll respond anyway for others.

    Until the wishy-washy touchy-feeliness of Vatican II, the Church held for 1900-plus years that the Church was the New Israel, and that Scripture was to be read in this light. The verdict of God upon old Israel was rendered in 70 A.D. when the Temple was destroyed.

    Please read Mt. 22:1-14. I think this explains it rather well.

  • What a great discussion. I told someone over the weekend about this post and they were horrified by the title.
    As we have meandered from that title, I will just add that once again I second Paul First Truth– of course that land belongs to them – remember the great song from the movie “Exodus” ! And as for Bon Champs point can’t it be a case of “both and” ? : )

  • “And Russia due to its history will always want, and in my opinion, deserves a sphere of influence and a buffer zone,…”
    Bonchamps, you always write interesting things. Nothing mediocre comes from your keystrokes. I alternate between thinking you’re awesome and thinking you’re crazy.
    Can you guess what I’m thinking now?
    The Poles, Finns, Ukrainians and peoples of the Baltic states might have a different idea about how much Russia deserves a buffer zone.
    And a buffer zone from what?
    Is Germany going to invade again? Is Norway?
    It’s a good thing the Russians taught those Georgians a lesson. Otherwise Mother Russia would be quaking in her boots at the thought of the Axis of Armenia and Azerbaijan goose-stepping across the Caucasus.
    In the one direction the Russians do have something to fear, they have no buffer. I am sure there are merchantilist members of the Chinese ruling party who have made a case for going after the natural resources of their northern neighbor.
    I am with Paul when it comes to the Jews (both the Primavera type and the Apostle type). Although Paul makes clear that God will not show favoritism to the Jews when it comes to our final judgement, he also makes clear that the Jews are special to Him: “first the Jew, then the Gentile”.
    Besides, if the Russians are deserving of “buffer zones” because of their history, aren’t the Jews deserving of a home-land because of theirs?

  • Besides, if the Russians are deserving of “buffer zones” because of their history, aren’t the Jews deserving of a home-land because of theirs?

    You are expecting him to be consistent. No fair.

  • Tony,

    Do you really not understand that the situation in Georgia was a battle with the United States – that the Georgian military wouldn’t so much as breathe in Russia’s direction without US approval/support? That Georgia, along with other countries/factions in the area are little more than US proxies and bases within the region? That Russia faced the wholesale looting of its natural resources and the remnants of its crumbling infrastructure during the negligent Yeltsin years? Bush Jr. and now Hillary Clinton have been carrying out a policy of encircling and politically isolating Russia. But I guess if your only source about world affairs is Fox News, you might actually think that Russia’s policies regarding her neighbors have something to do with those neighbors, as opposed to the geopolitical forces that are manipulating them for their own purposes. Broaden your scope. Russia is in the crosshairs of the West.

    As for the Jews, again, 70 A.D. Zionism has nothing to do with Catholicism. The Church never supported the project. Heck the Vatican was one of the last nations to recognize the State of Israel, and that was well after the touchy-feeliness of Vatican II. It’s sad to see that a lot of Catholics, especially American Catholics who get their news from the MSM and are hence fiercely pro-Israel, don’t understand that the Church is the New Israel, and that Zionism was the brainchild of secular and socialist Jews in the 19th century.

    “Besides, if the Russians are deserving of “buffer zones” because of their history, aren’t the Jews deserving of a home-land because of theirs?”

    Maybe, but not through the expropriation of indigenous people in a volatile region of the world. I’m sure there were some uninhabited parts of Australia that could have sufficed. Israel exists now, so I don’t expect all of these people to up and leave. But its foundation in my view was ill-considered to say the least. I would say the same, broadly, about almost all Western imperialism in the Middle East going back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the aftermath of WWI.

  • As for Art’s comment, I think it might be fair to expect him to know where I think he can stick it.

  • Bonchamps, you did a good job in the original post on which we are all commenting, and while Art Deco’s comment about consistency and fairness may be less than charitable, yours was even less so: “As for Art’s comment, I think it might be fair to expect him to know where I think he can stick it.”

    I don’t agree with you about Israel, but I also won’t tell you to stick it (having once been reprimanded – ok, more than once – for making an asinus maximus out of myself). You do put considerable thought into what you assert. I just think that telling Art to “stick it” detracts from your credibilty as a blog contributer here at TAC, and you do have (in my book at least) considerable credibility when it comes to history and politics (even if I don’t always agree with you).

    😉

  • What? I just meant he could stick it to the wall 😉

    I’m not looking for credibility points. I’m just keeping it real.

  • Notes from the Idiocracy:

    Surprise! The Dallas Federal Reserve Bank’s Manufacturing Business Index fell (November 6th they retired the word “unexpectedly”) to -2.8 in November 2012.

    Four more years!!!

    Note to imbecile Obama voters (again I repeat myself). That is not a good economic thingy.

  • This thread has strayed astonishingly far from the original post and is all the more interesting for it.

    The Israeli possession of the lands between the Jordan and the Sea seems to me to be grounded on the power to dispossess others. The “ancestral home” justification is weak but necessary to cloak the raw use of Western power to transfer possession from Palestinians to European and Russian Jews.

    We should be honest in this assessment though for it is the way of this fallen world: acts of brutal power, justified by spurious claims to “right.”

    There may be a people out there which did not take possession of the lands of others. Human history is dominated by that tale though and it is hypocritical to hold Jews, dispossessed of their homes in Europe and the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1944, to a different standard.

    Before we come down too harshly on the Israelis for doing to the Palestinians what the Mohammedan armies did to North Africa and the Near East, we should find a way to reconcile our own history, a history of dispossessing “indigenous” peoples – whatever that term means in a world which has seen mass and continuous migrations of humans for at least 10,000 years – in order to advantage our own, with our values and laws.

    To be perfectly clear, I don’t think moral judgments come in to play here. It is no less “right” for Israelis to take lands from the Palestinians than it was for Ferdinand to strip Islam of its Iberian possessions.

    As to where US interests lie, it is hard to imagine that they lie with Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood, or what remains of Baathists. Really, the only option available to the US is to continue to back strong men that will favor short-term US interests more than their opponents.

    Israel is the proven powerhouse in the region and we would be fools to withdraw support from our only reliable ally to test the bizarre notion that Muslims will love us for it.

  • T-Shaw – a joke for you:

    Give a Democrat a fish and he’ll sit on your doorstep for more free stuff. Teach a Democrat to fish and he’ll want you to buy him a rod, a reel, a boat, bait, lures, and a jar of tartar sauce.

    (I wish it were my joke but I picked it up from my wife.)

  • “it is hypocritical to hold Jews, dispossessed of their homes in Europe and the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1944, to a different standard”

    I don’t, really. But I can’t think of other situations in the world today that are comparable. Even if there are, they don’t generate the sort of widespread animosity that Jewish occupation of Palestine (as it is seen) has throughout the Arab/Muslim world. The technological differences between the Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis is really not as great as the differences between Europeans and indigenous peoples around the globe either (i.e. Native Americans, Africans, aboriginals, etc.). Palestine was a province of the Ottoman Empire, which may have become a second-rate power in the last few hundred years of its existence, but was by no means “savage” in the way that indigenous tribes were. That’s another reason why I despise Pamela Geller’s subway advertisements regarding civilization v. savagery. So this is a unique situation.

    “As to where US interests lie, it is hard to imagine that they lie with Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood, or what remains of Baathists. Really, the only option available to the US is to continue to back strong men that will favor short-term US interests more than their opponents.”

    I think our interests lie in not backing anyone, in not spending another dollar or life on any of this nonsense. This Frumite “you’re with us or against us” neoconservatism is nothing but an obscene fallacy. There’s a third option – let them deal with their own problems.

    “Israel is the proven powerhouse in the region and we would be fools to withdraw support from our only reliable ally to test the bizarre notion that Muslims will love us for it.”

    Who said they will love us? They will always regard us as infidels. Heck, they were attacking US ships not long after the country was established, which led to the Barbary Wars. The difference was that in that case, their state-sponsored pirates attacked us first, and we responded, justly, in defense of our vessels and our broader interests.

    I don’t care if they love us or hate us. But it has nothing to do with that. The reality is that we are empowering radical Islamic groups to attack regimes that pose no threat to us what soever. What in the heck is Syria’s Assad ever going to do to the United States? No one is framing it in those terms, not even the interventionists. No, supposedly we have some moral obligation to “stop dictators” from “killing their own people”, in order to further “democracy” and other such nonsense.

    Western imperialism in the region created arbitrary boundaries that led to ethnic disputes and the oppression of millions, it is directly responsible for the resurgence of Islam as a political force, which had been moribund throughout the largely secular 20th century, and its support for Israel has – as both Muslim and secular Arabs alike have repeatedly declared – made it hated. Do I think they would “love us” if we stopped supporting Israel? About as much as a Muslim can “love” infidels, which by default isn’t much – but which is markedly different than how they feel about people who they perceive to be directly hostile to their own interests. When was the last time Muslims attacked Japan? Shouldn’t they hate them for their freedom and infidelity too?

  • Bonchamps and Paul W Primavera

    As to the “Chosen People” and the “Promised Land,” I believe the traditional Catholic position was summed up by Pascal, when he wrote, “The Jewish religion is wholly divine in its authority, its duration, its perpetuity, its morality, its doctrine, and its effects.”

    On the other hand, one can distinguish between the authentic religious experience of the Jewish people and the contingent and historically conditioned imagery and metaphors, in which that authentic experience of the transcendent was necessarily expressed “The word of God in the words of men”). Pascal again, “To show that the true Jews and the true Christians have but the same religion – The religion of the Jews seemed to consist essentially in the fatherhood of Abraham, in circumcision, in sacrifices, in ceremonies, in the Ark, in the Temple, in Jerusalem, and, finally, in the law, and in the covenant with Moses. I say that it consisted in none of those things, but only in the love of God, and that God dismissed [réprouvait] all the other things.”

  • That is pretty far from the traditional Catholic position, MPS.

    Pope Eugene IV defined the Catholic position at the Council of Florence:

    “[The Church teaches that] the matter pertaining to the law of the Old Testament, of the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments, because they were established to signify something in the future, although they were suited to the divine worship at that time, after our Lord’s coming had been signified by them, ceased, and the sacraments of the New Testament began; and that whoever, even after the passion, placed hope in these matters of the law and submitted himself to them as necessary for salvation, as if faith in Christ could not save without them, sinned mortally.”

  • The notion that “if we shun Israel, Muslems will love us” is this Administration’s idiocy. I’m sorry that I was not clear as to whom I was attacking.

    Our positions are not so far apart. I think that George Washington’s view of the matter would have been similar.

    That having been said, national interest is more of a slope than a gulf in positions, isn’t it?

    What Imean is that national interest is really just self interest on a larger scale. We hope that ournational interests, whether domestic or foreign, isn’t merely deluded meddling. We hope that we see clearly enough the ramifications of action and of inaction and choose the proper level of engagement.

    In the domestic sphere we call over-engagement “nanny-statism” and in the foreign “world policing.” To our credit, both draw their justification from a genuine concern for the welfare of others, a “I am my brother’s keeper” impulse writ large. However, good intentions easily slip into self-indulgent meddling when things go wrong and the intended benifactor resists.

    The trick, therefore, seems to me not to be engagement versus non-engagement or, as applied to this discussion, aiding or not aiding Israel. Rather, it is the type and amount of aid to a particular cause that is of issue. It is a sliding scale of intervention, not a demarcation between intervention and non-intervention.

    We may well have gotten this entirely wrong over the last sixty years. I do not doubt that the Muslim fervor for the destruction of Israeland the extermination of her people is genuine. Our being Israel’s friend is costly.

    I wonder though, if Israel were wiped from the map, if totalitarian regimes no longer had that cause to stir up in their people, would Islamists be less vocal, less dangerous, less inclined to attack and destroy the West? Forgive me if it is myopic or ignorant to say so but I tend to take the stated goal of even moderate Muslim leaders, to convert the world to Islam and establish Muslim caliphates instead of free nations, seriously.

    Our interests as a nation must be to confine Islam to the unfortunate nations where it dominates now since it is incompatible with freedom, liberty, and all notions of modernity.

    You well argue for the position that our support for Israel has had the opposite effect, that it has created the conditions for Islamist political resurgence. Perhaps. That the Muslim Brotherhood pre-dates the founding of Israel and that the original target of Salafists was the UK for its interventions in the Near East, Egypt, and Iraq suggests to me though that focusing on the claimed injury (Israel) rather than the real problem (militant Islam – a religious and philosophical movement forged in blood and lies).

    For my part, any force standing between us and Islamic domination should receive our support.

  • G-Veg: Thanks for the joke. We’ll need bright moments as the evil, hate-filled idiots wreck everything we have and hold dear.

    For those that slaver for the day the terrorists drive the Jews into the Mediteranean Sea I have two words: “Nine Eleven.”

  • The notion that “if we shun Israel, Muslems will love us” is this Administration’s idiocy. I’m sorry that I was not clear as to whom I was attacking.

    Different administrations tack one way and another with regard to Israel but (bar Eisenhower’s actions regarding the Suez Canal) are seldom antagonistic above and beyond any sort of norm for two countries. Jimmy Carter is the only American president to find Israel as a political commonwealth distasteful, and for the most part that did not find much expression in policy (and is manifestly worse now than it was when he was in office). It is not this administration’s idiocy, but the idiocy of the palaeonexus.

  • Bonchamps,

    Concerning Israel:
    You wrote: “But I can’t think of other situations in the world today that are comparable.”

    Armed bands of Zionists didn’t show up in late nineteenth century Palestine and start kicking Arabs out their homes. The Zionists immigrated, peacefully, just like many people groups are busy immigrating today. The “uninhabited” Palestine of the late 1800’s is a Zionist myth, but it’s not too far from the truth. It only took the Jews about 40 years to become the majority population in the areas that would be designated as a future “Jewish State” in the UN partition plan.

    So… you had a people group immigrate over the course of decades to a new location. They didn’t assimilate with the locals but maintained their distinctive culture. Eventually they reached majority status in certain areas and started making political demands.

    Is any of this sounding familiar? Maybe even close to home?

    Check out articles by Victor Davis Hanson. He has written much on the subject. His current one is here:

    http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson112112.html

    Demographics isn’t destiny. Destiny is determined by God. But God has used demographics to shape nations to his will and plans.

    Regarding Russia:

    At the time of the USSR breakup, Russia could have gone down several paths to a free market/property rights society. It could have chosen a one-time distributism path that would have greatly improved the lot of the average Russian and been an example for other nations. In fact, that was the initial plan with citizens supposedly getting shares in formally state-owned industries.

    What they got was a Black Friday grab of Russia’s previously state-owned capital by well-connected technocrats and party members.

    What Putin did to correct this “wholesale looting” was to ensure either the state or his own cronies did the looting.

    Please see this fascinating link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putinism

    Concerning Georgia and the rest of Russia’s unfortunate “buffer zone”, I believe you have the cause and effect confused.

    It’s not as if these countries were enjoying a Swiss-like independence and non-alignment when the U.S. showed up and offered them NATO membership. They, like the Russians, have a history they are mindful of.

    Small nations who have certain big nations for neighbors must tread carefully in the geopolitical landscape. They must either form alliances with a third party or cede some sovereignty to their bully neighbor. It was never right when we bullied some of our neighbors, and it’s not right when Russia does it now to theirs.

    To bring all this full circle, in reference to a really good blog post that is now lost in the mists of time and commentary, this actually is on topic to “Thinking Rationally About Secession”. In the Federalist Papers, Federalist 2 through 5 put forward the argument that one of the reasons for forming a union was to prevent a Georgia type scenario from occurring. The historic examples put forth in these particular articles by Publius (Jay, supposedly) are interesting.

    By the way, Publius ends Federalist 2 with this quote, the spirit of which I am afraid is already upon us: “… I sincerely wish that it may be as clearly foreseen by every good citizen, that whenever the dissolution of the Union arrives, America will have reason to exclaim, in the words of the poet: ‘FAREWELL! A LONG FAREWELL TO ALL MY GREATNESS.’”

  • The Israelites were the people that were chosen for Divine help and Divine ire throughout the ages after the fall of man to the point of becoming man to reiterate simple truth for both the sake of creation and more for the salvation of man. What befell the twelve tribes continues in our present day in the world, whoever they are. ( I wish I knew more about the descendants of which tribe was what people.)

    Because the people Israel were mired in a worldly relationship with doctrine, among them came a Jewish man to renew the point of religion. He had twelve Apostles to establish the renewal in a universal Church for Truth.

    ‘ As to the “Chosen People” and the “Promised Land,” I believe the traditional Catholic position was summed up by Pascal, when he wrote, “The Jewish religion is wholly divine in its authority, its duration, its perpetuity, its morality, its doctrine, and its effects.” ‘

    In Matthew 5 (the Sermon on the Mount), verse 17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to
    fulfill. …”

    So, as I understand it all in a general way, I worry about the statement following.
    ‘ Bonchamps says:
    Tuesday, November 27, 2012 A.D. at 4:09am
    That is pretty far from the traditional Catholic position, MPS. ‘

  • G-Veg,

    “I wonder though, if Israel were wiped from the map, if totalitarian regimes no longer had that cause to stir up in their people, would Islamists be less vocal, less dangerous, less inclined to attack and destroy the West?”

    I wouldn’t withdraw support from Israel (only) on the hunch that Muslims would love the U.S. more if we did so (there are many good reasons to do it), but I have to believe that given everything they have said for the last 70 years or so, in such an event we would not be the “Great” Satan (adversary) but merely one of many lesser Satans. I hate to use the r-word in these discussions, but this idea that North Africans, Arabs, Persians, Turks and other Islamic peoples are fundamentally irrational at their core, lunging and striking arbitrarily, as opposed to rational actors who seek to do harm to their enemies (and good by their friends, to stay Platonic about it), strikes me as, well, racist.

    Are there some lunatics who behave this way, who just hate America because the thought of women wearing pants bothers them more than it does some of my traditional Catholic friends? I guess. But would the broad popular support for war against the U.S. exist? No. They might still be Europe’s problem for a number of reasons, but the E.U. is a big boy now, a massive economy with nuclear weapons, so it isn’t our problem in the least. 99% of the jihad consists of migrating and breeding. These are peaceful activities that Christians could have been doing to maintain the balance. They chose lives of dependency and decadence instead.

    “Our interests as a nation must be to confine Islam to the unfortunate nations where it dominates now since it is incompatible with freedom, liberty, and all notions of modernity.”

    Overthrowing secular regimes hostile to Islamic fundamentalism was a perfect strategy then, wasn’t it! You see, this is why I get frustrated. People who say this also enthusiastically cheer on the ousting of secular leaders in that region of the world who have held fundamentalism and tribalism in check for decades. Everything this country has done, with Israel, in Iraq, in Libya, with Iran, in Egypt, in Syria, has had only one effect – emboldening, strengthening and legitimizing radical Islam from Morocco to Malaysia.

    It’s time to awaken to the fact that radical Islam is a tool of our own government, which willingly became a senior partner in the British Empire after WWII. The enemies of the old empire became our enemies – the secular, nationalist regimes who wanted to reneg on or refuse new oil contracts. Islamic fundamentalists were long suppressed by such regimes or at least not taken seriously. So the enemy of our enemy becomes our friend. But then he becomes the enemy when that is convenient.

    I curse the British Empire for most of this. I curse Eisenhower, who got us involved in the Middle East (if only Robert Taft had won the 1952 GOP nomination, none of this would have unfolded). We don’t belong in that part of the world as anything more than tourists.

  • Tony,

    “Armed bands of Zionists didn’t show up in late nineteenth century Palestine and start kicking Arabs out their homes.”

    True. They didn’t start doing that until 1948, after they drove the British out through a terrorist campaign (not that the limeys didn’t have it coming).

    “The Zionists immigrated, peacefully, just like many people groups are busy immigrating today.”

    Let’s not kid ourselves. No one feels obligated to behave “peacefully” when they feel they are taking land that God promised to them. The expropriation of Palestinians by Jewish settlers has been ongoing since the state was established.

    “Russia could have gone down several paths to a free market/property rights society”

    I don’t believe in tabula rasa for individuals or nations. Russia is a distinct political entity with a long history, a DNA you might say. I will admit that I am a little conflicted, in that I believe our Western conception of markets and property rights are obviously superior and can obviously be adapted by non-Westerners (just look at Hong Kong). Ultimately, however, I don’t think it is possible for people who have been accustom to doing things one way for over a thousand years to suddenly choose a new way (tsars and general secretaries shared many common traits). I think markets are making progress in Russia. But I think what we call corruption, cronyism, thuggery, etc., or what looks like it to us, is simply business as usual in Russia. The people vote for it, they support it, they like it. There’s much less of it now than there was under the communists, and it seems absurd to expect it all to disappear in a generation, even two.

    In any case, I think it is insane for this country, with its own bloody trails and skeleton crammed closets, not to mention its own corrupt leadership, to pass moral judgment on Russia. Any country with a Monroe Doctrine can’t credibly insist that Russia has no right to a secure sphere of influence.

    “It could have chosen a one-time distributism path that would have greatly improved the lot of the average Russian and been an example for other nations.”

    I don’t know what you base this counter-factual on. These things are easily said.

    “What they got was a Black Friday grab of Russia’s previously state-owned capital by well-connected technocrats and party members.”

    But much of that was in response to the Western interests that were looking to do the same. Everyone was diving for the loot. No one was sitting around expressing innocent shock.

    “What Putin did to correct this “wholesale looting” was to ensure either the state or his own cronies did the looting.”

    And in the eyes of most Russians, this is vastly preferable to these resources falling into the hands of a) communists, b) gangsters, c) Westerners. I have to say, I prefer it as well. A strong Russia brings balance to the world. Putin has objectively advanced the cause of traditional Christian morality and natural law (I don’t care what you make of his subjective profile).

    Ultimately, though, if the Russian people are ok with Putin, I’m ok with Putin. If they want to oust him, I’m ok with that too. They had a revolution once. They can do it again. It isn’t my problem. Just like Islam, as I explained to G-Veg, Russia is Europe’s big problem, not ours.

    “It’s not as if these countries were enjoying a Swiss-like independence and non-alignment when the U.S. showed up and offered them NATO membership.”

    I never said they were. It would have been worse if they were.

    “It was never right when we bullied some of our neighbors, and it’s not right when Russia does it now to theirs.”

    Ah. The old “do as I say, but not what I once did” routine. Well, I think you sincerely mean it and I don’t denigrate your motives. But from any American’s mouth to a Russian’s ears, this has the sound of a miserable joke and you can’t expect them to take it seriously.

    Personally, I think great powers are justified in maintaining a regional sphere of influence. Russia plays the game harder than Western powers do, not quite as hard as China or Japan (pre-WWII, I mean), but then, they deal with a harder sort of people than we do. So I don’t actually mind that we have a Monroe Doctrine. I just hate the stupid moral hypocrisy that this country’s establishment and media engage in.

    Finally, what Russia did to Georgia was absolutely NOT “bullying.” Georgia attacked South Ossetia with a U.S. green light. Russia responded as any rational actor would.

  • PM,

    Worry about Pope Eugene IV’s statement, which has considerably more authority than anything written by Pascal.

  • It is worth pointing out that one of the solvents of the Ottoman Empire was Arab nationalism and, to a lesser extent, Persian nationalism. Not only that, but the Arab revolt against Turkish rule was accompanied by a Turkish revolt against Arab cultural dominance.

    Many British and French diplomats believed that nationalism would break up the Ummah, in much the same way that European nationalism broke up Christendom at the time of the Reformation.

    A generation ago, the PLO was a largely secular movement, with a fair amount of Arab Christian support.

  • We should not become so arrogant in thinking that we Gentiles who are grafted into the Olive Tree cannot be cut off for our disobedience as St. Paul warns in Romans 11, and there is a lot of disobedience in the Church of Rome. Some verses of Sacred Scripture apply, regardless of which Bishop of Rome said what. We Gentilers are only grafts anmmd we would do well to remember that in all humility.
    _____

    I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. (Romans 11:1-2a)

    …and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob…” (Romans 11:26)

    He said, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, My people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put My Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it,’ declares the Lord” (Eze. 37:11-14).

    “Fear not, for I am with you. I will bring your seed from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back; bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth…” (Is. 43:5-6).

    “In that day, the Lord will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of His people, who will be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. And He will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Is. 11:11-12).

    “And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (Zech. 12:3).

  • Bonchamps

    Pope Eugenius IV condemns those who place their trust in the “ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments” of the Mosaic Law – And so does Pascal. To repeat – “The religion of the Jews seemed to consist essentially in the fatherhood of Abraham, in circumcision, in sacrifices, in ceremonies, in the Ark, in the Temple, in Jerusalem, and, finally, in the law, and in the covenant with Moses. I say that it consisted in none of those things, but only in the love of God, and that God dismissed [réprouvait] all the other things.”

  • MPS,

    I don’t really give a fig what Pascal says. I don’t know why it even matters. When he says, “I say that (Judaism) consisted of…” that’s just his opinion. In reality it did consist of all those things, which were done out of the love of God because God commanded them, and all of those things find their legitimate continuation in the Mass and the sacraments of the Church.

  • True. They didn’t start doing that until 1948, after they drove the British out through a terrorist campaign (not that the limeys didn’t have it coming).

    The British Mandate expired in 1948. Political violence was fairly generalized by the end of 1947. The ‘terrorist campaign’ to which you are referring was the demolition of a single hotel in 1946. The perpetrators were not the militia of the self-governing authority, but a minority faction.

  • Yup MPS and Pm and Pascal- I agree (for whatever that is worth!) Wholly divine etcetera etcetera. I don’t worship Israel either, but I love her like a sister…. or maybe a grandma, and I would always protect her!
    Pope Eugene did Not say he would Not protect Jewish people. He wasn’t talking about that at all. I don’t understand bringing up that statement in this context. He was talking about salvation of people who depend upon the law, fully aware of the truth of Jesus Christ and dependence on old rituals to save them…. So, I guess I missed something: What does that have to do with the political situation today? During WWII the pope protected Jews because of their basic humanity. Same goes today. If we don’t help, who will?

  • Paul,

    We gentiles are only grafts? It’s been 2000 years. We’re it. The Church is the New Israel. Many of those passages can and should be read in light of that understanding. You think you are supporting Judaism/Zionism, but really these verses pertain to the Church, not the State of Israel.

    Those who remain Jews are spiritually lost. I don’t hate them, but I’m not going to pretend otherwise. And stop twisting Paul. He was not defending people who refused to recognize Christ. That God did not reject his people is evidenced by the redeemer he sent, not his tolerance and acceptance of their rejection of that redeemer.

  • Anzlyne,

    “I don’t understand bringing up that statement in this context.”

    I was just showing them what the true traditional Catholic position is. It seems to me as if they’re arguing that the modern State of Israel is a valid political entity because God still regards practicing Jews as his chosen people – and as such we Christians (the “other” chosen people, I guess) have some obligation to come to their defense. This is false. The Jewish religion is continued and perfected in Catholicism. The Church is the New Israel. The Jews that rejected Christ and all of their successors are, like pagans and others, outside of the Church. Eugene makes that clear in the very next paragraph, in fact, of that very council.

  • Anyway, this has been a lot of fun, but I’m not replying to any more comments on this post. I have a new post up now. Let’s all talk about that.

American Militia in the Revolution: Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill

Monday, November 19, AD 2012

Here once the embattled farmers stood,

And fired the shot heard round the world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Part three of a series on militia in the American Revolution. Go here and here to read the previous posts in the series. On the eve of the Revolution the 13 colonies had no Army but they were not defenseless. Their militias constituted a military force of uncertain power but they had a history as old as their colonies and they allowed the colonists to assume that as a last resort they would not be helpless against the British Army. General Thomas Gage, the commander of the British garrison in Boston and the military governor of Massachusetts, viewed the militia as a constant threat to his forces, and it was his sending of a detachment of 700 troops to seize the militia arsenal at Concord that precipitated the American Revolution.

The battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 demonstrated both the strengths and the weaknesses of the American militia system. The initial clash at Lexington involved a standard militia unit of 77 men, not a picked minute man company. The militia was under the command of Captain John Parker, a veteran of the French and Indian War. Parker was in ill-health, suffering from tuberculosis, and some accounts indicate he was difficult to hear. 77 men of course stood no chance against 700 British regulars, and Parker seemed to regard his militia as making a political statement rather than actually attempting to stop the British. Shots were exchange, who fired first is unknown. The British swiftly brushed aside the fleeing militia and continued their march on Concord. So far, so ineffective, as far as the American militia was concerned.

But the British did not simply have to deal with one company of militia at Lexington. The entire country around Boston was up in arms, the word of the British foray spread by Paul Revere, William Dawes and other messengers, and the militia companies were assembling and marching to fight, convinced after the news of Lexington filtered out that the long-expected war had begun.

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4 Responses to American Militia in the Revolution: Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill

  • Good article. My wife is a direct descendant of Major Andrew McClary (relation?) , the highest ranking officer killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. We visited the Epsom area of New Hampshire last summer with our children and off the main road the area is still quite rural. It is a disgrace that our school children do not learn more about this period of history and the role of the citizen/soldier and the role they played not only in the Revolution but also in the previous periods (eg. French and Indian War). The United States was created from the bottom up and not the top down. Democracy was practiced in these small New England towns long before there was a thought of a central government. The current political situation is ironic to say the least.

  • Fascinating Patrick. According to family tradition Major Andrew McClary is an ancestor, the “e” in my name being a variant spelling that the family picked up in the nineteenth century. My wife has always remarked how much I look like old Andrew as he is depicted in the famous Trumbull painting of the Battle of Bunker Hill. I use the image as a screen saver on one of my computers. I love reading about him. As he was leading his men to Breed’s Hill and encountered Massachusetts men blocking the road, milling about, he yelled out that New Hampshire wanted to borrow the road if Massachusetts wasn’t going to use it! From what I have read of him during the battle he was telling jokes to his men while roaring out commands, interspersed with profanity, the type of combat leader men will follow to Hell if necessary. It was a tragedy that he was killed by a cannon ball while he was looking to see if any of his men had gotten left behind in the retreat. Men like Major Andrew give us a debt we can never repay.

    “The United States was created from the bottom up and not the top down. Democracy was practiced in these small New England towns long before there was a thought of a central government. The current political situation is ironic to say the least.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • What do these victories mean now that out nation has been taken over by the enemy I spent a career defending America against? Have all their lost lives and efforts been in vain as well?.

  • “Have all their lost lives and efforts been in vain as well?.”

    Way, way too pessimistic and overdrawn Robert. We have had scoundrels and fools win elections before in this country and we will see them win again in the future. The opponents of the current clique at the head of affairs in Washington control 30 statehouses and a majority of the state legislatures. The House can effectively kill any legislation that Obama seeks to implement. Let us all recall this poem during the next four years:

    SAY not the struggle naught availeth,
    The labour and the wounds are vain,
    The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
    And as things have been they remain.

    If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
    It may be, in yon smoke conceal’d,
    Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
    And, but for you, possess the field.

    For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
    Seem here no painful inch to gain,
    Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
    Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

    And not by eastern windows only,
    When daylight comes, comes in the light;
    In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
    But westward, look, the land is bright!

    Arthur Hugh Clough

Militia Immediately Prior to the American Revolution

Monday, November 12, AD 2012

In the first post in this series on militia in the American Revolution, which may be read here, we looked at American militia in the Colonial period. In the years following the French and Indian War, as Great Britain and her colonies increasingly clashed, several of the colonies began to beef up their militias as an armed clash with Great Britain moved from unthinkable to likely. Massachusetts took the lead in this process with the formation of minutemen companies. This was not an innovation. The Massachusetts militia had fielded minutemen companies since 1645. These were young men, no more than 30, chosen for their physical strength and endurance, and formed into picked companies.

The necessity for putting the Massachusetts militia on a war footing was underlined in 1774. General Thomas Gage was appointed military governor of Massachusetts in early 1774. He embarked on a campaign to disarm the Massachusetts militia. In an event that is largely forgotten today but was a huge event throughout the colonies in 1774, on September 1, 1774 Gage sent an expedition of British troops to seized the powder at the arsenal located in Sommerville, Massachusetts. The British succeeded in their mission and almost started the Revolutionary War. Militia units formed up in alarm throughout Massachusetts and surrounding colonies in New England, thinking that a war had begun while wild rumors flew, and it was several days before calm was restored. This Powder Alarm caused the militia in Massachusetts and the colonies to take steps to protect their arsenals for fear of a deliberate British policy to disarm them and leave them helpless before the redcoats. The stage was set for Lexington and Concord.

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One Response to Militia Immediately Prior to the American Revolution

  • “General Thomas Gage was appointed military governor of Massachusetts in early 1774. He embarked on a campaign to disarm the Massachusetts militia.”

    May be the reason so-called progressives have been trying to judicially repeal the Second Amendment for most of the past 100 years. Destitue, disarmed depressed dependents are easier to control.

Electoral Defeat-1780

Thursday, November 8, AD 2012

 

 

“For I must do it justice;  it was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts.   It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

(I originally wrote this post in the wake of Obama’s election four years ago.  It tells the story of how the great Edmund Burke suffered electoral defeat in 1780 for standing up for principle.  It reminds us that fighting for that which one believes in, no matter the outcome at the polls, is never a real defeat over time.)

So wrote Edmund Burke, brilliant writer and member of Parliament, of the Catholic penal laws in the Eighteenth Century.  Son of a Protestant father and a Catholic mother, suspected in his lifetime, probably incorrectly, of being a secret Catholic, Burke was a man who fought during his life for many causes:  reform in Parliament, support for Americans in their fight against oppression by the English government, prosecution of Warren Hastings for his misrule in India, his crusade against the French Revolution, all these and more engaged his formidable intellect and his luminous pen.  However, one cause he championed from the beginning of his career to the end of it:  relief for Catholics in Ireland and England from the Penal Laws.

What were the Penal Laws?  A series of statutes dating from the time of Queen Elizabeth I, and codified and harshened after the so-called Glorious Revolution in England in 1688, to transform Irish Catholics into helots in their own land and to keep English Catholics a despised and helpless minority.  Burke summarized the penal laws nicely in a speech to his Bristol constituents on September 6, 1780:

A statute was fabricated in the year 1699, by which the saying mass (a church service in the Latin tongue, not exactly the same as our liturgy, but very near it, and containing no offence whatsoever against the laws, or against good morals) was forged into a crime, punishable with perpetual imprisonment. The teaching school, an useful and virtuous occupation, even the teaching in a private family, was in every Catholic subjected to the same unproportioned punishment. Your industry, and the bread of your children, was taxed for a pecuniary reward to stimulate avarice to do what Nature refused, to inform and prosecute on this law. Every Roman Catholic was, under the same act, to forfeit his estate to his nearest Protestant relation, until, through a profession of what he did not believe, he redeemed by his hypocrisy what the law had transferred to the kinsman as the recompense of his profligacy. When thus turned out of doors from his paternal estate, he was disabled from acquiring any other by any industry, donation, or charity; but was rendered a foreigner in his native land, only because he retained the religion, along with the property, handed down to him from those who had been the old inhabitants of that land before him.

Does any one who hears me approve this scheme of things, or think there is common justice, common sense, or common honesty in any part of it? If any does, let him say it, and I am ready to discuss the point with temper and candor. But instead of approving, I perceive a virtuous indignation beginning to rise in your minds on the mere cold stating of the statute.”

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3 Responses to Electoral Defeat-1780

  • Regarding the Relief Act of 1791, the Sheriff Court Books of Ayr show a flurry of people taking the oath in late September 1807. A lineal ancestor of mine did so on Monday 14 September. This pattern is repeated throughout the country.

    I believe the reason for this is that they had probably just received news of the death of the Cardinal Duke of York (Bonnie Prince Charlie’s brother), which took place at Frascati on the 17 July, bring the direct Stuart line to an end. Many Scottish Catholics had religious scruples about acknowledging “the Elector of Brunswick-Luneberg” as king, in the lifetime of “King Henry the First and Ninth,” as they would have called the Cardinal Duke, after his brother’s death in 1788.

  • “If, from this conduct, I shall forfeit their suffrages at an ensuing election, it will stand on record an example to future representatives of the Commons of England, that one man at least had dared to resist the desires of his constituents when his judgment assured him they were wrong”.

    Taking Edmund Burke’s eloquence out of context and applying it to the result of Nov. 6, 2012; Mitt Romney, due to both his support of the Constitution of this republic and his desire to repair its economy, could say much the same. It seems that in 2012, we are in the pre-Penal Law stage of history being repeated given the admin’s treatment of Catholic population. In light of the Middle Eastern and African oppression of Catholics, for whom Pope Benedict asks prayer, there is cause for grave concern.

  • This is why I enjoy TAC. Masterfully you bring out the history that aptly fits into today.

    ….we lost all measure between means and ends and our headlong desires became our politics and our morals.

    Blue state mentality.

Remember, Remember

Monday, November 5, AD 2012

The idiotic anti-Catholic celebration of Guy Fawkes Day , observed each November fifth, was effectively ended in America during the Revolution, in large part due to George Washington.  Here is his order on November 5, 1775:

As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form’d for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope–He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain’d, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.

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11 Responses to Remember, Remember

  • I’m beginning to think that Communist propaganda has nothing on the older Protestant variety. Apparently its all harmless fun; burning Guy Fawkes in effigy, taunting Catholics as Papists until one realises that Cromwell was a murderous maniac and the Tudor Settlement of Ireland was nothing but a massive land grab by the genocidal Puritans.

  • If only people remembered it for that, at least it would be something outside the 5 minute attention span of modern British people. Outside of Lewes, which burns the Pope, and various other infamous dignitaries in effigy, there is more concentration of having an excuse to let off fireworks for over a month, and have a night out, weather permitting.
    Since encountering the Libertarian movement online, I have been confused at the fact that Guido is hailed as some sort of freedom fighter – probably to be played by Mel Gibson in any film version – rather than a monarchist who wanted to reinstate what he and others saw as the legitimate monarch of Britain. Sadly, the Papacy’s earlier fatwa – sorry, encyclical – against Elizabeth didn’t really set the tone for future relations, as it really became a life or death matter, especially for young Catholics, who subsequently went to Europe and got radicalised. Gosh, I’m sorry, how the language of today slips in 😉
    I am reading through Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty, and of course Catholics didn’t have it much better in the colonies, outside of Rhode Island (for a while).

    I’m not sure there is right or wrong fully on either side. Nationalism was rising and clashing with the Empire of yesterday, and people could be forgiven for not adapting sooner to the changes, or for thinking the new social movement was actually about liberty, rather than a redistribution of power from one clerical power to another.

  • “I am reading through Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty, and of course Catholics didn’t have it much better in the colonies, outside of Rhode Island (for a while).”
    Pennsylavania was tolerant of Catholics, and in Maryland Catholics could worship although they could not participate in government. Our glorious Revolution of 1776 began to change all that with lightning speed.

    “Sadly, the Papacy’s earlier fatwa – sorry, encyclical – against Elizabeth”

    No need for ahistorical childishness. Elizabeth treated Catholics as a criminal class that the government could imprison, dispossess and execute as it so pleased. Guy Fawkes and his compatriots had the amazing thought that Catholics should not be treated as criminals for wishing to follow the religion of their forefathers.

  • Ivan-
    I’m actually kind of glad that my public school history classes were so horribly bad; I didn’t have a lot of the “known” stuff to overcome when I found out it was, shocker, just anti-Catholic and/or anti-Religious mythology.

    People always see reason for ahistorical childishness when they don’t have anything better to support their views. It’s like being funny, without having to actually be witty.

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  • You’re right of course Donald, although I have seen both sides, having been Baptist until recently when I began my conversion. The Tudors persecuted Baptists as well as Catholics. However, the resistance to Elizabeth from Rome was not because of her treatment of individual catholics (after all, Protestants met the same fate in Europe, under Mary, and even under Henry VIII if they weren’t the right kind), but her survival of an uprising by catholics who sought to use force to unthrone her, much as the later 1605 plot hoped.

    Guido Fawkes was engaged in actions designed to reinstate a Catholic monarch, but if the plot had succeeded then persecution of Protestants would have been just as virulent. No one has clean hands from that time, except probably the Quakers.

    I’m sorry, i didn’t realise I needed my sense of humour removed once I became a catholic.

    Btw Pennsylvania as an English colony came later. Maryland ended up with a Protestant majority, and catholicism was outlawed after 1688 by the otherwise much vaunted William of Orange. There was also persecution of catholics in Maryland in the 1650s during the Commonwealth.

  • “However, the resistance to Elizabeth from Rome was not because of her treatment of individual catholics (after all, Protestants met the same fate in Europe, under Mary, and even under Henry VIII if they weren’t the right kind), but her survival of an uprising by catholics who sought to use force to unthrone her, much as the later 1605 plot hoped.”

    After her accession Elizabeth played a clever game for some years in which it could be hoped by the Church that she would eventually restore Catholicism or at least tolerate it. Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558 and the bull Regnans in Excelsis of 1570 could be regarded as a tardy recognition of the fact that Elizabeth was an enemy of the Church. In the crushing of the Howard rebellion in 1569 she had some 750 of the rebels excuted, a fairly bloody action even for those sanguinary times. In the face of such an action I do not see what any Pope could do other than to recognize reality.

    Your assumption about what Guy Fawkes and his compatriots would have done in regard to persecuting Protestants is just that, an assumption. Considering the power of Protestants in England I rather think they would have called for toleration, if only as a means of survival.

    “Btw Pennsylvania as an English colony came later. Maryland ended up with a Protestant majority, and catholicism was outlawed after 1688 by the otherwise much vaunted William of Orange. There was also persecution of catholics in Maryland in the 1650s during the Commonwealth.”

    Yes, I have a passing familiarity with American history, as several hundred posts on this blog can attest, along with several hundred additional posts on my American history blog Almost Chosen People. The Catholics in Maryland passed the Edict of Toleration in 1649, would that their example had been followed by their Protestant brethren after they came to power.

  • Food for thought:

    Betsy Newmark (a teacher, I think) quoted at Instapundit: “Given that Guy Fawkes [Gunpowder Conspiracy] was part of a Catholic conspiracy against Protestants, here is an interesting observation that occurred to me if Romney should win and the Democrats maintain control of the Senate: in that scenario, there would be no Protestants at the top levels of any of our three branches of government. Romney and Reid are Mormons; Ryan, Boehner, and Durbin (Majority Whip) are Catholics, and Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader of the House is Jewish. And the Supreme Court has three Jews and six Catholics. Think about that in the context of the history of prejudice against Catholics, Mormons, and Jews in our nation’s history. Having just talked about nativism in 19th century U.S. history, I find this factoid simply amazing – in some ways, just as eye-opening as the first African-American president.”

  • Foxfier,

    Its easy to figure out that there is a pattern to the vilification of Catholics. Guy Fawkes conspired to return the Pope’s authority, that of a foreigner over England and thus should be abhorred by all true Englishmen, but when Protestant schemers some eighty years invited another foreigner William of Orange to overthrow a lawful king, James II, that should count as a patriotic act to thwart Catholic autocracy. Living under autocracy sounds terrible until one realises that for the ordinary Briton it would have made little difference whether he was leveed by the King or by some usurping earls or thieves such as Raleigh or some other pirate. Limitless greed for the Church’s wealth fired much of the reforming zeal of the Protestants.

  • Ivan-
    you have to realize it’s a possibility before you can see the pattern, and even if you know it’s possible, you have to have more information than we were offered.

    Even in American history, we never got into what religion this or that official type person was; Fawks would’ve been mentioned as Catholic, just to tie him to the Catholic Irish Terrorists (no mention of anyone being Protestant, just not-Catholic) and the myths about “the Crusade and Inquisition” were pretty much assumed.

    Folk history.

  • Heck, I didn’t even know until some guy over on Ricochet tried to defend the then-King Fawks was going to attack by demanding to know how many folks had been harassed between James becoming king and the plot being caught. Three known martyrs in the two years, for things like “being a priest.” I knew that property could be taken, and similar things, but didn’t realized being caught as a priest was automatic death– and that helping one was likewise, unless you recanted. (and that’s before one gets into the theory that it was all a setup to make James hate Catholics, in part because they used gun powder, which was supposedly a state monopoly.)

Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death

Wednesday, October 24, AD 2012

In the political season we are engaging in currently, with its frequently petty back and forth, it is easy, all too easy, to lose sight of the great principles on which this country was founded.  As a reminder we turn to a speech by Patrick Henry.

A fine video is at the beginning of this post on the great “Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death Speech” of Patrick Henry delivered in the Virginia House of Burgesses on March 23, 1775.  It is a remarkable speech, made even more remarkable when we consider that Patrick Henry was in deep mourning for his beloved wife Sarah who, after years of fighting a losing battle with mental illness, had died in February of 1775. ( Henry refused to have her committed, against the advice of his physician, to the appalling insane asylums of his day, one he inspected would have had his wife chained to a wall, and cared for her at home, bathing her, dressing her and keeping her from harming herself.)

Henry was perhaps the greatest American orator in a time of great American oratory.  It was said of him that cold print did not do justice to the passions he roused in his listeners with his speeches.  American school children used to memorize passages from this speech, a custom I hope is revived, because his speech goes to the core of what it means to be an American.  Here is the text of his speech, as it has been reconstructed, as no manuscript of it survives and our text is based on the recollections of men who heard it:

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3 Responses to Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death

  • As for me, give me Romney or give me Canada which is not descending toward fiscal, moral, and political Armageddon.

  • Who were those men snort laughing, sneering, putting on dead eye stares, and twisting truth at the debates?

    “The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.” This time it’s spiritual.

    It would be so easy for the voices on the left to use their media to begin a trend toward reason.

The American Revolution at Sea

Sunday, October 14, AD 2012

I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.

Captain John Paul Jones, November 16, 1778

Yesterday was the 237th birthday of the United States Navy.  On October 13, 1775 the Continental Congress passed the following resolutions:

Resolved, That a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months, and that the commander be instructed to cruize eastward, for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies, and for such other purposes as the Congress shall direct.

That a Committee of three be appointed to prepare an estimate of the expence, and lay the same before the Congress, and to contract with proper persons to fit out the vessel.

Resolved, that another vessel be fitted out for the same purposes, and that the said committee report their opinion of a proper vessel, and also an estimate of the expence.”

Congress thus threw down the gauntlet against the mightiest sea power in the world.  Vastly outnumbered by the Royal Navy, the United States Navy gave a good account of itself, raiding British commerce, bringing desperately needed supplies to Washington’s Continental Army, shipping diplomats like Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to Europe to enlist the aid of France and other sympathetic countries, and demonstrating to an astonished world, again and again, that it was possible to beat a British warship in battle, as John Paul Jones did commanding the USS Bonhomme Richard against HMS Serapis on September 23, 1779:

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Fortnight For Freedom Day Eleven: Catholics in the American Revolution

Sunday, July 1, AD 2012

To obtain religious, as well as civil, liberty I entered zealously into the Revolution, and observing the Christian religion divided into many sects, I founded the hope that no one would be so predominant as to become the religion of the State. That hope was thus early entertained, because all of them joined in the same cause, with few exceptions of individuals. God grant that this religious liberty may be preserved in these States, to the end of time, and that all believing in the religion of Christ may practice the leading principle of charity, the basis of every virtue.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence

 

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the eleventh of these blog posts.

American Catholics, a very small percentage of the population of the 13 colonies, 1.6 percent, were overwhelmingly patriots and played a role in the American Revolution out of all proportion to the small fragment of the American people they represented.  Among the Catholics who assumed leadership roles in the fight for our liberty were:

General Stephen Moylan  a noted cavalry commander and the first Muster Master-General of the Continental Army.

Captains Joshua Barney and John Barry,  two of the most successful naval commanders in the American Revolution.

Colonel John Fitzgerald was a trusted aide and private secretary to General George Washington.

Father Pierre Gibault, Vicar General of Illinois, whose aid was instrumental in the conquest of the Northwest for America by George Rogers Clark.

Thomas Fitzsimons served as a Pennsylvania militia company commander during the Trenton campaign.  Later in the War he helped found the Pennsylvania state navy.  After the War he was one of the two Catholic signers of the U.S. Constitution in 1787

Colonel Thomas Moore led a Philadelphia regiment in the War.

Major John Doyle led a group of elite riflemen during the War.

The list could go on at considerable length.  Figures on how many Catholics served in the Continental Army or the American militias is speculative as records of religious affiliations were not normally kept.  From anecdotal evidence my guess would be at least five percent of the American troops were Catholic, far in excess of the Catholic percentage of the population.

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24 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom Day Eleven: Catholics in the American Revolution

  • Let us not forget the contribution that Spain (then a Catholic country) made in the American cause for independence. The Spanish efforts are usually ignored or forgotten.

    The Spanish Navy kicked Great Britain out of the Mississippi Valley and harassed the British Navy throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea – a fate Great Britain justly deserved for spreading the Black Legend and harassing Spanish shipping for centuries.

    The high society of Havana (yes, there used to be such a thing in Havana) gave Washington and the Continental Army money and supplies.

  • Catholic influence on Washington himself may also be greater than commonly thought. I think a priest was called to his home when he was dying.

  • Jordi Farragut Mesquida, the father of Admiral Farragut of Civil War fame, was an immigrant from Spain. He served in the Revolution as both a naval officer and as a volunteer at the Battle of Cowpens.

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  • I had no idea the Catholic population was so small. I always wondered why there weren’t more among the founders.

  • One of the rebellious colonists’ objections to the Quebec Act (1774) was the protection it afforded to the Catholic Church. Quebeckers did not exatly rush to join the ‘patriots’ in throwing off the intolerable yoke of British government, and Bishop John Carroll was excommunicated by Archbishop Briand of Quebec.

    The founders of the American republic, and the framers of its constitution, were steeped in the Deism and Freemasonry of Enlightenment Europe. This may produce a superficial tolerance, but when push comes to shove is incompatible with Catholicism, as the history of post-Enlightenment Europe demonstrates. What we are seeing now is the logical outcome of the heresy of Americanism condemned by Leo XIII.

  • A rumour says that George Washington converted to the catholic faith on his deathbed, assisted by a jesuit priest. He handed the priest some important documents that would be now in the Vatican archives.
    Probably was he secretly converted since long because some of his protestant guests at Mount Vernon were a bit amazed to see a picture of our Lady in front of a picture of St John the Baptist in his dining room.

  • Jacques: When you entertain men who are courageous enough to die for the truth, all you can give them is the Virgin.

  • A complete myth that Washington converted on his death bed. What went on at Washington’s death bed is well recorded and no conversion to the Faith occurred, and there is no historical evidence, as opposed to after the fact wishful thinking, that he converted at any other time in his life. Let us stick to the historical record please.

  • Complete and total rubbish John. Anti-Catholicism was a tool widely employed by the Brits during the War in an attempt to rouse Loyalist sentiment. It was the patriots who spoke out in favor of tolerance for the Catholics. An element of anti-Catholicism did enter into colonial opposition of the Quebec Act in 1774, but such anti-Catholicism found no support in such leaders of the Revolution as George Washington. In his instructions to General Arnold on September 14, 1775 in the American attempt to liberate Canada from the rule of George III, Washington cautioned him, “I also give it in charge to you to avoid all disrespect of the religion of the country, and its ceremonies. Prudence, policy, and a true Christian spirit will lead us to look with compassion upon their errors without insulting them. While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious not to violate the rights of conscience of others, ever considering that God alone is the Judge of the hearts of men, and to Him only in this case they are answerable.”

    Your attack on the Founding Fathers as deists and masons is the usual critique of historically illiterate ultra trads and I am surprised at you stooping to such bilge. The fact is that the Faith flourished under the tolerance installed by the Founding Fathers, and the problems we are encountering now, and which are far worse in Merrie Olde Englande, are a product of contemporary Leftism rather than any defect in the work of the Founders.

  • Katherine Drexel believed he died a Catholic. A biography of Mother Drexel by Ellen Tarry, said she prayed for George Washington’s soul.
    Just because it wasn’t recorded doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The doctors may have been anti catholic, or afraid of ruining his reputation if this deathbed conversion were to be known.
    I can’t go back a personally verify but it is recorded that Washington defended Catholics on Guy Fawkes day, he attended mass, he donated to building a Catholic church in Philly, he visited to Charles Carroll’s home, the slaves who went to get the priest told about it–all these make me think what I think about it– others may think differently.

  • No Don, not complete and total rubbish, but a timely (if deliberately overstated) corrective to the one-sided Yanks-good-Brits-bad view of the American Revolution still too prevalent on this blog. Talk of ‘liberating’ Canada is hilarious; it’s akin to Stalin ‘liberating’ central and eastern Europe. And all this banging on about George III – Britain in the 18th century had cabinet and parliamentary government, and although the king was by no means a figurehead, he did not make policy.

    To say that the US constitution is a product of Enlightenment thought is to state the obvious. Fortunately its authors were at bottom pragmatic and level-headed Englishmen, and as revolutions go, the American one was probably the most beneficial in history. When the hot-headed French tried to apply the same principles after 1789 the result was a total and unmitigated disaster, not least for the Church. Happy Independence Day.

  • She was born almost sixty years after the death of Washington Anzlyne. She could believe whatever she wished to about Washington, but her wishes do not alter the historical record and that is what we deal in here.

  • “Talk of ‘liberating’ Canada is hilarious; it’s akin to Stalin ‘liberating’ central and eastern Europe.”

    More rubbish John. A fair example of what French Canadians would do absent a British garrison was illustrated in 1777-1778 in the Illinois country where they eagerly joined with George Rogers Clark to drive out the Brits and aided him in his capture of Fort Vincennes. King George determined every step of British policy in America, and maintained the War to crush America, a War which was largely unpopular among the British people, until even he had to recognize reality after Yorktown.

    “To say that the US constitution is a product of Enlightenment thought is to state the obvious.”

    The Declaration owes more to the Enlightenment than does the Constitution which was much more a result of American experience in colonial times, the Revolution and under the Articles of Confederation. The Declaration is the poetry of the American soul and the Constitution is the prose.

    “Happy Independence Day.”

    Thank you John. A God Save the Queen, who my sainted mother dearly loved, back at you!

  • The pictures of our Lady and St John the Baptist were recorded on the belongings inventory after George Washington died.
    This is a strong clue regarding his secret conversion to the catholic faith probably a long time before his death.

  • Not at all. Washington received constant gifts from admirers in the United States and around the world. The paintings may be among such gifts. In any case such paintings would not have been unusual possessions for an Anglican which is what Washington was. There is zero evidence that Washington ever converted to the Faith.

  • Don, why do the Canadians, the vast majority of whom live within 250 miles of the US border, want to preserve their independence and allegiance to the Crown rather than throw in their lot with the almighty Republic to the south? This is despite the fact that unlike Oz and NZ they drive on the wrong side of the road and don’t play cricket.

    Obviously, it was to everyone’s benefit that the US won the Cold War and the Soviets lost. But The US, being the only superpower, needs to realize that its imperial hegemony (as was Britain’s in the 19th century) is the result of a single-minded pursuit of national interest, even at the expense of its allies.

  • “Don, why do the Canadians, the vast majority of whom live within 250 miles of the US border, want to preserve their independence and allegiance to the Crown rather than throw in their lot with the almighty Republic to the south?”

    Because of 1776. The English portion of Canada was reinforced to a large extent by defeated loyalists who settled there and took on the name of United Empire Loyalists. Their hostility to the United States became one of the elments in the foundation of Canada.

    “But The US, being the only superpower, needs to realize that its imperial hegemony (as was Britain’s in the 19th century) is the result of a single-minded pursuit of national interest, even at the expense of its allies.”

    Nations rarely act in disinterested altruism, and when they do they usually reap only scorn and sorrow as their reward. Defeating the totalitarian idealogies of the last century was obviously to the benefit of the US and it obviously also benefited people around the globe. The foreign policy of the US is most successful when it combines elements of self interest and altruism. When it departs from either factor, it usually comes a cropper.

  • Don, you don’t need to be reminded that if Her Majesty’s other realms (Oz, NZ etc) decided to go republican Canada would not, despite that the French Canadians are more French than the French. That is entirely due to the almighty republic to the south which has

  • [Forget the last comment, which was left hanging and posted in error.] If it were just 1776, then one would imagine it would not mean much nowadays. But national identity is often fuelled by aggressive neighbours – Poland is a prime example. The French revolutionary armies rampaged through the peaceful German Rhenish towns imposing liberty, equality and fraternity – ou la mort; with portable guillotines in their baggage. Capital punishment was quite rare in the German states at that time. The extent to which Americans contributed to the French Revolution is a matter of debate, but ideas are exportable, and although I would entirely agree that the American revolution was on balance a ‘good thing’ (to quote Sellars and Yeatman) the same cannot be said for later revolutions based on its example.

  • “King George determined every step of British policy in America …” How, pray, did he do this? He didn’t attend Cabinet meetings (his great-grandfather was the last monarch to do so). The problem with you republicans is that you take ancient Roman models as an ideal (Enlightenment conceit again, yawn). No wonder a lot of American Catholics want to break away from Rome. Too monarchical by half.

  • George III set government policy John by controlling Parliament through corruption and preferment. He set the policies of his governments up to the conclusion of the Revolution on all major questions, a situation often decried by British politicians during his reign. When he met John Adams after the War, the first American ambassador, George III noted:

    “I wish you, sir, to believe, and that it may be understood in America, that I have done nothing in the late contest but what I thought myself indispensably bound to do, by the duty which I owed to my people. I will be very frank with you. I was the last to consent to the separation; but the separation having been made, and having become inevitable, I have always said, as I say now, that I would be the first to meet the friendship of the United States as an independent power. The moment I see such sentiments and language as yours prevail, and a disposition to give to this country the preference, that moment I shall say, let the circumstances of language, religion, and blood have their natural and full effect.”

    The attempt to portray George III as some sort of detached figurehead of a monarch is risible. He was head of state in reality as well as in title. The disaster of the American Revolution helped change that as well as George III’s growing madness.

  • The problem with you republicans is that you take ancient Roman models as an ideal (Enlightenment conceit again, yawn).

    Oh goodie, is Morning’s Minion commenting here again?

  • Oh! the 18th century was besotted with classical models. As Thiers sardonically remarked, “we who, after having been Athenians with Voltaire, tried for a while to be Spartans under the Convention, ended by becoming soldiers of Caesar under Napoleon.”

Fortnight For Freedom Day Nine: Top Ten Movies For the Fourth of July

Friday, June 29, AD 2012

 Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it. 

John Adams

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the ninth of these blog posts.

 

As we are embroiled now in a struggle to preserve our religious liberty, I think the Fourth of July is a good time to recall the price made to establish our liberties.  A number of feature films and miniseries have been made about the events of the American Revolution.  Here are my top ten choices for Fourth of July viewing:

10.  Ben and Me  (1953)- Something for the younger patriots.  Disney put to film the novel of Robert Lawson, Ben and Me, which related how many of Ben Franklin’s bright ideas came from his mouse Amos.  Quite a bit of fun.   Not a classic but certainly an overlooked gem.

9.  The Crossing (2000)-A retelling of Washington’s brilliant crossing of the Delaware on Christmas 1776 and the battle of Trenton.  This film would rank much higher on my list but for Jeff Daniels’ portrayal of Washington as sullen and out of sorts throughout the movie.  Washington had a temper, and he could give vent to it if provoked, although he usually kept it under control, but the peevish Washington portrayed here is simply ahistoric and mars an otherwise good recreation of the turning point of the Revolution.

8.  John Paul Jones (1959)  Robert Stack, just before he rose to fame in the Untouchables, is grand in the role of the archetypal American sea hero.  Bette Davis is absolutely unforgettable as Catherine the Great.  The climactic sea battle with the Serapis is well done, especially for those pre-CGI days.  The only problem with the film is that many of the details are wrong.  This is forgivable to a certain extent since scholarship on Jones was badly skewed by Augustus Buell in a two-volume “scholarly biography” which appeared in 1900.  Buell was a charlatan who made up many incidents about Jones and then invented sources to support his fabrications.  Buell was not completely exposed until Samuel Eliot Morison, Harvard professor of history, and an Admiral in the Navy, wrote his definitive biography of Jones. Here is a list of the fabrications of Buell compiled by Morison.  Morison’s book appeared after the movie, which is to be regretted.

7.  The Patriot (2000) Finally, a film which depicts the unsung contribution of Australians to victory in the American Revolution!  Actually not too bad of a film overall.  Heath Ledger is quite good as Gibson’s oldest son who joins the Continentals at the beginning of the war against his father’s wishes.  Jason Isaacs is snarlingly good as the evil Colonel Tavington, very loosely based on Banastre Tarleton, commander of Tarleton’s Raiders during the Southern Campaign.  The film of course allows Gibson to carry on his over-the-top vendetta against all things English.  No, the British did not lock up American civilians in churches and burn them alive.  However, the ferocity of the partisan fighting in the South is well depicted, and Banastre Tarleton  at the Waxhaw Massacre earned a reputation for slaughtering men attempting to surrender.  The final battle of the film is based on the battle of Cowpens where General Daniel Morgan decisively defeated Tarleton.

6.  Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)-A John Ford classic starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert.  Through the eyes of a young newlywed couple, Fonda and Colbert, the American Revolution on the frontier is depicted in the strategic Mohawk Valley.  Full of the usual Ford touches of heroism, humor and ordinary life.

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6 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom Day Nine: Top Ten Movies For the Fourth of July

  • I was “forced” to read “Johnny Tremain” in the 5th grade. That assignment was followed by “Rifles for Watie,” a very insightful look at the complexities of the Civil War. These are the books that inspired my fascination with miltary history and revolutionary politics, American-style. Only in later life did I realize the favor my teacher did for us. Would that educators still educated in such ways!

  • Great classics listed here. Another one is “Yankee Doodle Dandy” starring James Cagney as George M. Cohan.

  • Gibson’s character in “The Patriot” is based on Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox.”

    Excellent point on the Revolution in the South–it was a brutal civil war, as battles like King’s Mountain demonstrated. It was also where most of the war was fought after Monmouth, as the Redcoats did not care to tangle with the vastly-improved Continentals in the north.

  • An excellent list. I agree with adding Yankee Doodle Dandy. Check out my book Christians at the Movies: A Century of Saints and Sinners for adding a Christian dimension to the list with such films as A Man for all Seasons, Becket, The Fighting Sullivans, The Fighting 69th, Sergeant York, and lesser known films that focus on Christians fighting for freedom from tyranny like The Prisoner, Joan of Paris, and the 1947 film The Fugitive about suppression of religion in Mexico

  • I watched the series on John Adams and agree it was superbly done. The Mel Gibson film might be considered offensive, but you have to remember that like the same actor’s ‘Braveheart’ it was fiction. The latter was worth sitting through on account of the battle scenes and the final 15 minutes when the Wallace character gets his just deserts.

  • It could have been worse for Wallace John. He could have been forced to sample some English cuisine! 🙂

Fortnight For Freedom Day 4: John Carroll, Bishop and Patriot

Sunday, June 24, AD 2012

Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church.

Pope Leo XIII on John Carroll, first Bishop in the United States

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the fourth of these blog posts.

From the beginning of our Republic, American Catholics were at the forefront of the battle to free America from British rule and to enshrine a committment to liberty in our founding documents.  The remarkable Carroll family of Maryland was at the head of this effort by American Catholics.  Charles Carroll of Carrollton signed the Declaration of Independence.  His cousin Daniel Carroll signed both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.  Daniel Carroll’s younger brother John Carroll, was the first bishop in the United States of America.

Born on January 8, 1735 in Maryland, he went abroad to study in Flanders and France, joined the Society of Jesus and was ordained a priest in 1769.  With the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, he returned to his native Maryland as a missionary priest.  A patriot, he served on a diplomatic mission to Canada for the Continental Congress in 1776.  During the War he continued his efforts as a missionary priest, along with efforts to persuade the new states to remove disabilities from Catholics in their new state constitutions.  He was ever an advocate for religious freedom:

When men comprehend not, or refuse to admit the luminous principles on which the rights of conscience and liberty of religion depend, they are industrious to find out pretences for intolerance. If they cannot discover them in the actions, they strain to cull them out of the tenets of the religion which they wish to exclude from a free participation of equal rights. Thus this author attributes to his religion the merit of being the most favorable to freedom, and affirms that not only morality but liberty likewise must expire, if his clergy should ever be contemned or neglected: all which conveys a refined insinuation, that liberty cannot consist with, or be cherished by any other religious institution; and which therefore he would give us to understand, it is not safe to countenance in a free government.

I am anxious to guard against the impression intended by such insinuations; not merely for the sake of any one profession, but from an earnest regard to preserve inviolate for ever, in our new empire, the great principle of religious freedom. The constitutions of some of the States continue still to intrench on the sacred rights of conscience; and men who have bled, and opened their purses as freely in the cause of liberty and independence, as any other citizens, are most unjustly excluded from the advantages which they contributed to establish. But if bigotry and narrow prejudice have prevented hitherto the cure of these evils, be it the duty of every lover of peace and justice to extend them no further. Let the author who has opened this field for discussion, be aware of slyly imputing to any set of men, principles or consequences, which they disavow. He perhaps may meet with retaliation. He may be told and referred to Lord Lyttleton, as zealous a Protestant as any man of his days, for information, that the principles of non-reistence seemed the principles of that religion which we are not told is most favorable to freedom; and that its opponents had gone too far in the other extreme!

 

On June 6, 1784 he was appointed by the Pope as superior of the missions in the United States.  On November 6, 1789, he was appointed by the Pope as Bishop, after being elected to the post by American priests, a procedure previously approved by the Pope.

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2 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom Day 4: John Carroll, Bishop and Patriot

  • Pope Pius XII speaks of the friendship of Bishop John Carroll and George Washington and its effect on the early years of the republic:

    “When Pope Pius VI gave you your first Bishop in the person of the American John Carroll and set him over the See of Baltimore, small and of slight importance was the Catholic population of your land. At that time, too, the condition of the United States was so perilous that its structure and its very political unity were threatened by grave crisis. Because of the long and exhausting war the public treasury was burdened with debt, industry languished and the citizenry wearied by misfortunes was split into contending parties. This ruinous and critical state of affairs was put aright by the celebrated George Washington, famed for his courage and keen intelligence. He was a close friend of the Bishop of Baltimore. Thus the Father of His Country and the pioneer pastor of the Church in that land so dear to Us, bound together by the ties of friendship and clasping, so to speak, each the other’s hand, form a picture for their descendants, a lesson to all future generations, and a proof that reverence for the Faith of Christ is a holy and established principle of the American people, seeing that it is the foundation of morality and decency, consequently the source of prosperity and progress.” (SERTUM LAETITIAE
    Encyclical of His Holiness Pope Pius XII On the Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Establishment of the Hierarchy In the United States November 1, 1939 #3)

  • Very interesting Greg. I had not read this encyclical before. Along with much praise, Pius XII had some prescient and prophetic criticisms of American life:

    “16. We desire, however, that this Our praise be salutary. The consideration of the good which has been done must not lead to slackening which might degenerate into sluggishness; it must not issue in a vainglorious pleasure which flatters the mind; it should stimulate renewed energies so that evils may be avoided and those enterprises which are useful, prudent and worthy of praise may more surely and more solidly mature. The Christian, if he does honor to the name he bears, is always an apostle; it is not permitted to the Soldier of Christ that he quit the battlefield, because only death puts an end to his military service.

    17. You well know where it is necessary that you exercise a more discerning vigilance and what program of action should be marked out for priests and faithful in order that the religion of Christ may overcome the obstacles in its path and be a luminous guide to the minds of men, govern their morals and, for the sole purpose of salvation, permeate the marrow and the arteries of human society. The progress of exterior and material possessions, even though it is to be considered of no little account, because of the manifold and appreciable utility which it gives to life, is nonetheless not enough for man who is born for higher and brighter destinies. Created indeed to the image and likeness of God, he seeks God with a yearning that will not be repressed and always groans and weeps if he places the object of his love where Supreme Truth and the Infinite Good cannot be found.

    18. Not with the conquest of material space does one approach to God, separation from Whom is death, conversion to Whom is life, to be established in Whom is glory; but under the guidance of Christ with the fullness of sincere faith, with unsullied conscience and upright will, with holy works, with the achievement and the employment of that genuine liberty whose sacred rules are found proclaimed in the Gospel. If, instead, the Commandments of God are spurned, not only is it impossible to attain that happiness which has place beyond the brief span of time which is allotted to earthly existence, but the very basis upon which rests true civilization is shaken and naught is to be expected but ruins over which belated tears must be shed. How, in fact, can the public weal and the glory of civilized life have any guarantee of stability when right is subverted and virtue despised and decried? Is not God the Source and the Giver of law? Is He not the inspiration and the reward of virtue with none like unto Him among lawgivers (Cf. Job XXXVI:22)? This, according to the admission of all reasonable men, is everywhere the bitter and prolific root of evils: the refusal to recognize the Divine Majesty, the neglect of the moral law, the origin of which is from Heaven, or that regrettable inconstancy which makes its victims waver between the lawful and the forbidden, between justice and iniquity.

    19. Thence arise immoderate and blind egoists, that thirst for pleasure, the vice of drunkenness, immodest and costly styles in dress, the prevalence of crime even among minors, the lust for power, neglect of the poor, base craving for ill-gotten wealth, the flight from the land, levity in entering into marriage, divorce, the break-up of the family, the cooling of mutual affection between parents and children, birth control, the enfeeblement of the race, the weakening of respect for authority, or obsequiousness, or rebellion, neglect of duty towards one’s country and towards mankind.

    20. We raise Our voice in strong, albeit paternal, complaint that in so many schools of your land Christ often is despised or ignored, the explanation of the universe and mankind is forced within the narrow limits of materialism or of rationalism, and new educational systems are sought after which cannot but produce a sorrowful harvest in the intellectual and moral life of the nation.

    21. Likewise, just as home life, when the law of Christ is observed, flowers in true felicity, so, when the Gospel is cast aside, does it perish miserably and become desolated by vice: “He that seeketh the law, shall be filled with it: and he that dealeth deceitfully, shall meet with a stumbling block therein” (Ecclesiasticus XXXII: 19). What can there be on earth more serene and joyful than the Christian family? Taking its origin at the Altar of the Lord, where love has been proclaimed a holy and indissoluble bond, the Christian family in the same love nourished by supernal grace is consolidated and receives increase.”

Fortnight For Freedom Day 3: Chester

Saturday, June 23, AD 2012

 

Their blood flowed as freely (in proportion to their numbers) to cement the fabric of independence as that of any of their fellow-citizens: They concurred with perhaps greater unanimity than any other body of men, in recommending and promoting that government, from whose influence America anticipates all the blessings of justice, peace, plenty, good order and civil and religious liberty.

John Carroll, first American bishop, on American Catholics in the Revolution

Something for the weekend.  Chester,  America’s unofficial national anthem during the American Revolution.   This fits in well with the Fortnight of Freedom proclaimed by our Bishops in resistance to encroachments by government on our religious liberty.

Written by William Billings in 1770, he added new lyrics to the song in 1778 and transformed it into a battle hymn for the Patriots in their war for independence.  The song reveals the strong religious element that was ever-present on the American side of the conflict, with most Patriots viewing the war as a crusade.

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5 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom Day 3: Chester

  • Amen!

    Our Finding principles (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Gettysburg Address, etc.) are not perfect. It’s just that they are the most perfect governing principles yet devised by fallen man.

    I received an email from a close friend giving the inspirational story of a school trip at the Iwo Jima Memorial. John Bradley’s son happened to be there and he explained what it means.

    The following says it all.

    Six young Marines raised our flag amid terrible combat, with (as always) an extra hand.

    “One thing I learned . . . look at the statue and count the number of ‘hands’ raising the flag, there are 13. When the man who made the statue was asked why there were 13, he simply said the 13th hand was the hand of God.”

    One Nation Under God.

  • That’s beautiful. But I can honestly say that I’ve never heard it or heard of it before, except for a dim reminiscence of some references to the phrase “New England’s God.”

    Thank you.

  • One of my goals in blogging, other than my main goal which is to have fun, is to remind Catholics and Americans of their history and their heritage. In the past 45 years much of it has been sent down a memory hole, and I play a small role in retrieving it.

  • I have never heard of this before. It is wonderful “and praise His name on every cord”

  • I had a trouble understanding Abigail.
    It sounded like “what men are not wont to do, they ought not to do, they know not what.” ??? or was it
    “when men know not what to do, they ought not to do, they know not what”

Kipling and the Yanks

Thursday, May 3, AD 2012

The tenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here ,here, here and here.  Rudyard Kipling had an intensely ambivalent attitude towards America and Americans.  His wife was an American and he and she after their marriage resided in Vermont from 1892-1896.  The Kiplings loved Vermont, Rudyard Kipling especially loving the rugged natural beauty of the Green Mountain State. but eventually returned to England due to a now forgotten diplomatic squabble between the US and Great Britain over the boundary between Venezuela and British Guiana and which led to the last talk of war between those two nations, and a family squabble involving some of Kipling’s wife’s relatives.

Kipling admired American energy and inventiveness, but hated traditional American antipathy to Britain and what he regarded as a boorishness that afflicted many Americans.  This ambivalence is well reflected in the poem American Rebellion which appeared in A School History of England (1911) by C. R. L. Fletcher and Kipling.  The poem is in two strikingly different sections.  Here is the first section:

1776

                    BEFORE
TWAS not while England’s sword unsheathed
Put half a world to flight,
Nor while their new-built cities breathed
Secure behind her might;
Not while she poured from Pole to Line
Treasure ships and men–
These worshippers at Freedom’s shrine
They did not quit her then!
Not till their foes were driven forth
By England o’er the main–
Not till the Frenchman from the North
Had gone with shattered Spain;
Not till the clean-swept oceans showed
No hostile flag unrolled,
Did they remember what they owed
To Freedom–and were bold.
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4 Responses to Kipling and the Yanks

  • I admit that I feel about Europeans as you state Kipling felt about Americans. I have a visceral reaction to German and French slights because of US conduct during WWII and through the Marshall Plan.

    I have the same visceral reaction to continued European offenses. While I love the show Top Gear, the shows they have done in the US offend me. They are so pompous and dishonest in their presentation. For example, their treatment of D.C., showing nothing but the worst neighborhoods, galls me.

    I’m not sorry for these feelings for I greatly mistrust a man who does not express pride in and affection for his country. It does Kipling credit to note that, however much he finds merit in Americans and the US, he cannot quite get beyond his gut feeling that England deserved better and that the world would have been a better place if the Empire had stayed together.

    I do not doubt that the world would have been a far better place if it had come entirely under American control after the fall of the Soviet Union. Such is my conceit.

  • I love Top Gear also G-Veg and find it hilarious. Insulting foreigners is part of their act, along with acting like buffoons in general, and I don’t take it personally, as opposed to Mexico:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63k0RUlfAxs

  • I’ve always thought that a lot of Kipling’s love for America died with his little daughter. It’s natural not to want to hang around a place full of sad memories, whereas a place where you think your kids are going to both grow up is a place you do your best to put down roots. I think politics was an excuse. A deeply felt excuse, maybe, but an excuse.

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George Washington Celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day

Saturday, March 17, AD 2012

 

Throughout his life George Washington had a great deal of sympathy for the struggles of the Irish against their English rulers, seeing in those struggles a mirror for the American fight for independence.  Irish immigrants to America, Protestant and Catholic, were enthusiastic in their embrace of the American cause, and during the Revolutionary War many of the soldiers who served in the Continental Army were Irish or of Irish descent.  Therefore when General Washington heard in March 1780 that the Irish Parliament had passed free trade legislation, he issued the following general order to the Army on March 16, 1780:

The general congratulates the army on the very interesting proceedings of the parliament of Ireland and the inhabitants of that country which have been lately communicated;  not only as they appear calculated to remove those heavy and tyrannical oppressions on their trade but to restore to a brave and generous people their ancient rights and freedom and by their operations to promote the cause of America.

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7 Responses to George Washington Celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day

  • The Army was encamped in Morristown, New Jersey that March.

    This year the American veteran is the honoree. As ever, the 69th (now 165) Inf. will lead. Some of these brave soldiers served in Iraq and too many there gave the last full measure of devotion. Many daily are on duty around NY since 11 September.

    Except for the black-hearted occupiers in Ulster, both Catholic and Protestant Irishmen were for independence.

    The NY TV coverage just began.

    The first (on the planet) St. Patrick’s Day Parade was in Boston in 1737.

    The first NYC parade was 1762.

    According to accounts, the Irish Brigade during the CW, after Holy Mass of course, would host colorful celebrations on our Patron Saint’s Holy Day.

    Erin Go Bragh!

    Washington’s mother was Irish . . .

  • The video implies that George Washington was chosen to lead the Continental Army DESPITE never having led an army in the field. This is not altogether accurate. Washington had certainly led militia in battle. And after Braddock’s fall, command of his army fell to Washington. It was Washington’s leadership and calm demeanor and fortitude in leading the retreat of Braddock’s forces that likely saved them from complete annihilation.

    It would prove to be a well of experience that Washington would dip into time and again during the Revolution.

    Yes, Washington was chosen to command the Continental Army for his character, but it was a character that was famous throughout the colonies because of the reputation he had forged for himself during the retreat of Braddock’s army.

    Primarily, though, he was chosen because he was a Virginian with military experience, as opposed to a hot-headed New Englander.

  • “And after Braddock’s fall, command of his army fell to Washington. It was Washington’s leadership and calm demeanor and fortitude in leading the retreat of Braddock’s forces that likely saved them from complete annihilation.”

    True Jay, and what is more remarkable is that as a Virginia militia officer Washington had no place in the formal chain of command. He took command as a result of his courage and the fact that he was the only one who had a clue as to how to fend off the French attack and have the army conduct a fighting retreat. After the battle Colonel Dunbar of the Royal Army took command, but Washington and his Virginians were the heroes of the day as Braddock acknowledge before he died. Washington commanded the Virginia militia on the frontier for the remainder of the French and the Indian War. Washington was by far the most experienced American soldier in a land that lacked any regular army.

  • Speaking of Irish immigration to Amreikay (as the Irish often said) here’s the classic Paddy’s Green Shore, performed by the Irish folk singer Paul Brady:

  • But if at last our color should
    Be torn from Ireland’s heart,
    Her sons with shame and sorrow
    From the dear old sod will part.
    I’ve heard a whisper of a country
    That lives far beyond the say,
    Where rich and poor stand equal
    In the light of freedom’s day.

    Oh, Erin! Must we lave you,
    Driven by the tyrant’s hand?
    Must we ask a mother’s welcome
    From a strange but happy land?
    Where the cruel cross of England’s thralldom
    Never shall be seen
    And where in peace we’ll live and die
    A-wearing of the green.

  • Speaking of wearing of the green, today was the 61st annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Holyoke, MA. It lasted about three and a half hours televised on public tv. An estimated 400,000 – 500,00 were there. The route has been being lined with chairs since last Sunday. Last night, city blocks (the starting point of yesterday’s road race) were closed downtown for celebrators at party tents. Lots of green shamrocks painted on the streets and tee-shirts the color of the hat on the Wolfeken song for the runners. The parade had floats, colleens, area town and city officials, depts., schools, bands, the hospital, the Mummers, Rep. Neal and Sen. Olver.

Chester

Saturday, November 5, AD 2011

Something for the weekend.  Chester,  America’s unofficial national anthem during the American Revolution.  Written by William Billings in 1770, he added new lyrics to the song in 1778 and transformed it into a battle hymn for the Patriots in their war for independence.  The song reveals the strong religious element that was ever present on the American side of the conflict, with most Patriots viewing the war as a crusade.

Let tyrants shake their iron rods,
 And Slav’ry clank her galling chains.

We fear them not, we trust in God.
New England’s God forever reigns.


Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton, too,

With Prescott
and Cornwallis joined,
Together plot our overthrow,
In one infernal
league combined.

When God inspired us for the fight,

Their ranks were broke, their lines were forced,
Their ships were
shattered in our sight,
Or swiftly driven from our coast.


The foe comes on with haughty stride,

Our troops
advance with martial noise;
 Their vet’rans flee before our youth,
And
 gen’rals yield to beardless boys.

What grateful

 off’ring shall we bring,
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud
 hallelujahs let us sing,
 And praise his name on ev’ry chord!

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Catholics in the American Revolution

Friday, September 23, AD 2011

Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.

Pope Leo XIII

American Catholics, a very small percentage of the population of the 13 colonies, 1.6 percent, were overwhelmingly patriots and played a role in the American Revolution out of all proportion to the small fragment of the American people they represented.  Among the Catholics who assumed leadership roles in the fight for our liberty were:

General Stephen Moylan  a noted cavalry commander and the first Muster Master-General of the Continental Army.

Captains Joshua Barney and John Barry,  two of the most successful naval commanders in the American Revolution.

Colonel John Fitzgerald was a trusted aide and private secretary to General George Washington.

Father Pierre Gibault, Vicar General of Illinois, whose aid was instrumental in the conquest of the Northwest for America by George Rogers Clark.

Thomas Fitzsimons served as a Pennsylvania militia company commander during the Trenton campaign.  Later in the War he helped found the Pennsylvania state navy.  After the War he was one of the two Catholic signers of the U.S. Constitution in 1787

Colonel Thomas Moore led a Philadelphia regiment in the War.

Major John Doyle led a group of elite riflemen during the War.

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7 Responses to Catholics in the American Revolution

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  • Thanks for this report. Any thoughts on the Catholic contribution to the British side? I imagine many Irish soldiers, some Scots, etc. Please share your insights.

  • There were of course quite a few Irish Catholics among the British regulars, probably about 25%, Ireland being a chief recruiting ground for the Royal Army. The French Canadians were almost all on the side of the British Crown during the War, the Quebec Act having granted them a measure of self-government, to the ire of many anti-Catholic Americans. Some Catholic Americans did fight for the crown, but their numbers were quite small, probably in the hundreds. One group was organized in New York calling themselves the Roman Catholic Volunteers. They were eventually disbanded by the British, proving themselves only proficient in plundering and militarily useless. On the other hand the Irish Volunteers, mostly Catholics, were a very good unit that after the War was taken into the Royal Army as a regular unit, the 105th Regiment of Foot.

  • You mentioned Pulaski but not Kosciuszko, who engineering skill ensured the American victory at Saratoga, which led to official French recognition. Pulaski was arguably the father of American cavalry, despite lukewarm support from Washington. As far as Moylan is concerned, he butted heads with Pulaski on several occasions and conspired to undermine Pulaski’s authority, which led to Pulaski resigning to organize his Legion…there is no evidence that Moylan had any battlefield skill…and much to suggest was felt more comfortable with his flask.

  • Pulaski was a brave and talented cavalry commander who had a quarrelsome disposition which undercut his effectiveness. You libel Moylan who was an effective cavalry commander getting valuable information to Washington about the British forces prior to the Battle of Monmouth. Kosciuszko was a good engineer, as he proved throughout the War, but I think you overstate his role in the Saratoga campaign. Morgan and Arnold, along with hordes of enraged American militia were much more important in that victory. I would have mentioned him if I had intended the list to be a comprehensive one, which was not my intent.

  • If anti-Catholicism had not been so prevalent in the Colonies, I suspect Quebec may have entered the war on the American side. When approached by the Americans, Quebec flatly rejected them – not because of love for Great Britain, but because of the Americans’ attitude towards the Catholic Church….yet another episode in history where being anti-Catholic is just plain stupid.

    The French soldiers, sailors and officers were certainly almost 100% Catholic. Let us not overlook the contributions of Spain. Then-Catholic Spain did fight in the War for Independence on the side of the United States. The Spanish Navy wreaked havoc on Great Britain in the Caribbean Sea and the Spaniards kicked the British Navy out of the Mississippi Valley.

    While the numbers of American Catholics in the War for Independence were understandably small, the Catholic contribution from France and Spain played no small part in the defeat of Great Britain. Under the Treaty of Paris, Spain got Florida back from England (later ceded by Madrid to the US in 1821).

    As we know, things did not end well for the Catholic monarchies in France and Spain. France was drained financially after the war and it was only six years after the Treaty of Paris that the Reign of Terror began.

    Spain was invaded by Bonaparte in the first decade of the 19th century and Great Britain, of all nations, fought to liberate Spain. Spain lost almost its entire empire less than 25 years after the Treaty of Paris. Eventually, most of Spain’s landholdings in North America ended up as the American West, which was evangelized by Catholic missionaries long before there was anyone who spoke English settled in the present day US.

  • Yes, Pulaski was quarrelsome…frustrated I suspect by the language barrier and the American distrust of foreign officers, but his problems with Moylan were fundamentally driven by the American lack of understanding of the role and potential of cavalry. Gathering intelligence was an important role and Moylan may have done well in that role, but he was not a battlefield commander. With with rare exceptions, Light Horse Harry Lee being the most prominent, American cavalry played no significant battlefield role in the major battles of the revolution…Tarleton showed what impact a couple of hundred well trained cavalry could have when he scattered the Virginia legislature and almost captured Thomas Jefferson.

    Koscuiszko’s fortifications at Bemis Heights, selected by both he and Arnold, forced the British to try and outflank them, requiring them to fight in wooded terrain giving Morgan’s men and the militia an advantage they would not have enjoyed if the British could just push up the road along the Hudson.